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Old 08-04-20, 07:51 PM
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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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(Haijimadaishi, a Buddhist temple in Akishima.)

Another month, another Century to ride.

In 2012, I had already done rides of more than 160.9 km (100 miles) in March, April, May, June and July. Then came the typhoon season and a trip with the whole family to Taiwan (which I loved), but somehow no Century ride that August. I did one again in September and continued month after month. The ride that I did on Sunday completed the 96th consecutive month or 8 years of Century a Month.

The forecast for Saturday was sunnier, so I waited until Sunday for the ride, contacting my friend Peter only the evening. We met up at a 7-11 convenience store across the street from Musashiitsukaichi, 45 km from my home. The parking lot was busier than I remember ever seeing it.

Not exactly what you expect when new Covid-19 case numbers in Tokyo and nationally are breaking records on a daily basis. But to be fair, cycling and most outdoor events are still some of the safest activities around that you can do when not being by yourself. The riskiest part probably is stopping for lunch, when you sit around a table and the masks have to come off to eat.

We decided to head up some previously unexplored mountain roads around Hinohara village. There were two VeloViewer tiles that I wanted to collect if possible. This was one of them.

It was one of those concrete roads with grooves cut for traction and for drainage to help keep them ice-free in the winter. Once you got off the bike, it was hard to get started again. I seriously felt the heat and got off to push for a while.

I was glad I had hydraulic brakes when we descended again.

Next stop: Tengu Falls. There was no road that would take us into the other map tile, it was too far in the mountains. But just south of one tile border were two waterfalls, Little Tengu Fall and Tengu Fall, with a mountain road leading up towards them. So we decided to head up there and then maybe with a bit of hiking, I could only just grab that tile.

It was a steep climb and at the top the road widened just enough so buses could make a U-turn. Strictly no parking for cars. A hiking path towards the falls soon crossed the river, but the crossing was pretty dodgy with the current water level, hard not to slip or get one's shoes soaked. I did not let that deter me and took off my MTB shoes and socks, while Peter decided to wait. So I hiked up the gravelly steep mountain trail barefoot, meeting two or three groups of hikers. A part of the hike had what were like stone steps, but most of it really wasn't much fun without shoes.

First I encountered the little Tengu fall, which was nice:

Then the trail got steeper and I finally saw the taller main fall. But behind it arose a near vertical rock wall, that I would somehow have to pass to enter the nearby tile. In my shoe-less state and my ride mate waiting below, I decided that it would be the sensible thing to save this tile for another day The descent was more painful than the climb, but I made it back without any cuts. I washed my feet and put the socks and shoes back on.

After lunch at a local cafe, we descended back down to Hinohara and Akiruno, then headed up Rt184 to another valley. There we visited a local bike shop that sells Colnago, DeRosa and other bikes.

Then came the long climb to Ume-no-ki pass. We had been told that you can only go to the top because the road on the north side was closed and not in good condition. Well, it was closed, but compared to several local forest roads it was in reasonable condition, with the exception of one landslide that is being repaired, but passable on a Sunday with no workers around.

From there we rejoined the main road between Okutama and Ome. At restaurant Sherpa I decided to have an early dinner, while Peter headed on to make the most of the daylight.

I got home after another 4 hours. The total came to 163 km (after correcting for some GPS noise around Ume-no-ki pass) with 1250 m of elevation gain.

Four more months and I'll be in the triple digits...
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