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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

2019 Century-A-Month Club

Old 01-01-19, 04:59 AM
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2019 Century-A-Month Club

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 (160.9 km) 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.

If you can't complete a century every calendar month but you rode one or more centuries, look for the "2019 -- Century Challenge" thread.

2018 thread: 2018 Century A Month Club
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Old 01-05-19, 05:56 AM
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I rode 182 km (113 mi) on Thursday, January 3. That extends my streak to 77 months of one Century or more.



Mt Fuji, partially obscured by clouds

Oshogatsu, the Japanese New Year, consists of three public holidays. It's like the Japanese equivalent to Christmas. Most shops are closed and people visit family. Much time is spent in front of the TV, peeling mikan (Satsuma oranges) and watching the Hakone two day 240 km relay race on January 2/3.

I had not been doing much cycling since the middle of December, so I was ready for some action by January 3. I got up at 05:00, left home at 05:40 and cycled from Tokyo down to Miura peninsula through Kawasaki and Yokohama. The Hakone relay route intersected with my route, but I was hours too early for that to affect me.

The sun rose around 07:00. I could admire the waning crescent moon next to Venus and Jupiter in the early morning hours.

It was chilly out there. I mostly wore enough layers, but no shoe covers, as my toes could testify. Once the sun came up it became a bit milder. After I arrived at Kurihama, about 68 km from Tokyo I could take off my winter jacket and long thermal underwear under my lined winter trousers. During the day I wore a long sleeve merino wool jersey on top of a base layer.



Stephen's Chapter2 bike (a NZ company)

At the Kurihama Ferry Port I met up with Stephen, who lives in Miura. We had also cycled in West Izu together for my December Century. He is about a decade my senior but our pace was well matched. He's very knowledgeable about the peninsula and pointed out many restaurants and shops of interest, as well as leading me on routes off the main coastal road.



My Elephant Bikes NFE


Miura has many vegetable farms but also coastal fishing including tuna. There are many great sea food restaurants. However, we only stopped at convenience stores for food.

Near Hayama on the west coast, a little south of Kamakura, I spotted a cyclist ahead of us with a reflective Audax Japan badge behind the saddle. A randonneur! Since I was wearing my Audax Japan jersey, I was sure I would get a response while passing. I waved as I passed, but then the cyclist shouted my name and asked me to stop so I did. It turned out to be my friend Maya Ide of AJ Kanagawa, one of the pioneers of randonneuring in Japan. I introduced my friends to each other and we chatted for a while, about PBP (neither of will be going), about our randonneuring plans for the year. It was a very pleasant surprise!

Stephen and I split up near Zushi. While he rode home I headed on to Kamakura, where most of the town center was closed to traffic due to the large number of people visiting the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu temple for the New Year. I walked and pushed the bike for a bit, then took a back road behind the traffic closures.

I made it to Yokohama by sunset, then rode a bit further in the dark to get back to Tokyo by 19:00.

I was pretty happy with how the ride went. The Christmas break in Europe had not affected my fitness and I also didn't gain any weight. The weather was perfect for views. My first brevet of the year will be in two weeks, also around Miura peninsula. I expect temperatures to be very similar (2-11 deg C, 36-52 F) so I'll know what to wear.

2019-01-03 Miura (on Strava)
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Old 01-06-19, 07:33 AM
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I took advantage of unseasonably warm temperatures in the Chicago area (highs got into the 50s!) to ride a friend's 211K permanent which begins in downtown Naperville. My actual mileage was closer to 140 miles as I ride to/from the start from my house. I love not having to deal with parking and loading/unloading the bike!

I left my house at 5:30am and officially started the route at 6:00am. I'm not a fan of riding in the dark but I do enjoy starting in the pre-dawn hours and riding into the light.



This route goes through Fermi lab for the first part. Makes for a nice quiet few miles. Then it continues west to Batavia, then southwest to Plano, and finally there is a ~16 mile out and back section to Ottawa. The return trip goes through Sheridan, Yorkville, and Oswego.

The route owner and another mutual friend started about 1 hour after me. They are much stronger riders so I knew they would eventually catch up to me. They caught me around mile 62 and we rode together to the turnaround in Ottawa where we had lunch. I left before they were finished since I wanted to minimize my riding in the dark later in the day. They caught back up after another 10 miles. We chatted for about an hour and then they went on to finish up.

Since it was so warm I had taken off my gloves so decided to try to pull out my iPhone to take a couple of pictures while I was in motion. I only did this on very quiet roads without traffic.





This final picture was just as the sun was going down around 4:15pm. I finished in the dark around 6:10pm, got my receipt, and then was home around 6:40pm.

This was my 12th consecutive month of riding a 200K so I have now earned my R-12 award!

