Anyone who has attended Daisuke Yano's UCI Cyclocross weekend in Nobeyama knows that the event deserves a position high up on the world-traveling cyclocrosser's bucket list.
The picturesque mountain town setting, typical sloppy course conditions and earnest, exuberant community make the event a truly memorable one, even without considering the cultural delights of the steaming hot oden stand right next to the race course, or an onsen (hot springs) hotel down the street.
Prominent American cyclocrossers including Molly Cameron, Zach McDonald and Tim Johnson have all made the long trek to the race in the Japanese Alps, and one trip wasn't enough for each racer. Retired Tim Johnson still makes the trip, hosting a popular cyclocross clinic and sharing his wealth of knowledge. He's a celebrity there, even though before his athletic peak, there was an era when the Japanese would typically outperform Americans at the UCI Cyclocross World Championships. This year American Cameron Beard flew to Japan to take it all in and race for UCI points.
We were fortunate to attend the event in 2011, and it has only grown in popularity since. Photographer Jeff Curtes made the trip this year, racing the Masters race (see Curtes battle for the holeshot here on his way to second) and documenting the event he holds a special place in his heart for. Curtes after his own race:
See highlights and a full photo gallery of Day 1 of the Rapha Super Cross, won by Kiyoka Sakaguchi and Hikaru Kosaka below.