What's new

Race Giro de Hotaka 2015 - The perfect storm - Part 1

Adam Cobain

Maximum Pace
Jul 1, 2014
My racing agenda this year has been a more channelled approach, with the focus on quality rather than quantity. The older I get the more I like the long endurance (4+hours) and a good chunk of climbing. This is hard to find on the road, so XCM (marathon distance MTB races) and MTB stage racing has been my focus over the last few years. Unfortunately, Japan does not have too many of these types of events, so a lot of pressure is put on a small few of them and this years two main events have both been disasters for me. I needed something to redeem myself and the year and living in the area, the Giro de Hotaka seemed the best target.
The course is a great 120km loop around Mt. Hotaka and has about 2600m of climbing; it is also stunning area to cycle. The only real issue can be the weather, which can be extremely cold to snow on the high passes in late October, and having raced this with @andywood many moons ago, remember still the sharp cold. The only solution is to ride fast. I needed a goal, other than just to ride to win, as it is difficult to assess the field and their abilities. Many just ride it, others try to beat last years time, but always a few big hitters line up.
With that in mind, and a bit of course knowledge, my goal was to go under 4 hours. Now, 4 hours you may say is easy for120km, but keep in mind the climbing, the weather (20-40km/h gusting NW) and the fact that a fit Adam, Andy and Andrew did a 4:10 in 2007 all working well and sharing turns. 2014 was around a 4:15 for the win and seems to be the average for a solid effort. Had I bitten off more than I could chew?
Regardless, I need a bit of pressure, the Garmin virtual partner was established at 30km/h average and I should be expected to finish the course in about 3:55. These types of paramteres can be great or they can destroy you, especially on the lumpy stuff. My race plan was simple, just ride hard and within tempo for 4 hours, no stopping, only 2 brand new MAAP bottles for hydration. The other main issue with the average speed parameter is traffic lights and roadworks, these can annoy you royally, but road rules must be adhered to. The Giro de Hotaka is a unique event, as it is marshalled at all the major turns, they can stop traffic for you sometimes, there is a lead moto, and it is all on public roads. Pretty cool.
True to style, the weather was cold, (it had been 22 on the day before and 22 the day after), but was a freezing 1degree at the start line on the southern side of Mt. Hotaka, more than 1100m up. The NW blew over the top and smashed into the backs of the riders as they tried to keep warm with a few minutes to go. I rolled down the hill a few hundred metres, and tried to get some warmth in the body before the start and noticed on the steep 400m final the wet cold leaves were very slippery. My start plan was established, as if I had any actual doubt about my plan anyway, but to ride right on the front, 2nd or 3rd wheel on the descent and avoid the cold nervous riders getting the loose leaves under their wheels and hope to dodge any carnage.
I rolled back to the start line and see Mr. Hillclimb, Murayama-san, getting ready. We have had some great battles over the years and he is never to be underestimated, especially if he gets a sniff. People will certainly watch him, I however, am unkown here, Perfect.
The MC counts us down and before we know it the near minus temperatures are trying their hardest to get to my core temperature, it is time to ride... Part 2 coming soon.
Last edited:


Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
2007! Do you remember A TCC rider crashed on the first descent?

I snotted you just after that!

You took it badly and dished it out on every climb!

I remember Andrew said I was the "best descender since Sean Yates" as I battled to get back on each time.

My only contribution to the cause was a drag through the streets of Minakami...

We should write that one up too, such am I enjoying this one...



Top Bottom