Went to do the Otsuki 4.5 loop alone on Saturday, it was great, good weather and not too much temperature variation along.
Beware - The tunnel GranT talks about in this post (also 2:45 on the video) - left tunnel (the one to take) is now CLOSED (till September).
In true spirit of adventure I went over the gate and stuck with the planned route - there were small tree branches and some rocks with a small construction site (reinforcing the road I guess) couple hundred meters further, also at one point I saw workers drilling the rocks. Other than that no issues.
I went out in search of TCC North yesterday, but started a little too late and never quite managed to catch up with them. But I did have a chance meeting and chat with @TOM at Kabasaka Toge - a nice guy with an even nicer bike.
I ended up riding solo, and a grand day it turned out to be. Hot enough to tan, but not so hot that I couldn't give it some welly up the climbs. Cyclists and trail runners and hikers out in force, all enjoying the sun. Then home, for some chocolate brownies and a cheese omelette.
I'm trying a new strategy for my right knee injury. I leave the GPS, heart rate monitor, and speedometer all in the drawer, and ride focusing solely on minimising knee pain. No Strava, no KOMs, no racing myself. Took in some amazing views on Daigo rindo (near Wada) and, coincidentally, also met @TOM .
@GrantT I blame your injury on Strava. I use my GPS only to document how far I've ridden. I couldn't care less about KOM's I just love being on my bike. Great views, great people to hang out with and great memories.
I had a crack at this route today, I took my new red toy for a spin and was damn glad that I went for the compact crank. The rindo was quiet and really quite serene (if you don't count the part where I could feel my breakfast trying to make a hurried exit as I strained up some of the nastier hills). A few rough patches of road but generally pretty user friendly. I just got an 11-30 cassette for my other bike so I think I'll bung that on before tackling this route again.
Yesterday I rode 188 km with 1850 m of climbing doing a Greenline loop (Tokyo - Sakado - Kuroyamasantaki - Koburi Toge - Iimori Toge - Kabasaka Toge - Shomaru Toge - Yamabushi Toge - Oume - Tokyo), cobbled together from bits of various rides by Pete (@Yamabushi).
Between Sakado and Rt299 I was joined by my friends PeterB and Byron. We stopped for lunch at Koburi toge. The lower noodle shop had a one hour queue with all the Golden Week traffic, so we tried the other one. Its only remaining choice was plain soba, but it was fine.
It was a near perfect ride.
I walked through Oume as it was busy with an omatsuri.
With this ride I'm now up to 33 consecutive months of "one century ride a month".
I've just been to Gunma and back. Um, not actually today, and not even in one day. One day there, one day doing the family thing, one day back.
Crossing Tokyo to Tabata and Arakawa, going all the way up the right bank of Arakawa till the de facto end of the bike path, up past Kumagaya, the roadside dinosaur and Menuma to Tōsuibashi, and then up the right bank (mostly) of Tonegawa -- all this was getting to be rather routine, so this time I decided that instead I'd go via Edogawa and Tonegawa.
Into central Tokyo and along Yasukuni-dōri, right through Jinbōchō. I must have walked past this building
dozens of times but I'd never previously noticed its touches of romanesque. East, east; and just before 6 am I observed
So if any of you want steel-capped sneakers first thing on a Saturday morning, now you know where to go.
So, I was on route 14, and had to turn off route 14 (which heads east) and instead take route 14 (which heads north). Uh. (Am I hopelessly eurocentric in thinking that road number such-and-such should be a single [if perhaps sometimes broken] line from one point to another, rather than having T-junctions, parallel sections, etc?)
Not an obviously interesting area of Tokyo, but I did appreciate this building, with its handsome (if stopped) clock:
Another dumb mistake when I got to Edogawa, thought "Hmm, this is smaller and weedier than I expected", and a kilometre later realized I was instead going up Shin-nakagawa. I blame sleepiness and Google Map: When you're senile like me and plan a route half an hour after you should have gone to bed, you can lose track of the scale of what you're looking at.
Well, onward to Edogawa, which was very close. And up, up, up.
Some very selective framing here. I was disappointed that there was housing (or worse) pretty much all the way up the right bank of Edogawa. Of course this is true of most of the Kantō plain, but I think Arakawa has a bit less of low-density conurbation. Though maybe I was in a bad mood. Certainly I was hungry. Bananas weren't satisfying me, so when I saw large buildings for Toppan Insatsu I guessed I'd find a konbini (or better) close to it. Lunch (tonkatsu bentō, large salad, lots-of-zeroes fake beer) at 10 a.m.
Well, Edogawa went on and on; it was a pleasant way to pass the time. At close to the start of the Edogawa there were some interesting sights, notably a Forbidden Bridge, and then a sluice or something:
This was a foretaste of a stretch of Tonegawa that was new to me. Plenty of pleasing landscapes (to which I and my little camera can't do justice); but also the surreal, in the shape of Kazo Mirai-kan (加須未来館):
This bloke is currently unknown to Wikipedia English, Japanese or Russian, but I swear he's there, strung up like Stelarc: the camera does not lie.
