17 April 2016

Yanagisawa and Sasago Passes on a Beautiful Day/Night

Jerome and I planned to join the Kumamoto Audax Fleche this weekend with Nagoya-based friends. We were looking forward to riding from Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture via Shikoku, and ferry to Oita, and from there on over the shoulder of Mt. Aso and on to Kumamoto.

The organizers cancelled the event within a few hours of Thursday evening's earthquake.  Of course, there was another, even bigger, quake only 28 hours later!  Looking at the massive damage from Saturday morning's BIGGER quake, I was very glad not to have been in Kumamoto on Saturday.

So on Saturday Jerome and I decided to ride into Yamanashi from our homes in Setagaya instead. After a late (930AMish start), we rode via Oume and up the hill to Okutama-ko.
A rider through the trees along the Tamagawa

The Tamagawa/Route 411 just past the Nokogiri Mountain turnoff

At Lake Okutama.  The entire hillside was flowering!

Then lunch at the far end of the lake at Yagyu-tei, our standard cafeteria-style stop.  As always, Mrs. Watanabe greeted us with a smile.

Then a long slog through Tabayama and another 800 meters of elevation gain to Yanagisawa Pass.  Jerome was ahead of me almost the entire climb, until a quick food stop at roadside just below 1200 meters elevation.  He seemed to run out of energy -- to the point I needed to wait 7-8 minutes for his arrival at the pass, unheard of.  He was revived by a soft ice cream cone at the top.
Revived a bit at 1200m elevation for the last push, thanks to a banana and some trail mix!
We had perfect weather for climbing -- not too hot, but not cold either.  Just chilly enough to merit jackets on the descent toward Enzan.  There were spectacular flowering trees both in the wild and in the orchards above Enzan.
Mt. Fuji is somewhere out there in the haze.  I could make out an outline "live".
We returned via the "Fruit Line" and then the old road to Sasago Pass.

Owls big and small watch over the intersection of Route 411 and the Fruit Line

Sunset from the Fruit Line

The old road over the pass was closed ... but it was easy to get around the gate and keep climbing, no one else near.  We quickly came to an obstacle.

But we could climb around one end carrying our bikes, and fortunately did not find any other similar blockages further up the hill.
A terrified Jerome shields his eyes from the witch's gaze.

The witch has taken my bicycle.  I'm done for!
After quick dinner stop outside Otsuki, I hopped a train home and arrived before 1130PM.  Really 165kms and 2500 meters of climbing was plenty, in anticipation of starting the Okayama 1200km randonée at 4AM next Saturday morning.  Jerome, on the other hand, rode the remaining 80km+ home, making it around a 250km day for him with arrival after 1AM.  Being Jerome, I am sure he will recover in time for Okayama.

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