200km Fast Sprint to Onyu Pass + Obama + Gonami
Autumn Encroaches on Onyu Pass Onyu Pass (おにゅう峠) Monday, Oct 31, 2016 -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 54mm — 1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Autumn Encroaches on Onyu Pass
Onyu Pass (おにゅう峠)
Monday, Oct 31, 2016

So, I made a third cycle ride in a row up to Onyu Pass the other day. The first trip on a Monday was a lazy social ride of 149km (93mi). Later that week I did a faster solo ride that topped out at 165km (103mi).

This third trip the Monday following the first ended up being 206km (128mi).

I had three goals for the ride. The first was to improve my time on the 58km (36mi) mountainous stretch from the Ichihara area of Kyoto to the top of Onyu Pass. This involves a mile of elevation gain (more precisely, 1,605m or 5,266') including the major climbs up Hanase Pass, Nomi Pass, and of course the final Onyu Pass.

Above Onyu Pass guardrail at left is the climb from the Kyoto side; at right is down toward the sea -- Onyu Pass (おにゅう峠) -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Above Onyu Pass
guardrail at left is the climb from the Kyoto side; at right is down toward the sea

It's not an uncommon route, I think, but the segment at Strava shows only 22 matching attempts. I guess one needs a high-quality GPS unit and some luck for the full 58km of mountains to actually match the segment track.

Moreover, the entire segment of three major climbs is not something one would normally try to do in one shot, but rather pause along the way between the major climbs.

I mention all this to explain why I had the KOM (the King of the Mountain... the fastest registered time) going into this. My time of three hours 17 minutes wasn't all that fast and included 16 minutes spent fixing a flat. Still, when I did it was better than #2 by more than half an hour.

Fast forward to this past Monday when I started this ride, someone had moved to within just four minutes of my KOM time. Barring another flat tire I knew I'd pull farther ahead, so I gave it a good go....

I thought I might PR (make a new personal record) on the first and biggest climb to Hanase Pass, but I actually missed it by a whopping 10%. I didn't make PRs on any of the climbs, but did well on the connecting segments and didn't make any rest stops (or any stops at all... the wheels on the bike never stopped turning for the entire segment). I finished in just under two hours 41 minutes, improving my previous time by 37 minutes.

Any number of my friends could beat this if they made any effort to do so, but at least now it's less of a low-hanging fruit.

Anyway, I retraced my steps back down from Onyu Pass for a while to where I could take the photo that leads this post. Last year on my blog I included a summer view from the same vantage point.

Wider View of the leading photo -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Wider View
of the leading photo
Doesn't Quite Work trying to get the twisty road in the background and bike in the foreground -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 50mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Doesn't Quite Work
trying to get the twisty road in the background and bike in the foreground

Goal #2 for the ride was to explore the northern descent from Onyu Pass. I'd climbed from the south seven times, but had always returned back down the south toward Kyoto. This time I wanted to head north, toward Obama and the sea.

Gravel Toward the South -- Onyu Pass (おにゅう峠) -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Gravel Toward the South

The road turns to gravel at the pass, and I worried about trying such a steep descent on gravel with 25mm road-bike tires, but lately had been hearing that it was doable, so I gave it a shot.

Discarded Ribbon -- Onyu Pass (おにゅう峠) -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 58mm — 1/125 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Discarded Ribbon

I was surprised to find that though the descent starts with gravel, there are many paved sections, so it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.

It also appeared to suffer a lot of guardrail-crushing avalanches.

Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 44mm — 1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Halfway Down looking north ( we'll be passing by the roof in the center of the photo soon ) -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/125 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Halfway Down
looking north
( we'll be passing by the roof in the center of the photo soon )
One of the Gravel Areas these gravel areas are not bad, road-bike wise -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
One of the Gravel Areas
these gravel areas are not bad, road-bike wise
Water Stop -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Water Stop

Since I had done the dash from Kyoto to Onyu Pass without stopping, I had only the one bottle of water with me, which I finished off while resting at the top. Lacking stores and vending machines in the middle of nowhere, I kept an eye out for a road-side stream I could fill up at, and finally found one 20 minutes into the descent (4½ hours into the ride).

Freaky Fake Rock Wall likely covering a real rock wall -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Freaky Fake Rock Wall
likely covering a real rock wall
First Sign of Civilization the rooftops seen in “ Halfway Down ” above -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 41mm — 1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
First Sign of Civilization
the rooftops seen in Halfway Down above
Typical Rustic Scene -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 35mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.3, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Typical Rustic Scene
Mossy Dead End -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 32mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Mossy Dead End

I had scoped out the satellite photos for offshoot roads, but all were either gravel, or just sort of became nothing like this one.

