Race 2015 Mt Haruna TT and Hillclimb

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
435
103
Tokyo
#1
Just back from a weekend racing at Mt. Haruna near Takasaki. This has become one of the most popular races in Japan recently with 300 people participating in the Time Trial and 6,000 (!) in the hillclimb. The time trial is on Saturday afternoon and the hillclimb is early on Sunday morning.

The TT is incredibly difficult to enter, and I ended up racing as a ringer, as one of the lucky few who got a place pulled out. The course runs around the south and west sides of Lake Haruna, at 1,100m elevation. Rather than going all the way around the lake, it is an out-and-back. It's very short, only 6.3km in total! Nevertheless, there were some very serious looking riders with full TT kit: TT bikes, disc wheels, aero helmets and skinsuits were very much in evidence. I felt a bit nervous as I lined up with my "normal" bike and kit.
The start was a proper TT start ramp. My turn came and one of the marshalls stabilised my bike, while another held a red flag just in front. The riders were going at about 15 sec intervals. The rider to my left rolled down the ramp and I knew it would soon be time to go. Sure enough, the starter raised the flag and I pushed off in a big gear down the ramp and off around the lake. My heart rate immediately jumped to maximum as I got up to speed along the flat section of the course. There were a couple of small rises, then the biggest climb of the course, up to a right turn junction. As I approached the summit I caught the rider ahead. Then it was a downhill back to the lakeside so I pushed hard to get maximum benefit from the descent. All the while I was telling myself "keep low, smooth pedalling, elbows IN, push push push!" Soon I reached the turnaround point, at the bottom of a small hill. I braked as late as I dared and tried to keep my speed high through the turn then it was out-of-the-saddle again and back up to speed for the return leg. By now I was catching more riders and ended up passing six riders in total! The final "big" climb took me back up to the junction then it was down and flat to the finish. The final km seemed to take forever but I finally saw the finish line and a last push got me across the line in 9 min 33 sec, enough for 3rd place overall! I was quite stunned at that result as I expected to be obliterated by the TT specialists. But lucky for me the course was quite twisty and undulating, so I wasn't at such a big disadvantage with my road bike.

Today was the hillclimb, which starts at a ridiculously early time. So I was out of bed before daylight and heading for the course. With 6,000 participants, the parking areas are some distance from the start. So it was about 5 or 6km ride to the start, which was pandemonium as all the riders tried to drop of their bags, warm up, use the toilets and line up in the correct place for the start. I wasn't able to do as good a warm up as I would have liked, but it seemed everyone was in the same situation, so I tried to not let it bother me.
Bang on time we rolled out from the Elite grid to the start line, where there was a short opening ceremony. I was able to sneak forward to the second row of the grid behind some invited pros. @Naomi was racing in the women's Elite and was a couple of rows back. It was already hot and sunny.
The gun went and we were off, with the invited pros and fast riders pushing the pace pretty much from the start. The course is steep, then flat, then really steep to the finish. I tried to stay near the front on the first steep section. However a couple of groups soon developed. I was in the second group, and didn't want to be the one at the front. So I took a position near the front. There was a small break when a couple of riders tried to bridge to the first group, but they could not hang on. They looked strong so I bridged over to them but unfortunately took most of the group with me. So we were back together. Through the flatter sections it was a fight to not slack off and lose time or places; the speed of the group was incredible. I managed to hang on while keeping enough in the tank for the final steeper section (I thought). As the road began to rise in earnest, I dug deep and was able to get to the front of the group. From then on it was a case of gradually reeling in the riders who had been dropped from the first group, and I managed to pick off a few. Just before the finish, I caught two more riders and passed them, but one of them retaliated with enough strength that I just couldn't make the move stick. I crossed the goal line at maximum heart rate with nothing left and legs like jelly. I ended up in 14th place in the Elite class, taking nearly two minutes off my time from last year. Naomi-san managed 4th in the Elite ladies which was a great result too.






Altogether I was pretty satisfied with my results and had a good time racing.
 

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
435
103
Tokyo
#4
Cheers @andywood ! I seem to have timed my peak right this year.

Next race is Nariki in a couple of weeks time, then I will be taking a break from Japan for a few weeks.
My main focus this year is the Ootaki 100km mountainbike race but I will check out the Chokai event too; sounds like it might suit me!
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
1,593
1,276
133
Niigata
#5
Check out some 八島カップ videos on youtube. There are some good ones. The TT is on Saturday afternoon. The HC is on Sunday morning.

It's a long way to go so best to make a long weekend of it. There is another road up Chokai san, the Blue Line. This is worth a climb, particularly as you can go up one side and descend the other.

There is free camping by the onsen and entertainment (fireworks etc) on Saturday night.

Unfortunately we are busy that weekend but Andrew Whitaker and family are going.

As for Ootaki, maybe chat to @AdamCobain as I think he did it last year.

Good luck!

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time