Ah, I'm getting off the subject. Cycling! Here are a couple of bikes for you. As you can see, the frame of mine is about 4 cm too small. Its Nitto "Technomic" stem is only a couple of years old but looks decades older than its seatpost (which cost twice as much and looks brand new). Yes, "Technomic" stems are cheap. Meanwhile, the lady is overjoyed with her classic randonneur.
A clearly marked cycling path leads in both directions from this cromulent signpost.
Now and again when you're on the Tonegawa cycling road, or path, or course, or whatever, you're reminded that you're on it.
I suppose it's useful for those who'd otherwise be under the impression that they were going along the Shin-nakagawa or whatever.
And soon enough I was at Tōsuibashi (刀水橋, route 407), then Bandō-ōhashi, then the little way up the left bank until Goryōhashi (五料橋, route 142) and this nilotic er no I mean séquanais scene:
I still know of no other cycling route that so thoughtfully provides for the lusty pair (or threesome?) of cyclists.
And up, up Tonegawa, with scenes like
Note the concrete at the bottom left. No stretch of river in Japan is complete without large expanses of concrete.
I eventually rolled in at 5 p.m. True, I hadn't been hurrying, had stopped for a sit-down lunch, had taken photos, etc; but even so, twelve hours seems a bit excessive for a flat 180 km.
Thirty minutes later I was showered, changed, and conversing. Thirty minutes after that, I'd eaten and drunk and was nodding off.
Sunday was for the (social) purpose of my trip. As for yesterday, I'd worried about rain and therefore decided to return via Arakawa (shorter). There was virtually no rain, but for most of the way home from "Saitama prefectural Yoshimi athletic park" [their screwy translation, not mine] I was riding into the wind and for most of the rest I had it blowing me to one side. Along the cycle path I could maintain 17 km/h when lucky, but at one point (on the level) I was pushed below 12 km/h. Just for one short stretch, somewhere in Kita-ku, the wind stopped (or reversed itself?) and I went up to 35 km/h before settling down to a more sensible 31 km/h. But that was short.
Tabata station is surrounded by illicitly parked pushbikes, signs warning against this, and signs pointing in contradictory directions to where bikes can be parked (I'd guess only if they're registered to do so), and even has a sad-looking jīchan with a no-bike-parking sign. So I skipped its Doutor and instead went to a nearby Pronto. Whose espresso is good (utterly unlike the stuff I'd bought at Starbucks the day before). Invigorated by Pronto, I forgot one turning and returned via Meiji-dōri: right through central Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya -- and a reminder that no popular you may think cycling may be, the number of people who enjoy cycling is vanishingly small compared with the number who enjoy shopping for clothes.
A sudden gust of wind on Nakahara-kaidō did its best to push me in front of a fast-moving white car but I got home intact; 155 km. An hour later I was guzzling a Nepali dinner, and of course beer.
Finished my #NoBikeBag* Golden Week Trip in three days instead of the planned four, riding the middle section with five wonderful Half Fast friends. I wanted to get lots of riding, but at low power to keep my knees healthy. No pain this morning so I think I've been successful.
Here's a quick summary. You don't want all the sordid details.
Day 1: Highs: The upper reaches of the Tonegawa pscyclepath, going through Maebashi etc.; nice tailwind pretty much all the way; Lodgings in Kita-Karuizawa. Lows: Road closed so had to climb up huge ramp to a long tunnel that I'd hoped to avoid.
Day 2: The climb to Kusatsu. The psyclepath north of Kusatsu; Long, fast descent from Kuresaka-tōge. Blooming yellow fields and slightly strange nattō pizza; Lodgings with steam loco in the bath. Lows: short Garmincrash™ (fortunately caught it quickly.)
Day 3: Highs: There were so many! The detours to keep off R120 as long as possible; Chugging drinking yoghurt while riding; The Marunuma ski area; Fish-on-a-stick; Crazy descent from Konsei-tōge, and then again on the I-ro-ha-zaka, and then again all the way to Utsunomiya; Riding home from Utsunomiya alone, with just the frogs' chorus and the full moon for company. Lows: Headwind all the way home, becoming crazy strong around 2 a.m.; rain on the last 2 k.m. of Konsei climb; Learning at 9 p.m. that the gates to Watarase wetlands are closed and locked at 5 p.m.
* I did have a bike bag when I left home. It bounced out of my Topeak trunk somewhere during the first 20 km on Kanpachi. So although I was planning to ride all the way - perhaps over four days - this sealed the deal. Replacement bike bag was ordered from Amazon and was waiting for me when I got home.
I woke up early today, hoping to head west and cycle around Chichibu, but it was cold and overcast so I went back to bed. Come mid-morning, the skies were distinctly bluer, and I decided to hit Shiraishi for the first time this year.
Strong winds left me feeling a little chilly; then the sun came out and all was glorious.
Couple of notes:
I descended the 飯森峠 climb, and the road conditions in the lower half had deteriorated significantly, with huge chunks gouged out of the road. I also found a water fountain (and a reasonably priced vending machine) at 県民の森. This should prove handy in the summer months.