2022/8/24 - DoTTS Faculty 教員コラム
Bicycle Tourism（N.H. Jost）
Lake Baikal in the Siberian area of Russia is well known for a number of reasons. Most notably, it is the largest fresh water lake in the world by volume; in fact, it contains more fresh water than all of the Great Lakes (USA & Canada) combined. It is also the deepest, the ‘oldest’ and the coldest lake in the world. And, interestingly, 80% of the species of animals living there are not found anywhere else in the world! But what it is also known for is something that truly surprises me.
Lake Baikal hosts a unique form of sports tourism. Bicycle riding ON the lake! That is, adventure riding on the lake during the winter months when it is frozen deep and solid. When I first read about this, I was quite surprise. How could anyone ride across such a wide open expanse, especially in the dead of Baikal’s notoriously cold and windy winter, and why would anyone want to do such an extreme sport, I thought to myself. Yet at the same time it opened my eyes to the world of bicycle tourism. If there’s winter riding on Lake Baikal in the winter, there certainly has to be many other kinds of bicycle tourism!
To find out more about bicycle tourism, I naturally turned to Europe as it is the world epicenter of bicycling, at least in my view. Let me share with you some of what learned about this kind of sports tourism.
The Center for the Promotion of Imports (CBI)—part of The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs—defines cycling tourism as follows:
Cycling tourism refers to recreational visits away from home which involve leisure cycling as a fundamental and significant part of the trip. Bicycle holidays give travellers a feeling of independence and flexibility. Cyclists can decide when and how fast they want to bike. Cycling can be a sporty, peaceful and social activity, often enjoyed in nature. Cycling tourism is becoming more and more popular among different groups, such as younger adults, elderly people and sometimes families. (See reference below)
This general description helps us create a mental image of cycling tourism. Perhaps you can imagine yourself riding along a road lined with tall trees in their true fall colors, or riding next to a fast flowing river near a small countryside village with the wind at your back. To be sure, cycling tourism takes on many different forms. Here are some of the more common types.
Road Cycling tourism: Road cycling tourism has two distinguishing features: First, participants in the sport ride extended distances on paved roads. It may be for a one-day trip, a week trip or even longer. You can expect to ride for distances anywhere from 20 to even 150 kilometers in a day. Second, the bicycles are designed to be ridden for long distances, and are, of course, fast moving. They may not be comfortable for the average rider, but you can cover great distances. Organized tours are the most visible form of road cycling tourism. They are generally all inclusive. That means that all equipment and accommodations for the entire trip are provided. Anywhere from 5 to 15 people can participate in such a tour. Can you imagine yourself riding with other enthusiasts from, say, the Upper Rheine in Eastern Switzerland to Paris, France!
Mountain biking is rough and adventurous. Mountain bikers seek to find that ideal off road path—one that runs up and down, over hills and through valleys, and that makes every turn a thrill, like skiing, if you will. Here too the bicycle is specialized, tough and rugged. Mountain bike tours are often only one or two days given the inherent difficulty. Again such tours are most often inclusive.
Family cycling aims to provide an opportunity for families to join together in a physical activity as a group. As can be imagined, family cycling involves shorter trips and often includes other excursion to keep young children’s interests piqued. A tour may last only a few hours—a half day, or even one or two full days. In most major European cities such tours are readily available with rental bikes and tours for all levels of ability. What a fun way to spend a day with your family!
As bicycle tourism as has advanced, not to mention bicycle technology and infrastructure, so has the variety of tours available. Many are directed toward specific enthusiasts. For the sake of brevity, allow to me to list some of the more specialized types of bicycle tourism: Cross Country cycling; Trail Riding; Gravel Biking; All Mountain riding; Downhill riding; Freeriding; and Dirt Jumping. No question about it—bicycle tourism is an up and coming form of tourism.
My favorite kind of bicycle tourism is Bicycle Cultural Tourism (BCT). If that name is unfamiliar to you or if, indeed, it sounds strange, that is because it is a kind of tourism that I have come up with on my own! I am being whimsical here because it’s a name I thought up rather randomly for a bicycle activity which I enjoy doing with family and friends.
Simply put, BCT involves having a folding bicycle, taking it (covered in a bicycle bag) on a train or bus to a location of cultural interest, and then exploring that area. While I don’t think the name will ever be recognized officially as a kind of tourism sport, it is a type of bicycle riding and exploration that I truly recommend. A few months ago, for instance, a friend of mine and I took our bicycles to the Tone Ouzeki–the Great Weir Tone River. From there, we rode to the Sekiyado Castle Museum. And then from that point, we rode along the Edo River until we found a train station for our trip back. Talk about a fun day of exploring! On another occasion, several of us ventured by a train to Lake Kasumigaura which is north-east of Tokyo and set about riding the 160 kilometers around it. (It is the second largest lake in Japan, incidentally.) It was a two day journey highlighted by the local cultural points of interest. I didn’t know that renkon (lotus root) were grown there, nor how difficult they are to plant them. I didn’t know Lake Kasumigura is known for bass fishing. I didn’t know bicycle tourism there is being promoted Japan National Tourism Organization: The Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Road. Shorter more impromptu trips include riding along the Saikae River in Kanagawa, or riding along the Sumida River in Tokyo. In short, that’s BCT!!!!
As you can see, bicycle tourism—including my own personal form, BCT—is a multifaceted form of tourism that is, in a word, inviting. What these bicycle tours, or adventures as I like to say, share in common is a sense of doing something less ordinary, of doing something healthy, relaxing, mentally stimulating and of doing something simply fun.
So if you are thinking of taking a different kind vacation or even thinking working in the tourist industry, bicycle tourism has a lot to offer. To be sure, Japan is a wonderful place for people to enjoy this every expanding form of tourism. You may even think of your own form of bicycle tourism.
Eu the Netherlands, August, 2022,
https://www.cbi.eu/market-information/tourism/cycling-tourism/europe – :~:text=Cycling%20tourism%20refers%20to%20recreational,fast%20they%20want%20to%20bike.
Japan National Tourism Organization, August, 2022,
Waltraud Schulze & Andy Hessberg, August, 2022,