Review: Wanky Japan Cycling Tour

April 5, 2019 § 4 Comments

Hello. My name is Bill Smith. I am an avid recreational cyclist. Always up for a new challenge. Have done lots of bike tours. Love Trek. First class stuff. Great guides. Top notch food and drink. Amazing itineraries pegged to your fitness level.

I ran across the Wanky Japan Cycling Tour ad in a public toilet; looked weird but interesting. Can’t beat the price. $15/day, fully guided rides just north of Tokyo. Small city called Utsunomiya; easy to get to.

So.

I have to say I was disappointed. Half a star. Can’t recommend this, sadly. Lots of problems from the beginning; prolly easiest to make a list.

  • Guide, Mr. Wanky, totally indifferent to my needs.
  • Had transportation issues getting my bike from Narita to Utsunomiya. Wanky solution? “It’s your bike, not mine.” That was it.
  • Recommended hotel was cheap but everything was in Japanese. Asked Mr. Wanky for help getting checked in, finding out about breakfast, etc., but no luck. “It’s your reservation, not mine.” Kind of set the tone for the whole tour.
  • Day 1 ride not pegged to my ability. Mr. Wanky did a 4-hour ride with tons of hard climbing. I was cooked. Every time I asked how much longer the climbs were he said, “I dunno. And what difference does it make? You still have to get up them.”
  • Lot of riding by myself with zero encouragement from Mr. Wanky. Although he waited at the top of all the climbs.
  • Very little coaching on this tour. Mr. Wanky: “I suck. You suck. But you suck more.”
  • Got super hungry and asked about the restaurant/gourmet lunch stop (I love Japanese food). Mr. Wanky: “We are eating at convenience stores.” Really?
  • Knackered as hell after Day 1. Undergeared big-time. Needed some guidance finding a bike shop that could swap out my cassette. Mr. Wanky: “Google. See you tomorrow.”
  • Day 2 ride not pegged to my ability at all. Mr. Wanky: “Today is flat.” I guess so, but only compared to Day 1. Hilly AF. And windy.
  • Questionable guide skills! Mr. Wanky was lost A LOT. Stopped to ask locals directions A LOT. Ended up getting into arguments with them. NOT REASSURING.
  • Technologically illiterate! No cell phone, no GPS, just riding “from memory.” And Mr. Wanky’s memory is BAD.
  • Social media unfriendly. Refused to let me stop and take selfies. Mr. Wanky: “Your camera ain’t gonna pedal your bike, turkey.” He called me a TURKEY!!!
  • Three hours in I needed to stop and rest. Mr. Wanky: “I don’t GAF what you need. If you can find your way home, rest all you want.” Super hard. Hardest day on the bike in my life. Until Day 3.
  • Terrible route choice. Never asked how I felt, what I wanted to see, did I like convenience store food, did I want to stop and see some cultural things like shrines and such. Mr. Wanky: “If you’re here to ride your bike, cool. If you want a history lesson, go back to college.” JACKASS.
  • Major dinner disappointment. Crazy famished. Asked for sushi recommendations. Mr. Wanky: “Sushi is for wankers.” Oh, really? Wankers?
  • Day 3. Hell warmed over. Four major passes, 18,000 feet of climbing, 115 miles, 8.5 hours of misery. Don’t bother asking where you’re going or anything. Mr. Wanky: “It’s a surprise.”
  • Major coffee withdrawal. No coffee shops with lovely ambience, no, sir. Just convenience store coffee.
  • Zero help with clothing selection. Asked about the weather and what I should wear. Mr. Wanky: “Wear whatever you want. Do I look like your mother?” Froze my butt off on Day 1, melted on days 2 and 3.
  • Indifferent to my pollen allergies. Cedar pollen everywhere because spring. Asked if we could please AVOID riding through the cedar forests. Mr. Wanky: “No.”

You get the picture. An indifferent, rude guide, although it was the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen in my life. Also, I got crazy fit crazy fast. But I pulled the plug after Day 3. Not worth the frustration of paying good money and not getting the kind of kudos and encouragement that makes cycling such a fun activity.

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