|After the success of the previous weekend's ride, we thought we would keep the habit and test out another ride in the Okutama area. On googling for mtb rides, I had spotted a rough description of a ride which sounded pretty good. Checking on a map made it clear that the claim of "mostly singletrack" made on that page was optimistic - it's all paved road except for the ridge of sengen one (浅間尾根) itself. Nevertheless, we thought we'd check it out|
|Here's a map of the route, courtesy of mapion. We had worked out that the 08:19 Holiday Rapid from Shinjuku goes right through to Musashiitsukaichi (武蔵五日市). This train is labelled as going to Okutama (奥多摩) but it splits at Haijima (拝島) - make sure you are in the correct (rear, but lower numbered carriages) end! Anyway, that makes travelling with a bicycle (folding tandem, in our case) significantly easier than it is with multiple changes.|
we got to Musashiitsukaichi at 09:21, and after reassembly and some
coffee set off well before 10am, this time up the main road to the
west. It was a bit of a long slog, made harder by my unthinkingly
taking a wrong turning up a valley - very pretty but a 10km detour!
Now behind schedule and with a lot of riding still to do, we didn't stop to take pictures. This area is popular with roadies presumably riding out from Tokyo and back, mostly going rather a lot faster than we were on our tandem with soft fat tyres (should have at least pumped them up harder). It was pleasant enough but not really all that beautiful and there were quite a lot of lorries rumbling along the road to and from the quarries and construction sites. Things improved past Hossawa (払沢) where there is a famous waterfall to visit for those with the time. Here the bulk of the traffic turned left, leaving us a very quiet road to nowhere...(like all the best Japanese roads, it turned out to be gated at the top)
we got to Fujikura (藤倉) where the serious climbing started. While
checking the map at a junction, a cyclist appeared coming down the
steep road. With a quivering hand, he pointed out where we were headed
on the map and muttered "chotto hard". It was indeed a bit hard, in
fact rather more than that, a brutally steep ~700m climb up past
Kurakakeyama (倉掛山) to the pass at Kazaharitouge (風張峠). According to the
map there may be some off-roading available as an alternative to the
paved road, but at that gradient we'd only have been walking
anyway...it was enough of a struggle to keep moving as it was. I
was grateful to have the excuse of a loose crank (my immense power
ripped it off the spindle, obviously) followed shortly thereafter by a
long lunch break, and it was quite a relief when the top eventually
came in sight.
The main road seems to be used as a racetrack by motorbikes...we were pleased that we hadn't grovelled up that, but only had to roll down a short section to the car park where the off-roading started.
start of the Sengen One (浅間尾根) track was a bit off-putting with a push
up a slope, and I was so fried (and it was later than expected, by this
time it was past 2pm) that I almost chickened out of taking it.
However, the ride quickly turned inito a gentle level/downhill ride along the ridge, at least 90% rideable (rather easier than Hinode) and we made good time. Riding through trees doesn't make for the best views but there were some clear spots too.
Above is a higher res version of the map between Hossawa and Kazaharitouge, roughly showing the line of the track. It looks a little different on the Yama to Kougen map but the route is obvious enough.
|There were more wheel tracks than footprints, so it's obviously a popular off-road track. However, we didn't meet a single person until right near the end of the ride. There were some bits (like the above) that I really didn't feel like riding! But mostly it was plain sailing, and all too soon we were descending back to Hossawa.|
there, it was an easy fast ride back to Musashiitsukaichi with just a
hint of a downhill gradient. We had plenty of time to pack up the bike
and get the 17:21 through train to Shinjuku. The round trip was 60km
and about 5h in the saddle for us (plus maybe 2h of stops), although
the detour was 10km of that.
It's not really as exciting an MTB route as Hinode, but physically a much tougher trip (even without our detour).
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