Saturday was a spectacular day to go for a ride. I joined my friends Peter and Byron for a ride over Matsuhime toge (松姫峠) starting from near Otsuki in Yamanashi.
Byron and I met up at the Chuo line platform in Shinjuku for the train out to Takao while Peter joined us later. Together we took a local train from Takao to Saruhashi, one stop before Otsuki and headed towards Matsuhime after a conbini stop. It was my first ride this season in full winter gear (except long underwear, which I brought along but only changed into after sunset).
In the bright sun we gradually got warm on the climb and I took off my winter jacket and tied it behind the saddle with the straps of my rinko bag.
The old road over Matsuhime has been closed for repairs almost since when the new tunnel under the mountain opened and I had not visited there since. I had heard that the Otsuki side of the mountain road was covered in leaves while the Kosuge side was still open to traffic, but we found the Otsuki side wasn't too bad. It was clear in most places and where leaves had piled up it was mostly for short stretches and did not cause problems for climbing. We didn't suffer any slips or punctures from hidden stones.
While the autumn leaves are thinning fast this time of the year, there is still a fair amount of colourful foliage left.
The views from the south side of Matsuhime, with snow-capped Mt Fuji on the horizon were beautiful. Riding on the empty road with no other vehicles was a pleasure. At picture stops Byron shared dried mango and trail mix. We chatted as we climbed at a comfortable pace.
Finally we reached the top at over 1200 m. We took some more pictures, before layering up with jackets and warm gloves for the descent to Kosuge village.
We got down to Okutama-ko (Lake Okutama) and headed for a noodle shop, where we had some hot soba and some coffee.
I was keen on climbing to Kazahari toge (風張峠) to ride home via Tomin-no-mori and Musahiitsukaichi for more views before it got dark.
Peter had been interested in joining me, but had lost one of his gloves on the climb to Matsuhime. Descending the other side of 1100+ m Kazahari toge around sunset without warm gloves would not have been a good idea. So Byron and Peter headed down to Okutama station while I started my climb to catch some more views. I was not disappointed.
On the climb I spotted lots of wild monkeys foraging for food by the roadside.
I stopped for pictures at the car parks near the top. I loved the evening light.
I put my warm gloves back on and zippered up my jersey and jacket before starting the descent to Tomin-no-mori. A road side thermometer displayed 2 degrees C, but it didn't feel as cold as when I did the descent in the rain two weeks ago. The winter jacket and the Uniqlo winter trousers definitely helped, as well as not having wet shoes and gloves. Still, I was happy when I finally reached Musashiitsukaichi, where I stopped for hot coffee and food at a Familymart with a cafe corner, where they have chairs and tables to rest.
I finally got changed into my long underwear for the final 45 km home in the dark. Rt 7 got me back to the Tamagawa, then down Rt 29 until I rejoined the river bike path at the Rt 16 bridge. I got back home around 21:30, after about 1800 m of climbing from about 130 km of cycling.
November has been a pretty good month for cycling for me, as I'm only about 50 km short of 1000 km now, with two days left in the month