More Exploring Uji by Bicycle, and Exploring my Cycling Psychology
Muddy River the morning after typhoon-effect torrential rains -- Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Muddy River
the morning after typhoon-effect torrential rains

Now that I'm out of action for a while, I'll try to make some headway in my blogging. This post is sort of a followup to last month's Lovely Bicycle Ride Revisiting Uji Countryside Photographed Five Years Ago, because I returned to the area on my next ride to continue exploring.

The ride ended up being lovely, appearing on Strava as Uji #3 - Wet & Slimy Satisfaction 宇治市満足:

I hit as many mountain climbs as I could fit in, so the ride ended up with over 3000m (10,000') of climb, but I was just enjoying to explore, so taking it slow and easy made it not a challenge. Just fun. I truly enjoyed myself.

Small-Plot Rice Ready for Harvest I doubt anyone actually lives in the house, though -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 41mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Small-Plot Rice Ready for Harvest
I doubt anyone actually lives in the house, though
Across the Street harvest likely just finished -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Across the Street
harvest likely just finished

One thing that helps me enjoy a ride is purposefully sandbagging climbs that are new for me. I've never been competitive by nature, but in cycling I find that I'm extremely competitive with myself, never wanting to go slower than last time. Taking a new climb slow on purpose has two physiological benefits: it gives me an excuse to go slow and just enjoy the ride, and it ensures that I'll get a PR the next time I try it.

I am fully aware of how utterly pathetic this is. It's so obvious that even I can see it for what it is, which I also find to be quite interesting.

Base of the Omine East Climb a lovely mild climb -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 37mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Base of the Omine East Climb
a lovely mild climb

My cycling heatmap tells me that I did this climb last year, but I didn't remember much about it other than being a nice ride. The climb to the top is a bit rolling, averaging 5.2% over 6km. (Strava says the climb averages 4.1%, but that's only because as we've seen, Strava has a difficult time with numbers.)

Lovely Road Surface though areas of wet moss would raise caution on a descent -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/1.7, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Lovely Road Surface
though areas of wet moss would raise caution on a descent

All that stuff I said above about sandbagging a new climb does not apply to descents, which I'm happy to hit hard and fast the first time and every time, so long as it's safe. It surprises many people to find that I don't see much advantage in knowing a descent... having done it once or 100 times before doesn't (for the most part) help me do it faster. People's reaction is a good litmus test for telling me about them: if they're surprised, it tells me that they don't know how to descend safely.

But today would not be a day for fast descents, with the torrential rains the evening before and all.

Effects of the Storm apparently I'm the first to use this road since last night -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/1.7, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Effects of the Storm
apparently I'm the first to use this road since last night

The tree limb laying across the road was a lot bigger than it looks in this snap, and it took some effort to cajole it over the cliff off the side of the road.

The photo was taken on the way up. I didn't use the camera on the way down the other side because I was concentrating on not crashing. (Did I mention that the roads were slimy, wet, slippery, and filled with crap?)

At The Base On The Other Side -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
At The Base On The Other Side

Another psychological issue to talk about is my approach to big climbs. I tend to at the same time want to try them, but also am terrified of them, especially if it's a road I've never ridden up, but have ridden down, seeing all the vertical climb fly by at high speed.

I'd recently decided to take a stab at overcoming this phobia in last month's doing of the Big Buddha climb immediately after having descended it for the first time. As I descended, I could only see pain and suffering in any attempt to climb it, so it was a great psychological victory to just turn around and do the climb right away. It's here that I realized that taking it easy makes it easy and removes the phobia fear.

So I did that again today, turning around and doing Omine West right away. Part of taking it easy the first time meant that I could stop for photos...

Osaka Skyline from early in the climb -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Osaka Skyline
from early in the climb

By the time I got to the top this second time the roads were drier, so I could be a bit less ginger (but still ginger) on the second Omine West Descent for the day. It's started to not surprise me when I take a descent slowly and carefully yet still register the KOM, but it still amazes me. That didn't happen this time, though, as my descent time of 8:43 was seven seconds slower than the KOM. Next time I'll actually try, at least, if it's safe to do so.

