Cycling Through Bamboo Groves and Up Steep Mountain Slopes

I had a long and interesting bicycle ride down to Osaka last weekend that I've been wanting to write about, and I thought I might finally get around to it yesterday, but I went on a ride instead. Today, I'll just share some pictures from yesterday's shorter (76km/48mi) ride (view at Strava).

Destinations One and Two the hill in the foreground and the mountain in the background ( they don't look like much from here ) -- Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Destinations One and Two
the hill in the foreground and the mountain in the background
( they don't look like much from here )

First I visited a bump of a hill covered in bamboo and bamboo farming, with quaint roads running here and there through it.

Entrance to the Bamboo Forest ( one of several ) -- Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Entrance to the Bamboo Forest
( one of several )
Road Sliced Through the Grove -- Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Road Sliced Through the Grove
Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 800 — map & image datanearby photos

I didn't know what to expect when I got to the bamboo-grove hill (mountain is too much for this), but the road I happen to have entered on started off with quite the little climb, 300m (330yd) at 15%. The two photos above are from that road. I guess it's not well known, because I made a Strava segment for it and only seven people had ridden it prior. A shame.

Once you're up top, you can see bamboo put to use with various fence designs...

Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

Each design is explained a bit with little signboards. The one below describes the photo above, along the lines of infinitely rolling waves...

Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

This was my first visit by bicycle, but I'd actually visited part of this grove some years ago by scooter, a few of the photos from that trip later appearing on Photos of Farming in Japan for Captain Bill three years ago.

This time by bicycle I made sure to do all the roads. It was nice.

Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 250 — map & image datanearby photos
View from the Bottom -- Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
View from the Bottom

The picture above, which I took while exiting the hill, happens to show just how flat the area is; it's near the bottom of the hill, but the view is sweeping. I didn't take the photo for the view, though, but as a memo to myself that the road jigs to avoid a barrier and some steps. As I mentioned the other day in Updating Maps for Cycling, Including Japan’s Pseudo One-Way Roads, I spend considerable energy updating OpenStreetMap, so I take photos like the one above to remind myself to ensure that the map is correct.

I meandered around to try different roads through the groves...

Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 — 1/80 sec, f/2.1, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 43mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 30mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Happy and Sad -- Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Happy and Sad

While wandering around I came across this little side alley diving down the mountain, bathed in rich light filtering through the bamboo. The beautiful scene makes me happy, as well as the small sign on the right pointing down the road to a kids' (play) area, but the sign on the left makes me sad, saying beware of perverts. I shudder to think what prompts the need for such a sign, but they're not all that uncommon. Here's another one.

The alley doesn't go very far, but halfway down is the turnoff for the kids play area, which I thought had a lovely mood despite the previous sign...

Muko, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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

It had the kind of ambiance I'd expect to see a movie scene shot in.

Unfortunately, the whole alley was just 100m long, but at 18%, a bit steep. It probably wasn't worth it, but I made a segment for it.

From there I made my way to the next destination, the mountain road on which the Yoshimine-dera Temple sits, a temple on a large picturesque site that I've been to a number of times, most recently The Whole Gamut of My Blog In One Spectacular Visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple.

The first half of the climb, up to the temple's parking-lot entrance, is 2.6km (1.6mi) at an average grade of 10.4%, though the last half a kilometer averages 17%. Passing the parking-lot entrance, you then start what seems to be an even steeper set of more than a dozen switchbacks up the mountain, above and behind the temple, though in reality this second half of the climb averages only 9.5% for its 1.4km (0.9mi).

These distances and slopes are just guesses, because it's difficult to figure out just how long the road is. For some reason, all the maps I've seen of the second half of the climb are wrong, each disagreeing wildly from the others and from reality (the latter I can check via the meager satellite-photo views that are available, and by trying to follow the maps while viewing video from my bike's front camera of my climbs).

