Notable Exhibits from Cycle Mode International 2017:

Riding Around Japan

Over the past ten years, Japan has seen a huge increase in the number of cycling events. Around the country, every prefecture seems to have several rides made to attract cycling tourists of varying ability.

From Aomori to Okinawa, Tochigi and Nagano, representatives from several prefectures were out in full force appealing to passers-by with glossy leaflets and colorful posters. Browsing through their booths and materials, it’s hard not to be lured by the images of Japanese delicacies and inspired by photos of cyclists smiling amidst beautiful scenes of mountains, coastlines, and temples. Of course, the overwhelming majority of content is in Japanese and primarily serves only to tease the non-native speakers with only what could be.

The following events may be challenging to register without the support of a Japanese friend/coworker/spouse, but they’re the ones we felt present unique opportunities to explore otherwise unexplored parts of Japan. With the exception of the Tour de Okinawa, the cycling events below are non-timed races.

Ok, this event has a pretty terrible reputation for having the world’s most complex registration process, which is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Since its beginning in 2013, the Tour de Tohoku has rapidly become one of the most popular cycling events in Japan with over 3,000 participants annually. However, there is exactly one page in English that describes the seven different rides offered. Also, there are no less than eight different rider categories, from Tohoku residents to hand-cyclists and those utilizing the Sendai Airport…well, chances are you’re just a “regular” rider.

This year, the Tour took place on September 16 and 17; meanwhile, registration for the Tour started in late May and closed in mid-April. Since it’s a popular ride, you really want to make sure you’re registering early! And if you don’t read or write Japanese well, you’ll need to rely on someone who does because the registration through Yahoo! Japan is not easy. For convenience, there is a preferred bike transportation service that will deliver your bike to the race site, then deliver your bike back home once you’ve completed the ride. Of course, all arrangements must be organized in Japanese.

The Tour de Okinawa has just wrapped up this past weekend on the 11th and 12th of November, but it’s never too early to keep it in mind for next year! The Tour extends a variety of rides divided into three sections: the UCI-sanctioned international road races, the citizen’s road races, and the cycling section. For licensed cyclists, there is a 210KM men’s race, a 140KM junior race, and a 100KM women’s race. Male amateurs keen to race can sign up for the citizen road races with 210KM , 140KM, and 100KM distances – yes, seriously, no women. Age group (Under 39, 40s, 50s, 60s) 50KM citizen road races are also available for men, women, and junior high students.

For those less interested in racing, there’s the 2-day, 343KM long ride around Okinawa island, the 176KM Yanbaru Century Ride,the 100KM Challenge route, the 2-day 73KM Iheya Island route, 70KM Onna Village Family course, and the 50KM Ie Island Family course.

In a stunning twist, the Tour de Okinawa website is actually full of useful information and maps – in English. Compared to many events around Japan, the contents of the website demonstrate a concerted effort in appealing to visitors and non-Japanese residents. It’s by no means perfect but the website is easy to navigate and amidst the wide range of events listed, the English descriptions are helpful.

Faith at Cycle Mode Expo
cycle mode booth

Smaller Scale Cycling Events

Distances: 90KM (limited to 100 riders), 45KM (100), 35KM (25)
Start: Nishi Ojima
Registration closed on the 6th of November (in Japanese only).

Distances: 151KM (limited to 380 riders), 66KM (60), 63KM (460), and 8KM (100)
Start: Wakayama Marina City
Registration is open until the 31st of January in Japanese only.

Yakushima Hill Climb (Feb 17): 8KM hill climb (limited to 100 riders) 
Cycling Yakushima (Feb 18): 100KM, 50KM, 20KM (limited to 500 riders total)
Registration open until Jan 24. English available.

Dates: January 13, 20, 27 and February 3, 17 1730-2000
Downhill cycling the ski slopes on a fat bike.
¥6,500 per person inclusive of a rental fat bike, helmet, lift fee, and transportation.
Registration is open now and up until 2 days before an event night. English available.