If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I recently went to Japan for what I would describe as a trip of a lifetime. I was in Tokyo for 8 days and it was nothing short of an incredible adventure. Since it was technically a business trip with Feedback Sports, it wasn’t all sight seeing and sushi sampling. The reason I was able to join Doug on this trip is because we were invited to compete in Cyclo Cross Tokyo. Our distributor, Mizutani, is based in Tokyo and is a title sponsor of the event. It’s one of the largest cross races that I’ve ever been to and it draws some serious international talent considering the grand prize is 200,000 Yen. Now that my cyclocross season is officially done, it seems like the perfect time to reflect on my trip to Tokyo. Not to mention, we have well over a foot of snow on the ground here in Golden!
My flight landed in Haneda at 5am on Monday. With a 16 hour time change and very little sleep on the plane, I was in a state of delirium and excitement. I was traveling alone, but not in terms of luggage – with two bikes, two bags, and my backpack. Later that morning I met up with an old friend, Yuki. He’s from Tokyo, but lived in Colorado while attending Denver University where he found his passion for mountain biking. We raced mountain bikes together for several years. When I told Yuki that I was going to be in Tokyo for business and had a few days during the week to explore and visit some bike shops, he invited me to join him for a tour. I had no idea what I was in for!
When Yuki and his wife, Saya picked me up we headed straight to Tsukiji (ski-gee), the world famous fish market. It turns out, Yuki has some friends who work there and the owners of MilePost Bike Shop are also good friends with the Tsukiji crew. We went on a tour inside one of the most elaborate fish distribution centers in the world. Everyone was super friendly and Yuki was a great Japanese translator! Some of the tuna is flash frozen on the boat and brought in to be sliced on a band saw and packaged for sushi restaurants around the world… Denver and Vegas are very good customers they explained! It’s dangerous inside Tsukiji for numerous reasons and most tourist access is prohibited. Forklifts are buzzing around delivering fish to customers, humongous knives are used to filet equally ginormous fish, and the power saws are notorious for taking fingers off. I was very fortunate to experience Tsukiji with the locals! Click on the gallery below for a closer look at my first day in Tokyo.
Tuesday, we rode into the mountains and stayed overnight at his friend’s Ryokan which is a traditional Japanese style inn. The gallery below does a better job describing everything, but if you are bored and want to skip ahead to the racing action, scroll down to the next gallery.
Now it’s time to race! The host hotel was super plush and breakfast was a few levels above our typical American continental breakfasts. Huge thanks to Champion Systems Tokyo for providing the accommodations and getting us into the race! The location of the race was on a beach in Odaiba, which is a man made island built in Tokyo Bay. Needless to say, the beach provided the most grueling sections of the course. It was soft sand with lots of turns which meant most of us were running a good portion of the sand. The rest of the course was awesome; A legit Kona flyover, concrete stairs that were barely ride-able, tight single track in the trees with multiple lines around the trees, and tons of spectators. (There were no concerns of root damage here in Tokyo)
It started pouring rain about an hour before the pro race! Unfortunately, the sand did not get packed down enough to be completely ride-able. I started in 20th and finished 8th. The running crushed me, I was not prepared for that much running! The fans were awesome and the event was super fun. I plan on going back next year and I am going to implement one run per week into my training in preparation.
Here’s another gallery for your viewing pleasure.