Contact Information


I’m now back in civilisation and in the ‘real word’. My wife and I live in Sapporo City, in Hokkaido, Japan. We live about 10 minutes walk from Shin-Sapporo JR train station, at the southern end of the city. Contact me via the following means:

Telephone: +81 (0)80 4228 6132 (Japan)

Email: rob.thomson@14degrees.org


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55 thoughts on “Contact Information

  • Ben Pike

    Hey Rob
    me and my girlfriend have for the last 2 months been staying in trelis bay with aragorn in the BVIs…
    and he informed s of your epic journeys.
    basically this year we will be heading from England to China via india on bicycles…and just wanted to grab some advice on the route….do you think heading through the northern stans is the best option as we would then have to cross the himalayas down to india ??? and also how was getting visas for some of those countries?
    would be awesome if you could throw any information you think handy our way

    thanks bro

    Ben

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hey Ben, thanks for the message! Give my warm regards to Aaragorn. I have very fond memories of Trellis Bay! That sounds like an awesome journey you’ve got planned. As far as I know, getting to India via the south (via Iran/Pakistan etc) or from the North (via China) both involve some very difficult bureaucracy and/or regions in unrest. Namely Pakistan (if taking a southerly route) and Tibet (from the north). Tibet in particular I’ve heard is a tough proposition to cycle through without a group and guide (in terms of permits etc). That said, cyclists do both of these routes routinely. Some go for the no-mile-uncycled approach (with associated risk), while others jump on other transport through hot-spots. You’d have to do some research on recent conditions either way. I definitely loved my time cycling through the ‘Stans (Turk, Tajiki, Kyrgyz, and Kazakh -stans) and thoroughly recommend it. Visas can be a labyrinth to orgainze, but nothing that a little pre-research before setting off won’t solve.

  • Les Howard

    Rob,
    I’m a novice sailor looking to crew on a sailboat voyage .
    I’ve enjoyed watching your Atlantic crossing numerous times.
    Are the couple you crewed with still delivering boats?
    I would really like to sign on to a trip like that to learn more about the sea.
    I’ve been on one voyage from Maine to the south on the Atlantic .
    Turned out to be a bad one .
    The owner and his crew became sea sick .
    I have to sail the boat back to port in Boston after five days of them yakking over the side with no relief in sight.
    Thanks for your response

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hi Les, thanks for the comment. Interesting to hear about your experiences! I’m pretty sure that Captain Steve Dewhurst is still skippering on deliveries…you’d have to contact Reliance Yacht Management in London to find out.

  • Dina

    Hi Rob, following your blog I could see that you travel with a Bike Friday and the new Tern Verge S27H. I know that the Bike Friday isn’t a quick folder, but a great touring bike. The Tern Verge S27H is said to be a great folder, but is a rather heavy machine.
    In direct comparison with each other, what is your opinion on both bikes (concerning speed, behaviour on gravel roads, pot holes…)? Any information will be highly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hi Dina, thank you for the comment!

      In my opinion, they are both excellent bikes for touring. The Verge S27h is extremely stable and the long wheelbase makes carrying a big load a no-brainer. It is a pity that it is so heavy though…I suppose this contributes to it feeling like a very solid reliable bike. And yes, the fold is fantastic. Much quicker than the Bike Friday Silk. The best part about the Verge, however, is the price. For me living in Japan, the Tern S27h cost equivalent of about US$2,000. For this, you get every accessory you could ever want…dynamo hub, an OK headlight, and rear light, racks, fenders, stand etc etc. It would be difficult to get a Bike Friday with the same specs at the same price.

      That said, the factory gearing (the SRAM Dual Drive) on the Verge S27h is useless. The SRAM Dualdrive shifting mechanism on the rear hub sticks out too far: Ortlieb panniers hit it, and cause all sorts of issues (can’t shift, pieces fall off etc). I’ve changed the rear hub to an Alfine 11-speed internal gear hub, and now it is perfect (the Verge frame has an eccentric bottom bracket, which makes using internal gear hubs very easy).

