What's new

Your least favourite or worst experience on a toge


Speeding Up
Jul 31, 2007
Steve had the idea of sampling the toge above Shinhinazuru tunnel yesterday. Now of course, experimentation can be great, leading to many serendipitous and wonderful discoveries, and indeed Steve is in many respects a pioneer of new frontiers. The risk is that sometimes you can end up in a deserted, black, rock strewn tunnel, or clambering over rocks for several kilometres, or on climbs that are simply not much fun.

Anyway, yesterday we had just such an experience where we had to clamber through barriers and then proceed through an abandoned rock-strewn pitch-black tunnel for about 400 or 500 metres. After this, we got onto the topic of our worst toge experiences and least favourite toges.

After some consideration, I would say the following are my list of dreaded rides, not because they are beastly and difficult (e.g. Mikuni/Kazahari) but because they are treacherous and dangerous, impassable, boring, or because you never derive much pleasure from climbing them. My list would be as follows:

Ootoge - long and not very interesting. The top is very flat so I always find it difficult to know when you get there. Furthermore, it's nigh on impossible to descend the north side so you end up coming back the way you came. Climbing from the north can be challenging, but again the top is always such a let down, and it is simply too long from whichever side.

Tsuru - from the south I find this something to be avoided, especially in the summer where it's constantly exposed. Again its a very long, prolonged climb that saps me.

Nokogiriyama - there was a massive landslide here at one stage, with a sheer drop from the side of the cliff. We had no choice but to scramble over the rocks.

I think, overall, however, that Sergey discovered one of the great classics of cycling terror, on his Hadano loop ride, with the Gando pass. Here we had to walk for several kilometres over really quite rugged terrain. It was a classic experience.

What are your worst toge experiences, or least favourite climbs?
Mikuni. Combined with 35 degrees, running out of water, cramps, and a bit of bonk
For me, the climb has to be followed by a rewarding downhill :run01:

So Nokogiriyama (the one near Okutama-ko) is one of my least favourites. Fairly tough climb followed by a downhill cracked, bumpy, branch-and-debris strewn tarmac that limits speed and beats up the rider ALL THE WAY DOWN. Not for me.

Worst experience - blowing halfway up Asahigare toge on the Threepeaks (August) ride and knowing Mikuni was waiting for me....
Sadly(?) I've done very few of the west-side toge's, and I can't say I ever really enjoy them, but I remember having a particularly miserable time going up the Tomin-no-tori climb on the Tokyo side the one time I did it; it just went on and on and on and on and seemed to get steeper and steeper. The constant ear-splitting whine of motorbikes hurtling back and forth didn't help my mood :)

There are no proper toges in Chiba, of course, but I always dread the sharp little clamber past Akimoto Bokujo that comes near the end of almost all our Boso rides--it's only about 2-3km long, if that, but it hits 11% and coming as it does at the end of a whole series of similar climbs it's always hard to muster the necessary energy to get over it...
Worst toge?? Would be much easier for me to talk about the best toge...

Difficult passes are by definition fun. I really like all the passes you have listed so far.

For me, the worst passes are those with lots of traffic (but then I avoid them to start with) or those than have hardly any altitude difference, but are still misnamed a "toge". Again, I simply ignore them.

But please continue reporting about difficult passes. Maybe I'll find one that I haven't done yet!

Cheers, Ludwig
1) Nokogiriyama - I 'ate this place every time, every day and from both sides :D(north and south). Not because it's steep (it is actually), but, as Lee pointed out, because it's not fun to ride over endless bumps and potholes and now, that there's a slide there, just meh...
2) North of Yabitsu is also something I'd stay away from (especially on the descent)
3) South of Matsuhime - bumps,bumps,bumps, lost my saddle bag to a ravine because of all shaking and jumping (again while descending).
4) well... anything with "speed limiting" stripes, patches and holes and groves, especially if they are huge enough to make you jump in and out of your saddle...

On a road bike that is.

Worst experience - solo descent from Arima toge (north side) this summer. Punctured two times (that place is cursed), all tubes used, forgot my punc fixing kit - as a result, walk down for 8 or so km to the closest train station in Chichibu and riding trains all the way home.
Is nokogiriyama the hill by Tsuru-Tsuru onsen? If so, the descent on the back side of that (leading into Ome) is one of my favorites! Rocky, washed, crappy, Glorious! Reminds me of the BLM (govt forest roads) back home in Oregon that are great on a road bike.

I like the Tomin-No-Mori climb, did it yesterday and the day before as well, and its nice but I definitely agree on the motorcycles. Can get a little scary at time when those guys are ripping around the corners.

BTW, why do they groove some of the the roads here? does it help the cars? Cause i certainly hate it on a road bike.
Worst experience - blowing halfway up Asahigare toge on the Threepeaks (August) ride and knowing Mikuni was waiting for me....

How could I fail to list that? Despite, or due to the heat, I actually had the cold shakes on that climb, and I truly came close to giving up and throwing my bike over the side of the cliff. It was that bad.

I like the Tomin-No-Mori climb, did it yesterday and the day before as well, and its nice but I definitely agree on the motorcycles. Can get a little scary at time when those guys are ripping around the corners

Were there bikes there yesterday? They're meant to be banned now. Just the boy racers remain.

