Today July 2019

MattRyuu

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Well, here she is. Went out for a ride today after taking on/off the rim brakes no less than 5 times per wheel, buying hammers, a sander, and a new utility knife to keep the pads at least a few mm off the rims.

The ride, exactly as yesterday, but with the new wheel set, K's Denki to southern end of Arakawa -> 16.32 km and back. Yesterday, nearly no wind, 30km south, about 37 km/h North. Today, 25-30 km/h south but felt easy, the wind was just too fierce. North was 37-42 km/h. These wheels...FLY! Thanks @stu_kawagoe , @luka @leicaman @GrantT for all your technical help and advice. Thanks @Half-Fast Mike for the GP5000 suggestion. Love 'em.

Now to plan my upgrade to a full carbon TT bike with disc brakes. Wife: uhhhh, is the spare bedroom becoming a bike shop?
 

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luka

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I was looking forward to trying the handlebar I've seen on @joewein 's bike and ordered on amazon 5-6 days ago. got contacted today to say they're out of stock, can't source it, so they're cancelling my order... blah I'll have a bit more looking around. also, looking forward to your sea-to-summit Fuji ride report soon @joewein .

tomorrow I might go up the river for some Saitama climbing. just got outta work, surprised that the forecast changed and tommorow looks rideable, while Sunday looks bad. nice southerly to push us up north if the rain remains limited to several hours during night as they forecast. PM me if you wanna join, have 2-3 interested so far, but no commitments yet. better yet, I'll start a thread for a (tentative ride) tomorrow
 
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joewein

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I had skipped two weekends for cycling, riding no further than 5 km at a time for groceries since the ride with @microcord on July 8. Part of it was due to the weather, part of it time spent with family. I was starting to worry about maintaining my fitness and also the mental conditioning from long rides. There were two rides on my list for this year that are a bit extreme: a) closed Rt 76 between Aone village on Doshi michi and Lake Tanzawa and b) the Sea level - Fuji 5th station - sea level ride. Rt76 I only want to do with company, for safety reasons. But the Fuji ride seemed just the right medicine for a spell of inactivity.

The ride on Friday was the third time I had cycled to the Mt Fuji 5th station on Subaru line starting from close to sea level. Before that I had also done one climb starting from and finishing at Fujiyoshia. Riding to Yamanakako from Tokyo via Doshi michi Yamabushi toge and then down to the coast is a pretty full day for me. By the time I made it out past Michi no Eki Doshi and up to the toge to see Mt Fuji and Yamanakako from the east, I'm basically done for the day. Another 4+ hours of climbing from the north side is the last thing I would need.

Combining the Yamanakako ride with a Fuji climb turns it into an insanity I don't want to do very often because in a way it's just too much. I first did it in 2013, two years after the Fuji-only climb and tellingly I didn't attempt it again until 2017. AFAIK I never did a writeup for that 2017 ride, either because I was too tired for too long or I didn't want to remind myself of the experience. Both rides were in July, to have Fuji clear of snow and as much daylight as possible. Both times even Doshi and Yamanakako had been sizzling with heat. By the time you get to Fuji, the damage is already done.

I wanted to do this ride on the Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer. I had done all previous climbs on my Bike Friday. Because I can't rinko the NFE and I couldn't have done the ride without an overnight stop if I started from Tokyo, I decided to drive to Shin-Matsuda with the NFE in the back of the car. I woke up at 4 in the morning, left home around 05:40 and with all the traffic on Tomei only made it to Shin-Matsuda by 07:25. I used a coin parking lot next to a Familymart that charges 800 yen for 24 hours.



It was already 30 C when I started riding towards Gotemba. I had beautiful views of now snow cap-less Mt Fuji already from Tomei and along the climb towards Gotemba. I enjoyed every meter of shade I got on the climb. I actually got pretty sunburnt, despite the clouds later in the day. Serves me right for not using sun screen :(



As I climbed towards Kagosaka toge I saw a huge amount of thick clouds, some menacingly dark, to the east of Mt Fuji and it had me worried how much rain I might see later. The climb to Rt150 turn-off on Rt394 and then to the toge itself was easier than I remembered it. Maybe it was my well-rested legs :)



It was much cooler on the Yamanakako side. I decided to ride around the east side of the lake, where the views are normally better, but Fuji was mostly obscured by clouds. It was now noon time and after I had already passed Restaurant Himalaya, a new Indian/Nepali food place, I turned around and had lunch there, since garlic nan appears to work well for me to complete rides when I pass through Ome. Their experienced chef has been cooking curries for over thirty years. It was pretty good.



