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Official Ride 11th Hotaka Hill-Climb/Giro de Hotaka (20th TCC Tour)

I've payed for both days also. Ready to Rock n' Roll! Yeah!!!!! If Aaron can't make it we may have to do a last minute rent a car thing. Aaron, if you see it coming, i.e. that you have to work all night, could you let us know ASAP? That way we may be able to get a car in time. Otherwise I'll be at Aobadai station at 7am if that's the time you want me there. Cheers,
I can't make it

I'm going to have to opt out.
I'm bummed but I have too much going on at home to sort out.

Someone take pictures!
Sure I can't make it but would love to see at least one pic of the event.
Second update.

First of all...
>Sean: Really sorry to hear that you can't make it. With me & Mike, we could've made a 3-man "Aussie" team! It's a real shame, but I hope to ride with you again soon. T

For everyone-else: I got word back from Mr. Kodama;

宿泊予約金は AlanさんとAaronさんの2人が3000円づつ振込みました。

I read your mail. I've received payment from all the members (of TCC).
You'll all be staying at same place as me (Kodama). Looking forward to an enjoyable evening.
The name of the place is "Pension - Rapan".
I've also received \3,000 advance part-payment for accommodation from both Alan-san and Aaron-san. The other three guys will have to pay full on the day.
I will send any other information regarding the race and your members to Travis by the end of this week.


So guys,
It looks like it'll be the five of us! We're all in!
BTW >Thomas & Alan: Did you get the bike/car thing sorted out?

Rubber down!
Third Update!

Hey guys,
Mr. Kodama sent me everyones entry details, check-in cards for both races, and accommodation confirmations.
He also sent Sean's, even though I told him that Sean couldn't make it (it's possible that someone else could take his place).
I'll have to call the "Pension - Rapan" today to cancel his accommodation booking, or the 5 of us may end up paying for six people.

There are still some things we need to sort out first though - namely transport details. Both Aaron and Alan are going by car, and leaving at 7am (possibly earlier). Mike & I have arranged to go with Aaron, and there was talk about Thomas going with Alan, but as far as I know, we're still not sure if Thomas' bike will fit in Alan's car.
If it doesn't fit, that will mean we all have to put our heads together and come up with an alternative solution.

>Aaron: If I don't make it to your place on Friday night, what time & where will you be crossing the Chuo-line on your way up north? Or can you give me an alternative place to meet you on Saturday morning? And in the worst case scenario, will you be able fit Thomas' bike in your car too? That's a lot of questions - Sorry!

For any other details, suggestions etc, please PM everyone involved.
See you all there!
Mike & I have arranged to go with Aaron, and there was talk about Thomas going with Alan, but as far as I know, we're still not sure if Thomas' bike will fit in Alan's car. If it doesn't fit, that will mean we all have to put our heads together and come up with an alternative solution.

Thanks for the details, Travis. We'll have a bike fitting session tonight. :)
>Aaron: If I don't make it to your place on Friday night, what time & where will you be crossing the Chuo-line on your way up north? Or can you give me an alternative place to meet you on Saturday morning? And in the worst case scenario, will you be able fit Thomas' bike in your car too? That's a lot of questions - Sorry!

Since Sean is out, I could fit Thomas and his bike in principle. The difficulty is where to meet. My plan was to get on the highway at Aobadai and stay on it until Numata. There are many off-ramps on the Shuto Kosoku that do not have corresponding on-ramps. Any ideas?

I know that Yoga and Ikebukuro are good for a quick off and back on, but am not sure where else. The route looks like this:

タクシー料金¥63,300 (注意)






0.3Km 東名高速道路


0.7Km 東名高速道路


24.7Km 東名高速道路


1.9Km 首都都心環状線


2Km 首都都心環状線


9Km 首都5号池袋線


11.7Km 首都5号池袋線


0.6Km 東京外環自動車道


8Km 東京外環自動車道


27.5Km 関越自動車道


50.7Km 関越自動車道


6.1Km 関越自動車道


41.6Km 関越自動車道


0.5Km 国道120号


0.5Km 国道120号


6.2Km 県道64号


16Km 県道64号





Aobadai at 7am, it is!

