Kogashi Forest Japan Cup

This blog will be dormant for the next seven days.

Cycle touring seems all the rage these days. This time it’s for several days of riding in Japan. Not an obvious cycling destination for some but with billiard table tarmac, mountains galore, courteous drivers and more, it should be. You don’t even need to “bike pack”, the useful Yamato courier service allows you to ride with little more than some change and an inner tube in your back pocket.

The Japan Cup races are on this weekend in Utsunomiya and hopefully there will be a chance to ride most of the 2020 Olympics road course next week too. Back for the 2019 Tour de France route preview.

Photo from the Kogashi forest by Flickr’s Kenichiro Matahara

52 thoughts on “Away”

  1. well deserved – take 2 weeks at least surely….

    thanks for rising above the general deterioration in the comments section over the summer and maintaining your standards and output – it must have been tempting to just go ‘oh forget it, I’ll just ride my bike…’ at times

      • Man this comment brought me down a notch – that our beloved host cannot even go on a ride himself (herself?) without having to worry about the comments section getting out of hand, should give all of us something to think about in the lead up to next season.

        Enjoy your time in Japan!

    • +1 Some say Japan is the place they love all things Italian…sometimes more than the Italians themselves! I wonder if so many Japanese love Campagnolo stuff for the same reasons some of my Italian friends love Shimano? For them it’s the exotic foreign aspect compared to the domestic product, exemplified by an old friend who swooned over the (free from sponsor) cycling shoes I showed up with one day long ago. I scratched my head and asked, “You live in the country where the best shoes (not just cycling) are made! Why would you want these?” He explained that everyone in Italy had SIDI, Vittoria, etc. but the shoes I had were foreign and exotic which added a bunch to their style and desirability, despite the fact that the shoes themselves were not-very-good. If we’d worn the same size shoe, I’d have traded him on-the-spot!

  2. Can thoroughly recommend riding Mt. Norikura from the south taking the road past the Nagawa onsen, and staying in one of the onsen resorts that night to the north. The hills north of Kyoto past Kurama are also particularly beautiful.

    I spent 5 weeks cycling solo around Japan a couple of years ago. Feel free to contact for any discussion on your plans.

    • I visited Kurama on a first trip to Japan and remember thinking the small roads and scenic pine forests were stunning, one of those places where the roads were an invitation to visit on a bike and world away from the plains and the often very similar cityscapes. It was Kurama that prompted me to return with a bike also comments on here with suggestions to visit Nikko and the area that helped with the route for the upcoming days.

      • I would love to cycle round hokkaido (it was rather cold and there was 5 metres of snow on the ground when I was there) – it just seems other worldly, even more so than the rest of Japan, especially to someone who lives in London. I am very envious and look forward to reading about some new roads to ride…

  3. Enjoy! Japan is great for riding – beautiful tarmac, photogenic scenery, tasty food and very, very polite and courteous drivers on quiet roads, especially down in Kyushu. Hope to be back there next year. Thanks for all of this year’s excellent coverage.

  4. Enjoy your break. Missed contributing and snagging your supporter’s kit the past seasons hope they will make a comeback soon.

    BTW, with Japan’s success in marathons, I feel there are precious few standout pro cyclists from Japan (not taking away anything from Eri Yonamine, Yukiya Arashiro, Fumi Beppu).
    Even no Pro Conti teams if we exclude Nippo Vini Fantini, but the same number of Continental teams as Belgium registered on ProCyclingStats.

  5. Nikko should be just right for the Autumn colours now. There is an absolute plethora of beautiful quiet backroads in Japan. Once you are away from any urban area which in reality is only a small part of the country, the senses are so easily excited by the natural environment. Kurama as mentioned earlier is part of my home courses. It is possible to ride 160 km from North from Kyoto to the Japan sea and back with hardly any traffic or signals. Have a fresh sea food lunch in Obama then journey back on a different route. The beauty and ease of cycling here is a major reason it has been my home for the past 30 years. Am looking forward to this weekends Japan Cup as well. Looks like perfect weather. Mr Inner Ring Nihon e Yokoso. Tanoshinde Kudasai

  6. Enjoy your time in Japan. Bring your granny gears – Japanese road builders make down beautiful road surfaces but they also enjoy throwing in long 15% stretches just for the fun of it.

    • I feel like I’ve read it a thousand times before though. There’s too much saturation out there, too many pundits vying for clicks and attention. e.g. I read ‘Sky’ or ‘budget’ and now I just switch off and move somewhere else, which is exactly the opposite of what should happen for the good of the sport. (This is why I like Inrng’s site: every article has a purpose for being written, and offers valuable titbits.)

      • I got a way through a similar response, and then couldn’t be arsed to post it. I thought, I’m not interested in this and I won’t be adding to the debate. To be fair you’ve put it far more succinctly.

        I’m not really interested in media numbers and the reason I follow cycling are more deeply entrenched than the tide of popular opinion.

