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Imaizumi Shunsuke vs. Onoda Sakamichi Race

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Imaizumi vs onoda

The race course as described by Imaizumi.

This is the first race in Yowamushi Pedal, though it is an unofficial one. It lasts from Ride 4 to Ride 8. Imaizumi Shunsuke challenges Onoda Sakamichi to a race after being intrigued by his climbing. Imaizumi is able to convince Onoda to participate by offering to become a member of the anime club if Onoda wins. Onoda vehemently agrees after hearing about this condition. Though Imaizumi asked Kanzaki Miki to keep the race a secret, she invites some of his fangirls to act as spectators. This makes Onoda nervous, but Miki tells him that if he can win against Imaizumi on his utility bike, it will be cool. This along with Onoda's desire to rebuild the anime club makes him solidify his desire to win.

Imaizumi elects to give Onoda a 15 minute handicap, meaning that he will not start the race until 15 minutes after Onoda has started. He mounts a cyclocomputer, a speed meter and timer that tells you how fast you're going, to Onoda's handlebar so he can keep track of things. Onoda was surprised when some girls he passed said he was "fast," and when he rode on par with a motor scooter. He had never considered his own speed and was therefore amazed to see that he was biking past 27km/h and climbing to 30. Onoda completed the first 3km of the race in about 10 minutes, reaching the base of the back-gate hill. Onoda thinks that Imaizumi must have miscalculated, but it is revealed that Imaizumi actually expected Onoda to reach the hill in that amount of time, and he planned it out so Onoda would be properly warmed up to take on the hill. When 15 minutes finally pass and Imaizumi takes off, he accelerates to speeds upwards of 40 km/h, passing the scooter Onoda was on par with earlier. Imaizumi even reaches 52km/h, passing a car in the process. After about 8 minutes, Imaizumi catches up to Onoda on the slope and then passes him.

Imaizumi vs onoda 2

The race as named by Kanzaki Miki, as well as a list of the special rules in effect.

Miki, her friend Tachibana Aya, and some of Imaizumi's fangirls piled her family's van to follow along behind the race; she apparently convinced Kanzaki Tooji to drop by and pick them up even though he has deliveries to make. They catch up to Onoda, who has stopped after being passed by Imaizumi. Miki adjusts the saddle position of Onoda's bike and encourages him to catch up. At first, Onoda was surprised at the higher saddle position, but Miki told him that it was his ideal setting. It turns out that Onoda had not adjusted the saddle since receiving the bike when he was in fourth grade. When he takes off at a speed that shocks Aya, Miki notes that it is said that an incorrect saddle position can decrease a cyclist's efficiency by as much as 60%. With renewed determination, Onoda sets out to catch up to Imaizumi.

It turns out that Imaizumi is expecting Onoda to catch up to him again, as he has taken notice of Onoda's abnormally high cadence. Imaizumi makes a reference to Lance Armstrong's impressive 130 rpm as an example of high-cadence cycling. Though Imaizumi looks down on Onoda as someone with no experience in cycling, he wants to use this race to test how far he can get with only his raw talent. When Onoda catches up, Imaizumi points out that the normal cadence for a utility bike like Onoda's is around 60-70 rpm, which is then reduced to 30-40 rpm on a slope. However, Onoda is climbing with a 70 rpm cadence, so Imaizumi expects Onoda to be too worn out to keep up. Despite this, he says that Onoda managed to exceed his expectations. Unexpectedly, Onoda is still smiling and talking about how fun cycling is. When the van catches up to the two racers, Aya is shocked about Onoda catching up. However, Miki tells her and the other girls that Imaizumi was probably waiting for Onoda to catch up. She follows that statement with the observation that now, Imaizumi is racing to win. Imaizumi and Miki both notice another thing holding Onoda back; he has a limiter on his bicycle, a smaller front gear that makes riding more difficult. Despite that limitation, Onoda has been making his 90km round-trips to Akihabara for years, and is managing to stick to Imaizumi pretty well. Imaizumi is forced to use his dancing technique to pull ahead of Onoda. Onoda is seized by a fervent desire to catch up to Imaizumi, so he speeds up as well.

Imaizumi admits that he underestimated Onoda and that, even though Onoda is a complete amateur, he definitely has natural skills when it comes to cycling. He plans to pull ahead more, but his tire catches a gap between the gutter covers near the top and loses speed. Onoda is able to catch up in that moment, giving Imaizumi a run for his money and prompting him to ask Onoda why he is trying so hard. Onoda responds that he just wants to rebuild the anime club and then delivers a line with great impact: "because I don't have any friends!" Unknown to them, a trio of third-years just happen to be where they can observe them, taking interest in both riders.

Imaizumi's words of wisdom

Imaizumi's advice to Onoda.

In the end, Imaizumi beats Onoda, so he does not join the anime club as Onoda hoped. However, he does seem to have a new-found respect for Onoda, and contemplates Onoda's loneliness that night as he trains at home. The next day when Onoda tries to return the cyclocomputer, he states it's cheap model anyway so Onoda can keep it. He suggests that Onoda make use of his natural ability and join the Sohoku High Bicycle Club, a bicycle racing club, which he will be doing next week. While thankful for the compliment, Onoda is reluctant as it is a sports club; Imaizumi continues that he won't force him. The sport can be expensive and one can get injured, but Onoda should make the decision for himself, as no one can make him ride if he has no reason to, and to walk his own path. As he leaves he mentions that as many from his middle school are attending Sohoku, he tried talking to some who he felt might be interested in the anime club, and wishes Onoda luck with it. Afterwards, Onoda's opinion of Imaizumi changes for the better, and he considers Imaizumi a "nice person."

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