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So, I have always enjoyed cycling as ad-hoc exercise, but until relatively recently it never occurred to me to try some longer distances, partly I suppose because it takes a while to get out of Tokyo to somewhere not so full of buildings and traffic. Anyway I've now reached my initial bucket list aim of visiting all 4 prefectures by bicycle, the last one being Yamanashi, which is the trickier one as it is all on the other side of the large sticky-uppy landscape features of which Japan has many.

 

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Edited by railsquid
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Saitama earlier this year, technically it's just around the corner figuratively speaking from Chez Railsquid, but this is the towards the Chichibu end where we were planning to stay in an onsen, and Mrs Railsquid joked about me cycling there, so challenge accepted. It was July and I think I consumed about 7 litres of liquid.

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That's awesome squid! I plan on incorporating some bike rides in my itinerary next time I'm in Japan.  I bought a Bike Friday folding bike years ago that I had intended to use for travel.

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If you want to combine cycling and trains in Tokyo, the Tamagawa [*] and Arakawa rivers have excellent cycling paths which pass under the bridges of most of the lines running in/out of Tokyo.

 

[*] Stick to the Kawasaki side from Tokyo Bay, and cross over to the Tokyo side around Chofu.

 

I am vaguely thinking about the possibilities of a folding bike so I can take it on a train somewhere, which would open up new locations without killing myself getting there.

 

Next project is a longer trip up and down the Edogawa, which appears to have a very well-maintained designated cycling road.

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WOW thanks for sharing this Squid! These photos are rare as they are often 'off the track'... it's great to see Mt Fuji in all its glory!

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As a cyclist who lives near the top of a sticky-uppy landscape feature in Colorado, USA - I understand.

 

Those first photos with the fall colors - that is some ideal cycling weather. July in Tokyo - not sure I could do that.

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6 hours ago, railsquid said:

Mrs Railsquid joked about me cycling there, so challenge accepted. It was July and I think I consumed about 7 litres of liquid.


I hope you had some training, that sounds like a killer.

 

4 hours ago, railsquid said:

I am vaguely thinking about the possibilities of a folding bike so I can take it on a train somewhere, which would open up new locations without killing myself getting there.


Incoming folding squid-e-bike?

 

I understand the appeal of nature, but I always found biking in Tokyo a real pleasure, as long as I kept to the backstreet. Much better than any European city.

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5 hours ago, maihama eki said:

As a cyclist who lives near the top of a sticky-uppy landscape feature in Colorado, USA - I understand.

 

Those first photos with the fall colors - that is some ideal cycling weather. July in Tokyo - not sure I could do that.

 

Fortunately on that July day though it was hot, it was quite overcast much of the time, otherwise I wouldn't have made the attempt. Also because Japan, very helpfully just before you hit the top of the pass:

 

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Had an ice-cream on the way back too :D.

 

2 hours ago, disturbman said:


I hope you had some training, that sounds like a killer.

 

That was the training 😛

 

Certainly the first time I'd gone that far (ca. 95km) and that high (highest point ca. 400m). Also taught me to acquire a proper front light, the one I had was from a 100 yen shop and while it was adequate for nighttime trips to the local konbini, it turns out the road tunnel pictured above straddles the Tokyo/Saitama border on a curve, and Saitama is a bit stingy with the lighting and there were actual pools of darkness between lights, which was alarming to say the least (as in "I literally can't see the road"), and the 100 yen lamp utterly failed to illuminate anything.

 

2 hours ago, disturbman said:

I understand the appeal of nature, but I always found biking in Tokyo a real pleasure, as long as I kept to the backstreet. Much better than any European city.

 

In many ways it's a lot nicer than Berlin, despite the relative lack of special bicycle infrastructure. Partly because Japan, but also because the legal situation puts the "stronger" party at fault by default, so (mostly) drivers are very cautious around cyclists. Some of the main roads are awful (the Kannana and Kanpachi ring roads for example), but with a bit of trial-and-error it's possible to find main routes which are quite comfortable. Downsides are bicycle parking (one does not simply chain one's bicycle to the nearest railing, as many an outside country person has found to their distress), and you can't just take it on a train when you get tired (unless you can fold it up and put it in a bag).

Edited by railsquid
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Heading north along the Arakawa in May, which was very nice because the path is on top of the dike, and you're overlooking the Kanto plain as it falls away to the south with just the sound of your tires and the wind.

