A mate of mine has just accomplished a superhuman feat that filled me with admiration and maybe more than a little inspiration: a (barely) 10-day bicycle journey from the south of Kyushu to the northernmost part of Honshu as part of an event called the Japanese Odyssey.
My mate, who I haven’t named because I haven’t sought permission to write about him and who I think is so humble he usually lets his actions speak for him, went on a trek of about 2,500 kilometers long and some 30,000-odd meters of elevation. And he finished this while only just into the 10th day of riding, and almost three full days before the final cutoff for participants: every single one of them a hardy, proficient endurance cyclist in their own right. This is how amazing my mate’s ride was.
This mate, it should be noted, holds down a demanding full-time job and is nothing more than an amateur cyclist. Although The Japanese Odyssey is not a race, as any cyclist knows, most rides in a group are a race, and the only people who beat my mate to the end of the ride were the world record holder for riding the length of Japan and another pro who only got there earlier because my mate decided to take a much longer route on one stage because he wanted to enjoy the scenic views.
Maps of the progress my mate made each day are as follows. The Japanese Odyssey was started in 2015 by a couple of French blokes and was held this year for the first time since 2019. Riders must travel from Kagoshima to Hachinohe in 21 days, passing through 15 mandatory checkpoints, and do so unsupported, so they’re carrying all their own gear. I dip my lid in awe to all of them, but a special nod goes to my mate, who I already knew was superhuman through trans-European rides and a magnificent show in the Paris-Brest-Paris event this year. I should add that on top of my mate being a superb cyclist, he is an even better bloke. Much appreciated for including me in your amazing adventure (thankfully, vicariously!)
Download The Japanese Odyssey Entrant’s Manual here if you’re interested to see what the 2023 ride entailed and to learn more about the event.