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Old 10-21-17, 12:16 AM
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I was away on a business trip that included the first two weekends of the month. A few days after I got back it started raining. One wet, cold and miserable day after another! The next weekend was washed out again. Finally, the forecast for Wednesday looked better, then after that more rain! So I seized the day and decided to do a century ride so my legs wouldn't turn rusty.

I announced the ride in a private Facebook group and got some interest from my friend Peter. We arranged to meet at Musashiitsukaichi station at 09:00. I got up at 05:00, aiming to leave by 06:00 but by the time I made it out of the door I was running 20 minutes late. It was a gorgeous day, blue sky and sunny. I loved it!

About 20 km from home, outside a public restroom near the Tamagawa river I met another cyclist. Ko had been transferred to Tokyo by his company while his family lived in Sendai. This is pretty typical for large Japanese companies. Many employees spend weeks and weeks away from their spouses, for years on end. He had been exploring various routes around Tokyo and was on his way to Tomin no Mori in the mountains, the same same place I was heading for. So he decided to join me.

We met up with Peter at a convenience store across the street from the station and had some coffee and food. Then the three of us set off for the mountains. Peter had done the least amount of cycling recently and he fell behind, but we waited for him at various junctions. I talked to Ko in Japanese and to Peter in English, as neither was very confident in the other language.

The Tomin no Mori hiking trailhead is at close to 1000 m (3300 ft) of elevation. The last 8 km of the 30 or so km from the station are the steepest. Ko followed me until we were 4 km from the top, then pulled ahead. We had some food together outside the trailhead shop and exchanged Facebook contacts. Peter caught up with us soon. Ko decided to head back down to the station again, while Peter and I would ride on to Kazahari Toge, the pass at a bit over 1100m (3600 ft). By now it was overcast and chilly at this elevation. We all wore our windbreakers.

After a couple of km Peter and I reached the pass and started our descent from the highest point of our route. Almost all of the next 50 km were downhill, starting with a fast descent to Lake Okutama. On the way down I pulled into one of the car parks with view point. I saw about a dozen photographers with cameras on tripods and huge telephoto lenses lined up at the fence overlooking the lake. I asked one of them what they were taking pictures of and he just replied: "Taka", a Japanese word I wasn't familiar with.

I resumed my descent and met up with Peter near the bottom of the 12 km descent to Lake Okutama. Together we followed the road around the lake, over colourful bridges and through many tunnels.

As we exited one of the tunnels between Lake Okutama and Okutama station along the Tamagawa river, I noticed a man sitting on the ground by the side of the road. On his gloved left hand sat a large bird of prey, a falcon. This is what the mysterious "taka" (鷹) turned out to be! Apparently, Okutama town had been a popular location for falconry by noblemen back in the Edo era. Since the Meiji era commoners could also pursue the sport.

Peter decided not to get on a train at Okutama station. Instead we rode together another 20 km or so mostly downhill to Ome station, where we parted. Another three hours later I got home, with 180 km for the day. CAM month #62 complete! :-)

The next day it was raining again and it's still raining this weekend, but the forecast looks better next week.

My first century in November will probably be the traditional "Nichitsu Ghost Town ride", a very scenic autumn leaves viewing ride near an abandoned mining town in the mountains west of Chichibu.

Last edited by joewein; 10-22-17 at 06:48 PM.
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