Ride Serguei's Farewell (for a little while) Ride!

WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
1,192
240
93
Kita-Ueno
#1
I got the call a week before the ride. I was told that we were having a "Farewell ride for Serguei", who would soon be joining the ranks of fatherhood, and that this would probably be his last opportunity for a group ride for quite a while. In the end, there was Thomas, Phil (famed for his knowledge of the Boso backroads), Jules (famed for his bike-bags), myself, and of course, Serguei - Just the 5 of us.

It was to be a 3-day ride, covering as much of the Boso peninsular as possible over the first two days, and then on Day-3, possibly heading up as far as Mt. Tsukuba. The course plotting for days 1 & 2 were left in Phil's capable hands. Once the course was pretty much set - Thanks Phil - the remaining four of us had to decide how we'd be getting out there. The starting point was in Sakura, about 10km SW of Narita, and we all decided to take the train from Tokyo - The "Shiosai" Express train, departing at 7:37am, would take less than an hour to get there.


Day 1


The train arrived in Sakura at 8:24, and the four of us - Thomas, Serguei, Jules and me - set up our bikes and headed out from the station. We had arranged to meet Phil at a 7-11 about 7km south of Sakura station, so that he wouldn't have to double-back. The narrow country road that took us to the meeting place was quite pleasant in the morning, and set the mood nicely. We arrived at the 7-11 just before 9am, and we waited for Phil to turn up. After about 10 minutes, everyone turned to me and said, "This is the right place, isn't it?"... Two minutes later, Phil arrived, telling us how he had punctured shortly after leaving home. But we were still basically ahead of schedule, and the rest of us had had time to eat.

We set out at about 9:25, and headed almost directly south to Honda, where we usually begin our Chiba rides - It was a bit of a novelty to ride with Phil and have him show us how he usually gets there (this had always been a bit of a mystery). It was a bit less than 20km to Honda, and we had a quick break at the 7-11 there to fill up drink bottles, etc. Then we continued on our journey south, following mostly familiar roads on the way to Lake Takataki, where we usually stop and regroup. This time though, we stopped in Tsurumai, a few kilometers before the lake to fill up our bottles. This allowed us to ride past the lake without stopping, and head on to Kururi, where we would stop for a proper lunch at the 7-11 there.

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While we ate lunch in Kururi, Phil and I checked the map to see how we would get to our next way-point - Mt. Kano - from there. There were a few little squiggles, but basically we figured we just had to stick to Rte.93 - As we took the small right-hand turn that should have been a shortcut taking us up to a higher point on Rte.93, things went awry as we came across some fairly heavy earth-moving equipment and dump-trucks being filled with sand. Our "shortcut" had ended in a sandy quarry, with us surrounded on three sides by massively steep cliffs. For all we could tell, we had somehow been teleported to Arizona without being told. In the end, there was no way through, so we had to double-back and take the long way around. But it was a nice little adventure (especially nice was the 16+% gradient on the ride up to the quarry).

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We would still make it to Mt. Kano though. This would be our first time to climb that particular hill, and it turns out that it is one of the highest points in all of the peninsular, at 360m, or thereabouts. It starts at about 50m-elevation, and climbs a further 310m in only 3.5km - that's roughly a 9% average. There are a few more up & down rollers after that as we continued heading west on Rte.93, and we past the "Mother-Farm" (where it hits the highest peak of 379m) a few kilometers later before a nice long descent onto Rte.465. For the record, there are no convenience-stores along this road.

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We headed east on Rte.465, and finally found a convenience store in Sekijiri, where Rte.465 splits with Rte.88 - We would follow Rte.88 from there all the way to Tateyama - but first we needed food, and the Family-Mart there (in Sekijiri) was great. Not only was it brand new, it had tables & chairs inside where we could sit and eat in relative comfort. We had a long-ish break there, and then we headed on the final run into Tateyama.

We set off down Rte.88, where there were two small-ish climbs, before it finally flattened out completely. We were all doing our best to get to "Point of decision", which was a T-junction just east of Tateyama - There, we would decide to go east, and follow the coast around to the southernmost tip of the peninsular; OR we could turn west, and head straight for Tateyama (3km away) where food, showers and dry clothes awaited. Gee... that was a tough decision. Thomas, Serguei, Phil & I all decided to go straight to Tateyama, and get settled into our respective accommodations. Only Jules - who LOVES the sea - chose to ride 8km to the beach, and go body-surfing.

That night, we met outside Tateyama station at 6pm, and found a local "Izakaya" that had been recommended to us. About an hour later, Jules arrived back from the beach, and we all ate & drank together until we had had our fill. Beers on the beach after dinner was the highlight of the day.

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Total for Day 1: 140km (160km for Jules).
 
