The Inter High is a yearly race where the cycling clubs of many high schools from around Japan compete to prove themselves the best. You can read more general information about the Inter High event on the Inter High page.
The 42nd Summer Inter High, also known as the Tochigi Inter-High is being celebrated in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture. Team Sohoku arrives at the event in Ride 295, though the race does not actually begin until Ride 300. In the anime, the new course is described as more difficult than the last, known as "Sprinter Killer" because it has many steep and long slopes through Toushougu Shrine, a World Heritage Site, with the highest point at 1840m above sea level, roughly twice as high as Hakone, as well as the fact that the last kilometer of sprint checkpoints are also mild uphill climbs. Also, it is a very hot venue, reaching temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius in the morning before the race even starts.
Sohoku High School
Kyoto Fushimi High School
A variety of events occur before the race actually starts. The members of Sohoku assure Onoda he is qualified to wear the #1 zekken because he won first-place last year and returned to race this year, so the number is irrelevant to his role within the team, and Naruko goes to challenge Midousuji and announce his change from sprinter to all-rounder. Issa and Doubashi get into an altercation outside the bathroom and Doubashi cast doubts in Issa's mind about how strong Onoda truly is since Issa never saw the whole race. Komari replaces Hironishi as the sixth member of Kyoto Fushimi then interrupts Imaizumi and Sugimoto's heart-to-heart to grope Imaizumi's lef. Teshima, Ashikiba, and Higashimura, classmates from middle school, have a reunion during which Ashikiba declares his intent to race Teshima as an enemy… and that he does not remember Higashimura’s name. Hakone Gakuen’s final member is revealed to be the younger Shinkai, and Koga talks to Aoyagi about Onoda’s role in this competition. Directly before the race, Aoyagi helps calm Onoda’s nerves, and Sohoku shares a fist bump as a team.
Izumida sends Doubashi out to defeat opposing sprinters and take the first result for Hakone Academy. Teshima calls upon Aoyagi and new member Kaburagi to compete, but Kaburagi still considers himself an all-rounder. Aoyagi literally drags Kaburagi along despite the younger cyclist’s protesting.
In the meantime, Naruko and Izumida both shown discontent as they were held back by their teammates. Despite it being Izumida's orders to send Doubashi to take the sprinter's checkpoint, he was held back by Kuroda to not engage in the battle and attempt to catch up after telling Naruko why he sent Doubashi to attack instead, staing that: Despite Izumida's improved physique, he is still no match to Doubashi in terms of size and sheer aggression. However, Naruko and Izumida still engages in a shorter 150m flag race.
When the pair faces other sprinters, Aoyagi reveals a technique inspired by Tadokoro’s style. He inhales a great deal of air and swells up into a round shape. Using this technique, he pulls Kaburagi ahead of the other sprinters. The calls of Issa as a sprinter grew louder as he has not only kept up with Aoyagi and comfortably holding a conversation, he has passed other Ace sprinters from other schools. When they catch up to Doubashi, Aoyagi notices that Doubashi is as intimidating as his nickname of “monster” suggests. He expects Kaburagi to have a similar reaction, but the Sohoku first year appears unaffected. Unbeknownst to Aoyagi, Issa and Doubashi already met before the race, therefore they were trading barbs at each other, to the point that Issa has no idea how to read zekken at all.
Kaburagi is also unfazed when Doubashi pulls ahead by over 10m, and he cheerfully remarks that Sohoku always “barely” wins, so they should catch up, and he proclaims that "een an all-rounder like me could" because he thinks Doubashi launched himself too early. He pulls Aoyagi along, changing to his lower handlebars in the process, which is a new style he deploys, but Aoyage find his reasoning stupid because it is no more different to Naruko's sprinting style, and Issa was completely unaware that his hands were already on the lower handlebars when Aoyagi was pulling Issa along. Together, they catch up to Doubashi again, and then Aoyagi pulls ahead for a short time until Doubashi follows him. In response, Aoyagi employs a different, original cycling technique which he has dubbed “Bambi Style.” Using this technique in which he focuses energy in his legs, he manages to stay ahead of Doubashi for a while. Just as Doubashi passes him, Kaburagi appears. Aoyagi tells Kaburagi to win the sprint, but Kaburagi still insists that he is an all-rounder. Aoyagi manages to convince Kaburagi to compete with Doubashi for the checkpoint by using the stationary he used to give Kaburagi instructions in the past. Kaburagi mistakenly believed these messages came from the “God of Orange Beena,” and followed them religiously. This finally causes him to take the sprint seriously and he leaves Aoyagi behind to face Doubashi, after Issa realizes he launched Aoyagi too early when Doubashi ripped open his jersey.
