Four Passes and a Hernia

#1
While some were relaxing at Fuji Hill Climb the other week, I decided to head out on my own to try a few new mountain roads... and what a discovery I made ! No doubt these passes have been covered by a few hardened TCC'ers already, some of whom can actually read the Kanji on these damned Japanese maps, but here's the route, as best as I can describe it in the few minutes I have spare right now:

Toge #1: Start from Enzan station, and head north-east towards Yanagisawa-toge, on a narrow road that parallels the 411. Oh my oh my, a brutally hot first 30 mins (okay... maybe 40 mins in my case), steep, absolutely no greenery, and an orientation that seems to concentrate all the surrounding solar panels solely on your forehead. You reach a restaurant at which point you have the option to turn onto the 411 and head up to Yanagisawa Toge. But don't - instead take the narrow road heading east into the forest. This is the 201. Zig-zagged, beautifully shaded, great views, this takes you eventually past a wooden lodge at the top and then past a lake, crossing the 1600m elevation mark a couple times I estimate. And you can already taste that downhill. At the bottom, briefly join Route 20 west, and turn South onto the 212.

Toge #2: The 212 is nice shaded, and takes you up to Saseko Toge (I think...). I've seen this mentioned on past TCC threads, so I ignored the Road Closed signs. It really was closed though, but with the help of some surprised workmen in the tunnel, I clambered over a load of digging equipment and on the other side an even more surprised JCB crane driver reversed down the road to let me through. About 1000m or so. This eventually joins Route 20 again.

Toge #3: About 200m after rejoining the Route 20, take a right onto a barely noticeable "rindo". No number for this, just one of those mountain roads that have been built for the sake of, well, building roads. Initial hard climb - probably passes 1100m a few times - and then a lot of gentle ups & downs and a few groups of monkeys to dodge on the downhill. Fantastic views. Eventually joins the 705 east - follow this until hitting the 139, go north on the 139 for a few km, then east into the 35.

Toge #4: A well-know road. At 450/500m or so, hardly a TCC Toge if #1 on the list, but quite respectably painful when #4. I eventually turned off right onto the small 517, then joined the 76 to head north to Fujino station. I didn't throw up.

In total about 110km, but goodness knows what kind of elevation gain (I really should buy a GPS). I mapped it out here:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=U...638111446449776332.00044fb456b51ee2ab43c&z=11


Anyway, if the weather holds this Saturday, I'm rather thinking I wouldn't mind trying this again (allowing myself the generous option of bailing out early, this time though).

I thought I might call this a "B Team" ride to not worry myself over a little indulgence on Friday night, but Lee (Richy152) and also apparently Charles (Chazzer) and Sergey (kpykc) have so far expressed an interest in this folly so I will just have to slightly sabotage their bikes one by one. The more the merrier though (if we can't think of a strategy to get us through that tunnel, intimidation is the only thing left), so I suggest this meeting point/time:

- Sat 28th June, 09:00AM
- Enzan Station (Chuo-sen)
- The Limited Express Asuza 3 leaves Shinjuku at 07:30, arrives Enzan 08:52.
(I'll likely join at Tachikawa)

Dependent on weather, of course.


Any takers ??
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#2
Nice report Steve, sounds like a great ride. Unfortunately, I won't be able to join you guys tomorrow, but hopefully next time.

(If you map your routes in MapMyRide or Bikely or similar, you can get an elevation profile of the route and ascent/descent info. I'm attaching a map route I drew for the Gran Fondo event as an example.)
 

TOM

Maximum Pace
#3
The old Sasago tunnel at the summit of Sasago-toge

...you have the option to turn onto the 411 and head up to Yanagisawa Toge. But don't - instead take the narrow road heading east into the forest. This is the 201. Zig-zagged, beautifully shaded, great views, this takes you eventually past a wooden lodge at the top and then past a lake, crossing the 1600m elevation mark a couple times I estimate. And you can already taste that downhill. At the bottom, briefly join Route 20 west, and turn South onto the 212.