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WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
1,192
240
93
Kita-Ueno
#2
Day 2


When we were drinking on the beach the night before, we noticed that there was a "CoCo's" family restaurant just down the road. After further inspection, we found that it opened at 7am for breakfast, and that's where & when we had decided to meet the following morning.

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I was outside the restaurant at 6:58am, waiting for everyone to turn up. Phil & Thomas weren't far behind. Jules, who it seems was in camping mode, had brought his own food, and had decided to eat on the beach. Serguei turned up a bit later, and we were all eating by about 7:20. All-you-can-eat breakfast for 800 yen! That's pretty decent value as far as I'm concerned. They had a fairly good choice of food, and we all got in as many calories as we could. One more stop at the convenience-store, and we were off - We set out from Tateyama at about 8:20, heading west, on Rte.257; a.k.a. "The Boso Flower Line". As we rode towards the westernmost cape, I realized that I had ridden on that road about 5 years earlier, but coming from the other direction - I had gone on a "cycling/strawberry-picking" tour with my wife, back in the day.

We past the western cape, and started heading east along the bottom section of the Boso Peninsular - heading around the bottom anti-clockwise. As the speed increased, our group was starting to split into two. Jules, who had been riding with the likes of Clay & Deej, had oodles of power and as soon as it started going uphill slightly, he'd pull away from the rest of us. Only Thomas was able to keep up with him. That left Serguei, Phil & myself as a three-man team doing our best to not fall too far behind. But then our group of 3 got whittled down to two - Jules & Thomas were a few hundred meters ahead of us, when suddenly Serguei said, "Wasn't Phil just with us?". "Yes, he was!"... we slowed down a bit waiting to see if he would come around the corner, but nothing. We continued on at a slower pace for another few kilometers to where Jules & Thomas were waiting at a convenience-store. The four of us waited for Phil. He came around the bend a few minutes later with a broken spoke!

Normally, a broken spoke would mean the end of the ride for that rider, but not Phil! He was riding on Ambrosio rims with a particularly high spoke count. Although the wheel was a little bit wobbly, it actually wasn't that bad, and once Phil had widened the gap between his brake-pads, he was able to continue - It just meant he had very little braking power on his rear wheel, and would have to take it easy on descents.

After that, we continued around the coast as a 5-man team, doing a better job of keeping everyone together, and we were making pretty good time! As we hit the eastern coast of Boso, being more open to the Pacific ocean meant bigger waves. Once Jules had seen that the surf was indeed up, there was no stopping him! "Guys! Let's go body-surfing!" His enthusiasm was infectious, and after a quick convenience-store stop to get food & drinks, we all headed to the beach.

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I have to admit to being a little annoyed though - You see, my plans for that day were slightly different from the others'. While they were only going as far as Shirako, about 80km further up the coast, I was planning to ride all the way to Choshi, which is another 55km past Shirako. And I really wanted to get there while it was still light, so taking an hour to go romp in the ocean wasn't really on my agenda - Sorry if I seemed a tad irritated.

Once we were underway again, it wasn't long before we were passing through Kamogawa. This is where we would turn inland, as (according to Phil) the coastal road between there and Shirako left a lot to be desired. That meant we had a fairly steep climb up from the coast. Thankfully, it wasn't too long, and before long, we were cruising over the up-down rollers, making our way further north on Rte. 81. When Rte.81 hit Rte.465, we turned right, heading NE and up to "The Shop" - It's not a real "convenience-store" but it's where we always stop, and it is affectionately known as "The Shop". We sat in there, and had some more to eat. From there, it was only about 40km to Shirako.

After lunch, we continued up Rte.465. There were a few more little climbs after that, and we made our way to Otaki - Where Thomas was very happy that he could go and see the castle. This gave the rest of us a chance to take a short break. A bit farther north of Otaki, we turned right onto Rte.150 - This continues NE, heading almost directly for Shirako. This was a very nice section of road where we were all once again riding as a pretty tight 5-man unit. After a few more little wiggles and map-checks, we finally rolled into Shirako at around 15:30, with about 130km on the meter. We stopped at a Lawson there, where we parted ways; Thomas, Serguei & Jules would stay in Shirako overnight, and then do a third day's ride the following day, but Phil & I had other things to do the next day, hence we had to get back to our respective homes that evening.

As Phil & I headed northeast along the coastal road, Rte. 30, we both realized that the wind would not be our friend this day. Actually, it was a bitch! We were very lucky to be holding a constant speed of 25km/h - It fluctuated a little, but "25" was the magic number. After about 15km, Phil & I said goodbye, as he headed NW, back towards his place. I continued heading NE, with the wind in my face, and 40km to go. It wasn't really that bad; apart from the wind, Rte. 30 is actually quite a nice road to ride on. It has a fairly wide shoulder, and not that much traffic (on a Sunday evening). I only stopped once after saying goodbye to Phil, and I made it to Choshi at 18:20 - I had to ride the last 10km in the dark, but that wasn't too bad either.
The timing was perfect though, as the (only) evening "Shiosai" Express train was due to leave at 18:41. I got on that train and headed home.

