Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo Fixed Touring

#1
So it's getting colder and colder every morning. I remember the horror of last years' frozen winter training, the ice cold hands/feet, and the dreaded ice on the road. It's only a matter of time before it is upon us. I've already started dreaming of spring when the sakura comes out and the days get longer.

Not only am I dreaming of spring, I am starting plans for a tour to Kyoto by fixed gear. I want to arrive just as the Sakura starts to bloom. Kyoto is roughly 460km away, so a pace of 115km a day should be easy enough with loaded down bike. 4 days out, 1 or 2 days in Kyoto, and 4 days back sounds just about right to me. This won't be a blazing pace like the normal tcc rides but a nice leisure ride. Lately its been all about training and racing but no time to just ride for fun. Touring and fun are what I love most about cycling, training and racing are just to stay healthy and get out the aggression (but this is a different topic).

My intended route is to head south from Tokyo until I hit the coastal road and take that all the way to Nagoya where I will start to make my way inland and hit Kyoto. I don't have a specific route yet, but that's why I am asking for advice here. I know coastal roads will have heavy traffic but until I get past the Alps, that's what I want to use.

accommodations: I have a 2 person tent that I am thinking of using to cut cost but perhaps an onsen/minshuku or 2 along the way and in Kyoto would be nice. suggestions?

Tools/equipment: what should I bring on a 10 day tour? I am choosing fixed gear because there is less things to go wrong on that type of bike, but still I gotta pack for any situation. Besides the typical flat repair kit, spare tire (I will use tubular tires on this ride), and a few chain links, what is good to bring along?

BTW anyone who wants to join me please feel free, we can plan together. Riding fixed gear is not necessary but please keep in mind that I will be riding at a fixed gear pace up and down the mountains we encounter(like I said before, leisurely pace).

Cheers
 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
914
294
83
Tokyo
#2
Tools/equipment: what should I bring on a 10 day tour? I am choosing fixed gear because there is less things to go wrong on that type of bike, but still I gotta pack for any situation. Besides the typical flat repair kit, spare tire (I will use tubular tires on this ride), and a few chain links, what is good to bring along?
Gears, plural!

I'm a very old geezer and I'm out of date and ignorant. (We met once, over my crappy wheel. So you may remember! Thank you again for the wheel, which is now in much better shape than I am.) Maybe it's just my ignorance that makes me alarmed at the sight of a stack of ten sprockets (or this month eleven sprockets) and vertical (or near-vertical) spokes on the right of the rear wheel. Maybe the whole set-up becomes a bit fragile -- though you're touring, no? And to Kyoto and back, not across Mongolia -- and maybe the index shifting needs adjustment. But if so, why then jump to the opposite extreme? How about a compromise, like a seven-, six- or even five-sprocket hub, and maybe non-indexing gears?

(One reason I think of this is that my other bike has a rear derailer that I learn is 30 years old but that is smooooooth.)

So anyway: second spare tire (in case you really have bad luck), spare brake cable, spokes . . . And probably more stuff besides, if you're paranoically inclined.

PS I awaken to dig around here a bit more and thus find that Tokyo to Kyoto (and/or vice versa) is a pretty well established route, even by fixie. Well well. Also, "There is nothing in Japan (and probably anywhere) that cannot be comfortably ridden on a fixed gear". (And also "The cycling technology is such that pretty much anything you buy (or spend) over $500 will be totally awesome compared to ANYTHING built 10yrs ago" -- hang on: If that's true, then today's drivetrains should be awesomely failure-proofed, no?) As for routes, on the off-chance that you haven't already seen this thread, take a look at people's suggestions there.
 

Samuelg

Warming-Up
Jun 22, 2009
33
0
0
Sydney
#4
HI Eric,
I did this exact ride in golden week this year, except i did not go to the coast, becasue it is too heavily traffickd and not tour cycling friendly.
I am actually replanning the route and thinking of extending it all the way to Kyushuu which may be a challenge for around April next year.

