27 September 2014

R-Tokyo 1000 km Randonee - to Ise Shrine (and beyond, and back)

I have now had a few days to catch up on my work and sleep since last week's 1000 km randonee.

As in the past, I enjoyed many stretches of the ride and felt elated at finishing the event.  There were many familiar riders on this 1000km.  At the 9AM start, I saw Jun Sato and friends from Audax Saitama/Cascade 1200 etc.  And Higuchi-san and Kozakai-san from our Fleche team were there.
Messrs. Kosakai and Higuchi - R-Tokyo photo along the road
Jun Sato signs in. 
Jun's Calfee S&S coupled carbon speed machine, complet with disk brakes and Enve wheels.
With his Randonneur USA-branded reflective triangle. 
Higuchi-san models a reflective vest and bandana.
I think he learned the "sandwich in back pocket" from Tanaka-san, our Fleche team leader.
The event is way too long for a blow-by-blow trip report, so let me focus on some highlights. R-Tokyo's 500 or so photos can be found here.  There are lots of photos of the riders and their bikes -- which is good since I did not get many.
R-Tokyo photo of me
And the ride results are available, at least for now, here.

1.  Weather.  The weather was fantastic the entire trip.  It was a bit cold after dusk on Odaira Pass at 1300 meters elevation, and a bit hot on Sunday and Monday afternoons, but basically perfect riding weather.  Such good weather is an entirely new experience for me on rides of longer than 600 kms.
Blue sky ... as I take a rest on the climb to Odaira Pass
2.  Climbing.  The course was challenging, as the first 225 kms included over 4000 meters of climbing and the total was near 9000 meters.  I was very fortunate to have done Tsuetsuki Pass and Iida Pass/Odaira Pass last month, so I knew exactly what to expect on those stretches, which were the two highest passes.
Early on the climb out of Chino -- no traffic here

The organizers helped us out some by including a 50+ km flat stretch into Ichinomiya after the end of the hills and before the next timed checkpoint.  This allowed some increase in average speeds and made it easier to avoid a DNF at the checkpoint.  Still, many riders did not make it through the initial 225 kms of the course or dropped out before/at Ichinomiya.
R-Tokyo photo of me climbing Tsuetsuki Pass.  Still smiling.
3.  Backroads.  Even though we did travel some crowded roads, the main designer of the course, Tsumura-san of R-Tokyo, made a great effort to get us off of main and onto back roads.  I wish all Brevet courses were designed like this!  The nasty climb after Nakatsugawa was essentially a 2-3 meter wide track.  Likewise, on the return from Minami Ise toward Ise Jingu, we climbed a tiny road up to Tsurugi Pass, then enjoyed an approx. 20 km descent and emerged at the back of the tourist bus parking lot for Ise Jingu, Japan's most important shinto shrine.  On this entire stretch I think I saw 2 moving cars.
Looking back toward Chino as we start the climb to Tsuetsuki Pass.
And whereas on another brevet I have gone between Iida and Ina in Nagano on one of the main roads, this time I went the opposite direction on a small road that hugs the eastern side of the valley -- minimal traffic and nice views.
Looking across the valley between Iida and Ina, from the quiet road along its eastern side.
4.  The course also managed to pass through or near many sites of cultural or historical interest.  As noted, we emerged at the back entrance of Ise Shrine. We also traveled along old Ise Kaido for a long stretch going both to and from Ise, a street that is lined in many places with beautifully maintained traditional wooden buildings.  On the way south, it was light and I could see that I would really like to have taken more time and looked at some of the buildings.  On the way north, I pulled Midori Shiroki, former Audax Japan chairwoman, who was part of the 7AM start group and looked like she was in some trouble.  At least I helped give her a chance to get back to Aichi in time for the checkpoint cutoff.