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Old 01-06-19, 12:09 PM
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DNF'D 100 miles into my first 200k of the new year. 20mph headwinds riding solo the first 60 miles did me in. On to the next one
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Old 01-23-19, 08:32 PM
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I rode my first brevet of the year (200 km) and my third Century of the month last weekend:

Report with pictures here

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Old 02-04-19, 06:11 AM
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February CaM complete, with 205 km and 615 m of elevation gain (on Strava). I left home around 05:40 and came back around 22:40. Those 17 hours included two 40 minute car ferry rides (US$20 total) across the mouth of Tokyo bay, between Miura peninsula on the west and Boso peninsula on the east. Boso is the more remote and rural of the two.

Here is my Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer on the ferry. The staff secure it with chocks and ropes as needed. Great service!



On Saturday I had visited Mitake Shrine in the mountains near Okutama and was surprised to find snow at elevations a little over 400 m. Most mountains I normally ride are 500 m or more above sea level. So it didn't take long for me to decide to do a coastal ride instead. Miura and Boso are perfect for winter riding as they virtually never get snow on the ground.



There are car ferries between Kurihama in Miura and Kanaya in Boso at roughly one hour intervals. From past experience I reckoned it would take me 4 hours or more to cycle to Kurihama from Tokyo, so I was aiming for the 10:20 ferry. I got up at 04:50, left the house 50 minutes later dressed in my warmest gear and headed towards Yokohama. If I missed the 10:20 ferry I'd have to wait another hour and lose one hour of daylight for cycling.

My original goal was a lighthouse on the southern tip of Boso where I'd been several times before, about 38 km from Kanaya port, but there was also the westernmost point of Boso where I'd never visited, about 35 km away. With either of these plans I had 70+ km in Boso plus at least 65+ km between my home and the ferry port, so at least 200 km. The weather forecast was for sunny weather, 4-18 deg C (39-64 F).

I picked a spontaneous course to Kawasaki, complicated a bit by my smartphone's tendency to act up whenever it was on the handlebar at temperatures below 12 deg C (54 F). In Kawasaki I stopped at a convenience store to use the restroom and have a sandwich. When I continued I caught up with a female cyclist. At a traffic light she started talking to me. "Is this a mamchari (shopping bike)?" she asked, confused about the fenders. "At first I thought it was a mamachari, but then I saw the gearing." -- "No, it's a randonneur", I replied. At that point she realized we had been riding the same brevet before and that we were Facebook friends. She introduced herself. She was on the way to Miura peninsula to meet up with friends for lunch and I described my Boso plans.

We continued together for a while but as I was in a hurry to catch my ferry and she was going at a more relaxed pace, I eventually passed her. We met again about half an hour later the other side of Yokohama as we had taken different routes. I made it to the ferry port with more than half an hour spare.

I always enjoy the ferry rides, especially the views of the coasts and of the other boats from the deck. Here are four big ones all on their way into Tokyo bay towards Yokohama, Kawasaki or Tokyo.



At the other end I rolled off before the cars and immediately hit the road. I had bought food before boarding and there were plenty of convenience stores along the coastal road. There were very few climbs on the coastal road. It was almost completely flat, unlike the coastal roads in Izu peninsula, where I also like to ride. There were numerous seafood restaurants, but I didn't stop at any of them.



I used some convenience stores and minimized my stopped time, conscious of the hourly ferry schedule. On the way to Tateyama on the west coast, where the road to the southern tip and the western tip of Boso split, I decided to go for the western tip, which was new to me.



I visited the Sunosaki lighthouse near the cape. Locals were charging $2 for lighthouse visitors to park their cars, but they let me leave my bicycle on their private property for free.

I had been aiming for the 17:20 ferry (a little after sunset) for the return trip, but on the way up to Kanaya I realized there was a good chance I'd get there for the previous one. As it turned out that one left at 16:30 and I easily made it but I got a good workout. I mostly slept on the return ferry. Unlike the ferry on the way out, this one was almost full. There were lots of hikers, with back packs and hiking boots.

Arriving at Kuriyama around sunset, it soon got chillier. I first put on my winter jacket on top of the Merino jersey, but that turned out too warm so I took off the jersey and wore the jacket directly on top of the base layer. The pace was much slower now, as I had worked pretty hard in Boso to make the earlier ferry.

Towards the last hour of the ride it got cold enough for my phone to act up again and I put it in my back pocket, following only a general direction in the maze of streets in Kawasaki and Tokyo while looking at my GPS. About 3 km from home I suddenly spotted a local pizzeria and realized where I was. Not long afterwards I was home again.

2 1/2 months until my Fleche ride (360+ km in 24h). I will try to be in the best shape I can, to not let my team mates down

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Old 02-13-19, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by GadgetGirlIL View Post
This was my 12th consecutive month of riding a 200K so I have now earned my R-12 award!
Congrats on your R-12, GG! Good stuff.
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Old 03-03-19, 07:41 AM
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Yesterday I completed my century for March, which brings my streak to 79 consecutive months of CaM.

4 out of 5 of my centuries since December had been in the Miura, Boso or Izu peninsulas instead of the mountains where I usually do most of my rides, because I wanted to avoid the risk of snowy or icy roads. I missed those mountains. With the weather forecast for Saturday looking pretty good, I decided to revisit an old favourite, the Oume Temple Loop.



