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Follow up post for "I'm going to Japan" thread(1 post)

Follow up post for "I'm going to Japan" threadgeckotb
Apr 4, 2003 1:26 PM
(I also posted this to the original post, but threads get cycled through this board so quickly i thought you would probably miss it.)

I was in japan a few months ago and, in anticipation of moving there, tried to find information on where i could "really" ride my road bike (mostly triathlon training). i found some info on bike-touring on the web but it was frustrating trying to find useful info on road biking. i think i (and most of us in north america) are spoiled by the roads and wide shoulders we have to ride on here. i live in calgary and am used to being able to go out my front door and be on the highway and lots of other nice rural roads within 5 minutes, and being able to go as far as my legs will let me.
it's a very different story in japan. bikes are everywhere, but cycling is seen by most people there as transportation instead of sport for sport's sake. i went to the "bicycle culture information center" in tokyo hoping for useful info, but that was mostly a keirin betting office. when i asked about road cycling, i was directed to one room where there were 3 old, fat guys in their 60's sitting, smoking at their desks. they told me i could try the bike paths by the rivers, but that there was not enough room to ride a "race bike" safely. i found a few bike shops but got the same story there. i've read in a japanese magazine that most japanese triathletes train indoors almost exclusively.

finally, i found one awesome shop called "OD BOX" (also mentioned in an above post) that had a cool guy who told me about a few clubs that meet in the mornings in warehouse districts and go for crit-style training rides before all the industrial traffic gets going. depending on where you live, it might be a bit of a haul, but at least it's something. unless you're planning to buy a car while you're there, you'll need to bring a bike bag to carry your bike on the subway to get to the riding areas.

in rural areas, you can find lots of roads, but you have to be very careful because they don't have shoulders on the roads. during my travels, i saw one japanese rider on a nice road bike working it on a country road. the cars were passing him very close and very fast. i was scared he was going to get clipped, but maybe he was just used to it; i guess if you want to ride bad enough...

after teaching english in asia myself for a couple of years, my advice would be to work cycling into a lesson plan, find out which of your students rides, not just commutes, (or knows someone who does), and become friends with them.

if you want directions or a map to odbox tokyo, email me. if anyone else has better info than me, i would be very interested in learning it, since i'm still planning on moving there in the next while.