Good Times Roll

Mein Freund und Fotograf Carlos Fernandez Laser hat mit den Hardbrakern schon den ein oder anderen Trip gemeistert. Den größten Teil dieser Touren allerdings im Begleitwagen. Vor kurzem wurde er von dem finnischen Label Pelago zur Japanese Odyssey eingeladen. Soweit so gut, aber in diesem Fall sollte er den Trip selbst auf dem Fahrrad bewältigen! Wohnhaft in Hamburg war es für ihn nicht leicht sich wirklich auf den Trip und ein derartiges long distance Rennen/Event vorzubereiten. Schließlich gilt es bei der Japanese Odyssey 2.400km von Tokyo nach Osaka in maximal 14 Tagen zurückzulegen und das auch noch unsupported, sprich alles was man benötigt muss man mit dem Rad transportieren und das auch noch über jede Menge Berge und Pässe. Begleitet wurde er bei dieser sprichwörtlichen Odyssee von Philipp (der das ganze im Bewegbild festhalten wollte) und jeder Menge Regen. Carlos hat den Trip als mini Tagebuch auf seinem Facebook Account dokumentiert. Ein Wahnsinns Abenteuer, was sich vielleicht 2017 wiederholt? Alle Infos zu den einzelnen Tagen und dem Erlebten gibt es im folgenden hier nochmals gebündelt mit den passenden Fotos.


to start at The Japanese Odyssey on saturday… 
thank you PELAGO BICYCLES , ORTLIEB Outdoor Equipment , Supernova Lighting Systems , GORE BIKE WEAR and GORE RUNNING WEAR , FINGERSCROSSED , Alpina Sports and for all your support!!!

Finally Tokyo… after all the preparation, this place left us “lost in translation” and showed us some fun times. Thank you Kosuke!


On the 17th at 5am we started into The Japanese Odyssey.
The first 100km out of the greater Tokyo area took us quite some time. From that point on, we climbed up to Mt.Haruna, the 1st checkpoint. We arrived at dawn. We met some other parcipants and decided to go downhill towards the next checkpoint to find a place to stay the night. There were no hostels,onsens nor anything else. So we camped behind a 711 supermarket. As soon as we started to fall asleep, it started to rain…


After a night with hardly any sleep, Philipp and i started into the rain. Heading to checkpoint #2, Mt.Kusatsu-Shirane, an active volcano. On the way up we met Sami, who was coming down already . All the way up, you could smell the fumes of the volcano.After a short stop on the top, we had a fast downhill through the clouds and rain into the valley, where we found nice place for some udon soup and headed further towards checkpoint #3…


The bungalow we got offered for the night, was 100% not what we expected. A 2×3 meter shoebox with nothing in it. We tried to get all our cloth dry over night, but without any success. Checkpoint #3 was the Okawara pass. The road we have chosen for the last 12km up to the top, were not what they got promised on street view. We came for biking but were forced to hike and climb up the totally earthquake destroyed path. We arrived at the checkpoint in pitch black darkness. The descent was wet, foggy but fast…


after some navigation problems we found our sweet place for the night. We got served a nice late night dinner and used every hanger to put up all our wet cloth (pretty much everything including the sleeping bags). Due to issues using my credit card at some local ATMs, we couldn’t pay cash. The owner of the hotel offered us to follow us in his car to the the next town’s ATM. Due to his connection with cycling (his son is the owner of BROTURES) we got a nice discount. The most weird coincidences just happen on the road…


on our way to checkpoint number 5, Mt.Norikura, we met Eguia, a spanisch guy who rode the past 2,5 years from his hometown Tolossa towards Tokyo. A friendly guy who has seen a lot… The climb to Mt.Norikura, checkpoint #5 was the hardest one. We got split at the beginning of the climb. The typhoon rain and cold winds on the roads made it rough for us. Due to those conditions, the roads were blocked. We ditched two roadblocks and forced ourselves up those endless roads to the top. Hardly any visibility made you feel pretty lonely. We arrived at the top in total darkness and were lucky to find shelter in a alpine hut…


We startet our descend very early in the morning. Of course it was raining cats and dogs on the way down, but the visibility was way better. We pushed all day to reach Mt.Ontake, our checkpoint no.6. At the beginning of the climb, we left our bags behind some bushes, to safe weight for the uphill. Heavy rain and cold wind was accompanying us again. After the arrival on the top, in pitch black darkness, we hammered back down to our bags, packed and rode further towards our next destination. We found nice place for the night, including japanese bath…


How to start your day right: cut your finger deeply with your new knife, checkout a japanese hospital, get a breakfast from your hotel for free and than ride all day to transit to your next checkpoint…


After our day in transit, we pushed to Mt.Odaigahara. A nice ride next to a mountain river and little villages. We climbed the checkpoint and arrived on top at 11:54pm. There was nothing around except some vending machines and a public toilet. We picked the ladies room to escape the rain for the night.