I had done very little cycling since my last century 4 weeks earlier, with the longest ride only 31 km, so I cropped the last two major climbs off the route, effectively skipping the Buddhist temple on that last mountain. I announced the ride in two forums and six guys showed up at two meeting places. It seems I wasn't the only one missing the mountains after this winter!

I cycled 45 km up the Tamagawa river to Oume station and faced a cold headwind most of the way. I was surprised to meet 4 ride partners there at 09:00 instead of the two I was expecting: My friend Peter who had had back surgery last year had decided to join along with my friend Byron to build up his lost fitness again. He did struggle on the hills, but he battled up the steepest climb before he and Byron left us.



The nice thing about both Oume and Hanno is that as soon as you leave town you're in the countryside, a different world from Tokyo altogether. You see fields, farmhouses, mountains, shrines and temples and very little traffic. Riding in this environment is almost therapeutic. Here you get a chance to mentally reboot.

From Oume we rode for an hour through the countryside and over several hills to meet two other friends outside a convenience store where we would buy food and drinks, as there were few places to eat along our mountain route. They had ridden there from Hanno station, half an hour away. From there we hit our first rindo (forest road), a 4 km climb and descent of the same length. Two of the faster riders moved ahead but always waited for us at forks to confirm the route with us. Peter was concerned about slowing us down, but we assured him it was no problem.

The biggest climb of the day was the climb from the village of Agano up to the Greenline, which is a mountain road following the ridge. The 8 km climb gets steeper and steeper as you climb. The first half is relatively mild, then you enter the forest. As it gets steeper, some curves on the switchbacks have perpendicular grooves in the concrete to provide more traction and drainage. The last part has sections with over 20% and is made of concrete with small circular imprints which we call the "donuts of death". Even with my 21 gear inch low gear I zig-zag to keep on going there and for the last three years I have been walking parts of it.



Once you make it to the Greenline, your legs will never be the same again. Every subsequent climb will you remind you of the damage left by the 20% Peter and Byron left us there.

Another 6 km from there we reached Kabasaka pass, the highest point of the ride. On many weekends a guy will be selling freshly brewed coffee out of the back of his mini-van there, but not this time. Perhaps it was still too early in the season.

The 6 km descent from Kabasaka pass was one of the chilliest parts of the ride. At the bottom I was waiting for about half an hour with one of the riders for the rest of them to arrive. We were getting worried someone may have crashed, as it seemed to take too long for a puncture. Fortunately it turned out to be the latter after all: It took them 20 minutes to get the tire off the tubeless-ready carbon rims to swap the tube. Two more of the group headed back to Hanno from there because of time constraints.

The rest of us continued all the way back to Oume. The most fun part was the descent from Yamabushi pass and down route 53 - 14 km of virtually uninterrupted downhill in total. We made it back to Oume before 17:00. My friends packed their bikes for the train while I rode on to a local Nepalese restaurant for dinner before cycling back to Tokyo. For me it was 168 km (104 mi) with a little over 2000 m (6700 ft) of climbing (on Strava).

I want to go back to Oume soon and do the full Temple Loop (including Nenogongen temple) this time, to get my legs in shape for the upcoming brevets later this month and the Fleche ride next month.
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Old 03-03-19, 08:17 AM
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I did get a 100+ mile ride in during February. Here's the link: Louisville Bicycling Club 200K Brevet

Didn't take any pictures on Saturday due to the rain, but here are a few of pictures from the same area taken on Sunday and Monday. What a gorgeous area to ride!


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Old 03-24-19, 03:03 AM
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My third century of March (there's a fourth planned next weekend ) - 311 km with 3800 m of elevation gain.

This was supposed to be a trial run for our 5 person Fleche ride 4 weeks from now, with three of us signed up for the same 300 km brevet. However, one of us had to cancel the day before due to unexpected business travel. At the ride start (6:00 departure) we talked a lady who also runs in the same rando club to join our trial run to make up the numbers.

The weather forecast wasn't too good, with a high chance of rain in the morning and again in the afternoon/evening, with even some snow predicted in places. As it turned out, snow flakes were coming down before we even reached the first PC and we could only wonder what the day had in store for us at the points of highest elevation in the evening!

During the first quarter the pace was higher than what I can sustain, but the team leader slowed down after a couple of hours while I managed to recover, so things became more even.

We made the first PC (km 41) with about 20 minutes spare, the second (km 139) with 15 minutes and the third (km 210) by only 3 minutes. At that point we were at 900 m (3000 ft) above sea level, so we should have made good time returning to the start at near sea level, with our only concern being the weather.

The ride leader asked for my guess what the roadside thermometer read-out would be at the highest pass at 1100 m (3600 ft). I guessed -1 C (30 F), he guessed +1 C (34 F). I won, the real number was -4 C (25 F). There was snow and ice on the road. Two of us went down on black ice and bent their derailleurs.


