Bike Touring in Japan: Packing

Bike Touring in Japan: Packing

I have been traveling a lot this year and I’ve learned a lot of lessons and picked up the a lot of quirks (and some bad habits). My next big trip is a 10-day self-supported [“credit card”] bicycle tour in Japan and I knew packing was going to be a challenge… I really don’t like messing anything up when it comes to my #BIKELIFE. Afterwards, I’ll be traveling around Asia for a month so it is crucial I pack as light as possible, although I will probably Fedex all my cycling gear home right away. The last few tours I’ve done have all been fully-supported so packing had never been a problem but I’m excited to try being (kind of) self-sufficient!

Wilier Triestina |

Being the #lazycyclist that I am, of course, I did not plan this tour. My friend, Jim, whom I met when I first started riding seriously in 2012 because he led a group in Vancouver, and whom I like to call my “bike dad“, toured in Japan a few times and has been talking it up over the years. This year, he decided to organize a tour for a small group of us. We will riding north of Tokyo and staying in hotels and ryokens. Lots of rain is forecasted but being a Vancouverite, I honestly don’t mind riding in the rain …especially when I know a long soak in an onsen and delicious Japanese food will be prescribed at the end of the day. Cycling in a new country is an exotic experience… you don’t know what you may come across but whatever it is, you know you won’t regret it.

Spain 2016 // bicycle touring //

#ROADSLIKETHESE // A throwback to May of this year, while I was rolling through the gorgeous Spanish country side on my last bicycle tour.

I am flying to Tokyo with my small carry-on, my Rapha backpack and my purse, and then my friends will bring my large (most likely overweight) suitcase and Weekender when they fly in after my tour. Utilizing Japan’s efficient overnight mail delivery system, we will have two small bags shipped alternately to our next hotels. Each bag will contain a couple sets of street clothes to satisfy my need for variety, shoes, undergarments and toiletries. I always regret “dressing like a bum.” Life is too short to wear shitty clothes.

Packing for a bike tour in Japan //

Poor little cone-head Brigette wants to come too!

For long vacations, I never travel without my supplements, my favorite hair brush, an electric toothbrush and toiletries… all my full-sized skin products. I learned that there are some luxuries a woman should never have to give up! But over the last few months, I have been testing and downsizing my makeup products because I’m sick of traveling with heavy palettes for those trips where we jump from city to city. For this bike tour, I packed all my larger toiletries in one bag and a bunch of sample sized products in the other since I need double of everything. Ugh, why am I so high maintenance? Well, I will be unapologetic about it. I’m not bringing much make up except for a compact, eyeliner and chapstick… but I am bringing an electric toothbrush and floss! My dentist is my least favorite person in the world.

Packing probz for Japan //

I wish I could bring my foam roller but a beastie ball will have to do. :(

Make Up for Travel

No more palettes! But make up bag won’t arrive until after the bike tour.

I am packing 3 jerseys, 2 sets of bibs, 2 headbands and 2 sets of arm screens. Japan in October is hot and humid (20-30°C) so all I need is a vest, a light rain jacket and maybe knee warmers (for chilly roll-outs!). There’s no point packing anymore rain gear because once you are wet… you are wet. Suck it up!! I am bringing my own shoes, helmet and lights but I rented a roadbike from G.S. Astuto which is conveniently being delivered to my hotel upon my arrival. Life is too short to ride shitty bikes.

Wilier Triestina // Roadbikes //

My poor girl (the bike, not the dog… the dog is a boy), thinks she’s coming. She’s ALWAYS ready for a bike ride… but unfortunately, not this time. :(

In my Rapha Apidura saddle bag, I’ll be carrying essentials such as my phone, passport, tools, sunscreen, wet wipes, a vest, rain jacket, an external battery, my charging cables for my phone + bluetooth headset + Garmin, mints, food… and deodorant. You can’t forget deodorant!! I can probably fit all of this into the (bulging) back pockets of my jersey but the Rapha Apidura saddle bag is too pretty to not use, and has been proven not to be cumbersome even when packed full.

We’ve been talking about and planning this trip for almost a year now and I can’t believe the time has come. I don’t normally get excited for vacations but when it comes to BIKES + ASIA (which has a soft spot in my heart), I can’t help but to be giddy. I hope I didn’t under-pack… but I guess that gives me an excuse to shop!

Lusting for new adventures. Life is too short to settle!

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    100 Miles of Happiness

    100 Miles of Happiness

    Earlier this week, I rode 100 miles of happiness from West Hollywood to Santa Barbara. It was a ride filled with boisterous rolling hills and luscious scenery in between the Pacific Coast and the rustic beauty of the dry California mountains. We rode along the famed Pacific Coast Highway and then along the busy 101 highway. We passed through quaint California towns, family-owned fruit stands, lots of taco shops, naval bases and RV camps along the beach.



    We had the privilege to roll through scenic roads and many isolated bike lanes that was definitely best experienced on two wheels. The weather was cool and overcast… thank God— I didn’t have to worry too much about tanlines… which is a lie because the overcast weather tricks you. I get more defined tanlines when it’s cloudy because I forget to move my bike shorts around! Ugh. Ultimate #cyclistproblems. I feel like I am forever doomed, but that doesn’t mean I will stop riding!

    "Strawberry Stand"

    “Strawberry Stand” right outside of Oxnard which apparently gets a lot of traffic on two wheelz.

