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Old 08-05-17, 10:54 PM   #1
Sangetsu
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Big Tour Looming...

I posted some months back about my planned tour across Japan, which I had planned to begin on October first.

Due to my sister-in-law having her new baby in September, hiring new help for my business, and arranging extra classes for my daughter while I am away, I have had to postpone my departure for a few days. And all things I have had to do so far this summer have limited the time I have to prepare physically.

I plan to travel light, carrying only what spares I need, and the minimum of clothes and other things. I have one month to complete about 2700km. I have not planned a specific route, though there are some places and historical sites which I plan to visit along the way. I don't wish to carry camping gear, so I will be staying at inns, hot spring resorts, and hotels along the way.

Rather than ride a touring bike, I will be riding a folder. I have set up a Bianchi Fretta (a re-branded R&M Birdy) for the trip. I have upgraded the original 8 speed Alivio driveline to a Dura-Ace/XTR 22 speed system, with 20" Alexi 32 spoke wheels and Ultegra hubs. Brakes and shifters are XTR. The bar, seat post, frame pins and hardware have all been upgraded to titanium, I'm using a flat bar with Ergon ends. I will be mounting a light weight rack on the rear to hold a pair of small Ostrich panniers. I will carry the more important things in my Think Tank backpack. The saddle is a Brooks B17 Special, which is comfortable enough for long rides without cycling shorts.

I chose a folder for the convenience. I will be flying to Hokkaido, and can more easily carry a folding bike on the plane. My route has been more or less planned to keep me relatively close to rail lines, in case of troubles or crazy weather. I will return to Tokyo from Nagasaki on the bullet train.

I will be recording as much as I can of my trip, using a Gopro, and a Canon G7X. I'll be taking along an HP 2760P notebook to upload videos, communicate with friends and family, and, unfortunately, do a little work as well. I have ordered a new battery, and just upgraded to a 2TB SSD drive, which should be enough to contain the photos and video.

For the bike, I'll be carrying two spare tires, 4 tubes, a patch kit, a few extra chain links, two extra cable housings (precut), cables, and the necessary tools. I used to be a bike mechanic, and can do my own repairs. Most of the components on the bike are new, or near new, I will replace the brake pads and cables before setting out. Bike shops are common enough in Japan, and I can buy spares along the way if necessary.

My only concern now is being in good fitness for the ride. I completed my first training ride on Friday, a 90 minute cruise around Tokyo, with a couple moderate climbs. My main challenge is finding time to ride, and likely I'll only be able to manage three days of training each week between now and October.
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Old 08-05-17, 11:43 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sangetsu View Post
...about 2700km......

I'll be carrying two spare tires, 4 tubes, a patch kit, a few extra chain links, two extra cable housings (precut), cables, and the necessary tools. I used to be a bike mechanic, and can do my own repairs. Most of the components on the bike are new, or near new, I will replace the brake pads and cables before setting out. Bike shops are common enough in Japan, and I can buy spares along the way if necessary....
start with fresh tires, carry only one spare.
(some might argue no spare tire needed..)

2 tubes and a patch kit.

cable housings? can't imagine the need, unless
folding bikes special consideration...

i'd use a small handlebar bag instead of a backpack,
not so comfy while riding, YKMMV.
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Old 08-05-17, 11:53 PM   #3
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That's a long way to go in a month in Japan, which you probably know!. Lots to see and do. We just did 2200km in 5 weeks from Kyoto to Chitose and felt rushed and missed a lot of things. In Hokkaido at least, there are Rider Houses, but you generally need your own bedding at least. I'm guessing you already know about Mapples, or are you doing the Length of Japan Route?
At least with the folder and a rinko you can easily jump on the train...
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Old 08-06-17, 04:18 AM   #4
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If you pass me along the way be sure to give me a wave, or at least let me draft.
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Old 08-06-17, 06:12 AM   #5
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Your schedule doesn't seem overly demanding for a lightly loaded tour, averaging less than 100 km/day. That's not all that much when you have all day on the bike. Within a week or so, you'll be hardened to the bike. Take it very easy for a few days and don't injure yourself. If, after that first week, the month's pace seems too harsh, you have some flexibility in transportation and can change your route a bit.

Of course, any fitness/toughness/experience you can build up before the trip will help a lot, but many folks bike themselves into shape. If you start in shape, that first week will be more enjoyable and more productive. For those who only have a week to cycle, that's a little rough, but for a month on the road it's worth it.
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Old 08-06-17, 07:02 AM   #6
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start with fresh tires, carry only one spare.

I run Panaracer Minits, which are light weight, and not so easy to find at the LBS. They wear well, are very fast, and have quite good traction. I less worried about wearing the tires out than I am about damage from road debris.

unless folding bikes special consideration...