Doshi road Yamabushi pass in snow and ice


We walked the next 5 km (3 mi) downhill until the roads seemed somewhat safe again and the temps had gone up to -1 C (30 F). It didn't get warmer than that until we were about 20 km from Tokyo again. The water in our bidons was frozen, we had to buy drinks from vending machines. The ride leader phoned in and let the organizers know that we'd DNF because with the walking there was no way we'd make it back by the course closing time.

This is just a week away from what will be the peak of the cherry blossom season in Tokyo! I did not expect that.

I got home after sunrise on Sunday morning. I will have to get my derailleur fixed or replaced quickly before the brevet next Saturday.
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Old 04-08-19, 02:06 AM
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The century ride for April is done (here on Strava). That's my 9th century this year and a CaM streak of 80 months.



Third time lucky: It was the third ride near Mt Fuji in as many weekends, but the only time I actually got to see the mountain. And unlike two weeks ago, where we walked 5 km on icy roads near the Yamabushi pass on Doshi road (where the 2020 Olympic road race will be held) at temperatures below freezing, it was mostly sunny yesterday and temperatures were mild. I was in shorts and short sleeve jersey most of the time.

Our Fleche ride in two weeks will make a big loop around Mt Fuji and then cross the Izu and Miura peninsulas. The biggest climb will be the first part out towards Mt Fuji on Doshi road (Rt413). I decided to pre-ride that to gather some fresh data on how long it would take me and to re-familiarize myself with the terrain. It's always less intimidating if you've ridden a route not too long ago before.

I left home at 06:20 and cycled some 28 km to the convenience store that will be our official starting point. There I bought a bunch of bananas and a bottle of milk tea, then followed the course. I had only needed my windbreaker for the first hour.



There were cherry blossoms everywhere, as we're approaching the seasonal peak for that near Tokyo. Only when I passed about 800 m (2700 ft) of elevation were the trees still getting ready for it.



Crowds of motorcyclists were everywhere. The warm weather and the cherry blossoms must have brought them out after a a cold winter. There were a fair number of cyclists too.



At the Doshi village hall a display reminded people of the upcoming Olympic road race. It will take place in late July 2020, when the temperature and humidity is likely to be extremely high. Doshi road offers almost no shade. After about 200 km and with noon approaching the cyclists will be climbing a south-facing exposed slope to Mikuni pass, with a gradient of as much as 18%. I hope nobody dies!

Most randonneuring clubs do not hold any events in the Tokyo area during the months of July and August because it would simply be too dangerous to be riding in this heat under time pressure.

I made it to Yamabushi pass by around 13:30 and soon got my first view of Mt Fuji. Cycling around Lake Yamanaka (Yamanakako), I passed a shop and cafe selling antique bicycles and jerseys (mostly Italian, mostly from the 1970s) run by a Campagnolo aficionado. I stopped for some coffee and we talked about my bike and about cycling in Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

From there it was only a short climb to Kagosaka pass and then a very long downhill course towards the coast. I could have turned west to pre-ride the Izu crossing too, but that would have made it at least a 300 km ride and I didn't have that kind of time. Instead I headed east, towards Matsuda. There I got on Rt246, a busy 4 lane highway to get back as early as possible.



I interrupted my journey for one small Buddhist temple with cherry trees, then continued. I got as far as Atsugi when the evening came and stopped for dinner at an Indian restaurant. After another three hours I made it back to Tokyo. Having missed a couple of km of recording by leaving the GPS paused when I loaded the route map at the start of the ride, I did a small detour at the end via cherry tree-lined Sakurashinmachi (literally "Cherry Blossom New Town") to bring the recorded portion up to over 200 km. In total it was 205 km.

I think now I just have to hope for decent weather in two weeks, when we ride the Fleche.
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Old 05-19-19, 07:48 AM
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I realized I haven't posted my CaM report for May yet, which I did on May 5. I'm now at 81 consecutive months. 185 km with 1675 m of elevation gain in the mountains around Okutama west of Tokyo.



I climbed the infamously steep Kazahari rindo (forest road) and then visited the remote Nippara valley, home to both some lime stone caves and a huge quarry that feeds the Okutama cement factory via a 10 km system of tunnels, bridges and trolleys pulled by steel cables. The weather was beautiful. I love all the fresh green.



On Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2343942827
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Old 06-18-19, 09:42 PM
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I had been in Hungary and Germany for the first 12 days of the month, with only one bike ride there (3 hours with my brother). Normally I try to do a Century ride on the first weekend of each month to secure my continuing "Century a Month" (CaM) status but this was the 3rd weekend already, with rain forecast for Saturday. So I decided to do some work on Saturday, spend Sunday at home with my wife and take Monday off for the ride.




Deciding on a course only late at night the day before and it being a weekday ride, I didn't post it anywhere.

The weather forecast had been for a cloudy afternoon but it didn't turn out that way until about 16:00. It was hot and sunny until after the hottest part of the day, but at least up on the Greenline there was some shade. The wind was in my face almost all the way from Tokyo to the mountains, so it was just as well I wasn't rendezvous-ing with anyone at Kitasakado station. Instead I dropped in on my mother-in-law for a chat and a coffee.



