WAKAYAMA – A total of more than 100 people took part in a 1,100-kilometer tandem bicycle project along the Pacific coast from east to west Japan and crossed the finish line here on May 7 after a nine-day ride.

The project to cover the approximately 1,100-kilometer route on tandem bicycles between the coastal town of Choshi in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, and the western Japanese city of Wakayama for people with disabilities was organized by the Japan Para-Cycling Federation and other groups. The aim was to showcase the joy of tandem cycling that people with visual impairments can experience and interacting with local people in areas along the cycle route.

Participants cycled along the Department of Land’s designated “Pacific Cycling Road,” which stretches from Chiba, Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Aichi, Mie, and Wakayama prefectures along the Pacific Ocean. The four main members of the project took turns in the front seats of the two to three tandem bicycles used for the ride, while cyclists with disabilities from each prefecture along the route took turns in the back seats.

The bike trip started on April 29th. On their final day, May 7, the bikers set off from an inn in the city of Gobo, Wakayama Prefecture, early in the morning in torrential rain and high winds. The bikers waved to Wakayama Mayor Masahiro Obana and others who greeted them as they reached the terminus of the Pacific Cycling Road just after 4:00 p.m

After the bikers completed the trip, a ceremony was held where Obana praised their performance, saying, “I think we got to show[the joy of tandem cycling]as the bikers made connections with a lot of people in different places.”

Aiko Hirooka, 43, a visually impaired participant from Hyogo Prefecture, commented after cycling in Wakayama Prefecture, “Thanks to so many people, I could feel the wonders of Wakayama. I want to come back here when the weather is better. ”

Networking events and tandem bike test rides were held at various locations throughout the nine-day journey, and videos, photos and rider location information were shared on social media.

Yumi Koyama, 37, who led the project, said, “We are happy that we were able to complete the trip without any accidents. We have been told that it is dangerous to ride bikes with people with disabilities, but we can now continue our activities with confidence.”

(Japanese original by Ryota Hashimoto, Wakayama Bureau)


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