zondag 18 oktober 2009

Different tires different roads

Terrific Indian Summer day...25 degrees, little wind and blue skies all over! Tried my cyclocross tires for the first time....wonderful,what a joy! Combined with the 35c fat tires, the cantilever brakes worked perfect, just like normal road bike ones on a 23c tires.

I rode to the Itsukaichi 7/11 first and instead of continuing to Motoshuku 本宿 and Tomin-no-mori, I turned left direction Iriyama-toge入山峠 and Daigo 醍醐 from where I continued to Wada-toge, one could call this the North-approach I guess. Many cyclists were gathered at the top of Wada and looked surprised to see a road bike emerge from the dirt road above!

I rounded off today's ride going over the "onsen-road," Koyama-san favorite training spot which ends at Bijotani-kousen 美女谷鉱泉.



































































































zaterdag 17 oktober 2009

Arima-toge ~ Nenogongen Loop


With a long business trip coming up next week, I decided to forfeit the PE-TCC Hotaka ride as this would have been a long and exhausting day. Instead, I stayed "near home" and went for a short version of my "gehin-na-michi" loop.
At Sekidobashi, the bi-annual bicycle flea market was already in full swing when I passed through around 9:30. This year's "clientele" was very different from other years...lots of messenger-like, hip-hop youngsters on fixies! There were also some very beautiful old-timer randonneurs for sale. But what a crowd!
Arima-toge was completely in the mist above 900 meters; the entire road was closed to traffic for woodcutters at work so no worry about oncoming vehicles.
Around 1:30, I passed through Chichibu town where I ate a hot sandwich. After a brief lunch break, I decided cut the Green Line part and return via Yamabushi toge.
I filled my bottle at the "holy fountain" near the bottom. I wanted to do some more climbing and took the left turn to Nenogongen.
Along my way up, I ran into a very weird beast that looked like a cross between an inoshishi wild boar and a tanuki raccoon dog. The little beast kept looking up at me as I approached and the moment I ran past it, it suddenly started shivering and running away while making sounds like a pig. My wife tells me it might be a "hakubishin" ハクビシン 白鼻芯 or an "uribou" ... never heard of these creatures before!
Back home I was happy to find the pair of Buster X "All-Around Cyclo Cross Tires (700X35) I had ordered. Will give them a try tomorrow!






















maandag 12 oktober 2009

Honeypottering II

Went cycling with "my better half" all day! No particular ride plan except getting a pot or two of our favorite "white clover" honey at Yanokuchi, Inagi-shi.

As we rode back along Benten-dori to the Tamasai, we decided to ride a little further direction Futakotamagawa. We got there in no time, the weather was splendid and as we continued to pedal we had reached Haneda before we knew it! We watched the airplanes take off and land while basking in the sun...very peaceful.

Riding back home, we took the Nogawa Cycling Road from Futakotamagawa. This cycling road runs through Setagaya all the way to Fuchu and beyond and is ideal for pottering, not very fast and with some idyllic spots here and there. Health-Sports Day well spent!





























zaterdag 10 oktober 2009

Onnagokoro to Akinosora

Autumn skies are like a woman's heart... as this Japanese proverb suggests, both can be very fickle and hard to predict!

Met Thomas and Sergey at Hashimoto Station for another epic ride of the "Three Peaks," or so we thought! The skies above Yabitsu did not look right...thick and dark clouds hanging low. It was unanimously decided to cut today's menu down to "One Peak" only...Yabitsu!

On our way up, we came up with the idea to stage our own version of "Giro de Hotaka" now that this year's version seems to have been cancelled. Yes, next Saturday will be Hotaka time again and hopefully the koyo red leaves will be prettier than previous years. More details will follow soon on the TCC and the Positivo Espresso website. The Giro will be conceived as a one-day event without staying overnight and be more of a congenial ride than the ususal "race".

Our climb to the top had some very sunny stretches but gradually the sky turned darker and darker until the first raindrops were felt. It was Sergey who imposed the tempo all the way until the last 1k when Thomas launched an unstoppable attack. By then it had started to rain in earnest and I saw the gap between myself and my 2 mates widen to more than 200 meters. We took shelter at the top until the downpour became weaker. We decided to take bite the sour apple and double back although Sergey was more intent on descending towards Hadano. In retrospect, Sergey's plan was probably the best as the skies cleared up again! I got home at 13:30 with plenty of gyoza waiting for me on the table!

Tomorrow, I plan to join the VLAAMS boys again for an early morning ride.

zondag 4 oktober 2009

Picturesque R.299...Shigasaka-toge & Jikkoku-toge


R.299...not your most pleasant national "kokudou" road; the image of huge dump and other trucks passing by at high speed sometimes only 20 cm away on one's right side and no escape zone on the left side is indeed nightmarish. Today however, thanks to Positivo Espresso's David L.'s ambitious ride plan all the way to Saku-shi, Nagano Pref., I discovered a most pleasant part of this R.299 I so many times cursed before.

Nishibe-san and I had arrived almost at the same time at Sekidobashi just in time to jump in the wheels of Jerome and David at 6:13 precisely. As we were eating our breakfast at the Higashi-Ome 7/11, the skies above Yamabushi-toge looked very dark and threatening...morning showers ahead! It was raining around the top of Yamabushi-toge and the downhill was very wet and chilly. Once we got the Chichibu, the skies gradually cleared up again and soon the R.299 road surface would become cork-dry again. Before attacking Shigasaka-toge, we loaded ourselves up with food again at what we believed would be the last combini but there were at least 3 more further ahead.

Halfway on Shigasaka, I found myself alone and from that point onwards, most of the ride was a solo affair. Shigasaka is a very minor pass, so small I did not realize I actually crested it. The scenery was impressive: here and there rocky mountains of the kind that belong in the Alps. There was also very little traffic, a couple motorcyclist groups and a few cars. Along the way, there was some kind of a Jurassic Park featuring prehistoric reptiles from Mongolia...the place looked very abandoned...

On to Jikkoku (also pronouncable as Jukkoku) -toge! Again, R.299 was very tranquil and gradually became narrower. This is when I slowed down considerably hoping my three mates of the day would catch me...there was no sign of life behind me though. I had no choice but to push on and I decided to put my X-Fire to the test with plenty of outer-ring dancing. The incline of this pass is rather mild never above 10% I would guess. It had gotten pretty cold by the time the observation tower at the top appeared. As I was eating my dorayaki, I had a nice conversation with an elderly couple and their dog. The man was talking to this dog all the time and referring to his wife as "okaasan".

I waited at the top until I could not longer bear the cold. I had put on my knee and arm warmers and a vest but if one is not moving this doesn't help much so decided to do a slow solo downhill. As the elevation dropped from about 1300m to 900m, the temperature went up again and I was starting to feel comfortable again when far behind me I heard Jerome calling out my name! Happily reunited, the four of us sped down towards Saku. The road was wide and the sky above blue!

Near Sakudaira Station, we all had a late "tomato-ramen" lunch with lots of garlic in. Quite delicious but the beer tasted a bit like water... We bought our Shinkansen tickets with about 12 minutes left to "rinko" our bikes before the train was scheduled to arrive. Fortunately, Nishibe-san decided to leave the pedals attached to his bike and in the end we all made it inside just in time!

A happy surprise inside the Shinkansen was waiting: Jerome treated us with a big can of beer and wonderful salami to celebrate a most successful and memorable ride!