Tokyo to Kanazawa

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,002
176
83
Tokyo
#1
Hi folks,

I am looking for suggestions regarding a long trip I have planned for the end of August.

Like every year the "track race for real street racers" will be held at Ishikawa velodrome in Uchinada near Kanazawa. This event called Bangking has tempted me for years, but due to the distance from Tokyo I never went. Not having done any considerable long-distance cycling this year, I decided to ship my tarck bike there in advance and tackle the way there on the road bike. I've done enough knee shattering rides than to attempt crossing the Japanese alps fixed.

So the plan is to cover the distance in two days, without any experience of riding those parts (and the ability to not only descent, but also climb like a stone). Madness?!

Thanks to the travelogues of other TCCers I was thinking of taking the 299 out to Matsumoto on the first day and then taking R158 up again to cross the next ridge just north of Norikura. After that my options seem to be either going North towards Toyama and then cutting West OR going West from the start avoiding Toyama and Tonami all together.

If anybody had suggestions for:
1. The route from Matsumoto to Uchinada/Kanazawa
2. Nice&cheap accomodation around Matsumoto

that would help a lot!
Thank you,
Gunnar
 

Ludwig

Speeding Up
Oct 9, 2008
871
0
36
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
#2
Sorry, I won't even get to answering your questions...

I think going to Matsumoto via route 299 and then over one of the passes crossing Yatsugadake in one day is very, very tough. Doing this on a fixie is simply impossible. If you are really, really well-trained, you could do Matsumoto in a day via route 20 (on a fixie). But the traffic is horrible and I would recommend doing this only on a Sunday (fewer trucks).

Route 158 crossing Kamikochi from Matsumoto to Takamatsu is a truly horrible road to cycle on. In very poor condition in many places, tons of tunnels, endless traffic including many, many coaches and buses. As you can't take the tunnel through the pass, you will need to climb up to 1,800m, which is also tough on a fixie.

So I'd say your plan is truly crazy and maybe the craziest that has ever been proposed on this site.:eek:

Is there a prize for that?:confused:
 

toledo baha

Speeding Up
Jan 20, 2009
130
4
38
Yokohama
#3
Hi folks,

I am looking for suggestions regarding a long trip I have planned for the end of August.

Like every year the "track race for real street racers" will be held at Ishikawa velodrome in Uchinada near Kanazawa. This event called Bangking has tempted me for years, but due to the distance from Tokyo I never went. Not having done any considerable long-distance cycling this year, I decided to ship my tarck bike there in advance and tackle the way there on the road bike. I've done enough knee shattering rides than to attempt crossing the Japanese alps fixed.

So the plan is to cover the distance in two days, without any experience of riding those parts (and the ability to not only descent, but also climb like a stone). Madness?!

Thanks to the travelogues of other TCCers I was thinking of taking the 299 out to Matsumoto on the first day and then taking R158 up again to cross the next ridge just north of Norikura. After that my options seem to be either going North towards Toyama and then cutting West OR going West from the start avoiding Toyama and Tonami all together.

If anybody had suggestions for:
1. The route from Matsumoto to Uchinada/Kanazawa
2. Nice&cheap accomodation around Matsumoto

that would help a lot!
Thank you,
Gunnar


Well, my interpretaion of this is that you are not attempting this on a fixie, correct?

In any case, I would echo Ludwig's comments about route 158, it's a disaster for cyclists because of all the nasty, narrow tunnels and traffic. However, after reading of all the exploits of various TCCers, I think it is safe to say we all have a very different tolerance for riding in traffic/tunnels.

So if you try it, good luck but be warned!!

A good hotel in Matsumoto might be the "Super Hotel", about 5000 yen, near the station and thus the nightlife areas of Matsumoto. Try the bar "Coat" for a great cocktail!! (or the "Old Rock" for beer).

