A Winning Trip
Toshiki Sato recently attended the Rapha Travel Randonnée Alps, the prize for his winning submission to the film category of our Festive 500 competition in December 2016. Between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, Toshiki rode 500km alongside 82,420 others as part of our annual call to cyclists across the world to celebrate road riding over the festive period. When he’d finished, he created a beautiful slideshow to commemorate his achievement, and seven days’ riding with Rapha Travel in the mountains was his reward.
A Rapha Cycling Club member from Tokyo, amateur photographer, and keen outdoorsman, Toshiki produced another moving film of music and stills during his week with Rapha Travel riding some of the most iconic mountains of the Tour de France. We spoke to him after the trip to find out a little more about the man behind the lens, and to hear how he got on riding cycling’s most hallowed roads.
Hello Toshiki, congratulations on your Festive 500 prize win. Please introduce yourself.
Coffee drinker, music lover, obsessive shopper, optimistic procrastinator and slow climber. I work in digital marketing for a global company, and other than cycling, I like being constantly on the move: trail running, triathlons, mountaineering. I also play some piano once in a while.
Tell us about the Festive 500.
I have been participating and completing the challenge since 2012, and over the years, I discovered that cycling, photography/video and music combined together creates a magical effect.
When I found out that I’d won the prize for Best Film, I was given the choice of attending a Rapha Travel trip in the Alps or Japan. The Alps was the obvious choice, as I have always been inspired by the imagery and stories from Rapha and the Tour – but I did consider Japan. One of my motivations for taking photographs and sharing them on social media is to show off my home country – so I thought it would be great to show Japan from the saddle. But in the end, Japan lost to the temptation of riding up Alpe d’Huez and the Izoard.
What were some of your highlights?
As cliche as it sounds, the trip was an experience of a lifetime. All of the ascents and descent had their own unique character, all the small villages we rode through had something intriguing, and all the meals we ate and coffee we drank were always surrounded by smiles. Twelve riders started as strangers to each other, quickly becoming comrades, but all became friends.
In terms of riding, the highlight of the trip was the climb of Alpe d’Huez. It was the third climb of the day and started in the late afternoon with suspicious rain clouds right above us. As soon as we started to climb, it started raining. Usually, rain is not welcomed when riding bikes, and especially during a climb. But this one was different. The rain made the whole experience dramatic and unforgettable. We imagined ourselves as the legendary climbers mentioned on the curves of each switchback, and I tried to picture what it would be like to force myself through the crazy crowd at Dutch Corner. We took it slow, enjoying the climb and embracing the rain, and by the time we got to the top, the rain had stopped. Sunshine hit the road, turning tarmac to gold. A truly unbelievable experience.
Will you be back?
Yes! I would love to go to the Dolomites or the Pyrenees. The trip was such a great experience. Everything was so well put together and we each had stories to tell each other at the dinner table at the end of the day. Some stories were shared experiences, some stories were born in solitude riding alone.
Randonnée Alps 2018
Join us to experience the best of riding through the stunning French Alps. Two dates are now available for bookings.