Women’s Prestige Kanazawa

The Noto Peninsula is one of the more remote areas of mainland Japan. A finger of land that juts into the Sea of Japan, earlier this year it was the setting for the Women’s Prestige Kanazawa. Skirting the coastal roads and climbing into mountainous hinterland of this region, 52 women covered the 151km route in conditions that pushed them beyond their limits.

Riders gathered as the sun began to rise. They set off and began to navigate their way through open farmland, passing rice fields, lotus root and flourishing grape vines. But it wasn’t long before the heat took its toll, warming the air at an astonishing rate.
Emotions peaked and troughed with the mountains and valleys. The riders took any opportunity to seek out shade, however brief. Any water remaining in bidons was close to boiling and jerseys were unzipped to try to achieve some form of relief.
The rich green mountains of the Noto Peninsula provided an abundance of cool spring water and everyone took full advantage of any chance to cool down. Japan's ubiquitous vending machines were a saving grace as bidons soon ran dry. Locals in remote hamlets looked on bemused as riders sought out as much water as they could find.
The effects of the heat were so extreme that some riders fell silent. With heat stroke a potential issue the need to keep drinking and to stay cool was vitally important.
Like the route, the emotions of the day went up and down. The only way to manage this toughest of challenges was by making progress one step at a time.
Chirihama Nagisa Driveway is one of the few beaches in the world where you can cycle along the densely packed sand. With the waves lapping our wheels we rode along the shore. Gulls flew alongside us as we felt the sea breeze and at this point, after a grueling 151km, time seemed to stop for a minute.
After finishing at the Uchinada Velodrome one of the riders was heard to explain that, “Everything I knew about cycling completely changed today.” We’d overcome the unexpected and climbed over 2,500m. It wasn’t about winning or losing but strength and courage – an experience that would remain with us forever.