GPS tracks are worthless as references because of the bad signal one gets in these steep mountains. Even the government road-outline data I use (described here) is patently wrong.

I've updated OpenStreetMap for the area as best I can, but not yet confidently enough to make one of my surveyed segment for Strava.

Anyway, about yesterday's ride, I had a lot of apprehension about the climb. I'd done the first half only once before, early on in my cycling life, as reported in A Day of Vertical-Climb Cycling Torture in Western Kyoto. When I did that ride, its 2,490m (8,170') of vertical climb was a record for me. Now, a year and a half later, it just slips into my top 25. It wouldn't be a noteworthy ride for me now, but the memory of how tough the climb was is vibrant.

So goal was simple: do the whole thing (both halves) in one go, without stopping. This harks back to when I was just getting started in cycling and my goal for a tough climb improved from don't quit to don't stop.

In the end, it was easier than I thought, especially since the road was dry and so I didn't have to worry too much about slipping on the steepest parts.

Stopping for a Break -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 — 1/100 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — image data
Stopping for a Break

I stopped for a few minutes to eat some energy cookies and chocolate yokan at the place described in Without Fate: Dumping Ground of Monumental Proportions.

It was a mistake to take a break at the top of the mountain, as the combination of sweat and cooling down made me quite cold once I got on my way. My route took me deeper into the mountains, so the actual temperature fell as well, down to just a smidge above freezing.

The route went up and down mildly for a while, and then I took a turn I'd not taken before, and the road dropped like a rock. The first kilometer dropped at 13%, and as is my tendency when my first exposure to a road is as a descent, the thought of climbing it sent figurative chills up my spine to match the literal ones from the previous paragraph.

“ Village ” seems too generous a word for a few houses in the middle of nowhere -- Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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
Village
seems too generous a word for a few houses in the middle of nowhere

I eventually descended into Kameoka City and rode across it toward Mt. Atago.

From the Pre-Climb Foothills -- Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
From the Pre-Climb Foothills
Passable by Bike -- Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Passable by Bike

The OpenStreetMap data that my routing was based upon wasn't very good in the village just before the climb, and I was routed over some questionable roads, including some short unpaved areas. The road above is lovely, but had I been in a car, the bollards would have been quite the surprise.

I've since updated the map.

Getting Near Sunset -- Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Getting Near Sunset
Atago Shrine I assume associated with the Atago Shrine at the top of the mountain -- Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Atago Shrine
I assume associated with the Atago Shrine at the top of the mountain
Pre-iPhone-Era Selfies -- 自刻像 -- Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Pre-iPhone-Era Selfies

One serendipitous side effect of the bad routing is that I came across these statues, which of course immediately reminded me of this place. These statues were less whimsical, but still interesting in their unexpectedness. According to a plaque, they are self portraits done by class-of-1989 graduating seniors of the local high school.

自刻像 -- Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 67mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos

I then climbed up Mt. Atago via a little-used road that I'd been on only once before, as a descent, on this ride in October. The road can be a bit rough in spots, but otherwise it's a lovely climb and so I was shocked to find that there wasn't even a Strava segment for it. I made a quick segment from my ride data, and found that only eight others had done before. Very surprising.

Lovely -- Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 26mm — 1/100 sec, f/1.9, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
Lovely
River-Observation Platform at a dam, without much river at the moment -- Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 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 — 1/80 sec, f/1.7, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
River-Observation Platform
at a dam, without much river at the moment

After that it was just a straight shot home, though I did divert a bit to do a little 23%-grade climb on the way home.

Overall, it was a satisfying ride.


All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

I am not getting linked to your maps. That function still works for me on your older posts.

Thanks, Kenmore, WA

Oops, thanks. Still getting things adjusted after the server move. —Jeffrey

— comment by Rick H. on January 13th, 2017 at 5:37am JST (10 months, 30 days ago) comment permalink

Nice ride !

— comment by Richard on January 15th, 2017 at 11:13pm JST (10 months, 27 days ago) comment permalink
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