Cycling Spots in Ehime Recommended by Pro Riders
Motoshi Kadota and Yasuaki Nishiyama

Cycling spots in Ehime recommended by pro riders Motoshi Kadota and Yasuaki Nishiyama

Cycling spots in Ehime recommended by pro riders Motoshi Kadota and Yasuaki Nishiyama
Challenging

Ehime prefecture is almost heaven for cyclists with its many beautiful sights including mountains, the sea, rivers, and islands, making it well worth cycling in. There is great variety to the routes available providing satisfaction to all kinds of cyclists.

Today we interviewed Motoshi Kadota, a professional mountain bike rider knowledgeable about Ehime Prefecture, and Yasuaki Nishiyama, a new rising athlete who races with Kadota, about their ideas on the most comfortable routes to ride, the most motivating uphill rides, and the most motivating off road routes.

 

The Yumeshima Kaido is a lesser known route that is comfortable to ride (Kadota)

– First, let’s hear from Kadota what the most comfortable route to ride is in Ehime Prefecture.

Kadota: I feel compelled to say it’s the Shimanami Kaido, but Nishiyama is the expert on that, so I’ll tell you about a lesser known route.

Kadota (in back)

Kadota (in back)

Kadota: There are 25 small islands to the north east of Hakata Island, which the Shimanami Kaido passes, that are home to the town of Kamijima.

The islands of Kamijima

The islands of Kamijima

Kadota: While they can only be reached by passenger vessels and ferries, there are ferries you can carry your bicycle aboard that depart from Imabari Port, Ikuchi-jima, and Innoshima Island.

Cycling through Kamijima

Cycling through Kamijima

Kadota: Among the 25 islands, Ikina Island, Sa Island, and Yuge Island are connected by the Yumeshima Kaido route which can be traveled by bicycle. The route that is currently open is about 4 kilometers long, but plans are for it to connect with more bridges, extending up to 6 kilometers and reaching Iwagi Island.

Cycling through Kamijima

Cycling through Kamijima

Kadota: The islands are small and the route may seem short. However, the islands of the Seto Inland Sea tend to rise up from the sea surface like small mountains, so route tends to follow the island circumference. Furthermore, there are few people or cars, and not a single traffic light.

Access to Kamijima by ship

Access to Kamijima by ship

Kadota: Carrying your bicycle onboard and crossing to the island by ship will increase the out-of-the-ordinary mood of your journey, while Kamishima retains echoes of old fashioned fishing villages. Time seems to pass slowly here as well, so it’s the ideal route for a leisurely ride. I travel that route once in a while myself when I want to refresh my mind and body.

 

If you want to enjoy a comfortable ride, you cannot miss the Shimanami Kaido (Nishiyama)

— Nishiyama, you recommend the Shimanami Kaido? 

Nishiyama: If you want to enjoy a comfortable cycling experience on a flat route through Ehime, then you cannot miss the Shimanami Kaido.

Nishiyama (in front)

Nishiyama (in front)

Nishiyama: Certainly you can look down on the islands and blue seas of the Seto Inland Sea as you enjoy the comfortable ride across the bridges, but there are also many flat sections along the coast after you arrive at the island, and there are hardly any traffic lights.

Cycling on the Shimanami Kaido

Cycling on the Shimanami Kaido

Nishiyama: The cafes and road stations are just at the right interval. Each island features its own history and culture, and I also recommend the route for anyone who wants to enjoy dining.

In my case, I often go on a whim whenever I have the time. I love it because each time, I will ride for a while and then stop somewhere to take in the beautiful view, and I can just stare out at the ocean without a care in my mind.

Cycling on the Shimanami Kaido

Cycling on the Shimanami Kaido

Nishiyama: There are also a few spots where you can enjoy the contrast between the massive modern bridges and the old fashioned towns of the Seto Inland Sea, and I personally really enjoy looking for spots like that.

Cycling on the Shimanami Kaido

Cycling on the Shimanami Kaido

 

The UFO Line, where you can climb up to an elevation of 1,690 meters, is ideal for high altitude training (Kadota)

– What is the most motivating route to climb in Ehime Prefecture for you as a professional cyclist?

Kadota: That would have to be the UFO Line (the Kamegamori Rindo). The 27 kilometer route follows the ridgeline of the Shikoku mountains, which include the highest peak in Western Japan (1,982 meters), Mount Ishizuchi, and reaches a maximum elevation of 1,690 meters.

Kadota: The high elevation means it is very cool, so I train on this route in the summer time to avoid the heat and practice altitude acclimatization. I particularly recommend the route from Tsuchigoya (1,492 meters) ,which is near Ishizuchi Shrine, to the highest point on the route just by the peak of Kamegamori (1,690). It’s also a great place to stay as a group because there are many inns in the area.

