What an honor to return to Japan’s Great Northeast again for the Tour de Tohoku this past weekend!
The brainchild of Yahoo!Japan CEO Manabu Miyasaka (a visionary business leader and also an incredible athlete), the annual Tour de Tohoku bike race brings attention, visibility, and funds to the Tohoku region, an area heavily devastated in the after-effects of the 2011 earthquake.
Intermittent showers this year made the repeated climbs feel even steeper, though the views were no less breathtaking, and the supporters were no less energetic. The cheering residents of the region survived a freakin’ tsunami, so who am I to complain about a little rain? As usual, the race’s ambassadors included many of Japan’s champions: professional cyclists, triathletes, supermodels, and business leaders. Even actual Ambassador Caroline Kennedy rode the one-way course. Japanese pro-cyclist and Tour de France rider Fumi Beppu (and really cool guy) tore away from the pack to complete the 211km first like a leisurely walk in the park. Amazing, though I suppose that is his job!
The Tohoku region remains in reconstruction. While all of the rebuilding works in progress that I witnessed back in 2013 have been completed, much remains to be done. The devastation proved simply too massive.
My heartfelt gratitude to Miyasaka-san, Shimizu-san, Sunaga-san, and Kaji-san for your generous hospitality. Un grand merci to my fellow riders in our FrenchTech delegation. And most importantly, a deep bow to the people of Tohoku whose resilience inspires me so much.