02 January 2017

Happy New Year Ride - Gantan (January 1) Miura 200kms!

First Sunrise of the New Year

The past few months I have not been riding as much as I would like. Yes, commuting daily and in-town errands give me a more-than-decent mileage count, but do not really build endurance or much of anything else even if they keep me from getting stir-crazy.  The longest weekend rides I have done have been a few half day trips with Jerome -- Daigo Rindo/Iriyama Pass, Tsuru Tsuru Onsen and the like. Too many weekend commitments, too much on my plate, too much lethargy. I hope that with Fall classes ending I can catch up on everything, including cycling.

So it was a great relief to start 2017 with a bang and complete a 200km brevet on January 1.  In fact, the event was done by midday, so I could get "on the scoreboard" in the New Year as early as practical.
Riders prepare and wait, with Futako Tamagawa Station visible in the background
Over 120 riders showed up at Futako Tamagawa between 11PM and midnight to ride the AJ Tamagawa event. There was a long line at the check-in table -- I showed up by 11:30PM but did not get my brevet card until almost midnight.  I needn't have worried, since I was assigned to "Wave 4" of riders (with Wave Zero going at Midnight, and with 5 minute intervals, that meant a 12:20AM start.) At least I could chat with some friends and see others while waiting in line (though, frankly, it was difficult to recognize people in the dark and with everyone bundled up in winter garb). I was glad to be wearing warm clothes so that a half hour standing in the cold and dark did not leave me shivering.
Our route, counterclockwise
This 200km took almost entirely familiar routes, but mostly ones that I use no more than a few times a year. The exceptions were the beginning -- which for a brief time tracked my former Keio SFC weekly commute route, then at about 6.5 kms into the trip, as we headed out Route 246, almost no traffic at 12:45AM on New Year's day, turned left at the Arima Hospital crossing, and went down an unfamiliar road (Kuyakusho Dori?) for around 10kms before meeting Nakahara Kaido.  I will try this route again, as it seemed a more pleasant way to get well out into Yokohama than Route 246, though not easy to judge its suitability based on one trip in the middle of the night.

Anyway, there is not so much to report about this ride. I tried not to push too hard. I often would get together with a group of riders, and lose them as they accelerated from a traffic light. Then after 500 meters or so, I would gradually start to close in on them.  When they would get stuck at another light, I would roll in, sometimes catching them just as the light changed. This happened many times on the outbound leg near Isehara/Hiratsuka, and again on the return leg in southern Yokohama - Kanazawa area by Kanazawa Hakkei sea paradise and Route 357.  I just did not have fast acceleration after a midnight start, on the somewhat heavier Oregon Randonneur bike, and I refused to waste the energy to act like a jack rabbit at the start after each red light. In the end, I covered the distance just about as quickly as the jack rabbits on their carbon framed bikes.

As I headed east along the coast road after the first checkpoint, through Oiso/Chigasaki, I noted how quiet it seemed. Where were all the youth, staying up all night in celebration of the New Year? Japan really must be aging quickly, I thought.  I need not have worried, since the partyers were out in numbers around Enoshima and Kamakura. There were even some minor coastal traffic jams, now after 4AM.  It was relatively quiet again through Hayama, Zushi and toward Misakiguchi. I felt sorry for the guy at the cash register at the Family Mart in Miura, working at 5AM on January 1. At least he looked like he might be the owner of the store, if it is a franchise operation.
Cars lined up on a side road ready to watch the sun rise over the bay and Chiba. This field with a gradual slope from the hilltop down to the bay always gives a nice vista
As I came around to the eastern side of the tip of the Miura peninsula, just after 6AM, I could see many people had driven out to watch the sunrise.  It got more and more crowded as I continued along the coast.  I pulled off a little after 630AM, knowing the sun would be up in 10-15 minutes, and was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise over hills and low clouds across the bay in Chiba.  Continuing up the coast, there were lines of cars, full parking lots and many local traffic jams created by the sunrise viewing motorists.
A few sunrise watchers in the foreground on the beach.
Many more sunrise watchers waiting in traffic a bit further up the coast.

My energy was flagging as I entered Yokosuka from the South. I found a Denny's and stopped by for breakfast, feeling sympathy for the waitresses who had duty on January 1.  I was pleasantly surprised to get two eggs, a slice of bacon, Japanese sized single sausage, small salad, 2 pancakes with syrup and whipped butter, water, and refillable coffee, all for 592 yen (inclusive), or just over $5. Impressive. And I seemed to remember past Japanese Denny's as pricey.
The Oregon Randonneur bike rests at Kannonzaki. Tsunami warning sign.

Mt. Fuji peeks over the hilltop as I pass through the Oppama/Kanazawa Area. It was visible much of the daylight portion of the ride.
Entering the Minato Mirai ("Harbor Future") area of Yokohama on the return trip.
Anyway, it was a great way to start the New Year. I was at the finish in Futako (a 7-11 at the foot of the hill below St. Mary's International School) just a few minutes after Noon, and could sleep all afternoon into evening, then again all night, and feel ready to face the challenges of 2017.

*Of course, doing a 203km ride on January 1 qualified me for completing Strava's January Gran Fondo challenge (a ride of 100km or more during this mid-winter month).  So I signed up on Strava and uploaded the ride data (after cropping the first few recorded minutes of the GPS track, as I had started recording on my iPhone just before midnight).  I was in good company completing the challenge on the first day, my name appearing with on my Strava feed alongside a real ultra-distance cyclist, HAM'R contestant Steven Abraham, who in October 2016 set the record for most miles ever recorded on bicycle in a single month (7104 miles or 11433 kms). What a great sport.

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