I'll be there!
I don't know about Thomas yet - Apparently, he and Alan are going to see if both bikes will fit (in Alan's car) some time this evening.

Don't know how that will turn out, but just in case...

Scenario 1: If Thomas & Alan cannot manage to bend Thomas' titanium frame & get it in the car, we'll both meet you & Mike at Aobadai station at 7am - 3 of us - Mike, Travis, Thomas.

Scenario 2: If Thomas & Alan CAN get things sorted out, I'll meet you at Aobadai station with Mike - just the 2 of us (I wish that wasn't the name of a "Carpenters' song) - Mike & I will meet you there at 7:00.

>Aaron: Don't worry so much about the 快速道路 turn-offs. We'll be at Aobadai at 7:00!
The major worry for you will again be; is it 3 bikes, or four?
If the number of bikes is not too much of an issue for you, then let me deal with the logistics of getting there on time, OK!
Thanks for your help! Both, Aaron & Alan!


The car will handle two bikes on top and two on the back.

When you exit the ticket gate at Aobadai, there is a bus rotary to the right and a taxi rank straight ahead. Another exit to the left lets out on a corner. Use that exit.

Across the main road is Tokyu department store. Across a small street going sharply uphill is a bookstore. I will park on that slope. 07:00.

Don't know the "lay of the land" in that area yet, but I'll get there early enough to check it out first, and find out where you mean.
If Mike knows where you're talking about, I'll probably spot him first anyway!
See you both there!
See you there!

I'll leave home a 4am, and ride to Shibuya (25km).
Then jump on the 5:51 from there, which arrives at 6:26 - that'll give me time for an early morning beverage, to help me sleep in Pucci's car during the drive up!
Already sounds like fun!... Oh yeah, and then we have a "hill-climb" race to do in the afternoon - with a 22% gradient!
And I thought my friends were masochistic...:D:climb01:


looking forward to your good run and tours.

Full report - Saturday

I rode out to Aobadai several hours early to meet Aaron and Mike.
Unfortunately, to avoid going to sleep and missing the race altogether, I spent a couple of hours at KARAOKE between 4-6am; and smelled like a brewery later on.

After a few hours sleep in the car (and a traffic-jam that I snored through), the three of us arrived just in time for the 12:30 race-check-in.
Alan & Thomas arrived much earlier, at about 11:15 and were calling us frantically…
And with Aaron, Mike & I arriving at 12:28, we were cutting things a bit fine.

Was TT-style, with each of us being sent off at 30-second intervals in order of our race numbers:

Alan: 26,
Mike: 27,
Travis: 61,
Thomas: 62,
Aaron: 74.

There was also another member of TCC, who entered individually:
Marek – "livestrong" – It was good to see you again, after the "Tour de Hanabi" ride.
He was number 7.

Was a 9.2km (We had words with the organizers later regarding the discrepancy – They'd written "8.1km" on the form) hill-climb, with a short (80m) stretch at a 22%-gradient!
This is NO lie!!!.
The first 5km up to the car-park where we'd checked in was not too bad at all – average, about 5%, with a few steeper sections and one or two short down-hill sections to break the monotony.
Once we passed the car-park however, the gradient became a lot steeper as we wound our way around the ski-lifts on what I think was a paved "emergency-road" for ambulances during the winter ski season – average gradient 9-11% (roughly).
There were some steeper sections in which we all wondered, "is this the 22% they're all talking about?", and it was quite hard to tell… Until we finally reached said "22%"!
There was no mistaking it for any other part of the climb – IT WAS FIERCE!!!!
There was one "saving-grace" which was that, just before you start climbing it, there's a 5-6m flat section where you can have a "rest"…
By "rest" I mean you can come to "almost" a complete stop – track-stand-style – and lower your heart-rate a bit before you start the climb.
I saw a lot of people completely stopped there on that flat section, trying to find the courage to even attempt it – the rider about 30m in front of me DID come to a complete stop on the climb, and without un-clipping (possibly unable to) just fell over sideways.
The only thing that kept most of us going was the fact that there were a lot of people on the side of the climb holding cameras, just waiting for something like that to happen – It was only "pride" that kept most of us from stopping – not wanting to have our photo taken like that.

