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The Photographer

We followed Japanese photographer Satoshi Oda as he endeavoured to capture the beauty and the grit of Rapha Supercross Nobeyama.

29 January 2018

Watch the short film above to witness the fast-paced nature of this unique UCI cyclocross event, and see the results of his weekend’s work in the mud below.

The first corner that racers hit after the opening sprint is extremely tight and slippery. Fighting for a good position on this stretch is all the more essential when you’re racing over 100 other riders in the men’s elite race.

Clearing the barriers in cyclocross is an art, and the thickness of the barriers in Nobeyama makes bunnyhopping slightly more difficult. The height is kept at 30cm though, well below the 40cm UCI limit.

The iconic Yatsugatake Mountains formed a dramatic backdrop to the weekend’s racing on an unseasonably dry and sunny December weekend. This area of the course is usually the muddiest and inspired the ‘doro’ (mud) kanji character in the Rapha Supercross Nobeyama logo.

Emily Kachorek (left) and Sammi Runnels (right) from California-based Squid Bikes. Sammi placed 1st in a packed women’s elite field on Saturday.

Supercross Nobeyama is a prestigious race in Japan, with elite races held on the course on both days of the weekend. Many racers train specifically for the event, including Masaru Nakazato (Speedvagen Family Racing).

The son of our photographer Satoshi, 19-year-old Hijiri Oda (Yowamushi Pedal Cycling Team) was a talented BMX racer before moving over to cyclocross. Two weeks after this race, on the same course in Nobeyama, he became the Japanese U23 national champion.

Chris Jongewaard (left) and Emil Hekele (right) congratulate each other at the finish line of the men's elite race. Emil won on Saturday and Chris on Sunday, each taking second on the other days.

Slowly but surely there are more cyclocross-specific racers emerging from Japan. Masaru Nakazato of Speedvagen Family Racing is one to keep an eye on in the future.