Meanwhile Thomas, Serguei & Jules were holed up in Shirako, and they had another days worth of adventurous riding the next day... I'll let Thomas tell that story.
 
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Jules

Speeding Up
Nov 8, 2009
143
21
38
Tokyo, Uehara
fairmean.com
#3
Yep Holed up in Shirako. Once Phil & Travis left, so did the magic it seemed. We hobbled round town getting one weirdo story after the other (from hotel reception) all designed to get our spandexed butts out of the lobby asap. Very dejected. Until we chanced upon the 'sisters'. 20 min later we had a washitsu beach hut, fancy italian restaurants and a decent selection of fresh shorts to choose from. Then Thomas and Sergei popped 5 inch deep blinding white flasher tan lines out front of the family mart while downing beers. That was awesome.
 

thomas

The Crank Engine
Nov 1, 2005
1,808
215
93
多摩区
#4
Jules, you should really post your tanline video. ;)

If you ever need accommodation in Shirako, avoid the bigger hotels like the plague. With every new lobby we entered the excuses turned fishier: "closed for construction" (while guests were entering and leaving in front of us), "hosting a conference", "closed due to no reservations at all", etc. This was when we chanced upon one of the "sisters" Jules mentioned, who rang her onechan to accommodate those "three Americans".



Once we had settled in, we - of course - hit the nearby beach where Jules taught us the basics of bodysurfing. Never before have I imbibed more salt water than on that day. A few massive portions of ramen and gyoza later and after a balmy bath we retired into our tatami-covered chamber for a few hours of restful slumber; restful even for poor Serguei who now had to endure two notorious snorers...

Day 3 (Shirako - Sawara)


The third leg of our Tour de Chiba was the most relaxed one. We left quite late and headed north along the coast with Jules pulling us against a fierce headwind. Serguei and Jules were hammering away like U-boat diesel engines, while my batteries were almost empty, probably due to the fried oysters I had the day before which left my bowels fairly upset.

Around Sosa we left the coastal R30 and followed R48 and R16 north towards the Tonegawa. This was terra incognita to us, in particular R16 proved to be of great scenic beauty. We soon reached the Tone, took the obligatory pictures in victory pose and ventured on to explore the city of Sawara, described as one of the many "Little Edos" around the country.



The historic city center lies along a picturesque canal on which tourists are shuttled to and fro on small motor boats by elderly rouged ladies in Edo-era attire. We settled on a small wooden stay and indulged into Coedo beer watching tourists passing by. Serguei found us a lovely restaurant where we admittedly had the best food "in weeks", with a kimono-clad waitress, multiple courses of local specialities and with smooth jazz playing in the background. After another round of Coedo we officially wrapped up our Chiba adventure, packing the bikes.



Gentlemen, I want to thank you for a tour that had everything a perfect ride should have: relentless hammering, lovely scenery, winding climbs, sightseeing and culture, beach adventures, culinary pleasures, and - most important - excellent company and camaraderie despite sometimes conflicting interests.

Cycling at its best!

PS: Travis, thank you again for the detailed account of the first two days! And for your patience with us.

PPS: Phil, I want to thank you for adjusting my rear derailleur on Day 2, you were a life-saver!

PPPS: Jules, thanks for borrowing me one of your Fairmean protoype bags!

PPPPS: And Serguei, while you will be busy in the months to come I do already look forward to our next adventure.
 
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kpykc

Speeding Up
Jun 13, 2007
804
4
38
38
Tokyo
#5
Ahh awesome writing, gents! To read it is a bit of a relief after coming back to everyday life from such an adventure.
Just a small addition - "joining the ranks of fatherhood" is not quite "farewell", which in TCC usually means someone leaving Japan / Tokyo. I am not leaving and will be very actively riding too.
Thanks for the company, guys, and see you on the road!
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#6
Thank you for the superb write-ups guys, was great to relive the ride through your reports.

Highlights for me were recovering at the top of Mt Kano, the beautiful waning light in the wooded hills as we approached the plain around Tateyama, reaching Tateyama just in time to sit on the beach with a beer and watch the sun set across the bay (and well, the whole evening in Tateyama), and soaking in the ocean breeze on the beach at Wadaura on day 2. Oh, and the breakfast buffet--whose brilliant idea was that?

Best of all was the amazing company, haven't had quite that much fun on a bike in a while. Itching to do it again, and soon!

Thanks all.
 
Likes: thomas