I could see Mt Fuji still with a snow cap from near Kawagoe and later Tokyo Skytree from Dodaira-san (65 km as the crow flies).

I didn't feel very energetic throughout the ride, maybe because I had only done two rides (both less than 100 km) in the past 4 weeks or maybe it was due to the heat. I could also blame it on jetlag. But then again, I was riding on my own, so I wasn't holding anyone else up and I could take as many pictures as I liked.





The views from Dodaira were nice. The sky was very dark on the Chichibu side, it looked like it was raining over there. I later felt some drizzle too, but not for too long. The roads everywhere were deserted. No tourists on weekdays.



From Dodaira and Shiraishi toge I headed over to Kabasaka toge. Of course there was no coffee van parked there on a Monday, so I just took a couple of pictures and then descended towards Shomaru toge. Originally I had planned to descend down Rt299, head up Rt395 and visit Nenogongen temple again, but I was running too late for that. So I just continued to Yamabushi toge via Shomaru and returned to Ome via Rt53.

I stopped at "Sherpa" in Ome for my usual curry, which gave me enough energy for the 42 km ride back to Tokyo. 174 km with about 1600 m of elevation gain. 82 consecutive months of CaM!
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Old 06-21-19, 11:35 AM
  #14  
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You all here in this thread have my deepest respect, especially you crazy double century folks
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Old 06-29-19, 11:56 PM
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July to September in Tokyo will be like a greenhouse: 80-100% humidity and 30-40 C

But not yet. This last weekend of June the gods are sending us fresh air, as cool as any coming out of an air conditioner, but without the electricity bill or CO2 output connected to it!



So I got up early on Saturday and left home at 06:15 into a slight drizzle which stopped before I reached the Tamagawa river. Throughout the day it came and went. Once it got strong enough to get me to put on the rain jacket I brought to be prepared for all cases, but I soon took it off again because it stopped. Near Mt Takao I met this gentlemen and his two pets, a cock (on his left shoulder) and a pig:



There were many hikers about still, but hardly any cyclists. The temperature hovered around 20 C all day. At Uenohara I turned off Rt20 onto small back roads.



I climbed past the golf courses towards Rt522 and on to Rt18 for the Tsuru pass.



I felt I was always close to the clouds, which were hanging low and often sprinkling me with drizzle. There were a few local cars. People were working in their gardens. The quiet village life. The area along Rt18 reminds me a lot of around Rt35 (Akiyama). Same quiet, lost in time feel.



I turned off the main Rt18 to follow a smaller road that stayed closer to the river, hoping to avoid some climbing that way but it was still steep, just even more quiet as I was cycling through the forest, with the mountain rising steeply on one side and dropping off equally steep down to the river on the other side.



The phone's GPS had trouble figuring out where I was, but the bicycle GPS had no issues.



A couple of km before the pass I stopped at a local grocery shop and bought some apples. The lady who sold them to me asked if I was going to eat them soon and when I said yes, washed them for me. Friendly people!

After a slow climb I finally reached the top. From here it was going to be downhill all the way to Ome (more or less). I finished my third banana and had some pieces of dried mango that I had brought from home. That lasted me all the way to Ome (130 km from the start), where I had an early curry dinner at Asian Dining Sherpa, my favourite Nepali. Then another 42 km back to Tokyo via Rt29 and the Tamagawa cycling path, plus a little detour for grocery shopping near my house

176 km with ~1600 m of elevation gain. I never put on my rain pants, only wore my wind breaker for one descent and the rain jacket briefly. A day well spent

I'm now up to 16 Century rides for 2019, a little ahead of last year's pace, tough distance-wise I'm on track for a similar yearly total.
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Old 07-15-19, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by joewein View Post
July to September in Tokyo will be like a greenhouse: 80-100% humidity and 30-40 C

But not yet.
It's now mid-July . . . but still not yet.
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Old 08-04-19, 10:17 PM
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I did two Century rides in July and one in August so far, bringing the CaM streak to 84 consecutive months (7 years).

This year the rainy season in Japan extended way past June into most of July. While this kept the heat down a bit, it didn't make for very inviting cycling conditions.

On Monday, July 8 I joined a ride by two friends. When I ride on Mondays or Fridays it usually means the weather on the weekend was not the best for cycling. We met up at Takao station, crossed the mountains via a closed forest road over to Akiruno and then up that valley through Hinohara to the Kazahari rindo (Kazahari forest road). We had one puncture on sharp edged gravel. There are always some rock slides on those forest roads and often they leave behind fragments that are as sharp edged as flint knives. It slashed one of my ride mates' rear tire. Fortunately he brought along a spare.

The forecast had said no rain, but that didn't include riding in the clouds.



