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Tour de OMHSMK


Maximum Pace
Sep 24, 2007
Yesterday Tom attempted to guide Philip, Deej, Clay, Sergey and myself around his infamous OMHSK loop. I say attempted because Philip and I both bailed early but at different points. Congratulations to the remaining guys for doing the whole thing as that is a true feat in itself. Clay later told me he knocked up 280km with over 3500m of climbing on the clock. That's some staggering stats:confused:

When I rolled up at the 9am at the agreed meeting place I only found Philip and Tom waiting, making me think everyone else had decide to stay in their warm comfy beds. To my relief I was informed by Philip that Deej had encountered a flat and the two of them had ridden on to let me know. Thanks again Tom and Philip, I really appreciated this. More chatting and I learned that Deej had also fallen off his bike. Not again, I thought to myself, but apparently he had been stationery when it happened. A sigh of relief and laughter as we wondered if the guy has some kind of jinx going on.

About 15 minutes later the remaining members rolled in and we set off on our adventure with the sun shining brightly and the air crisp. Glancing to my right I saw ecothree (Clay) was wearing a short sleeve jersey and Deej's punctured tube wrapped around his shoulders giving the image of a man as hard as nails. A buzz of excitement and perhaps nerves made it's way through my body as I knew my defense of Matsuhime Touge was near. Could this man of steel be beaten I wondered?

Along R35 we picked up a Japanese rider on a Pinarello. I can't remember the model of his bike, but it was certainly impressive. Perhaps someone can help me here? I was feeling pretty good at this point and decided to launch an early attack just for a bit of fun. However, the head wind was stronger than I thought and I decided to hide in a side street and let everyone whistle by. Once they had gone and I was sure I had been undetected I slowly approached the bunch from behind and sat on Deej's wheel for about 2km without being noticed. I was kind of hoping for a few comments like - Where is he? Can anyone see him? man he's a rocket!
But alas I was only to be disappointed. The group then split in 2 as Deej and Clay apparently decided to chase me down. As I went past Philip, Tom and Sergey I placed my finger over my mouth hoping for a minimal reaction. I think Sergey was the most surprised, and he did his best to muffle his reaction. I bridged the gap quickly and sat on Clay's wheel for a while in stealth mode again. When the road straightened out I said in my best Philip/English accent - Where the hell is he? Bloody fast that bloke! and unbelievably they fell for it, heads reaminig down determined to reel me in! That was when I decided to go past them and give my game up. I got a few smiles anyway and that was the whole point, but I had definitely used up a bit of energy in the process. Ah, I enjoyed myself anyway:D

Onwards we pushed at a pretty fast pace stopping at the Manju shop with the roaring fire Deej had mentioned in the last time they had attempted this ride. The Obasan's were so nice there offering us all tea free of charge. Replenished and ready for more we charged on.

Once we hit the junction for Matsuhime Touge Philip decided that he was gonna go home via the Tour de Christoph loop, as he wasn't feeling that great. After a few minutes of attempted persuasion he left us and we soldiered on one troop down. Before we knew it we were at the foothills of the monster of all monsters, Matsuhime. 20km of climbing at an average of 4.5%.

Tom had gotten ahead at this stage and as we passed the Hall of Fame starting pint we all pressed our lap buttons. It was on! Clay and I set off on a screaming pace taking turns at the front to try and counter the effect of the head wind and I have to say as we sped past Tom I felt like a pro:confused:. Deej and Sergey had fallen off the back somewhere as the 2 of us continued to share the workload. We both knew the the time to beat and one of us was determined to get it. At the 10 km mark we were both still feeling pretty good, and Clay was looking like he wasn't going to crack. I was sneaking peeks at this face every time I took my turn at the front:) Things changed though after the long tunnel and Matsuhime really kicked up. We were riding side by side for the next 5km and I kind of felt something was up with Clay, apart from the bird sounds his bike was making! I'll klet him comment on that. It was at this point that I decided to apply a bit more pressure and see how he was feeling. To my surprise he dropped off and I was (excuse the phrase used by Phil Liggett so often) free to fly! And that I did. I have to say I was feeling great yesterday and it was definteily my day. The p[revious week Clay had smashed me on every climb. Cycling is so funny like this. Off days and on days (and no, I'm not Vinokourov).