    • “I think next year we will see a strong anti-Sky block,” Prudhomme said. “I believe in Bardet, and next year we’ll have [Thibaut] Pinot. And with Dumoulin, Roglic, and, hopefully, Nibali, there will be a big fight.”

      Ah, next year. Always next year as people trot out the same tired names of those Sky have defeated ten times before.

      Thank you for a good laugh Larry. It was a wide ranging article that covered most of the issues. Yet the Tour is a very specific race and many issues are very specific to it, problems for it rather than cycling generally. Take an obvious example: Froome. He raced and won the Giro without serious incident. In France it turns ugly, people try to get to him and he is consistently booed and has to deal with objects being thrown at him. That isn’t a cycling problem because in every other race it didn’t happen, including the Giro. That is a Tour problem, a French problem. The terrorism thing is specific especially to France too. Of course, terrorism may strike anywhere but, as the article details, it has struck regularly in France. Then there are the activist farmers. I don’t hear of that happening elsewhere. More France-specific problems. And then we come to the parcours which, for the first time this year, I suddenly realised was regularly poorer in the French grand tour as compared to the other two. Yes, I now think that the Tour is by far the worst grand tour of the year. I didn’t always think this but this year’s edition, with a measly THREE mountain top finishes (two of which were so challenging that Geraint Thomas won them), has finally made me see that. I would go along with those who would say that the Tour has problems. But they aren’t cycling’s problems and they aren’t Sky-caused problems. They are problems specific to the race, the country and the fans.

      If only the Tour de France wasn’t in France.

      • What’s more, rumours of Sky’s domination and ruination of world cycling seem somewhat exaggerated. Having an hour free this morning I did some research for my records and find that Team Sky have won 7 of the 17 world tour stages races this year (41%). They won 0% of the world tour single day races.

        Quickstep led the world tour in wins this year with 73. Sky were 2nd, its true, but 30 behind on 43.

        Time to take measures to stop Quickstep ruining the sport isn’t it?

        • Most of the things you mention happen because it’s the biggest race, not because it’s held in France. The TdF attracts a different kind of ‘fan’, more casual fans, more idiots, more drunks, more people who are only there to shout/run/boo/dress-up, etc.; protests are far more likely to be headline news because the TdF is a much bigger event than other races; and your assertions that the fans causing problems are French is entirely devoid of evidence – none of us know where they are from and you can’t base that on the fact that they’re standing at the side of a French road, because there are so many different nationalities at the race. Your comments might say something about your feelings on the French people, but they say nothing about the French people.

          It certainly isn’t Sky’s problem – they’re winning – but it probably is a problem for cycling because the TdF brings in more new fans than anything else. As long as there is such a disparity in budgets – despite what some claim (without evidence) about the budgets of BMC or Bahrain-Merida, it’s clear from their roster that Sky spend much more on their riders – nothing will change. Sky will continue to throttle the race, as the article says, and it will be a dull race to watch for most people, apart from Sky fans and British nationalists (or West Brits).

          Sky aren’t ruining cycling – one day races are fine, for instance – it’s only really the TdF that they bulldoze with their best tempo riders. QS don’t ruin one day races, because they ride in an attacking style. That’s the point you are missing: in this particular issue, people don’t have a problem with the team (doping allegations are a different matter), they have a problem with the team’s effect on the racing. That’s why no-one is complaining about QS.

      • Why not just write I hate France and the French?
        You’re right about next year, though – the Tour de France is the same every year now. A Sky rider wins, as this year shows even if they’re not the best rider. The Tour is the richest race, the one everyone wants to win, Sky are the richest team and have the best team, and so win that race. And that is boring, but there is nothing ASO can do about it.

      • Really? It’s all the fault of the gawddamn French, eh? An interesting opinion for sure. Too bad the Brits didn’t come up with the idea of a national tour/multi-day/mass start stage race instead of spending all those years wasting their time racing alone against the clock – I’m sure the state of pro cycling would be far, far better these days if only they’d put their overall superiority to the task 115 years ago. Keep laughing, at least until Brexit is completed. God Save The Queen!

    • A ‘Roads to Ride’ in Japan would be a great read, although I don’t suppose any of us would begrudge Inner Ring a trip away without writing for her / his blog 🙂

  7. Don’t usually do this, but have to call out the article for what it is: lots of emotional BS.

    The Tour is alive and well. It had seen worse. What’s sad is that cycling’s EPO fueled past hasn’t instigated a meaningful discussion about doping. Instead, insinuation of doping became cheap way to shoot down rider/teams you don’t like.

    There are many positives in this year’s Tour. If anything, some Sky challengers are really emerging through the rank. They just don’t come from quarters people are expecting. Moviestar as per-usual fail to deliver; Porte as per usually crashed out; whilst Nibali looks more like a one day racer these days (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). But what Sunweb & Lottol NL managed to do was significant.

    If Moviestar can have half the unity and tactical awareness of Lottol NL, or Lottol NL can have 1/3 of Moviestar’s firing power, this year’s Tour’s result may as well be very different. So next year, if the two teams can be consistent, Sky & Froome have their works cut out.

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