The nice folks at Nicole sent me an email regarding a Sunday ride that perked my interest. It was basically a re-run of the Hakone Ekiden route starting from Tokyo. Since I missed the <in>famous TCC /PE Ekiden No Mae rally in which the cyclists actually ride the narrow window in front of the runners, this was a close second in honor of my fellow TCC / PE cohorts.
The ride started from Nicole Cycles in Aoyama, then routed onto the National Route ’1′ which was the same as the Ekiden. From there we went to Yokohama, then Odawara. The last couple of km to Hakone terminal became a mini-sprint finish / start to the next leg which was the gruelling climb itself to Moto Hakone. We regrouped then began the climb. I was riding a 49/22 and since JF had ridden this nearly same route WITH the Ekiden No Mae crew, I was pretty confident it would be a workable choice.
The climbing route is twisty and steep, with some grades over 15% and mostly 10-12% for the last few KM of swtichbacks. Not so fun on a fixed gear! A couple of the Nicole ‘hillys’ set a hard pace and I struggled to match them once the hills turned hard. Though I managed to sit in a solid 4th until I was claimed by a completely numb right foot from the cold. I stopped briefly to swap in some bio-heat pads and lost a position. Then jammed back on the bike to catch my 4th place mark just in time for the summit. Though I promised myself to ride this as an LSD, the hill just took over and I couldn’t resist a little hammering.
We regrouped, then had something to eat at a small Izakaya overlooking the gorgeous valley. In spite of the freezing weather, the sun was out and the views were awesome! Having tucked in some grub and reheated our bones, we descended back, then hammered into Odawara. Rinko’d the bike from there and made it home in time for steak dinner with the clock hitting about 140km on the road.
The Nicole group fielded some beautiful bikes. Here’s a couple of my favorites:
And a sweet Black and Yellow Cinelli with all the goodies!
Shameless plug for Nicole – they are great people and for sure if you need some Euro sweetness they will help! They don’t just sell bikes – they ride them too! I’m looking forward to my next ride with them.
P.S. And they were totally ‘fixie friendly’ !