Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Kyoto - Nara - Kyoto (via Typhoon Jelawat)

Had a little cycling trip lined up for a few weeks now - nothing too intense, just a nice little cruise out to Nara with a few friends. About 60 km each way, with a night in a little guesthouse in the middle. Pleasant enough, right? Well... kinda.

The ride kicked off nicely enough. The weather was glorious on Saturday, giving a beautiful ride into Nara via a few little sights: 'most notably' what is apparently Japan's longest wooden bridge.

We were 6 people total but to reduce frustration we elected to split into two groups - one 'fast' and one more relaxed. Grecia and I made up the fast group, with the other four tagging along a little later (although still in a very respectable time!).

The ride was made more enjoyable by a bunch of new stuff - some Rapha Classic Bib Shorts (more on these in a future post, possibly - you've been warned!), some Sidi Genius 5 Megas and the always-lovely Rapha chamois cream (possibly more on this, too...).

Japan's longest wooden bridge, just before the halfway point of the route

Bikes in Nara-koen (the deer park)

Good job!

Upon arrival (and finally finding each other) we checked into our guesthouse and went to find food. What followed was the most enormous curry-rice ever... for 600 yen. That's absurdly cheap. The menu in this place consisted of: coffee, curry-rice, orange juice. Nothing more.

Someone every single one of us finished this...

Chilling in the guesthouse - really nice old tea house, all wooden construction with tatami floors, etc.

After a few token celebratory beers (possibly a little ill-advised) in the evening, we elected to get a reasonably early night because, well, we knew what was coming up. With no chance of changing the guesthouse booking, we had to come... and that means we had to go home, too.

Meet Typhoon 17, aka Typhoon Jelawat:

JMA course plot for Typhoon 17
Here she comes!

After a hasty breakfast we set off at about 8am...

What followed was one of the more interesting rides I've been on. Being chased towards Kyoto by a typhoon (our average speed was around 20 km/h; Jelawat was hitting about 55 km/h...) conditions started off fine but rapidly deteriorated. We were soon riding into stinging rain and gusty sidewinds which nearly knocked us off a few times. This soon became a steady headwind, resulting in about 45 km of what felt like constant uphill riding. Needless to say, calories were burned. Added to the fact that we barely stopped, we were roundly destroyed by the time we somehow got back to Kyoto.

Getting hammered by the rain

Grecia trying to keep going through appalling conditions - props to her, and indeed everyone, for making it!

By some miracle everyone arrived back safe. Grecia and I, again making up the 'fast' group, actually made it back in about the same time as our outward journey despite the hairy conditions. I'm not entirely sure when the others got back to Kyoto but by that point the conditions were utterly foul as the full might of this Saffir-Simpson Category 1-equivalent typhoon came to bear on the Kansai region, so they did well!

The damage to my right calf. I'm not even sure how this happened...

A few days later and I'm still knackered. So is everyone else. Quite an experience!

In case you're wondering what happened to the Fuji trip... it never happened. The timing just didn't work out. One for next year, I guess. Still, I think this last excursion more than made up for it...

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