      So, all up, including changing the rear hub, the Verge S27h has cost me around US$2,400. If you live in the US, you could get an OK Bike Friday for this price.

      In the end though, for me living in Japan, the Verge S27h is better value all around. We paid close to US$3,500 equivalent in the end for Haidee’s Bike Friday Silk. The base price for the Bike Friday Silk, including the upgrades we ordered, was US$2,870 (this didn’t include pedals, saddle, dynamo light, comfortable handlegrips etc), but once you add in shipping to Japan, conversion of price to Yen, and consumption tax within Japan it all becomes rather expensive (although I do love the Gates Belt drive…so clean!)…overall though, I think the Verge S27h is better value if you’re buying from outside the US.

      If you live in the US, however, the difference is much less distinct…it might be worth going for a Bike Friday instead….

      My rambling two cents for you 🙂

  • Ken Staib

    Hi,

    We are coming to Hokkaido this June/ July. I have planned a bike rider from Número to Wakkanai which is all finalised. We will have 5 days in Sapporo and want to ride the Shiroishi and Chitose – Shikotsu cycle paths. I have a copy of the maps in Japanese. Is it easy to find the starts of these roads and once on them are they signposted OK so once on it is easy to stay on.
    We have Airnimal Joeys, 24 inch wheels, one with Alfine 11, the other 2* 10
    Ken

  • Haley

    Hey Rob,
    Wow, it’s so cool to find you on here(on the internet, I mean). I just think that you’re skateboarding trip must have been amazing. I watched so many of your videos last night.
    You see, I am also a traveling/ transient kind of a person. Ive always loved just going and moving and exploring and learning and growing. It all seems to work together. In 2013, I did a bicycle tour from Washington DC to the capitol of Florida and I found that I am so in love with the self propelled forms of transportation!! There’s nothing like it. So rewarding, so magnificent, this is what I want to do with my life!! (I’m going on about it because I know that you have to understand what I mean)
    So when I recently decided to travel again, I was brainstorming about alternative means of transportation. And then I had this idea, what about skateboarding?…. Skateboarding?…. Hmm…. Yes… Slower than a bicycle but faster than walking…
    From that point, I started doing obsessive research on the subject of long distance skateboarding as a means to travel. There’s not a whole lot of information on it but I found some people that have done it and I found you and this and I just had to reach out to you. I want to go across the US too. About the same route you took but I’ll be coming down from DC. Man, can you contact me? Can you tell me if a hitch on the back for your belongings is seriously worth it? I would just love to talk to you. I had to take the opportunity to reach out. Thanks Rob.
    Sincerely, Haley

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hi Haley, thanks for the message, and a serious sorry for not getting back to you sooner! Great to hear that you’re considering traveling by skateboard. It is hard work but can be very rewarding. As for a trailer vs a backpack, in reality a backpack is simpler and more straight forward: put a pack on your back and go. A trailer is only really necessary, I think, if you plan on going more than two days without having anywhere to stock up on water etc. In the US, there aren’t many places like that, so probably a well-fitting backpack with a good harness would be fine (climbing packs are good in this regard). I hope this helps!

  • Baris Tandogan

    Hey there,
    This summer I am going to skate from Amsterdam to Serbia which will be a 2000k ride. I just wanted to thank you for being an inspiration for me to decide for this trip. I am now working on the planning of the exact route.
    I hope someday I will be ready to break your record. But I am pretty sure that will not be anytime soon.
    Thank you

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Awesome. It sounds like a great trip! Will you share the journey on a blog or social media somewhere? I’d love to follow along.

