Nice one, Mike! I’m interested to see how you go in Kiryu area. I’ve looked around there before on Google Maps as it’s just about reachable for a ride from my house (about 50km one way). Would be interested to see your route.
Long weekend got me some more tiles - this time in Gunma and Tochigi - and (finally) an increment to my MaxSquare, which is now 46*46. Yay!
Some amazing bonus hanami, plenty of gravel to be found on the sideroads, a fun battle with a belligerent construction crew, and zero vehicular traffic a lot of the time. There were some quarries as I got closer to Tochigi, with consequent truckery, but nothing too bad.
I stayed two nights as a preview of the forthcoming GS Astuto Airbnb Cyclebase in Kiryū. I think it will be a great facility for individuals or small groups who'd like to explore the area. The Kiryū river is virtually on the doorstep, so it's possible to cycle there from central Tokyo all along riverside cyclepaths and without encountering a single pesky hill. Plenty of entertainment nearby for non- or minimally-cycling family members, too. I'll share details on TCC once the minpaku license is granted.
Next MaxSquare advancement ride will be in Tochigi. I might go up in GW...
I'm kinda glad I didn't plan a long GW trip this year - those friends who set out yesterday on tours found all sorts of snow and hail up in the mountains.
I stayed in bed yesterday.
But today I took an early train out to Shin-tochigi - a very quiet Tōbu line station - and embarked on a 137 km ride that would increase my MaxSquare from 46*46 to 48*48, as well as lay groundwork for further increments.
This turned out to be quite an adventure. I will illustrate and comment:
Thanks for the draft, dude. But your beret looks daft.
Atmospheric (and eerily silent) limestone quarry. Thought I'd have to trespass, but the road actually goes through/between/beyond.
G-gulp. Entering the first new VV tile of the day. Anticipating the tōge to come. (It wasn't so bad.)
Lots of roads like this. Deserted. A little dirty. Perfect for me and Eric the Adventure Bike.
A charming campground/resort up a dead-end valley.
As far as I needed to go up the next valley across. Road is gravel now, and even the fishermen don't bother coming up this far.
Excellent advice, for once, from a Japanese street sign.
That's your new house, that is. You built that with your own cursed hands.
The most adventurous part turned out to be after all the gravel roads and climbing, back on the fringe of the Kantō plain.
Strava's persistently ßeta-version Route ßuilder had routed me over the Kurokawa using this bridge here...
Only problem is:
No bridge. There were signs warning 全面通行止め ("completely unpassable road"), but this can in many cases be taken with a large pinch of salt when on a bike. This time...
Really. No bridge. I could go back and reroute to the nearest actual river crossing. But that would add an unspecified number of kilometers. The water doesn't look so deep...
Water is not warm. Naturally, my shoes - cunningly-balanced on the top tube - fell into the river. But I was able to rescue them before too much soaking occurred.
The view from the far side. Still no bridge. I wasn't imagining it.
Actually, battling barefoot through neck-high reeds was much harder than fording the river.
Back on dry tarmac - a little first-aid for my scratched-up legs. Must remember to lube the chain in the morning.
And... normal service is resumed.
I got to Tōbu Utsunomiya station just three minutes before a train departure, and managed to get the bike sort-of in its bag. It's a helluva long way home from there. Got in a little before 10.00 p.m. A grand day out.
Maybe time to add 'pith helmet' to your bike packing list? Getting to be quite and adventure.
Having abandoned any hope of challenging, or even coming close to, your amazing tiling record, I contented myself with a ride that gave me only about 5 new tiles but were strategic mountain tiles. Still 21x21, but with drier weather coming, hope to push up into the mountains and finally work on those tiles around Tanzawa.
Had a nice day out on the bike, trying to collect some tiles on near 413/Doshi. Rain threatened all day long but held off, so turned into a nice day of cycling.
Got on 413 and was doing OK. Picked up a tile here and there. Then took a loop off 413 for a couple more. Route builder really needs to indicate what kind of surface it routes you on to... (sigh). So the loop started out paved, then hardpack, then became the stuff mountain bikes were made for. Needed to walk a significant part of it given I rode my Cannondale vs. my Surly, but looked like beautiful stuff for mountain biking. Bloaker would have loved it. All in all, I emerged muddy and so was the bike...brakes caught all the mud so had to stop and de-gunk them pretty often.
Finally, back on pavement for the last 1 km and now I'm behind schedule with the Tsuru pass ahead. Attempted one more tile up along 24 near the toge. Thought I might be able to hike the 200 meters between the road and the tile. No such luck. Parked the bike and started to scramble up a rock strewn river bed that got steep really fast. Inspired by Half-Fast Mike's perseverance in the face of adversity, I scrambled on. Unfortunately, my GPS indicated I was still about 150 meters from the tile-bagging-zone but facing an increasingly vertical climb. Nuts to that! Guess I'll have to attack it from the other side some day.
The rest of the ride up over the toge and then down to Otsuki was pretty uneventful. Caught the trains just right so got the limited express back after waiting only 5 minutes or so. Tired, scratched up and muddy, but a great day on the bike.
If I can join - at the moment I don't see any logistical reason why not - I might crave your indulgence in a couple of five-minute detours to get adjacent tiles you have that I don't. Would that be alright?
I was thinking of going to the end of the route then trying to scramble along river beds that fork north and south. But the longer hike sounds fun and would help me bag more tiles that have been bugging me. As for the quick detours, no problem.
So, let me know what you decide. I'll be going tomorrow anyway, so no biggie if you can't make it.
@Karl@Half-Fast Mike do you think I could tag along with 28mm tires or is this a very off road route? The pictures in this thread are sweet, but I left my gravel tires on the wrong continent (oops) so if it's too gnarly I don't want to be dead weight Otherwise I could probably show up at Shin-Matsuda around 7:30am.