When I got out of the restaurant again I had to change into my rain gear as it had started to drizzle quite a bit. Later it stopped, only to start again. I took scenic route 717 through Oshino towards Kawaguchiko instead of following busy Rt138, the main highway to Fujiyoshida. With the start-stop rain, dark clouds in one place and sunlight in others, I wasn't sure if being on the mountain in this weather was going to be a good idea. I decided that I would aim for the toll gate and if it wasn't raining at the time, I would start climbing. I could always bail out mid-way if it didn't work out. After a final conbini stop to make sure I had enough hydration I started to climb towards the Subaru line.

From July 10 to September 10 Subaru line will be closed to private cars. Only buses, taxis, motorcycles and bicycles are allowed. And buses there were plenty, seemingly more than at the Shinjuku bus terminal! Bicycles, not so many. Often three buses would thunder past me one after another, sometimes with little more than 30 cm between my shoulder and the vehicle. I did not enjoy that very much.



The toll gate (200 yen for cyclists) is somewhere around 1100 m. From there it's about 24 km to the 5th Station. There are road markers for a 1st to 4th station, but those are just elevation markers. There are also a few parking areas with toilets, but the tap water there is not supposed to be drinkable, same at the toilet next to the toll gate.





I love the "above the clouds" views from the higher view points. There was soft evening light, everything looked very peaceful. I expected I would make it to the 5th Station around 18:00, with time to spare before the sunset so I could take pictures from up there too. But then I entered the fog and it started drizzling again. So I stopped and changed back into my rain gear. The fog was pretty thick and the wind lashed me with the fine rain.

Then my GPS started playing up, adding like a km at a time. I was 5 km ahead of the proper value within minutes. I paused and resumed it and that seemed to cure it. It was then that I remember that I had left my micro-USB cable attached to the computer, instead of packing it along with the USB battery. So I had no way to recharge the GPS for the return ride. I started up RWGPS on on of my phones as a backup.



When I finally arrived at the 5th station, most of the tour bus tourists had already left. It was only Fuji hikers left. I took a picture of the bike under the sign, then asked in one of the shops if they happened to sell USB cables. They didn't and nor did the adjacent shop, but they found one they could lend me for a while, if I wanted to take a break there. So I had dinner with some coffee upstairs while the GPS charged for 50 minutes, more than enough to last all the way back to the car. All the staff was very friendly as we chatted. I was asked if I had a towel so I could dry myself and didn't catch a cold. They were surprised someone would cycle up Fuji in this weather.

The souvenir shop downstairs closed and the staff waved me off as I got on my bike to start the descent. I was very happy about my hydraulic disk brakes on the almost 30 km down to the main road. Once some deer rans across the road, but I had kept my speed down because I was aware they were around. I had seen some in the forest on the way up.

Just about the only problem I had was the amount of rain on my glasses, which sometimes made it difficult to see despite the bright enough headlights. The rain never once eased off. I was using plastic bags on top of my socks to prevent splashing puddles from soaking my socks.

Then back on the main road to climb towards Yamanakako. I did buy a USB cable at a conbini, but never actually had to use it. I don't like Rt138 at the Fuji 5 Lakes, but I just wanted to get home. I followed the east coast of Yamanakako, then climbed back up to Kagosaka toge. Then the long descent towards near Gotemba. Again: Thank you, disk brakes! 24 km from rejoining to Rt394 to Shin-Matsuda. The worst part was a short section of Rt246 to which there is no alternative. Again, trucks blasting past in a hurry.

I was relieved when I safely got back to the parking lot near Shin-Matsuda station. It was still raining and did so on Tomei expressway when I drove back to Tokyo after midnight. I was glad to take off the rain gear and change into dry shoes before loading up the car. Today I washed and dried everything.

Riding in the rain and especially riding in the rain at night wasn't very pleasant, though my cheap rain gear did a surprisingly good job. But this is the thing: I ride long distances not just for the great views and sometimes nice people and good food you come across. I also do it because it confronts me with a great variety of situations that I come across and have to deal with. If I have to do so and so to get home again, I will do it. Cycling builds character, or perhaps that's just my excuse for repeatedly doing stupid stuff ;)



I'm not sure where my next ride will go, but I know that other ride on Rt76 across the Tanzawa mountains is still waiting for me!
 
