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Race Tour De Hitachinaka 5 Hour Enduro 2015


Maximum Pace
Dec 13, 2014
Here’s my race write-up from yesterday that I intended to write last night, buuuut flaked it on the sofa instead. As usual, it’s a long write-up, so you may want to have a cup of coffee on the go whilst reading.

Hopefully there’s some useful information in it for those who race, or intend on doing these Bike Navi events.

This was my first race in twenty-one years.

Race: Tour De Hitachinaka

Category: 5 Hour King of Enduro (solo)

Course: A well designed, 4.2 km, winding circuit (a driver training venue) with a smooth surface and a variety of challenging turns. I rate the course as excellent.


Weather: Cool and cloudy with a fairly strong NE wind.

Getting To The Race

I got up at 4:00 a.m. which was way too early. I didn’t want to be in a rush.
Rode to Matsudo Station (8 km), got the bike into the bike bag and made my way to the platform. “Ah, still 30 minutes before my train arrives. Oh well, better to be early...but, this early?!”
Rode one train all the way to Katsuta Station, and then rode 8 km out to the venue.


I got there forty minutes before the race start time.
It was just enough time to get organized.
What with checking in, pinning your number on your jersey, putting the little GPS receiver on your front forks, getting your food and drinks sorted for the race, and doing that final toilet dash (it’s important to empty the bladder before a race), the time soon adds up.
Arriving an hour before the race starts would be the ideal scenario.

@Cory M. was there apparently, and I’d organized to catch up with him before the race but could not for the life of me find his car park.

The Race

The 5 hour enduro race is run over two races.
The first race is 3 hours.
Your laps completed and time on the last lap are calculated.
The second race is 2 hours (massed start), and again your laps completed and time on the last lap are calculated.
At the end of the 5 hours the statistics from the two races are joined to give you an overall total, kinda’ like a two stage tour except it’s laps and time as opposed to time only.
There is also a 5 hour teams race where riders race in relay fashion.
They race alongside us.

During my 3 hour race a separate race was starting half a lap behind us, and would line up behind us, this was the 3 hour enduro and @Cory M. was in that, so as I made my way to the start line I finally got to catch up with him.

On the start line, I realized that the color of my number was different to the others. I went back and had a chat to @Cory M. and discovered that I’d entered the flat bar category by mistake. I approached the officials, telling them that I’d made a mistake when I booked my race on the website and they said it was no problem. I found out after the race that they had already known I was in the sports category and had changed it just prior to the race start. A Stravr friend of mine was marshalling the race and had told them that I would never be riding a flat bar bike and that they should change my category.

Bang…and we were off!

They took off at a brisk pace like they were greyhounds chasing a fake rabbit.
I sat on the back of the peloton.
The pace was high and they were sustaining it.
One hour passed.

I couldn’t work out why guys were destroying themselves on the front like they were. It could’ve been nervous energy or they may have not wanted to be outside the top ten as the course was similar to a criterium, where being further back in the pack and accelerating out of corners is (and was) death on the legs.

Things continued as they were and we reached the halfway point of our race. I knew it was impossible to sustain a long solo breakaway from a peloton moving at that speed with the wind as strong as it was, and at this point I had already made a race plan to just save my energy for the last lap and break away on a section of the course that had a little hill in it.

Just then, four riders that I hadn’t seen before merged with our group, they were from the 3 hour race which had started behind us. Two of them were real goers and started constantly attacking our group, not to get rid of us, it was to ditch each other.

Here was my window of opportunity, and I seized it without hesitation as my race instinct cut in.
I went to the front and showed the 'two goers' that I was willing to work with them by switching a few turns of pace with them at their pace.
Then, for the next 30 minutes I did a series of seriously up-tempo, hard cornering turns of pace that ground the pack down.
The ‘two goers’ worked with me just as I knew they would.
The result of this grinding down of the peloton left just three of us out in front, the ‘two goers’ and I. We settled into a more sedate pace knowing that we’d done what we wanted to do.
Three other riders caught us, two of them were from the 3 hour race and one from the 5 hour teams race.
We still had one hour to ride and pushed on as a group of six at a steady pace with a sprint to the line.
I wanted to sprint with them, but as the push came during the last half a lap, my hamstrings started to lock up and I dropped off the group and finished 100 meters behind.
I was very happy with the way I’d ridden, but had no idea where I was in the standings because at this point I wasn’t familiar with the numbers and colors on the jerseys and what they meant.
After I saw the race results, I then knew what the numbers meant.

I went down to check the results and discovered to my surprise that I was first and held a two lap (8 km) lead on my nearest rival.
That thirty minute push-on had basically won me the race because I had dropped all of my competitors.
I knew that in the next race all I had to do was to stay upright.
Not an easy task, as you’ll read under the Crashes heading later.