Kazahari was high enough to put us into the clouds and there it felt like a constant drizzle. Once we reached Kazahari toge (Kazahari pass) at over 1100 m, we wanted to find somewhere dry as soon as possible. The nearby Tomin no Mori hiking trail head was closed (yes, not a weekend ride) so we continued back down the main road towards Hinohara in the rain (thumbs up for disk brakes!) until we found a restaurant that was open. It was a rustic looking place with a thatched roof, but the food hit the spot and we felt a lot better. The drizzle stopped at lower elevation and we gradually split up as we headed in different directions. 170 km with 1881 m of elevation gain for me (on Strava).
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Old 08-04-19, 10:57 PM
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With the seemingly never-ending rainy season, I didn't get a lot of riding done in July, and I was getting worried about losing my fitness. Almost three weeks after the Kazahari ride the forecast for the weekend again didn't look so good, so I told my wife I was going on a ride on Friday. On July 26 I loaded my bike into my Prius and drove out to Shin-Matsuda near Odawara on the Pacific to ride up Mt Fuji.

Besides the Fleche in April, I had two challenging rides I wanted to do this year: A ride on an abandoned road through the Tanzawa mountains and a Sea level - Mt Fuji 5th Station - Sea level ride. The Tanzawa ride I will only do with company, for safety reasons. Mt Fuji from sea level I had done in July 2013 on my Bike Friday, then again in July 2017 on the same bike but with two friends. Both times I had started from Tokyo, finishing at Odawara and taking the train back. This time I wanted to do the ride with my Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer, but I can't take the NFE on a train. I would have had to stay overnight at Odawara and cycle home the next morning. Hence the Shin-Matsuda starting point near Odawara - I can drive there, ride up, ride down and drive back.

The rainy season was almost over. From the morning it was blazing hot, 30 C (86F) at 07:00. There were two big climbs to get to the 5th Station trail head, the end of the highest paved road on Mt Fuji: First, from near the coast to Kagosaka toge (Kagosaka pass) at over 1100 m. This is a saddle between Mt Fuji and the Tanzawa mountains. The Olympic road race will pass there in 2020. Then a slight descent to near Kawaguchiko (Lake Kawaguchi) and a climb from 800 m to 2300 m.



I got to the pass around noon. From far I had seen huge clouds sitting over the Fuji Five Lakes and Tanzawa mountains. As I crossed the pass I rode underneath these clouds.



It also got much cooler. While it had been 32-34 C (100-103F) on the climb, it was only 22-24 C at Yamanakako (Lake Yamanaka). This is quite typical. The Fuji Five Lakes often have much lower temperatures than on the other sides of the passes to the south and to the east.

I had lunch at a Nepalese restaurant near the lake. Nan bread is good for restoring my energy as a cyclist, I found When I came out of the restaurant to head to the base of the Fuji climb, it was raining. I put on my rain wear and continued.

The rain came and went repeatedly. From the lake shore cycle path I could see very little of Mt Fuji, which was hidden behind rain clouds. I really wasn't sure if I should climb it in these conditions. Some parts of the sky looked bright, others had dark menacing clouds. The weather seemed totally unpredictable. I decided I'd ride to the toll gate of the Mt Fuji Subaru Line toll road and if it was dry then, I'd start climbing, otherwise I'd turn back. If it were to start raining on the mountain, I could still turn back.



It wasn't raining as I paid my 200 yen ($1.80) to use the 24 km road, but there were plenty of huge tour buses. During the official hiking season (Jul 10-Sep 10 this year) the road is closed to all private cars because there aren't enough parking spaces at the 5th Station. Bikes can still go



The views were fantastic. The clouds made for a dramatic atmosphere and the light was magical. Even before I got to the top I felt deeply satisfied.

About 4 km from the top it started raining again. It never stopped again until I got home.

At the 5th station most of the tourists had already left as it was close to sunset. You couldn't see a thing anyway because of the fog (i.e. clouds). I staid for a bit less than an hour, having dinner at one of the restaurants for hikers. Then I descended 30 km in the dark and in the rain (I love my dynamo light and did I mention my disk brakes?), then headed back towards Yamanakako and Kagosaka toge.

The rain gear worked reasonably well. I used plastic bags to keep my socks as dry as possible. After the short climb from Yamanako to the pass it was a loooong descent towards the coast, 40 km (25 mi) almost all downhill.

I got back to the car around midnight, changed out of my rain gear and cycling shoes, loaded the bike in the car and drove home. I had to take a nap at a service area on the expressway before I could drive all the way to Tokyo.

I think starting from Shin-Matsuda instead of Tokyo helped a little, but so did the cooler temperatures around the second part of the climb. The 2013/2017 rides were tougher, even though I wasn't riding back in the rain.

180 km with 2842 m of elevation gain (on Strava).

Last edited by joewein; 08-09-19 at 05:59 AM.
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Old 08-05-19, 01:39 AM
  #19  
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Last week a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook from a ride to Hyakuhironotaki, a waterfall near Okutama that looked so appealing now that the full heat of summer has arrived in Tokyo.

The Half-Fast Cycling club in Tokyo announced a ride to Tomin no Mori for Saturday, August 3, with an option to return via Okutama near that waterfall. Unfortunately it left later than I would have liked. So I set out on my own, expecting to bump into them somewhere along the route, once they caught up with me.