Aoyagi deploys Bambi Style 750m to the line, but his legs started giving out nearly 400m to the line, as Kaburagi had been drafting behind Doubashi's jacket (a huge blind spot to Doubashi) and took over the chase. Aoyagi realizes that he won't make it to the line given Doubashi already caught up with him, so Aoyagi told Kaburagi to take the Checkpoint without him. After Kaburagi's refusal, Aoyagi pulled out a note, implying he is the messenger for the God of Orangena, and it was His order or Issa to go for the Checkpoint.
Kaburagi deployed a 2-stage acceleration so he can make his path unpredictable, however, he seems to have suffered a gearing issue when his bike can't engage into top gear in time.
Kaburagi and Doubashi race desperately in the final 80m, and when they finally cross the finish line for the checkpoint, both of them, including their respective fans believe they have won. However, the announcers reveal that it was Doubashi who won by a small but clear margin.
1: #15 Doubashi Masakiyo
2: #6 Kaburagi Issa
Dejected, Aoyagi is lost as to how to console Kaburagi, but Danichiku managed to get their attention from the side of the road. Danichiku offers to high-five Kaburagi and Aoyagi, despite Kaburagi not wanting to talk to him because he let him down. Sugimoto Terufumi, Koga, Kanzaki Miki also offer their support instead of scolding him for losing, something Hakogaku, and Team SS would had done. Aoyagi explained to Kaburagi that it is because Sugimoto and Koga know a lot about losing as they are experiencing it by not riding. Kaburagi resolves to beat Doubashi when they race each other again.
As the winning school of the Sprinter's Checkpoint, Izumida orders Teshima to give way, and let Hakogaku members to lead the peloton, but Izumida soon decided to break away because he conserved enough energy to pull the team in the flats. Teshima, who already predicted this, lead Sohoku pack to chase them. However, given that Teshima is poor on the flat, he sent Naruko to keep up with Izumida, and they decided to go for the Sprinter's Checkpoint, with Kuroda and Imaizumi both giving the green light to battle until they catch up to the sprinters.
Naruko and Imaizumi scold Kaburagi because they don't like him, and Teshima comforts Aoyagi for losing, but Teshima gave an order to Onoda to stay close to the front, as Teshima realises Hakogaku has deliberately slowed down to draw them closer to the peloton as a bait to try and eliminate Onoda as a threat seeing he is wearing the number 1 zekken and is a climber, something Kaburagi still doesn't realise.
The Climber's Checkpoint is on National Route 119, Nikkou Kaidou, a mountain road lined with tall cedar trees leading to Nikkou-Toushou Shrine. The winding road starts the ascend to 1173m above sea level. A short distance away from the hairpin turn outside Akechidaira Restaurant.
As soon as the pack caught up with Sohoku and Hakogaku, as they head towards Nikkou City, Onoda gets swallowed by the pack again and pinned by two rider riding close to him, blocking his path to the front as Hakogaku planned, leaving Sohoku with no choice but to send Teshima to try for first day King the mountain against Manami, as Izumida also decides not to send Shinkai Yuto to go for the Checkpoint as Sohoku cannot enter a two-on-two battle.
However, Onoda can't stay pinned because riders are more worried about individually getting through the climb the peloton will stretch into a line instead, and Onoda managed to use his metal pedal to clip Yamagata Mogari's Inashiro Bunya, a second year climber as assistant for the climb stages. The early favourite is Bunya's teammate, Kawahara Gunpei. However, somewhere during the climb, Onoda ended up in last place.
Teshima tried hard to keep pace with Manami, but he pushed so hard that he had a lapse in concentration and almost fell out of the race with a little more than 4km to go, but managed to regather and continue. After the actual race started at the 3km remaining mark. By the time they are just less than 2km to go, they caught and passed Gunpei, who seemed to set an impossible pace when he broke away early. By the time they passed the 1.25km remaining mark, the crowd acknowledges Teshima's determination to keep up with Manami and cheered him on.
