sapporo to
russia adventure

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Day 1

The Mad Dogs check into the comfortable hotel in Sapporo. A briefing at 7.30pm will be made for those who are there and many will go to take some lovely Japanese supper together. The excitement builds.


Day 2



The Mad Dogs bid farewell to Sapporo and are soon outside the city. After a a short while, the route turns away into the quiet roads and the mountains. The lakes were frozen solid in April and snow blanketed the ground, but in the summer there will be a sweet smell to the air and the lush meadows will be lovely. There will be satisfying climbs and the roads are excellent quality meaning a “whoosh” down the other side is an absolute pleasure. We encountered a little fox which walked right up to us on this day. The route finishes in coastal Rumoi. Time for a soak in the bath and some Japanese food - you’re earned it!

Day 3

185 km


The sun rises early and so do you, as you head on north along the coastal road, through fishing villages and past a craggy rocky seaside. Birds of prey and gulls dance in the breeze and you may see some deer cautiously nosing through the landscape. Black crows menacingly scan the beaches for dead seals. In the afternoon, the road becomes truly remote, leaving you to appreciate the beauty of this wilderness. Arrival in Wakkanai marks as far north as it’s possible to go in Japan and there is excitement in the air as you contemplate where you will be heading tomorrow! The Cyrillic lettering on the road signs is a clue…

Day 4

Ferry ride


You enjoy a more leisurely morning, taking breakfast before heading over to the ferry port, which is conveniently located very close to the hotel. You collect your bag and wheel the bike onto the ferry before taking your place on the boat. You relax as you bid farewell to Japan and it is with a shiver of excitement that you welcome Russia. With the time difference, the ferry gets in late afternoon, and you will check into a hotel in Korsakov. There may be time to take a taxi for a trip to Yuzhno Sakhalinsk, some 30km away. If you prefer to sit tight and just enjoy relaxing, you are likely to have an opportunity to see Yuzhno- Sakhalinsk on your return south, after the conclusion of the challenge.

Day 5



The morning holds a few hills as the route heads past Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and into the countryside. It’s noticeably less affluent than modern Japan, but this is all part of the charm. You’ve cycled to Russia! You should notice giant crabs and local goods for sale as you pass through, not to mention shashlyk (mouthwatering, skewered meat). Towards the end of the day’s ride, you will reach the coast which you will now follow. You’ll spend the evening in a camp ground and there will be a Russian bath (banya) to sooth your muscles.

Day 6



Today you will push even further north, enjoying stunning views of the east coast of Sakhalin. Crossing rivers, you will see the fat salmon in their thousands running upstream in to spawn and seals lazing on the coast. The Tighaya Hills will lead you away from the sea, offering a diversion of greenery and gentle climbing. Watch out for deer! In the afternoon you will pass through the town of Makarov before it’s heads down for the final push to your goal, Poronaysk. We will toast your success in the traditional Russian manner and you will know you have achieved something very special indeed.

Day 7

You may decide to linger up north for some time to come, enjoying being far away from Asia’s enormous population with such natural beauty. If you like, there is a free ride in the vehicle back south to Yuzhno-­Sakhalinsk which will leave early. We should arrive early afternoon, which will allow you to get the afternoon flight to Seoul. if this is your plan (see details below). Otherwise, at your request we can arrange for you an extra night or two in Yuzho‐Sakhalinsk. 



What are the dates for the next edition?


This challenge runs by request only.


What does it cost?


Cost will need to be re-confirmed back to you, but it's likely to be US$3,500 per person.


How much is the single room supplement? (Note you only need to pay this if you do not want to be paired with another rider of the same sex.)

If available, this will probaby be in the region of US$500


How do I obtain a Russian visa?

To obtain a visa for Russia, you first need an invitation.

This can be done online through the following agencies:

• Express to Russia (

• Russian Business Visa (

• Russia Direct (

• Visa Able (

• Way to Russia (

Alternatively, Mad Dogs can also assist with your Russian visa invitation application for US$40, please ask.

Invitation in hand, you can then apply for a visa at the Russian embassy in your country of residence.


What is the terrain like?

The first day involves some climbs through the mountains, but there are also places where the road is flat, through valleys. Day two is largely flat, along the coast. The road quality is very good. The road quality in Russia is not quite as good as Japan but it was resurfaced in the last 4 years and it is decent. There will be some gently undulating hills on both days through Russia, as well as long flats.


What type of bike is appropriate?

As usual, we think a lightweight tourer or hybrid bike is best. A road bike is a good idea if you are good at watching out for (and avoiding) rough road patches.


Where does the Challenge start?

A comfortable hotel in central Sapporo.  


How do I get to the start?

From New Chitose Airport, take the JR line to Sapporo Station. From here it is easy to reach the hotel. 


Which flights should I book?

Sapporo is well connected with international air routes. From Hong Kong, you can fly direct with Cathay Pacific. China Eastern flies from Shanghai, Eastar Jer from Seoul, EVA Air from Taipei and Thai from Bangkok. There are a host of low-cost carriers operating to Tokyo.

From Sakhalin, you can fly from Yuzhno Sakhalinsk to Seoul on Asiana airlines. In Russia, there are also flights to Kharabovsk and Vladivostok. Check out for a full list of destinations and is useful in scanning the schedules.


Will we travel on large roads?

Most routes on this challenge follow smaller roads.


Do I need to bring camping gear for the night at Firsovo?

You don’t need to bring a tent but you will need a sleeping bag, roll-up sleeping mat (inflatable type are best), a pillow and a travel towel.


Is the cost of the ferry to Russia included in the registration fee?

YES - it's included!