Heads or Tails: A Story of 130KM Around Minami Boso (Chiba)

2018 Great Earth Chiba Minami Boso event review

On Saturday, the winds howled furiously, and I could feel our not-aerodynamic rental car rocking back left and right. Or, maybe that was the Aqualine bridging Tokyo Bay swaying underneath us. Probably both.

I was worried about riding the next day – 130KM on the Chiba coast suddenly seemed like it would be tear-inducing fatigue than a leisurely day out. The plan was to let my Significant Other (SO) lead the way during the way back into headwinds – just in case I tried to take the wrong turn or strayed off-course. Definitely not because I wanted to draft.

Sometimes, all we really need is a kick in the butt to set up benchmarks towards a goal!

Cyclist riding on road in Chiba
Cyclists riding along Boso Peninsula


Familio Tateyama
81-17 Oka, Tateyama
Chiba Prefecture 294-0031

〒294-0031 千葉県
館山市 大賀 81-17

With almost ten aid stations on the 130KM course, there was never much fear of thirst or hunger. Had there not been such ferocious, soul-sucking headwind on the return trip, one might even consider the amount of aid stations excessive. Instead, the frequent stops were a welcome break amidst the blustery circumstances that day.

Our ride mostly took part on the Boso Flower Line, a scenic road along the coast of Chiba Prefecture’s Boso Peninsula. The route granted riders spectacular views of the blue waters tipped with white froth and dotted with the occasional surfer or fishing boat. You couldn’t help but peel your eyes off the road to sneak views of the idyllic open waters and the blue skies with nary a cloud in sight.

As with all Great Earth rides and most other long ride events in Japan, the roads were not closed. Some parts of the course required more vigilance, while other sections involved tedious waits to manage traffic lights (legally) as a group of cyclists. I also encountered some reckless (read: stupid dangerous) drivers and unfortunately, some riders were involved in a handful of necessitating emergency medical help.

Cut Off Times

130KM 9 hours

100KM 9 hours

50KM 8.5 hours

Great Earth cycling in Japan
Cyclist resting in Chiba coast
Overall, cumulative elevation gain was about 600 meters; however, the highest point was less than 40 meters so climbs were few. Without sounding like a broken record, I have to mention again that much of the physically demanding grind came from battling the headwinds. This was my first time riding more than 110KM and being a part of this ride gave me more confidence on the bike, especially in less-than-ideal conditions. Now that I am familiar with the area and the Boso Flower Line, I feel ready to tackle a ride in the area without event guidance – but I probably shouldn’t get too carried away!

Participant Entitlements

Original event t-shirt
(Laminated) finisher’s certificate

Cyclist riding by flowers

Getting There

We left early Saturday afternoon and took the Aqualine to Chiba. The official event hotel (Hotel Familio Tateyama) was fully booked when we got around to making accommodation plans two weeks before the event. Hence, we opted to stay at the (recently renamed) Daiwa Royal Hotel, about a 20-minute drive from the event venue.

Parking at the event venue was very limited so the event organizers strongly recommended participants to park personal vehicles at the beach parking lots about 5KM away. A steady stream of riders were headed to the event so we didn’t have to worry about finding our way to the venue.

Aid Stations

Food truck at aid station on long ride
Cyclists at rest stop in Chiba
Dinosaur skeleton on Great Earth Chiba Minambi Boso Long Ride

Aid Station 1: 14KM
Tateyama Family Park
Bananas and oranges

Aid Station 2: 25KM
Nojimazaki Lighthouse
Local coffee, sandwiches

Aid Station 3: 32KM
Chikura Shiokaze Ookoku
Cream-stuffed buns

Aid Station 4: 48.5KM
Wadaura Wao
Whale croquette

Aid Station 5: 62.5KM
Kamogawa Sports Park
Fried sashimi

Aid Station 6: 76.5KM
Wadaura Wao
Peanut soft serve ice cream

Aid Station 7: 92.5KM
Chikura Shiokaze Ookoku
Hijiki seaweed croquette

Aid Station 8: 100KM
Nojimazaki Lighthouse
Just water

Aid Station 9: 111KM
Tateyama Family Park
Dragonfruit juice

Love It

Aid Stations! A highlight of these non-competitive long rides throughout Japan is the abundance of aid stations, which usually serve local delicacies. Spaced every 12 to 25KM, the aid stations are a good way to refuel and sample unique foods.

The Views! With most of the ride along the coast, we enjoyed stunning views of the sea, beach, and sand dunes under blue skies.

The Event T-Shirt! We all received a yellow tee featuring a pug wearing a helmet. The overall design was unlike anything I’ve ever received from a sports event and I appreciated its unique nature. 

Let's Work It Out

The Food! A large portion of the food at each aid station were fried items like croquettes and karaage. It was a bit indulgent and heavy to be served as snacks for a cycling event.

The Winds! No way to beat Mother Nature but those winds were fierce and made the ride back very challenging.

More Information, Please! The course maps for the 50KM and 100KM were not available until the day of the event. Additionally, the number of aid stations was different from described and information about the food available at each aid station was not disclosed ahead of time. 

Cyclists riding by sand dunes