This July will see the launch of a new event to the ultracycling calendar – a 2,700 kilometre, unsupported ride called The Japanese Odyssey that traverses the four principal islands that make up the Land of the Rising Sun.
The event is scheduled to start in the city of Sapporo– host of the Winter Olympic Games in 1972 – on the island of Hokkaido on 18 July, and will head south to finish on Kagoshima on Kyushu by 31 July.
Similar to the Transcontinental Race, which sees its third edition this year, entrants can choose their own route, but they will be required to pass through several compulsory checkpoints.
But organisers of the event, directed by Strasbourg-based Emmanuel Bastian, are keen to stress that it isn’t a race, but rather an “adventure,” with the event’s website saying:
The Japanese Odyssey is a demanding adventure. And yet, it is not a competitive event. We definitely don't see it as a race. It is about performance for sure, about challenging yourself. But there won’t be any ranking nor official finishing times. Successful riders will be those who accomplish the course within the time limit. And that’s it.
The checkpoints have been planned to ensure that whichever route riders choose to follow takes in some of the country’s most spectacular scenery, with their locations as follows:
The capital of Hokkaido, and Japan's fifth largest city. We hope to start the event in Odori Park, that stretches over 12 city blocks and separates the downtown city into north and south.
Located on route 334 on the far east of Hokkaido. With 738 m above sea level, it connects Utoro with Rausu, and offers spectacular views of a preserved mountainous area.
Prepare to exhaust yourself. At more than 2,700 m elevation, Norikura is the highest you can go by road in Japan. Situated in Gifu in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Mount Norikura ascent is more than 38 km long. Be prepared...
Mount Aso Pass
Mount Aso is an active volcano in central Kyushu. The island offers an incredible variety of landscapes, but also epic ups-and-downs
It is the southernmost point of Kyushu, and the end of mainland Japan. This remote place will probably make you feel being at the world's end.
That's where your adventure ends. You made it. Congrats.
Registration will open on Tuesday 4 May, and in the meantime you can sign up on the Japanese Odyssey website for news of the event by email.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.