The rules are the same as last year or every year:
Originally Posted by DXchulo
Who's in? The rules are simple, as always:
1. Ride a century every month.
2. Post a report here. Pictures are always nice if you have them.
Just to answer a few questions that may come up:
(a) A century is one 100-mile bike ride completed in one 24-hour day. Feel free to be more strict on how you define a century, but here we'll try to include as many people as possible.
(b) A century is not necessarily a group ride. It is simply a 100-mile ride which may or may not be done with a group and/or part of an organized event.
After a 66 km ride on New Year's morning I went out for my first century of the year on Sunday. It just so happened that Sal of the Half-Fast Cycling club offered a 65 km Half-Fast ride in Miura peninsula, which I rather like for winter rides. So I decided to ride out to the meeting point (Keikyukurihama station) instead of taking the train and also ride back all the way from the finish. It went very well and I ended up with 203 km.
I left home at 05:30 to give myself 4:30 for a relaxing ride before the 10:00 meeting at the station. Against the cold I wore home made shoe covers (a pair of free socks from an airline kit into which I cut holes for the cleats) and an extra underwear layer as well as a headscarf for my ears. That worked well. Except for the morning I didn't even need my full fingered gloves.
On the way I passed an accident in Yokohama. A kei car (660 cc, max. 3.4 m long) had hit and toppled a van. The couple from the car were sitting by the road side waiting for an ambulance, while the driver of the van couldn't get out and was talking on his phone. I stayed around until the ambulance arrived.
I arrived about 20 minutes early at Keikyukurihama station and got myself some coffee at a convenience store. Soon everybody else arrived. There were 7 of us in total.
Speeds varied, but Sal made sure slower riders could always catch up and rest a bit.
Later we had lunch at a seafood restaurant down at the tip of the peninsula:
At Kamakura beach after a great ride:
Sal decided to join me for the return ride to Tokyo. I enjoyed his company and we split who drafted who. I got home much sooner than expected.
Sunday's ride makes it 17 months in a row with a century ride.
finished an R12 today. Was beautiful weather. I decided to leave the jacket in the car, which turned out to be a good idea. It was a little cold for the first 40 miles, but after about 20 I was pretty glad that I didn't have a jacket on. Leaving the jacket in the car wasn't too brave, we rode past our cars at about 80 miles, so I had another chance to change my mind.
I got my "century of the month" ride in on Sunday, which at 205 km (according to the Garmin or 210 according to Strava) was longer than what I rode in the preceding three weeks combined.
It was a brevet route used by AudaxJapan Kanagawa in January 2013, Zushi-Izukogen-Zushi. The middle two quarters of the ride were hilly while the first and the last quarters were chilly, but thankfully there was almost no wind along this coastal route.
I got up at 4:00 and caught a train down to the coast around 5:00. A little before 7:00 I hit the road. The day started out cold and gloomy, but it brightened up and got warm enough for me to take off my jacket around 10:00. As it brightened up I put on sunscreen.
From the start I felt that I was out of shape, having done very little riding in last three weeks, but with the first brevets of the year coming up I might as well jump in at the deep end. When the road got hilly as I got into Izu peninsula I was counting down distance to the halfway point. The last quarter of the ride was the hardest, despite having paced myself throughout the ride.
Enoshima on a cold morning:
House gutted by fire somewhere between Kamakura and Odawara:
Temple with plum (ume) blossoms:
If you enjoy passing hundreds of cars, the east side of Izu on a Sunday is the place to be:
A week ago I did my first mountain ride this year - 174 km to Yamanakako via Rt35 to Tsuru, then Rt24 to Doshi. From the lake I headed down to Odawara, where I caught an express train back to Tokyo. The ride makes March the 19th consecutive month with a century ride.
At the higher elevations the ground was still snow covered but all the roads were passable, no problem, even at over 1000m.
I ate 15 bananas, some bread, yogurt and nikuman (Chinese-style steamed bun filled with minced meat). I met some middle aged Japanese road cyclists from Hachioji, one of them on a TT bike. They recognized my Tokyo Cycling Club jersey (probably from a podium picture of a more worthy member in a magazine). They were a little surprised that I wanted to cycle from Tokyo to Odawara on "kore?" ("that thing" - pointing to my Bike Friday folding bike).