Half a House along the side of the road -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 34mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Half a House
along the side of the road
If Buildings Could Talk I imagine this one could tell quite a story -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
If Buildings Could Talk
I imagine this one could tell quite a story
Lovely Mountain Road -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Lovely Mountain Road
Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 28mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 28mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 28mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

Eventually I emerged from the mountains into the farms surrounding the city of Obama, and quickly made my way to the standard I made it to Obama photo spot...

I Made It To Obama Mermaid Beach (人魚の浜海水浴場) -- Mermaid Beach (人魚の浜海水浴場) -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
I Made It To Obama
Mermaid Beach (人魚の浜海水浴場)
Impressed With My Stats -- Mermaid Beach (人魚の浜海水浴場) -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 31mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Impressed With My Stats

This was my fourth time to ride to/through Obama from Kyoto. The first time was last July. The second time was this July. The third time was early last month, and this fourth time was last Monday.

Farmer Works His Fields -- Obama, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Farmer Works His Fields

On the way home I decided to take the road that goes over Gonami Pass, a road I took on the way to Obama on my first two trips there, but I'd not yet taken the opposite direction. I took my sweet time on it, stopping for photos and such, and generally just going slowly.

Pretty Park Area that I normally see only in a blur while speeding down this descent -- Ōi-gun -- Oi-gun, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/1.7, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Pretty Park Area
that I normally see only in a blur while speeding down this descent
Standard “ Japan Mountain Road ” Pretty -- Ōi-gun -- Oi-gun, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/60 sec, f/1.7, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Standard Japan Mountain Road Pretty
Cresting Gonami Pass 五波峠 taken while cycling at 16 kph (10 mph) -- Oi-gun, Fukui, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/1.7, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Cresting Gonami Pass
五波峠
taken while cycling at 16 kph (10 mph)

This is normally a spot to pause to rest and take photos (like this and this), but having spent a lazy hour making the climb to the top, I decided to not waste time and zip down. Got the KOM for the descent.

From there perhaps the most direct way home would have been over Sasari and Hanase Passes, but having recently climbed Sasari Pass thrice in one ride, and having recently climbed and descended Hanase Pass in the dark on two recent longer-than-expected rides (this and this), I decided to take the only other route available, through Miyama.

Passing Through Miyama 美山 -- Miyama, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 65mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Passing Through Miyama
美山

Another reason I didn't want to go the other direction is that it would have meant the last 20km or so would have been the same as the first 20km, resulting in the track on the map looking like this. (That's Neil Holt's ride two days before mine, resparking the idea to try the northern descent from Onyu, and giving me the idea to return via Gonami.) It's stupid to care what the track looks like on the map, but I prefer big loops instead of lollipop-shaped loop on a stick tracks.

Anyway, two hours later I'm descending into Kyoto from Kyomi Pass, and am surprised to see the lights of the city flickering behind a thin veil of trees for almost the entire descent. During the day, one can see the city only through one or two brief breaks in the trees.

Descending Kyomi -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 65mm — 1/8 sec, f/2.8, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
Descending Kyomi

By the time I'd rolled into the city I had about 200km (125mi) under my belt, and my legs were sore, so I stopped by Ken-chan's clinic for a wonderful (and wonderfully-painful) massage. It did wonders. While there, I developed a craving for chicken karaage, so headed off to a great hole-in-the-wall place I had been to years ago, after this wine-tasting event.

My legs felt great, but sadly, the restaurant had closed in the intervening years, so I returned to a place closer to home and ate two full portions. It was totally delicious.

My legs were killing me the next day.

So, that was three trips to Onyu Pass in a week. It looks like some friends are going next Monday, so I'll probably ride along with them.


All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

Hi Jeffrey,
I’ve been following your blog for many years for the awesome photos around Kyoto. Being an avid cyclist myself it’s been really exciting to follow your foray into the sport. I would love one day to be able to ride some of the mountains around Kyoto that you have been documenting. Keep up the great work!

Kyoto’s mountain roads await your arrival! —Jeffrey

— comment by Brenton on November 5th, 2016 at 9:51pm JST (6 months, 19 days ago) comment permalink

Love the lead photo.

— comment by Rick H. on November 6th, 2016 at 3:13am JST (6 months, 19 days ago) comment permalink
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