Ride Randonneuring in Japan

Gok

Gok

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#1
Sorry if this has been asked before but anyone has any detailed info on how to go about it; especially if your Japanese is non-existent? Can it be done? Are you 'allowed' at the event if you show up as a clueless Gaijin?

Audax JP website:

"AJ is primarily a Japanese language organization and most of our events are conducted entirely in Japanese language – application materials, route information and cue sheets, instructions, waivers, etc. You will not be able to enter or complete most events unless you can handle Japanese language (or join together with a buddy who can guide you through the entire event)."

Now, where can I find a Japanese Randonneuring friend.... You guys have any experiences with Audax JP?
 
joewein

joewein

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Setagaya, Tokyo
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#3
Hi Gok (and hat tip to @leicaman),

I've been riding randonnées (brevets) in Japan since 2012. Most of the time I will be the only foreigner in the whole event, but it's a very friendly and open-minded community. You will feel very welcome :)

Here are some pictures from my longest brevet last year, a 400 km ride around Mt Fuji.

The randonneuring community in Japan has been growing rapidly over the years, with about half a dozen clubs in the Kanto area alone and hundreds of events from 200 to 1200 km in Japan every year. Last year they even had a 2400 km ride around Hokkaido!

You can find a list of all events here on the Audax Japan website.

Most clubs use the Sportsentry website for event signup. The signup period typically runs from somewhere between 3 to 1 months before the event, but signup will also close as soon as the maximum number of participants is reached, which often happens because so many of the rides are very popular. For example, I have signed up already for events scheduled in March, April and May. If you don't read Japanese (Google translate is your friend), ask a Japanese-speaking friend to help you with the signup. Costs are low (about 1000-2500 yen per event).

To be allowed to participate you will need to be covered by third party liability insurance of 100 million yen. See the "Accidents & Insurance" thread in this section. Two popular schemes are the 7-11 bicycle insurance and a bicycle policy by AU Sonpo. You will need to submit the name of the insurance company, name of contract type, policy number and validity period during the event signup. You also need to sign a disclaimer form to accept full responsibility for accidents.

The bike needs to be street legal (e.g. can't run without a bell or brakes) and you need to follow Japanese traffic regulations at all time (no sneaking through red lights, no right turns on right turn lanes on multi-lane intersections, etc). You will need lights, with the rear light attached to the frame and not operating in flashing mode. For longer rides and rides with night starts a second front light and helmet rear light may be required as well.

Navigation may also seem a problem if you don't read Japanese, since the clubs provide a cue sheet for download that is in Japanese only. However, many clubs will also publish a route map on Yahoo Routelabo from which you can download a GPX or KML file to feed into a GPS device of your choice. I navigate all brevets by following my GPS breadcrumb trail based on a GPX file and only refer to the cue sheet for distances to the check points (PCs).

Any questions, give me a shout!
 
Gok

Gok

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Dec 22, 2016
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#4
@joewein thanks for the detailed explanation. Stellar pictures (Not Suitable For Work.... makes you wanna head out)!

A few questions:

1) So it's OK if you can't decipher the pre-event briefing?
2) Is it necessary that I should be accompanied by a Japanese-speaking friend?
3) I heard something about reflective vests as well. Are they mandatory?
4) Is there any qualifying criteria for the longer versions?

Thanks
 
joewein

joewein

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#5
1) So it's OK if you can't decipher the pre-event briefing?
Usually there will be some information about tricky spots for maneuvering, like a turning that's easy to miss or a place where you have to use a sidewalk instead of the road. Usually it's helpful advice that will make it easier, but not essential to understand all the details.

2) Is it necessary that I should be accompanied by a Japanese-speaking friend?
It will make it easier, but on the other hand, not having a Japanese friend will provide more motivation to learn Japanese quickly! :D

There will be some people among the staff and fellow participants who speak English, you just can't rely on it though.

3) I heard something about reflective vests as well. Are they mandatory?
Sorry, I meant to mention that but forgot. Yes, they're mandatory, to be worn both day and night.