I didn't really pay much attention to time vs. distance while riding, unlike in a brevet where I always need to stay under the cut off time. I enjoy long rides more without time pressure, but I put up with it in brevets because I also like riding with others and learning new routes and the time limit comes as part of the deal.
Strictly speaking it wasn't a training ride, but I needed to get a feel for what the temperatures may be like and what clothes would work. I wore Tim's new jacket in place of a winter jacket until about 10:00 and then again from about 15:00. It worked well on both 1000+ m passes near Yamanakako.
On Saturday I rode the BRM322 randonée (200 km) with AJ Nishi-Tokyo in West Izu. I finished almost an hour under the time limit of 13 1/2 hours (which is fast for me). That's a little quicker than last year, but the course also had less total elevation (2388 m) than last year. When it was postponed in February due to snow, it was also rerouted to avoid the highest passes.
It started in front of Mishima station, then headed down towards the center of the peninsula (about halfway from Mishima to Ito on the east coast), then out to the west. From there it followed the coast line down to Matsuzaki and back up again. The middle part was easy to navigate (just follow the coastal road) but relentlessly hilly. Knowing what to expect from last year, the hills were OK for me while I was doing them. Nevertheless they took their toll and once I descended the last big one, the finish line couldn't come soon enough.
It was a clear day with great visibility, especially in the morning. The snow-capped Minami Alps were lined up across the bay and I probably never got more views of Mt Fuji than on this day. It was truly majestic, from the first sighting to the last one. There is no such thing as a Fuji overdose for me. Most of the coast is sparsely populated, covered in trees and bushes and still looked dry from the winter.
I left home in my car around 5 and drove out on Tomei expressway. I was signed up for the later group starting at 8:00 but there was space in the 7:30 group so I switched to that to get out sooner and ride less time in the dark on the way back, which was great. Once it gets dark you lose the views, which are one of the big motivators on this course.
In front of Mishima station around 06:30:
This grey haired lady and her husband rode in the same group with me. They were probably the oldest participants but finished within the time limit after taking many picture stops and taking time to chat with locals. They were very friendly and to me represented the true randonneur spirit.
Southern Alps and Mount Fuji:
Finished the ride (standing on the right, the gentleman on the left had just survived his very first brevet):
My next randonée will be on April 19, again with AJ Nishi-Tokyo, 300 km around Mt Fuji and I'm looking forward to it.
Yesterday I headed up to Tomin no Mori and Lake Okutama on the first Boob ride of the year: 182 km with about 2200 m of elevation gain. The "Boob ride" is a Strava segment in the mountains west of Tokyo that received its name because of its elevation profile.
April is my 20th month in a row with a century (160+ km) ride.
I had announced the ride on the Half-Fast Cycling mailing list, but wasn't sure if anybody besides me would show up. I left home around 06:30, wearing heat tech long johns under my bib shorts and a winter jacket. Initially I still felt chilly but as the sun rose higher I could take off that jacket.
On the way to Mushashi-Itsukaichi station I received email from Half-Fast member Peter, who was going to join me. I took a wrong turn trying to find a back road along the Akigawa, but still made it just before the announced departure time (09:10). I was pleased to see HFC veteran Dean had also ridden out from Tokyo. The three of us soon headed to the 7-11 a little over 2 km up the road, where the official Boob segment starts and picked up some food. At 09:30 we were on our way up into the mountains.
Cherries were still in bloom, especially at higher elevations where it's cooler.
When we stopped at the spring across the street from the thatched onsen to fill up with water, my friend Tony came up the road and greeted us. He had missed a train, but got on the next one and managed to catch up with us.
Together we made our way up to Tomin no Mori. A few hundred meters before the trail head entrance I found myself behind a runner with Camelbak backpack who was walking not much slower than I was crawling in my low climbing gears. I asked him where he had started and he told he was coming from Mushashi-Itsukaichi station and would be heading back there - 60 km round trip on foot with 800 m of elevation gain. That is hard core!
After a regroup and chat at Tomin, we headed over the hill and then on to the long fast descent to the lake. We recovered over lunch and shared stories.
