Every now and then, Samurai Sports staff and other poor victims (better known as contributors) write about their first-hand experience at a sporting event in Japan. In Event Reviews, we give you the scoop on what it's like to participate in everything from rides to runs, triathlons, and everything in between.
Part of the Tour de Nippon series, the Mt. Fuji Long Ride took place on what was possibly one of the most beautiful days for a ride. On the morning of Sunday, the 3rd of September, hundreds of riders assembled and set off from the Yamanakako Exchange Plaza Kirara, which would double as both the start and finish line. To everyone's delight, the weather was our friend that day and Mt. Fuji provided a picture-perfect backdrop throughout most of the ride.
Location, Location, Location
The event took place at the Yamanakako Exchange Plaza Kirara in Yamanashi Prefecture. It can be a challenging place to access if you aren't driving there. There are several buses available from Shinjuku, Tokyo, and Shibuya stations but depending on the storage capacity of buses, there's a chance you won't be able to board with your bike! It's best to ask ahead of time but there are no guarantees and you cannot "reserve" storage space. Furthermore, buses tend to fill to capacity quickly during the peak seasons; so if you wait too long, you may not be able to book the bus you want.
Absolutely perfect. Brisk morning, followed by a gradual rise to a pleasant 23-25 degrees by mid-afternoon. Nary a cloud in sight. Personally, not one to care deeply about tanning, I let the sun toast my arms, legs, and face all day with no regrets. Editors note: You should always wear sunscreen and reapply every two hours.
Same Same, but Different
Initially, the event had been advertised as 120KM, 60KM, and 30KM rides. However, once the event guides were disseminated, the 120KM and 60KM rides had an additional 10KM tacked on. The family-friendly 30KM ride was unaffected but as the event was not timed, the extra distance did not seem to bother anyone. If anything, it was a humorous oversight and even made you feel as though you were getting more "bang for the buck".
A Casual Affair
The Mt. Fuji Long Ride is not a race and is primarily geared towards casual riders seeking a more leisurely weekend outing with friends and family. Participants represented a broad range of ages, sizes, and cycling experiences; as with many cycling events, men greatly outnumbered women. The ride witnessed a hodge podge of bicycles, including high end road bikes and mountain bikes, as well as folding bikes and bikes geared with electric assistance.
Feed Me: The Aid Stations
Let's be real, the aid stations are always something to look forward to on long ride events in Japan. For some, the aid stations may be one of the main attractions! This is Japan after all, so there's no way you'll stop by an aid station only to be given a bag of corn chips and a bottle of artificially colored sports drink. Event organizers spend time curating snacks and meals for hundreds of riders who straggle through over the course of several hours in various states of exhaustion and stages of hunger (hanger?). Aid station offerings generally have the cyclist's nutritional needs in mind and are meant to be appealing for both the stomach and Instagram.
The Full Menu
AS 1. Bananas and mineral water
AS 2. Miso-based potato stew and mineral water
AS 3. Onigiri, mushroom soup, and mineral water
AS 4. Blueberry baked goods, frozen blueberries, and mineral water
AS 5. Houtou (thick-cut udon noodles with vegetables in miso soup) and mineral water
AS 6. Corn on the cob, manjyu, corn donuts, and mineral water
As 7. Yakisoba and mineral water
70KM riders: AS 1, AS 5, AS 6, AS 7
30KM riders: AS 6, AS 7