Today is no normal post… No, today is a bit of a milestone… Yes, today Dirty Nomad turns one year old! I was going to post just on that topic alone, but I am slightly ill-prepared and I didn’t want to interrupt the sweet flow of the Japanese action, so the first birthday celebrations will have to wait until later in the week. In the mean time, back to Japan and the final MEGA post of the alps tour. As you’ll see, its fitting this was the post going up on the first birthday, it pretty much encapsulates the whole notion of what DN is about.
I would like to start today’s update and the final post from the Japanese tour with an essential #dirtytraveltip. Prosciutto ham is yummy… You may have seen it on Pizza’s, or perhaps just enjoyed some as part of a meat board… I learned last night in the land of raw food that this is NOT Prosciutto ham:
No one seemed to stop me either when I downed a whole piece, essentially without chewing it to… I thought it tasted a bit strange as well. MUCH to the delight of the hawk when I revealed my major cultural indiscretion. I suspect its a reflection of how fucked I was that it didn’t register this was indeed raw pork. If I turn Zombie in the next few days, 87% chance this was the source.
The Tour Hawk really wasn’t joking either when he said the place we were staying at in Fuji was traditional… We had to go to dinner in our dressing gowns, which I found to be a strangely satisfying experience, even when the maitre’d kept covering up my pelt (apparently its not cool to let the fur fly):
Yes, we had made the road trip down from the hallowed grounds of the Japanese Alps and Norikura to perhaps one of the most well known landmarks in Japan, outside of the Hawk Bunker that is, behold, the magnificence of Mount Fuji:
Big day ahead then… I was as hungry as fuck too, so absolutely gagging to smash up the breakfast buffet and nail a croissant or 5. However, that all came unglued rather quickly when it turned out the traditional aspect of the hotel also extended to brekkie:
We were on a tricky timeline today, due to our logistics and flights, we had to run a tight ship. No fucking around, follow the plan boys. It therefore didn’t help when word got out in town that Segmentzilla was in the hood to devour the local leaderboards and the Groupies started to arrive in traditional get-up to pay homage, luckily the Welsh Assassin is also a Cultural Attache:
Hawk and I are used to rolling with the cycling version of Bieber by now, so we just quietly go about our business and get ready for the BIG day on Fuji:
Now, there were two versions of the Fuji day, which is important context and a good lesson in making sure your cycling eyes aren’t too big for your legs.
The original plan – Get up at dawn and ride all three of the main climbs up Fuji. Approx distance? 170km’s. Approx elevation ascending? 5,500m. No shit, we actually genuinely planned this out and intended to do it. HOLY FUCK THANK FUCK WE DIDN’T. Aside from the fact we would have still be riding at 11pm and missed our flights home, my body simply wouldn’t have been able to do it. I had to draw a diagram for the WA about what this meant.
The ‘thank fuck for that’ revised plan – So, after
many a few beers, a suitable revision was agreed. There are multiple ways to climb Mt Fuji, all of them are dead ends and some are harder than others. Thank fuck then that we chose the ‘easiest’ of them all, the 22km long Subaru line, with an average gradient of 5%.
Calling it a 22km climb is actually a bit of a lie really, from the visitor centre its more like 29km’s and to start with, its a bit of a grind… Gone were the narrow single lane alps climbs laced with switchbacks and twists, that action was swapped out for the long stretches of Fuji smoothness:
My plan had worked out well… Not only were we tackling a more Nomad friendly climb, but I had kept the little people topped up on Kirin beer the night before, made sure they stayed up late and then gently encouraged them to wear their warmest clothing as it was going to be “so cold up there“. Surely today was going to be easier… But when you’re rolling with the Mountain Models, you can never be so sure:
Of course, as soon as we went through the toll booth that signifies the start of the SEGMENT and the 22km climb to the top of the Subrau line, the Welsh Assassin’s face changed… He stopped speaking, in fact he stops making any noise at all. Like a submarine rigged for silent running he slipped deftly to the front and we could feel the wash of his rhythm increase as he hit the afterburner. Normal course of business… The only difference today? I had company:
Fuck… this felt good! I wasn’t last, I was on a climb that suited me perfectly and I could actually get some decent spinning going. Was it time for redemption? Was my form arriving on the final day of the most punishing of tours? Was I in the middle of rising from the ashes of a million tea cakes? Sort of… I did manage to open up what I thought was a definitive gap on the Hawk. I was loving the bottom section and finally tapping away like it was Spain last year.
However, he’s never one to lie down and take that shit… Dehydrated, over geared, over heating – He put that all aside and dug deep to come back at me like a piece of raw undigested pork, the way he erased the gap and then silently slipped past me like he was covered in massage oil broke me… The middle section was tough, dragging, solo and long:
Thank fuck for second winds (aided by ramming my face with gels), to start with the kilometre markers on the road side were my enemy, but as I busted out of my mid innings slump, I managed to get some power going at last. It levels out for the last 4km’s or so and the the big chainring was applied in abundance, until the last 500m which has a final sting and intolerable drag up to the finish.