After our night in a public toilet, we got a friendly wakeup call by an assistant parkranger, who than invited us to have breakfast with him. We had a sweet downhill ride with sun on our side. We rode to Wakayama to take the ferry to Tokushima, to start into our last 3 checkpoints…

DAY 10

the day started nice and easy. We rode out of Tokushima towards Mt.Tsurugi-San (checkpoint #8), had breakfast at a convenience store as many times before and had a good climb towards the checkpoint. 8km before the actual checkpoint, the road was destroyed by a landslide caused by the typhoon rainfalls the previously days. After explaining our journey to the main guy at the construction side, he offered us to drive us to the other side, it would have been a 40k detour including several climbs… we cleared the checkpoint and boosted downhill into the night and started our search for place to sleep…

DAY 11

we spent our night in a luxury busstop with running water, power sockets and a restroom. Instead of a convenience store breakfast, we had one from a little village supermarket. So, no big difference. The day was filled with rollercoaster-like roads towards checkpoint #9 Tengu-Kogen Ski Area. We met our PELAGO BICYCLES mate Sami who took the reverse route and had a short chat, before we kept going… the rain intesified constantly till we felt like swimming uphill instead of cycling…

DAY 12

we stayed the night at checkpoint #9 in a wooden bungalow and started very early into our descent from Tengu-Kogen Ski Area. Our plan was: 1st – easy 60k downhill ride, 2nd – a 1000m climb, 3rd – downhill again, 4th – short climb followed by short downhill to checkpoint #10 Mt.Sasayama. It ended way different than expected… The last uphill road we took wasn’t used in years. It was full of branches, rocks and dirt. Another landslide including a construction side appeared in the middle of nowhere. The road became worse as further we climb uphill. 1,5k before the highest point, I hit a rock and ripped my rear derailleur in pieces. Followed by a 1hour walk into the night. On top I dismounted the broken parts and coasted a sketchy road downhill. We came a cross a little village and stopped an older couple who was first terrified by us coming out of the woods. We explained our situation with hands and feet and some phrases we had on our phones. At first the older couple called their daughter, than the police. After 2,5h of talking with the locals and the police we got invited to a local’s home. Makoto, the local, let us shower, served us food and let us stay the night in his place…

DAY 13

we woke up early in the morning. Makoto gave us some breakfast and offered us to give us a lift to the next big city when he is finished with work. We hang out in this little village and came to a decision that changed the whole idea about our “The Japanese Odyssey”: we came to Japan to ride 2300km and clear 11 checkpoints in 14 days. But what would really happen on that journey, we had no clue. While riding in typhoon and normal rain for 8,5 out of 11 days, climbing 9 mountain tops, pushing and overstepping our limits, sleeping outside, in a public restroom, a busstop, in Onsens (japanese bathing houses), getting invited for food and accomendation by locals, the whole trip became something far bigger than a bike ride – a journey to get closer to yourself and a deep dive into a culture that is quite different than ours. From that moment on, we decided to not stress ourselfs with clearing the last 2 checkpoints and maybe temporarly loosing our love of cycling – but to take a deep breath, enjoying every past and present moment and to see a bit more of Japan…

DAY 14

after our “big decision” and getting my bike fixed, we took the train and ferry to Hiroshima. We rode all day through the city, entered the nightlife and refuelled a bit…

DAY 15 

the final day of The Japanese Odyssey started for us in Hiroshima. We packed our things, cycled to the trainstation, took our bikes a part, covered them with plastig bags and tape and took them on the Shikansen Bullettrain to Osaka. We arrived at 11:30 at the final destination where some of the fellow riders were already waiting for everybody to get together. At 12:00 the Japanese Odyssey was official been ended. Cold beers were opened, a lot of high-fives and hugs were given. We all spend the rest of the day together, telling stories of our journeys and partied the night away…

And now the big up for all our supporters, friends and family!
• thank you Emmanuel & Guillaume for making The Japanese Odyssey!
• thank you PELAGO BICYCLES for the approach to me to do this and all your amazing support!
• thank you ORTLIEB Outdoor Equipment for keeping our cloth dry!
• thank you GORE BIKE WEAR and GORE RUNNING WEAR for keeping us warm and dry!
• thank you Alpina Sports for protecting our eyes and heads!
• thank you Supernova Lighting Systems for making us see at night!
• thank you FINGERSCROSSED for making our feet look great!
• thank you and Cycle-Innovate for the last check-up on my bike and me!
• thank you Sami for being you!
• thank you Kaisa & Timo!
• thank you Philipp for being the best wingman on that journey i could ask for!
• thank you Frida for taking calls in crazy times all the time!
• thank you mum for not being too anxios while i was on the road, and sorry that the tracker wasn’t working all the time…



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