Bonus Climb -- Uji, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 43mm — 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Bonus Climb

One thing I like to do, which apparently almost no one else does, are side climbs just for the sake of the climb. Before heading off on a new route, I scour Google Earth looking for roads that are steep, paved, and accessible, and give them a try. The road above is one such little detour, 1.1km of perfect tarmac at 7%, that leads exactly nowhere. (There's some kind of landfill at the top.)

I made a segment for this lovely little climb, but it turns out that there's only one other registered ride. That's too bad, because even though the road doesn't lead anywhere, it does have a nice view:

Reward for the Short 1km Climb -- Kuse-gun -- Kuse-gun, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Reward for the Short 1km Climb

An even better reward is the descent on the wide, pristine, deserted road.

After that I took a little shortcut, then explored another leads nowhere climb. This short climb is the same length as the one above, but this time it averages 11% and the road quality is much worse.

Tunnel Vision -- Uji, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/1.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Tunnel Vision

Only five people have done this climb. I guess most folks just don't like climbs for the sake of it, or to explore new locations, but it doesn't make sense to me. If your goal is just to get from Point A to Point B, why not take a cab?

My route then was supposed to take me down a super-twisty steep little road, but it turns out to be closed for the next few years for some big construction:

Not as Fast and Fun as I had Hoped -- Uji, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 30mm — 1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Not as Fast and Fun as I had Hoped
Amagase Dam 天ヶ瀬ダム and an old building -- Uji, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Amagase Dam
天ヶ瀬ダム
and an old building

The next goal was to climb the long Mt. Kisen descent I had done on the previous ride (and posted a video of that descent).

Long and Winding Road π km @ 8% -- Uji, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 49mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Long and Winding Road
π km @ 8%

Of course since it was my first attempt, I took my time and stopped for photos.

Pretty Moss kindly keeping to the side, off the road -- Uji, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 27mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Pretty Moss
kindly keeping to the side, off the road
Wish I Had a Good Camera with a nice macro lens for this rich moss -- Uji, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 35mm — 1/2000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Wish I Had a Good Camera
with a nice macro lens for this rich moss

The roughly 10 gazillion moss-related articles I've posed in the past with better photos include this, this, and this.

After this climb I found myself at the top of the lovely Sumiyama East Descent, which is 2.7km at 7% of mostly twisty mountain roads, but with a long wide section in the middle where you can really let loose. The pavement is very nice, at least for the first half.

I'd done this for the first time earlier in the ride, when the roads were quite scary... steep , wet, slimy, littered. By now there were nicer, so I had more fun. I reached 75kph (46mph) on the fast middle part. But you've still got to be defensive any time you're on the road, and I (figuratively) ran into cars coming around a blind corner in my lane, sections of wet and slimy road, etc. As I do on all descents, I choose to ride a way that allows for these kinds of issues. Still got the KOM. 😉

As I continued, I came across the site of the abandoned thatched-roof restaurant that I posed about the other day.

I made my way to Otsu and the brutal Iwanoma Temple Climb. The road was so steep and slippery in parts that I put my weight toward the back, to give the rear tire more grip, but because the road was so steep the front wheel came off the road and I came that close to falling over. Scary.

Still, it was easier than the first time I did this climb (on my second long ride ever) and so I was happy to make a PR.

I made a PR on the descent as well, but I don't think there will ever be a KOM for me on this descent; the current KOM (3:35) just doesn't seem safe at any skill level.

Finally, I headed back over to Kyoto via the climb up Mt. Hiei that took an hour earlier in the month on my first ride after returning from America. I was so wiped out by heat and fatigue that I had to stop continuously.

This time it was a bit cooler, and I was in much better shape, so I made a PR with 15:46, so I was very satisfied. (To put things into context, though, while I often do well relative to others on descents and on short, intense climbs, I'm quite weak on climbs that are not ultra short; among all the male friends and acquaintances that I follow on Strava, my PR time on this climb is ranked #16 of 19. Optimistically, I'll call that room for improvement 🙂 )


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