In January 2013 some friends and I rode from Zushi on Miura peninsula to Ito on Izu peninsula and back. The course followed an AJ Kanagawa brevet route of more than 200 km. On January 9, 2016 AJ Kanagawa will have another brevet following almost exactly the same course, but just like three years ago the event filled up quickly, I was not able to sign up. I decided to do this particular route one month early, as the December ride of my "a century ride a month" challenge, which I had been keeping up for 39 consecutive months (a "century" is a bike ride of 100 miles or more).
I invited some friends to join me, but one friend who responded was put off by the fact that the course was mostly on routes 134 and 135, which are known as busy coastal roads. I replied that I didn't think the route was too bad and that it mostly gets busy in the afternoon when people head back to Tokyo. Besides the ride three years ago I had done parts of the route during three of my brevets last year. The traffic had never particularly bothered me. When I rode it again on Saturday I was reminded that it is indeed a busy route, but that my tolerance for busy roads simply is pretty high.
Even though I love cycling on quiet or empty roads, it's not a top priority. I'd have to say, my #1 priority is to enjoy great views. My #2 priority is get a feeling of achievement, such as from distance, elevation gain, less than ideal weather conditions, etc. I also enjoy rides with friends or on quiet roads or new routes I haven't tried yet, whether they meet priority #1 and #2 or not. But ultimately, if a ride is scenic I don't add a lot of conditions on going for it.
I got up at 04:00, left home at 05:00 and caught a train down to Zushi that arrived at 06:52. The long train ride gave me a chance to get another nap. I only got off after being woken by railway staff at the the final destination! At 07:05 I rolled off and soon saw my first view of Mt Fuji from the coastal road. It would be in front of me almost continually for the next 40 km.
At Odawara I took a small detour to the castle, which I had also seen during this year's cherry blossom season.
Beyond Odawara the course gradually got hilly, as mountains rise up straight from the coast and the road doesn't always stay at sea level.
Atami castle, about half way between Odawara and Ito:
There are a lot shops selling himono (dried fish) in the small towns along the Izu east coast. You can see it drying in the sun by the road side.
After Ito I turned off the main Rt 135 onto a quiet back road, which had some major climbs but also nice views.
Around mid-afternoon I got to the conbini (convenience store) that served as PC2 of the 2013 course, some 105 km from the start. After some food and a cup of coffee I headed back north.
I picked up a bag of local mikan from an unattended roadside shop that, like so many such places works on the honour principle: You drop the asked price into the attached box and take what you paid for. At 200 yen the local mikan were quite inexpensive and very tasty.
If you like seafood, you'll be spoilt for choice in Izu
The evening was approaching fast as I was heading back up the coast.
Just as it got dark I saw my last views of Mt Fuji for the day near Atami.
On the way back to Odawara I stopped at a spot where I had witnessed an accident during the 400 km brevet in April: One of the participants in a Fleche ride by another club went down when his front wheel got caught in a gap of a sewer cover. It was probabably where this piece of wood on the right has now been inserted. Guys, be careful out there!
I decided not to ride all the way back to Zushi, ending the ride at Odawara and returning home on an Odakyu train all the way to my local station in Setagaya.
The next day we had an appointment for taking family pictures at a photographer, with my daughter, my wife and her mother all wearing kimono. My daughter will soon turn 20 (the legal age of majority in Japan) and wearing kimono is traditional for the celebration. Afterwards we went to Meiji shrine where we took a lot more pictures of each other.
So it was good to get back early enough to get some rest before that big day.
With about 170 km on this ride, December is now my 40th consecutive month with at least one Century ride. I am now also past 10,000 km by bike this year, my highest annual total ever. Recently I swapped the chain rings on my Shimano 105 5700 triple because they were worn out after more than 35,000 km. Other than normal wear and tear the Bike Friday is still doing fine