Pinnacle Foundation & Habitual: “The Japan Odyssey”

The Pinnacle Foundation team sat down with Chris Garvey of Habitual this week to get the full run down on his participation in The Japan Odyssey Cycling Challenge this year. For those of you who don’t know, The Japan Odyssey is an epic adventure, on which riders cycle from Tokyo to Osaka. If you are familiar with Japan’s geography you will know that those cities are only a couple of hundred kilometers apart. However the Japan Odyssey zigs and zags all the way there through just about every mountain range possible! Making the total Journey over 2,500 kilometres! If that isn’t impressive enough Mr Garvey also donated all his sponsorship to the Pinnacle Foundation and next year’s second round of the Athlete Development Program (ADP).

Below we explore some of the highs and lows (‘peaks and pits’ might be more fitting) of the trip…


1. Ok lets start with why on earth you decided to sign up for such an challenge?

“A very good question! I enjoy cycling, I enjoy adventure and Japan is a lovely country. More importantly, having something to train towards makes decisions about how I spend my week a lot easier to make, I also feel there is a little part of me that liked the high risk/reward that this event offered.”

2. We read that the race is ‘unsupported’; what exactly does that mean?

“Exactly that – if i screwed up I would have to unscrew things, there would be no van bringing me cold drinks or picking me up if I say crashed or got lost, i.e. if I messed up, I had to deal with it all on my own.”

3. Talk us through your kit and supplies. How did you go about planning, what was needed, what could you have done without?

“I chose to use a cross bike which was a little more comfortable than your typical road bike; slightly wider and higher handlebars, yet still quick enough to cover the ground on slick tires. The front wheel contained a dynamo which I could use to charge a phone and cycle computer lights etc. when out and about so I was completely self-sufficient.

My packing list was quite vast so rather than itemising it here you can see the picture. The key things were: cycling gear, tools / bike stuff, sleeping bag, roll matt / night stuff and extras such as the wet wipes, nutritional supplements and the tooth brush. With all the best planning I still packed too much and was leaving things along the way. It didn’t help that the night before we left we were given an extra set of cycling kit, hat and water bottle, so that night I ended up leaving my ’spare footwear’, and just relying on cycling shoes and bare feet to see me through.

In future I would go even lighter and simply take one set of cycling gear, a decent warm/dry layer and make the most of a sink from time to time!”

4. What were your highlights, or ‘peaks’, of the experience?

“Learning that I can trust myself to be completely self-sufficient when needed to was a big thing for me having never really had to show this. Also the scenery – hitting so many big peaks meant stunning panoramic views, although none of the pictures will show this through the cloud that seemed to linger throughout.”

5. And your low point, or ‘pit’?

“Having to pull out of the event due to injury. Long story short, a mis-routing resulted in me breaking the bike and my achilles. Despite a strong mindset I couldn’t shake the injury off and after three days of trying I had to accept finishing was going to result in long term damage to me which was not worth the reward itself.”

6. Is it true that the Japan Odyssey is usually a team challenge and you did it alone?

“This was down to the individuals who signed up, In the end only 5 of the 22 competitors went solo, everyone else opted for safety in numbers.”

7. Is the next goal or challenge in the works yet?

“I started on the new challenge the moment I landed back in Hong Kong, which is to get my body working properly again. Too much time on the saddle has resulted in a few mobility issues that I am proactively working through by following a gymnastics program and of course the Pinnacle Performance Strength & Power initiative. That said I might look at a swimming challenge next alongside something in the gym….watch this space…”

8. And finally what was the total amount raised?

In total HK$37,941. I am so grateful for the 70+ individuals who donated, I want to thank them all individually, (that will happen in time!). I am so pleased I could raise money for a cause that is dear to me – what’s not great about supporting the youth and sport all in one!”

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