Japan in WinterJan Heine
December took Natsuko and me to Japan for the launch of the Japanese edition of our book The All-Road Bike Revolution. Natsuko is well-connected in the Japanese cycling and publishing world, and so this became a whirlwind tour of interviews, podcasts and rides. We also visited several builders to see their newest creations. (Above is Montson with an innovative bikepacking machine among more classically inspired bikes.)
There are two big cycling magazines in Japan: Cycle Sports and Bicycle Club. The former ran Natsuko’s press release…
…and the editors of Bicycle Club invited us to their podcast. Natsuko didn’t just arrange the event, she also served as the interpreter. We chatted about our book and why all-road bikes are useful in Japan, even though most mountain roads are paved: Wide tires provide more grip, comfort and safety on paved descents.
CycloWired is Japan’s biggest cycling news website, with more than a million viewers every month. Natsuko knows Makoto Ayano, the founder and editor-in-chief (front), but I had never met him. Rather than do a sit-down interview, he organized a gravel adventure on the Boso Peninsula with a group of bike industry insiders. Japanese mountain roads are amazing, and throwing some gravel into the mix made them even better. Riding with such a fun group made it a perfect day on the bike.
In the evening, we chatted about cycling in Japan and the U.S., about journalism and culture and many other topics, as we ate locally caught fish at our inn right on the seashore. CycloWired’s story, written by Yufta Omata (second rider in the downhill photo), was just published. Our adventure—including an unexpected landslide that tested our cyclocross skills—will also be featured in Bicycle Quarterly, together with a test of the innovative gravel bike I got to ride.
Japanese cyclists like to start the new year by riding with friends. This year, I was able to join the Alex Singer Owner’s Meeting for a fun outing on beautiful bikes and a picnic in a park.
No trip to Japan would be complete without a visit an Onsen hot bath to relax and enjoy great food.
Along the way, we got to ride a mountain railroad with real switchbacks, where the train seesaws up the steep hillside. (Our 650B x 48 Switchback Hill tire is inspired by a hill in Oregon named for a similar rail operation that’s long-gone.)
Visiting Japan is always inspirational. There are so many things to discover, such attention to detail everywhere—even stick figure cyclists have good form! (This one was on a poster for trains that take bikes.)
You’ll see more of our rides and adventures in future posts here and in Bicycle Quarterly.