We had a one hour lunch break and during that time I did a thirty minute stretch routine to cure the leg cramps and it worked.
It was all good for the next race.

Off we went for the last race of the day, the two hour race.
Half a lap behind us a separate race, ‘the 2 hour enduro’ was starting.

It was an uneventful race for me.
We were caught by the huge 2 hour group after three laps and joined them for the rest of the race.
Now that I knew what the race numbers and colors meant, I could scan the peloton for riders in my race and mark them.
Only two riders from my category did end up staying with the peloton, so I had an easy job of marking them.
We finished with the 2 hour race group that eventually shrunk to thirty percent of its original size by the end.
Of my group, I was the first to finish.

So, I had won both of my races and ended up about 8 km ahead of the second place-getter.
I got to stand on the podium, was awarded a medal, some goodies, and a massive cup which upon receival sent me into a panic about how the hell I would cart it home.
I later discovered that they send a replica in the mail. Phew!

I ended up covering 201 km at an average of around 38.7 km/hr.

The race results are here…

The highlight of my day was being able to ride in a flying peloton again.
It felt soooo good and I was smiling to myself at various points of the two races.


Back to the station with a wrong turn (which added another 5 kms to my ride), on the train, down to Matsudo, 8 km ride home, and the day was over at 7:15 pm.


Without a doubt I’ve never seen so many crashes in a race as I did this day.
The course was technical, and as I mentioned earlier it is an excellent course…for experienced racers, not for the inexperienced.

I witnessed ten crashes.
Most were from guys pedaling around corners, the pedal hitting, and them jack-knifing.
Others were from guys changing their line in corners after misreading it and taking people out.

I was shocked that riders were still pedaling around corners after witnessing others crashing because of doing the very same thing.
Many were making the mistake of not carrying enough speed into the corner.
This meant that they were in a panic, pedaling to hold their position.
In that situation there’s no need to pedal in my opinion, because the lack of speed they were carrying in would enable them to get the power on earlier than the others as they exit.

Most were not seriously hurt, except for one guy who came down on his shoulder pretty hard and may have done his collarbone.

I dealt with ‘not being taken out’ by riding on the inside or the extreme outside of the peloton on the corners.
Being inside meant that no one could jack-knife into me.
Being on the extreme outside gave me time to react and room to move, I could also carry more speed on the outside which assisted when the jam came on after the corner.

I rode with a Bontrager R2 (strictly a dry road tyre) on the back and a Panaracer Race D on the front and the grip was sensational on the smooth surface, never had a moment throughout both races.

Totally Unrelated

Hitachinaka has the widest streets I’ve ever seen.
Even wider than Australian country towns, and that’s saying something!

Also, in the city center there are bike lanes, but they actually have a kerb to stop motorists from ever coming into it. That’s cool!
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Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
Great stuff mate! Top result and well deserved after some serious lead up training.

Cory M.

Maximum Pace
Dec 18, 2012
Great write up @Heath, and massive performance! I'll add my rookie two cents.
This was my first ever bike race, so I was a bit nervous heading into it. The nerves weren't helped much by (or perhaps caused by) an over active lower GI tract for a solid (not very, unfortunately) 24 hours leading up to the race. So I pulled up to the line figuring I would just do my best and hope to not have to pull a Greg LeMond and ask a friend for a hat during the race.

I headed to the front of the peloton during the first rolling half a lap figuring I would just go with them as long as I could, really not knowing how my fitness level would hold up to these guys. Turns out it was only about 25 minutes, but boy was that a fun 25 minutes! My fears of crashing quickly gave way to exhilaration for several laps. But the sprints following the really hard turns eventually got to me, and I found myself in the lonely place of falling off the back. Unfortunately, there was no one to join me for quite a while.

The initial hard effort made my lower back act up pretty early on, and that plus my gut worries had me wondering if I was going to make it the full three hours. I figured I would just carry on and see how far I got. I found a few groups here and there to ride with, but in general, it was not a crowd of guys that were really working together. Using my experience from ultrarunning, I accepted the discomfort and repeated the mantra, "it's not getting better, but it's not getting worse". Before I knew it, there was less than an hour left, and I had found a group going at about my pace. I found myself really enjoying some of the hard turns, and feeling more and more able to push through some of the faster sections.

I was pretty surprised to pull across the line at the end and saw that I had maintained an average speed of 35 kph for the three hours. That is fast for me, and much faster than I thought I was going considering how shitty I was feeling for most of it. Getting lapped twice by @Heath Monster was a bit depressing, but finding out that he won the whole damn thing was some small consolation. Overall an enjoyable race with an interesting course, a really manageable number of riders, but it sure seemed like a high concentration of fast guys.
On to the next challenge!
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