Death to Brakepads!

(click the images to enlarge)

There’s a road in Shikoku which absolutely beggars belief.

It leads from the ocean to Konomineji Temple, and the 3.4 kilometre road has an average gradient of 18.5%.
Towards the top, a single 1.3 kilometre section climbs almost 300 metres – that’s a 23% gradient snaking upwards including a number of curves with over 30 degree slopes!

Going up is incredibly difficult – a strain for engine power, and almost impossible by bike (my mode of transport). However the main danger is coming back down. The constant braking required to avoid gathering too much speed heats one’s brakepads to an incredible temperature. On a bike, the pads are literally in danger of melting away.

The smell of burning rubber when I headed downhill was overpowering within the first minute. I had to walk the entire way with the bike – over 3km of slope all the while desperately holding it back to avoid gravity tearing it away. It was seriously treacherous stuff.

And no, I didn’t tilt the camera!


~ by JapanGasm on 14 July, 2011.

2 Responses to “Death to Brakepads!”

  1. Wow, that’s pretty cool – I know all about that because I cycled all around Shikoku when I lived there a couple years ago. I’m going back there this September to do my PhD. Do you cycle a lot in Japan? It sounds like it. I’d really like to get in touch with you and compare notes. I plan to do a lot more cycling there soon – I have a carbon TREK that I actually bought there. Do you live in the Tokyo area?
    I’ll put a link to your blog on my blogroll, and you can put my blog on yours! I’ll have a lot more to say about Japan once I actually get there. Cheers,

    • I’ve been doing the 88 temple pilgrimmage in Shikoku by bike, in stages. These photos were taken on the way up to temple 27 at the end of a long day, but to be honest I don’t think I’d have been able to do it even in low gear at full power. I plan to spend more time this year and next cycling the pilgrimmage every season.
      Other than that my cycling is generally limited to getting around Tokyo!

      If you’re going to be in Shikoku you’re perfectly placed…keep in touch and let me know your plans. I’ll check out your blog really soon too. Thanks for your comments.

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