15 October 2008

Shiobara Hill Climb Day 2

That's how winners look like. But before anybody can jump on the sacred podiums of the Shiobara Hill Climb and receive the holy radish from the hands of the pretty shrine maidens, hard work has to be done. Read all about it.

Shiobara, the race starts in the village below and leads through the roads criss-crossing the mountain up to the point of almost no return.

Goro going down after his splendid finish.

The next day we woke up, rolling from our beds which were fixed on the sloped ground floor of the hotel very early in the morning. Painstakingly trying to be silent, we moved our two beloved bikes out through the window and made our way to the start point of the Sunday race, located at TEPCO land.

The town of Shiobara was still very quiet and no local townsfolk were on the streets yet. However from all corners, backyard alleys and manholes, cyclist were gathering on the main street and silently proceeding to the start. Tom and me were lucky to find two riders from NALSIMA FRENDS [Yes, this is what they had written on their jerseys], who rode rather fast and gave us the chance to draft effortlessly along.

Just arriving at the start area.

To our surprise we found out that the start point was not on the top of the hill, as we have investigated the previous day, but on the very bottom, immediately after the start one has to climb a slope - not a good start for me at all.

Tom has made up his strategy, which was basically to start at a crazy speed, get away from the main field and then try to maintain the distance over the first 12 km of up-and-down-land; after that, on the last climb which was equal to the race on Saturday, he would take it rather easy. My strategy was to stay with the main group the first 12 km and try to survive the 7 km climb at the end. And take it rather hard.

At the start, training for the race.

Too soon our D class group was ready to start with Tom and me pretty much at the front. The signal came and immediately Tom started to accelerate as crazy in order to gain some distance already on the first hill. However, he was not successful, many other guys could follow him and closed the gap. But the consequence was, that the average speed became very high. Whileas I was able to match the pace on the flat and downhill parts, I lost ground on every climb and finally after 4 km or so I was on my own.

My mood improved slightly as I was able to overtake some of the earlier started riders (women, but even C class), but then I was overtaken by the E class main group (one minute late start) and at the end of the 12 km run also by the F class (two minutes late start).

Whereas the race has been held on the main road so far, now the course turned to the right, where I shifted from outer into inner gear and started the long climb up. The first kilometer of climbing leads to the start point of the first day race and for the complete climbing distance [from the main street turn to the finish] a special “Climbing Price” is awarded by the organizer JCRC.

Revisiting the monster slopes of the race on the way down.

Anyway, I tried to stay with the E class field on the climb but just couldn’t. I tried to keep a steady pace up. And much to my surprise I overtook some more riders, mainly women and I could also close the gap to a rider from the D class field. So I asked him if we should stay together and go only into competition the last 500 meters, so that we can ride up faster as a team. He said yes but the result was, that I mainly pulled him up. He was a little bit faster on the very steep parts, but I was clearly faster on some of the flatter stretches.

Carefully I avoided to ride over any chestnut on the road, the most important goal was to reach the finish and collect the JCRC points, a good ranking or a good time was only of second importance.

Finally we made it within 500 meters of the goal. We started to accelerate and to sprint towards the finish, but the other guy was younger, better looking and had more reserves so in the end, as the day before, I ended up in second last place.

At the finish, basically done.

Anyway, we had good results. In the D class field Tom finished in 14th place in 49:45 min and me 36th in 1:01:00 hrs. The D class winner did an incredible 45:12.

In the special mountain price category, Tom finished in 103rd place with 29:21 min and me in 204th place with 37:36 min out of 229 (male) riders. This shows clearly that JCRC races are not neccessarily for beginners and that there are many strong riders out. Even in the female category. This incredible thirteen year old girl, who won the women category on the first day also won the mountain price in 29:40 min, almost as fast as Tom.

As usual Goro-San had the most impressive result, as he finished in 9th place in the special mountain price. He is now eligible to start in the A class, a very considerable achievement in one season, given the fact that he started in E class at the beginning of the season. Chapeau, Goro.

Tom and me then rode down the hill to the event ground were both of us were presented with the “Giant Radish of the Day” prices, which we truly deserved.

Please check our complete results here, here and here.

Overall it was a very good race in splendid surroundings and I wonder why we don’t take more such opportunities as Positivo Espresso team. We can easily rent a bigger car, throw 3 or 4 bikes inside and head for the unknown countrysides on Japan.

Naturally, after spending that much time on hill climbs during the last two days, Tom and me were still affected by the side effects of this life style,as one can clearly see in the last picture, showing us on the way home in the car.

Shiobara 2009, here we come again.Please all take a look at the statistical data of day one and day two below.

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