Peter decided to head towards Okutama station, while Dean, Tony and I climbed back up to Kazahari toge. Near Tomin no Mori and on the Okutama climb there were still quite a few places where snow hadn't completely melted:
The descent towards Musashi-Itsukaichi was fast but must have been quite chilly for Tony in his shorts. We bid our farewells in front of the station, with Tony returning by train and Dean and I cycling back to Tokyo via the Akigawa and Tamagawa.
I was pretty tired when I finally got home, but hopefully the exercise will serve me well at the Fuji brevet next weekend.
If you want to ride a century, ride a century. A lot of people probably over estimate it's difficulty. I typically go on 30 mile group rides throughout the week. Before my 1st century, my longest distance was 53 miles, and this was after 3 weeks of cycling. 2 weeks after that, I rode 135 miles. 186 miles is up next. Just think positive and know you can do it. It's not a race. Go at a comfortable pace.
If you want to ride a century, ride a century. A lot of people probably over estimate it's difficulty.
When I went from 12 miles to 19 miles, I was hurtin', but since I am physically fit (I run 4 miles every morning), recovery was less than 24 hours. When I went 30 miles, three days later, I felt like I could've done 40. I'll add more miles more quickly. Thanks!
What part was hurting? I can ride 75 miles now without getting sore. After that my neck gets a little cramped but I'm starting ensuring I move my neck around rather than looking straight continuously. When I first started riding, I could go 50 miles before getting sore. I also shift my hands around vs keeping them in the same position on the bars.
I think a big part of comfort is bike fit. Plus I also make sure to stand out of the seat every 15 minutes or so, just for a few seconds.
I'm still working on the whole running thing. I use to be a runner 10+ years ago. I want to get into triathlons. Just joined the gym so I can do some laps also.
This year was the 3rd time I joined the event and my 7th brevet with AJ Nishi-Tokyo. The forecast had been predicting rain for several days and it turned out to be correct. It was wet and cold (especially at higher elevations).
In good weather (such as the last two years) the course around Fuji offers 270 degrees of stunning Fuji views, but on Sunday I did not see Fuji. Not even once! In some places I could see its lower slopes, but most of the time it was just a grey sky somewhere in its general direction.
I did my last training run the Sunday before and then rested for the week. On Friday morning a set of new tyres arrived and I installed them, so if there was any leak I would know by Saturday morning. On Saturday morning I packed my saddle bag and checked I had all the batteries and assorted electronics I depend upon.
In the late afternoon I took a one hour nap. Around 19:45 I headed to the station, packed the bike in my bike bag and took a train to Machida. The start was going to be at 22:00. A few hundred meters from the station it started to drizzle. It didn't stop again until Sunday morning, when I was already 150 km into the course. At least it wasn't pouring.
The pre-ride briefing inside the Cherubim bike shop started at 21:30. As always, they went over all places where it was easy to get lost or where there were roadworks or other safety concerns.
One guy did the brevet on a Surly Pugsley MTB with ultra-fat tyres on wheels that were interchangeable between the front and the rear (complete with cassette on the front). I don't know for sure if he finished, but he passed me around 80 km into the ride and I never passed him again:
Because of the drizzle I changed into the rain gear, i.e. my friend Tim's reflective rain jacket and my orange nylon pants. I did not need a brevet vest with the jacket because it has reflective stripes. I brought more stuff than usual because of the uncertain weather and was glad I did. Since I wore my finger-less gloves while it was drizzling, when I unpacked my winter gloves for the descent from the pass overlooking Motosu-ko they were still dry.
Initially I wore heattech long johns under corduroy pants, polyester mesh underwear with Tim's rain jacket and my nylon pants. Later, when it got colder, I wore my LS Half-Fast jersey under the jacket too. When the rain stopped, I replaced the jacket with Tim's windbreaker and the brevet vest. I water-proofed my Shimano MTB shoes with plastic bags, but not soon enough to keep the socks completely dry, however I found new socks for 360 yen ($3.60) a convenience store.
From Machida to Enoshima we were always riding in a group. I stayed with the same two cyclists, one on a 30+ year old 10-speed steel bike, the other on a Giant mini-velo, for most of the time from Machida to Odawara. I think people were going a little slower than the years before, maybe because of the rain.
I found I couldn't use the Garmin for turns: Of the two TCX tracks I had uploaded to it, only one showed in the course selection and that one covered only the final 66 km. With the drizzle I didn't want to keep my Android on the handle bar phone holder, so to not get lost I made sure I could follow others.