Anyway, we all made it with reasonable times…

Alan: 35 min,
Mike: 39 min,
Thomas: 39 min,
Aaron: 42 min,
Travis: 43 min.

After the race, we all drove down to the "pension" (a kind of hotel), and checked in – Mike rode his bike down, but went slightly further than necessary, and then had to ride back up about 3km – but we were finally all back together about 30 minutes later.

Once everyone had their luggage stowed away, we all headed for the local ONSEN.
It is actually a really nice place to stop & relax in – A fairly large complex, with all facilities included…
…We all sat around there, before the "bath", discussing how terrible that 22% piece of devil's work was, while sipping our "lavender beer" – another piece of devil's work!

When we arrived back, we were invited into the room of the "Race Organizer – Mr. Kodama himself"; who was fairly liberal with Nihon-shu (Japanese sake), and we sat around talking for a while.
Dinner was called, and we all went downstairs to eat – a pretty decent meal of bread, salad, soup, fish and steak.
After dinner, we sat around talking again… and watching a "French-cycling-comedy" DVD, with 2 other members of TCC (who were by chance) staying in the same place:
Thierry – "Terry",
Tom – "TOM",
and their friend, Alain;
Who came along for the following day's 120km race.

Anyway, we were all in bed by about 9:30pm, because we had to be up for breakfast by 5:30 the next morning.
Somebody accused me of snoring, and although some of the other guys backed up that assumption, "I never heard a thing", so I can't validate the truth of that statement.

Anyway, that was "day one"!

The "Day two" report will follow, but is unfortunately not as cheerful.
Read about it in: "Full report – Sunday".

Full report - Sunday

If you ask, "How was the race"?
My only answer is, "It depends who you ask!"

This was the "120km" ride that we all broke our weekend plans to do – this was the one we were all looking forward to!
The 9km-hill-climb the day before was just a warm up – We all knew that, "If we can't do 9km, we shouldn't even be here!"

We all woke up early – some from my snoring; and others from the banging of plates downstairs (for us to have breakfast at 5:30, the owners of the place had to start cooking by 3:30am) – the place really does need thicker walls, floors, and doors, though.

Breakfast: Luke-warm toast, eggs, ham and salad, etc. (Rice – if you wanted it)
Standard fare…

Back to the race:
We were all lining up at the start, ready to go by 6:45 (start time at 7:00), but this time we were rolling DOWN the hill in groups of 20, one minute apart from each other.

Alan & Mike, being numbers 26 & 27 respectively, rolled out together at 7:01; while Travis (me), Thomas & Aaron, being numbers 61, 62 & 74 respectively, rolled out two minutes later, (7:03) in the same group.
Our friend Marek "livestrong" (number 7), was in the very first bunch (7:00 start).
Apparently, Alan & Mike's group caught up to the trailers of his group and him (Marek) very quickly.
There was a touch of wheels, and one guy went down very hard – at around 50km/h!
Alan was very lucky to make it through the gap, while (as we found out later) it was Marek's back wheel that the unfortunate guy hit – Not long after that, Marek had to drop out, and spend the rest of the race in the (broom-wagon) bus, because his back wheel was screwed after that guy banged into it.

(Thanks Marek, for waving me on from the bus window!) - Mike told me that he saw the whole thing, and he knows that it wasn't your fault.

A bigger problem was still yet to come…
1. My meter stopped working, so I had no idea of distances or speeds after a few kilometres…

We were due to make a left-hand turn at about the 24km-mark. I was in a group of about five guys, and it seems that none of them knew either, so we all just kept going straight. It was a nice road – fairly scenic, and not too steep – when after about 5km of climbing (thinking that I've only got 10km to go to the top of the first climb), I see a line of 8-10 guys coming flying down the hill on the other side…
My first thought was, "There are no turn-arounds on this ride. Maybe it's a different group of cyclists."
Then, just as they were flying past on the right, I spotted a familiar jersey, and Thomas was screaming at me, "WRONG WAY!!!!!!"
I immediately did a U-turn and followed them back to correct turn-off.

