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Official Ride Tour de Utsukushigahara


Speeding Up
Jul 12, 2006
Looks like I posted this in the Unofficial Tours and Short Runs section by mistake. Here it is again in the right place.:cool:

It's official! TCC will be racing at the Tour de Utsukushigahara hill climb race.


The race starts in Asama Onsen, which is about a 20 minute flat ride from Matsumoto Station. This is one of the harder HC races, with a 2km section of 17% grade at the beginning of the race. After the 17%, the grade levels out to something more tolerable.

The scenery, though, is fantastic and there is a chance to see Matsumoto castle, a national treasure and the oldest extant castle in Japan.

Unfortunately the date clashes with the Granfondo OZE-TOKURA, but since that is almost the same course as the Giro de Hotaka in November, we decided to do Utsukushigahara in June and the Giro in November.

As soon as I have some idea how many are interested, I will arrange the accommodation.

-------------------------------------Disclaimer from TCC---------------------------
[in Japanese 日本語]


Gran Fondo


Thanks for organising this one. The thought of a 17% challenge is .....er....scary ! :(

So, I am going to give this one a miss in favour of the Gran Fondo (Fondue ?) instead this year.

I wish you well and will try to provide a report on the big cheese for interest.

Best of luck to all taking part.

Charles, perhaps we should start another thread about the Grand Fondou to get some numbers? I'm really keen on this one as Giro de Hotaka was by far the most challenging race I've done. What do you think?
Ah, will have to miss this in favor of the Gran Fondo... :( One of these days I'm going to actually manage to join one of the official TCC road trips. As always though, I'll look forward to the results, reports and pics.
i think i'm in

i would love to join you guys if i get in to the race. i'm waiting to hear if i made the lottery.....
Utsukushi accomodation

I would like to invite interested TCC cyclists to stay with us at Sakamoto-no-yu Ryokan in Asama Onsen the night before the race. I go up for this race every year with a group of 5-10 cyclists and we always stay there - and with good reason: it is my wife's family ryokan, so we get a good deal (though it is expensive to start off with so the discount price is actually about the level of standard prices). Anyhow, contact me if you want to join us. Sakamotonoyu is only a few hundred metres from the race start.

Utsukushi accomodation

I will back up Ryano's recommendation. I stayed there last year for the race and the ryokan is great and Ryano's in-laws are super friendly. Not cheap, but still a great deal as they served up big, excellent meals, the rooms are big and airy, there is an onsen and the location is perfect.

Too bad the race got called off due to the heavy rain. I hope this year's weather is better, but I can't make it this time around.

Have done it a couple of times coming from Ueda-shi (on Rt 62/464). Have only ever descended it towards Matsumoto (on Rt 67), but it was a very beautiful and lushly green road that I stopped on a couple of times to take photos.
Hi Utsukushigahara racers, any updates/results from that toughie?:bike:

Not cancelled due to rain again I hope:confused:
Utsukushigahara 美ヶ原 results

Here are a few links.


We had a big group this year but it worked out pretty well. Rained out on Saturday so we cancelled the planned ride over the Venus line. By Sunday morning the rain had stopped but it was a little foggy at the top and apparently a few people came off in the fast corners near the finish, but our group were ok. It wasn't cold either - a little warm if anything. Clay came 5th overall (!!) in the Champion division. Dan also was on the podium for 5th in his age group, with a time only a few minutes slower than Clay despite the lack of talent at that level in the age groupers. Hoping he will be doing champion next year. Mike and Phil did really well also. Tom right up there as usual.

We also skipped breakfast at the ryokan and had lunch together after the race which was fun and allowed us to relax a little after the race and clean up properly in the onsen before going home.

BTW - I found a fantastic ride over to there from Chino along the Venus line. It's a decent 85km in the mountains, but very nice. Just follow signs for Venus line. Pass through shirakabako. Also found an exit that you can take down into Matsumoto without having to walk across the farm.
I just did Mugikusa Toge (highest kokudo mountain pass in Japan at 2,127m), the Venus Line through Kirigayama Kogen and Utsukushihara, followed by an extension up to the backside of Utsukushihara (Takeshi Toge) last Friday. Absolutely stunning scenery - I can only recommend. And being above 1,300m for almost all of the time, and often much higher (up to 2,000m) means the temperature is always bearable, especially if the sun is not out (as is often the case in the mountains where the clouds tend to hang in summer).

Very nice! Thanks Ludwig. I might try this one on Saturday if weather is good.

FYI - I've copied below part of an email I sent to a few friends about the Chino<->Matsumoto.



Basically, the ride is Chino->Matsumoto and back again the next day all via the "Venus Line".
All up the ride is around 85km or so each way, but don't be fooled, as I was in the saddle for 4-5hrs net going at a reasonable pace. Lots of climbing, so don't do it unless you want a challenge, but the reward is fantastic views and lovely roads with few cars.

No matter which side you start from, both days start immediately with nice big 1.5-2hr steady climbs up narrow forested country roads, quickly winding up and away from civilization (both are well over 1000m climbs), and the whole day's riding after that you only pass through one place that could be described as a town (Shirakaba-ko). The rest is wilderness, from one toge (pass) to the next in the 1500-2000m range, along mountains, with a whole bunch of 3-400m climbs, taking in fantastic views of Yatsugatake, the Alps, Lake Suwa, Lake Shirakaba, and even a glimpse of Fuji. But you are never far from a rest stop with drinks and refuelling (or warmth) when necessary, so you really don't need to carry all that much.

The route is really simple and well signed except for a few minor spots. Just photocopy the important pages of a map at the conbini and follow the "Venus Line" and basically you are there.

Here are the main way points:

Suzuran Toge (1st big climb - around 700->1800m)
Shirakaba-ko (lake) - lovely little resort town
Kuruma Yama - awesome fast rolling ride on bare mountain top
Kirigamine toge - more of the same
Yashima Shitsugen (exit to Suwa if necessary) - starting to get pretty wild
Wada Toge (exit to Suwa if necessary) - from here totally wild
Mitsumine Toge - more climbs
Tobira Toge (also around 700->1800m) - watch out for foxes and deer. Really.
and finally down from Tobira Toge into Matsumoto/Asama Onsen via Utsukushigahara Onsen

If you have the time/strength to continue on, don't go down the exit at Tobira Toge, but continue on to Utsukushigahara Kogen which is also fantastic. If you go that way, it is the top of a 2000m mountain straight up from there. From Utsukushigahara you can either walk through the farm and ride down the other side via Misuzu-ko lake, or go around and over the next pass. Either would add a good few hours to the day probably.

In Matsumoto, of course, I always stayed at Sakamotonoyu. There are cheaper places to stay, but it's in the family and a nice quiet place near the base of the climb. You can also just use the onsen baths on your way through for about 700 yen (the oyu is incredible) but don't forget to bring your own towel.

The train to and from Chino (Super Azusa on the Chuo line from Shinjuku) is about 5000yen each way; less if you get tickets from a discount shop.

2nd day you just do it all in reverse. It is that good. Try it sometime.

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