Nichitsu solo ride


Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
Setagaya, Tokyo
On Sunday I rode 198 km ride with 2095 m of climbing in the Chichibu area (including ride from the station after rinko return to Tokyo). It was my fourth ride there but my first one alone to the Ogurazawa (小倉沢) ruins in the mountains of Saitama, better known in English as Nichitsu ghost town.

Here's a picture of one of the workers' dormitories from my first ride in November 2012:

Here's what I found yesterday:

With damaged roofs and broken or open windows, all these structures will gradually rot and collapse.

I had already set off for this ride on Saturday, only having to turn around an hour from home with a broken RD cable. After fixing it, I rescheduled the ride for the next day and almost got @Half-Fast Mike to join me. Maybe it was better that he couldn't make it. I doubt he would have been into descending the rindo the other side of the tunnel above the ghost town in the dark in fog and drizzle, which is what I ended up doing. And my phone kept powering down before I got to the ruins, which I guess wouldn't have made any difference after an accident because I was out of cell phone reception anyway.

Anyway, I got up at 04:30 to leave at 05:30 for a 06:00 meetup with Mike, but then got his email that he couldn't make it. So I set off on my own on a fairly loaded bike (2 water bottles, rinko bag, wind breaker, winter jacket, nylon rain pants, ski gloves, dried figs and mangoes, 2nd spare tube, spare camera batteries). I actually used almost everything I carried, except for the winter gloves, spare tubes and tools.

Train spotters were out in full force at one railway bridge over the Tamagawa:

I was slower than usual on the way to Oume, where I had some coffee at a conbini.

Tamagawasui shrine:

The Hamura water works supplies much of Tokyo with drinking water taken from the Tamagawa:

Outlander PHEV being recharged at a Mitsubishi dealer:

I followed Pete's recommended Oume-to-Chichibu route via Yamabushi toge.

At a temple near Naguri:

I arrived in Chichibu a little after noon and took a break at a conbini. I headed on around 12:40. Out in the countryside the autumn leaves were only just starting.

The sky was rather gloomy, with the top of hills covered in low clouds

At the lake and dam:

It got a little more colourful as elevation increased:

Working to prevent rock slides:

Following the river:

View from in front of the lower tunnel:

It was only 14 C by then and I was rushing against daylight. I wanted to at least reach the upper tunnel by sunset.

I periodically topped up charge on my GPS and phone (for the map), but suddenly and without any warning my phone went dark. I had to power it up again from scratch. Unsurprisingly for the location, it came up without network connection. I launched Google Maps but soon the phone lost power again. I repeated this a few times, then gave up on it. Basically, once you're past the lower tunnel, you can't get really lost as long as you follow the road, turn right at the Rt299 junction and then follow the signs to Chichibu (秩父). It was still disconcerting: If I had a major technical problem or accident on my own, I could not alert anybody. So maybe this ride was not such a smart idea :(

At the ruins:

Once I passed the ruins, it was already twilight. The fog of mountain top clouds got thicker and thicker. I got to the tunnel around 17:30. Passing through it, it seemed much longer than I remembered it. On the other side it was dark. No twilight, only night and thick fog. The temperature was down to 10 C.

I changed into my winter jacket and put on my rain pants, using the bicycle headlight. It took me half an hour to descend the 7 km from the tunnel to the Rt299 junction because of limited visibility in the night time fog, which I experienced as a slight drizzle as I moved through it. Twice I startled deers in the darkness and one small animal (could have been a tanuki) fled from the road.

I was much relieved when I turned on to 299 and the fog lifted as I descended. I passed the first villages and 18 km from the Rt299 junction found the first conbini. Coffee and food time, yeah!

Somehow the GPS missed the speed sensor signal when I started up again (weak button cell in the sensor?) and the next 12 km went unrecorded, until I manually resumed when I noticed it. Strava counted 10 km as the crow flies while RWGPS missed the gap altogether.

The route back to Chichibu is well signposted, so not having the map on the phone wasn't a problem. I arrived at Seibuchichibu station around 20:35 and caught a Red Arrow to Ikebukuro at 21:25. I tried charging the phone again and it started working again. Not sure what gremlin (or ghost) had gotten into it near the ruins. Maybe a dodgy phone battery. I slept on the train, reassembled the bike at Ikebukuro and then cycled home to Setagaya, getting back to the house just after midnight. It was a very long day, but I'm glad to have extended my "Century ride (160+ km) a month" series to 26 months (Sep 2012-Oct 2014), regardless of how Saturday's 200 km brevet goes.

I'll be leaving for the US on Sunday, but would like to try the route again when I get back, this time with an earlier start from Chichibu to avoid the night ride on the mountain, which wasn't really much fun. The leaves should be great by then. We would just need some sunshine for nice autumn pictures like last year: :)




Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
Setagaya, Tokyo
I waited a couple of minutes to see if anything interesting came along, such a steam engine, but wasn't patient enough and headed on.

On one of my trips to Zimbabwe in the late 1980s I got a chance to operate a steam engine because of a friend of a friend worked as an engineer for the national railway. That was fun :)