Free-wheeling downhill through the hot-spring town of Arima I almost hit a rubbish collecting truck at 60km/h. I couldn’t tell you exactly where it was. I can’t read the road signs.
I need images to remember things. If you look at a map of Japan it looks a bit like a sausage dog with a long neck. It stands on short hind legs with one of its ears raised. Fukuoka is just above its hind leg and below South Korea. Tokyo is where the front leg is, folded in. Sapporo is the top of the neck.
I’m just above the sausage dog’s navel near Kobe in the town of Arima at about 350 m above sea level. My target up on Mt. Rokko is five-hundred meters higher, fifteen kilometers away. It took KMorita about 34 mins to complete the course at the Arima-Mt. Rokko Race five months ago. KMorita seems to be reference point for virtual cycling in Japan. He won the Digital Japan Cup in UTSUNOMIYA in October. Perhaps I should make Utsunomiya my next destination.
Arima has gold and silver water. The Kinsen (金泉) golden water has high salt and iron content, it’s twice as salty as seawater. They say it has an astringent, metallic taste. Ginsen (銀泉) is silver water which has a higher mineral content plus radium and carbonate, slightly radioactive.
The town is clean, the buildings are functional. The memory of swerving past the rubbish collecting truck has obliterated all other memories of the town.
Taking a dip in Ginsen water would be the thing to do after a Christmas day ride. Ginsen removes lactic waste and boosts metabolism, says the Arima Hot Springs Tourism Association, while “the Kinsen is especially popular among women as it helps keep the skin moisturized and prevent the limbs from feeling cold.”
A report from the water supplier in Hertfordshire suggests similar benefits may be available locally in my bathtub. The water here has 275 mg/l of calcium carbonate and is classified as hard. “The hardness occurs naturally and is characterised by the presence of high levels of calcium and magnesium, which are good for healthy teeth and bones.”
The first ten kilometers are pleasant. There’s a short sharp incline touching 18% about 7 km in, but it’s downhill from there, almost like flying up to 70 km/h. No brakes. The simulation isn’t perfect and gets ahead of itself and it has to chase back to catch my avatar. The last third is an almost perfectly consistent incline between 9-12%. Green trees, grey road. Eventually the road flattens and there’s a short tunnel, the end of the route shortly behind it.