The ride to Musashiitsukaichi, the traditional base for Tomin no Mori rides, was hot but uneventful. Again, it was already 30 C (86F) when I left home. At 09:30 I stopped there for some coffee and food at a convenience store with cafe corner. While eating my sandwich I watched the road for passing cyclists, but couldn't see my friends.

From there it was 28 km to Tomin no Mori at around 900 m elevation. The last part of the climb is the steepest. Unlike other weekends there were very few motorbikes or sports cars. There was no police speed trap in the forest near Hinohara and I didn't hear and ambulances, police cars or fire trucks rushing to attend some emergencies. Before this mountain always attracted a crowd of wanna-be racers, with numerous accidents, but this time it was very civilized. I can only guess that a recent police crackdown left an impression and they've gone elsewhere.



I made it to Tomin no Mori by 12:45, but no sign of my friends. My head start was too big. After some coffee and ice cream I headed on to Kazahari toge (Kazahari pass) 4 km up the road, missing my friends by about 20 minutes.



The descent to Okutamako (Lake Okutama) felt refreshing, but I realized my brake pads, both front and rear were overdue for replacement. I always like the views from a parking area on that descent.



I followed the lake shore and then the descent to the town of Okutama after the Okutama dam. Just before the station I turned left and headed up the Nippara valley.



About 4 km up the road I passed a locked gate next to a bus stop, with signs to the falls. I could pass the gate as pedestrian. Behind that road rose steeply for about 3 km. I saw quite a few people wearing wetsuits doing canyoning in the river. There were many boulders, small falls and pools to cross for them.

I parked my bike after I reached the end of the road. From here it was about another 2 km of hiking, which was only just doable in SPD (MTB) shoes. It took me about 45 minutes.



The scenery was great. There were very few people, partly because it was late in the day. Most of them were already descending from the falls.

And there it finally was:



I contemplated a swim in the pool at the base, but after wading into it up to my knees I decided the mountain water was far too chilly, even on a hot day like this. So I just had a good wash to cool myself and wash off the accumulated sweat.

The hike back was not too bad. I had started hiking after 110 km already, then 2 hours on foot until I got back to the bike, but I knew I could coast down to the gate on two wheels, unlike those other hikers. The road back to Okutama was also mostly downhill.

After Okutama it got dark. I arrived in Ome about an hour after sunset and had dinner there. When I got back to Tokyo it was almost 23:00. A very long (and beautiful) day to finish 7 years of "Century a Month"!

Total: 183 km with 1595 m of elevation gain (on Strava: bike and hike).

Last edited by joewein; 08-09-19 at 06:05 AM.
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Old 09-08-19, 06:49 AM
  #20  
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I did a total of four centuries in August, followed by hiking with my wife on the last weekend. On that hike I ended up with a huge blister on my left foot, which took a week to heal. This weekend I was finally back in action.

I rode 168 km (104 mi) to Okutama-ko (Lake Okutama) in the mountainous far west of Tokyo, some 80 km (50 mi) from the city. On a recent ride to Kazahari toge (Kazahari pass), the highest road in Tokyo at over 1100 m (3600 ft), I had spotted a mysterious white building on a mountaintop surrounded by forest.



A search of Google Maps revealed it to be the "Tokyo Peace Pagoda", an Indian-style Buddhist stupa modelled after a stupa built in India around 300 BC. It was constructed in the 1970s by a pacifist Buddhist sect whose founder had spent some time with Gandhi in India in the 1930s.



My friend Peter had arranged a group ride at nearby Kazahari rindo (Kazahari forest road) on Saturday, with several of our friends joining. So I decided to combine the two plans, climb to the highest point of Peter's course with my friends, then descend to the lake and do my hike to explore the pagoda before riding home alone.

The group ride was very enjoyable, but didn't leave my legs in good shape for the second half of the century. The hike up the gravel road to the stupa was slow. I had brought sneakers. At the bottom I met a nice older couple who were helping maintain the stupa and who often stayed at a small temple about 10 minutes downhill from the stupa. They offered me a ride on their truck to the stupa (which I declined) and a cup of tea at the temple when I met them again at the stupa. I also met a younger couple at the stupa who were into Haikyo (visiting ruins). When hiking down again the older couple at the temple called me and offered me cold tea and fresh water. We sat down in front of the temple and had a nice chat. Later the young couple joined us too. We hiked back down the mountain together and talked about various ruins we had visited.

Most of the second half of the century after the Pagoda was downhill or flat. After a stop for a Nepalese curry dinner 42 km from Tokyo I was feeling well enough to be able to ride home all the way. I arrived back at home almost 16 hours after I had set off (including hiking, dinner and grocery shopping close to home).

On strava: hiking and biking
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Old 09-25-19, 03:38 AM
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Years ago my family and I used to go to Izu by car, often staying at friend's vacation home near Izu-Kogen south of Ito and having lunch at Isobe, a seafood restaurant on the way down to Shimoda.