Earlier on the way into Inuyama we took a similar "old road".  And passed this historical site (though it must have been dark at the time, or perhaps I just missed it).
(photo from the R-Tokyo collection -- see link above).
And on the way through Shizuoka on our return, instead of just taking the main road (Route 150) between Omaezaki and Shizuoka, we wound our way along minor road, then went through the town of Yaizu and up an "old road" climb near Route 1.
Sunset at Yaizu, Shizuoka 
On the old road next to Route 1 between Yaizu and Shizuoka Cities
5.  Sleep accommodations.  Given the nice weather, and many "kenko land" 24-hour hot spring accommodations along the way, I did not reserve any business hotels.  I ended up stranded when, at Ichinomiya the first night I could not find a good place to sleep.  After an hour at the checkpoint lying down outside, I got cold enough so I woke up and knew further efforts at sleep there would be counterproductive.  I rode on another 30 kms, most of it along the levy beside the Kiso River, and ended up taking another 90 minute nap at a manga cafe just at the east end of Tachita-Ohashi, the bridge we crossed from Aichi into Mie Prefecture.  This, and a sit down breakfast at a family restaurant a little later, were sufficient to get me to the Minami Ise turnaround point, where I again slept for an hour mid-afternoon.
Sunrise day 2, after a nap and just before I cross Tachita-Ohashi, the bridge into Mie Prefecture
The second night I had planned to sleep at the "kenko center" in Nisshin City, just east of Nagoya, that was highlighted by the organizers on the cue sheet and the website for which I had checked. Unfortunately, it was closed at 230AM -- no longer a 24-hour facility.  Another randonneur was sleeping on the front porch under the awning, so I joined him a few meters away.  Again, after less than 90 minutes I got cold and awoke.  The first rider was gone, but a few minutes later someone rode up and I was pleasantly surprised that it was Kozakai-san. He had stopped by his home nearby (I was envious!), and was looking for Higuchi-san, whom he said also had planned to sleep at the Kenko center.  When he called Higuchi's mobile phone, we learned he was just 200 meters up the street, resting in front of a Family Mart.  We went there and found him shivering cold, so the three of us rode on together for an hour or more to Okazaki City, where the two of them entered yet another 24-hour manga cafe and I continued slowly ahead.

I got a number of short rests on the third day, including an evening hour-long nap on a bench on the coastline in Shizuoka City, which made the R-Tokyo photo album, and another pre-dawn nap after Atami Pass/Yugawara.

In all, I got barely enough sleep to get through the event without collapsing or losing all speed.  But it created a massive sleep deficit, so that when I got home at 9AM Tuesday morning, I slept until 6PM, went out to dinner, then slept again from 10PM to 6AM, but still felt a bit sleep deprived through into Saturday.  As with similar efforts, the deep sleep that follows is fantastic.

6.  Atami Pass.  I knew the descent from Atami Pass to the east is steep.  But the route we took, via the Atami museum of art (MOA) was crazy.  I got off and walked at points, it was so steep DOWN.  I thought I would fall off over my handlebars, doubtless the actual terrain seeming even worse in the pitch dark exhaustion of the third night of the ride.  I avoided the inside of curves just to stay on the bike.  It was a painfully slow and painful-on-the-hands descent, even though the concept was good -- to avoid the need for us to descend all the way below Atami Station and then climb back up again over 100 meters to head toward Yugawara.

7.  Yokohama.  After following the coastline as far as Enoshima, the last part of the route went to Motomachi through much of southern Yokohama.  At the time, I thought the organizers were playing a cruel trick, forcing us up so many steep hills and through so much congestion, on an early Tuesday holiday morning after more than 980 kms of effort.  The hills seemed crazy steep and plenty long.  No wonder I have never ridden under the monorail between Enoshima and Ofuna!  No wonder I avoid this part of the world except for the occasional Hakone Ekiden event.  But as I look at the map, I see that the route merely took a relatively short distance between two points.  And as we neared Motomachi, we entered a narrow, old road that reminded me of some earlier parts of the ride, even if it was lined by 5+ story buildings on both sides.

After we reached the goal, we needed to ride a few more kilometers to Minato Mirai (Manyo Club) for check-in.  I had never seen Minato Mirai from the S/SE sides, and it looked spectacular on a sunny day, even better than this from a more southern angle and much closer up:

8.  Results.  There were 76 finishers, 42 DNFs and 24 DNSs.  So this was a hard event, despite the good weather.  I think 1000 km brevets are, next to SR600s, the hardest events.  The time limits are unforgiving.  I finished in 70 hrs and 53 minutes, out of a permitted 75 hours.  But at various points I had less than two hours "on the clock" even though everything was working perfectly.