Finally after what seemed an eternity I arrived at the summit with victory in the bag but unfortunately a slower time than I had hoped for. I came in at 1:04:33, a minute and a half slower than my PB. I was sure that working with Clay was give me sub 1 hour time, but I suppose the head wind was a factor at times. I am determined to get a time under 1 hour on this climb!

Anyway, Clay wasn't far behind, followed by Sergey, Tom and Deej. After descending I turned right on R18 and headed home. My stats for the day;

Distance: 205km
Time: 8:30 mins
Average : 23.5km/h

What a day! Great company, beautiful weather and scenery. Let's do it again soon. Thanks guys.
"Free to fly"

Mike - that is a great line . . . and a great write-up.


Tired and sore

Tom, Mike - thanks for the camaraderie and great write-ups! Saturday's ride was challenging and a lot of fun. Philip -- it's always a pleasure riding with you. Next time I hope to roll into Tokyo with you. Sergey -- Thanks for your excellent company. You were very impressive Saturday! Clay, a huge thanks for being with me when I punctured, as well as giving me your spare tube. I look forward to riding with you again soon!

I do seem jinxed lately, however. I had a big crash at Hotaka, then on Saturday I toppled over while still clipped in, moving at 0kph, knocking over Philip's very nice carbon Cervelo in the process. I believe I swore as I lay on the sidewalk, my legs entwined with Philip's handlebars. Later, as we were cruising at a good clip by Sagamiko, I ran over what must have been a large rock, puncturing my front tire. My spare tube was old and ultra-lightweight. As I pumped it up, it tore near the valve. Lesson learned: old ultra-lightweight tubes do not good spares make. Clay, who hung back to lend me moral support and help prep my tube (that doesn't sound good, does it?) as I took the old one out, gave me his only spare. Thanks, Clay!

The weather with chilly but clear and beautiful. My legs felt good on the flats, but when we started climbing Suzugane-toge, I realized that it wasn't going to be my day to shine. Suzugane is not a killer climb by any stretch, but I was already feeling a little sluggish.

Matsuhime-toge was not good. From the dam, I was 8 minutes slower than my previous ride up two months earlier with Tom. That means from the official TCC starting point, I was probably around 10-12 minutes slower overall. My total time was 1:18-something. My legs just couldn't produce any power -- very frustrating. Some days you got it, some days you don't.

The next and final big climb, Kazahari-toge, has seen me blow up on every attempt (not literally, thankfully), and I had no reason to expect anything different this time, given my performance on Matsuhime. To my surprise, I was able to find a good rhythm and maintain it all the way up. I was by no means tearing it up, but I wasn't losing huge amounts of time to Sergey and Clay, who had ridden away. Tom would normally have passed me here, but he was plagued by cramps and couldn't push his usual strong pace.

The descent was fast, and I was working hard to catch Sergey and Clay. To my huge and happy surprise, Tom caught me along the way. What a warrior -- even with cramping quads, he was able to push a very fast pace to bridge the gap. Tom, that was an impressive performance!

We rode hard together, hoping to reach the 7-11 not too far behind Sergey and Clay. As we pulled up to the parking lot of the convenience store, our friends were just getting off their bikes and getting ready to head in. I was relieved, as I had feared they had been waiting for a while. Thinking back, I think I caught a glimpse of them at the final intersection where Tom and I got stopped by a red light. It would have been satisfying to catch them in that final stretch!

Guys, thanks again for your excellent company. Let's do it again soon!

Distance: 228km
Average: 25.3kph
Time (moving): 9:02


P.S. Mike, here's a review of the jacket I ordered.
my longest ride

Very long ride and lottttts of climbing!

I even doubt it can be completed without a good company to ride with - that's how long it was. Thanks, guys! Some sleepyheads were missed, though...

It was also nice to meet Clay for the first time - very strong rider indeed - and even to engage into a short battle (which I lost) with him over the final 500m of Kazahari climb.

It was fun and an excellent endurance training :)
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