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Ride VeloViewer tiling in Japan

Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
4,426
3,336

Chuck

Maximum Pace
Feb 7, 2011
1,270
1,446
Saturday's ride up around Chichibu finally bumped up my max square to 35x35. Still far behind HFM but just enough to keep me ahead of Joe in the running battle for the title of 2nd place and all the fame and prizes that go with that.
 

Chuck

Maximum Pace
Feb 7, 2011
1,270
1,446
Great stuff. Looks like a nice ride. I have that gravelly rindō in my sights for this autumn. Anything to suggest it would not continue after the clearing where you turned around?
As I recall, it did continue. Seem to remember it turned a bit rougher beyond the point I turned around. The part I rode was gravel for the bottom 1/3, paved for the next 1/3 and then gravel again for the last part.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
3,216
2,872
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Tiling Century ride (+2T, 192 km, 2335 m elevation gain).

It’s October and I needed to get in another Century ride (month #110 of “Century a Month”) as well as getting my legs in some resemblance of shape before two 200 km randonnées I have signed up for, two and three weeks from this past Saturday. They will be my first timed events in half a year. My significant rides had dropped to one about every other week, which is barely enough to maintain condition, let alone rebuild it.

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I love the area around Akiyama on Rt35 and there were two unclaimed tiles there that weren’t too far from the main road. Neither was on the edge of my Max Square, so it would do little to reduce the gap to Chuck’s growing tile empire. A third tile I had in mind was at the lake next to the old Matsuhime south side road. I had never done Rt35 and Okutama in a single day.

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I got up at 06:00 only to not leave the house until 08:20 because of IT-related stuff even on a Saturday. One conbini stop at Onekan and another before entering Doshi michi. Around 30 C. This time I used sunscreen.

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My memory of the geography between the start of Doshi michi and Rt35 turns out hazy. There were many more climbs than I had remembered but very little traffic. After getting on Rt35 I bought water at the cheapest vending machine in Kanagawa, 50 yen for a 500 ml bottle of water (@microcord knows the shop I’m talking about). I was extra cautious carrying enough liquids this time, probably still a hangover from the Otoge ride with @microcord.

The second tile was to be had not far before the top of the Akiyama climb. I found that by focusing on the distance to the tile access I was less fixated on how much effort the climb was. I seemed to get to the top much more quickly than on previous rides.

On the way to the top I also met a cyclist from my randonneuring club coming the other way. She was test-riding the event I’m signed up for two weeks later and was on her way back to the goal in Machida.

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On to Matsuhime then! First came the long descent from the tunnel at the Akiyama Chuo Shinkansen track down to Tsuru-shi. I always enjoy that. Then join Rt139 down to Otsuki. It’s still quite rough but downhill, so still good for recovery.

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It was late in the day as I made it to Saruhashi. A last conbini stop there before heading up into the wilderness of Okutama. I expected I would hit the tile at the dam after sunset. During the climb from Saruhashi to the dams in the fading daylight the clouds ahead of me got darker and I saw some flashing, even lightning.

When I was more than halfway there, I heard my first thunder. Uh, oh! This is not good! We’re gonna get wet! Of course, having trusted the forecast I had not brought any rain gear or shoe covers. I was at close to 500 m and the temperature dropped to 14 C. So I made a U-turn back to Saruhashi since when you’re going to be cold and wet, it’s better to do so at lower elevation where it’s not going to be quite as cold.

I didn’t get far. The first heavy raindrops started to hit and I quickly looked for any kind of roof. I saw one place that looked like a former gas station, with the fuel pumps removed. It had a narrow roof overlooking its front. I took shelter standing on a ledge to get myself out of the rain as well as I could. The downpour was pretty intense. I watched the rain under streetlights to better judge how strong it was still. After about 20 minutes it seemed safe to continue. The windbreaker helped a little, but my socks and shorts were wet and water splashed up from the puddles.

I seriously considered calling the wife taxi for a rescue mission, as I still had about 5 hours to get home on the shortest route but if the rain didn’t resume and I just rode another 2-3 hours I’d have my Century. I had already let my wife know I’d be home around midnight. Koshu kaido (Rt20) wasn’t actually too bad, compared to past memories. There weren’t too many trucks and just a few cars. I gradually made my way back towards Kanagawa and then Otarumi toge (Takao), the last significant climb of this 2,335 m elevation ride. Descending to the Hachioji side felt like I was almost home. Finally I saw a Familymart again and treated myself to some strawberry milk.

I made it home almost by my original estimate of midnight, showered and went to bed.

Sunday was rather lazy. I just fixed the slow puncture and ordered a new rear tire as mentioned in the Today post. Today I feel normal again, ready for more adventures next weekend.
 
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Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
4,426
3,336
Exploring Akagi-san SE (+22T) max square 51*51

This was a huge and mostly enjoyable adventure. Starting just before 08.00, a quiet climb took me far above the noise of the motorcycle hordes heading up route 122 toward Nikko. After 6 km, the fun began.