I recommend this route for cyclists who want to take in beautiful views. Throughout the year, the view encompassing the Pacific Ocean and the Seto Inland Sea at once is fascinating. On top of that, scenery of each seasons such as the sea of clouds in spring and the autumn colored leaves add charms.

Overhead view of the UFO Line

Overhead view of the UFO Line

Kadota: There is also the Ishizuchi Skyline to the west of the UFO Line where the Mount Ishizuchi Hill Climb road race is held every summer.

Mount Ishizuchi Hill Climb

Mount Ishizuchi Hill Climb

Kadota: In 2018, there was a cyclist who managed to finish the route, a length of 22.1 kilometers with an elevation difference of 900 meters and an average 6.0% incline, in just around 40 minutes. There are many foreign participants, and while the race is so popular that the limit of 800 cyclists is filled in an instant, I recommend you try it yourself.

 

You must try climbing Kirosan and its over 10% incline that shows up in the latter half, at least once in your life (Nishiyama)

– How about Nishiyama? 

Nishiyama: Mount Ishizuchi is a challenge, but the road climbing Kirosan on Oshima Island that the Shimanami Kaido passes through is very tough as well.

Nishiyama: It’s a short route of just about 3 kilometers from the entrance to the peak, but the average incline is just under 8% and the greatest incline in the latter half exceeds 10%, making it a very hard ride.

Cycling on Kirosan

Cycling on Kirosan

Nishiyama: But the view from the observation deck at the top there is amazing. You can see all the islands of the Seto Inland Sea at once, as well as many different aspects depending on the season and time, so you will not grow bored now matter how often you go.

 Cycling on Kirosan

Cycling on Kirosan

Nishiyama: The guardrail along the route is just a few wires running along the posts, giving a clear and beautiful view along the route.

Cycling on Kirosan

Cycling on Kirosan

Nishiyama: For those who are not confident about their leg strength, I recommend renting an sports E-Bike from the Giant Store in Imabari. The latest E-Bikes have high capacity batteries that will last about 100 kilometers under normal conditions. That will give you enough power to climb Kirosan, take a short excursion on the Shimanami Kaido, end then get back.

 

Japan’s longest 140 kilometer off road route that rivals the best trails in Europe

– Finally, I would like to ask you about the most motivating off road route in Ehime, as you are both experts in that area.

Kadota: The Matsuno Shimanto Bike Race , held every year in Matsuno in the south west of Ehime, features a 40 kilometer route in the Challenger Division for beginners and a 140 kilometer, route,Japan’s longest off road route, in the top level Ultimate Division.

Matsuno Shimanto Bike Race

Matsuno Shimanto Bike Race

Kadota: The route provides beautiful views of nature that are not far behind of the trails in Europe, and is very easy to ride. I can recommend with confidence to those who love mountain bikes.

Matsuno Shimanto Bike Race

Matsuno Shimanto Bike Race

Kadota: In addition to the race itself, there are numerous lesser know spots in the surrounding area. The area abounds with nature because it is home to the source of the Shimanto River, considered one of Japans top three clear rivers.

Shimanto River

Shimanto River

Kadota: You can enjoy playing by the waters of the Hiromi and Meguro rivers, tributaries of the Shimanto River, and you can catch sweetfish (Ayu), eel, and crab. There is a hot spring at Matsumaru Station, the closest station to the starting point of the race. There I recommend riding along the Shimanto River or checking out the sites and road stations in town.

 

Experience the feeling of a professional at the site of Japan’s pinnacle race, Yawatahama (Nishiyama)

– How about Nishiyama? 

Nishiyama: For mountain biking in Ehime, you can’t miss the official UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) certified race held at the Yawatahama City Sports Park every year on a course certified by the JMA (Japan Mountain-bike Association).

Yawatahama City Sports Park

Yawatahama City Sports Park

Nishiyama: This course is also used to select the members of the Japan mountain bike Olympic team, so there are always professional cyclists gathereding there, and regular visitors can also ride the course for free.

Yawatahama City Sports Park

Yawatahama City Sports Park

Nishiyama: You can also try the beginners and intermediate courses depending on your level. Mountain bikes and helmets are available to rent if you do not have your own, and they even have bikes for children, so you can come as a family without bringing anything. Isn’t it great that you can easily enjoy the same course ridden by Japan’s top athletes?

PROFILE

Motoshi Kadota

Motoshi Kadota is a professional cyclist and member of Team Giant. He participates in domestic and international races from his base in Imabari and hosts his own TV and radio shows. He is praised for having invigorated cycling culture in Ehime, and was recognized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism for promoting the use of bicycles in May 2019. He established his bicycle related company, Koideru Inc., in 2019.

PROFILE

Yasuaki Nishiyama

Yasuaki Nishiyama is a professional mountain bike rider who founded the mountain bike team Team Yamadori. He was born and raised in Matsuyama, Ehime prefecture. He is one of the hopes for the future of the sport and competes together with Kadota in domestic and international races.

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