Cheers
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,002
176
83
Tokyo
#6
Thanks for the quick responses, especially about route 158 and the Superhotel. That was exactly the advice I was looking for.

Just to clarify: I am most definitely taking the road bike. I know some TCCers like to take their fixies into the mountains, but since doing the shikoku henro fixed my tolerance to where the fun ends and the torture starts has shifted quite a bit.

Since many of you seem to know the area quite well and the route is far from being set in stone, what would be the alternatives for route 158? I prefer scenic to straight and quick and don't mind climbing (even though I don't break any records). I dodge enough cars in Tokyo, so I surely can do without that.

Thanks again!
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,661
477
103
Japan
#7
Are you riding to Kanazawa to be competitive or just riding there to ride there? If the later go for it. The former, insane.
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,002
176
83
Tokyo
#9
Are you riding to Kanazawa to be competitive or just riding there to ride there? If the later go for it. The former, insane.
I know the competition and the winning times for former years - I won't be the fasted, but still fast. Plus, for some reason I always end up doing just as well or better after having outdone myself on days prior to an event.

But with the strength your responses, I'm feeling a bit insecure. Let's start fresh:
If you were to go from Tokyo to Kanazawa in two days, how would you do it?
Convenience is not the most important factor, but having a ride you enjoy to tears and will remember for time to come.
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,661
477
103
Japan
#10
shinkansen to Niigata city and then two days to do the 300 kms to Kanazawa. Down the coast and mostly just gentle ups and downs.
 

paullb

Warming-Up
May 24, 2010
57
0
0
Fuchu
#11
If you were to take route 158. I would say stay in Matsumoto (or maybe somewhere closer to Norikura if you find a place) and then set out really really early to get through all the tunnels before the traffic comes.
 

paullb

Warming-Up
May 24, 2010
57
0
0
Fuchu
#13
shinkansen to Niigata city and then two days to do the 300 kms to Kanazawa. Down the coast and mostly just gentle ups and downs.
I Have ridden this route and generally good roads (some marginal ones on the outskirts of Kanazawa and Toyama). If you want some extra kms you could go a little bit into Noto peninsula, there are some wonderful roads there!
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,002
176
83
Tokyo
#14
shinkansen to Niigata city and then two days to do the 300 kms to Kanazawa. Down the coast and mostly just gentle ups and downs.
Sounds great - I love coastal roads and on the Sea of Japan side you have a good up-down profile as well.

Counterpoints are that I want to keep the budget on a shoestring, plus achieve the crossing to Kanazawa in two days.

Together with the stern warnings against going through the mountains, I looked into alternatives. The best of which seems to be following the Crossing Japan Coast to Coast Ride according to the Cycling Japan: 10 of the best rides guidebook and later following the coast down to Kanazawa. The first part would lead up from Tokyo following the Arakawa to Kumagaya, then along the Tone river, R18 via Karuizawa, Ueda turning near Nagano towards the Northeast along the Chikuma river until Iiyama, then North all the way to Naoetsu/Joetsu.

Compared to the alps this of course doesn't have the same amount of intense (insane) climbing and should apart from Karuizawa be a quick paced ride. This speed seems necessary to cover the longer distance due to the indirect route.

The first day I would want to cross Karuizawa no matter what, on the second riding up to and along the coast with the safety of Hokurikuhonsen train line close by should the road be too long.

What would the madness factor of this ride be?
 

Ludwig

Speeding Up
Oct 9, 2008
871
0
36
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
#15
I think you have the following options:

1) Tokyo - Matsumoto on route 20, then to Itoigawa, then coast line to Kanazawa. Climbing is manageable until Itoigawa, almost none thereafter. Tokyo - Itoigawa is 340km, coast road another 140km. If you stay in Matsumoto, you have 240kms each day, with a bit more climbing the first day. Very balanced. Still tough. And traffic is probably pretty bad throughout.

