When Josh Ibbett embarked on the Japanese Odyssey with his brand new Definition 3.0, a blend of anticipation, uncertainty, and excitement set the tone for the adventure. Forecasts hinted at torrential downpours and steep inclines of up to 35% in the mountainous regions, creating a challenging 1500-mile journey with a staggering 34,500 meters of elevation gain—all compressed into 8 days. It was an adventure that had us perched on the edge of our seats.

MASON Definition

As Josh's journey unfolded, the mesmerising landscapes and photos sent through really captured our attention and imagination. The Japanese Odyssey's social feed had teased the beauty of the route and the forecasted torrential rain never materialised. Crisp and cold Autumn mornings seamlessly transitioned into the mild midday sun, revealing mist rising from rivers on valley floors, shrouding nearby mountains in fog and creating ethereal views adorned with yellow and orange leaves turning red.

Josh's meticulously designed route navigated the various mandatory parkours of the event, featuring a brilliant mix of old Japanese mountain service routes and newer state highways. Starting in Kagoshima in the south and concluding in Hachinohe in the north, the journey demanded navigating several checkpoints, often atop massive mountains, to complete the event.

The terrain posed challenges, with forgotten roads leading further into the mountains. Crumbling roads turned into rubble and then gravel, requiring Josh to navigate tough sections of boulders and landslips. Despite the suitability of a gravel bike in many instances, the Definition consistently proved itself, handling rough roads with ease. Effortless descents from mountain-top checkpoints became the reward after long hours of saddle-climbing.

"The network of Japanese mountain roads are some of the best I’ve ever ridden on a road bike. The climbs were steep at times, but the roads well maintained and the views and autumnal colours spectacular. They also know how to make good bends in Japan, the descents were a lot of fun, especially with the added momentum of a loaded bike."

The Odyssey was not merely about cycling; it served as a gateway to cultural immersion. Josh's route traversed not just from point A to B but revealed ancient forests, serene coastlines, and majestic mountains. Each photo from his ride brought those moments to life for us.

The first challenging day came as Josh approached the Kitakyushu ferry crossing—a 150-mile day on the saddle to make the 7 pm crossing, a strategic move as the next crossing would be at 12 pm. Greeted by fellow Odyssey riders and the first of many 7-Eleven stores offering ample food options, spaghetti Bolognese and microwave rice became staple dinners—a pragmatic choice for a hungry cyclist on the move.

"7-Elevens, Lawsons, or Family Mart, or Kambini as they are collectively known, are so prolific in Japan, and you can expect to find the same food and drink available in any town. It's a fantastic and affordable resupply opportunity since most traditional restaurants are very expensive. Unfortunately, a sit-down meal isn't really an option on a trip like this, and I'm not even sure they would let me in with my kit smelling the way it did!"

On Day 5, rain made its first appearance during a 10-mile climb up a mountain with a name Josh struggled to pronounce. A rain cloud gently escorted him to the checkpoint at the top. After sector 8, a long flat section through the night led to a traditional Japanese hotel with all the trimmings—a straw mat and pillow with a TV and window, offering a touch of luxury camping, not to mention the steaming hot communal bath to remove some hard earnt road grime.

"I was carrying my tent around but not really needing to use it. Accommodation options were so plentiful, tempting me to stop before my daily target of 200 miles. But the strategy of resting well was paying off, and the legs were feeling good. To top it all off, bus stops with actual doors and built-in heaters were a luxury. Without going into too much detail, public loos with heated seats were also appreciated! Japan has to be the most comfortable place to bike pack in the world. If I was to return, I’d not take the tent but instead take an extra warm sleeping bag and take advantage of the many road side shelters available’

"Checkpoint 13 came and went, and the legs and mind were feeling good. The last few days have flown by, just like the good old Trans Continental Days. I seem to have gotten into the flow of the ride now, and the jet lag has worn off. Just getting my head down and covering the miles off is super enjoyable as the roads are so good now by the coast. The views were slightly hampered, however, by giant tsunami walls built in 2011 after a wave swept away homes. Now completely serene and peaceful, it was hard to imagine the devastation that was caused. It was a reminder of how volatile this landscape can be, despite the peace that the people here seem to instil in the place."

As Josh's nightly sleep pattern, going to bed around midnight and setting off at 5 am, continued to prove effective, it propelled him towards the finish of his epic journey through Japan.

Arriving triumphantly at the finish line in Hachinohe, he conquered 1500 miles and a staggering 34,500 meters of elevation in just 8 days—a testament to his unwavering determination and the reliable performance of the Definition. Adding yet another chapter to Joshs extraordinary life in cycling.

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