Scheduled to open in just a few years, the Hachijurigoe Road, more formally National Highway 289 will mean the creation of an ideal long-distance cycling road, one winding along the scenic borders of Niigata and Fukushima prefectures. Satoshi Sakamoto talks about what this will mean for cyclists.
Born in Sanjo City in 1974. Third generation owner of Sakamoto Co., a cycling shop founded by his grandfather in 1954.
Because Sakamoto-san’s home in Sanjo is also the Sports Cycle Sakamoto shop, he has been familiar with bicycles since he was a child. “When I was a kid, though, I was really consumed by soccer, so I wasn’t particularly interested in bikes,” he says. “At that time many customers would come to the shop very late, and, especially on Fridays, it would stay open until midnight. I remember as a kid thinking, ‘Why are so many people gathering here?’ I was curious about what attracted people at the shop, so I started working with my father in 1997. After I began working there, I started to work with sport bicycles, and gradually began to understand the appeal of the sport.”
“Shitada, in the southeast area of Sanjo City, is a popular area for our events, as well as a great place to ride for recreational cyclists. My favorite touring course is along the Yamanami Road, a 15.5-kilometer course that runs through the countryside and into the Sanjo mountains, as well as along the Otani Dam. This is a great route, because you can go for long distances without encountering a traffic signal. You can enjoy a variety of scenery that changes with the seasons, from the green to golden rice paddies, to the landmark Yagigahara rock formation, and many more. There are moderate ups and downs along the way that make it an exciting ride, so think there’s something here for everyone from beginner to advanced rider to enjoy.”
“This is an ancient road connecting Sanjo City in Niigata with Tadami Town in Fukushima. Hachijuri means 80 ri; ri is an old unit of measurement that’s about 3.9 kilometers in length. While the road is only eight ri, not 80, it’s steep — it feels ten times steeper than a normal road! Once the modern Hachijurigoe Road opens, it makes for a great one-way cycling road from Niigata into Fukushima. This is a course that local cyclists have been looking forward to for a very long time. There are lots of tourist destinations in both prefectures, so this will be an excellent course for touring cyclist as well.”
“The Hachijurigoe Road is scheduled to open in a few years, but prior to this we also opened up both 40-kilometer and 80-kilometer cycling courses in Shitada.Twelve bike racks have been installed along the recommended courses, and we have a map that shows where vending machines are located. Along the course are destinations such as the Kangaku no Sato road station and Otani Dam. When we were planning for routes that would be easy to ride, we also were really careful to find the locations of toilets so that everyone can ride without worries. We’re hopeful that cycling can connect many parts of the community together, and that it will play a role in the prosperity of Shitada.”
1-2-14 Shimada, Sanjo-shi, Niigata-ken 955-842
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 10 am to 7 pm
Thursday, Friday: 10 am to 9 pm
Saturday: 9 am to 6 pm
Sunday, holidays: 1 pm to 6 pm
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