Official Ride GW Two Day Long Ride - Tokyo to Kashiwazaki (Niigata)

WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
1,192
240
93
Kita-Ueno
#1
Monday 29th, and Tuesday 30th April, 2013.
Total distance: About 390km.
Accommodation - ¥6,000 ~ ¥8,000.
Train back from Kashiwazaki - ¥8,620.
Total cost: ¥15,000 ~ ¥17,000 (not including food & drink).


Thomas, Serguei, and I have been discussing a long-distance-touring-group-ride over Golden Week, and we decided on a tried-and-true route. With the days we have available to us limited by previous engagements, the only days we all have free are the Monday and Tuesday, stated above.

The basic course we'll be following is the same one written about in the book: "CYCLING JAPAN by Takashi Niwa: 10 of the Best Rides". Alan and Naomi did this same ride a few years ago as well (although with the TCC website updates, Alan's blog seems to be missing, unfortunately).
Here is the MAP from Alan's original ride.
A great deal of the route is done along Cycling Roads beside the various rivers, although there will also be some unavoidable sections of road (not necessarily a bad thing).

This ride is well-known as being a coast-to-coast affair, typically starting at Kasai-Rinkai Koen, at the mouth of the Arakawa. However, in order to make it easier for those living in the south & west of Tokyo, we've decided to move the official "Start" to Takeshiba Pier (near Hamamatsucho), which is technically the waterfront, in keeping with the coast to coast tradition.

DAY 1: We'll meet out the front of Takeshiba Pier at 6:00am sharp, before slowly snaking our way through Tokyo, up Rte.17 towards Arakawa. Once at the river, we'll settle into a grind - Anyone who has done these kinds of long rides before will know that "pacing oneself" is the name of the game. While it won't be "slow" per se, it will be "nice and steady". We'll probably pass through Kumagaya around 9am, and maybe have a short break before heading up to the Tonegawa. The Tonegawa CR should take us all the way to Takasaki, where we'll stop for lunch. After lunch comes "the climb" - I say "THE" climb, because it's the only one that day - taking us up to right around 1,000m of elevation, near Karuizawa. From there, it's not too far to Ueda, where we'll (hopefully, depending on room availability) spend the night. That will total about 230km.

DAY 2: With any luck, we'll have eaten well, and had a good night's sleep, and be up at 6:00, and ready to roll by 7:00. The first part of the day will be mostly downhill, even if only slightly, for the next 70km or so, to Iiyama. From there, we will have a roughly 10km climb (those who did Itoigawa last year will be familiar with it), and from there, it will be downhill all the way to the Japan Sea, somewhere around lunchtime. After lunch, we'll turn right, heading NE along the coastline for the next 30km until we get to Kashiwazaki. We'll make our way to the station, and catch the local train to Nagaoka. At Nagaoka, we'll change to the shinkansen, which will have us back in Tokyo in under 2 hours. Total riding for that day will be about 160km.

If there are any members out there who (a) have the Monday & Tuesday free (b) would like to join us for a cycling adventure, please let us know as soon as possible.
Ideally, beforeThursday, as accommodation is booking up fast - If we don't get in early, we may end up paying a lot more for a place to stay.
Look forward to hearing from you all!
Travis (with Thomas & Serguei)
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
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#2
That looks excellent.

I am work Tuesday and Wednesday of next week though. Literally for my sins.
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,003
176
83
Tokyo
#5
Great idea! Ill see if I can get the 30st off once I get to work today...
I'm in. Seems great to log some mileage and ride into form. But I won't be able to pull Travis half of the way!

I did a variation I this route through the mountains coming back out at Ueda. A lot more climbing, but no traffic...
 

WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
1,192
240
93
Kita-Ueno
#6
Thanks Gunnar.
That brings our number to four.

Thomas
Serguei (kpykc)
Gunnar (Gunjira)
Travis (WhiteGiant)

We all (the four of us) have a single room each, booked and confirmed in Ueda.
There are still a few rooms available at the hotel, if anyone else is interested.
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,003
176
83
Tokyo
#7
Pleasure is all mine, thanks so much for having me.
That being said, please have a look at the following route, which is adopted according to how I rode it before (I actually cut out the respective pages from Takashi Niwa's book, no garmin back then).
My proposed change is turning off at Kumagaya to incorporate Jikkoku-toge, which is an excellent ride and open to traffic since 4/11. Even though this more direct route avoids traffic it actually shaves off 5k until reaching Ueda. It is some more climbing, but day 2 is copable with the downhill to Naoetsu to look forward to, right?
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
1,739
1,390
133
Niigata
#8
If you follow R18 down to Naouetsu, Lake Nojiriko on the Niigata/ Nagano border is worth a loop around.