Manami experiences some mechanical trouble with his chain coming off due to the stress of his high gear climb, just as he moves to the second-to-highest gear. Teshima waits for him with 300m to go. Despite going beyond his 'ordinary' abilities, Teshima loses to Manami. Teshima nearly collapse after the checkpoint but Onoda has broken free of the pack set to block him by utilizing a two-step acceleration combined with his high-cadence riding so he can create his own passing lane on the further left side of the road, then he sang a new Love Hime theme song to get ahead, he also received help from the rest of the pack to abandon blocking and give him free passes as a sign of respect, but Onoda snuck behind Kyoto Fushimi, but he must beat Yamaguchi, a sprinter, in order for Kyofushimi to abandon pursuit. He arrives just in time to give Teshima assist, even when both Sohoku and Hakogaku are over 4.5 minutes behind Teshima and Manami. He caught with Teshima and saved him
1: #13 Manami Sangaku
2: #5Teshima Junta
3: #1 Onoda Sakamichi
After the results are shown, Sohoku is elated by the result because Teshima only lost by milliseconds, rather than minutes as many predicted.
Day 1 Checkpoint
The checkpoint is less than 10km from the Climber's Checkpoint. But with the roads closed, it also affected support vehicles, which cannot get to the bottom of the hill to the feed zone. Given this Koga and Sugimoto Terufumi carried the food and drink bags and set off on the team's spare bikes. While the rest of Hakogaku beat Sohoku to the checkpoint. Kaburagi thought about gunning for the Day 1 Checkpoint by himself, but was pulled back by Aoyagi. Meanwhile, Kuroda and Ashikiba set off on a two-man breakaway. While many thought he was a climber, Kuroda worked over the winter to improve his pulling skills on the flats because of his great teamwork with Ashikiba in the third year sendoff race.
Kuroda is able to pull Ashikiba to a 4-second lead into the tunnel, thinking most competitors would have trouble judging distances and gaps in he tunnel. Imaizumi and Naruko sends Naruko to pull instead of Kaburagi to catch up on the downhill section. They did rather comfortably while riding dangerously close while cornering.
Kuroda was happy that they caught up, but Hakogaku attacked again and pulled a two-second gap after a sharp left turn at the beginning of the flats past the Futaransan Shrine gate towards the coast surrounding Lake Chuzenji. Kuroda enters his best terrain - variable bumpy terrain that suits his flexible and squishy leg muscles and legs. He has shed muscles due to long training, making his a better allrounder, puncheur and time trialist. It also quashed Izumida and public notion that hard muscles equals strength. He boasts his muscles is as flexible as leather whip, which still deals a lot of damage. In their pursuit, they catches up and drops the climbers.
What Hakogaku and Sohoku didn't realize is that Kishigami and Midousuji also joined the attack. They attacked the climbers just before the feed zone. By the time Koga and Sugimoto got to the feed zone with seconds to spare to get to Imaizumi and Naruko, Kyotofushi has already made up so much ground that their support crew are already on standby. Although Naruko unleased his Tip-Toe Advance, an evolution of Armstrong Climb, Naruko and Imaizumi's constant bickering over who the true Ace is, allowed Kyotofushi to catch them and Hakogaku just after the feed zone, 3.5km to the end of Day 1.
By that point, Komari grabs Kuroda's thighs and causes a confusion. The decoy allows Midousuji to launch a solo attack, but it also leaves Sohoku at a seemingly 2-1 disadvantage over Hakogaku as Imaizumi lost Naruko, but he actually dropped Imaizumi and Hakogaku to chase Midousuji by himself with 3km to go, where they will pass Lake Chuzenji and rapidly climb up the winding mountainous roads before the flat road leading to the base of Mt. Nantaisan.
Naruko was able to keep up with Midousuji's attacks on the climb not just by his new climbing techniques, but he has abandoned his carbon wheels built for sprinting, but Midousuji left his seat and leans far forward with his hands on the upper bars to pull ahead, but was quickly drew level by Naruko's Tip-Toe Advanced Armstrong Climb 2.0. It impresses Midosuji so much that he finally called Naruko "Naruko-kun" instead of "Chicken-head", then try to convince him to work co-operatively as they are far ahead of anyone else. Naruko saw through his bluff and starts chasing Midousuji. Kuroda, on the other side, offers to work with Imaizumi until they catch up to Naruko and Midousuji. Imaizumi accepts and got between Kuroda and Ashikiba. Kuroda accelerates after pulling a scab on the side of his head.
Meanwhile. Tadakoro went off-road on his car to beat the traffic jam so he, Makishima and Kinjo can be at the finish line before the riders.
Naruko fell behind having been unable to handle the higher gears that Midousuji can. But with 2km to go, Midousuji has another mental lapse and Naruko takes advange and declares the battle back on. Midousuji took off the bandages on his thighs to prepare for the sprint finish.
