Snowy Cycleversary Mountain-Ride Challenge, Part 1
Typical Japanese-Cycling “ Impromptu Portrait ” from my two-year cycleversary ride the other day -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/7.1, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Typical Japanese-Cycling Impromptu Portrait
from my two-year cycleversary ride the other day

I started cycling two years ago when I naïvely went on this ride, joining only because I had no clue about what was intended. We ended up doing 55km (34 miles), which was probably 10× what I had ever ridden before. I was invigorated to have done so easily what I would have imagined would be impossible, so I decided to set out on a real ride, a longer, hillier one done with intention.

So a week later, on Feb 7 2015, I did another ride — what I now consider my first real bicycle ride — a 91km (57mi) course through snowy mountains. I blogged about it in Attempting a 100km Bike Ride in the Mountains of Kyoto and its followup. The long mountainous course went through the middle of nowhere, far from any kind of services; I could consider such a ride, particularly in the middle of winter, only because I was woefully, stupendously, sumptuously ignorant of everything involved.

Earlier this week, on the two-year anniversary of that first real ride, I repeated it. This time, I headed into it with 15,000km (9,300mi) of cycling experience.

Ready To Head Out bundled up against the cold -- Park House Kyoto Okazaki Yuurakusou -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 45mm — 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 3200 — image data
Ready To Head Out
bundled up against the cold
Mountains North of Kyoto mountains I'll be entering look a bit frosty -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60mm — 1/800 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Mountains North of Kyoto
mountains I'll be entering look a bit frosty
A Bit Blustery though I'll remain to one side of this particular mountain -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60mm — 1/250 sec, f/8, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
A Bit Blustery
though I'll remain to one side of this particular mountain
Getting Closer to the snow -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/3.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Getting Closer
to the snow
Beautiful Frosty Look -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 38mm — 1/200 sec, f/3.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Beautiful Frosty Look
Just Gorgeous though, sadly, I'm not able to capture it in the photo -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 50mm — 1/200 sec, f/10, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Just Gorgeous
though, sadly, I'm not able to capture it in the photo

On the initial ride two years ago, a photo of this exact spot shows no trace of snow. Despite the snow this time, the road surface was still fine.

Kurama Temple 鞍馬寺 -- Kurama Temple (鞍馬寺) -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 42mm — 1/200 sec, f/10, ISO 160 — map & image datanearby photos
Kurama Temple
鞍馬寺
Snowy Kurama compare to this snowless shot two years ago -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 52mm — 1/200 sec, f/10, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Snowy Kurama
compare to this snowless shot two years ago
Start of the First Big Climb Kurama Onsen (Kurama Hot Spring) -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 29mm — 1/125 sec, f/10, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Start of the First Big Climb
Kurama Onsen (Kurama Hot Spring)

By the time the first big climb started at the Kurama Hot Spring, the road had some slush on it but it was easily ridable, but I didn't have to go much farther for the road surface to become much more difficult:

Slush Continues to Encroach this was the last of the “ easy ” riding for a long time -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/7.1, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Slush Continues to Encroach
this was the last of the easy riding for a long time
Memorable Spot from my first ride -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/7.1, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Memorable Spot
from my first ride

A particular curve on the road holds special memory for me, as the first place I actually stopped for a rest on that first climb (mentioned here). As I rode the same mountain again over subsequent months, riding past this point without stopping became somewhat symbolic for me, until I was finally able to do the whole thing without stopping.

Today was different, though. By this time the road surface had become difficult to ride on. The difficulty was not because there was too much snow, but because of its nature: it was hard-packed almost ice that sometimes the bike could ride on, and sometimes not. When the bike could ride on the surface of this stuff, it was a bit slippery, but easy going. But more often, the weight of the bike caused each tire to break through the surface, and the tire would have to shove through this hard thick layer like an ice breaker struggling against thick ice (which uses its power to push the bow up onto the ice until enough weight is over the ice to break through).

It was like riding with two brakes on; it was very slow going.

