Mt Fuji Hill Climb

joewein

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#1
Has anyone here done the Mt Fuji Hill Climb race in June? I am thinking of doing a run up the mountain to the fifth stage along the same course as the race, sometime before it gets too cold or snow becomes a problem (I did the rest of the route, from the 5th stage to the peak on foot in August :) ), weather permitting.

It's over 100 km from Tokyo to Mt Fuji, so my current plan is to drive to Fujihokuroku Park by car with the bike in the trunk, park the car there and cycle to the fifth stage and coast back down again. Any idea what temperatures to expect in late October? Probably close to freezing near the 5th stage I guess...

Also, I don't have much experience with long mountain climbs yet. With an average gradient of about 5% for 24 km, will the descent be hard on the brakes (no disc brakes here), or will air resistance take care of most of the energy?
 
May 22, 2007
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#5
Fair enough. Although there are some posts from people doing this road, the Fuji Subaru Line, mostly as part of a longer ride from Tokyo, there doesn't seem to be much about people entering the "funride" version. (It's not a race, although they award 'fun' completion time bracket stickers in various colors. 5,500+ riders is a huge event.)

Search for fuji fun ride or fuji funride

Focus has generally been on the considerably more insane Fuji International Hill Climb on the Azami Line. I think they take place on the same day.

The Subaru Line is fine. It's a long hill. Not particularly steep. Some lovely views if you get a nice day. There's a 200 yen toll for bicycles, after which you can fill your lungs with exhaust gases from the tour buses that trundle up there all day every day. I don't know whether they suspend the bus services on race day.
 

joewein

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#6
Thanks, Mike! That was a very helpful reply.

I love Mount Fuji and will gladly put up with some fumes from tour buses on the way up. Any excuse is good enough to spend some time around the mountain ;)

I found this in an article about cycling speeds, which confirmed that I shouldn't have to worry too much about the 5% descent:

For the 80 kilo rider (including bike and baggage) on a 7% slope, with a 0.45 aerodynamic coefficient (hybrid) V will be 10.21 meters/sec = 36.8 kilometers/hour = 22 miles per hour.
 

Ludwig

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Oct 9, 2008
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#7
Wonder whether anyone here has experience riding a bike with such small wheels down a mountain. What sort of speed can you do without the bike getting rather unstable? Braking could indeed become an issue if you have to go rather slow, and these small wheels offer far less surface for cooling down than our normal road bikes. Probably not an issue, but I would definitely worry about speed and comfort. And most importantly temperature - it'll be absolutely freezing going down 1,500m.:eek:
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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#8
Done this hill --- on a broken track bike, then climbed it, came back, ate a bear and went home.

http://www.roadfixie.com/?s=Roadfixie+to+Fuji

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJcVqYxC2BI

Oh yeah - I also did it as part of the 'Funride' event before they decided to start kicking out fixed gear riders. This is a good climb - like Mike says, long and somewhat scenic. Azami line is where the real action is for hardcore climbers. Yeah - except that Clay will win. Again. And Again.

The 'freezing descent' was not an issue - when your legs are working as hard downhill as up you barely notice the temperature. It just becomes tedious in both directions, that's all.
 

joewein

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#9
Wonder whether anyone here has experience riding a bike with such small wheels down a mountain. What sort of speed can you do without the bike getting rather unstable?
What you're saying seems to be a commonly held view towards small-wheeled bikes, but do you actually have experience with one? The gyroscopic effect becomes stronger as the wheel spins faster and a small wheel spins at higher RPMs for a given speed.

If 20" wheels and smaller were inherently unstable at high speed, why do motorbikes (which are even faster) use 17" to 19" wheels?

I can't say I feel much of a difference compared to my son's conventional road bike at anything above slow walking speeds.

And most importantly temperature - it'll be absolutely freezing going down 1,500m.:eek:
The top of Fuji tends to be 20C colder than the base and at the 5th station you're about half way to to the top.

I'll make sure I bring some warmer gear to change into for the cruise down :)
 

FarEast

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#10
Sorry but the therory of gyroscopic or trail, being responsible for the sole stabilizing force of a bicycle has long been discredited.

Wheel base, stack height and body position are the main contributors to stability while stem length and and body weight position over the BB are the main cause of stability in the front wheel.

I have tested several different types of this bike for Fuji and YES they do become unstable at high speeds around 50km/h and you will start to get significant steering and braking wobble in the front, this is mainly caused by the steerer tube (headtube) height and stack height on this type of bike. Also due to the smaller wheels baseyou'll find that the sterring becomes a lot more twitchy.