    The ride itself was seeming easy with only 100 miles (160km) and 650m of elevation but it seemed much harder than my last long ride, which was 265km and 5000m of climbing from Vancouver to Whistler and back just two weeks ago. I think I do much better with rolling hills because I tend to get bored when riding through flats and some not-so-scenic farmland and industrial city parts. But I’m NOT complaining… just sayin’. ;) I am already planning to do this ride again, twice over. I’m always grateful to be outdoors on two wheels.

    On the way to Santa Barbara

    Rolling through a quaint stretch of road with a marked bicycle lane along the busy 101 and the Amtrak line. YOU HAD TO BE THERE. It was breathtaking with all the lines of the roads that we had to stop to snap a few photos.

    We stayed overnight in Santa Barbara so I finally had the chance to use my Rapha Apidura saddle bag, ultra-lightweight bike bags, perfect for bicycle touring enthusiasts! I always try to avoid riding with a backpack which can become a drag over long distances, and since I already commit the crime of putting fenders on my beautiful race bike during the wet, winter months… I surely cannot do the pannier debauchery! These beautifully Rapha-branded Apidura touring bags were the perfect solution!

    "pack light, travel far"


    The bags sold out quickly when they were released and me being on vacation, I procrastinated, couldn’t get one and died of sadness for a few days… but I got my hands on a saddle bag not too long after (when you really want something, you make it happen!). I normally travel extremely light on two wheels and don’t cycle tour often but I knew I had to have one… just because these bags are so pretty. And you know, “just in case.” My bag wasn’t packed full but when I came home, it definitely was and I even had to use the pink drawstring backpack that comes with it to get my bike and all my new shopping purchases to the train station but the weight still didn’t bother me.

    For this recent overnighter (with a luxurious bed and breakfast stay, of course), I packed and unpacked three times and was quite proud of the final outcome… however, 100 miles later in Santa Barbara, I realized what a big fail it was. Kind of. We rode too leisurely for me to utilize my hotel’s laundry service, so I had to hand wash my gear, and then I even ended up buying a new outfit to wear because I didn’t like what I brought with me (being the vain cyclist that I am). Next, I popped over to Sephora, which was a couple blocks away, to put on a face because I skimped out and didn’t bring all my products… of course, I came out with dozens of new products as well! I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of Sephora empty-handed. Good thing we took the Amtrak back home the next day.

    Santa Barbara //

    “PRETEND CROSS” // We weren’t on the right bikes for this trail but we got as far as we could before the rock covered trail narrowed and ascended too steeply. Hiking two miles in cleats was not an option… why walk when you can ride?! Craziness. #lazycyclists

    Random trail in Santa Barbara

    We continued to ride as far as we could to make the most out of this trail because the views were so epic.

    Santa Barbara |

    Sometimes we get lazy and walk the bike… #lazycyclists

    The next day, we set out with the goals of climbing the iconic Gibraltar but we weren’t paying attention, missed a turn and ended up going up and down random but splendidly rugged and scenic roads and trails up and around Santa Barbara. I couldn’t have asked for more! Sometimes, getting lost is the best thing that can happen. Gibraltar will always be there and missing it gave us an excuse to go back.

    Finally, we had to end our ride and I was itching to get back to LA. We caught the 4pm Amtrak so I could make it in time for dinner. See you soon, Santa Barbara… I mean, see you in November!

    Santa Barbara Amtrak Station \\

    @ the Santa Barbara Amtrak Station


    What a great trip! I am really looking forward to ride in Santa Barbara again… I fell in love with the town when I first came here last summer. I knew I had to explore it on two wheels and I’m glad I made it happen!

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      Riding in Louboutins

      Riding in Louboutins

      I have a confession: I’ve always had a secret dream to own a pretty cruiser bike and ride around town looking pretty, chic …and not sweaty with helmet hair, dead bugs all over and smudged eyeliner.

      Christine Baba

      Christine Baba

      If you know me, you know I am a vain-cyclist. I choose my gear because of aesthetics …THEN functionality, weight, brand and all those tidbits “real” cyclists love to obsess about. I like high quality components but they HAVE to look… pretty. I have always been enamoured with Dutch bikes. Mine would be neutral (all white or black), suited with a big basket and cute leather panniers. She would have a step-through frame just in case I feel like wearing a dress and flat pedals so I can wear more stylish footwear. Weight won’t matter because I’d still be training on my other bikes although I wish my future Dutch bike would still come with electronic shifting. Hehe. The best thing? I wouldn’t have to worry about the chains leaving marks on my clothes.

      Is it terrible that I’ve been cycling for 6 years and I still get rookie chainring tattoos? SIGH.

      Due to my preferred style of riding (hard, sweaty and fast— why waste time when you can get your heart pumping?!) and the fact that I will be terrified to ride without a helmet, this ain’t happening. The other day as I was descending a mountain on my bike, I was thinking how funny it is that the more I ride, the more cautious I am on the road… due to the collective of (not-so-good) experiences I’ve had on two wheels.

      Unless one day I settle down in a flat bike-friendly city or live in a condense area where I only have to cycle-commute for 15 minutes or less to my destination— in protected bike lanes. The city has to be flat… because I am obsessed with hills and I lack the ability to “take it easy up hills” (it’s all about momentum).

      Yes I know I am totally over-thinking it and making up a million excuses on why I can’t look city-chic on two wheels… but I also have no money to spend on new bikes and even if I did, I’d have no where to keep anymore bikes! Blah blah blah. Excuses!

      But until then, I will stick with my carbon dream machine, pretty lycra and hints of pink…


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