  • Bruce ( kiwi )

    Great post Rob — some nice little corners left to explore. Looked amazing and so little traffic.
    Still likely to be in around Sapporo by the weekend of 25th – 27 th may . Ferry from Aomori on Friday 20th and will follow Japan cycling org suggested route ( 450 kms to Sapporo ) Love to get some help with my paper map – marking on some onsens and rider houses.
    Cheers,
    Bruce

  • Art

    Hey Bud – Great website, very inspiring. American, living in Japan 7 years, returning to Hokkaido for the 3rd time from English/Spanish teaching in Osaka, leaving Wakkanai, 01AUG16, pedaling unsupported to Shiretoko on my Friday NWT, hiking, camping around a bit, then I don’t know what, have about a month to play with, any info, peoples/places to run into and/or ride/camp with is much appreciated! Thanks! Arturo Rolla

  • Stuart Rtichie

    very cool site – found it after finding your little charger circuit!!

    this is now on my bucket list (rather lifted up the priority!)

  • Cherry

    Hi Rob! Thanks for this amazing blog! Question- What are the most scenic and beautiful places to camp in Hokkaido? I will be visiting in Autumn. Thank you!

  • Rok

    Hi Rob,

    I am going to Hokkaido this winter for powder / touring skiing with a group of friends. It is really hard to get any information on tours. I just found your site and would like to thank you for the information.

    Best regards,

    Rok, Slovenia

  • Giovanni Anderis

    hello Rob, my name is Giovanni but my nickname is El Tano and Italian, excuse my language but not speak it very well. Most likely next month I will come for 10 days in Hokkaido for some ski touring. I am already 12 years ago and I climbed Eniwa-dake – Yotei-zan – Sandan-yama – Asahi-dake -Tokachi-dake as well as the Fuji but it was the end of March. You think I still be able to climb these mountains in February or I’ll have to find some other climb?
    Thank you for your response and I congratulate you on your website, you can find there everything you need.

    Giovanni

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hi Giovanni, thanks for the message. Yes, you will be able to climb all those mountains in February. However, compared with late March, the snow conditions will be much ‘deeper’ and more like powder. Also, February is really the coldest time of the year, so you will need to be prepared for extreme mid-winter skiing/climbing. If in doubt, enlist the services of an experienced guide (see this Google search for a start).

  • Eric Timmerman

    Hello hello!

    I just came across your trans Hokkaido gravel route on RWGPS, which lead me to your site. Good job, it looks like an epic route. We have been cycling for the last 7 months and hope to do a month of cycling in April. we look specifically for dirt and gravel routes but its hard to find dirt in the south. Do you think it would be too cold to do your route in April? any leads on gravel roads that go from Hokkaido to Tokyo? thanks for putting together all of this information.

    our site is ridingwild.org
    insta @ridingwild

    -Eric

  • Henryk

    Dear Rob,

    thanks for your inspiring blog first of all! I invested into a Tern Verge s8i recently and plan to take it for a tour across the African island of Sao Tome in the Atlantic in June. My question would be, what do you find the best way to pack it for the journey (flying in from Berlin via Lisbon). Best to pack into something resembling a box or any other ideas on that (the plastic bag idea)? I considered the Tern Airporter, but the Verge doesn’t fit into it. I have the original package still with me (bought it online), which would be one alternative to send it by air (could be with a hefty bulky baggage price tag @ryanair, though).

  • Robin van 't Veer

    Hii Rob,

    great to read your blogs about cycling in Hokkaido. As a cycling fan myself, after cycling from Seoul to Busan, I am looking forward to my next trip. I was thinking of visiting Hokkaido coming July, for 2 weeks. The following itinerary I have in mind, Sapporo to Abashiri by train, cycling with a racingbike; Shiretoko Loop Tour followed by the Sapporo Trans-Hokkaido Route.

    Do think it will be possible to do with racingbike? Maybe with some wider tires? Will the two weeks be enough?

    Many thanks for the replies, and any tips or alternatives (routes) routes, I am happy to hear.

    Greetings Robin

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Definitely possible on a racing bike! The roads are mostly great, apart from some with cold-weather-induced cracks etc.

  • Robin van t Veer

    Hii Rob,

    great to read your blogs about cycling in Hokkaido. As a cycling fan myself, after cycling from Seoul to Busan, I am looking forward to my next trip. I was thinking of visiting Hokkaido coming July, for 2 weeks. The following itinerary I have in mind, Sapporo to Abashiri by train, cycling with a racingbike; Shiretoko Loop Tour followed by the Sapporo Trans-Hokkaido Route.