I tend to agree with Ludwig, I like all of the climbs even on poor surface if they lead through lonely forests up into the mountains. To be alone out there in the nature with one's bike does compensate me for the suffering up.

I also would agree with others that it isn't much fun to ride down with hands constantly on the brakes, sitting on the rear wheel and trying to avoid potholes and stones. But if this is the price I have to pay, I am ready to pay.

In addition to the listed ones, Umenoki (this is the one from Tsuru Tsuru Onsen), Wada North approach, Inuekoji, Bijotani and many more all fall into this category.
...experimentation can be great, leading to many serendipitous and wonderful discoveries, and indeed Steve is in many respects a pioneer of new frontiers...

Well, Lee, thanks very much, if that's not exactly the way I recall you phrased it at the time ...

I agree with Ludwig with regards to the traffic (though not necessarily with "those that have hardly any altitude difference"). My most hated toge is Otarumi... not the similarly named long and lonely 2000m climb in Yamanashi (Odarumi Toge - which is fantastic by the way!), but that little one past Takao on Route 20. I really hate it - boring, no views, lots of traffic and a rather anti-climatic crest. And coming from the east you also have the avenue of love hotels to remind you what other, normal people might get up to on an early Saturday morning.

My others:
- Nokogiriyama Toge descent: the first time I climbed up this there was a rope stretched across the top of the pass to prevent use of the road on the other side. Naturally, no barrier to a cyclist, but it didn't occur to me that there might be a similar rope at the bottom until I actually hit it...:(
- Yanagisawa Toge, approach from Enzan: actually my complaint is really only the first 10km, on the road that parallels the 411 to the east. This road is steep and nasty, no greenery, and so bloody hot: all the solar heating panels of the surrounding houses seem to mysteriously reflect the rays of the sun directly at your head.

Is anyone familiar with #16, the Iroha-zaka?

Route 120, just east of Lake Chuzenji and west of Nikko proper. I've only driven it in the car, but it's the standard approach to Lake Chuzenji when driving from Tokyo. Have been wanting to ride up there for a long time now, but it being Nikko the road is usually clogged with traffic.
Yes, I have done it twice downhill. It's not that pleasant though because there is a lot of traffic and most cars are very insistent that you don't overtake them even though bikes are faster than the cars. About one third to half way down, you invariably hit an endless traffic jam, which makes it easier to pass all the cars, but isn't all that fun. Then the traffic clears up and there are some nice straight stretches where one could easily go 60-70km with some pedalling - assuming you have the right gear combination (standard crank or 11-x cassette).

One day I will do it uphill too, but would want to do this on a weekday rather than a weekend, because of the traffic.

Frankly, Irohazaka is far less interesting than the scenery up there, and especially the scenery around one of the two passes (1,800m and 1,700m respectively). It is particularly nice coming down from the tunnel pass at 1,800m, with nice views of the first lake. I've blogged about it on Positivo Espresso - just too lazy to find the link right now.
For me, the one climb that I simply never enjoy is Kazahari Toge from the Okutama Lake side. This is probably because I've often already ridden a hilly 100km or so before hitting it, so my legs have been softened up. The climb just drones on and on in a samey gradient. Before the motorcycle ban, there was the added stress of the moto-racers blasting by. But the descent from the top is fun.

I never do Kazahari from the Tokyo side -- I'm a Kazahari-rindo man.

Mikuni simply angers me, it's so relentless. But I derive immense satisfaction from those days when I'm on form and am able to climb it at a decent clip (that is, without zig-zagging). And descending down to Yamanakako is always fun.

Kazahari-rindo is one of my faves. It no longer spooks me like Mikuni does, and I can get a pretty good rhythm going on it. Quiet, secluded and, in places, really freaking steep.

I actually quite enjoy all the quiet, rock-strewn rindos -- Nokogiriyama, Bijotani, Wada north approach, Hadano toge. I don't mind a slow, careful (yeah, and sometimes stressful) descent -- I'm there for the climbing. But dang, those rocks can really slice up the sides of the tires. One of my new Contis went into the trash bin after getting sliced on the Wada north approach a couple weeks ago. I've lost two Contis to that climb. I don't know how many lunches my kids had to miss because of that.

I agree with Steve that Otarumi is not an ideal climb due to the traffic. But I've got a soft spot for it because it was my first-ever climb when I started riding three years ago. It felt like Everest.

Otoge. I like it because it is nice and quiet. But it is darn long, and if you're time-trialing it, the climb -- 16km! -- is super painful. One of my prime goals this year is a sub-1 hour ascent. Last year, I was 1 hour, 1 minute and change, so I should be able to do it.

Matsuhime always kills me, but I like it.

Kaoburi-toge, which links up to the Greenline via route 299, gets insanely steep toward the top. I have a love-hate relationship with it. But cresting that bastard is always satisfying.

Gotta agree with most of you here. Mikuni is hell on earth especially in the summer with minimal shade and a relentless 12% plus gradient. If you ever ride with me on that one you'll have the chance to hear me in full swing shouting all types of profanitites:confused:

And I'm with Deej on Matsuhime. I love that climb as it just seems to suit my riding style.

And a note of caution for all, Kazahari Rindo is Deej's (Ironsword) hunting ground, so if you ride that one with him and attempt to be the first to summit he'll cut you up you and feed you to the bears:cry: (except if your name is Clay of course, coz he's too quick to catch...)
Top Bottom