Checked the Tamasai website while having toast and coffee this morning. Seemed like nobody was going on the "asaren" (sanrenkyu family service?) so I spend some extra time getting my bike in order and studying the map of today's mighty ride once more.
It was still a bit chilly out when I first got astride my revamped Neocot (tried to give her a more "VLAAMS" look!). I passed Koremasa bridge around 6:30 I think and didn't see any team members.
Garmin 500 seemed to work all right guiding me along the complicated "back roads to Odawara". (Jerome - allow me to be your guide next time!) I knew TCC had a ride leaving from Odawara Station at 9:00 and I tried to pinpoint my own arrival. Missed target by 15 minutes...
The Tokaido and other roads between Odawara and Hakone were badly congested, no wonder with the long weekend and the splendid weather we had today. Some bus drivers were working on my nerves by purposefully? trying to squeeze me off the road or into concrete blocks. I made a fist and pounded several times on their flanks (as seen on one of those NY messenger video clips) and sure got their attention after I threw an angry look while dramatically gesticulating at the driver.
After a while - and once on the Hakoneura Highway (Rd 138), traffic improved noticeably and I had the entire Otome tunnel for myself. Otome Road （乙女道路）was quite nice and the descent into Gotemba was thrilling not to say bloodcurdling because of sudden blasts of wind that would violently shove me into the middle section of the road. The weather got very gusty between 10:00 and noon and I tried to lower my position on the bike as much as I could.
Traffic got heavier again in the Gotemba area but after a while, Rd 138 turned very tranquil again. On my way up Kagozaka-toge （籠坂峠）, my Garmin 500 got stuck at height 933 meters, I only noticed when I saw a signboard saying 1100 meters above sealevel....shoot! Garmin frozen!!
The little downhill to Lake Yamanaka was fast and I saw quite a few cyclists coming from the other direction - many burube-riders as well (Positivo Espresso David L among them?).
At the 7/11 near the Doshimichi entrance, I took a quick lunch while watching one Brevet cyclist after the other arrive. Jeez...these bikes are loaded! ...some riders were carrying huge (30l?) backpacks while staring at A3-sized maps mounted on some board attached through some contraption onto their handlebars. Although the sunlight was near-blinding, some of them were riding with all their (powerful) lights beaming. A bizarre tribe indeed these burubes!
Doshimichi was FAST and I thankfully took advance of a wonderful tailwind grinding away in my biggest artillery (53TX11T)...complete happiness. The new W-levers (also called downtube levers in English) are fantastic and even function as "chain silencers," whenever the chain is diagonally positioned and rubbing against the front derailleur, I can cancel out the annoying noise by fine-adjusting with the left-hand lever.
While approaching the Y-fork near the end of Doshimichi, I sensed an unmistakable endorphin rush welling up and this time without hesitation, I resolutely turned left, adding Makime-toge. It seemed like ages since I last climbed this little sucker and I was surprised at the steep incline. 28T in the back came in very conveniently.
I continued using the Hiroshi-Twist and burst into laughter as I spotted the cactuses (cacti?) in front of the Drug Baron of Lake Tsukui's mansion. Yes, MOB you were not exaggerating for once again...they are not fake ones! I guess a real druglord is living in there too and I wouldn't be surprised he's from Columbia.
A bit higher up, I ran into two beautiful sakuras - some kind of hayasakizakura? Beautiful that was - like the entire day today.