Sunday, November 4, 2018

Brompton runs Cycling Shimanami 2018

Last weekend I was a part of the Cycling Shimanami 2018, an international cycling event over Setouchi Shimanami Kaido (West Seto Expressway) .
(click to view the movie.)

Shimanami Kaido is a 60-kilometer-long road and bridge network running between Japan's Hiroshima and Ehime prefectures.

The route connects across seven islands, offering sublime scenery of the Seto Inland Sea National Park and artificial beauty of the seven bridges. Bike riders can run across the Seto Inland Sea running along the bicycle pedestrian road attached to the bridge of the motorway. The road was selected as one of the seven most beautiful cycling roads in the world by CNN.

International Cycling Event "Cycling Shinami 2018", in which riders are allowed to run through the motor vehicle expressway connecting 7 bridges between Onomichi (Hiroshima prefecture) and Imabari (Ehime prefecture), was held on October 28, 2018. There are seven courses offered in the event. The variety of courses includes a round trip course of maximum 140 kilometers long. I am one to run the most popular Course D, 70-km One-way course over the Seto Inland Sea from Imabari to Onomichi.

This cycle event started in 2014 and is scheduled every four years. There are exceptions of a preliminary dry run in 2013 and intermediate event with small scale in 2016. As I enrolled the event in 2013 dry run and the first one in 2014, it is the third one for me.

The ride event is one of the largest in Japan. It is told that 7200 riders will run in the event. (I suppose that Mt. Fuji Hill Climb Race is over 10 thousand and the largest.) Nearly 10% of the participants are from abroad.  I saw a lot of Taiwanese, several Americans/Canadians and a couple of Australians in the same batch.

Motor vehicle traffic is closed on the road during the event. The riders run main vehicular lane on the highway where a bicycle normally cannot get in so that this event is very special and attractive.

The event is well organized and schedule goes on time. Following Course A, B, C riders to start, 1,500 of Course D riders assembled at Imabari Interchange. First group of Course D riders started at 8:13 am and the second batch, including me, began to ride at 8:17 am.

Equipment: Brompton S2E Raw
Distance: 67.22 km (highway 44 km)
Lap: 2 hours 57 min. 40 sec.
Average Speed: 22.7km/h

The sky is blue and wind is calm. (Wind is one of the important factors in Shimanami. Once windy, it becomes hell.) 

Passing the first bridge, Kurushima Strait Bridge, with total length of 4,015 meters (13,173 ft).

When landed on the first island Oshima after Kurushima Strait Bridge, we go straight into the tunnel.

(click to view the above movie.)

Because the highway penetrates island hills and mountains through tunnels, we can enjoy luxury of level riding through out the route.

After passing 4 bridges and three islands (Oshima, Hakata-jima, Omishima) to reach Ikuchi-island, the fourth island, riders take first rest at the 33.4 km point. Drink and light meal are offered.

After a short break, Course D riders start again toward Onomichi.

(click to view the above movie.)

Just before reaching Onomihi City, riders need to get on the boat to get across the tiny strait.

(click to view the above movie.)

Cheer leaders, a costume mascot (hassa-kun), and local spectators awaited riders at the goal.

Delicious local food is generously served to refill riders.

It was really a nice ride and priceless experience on a day of the beautiful autumn in Japan. I express a maximum gratitude to the people who worked and promoted the event, volunteers who supported for the event, and local spectators who gave full cheers for the participating riders.

Related information:
A video clip from the Cycling Shimanami 2014

(click to view the movie.)