Granfondo Yatsugatake 2014: My first cycling race

Hi everyone, after a long but unintended hiatus I am back to blog. I thought I would tell you about my bike race this past weekend. I went to Yamanashi prefecture, Hokuto city - Kiyosato, at Mount Yatsugatake for a 108 km bike race: Granfondo Yatsugatake. Just my luck it was not just rainy, but pouring buckets (a veritable typhoon!) for the entire day! However, I did have so much fun. I got to Hokuto the day before for registration. Kiyosato is a really beautiful part of town and so quaint. It is actually more countryside than Wakayama.

Kiyosato red bridge.
One of the best things about Kiyosato is the beautiful scenery. It is just the beginning of autumn now, and the leaves haven't started to change in Nagoya yet, but in Kiyosato, Yamanashi I saw the first changing leaves of the year! It's exciting!

Food tickets for the aid station, and my race number.
Another thing they pride themselves on is the local delicacies and vegetables! Interestingly enough, there were a lot of European restaurants (Italian, Swedish, etc.) scattered throughout the tiny town. However, I didn't eat there and got  tofu, pickles, and apples at the konbini instead. 
During the bike race, there were 7 aid stations giving out various foods like soba soup, salad, cucumbers with miso dip, oranges, grapefruit, apples, corn on the cob, sweet beans, salt candies, and rice balls. (There were also non-vegan foods like pork broth,  cookies, soft ice cream, apple pie, and chocolates.) That's what the tickets in the above picture were for. However, on the race day it was pouring rain, so they said to me, you don't need to give a ticket. They even let us have seconds and thirds of the food! I think some people must not have shown up due to the weather.
So every 20 km or so I could have a light meal! It was really nice. Usually on my long rides (more than 100 km) I'll only stop once or twice at a konbini to get tea and sometimes a snack. It was also heartwarming to see the old men's and ladies' smiling faces when they gave you a snack. 
There's me after the race!
I did it in 5 hours 40 minutes.

The last 30 - 40 km of the race were pretty tough because it was almost all uphill from there. I didn't walk my bike up the hills but I passed a couple of people having trouble. Finally, I got to the finish. I was glad it was only 108 km because after the race I had to ride back to the train station (maybe 12 km), still in the pouring rain. about 3 km from the station, I went to an onsen to have a shower and relax. Actually, I was very lucky because I met a pro cyclist there who noticed all my clothes were soaking wet, and she gave me a brand new cycling kit from her sponsor to wear home, so I didn't have to sit in my stinky wet bike shorts! By the way, I am so, so grateful to have a new pair of cycling tights and a jersey.. those are expensive!
From Yamanashi I had to go to Tokyo so I could transfer to the night bus going home. In Tokyo it was still pouring rain. I had 4 hours between the train getting in and the bus leaving so I went to a coin laundry to wash all my stuff, because not a single thing in my backpack was dry. Even the money in my wallet was completely soaked. I got on the bus at midnight and actually got a decent 5 hours of deep sleep! 

All in all, it was an amazing experience and I had so much fun! I'm hoping to maybe do another race soon, either cycling or running.