#GoingPlaces – Get inspired to #bringyourbike as XPDTN3 ride the gravel roads of Japan
The latest bikepacking adventure from the explorers that are XPDTN3 saw the team travel to the other side of the world, with Scicon AeroComfort ROAD 3.0 TSA bike travel bags, to tackle the gravel tracks around Mount Tsurugi – a famous off-road hot spot for tourists in the area, usually traveling by 4×4 or dirt bikes. XPDTN3 would be adding their gravel 3T Exploro bikes to this list.
The chosen route, the longest gravel mountain road in Japan – Mt Tsurugi Super Forest Road, weaves through deep and rocky river gorges, combining broken pavement with double track trails, and offering up stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean far in the distance. The perfect setting for another two-wheeled adventure for Marc Gasch and his comrades.
The first day’s riding took in a near 70km loop from Kamikatsu to Shikibitani Onsen, gradually climbing for the first half of the day before the welcome respite of descending for the latter half. Tracking a road only traversed by 4x4s, the riders gradually climbed the day’s main challenge, before being treated by the accompanying Japanese crew to a hearty picnic atop the mountain. Well fed, there was just to descend before heading to the relaxing onsen spa, followed by more culinary delights, then sleep. Day one done.
The latter two days of the adventure tackled equally testing routes, covering 70 and 42km distances respectively, including a mighty 2000m of climbing on the first, ascending Mount Tsurugi itself.
Perfect double track among lush green mountains went by, with a spanglish-japanese conversation about gravel, bikepacking and the cycling culture in the country of the rising sun. Once you step away from the big cities and mega highways, Japan is a country full of rural roads and gravel tracks, perfect for exploration.
A fast descent off the top of the climb took the team back past the Instagram-worthy Ogama no taki Falls, before one ‘small’ final ascent up past several micro-villages – hosting just a handful of houses each – to visit a Buddhist Temple at the top. However, as is usually the case when exploring by bike, the extra effort brought with it a just reward, in this case the stunning temple established in 793 AD, sitting 760m above sea level.
A short final stage back to Kamikatsu on day three saw the Japanese adventure come to an end – one that didn’t fail to disappoint both in terms of ride quality, and also the visual rewards for the two-wheeled efforts – an unforgettable experience and drop into Japanese culture.
I was expecting more obstacles and technical singletracks, but we found perfect double tracks and solitary secondary roads nested in the bottom of the valleys and up the hills. Definitely the perfect terrain for a cool 3 days of experiencing Japanese geography & culture and feast on fresh food.
XPDTN3 travel around the world exploring the road unridden together with their custom Scicon AeroComfort ROAD 3.0 TSA Bike Travel Bags to keep their 3T Exploro bikes safe and secure. Take inspiration from their journeys and #bringyourbike
Words and photography by Marc Gasch.SHOP NOW