Century of Wazuka Climbs, Part 1
Working The Tea Fields high up in Wazuka, Japan (和束) -- Sōraku-gun -- Soraku-gun, 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 62mm — 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Working The Tea Fields
high up in Wazuka, Japan (和束)

I had a nice ride through the mountains of Uji and Wazuka (Japan, near Kyoto/Nara) the other day. Both Uji (宇治) and Wazuka (和 束) have been famous for their tea for centuries, and have tea fields tucked away in the most seemingly-unlikely nooks and crannies of their mountains.

Here's the ride at Strava:

I had a number of specific goals when embarking on this ride:

  • Goal: ride at least a century of distance (100 miles, 161km).
    Actual: 167km / 105 miles.

  • Goal: vertical climb of at least 3,000m (9,850').
    Actual: 3,506m / 11,503'

  • Goal: get a PR (personal record) on the Omine East climb.
    Actual: beat my former PR of 22 minutes by almost a minute and a half.

  • Goal: hit three particular descents with gusto, perhaps earning the KOM (King of the Mountain — fastest recorded time) for them.
    Actual: KOM'd all three.

  • Goal: do the heinous Yaruki Jizo climb again, preferably without killing myself.
    Actual: survived

All goals acheived, so yay for me. 🙂

Sad Tobidashikun he seems to have lost face somehow -- Uji, 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 27mm — 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Sad Tobidashikun
he seems to have lost face somehow
Behind the Facade lies a happy little boy about to run out into traffic -- Uji, 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 — 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Behind the Facade
lies a happy little boy about to run out into traffic
View from the Sotuka Ohashi Bridge 曽束大橋からの景色 -- Sotuka Oohashi Bridge (曽束大橋) -- 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
View from the Sotuka Ohashi Bridge
曽束大橋からの景色

We saw this same view last fall, in More Exploring Uji by Bicycle, and Exploring my Cycling Psychology. It's a pretty view but hard for me to capture.

It's also pretty the other way, but even harder to capture due to the sun and the scope of the view...

Sotuka Oohashi Bridge (曽束大橋) -- 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 — 1/1250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Caution still passable, on the 3rd climb of the ride -- Otsu, Shiga, 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 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Caution
still passable, on the 3rd climb of the ride
Tee Time -- Otsu, Shiga, 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 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Tee Time
Start of the “ Omine East ” climb I wanted to PR -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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 75mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Start
of the Omine East climb I wanted to PR

I've complained for decades that Garmin is a horrible company, and ran into yet another illustration of it with their Virtual Partner cycling-computer feature. The idea is sound, that you compare your progress against some particular target pace that you'd like to meet. The target pace is presented as the virtual partner that you're riding with (or trying to catch up to or stay ahead of).

As sound as the idea is, the feature seems to have been implemented by someone with no real-world experience as a human, much less a cyclist. The feature comes with various alerts that pop up on the screen, which is great when you want them, but the feature can not be turned off. It is always on, always running, always in your way. It literally can not be opted out of.

If you're following a pre-programmed course, it's an all or nothing situation (except that there is no nothing option), with the Virtual Partner starting at the pre-programmed pace at the start of the course and going from there at a steady pace until the end. I might find that useful if I wanted to push myself on the full 100-mile course I was doing this day, but it's much more likely someone will pick and choose which sections of the ride they want to attack, and for this you're out of luck unless...

... you make a separate course for each section you want to push yourself on, and switch to that course just before the section, and switch back to your overall course as each completes. I wanted to push myself on the pleasant rolling Omine East climb, so I made a separate course for it and loaded it on my Garmin, and set the Virtual Partner to a speed of 16.4 kph, which, if I could keep pace, would give me a time for the segment of about 21:50, beating my PR by 10 seconds. Hopefully I'd go faster still, but I at least didn't want to fall behind.

