Sat Aug 31st day trip

#1
All this talk about Nagano has made me super jealous :confused: and I still have two stamps left on the SeishunJuhachi Kippu I got earlier this summer... so I'm thinking of doing a Saturday day trip.

Leave Kichijoji on the 530 train. Arrive in Matsumoto at 950. Ride the Venus line to Chino
http://www.mapmyride.com/route/jp/nagano/100128272139574553

Either catch the train back from there or ride back towards Tokyo along Rt 20 for as long as is fun/daylight. :D

Anyone want to join me? I'm not super fast but I'm not super slow either :rolleyes:
 
#6
Wow. In-freakin-credible day. So beautiful up here!

Have you done the washed out gravel short cut!?! How much of it did you ride vs walk? I was glad to be fitted with tougher 25 tires and felt like a rockstar for making it through ( walking only the steep parts) without falling.

Anyway, I'm glad I didn't know what was really entailed in following that route because doing it alone might have thrown me off but it was so incredibly worth it.

Thanks!
 

Ludwig

Speeding Up
Oct 9, 2008
871
0
36
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
#7
Not sure what you mean by the washed out gravel short-cut? Mike and I went over the gravel road connecting both ends of Utsukushigahara. The steep parts are at least semi-paved. No problems riding through over the gravel with our normal bikes. What a nice place, with all the cows!
 
#8
the whole story

If all other stories of Nagano haven't made you ache with jealousy... well, here's mine.

Though I could only manage to go out for a day and take the slowest trains, I figured I'd still make a run for it. I caught the 515am train from Kichijoji to Takao and then the Chuo west. There were nearly a dozen cyclists, their bikes bagged in different ways, all yawning but excited, heading out on the first train. I think I was the only person that got off at Chino but still felt a nice sense of camaraderie.

http://www.mapmyride.com/route/jp/nagano/512128331603474055

Starting in Chino a bit after 9am, I headed to a 7/11 to stock up on enough snacks for the day and water before setting out up the Venus line to Shirakaba. My goal was to do the whole thing without any long rests, eating snacks as I went but not stopping for a sit down lunch or long break. Of course, water bottles would need to be refilled and views admired, but I wanted to keep as good a pace as possible.

The first 15 or so kilometers were boiling hot and after reading the heat stroke thread here on the train that morning, I wished I was carrying more water and had a cycling buddy. But I stopped for water often and slowly and steadily climbed up and up to Suzuran Toge. I certainly felt like I was slower than usual but found a handful of cyclists even more beat down by the heat than I was and spun past with a wave. On the way down I hit a new top speed (just a hair under 70km/hr) on the way to Shirakaba. What a beautiful lake and incredible feeling flying along in the mountain air!
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Continuing along the ridge line was absolutely breathtaking. The heat had let up above 1500 meters and it was a lovely ride.
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Around the 65km mark, there is a split in the road, one leading back to Matsumoto and one to Utsukushigahara and it was about 3pm. I needed to be back in Tokyo by about 8... and if I wanted to take the slow train with my pass, I should really take the short cut back... but really wanted to finish what I set out to do...

After far too much debating in my head, I of course chose to continue. (I always do, so I should stop wasting time considering other options) Any real friend of mine would support me being a little late, after all:cool: And if I really fall behind schedule, there is the Asama. And if I really really fall behind, there is the Asama plus begging forgiveness.

However, as I approached the crazy and awesome switchbacks up to Utsukushigahara, I could barely believe what I had just gotten myself into.
"no, no, no, no, no.... " said my legs. But the only way up was, well, up.
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There was a good amount of cursing involved before I hit a good rhythm and steadily climbed the 400 m of elevation. What a crazy road!

And what a payoff!

(Though, the lady at the top gave me such a hard time about trying to fill up my water bottle. Yes, I know water is precious and expensive to pump up to 2000 meters. Ok, ok, I can pay you. I can give you my first born. Seriously, can I just have some water? can you see I'll pass out on you if you don't give me water. sure, ok, I could buy little bottles to fill my bottle but isn't that wasteful? can't you just take my money? and yes, everyone wants some... but I spent considerably more energy and sweat getting up here. puuullleeeeeeease. ok, ok, I get it, you'll cover your eyes as I go and fill up my bottle in the bathroom. thank you. thank you. your karma for the day will be fan-freakin-tastic. thank you.)

