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Old 11-08-20, 08:23 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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November Century complete, 99 consecutive months of CaM!

Yesterday I returned to Chichibu for the autumn leaves ride (193.7 km on Strava / 120.3 mi). There were six of us. We visited Mitsumine shrine, climbing from the east (Chichibu) side and descending on the west (lake) side. This ancient Shinto shrine lies near a pass some 1200 m above sea level. Unlike typical Japanese shrines, which tend to be relatively plain it's very colourful. It is supposed to date back to around 150 CE.

It seems not many foreigners have ever heard of it or visit it, but it can get very crowded during the autumn foliage season when it attracts many hikers and other visitors (one reason why we chose the eastern approach instead of the main road from the west used by cars and tour buses). There are two restaurants near the Shrine entrance and I had been wondering if they would be busy, but they weren't. Despite the many cars queing outside the car park, there weren't all that many people around the shrine grounds. I think one explanation for that was that there were hardly any tour buses, probably due to Covid-19.

On the climb along the Ochigawa and above we saw many Japanese maple trees, most of them a fiery red:

You could see far over the Chichibu mountain basin below.

After a stroll around the shrine we had lunch, then returned to our bikes and prepared for the descent. I think this was the first time I could descend from the shrine all the way down to the dam without once being stuck behind a car or bus. The road on the west is very smooth and can be enjoyed at speed.

With the exception of a few brief traffic light stops we returned to Chichibu pretty much non-stop, 35 km in 1:15, arriving 20 minutes before sunset.

After seeing off my ride mates at the station, I had some coffee and a snack at a convenience store, then started the 82 km ride home. I added another layer as it was now dark and colder. Like two weeks earlier, the descent from Yamabushi pass to Naguri felt like the coldest part of the ride. I stopped for dinner at Sherpa in Ome.

I got very sleepy for the last hour of the ride, as I had only slept about 4 hours the night before. That was more of a problem on this ride than the 2718 m / 8917 ft of elevation gain (700 m from Kitasakado to Chichibu, 1300 m on the Mitsumine loop and another 700 m over Yamabushi pass and Ome).

I will probably do a West Izu ride in December for my 100th month.

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