Ambitious Noob

FadiB

Warming-Up
Feb 3, 2015
5
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#1
Hello everyone, my name is Fadi. I'm from Canada but I've been living in Tokyo for the past 8 months. I joined TCC for one main reason; I want to ride the famous coast to coast route from Tokyo to Niigata in the first week of May. I've already found two really helpful posts on here. This one and this one. However, my main problem is that I have very little riding experience. I am actually a long distance runner. Ran a half-marathon a couple months ago in just under 1:34. So I think I am relatively fit but I know that riding requires more than just fitness (?). So I am here looking for advice, words of wisdom or any help really.

Here are some questions that I have :
- Can a noob like me train and pull this off in 3 months time ?
- Where can I rent a road bike or buy a cheap(ish) used one ?
- Is the first week of May a good time for a ride like this one ?

Any help is appreciated.

Thank you !

(not sure if this is the right place for this post)
 
Likes: George5

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
2,863
1,450
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#3
Sure you can do it.
May should be fine depending on the route you take, and depending on the amount of snow that falls between now and then.
If you want to prepare effectively I would suggest buying a bike, do a couple of long distance rides to make sure you are positioned on it properly and can deal with the gear you might want to carry. Renting would not really be a cost effective way of doing this.
 

GrantT

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2012
1,609
1,192
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Setagaya
#4
Definitely possible.
One place to find cheap(ish) used bikes is yahoo auction. If you have an idea of a set price range for the bike we could suggest a couple on there that might be okay. Don't forget to factor in some of the hidden costs of riding the bike that might include clipless cycling shoes and pedals, helmet, puncture spares, simple tools, dependable means of navigation, padded cycling shorts, general tune-up after buying the bike, panniers, bags, etc.
I would recommend learning a few maintenance-related skills so you can be somewhat self-reliant too. Simple things like replacing an inner tube, fixing a punctured inner tube, booting a cut tyre, how to adjust a few things on the bike.
 
May 22, 2007
3,571
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Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#5
Hey Fadi

Some Half-Fast friends and I did a C2C in mid-April last year.

We did it over three days: one | two | three It's possible in two days but more enjoyable in three.

If you look you'll see some variations to the course. We've refined it over the years; last year because of the timing we were able to see cherry blossoms in many spots especially at Ueda where we stayed on day one. The views of Mt Asama, and the long descent afterwards, were great on day two. On day three we had a fun time in a big park in Saitama, because we had lots of time. It would have been quicker and simpler to hit the Arakawa Cyclepath and ride all the way to the sea.

Lots of photos (all geotagged)
 

trad

Maximum Pace
Dec 4, 2006
393
30
48
Tokyo
#6
I would think yes also. There's a ride I do called "sea to sea stupidity" that takes what I think is one of the easiest routes to the Japan sea. The goal of this ride is to complete the ride, eat dinner, drink bunch of beer and take a train home w/in 24hrs (hence the stupid part). White Giant (one of the founding core members of TCC started this 6 or 7 yrs go). This route takes Arakawa up to Kumagaya, then rt 18 to Takasaki, rt 17 up Usui toge to Kariuizawa, the scenic route down to Ueda, Chikuma river trail (or rt 18 or nakasendo) to past Nagano city, and then rt 117 to Iiyama, then rt 292 to Naoetsu. Its about 330 km and only about 2300 m climbing. Total ride time of 11-12 hrs, but 13-16 total elapsed time depending on number of breaks, mechanicals, cramps, and bonks the group has on the ride.

As for training, do recommend a few ~200 km rides (or runs well over 3 hrs) that take your body beyond your available glycogen stores (about 2000 calories worth) and get used to managing a puzzle of balances eating, hydration, sodium, and if you are prone to cramps (and levers that help you control cramps). I think every person is different for the balance of levers that works for them, so a few runs well over 2 hrs or rides in the 6 hr plus range would be my recommendation.​
 
Likes: FadiB

leicaman

Maximum Pace
Sep 20, 2012
2,506
2,190
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Asakadai, Saitama
#7
Hi Fadi
I should think you would easily be able to pull it off if you have three months to prepare for it and don't want to do it in one day. It seems like you have a reasonable fitness level base so you only need to get the right muscles working as running uses very different muscles to cycling. In the winter time I generally switch over to running so come springtime it takes me a month or so to be firing on all cycling cylinders.
I don't agree with @trad and his recommendation of doing runs well over 3hours. A few rides in the 200km range is a good idea though if you want to do the ride in two days. Running for over three hours puts a lot of stress on the body; far more than a 200km ride does. You will greatly increase your chance of injury doing very long runs. If I do a three hour run I feel pretty much exhausted and my body hurts. After a 200km ride I feel absolutely fine.
Get a few long training rides under your belt and you'll be fine.
(Oh and I'd recommend buying a bike, used if your budget only allows for that) so you can get some training Kms in, and get familiar with the bike as @theBlob said).
 
