Touring Tokyo: Family and Beginner Friendly Introduction to Tokyo by Bike
2018 Bicycle Ride in Tokyo event review
On April 22nd, the 16th Bicycle Ride in Tokyo began in earnest under clear blue skies and amidst spring foliage. Comprised largely of groups of friends, families, and casual cycling buddies, nearly 2,000 participants gathered at Hibiya Park to begin a leisurely and exploratory 30KM ride around Tokyo.
At a high of 28 degrees Celsius (about 86F), Sunday recorded the year’s warmest temperatures and riders diligently slapped on their sunscreen, shaded their eyes with sunglasses, and in true Japanese-style, many wore arm sleeves, tights, and Buffs to protect every inch of their lily-white skin.
As soon as check-in opened at 0730, eager cyclists queued to receive their bright pink cross-body bags enclosed with event swag and a course map. This year, the first wave started 30 minutes later at 0830 with groups of ten riders being flagged off every minute.
To keep things exciting and have riders return for the Bicycle Ride in Tokyo, the course map changes every year. This year, the ride started with a counter-clockwise loop around Hibiya Park towards Kasumimon.
With the Imperial Palace behind us, we cycled towards the National Diet Building and past the House of Councillors on our left.
We descended towards a green patch of land and Hie Shrine, which hosts the annual Sanno Matsuri. Hie Shrine is also one of the most popular spots for Japanese families to visit during the 753 (shichi-go-san) coming-of-age festival.
We continued on Gaien-Dori and soon entered a bike lane heading towards the Toyosu area of Tokyo. Soon, we neared the central Ginza area. On weekends, starting at 11AM, this part of town becomes closed off to all traffic, including bikes. We had plenty of time before the streets were shut off to all but pedestrians, so we cruised past the tastefully crafted shop windows of various luxury brands.
After a straight leg on Miyuki Road, we came across Tsukiji Market. We had the option to enter and explore the market, or take a left towards Harumi Road. The course rambled on across the Kachidoki Bridge where we crossed the Sumida River. It didn’t take long before we then came across the Harumi Bridge where after a short climb, we were treated to a spectacular view of the Tokyo Bay.
DID YOU KNOW? Tsukiji Market is scheduled to move to Toyosu Market in the fall of 2018.
Sharing Lanes: Riding Tokyo
After taking photos, we hopped back on our bikes and entered Toyosu. Utilizing the bike lanes, we sped past the Toyosu Market and onto the Fujimi bridge where we ooh-ed and aah-ed at Mt. Fuji and the Rainbow Bridge in the distance.
As we kept pedaling, we soon crossed into Tsukishima and the Etchujima Park, where the first aid station was located. Bottled ice-cold mineral water were distributed and many opted to sit down for lunch or enjoy a leisurely break.
On our last stretch, we crossed the Eitai Bridge and after crossing a train crossing, we turned left to see Tokyo Station in the horizon. The scenery changed as we cycled between the high-rise buildings of Otemachi and closed in to central Tokyo.
An unexpected second aid station slowed us but we couldn’t pass up the 60-person strong Starbucks Coffee stop. The Starbucks stop closed soon after our arrival at 1230 and we were happy to have had the chance to stuff ourselves with coffee and light snacks.
We set off with Tokyo Station on our left and turned right at the Wadakura intersection to enter the Imperial Palace cycling route.
From here, it was just a short distance back to Hibiya Park and we crossed the finish line with just enough time to witness the closing ceremony at 1400. We were hoping to win some of the prizes during the casual rock-paper-scissors tournament but alas. Whether solo, with friends or family, the Bicycle Ride in Tokyo is a scenic ride most suitable for beginners and those seeking a leisurely day out!