Toge #2: The 212 is nice shaded, and takes you up to Saseko Toge (I think...). I've seen this mentioned on past TCC threads, so I ignored the Road Closed signs. It really was closed though, but with the help of some surprised workmen in the tunnel, I clambered over a load of digging equipment and on the other side an even more surprised JCB crane driver reversed down the road to let me through. About 1000m or so. This eventually joins Route 20 again.

Any takers ??
Hi Steve,

Thanks a lot for sharing this adventurous route! I often do the Enzan loop from my home in Fuchu covering some 8 or more touges including Yanagisawa and Sasago (I hate to hop the train on my rides). I was aware of the existence of an alternative escape route out of the Katsunuma plains to Koshu Kaido (R.20) but didn't know this was the zigzagging narrow R.201/218 you described so attractively. I will try it out soon!

As to the Sasago tunnel, the same happened to me 2 weeks ago http://vlaamsewielrenner.blogspot.com/2008/06/la-femme-chinoise.html; I even had the guard running after me shouting DAME! DAME! (has happened more than once to me). Anyways he gave up his chase but then I got really stuck in the middle of this haunted tunnel. A dump truck occupying the entire width of the passageway was almost completely blocking the way. Somehow I managed to squeeze my bike and myself through! The puzzling thing is that there are no signboards at the bottom of Sagago-touge warning that the tunnel at the top is closed!! In the worst case (descending the same way and riding back to Tokyo through the newer and much longer Sasago tunnel on Koshu Kaido is no option...too dangerous!), I guess it is possible to use the hiking path which runs parallel over the tunnel to the other side. I'm happy though that the inside of this nasty pitch-dark tunnel is finally getting repaired (...I once crashed in there!)

Thanks again Steve for introducing the new, alternative route & hope to meet you on the road some day!
 
#4
Phil - thanks for the tip! Once I recover from the repetitive strain injury drawing all those zig-zags on the first map, I'll redo it on Bikely.com.

TOM - so that tunnel's haunted, eh ?! thinking about it now, those workmen were pretty quiet, and I did wonder at the way they shimmered translucently like that ... anyway, it'll be great to see you out there on the road, though I dare say I already have, as an blur of speed passing me on the outside --

Cheers
Steve
 
#5
Ride report

A 50% chance of rain weather forecast had turned into blue skies by Saturday morning, so there were no excuses. Lee and myself had boarded the same "Azusa Express" to Enzan, along with half the hiking population of Tokyo it seemed (note to self: next time book seats in advance).

At Enzan, it looked like it was just us two, and while we were at the 7-11 filling our water bottles, I got a call from Sergey - he'd just arrived now and was at the station! Me and Lee swapped a quick glance, a tinge of fear in our eyes: this would be no easy day.

The first climb, paralleling the 411 was murderous: steep, no breeze, no shade, and friggin' hot. In my efforts to keep Sergey within sight in front of me (failed, by the way) I over did it. Turning east up to the 201, Lee and Sergey raced ahead while I languished far behind in a terribly nauseous over-heated state: a shame, because this very long & winding tree-lined route is usually a real pleasure to cycle. When I finally got to the top I asked Lee how long he'd been waiting. "Oh, ten minutes or so", he said, but I'm sure I detected some emphasis on the "or so" ...:)
The initial downhill was briefly interrupted by another short climb, and then completely downhill to Route 20. It just lasts forever, but with some sharp curves and rough patches of road you do have to keep your wits about you.

Lunch outside a 7-11 on Route 20: hmmmm, we couldn't quite believe that we still had three Toge to go.:confused:

The climb to Sasego Toge was a welcome change of pace after the recklessness of the previous downhill (and thanks to my Mr Bean Caffeine Drink at lunchtime I managed this climb completely on the big chain-ring - a first for me). But we couldn't enjoy it completely, because at the back of all our minds we were thinking, "what will we do about the tunnel ..?". Initial suggestions discussed at the 7-11 included hauling a six-pack of beer up the mountain as a bribe for the workmen, but this idea was dismissed soon enough when it came to the question of volunteers...
Arriving at the tunnel, there were no guard-men outside, but inside about halfway down there was a large trunk blocking the width of the tunnel and some construction activity beyond that. We had several choices what to do here:
(1) Before anyone notices, carry our bikes and squeeze between the truck and tunnel wall, hoping we can get through.
(2) First get the workman to see that we're here, and then squeeze between the truck and tunnel wall, ignoring shouts of "DAME! DAME YO!"
(3) Negotiate.

