I finally found time to do a full-day cycling trip while still in Atsugi. Staying in a hotel offers me the benefit of leaving my heavy luggage behind, so I can attack some roads that I otherwise would not dare to travel on. The Yabitsu pass is one such road. It goes from lake Miyagase, where I started my trip from two months ago, all the way south until Hadano, a city on the far side of OoYama, a mountain I climbed frequently while I lived here. The total distance is about 70 kilometers, which is quite doable, but it involves a climb of 700 meters, which is something I'd prefer to avoid if I was fully loaded with luggage. This time though, I want to test my strength and see if my knees have recovered, so I've decided to challenge myself a little bit.
The ride towards the lake was fairly uneventful, and I enjoyed the beautiful weather. Since I've driven this road a lot of times before, I can use it to see if I've improved my hillclimbing speed. Sadly, not much..
I zoomed past the lake, crossed the bridge in the middle of the lake and turned back south again at the other side, entering Route 70, also known as Yabitsu Touge. Immediately the road narrowed and all signs of civilization disappeared. I was back in nature again! Had I known that such a beautiful road was this close to Atsugi I would have come this way more often. The road roughly followed the path of a small river all the way until high up in the mountains . There were a lot of zigzags, but the uphills were not too tough, and after a while I got into a nice rhythm. After I got into the flow I started to notice the effect of not carrying luggage, and I realized that this road would be a near-death experience had I brought all my stuff. Fortunately I didn't, and I enjoyed the climb and the natural sights a lot.
I reached the top in the early afternoon, which I reocgnized because I had hiked there before. My altimeter read 700+ meters and I got ready for an awesome downhill ride. Zigzaggy roads, beautiful scenery and great weather. Couldn't have been better. I'm really glad I installed the new brake blocks before this trip, because I had to use them a couple of times today in situations where the worn-out blocks would have failed. In the past I have cycled down mountains faster than this, but this downhill was in overall the longest downhill at the highest average speed. I went down so fast my ears popped :D
There was an observatory on the way down, and I stopped to take some photos. It was quite an impressive sight in reality, but the photos turned out quite hazy. I'll have to fix that later.
Slight bummer: the last bit of uphill was quite an effort, and as I was hoisting myself up the mountain, my knees started to hurt again. I don't feel anything in daily life situations, and even climbing long stairs is not an issue. Cycling is no problem except for situations like this where I really have to put a lot of force on the pedals. I really need to take it easy for a couple more days..
So I say, but after returning to the flat roads my knees felt fine again, and since it was still quite early I cycled a bit farther south and ended up at the seaside.
I hung around there for a while and then cycled back to Atsugi, just in time to catch some sun rays on my former working place.
Pretty much everyone I know doesn't really like to see their working place's building in their free time, but I don't really mind. Even when I was employed, it was always interesting to see the lights on each floor go out every night at a different time.
What to do? Being back in the city without a clear goal kind of sucks! I want to go back to Kyushu again...