The views were beautiful! and the cows! wow. still trying to soak up all the water I drank, and eating most of the snacks I had left, but feeling a bit half-bonked, I continued my goal of not stopping for a long rest and hit the gravel road.
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Perhaps it was the general wooziness, perhaps it was the natural beauty, perhaps it was the unexpected realization that the gravel stretches on for kilometers... but the whole place felt completely unearthly and unlike anything I've seen in Japan.
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Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I walked my bike when it felt like I was likely to fall and was never so glad for pavement in my life. perhaps sitting down for a bowl of noodles would have been helpful, but I was proud of myself for pushing on.

and then-- a 1500 meter decent into Matsumoto. the sunlight seeping through the dark clouds, the city shining in the distance, the trees and plants changing as I dropped altitude one lovely curve after the next. almost no cars in my way the entire time. I was so high on endorphins and adrenaline by the time I got to the bottom, I started thinking about what I could possibly cancel to have time to do this next weekend, if I could possibly move, if I could somehow just not leave...

if the feeling of finishing this ride could be bottled, I would be a raving crack whore.

better to just be on a bike.:D:bike::D

Clocking out at 108km and a little under 2000m elevation gain.

I caught the Asama home and was only 15 minutes late to meet my friend, who did, indeed, totally understand.

beautiful. I can't wait to go back.
 

Mike

Maximum Pace
Sep 24, 2007
1,066
9
58
Kanagawa
#9
Great report Kori, and you reached speeds up to 70km/h on the descent? Now you are a definitely a real roadie;) The views are great up there, aren't they? And I totally understood how you felt climbing up out of Chino, that was one long hot climb. Where did that woman give you a hard time about the water? Was she guarding the toilet or something?
 
#10
sorry the pictures are weird... I'll fix it later if I have time.

Right at the top of the climb up to Utsukushigahara, before the gravel, the woman in the restaurant/rest stop/ omiyage shop was greedy about the water. Happened earlier that day too, somewhere between the lake and Nagano's Wada toge. I usually just fill up one bottle with water over and over again, maybe adding sports drink mix if it's really hot.

I hate buying five million plastic bottles and then immediately throwing them away, so I was happy to pay her...

I hope I can become a strong enough cyclist to go out with you guys on some of these trips!
 

Mike

Maximum Pace
Sep 24, 2007
1,066
9
58
Kanagawa
#11
sorry the pictures are weird... I'll fix it later if I have time.

Right at the top of the climb up to Utsukushigahara, before the gravel, the woman in the restaurant/rest stop/ omiyage shop was greedy about the water. Happened earlier that day too, somewhere between the lake and Nagano's Wada toge. I usually just fill up one bottle with water over and over again, maybe adding sports drink mix if it's really hot.

I hate buying five million plastic bottles and then immediately throwing them away, so I was happy to pay her...

I hope I can become a strong enough cyclist to go out with you guys on some of these trips!
I hear you, I also hate buying just water in those plastic bottles! Ludwig and I usually get our water from road side streams as long as the water looks OK. In Nagano you can usually find a tap near a firestation or someone's house to get a free refill. I even found a few right next to vending machines, something you'd never find in Tokyo or Kanagawa. On the way up from Chino this is exactly where I found water. I have a good eye for taps now as I'm sure Ludwig will concur:D And by the sounds of it you're not far off joining us! Alan and Naomi were talking of doing a trip into Tokoku at some stage, that'd be a good one to join for sure.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#12
Great report!!! poaching water is one of the fine arts of eco-cycling. be proud to not succumb to the machine and grab the tap at hand!! I filed grooves into the 100yen store peanut butter wrench I use for my axle nuts in order to turn the taps on /off.

sorry the pictures are weird... I'll fix it later if I have time.

Right at the top of the climb up to Utsukushigahara, before the gravel, the woman in the restaurant/rest stop/ omiyage shop was greedy about the water. Happened earlier that day too, somewhere between the lake and Nagano's Wada toge. I usually just fill up one bottle with water over and over again, maybe adding sports drink mix if it's really hot.

I hate buying five million plastic bottles and then immediately throwing them away, so I was happy to pay her...

I hope I can become a strong enough cyclist to go out with you guys on some of these trips!
 

Ludwig

Speeding Up
Oct 9, 2008
871
0
36
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
#13
I don't think I have paid for water even once this season... There are just so many sources: mountain streams, fountains, taps on private houses (when somebody is around I always ask, otherwise it is serve yourself), taps in conbini restrooms, tap water in restaurants. I have to admit I have never asked a shop owner to give me water without buying a meal there, so maybe this is why you are having such difficulties, Kori.