There were 56 finishers with slower times and 19 with faster times than I.  But of the 56 slower riders, all were within a few hours of me, essentially the same time.  Most of them probably signed up for the post-ride party and decided to sleep a bit before the finish! Among the 19 faster riders, one managed a very fast time of 54 hours 41 minutes.  I saw him zooming UP old Ise Kaido as I was going DOWN it.  Another rider finished in under 59 hours.  Everyone else was within 10 hours of me.  I was just relieved to complete a single long audax event this year.

Part 1 -- Isawa Onsen to Ichinomiya
Part 2 - Ichinomiya to Shima/Minami Ise
Part 3 -- Minami Ise to Nisshin via Ise Jingu/Futami
Part 4 -- Nisshin City to Omaezaki (missing track for last portion)
Part 5 -- Omaezaki to Yokohama via Atami Pass

7 comments:

llewellyn said...

Loved reading about your ride. Atami was a highlight for me as I was riding via the pass (MOA Museum)ona mountain bike fully loaded touring back in May and my brakes were cooking, also had to walk for awhile as traffic was heavy.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic stuff!

Is that a Rohloff Cherubim I see?

https://plus.google.com/photos/114594837653645168993/albums/6062747929399508625/6062748887373671026?pid=6062748887373671026&oid=114594837653645168993

If so, I'll be delighted - as I live quite close to Cherubim in Machida, and I might be needing a new Rohloff wheel-build soon. Rohloff is a rare breed here, so an expert wheel builder would be a godsend.

David L. said...

Dear Anonymous:

Indeed, that does look like a Rohloff rear -- and a Schmidt front hub, on a beautiful custom frame. And Cherubim would be the place to get something special like that.

I would love to get a randonneur bike from them eventually.

Manfred von Holstein said...

Many congratulations, this is just amazing!! Do I remember correctly that this is actually the first time you have completed as much as 1,200km in one go, let alone as part of an event?

I cannot imagine staying up-right for that long, let alone continuously exercise. I don't know how you do it.

CM said...

If you DNF at the checkpoint can you continue if you want to?

Do you have to wear the orange or yellow
vest?

How much is the entry fee?

Do you have Busch and Muller
Luxos U headlight?

David L. said...

Hi CM:

If you DNF at the checkpoint can you continue if you want to?
Yes. This is an "unsupported" event on public roads. There are rules about not getting aid from non-participants outside the checkpoints -- which includes prolonged drafting etc. But of course if you DNF you still need to get home ... by bike or public transit.

Do you have to wear the orange or yellow
vest? Yes, you need a reflective vest or similar reflective gear, ... though local rules vary on whether you need to wear in the day (in Japan yes) and the details (some allow a "tasuke" sash). Audax basic rules in English are here (but additional local rules as well ...):

http://www.audax-club-parisien.com/EN/?showpage=312

How much is the entry fee? For this 1000 km event 3800 yen. For shorter brevets, typically 1000-2500 yen. For the 1200 km randonees where there are food and sleeping places provided, maybe even a mechanic at a major checkpoint, significantly higher, but still no frills and low cost.

Do you have Busch and Muller
Luxos U headlight?
No. I got one early and it failed. See my LED light reviews. On this bike/this ride I use a Busch and Mueller IQ2 Eyq T Senso Plus -- very small and fits well attached to my front brake without blocking my cables.

David L. said...

Hi CM:

If you DNF at the checkpoint can you continue if you want to?
Yes. This is an "unsupported" event on public roads. There are rules about not getting aid from non-participants outside the checkpoints -- which includes prolonged drafting etc. But of course if you DNF you still need to get home ... by bike or public transit.

Do you have to wear the orange or yellow
vest? Yes, you need a reflective vest or similar reflective gear, ... though local rules vary on whether you need to wear in the day (in Japan yes) and the details (some allow a "tasuke" sash). Audax basic rules in English are here (but additional local rules as well ...):

http://www.audax-club-parisien.com/EN/?showpage=312

How much is the entry fee? For this 1000 km event 3800 yen. For shorter brevets, typically 1000-2500 yen. For the 1200 km randonees where there are food and sleeping places provided, maybe even a mechanic at a major checkpoint, significantly higher, but still no frills and low cost.

Do you have Busch and Muller
Luxos U headlight?
No. I got one early and it failed. See my LED light reviews. On this bike/this ride I use a Busch and Mueller IQ2 Eyq T Senso Plus -- very small and fits well attached to my front brake without blocking my cables.