What's a Shikawa?
Shikawa is the name of a dam in Fukuyama city which is (kinda) where I live. The reason Shikawa is important is because for the past two years on the first Sunday of every month I have raced there on my bicycle. This latest race (July 08) I decided to take my camera and document the event. Here is that story.
Shikawa is a 6.4 kilometer race up roughly 500 meters of elevation. Every first Sunday of the month a group of the Ken's team members gather at 8:30 in the morning and ride on to the starting line. The race is a time trial event and we usually have around 15-20 people join, significantly less though when it rains, which can be quite often during the rainy season.
At 9 o'clock the race begins and every minute one racer is released from the starting gate until all the racers are underway. The times are calculated each month and an overall points winner is determined in December. At a big party at the end of the year (Bonenkai - End of year party) the year's winner is awarded a polka-dot jersey. In any case the course goes as follows:
Stage one is pretty gentle and can be seen in the images above, the image on the right has a red line outlining the course. From the bottom of the mountain up to the dam is about 1.3 kilometers and isn't too steep but a good warm up to prepare you for mountain climbing hell. Once we reach the dam we cross over a bridge which goes over the waterfall. The images above are taken from a later portion of the course looking down on the first section.
After the waterfall there is a short downhill of about 300 meters but there's no time to rest as most people power through that section to keep their speed up. Next is the main push, from here on out its only uphill and its got about 5 kilometers remaining. Stage 2 is long and can be seen in the three images below.
Once you reach the top of stage 2 there is a 180 degree turn which leads straight into stage 3 leaving little time to rest.
After stage 3 the mountain continues upward pretty steadily for another kilometer until you near the finish, I don't have any images of this last section because the winding road doesn't really allow for any good sights of the course. Never the less after that final stage 4 we get into the home stretch and its a sprint for the finish.
At the very top there is a slight drop and then a slight uphill again and the finish line is about where the camera is located in the image above. Shibuya-san a good friend and excellent rider (also seen in the wedding pictures section, naturally wearing a Ken's jersey) makes his last dash for the line.
The entire course takes roughly 20 minutes to finish. This most recent race actually resulted in a new course record of 14 minutes 56 seconds. My personal best is 18 minutes 15 seconds or so, which I was able to do sometime last year. Also last year overall I placed 4th just one place behind Shibuya-san, the top 3 winners get a prize at the end of year party. Shibuya-san took 3rd place from me in the final race of the year, tough break. This year I seem to be placing roughly around 20 minutes mainly because I haven't had time to ride since we had a wedding.
One of the other members Ya-chan recently got married as well, just last year in fact. The year before he was getting married he won the polka dot jersey, after his wedding he's struggling to post a time under 19 minutes. The moral of the story, don't get married if you want to win bike races.
Well in any case this is Shikawa, my monthly cycling race which will sadly end after this year because I will be graduating and leaving the Fukuyama area, never the less its been a great ride and a great team, I'm glad to be a part of it.