Bay to Climb: Riding Miyazaki's Nichinan Coast
Great Earth Miyazaki Sunshine Nichinan Coast 2018 ride review
The Great Earth Miyazaki Nichinan Coast ride kicked off on Saturday, April 21 at the Sun Marine Stadium for check-in between 1300 to 1600.
Approximately 200 riders checked in early while the rest came a little earlier around 0530 on Sunday morning for their bibs, helmet stickers, and course map.
Let's Get This Show On the Road!
At this time of year in Japan, it starts getting light out well by 5AM (and even earlier during the summer months) so there’s no fear of riding in the twilight hours.
By 0615, the traditional Japanese warm-up “rajio taiso” exercises had begun, followed by several rounds of short speeches by folks like Shirato Taro, a present-day triathlete and politician representing Tokyo, as well as the governor of Miyazaki Prefecture who rode the 75KM short course.
Soon after 0630, small groups for the 125KM long course began being flagged off every couple minutes. The short course riders followed and all riders were on the road by 7AM.Once setting off, we enjoyed spectacular ocean views as we rode along the the Nichinan coast. It didn’t take long before arriving at the Phoenix Roadside Station for a quick bite of hyuganatsu (Japanese citrus fruit) snack – each slice lovingly cut and peeled by cheerful local volunteers!
With the ocean to our side, we continued on with the ride until our next stop at the Udo-Jingu parking lot where we were treated to local Nichinan fish (!) udon and mince tuna croquettes. We made sure to load up a bit here as the third aid station would be another 30KM ahead!
A little over an hour after our last refuelling, we swung into the third stop at the Sakatani roadside station. Here, we were treated to a wildly popular local snack – kusa dango, or mugwort mochi. It’s a bit of an acquired taste and some may prefer the slices of dekopon, a large, juicy Japanese citrus fruit.
By this point in time, we had put the coast behind us and were flying on the flats of inland Miyazaki. With the blue skies and the sun out, the outdoor conditions were pleasant for a day out on our bikes. With Obi Castle in the horizon, we knew we were due for our fourth aid station. Here, we sat down for a hearty meal comprising of onigiri rice balls, tonjiru pork miso soup, and local Obi-area specialty fish cakes.
At this point, the short course folks continued their ride towards JR Obi station where they boarded the Nichinan Line closer to the finish at Sun Marine Stadium. From Obi station, trucks transported bikes to Aojima station, which were then reunited with their owners who would cycle a short distance to complete the course.
For the long course group, the biggest challenge lay ahead with a 456 meter (almost 1,500 feet) climb. Soon after the climb, we came to our last stop before the return to Sun Marine Stadium. The Denya roadside station treated us to local otsukemono (Japanese pickled vegetables) and zensai, a sweet red bean soup.
Of course, what goes up must come down…the descent was much more enjoyable than the ascent! This last section went by fast and before we knew it, we were cruising past the finish line and high-fiving the emcee. After racking our bikes, we enjoyed our final meal of the ride – grilled locally-sourced chicken.