2) Tokyo - Joetsu - Kanazawa: there are two variants:

a) the one you describe. Fine, but quite some traffic throughout.

b) the route I took a few months ago. A bit more climbing, but much nicer
http://www.mapmyride.com/route/jp/kanto/219127442579647606

Altogether these options are longer and involve more climbing than 1). But traffic is better, at least until the coast.

3) Route 20 to Shiojiri (about 200km, and traffic bad), then via Nagamine pass to Takayama and Nara pass into the Toyama plain, from there to Kanazawa (another 250km, 3,300m of climbing). So probably best to cycle up to Kiso on day 1 (250km), then do the Alps on day 2 with less distance and more climbing.

This is shortest overall and probably the nicest, but I would recommend doing day 1 on a Sunday to avoid the trucks on route 20.

Hope this helps. Maybe I should do this too some day...
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
2,512
639
133
Kanazawa
#16
I think you're about as nuts as everyone else, but when when/if you do get here, how about going out for a beer...? :)
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,002
176
83
Tokyo
#17
Big thanks again for the collected advice!

Ludwig: Your route recommendations and map link are very valueable and what I'll base my trip on.

jdd: Let's have a beer in Kanazawa then! If nothing goes horribly wrong, I'll be there by next Friday with big thirst. I sent you a pm...
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
2,512
639
133
Kanazawa
#18
Aaagh! Bad news. I'm leaving Friday nite (the 27th, train at 21:31) from here in Kz on an overnighter to Akita to do some touring in tohoku. :( So I'll be down at the station a little earlier bagging my bike for that...

Got your PM, too, and will try to reply to that also. Outside of Toyama (mountain-side towards Kz), look up Fukumitsu (福光) on whatever maps you might be using. You might try following route 27 from there into Kz. I guess that'd be the mountain-side route in.

If you do go to Noto, or if you make it thru Toyama and end up over on the coast, then from Hakui to here is pretty easy. There are a few places after Hakui where you will have to ride on the major koku-do #249, but the closer you get, the less that is an issue. From the nursing school (県立看護大) to Uchinada follow or get to route 162, which will bring you into Uchinada (a Kanazawa suburb). The idea is to keep the toll road on your right, and 249/159 on your left. From there you should try to circle the port (big busy roads)and tie up with this track: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/43218031

(Please don't try to come in on the big route 8, or 359, or 249/159)

That's a good route into town (mostly a cycle path), and where it crosses the train tracks, it's just a click or two over to the station, or, if you go a bit further into town, you're at the main biz/booze district.

John D.
 
Aug 26, 2010
8
1
11
San Francisco, CA
#19
I'm an American coming to Japan for a six-week bike tour in late September. I'm arriving at Narita and intend to make my way to Kanazawa. I'm interested in getting route advice, although my criteria are quite different from those of Gunnar's. Judging from the discussion, I fully accept that my vision may be wishful thinking. Regardless, here is my wishlist:

1. My route passes through Matsumoto, Takayama, the Nakasendo Way (Shiojiri to Nakatsugawa section).
2. I ride on primarily quiet, country roads, minimal death-defying tunnel segments.
3. I ride on primarily flat/rolling hills.
4. I complete the trip without the use of a train (and therefore don't need to deal with a bike bag).

Pace-wise, I'm slow. I suspect I'll ride no more than 70k on any given day, and will have lots of break days to explore the region. I'll plan to camp about half the time and find hostel/inexpensive lodging the other half.

Note that I also plan to visit Noto Hanto and other parts of Japan (Kamakura, Kyoto/Nara, Eihei-ji by Fukui) so I envision this Tokyo to Kanazawa trip will take 10-20 days.

I do have the Touring Mapple maps for the region and am studying Japanese at a desperate rate to figure out how to understand them. Please feel free to reference them in any suggestions you have.

Thanks very much.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#20
Hey Helen C,

Unfortunately, about 73% of Japan is mountainous so riding mostly flat or underlating courses is going to be very difficult.