When the bike is folded, the cables are folded as well. Normally this isn't a problem, but from time to time a cable tends to pop over where it shouldn't be, and get pinched.

i'd use a small handlebar bag instead of a backpack,

I've been commuting with this backpack for a few years now. I keep it light, no need to put more weight on the saddle than I already am. The R&M bar and stem is a little top-heavy due to the design, the front suspension has a lot of rake, and even with nothing on the bar, it tends to fall to the left or right when I remove my hands.

That's a long way to go in a month in Japan, which you probably know!

Yeah, it's along ride, but I have been living in Japan for 10 years now, and have seen much of the country already. Seeing it from two wheels will be a pleasure, and if I miss something along the way, I can come back another day.

I'm guessing you already know about Mapples, or are you doing the Length of Japan Route?
At least with the folder and a rinko you can easily jump on the train...


Doing the length of Japan, it's something I have always wanted to do after reading an article in an old Bicycling magazine when I was in junior high school. Folders are very convenient in Japan, and if I overdo it, or get too far behind schedule, I am not averse to hopping on a train or bus.

For those who only have a week to cycle, that's a little rough, but for a month on the road it's worth it.

I love riding, and I've been doing it for a long time. I competed in some of the stage races in Southern Europe in the late 90's, and know about getting acclimated over a period of long rides. The bike messengers who race by me when I am shuttling my 2-year-old around on my wife's shopping bike wouldn't have been a match for me in my racing days (a fairly common boast among former racehorses, I am sure).

If you pass me along the way be sure to give me a wave, or at least let me draft.

I'll keep my eyes open for you. I'll probably be the only guy on a Mad-Max type folder. When practicing "stealth camping", keep the local wildlife in mind. Most of the hunters up north have died of old age, and the lack of hunting has led to a boom in dear, bears, and wild boars. There have been a few reports of attacks in the news.
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Old 08-06-17, 07:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
start with fresh tires, carry only one spare.
(some might argue no spare tire needed..)

2 tubes and a patch kit.

cable housings? can't imagine the need, unless
folding bikes special consideration...

i'd use a small handlebar bag instead of a backpack,
not so comfy while riding, YKMMV.
A spare might be good with 20" tires. Read,thread about couple in Portugal, and thier 20" tire issues.
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Old 08-06-17, 07:29 PM   #8
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What about taking one tire and making up a care package with a second tire and spare tube you could get somebody to send on Kureneko to your next hotel if you used the first one...
Oh, and some of the routes that pop up for LOJ south of Aomori in the mapping programs (if you go that way) are pretty funky. There was one that basically climbed every hill it could... freaked us out completely until we realised what was going on.
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Old 08-07-17, 03:31 AM   #9
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and some of the routes that pop up for LOJ south of Aomori in the mapping programs (if you go that way) are pretty funky. There was one that basically climbed every hill it could... freaked us out completely until we realised what was going on.

Thanks for the advice, I'm not to keen on climbing, and never have been. I've been looking at the different route options, and the climbing involved.

As for the tires, they are light, and fold up quite compactly. I have enough space for the things I want to take, except for a guitar. I play at least two hours every day, and not practicing will probably be the only thing I miss while I am traveling.

At least in this day and age, Amazon is there if I need something badly enough. Even when I buy from regular retailers, shipping is overnight from anywhere in Japan.
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Old 08-07-17, 07:24 AM   #10
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I agree with saddlesores, cable housings seem extreme to me. Is there a reason you feel you will need them? I'd probably drop tubes to two spares and a patch kit, too. Not sure how roads are over there that you are worried about damage, but if I can get tires overnighted to anywhere, I'd probably only want one spare.

I'd personally strap the backpack to the rack, and put the guitar on your back too
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Old 08-07-17, 08:21 AM   #11
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I live in Jaan and would never do a trip like that. Avoiding mountain roads means you will be spending a lot of time on busy and ugly roads. You will have no time so see and enjoy the sites. I would take trains from place to place a ride and explore only nice areas. If you search Waddo on Youtube you can see some of my touring videos which show that you need time to really enjoy Japans best attractions.
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Old 08-07-17, 06:37 PM   #12
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You will have no time so see and enjoy the sites. I would take trains from place to place a ride and explore only nice areas.

I also live in Japan, and have found that even the uglier areas have their charm. There really are no bad places in Japan, at least compared to other countries, every area here has it's charm. My goal for the trip is just to catch up on the riding which I have missed out on in recent years. I have a business to run, a growing family, and little free time to escape.

In the future I can do more sightseeing with my family. Japan is not a very big country, and I plan to show my kids as much of it as I can in the future.
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