Ret’s Go Cycring Japan

In January, I went to Japan with my wife to visit her parents (my in-laws). They live about 60 miles outside of Tokyo in a small mountain town with a population of 13,000. Tokigawa-town is small because it’s boxed in by mountains which won’t allow it to get any bigger.

TokigawaI brought my running shoes with me to go jogging anytime I needed to get out of the house (which is just big enough for 3 people my mother in-law often reminds me). On my first day of running, I came across a small “organic cafe” that looked like something out of a kid’s book: Cafe Poponoki. I tried to go in but it was closed. After I couldn’t find any unlocked windows, I noticed stacks of complimentary pamphlets and hippie magazines on a table near the door. Mixed in with them was a stack of Japanese pro cycling newsletters! As I flipped through one, I realized it was that of Equipe Asada the premier Japanese pro-cycling team.
Cafe PoponokiIn the newsletter were images of the team racing against Française des Jeux , Garmin, Bbox and others. I was pretty stoked and even more so when I read that their training facility was open to the public and it was in the next town over. Turns out, the proximity to Tokigawa is no coincidence. My wife’s hometown is a kind of Mecca for Japanese pro cyclists looking for climbs and we never knew it (or she did and withheld the information). When I went back to Poponoki the next day, I talked to the cafe’s mama-san and after she sold me some patchouli she explained that the captain of the team often stopped by for espresso and lunch. His name is Shinichi Fukushima and according to the Equipe Asada website, he’s “…a tough attacker, clever strategist. He has many followers since he is well known in Europe as well as in Asia. He considers that the important things for professional riders are to stay calm in the pack and distinguish a big & definitive chance from others. He is the in-game commander to make strategic decisions on-sight, such as who to make a break away, who will be the main sprinter of our team in the final massive sprint, etc.“

Equipe Asada’s Shinichi Fukushima
The next day I visited the Equipe Asada studio and store where I met the team mechanic. He explained that the team was in France training and politicking in attempt to get an invite to Tour de France 2013. He said Fumiyuki Beppu (SkilShimano) and Yukiya Arashiro (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) were former Adsada riders. I asked him about the team bike and he said “Why don’t we check it out?” We did and I was kind of starstruck. Oddly enough, Equipe Asada uses SRAM Red gruppo in the land where Shimano was born. The bikes are full carbon by “Graphite Design” which is a Japanese golf club company (why the face?) and wheelsets are Mavic. I was thinking of buying one of their kits which is pretty slick but not nearly nice as ours. I settled for water bottles after a brief consultation with my manager/agent/minister-of-finance/wife. Sure I came home without a kit, but pro-water bottles should cut a few seconds off of my quarter-mile time.

Mechanic, Machine & Masochist Team Truck

Fumiyuki Beppu Skilz

Yukiya Arashiro Killing It

Yukiya Arashiro Sitting It


  1. Wow Todd! What a fantastic trip. Thanks for sharing.

  2. so…team training camp at your in-laws? common…we'll be good!

  3. Saw Arashiro at the Giro last month.

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