Ride Riding the Nakasendo (Third weekend in May)

Dec 20, 2015
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#1
If anyone is interested, I am planning on riding the Nakasendo from Nihonbashi (Tokyo) to Kyoto Station in May. The plan is to ride the 540km over three days and rest/stop at the historical places along the way. My first round of planning shows there is a major climb between Annaka, Gunma (81m) to Karuizawa, Nagano (831m).

I cycled the Tokaido last year in August, but it was raining heavy everyday. So, I want to try again when there is a better change of good weather and better scenery.

Any takers?
 
May 22, 2007
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halffastcycling.com
#5
I don't know how deeply-wedded you are to the notion of cycling the original Nakasendō. Route 19 is basically a non-stop truck-fest, set-about on all sides by used car lots, pachinko parlours and fast food establishments. The historical experience is non-existent. If you can accept a parallel route, from Tokyo I would recommend taking the Arakawa cycle path as far as Kumagaya and the Tonegawa cycle path thereafter, until you strike westwards at Takasaki.

The Utsukushigahara highlands are exquisite.

I've done the section from Shiojiri to Kiso many times. There are many sections where the old road parallels the new highway. Take the old road!

Edit: route#
 
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Likes: Gbrl Bfield
May 2, 2015
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#6
Ridden from Matsumoto to Nagoya a couple of times when I lived in Nagano... the trick is to try to get away from the truck routes... actually Shiojiri (I lived there as well) to Kiso is pretty narrow, but tolerable.... after the valley widens towards Aichi you have more choice. The Utsukushigahara highlands are lush... once you're in Nagano you can have some real fun (like going down to Ina from Shiojiri rather than the super-narrow Kiso valley- you could then go down towards Shizuoka and go round the mountains to the east of Nagoya...). Oh happy days...
 
Dec 20, 2015
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#7
Thanks guys,

I am not committed to Route 17. Actually I was a bit worried since I know there is lots of traffic on that road. I am looking forward to everything from Usui pass onwards.
 

DeltaForce

Maximum Pace
Sep 17, 2011
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#8
I'm interested in at least the part where I live, Toki city in Gifu.

https://goo.gl/maps/xwQZjt4cx292

I've been wanting to ride up to Matsumoto, castle, hitting all the post towns on the Nakasendo I can. I used to ride to Magomejuku and Tsumagojuku regularly. I ride all over Aichi for work.

Let's at least confer on routes.
 
Dec 20, 2015
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#12
Sorry for the late replies everyone!
katakan - Definately going via the Usui pass. The bypass has lots of large trucks.
otsu- Connected with you on Strava yesterday. Feel free to message me with any questions.
 

nishiki2013

http://www.bikepackingjapan.com
#13
I live in northern Aichi and ride in Gifu every other day, (often with @DeltaForce above) . I actually rode some of the Nakasendo last week. DO NOT ride on R19 (I think you mean 19, not 17). It's horrible! Stay on the side road as much as possible.

As an alternative, in May Route 8 should be open over Iida Toge from Iida to Magome/Nakatsugawa. That's a much better route although it's a biggish climb from Iida up to 1100m or so. Alternatively you could go further south and take the 256.

Yes, you'll miss some of the Nakasendo but the 19 is just horrible.
 
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DeltaForce

Maximum Pace
Sep 17, 2011
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#14
The 17 would be out of Tokyo running parallel with the Tamagawa if I remember. I'd ride up the cycle paths along the river rather than the 17, but I did sometimes take the 17 instead of the river when I was in a hurry out to the Oume area.

R19 runs down into Nagoya and I confer, it gets horribler and horribler as it nears Aichi. In fact the last 60km from Nakatsugawa into Nagoya is very bad.

I'm looking forward to riding R8 sometime @nishiki2013. it was fun enough even in the car. If we include MisakaToge in the loop it'll be epic.

@Gbrl Bfield, definitely ride through Tsumagojuku and Magomejuku as @nishiki2013 suggested, they'd be the two nicest post towns on the route.
 
Dec 20, 2015
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#15
Hi @nishiki2013, definately going to check out those two posts towns. I saw them in a book about the history of the Nakasendo and knew I had to cycle there. AS for Routes 17/19, planning to avoid them where ever possible, but I wont be going through Nagoya. Thanks again to everyone for the safety tips, they are greatly appreciated
 

robsta

Cruising
Oct 5, 2008
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#16
I'm in Shiojiri on a walk from Kyoto along the Nakasendo. Wish I had my bike as the walking is hard work. I agree with many of the above comments. Good luck. Kiso-Fukushima to Torii pass was best part so far. Quite a few signs to keep you off the main road and on the parallel side roads
 

otsu

Cruising
Dec 27, 2015
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#17
So me and @Gbrl Bfield have been conferring over e-mail. The routes are a work in progress - we're not extremely strict in sticking to the Nakasendo, for safety and enjoyment I think we've agreed that better bike roads have higher priority. In some cases we've also modified the route to pass by a certain scenic point.

If anyone have more suggestions to the routes or want to join us, feel free!



 
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otsu

Cruising
Dec 27, 2015
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www.strava.com
#18
After completing day 2 of this ride, both @Gbrl Bfield and I decided to call it quits and take the train home.

This one goes out in case someone tries to Google Nakasendo cycling - if you don't enjoy riding alongside diesel-spewing heavy traffic, ride somewhere else. Typically speaking, cycling in any kind of urban setting here in Japan is just a huge chore with lots of start-stop and non-existent cycling paths. After realizing that 90% of day 3 would be urban cycling and me being all alone for the duration, I'd rather change my itinerary and take day trips to the mountains. There's no shortage of great routes provided by members on this forum!

Day 1: https://www.strava.com/activities/581998324
The biggest highlight of the day was definitively the climb starting in Tomioka. I'd like to ride it again some day.

Day 2: https://www.strava.com/activities/583037678
@Gbrl Bfield and I split before the climbs started so I was able to pick up the pace. But I was forced to stay on more big roads today and generally speaking as soon as I was on the big road and sharing it with heavy traffic, despite Japanese truck drivers being MUCH more considerate than Swedish ones, there was often a feeling of being an obstacle and generally feeling unsafe. Highlights include the great sightseeing during the descent starting from Shioriji and the really cool climb during R142. But beware during the descent, the asphalt is SEVERELY damaged from weather in some places.The climb and the following descent from Nagiso to Nakatsugawa was also pretty damn spectacular.
 
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Dec 20, 2015
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#19
Adding onto what @otsu has posted above. After we split on day two, I decided to take R152 to the south with the plan of skipping the major climb that was planned. It turns out this is a less steep but LONGER climb (and as I found out from the locals, cyclist and runners use R152 for training). At the end of the climb is 1444m above sea level at Daimon pass (I could have used the orginal route and came to the same altitude). There is very little traffic on the road and amazing views of the valleys.

The descent into Chino begins with a few sharp turns,but then continues into a straight road until reaching the center of town. The roads are in very good condition with a few pot holes.

Before entering the route, make sure to have plenty of gels/food and water as there are no restaurants or combinis after the first 3km. I only saw one group of vending machines about 6km in. Just before the hard push to the top (which I forgot to turn on Strava for) there are a few eatery's.