27 July 2014

Matsuri! And Akigawa!

On Friday evening I had an errand near Ebisu Station.  The area was swarming with people in yukata as a summer festival (matsuri) was starting up, to run Friday and Saturday evenings.

Positivistas David and Juliane arrived in Tokyo early Saturday, a week ahead of the planned P.E. Nagano training weekend to allow time for jet lag recovery.

We joined them for dinner at a tempura restaurant within walking distance of the P.E. Kaminoge base that evening.  Just down the block, another matsuri, with the "bon odori" folk dancing going into the evening.  It reminded me a bit of the Flamenco party we had seen in 2012 in Seix, at the end of our Pyrenean trip.  ... though the weather in Tokyo was hotter and more humid.

Then today, Sunday, we headed out early on a ride--the best cure for jet lag.  The summer heat and humidity was oppressive, even before 8AM.  We stopped for water after our first hour of riding, at a cool water tap.
Hot in the face.
The water did not do much good.  We crossed the Tamagawa at the Route 16 bridge and headed NW on the road through the athletic fields on the SW bank.  We stopped at a Sunkus and and old guy chatted me up as we came out.  He asked where we were going and told me he went to the U.S. base at Yokota for his work.  When I said "Akigawa", he said "oh, today is a matsuri there."

We bought rock ice at the Sunkus and, after using it to top of the water bottles, David J. and I stuffed it inside our jersey pockets and bib shorts.  We managed to make it to Itsukaichi and up the Akigawa to Motojuku and to ...  relief!

Yes, the great P.E.-approved swimming hole, easily accessible via rock and metal staircases only about 50 meters after turning left at the Motojuku "T" intersection on the way up the Akigawa.  We waded, I even swam a bit in the deeper areas.  Complete body core cool down!
We go down to the river ... !
Heat relief!
Powers fully restored! 
The bikes hide just out of sight of the road -- remembering how Jerome had his bike stolen in Hyogo 4~5 years ago.
Then it was back on the bikes by 10:45AM and up the climb to Tokisaka Toge no Chaya -- the tea house at Tokisaska Pass.  There were mobs of people at the full parking lot at the bottom of the climb, many, many tourists today.  But again almost no one after the first 200 meters up the road.
Hard to handle this heat with jet lag and arriving from a much cooler climate.  More water at the Chaya.

The Yamabushi rests happily -- in its element!
Spectacular vista of the Kita Akigawa valley
We wanted lunch, but the old guy at the Chaya did not seem to have any real lunch customers ... as usual.  The signage said he was offering handcut udon.  Juliane wanted cold zaru soba.  The geezer told us there was a place further up the ridge a few minutes that served soba ... and so we headed into unknown territory.

Before we knew it, we came up on a parking lot and a gravel path through the woods that led to ... a large old house and outbuildings, including water wheel.  We ordered generous portions of delicious home made soba, mountain vegetable tempura, and a huge single serving of "konyaku sashimi".  It was a wonderful meal ... though the konyaku sashimi really does fill up one's gut, and I was glad we would be heading downhill after lunch.
Soba restaurant in the middle of the mountains!

Delicious soba and mountain vegetable tempura
The ride home was beastly hot and it looked as if we would have a headwind.  We did see one matsuri-mobile, drummers in the back and someone in a traditional costume with mask, but I was not about to stop for a photo.

It was hot  ... until we crossed the Tamagawa at Mutsumibashi and stopped for more water.  As we rested a few minutes we could see dark clouds forming to the north.  After a few minutes back on the bike there was at least a thin cloud layer above us.   And the headwind shifted around to a wind announcing the advance of a line of thunderstorms.  By the time we passed Sekidobashi it was noticeably cooler, with gusting cross/tail winds.

The heavens opened and the rain fell only a few minutes after we made it home.

Another classic Positivo Espresso training ride.  Ready for Nagano!

I headed over toward C Speed later in the afternoon to see Hiroshi and drop some things off.  Just across the Tamagawa at Futako Shinchi, the street was closed, police waiving wands and steering traffic, asking cyclists to dismount.  "Matsuri?" I asked.  Of course!

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