| Our Army friend Keith Orme planned a 100 mile ride from Camp Zama to Mt.
Fuji and back, with the halfway point being near Lake Kawaguchi, one of the five lakes of Mt. Fuji. Eight of us showed up. To the left is a shot of the start, L to R: Art Robledo (Miimii and I called him 'Ghandi'), Keith Orme, and clear across on the other side, me in blue. Art and I wore our blue Volvo Team jerseys. Tony Pagan, the man who organized the races at Camp Zama was along too, but hidden behind another cyclist on this photo. I don't know what happened to the mountain biker in the middle, but this is the last photo he shows on.|
Below, Keith and I lead a climb with Art towards the rear and there he is! Tony Pagan in the back, a little afraid of the truck riding his butt.
I'd had dreams of glorious views of Mt. Fuji, and Lake Kawaguchi is a beautiful lake on a clear day, but all we saw that day were cloud columns. I don't recall even seeing the lake.
| The ride kept splitting…Keith was spunky, and very strong, and I wasn't about
to let him go off after working so hard to beat him in the June 17 race, so Art and I spent 100 miles hanging on. The three of us would ride away from the group for 20 miles and then stop to let them catch up. Keith's wife followed in a van, hanging out with the slower group. We'd all head out together and Keith's wife usually shot a few photos of us all together. Here we are starting another climb as a group (guess who the white jersey is attacking at the front?--Keith again!). |
Art was a triathlete, and he was an excellent runner, but he was designed more for long rides at high speed--his muscle bulk never made him a good sprinter. I was great at high-speed riding, perhaps not quite as good as Art on climbs, but had more power and could jump out of a group better than Art. Keith had it all, although I never did see him time trial. I believe that was the only advantage I had over him--I could ride alone and keep my pace high. He needed to be paced.
Keith never escaped, but I was barely hanging on during most of the climbs. It was a wake-up call for me. Just over a month ago, I beat him in grand style, and now he was hurting me. He was in his element--long, fast, rugged riding. I wanted to use this ride to train for a race I’d signed up for in November, the 200 kilometer Tour de Okinawa, so I didn't mind working hard. Below is a distant shot with Keith on another rampage, and Art and I trying to keep up. Although Keith was very strong that day, we three were clearly above the rest of the group. At 50 miles I was finally able to ride away from Keith on a climb. I got caught up the smokey traffic, and built a lead of a few minutes, but because I didn’t know the route, I stopped at a Ramen house to wait for the group.
Sometimes Keith would say the funniest things. Art, Keith, and I were sitting at the Ramen house eating (the group was 25 minutes behind so we had lots of time) and asked the owner where Lake Kawaguchi was. Lake Kawaguchi was about 2.4 square miles, at the base of Fuji. The owner replied,"Three minutes away" and Keith looked at me, surprised, and said,"Three meters? That's just a stone's throw away!" I said,"No Keith, that's the parking lot". Keith just got stupid sometimes, but we loved him anyway. Miimii and I called him “Goofy”. At one point, recalling the June 17th race, he said,"If you guys were planning a break at the end, why didn't you tell me? I would've gone with you". Of course, the break was designed specifically to get rid of Keith!
After everyone regrouped, we all headed out. A good portion of the return half was downhill at about 30 miles an hour. Some of the slow people could descend pretty well, and I didn't have anything to prove, so I hung back.
It was a fun ride but because we kept losing riders and going to look for them, it took 11 hours to ride 106.3 miles. It could have been a disaster but due to Keith's excellent planning it was an adventure. By the time I'd finished my legs were turning black from the pollution. I phoned J.T. from Camp Zama and asked him to pick up Miimii who would be waiting at the train station for me. It was great to have such wonderful friends.
Below, L to R: One of Keith's friends, Art Robledo, Tony Pagan (kneeling), me, Keith and his children, and a few others I don't remember. Good times...