As for just going to Kyoto, we went ard the alps becasue you can't go over, and this added kms to the journey, total was 600, so we did it 150km per day over 4 days. the route was basically Tokyo - isawa onsen, isawa - onsen to kisomura, kisomura to inuyama, inuyama to kyoto.
we booked value for money accomodation along the way and we sent a takuyubin return bag to each one, so we carried nothing but spare tubes and lunchmoney.
caught the shink back to tokyo, budget for the whole trip was 5man over 4 days, and it worked nicely.
along the way i made a few errors with roads that were closed, but now that i know, i can make a really kick arse route there. without river crossing and bush bashing which i ended up doing as part of looking for the ideal back roads.(it wasn't too bad becasue we weren't carrying any bags)
If you want to do it single speed, IMHO you are just making life unnecessarily hard for yourself, but that really is a personal choice, and i understand.
 
#5
Thanks for the advice guys! rain gear is a really good idea. I think mavic and bicycle line make a really nice light weight rain kit that can fold up and fit in a jersey pocket. I think that would be best.

I do have an iphone charger and my edge 500 usually lasts about 16 hours which will be enough to give me time to find an outlet somewhere. I don't want to do a dynamo hub because I think it will just add more weight to an already heavy situation. Plus on a trip like this I won't rely on technology alone. I will be bringing paper maps and a compass as those will never let you down.

Spare tire most definitely! In my emergency kit I have a few spoke nipples and chain links. I'll bring a couple spokes just in case but I have never had a spoke break on me before. Astuto knows how to make a good wheel ;)

Personally I don't believe riding fixed gear is making it harder on myself. Now it must be understood that the bike will be fixed gear but I will be bringing a few different cog sizes with me. I will have a few climbing cogs and a flat land transit cog. In all honesty how many times do you shift going up hill(if you are not racing or trying to beat a time on strava)? Most people find a comfortable gear and use it all the way up. On the flats, how many times do you need to shift if you have a comfortable speed? I've done a few hilly 200k rides on my fixed gear with no problem. I was even dragged up Wada on my fixed gear too.

The main reason for the fixed over geared decision was that simple has the lowest chance of breakage or malfunction. For example, my Di2 road bike is supposed to be really high end and reliable. The shifting is supposed to be accurate 100% of the time with no question. Well during the Tokyo-Itoigawa brevet, it had a brain fart and when I shifted to a lighter gear, it went past its indexing and went into my rear wheel. I was lucky that nothing broke but its just goes to say you can't trust technology. At my work in Y's road I get customers every week with bent hangers and broken derailleurs, and some of the customers are known to keep a tight maintenance schedule so nothing should have gone wrong. In my opinion, simple is best.

Samuel, would you happen to have gps data or a plotted route map I could take a look at? I'm really interested in seeing how you went there and which places you stayed at. I don't plan on riding the shinkansen back but I also don't want to take the same route back and forth to Kyoto. Perhaps I might like to try yours on the way back.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,424
862
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#7
I do have an iphone charger and my edge 500 usually lasts about 16 hours which will be enough to give me time to find an outlet somewhere. I don't want to do a dynamo hub because I think it will just add more weight to an already heavy situation.
I'm not suggesting a dynamo hub, which would only help you if you also had a USB adapter. But an external lithium-ion USB battery is nice to have, if it saves you ever having to worry about how long your phone will last or where to find a wall socket.

Paper maps are a good backup plan. I have even used screen shots of Google Maps / MapMyRide / RWGPS on my digital camera for that purpose, as it lets me zoom into photographs and I always take my camera on longer rides.

In all honesty how many times do you shift going up hill(if you are not racing or trying to beat a time on strava)? Most people find a comfortable gear and use it all the way up. On the flats, how many times do you need to shift if you have a comfortable speed?
Individual habits obviously vary and I won't try to change yours, but I definitely don't climb an 8 % grade in the same gear as a 5 % grade. Few hilly routes are the same grade throughout. Even if they are, changing cadence every now by switching gear can offers relief to the legs. Even on flat courses I'll change across a handful of gears, for example as I accelerate away from traffic lights or other obstacles or because of shifting wind.

