Last weekend we took part in Cycle Aid Japan 2013, a mass-participation cycling event to raise money for victims of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster. Twelve rides of varying lengths were scheduled over two weekends. You can find out more about the event online (website in Japanese here). We chose two rides that were nearest to our home in Koriyama, and our friend Brad joined us.
On Saturday we started behind the Hideyo Noguchi house in Inawashiro town, and made a clockwise circuit of the lake.
Riders left messages of support on this poster at the start of the course.
A range of different bikes took part. As well as our touring bikes, there were several road bikes, a few mountain bikes, and a handful of single speed track bikes.
We started to the sound of traditional taiko drumming.
The aid station, after about 22km, offered water and snacks. We ate soba noodles and grilled shiitake mushrooms.
Low clouds over Mt Bandai, across the lake.
Laura made honey and peanut flapjacks. Delicious!
Brad loves flapjacks.
Riding through the rice fields.
A course steward follows behind us as we face the only climb of the day.
Brad arranged for us to stay at a lakeside onsen that he knew. We made friends with Hideo in the hot outdoor bath, and enjoyed chatting with him as the sun came down over the lake.
The view from our room, over the lake. The outdoor bath looked out in the same direction.
Endo-san, our host, took care of us as we enjoyed a delicious meal at the ryokan. Brad and Sonoko have known him for many years.
As we relaxed in yukata, more and more food arrived at the table. We ate until we were stuffed.
Hideo joined us on our ride the next day, from Inawashiro town to Fukushima city. Most of the pictures here were taken by him or by Brad.
Hideo camped near the onsen. This rucksack contained all of his things. It was shipped from the start line to the finish of the course, so he didn’t have to ride with it.
L-R: Laura; Dave; Brad; Hideo
Hideo also rides a Surly. His is a Cross Check. Nice handlebar tape!
The marshall gave us a countdown to starting to ride. Unfortunately, the Japanese word for “five” is “go.” I’m sure you can guess what happened.
Laura enjoying the morning sun.
Brad and Hideo on the cycling road by Lake Inawashiro.
It was a beautiful morning. Later in the day, the temperatures would climb to around thirty degrees.
The bright sun cast clear shadows.
Taking a break at one of three rest stops.
The forest carpets the hills outside Bandai-Atami in green.
Waiting in line to be checked out of a rest stop.
It was his butterfly handlebars that made me suspect he was a cycle tourist. It turned out that Ushijima-sensei has cycled all over the world. He gave us details of his homepage.
The day ended with a steady climb of 300m over around 6km. Not too bad in itself, but exhausting after the 80km+ we’d already ridden.
At the end of the course.
The festival at the end of the course featured several cycling suppliers, as well as food and drink stalls.
Musicians performed in the auditorium, sponsors and organizers gave speeches, and tired cyclists watched.
We had a great time during Cycle Aid Japan 2013. It was a great way to see a beautiful part of Japan, and we enjoyed meeting other cyclists on the route. Best of all, we were able to spend time with friends, and to make some new ones too. What a great weekend. Now, where do we sign up for Cycle Aid Japan 2014?