After a toilet stop at Enoshima which also served as a quiz checkpoint for the course (you have to write down an answer for a question for which you need to see the place), I headed on to Odawara.
At PC1 (point de control #1 ) in Odawara, I installed the Android on the handlebar, covering it up with a transparent shower cap (courtesy of some hotel I stayed in before) that I secured with a rubber band. That allowed me to independently navigate again in the rain. I could lead a group of riders up into the mountains towards Gotemba. For most of the climb I was on my own, but for the downhill run towards Numazu I was with 1 or 2 other guys.
I hate rim brakes in the rain. Especially if you haven't used them for a while they can be horribly ineffective.
Last edited by joewein; 04-21-14 at 02:46 AM.
Reason: Reason: I wish this board would let me mention the name of my club, AJ Nishi-Tokyo without having to insert a hyphen or recoding characters in links as %XX!
The sun came up around 05:00. We were all yawning and complaining about sleep deprivation at that point. I was wondering if I would have been better off sleeping a bit at the 24h McDonalds in Odawara after PC1, but I felt better first getting some more distance in.
Mt Fuji was nowhere to be seen when daylight broke. At least the drizzle got lighter and then stopped. Leading another rider along the coast road I looked for a place where I might crash out for a quick nap, but there weren't too many convenience stores around there. Finally I found a 7-11 in Fuji city. We stopped and got some refreshments, then my friend headed on while I wrapped myself into my 600 yen Mylar emergency bag and slept all of 20 minutes.
I felt much refreshed, took off the rain jacket, packed the Mylar sheet and headed on. Soon I picked up more randonneurs and we headed up to PC2, 167 km from the start.
At this point I was about 1 hour ahead of the cut-off time, half an hour less than in previous years, but it was because I had slept earlier than I did then. I think it paid off, because I could climb faster for the 3+ hour climb above Motosu-ko. I still slowed down for the final 8 km, but I must have gained time until then compared to previous years, where I did the whole climb at a slower pace from being sleepy.
At the view point I met another cyclist who was very cold with his wet gloves. The temperature was down to only 2 C at 1085 m above sea level. He was thinking about giving up, but I said, I would not retire when we were already at the 200 km mark, with only 100 km to go. I suggested getting dry gloves at a convenience store near Rt 139. He stopped to find hot coffee, while I headed on towards PC3 near Tsuru. I reached PC3 about 30 minutes before closing time.
The final 66 km along Rt 35 / Akiyama were amongst the most picturesque, though I didn't stop too much for pictures because the clock was ticking. This is one of the most beautiful areas. I passed a small cherry blossom festival at a local shrine:
There were still many hills.
The Android GPS was playing up, often not updating the position but showing me at some unrelated fixed location, which of course was totally unhelpful for turns. I finally turned on the Garmin since it supposedly had the information for the last 22% of the ride, but by then I wasn't at the beginning of that course so for a long time it showed me kilometres away from the course with no line to follow. I started to suspect that I had taken a wrong turn several km back, when I suddenly saw some other guys in reflective vests heading the same way. I took the same turns until I lost them again. I turned the Android off and back on again while continuing on the same road.
Eventually both the Garmin showed me on the map again and the Android tracked my position again, confirming I hadn't been lost at all. Phew! I still had more than an hour before closing time with the Garmin showing only 14 km remaining. Suddenly, completing the course within the time limit looked very possible again, despite the traffic lights of Machida. The closer I got the more excited I became. For the last 4 km I was riding with another cyclist. We arrived together at 17:49, with 11 minutes spare on a 300 km, 20 hour cold, wet course around Mt Fuji. I was told that 11 participants had dropped out after the start. The guy from the Motosu-ko view point arrived safely 4 minutes after me.
I handed in my brevet card, on which the staff noted all the receipt times from the convenience stores that served as PCs and I signed it next to my time. They returned my train bag, which I had dropped off for keeping. Feeling pretty good about having completed the brevet ride within the time limit, I changed my plan of heading back to Machida station. I called my wife to let her know I had arrived safely and I would now be cycling home. Two hours later I was back for dinner. With all the adrenaline gone I got pretty sleepy soon, fell asleep in the bath tub once and went to bed soon thereafter.
