Mikuni Pass: Where dreams will come true (and be shattered) in 2020

I just got back from a business/family/cycling trip to Japan and rode a little bit of the final of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Men’s Road Race course near Mount Fuji. Here are a couple of lovely views of Fuji-san, really common in the clear air of winter, but a virtual miracle in summer, when the race will take place.

2018-12-20 11.34.26

2018-12-20 12.13.28

2018-12-20 13.09.17

The first photo is on a descent to Lake Yamanaka. Yamanaka-ko is a beautiful-but-cheesy place of fine views and pedal boats shaped like swans, but the riders who are left at the front of the race at this point won’t care all that much, I’d suspect, because they will have only one little climb left before descending to the finish line at Fuji International Speedway, right on the flank of Mt. Fuji.



What comes before the descent above will surely see the selection made in this race. You can see the climb of Mikuni Pass (三国峠) near the end of the profile above. Here are the stats on this little monster.

  • Distance: 6.8 km
  • Elev Gain: 708 m
  • Elev Change: 710 m
  • Avg Grade: 10.4 %
  • Max Grade: 17.9 %

I beg to differ with these numbers because I definitely saw 21% somewhere in the middle, and the 10.4% is misleading because for several kilometers I don’t remember anything under 12%. My climb of Mikuni Pass could have been done faster by walking, I’m sure, and my only saving grace on the day was that there was nobody on the road to witness how pathetic I looked.

The pros will do much better, I’m sure, and I for one am sad that we won’t see Peter Sagan win an Olympic Gold…yet. This climb is just too long and steep for him, unless he transforms himself into someone like Valverde or Alaphilippe. My very amateur guess is that this finish will bring out the likes of riders we saw at the Worlds last year in Austria, when Woods, Valverde and Bardet were the only ones left at the top.

Here are my Strava details from my ride that day. It was a pretty impressive ride, considering I mostly stayed on the right side (i.e. ‘left’) of the road and made it home alive.


7 thoughts on “Mikuni Pass: Where dreams will come true (and be shattered) in 2020

  1. Happy New Year Gerry. 🚵🏻‍♂️ Painful numbers whether 17.9 or 21%. Well done anyway. Prepping for Haute Route seems to be going well. What is elevation change? I’ve not seen that before. I know elevation gain but that is a new one to me. Heading to Nice for a few days. No bike. Indoor season.

    • Same to you, Luc! Elevation Change is the same as ‘gain’, I guess. I actually just copied that from Velo Viewer’s site, so can’t lay claim to the terminology. I was meant to go to Nice this week, but I stayed warm instead (was going by bike). Enjoy the trip. If you need the address of a good craft beer pub, I’m your guy!

  2. Hi Gerry – Long time lurker to your blog and credit you for the motivation to get on the etape 2013 after many years of lethargy! Maybe also blame you for the descent of the Tourmalet in 2014 which was as cold as ive been 🙂
    Just wanted to let you know that your Home button at the top of the blog is still redirecting to your old url which is now a slightly dodgy page unless you need some assistance after a very long ride!
    probably just needs updating in your WP admin page.


    • Hi Simon,

      I’m glad I’ve had an sort of affect on readers out there, even if it meant putting you through that Tourmalet Hell. I’m sure there are parts of me that are still numb because of that day.

      Thanks for the heads-up on the Home button, too. I promise that I don’t have a pot business on the side (although I hear it’s not a bad idea). All cleaned up now!

      Any objectives for 2019 for you?

  3. Reblogged this on The Vicious Cycle and commented:

    Another rare ‘reblog’ here, but since the Olympic Road Race is coming up this weekend, I thought it’d be worthy. Below is an account of my ride up to Mount Fuji in January 2019. The last two climbs will be the deciding factors this weekend, especially the penultimate, which was a killer.

    Wout van Aert and Michael Woods (2 pros I follow on Strava) are already doing reconns of the course if you want to check them out. Otherwise, tune in this Saturday (and Sunday for the women) for the hot, humid, fireworks.

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