However, Gunnar's ride takes in R292 from Iiyama which is a much nicer road and not too difficult.

If you want more of an adventure, R91 up to Hikarigahara Kougen is a cracker. Up to 1000 meters with beautiful views. A hill climb but not too steep. Tom and Ludwig really enjoyed it. However, it's probably not open yet.

Both roads drop down to R30, the Arai~Kakizaki line. This is nothing special (flat and often windy) but a nicer road than R8 from Naouetsu to Kashiwazaki. If you want to go down to Naoetsu first, there is an old road with runs closer to the sea than R8 that you can pick up.

Between Kakizaki and Kashiwazaki there are 3 tunnels and Yoneyama bridge (the highest in Japan?). If you have time you can avoid most of these by dropping down into the little fishing villages and coming up the other side.

A different way to get to Kashiwazakai from Iiyama would be via Tsunan, Matsunoyama Onsen, Matsudai and Takayanagi. These are my training roads and come highly recommended!

If you want a bath in Kashiwazaki, Sea Youth Lion and Aquapark are in striking distance of the station. A kilo further up the coast, Salp Spa is a proper onsen with all the works.

If you need any logistic help in Kashiwazaki let me know. I guess you'll be doing a yukata job at the hotel, so if you forwarded some clothes to here you wouldn't have to carry anything.

Have a good one!

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,003
176
83
Tokyo
#9
Andy, thanks for the great infos about your turf. That's very useful for us and future riders of this popular course.

I personally loved the beautiful descend on Iiyama highway, but wouldn't mind checking out the Tsunan approach as well. Ultimately though it will depend on the consensus and legs of all the involved... Can't wait for GW
 

Ronan

Warming-Up
Nov 22, 2012
8
0
1
Tokyo
#10
Hello,
I would have like to join, even if i would have been afraid not beeing able to follow the rythm...but i'm working that day. I'll try to do this one by my own for the golden week (the week end after). Is it easy to put the bike in shinkansen (even with bike bag, for sure) ? you need to pay for the bike ?
Thanks for your advices.
 

WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
1,192
240
93
Kita-Ueno
#11
First of all, as Gunnar said, "Thanks Andy!" for all the information. Rte.30 looks like the best way to avoid having to ride through the Naoetsu town-center. And the places to bathe in Kashiwazaki ought to come in very handy.

>Gunnar: At the risk of sounding like a big wimp...(and I will sound exactly like a big wimp), I was hoping to keep the climbing to a minimum. I spent quite a long time off the bike, and have only started riding again in the last month or so - I just haven't got my "climbing legs" back yet.

That said, there's an idea that's been floating around my head, which is, if we are all still feeling pretty fresh after 230km on the first day, we could also try and ride 230km the following day too, and go all the way to Niigata city (which is kind of where I wanted to end up anyway) - That'll give us 460km over the two days. It really depends on two things though; (a) how we feel after the first day, and (b) what the wind is doing on day two - If the wind is favorable, there's no reason why we couldn't easily make it to Niigata.

>Ronan: You should be fine with your bike on the Shinkansen - The best place to get on the train though, is the rear door of whichever carriage you are getting on. There is plenty of space behind the last row of seats in every carriage, and unless someone else has a large suitcase in the way, you should be able to get your bike in there, with some room to spare.
And by the way, they don't charge extra for bikes, or any other kind of luggage.
 

trad

Maximum Pace
Dec 4, 2006
393
30
48
Tokyo
#12
Travis - you probably already know this, but from Ueda, recommend hopping on the Chikuma river trail vs staying on Rt 18. Can take this nearly all the way to Shinonoi. From there, I've typically stayed on Rt 18 thru Nagano (and dealt with fair amt of traffic) At Shnaoosana, there's s decision point - to turn left and stay on Rt 18 into Naoetsu (direct) or take Iiyama highway into Iiyama and hang a left on 292 into Naoetsu. I've not been on Andy's other suggestions, but between the two options into Naoetsu, I recommend going to Iiyama and taking 292 into Naoetus. The descent after the ~500 m climb is really nice. Good luck! I'll be doing my fourth annual Travis inspired one day SSS (Sea to Sea Stupidity) a couple of weeks after you guys.
 