    Do think it will be possible to do with racingbike? Maybe with some wider tires? Will the two weeks be enough?

    Many thanks for the replies, and any tips or alternatives (routes) routes, I am happy to hear.

    Greetings Robin

  • Mag

    Hi Rob!
    Thank you for your wonderful website full of useful info.
    I am planning a 20 days trip by bicycle in Hokkaido this Summer.
    I move slow, about 40 km a day.
    Everything looks so beautiful I really cannot make up my mind about the itinerary.
    Would you have some suggestion if you have time?
    I am not planning to take a return ticket, I’d rather will fly to one city and fly back from another so I do not need to make a loop.
    Thank you very much

    • Mag

      Hi Rob, browsing again the website I found all the info I needed. I am gonna cross Hokkaido from Sapporo to East. Thank you again for putting up together so much useful info. This is one of the best website for riders I’ve seen!

      • Rob Thomson Post author

        Thank you for the kind words – really appreciated! I’m glad you could find out some tips. Going from Sapporo out east is a great choice. I am sure you’ll love it.

  • george bull

    Hi Rob,

    Me and a friend are planning a cycle week in Hokkaido and would love to have your suggestion on which way best to go, across the centre or to go North seem good week voyages. we have good 6 days and can get some good distance per day, around 100km. I’m not much of an explorer but constantly trying to get off the ‘beaten track’ more and more. after being stuck in a city life the last 7-8 years I’m dreaming of being out on the open road and camping fresh in the evening for a good week. my plan as to start in sapporo where id hire the bikes and get the camping gear then set off, any suggestion u can give on a route would be most appreciated.

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Across the center would be my recommendation. I think that gives the most variety in terms of terrain and scenery. Once out east, you can take a train back to Sapporo from Abashiri or Engaru.

  • Yuki

    Hello Rob from the states! I am taking a trip visiting the homeland this october 4-14. My hope is to spend the majority of my time in the Tohoku/Hokkaido region because I kind of want to get away from the usual tourist hotspots down south, and also because I just really enjoy experiencing nature and breaking a sweat when I travel. I get really really couped up when I stay in somewhere like Tokyo or Kyoto a few days :/

    Anyways, I follow your instagram and I’ve been reading your blogs as well about your biking adventures all over Hokkaido. Though I won’t be having a bike, I was wondering if you could recommend me some dope places where my buddy and I could experience some real country scenery, legit hikes, camping, great food(though thats never really hard to find anywhere in japan), etc. I’m not sure if your experience and recommendations will specifically only be within Hokkaido, but I am also interested in Tohoku and perhaps even Kamikochi in the Nagano region.

    I really appreciate it for taking your time to read this, and I hope you can be so generous to hook us up with some prime locations and ideas! Thanks!

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hey Yuki, I hope your trip is going well! I only really know Hokkaido well…Shiretoko and Lake Kusharo never dissapoint.

  • Paul James

    Hi there,
    Do you think it’s worth buying the Ski Touring guide when you can’t read Japanese? Are there diagrams or topos that give enough starter information to find tours?
    Great site by the way.
    Jamesy.

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hey Paul, even the book sections are in Japanese, so it might be a challenge. Although, you might get somewhere using the Google Translate App, which you can use to take a photo of the page, and the app will translate the text.

  • Stephan

    Hello Rob,
    I came across your website while looking for information on skitouring in Hokkaido. Seems to be the best and more or less only source in English. Thanks for sharing!
    I will be there with my girlfriend beginning of january to do some backcountry skiing and skitouring for a couple of days..
    I got the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook, but there’s loads of routes in there and my Japanese isn’t that great so I find it hard to pick the best routes.
    Can you recommend some nice routes for beginning of January?
    Also what do you think is the best location in terms of lodging? Niseko seems to be good but very busy, quite expensive and availability of accommodation for the first week of January already low.
    I assume a car is essential to get to the road heads?

    Thanks in advance.

