- Tour Plan
- Additional Info
- Similar Tours
- 'Real-Time' interactive itinerary
- Accommodation twin share room
- Cycle Friendly Accommodation
- Emergency Spares Kit
- Expert advice
- Pickup & dropoff to nearest station
- Top class bike rental
- Wahoo GPS unit with preloaded routes
- Departure Taxes or Visa handling fees
- Medical insurance and emergency insurance
- Personal expenses
- Services not specifically stated in the itinerary
- Transport to & from hotel
- Visa arrangements
Matsumoto is one of the leading destinations for quality cycling in Japan. Nestled deep in the alps, the flat basin is surrounded by epic mountains, and due to its location, enjoys a relatively snowless winter. It has long been the home to many domestic professional cyclists, using the mountains and quiet roads as the perfect training base. Together with the quality of riding, comes the stunning city, where the ancient castle town blends perfectly with modern street life and shopping. Matsumoto is one of favourite destination and we are proud to put together this 7day alpine Self-Guided tour so that you too can enjoy this fantastic location.
- Day 1
- Day 2
- Day 3
- Day 4
- Day 5
- Day 6
- Day 7
Ride Day 1 - 30km - Grape Views
Nice little course to flush the legs out from the travel and test the bikes. Following the river east, the ride heads up past the Yamabe Vineyards, gently climbing. After reaching the end of the road, the course heads back down the valley on the opposite side of the river for what is a wonderful flowing descent with magical views of the Western Alps. Might need to stop for a pic!!
The second half of the course takes you through Utsukushi and Asama onsen towns before heading up the goat track to the Tamizo Pond. A little bit more climbing out of the Pond, before heading south for the city.
Dinner recommendations are provided
Ride Day 2 - 65km / 1500m - Valleys of Rice
The area around Matsumoto has so much variation to offer the cyclist. Today the course is full of rice fields, twisting valleys and one of the best lookout views of the Alps. A 62km day to ease into some more distance, but within that there is 1500m of climbing to test the legs. We really enjoy this course and use on many of guided tours and think that it will make a great first proper day on the bike.
Ride day 3 - 80km / 2500m - The Venus Line #1
A tough day today with a chunky HC climb to test the legs. Utsukushigahara is a 2200m climb that never seems to relent, however, rather than heading for the top, at the 23km point your route takes you down off the main climb and descending for approx 10km. Again a technical descent, so please be cautious. The next climb is one of my favourites and this loop was a regular inclusion in my training program when I lived in Matsumoto.
Quiet roads and epic views and after bit of commitment, the top is reached and a good chance for a sit to take in the view. You now connect with the Venus Line, one of Japans famed scenic roads which traverses the top of mountain plateaus at more than 1600m. Another tricky descent, before the road evens out and you can actually enjoy some flatter roads. The Venus Line then connects to the Azalia Line, another beautiful road that takes you off the hill and eventually connects with the familiar roads of Day 1 as you cruise toward the hotel and the well earned onsen.
Ride Day 4 - 80km / 1500m - Temples and Climbs
An easy cruise out toward Hata along one of the majestic rivers, before stopping off to visit a 1600year old temple. The town surrounding the temple has been kept up to a nice standard, so you can appreciate paved roads and ornate finishing on the houses as you weave out of the area.
A bit of a maze through the backstreets will bring you to a nice view over the valley and then the descent into Shiojiri. A little busy through this city, but soon the Takibochi Skyline Road will take you skyward. A good 8-10km climb on stunning roads and a stunning view at the top.
Time to head home and please go easy on this very technical descent, very rough and rutted and lots of switchbacks.
Ride Day 5 - 37km / 200m - Recovery Cruise
After a few big days in the hills, time for a nice easy roll through the beautiful flatlands and rivers of the area. The course takes you south along the Ta River then a nice bike-path loop around the Sky Park before following the Narai River back toward Matsumoto.
Day 6 - 115km / 1341m - Mixed Bag
A bit of a mixed bag today as you start westward for the famed farming roads of the Azumino region. Famous for Wasabi and its Soba, this area sits on the lower slopes of the western alps where the water is pristine. You will follow a great course north, that undulates and takes you through some amazing scenery and in-particular, crossing numerous creeks and rivers that wind their way out of the alps. Eventually, the course meets with Lake Kizakiko, a beautiful mountain lake, popular in the summer and one of 3 lakes that seperate the farming lands from the more snowy Hakuba, just over the hill.
Time to head for home home and the course takes you deep into the backroads of Ikeda and Misasa. A great course and one of my teams usual training rides. Narrow roads, so please be careful. Dropping out of the hills, the route takes you down the river and through the flat rice fields all the way back to Matsumoto.
Ride Day 7 - 96km / 2100m - The Venus Line #2
This final big day on the bike and what we thought it best to finish with something that will live long in legs and memory. Leaving Matsumoto on now familiar roads, you head for the south side of Utsukushigahara and a little climb we like to call 'Hells Gate'. This 4.47km climb with an avg Grade at 13% will be one of the toughest of the week. Not only unrelentingly steep, many sections are Japanese Cobbles, or pressed concrete. Fun, indeed. Despite making an appearance in the RideJapan AlpsRouteJapan Advanced Tour regularly over the past 5 years, each and every rider has made it up.
The top of the climb will connect you to the Azailia Line, which you will remember from Venus Line a few days ago, how the direction is reversed. Once connected again to the Venus Line, you continue the traverse across highlands at the point you departed it earlier. This road is incredible and no doubt several stops will be needed to photo or just soak in the views.
Lunch can had a really interesting parking area restaurant area, that has a bit of everything and then the big long descent in Lake Suwa. A few tight ones on this so take it easy. Once on the flat, a meander around the lake before then next climb begins, a very narrow and hard to find road, so follow the GPS exactly and this one starts steep and eases out after a little before reaching the top after 3.5km.
A beautiful cruise across the undulating hills behind Midoriko before eventually navigating toward the Ta River and the flat cruise home. Nice Job!!
More about Matsumoto Discover Matsumoto
More about this tour
Matsumoto is a mountain city on Japan’s main island, Honshu. It’s known for Matsumoto Castle, a 16th-century stronghold nicknamed “Crow Castle” for its distinctive black walls. Nearby Nakamachi Street is lined with old merchant houses reminiscent of a bygone Japan. The Japanese Alps loom overhead, with hot springs, ski runs and hiking trails. In summer, a road to Mount Norikura is carved through deep walls of snow.