So I’m back in Japan for a couple of weeks of work. This marks the first time I have been here in the late January, early February timeframe. With the highs in the low 40′s and the night time temps below freezing it is downright cold for this San Diego Weather Weenie! Wednesday was spent playing planes, trains and automobiles but with the international date line thing after getting some sleep in the hotel I woke up to Friday morning. Friday was spent setting up for work that was start to start on Monday, give a presentation and make rounds of gripping and grinning. In the middle of all that I picked up a mountain bike rental that not only would be my primary means of transportation while here in Japan, it was also be my recreational vehicle. Friday evening was marked by the full blown onset of Jet Laaaaaag!
I have found that nothing helps to beat your body clock into a new time zone like some exercise. After some early morning work preps it was time to set off on the bike. Cold is cold, but the breeze was just downright biting so there was plenty of layering when donning my MTB apparel. As in all of it! I was pretty stoked with the hardtail rental I got. I was the first person to rent one of the newest members of their rental fleet, a well equipped (for a rental) Jamis Durango 1 hardtail.
The plan for Saturday was not to do any exploring, just stick to a series of trails that I know and love in the Fugatoyama area. It is a rather large chunk of mountainous open space that is for the most part quite rugged. It has been the source of many memorable head scratching intersections and brutal hike-a-bikes.
One nice change about riding here in the winter time is that you can see a lot more stuff as some of the trees have shed their leaves. The picture above would be of mostly a veggie tunnel in the summer. I had a good time out on the trails but was fairly skimpy on taking pictures.
The final segement of trail along this route dropped me out into an area called ghost-town for the number of old vine entwined buildings that are rusting back to mother nature. The little paths and streets quickly takes you back down into civlization where one can obtain tasty hot coffee out of a can. This is straight up yummy caffiene crack in a can! A nice warm can of coffee in the middle of a cold ride. Good Stuff! After the caffiene recharge there was a series of street riding back to my hotel. I caught up with old friends over a home made dinner that night. A mighty nice start to trip.
I did not get an early start on Sunday so as to let mother nature warm things up a bit before I went out. I had been wondering about a different route into the Fugatoyama area that in theory would cut out a bunch of the street riding. There is a foot bridge over the Yokosuka-Yokohama Expressway that seems to go from nothing but woods on one side of the expressway to nothing but woods on the other side of the expressway. There has got to be a trail there. I had never been able to figure out how to get down off the Fugatoyama ridgelines to this footbridge. I was going to figure this out from the opposited direction on this outing. The plan was to start from town and get up to the footbridge and then get up onto the ridgelines, where I should know where I am at at that point (That was the theory). So after some Google Earthing, some exporting and file conversions I had my GPS uploaded with with some waypoints and tracks to investigate. While not the most direct route to where I wanted to go the route took me through a pedistration tunnel. Pretty cool.
After a bit of here, there and to and fro I ended up at my first objective, an entrance into the Taura Plum Grove. Just after the spot pictured above I got in some stairway to heaven action.
The Taura Plum Grove is a park and while for the most part it is a rock sidewalk affair it was pretty cool looking. Springtime here when the plum trees are blooming must be a really awesome sight. Things are not flat here and my route was taking me to the upper west end of th park so it was a climbing affair.
Up near the top of the park the views open up. Tokyo Bay is in the distance and the large building in the distance on the left-hand side of the pictures is the Landmark Tower in Yokohama.
At the top of the park is a viewing tower where even better views of the area can be taken in.
I was more interested in what was just beyond the tower. Finally some dirt and the trail that would take me into the Fugatoyama/Muira Alps area. The trail became a skinny singletrack as soon as it left the park and before long I was across the footbridge and headed west towards the ridgelines.
I had a stupid grin on my face at this point.
Some nice little technical rooty bits to contend with. Big smile on my face here as well.
Okay, the smile on the face was about 50 feet back behind me at this point. The trail turnned sharply up a mega-steep ridge side. The picture does not do the steepness of this section justice. The good news was I was gaining elevation quickly even if I was not riding the bike. I was thinking that if this gets me up on the ridgeline where I think it might I will have lots of mostly downhill goodness to ease the kinks out of my hike-a-bike calves.
I did recognize the trail when I finally did make it up on the ridge. It was promptly followed by a big “Oh Shit”! I was much further to the south than I thought I would be and I was exactly at my most southern point of exploration along this particular ridgeline. The Oh-Shit was because I knew that I had three technical hella-steep hike-a-bike sections between me and the full-time ridable “money dirt” to the north. My GPS said I had one hour and 23 minutes before sunset. Farting around was no longer an option.
There were some exposure bits that are hidden very well by the flora, but wintertime has allowed them to me a bit more revealed. I had only ridden the section above only during the summer months before and I while I knew there was a bit of drop of here I had not idea just how freaking far one could tumble from here until today.
I made good time through the hike-a-bike bits and was soon back on the money dirt. I took the shot above and put away the camera and enjoyed some sweet flowing trails that was nearly all downhill to the north. I popped out of the woods just before sunset and enjoyed an extremely brisk street ride back to my hotel. A mighty fine way to get primed for a week of work ahead.