In regards to motorbikes yes they have smaller wheels yet they also have steering dampners to stop this from happeningat speed, however if you have ever ridden a Honda or Suzuki 250cc motorscooter you will no that once you reach around 80km/h or more they get some serious front wheel steering instability (Wobble)
 

joewein

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#11
FarEast, you mention about the wheel base: I just took a tape measure and compared my son's full size road bike (BH) to my Bike Friday and it turned out to be 97 cm vs 100 cm, hub centre to hub centre. Yes, the small bike had the longer wheel base.

That may not be so for other small wheeled bikes of course: My son's 20" BMX bike measured only 92 cm.

BFs are not optimized for compact folding in the way, say a Brompton is and that may explain the longer wheel base to achieve different objectives. BF's declared goal was to "design a travel bike that performs like your best road bike."
 

AlanW

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Jan 30, 2007
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#12
The Subaru Line approach / descent won't give you any problems as it's a fairly shallow gradient, as long as you don't drag your brakes all the way down. I suggest taking a dry base layer to put on at the summit, and a windproof, full finger gloves and neck-warmer to keep the wind out on the descent. Enjoy!

Here's my write up of a trip that included the Subaru Line.

Gimme Five
 

FarEast

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#13
Yes the extended wheel base compared to others is much better but again they are not as stable as full sized roadbikes. However these are great little runners and brilliant engineering.
 

joewein

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#14
The Subaru Line approach / descent won't give you any problems as it's a fairly shallow gradient, as long as you don't drag your brakes all the way down. I suggest taking a dry base layer to put on at the summit, and a windproof, full finger gloves and neck-warmer to keep the wind out on the descent. Enjoy!
Thanks for your advice, Alan. I appreciate it!

Here's my write up of a trip that included the Subaru Line.

Gimme Five
Nice report. And a great bike jersey: :D

 

GSAstuto

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#15
Given that rolling resistance make sup about 80% of your friction at lower speeds and down to 20% at higher speeds (40kph+) The pros and cons are easy to figure:

1) Smaller wheels have higher additive rolling resistance simply due more rubber traveled. So - climbing with small wheels (low speeds) will be harder than with larger wheels.

2) Descending at high speeds (40kph+) , the smaller wheel will actually fare better than the larger in terms of resistance. However the rider may not be able to assume the most aerodynamic position if the bike is not designed as such. And braking with smaller wheels becomes more difficult again as you increase speed and weight because more rim is traveling through the pads at a higher rate of speed - unless you are using discbrakes.

The 'best expedition bike' in my opinion, is a well designed coupler 26" because you can get parts for it anywhere in the world, it packs up well, great performance overall including rougher or unpaved roads.

BF's are awesome bikes and I'd love to have one of their tandems! great for jumping on trains due the smaller overall size and they ride great! You'll have ZERO problems with anything you'll be riding in Japan. BTW - why don't you take the bike with you to the top of Mt. Fuji and ride it down, too!

FarEast, you mention about the wheel base: I just took a tape measure and compared my son's full size road bike (BH) to my Bike Friday and it turned out to be 97 cm vs 100 cm, hub centre to hub centre. Yes, the small bike had the longer wheel base.

That may not be so for other small wheeled bikes of course: My son's 20" BMX bike measured only 92 cm.

BFs are not optimized for compact folding in the way, say a Brompton is and that may explain the longer wheel base to achieve different objectives. BF's declared goal was to "design a travel bike that performs like your best road bike."
 
May 22, 2007
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#16
Everyone's being very enthusiastic about Bike Friday bikes. Here's my -2¢

I went up to Takasaki a few years ago, and spend a day with the importer there riding various bikes and chatting.

With every bike I tried, as soon as I tried to put any power down the frame would flex alarmingly - like riding pasta al dente.

I understand they're designed for packability/portability and cyclo-tourism, rather than for racing. And with that objective in mind they're designed very well. No disrespect intended at all.

But I could not use a Bike Friday even for commuting as I'd be worried that it would twist and snap. My first two aluminum racer frames (Y's own brand Antales (sic)) did just that. Meanwhile, for a fraction of the BF price I got my GS Astuto TimTanium S&S-coupled frame which takes everything I can throw at it and more.:cool:

Your mileage may vary.
 

joewein

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#17
Just wanted to sign in quickly after getting back from the tour. My son and I did it! We cycled from the Fujiyoshida interchange up to the 5th stage station and down again. Not sure if I'd like to do it again with 5500 others, but the weather was great and we got stunning views from various stops along the way.

Descending was absolutely no problem, as far as brakes and stability was concerned, but it was freezing cold and I should have used warmer gloves.

Also, held up by a late departure and typical Tokyo-area weekend traffic we only got to the mountain to start unpacking our bikes at noon and at our climbing pace, most of our descent took place after sunset. As it so happens, our tiny headlights were meant more for urban cycling than for 29 km down Japan's highest mountain in a dark new moon night...

I'll post some pictures later.