Bicycling

Interesting in Biking? Want to start a team or start some weekend rides? Please post on the message board. If you're on Facebook, there is an "Akita Bikes" club where anyone can post rides and info on biking. Please join up.

Safety and rules

You have to register your bike by law. Occasionally ALTs have been pulled over on their bicycles and had their I.D. and bike identification number checked. Most bicycle shops will register your bike for you, but you can go to your local police box and ask them to make sure (maybe they won't pull you over after they meet you). Make sure you always have your I.D. card.

Google can be used to check out most roads near your home for cycling. The terrain function is helpful for checking climbs. There are many roads not on Google maps so be careful. You can ask at work if there is mapping software. It will be a lot more detailed and accurate. And your co-workers might have some good suggestions of where to ride. It is worth checking out roads by driving them first if that is an option.

Most people touring ride on the side of the road instead of the sidewalk. This is more dangerous because of riding with cars and trucks, but safer because cars pulling out of side streets often don't stop before the sidewalk, but instead on the sidewalk. This can be a problem if you ride fast, but if you are commuting on a mamachyari you will find everyone riding on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are sometimes unreliable so if driving around is an option you can check it out first.

Lights, reflectors, and light color clothing are always a good idea. Students are required to wear helmets, but aside from setting a good example for them, a helmet is always a good idea. Helmets might be more expensive here than from your home town, so bringing one with you is a judgment call on space available and funds available.

Five safety codes for riding bicycles

  1. Stay on the roadway. Bicycles are required to stay on the roadway by law. However, they are allowed to travel on sidewalks when:
    • A road sign shows a bicycling permitted sign. It is a blue sign picturing a person and a bike. Most of the sidewalks in Akita are multipurpose sidewalks for walkers and bikers.
    • The bicycle riders are children under 13 years old, elderly people over 70 years of age or people with physical disabilities.
    • The roadway or traffic condition is not suitable for riding bicycles; e.g., road construction.
  2. Keep left on the roadway.
  3. When riding on the sidewalks, Pedestrians have Priority, Slow Down and Stay on the edge close to the roadway.
  4. Follow the Safety Rules:
    • Drinking and driving, riding double, and parallel riding are prohibited.
    • Turn on your light at night
    • At crossroads, follow the traffic lights, or stop and confirm the safety around you where there is no traffic light.
  5. Bicycle helmets are required by law for children under 13 years old. Parents must encourage their children to put on their helmets.

Rides

  • Velodrome: There is a velodrome in Akita that has days anyone can rent a bike and try out the track.

Shops

Mamachari bike shops are easy to find, but shops with good ten speeds might not be.

Honjō

  • Cycling Shop Kato (サイクルショップカトー). This shop is run by Kato. He always has 5 or so used bikes. Some are street bikes and some are a cross between street and Mountain bikes. He had a schwin fix gear for $700. He is a really nice guy and gave me watermelons after ordering a bike through his shop. He has many magazines you can look at to order new bikes. Open 7 days a week from 10-6, unless he has family business to attend to (kids sports events and such).Bike Rentals available. Location

Akita

  • Cycling Shop Takahashi (サイケルショップタカハシ). Location
  • Technical Bike Shop Showa. They have a good selection of bike parts, TREK road and MTB. Location Link
  • Darsharin. Mostly mamacharis, but some high end bikes as well. Also a good repair shop. Location

Daisen

  • Cycling Shop Tanaka (サイクルショップたなか).Sells mamachari, cycling bicycles, and does repairs for very cheap. Also has a free pump to use outside his shop. Close to Omagari Agricultural High School. Google maps view Location

Noshiro

  • Bike Shop Oga (自転車のおが). Sells the standard mamachari style bikes (with a wide selection of colours), as well as many types of high end and specialist bikes. Don't be confused by the name of the shop; it is in central Noshiro on Yanagimachi. Open until 7pm most days. Also does repairs and maintenance.

〒016-0825 秋田県能代市柳町6−14 0185-52-5574 Location

Races

Bike shops have a catalog of races for the year in Japan.

  • Mt. Chokai Bicycle Classic. This is the second race of three in the Yashima Cup. This is during the end of July beginning of August. The event lasts two days with an 8k time trial the first day and a race up the mountain the second day. You can choose to race either one, or both, of the two days and/or a half course (13k, 600m climb) or full course (26K 1200m climb) on the second day. [1].
  • Mt. Chokai Mountain Bike. Race around the base in September. [2].
  • Japans Zao Eco Line Hill Climb. Zao is a mountain near Sendai. The full course is 18.7k climbing 1500m. The beginner course is 6.5K climbing 500m. There are many onsen hotels in the area to stay. 2010 Full course best time, 1h01m. 2010 Beginner course best time, 23m (My time, 43 minutes). [3].
  • Izumigatake Sports Outdoor. It is a MTB race, but also trail running, trekking and more recreational activities (MTB touring, family race, etc). [4].

Traveling

You can take a bike on the regular trains if you have a bike bag for it. The bike bags have shoulder straps and you take the wheels off to minimize the size fitting them next to your frame. See [5] for a picture of this. Busy trains, such as Tokyo rush hour trains, will not allow bicycles. But most trains in Akita are not as crowded, so they usually will. If you're thinking of taking the train to a festival and biking back, call the JR English assistance number (050-2016-1603) or ask at the train station beforehand to make sure.

Long distance buses may well allow bicycles, though many require a bike bag. Contact your bus company in advance to make sure. Local commuter buses generally don't allow bikes, but you probably wouldn't have much use for them anyway.

See also

  • Japan Cycling Navigator. Good advice and suggested Japanese phrases for cyclists.
  • Bicycle for Everyone's Earth. The team is made up of an international group of volunteers (usually JET participants) who teach about environmental sustainability during the ride. You can join the riders for stretches through your neighborhood if you can't do the whole ride, and also help them out by offering them a place to stay, a washing machine, hot cup of coffee, or anything.
  • Japan Cycling Association. Info on cycling events in Japan with registration information. Also other general riding information.
  • Tri X. Triathlon website with calendars of hill climbs, MTB races and other races in Japan.
Entertainment in Akita
Sports Running • Bicycling • Soccer • Basketball • Cricket • Ground Golf
Martial Arts Kendo • Kyudo • Judo • Naginatado • Karatedo • Sado
Outdoors Hiking/Climbing • Camping • Rafting • Skiing and snowboarding
Leisure Onsen • Movies • Museums and zoos • Ramen shops • Akita beer • Doburoku • Cigar stores • Festivals • Arcades • Taiko