Likes: WhiteGiant

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,003
176
83
Tokyo
#13
Travis, I think you are taking the smart stance on this. Actually my training is also still at the slow and steady level, not calling for consecutive epic rides (hell, maybe I wouldn't make it up jikkokutoge). It's just that when you give me a map I instinctively draw up the most amazing route I can think of :)
 
Likes: OwenJames

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
1,739
1,390
133
Niigata
#14
Coming via Tsunan is very up and down up and down. You will have had your fill when you reach Kashiwazaki!

If you want to go to Niigata, definitely take R30 as it cuts 2 sides off a triangle. The coast road after Kashiwazaki is splendid all the way to Niigata. Beautiful with little traffic. It's a long way though (about 90 km) and you are guarenteed a wind, hopefully a tailwind!

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time
 

thomas

The Crank Engine
Nov 1, 2005
1,815
221
93
多摩区
#18
Thanks for the great tour, gentlemen, it's been a pleasure riding with you. I have uploaded a few pictures to the gallery and hope our navigator Travis will act as the official chronicler of the C2C 2013 ride. :cool:

c2c2013_07.jpg
 
Likes: TOM

WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
1,192
240
93
Kita-Ueno
#19
Final Report - The epitome of the perfect ride!

Of course, I don't mean to say that we rode "perfectly", just that we (a) had no punctures, (b) had no mechanical problems at all, (c) never really got lost, and (d) were basically always where we wanted to be when we thought we would be there.
We constantly joked about "being on schedule", despite not actually having a schedule to keep. But I think we all had a pretty good idea of what time we would arrive at the next destination point, and we pretty much kept to it.

DAY 1 - 216km


I left home at 5:30, and rode the 9km south to our official starting point, at Takeshiba pier. I got there just before 6:00... and couldn't see anybody! I was just about to go searching, when I spotted Thomas & his bike in front of the Family-Mart just across the road. Thomas informed me that Serguei would be arriving at Hamamatsucho station at 6:10. We rode up to the station, where Serguei was coming out of the ticket gates. He set up his bike, and we were underway 10 minutes later. The 3 of us headed towards Shimbashi where we had arranged to meet Gunnar. With our group complete, the four of us were finally on our way by 6:30.

We snaked our way through Kanda & Suidobashi, past Tokyo Dome as we made our way up Rte.17. We past the Family-Mart at 7:20, where Pete (Yamabushi) & his group would have left 50 minutes earlier on their way out to Nichitsu. Now on the Arakawa, we were riding past the "Spaceship" 15 minutes later (at 7:35), where we met Mark (leicaman), who had been waiting since 7:00 for Pete's group, but had obviously missed them. Mark joined us and helped pull us, at speed, up the river. Less than 1km from Honda Airport, Mark bid us farewell. Thanks Mark, it was great to see you again, and to have the extra assistance. After the airport, we made our way further up river, arriving in Kumagaya at 9:20, with 76km on the meter - We had basically ridden that entire distance non-stop.

We stopped in Kumagaya to refuel, and then took Rte.341, heading almost directly north for the next 10km to Tonegawa. We crossed Tonegawa at 10:15, and turned left onto the cycling road there. This was probably the most difficult part to navigate, as there are several tributaries that feed into the Tonegawa river itself. This section of Tonegawa basically runs west to east. We wanted to be heading directly west, but the cycling road tends to follow these tributaries, branches of the river, north. Several times, we had to cross over, and then head back down the other side, back to the Tonegawa river proper. The cycling road ends after about 30km, and we made our way into Takasaki along Rte.121 (a.k.a. The Togoku Culture & History Hwy). We arrived in Takasaki just before noon, 130km from Takeshiba.

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We had lunch at the Gusto family restaurant, and were rolling again by 13:00. After crossing the river, we had another 5km of cycling road, and then a further 2km on Rte.18 to Annaka. From Annaka, we followed Rte.214/48/213/217, which, apart from one little zig-zag, is basically a straight shot through, it's the same road that just switches numbers several times - A little narrow in places, but with much less traffic than Rte.18. This section of road though, is where it starts going uphill. Very gradually at first, only 2 or 3 percent, but we all knew that we weren't even at the beginning of the climb yet. Rte.217 eventually turns onto Rte.33, which then merges with Rte.18 again. A little further on, Rte.18 splits (although both roads are still labeled "Rte.18"), with one to the north, and the other to the south, both roads climbing more than 650m over the next 14km, to Usui-toge, with the roads coming back together again after Karuizawa. If there was a navigational glitch on this tour, it would have been here - We were planning to take the route to the north; the scenic route with apparently 184 numbered bends. Instead, we ended up taking the southern route, which only has around 40 bends (although, they are still numbered). And looking at the profiles of each climb, I think we took the easier of the two.

