The 13th Tour of Japan, a professional race will take off next month, and also this year it will be linked with a „amateur race“ in Tokyo. It is time to register and seize the opportunity to crash right in front of your house door.
Yes. After a look at the course map (if there is any), you may think „Hey this race is dead flat and looks quite easy – even I could win that.“ That is what we all think. And not even us, but also about 12 Million other Japanese citizens as well who might think that they should try their luck at a first cycle race. And why not? It is hold in Oi-Futo, the port of Tokyo where riders flock on the weekend to show-off their new carbon bikes and race against others on the wide streets normally crowded by container trailers.
Well, everybody can win this race, provided he is of average strength with the field AND he arrives at the finish in one complete piece, bones, organs, flesh and muscles all orderly lined up in the right order as they should be.
Because this particular race has, and I can say this from the experience of attending it the last two years, some major risks :
- A lot of idiots are attending and serving crazy over the course like there is no tomorrow. Never, ever think about racing in the beginners field.
- The track does not only have some sharp turns, but also probably more drains, manhole covers, uneven asphalt surfaces, metal sheets and corrugated steel covers per kilometer than there are cobblestones plastered between Paris and Roubaix.
- And, if in addition the race is hold in pouring rain, like last year, the risk that you slide in a twisted amalgamation of riders right into some guide rails is multiplied by the factor ten.
But after making this rather factual statements, let’s come back and dwell a little bit more on the details: As every year the race is organized by Nikkan Sports, the popular sports newspaper which publish these fantastic articles about baseball, horse racing and groping techniques on the Saikyo line. Nikkan Sports has a huge distribution and attracts a lot of its readers to attend the race. so be no surprise if the guy racing next to you thinks about baseball, horse racing or other things while riding straight and at high speed into the hairpin curve.
The track is 7 km long and has to be passed three times, making the total race distance to 21 km, which is about the common flat type race in Japan. One nasty U-turn, three other technical turns but at least the finishing straight is very wide and almost free of obstacles.The right track is the one in question. The left track is the one used by the pros before they spin some laps at the end of the race on the right track.
One can attend in four classes (plus women and seniors) which are „High grade“, corresponding to S and A grade JCRC riders, „General 1“ (B,C), „General 2“ (D,E) and „Beginners“ (scum). For some reason which remained already last year a mystery to me, the most popular category is „General 2“, which is therefore divided into three groups (2A, 2B, 2C, so far, so clear) and you must submit your registration for one of them (2A, 2B or 2C, but they are anyway all the same). Of course it makes sense, for example if you have problems to get out of the bed early in the morning, to join the 2C group, as this one starts at 9:19 AM, as opposed to the earlier 9:17 AM start time of the 2A field.
In each General 2 field there are 70 places and you might want to register fast with Nikkan Sports. Registration has started on April 11th and tend to be completed very fast. A Japanese post offer transfer from can be downloaded here and after filing some basic information and paying 6.000 Yen the formalities are dealt with. If anyone would like to race against me – please opt for 2A. I am an early bird by the name of Kraehe.
By the way, the race is on Sunday May 24th and it might be a good idea to go there and spin some laps before the actual event to get accustomed to the place. The crowd is one of the biggest in any event (except of course for the famous Positivo Espresso New Year Ekiden Training Session) as they come to see the pros and not you.
If it does not rain one can also be tempted to watch the pro race afterwards.
A more detailed report about last year’s race is published at this blog, however I must warn you that I wrote this post under the influence of a book „English as a second language“ and you may not want to look at it on your office screen.
So I would be happy to meet many at you on the day in the port, if possible still in one piece.