Some clubs actually sell these reflective vests at the start in case a participant forgot his/hers. Ask me how I know ;)

For my first couple of rides I used a reflective vest from a DIY shop. I now use a vest designed by Audax Saitama distributed by a lot of clubs in the Kanto area.

4) Is there any qualifying criteria for the longer versions?
Before a 300 km brevet, you're supposed to have run a 200 km brevet. Before a 400 km, you should have done a 300, etc. My first brevet was already a 300 km and I wasn't turned away. I had done several training rides of more than 200 km. I would not recommend doing a 400 km brevet or longer as your first event, even if they would let you sign up. Gathering experience on the shorter events is definitely helpful for the longer rides.







The views and experiences from these rides far across the countryside are some of my most treasured memories.
 
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joewein

joewein

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#7
@ArakawaCAAD, let me know if you have any questions about randonneuring events in Japan.

Based on your handle, are you in north Tokyo or near Saitama?
 
ArakawaCAAD

ArakawaCAAD

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Mar 5, 2019
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#8
@ArakawaCAAD, let me know if you have any questions about randonneuring events in Japan.

Based on your handle, are you in north Tokyo or near Saitama?
Hi @joewein , thank you for the info! Do you know if there is any cc in Tokyo where people train for longer rides? I find it much easier to ride long distances with someone else around.

I am based in Ueno area.
 
Karl

Karl

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#9
I am also interested in long rides but worry that I might be too slow to hit the checkpoints on time. I've only done one 200 km ride but would like to try it again some time and see how I do. Then I could have a baseline to judge whether to join other organized rides. If folks who are newbies, like me, to the idea of longer rides and would like to see how they do in an informal, un/disorganized ride, with no checkpoints, and no other support, let me know.

The route is mostly flat and avoids the worst of the traffic. Speed could be affected by how many people are out walking on the cycle paths of the Sagami, Sakai, Tsurumi, and Tamagawa. Often, that can be an issue. Plenty of conbini's along the route though, so shouldn't need to worry about carrying much food or water. The route can be adjusted if anyone has a better idea. Not sure exactly when I'll do the ride but if anyone is interested to ride it, at least start it, with me, we could figure out a good date and start time/location that works. Would like to do it mid to late March, weather permitting.

 
Kangaeroo

Kangaeroo

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#10
I am also interested in long rides but worry that I might be too slow to hit the checkpoints on time. I've only done one 200 km ride but would like to try it again some time and see how I do. Then I could have a baseline to judge whether to join other organized rides. If folks who are newbies, like me, to the idea of longer rides and would like to see how they do in an informal, un/disorganized ride, with no checkpoints, and no other support, let me know.

The route is mostly flat and avoids the worst of the traffic. Speed could be affected by how many people are out walking on the cycle paths of the Sagami, Sakai, Tsurumi, and Tamagawa. Often, that can be an issue. Plenty of conbini's along the route though, so shouldn't need to worry about carrying much food or water. The route can be adjusted if anyone has a better idea. Not sure exactly when I'll do the ride but if anyone is interested to ride it, at least start it, with me, we could figure out a good date and start time/location that works. Would like to do it mid to late March, weather permitting.

I am definitely up for riding with you, and share almost the exact fears, so we'd be helping each other out. What's more, I think we're pretty much close to neighbors!
March is not good for me, unless it's the last weekend, but after that I should be OK. A Saturday would be better than a Sunday because it's getting harder to recover, but I'm flexible if need be.
I'm pretty sure I can rope in at least one other rider, too, and possibly more, but would be delighted even if only the two of us.
 
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ArakawaCAAD

ArakawaCAAD

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#11
@Kangaeroo @Karl, If you are interested in doing a longer ride for the sake of it, I suggest cycling form Tokyo to Choshi via Chiba. It's a lovely 150k ride along rivers and on quiet cycling paths (90k in total). I think it would be a nice ride to test if our body and bikes can endure an Audax.
If weather is nice, we could do the ride on the third or fifth weekend of March
 
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Gok

Gok

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#12
I am definitely up for riding with you, and share almost the exact fears, so we'd be helping each other out. What's more, I think we're pretty much close to neighbors!
March is not good for me, unless it's the last weekend, but after that I should be OK. A Saturday would be better than a Sunday because it's getting harder to recover, but I'm flexible if need be.
I'm pretty sure I can rope in at least one other rider, too, and possibly more, but would be delighted even if only the two of us.
Count me in guys..... given it's a weekend.