 

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(photo cunningly posed to avoid the Omiya skyline, which would be visible to the right)

 

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"42km to the sea"

 

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(somewhere in the Sayama area on the way back)

Edited by railsquid
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You have probably seen it already but I believe that NHK Train Cruise had a show on the JR East Bicyle Train to the Boso pennisula.  And Japan Railway Journal will have a show on it on Decmber 9th:  Bicycle Onboard: Cycling with JR East - Japan Railway Journal - TV | NHK WORLD-JAPAN Live & Programs.

 

Of course, it may be an issue getting your bike to the JR Bicycle Train but it certainly seems to be a great idea.

 

And, as a personal note, my wife is a Tarwheel ( a play on our state's nickname, the Tarheel State) and I am always on her case to not only use a headlight but a taillight as well.  In our area with so many shady spots on the roads, it can be hard to see a bicycle as you approach it from behind.  Actually, with so many distracted drivers, I drive with my car lights on most of the time in the hope that it may reduce the chance of someone who is not paying attention from running into me.

 

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

 

 

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8 hours ago, railsquid said:

 

 

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I'm surprised to see how little the walkways and surrounding grass are elevated relative to the water surface. It's almost level. Most of the model paddy fields I see show the grass much too elevated over the water. I'll have to lock away this observation for future modelling.

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4 hours ago, gavino200 said:

I'm surprised to see how little the walkways and surrounding grass are elevated relative to the water surface. It's almost level. Most of the model paddy fields I see show the grass much too elevated over the water. I'll have to lock away this observation for future modelling.

 

Yeah, that's something which bugs me too when I see it - the number of elderly model farmers who suffer broken bones and worse from slipping down embankments a couple of metres high must be sky-high. (Some day I plan to start a thread on "Japanese scenic gotchas" or similar).

Edited by railsquid
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8 hours ago, Tony Galiani said:

You have probably seen it already but I believe that NHK Train Cruise had a show on the JR East Bicyle Train to the Boso pennisula.  And Japan Railway Journal will have a show on it on Decmber 9th:  Bicycle Onboard: Cycling with JR East - Japan Railway Journal - TV | NHK WORLD-JAPAN Live & Programs.

 

Of course, it may be an issue getting your bike to the JR Bicycle Train but it certainly seems to be a great idea.

 

It's eminently doable, I cycled past Ryogoku the other day, but needs more time and advance planning and family coordination than I am currently capable of. Maybe next year some time.

 

8 hours ago, Tony Galiani said:

And, as a personal note, my wife is a Tarwheel ( a play on our state's nickname, the Tarheel State) and I am always on her case to not only use a headlight but a taillight as well.  In our area with so many shady spots on the roads, it can be hard to see a bicycle as you approach it from behind.  Actually, with so many distracted drivers, I drive with my car lights on most of the time in the hope that it may reduce the chance of someone who is not paying attention from running into me.

 

 

"Tarheel State" sounds like an oil-producing one?

 

Anyway yes, taillight definitely essential. I always put mine on while cycling (from observation most "long distance" cyclists do the same). Dunno what the laws and regulations are in your neck of the woods, but if nothing else if the worst comes to the worst, presumably there'd be less chance of "the other party" being able to use lack of taillight as a defence.

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The Tarheel State is North Carolina.  No oil but lots of pine resin - formerly used back in the days of wooden sailing ships.  There was quite a bit of naval related industry along the North Carolina coast back in the late 1700s and in the 1800s.

There are various origin stories for the Tarheel nickname - from the mundane:  the pine resin on the ground stuck to the workers' feet - to the heroic:  North Carolina soldiers would not run from battle - they would stay and fight as if they had tar on their heels.

 

Sadly, legal protections for bicyclists here are somewhat minimal though that seems to be improving lately with more bike lanes and road signs requiring greater clearance when passing a bicyclist.  

 

And, returning to the main thread - I really like all the pictures.  It is great to see all the ordinary details that make up the scenes.  These are great reference photos.

 

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

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What a great way to survey the country side and great landscape for ideas to use on his model railroad.  Would love to ride along rice paddies.  

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Hello @railsquid, I love cycling too.

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I made a model bicycle and rider for a bridge diorama (1/72 sale).

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The rider, Muz, passed away from cancer during the time of making the diorama; so I made a memorial of him waving good-bye from the bridge.

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Petey, nice work! Like how you built the frame. More picts of the diorama? looks great.

 

jeff

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railsquid

Back on topic, sort-of, I have since settled on a regular ca. 92 km circular route to the north of Tokyo which mostly avoids roads apart from two stretches and some bridge crossings. I realised recently it comes within a few km of the Kato factories in Saitama, so will try and make a diversion there once they've switched summer off and it's not too typhoony.

Edited by railsquid
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