Since my wife and the kids were all away for the weekend, I decided to go on an extended cherry blossom viewing ride on my own, leaving Saturday and not coming back until Sunday.
The plan was for a bit of a hybrid between a cherry blossom viewing ride and a brevet, with the distance of a brevet but the pace of a viewing ride. The course followed BRM418 NishiTokyo 400 km Big Fuji Loop (BRM418西東京400km富士大回り), an event I'm signed for on the April 18/19 weekend.
For Saturday I linked up with PeterB and his friend David. We had recently done a ride to Yabitsu together. Peter wanted to go on a 50 km ride (he's working his way towards being able to to 100 km rides) and I told them I was heading out towards Yamanakako (Lake Yamanaka) on Doshi michi (Rt413), so we agreed to meet at the Rt413/Rt76 intersection.
After a 4 hour ride from home for me and a train ride and 12 km climb for them we all arrived within 5 minutes of each other and had a pleasant ride together, including a stop for food, coffee and cake at the Doshi Michi no Eki (road station).
It was their first ride along the shores of Yamanakako. We had the cycling path on the lake shore virtually to ourselves. Though Mt Fuji was right there we couldn't see it as it was all covered in clouds. Luckily it stayed dry while we rode together. It had drizzled on the way out and started drizzling again later in the day.
We parted at Fujiyoshida, with them descending to Tsuru to catch a train home while I continued west towards Motosuko, the westernmost of the Fuji Five Lakes. It got dark as I descended Rt300 in the drizzle, wearing all the clothes I had brought along.
Luckily it was much warmer again at the lower elevation and I could take off some layers, though keeping the rain gear as I headed north into Yamanashi towards Minami Alps city. On the way there I came across some floodlit cherries by the riverside:
After the conbini (convenience store) that will serve as PC2 (check point 2) in the brevet I headed down south again, towards the coast. First there was a long stretch of descending, then following big fast Rt52. But then the course crossed to the east side of the river and it got hilly for several hours before Shibakawa.
By this time it was in the wee hours of the morning and I started to get sleepy. I had slept only 5 hours the night before. When I finally hit the coast at Fuji city I found an empty bicycle parking lot with concrete floor under elevated railway tracks, which provided shelter from the drizzle. I took off my shoes, crawled into my mylar bag and slept for an hour using my folded wind breaker as a pillow.
I was still sleepy when I headed on, so I had some conbini breaks. Some had a coffee corner with chairs where I sat down with my cup of coffee and some food and nodded off for a bit.
It was drizzling as I headed into Izu in the morning and it never really completely stopped until the late hours of the evening on Sunday.
Now, with all this talk about sleepiness and rain, the more challenging parts of randonneuring, it would be easy to forget about the sakura. I am not going to be posting hundreds of pictures here. In fact, I didn't even take any of some of the ones I liked best.
My favourite view were the mountain sakura near the toge in Izu when I crossed from the interior to the coast at Ito. They are not the biggest or densest or the most majestic, but with those cherry trees sprinkled in between many other kinds of trees in the mountains, they add cheerful dashes of brightness to the mountain sides, which I love.
The hilly coastal road from Ito to Odawara was fairly busy with traffic.
Climb from sea level for a couple of km, descend, repeat The course took me high above the coastline between Atami and Odawara, on a small backroad past fruit orchards, overgrown stone terraces and some houses of monied people. I am sure on a sunny day the views must be spectacular.
I was up to 365 km around Odawara. Some of the roads from the coast up to Machida were much steeper than I remembered them, partly because I usually only head down the opposite way, partly because I was at that stage where every climb looks three times steeper than normal. I got home after midnight (i.e. already into Monday), took a bath and went to bed. Today I'm feeling great. Nothing sore, everything normal.
The total ride came to 469 km with 3874 m of climbing according to Strava. Frankly, it was a little too much, but that will make it easier when I ride the real brevet in two weeks. Hopefully, at least it won't be drizzling for 300 km or so The cherry blossoms may still be there at higher elevations. I want to try another two day ride again some other weekend, for example coast-to-coast.