- fellow shy, slow rider
 
Karl

Karl

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#13
I am definitely up for riding with you, and share almost the exact fears, so we'd be helping each other out. What's more, I think we're pretty much close to neighbors!
March is not good for me, unless it's the last weekend, but after that I should be OK. A Saturday would be better than a Sunday because it's getting harder to recover, but I'm flexible if need be.
I'm pretty sure I can rope in at least one other rider, too, and possibly more, but would be delighted even if only the two of us.

Sounds great. We can work out the exact date over the next couple of weeks. On a long ride like this, I think we should try to take into account weather and wind, so shoot for a day when the wind is not much over 14 khm? Saturdays work for me. Sundays have the advantage of fewer large trucks. But, for me, the weather is the most important factor.
 
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Karl

Karl

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#14
@Kangaeroo @Karl, If you are interested in doing a longer ride for the sake of it, I suggest cycling form Tokyo to Choshi via Chiba. It's a lovely 150k ride along rivers and on quiet cycling paths (90k in total). I think it would be a nice ride to test if our body and bikes can endure an Audax.
If weather is nice, we could do the ride on the third or fifth weekend of March
View attachment 17396
It is a bit out of my area so would mean long train ride to and from start and end points. But looks like a really nice route for a longer weekend.
 
Kangaeroo

Kangaeroo

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#15
It is a bit out of my area so would mean long train ride to and from start and end points. But looks like a really nice route for a longer weekend.
Thanks, @ArakawaCAAD I did this ride a few years ago and it was a delight.
It's pretty exposed all the way, so there'll be crosswinds, I'm sure.
I forgot about the equinox holiday, too, if that works for others.
@Karl, if you want to ride from out our way, I am happy to do that and essentially know the way to at least the Tone River turnoff (I think). @Gok is in a similar area, too, I think.
 
Karl

Karl

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#16
@Kangaeroo The 21st might be a good option. Works for me if the weather cooperates.

"if you want to ride from out our way, I am happy to do that and essentially know the way to at least the Tone River turnoff"

Not familiar with the Tone. Not sure where that is. Help?
 
Kangaeroo

Kangaeroo

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#17
I think the route @ArakawaCAAD took to Choshi was along the Tone River. You can get there (from memory) by going up the Edogawa until you reach the Tone.
I should note that's my memory of how we did it. That same memory has perfect recollection of everything that happened on Oct. 13, 1967, but I have already forgotten what I had for dinner last night (so, I guess I should have another dinner to try to help me recall).
The Edogawa river track I would start from is about 40km (mostly flat) from Cross Cafe near Yanokuchi Station. The ride to Choshi is mostly flat.
21st is pretty good for me, too, but might take the train back from Choshi if we do that.
 
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Karl

Karl

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#18
Oh... the Tone is part of the Choshi ride. Got it. That ride won't work for me till days are longer. For the 21st, I thought you were referring to the route I posted. As a test ride, it works better for me since it centers on where I live and because it doubles back so that bail out is an option. Choshi looks good for summer.

"That same memory has perfect recollection of everything that happened on Oct. 13, 1967, but I have already forgotten what I had for dinner last night "

The way you talk about memory, recovery time and biking speed makes me think we're pretty well matched. ... Now, what was I saying?
 
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Kangaeroo

Kangaeroo

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#19
Unforgettable! (I think....)
The 21st on your plan works better for me, too, I think (the following day might be tough, but I won't be riding the 23rd). I could ride to where you started, or perhaps meet near Tsurukawa Kaido.
 
Karl

Karl

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#20
OK. Sounds like a plan. We can meet anywhere along the route that works best for you. No need to ride here. Somewhere near Tsurukawa station works fine for me.
 
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