My next brevet will be BRM517 on May 17/18, a 400 km, 27 hour ride, again with AJ Nishi-Tokyo.
Didn't make it in January, February or March so I made up for it in April with 15 centuries during the month and 2401 miles for the month. Had a nice 7 day stretch with a century each day. Rode a double metric century each week starting April 1st. Still have to finish off the double metric for this week before the day is over though or the weekly streak will end.
If you visit Japan, take a look at a 1000 yen (US$10) bill. On its back you'll find the same Fuji view as seen above, from Lake Motosu (Motosu-ko). It's one of the views I got to enjoy on my latest brevet ride last weekend.
On Sat/Sun, May 17/18, 2014 I did BRM517 Nishi-Tokyo 400 km, or more precisely, 5/6 of it as I DNF'ed and bailed out in Odawara with about 65 km to go. This was my third brevet with AJ Nishi-Tokyo this year.
With only three rides of 10 km or more since my 300 km brevet on April 19/20, I wasn't particularly well prepared for my first 400 km brevet ever. Also, I had only gotten back from an overseas business trip two nights earlier, during which I had no chance of cycling at all, though I walked a fair bit.
To make it worse, I suffered from lower back pain from the day before the event, perhaps from trying to sleep in an airplane seat during the 10 1/2 hour flight back to Japan. I wasn't even sure I should start at all in my condition, but decided to risk it after all.
I took the first train in the morning which got me to Machida station a little after 05:30, unpacked my bike and rode to the start. On the way I realized I had forgotten to wear my reflective brevet vest, which is required for participating, but luckily could buy another one at the registration desk. I had also forgotten to upload the course to Google Maps, so I could only navigate from the Garmin 500, not the Android phone.
The clothes I brought were minimal, Tokyo Cycle Club bib shorts and long sleeve jersey, plus GS Astuto wind breaker and uniqlo heattech long johns for the night ride portion. The day turned out to be both hotter and colder than anticipated, with up to 28 C during daytime on Doshi michi and *#@!ing freezing cold at night between Fuji City and Shuzenji, Izu.
The course climbed from Machida via Doshi village to Lake Yamanaka (Yamanaka-ko, essentially sea level to about 1100 m) with a few intermittent descents and re-climbs.
I went out too fast on the first 30 km (with my Garmin's 168 bpm HR alert going off at times), then got passed by most of the other 60 or so people.
Near Doshi village I could not find the vending machines that served as a quiz point for completion.
Around Doshi I also passed another rider heading down again. Later, after Yamanaka-ko he caught up with me again. I found out he had dropped his action camera (like a cheaper version of a GoPro) and had gone back trying to find it, but no luck.
By the time we made it to Rt138 near Fujiyoshida his legs were pretty sore from the bonus distance and catch-up. We took pictures together at Motosuko and separated during the Rt300 descent. At that point there was only one person on the course behind me.
Last year, when I had signed up for the 400 but couldn't make it due to a personal scheduling conflict, there had been a bad accident and one of the participants had to be airlifted to a hospital by helicopter. Fortunately he made a full recovery and rode again this year (he must have a very understanding spouse!), but the organisers kept reminding us of the incident and did a stop before that descent to urge us to ride safely.
I arrived at the first Point de Controle some 125 km into the course with only about 15 minutes spare. It was the same at PC2 and PC3. I never had more than 15-22 minutes in the "time bank", i.e. ahead of the 15 km/h average that dictates the checkpoint closing time.
Near Minami Alps I met another randonneur who was heading the opposite direction. He assumed I was lost and we talked briefly, but it turned out he was part of the Aoba 300 km brevet which was on the same day. There was also a 600 km going on by another club in the Kanto area.
During the night part of ride, somewhere in the hills of Route 9 near Fuji river I had trouble with my Garmin. When I connected it to my charging cable to keep its battery topped up, the light would stay on and I tried to turn it off. Unfortunately the Garmin uses the "back" button for going back to the previous screen, for turning on/off the light and also for shutting down the device. Note to all Garmin 500 users: Never shut down the Garmin while it's still in recording mode! Unless the recording is explicitly stopped or the recording is terminated via power from a regular (non-Host mode) USB cable, the recording is discarded. No .fit file will be created. As soon as you start the next recording, the data is gone. Therefore I lost the recording of the first 195 km of this ride, with probably around 2500 m of elevation gain :-(
About three hours later I had reached the coast near Fuji City and started getting really sleepy. I pulled into a 24h McDondald's, ordered a cup of coffee and slept there for an hour. I felt a lot better after that, but my pace was low and I knew I could not make up this 1 hr 20 min break before PC4 in Shuzenji. So even if I hadn't DNF'ed on the missed quiz check point, I would have DNF'ed by time cut-off. So at around 03:00 I found myself a 7-11 store in Shuzenji, ate a little, unpacked my 600 yen (US$6) Mylar sheet and slept another hour in the parking lot.
