Almost as bad as me riding a geared bike ... but again, on with the show! You will appreciate the aircon on the train coming back from a nice jaunt in the hills - or just the option to 'bag it' when you've got nothing in the tank , it's rainy and dark and your mommy is calling. (So much for HTFU) But I'd rather be sipping a train beer anyway.
Depends on the train... Most of the ones I take (from far away) have not only toilets, but even nice warm water and soap, allowing me to wash of the worst dirt from the ride.
There is nothing weak about taking the train - on the contrary. Those always having to loop back home (esp. if that is in central Tokyo) have to spend half of the ride in the flat. How tough is that... (OK, mentally it is, at least for me...)
The trains we ride here in central Tokyo have no toilets except for empty Boss coffee cans between the cars and the only warm water you're likely to get is the backsplash sitting in some abandoned pet bottlle. At least I've never gotten a flat from a stray stringe, nor had my brakes nicked by gypsies - but I suppose that could happen as one wanders closer to the 'juku on a last train run. The main reason to rinko up is avoid getting rundown on the Ome Kaido by shabu cranked lorry drivers, Taxis and crystal wanked Yaks on joyrides with their 15,000 y/hr douhan chicks. Other than that - A.I.R.C.O.N.
Tim, you are obviously not venturing very far. It's a long time ago that I took a train back home from, say, Takao or Ome. I might as well ride the remaining 40-50km if my ride ends there.
I'm talking about places like Enzan, Kofu, Matsumoto, Honjo Waseda, Takasaki, Karuizawa, Sakudaira, Ueda, Nagano... I can ride from home to these places, have a lot of nice mountains in between, and big back home in no time.
So the new bike bag has been officially broken in. Tim and I had a great ride with a nice climb and very fun descent that neither of us had ridden before. That was followed by a return train ride with beers from Ogawamachi Station up on the Tobu Tojo Line.
yeah - for what it's worth, I woke up at 4.42am and drank some all natural vegetable juice then had a very mediocre dump. Followed by a bowl of whole grain muesli and low fat milk which didn't sit well onto my virus infected stomach. In spite of that and possibility of clouding weather, I managed to commute from central Tokyo appx 26km to a rendezvous conbini point where I met with Pete and we commuted further another 40km or so along the Arakawa river under boding weather circumstances. With both of us on the somewhat ill side we decided to take it somewhat easy by attacking a mere 7600m climb through a rindo passable generally only by Sherpas delivering opium based medicines to starving children in the Himalayas. Imagine the wonders one can enjoy in Japan by just rising a few hours earlier than the rest of the sordid population! Though I was suffering immensely from body temperatures exceeding 47 degrees , the climb was quite nice and descent rewarding as the fallen leafs had turned to nuri nuri gel on the pavement giving extra challenge but somewhat negotiable under skill. Reaching our final destination we deciphered several small , faded signs to happily locate a very famous, yet completely unknown ramen cafe who served in the same location a bow of ramen and bottle beer to General MacArthur. Having drunk from exactly the same glass as General MacArthur and smug in the fact that the cafe was only 168m from the station, no laws would be broken as for alcohol riding while. Our timing was perfect and we quickly rinko'd (fully) our bags tieing the straps with surgeon square knots which use one extra loop in order to hold secure even though there might shifting be in the car, boarded the Express train as originally planned some several weeks earlier and then imbibed in friendly conversation until the train had reached our return point -11.6km just on the least populated point of the most populated section of interior Tokyo. Assembling our bikes took only a few moments due the care planning beforehand and soon we were across the street, remounted and heading back home.
I saved about 290 yens as we had chosen to ride back from a different station location than departure and I used this extra savings to purchase some bio-active yogurt drink which settled my stomach virus. As I glanced in the air I saw a Police Helicopter circling a man with a weed whacker obviously trying to deal with somewhat recalcitrant weeds.
Oh ya, and we had no issues whatsoever with the station master and our perfectly rinko'd bikes located and tied securely in the 2nd car from the end which was specified for handicapped individuals but clearly was void of any such individuals so that we could indeed use it to contain our bikes which had the proper rinko bags.
Ludwig, do you have some of your favorite routes shared somewhere? I can see that Nagano isn't all that far if you go directly and if you took the Shinkansen back you probably could be out in back in no time. but going directly usually means some boring roads all the way there. I'd love some advice on routes to places past otsuki or ogawamachi that can be done quickly yet are still have challenging climbs and are scenic.
I don't really have any favorites, because my goal is to always do something new!
Not sure what you mean by "going direct" and "boring roads". Koshukaido all the way? Yes, that's definitely not nice. This is what the Itoigawa participants do every year...
Another easy route, but with far less traffic would be to go up the Arakawa and then take the old road up to Karuizawa. You can't avoid the busy r254 completely, but don't have to be on it for long until the old road branches off.
I have actually never done either of these routes, preferring to go through the mountains instead. First to Chichibu, which involves only a relatively short (and fast) part of the busy r299, when you come down from Yamabushi Toge. Then there are many possible routes. The easiest one to find is to take route 299 and then route 462, ultimately over Jikkoku Toge and on to Saku. Both are kokudos, but have very little traffic, certainly no truck traffic whatsoever. On some days there are lots of motor bikes, esp. up Jikkoku Toge, which can be annoying.
There are a lot of other passes from Chichibu via Gunma into Nagano. They are all nice. There is also one directly from Chichibu into Nagano, but this involves climbing 900m on gravel to Mikuni Toge (not to be confused with the one near Yamanakako, but all the more deserving of its name).
Another really tough route into Nagano is to go via Yanagisawa Toge into Enzan and then over the Crystal Line and Shinshu Toge into Nagano. This involves a bit over 4,000m of climbing. Tom and I did this the other day, in brutal heat, as Day 1 of a 2.5 day trip through Nagano and Gifu.
Hope this helps for starters. If you are up for a bit of distance and climbing, we can head out together some day.