Which brings us to another failing of Garmin's Virtual Partner feature: it always progresses at a fixed pace, something that doesn't happen often in the real, hilly world. Strava's stats for the segment of 5.9km at an average of 4% belies the fact that it's fairly undulating, with almost a fifth of the distance being downhill sections where one obviously goes much faster. The average grade for the 4.8km (3mi) of actual climb is 6.2%, which is not tough, but it's not 4% either. In any case, no one's going to keep a steady pace, and it's nowhere more apparent than at the start where the slope is the most steep. Within a few minutes of the start, the Virtual Partner feature informed me that I was already two minutes behind the pace. I know that I'm slow, but this seemed unlikely to be factually correct, and rather than being a feature to drive me harder, Garmin's Virtual Partner made me want to not bother anymore, in the face of such dispiriting news.

On some of the downhill sections I caught up quite a bit, more than would seem mathematically possible, but I was still well behind pace when I knew that all the downhill sections were done, so it seemed that a PR was not even close to possible. Why suffer for no reason? I slacked off.

In the end, Garmin couldn't even get this simple job correct. When I finished the segment it said that I was two and a half minutes behind pace, but it turns out that I beat my PR by 1:22.

Anyway, the subsequent trip down the mountain has some lovely views that I normally don't dwell on because I'm enjoying the zippy, thrilling descent (the descent is my reward for having done the climb, and the KOM is my reward for the descent 🙂 ), but the road was wet from rains the previous day, so I took it easy and stopped for photos.

Looking South to the Osaka Skyline hazy this time ( it was less hazy on this trip last September ) -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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 75mm — 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking South to the Osaka Skyline
hazy this time
( it was less hazy on this trip last September )
Facing Northwest across Uji, Fushimi, southern Kyoto, to Arashiyama and Mt. Atago -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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 75mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Facing Northwest
across Uji, Fushimi, southern Kyoto, to Arashiyama and Mt. Atago
Just a Tad Windy -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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 — 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Just a Tad Windy

Thankfully the wind wasn't a factor in the mountains this time, but was ever present on the road between climbs (and usually as a headwind, naturally).

Planting Rice Seedlings -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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 75mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Planting Rice Seedlings
Neatly Planted Rows -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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 75mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Neatly Planted Rows
Trays of Seedlings -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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 75mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Trays of Seedlings
Lovely Road -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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 44mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.6, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Lovely Road

The next climb was up Mt. Jubu (鷲峰山). I thought it had three different routes up to the top (I rode them here), so I was surprised in March when some friends rode up a fourth route I hadn't known was a paved road. It turns out to have been a lovely road, as seen above. Just a joy to ride on.

After a climb of 250m (820'), I was surprised to find that it had a substantial, lovely descent that bled off almost half the climb. It was gorgeous.

Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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 54mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

As I enjoyed a lazy descent, it dawned on me that I still had to get to the top of the mountain and that now there was even less distance in which to do it, so I expected I would soon encounter some seriously steep sections. At least the road surface was good.

The road surface was good right to the end of the descent, then turned to horrible broken cement for a brutal 1.7km at 12%. The road surface was absolutely horrid. You had to carefully pick your line to avoid getting lost in a crevasse.

This is “ Pavement ” -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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 65mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
This is Pavement

I would have liked to do the whole thing nonstop, and I'm sure I would have but, er, I needed to take photos for the blog. Yeah, that's it. Here's a photo:

Relatively-Nicer Section -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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 34mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Relatively-Nicer Section
End of The Worst of It the road quality improved at this hairpin -- Tsuzuki-gun -- Tsuzuki-gun, 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
End of The Worst of It
the road quality improved at this hairpin

After I finished the whole climb in a pathetic hour and twenty minutes, I came upon the first of the big descents that I wanted to hit hard, the Jubuzan Northeast Descent via Rt. 283.

The first half of the long descent was fine, and despite a few wet spots I missed the KOM on that five-minute half by 1 second (to Geoffrey Grant, who earned that KOM on the aforementioned ride in March that alerted me to the fourth climb).

Upon entering the second half of the descent, I immediately gave up because the road surface was ridiculously dangerous, covered in a soggy thick layer of rotting evergreen fronds.