I got up in the dawn and tried to get warm again as I cycled up toward the pass to Ito on the Izu east coast. Thankfully it got warmer as the sun rays hit me.
I sent some pictures to friends and family from my phone, so they knew I was OK.
It turned into another beautiful day with blue skies and great views, this time of the ocean and coast line.
By then I my lack of training really showed. I was pretty much toast. My heart rate was under 100 most of the time and didn't even reach 130 on the climbs.
I called the organizer's number from Atami to let them know of my DNF status. They wished me a safe return home.
I decided to catch Odakyu line from Odawara back to Tokyo, rather than slog it out until the afternoon at the slow pace I was still capable of. I repeatedly nodded off on the train and as a precaution set my alarm to make sure I wouldn't miss my station.
At home a little after noon I took a shower and went to bed. I didn't get up again until about 19:00. After another proper night's sleep I felt pretty good on Monday. My back was actually better than when I set off.
Next month's 600 km brevet will be a challenge. It's essentially a longer version of this 400 km brevet done clockwise rather than anti-clockwise. Realistically speaking, I shouldn't expect to do much better than in the 400. I will also have an overseas business trip the week before, missing two weekends and the week in between for any chance of cycling. Still I wouldn't want to miss the challenge and the chance to take a few pictures :-)
So we got up at 3 AM, on the road by 4, and didn't finish the ride until 1 AM. No major mechanical issues (one rider had a recurring flat tire that necessitated three tube changes)(doh!). No physical issues; in fact my legs felt good even at the end of the ride, though my neck was pretty sore.
Last weekend I participated in BRM621 Nishi-Tokyo 600km Suwa-ko, a brevet ride by AJ Nishi-Tokyo. It went from from Machida/Tokyo to Lake Suwa (Suwa-ko)/Nagano and back. There was one quiz checkpoint at Enoshima, then seven "points de controle" spaced mostly 70-80 km apart (PC1-PC7). As usual these were pre-selected convenience stores where one had to buy something and keep the receipt to prove the time one arrived there.
I only did a little more than half the course, plus a round trip Setagaya-Machida. My personal total came to around 390 km, but I lost my Garmin recording.
I had attended the pilot run for this event last September (my report here). Then I made it beyond the half way point before dropping out of the official running and returning to Tokyo on my own the next morning.
Given that experience and my recent DNF (did not finish) at a 400 km brevet by AJ Nishi-Tokyo, plus the fact that I had only done a combined ~120 km in the previous three weeks due to work and business travel, I was not expecting to make it to the finish within the 40 hour time limit, if I could finish the course at all.
My biggest worry was the rainy season.
At the very least I wanted to ride 160 km so I would have one century ride for June, but topping the 335 km from last month's brevet was the real goal. I did bring my rinko bag, but didn't plan to use it unless the weather turned really nasty. Fortunately I didn't have to.
We were spared the rain on the first day until the evening, in fact it was rather warm (28 deg C). I drank lots of water to replace all the sweat. It started raining after dark and didn't completely stop again until an hour or so before I reached Machida again.
There were 39 cyclists at the start. On top of that six staff members of AJ Nishi-Tokyo had done the "director's run" that took place one week before the official event.
The ride started at 05:00 on Saturday and closed at 21:00 on Sunday. Because the pre-ride briefing already starts at 04:30 and it takes me an hour to get there by train and the first local train from here only leaves at 05:01, I decided to cycle to the start, getting up at 01:00 and leaving home a little after 02:00.
Since I didn't go to bed early enough to compensate for that early start, it made for a very short night. Consequently I noticed a distinct lack of sleep only 100 km into the ride, somewhere around Odawara.