I admire what you can achieve on a fixed gear bike because you're giving up proven advantages of multi-gear setups. You do it in return for what I consider marginal benefits, i.e. no risk of derailleur failure. And yes, I do realize that others may hold similar views about my own 20" folding bike ;) I am glad we are all free to make our own choices.
 
#8
I admire what you can achieve on a fixed gear bike because you're giving up proven advantages of multi-gear setups. You do it in return for what I consider marginal benefits, i.e. no risk of derailleur failure. And yes, I do realize that others may hold similar views about my own 20" folding bike ;) I am glad we are all free to make our own choices.
I agree completely. We all have our own setups that we believe are best for us. But Joe, you sir, are honestly the bravest rider I know decending mountains at high speeds on 20" wheels! :cool:

I've been looking at a route my friend Tamara used when she went fixed to Tokyo. Although there are a few places I would avoid, I thought it was interesting she went down on the coast then went inland at went north around Mt Fuji. What do you think about going north of fuji instead of heading towards izu and cutting over the north of the peninsula?
 
Dec 31, 2009
906
87
48
Matsumoto
#11
This looks like fun. I am definitely interested! I have GW off if I am still working at the same school. I just built up a track bike and it will be nice to put some miles on it to prepare for next season.
Have you seen this?
Th trailer
http://www.tokyo2osaka.com/
part 1 (limited version)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-5GgjLcp3I&feature=relmfu
part 2 (limited version)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOGsmdH7TnY&feature=relmfu


I was living in SF when these guys did this. The director stopped in my shop for some last minute things. He also stopped in after the tour and said it was bonkers. I think that there is better routes. Also a few of the riders may not have been conditioned or geared for Japans mountainous terrain.
I will keep you posted if I could do this.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#12
Sounds like a nice ride - for 10 days , though, I'd be tempted to do Taiwan or Indonesia. The cost of the airfare will offset by the local food / lodging expenses and you already know Japan. FG is fine anywhere - no reason to bring extra cogs - just use what's on your bike - you might be a little slower downhills and maybe have to hoof a couple uphills. I reckon 90% of the ride will be comfortable in a 44/15 with 21 granny cog to tackle the longer slopes over 8% grade. You can jam econo on the wear, too - the 100y store rainjackets and pants work fine. They may not last long - but they are super light and available anywhere. Key point is getting a decent kit to wear - here is where having some old school 'woolies' would be best - cause they work just as good wet as dry and they don't stink up like lycra based. I have a set of 30yo Girodana tights that are as good now as they were when I first bought them. Nothing is better in the cool and wet weather. Wear them over your regular shorts and you're set. Add in a decent pile-type jersey and that's enough. I did the entire Haute Route with only 1 kit! Which means I carried 2 or 3 extra kits for nothing. I do admit to changing Jersey 2x - but that is out of respect for sponsors. So - 800km x 7days - 1 kit (Jersey / Bibs) , 2 pr socks, 2 pr base , 1 set arm covers, 1 set leg covers, 1 membrane Jacket , 1 set 100y store rain gear. For my 'leisure' wear I brought a traditional Japanese jinbei - awesome - super lightweight, wash and dry fast - and of course in Japan, nothing says 'onsen' better.

For take along tent/etc - I'd really be looking at Gunnar's setup - the hammock + auxillary sleeping shell seems to be the ticket. And using one of the seatpost balloon bags plus a traditional handlebar bag would be fine for any distance touring.
 
#14
So I have mapped the first part of the route. The first 3 days are an easy flat 130km rides but the 4th day is a problem. From Toba to kyoto it is about 188km to the hotel I found (its cheap and is by the famous bamboo road in Kyoto). Any suggestion on where I can reduce the climbing but stay away from the main highways? I am just worried that after 3 long rides this may just be too much to handle.

http://ridewithgps.com/routes/1831540