30 November 2015

Epic Ride up Iroha Zaka Amidst the Autumn Leaves?

Nikko's famous Iroha-zaha
An aerial view -- at peak fall foliage
In recent weeks, I have been pretty much staying close to Tokyo, as I have watched Facebook updates and blog posts from many Tokyo-based cyclists with spectacular photos of epic rides.

Last week, there were photos of riders going over Imagawa Pass, eating venison at Tabayama, continuing on to Yanagisawa Pass, cresting it in the eerie mist, then making their way back to Tokyo via Sasago Pass.  An incredible ride I have not done in several years, and never at this time of year.  Indeed, the photos of Fall colors were spectacular.

So this Saturday morning, Jerome and I decided to head for Iroha-zaka.


No, not THAT Iroha-zaka.  Rather, the Iroha zaka in Sakuragaoka, just up the Tamagawa about 15 kilometers from Futako Tamagawa.  We first crested Byo-in-zaka, the "hospital hill" on Kawasaki-Kaido and made a treacherous high speed descent down the NW slope. Then we hit the big climb of Irohazaka, with its four (4!!) curves of almost 180 degrees each and massive 60 meters of elevation gain!

The map lets us plan our ascent strategy

We hit the bottom section hard -- full gas!

A crazy driver careens past as we hit the first S curve.

We climb next to sheer walls of rock!

More S curves -- this time a German sports car zips past descending!

Debris on the edge of the road makes it a bit treacherous!

Finally feeling like we have made a real climb -- Tokyo stretches out in the distance below the "sakura" in "sakuragaoka"!

The walls get higher and higher as we dig deep, climbing through the curves!
Finally light at the end of the tunnel, the last, more gradual, right hand turn!
Up on top, Jerome awaits me.
Anyway, after the incredible drama that is Iroha-zaka, Sakuragaoka, we continued out Yaen-Kaido, did a loop around Tsukui-ko, and came back via Onekansen Doro.  All-in-all around 95 kms for me, including some PRs during a very fast return on parts of Onekan. Perhaps 105 kms for Jerome, and he rode again on Sunday, much farther and faster!  Add in another 25-30 kms later in the day Saturday for me on some in town errands and a trip to/from Komae to a concert and, if not an epic day, at least it felt as if I got a bit of exercise!

I said a bittersweet farewell to Jerome at the end of the ride.  We each have some travel plans in December so will not ride again together until 2016.  But we have each signed up already for the Okayama Audax 1200 km event in April.  So look forward to some REAL epic riding in the coming year!

07 November 2015

Basic route with Gunjira

I took a 4.5 hour ride today with Gunjira.  I was still tired from the week, and not in great shape in my post PBP slide. Gunjira has a new baby daughter, Nona, and has been off the bike for most of the past 6 months.  So a welcome event to ride in warm, dry November weather.

Crossing the Tamagawa and heading toward Onekan.  A quiet morning.

Mega Solar peacefully co-exists with giant spider, at the far end of the Tank Road.

Bike leaning -- Sky Blue Parlee Altum R, with the Gokiso wheels!

My bike and Gunjira's

Today Gunjira rode one of his Equilibrium bikes, made by Vlad. Road disc brakes, single front chainring.

More pix over the North side of Lake Tsukui

On the bridge over Lake Tsukui.  Twist body for photo.

Gunjira's Equilibrium tries to climb over the rail and escape
I headed back via Otarumi and Takao.  Gunjira continued on for Kobu Tunnel and Tomin no mori.
At Otarumi.  Is that, yes, surely it must be ... Mt. Fuji in the distant haze!

It was great to catch up with Gunjira and great to get on the bike and out of town a wee bit!