No, not one of those period piece movies, but the most apt way to describe todays agenda for the penultimate day in Japan.
Whilst yesterdays ride was longer, today would be known as the Queen Stage given it came equipped with the 3 Kings of Niseko. Here is their Royal portrait in elevation form:
So, quite a bit of climbing then… iHawk of course a master craftsman at not only climbing, but also these particular climbs, although this would be the first time he would string all three together in one day, lucky me.
Before we get started though, here is a link to a Japanese website where they have published a photo of me at the Hanazono Hillclimb race… Not just any pic, but indeed, one of my ass. My Japanese is still coming up to scratch, but it roughly translates to “How did the big white Godzilla manage to get up Hanazono?!!”. This is just the media Dirty Nomad was after:
They also seem to note I had 5 free sports drinks ignoring the sign that said “one each”. Here is the website to prove I am not making this up (well, the photo part at least):
So, now my ass is famous, its time to get into some riding. Here is what faffing about actually looks like, for once it wasn’t me, instead, a Hawk and his sidekick, Mr Parker:
Probably best for today if I A) break each King down into its own story and; B) go photo heavy and word light (if I can manage it)… So, here goes!
King #1 – Panorama line
Yes, not the most Japanese of names… But it climbs up to the Panorama line, hence its been tagged with that name. Its royal lineage?
- Distance – 16.5km’s
- Avg Gradient – 4.5%
- Elevation gain – 757m
- Climb time – 55.31
- Avg HR – 147 BPM
This is how it started out… Hawk Business As Usual:
For a change, some rare photos of me climbing (suffering):
I really enjoyed this climb… It was a great gradient and oh man, Billiard table smooth which was just insane! Once again, basically NO traffic on insanely wide and great roads. It was even big chain ring for the last few KM’s to the summit, which always leaves you feeling awesome, even if you’re not really:
Check out that road in the background… Epic Japanese goodness. No time to waste up here high fiving each other and talking about how awesome we are, it was time to move on to the second king… The leader of the royal court.
King #2 – Nimi Onsen
First, to get to Nimi we traversed from halfway down Panorama along one of the most awesome sections of road for riding I may have ever been on… Stunning scenery, NO cars and perfect road surface. It seemed like an extremely weird road by usual standards (it doesn’t really go anywhere), but for cycling it was perfect. If you come here to ride, get the Hawk to give you a tour. Anyway, the stats for Nimi? Here we go:
- Distance – 14.1km’s
- Avg Gradient – 5%
- Elevation gain – 712m
- Climb time – 51.08
- Avg HR – 145 BPM
I really struggled at the bottom of Nimi… But the more it went on, the more its awesomeness unfolded before me… The midsection through pine was fast and felt awesome, then it cranked up a bit into switchbacks on more stupidly smooth road, before narrowing into a Mortirolo width type section for the final push to the top.
This climb was a Vixen – Beautiful, but made you suffer… A strangely enjoyable suffering though, given how incredible the scenery was. Taking into account all the various factors, I would say that this would be in the top 5 of best & beautiful climbs I have ever done on a road bike. A BIG call given the riding in France and Italy. If you come to Niseko and can only do one climb (which would be a shit set up), then point to the mountains and say “NIMI ONSEN Kudasai”. Oddly, we only got one pic up here, but its a good one:
I LOVED this climb… Not unexpectedly its also the Hawks personal favourite. My legs didn’t love it as much as my head though and I was starting to feel the deep burn that comes with multiple days riding and chasing the iHawk up some long climbs… From the top of Nimi, we had a long descent to the coastal town of Iwanai, which happened to house a Nuclear reactor (No shit), as well as this fishy little resupply store, obligatory drinks break shot:
Then, with some rather second hand legs, it was time for the final King… And a royal flogging.
King #3 – Chisenupuri (starting from Iwanai)
Oh man… A long one to finish the day and I knew within a few KM’s that it would be a tough one, whilst not steep, it was long… Here’s it suffering credentials:
- Distance – 19.7km’s
- Avg Gradient – 4%
- Elevation gain – 800m
- Climb time – 1.05.54
- Avg HR – 139 BPM (lower HR = fucked)
It didn’t take long and I was solo, with Hawk flying up the road. My legs were dead and I couldn’t get my heart rate up or mount any form of decent attack on this climb, which is a sure fire sign of fatigue… weeks of riding and travelling starting to wear me down and it was all laid out on the smooth but long stretches up this monster. Half way up, it got all mysterious and shrouded on us… Surely it was time for Ninja’s to appear FFS:
The best part about being dropped? It would have to be painfully grinding my way to the summit soaked with mist and sweat to find the Hawk waiting and ready to snap what is arguably the BEST photo of the entire Dirty Nomad World Cycling Tour, check the artistic skills, mad:
Slightly less artisanal, here is what it looks like arriving at the summit after you’ve been given a Japanese flogging:
So… Thank fuck that it was mostly all downhill to home (aside from one filthy section)… Arriving back at iHawk Niseko HQ after 115km’s, 2,482m of climbing, 4 hours and 33 mins and 3,245 calories vaporised… Smashed. But, smashed for a worthy Royal cause – Today was epic and extremely beautiful, with some of the most enjoyable climbs you could imagine to find.
How to recover from such a massive session? Pile into the Hawkmobile and hit the legendary potato udon place in town. Here is the Hawk showing that his udon form is as awesome as his climbing form:
Potato Udon sounds weird, but is really good… Especially when you can’t see straight from a mountain stage.
I am off to continue my full time job of recovery for the final day tomorrow… Not sure what is in store, but I am sure that it will finish the legs off before a much needed rest day on Friday!