How would I get to Kusatsu? First, ride to Tokyo Station and hop the early (652AM) shinkansen for Nagano. Start riding from Sakudaira and crest Takamine Kogen/Kurumazaka Pass, go along the ridge to Jizo Pass, descend into Gunma, and travel the North route of the Tsumagoi Panorama Line.
This was an epic ride -- only 142 kms, but around 3300 meters of climbing, two ascents to over 2000 meters elevation, and some extra fun in the form of a 4 km section of dirt, gravel and snow between Takamine Kogen and Jizo Pass, then lots and lots of snow left (not on the road, but everywhere else) near the top of Shibu Toge, and a temperature below zero degrees C at 520PM.
No time for a full post, but some photos and the route. Did I mention 3300 meters of climbing?
|Golden Week Traffic? Climb to Takamine Kogen|
|A 66-year old local from Komoro reaches the top -- training for the annual hill climb event here.|
|4 Km of dirt, gravel .. and snow on the way toward Jizo Pass.|
|Brakes clogged with pine needles|
|More Golden Week traffic on the Tsumagoi Panorama Line|
|Same -- no traffic! The Panorama Line did have its share of up and down, but brought me into Kusatsu at over 1000m elev, so I could skip most of the awful (steep, hot, with cars, trucks and buses whizzing by) climb from Naganohara.|
|Shibu Pass -- Long stretch at the top in another world.|
|Snow towering on both sides of the road.|
|Spectacular Vistas, -1 degree C|
|Jerome, as we stop to warm up a bit in the sun, out of the wind.|
(My Garmin data was wiped when the device jammed and reset! Here is the route)