Wet, Soggy Death taken with white knuckles at 20 kph (12 mph) -- Sōraku-gun -- Soraku-gun, 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/2.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Wet, Soggy Death
taken with white knuckles at 20 kph (12 mph)

So, I took it carefully.... very, very carefully. It was not fun, but it got much worse near the end when a little muscle at the bottom of my hamstring (back of my leg just above the knee) that I didn't even know existed made itself vividly apparent by cramping in the most exquisitely-painful way. Stifling a scream I straightened my leg and fervently hoped it would go away very quickly. I normally don't cramp at all when I ride, so this was certainly a surprise.

Even more surprising (the fun just never stops), the exact same little muscle in the other leg fluttered its own cramp. It went away as quickly as it came, but it left behind some serious dread, because the first one was still making me want to cut my leg off. Weird muscles that have never cramped before cramping at the same time in both legs? That makes me wonder whether the cause is mental more than physical, but in either case, the physical pain was very real.

It eventually subsided as I rolled into a tiny village (just a few houses) at the end of the descent, and I stood there astride the bike in the middle of the street and wondered what to do. I was worried that the mere act of lifting my leg over the bike to get off would bring on the cramp again, causing me to fall over in the middle of the street. I needn't have worried because it came of its own accord as I wondered what to do. I hope my scream didn't scare anyone in the little village.

After maybe 15 seconds it stopped and I got off and sat down for a while. The cramp never came back, which I'm thankful for, but of course I had no idea at the time that it would never come back. As I said before, the dread of it remained.

I still have no idea why it suddenly happened, or how to avoid it going forward. Scary stuff.

And in the end, despite the ginger descent and the cramping delays, I still ended up with the KOM on the whole big descent, and by a wide margin. I guess no one really tries to do that whole descent quickly, or maybe the road is always in such bad shape? Still, I'll take it.

For the next hour or so I made my way through open countryside, half fighting the wind and half just enjoying the lack of a cramp.

Roadside Diversion -- Sōraku-gun -- Soraku-gun, 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
Roadside Diversion
Farmstead -- Sōraku-gun -- Soraku-gun, 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 46mm — 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Farmstead
More Field Preparation -- Sōraku-gun -- Soraku-gun, 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
More Field Preparation
Kubota NSU55 -- Sōraku-gun -- Soraku-gun, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 46mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Kubota NSU55
Park of Some Kind that was completely closed off -- Sōraku-gun -- Soraku-gun, 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 50mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Park of Some Kind
that was completely closed off
Lunch Stop Restaurant SOLA (ポークレストラン空) -- Restaurant SOLA (ポークレストラン空) -- Koka, Shiga, 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
Lunch Stop
Restaurant SOLA (ポークレストラン空)
Mmmmmm..... -- Restaurant SOLA (ポークレストラン空) -- Koka, Shiga, 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 27mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Mmmmmm.....

While I was staring out the window, waiting for my order, I saw Yoshino Higuchi ride by. I rarely come across riders I know by happenstance, but this is the third time it's happened with her. The first was noted here, and I did a real ride with her here. Perhaps she's just recognizable. This time, she was wearing the same kit that she wore at the races last month.

At this point I wasn't quite yet halfway into the ride, distance wise.

Continued here...


All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

Another beautiful ride. We had the wettest winter since they started keeping records in 1895. You have me looking forward to riding in the mountains again instead of the hills around home.

Rick
Kenmore,WA

— comment by Rick H. on April 30th, 2017 at 12:42pm JST (7 months, 17 days ago) comment permalink

Hey Jeff – just catching up on your blog and saw your cramping hammy’s issue. Since it was on both sides, I wondering if you might have a little lumbar spondylolisthesis.

http://eorthopod.com/lumbar-spondylolisthesis/

Hopefully it hasn’t been an issue since and was just an odd situation, but I broke my back in 2012 and have weird sensations in the legs (from spinal trauma) that doesn’t have anything to do with the muscles themselves. Weather changes and tight muscles make it worse, but usually doesn’t cause too much trouble.
Best,
Geoff

— comment by Geoff Hudson on May 23rd, 2017 at 8:25am JST (6 months, 25 days ago) comment permalink
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