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.
"Rolling!": A Rainy Start
I awoke at 5AM to the sound of rain on my one man tent in a small park located in Furano, a small town in the center of Hokkaido. The Great Earth Furano Ride started at 7AM and there were a few hundred people milling around the starting point in the heavy rain. There were people riding distances ranging from 50 kilometers up to 130 kilometers. My riding partner and I started the race and he got a punctured tire within the first 50 meters. However, we got it fixed up real quick and were on our way.
Fertile Farms and Fragrant Forests
The first portion of the ride started out in the city and after crossing the swollen and fast flowing Sorachi River, the scenery changed to a bucolic setting amidst farms containing onions, melons, cows and other agricultural products. The first resting point was surrounded by farms and the mountain forests. Near the resting point was an old Shinto shrine where we paused to take some photos before stopping for a brief rest. The race organizers provided hot miso soup, pickled melons and rice balls.
After filling up on the wholesome food, we were off riding through the lush green Hokkaido farm lands, the smell of fertilizer heavy in the humid air. During this portion of the ride the rain tapered off and we started riding on one of the main roads. At the end of the main road, we stopped again at the second rest stop. This time, we were served bread, fresh cheese, and tomatoes along with sports drinks or water. Even though the rain had everyone soaked to the bone, an upbeat atmosphere permeated the place and I was able to chat with people from different parts of Japan before heading off for the next portion of the ride.
This part of the ride consisted of beautiful winding roads through farmland and fragrant forests full of birds and flowers. This section had a large amount of uphill riding but with the awesome reward of a thrilling downhill ride on a newly paved road through the forest. The next rest stop was located at the filming location of Kitano Kunihara, a famous Japanese movie. A quaint and beautiful restaurant served fried potatoes and ice cream. There was also a strong jet heater inside the building with many wet and cold cyclists huddled around it.
Personal circumstances that day meant I had to take a different route home; nonetheless, I was rewarded with an awesome solo ride cutting through a mountain valley next to a beautiful river. The ride through the mountain valley was about 10 KM and only a few cars passed by. This final portion of the ride gave me time to reflect on the beauty of the Hokkaido landscape and appreciate the slower pace of exploring on a bicycle.
Upcoming 2018 Great Earth Rides
April 8 Great Earth Chiba Minami Boso (130/100/50)
April 22 Great Earth Miyazaki Nichinan Coast (125/75)
May (TBA) Great Earth Oga Peninsula Namahage (100/70/40)
June 3 Great Earth Kochi Niyodo Blue (135/100/50)
June (TBA) Great Earth Kyoto Ride Circus Fun Ride
June 24 Great Earth Furano (160/100/60)
August (TBA) Great Earth Tottori Sugoi (140/100/50)
September (TBA) Great Earth Iwate Shizukishi (100/70)
October (TBA) Great Earth Minami Hokkaido Komagatake (130/60)
November (TBA) Great Earth Ishigaki and Iriomote (135/105/60 +45)