I visited Izu-Kogen again in the AJ Kanagawa 200 km Zushi - Izu-Koen - Zushi brevet. I also passed through Ito in the AJ Ni****okyo 400 and 600 km brevets on the 24h Fleche ride in April, but never cycled further south than Izu-Kogen.

So for Monday, the Autumn Equinox holiday I decided to head back to the restaurant, starting from and finishing in Odawara for a 150+ km ride.



The weather forecast was not the best, with a typhoon passing a couple of 100 km away. It rained overnight and there was still a slight drizzle when I loaded the bike into the back of my car at 06:00. I drove to Odawara, parked in a 600 yen/day coin parking space and unloaded the bike. I still had plenty of time before the time I had proposed as a meeting time at Odawara station, so I cycled around the castle to take some pictures. Unlike the castle in Atami, which is completely fake (i.e. built in the 1950s from scratch as a tourist attraction), the current Odawara castle was rebuilt on the site of a pre-Edo era castle.

Nobody else joined me, so I set off on my own. The coastal road is always busy on weekends and on a Sunday afternoon traffic back north tends to crawl at sub-bicycle speeds. When I cycled towards Yugawara, there were already traffic jams on the Tokyo-bound lane from people trying to beat the rush before the end of the three day weekend.

It drizzled on and off, often being both sunny and drizzly at the same time as there was a cloud above but the sun was ahead or on the side. I actually got a bit sun burnt again. It was windy, but due to the shape of the coast line and the hills I was often sheltered and rarely rode directly into the wind for very long. And when you're descending, a head wind doesn't really bother you much.

I was surprised to see so few road cyclists - one near Atami and two near Izu-Kogen. That was all! Well, some people don't want to get wet, I suppose!

I stopped at convenience stores for drinks and sandwiches. After Ito I turned off onto a small back road. The drizzle picked up and turned into a shower. I put on my rain jacket, but took it off again about 20 minutes later as it stopped.








Nothing had changed in the restaurant since my last visit. I heard that one of their sign boards by the coastal highway had blown over in the recent typhoon, but inside everything looked like on my first visit. When I paid after the meal, I mentioned that I had been coming there over twenty years ago and all looked the same as when my kids were little. Now they'd grown up and worked for companies. The lady laughed and said, nothing had changed in 50 years

She asked where I had come from and I told her that I rode from Odawara to the restaurant and back again, that was my route for today. She said, wait a minute and disappeared. She came back with a can of coffee, on the house for a loyal customer... I thanked here and headed back.

At Izu-Kogen instead of taking the back road I staid on the main road hoping to avoid some climbs, but I just ended up with more traffic and no less climbing I think.

Somewhere between Ito and Atami the sky turned pink as the evening approached. Traffic was not bad. I climbed hill after hill.





At Manazuru I took the back road high above the coastal road. It felt relatively easy compared to when I rode it at the Fleche and at the 400 km brevet -- hardly surprising since on those rides I already had close to 250 or 300 km in my legs by then. When I got back to Odawara, I only had 152 km on the GPS, a bit short of a century distance. So I headed west on Route 1 and then turned around after 7 km. I got back to the car with 165 km (with at least 3 more km uncounted in tunnels because I don't use a wheel speed sensor).

This was my 3rd Century distance ride (160.9 km) this month and my 25th this year. Last year I did 29 of them in the whole year, so I would need only 5 more of them until year end to set a new personal record.

(Ride on Strava)
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Old 11-05-19, 01:49 AM
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On Oct 5 I rode 202 km for my October century, extending my streak to 86 months.



It was beautiful clear day. I joined a group ride from Musashiitsukaichi, about 45 km from my home.



Together we climbed the Kazahari rindo, an extremely steep but quiet road near Hinohara. From the top we descended to Lake Okutama where we had lunch. Afterwards we visited the scenic Nippara valley. Traffic was very light, despite the beautiful weather. Often the Nippara road turns into a traffic jam. Perhaps it was due to the Rugby World Cup, as there was a game on in the late afternoon/evening, so perhaps some people decided to stay home for that.



After Nippara village I headed up a closed road to collect a Veloviewer tile in a remote area. While I'm not fully infected with the VV bug yet, it does encourage me to venture off the beaten track to see places I wouldn't normally visit.

Together we cycled down to Ome, where I dropped off my friends at the train station, then had dinner and cycled another three hours to get home again.
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Old 01-05-20, 01:20 PM
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Old 01-19-20, 11:28 PM
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Joewein,

Your ability to capture the moment in your photos is amazing. I recently returned home to Canada after visiting my wifeís family in Yamanashi. Itís an annual trip that my wife undertakes and I decided to take time off from my work to accompany her this time. It was a bit stressful being evacuated during the typhoon but I enjoyed my time there otherwise.

Your century rides are truly inspiring and I can only imagine what you have planned for your next outing.
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Old 01-30-20, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
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Will there be a 2020 sticky? I got my January century in just in time a couple days ago.

EDIT TO ADD:
Never mind. Found it:
2020 Century-A-Month Club
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