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luka

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@joewein that was a blast of a ride right there! thanks for the report

also, finally took delivery of the nitto handlebars you recommend. Looking forward to trying them out in the new frame in about 2 weeks. certainly look and feel great in and of themselves. let's see which of the two I bought will be a better fit

1564226145772.png
 
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Half-Fast Mike

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Sea level - Fuji 5th station - sea level ride.
Next time - if there's a next time - how about starting from Fuji city and riding up to 5th Station on the Gotemba route? I see from VV that you've hiked that route - it might be satisfying to link them up.
Rt76 across the Tanzawa mountains is still waiting for me
I want to do this road - the Inugoe-ji - again. It's been more than 10 years for me. But I want to go in the opposite direction with my hardtail MTB!
 
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luka

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I want to do this road - the Inugoe-ji - again. It's been more than 10 years for me. But I want to go in the opposite direction with my hardtail MTB!
do you mean to tell me there's something connecting yamanakako to miyagase or that area crossing tanzawa mountains?! route 76 does not connect on google maps past some visitor center? I gotta do this if there's a way
 

joewein

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Next time - if there's a next time - how about starting from Fuji city and riding up to 5th Station on the Gotemba route? I see from VV that you've hiked that route - it might be satisfying to link them up.
Well spotted! That's from this hike on 2012-08-07 (my second Fuji climb):

I want to do this road - the Inugoe-ji - again. It's been more than 10 years for me. But I want to go in the opposite direction with my hardtail MTB!
You want to go south to north? Because it's easier to descend on a rough road than to climb it? I can kind of sympathize with that.

Last time we did the route we met up at Takao, rode down 76 to Aone and then continued into post-Armageddon. After we made it back into human civilization my friends caught a train from Shin-Matsuda while I cycled back to Tokyo.

I think more people are interested in a re-run, including our mutual friend Tim.
 
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Karl

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I did that ride a few years ago, just to see what it was like and to document it for others who might be interested. This what I wrote and there are some pics as well that might help you to better understand what it is like. I'd also like to do it again sometime.

 

Half-Fast Mike

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luka

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@Karl @Half-Fast Mike thanks, just what I needed to know. definitely wanna do it. the gravel bike should be ready in 2-3 weeks at most, so anytime after that I'm game. I see snakes, monkeys, risk of bears... and go yeah baby
 
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luka

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btw, on google map you catch glimpses of route 729 going west from the lake or the dam below the visitor center and connecting to yamanakako. it looks like hard packed gravel for most part, and also worth visiting
 

Karl

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@luka I was up that way the other day.


Komoot is good for sorting out the type of roads you'll find. Wish I'd looked at it before doing the ride up that way. It's pretty much a rock garden. (See my recent post in TCC Tilers thread for a short writeup.)

If I remember correctly, 729 turns to rock garden for a quite a while, but just where I turned around, it went back to asphalt.
 
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luka

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ah so that's the same deal. got it now. things out west can still be a little confusing for a northerner like myself ;)

you have 4 dead-ends and turn-arounds in that route, but I'm wondering is there really no way that the first (or much less likely the second) of those might connect to one of the roads leading to yamanakako? when you turn around, is it because it was impossible, or just to explore different routes?
 

Karl

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The first turnaround was just at the point where the road became asphalt again. Looked like it was really nice from then on, but I was on a mission (collecting tiles) so duty called and I turned around instead of going ahead and descending on the road. Komoot says the whole thing is asphalt but that's not how I remember it. (But then I'm getting older.) So, I'm pretty sure that if I continued on the road instead of turning around, I could connect to the road that goes to Yamanakako (147). Komoot won't let me plot the route from 147 north but shows the trail you are pointing to, and I imagine it allows you to connect all the way to my turnaround point.
 
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luka

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great, it means if one is up for it, it would be possible to, for example, start from Fujino station, follow route 76 into the tanzawa wilderness, take 729 etc to yamanakako and maybe train back from Fuji san station or thereabouts. checking out Yu-Shin valley along the way might also be worthwhile, seeing how amazing the place is (even if the road is officially closed)
 

Karl

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Theoretically. With the caveat that I haven't ridden that trail, and sometimes trails.... trail off (i.e. are closed for some reason or there is an obstacle that can't be skirted around). But that part is less than a kilometer so as long as there is no major obstacle, it should be doable.
 

luka

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yep, seeing that it indeed connects to the road ahead, and satellite map shows gap in the forest where the road is supposed to be, I'm almost certain it's doable. pretty short as you say, so I don't expect much surprises there, but theoretically anything could happen, true dat