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Tour across Japan

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Old 09-11-16, 09:47 PM
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Sangetsu
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Tour across Japan

Since moving to Japan several years ago, I have always wanted to cycle across the country. I have been a more-or-less serious rider since I was 13 years old, and explored the southern half of California before starting high school. I did a bit of racing in my 20's, and since moving to Japan, cycling is my main means of transportation.

I have wanted to do this ride for some years now, but work, changing careers, and then getting married and having a child have caused me to keep putting it off. But life finally appears to have settled into a somewhat predictable routine. I discussed my plan with my wife, and rather than give me excuses why I shouldn't go, she was quite supportive (though not to the point of offering to go with me).

My plan is to ride from Hokkaido to Nagasaki in Kyushu, and I will have 4 weeks to complete the ride. I am in the process of looking at maps and routes, and putting together a checklist of the things I need. I will attempt the ride in September of 2017, as the weather should be about right at that time. Summers here in Japan are hot and humid, winters can be cold and snowy. The weather in Hokkaido should be cool enough when I depart, and reasonably warm in Nagasaki when I arrive.

As I live in Japan, speak Japanese, and know my way around, I expect to be able to pick up much of what I need along the way. So I hope not to have to carry too much with me.

I will be doing the ride on a Birdy folding bicycle. I have converted the Birdy to use 20" wheels, and I have replaced the original Shimano Capreo 9 speed driveline with a new 20 speed kit, with a Dura-Ace crankset and front derailleur, and a XTR rear cog set and derailleur. The hubs are Ultegra, with Alexi rims. The 34 tooth ring on the rear cog can get me up the steep hills without having to get out of the saddle.

The reason for the folder is that getting to northern Hokkaido will involve some train and bus transportation, so a folding bike will be easier to move around. And I plan to spend my nights at inns and hotels along the way. Rooms in these places are rather small, and a folder will take up less space. Some might say that it is safe enough to leave a bike outside here in Japan, but I have had two rather expensive bikes stolen during my time here, and I won't risk losing a third.

I have a rear rack and panniers, and a quick release bag which attaches to the handlebar. I think these should be sufficient for the amount of gear I plan to carry with me. As laundry facilities are not too hard to find along the way, I think that 3 changes of clothes should be enough. As the weather in September can vary a lot, I will bring a rain suit and shoe covers as well. I will also pack the usual tools, extra tires, tubes, and other things which I might need.

I will document my ride by video and with photos, so I will carry a couple of Gopro cameras, as well as a DSLR camera, and 2 lenses. If anyone is interested, I will post a link to my video blog after the ride is completed.

If anyone has done some long rides across Japan, any info or advice would be appreciated. I am interested mainly in the best routes, and places to avoid, etc. If anyone happens to be in Japan during that time, and wishes to join me, you are welcome. I may have a friend or two come along, if they can somehow fit it into their schedules.
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Old 09-12-16, 04:31 AM
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azza_333
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Originally Posted by Sangetsu View Post
If anyone happens to be in Japan during that time, and wishes to join me, you are welcome. I may have a friend or two come along, if they can somehow fit it into their schedules.
こんばんは さんげつさん。 私は、北海道から鹿児島まで2ヵ月かけて自転車で旅行する予定ですが、4週間ではなく、2ヵ月かけて一緒に行きませんか?
I too am planning a Japan trip in September-October 2017, 2 months long, starting in Wakkanai (Hokkaido), and riding all the way down to Sata Misaki (Kagoshima), and then maybe spend a few days on Yakushinma. Would you be interested in riding with me with me?
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Old 09-12-16, 08:12 AM
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Sounds more lengthwise than across , the Japan version of John o'Groats to Lands End/ Penzance...
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Old 09-12-16, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Sangetsu View Post
Some might say that it is safe enough to leave a bike outside here in Japan, but I have had two rather expensive bikes stolen during my time here, and I won't risk losing a third.
I've had a like 3 bikes stolen while growing up in Yokohama. This was way back in the sixties. CC touring and staying at ryokans would be awesome!
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Old 09-12-16, 11:56 AM
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manapua_man
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Originally Posted by Sangetsu View Post

The reason for the folder is that getting to northern Hokkaido will involve some train and bus transportation, so a folding bike will be easier to move around. And I plan to spend my nights at inns and hotels along the way. Rooms in these places are rather small, and a folder will take up less space. Some might say that it is safe enough to leave a bike outside here in Japan, but I have had two rather expensive bikes stolen during my time here, and I won't risk losing a third.

I have a rear rack and panniers, and a quick release bag which attaches to the handlebar. I think these should be sufficient for the amount of gear I plan to carry with me. As laundry facilities are not too hard to find along the way, I think that 3 changes of clothes should be enough. As the weather in September can vary a lot, I will bring a rain suit and shoe covers as well. I will also pack the usual tools, extra tires, tubes, and other things which I might need.

Doing the rinko thing with a regular bike isn't much harder than using a folder, so long as you aren't running a rack and panniers IMO. When I do the CC thing in Japan I usually just have a small bag with quick drying clothes, camera, and tools. My (big) folder is the one I use with racks and all my heavier stuff. Never had a problem with theft, but I usually run a cable and at least two different locks.

Can't think of any roads in particular that I'd avoid. I always just kinda wandered off to the side and managed to find a way around if I hit a stretch with a lot of nasty traffic.

Last edited by manapua_man; 09-12-16 at 12:34 PM.
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