Friday, 12 April 2013

Tour de Kyoto

Strange ride today - a little disjointed, a little contrived, but great 'fun'. For some reason I decided it would be fun to knock off literally each and every climb in northern Kyoto, starting in the east and heading west. In order, they were to be (with climb categories):

  • Hieizan (to Hieizan Driveway toll road gate) (Cat 2)
  • Ohara & Ebumi Pass East (Cat 3)
  • Kurama (Cat 4)
  • Kibune (Cat 4)
  • Kumogahata & Mochikoshi Pass East (Cat 3)
  • Kyoumi Touge (Cat 3)
  • Takao (Cat 4)

I guess technically you'd want to include Ebumi Pass West instead/as well, but the route wouldn't be quite so neat. Maybe I'll try that for round 2! I also didn't elect to take the Kurama road all the way up to Hanase Omote because, well, I'm not COMPLETELY insane. Just mostly...

Elevation profile along total distance of ride, with labels showing climbs undertaken.
Note absence of Takao (read on for explanation).

Things started off nicely. The weather was a little brisk but stable, with some sun even making an appearance. I set off in a long-sleeve baselayer and a summer jersey, shorts and half-finger gloves, with a windproof gilet in my pocket. Great.

I first attacked Hieizan with Alex (on his new bike), which went great. We made awesome time and I managed a new Personal Record on the climb - I'm still at 2nd on the leaderboard for the segment but I improved my time by over a minute! Some day I will be King Of The Mountain! Alex came in just behind me in 3rd overall. Very impressive.

Alex then split off and left me to tackle the rest on my own. I headed for Ohara and then Ebumi East, where the wind picked up, making the descent a little interesting, but not too bad. Halfway up to Kurama it began to rain on and off, and this continued for the majority of the day. Generally it wasn't too bad - I just had to take some descent sections a little easy with wet rims and road surface.

After Kurama and then Kibune (they're branches of the same road), I hit Kumogahata and the fearsomely steep Mochikoshi Pass East... where I somehow got another Personal Record. How I managed it at this stage of the day I don't know, especially since a torrential downpour began as I started the climb, making it an even more miserable grind than usual.

Next up was Kyoumi Touge, a long climb of moderate steepness with some pretty steep little sections. It's a wearing climb, but very pretty. I was admittedly pretty shot by this point, and my time suffered - I was something like 3 minutes off my best. Still, I plugged away and got up it, and sat down at the top to enjoy my hard-earned Snickers... when an absolutely massive rainstorm hit. I was soaked in seconds, my windproof gilet no defence against such rain. Desperate to get down, I endured a freezing descent, as the wind whipped the water off my waterlogged skin. The descent was 'eventful' and by the time I reached the bottom I had lost all feeling in my extremities - not ideal when you need to use brake levers!

At this point I only had one more climb to go - Takao - but the weather was so bad that I elected to sack it off and go home. I didn't have the right clothing to ride in those conditions and I was getting really cold. I think you have to know your limits.

It's a shame I couldn't complete my little challenge, but I'm still very happy with what I achieved: according to Strava, around 95km total distance and 3150m total climbing. Not a bad way to spend a few hours!

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