04 June 2009

COP15 Cycling Tour of Japan - Anjo Etape

Mikael, Brompton in Anjo
At the start of the COP15 Cycling Tour of Japan's Anjo stage, I'm ready to roll. On this stage a Brompton was made available to me and it was a lovely ride through the rural landscape.

I don't think I'd been surrounded by so many hobby cyclists in my life. At least not since my racing days. The Japanese Cycling Association arranged the ride so most of the participants were members. Many needed a couple of hundred metres to figure out how to pop those shoes into their pedals, but their enthusiasm lacked nothing.

Anjo is a city of about 180,000 people and they have had a close relationship to Denmark for more than a century since a study trip was made to learn best practice about agricultural techniques. The city and region is known as Little Denmark, which is why it was an obvious choice for placing a stage there.
Anjo Pelaton Anjo Bicycles and Danish Windmill
The press coverage continued during the ride, with a photographer tracking the ambassador's every pedal turn. On this stage we ended up in a little VIP group of cyclists while the hundreds of others rode a different route. It wasn't a hair-raising tempo - about 30 km/h on average - but my Brompton handled the pace like I was going downhill. Cool little ride.

The ride ended at Denpark - a Danish botanical gardens/agricultural research centre in Anjo. The bicycle parking was impressive, as was the replica Danish windmill. There were three distances to choose from. 20 km, 30 km and 50 km. Most people chose the 50 km ride, including many small kids on small bikes. Really impressive stuff. The group the ambassador and I were in rode about 40-odd km in all that day.
Franz-Michael and Mikael
Here's the Danish ambassador to Japan Franz-Michael and yours truly, before the start of the stage.
Lunch in Anjo With the Mayor
Halfway through the day we stopped for lunch with the Mayor of Anjo and his Deputy Mayor. Delicious food and a good conversation about bicycle infrastructure based on Danish experience. Like most cities in Japan, Anjo has many citizens who use the bicycle daily, for transport, but implementation of safe, separated bicycle lanes is necessary if Japan wishes to take their fantastic bicycle culture to the next level.
Anjo Crowd Anjo 49 26 21
We stopped at a park where families and children were gathered to hear the ambassador speak before heading off on the last leg to the event area in Denpark. All in all I think about 800 people joined the ride, which was just brilliant.

The members of the JCA at the final reception, wearing their yellow numbers. It was an impressive military exercise they put on, arranging the entire route and standing on street corners to wave the cyclists to the left or right. Well done them.
Anjo - Style Over Speed
A little style over speed in Anjo. The girl on the left resembles most of the daily cyclists in Japan and provides a splash of style in a sea of lycra.


Erik Sandblom said...

The Brompton is a really great bike. I bought one just because of the fold, but it's actually a nice bike to ride, even disregarding that it folds.

It's zippy. Some describe it as twitchy at first, but many grow to appreciate the zippiness, including me. I know a guy who uses his for recreational club rides (bicycling as sport!!). He rides over 100 km on Sundays on his Brompton!

nathan_h said...

I love my Brompton but I find the seat very uncomfortable on longer rides.

BRM said...

Saddles are a very personal choice. It shure is possible to find one that suits your needs and makes your Brompton comfortable on long rides. I personally prefer Brooks leather saddles.

Anonymous said...

I use my Brompton for commuting, shopping and on leisure rides. Last Sunday, I did close to 100 miles (96.5!) and was suffering with the heat but wasn't feeling sore anywhere.

The Brompton has *no* trouble keeping up with big wheeled bikes. The opposite is frequently true, which is quite amusing. :-)


nathan_h said...

No the stock seat is just inept for long rides, unless someone can say they enjoy it for them. I'm not picky and don't have any problem sitting for over an hour on the cheap, generic seats on my two classic bicycles. They're broader and thicker, but not identical to each other. The insubstantial Brompton seat is just no good for long periods in the upright riding position that the bicycle is otherwise designed for. In the interest of weight, assuredly, they've outfitted it with a light seat that's only adequate with body weight distributed on the handlebars. And for the same net-weight concern (I carry it more than I do long rides) I'm not eager to swap the seat for something heavier, or to have to 'personalize' anything on a bicycle that costs so much. (It should come with a seat that is both light and comfortable.) But otherwise, I do love the thing.

Martin said...

Oh Mikael, a t-shirt? I won't say I'm disappointed, but... ;o)

Mikael said...

martin... i know, i know... shocking. but it was part of the package. forced to, really. but hey, all in the name of the higher cause, as they say... :-)

Cheap Bali Cycling Tour said...

Great amazing tour..........!!!

BRM said...

Saddles are like shoes, there is no saddle to suit everyone. The new Brompton saddle is much nicer and very light too btw.

I frequently - and quite successfully - race cyclists on 'proper' racing bikes on my Brompton. IMHO the Brompton is one of the most underrated bikes in existence.

Anonymous said...

The old Brompton stock saddles was OK for me but definitely not for everyone. I used these saddles for 14k miles of Brompton riding with rides up to about 75 miles per day.

But as soon as the new Brompton saddle came out (with moulded in carrying handle!) I upgraded and it's a much better saddle.