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And continued. Puffing and panting up the gravel or dirt was hard work, but with the reward of flying down on my magic carpet.

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I lost count of the lovely waterfalls I saw to my left or right.

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Came across a house that time forgot. Had a good snoop around - the calendar on the wall would suggest it's been uninhabited since August 2007. Have a look around if you like [video]. Just trampling through the weeds to the stoop, my socks got covered in burrs that would plague me for some time as they worked their way down into my shoes.

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Barely saw a soul, except deer, for the first 20 km until my first zigzag traverse was done and I got back to route 62 and more motorcycle hordes.

The next section was more challenging - partly through my own carelessness and partly just bad luck. The gravel path I was on became progressively less path-like and more and more nothing like. I battled on along the river bank, pushing through trees figuring it was just overgrown through disuse. It took me far too long to work out that I was on the wrong side of the river. Should be on the other side, Mike.

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Turns out I shouldn't have crossed the river a second time. If I'd been paying more attention to the maps I'd have realised. But I was enjoying my ride. I'd crossed it once, at a ford...

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...and I crossed it again a few minutes later at a washed-out bridge. Enjoyed that challenge, humping the bike across. But before the lack-of bridge I should have taken a trail that would keep me on the left bank. Ooops. So I found a spot where I wouldn't get my shoes too wet and crossed once more.

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Much scrambling later, the track I eventually found was only marginally more navigable. It should converge with the road above to the north. Quite soon. Please.

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The path ended at a very cool spot with small waterfalls dripping down overhangs of huge boulders. Someone more romantically inclined might call it a 'power spot'. My problem was that the road was at the level of the top of the boulders. I was underneath them, with my bike, and whatever path up there might have been had slipped away. You can see the guard rail in the photo - that's where I need to get to. Yikes.

There followed a very tentative and expletive-laden scramble up the scarily steep earth bank, clinging to roots and plants with one hand and bike with the other. I had earlier thought that the blue plastic strips around the trees were markers for future logging activity, but worked out that they're actually there to guide people on a comparatively safe zigzag route, and are tied into loops to make handholds. Once I got my bearings, it took 20 min to climb 15 m.

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Looking back down, I reflected that while it wasn't the worst 'OMG one wrong foot and I'm going to die' experience among my tiling adventures, it's certainly not one I'd care to repeat. And if I'd been going in the other direction I am quite sure I would not have tried to clamber down. From the spot where I shouldn't have crossed the river to getting feet back on tarmac, it took me two hours to travel 1.5 km and climb 176 m.

[to be continued]
 
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Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
4,426
3,336
[part 2]

Having by now spent two hours more than planned in the middle of nowhere, my bidons were nearly empty and there was no immediate prospect of a drinks machine, or indeed anywhere to beg some water except from the mountain itself.

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Although I have a water filter/purifier for just such occasions, I hadn't brought it. Doh! It's now in my bag and will stay there - a guarantee that I'll never need it again. The water was gritty but otherwise seemed clear. Of course you can't tell just by looking, but I was confident that at least there were no chemical factories between this spot and wherever the raindrops had landed - just volcanic rock, plants and the occasional animal. I took a few experimental sips and waited. My intestines didn't explode. I continued on my way.

The next gravel rindō would have been more fun if I wasn't so tired. It would be a nice one to ride again. The one after that... well...

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The tile border was just 10 m beyond the landslide. While riding up the rock garden to this point I'd seen a couple of walkers coming down - my first humans for hours - but they weren't dressed for a serious expedition so my guess is that they'd walked up this far and turned around. Well 10 m is 10 m and tiles is tiles, so over I went.

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There was no need to take my bike, for such a short tilegrab. I've negotiated much worse in any case.

Rest of ride was easy apart from the fatigue. Passed lots of bessō on the lower slopes as I made my way down. Such a gorgeous late summer day, but no signs of life (and all the water turned off - I checked several standpipes!)

When I finally got to a vending machine there was only 10 km left and no climbing remaining. I don't think a Coke has ever tasted so good. I smelt bad.

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Yay! Max Square 51*51. It was rather foolhardy at times, but I expect I'll recover.

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Chuck

Maximum Pace
Feb 7, 2011
1,270
1,446
Yay! Max Square 51*51. It was rather foolhardy at times, but I expect I'll recover.
Congrats on the max square bump up. That looks like a real challenge. Some really tough going on that route.

Curious about your choice of trail at one point. Should I ever in this lifetime (or probably the next) think of getting up there for some tiling, may I ask why you went with the ridgeline hiking trail vs either of the gravel trails to the north or south?

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Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
4,426
3,336
may I ask why you went with the ridgeline hiking trail vs either of the gravel trails to the north or south?
'Tis a fair question.

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First one (yellow) I rejected because extra distance. Last one (green), although a bit shorter, was my backup in case I couldn't get through on the ridge. If I'd been thwarted on the shortest, easiest route, I would have to go back to the ridge, which would be more annoying.

