Saturday morning of the brevet was nice and cool with all the riders opting to ride from their home to the start line in Shibata at the castle. I left Niigata city with Koide san at 4.45am in the morning and arrived in Shibata with plenty of time to spare before our departure time of 7am. As luck would have it one of the other riders slept in and arrived at 7.30am , after a few photos in front of the castle we rode out of Shibata city along the old railway line which is now a popular cycle road. It is a great way to escape the city and into the mountains. Upon arriving in Akadanai village we stopped at a popular fresh water spring to get much needed water for the up coming climb over the mountain pass of Mikawa that would lead us down hill to the river side town of Tsugawa where we stopped for lunch , eating and assortment of 7/11 food on the footpath to give us enough energy for the climb on route 49 to our next stop at Nozawa.
Upon reaching Tsugawa after an awesome long downhill , I noticed some black smoke coming from the train station area which could only mean the popular Banestsu Monogatari steam train which does weekend trips to Aizuwakumatsu had stopped off to take on water allowing passengers off to take photos . As my Father was a steam train driver in my home country I too have a passion for all thing steam related so picked a good spot further up the line to get a photo of it leaving the station. After that we rode across the red bridge to 7/11 where we all bought lunch .
After we had recovered it was time to start the long haul up and over the pass to the town of Nozawa on the busy route 49, it was not by choice to take this busy road but as a major concrete bridge had been washed out on our intended mountain route we made a course change 1 week prior to the event which now saw us riding a busy road with heavy traffic. Upon nearing the summit was a small shop where the kind owner provided ice water to crazy cyclists in 30 deg heat tackling the climb - a real trail angel if ever there was one.
After a refreshing drink and short climb the road took us into a long tunnel which gets you out of the sun , but is narrow and very dark and lights are required for safety . Soon after we were riding a nice long down and came upon our mate Brian who had injured his leg running , waiting in his car as he had decided to join us at the campsite for Sat night. Somehow he forgot my message to bring a BBQ, cases of beer , steaks and sausages !. We stopped off for an ice cream and it was already 30 deg by this time. After a short break it was the final mountain pass to the Tadami river . The route we chose which is called route 400 lead off from 49 just outside Nozawa and headed inland with some fantastic scenery and some very steep switchbacks to the summit before a nice exciting downhill to the Tadami river. This road is also popular with motorcycle clubs for weekend tours and we spotted many racing along the narrow country roads .
Prior to the event I thought Nozawa would have been the last spot for resupply but thanks to Koide san he found a riverside village with a small supermarket that had everything we needed . After stocking up with beer and snacks and items for dinner we took the store owners advice on the shortest route to Lake Numazawa campsite . It is only 6km up the river he said, while that was true he forgot to mention the switch back road that leads up to the lake. I have ridden some steep roads but at the end of a hot 96km day bikepacking through the mountains the last thing anyone needs is hellish climb , in fact it was so steep most of all could not ride it at all. I was sure they employed the devil himself as the road surveyor - it was a nightmare and never ending . In the end it did end with a short down hill to the campsite which was awesome. Nice green grass overlooking a lake and a much needed shower - 5mins of hot water for 100 yen !. We all enjoyed a fantastic dinner and had a campfire which was a great way to end the day & beer always tastes much better after a long day in the saddle !. The campsite was nice and cool and the perfect place to relax after a very tough day .