Half Fast Nichitsu ghost town autumn leaves -- Nov 2, 2013

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
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874
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Setagaya, Tokyo
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#1
As mentioned on TCC about a month ago I will be doing an autumn leaves viewing ride from Chichibu to the Nichitsu ghost town in the mountains to the west of Chichibu, Saitama this coming Saturday, assuming the weather will be OK (otherwise might postpone to Sunday).

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Total distance is about 95 km with some 1400 m of climbing. If you've done Tomin no Mori or Yabitsu you should be OK for this one, but definitely not a beginner's ride. Here is the route:

Last year on the same first November weekend the autumn leaves around there were beautiful, so I hope we won't be disappointed this year either.

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Meeting point
In front of Seibuchichibu Station, Saitama. Departure at 10:10.

I will be riding to Chichibu via Komae (rendezvous possibility at Rt 19/Tsurukawa highway bridge east side, near Yanokuchi station at 05:00) and Oume, then Yamabushi toge on this route. I'm planning to have a break at the shopping centre on the east side of the 140/299 crossroads from 09:30-10:00 and then head over to the station. There's a "Seibu Red Arrow" from Ikebukuro Station via Ikebukuro line that arrives in Chichibu at 09:52. Alternatively you could ride to Chichibu from Tokyo on Pete's (@Yamabushi) route along the Arakawa (here).

We'll have a break around noon near a lake and a dam. There's a michi-no-eki before the lake and also a bento shop. After that we pass the most scenic part of the route, with some pictures, then the lower tunnel, then the ghost town. We should be at the top of the mountain around 14:00-14:30, then through the tunnel, another break, then the descent and return to Seibuchichibu (mostly downhill). Beware, the descent from the tunnel has a lot of debris (small rocks and leaves), can't go too fast until we get back onto the main road.

Temperatures and clothes
The maximum elevation is 1200 m so expect it to be some 10 C colder than near Tokyo. You'll need warm clothes particularly for the descent and also the return to Chichibu. At the minimum bring leg warmers, a long sleeve jersey, a wind breaker and full fingered gloves. I'll wear my winter tights and bring my winter jacket and gloves to wear during the descent, but will wear less until we get up there.

Other equipment
Bring a helmet (of course), a spare tube or two and some lights in case we don't make it back before sunset. I expect we'll get back to the station around 17:00, but depending on the overall pace and the number of picture stops this could change.

Contact
joewein at gmail dot com (e-mail me for phone number!)

Credits
Kudos to Pete (@Yamabushi) for the excellent route!
 
Last edited:

leicaman

Maximum Pace
Sep 20, 2012
2,510
2,190
133
Asakadai, Saitama
#4
I rode up to Nichitsu yesterday. The weather was fantastic all the way up to the start of Yamabushi toge, when I was caught out by a downpour which lasted all the way to Hanno. I decided to bail in Hanno and get the train home. The temp in the tunnel at the top of Nichitsu was 8c but didn't feel too cold. I wore a uniqlo heat tech long sleeved baselayer, a summer jersey over the top, long bib tights and I carried a light windbreaker which came in very handy in the rain.



The view on the other side of the tunnel was great. The road down was super slippery as it had lots of leaves all over the road, plus it had not dried since the rains the day before.

The autumn colours were beautiful. I'm sure they will be even nicer by Saturday.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
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Setagaya, Tokyo
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#8
jackonaboardman, see you and Mark at Seibuchichibu station tomorrow. Warren will either join us at the station or will catch up with us later (he's faster than me).

Due to travel I only managed about 100 km during the second half of October. Hopefully I won't be too out of shape yet, but I don't want to miss the views :)
 
Jul 2, 2012
64
7
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asagaya
#9
I tend to get most of my riding in when I commute around Tokyo and save the long ride for the weekends so is guess we'll be in a similar boat in terms of fitness.

Have you had a nose through the buildings in the town yet?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Apr 3, 2012
401
98
48
Tama Center <-> Otemachi
#10
@MJang and I will be taking the 7:30am Red Arrow from Ikebukuro to arrive at around 9am. We need the head start!

If anyone wants join us slow pokes at this earlier time, please PM me. I will provide my contact information. To get a feel for my pace: http://www.strava.com/athletes/375354 .

I am starting around the Futakotamagawa and routing to Ikebukuro. Once in the Chichibu area, we will be doing the same loop but with small detours to avoid tunnels.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
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Setagaya, Tokyo
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#11
On my previous rides I always just followed the main road and not ventured much beyond it.

Most of the buildings are in a cluster slightly off the main road, somewhat hidden by trees from the road.

After the tunnel at the bottom, the road up the valley crosses the river 4 times. It starts off on the west side. Soon after the first bridge you'll find the public bath on the right. There are a couple of dormitories around there that are visible from the road.

