After a good nights sleep we all awoke to a layer of fog surrounding the lake, being at altitude the campground was cold in the morning but after breakfast the weather soon returned to normal. Saito san and I took off at 6.15am with the other two riders leaving at 7.30am , we got a good lead on them as the route up the valley was great for cycling with not so many big hills , and passed through a number of small villages along the way where we stopped to take photos. Further up the valley the top of the mountain can be seen and the long windy road often forced us to walk as it was just too steep. From the summit the downhill was awesome , but with many of the switchbacks being about 10 % you had to concentrate 100 % on braking and getting around each corner safely. Another side road which was mostly downhill lead us onto another mountain pass towards the lunch stop at the popular village of Ochijiku.
On a solo bikepacking trip about 4 years ago I discovered some of these roads and vividly remember the fresh water mountain spring on the corner of a switchback , back then it was 36 deg and that water spring saved my life . This time it was only 30 deg but the fresh water tasted just as good. Just as we were getting ready to leave Koide san and Komura san finally caught up to us and we were shocked to hear that Koide san had crashed on the down hill , his wheel slid out from underneath him on a corner causing him to slide across the road on his shoulder . Luckily I always carry a first aid kit so was able to put it to good use to try and help Koide san before we continued onto our lunch stop at Ochijiku .
As it was Sunday the tourist village of Ochijiku was packed , all the motorcyclists that had passed us earlier in the day were there plus thousands of people. As Saito san & Komura san rode ahead of us we arrived a little bit later , but soon found their bicycles against the town bell in the middle of the main street. The village is famous famous for buckwheat noodles , but as I had eaten them last time I ordered tempura udon instead . We were all very tired but with only another short climb to the top of the dam so after an hour lunch break we were back on the bikes again. The downhill from the top of the dam to Minami Aizu which is on the outskirts of Aizuwakumatsu City is about 25 mins long with 8 - 10 % switchbacks - very long and exciting but tiring after a long day in the saddle.
On Sat I did not think I would have been able to complete this years brevet due to lack of training , but now flying down the mountain with Aizuwakumatsu city in sight I was so happy to be near the finish line . When riding over a bridge near the city I spied the top of the castle in the distance and found a new burst of energy to make it to the finish line at 2.34pm !. The others were waiting at the castle gate and we got a tourist to take a group photo of us all in front of the castle to prove we had made it. We enjoyed some beer, ice coffee and ice creams at a nice cafe next to the castle and then rode to the station to pack out bikes for the trip back home. Because we had finished earlier than expected we were able to catch a 4.38pm train back to Niigata city . I would like to say a big thank you to everyone in our small group of riders who took part as it was a touch weekend but very happy to have finished. Total distance for the 2 days was about 196km .