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That said, the climb was anything but easy. Let me tell you, it becomes a very long fourteen-kilometers when you have over 5kg your back. Finally though, it does indeed END, and then there is the most deliciously fast downhill along the Usui By-pass. We all met up at a convenience store there just on 16:00. There, we had a break before the final 40km run into Ueda.

The final 40km were mostly downhill, and we made the most of it. For the most part, we were cruising at between 40~50km/h (and a lot faster in some sections). Although at times, we got caught up in a few traffic bottle-necks. We arrived in Ueda just on 17:30, checked into our hotel (Toyoko Inn), and went for dinner.
We were a little bit worried about the weather for the following morning, and we discussed various contingency plans in case it was pouring/freezing cold, etc. In the end, we decided to just meet downstairs at 7:00, for the complimentary breakfast, and see what we would do from there...




DAY 2 - 159km


As we had discussed the night before, we all met at 7am for breakfast. Outside, you could see that it had rained overnight, but it had stopped. Now it just cloudy, and not nearly as cold as we had expected it to be. Two days earlier, Alan & Naomi had stayed in Komoro, just 20km away, and it was -4°C in the morning, for us, it was around 10°C, so we were quite lucky. After breakfast, we got ready, and were downstairs by 8:00. After filling up our bottles at the nearby convenience store, our first order of business was to see the local castle - Ueda Castle. Finally, after the obligatory photo-shoot, we headed out of town at 8:25.

c2c2013_06.jpg


We crossed the river to the west, and began heading NW on both the Chikuma-gawa cycling road, and Rte.77. The cycling road was a bit bumpy in places, and under construction in others, and that's when we would jump on Rte.77. There were some other places on the CR that were absolutely brilliant, and we made some really good time. That might also have been due to the tailwind we had, and we made it to Nakano-city (62km) by 10:40. We had our first break there, and left at about 11:00. After making our way through the congested traffic in the city center, we turned directly north onto Rte.292. The next 10km were a bit of a struggle, as the wind had changed, and was now coming right at us. We pulled out our secret weapon - ie. we sent Thomas to the front - as the rest of us hunkered down behind him.

We made a bit of a detour along the Old-Iiyama-Hwy, and after making it through the town center, we turned left (staying on Rte.292) as we began the main ascent of the day. Gunnar described it as "a nice climb". And it was indeed, nice! If only for the fact that we were (I was) expecting it to go on for about 7km, and it was over in 4km. Also, it wasn't as steep as the previous day's climb, which in itself, was "nice". The downhill from there was not too bad, but the wind prevented us from going our absolute top speed. Still, we were able to keep a decent pace for the next 15km all the way to Myoko at 13:00 (the station is actually "Arai" station), where we had lunch at a (probably the only) soba restaurant in town.

The restaurant owner was a lovely old lady, who was happy to tell us about the local ingredients she used. We were also the only people in there, and she turned the heater up for us. We all had some variation of udon or soba noodles, and it was delicious. Very cozy little place. While we were there, we checked the remaining distance, and found that we had 52km to go to Kashiwazaki. Gunnar checked the train timetable, and the best train for us to catch was the 15:59. We left the restaurant at 13:40. We would need to hurry if we were going to catch that train.

From Myoko/Arai, we went straight onto Rte.30, Andy Wood's suggestion, and headed toward the coast at an oblique angle. The wind seemed to be blowing directly from the west as we were heading north, making for a not-too-friendly sidewind. It was a lot harder to find shelter behind the guy in front without moving too far into the center of the road, and not easy to keep up the pace. Finally though, we made it to Rte.8 at Kakizaki, and with a more north-easterly direction, the wind became our ally. There was one biggish climb and descent just after Kakizaki, but then the road stayed mostly elevated with a few more smaller ups & downs - but the ups were much shorter, easier to climb if you kept up your momentum. We were able to hold over 40km/h on the final 10~12km of Rte.8, and we made it to Kashiwazaki at 15:30 - Plenty of time for the train.

c2c2013_08.jpg


Our first glimpse of the Japan Sea

The fast train took just 27 minutes to get to Nagaoka, and we caught the 16:40 "Toki" Shinkansen from there.
That arrived in Tokyo at 18:20.
Total distance for the two days: 375km