|Spectacular view of blossoming trees, from Shomaru Pass|
My first foray over Yamabushi Touge and up onto the Green Line was the TCC Okumusashi Madness ride back in September 2008. It was a hot day, and trying to keep up wtih Alan, Naomi and other stronger riders along Nariki Kaido then into Naguri did not help. Jerome overheated and sat in the river along Nariki Kaido, then headed home. David, Juliane and I ended up taking a wrong turn off Route 299 and climbing in the heat up to the Green Line at the wrong point, where we would never hope to catch the TCC train. We ate soba at a nice viewpoint, then headed back, making a wrong turn and swinging way east into Saitama, then hopping a train exhausted by the heat and the prospect of a long slog through traffic home. Saitama in the summer.
Then there was a great ride with Jerome and Juliane in late autumn 2008, among spectacular red leaves, as we sent Juliane on her way to London. And a series of others - Nenogongen, Arima Pass with Tom and Nishibe-san and more. But somehow I get to Chichibu less often now than in the early days of exploration.
So I was delighted to return today, in spectacular weather, on a solo ride with no planned route, but full of possibilities. I ended up taking a tried and true route -- out through Nariki and Naguri, the climb to Yamabushi and Shomaru passes, then the climb to Karibazaka in spectacular flowering trees.
|The Holy Fountain before the climb to Yamabushi|
|The classic bike-leaning photo, yama-sakura casting shade on the Karibazaka Pass sign post|
|On the climb to Karibazaka. Flowering trees everywhere.|
|From the Green Line looking SW|
|Green on the Green Line, and almost no traffic|
Then a stop at the same soba shop as I had with David and Juliane in September 2008. In 2008 there was a group of older couples who had finished some work on communal garden plots on the hillside and were enjoying soba (and alcohol) before returning home. The alcohol made them less inhibited and they wanted to talk. This time there was an even bigger group of people who had finished a hanami (blossom viewing) trip and were enjoying soba and alcohol. They gave me some "soba-yu". Upon hearing that I had come via bicycle, an old lady -- must have been 90 years old -- wanted to touch my arm -- "chikara wo morau tame" -- to get some of my "power". Plus there was a group of at least 15 cyclists, including several women, on an organized ride including support van.
|Hanami and Soba|
Then it was down the steep descent, and onto Route 299 SE into Hanno, then back via Oume.
The trip home was tough, with a stiff headwind most of the way once I started heading SE.
|Even Route 299 into Hanno looked glorious.|
167 km, and 2100 meters of climbing in all.