Today I wanted to go and see Lake Toya… I’d heard a lot about this lake, both in terms of its freshness and beauty, so thought it would make an interesting day trip. Here’s what Wikipedia says about Lake Toya:

“Lake Tōya (洞爺湖 Tōya-ko?) is a volcanic caldera lake in Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Abuta District, Hokkaidō, Japan. The stratovolcano of Mount Usu lies on the southern rim of the caldera. The lake is nearly circular, being 10 kilometers in diameter from east-west and 9 kilometers from North-South. The lake’s biggest town, Tōyako Onsen (洞爺湖温泉) is located on its western shore. The town Tōyako is located on the other side of the lake.”

Usually Herr Doktor would administer this ‘how shit works’ briefing, but he’s in a giant sandpit right now, so I had to rely on the Wiki. Anyway… the best way to get there was by Train. I did faff around so much this morning though that I almost missed the train, much to the annoyance of the conductor.

The coolest thing about the train to Toya though is that its not just a normal train like you’d expect, instead its made completely of Iron… it doesn’t feel pain, or mercy or pity and it will absolutely not stop until its ridden you off its wheel. Here is the train leaving the station, choo fucking choo:

Potato anyone?

Potato anyone? The 8am to Toya

That’s right, I spent pretty much the whole day sitting behind the Iron Hawk as he unleashed hell on his Time Trial bike. You’ll note we traded the schoolgirl socks for rear facing drink bottles/haemorrhoids.

Initially when the hawk rolled out the TT bike I was pleased as in theory it should climb slower… Bonus… But as I was to find out the thing went a LOT faster on the flats and downhills, which was tricky given this is what our 143km ride looked like today:

Round and round we go...

Round and round we go… follow the red line for fun

For the Triathlete followers, we essentially rode the last 80km’s or so of the Japan Ironman bike course today… Hmmm… All I can say is that I am super fucking glad I am not doing the Ironman (not that I could physically) as this is one tough bike course! It never really lets up and is constantly up and down, with some very tough sections in its second half. It was on the long haul up one of these false flat valleys into a head wind we got to see a whole squad of… Well… Not sure if its rollerblading, summer telemarking or something else?

HAI!

HAI!

Hmmm… interesting… We pushed on, ‘enjoying’ scenic and very quiet roads with me spending a lot of time hiding in what little draft there was behind the iHawk:

Riders in the storm...

Riders in the storm…

The weather actually looks a lot more ominous than it really was… It was HOT and I was machining through water bottles. Choo choo, we kept rolling. Here we are hitting the ‘corkscrew’ at 60kph:

Next stop - Lactic acid build up

Next stop – Lactic acid build up

And… underneath the corkscrew…

curvy

curvy

Its a slightly bizarre piece of infrastructure on such a quiet road, but I am sure all the Ironpeople will appreciate its distraction as they suffer like mofos in a few weeks time.

Finally the conductor announced that we were arriving at our destination of Lake Toya! Yay! However, instead of a picnic and ginger beer, it seems that I switched lines and found myself behind the Shinkansen! That’s right, with Lake fever the iHawk dropped the hammer and we began smashing around Toya at eye watering pace. Some awesome pics thanks to bike cam:

Must... not... leave... any... gaps...

Must… not… leave… any… gaps…

See, head down and bottles up and he is smoking… Choo fucking choo… At least it was scenic:

Shot of the day perhaps? Beautiful

Shot of the day perhaps? Beautiful

3/4 of the way around and it was finally time to refuel after about 3 hours, good of John McEnroe to make an appearance:

We LOVE Coca!

We LOVE Coca!

Back on the train (I think so far out of 100km’s I had been on the front like twice, the hawk was moving too fast today and the TT bike is a weapon), next stop? FINALLY it was time for our Rapha porn shoot, and what a spot the marketing dept had picked for today, I present you Lake Toya, with International Artistes included:

"No, no, look out towards the lake, that's so natural"

“No, no, look out towards the lake, that’s so natural”

"I'm going to put my hands on my hips"

“I’m going to put my hands on my hips”… “I would, but don’t have any hips”

"Look,

“Look, I can hump a statue one handed!”

As per usual, once we were wankered out, it was time to make tracks and the final station of the day; home… Along some fast stretches of railway. I had been under the pump most of the day trying to stay on the train and then along a very fast false flat with a tailwind a moment of inattention (which I am famous for – See ToB stage 1 last year), I was pushed off the back of the train.

The iHawk accelerated and caught a gust of wind and suddenly there was a couple of bike lengths… No problem, nothing the Evo can’t deal with… I surged and it didn’t close… Hmmmm… that’s odd. Right, out of the seat… Nope… hmmm… Oh oh… fuck. 2 bike lengths became 4… 45kph and out of the seat again, this time with a sinking feeling. Panic button, we have one last go at closing this down…

To no avail… in a Cancellara like fashion the hawk train was gone, 4 bike lengths turning into 100m in no time and no matter how hard I chased, he kept getting smaller and smaller in the distance. Its worth noting at this stage that this is NOT the same species of Hawk that I knew and enjoyed riding with in Singapore. There has been a transformation… Slimmer, faster, stronger, harder and relentless, its quite incredible. All of these factors have been an exponential change and I got to see it first hand today. FULL respect to the form and focus.

Finally the train arrived home at the station, with me a rather weary passenger… Fucked actually to be fair and tomorrow we have HILLS, lots of them! Oh well, I should be ready for the Crit race in Singapore this Sunday I guess. What to do? Head to the gourmet sandwich shop with my free vouchers that I ‘won’ for being the only white ghost to travel from abroad to race in the Hanazono hillclimb race, fuck us they did good sammies:

Surprisingly Germanic... Are we back in Prato?

Surprisingly Germanic… Are we back in Prato?

And, given its been confirmed I am a BIG BOY, how to follow up? THREE cakes of course (I am trying to bulk up the Hawk to be honest, at least this sweet buffet made him queasy):

Seriously looks like he's been on a hunger strike...

Seriously looks like James Dean post a hunger strike…

Given the amount of photography of food I have done I am sure my Singapore PR card will be in the mail any time soon.

So, that’s it from Niseko for today, my legs are trying to recover for the final two days of riding here, hills tomorrow should put one of the final nails in their coffin!

3 Responses

  1. Ryan

    Yep the IM Japan course is very beautiful but very challenging. Reckon lot of visiting competitors will get a big shock!

    Reply
  2. Angus Taylor

    JP your looking lean and fit bro, riding up there looks unreal – can’t believe Spanky didn’t rave about it more..

    Reply

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