At the bath house you're very close to the main part of town, which lies on the west side across a foot bridge that is blocked by scaffolding pipes (not sure what state the bridge is in). After the road crosses back to the west there's another road leading into the cluster from the north, in an S-bend. It's closed off by a chain. While vehicles couldn't enter, pedestrians could sneak past.
 
Jul 2, 2012
64
7
28
asagaya
#13
I did part of this loop in an attempt to get from chichibu to karuizawa last year... Ended in failure because we spent too much time nosing in the buildings, especially the docs office that's pretty amazing, and then having lunch in some weird dinosaur themed place in uenohara.

@JackTheCommuter are there viable detours for all the tunnels? If not why not get in the mi with us. Safety in numbers innum.


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joewein

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Oct 25, 2011
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#14
Once in the Chichibu area, we will be doing the same loop but with small detours to avoid tunnels.
@JackTheCommuter, I can't remember all the tunnels on the loop, but the ones I do remember aren't bad. Can't see or remember any tunnels between Chichibu and the dam. The road south of the lake has lots of tunnels but zero traffic. Rt210 is also very quiet, though there will people taking pictures or going there for hiking. There are some small tunnels on Rt210 which we will also be mostly avoiding, following the local river as it's surrounded by scenic autumn leaves. To me that was the prettiest part of the course.

The only traffic really is on Rt140 out of Chichibu on parts where we're not on backroads or on 299 back to the station, but both don't seem to have tunnels.

Pete's route is quite good, he had some input from @Bartek to avoid the main road west of Chichibu wherever possible.
 
Apr 3, 2012
401
98
48
Tama Center <-> Otemachi
#15
My routing is practically the same. The only real difference is I turn left the elementary school avoiding big looping flyover on route 140 and three tunnels. There is one tunnel on the bypass but has practically no vehicle traffic. Once past that, some of the tunnels have bypasses on the inner side (north) of the of loop.

***edit***
Looking at route @joewein posted, it also bypasses the looping flyover. We still do bypass some of the tunnels past this section at the risk of increased debris.

The tunnel leading to the post office and at the peak we still go through. The post office tunnel has dump trucks going through at regular intervals so sprint through! At the peak, we've encountered tourists going through in cars and motorbikes.

We figure we will be caught by the HFC / TCC group near the village. If anyone wants to go with a slower group, we start at Seibuchichibu Station at around 9am, about an hour earlier then the main group.

 

leicaman

Maximum Pace
Sep 20, 2012
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Asakadai, Saitama
#17
If you are mainly following Pete's route, tunnels shouldn't be a problem. None of them were busy at all when I went through a couple of weekends back, and on Wednesday. On my second visit I took my bike light as it really helps when going through the loooong tunnel just above Nichitsu.
 

joewein

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Oct 25, 2011
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#18
One request.....
If you have TCC kit and are along to this tomorrow, please wear it! I got a lot of abuse last week for turning up to the HFC ride in TCC kit, so it would be nice to reverse the numbers this week:p
I don't understand that kind of teasing, even as a joke... Both clubs are extremely diverse and there's a lot of overlap between TCC and HFC. It's all good fun!

If you can't make up your mind which kit to wear, wear one on top of the other, you may need it for the descent ;)

On my second visit I took my bike light as it really helps when going through the loooong tunnel just above Nichitsu.
We should bring lights to allow for the possibility that it might get dark on the way back to the station.

Last time Jose (Jayves) and I passed near Seibuchichibu station a little before 11:00 and got back there around 17:00, but I was in much better shape that time and didn't take that many pictures because it was too early for the leaves to turn. So I expect it will take quite a bit longer this time.

With a larger group, more pictures of leaves, a variety of speeds and the possibility of some punctures I should take us longer, so even with an earlier start at Chichibu (10:10 vs 11:00) I don't really expect we'll get to the station before 17:00. Sunset will be at 16:45. Depending on the climbing pace of the slower cyclists (probably including me) and how adventurous people will feel around the ghost town, which Jose and I mostly just passed that time it could get later than 17:00. So, bringing lights definitely would be a good idea!
 

MJang

Cruising
Sep 10, 2012
2
1
13
Gotanda, Tokyo
#20
Yup, I'll be sporting the lastest 2013 TCC long sleeve / long bibs kit. Best kit I've had!
An occassional joiner to HFC rides as well (before I got the TCC kit), let's promote the diversity instead of abusing each other!

Also, agreed w/ @JackTheCommuter, cycling speed is 1/4, not even Half-fast. See you guys on the route tomorrow. Likely will catch and pass us before the Nichitsu village post office even with our1 hour head start.
 
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