16 November 2014

Saturday to Saitama ... and back

On Saturday I got in a nice 185km round trip to Yorii in NW Saitama and back.  This is the time of year we often see the best riding weather in Tokyo, and Saturday was no exception!

I met my colleague Aiko-san at Moroyama and we did about 65 kms of the ride together.  It was the furthest he has gone on the road bike he got last winter, but other than a pre-lunch semi bonk, solved by a Snickers bar, he made it without difficulty.

Aiko-san as we approach Yorii
I needed to be home by 430PM, so started around 640AM, was in Moroyama by 915AM, and just made it back on time.  Instead of riding up the Tamagawa all the way to Oume, I headed north from the river earlier.  I let Strava choose part of the route for me, drawing the track using Strava's function that bases routing on popularity among other cyclists.  That worked well on the way out, and I ended up on Route 59, a decent road with shoulder heading north for what seemed like almost 10 kms, west of Tachikawa and east of Akishima/Fussa.  Then I found myself on a route taken on Brevets to get through this area, across the tea fields of Oume/Iruma, and down into Iruma.

Iruma, Hanno, Hidaka, Komagawa, then Moroyama. ... Then with Aiko-san on Saitama Route 30 to Ogose, Tokigawa, Ogawamachi, onto Route 254, then a local road over a hill and eventually down into Yorii.  Then back.

As we rode out through Tokigawa I saw a sign at an intersection pointing left toward Shiroishi Pass via Route 172, and a cyclist just starting to head that direction ... but not today.  I was on the clock and it would have been a bit too much of a climb for my colleague, yet.
Lots of Honda facilities around Ogawamachi ... all hidden from the road and landscaped nicely.
We stopped for lunch at a nice looking (and quite busy) small, local Japanese food place in Ogawamachi. There were explanations about the famous "washi" or traditional Japanese paper that comes from the town.  And the waiter told us of some kind of town event going on Saturday -- if we visited 5 places we could enter a prize lottery.  We regretfully declined.

These towns are all an an area of rolling hills, west of the Saitama plain and east of the real hills and mountains.  Nice country for riding through and lots of places to stop for food or a side visit, and a good place for a new road cyclist to build up strength at riding on rolling hills, or for an experienced cyclist to try to hold a tempo on an upward incline.
Looking across some farms at the south facing slope where will plan our next solar project.  Ready to build soon.
But too much traffic and too many trucks on a Saturday mid-day.  It would have been a miserable day to drive around suburban Saitama, I expect.
A former chicken farm in Moroyama that is now a small solar park.  No fence (?)
On the way home I had intended to follow the same route ... but for some reason the track did not show on my Garmin.  Perhaps because I had turned it off during lunch, then back on again?  Or another Garmin gremlin?  In any event, I followed  the Route 299 bypass -- 2 lanes in each direction, quite fast but heavy traffic.  Then I hunted and pecked my way around Tokorozawa vicinity -- slow going and wasted time.  Then eventually I headed south on Fuchu Kaido all the way toward the Tamagawa, at one point passing the long, high, grey wall of the prison in Fuchu ... the same route as the early season Aoba 300 brevet that Jerome and I joined.  Stop and go traffic the entire way, but at least faster by bicycle than by car.
In the shadows.  At least my jacket is visible.
The Canyon Shark was a joy to ride.  I rode it with my Fulcrum Racing 3 wheels and tubeless tires - fast and comfortable.  Of course, I had relatively fresh legs after not riding last weekend, plus the benefit of a good base from my heavy riding schedule in Sept/Oct. So I felt strong the entire day.   Likewise, the early winter Q36.5 clothing was perfect.

My only complaint was a sticking link in my Ultegra 6800 chain.  This sticking happened first on Wednesday, and I cleaned thoroughly and lubricated the chain (using basic Kure CRC 5-56) then ... and subsequently had no trouble with it going 75 kms to/from Keio SFC.  But again on Saturday morning the link started to stick and I would suffer a "clunk" and slip a bit each revolution of the chain as the sticking link entered the derailleur.  This drove me a bit crazy and slowed me down, but I adjusted as best I could.  I could not fix it despite several attempts to manually loosen up the offending link -- the only result was grease all over my gloves.  I eventually found an open Shell gasoline stand, at the tea fields of Iruma.  They lent me a can of the Kure 5-56 and a towel, and I could again thoroughly clean the chain (and especially the offending link).  They refused my offer to pay for the service -- typical Japan.

The chain was trouble free the rest of the day.  I think the offending link is the one where I inserted the Shimano fixing pin to assemble the chain on my bicycle.  It must have bent slightly when I snapped off the end of the Shimano fixing pin with a pliers.  Or maybe the pin fits more tightly than others.  So I look at this as likely a Shimano design defect.  As the chains get thinner and thinner, they get more fragile and more subject to this kind of problem with just a little grit, not serious dirt.  This chain has less than 1000 kms on it and I would hope is good for another 5000 or more ... but at a minimum I will need to keep it extremely clean and lube it much more carefully than I would normally -- before every ride.


Kasper Anker said...

Read all of your topics as Im moving to Tokyo in September next year. Much appreciated and good info. Im class A licens rider here from Denmark. Are you on Strava?

David Litt said...

Hi Kasper:
Yes, I am on Strava. I see you just joined the Strava Tokyo Cycling Club group. Look forward to riding once you get here. I will try to get a bit faster by then. But as others will tell you, I say that most years -- next year I will focus on SPEED and lose some weight for faster CLIMBING.