Friday, May 4, 2012

Hokkaido Epic Camp August 2012

The Plan
Get a bunch of cycle-fit guys and girls, have some laughs, get some serious mileage in a point to point tour of some of the best cycling terrain in the World: Hokkaido, Japan.

Getting There
You can fly directly to Asahikawa from Tokyo, or fly into Sapporo airport and it's a 3 hour train trip from Sapporo Airport to Asahikawa.

The Course
We will start and finish in Asahikawa, central Hokkaido on Sunday August 5, do a clockwise loop of northern Hokkaido, covering a bit over 1,200kms in 8 days.
Google maps link of tour

The Cost
Everyone will pay their own way - there is no fee for the tour - say 8 nights in hotels at about $80 a day + food, beer and airfares. Should be cheap!

The Race
There is a cool Olympic distance race on Sunday August 5 in Asahikawa, that a few of us will be racing. It's a smallish race (about 400 people), but the biggest triathlon in Hokkaido at the moment. Swim is in a damn, rolling hills on the bike and flat run with a decent after-party. Some fast guys from Tokyo often come up for it See web site here

For Roadies there is a Hill Climb Race in Niseko on the same day.

The Timing
The tour is right in the middle of the unofficial Japanese holiday period to honour the dead "O-bon" which are not official public holidays, but many Japanese take the week off. We will get to see an O-bon street festival in Obihiro which is kind of like a Japanese Halloween/Mardis Gras.

It is also in the middle of the London Olympics which means is a good time to watch Japanese TV in the hotels at night.

The Kit
We don't plan on having a back up vehicle but want to ride at a decent pace so would recommend packing light. You can store things in Asahikawa in our car which we will leave in a safe location for you to pick up when we return. We plan on washing the riding gear each day and drying it overnight to wear again the next day. We will put together a collective package of spare clothes and send them from Asahikawa by Japanese courier (Takkyubin - cheap and reliable) to one or two hotels we are staying at so they will be ready for us when we get there. We can send unneeded clothes/stuff to the finish on the way too. Riding with a light backpack or small pannier to hold running shoes/goggles would be recommended. Once arriving at a hotel we can get changed into the Yukata, so we should only need one pair of street clothes (shorts and a T-shirt and flip-flops).

The Terrain
Hokkaido is the food-belt of Japan, and has only inhabited by the Japanese since the 1860's, so it's totally different to the built up and busy landscape of the rest of Japan. Most of the roads are through farming regions. It has some of the best road cycling in the world, and the weather in August is warm, but not too hot, it should be 25-30 degrees most days. The roads are well-maintained, the drivers courteous, and despite having some climbs, it is mostly flat (forget the crazy long climbs of the alps). There are lots of drink machines and convenience stores to re-fuel along the way, even on tiny country roads.

The Accommodation and Food
We will pre-book hotels in each place, usually around Y6-8,000 a night. Most will have an onsen (hot spring bath) that are famous in Japan and a great way to relax after a long day in the saddle.
Most hotels will include buffet breakfast and often Japanese set course dinner. Lunch will be convenience stores/restaurants on the way.

Day By Day Schedule

Day Start - Finish Distance Notes
Day 1 Sun Aug 5 Higashikawa - Nayoro 76kms Short afternoon ride the day of the Olympic Distance / Hill climb race
Day 2 Mon Aug 6 Nayoro - Wakkanai – Ferry to Rishiri Island 168kms Ferry leaving from Wakkanai at 5.30.
Day 3 Tues Aug7 Rishiri Island Loop – Afternoon ferry to Wakkanai 68kms Easy day sight-seeing around Rishiri Island. Late afternoon ferry to Wakkanai, stay in Wakkanai
Day 4 Wed Aug 8 Wakkanai to Monbetsu 217kms Long day
Day 5 Thurs Aug 9 Monbetsu to Shiretoko 189kms Long coastal ride to Shiretoko – world heritage listed reserve
Day 6 Fri Aug 10 Shiretoko to Kushiro 178kms Insland ride through the 'wetlands' to small city/large town Kushiro
Day 7 Sat Aug 11 Kushiro to Obihiro 121kms Obihiro a large O-Bon street parade on this night – a really cool festival to see.
Day 8 Sun Aug 12 Obihiro to Asahikawa 176kms Last ride back to the start point.

Considering a rest day in Shiretoko if people think we need it and timing allows.

Tag-on Option
We are planning to do a two day hiking trip through the Daisetsu Mountains, from Sounkyou/Kurodake, to Asahidake and back Aug 13-16 if anyone wants to hang around.

Hiking trail from Kurodake to Asahidake

The Prizes
Some early ideas - welcome more.

The Yellow Handkerchief/ Jersey
The person who spends the most time waiting at convenience store/lunch stops/final destination

The Polka Dot Handkerchief/Jersey
The first to the top of a few pre-designated climbs.

The Green Handkerchief/Jersey
The first past the official Town Sign each day

The Golden Potato Masher
For the big gear guns. Lowest average cadence for the day.

The Golden Kenyan
The most kilometres run during the tour

The Golden Mermaid
The most time spent swimming

What to Do Now?
Send me an email at with ay questions/expression of interest. I will book all the accommodation ahead of time. Rishiri Island and Shiretoko are very popular tourist destinations and book up early for August, so please let me know a soon as you can so we can confirm accom. Feel free to bring some mates if you think they are of a suitable level. Hope to see you there!

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