The ridge was dirt, but gentle dirt. Mud and roots make a nice change from gravel and rocks sometimes. If I'd gone on Saturday it would probably have still been slick after the rain and I would have gone with Plan B.


I like the reflection in (on?) the screen of your garmin?

Thank you for noticing! It took me a few goes to get it right but I was pleased with it.

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joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
3,216
2,872
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Two tiles west of Otoge near Otsuki.

When I passed there with @microcord in August I quite liked the area. So when my wife suggested a hike to Mitake this weekend, I proposed hiking near Otoge instead. She will be hiking near Otsuki coming Saturday while I will pass through Otsuki on my bicycle the same day on the way from Machida to Kawaguchiko and back (200 km brevet).

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Let's skip over the traffic jams on the way out of Tokyo and just say that we arrived at Otoge at noon. The drive on Rt510 and beyond up to Otoge was rather scenic. We didn't meet a single car or hiker on the way up, yet the car park at the toge was almost full, only space for about two more cars.

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We headed west from the toge to Kurodake, about 1 1/2 hours away according to the map. There we had lunch and then headed a bit north along the ridge. At 14:30 we turned around and got back to the car park by 16:00 on the way we came. Some of the hike was steep (enough to get my t-shirt soaked in sweat) but most of it wasn't.

Unlike many forests in Tokyo and Kanagawa, these forests are natural broad-leaf, not industrial conifer tree farms replanted after the old growth had been chopped down for timber to rebuild Tokyo and Yokohama after the war. There was lots of moss everywhere and old trees that had fallen down were left to rot. It was just the right amount of exercise for us and the dog. The temperatures were very moderate, around 14-16 deg C: Very pleasant while in motion, but more comfortable in a windbreaker when taking a break.

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Those two tiles are not going to make a lot of difference, but if I'm going to do some hiking, I might as well increase my count :)
 

Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
4,426
3,336
The KIWL (Knights in White Lycra) charity group ride from 2020 was delayed, and again, and again, and finally cancelled. No big groups allowed, but do some riding if you can. I owed something to my corporate sponsor in return for giving their money to kids in care homes, so I rode with Channing of Decathlon (also but separately a big corporate sponsor) from the GS Astuto base in Gunma to Toyama over three days. The first of these days included a tiling plan... because me.

We started in light drizzle, and headed for Karuizawa via Usui-tōge, which we'd done before quite recently with Tim. The climb seems shorter each time.

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We were pretty damp by the time we reached the pass, but as we got into Karuizawa town the rain stopped and things started to brighten up. Autumn colours were starting to show.

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The way down was new, as I was heading for a lonely tile in Komoro and then targeting the tiles on the south side of the Chikuma-gawa valley. It turned into a lovely warm afternoon. Roads were quiet, and the scenery was magnificent. The three climbs were between 150 and 250 m, not especially steep but with luggage for a trip of several days it was still tough going.

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We finished in the historic post town of Unnōjuku, near Ueda. The main street lined with historic preserved buildings was almost completely deserted - could almost have been a movie set.

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Many sponsors' names adorn the official KIWL jerseys and gilet. Thanks to them, the individual fundraising efforts of the participants, and the generosity of supporters, KIWL has raised over 11 million yen for the kids this year. Great stuff.

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17 new tiles extended my cluster through Komoro and nearly to Ueda. Significant and sustained madness will be required to stretch the cluster to Japan Sea... that's a goal for another trip. We continued riding for two more days... that's a story for another thread.

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joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
3,216
2,872
We were pretty damp by the time we reached the pass, but as we got into Karuizawa town the rain stopped and things started to brighten up. Autumn colours were starting to show.

Karuizawa is at significant elevation, so getting damp there wouldn't be my idea of fun...

We finished in the historic post town of Unnōjuku, near Ueda. The main street lined with historic preserved buildings was almost completely deserted - could almost have been a movie set.

Shintaro and I also passed there during our C2C ride. It was really pretty.

17 new tiles extended my cluster through Komoro and nearly to Ueda. Significant and sustained madness will be required to stretch the cluster to Japan Sea... that's a goal for another trip.

You already took a big step there. Max Cluster Coast to Coast is a tremendous challenge since it extends so far from home. It's a commitment to multiple C2C trips (not all of it by bike).
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
3,216
2,872
114 km per new tile on my latest (sort of) tiling ride. Is that a negative record?

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The brevet I rode on Saturday by chance also took me on previously uncharted roads near Uenohara, clearing two tiles. It was a part of Rt30 (Kyu Koshukaido) that I had never been on before.

I wonder why the Old Koshukaido is located so high up in the mountains and not lower down in the valley as Chuo expressway and Rt20 (Koshukaido) are located. It reminds me of the Old Tokaido road at Hakone, which is twice the elevation of the route via Gotemba that Tomei and Rt246 are taking.

It's almost as if the government wanted to make it inconvenient to travel on these routes, which for local daimyo who were forced to spend at least part of the year in Edo so they couldn't rebel against the Tokugawa from their home base, might exactly have been the point.
 
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