28 April 2012

Tohoku GW Ride -- 399 Yen per Kilometer for Charity thanks to Morrison & Foerster Tokyo

The Yamabushi -- Full Loaded and Ready to Go!
Jerome and I signed up for a series of Audax Brevets in Tohoku over Golden Week, sponsored by the famously hard core Saitama Audax club.  We leave from Iruma-shi in Saitama on Sunday morning before 6AM, and plan to ride first 600 km to Akita by Monday evening, then 200 km on Tuesday along the coast and up to Goshogawara in Aomori.  Wednesday is a 200 km loop covering the Tsugaru Peninsula and a bit more, then Thursday is 300 km back down to Yamagata (Higashine).  Friday is a scheduled 400 km ride back to the start.

There are something in the range of 80 people who will join all or a portion of this ride, including 40 hardest core who signed up for the full 1700.  I signed up for all except the last 400 km, in the hope that I have some chance of actually making it, and also so that I can try to recover in time for the Tokyo-Itoigawa Fastrun Classic on May 19.

I mentioned this plan to Gary Smith a few weeks back, and asked if the Morrison & Foerster/Ito & Mitomi Tokyo law office ("MoFo Tokyo")-- where I was a partner until end of 2011 -- could use this for any of their ongoing Tohoku-related charitable fundraising.  The timing seems to have worked out well.

Last year MoFo Tokyo made a commitment to fund monthly deliveries of vegetable boxes to families in need in the disaster zone under the "Isseki Many Cho" project organized by the Gokigen Farm NPO in Ibaraki Prefecture.  Gokigen Farm was originally designed as a program to help train disabled persons to grow their own vegetables.  After March 11, 2011 a new problem appeared, in that many farmers in Ibaraki and adjacent Fukushima could not sell their vegetables to their usual outlets -- people refused to buy from them, regardless of any testing that showed the produce to be entirely free of contaminants.  So they added a program to encourage people to buy vegetables from farmers in Ibaraki and adjacent areas of Fukushima.   MoFo Tokyo decided that it would be great to participate in order to provide monthly boxes of vegetables to those in need in the disaster area -- helping both the vegetable farmers in Ibaraki/Fukushima and the needy in coastal Iwate and Miyagi.

Individuals at MoFo Tokyo contributed to a one-year commitment to support Isseki Many Cho, and that commitment expires at the end of June, 2012.  The office was looking for some way to inspire contributions to extend participation for a second year, as the need is still very real for the producers and consumers, and so as part of the effort the MoFo Tokyo team have solicited pledges of support based upon the kilometers that I ride over Golden Week.

I was delighted to learn on Friday that 63 persons have pledged support to the project, for a total of 399 yen (that is almost $5) per kilometer.   Thank you!

If I can do 1000 kms, ... 399,000 yen, almost $5000.  Maybe I can ride more? 

I have never done my cycling as any kind of charity event, since I always figured that people who want to give to charity will do so, with our without the excuse of a bike ride.  But this ride is a bit different.

First, it covers the length of Northern Japan ... albeit sticking to the mountains and the Japan Sea side, avoiding the coastline that was hit by the tsunami and nuclear disaster.  But it does go through mid/western Fukushima and adjacent Tochigi (Nasu Shiobara etc.) prefectures, areas impacted by the nuclear disaster, even if they are well outside of the "exclusion zone".

Second, this ride will be hard.  Really hard.  The longest Brevets I have done in Japan are 600 km.  And after those, I did NOT feel like getting up and riding my bicycle again the next day.  When I tried Paris-Brest-Paris last summer, I realized that an ultra-endurance event extending longer than 2 days is an entirely different kettle of fish.  And even if we will not be going over any really high alpine passes, we will be riding up and down, and up and down, and through plenty of mountainous territory and hilly stretches -- far more climbing than the equivalent length ride at Paris-Brest-Paris.

Lastly, I will be riding the bicycle frame that I welded in February and built up with components myself in March -- the "Yamabushi".  And the front wheel is my latest handbuilt wheel -- Velocity A23 rim, 32 Sapim CX Ray spokes, and SP Dynamo SV-8 electric hub dynamo to power the front light for night time riding.  This kind of long ride, with my 95 kg body, plus extra gear, over at least 5 days in a row in all conditions, will be a special kind of test for my bicycle, as well as my body and mind.

What I did not expect -- is the incredible sense of motivation that I feel from the pledges.  I've got to do everything in my power (err ...without risk of serious injury) to get through at least 1000 kms and, I hope, more.   I just hope that equipment, body and mind can make it.

If there is anyone else who wants to make a per kilometer pledge, in support of his or her preferred charity, just do so by email to me (or for those who don't have my address, by a public comment below or, Tokyo cyclists, via private message to dgl2 on the Tokyo Cycling Club BBS).

The weather forecast is good, at least the first few days of the ride.

Jerome and I will try to send updates from the road.

1 comment:

mob said...

Incredible. Good luck for both of you on this long ride. Jerome, don't forget to pack your shoes.

I think you guys should plan a ride from the very North to the very South of Japan (as Alan Booth did a long time ago, albeit on feet). I bet you could do that within 2 weeks max.

Private mail to follow.