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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 35mm — 1/160 sec, f/7.1, ISO 125 — map & image datanearby photos
Road-Clearing Backhoe -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 44mm — 1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Road-Clearing Backhoe
Post-Backhoe Road actually worse than before; still as much ice, but now more slippery -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 27mm — 1/125 sec, f/7.1, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Post-Backhoe Road
actually worse than before; still as much ice, but now more slippery
Turnoff to Momoi and a city bus with chains on the rear tires -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Turnoff to Momoi
and a city bus with chains on the rear tires
Pretty but slow going -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/7.1, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
Pretty
but slow going
Hairpin the same one seen in the opening photo -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Hairpin
the same one seen in the opening photo
Another Hairpin there are eight of them on this climb, all beautiful in their own way -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/160 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Another Hairpin
there are eight of them on this climb, all beautiful in their own way
Final Climb -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/7.1, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Final Climb
Hanase Pass 花背峠 -- Hanase Pass (花背峠) -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Hanase Pass
花背峠
Arrival Selfie -- Hanase Pass (花背峠) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ + front camera — 1/1050 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Arrival Selfie

I wasn't kidding when I said that the road surface made for slow going. It's not that I was trying for speed in the first place, but it took ridiculously long to get here from the hot spring.

On that initial ride two years ago it took 48 minutes, and I was much faster on subsequent attempts, eventually reaching my current PR (personal record) of just under 29 minutes. But on this two-year anniversary ride, my 29th climb up this hill, it took more than 58 minutes! I knew I was slow, but this was shocking.

As slow as the climb was, the descent down the other side was even worse, taking more than 4× as long as typical. On the way up I had to contend with the ice breaker effect of the road surface, but on the descent I also had to worry that when in ice breaker mode, the front tire would get a mind of its own as far as direction.

Also, just like an icebreaker that rises over the ice until heavy enough to break through, repeating this sequence over and over, sometimes the tires would do this as well, making it feel like I was riding a jackhammer instead of a bicycle.

It was dicey at times, and combine with the general slippery nature of things, I went very slowly, far more slowly than even climbing the same road. Instead of my best-ever time of 11:24 for the descent, it took 47:20. My best time to make the same climb is 28:54

It was slow going, but beautiful.

Descent into a Snowy Village -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 62mm — 1/250 sec, f/7.1, ISO 125 — map & image datanearby photos
Descent into a Snowy Village
Cowbell closed for the winter -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/7.1, ISO 125 — map & image datanearby photos
Cowbell
closed for the winter
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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 38mm — 1/160 sec, f/7.1, ISO 180 — map & image datanearby photos
Gorgeous Scenery -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Gorgeous Scenery
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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/7.1, ISO 140 — map & image datanearby photos

I dressed well, and was warm for the whole ride, except during the descent my fingers became bitterly cold. It seemed sudden, the change from warm and toasty to so freain' painful I can't stop crying.

There's some kind of park-related cafe on the route... the only business/services of any kind for the bulk of the ride, and I was hoping to make it there for coffee and noodles before having to do something about my fingers. But I just couldn't stand it, and had to stop to put in little hand-warmer heater packs I'd brought along. Trying to first warm up my fingers by shoving them under my armpits did indeed warm them up, but it was exquisitely painful. I should have stopped sooner to put in the hand warmers; it was a miscalculation to think the two pair of gloves I had would be sufficient.

My toes were getting a bit chilly, and I had extra warmers to put in, but I'd wait until I got to the cafe.

By the time I got to the cafe, I was so ready for a hot cup of coffee and a warm space heater.

Doh! “ Park closed today ” -- 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)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Doh!
Park closed today

To be continued...


All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

Very impressed with your ability to ride in the snow. I almost fell over three time just hitting snow clumps on my street. Those mountains and valleys are very beautiful so I understand the attraction.

Rick
Kenmore,WA

— comment by Rick H. on February 11th, 2017 at 4:36am JST (4 months, 18 days ago) comment permalink

Rick H doesn’t live far your sister Marci in Bellingham WA and they’ve had a lot of unusual snow this year

— comment by Grandma Friedl, Ohio, USA on February 11th, 2017 at 12:26pm JST (4 months, 18 days ago) comment permalink

Very impressive cycling. Wonderful photos of the scenery as usual. On my first tourist visit to Kurama, a cyclist on a good road bike came zooming down from the direction you rode up. Would be fun to see where that road goes. Janet in Seattle

— comment by Janet Heineck on February 12th, 2017 at 10:39am JST (4 months, 17 days ago) comment permalink
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