So overall how was the Subaru line climb up Fuji? Well, it wasn’t the most scenic of the trip… It wasn’t the quietest (lots of tour buses) and it wasn’t the most epic, but it was one of my favourites. I suspect this is more to do with its gradient and that I could actually seem to get on top of it for the first and last thirds. How did the battle of Fuji shake out? If we take the Hillclimb race segment, this is how it panned out:
- Welsh Assassin/Segmentzilla – 1.20.19
- The Maniacal Hawk – 1.30.58
- Dirty fucking Nomad – 1.32.42
Only 12 mins lost to the Assassin over 22km’s? I will fucking take that ANY day of the week! The relief of pushing out those final few climbing pedal strokes knowing those were the last of the tour was both awesome and mixed with that “Don’t say its over” feeling you get on weeks and days like this. Still, before it was time to start those homeward bound emotions, there was work to be done.
Things to do at the top of Mt Fuji
Its a pumping hive of tourist activity, rubbish souvenirs and an onslaught of vending machines… Not to mention a view of the peak, which by the way, you can’t see at all as you climb up the road, so now is the time to get your perv on for that Fuji love. We covered the most important aspects of summit life:
1. Mandatory tourist shot with the tip in the background
This is essential and not to be missed… Extra points for being Rapha clad, holding a super bike and arriving within a 15 minute window of Segmentzilla. Also critical to get the A Pole in the background along with a large tour group. We clearly hit it out of the park.
2. Eat Ice Cream… Yeah, because its not cold enough
Not the most logical refuelling option, but it was covered in raspberry sauce so BANG, bank that shit. The Welsh Assassin opted for an Apple… Probably something in that.
3. Work on your Dirty fan base by posing for strangers by the tourist sign
Self explanatory this one… Whilst 95% of people wanted a pic with the Prince of Wales, I had a few Aunties that wanted some dirty love, this being the most sought after pose for those awkward looking iPad/Tablet taking Nomadarazzi.
Of course, in the most cliche of calls, what slowly grinds its way up, must come down as fast as fuck… And this road was no exception. Very little braking required, smooth road and 3 operators going at it like it was some sort of bizarre TTT. Promise we were super safe, it was skilled formation flying:
The downhill wasn’t all that straightforward though, it appears no matter where you go in the world, there is always one cunt who can’t drive and unfortunately we found him… Someone thought it was a good idea to overtake on a corner, thus filling the lane where the Hawk was swooping down, one massive speed wobble, a shout and he managed to pull off the save of the century, missing both the car and the side of the road by inches, it really was a shit in your Rapha shorts moment and one that had us all chilling the fuck out. Still, its a quick one for sure, we eventually covered the 29km downhill with an average speed of 58kph, yeah…
So, final ride done and in the bag… How fucking cool is the map?! This one is a keeper for sure, getting right up on that Fuji action:
For those that want to have a mega weird brekkie and then tackle the Subaru line, then hit this file:
For those that just like some numbers, then check out the final days action in its usual guise:
- Distance – 67.3km’s
- Ride time – 2 hours 44 mins
- Elapsed time – 3 hours 2 mins
- Elevation gain – 1,459m
In keeping with getting traditional on it, after a sweaty bike packing session and maybe more than a few fist pumps (not those kind), it was time to Onsen up for one last time before getting on the road back to Tokyo. The WA making sure he took a final Onsen KOM before punching out:
Once again we were given a solid lesson in why in-car GPS is a total cunt, another plug for google maps here, it nails it every time. Except for when you don’t do what it says, in which case you get to see some cool parts of Tokyo you perhaps wouldn’t have normally seen, like this bridge:
As is the norm with these awesome missions, when you get to the airport it starts to sink in that perhaps its all over… That you have to part ways and don’t get to rise the next day and head out for your daily routine of awesome climbs, high mountain views, coke, emergency ramen and good shit talking times on the bike. The Hawk’s horror evident, the Assassin still upset with losing 5 minutes somewhere and now only having a scant 8 hours and 32 minutes to wait for our flight, fuck it all:
And then finally it was time to say goodbye… Another crazy, awesome, amazing, challenging and fun mission in the bag. There are so many things that made it fantastic and many I will reflect on when I do the traditional summing up post once I have actually slept properly for the first time in a week, but mainly it comes down to two things:
- The Welsh Assassin
- The Nighthawk
Yes, these two legends helped to craft out an excellent trip and tour of the Japanese alps. The Hawk tour guiding again taking man and machine to the absolute limits and then punching through them to create an experience that can’t be recreated. Thanks boys for an epic time:
Stay tuned for the sum up… and of course, some Dirty Japanese Video! That reference alone will now ensure I get a whole lot of fiendish traffic sent my way courtesy of Google. Rock on. I’m off to have a tea cake to celebrate turning ONE!