Even without the meter, I was able to "do the math" in my head:
I had ridden 5(unnecessary) kilometres up the wrong road – which cost me about 15 minutes there, plus another 5 minutes getting back (fast down-hill) to the real turn-off.
While Thomas, had ridden up about 10km, and then had the ride back – meaning he'd lost over 30 minutes in his over-all standing.

>I really feel for you Thomas! That SUCKED!
You had to explain to the guys later, "I would've been here 30-35 minutes quicker, if only…"
And then the guys are goin', "yeah, yeah, yeah…whatever!" (The guys didn't really say that! - They are not that insensitive!)

After that incident though, I really DID feel like throwing in the towel.
I was ready to stop at the top of that first climb, and get on the bus with Marek.
I stopped at the first check-point at the top of the first (and biggest climb), had one of the bananas they were handing out, and a "VAAM" gel, but it was still only 9:20, so I realized that despite the screw-up, I WAS still on schedule.

The rest of the ride was kind of a "bummer" for me – knowing that I'd lost time; and also knowing that Thomas had lost even more.

OVERALL though: The course was a good one.
The "ups" were long, but not too steep, and the "downs" were fairly exciting – there were a few cracks in some of the roads, some of which you needed to be a bit careful of – but overall, it was pretty good. That first long down-hill from the check-point was absolutely FREEZING, though!
Towards the end of the ride, they finally had guys out there "pointing" you in the right direction… (IF ONLY they were there at the beginning of the ride)…

I arrived at the top just as Alan & Thomas were driving out of there, heading home.
It was a little after 1pm, but I figure without the 20 minutes of lost time, I would have made it there within 6 hours - which is all I was aiming for in the first place, so I'm not too disappointed – Remember that a week ago, before I did the "Half-Pucci" with Alan & Christoph, I was worried that I might not even finish.

We should have the final results in the next couple of days, but until then…

Thanks, Everyone who came, in alphabetical order:


Enjoyed reading your report Travis! I too thought the parcourse was a great one because of the variation & the nice distance. There ought to be more races of this kind (not just those short, single-ascent hill climbs). I wrote a thank-you note to this Kodama guy complementing him on his obvious passion for the sport but also advising him to field sufficient marshals along the road to point us in the right direction at crucial wakaremichis next year! Really enjoyed the company of all you TCC guys! Looks like there are real fast & strong ones amongst you!
The one that gets away is always the biggest!

It has occurred to me that fishing & cycling have something in common…the mental process by which humans tend to blow up out of all proportion failures which, had they not occurred, would have turned a certain venture into a huge success! 釣り落とした魚は大きいThe fish one fails the land is (always) the biggest! I was sure to win a medal, but alas! I failed to make a left turn and continued for 15km along the wrong road...had I followed the right course, I would have had a medal around my neck!

The evening before the "race," after watching "Le Velo de Ghislain Lambert" with members of the TCC Team, Alain, Terry and I were going over our tactics in all its details, including the exact timing of consuming a power gel. The "race" started perfect…with Alain and me taking the lead on the first downhill section and then myself pulling a small peloton, or rather, an escape group of about 10 riders for some 20 minutes until we hit a spot with a road turning left and upwards…we were all looking at each other…no signboards, no official "Giro" marshals to point us in the correct direction. We decided to go for the easiest…follow the road straight ahead. And so we went in one long-stretched line…beautiful scenery, a nice clear mountain stream on the right side...

After a while, the map, we had tried to input into our minds the previous evening, popped up in front of my eyes, we were going up but not at the steep gradient we were supposed to be following…our doubts were soon confirmed…the road ended in a Y fork chained on both sides! Wrong road…everyone double back!!! Goodbye medals!!!:rolleyes:

Since "Giro de Hotaka" is not a real race but more of a cyclo-tourism type of event, we did not allow to let the wrong road demoralize ourselves and completed the rest of the ride in great comradeship! The mushroom soup afterwards tasted fantastic!

I hope that for next year and all future editions of this "Giro de Hotaka," the organizers will field sufficient marshals at all crucial sections - from beginning to start - to point riders in the right direction...as really ought to be the case.
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