I slowed down, got passed by more and more people and started yawning. Not a good start for an event that gets you sleep deprived in the best of cases!
Some large birds nesting on trees near Atami:
Climbing from Ito into the centre of Izu:
Near Shuzenji I was about 75 minutes ahead of cut-off time, but desperate for sleep. I found an abandoned petrol station, with a wall of weeds separating the road and the forecourt. I lay down on the concrete, with my rain gear as a pillow and slept for two hours, i.e. past the PC1 cut-off time. I emailed the organisers to let them know about my DNF and that I would return to the finish line by a shorter route.
There were beautiful ajisai (hydrangea) everywhere:
I love the rock formations around Shuzenji:
Religion by the road side:
On the coast:
It got dark around Fuji City. Even before sunset Mt Fuji was fully obscured by low hanging clouds clinging to its foothills. I wouldn't see it until the next morning. I cycled up to Shibakawa on Fuji River, where PC2 was located.
From here the course headed up north to PC4 at Suwa-ko (Lake Suwa), about 147 km away, then came down again on a different route to PC6 (129 km) in the same area as PC2. So my cunning plan was to skip that middle 267 km part between PC2-PC6 in order to make it to Tokyo before Monday, but still see the rest of the route.
From Fuji city to Motosu-ko it's a 40 km climb. Most of it I rode in the dark while it was drizzling. Last year I climbed from Fuji river to Motosu-ko via Motosu michi (Rt300), which is steep but short. I think I prefer that.
Some time after 01:00 I spotted a bus stop with a bench under a roof. That was good enough for me. I wrapped myself in my Mylar sheet and slept until sunrise at 04:00.
Free tip of the day: Don't try to sleep on a wooden bench with a fragile camera and other hard objects in your rain jacket back pocket. Oops!
As daylight approached and the birds started singing I got up and had some bananas, then hit the road again. The smaller road that I'd been climbing soon joined busy Rt139, which had lots of big trucks and buses on it. The sky was grey and the drizzle never stopped. Fuji was finally visible, except for its very top.
Between Motosuko and Saiko, a passing car slowed down, somebody opened a window and called out: "Joe-san!" It was the staff car of AJ Nishi-Tokyo, on their way back from Suwa-ko to PC7 at Yamanaka-ko and Machida. They pulled over and we started chatting. They asked me about the DNF and I explained the route I was taking. "See you at Machida!"
At Fujiyoshida, back in civilization I stopped for a buffet breakfast at Coco's with coffee, miso soup, scrambled eggs and waffles. Then on and around the west side of Yamanaka-ko to the final check point.
Just as I was getting close to PC7, another cyclist in brevet vest passed me. It was O.-san, the same cyclist with whom I had waited at a McDonald's at Suwa-ko last year after we both DNF'ed. He was one of the fastest on the course. I had skipped 267 km to sleep for 5 hours while he had been on the road doing the full course.
From here it was just another 68 km on Doshi michi (Rt413) towards Sagamihara. Doshi was beautiful but I no longer stopped for pictures. I just enjoyed the views of the countryside in the middle of the rainy season, the steaming forests, the gushing streams, the rows of ajisai (hydrangea) in bloom, the old farm houses, the rice paddies and gardens around the villages.
Towards the end of Doshi michi the rain got stronger and I stopped under a roof to send a text message to let my wife know that I was still alive. As I headed on the rain stopped. Finally I could take off my rain gear and ride on in my shorts and jersey again. Another 30 km, 20, 10.
I had stopped eating and was starting to feel my legs. Machida. Just following this road, then one left turn, then I'm there. Two more cyclists passed me between Yamanaka-ko and Machida. Finally I rolled up to the Cherubim bike shop, that is AJ Nishi-Tokyo's home base. The finish line!
I had some coffee and chatted with people, relieved to be close to home again and for the rain to have stopped.
O.-san will be riding the Hokkaido 1,200 km event next month. About half a dozen participants of BRM621 were considering doing Paris-Brest-Paris in 2015, a 1,200 km event staged only every 4 years. I know I'm not ready for it, far from it. I'll go for the full 200-300-400-600 km series again next year. It's going to be tough to prepare properly for these events with my work schedule, but I'll work on it. Part of it is mental, not to be intimidated by the challenge. And I already received my new camera, to be ready for more pictures on the next big ride.