12 May 2014

Shizuoka Coast to Azumino and Back

The valley NW of Matsumoto
On Saturday I joined a Kanagawa Audax brevet from Okitsu on the Shizuoka Coast to Azumino in northern central Nagano (NW of Matsumoto) and back.  The weather looked perfect for a brevet.

I arrived at the start point around 9:45AM, later than I would have liked but in plenty of time for a 10AM start.  Almost all the riders were already heading out, having checked in and passed through the bike inspection.  I got my bicycle, checked in, and headed out, the last 2-3 riders still visible up the coast ahead.
There and back again - Garmin battery lasted the first 300 kms
After flying through the first 15 kms and gradually working my way to one of the front groups, we turned north into the valley of the Fujikawa, the river that flows from the area around Kofu out to the sea at Fuji City, SW of Fujinomiya, just west of Shin-Fuji Station, at the foot of, Mt. Fuji.

This route along the east shore of the Fujikawa is well known to brevet riders and other longer distance road cyclists in Japan -- low traffic, nice scenery, 3 or 4 nasty little hills, and frequent strong winds in one direction or the other.  Other than the wind, it is generally a good way to get from the coast to the area nears Kofu.

But on Saturday a strong wind from the North that made progress painful.  A relatively easy course became a long slog, as we would head North not only up the Fujikawa, but then continuing around the west edge of Minami Alps/Nirasaki on Route 12, then National Route 20 to Fujimi, Chino, Suwa, Shiojiri, then a local road all the way to Azumino/Hotaka.  Upwind, uphill, and with plenty of traffic on long stretches during the day on Saturday.
On the climb to Shiojiri Pass north of Suwa/Okaya ... next to the expressway
The wind had calmed and traffic diminished by night, so return trip was much easier.  At the top of Fujimi Pass, I had traveled only 275 out of 400 kms, but I knew that the hard work was nearly done. The temperature had dropped to 3 degrees C, but warmed quickly once on the descent into Yamanashi.

Beautiful Nagano?
I pushed on to the finish, my body aching from the damage inflicted on it in the first half of the ride.  It was the first time I have ever done a 400 km Brevet in under 20 hours -- my official time 19:45 -- and over 1 hr 45 min faster than I did the same route last year.  I am finally starting to feel like I am in strong cycling shape.
Sunset nears as we ride to the turnaround, Alps to the west.  Beautiful Nagano!

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