Tokyo Enduro River Stage

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
434
103
Tokyo
#1
Successful race this weekend at Saiko park on the banks of the Arakawa, where Naomi-san and I raced the Tokyo Enduro River Stage.

The race was run by Funride magazine in their usual 4-hour enduro format. We entered the mixed category along with about 100 other teams. There were also mens', womens' and corporate classes out on track.
The race was due to start early, at 8:30am, but the venue is not so far from central Tokyo. In fact it's easily rideable distance, although we drove up so we could carry some spares, clothes, chairs for our pit area etc.
The weather was "typical Arakawa", that is, windy! But the sun was shining and although it was chilly, it wasn't super cold. We could easily see Fuji-san through the clear air.

Our basic plan was that I would go out twice and Naomi-san would go out once. This kept our changeovers to a minimum, and put me on track at the start and the end. Before the race started we rode a couple of laps of the course to get the lay of the land and check any places that needed extra care. Each lap was straightforward. But there were a couple of pretty dangerous sections. The downhill making up the north side of the course was laced with 8 large speed humps. There was a narrow path around each hump, with a sharp step at the edge. I only took that path when I could see clearly - the rest of the time I hit the speed humps head on and held on tight!
Down at the south-west corner there was ice on the track! Just before a hard left turn. The race organisers were melting the ice with salt and chopping at it with spades to clear the course. Even after the ice melted, there was a large wet area of track right before the corner, and as the race went on, the water was dragged further and further into the turn by all the riders.

I lined up at the start with what felt like thousands of other riders - it was probably in the hundreds.
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However despite being fairly early, there were still a large number of riders in front of me, a fact that I would come to regret soon enough.
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We were 5 minutes late starting due to the ice, but soon the parade lap started. I started to make my way forward through the field.
The parade lap must have rolled really fast because, in no time at all, I could see the field breaking up into groups with large gaps between them. I realised I would have to really put the hammer down to get near the front, or at least into a fast group near the front. So for the first three laps I really went all out, battering north into the wind, bridging gaps where I could, and all the time watching the tail-end of the lead group ahead of me. A couple of riders managed to tangle up their bikes on the first little climb which slowed me down some more but I was glad that I was only slowed and not tangled with them or on the ground.
Each lap was taking me about 8 minutes, so by the time I locked onto the back of a fast group I had been rolling flat-out for almost half an hour and it felt like a lot longer. After a few minutes some faster riders appeared behind me - I am sure they could not have lapped me so quickly so I think they must have been biding their time in one of the groups. I had enough juice left to tag on to their group and stayed there for the next few laps.
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The group was about 6 or 7 riders and most people were good about taking their turn up front. One guy was riding a top-of-the-line Argon 18 with full Dura Ace, but his bike sounded like a bagful of spanners :mad: I felt like yelling at him "For f**k's sake, man, sort out your gears!"
I saw Naomi-san trackside, so I knew where to look for her to give the "coming in" countdown. I had just enough energy to keep rolling with my group over the last five laps of my first stint.
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We did a smooth changeover and Naomi headed out onto the race course. I hoped she could find a fast group, but the field was now strung out over the whole lap, so I wasn't sure. As it turned out, was able to catch a fast group, and had the legs to stay there, even staying out an extra lap or two. Meanwhile I was doing my best to recover, drinking energy drinks, munching on bananas and energy bars, stretching my tired muscles and trying to be ready for when she came back in.
Naomi gave me the signal that she would be in in four more laps.
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I watched for here from our pit. The "old-style" TCC jerseys are instantly recognisable which is great for a team race. So I spotted her at the pit lane entrance and was ready for when she arrived.
Back out on track, a fast group was just coming past as I rolled out.
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I had recovered enough for a short sprint to catch them, and found some of the same riders I had been out with before! There was less than an hour to go so I made the best of the groups that were out on track. As the time counted down, I pushed as hard as I could, especially on the penultimate lap when I saw I had 8 minutes to go. I really wanted that last lap so absolutely cranked it, using all the energy I had (which was not much, by that stage). I was super happy to cross the line before time ran out.

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I had no idea of our actual position, so it was great news when Naomi-san told me we had got second place! :weight:

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WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
1,192
240
93
Kita-Ueno
#3
Nice write-up, Alan!
It sounds as though being late for the starting line-up cost you a lot of time (and possibly first-place).
Nobuko was really quite incredulous; "...But it's Alan, and Naomi! How did they get second-place?" To which I responded, "Because they're both really, really fast." She replied, "That's not what I mean! How did they NOT get first-place???"

Maybe get there earlier next time, eh!
Regardless, that was a GREAT effort, and yet another podium for TCC! Well done!
T & N
 

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
434
103
Tokyo
#4
Andy,
The Bay Enduro definitely was a more interesting & challenging course. I remember the corners. The River Stage course was more of a test of sheer speed (and drafting ability). I remember the long straights.
But it was still good fun in a painful way.

Travis - yeah, I should have lined up a few minutes earlier; it would have helped. Easy to say with hindsight! I did catch up with the team that won by the end of my first stint though, so who knows....
Anyway - still really happy with this result :)