Number (1) seemed pretty dangerous as we had no idea if the truck would move or what was going on the other side.
Number (2) would at least get us seen, and although as long as we can ignore the calls of the foreman it might get us through unscathed. (I believe this is TOM's method!)

We tried number (3), which failed miserably of course.

Well if we can't go through the tunnel, we decided, there is another option: go over the bloody thing. We hoisted the bikes onto our shoulders and stepped up to an overgrown hiking trail, following it upwards. A lot of undergrowth, wet roots and slippery rocks, some rather precarious descents, (and a moment of anxiety for myself when on a scouting mission to locate the track to the other side I got lost on the return leg...) but we made it ! Dirty, but unscathed. The ride was saved !

A little debris on the descent down but we made it to Route 20, and took a quick break at a Combini there. Two more Toge to go.

This next mountain road started with a long steep incline, leveling out a little a few kilometres later, at a classic "do I go left or do I go right" fork in the road. As Sergey started to power ahead I called out to him again, "remember, take the LEFT fork". There were a lot of rocks, even boulders, and the road climbed, leveled out, climbed, dipped... we were all separated. There were no cars at all, and with darker clouds rolling in the whole place was quite eerie and lonely, apart from a couple of large monkeys I passed. When I had gone down the last descent, I had expected Sergey to be waiting at the intersection at the bottom... but he wasn't. Had he taken a guess on the road and continued ahead ? ... Considering if I should phone him, he suddenly appeared coming down the slope... yep, he'd taken the wrong fork in the road, and he'd climbed half the wrong bloody pass before he'd realised. But he passed the same monkeys as I did.
Lee arrived down the hill next. "Monkeys ? No, I didn't see any monkeys ...", he said, a childlike disappointment written all over his face.

A fantastic fast and smooth downhill brought us out onto the 139 which we followed north for a short while before turning right onto the 35. A quick stop at the 7-11 there, before the fourth and final Toge of the day. We were knackered. We hit it pretty fast initially, but the last few hundred metres before the tunnel hurt us and drained us. However, once on the other side there was still a little left in the fuel tank to race each other towards Fujino. Oh, and there was even a mini-Toge to climb on the way.

A brilliant day - we boarded the train at Fujino, exhausted. Thanks very much to Lee and Sergey for joining my first self-organised TCC ride ! Let's go hiking again sometime soon :D
 

kpykc

Speeding Up
Jun 13, 2007
804
4
38
39
Tokyo
#6
Thanks for this route and report, Steve - had lots of fun riding and hiking there :)

That 1st climb was really something awful, especially, if done without stops and breaks (should try it next time). It's about 16 km, the longest serious climb I've done untill now.

Here's the profile in attach (edited, smothed and stripped of GPS "noise" ).

All in all - an excellent adventure and excellent company!
 

TOM

Maximum Pace
#7
Cyclocross

(2) First get the workman to see that we're here, and then squeeze between the truck and tunnel wall, ignoring shouts of "DAME! DAME YO!"
Number (2) would at least get us seen, and although as long as we can ignore the calls of the foreman it might get us through unscathed. (I believe this is TOM's method!)
:D

Indeed, this is my way!! I've done this "trick" some four or five times now...once had the guard literally pull my leg as I was sitting on the fence with my bike already on the other side...my leg was so slimy (another reason for shaving?????) he gave up! (that one time was at Kazahari-rindo -Okutamako-side- when closed after a typhoon had passed through the previous day). Glad you guys were able to get OVER the Sasago tunnel...yes that was the hiking path I meant running parallel to the tunnel. Lot's of great cycling in Yamanashi !!
 

Wolfman

Speeding Up
Jul 31, 2007
631
18
38
Suginamiku
#9
Lovely report Steve, and a very great route as well. Full of adventure and fun.

If I wasn't bent over my bike grunting up the hill, I guess I could have seen my first wild monkeys. Slightly disappointed to have missed them. Hopefully we'll get some opportunities to pay them a visit in the near future.

Lee