Hi All! Help fellow cyclists plan some country-side touring

O

olegTX

Warming-Up
May 8, 2018
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#1
Hi All

Oleg from Houston here - glad to find the forum and hopeful to get some adivice!

My wife and I are planning to go to Japan for 10-days or so late November and hope to do some (credit-card) bike-touring while there. We did it on our two recent vacations in Canada and France and I can't think of a better way to explore the country! I am relatively strong cyclist with a few (flat) centuries behind me, my wife is an intermediate. Recently we got a road tandem which is a great equalizer for us but I understand that may not be an option here. Anyway, here are my questions:
1) Where to go? Due to the weather and promising Natural beauty and foliage I am excited about Kyushu but...
2) Bike rental? I can not find a place in Kyushu that rents bike with panniers or at least pannier racks. Renting quality tandem seems to be out of question and these seems to illegal (why???) in several places. The only place that rents half-decent bike in Kyushu I discovered thus far is Maple Yaba Cycling Road. Not sure if rack is an option there but in the worst case I can bring my own rack and two panniers...
3) If anyone toured around Oita/Maple Yaba Cycling Road, can you suggest a loop with not so much elevation gain per day we can do around there that includes the Maple Yaba and surrounding country-side, perhaps including some nearby onsen hotels as overnight stops

More generally if other suggestions of where to rent a bike and where to ride n late November for a 4-6days (~60km/day) where quality rentals exist -- let me know.
 
O

OreoCookie

Maximum Pace
Dec 2, 2017
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#2
Kyushu is a good option if you go in November, because many other places further North could simply be off limits or at least risky because of weather and road conditions. I recommend you get in touch with Eric Romney. He does cycling tours and AFAIK also rents out bikes. I don't think he has any tandems, though. I tagged along with him once, and had a great time. He took us from Fukuoka to Oita via Yufuin, and in terms of effort level it seems like something that would be ok for your wife (110 km the first day, 60-80 km the days after).

Regarding tandems, you are right that they are outlawed in some places and enforcement is spotty. Very often Japanese will claim something that is unusual is not allowed even if it is allowed.
 
Winston Leg-Thigh

Winston Leg-Thigh

Maximum Pace
Mar 31, 2015
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#3
I cycle round that area fairly often - there's lots of really nice quiet roads although it will be a bit busier than usual that time of year. If you want some ideas about places in the area, let me know (no idea about bike rental though, sorry)
Outside of Kyushu the Shimanami Kaido is somewhere to consider. It's easy to rent bikes and there's a Giant store there where you'd be able to rent something decent https://giant-store.jp/giant-store-rentcycle/en/index.html
 
O

olegTX

Warming-Up
May 8, 2018
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#4
Thanks for the comments thus far, emailed Eric along with a few other leads and waiting for reply. How cold will Shimanami Kaido be in the end-of-November? I was considering it but seemed too cold to enjoy this time of year. Definitely on my bucket list though...
 
Joe McCarthy

Joe McCarthy

Maximum Pace
#5
The tandem issue is a really annoying one. Technically they are illegal in most prefectures because laws have been made to prohibit two people riding on the same bicycle. The law is intended to target the common practice of riding with another person on the rear rack of a normal bicycle, so tandems should be an exception because they are safe and designed for two riders. Unfortunately because they're uncommon, it is possible that an over zealous police officer will stop you if they need something to do. The rental services know this, so they can't really justify renting out tandems except in prefectures where they're specifically legal.
 
O

olegTX

Warming-Up
May 8, 2018
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#6
Hello again,
Just wanted to update on my thread and perhaps get more feedback from the community. We've decided to spend 6 days cycling and two days in fukuoka before/after the rides. We also bought second-hand BikeFiday Two'sday tandem that packs in the two suitcases so the rental problem is solved. We wanted to combine interesting towns to stop for attractions, (e.g. Beppu for monkey park and hot springs, Usa for the temple) and for cuisine (sushi and lobster festival in Saiki and tea-tasting in Kagoshima) . With the limited time and fear of excessive climbs, we've decided to skip Aso this time.
Our plan:
Day 1: Fukuoka to Hita via Dazaifu
Day 2: Hita to Usa via Maple Yaba Road
Day 3: Usa to Beppu via Kunisaki peninsula (via Futagoji and Fukiji Temples) if we would handle 5000ft elevation gain...)
Day 4: Beppu to Saiki
Day 5: Train to Kagoshima and explore there
Day 6: Ride around Sakurajima and then train back to Fukuoka

For those who know Kyushu, I would really appreciate suggestions on the routes for Day 1 and Day 4. Strava/Komoot gave me suggestions but perhaps there better routes less traveled. For instance, from Dazaifu to Hita: Is 386 the way to go or should we go south to hit Chikugo River bikeway? Worth a detour?