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Old 07-21-20, 07:27 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Tokyo, Japan
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Bikes: Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer, Bike Friday Pocket Rocket

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I rode a second century in June, a group ride with friends, plus some VeloViewer tiling, all in the mountains.

For my July CaM, I visited a mining ghost town in Chichibu (190 km with 2200 m of elevation gain, on Strava). I used to go there once or twice a year, especially for the autumn leaves in November, but then one of the tunnels leading to the ghost town was closed for being too dangerous and needing repair. Recently a friend posted a ride on Strava that indicating that the route was open again.

I drove about 100 km to Chichibu with my son and a friend of his. After some coffee near the local train station I left him with the car and met up with my ride mate, who had cycled there.

The area is very rural and with Covid-19 there weren't too many hikers or other tourists around. We did see a lot of motorcycles though, including one accident site with ambulance in attendance.

After a short break at a local hydroelectric dam we headed on to the ghost town. We encountered almost no people. We visited a scenic wild canyon.

Because it was a Sunday there was no truck traffic near the limestone quarry below the ghost town. I think the company is trying its best to discourage ruin tourism. Many of the remaining buildings have been made less accessible. The window holes have been covered with plastic sheets or other materials. The bridge at the south side of the main village near the doctor's office has barriers not just across but also on the side. Since much of the open space in the village is now being used for limestone storage, foot paths to some of the buildings have been buried.

Above the ghost town the road is open for a couple of km to provide access to hikers, but then there is a barrier about a km before you get to the tunnel. The tunnel is long and cool, which is nice in the summer heat. There is steady airflow from one side to the other, as the cold air constantly leaks out of the lower lying end.

It was much sunnier on the other side of the tunnel. We took some pictures and then carefully descended to the Rt299 junction. We couldn't go fast because of sharp-edged debris everywhere, even on our wide tires (42 and 32 mm, respectively). This part of the road is never particularly clean, but it may have been the worst state so far that I've seen it. I was glad when we reached the barrier at the Rt299 intersection. There part of the back road had been washed away and an almost toppled power pole was leaning across the road.

This is were we split up for separate rides home. This was just as well, as I then noticed some GPS issues that made me stop. My unit kept losing satellite lock, with only intermittent updates to the distance count. Eventually I shut it down and rebooted it, as well as starting a separate recording on one of my phones using the RWGPS app. At home I had to manually merge the recording of the first part of the ride with the recording from the phone to get a good track to upload to Strava using RWGPS and the GOTOES utilities for Strava. I wasn't sure of my total distance count until I did the merge.

I changed my return route to Chichibu to pick up some VeloViewer tiles and came across beautiful ajisai (hydrangea) in the process.

Another tile was up for grabs only a couple of hundred meters away from the main road on the road that leads up to the cement factories below the Mt Buko quarry. The final tile was awaiting the other side of Yamabushi toge, near the Arima dam. In total those four tiles only added about 200 m of climbing. By the time I got to Arima it was already dark.

I cycled back to Ome and had dinner at Sherpa. When it started to rain on the way back to Tokyo, I put on both of my light windbreakers. Fortunately it was pretty warm so that even with the rain I didn't feel chilly. I texted my wife as I got closer, as it was getting close to midnight. I only got to bed at 01:00, which makes for a long day when you got up at 05:30 that morning!

95 consecutive months of Century a Month - one more to go to complete 8 years, only five more for 100!

Last edited by joewein; 07-21-20 at 09:29 AM.
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