Likes: FadiB

FadiB

Warming-Up
Feb 3, 2015
5
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#8
Thanks a ton guys, already a lot of useful information. Now I'm leaning towards a 3-day trip since it seems more manageable, maybe even make it 4 if I want to see more of the country. I am a student so I am on a tight budget; if anyone would recommend a bike, used or new, for under 50,000 yen then that would be great. Yahoo Auctions seems to be a great option (anything in Tokyo). I am leaving Japan right after this trip so this bike only needs to survive for the next 3 months.

Also, are there any bike shops in Tokyo that you would recommend ?
 

luka

Maximum Pace
Jan 13, 2015
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439
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#11
@FadiB I have my old one which I may lend to you if the size is ok. I'm 175 cm. This is 2009, aluminium frame Louis Garneau. I've only just installed a new chain and cables, as well as brand new Tiagra brakes. Both derailleurs are low end Shimano but function ok (2 x front, 8 x rear). I use it mainly for short chores now I got a new one, or when the ride demands that I leave the bike unattended for a while (I won't leave the new one). I'm not really sure if it is up to such a long ride though... The tires are pretty spent for one... Anyway, if you're interested message me and let's see if we can work something out by then. I have both the clip-in pedals, and the "regular" ones if you don't want to buy the shoes, cleats etc.
 

luka

Maximum Pace
Jan 13, 2015
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#13
@FadiB On the second thought, since you would need the bike for training etc for several months, lending would be highly impractical. I could sell you the bike for 35,000 yen if you're interested. It cost me almost 7 man, and the latest upgrade alone was over 1 man, so I think the price is reasonable. I have the original proof of purchase and it comes with 2 bottle holders, a lock, and set of lights (front and rear), which are all must-have items that can add up significantly on the price of the bike if not included. If you need, for an extra 1 man I could also throw in my Adidas shoes (with new cleats) and Bell helmet. These have fallen out of favor since they don't match my new bike visually, but are otherwise perfectly usable and cost over 1 man each (cleats alone are about 2,000 yen plus). Even if you changed the tires on it (which is recommended) you should be within or close to your budget of 5 man.
 
Last edited:

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
914
294
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Tokyo
#15
I could also throw in my Adidas shoes (with new cleats) and Bell helmet. These have fallen out of favor since they don't match my new bike visually
My own shoes and helmet fall out of favor when they no longer match my feet or head dimensionally.

It takes all sorts.
 

GrantT

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2012
1,609
1,192
143
Setagaya
#16
A few current yahoo auction bikes to watch that should fit you. Of course, don't rush in and consider your options first. I let a lot of watched auctions close before choosing on a road bike.
Trek 1.1 (2011, compact crank, not sure of the groupset but probably Shimano Sora or below)
Cinelli Gazetta (2011, compact crank, Shimano 105 10-speed [good quality groupset], might end up outside price range)
Giant Defy 2 (2012, compact crank, Shimano Tiagra groupset, might end up outside price range)
 
Likes: FadiB

FadiB

Warming-Up
Feb 3, 2015
5
1
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#17
@andywood for sure !! Thanks !
@luka that sounds like an interesting offer. I'll definitely consider after I do enough research. Some pictures would be nice though !
@GrantT thanks for all the options. I'll take a look and see what I can do. Cheers !
 

luka

Maximum Pace
Jan 13, 2015
896
439
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#18
@FadiB Ok here are some photos. I can provide more later if you're interested further.

BTW, I went shopping today to Ikebukuro's Tokyu Hands and saw decent new cross bikes for about 4 man. So if I were you I would also consider something like that. Should fit your purpose perfectly. Rather than getting a second hand road bike you might as well do it with a new cross bike if you're taking 4 days or so. I had no idea this things were so cheap...


With my bike, since I've changed a lot of expendables just the other week, it should also serve you well over the next few months at the very least. But those auction stuff can have nasty surprises hidden down the road later as you really never know what's under the surface.
 

luka

Maximum Pace
Jan 13, 2015
896
439
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#19
wow, just stumbled upon this 3 man foldable bike on amazon. check it out. had no idea they go so cheap nowadays. bottle-holder, lock, light included! everything is low-end and surely not build to last but one would expect it to function for 3 months or so anyway... if I were you Fadi I'd seriously consider something like this. mind that this one does not display the size, or I've missed it somehow... just throwing it out there