Mountain Biking In Japan? You Bet, And That's Not All

For the first time in a long time, I went somewhere just to travel -- not specifically for mountain biking, though I did get some in. To simply be a “geijin” (the Japanese equivalent of a Gringa). I went with no expectations and no plans. I wanted to openly explore the country that has long been on my bucket list. So I packed up the Deuter Helion 80 with all the gear (think durable roller with a legit backpack system) and my light and versatile ACT Trail 22 SL, and off we went!
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When we first landed into the organized chaos of Tokyo, I thought, “Let’s get out of this hustle and bustle!” But after exploring the city for a couple days, it really grew on me.

Exploring Tokyo by bike was a lot of fun.

The impossible maze of trains, unassumingly delicious food joints, singing toilets, sea of skyscrapers, welcoming humans and rich culture completely captivated me. I was sad to leave Tokyo, but there is just too much to see in Japan.


After Tokyo, we headed to the beach-side town of Kamakura where rumor had it, there were mountain biking trails! We skipped the famous Mt Fuji bike park because we were looking for something more “off the beaten path.” Mountain biking hasn’t yet taken off in Japan and the few trails that exist are kept a secret by the small community of bikers. However, with enough persistence, you can certainly find them. We ended up on an untrodden and rugged trail outside of Kamakura. There was a lot of hike-a-bike, slipping on roots, and getting tangled in vines, but at the end of the day, it was a worthy and humbling adventure!


After the somewhat defeating mountain biking mission (though any day on the bike is a good day), we decided to rent some road bikes in Kyoto. We scouted out the best (and only) road bike shop, Pedalforth Fitting, which rents legit carbon road rockets. We had a 10+ year expat friend take us on a journey over the Verdant hills of Kyoto, down to the lakeside town of Sakamoto, back up an old logging road to the mountain town of Ohara (where we stopped at a great local farmers market) and finished the day with one of the most beautiful descents of my life back to Kyoto. It was a 60-mile journey requiring a multitude of layers and lots of food (including the farmers market delicacies) -- all of which the ACT Trail was more than ready for!


Besides the mountain and road biking adventures, we explored the ins and outs of Kobe, Osaka, Nikko, and Hakone doing a variety of things that geijins do. Every day I had the ACT Trail packed and ready for whatever adventures lay ahead. The pack (just like the mind of a traveler should be) was versatile, open and ready for whatever life threw our way.


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