Training Report - Tohmaru Pass 2
Dr.K and Tesseract came to the Tohmaru Pass to train. The others couldn't manage to come.
The temperature was about minus 6 degrees Celsius at the Tohmaru Pass (610m). It was a warm day. However, the wind was very strong as a strong low pressure was on the Sea of Okhotsk and another was passing just in the south of Hokkaido. The wind speed was constantly more than 10m/s at the summit. So we felt a little cold because of the wind-chill although the temp wasn't so low.
This season, impossibly high temperature was continuing. We were suffering from shortage of snow. We were suspecting that this tendency of high temp was caused by El Niño phonomenon, but not conclusive, because normally El Niño has very small influence on Hokkaido. But this winter was very similar to the winter 1996-1997. After the winter 1996-1997, El Niño began. In the season 1996-1997, Tesseract (among us he was the only winter rider that day) was forced to train on asphalt or on frozen rivers because of lack of snow and high temp. What common between the winter 1996-1997 and the winter 2006-2007 is that both are in the middle of the two solar active periods. It might be possible that less active solar power weakens the planetary water and atmospheric circulation the trade winds included. As a consequence, it might strengthen the high pressure on the Pacific.
We began our training from the car parking in Furubira at the altitude of 40m.
The road condition was extremely bad. Because the snow was compacted only halfway as the traffic on the Tohmaru Pass is very light (several cars a hour). That was much worse than completely compacted snow or fresh snow. Therefore, we rode very slowly with much difficulty.
At the altitude of 380m, we could see the road we would pass and the observatory car parking at 540m.
As the road condition was bad, it was difficult to ride straight.
Just before the first snow shelter, the road condition became better because from that point, the road was snow removed. And this point is one of the places where you can enjoy beautiful view.
We visited the observatory car parking at 540m that we had seen from 380m points, which was closed in winter. Tesseract approached the edge and passed the edge without knowing because the edge was completely covered by snow. Afterwards he fell down. Fortunately snow held him and he didn't fall up to the bottom of the ravine. You don't know when that snow crumbles, so Tesseract was holding on the bike which was still inside the edge (there was a fence beneath the snow).
Wise Dr.K didn't approach the edge like someone.
After passing the summit, we turned around soon and headed for the summit from the Kamoenai Side. At the Kamoenai Side, the road was snow removed and it was much colder than the Furubira Side. We guess the temp was lower than minus 8 degres Celsius. Ground blizzard was strong at the Kamoenai Side.
You better see these photos. If you compare these photos with the photo of the same place taken last snow season (refer to Training Reports/Tohmaru Pass), you can see the difference of the snow height. Last season, the snow hight at this point was almost 5m, but this time, only 1m.
We began to descend. But as the road condition was extremely bad, the speed was less than 20km/h. Whilst we were descending, a car of the snow removal agent stopped and informed us a snowplough was coming and asked us to pay attention. Then we decided to wait for snowplough coming because we thought after its passage, the descent would be much easier.
Waiting for the snowplough parking the bikes.
Maybe we waited for 3-5 minutes. But there was no sign the snowplough was coming. We couldn't wait longer and began to descend again.
When we descended about the half way, the snowplough came.
After its passage, we used the snow removed lane to descend.
Tesseract's traveled distance was 27.52km, the average speed was 11.8km/h (the slowest record, because of extremely bad road condition) and the maximal velocity was 51.5km/h.