What's new

July 16-19, Nikko


Speeding Up
May 29, 2008
I'm going to head up to Nikko for the long weekend in July to have some fun in the mountains. I'm slow :eek: (compared to most TCCers) and basically planning to ride by myself but would love some fellow cyclist company in the hostel to relate stories and share recommendations for what mountains to head up. :D

I'm planning to go back up to Tohoku for Obon and want to get some days in a row in the mountains in for a bit of practice first:weight:

I'm going to say here
primarily because it is cheap and my favorite hostel up by chuzenji seems to have closed... I'll head up Friday after work on the Tobu line and head back to Tokyo Monday.

Who wants to join me?
Hey Kori - I may be interested in this. I could use a city break. When is the 'long weekend' , btw?

p.s. I know you're NOT that slow!!
I seem to remember getting beat by some guy in his 50s on a fixie going up Wada.... :eek:

July 17-19th.
What a fantastic weekend!

Three days in Nikko were so great. I highly recommend the little hostel. They thought it was the coolest thing that someone would actually bike these little passes and were nice enough to let me keep my bike in the lobby at night.

Day one:
Kirifuriyama, Hwy 169 out of Nikko.

I started this ride about two years ago when I was still riding my steel Bianchi and it's a beautiful mountain with a solid 1100m of climbing with most of the grade between 7-10%. Last time I got a flat about 2/3 of the way up and then it started pouring rain and, as it was autumn, it was a cold descent. So, I was excited for the rematch.

I started climbing steadily and found a nice groove and before long I passed a place I recognized that I had stopped last time to catch my breath. This time I felt ok and totally cool to continue up. And then before long, I passed another place I had stopped last time... and another and another... and then I realized I might just make it all the way to the top without stopping! Holding a steady 8 or 9 km/hr I told myself that even if I can't do anything else for the rest of the weekend, I've got to get to top without stopping. One spin at a time, trying to keep my breathing as rhythmic as possible, lying to myself with every turn that I must be close soon, I spun up and up and after 1 hour 20 minutes and a liter of water later, crested the top. NO STOPPING. I was so so so so pleased. When I climbed Kirifuriyama before I must have stopped 6 times or more. My legs hurt so badly and I was kind of shot for the rest of the day but was SO happy. and surprised. I can do that?!? This is very new for me. This is the first time that I am absolutely sure that the new me on the new bike would have dropped the old me on the old bike. I had no idea that I am SO much faster than I used to be!

The decent down is gorgeous, wide road with a nice surface, white fences and green pastures filled with the happiest looking cows you can imagine. I stopped at the restaurant at the T in the road for fried Camembert cheese and to rehydrate.

My legs were quite wobbly after pushing myself harder than I knew was possible and the rain the forecast hinted at was looking like a real possibility so I opted to head north rather than make a loop around to Chuzenji (save that for day 2). The descent down the Rt 23 was beautiful though a little ruined by the voice in my head telling me I'll have to climb back up it later today (lies...) and Rt 23 has some crazy scary tunnels!

Nonetheless, despite crossing fingers and hoping for the best around 3pm the thunder started to get insistent and rain started falling like it might be serious about not letting rainy season give way to summer just yet. Robbed of a beautiful day out! I decided the best thing to do was to high tail it back to the hostel and curl up with a book. I clocked out with 87km and 1620 m of climbing.

Day 2. Chuzenji-ko and Sanou pass.

I felt great the next morning and weather looked a bit gray but promised sun soon. I headed west up 120 to Chuzenji, again NO STOPPING up the 20 switch backs and even passing a couple of other cyclists on the way?!? It's like I barely recognize myself. It must because I finally got a real summer jersey with pockets so I don't need my little backpack... Riding along the lake is lovely and I continued along the Romantic Road all the way to Yumoto Onsen... completely missing my turn over the little Sanou pass which is right by bus stop 39 and not marked with normal road signs.

This little road connects the Chuzenji side with the upper part of the Kinugawa onsen area. The road is narrow, basically single lane and has some rocks on it but is generally in decent shape except for the grates which seem made to catch tires. Nonetheless the climb was beautiful, the cars and motorcycles not too plentiful, and the views amazing. The descent was not made for setting any records as many of the grates were set a few centimeters above or below the road surface and therefore needed to be encountered at less than break neck speed. Still fun and once I got back down to Rt 23, it was an easy beautiful descent back to where I was yesterday, including that climbing 169 back to the restaurant for more fried cheese was totally worth it. They were sold out, but the ice cream was good and the down hill from there along little Rt 245 is fantastic ending with a long straight away through a gorgeous cedar forest.

I made it back in time to catch my friend up just for a daytrip for dinner and clocked out at 107km and 1920 m climbing (all no stopping!)