    Regards,
    Stephan

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hey Stephan,

      Try Furano for a place to stay – cheaper than Niseko and less busy. Also closer to the nice touring in the Tokachi ranges. Having a car is definitely the best way to access trailheads etc.

      As for the Yuki-yama guide, try the Google Translate App – you can take a photo of the page and it will translate the text.

      I hope this helps.

  • Ross Lancaster

    Hi Rob,

    Firstly, thanks for putting together such a great website. It’s extremely useful for finding out about cycle routes in Hokkaido and just in general about your trips; what an adventure man! I am planning on flying into Chitose or further North (possibly Kushiro) from the UK next late March and then cycling across Japan before ferrying over to South Korea cycling to Seoul/Incheon and then finally heading to Taipei and cycling round Taiwan. I plan on couchsurfing and wild camping across the country. I know the North obviously has snow/ski season and the temperature can be pretty harsh during the Winter months, I just have a few questions about cycling in Hokkaido in late March/April… Are the roads starting to clear around this time? e.g rideable on a racer with 32 tyres?.. And with camping is it possible or is the temperature still dropping below freezing? From trying to find out online this time of year the snow is melting rapidly in places and the temperature is rising steadily.. I just don’t want to get there and realise I cannot ride.. I want to be able to enjoy Hokkaido and not be racing out of it because of the weather. I hope that makes sense! Any help would be massively appreciated! Thanks

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hi Ross, March is still very snowy here. Even in April, there can be quite a lot of snow above about 300m in elevation. All the main roads should be free of snow, however. The only issue will be camping – it will be cold and you may need to shovel snow to clear a camp spot. Most official campgrounds will not be open.

      Of course every year is different, but one thing is certain: nothing is certain around that time of year 🙂

      • Ross Lancaster

        Thanks for getting back to me Rob, really appreciate that! Hopefully, I’ll avoid most of the snow now; flying into Vietnam and cycling up to Hanoi from Ho Chi Min City on the 21st March.

        Just worried about those bears now in Hokkaido! hahah

  • Javier Martin

    Dear Rob,

    First of all congrats for your page, it’s a very useful tool for travelers!

    I wanted to ask you for some info regarding ski-touring in Japan. We are a group of 3 spanish who want to travel in end of december for two weeks to the Hokkaido area. We were thinking on Niseko and Furano area, but we don’t really know much about possibilities there.
    What strategy would you recomend:
    – Rent a camper van and travel around the island ?
    – Rent a car an book hostels?
    – Go directly by public transportation to ski mountaineering areas?

    Which areas are the most interesting ones? Which gear should we take with us… we are doubting on bringing wide skis or not…

    Thanks in advance for your answer and greetings from Spain.

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hey Javier,
      I would say one week in the Niseko region, then one week in Furano? Definitely best to rent a car and stay in hostels. Also definitely best to bring fat skiis – at least 100mm under foot! This is not Europe 🙂
      I hope this helps!

      Rob

    • Luke Frisken

      Hey Javier, I’m travelling by myself, going to be near Rusutsu from the 24th to the 27th of December, then no plans yet after that thinking Furano or somewhere near there, but hopefully staying 2 weeks total too. Looking for someone to head backcountry with maybe meet some people over there, couldn’t find any friends that I know keen to come with me. You wouldn’t happen to be up for having an extra on a BC trip or two if you’re there during that time frame?

  • Luke Frisken

    Hey Rob, really like your resource here on this website, you’ve put so much effort into it! I’m headed over to Hokkaido from the 24th of December until (hopefully) the 7th of January. Travelling by myself because none of my usual skiing buddies could get away. Was hoping to mainly head backcountry but obviously it’s kind of not a great idea to do by myself! Just wondering if you might have any tips on how to meet people for some adventurous ski tours while I’m there or beforehand?
    Cheers
    Luke

  • Rami

    Rob,
    I’m in the initial stages of planning a tour of Hokkaido next summer with my 6 (almost 7 by then) year old son and I was wondering if it would be possible to rent bicycle attachments for kids there ? Any suggestions or referrals to local resources will be appreciated .

    Thanks !