Day 3 Mystery pass....
The original thought was either to take the train fairly early in the day and get home in time to give my bike some good TLC after all the scummy tunnels and rain, or to have a shorter day and still get home in time to do laundry.

ah, plans... at least I decided braving this tunnel was probably not a good idea. Have any of you done this on a bike?

I headed up 121 which is a slow incline and though it has a fair amount of traffic, still a nice ride. The farther you go up the rivers are beautiful. Before 121 meets Rt 400 there is a little rindo that heads west. Now, on the internet, there is no evidence that this road even connects.... so I kind of guessed with the routing. but it's there on my Mapple and seemed like a good idea, sorta. It was beautiful and generally, the pavement/asphalt was really good quality. Rocks and branches all over the road and a bit over grown. Evidence of bears. No traffic. A total of ONE car carrying some surveyors or hikers the whole time. Beautiful, though a little scary to be so far from everything. The road climbs up and up as the humidity also climbed and the dark clouds started to roll in. Perhaps the feeling of ominousness was the clouds and not the spookily high quality road that no one uses at all. Beautiful mountains. As I neared the summit, it started to sprinkle. I got up to the top and decided that since the road was already wet, I might as well catch my breath and see if the rain passed, which it obligingly did after about 10 minutes. The last picture is from the top of the little mystery pass. Gorgeous.

Going down was... a bit intense. I decided the attitude to have was, "Hitting rocks is unavoidable and kind of out of my control, how fast I hit them is in my control though." A few spots had a proper stream over the road, fallen branches and jugding by the number of spiderwebs I caught, not many people go up there.

I was pleased and tired when I got to the bottom and ready for a snack. After a little nap and some food, it was time for another climb up 249 which felt like it took forever but was, as was everything, gorgeous, and had such a great down hill I felt so great that when considering the choice of heading back with only downhill or one more climb up 169... I told myself it was only like 5 km up (lies), and decided to climb. About 2 minutes on the third climb of the day, (the 8th of the weekend?), my legs were not so happy about the decision, but the potential of fried cheese once again called, or maybe river fish, or at least ice cream... but I made it up my last climb claiming an ENTIRE WEEKEND of NO STOPPING up the hills. This is a huge first in my life.

The last downhill down 245 was great because I'd done it the day before so knew the corners a little and no cars slowed me down and I caught the train from ShimoImaichi totally totally exhausted and happy and knowing this is exactly why I came back to Japan.:happy:

I'm addicted. I love climbing. :bike:
Excellent pictures and the report, Kori! It looks like you have spent an awesome weekend in the mountains. We should join forces for a multi-day climbing/touring trip somehow.

PS. I will keep Nikko in my mind next time I decide to spend couple of days for climbing :)
Thanks for sharing, Kori! :)

Two weeks ago, I spent a wonderful weekend in Nikko, without bicycle though. I promised myself to return there, "becycled" and ready to climb.
Kori, congratulations on your great climbing - three days in a row, that's quite something.

I really like the area. Have come down to Nikko twice, after races in Gunma and Shiobara (yes, that's quite a ride in both cases).

That tunnel is definitely passable - have done so after the Shiobara race in reverse direction - but it is not without traffic. I'm sure I had lights with me to be safe.




Wow, you were climbing and climbing for 3days in a row! Great job:clap:
Sounds very nice routes for :bike:. I love Niko, especially Senjyo-gahara and Chuzenji lake! I have been to there many times, but have not ridden around there. I will definitely bring my Terry next time with me:)

PS: Shinobu and I are planning `Girls ride` tomorrow. We will start from Musashi-Itsukaichi station @ 8:00AM, go up to Tomin-no-mori and down to Okutama lake, and come back the same way to Musashiitsukaichi station. If you are interested, please come to join us. But the pace might be too slow for you:warau:... , because this heat leaves me exhausted. too hot:eek:uch:

Naomi, I would love to go with you.... but I have to work. (or at least pretend to work as I think about cycling). I really want to go up Kazuhari and see how it feels now. It was my first real hill climb and なつかしかな。。。

But I'd love to ride with you guys! I hope to be a go-go-girl one day. :D


and Ludwig, it's good to know the tunnel is passable. Maybe it's just a Mapmyride glitch but it claims the grade is nearly 20%, which is hard to believe... but many things in Japan are-- including a 3km long super steep tunnel.

On your route it still looks steep but not crazy drop like a ton of bricks steep.

Thanks for the info!
It looks steep on mapmyride, because the software doesn't recognize tunnels and and assumes the road goes over the mountain. This is a problem for larger tunnels when some of the track point lie inside the tunnel and thus seem to be on top of the mountain. No problem usually when tunnels are short.
Top Bottom