Koga and Sugimoto hitch a ride with the media car to get to the finish. Meanwhile first-year students Satadoki, Sawada and Gorizo have already secured spots at the finish line by catching the school bus. Satadoki is instructed by Koga to lead the cheer for the riders and give them supplies at the end of the race. Meanwhile, Tadokoro, Kinjou and Makishima, who is still jet-lagged and car-sick from his flight and the off-road detour, also arrives at the finish line, Sanbonmatsu Park parking gates, before the race leaders.
Midousuji and Naruko traded leads all the way through the final kilometer, with the closest pack over 350m behind. Given the large gap, Ashikiba decided to switch roles with Kuroda because he feels it would be useless to save energy if he is too far behind, so he pulled while playing The Ninth Symphony in his head, and morphed into his form of Medtronome Dancing style by standing up and swinging the bike. Once they closed to 50m behind, Kuroda returned to the front to pull.
With 500m left, it becomes a five-horse race to the finish. But when Imazumi realizes that Naruko actually lost to Midousuji in Osaka, he decides to back off and let him fight for line honors if he catches up.With 400m left, with Naruko having a slim lead, Kuroda picks his scab and unleashes his true form as well. With 300m left, there is a long but sharp chicane to negotiate. Midousuji unleashes his locust mode right in the middle of the chicane.
By 200m to go, Kuroda continued pulling Ashikiba and Imaizumi to get to the leading duo, but his extremecornering style has drawn so much blood from his shoulders, he crashed out with 150m to go after launching Ashikiba. Imaizumi never gets any benefit from the co-operation as he fell behind. It has become a three-horse race between Ashikiba, Midousuji and Naruko with 70m to go. Ashikiba eventually wins after seeing Midousuji and Naruko launching themselves too early in the sprint, and only attacked once with 25m to go, and also having the long reach to lunge over the line first.
1: #11 Ashikiba Takuto
2 (tie): #3 Naruko Shoukichi, #111 Midousuji Akira
4: #2 Imaizumi Shunsuke
After the win, Ashikiba is confirmed to be the tallest ever cyclist to win a stage. It became a gag when Naruko overheard how short he is, even if Ashikiba let Naruko stand on top of the podium. Midousuji does not accept his joint second place, and sent a first year to receive it instead. Given Hakogaku swept the Mountain, Sprint and Line honours, Sohoku's morale is badly shaken. It hit Issa so badly that he starts a rant, to the point that Imaizumi has to defend Naruko and stop Issa's rant. Naruko's lack of height and reach meant he would always lose to Ashikiba at the final lunge, yet he still puts on a brave face in front of the crowd, and it makes Imaizumi astounded by his mental toughness, and Naruko only broke down in resentment after hiding in the corner where nobody can see him.
After the Ceremony
First year Gorizo is the masseur for Sohoku, and work hard to alleviate the pain Teshima suffered from the mountain stage, where his overexertion almost caused him to retire due to heat exhaustion, which Issa proceeded to collapse later on, which is when Imaizumio realises he was only hanging on by the adrenaline in his body, and exhaustion and fatigue hits him really hard once the effects wear off. At this point, Hakogaku still holds a 5-4 advantage as Kuroda may not able to race on Day 2 as he didn't finish the stage. Teshima's extent of heat exhaustion, and Issa's collapse also leaves Sohoku is a bad shape.
Onoda has to find Naruko before Sohoku holds an emergency meeting in the hotel. Just as he is lost in his thoughts, Kinjou appears in front of him. However, Kinjou appears to be cold to the idea to visit the team because they can no longer support Sohoku as they are no longer current students, and their presence when the team is losing would actually divide the existing team because the seniors can no longer actively race to help them, instead, Kinjou, Teshima and Makishima will be spectators from afar, and only visit them when they win. Onoda, who got to see Kinjou, is happy enough knowing that Makishima is somewhere watching the race.
At the meeting, Teshima decides to revert to the No-Ace strategy and stay as close to each other as possible, while the alumni decides to stay at Tadokoro's house.
Onoda's mother drops by to see Onoda and Naruko, initially to go to Toshougu Shrine, but also to drop of a bike pump that is actually only for the Mamachari bike, and also the Best Boy hats to the Sohoku members. She later sees Koga and Aoyage, and they got the hats as well, but she said that one of the hats was given to Manami when he helped her get to the annex. She then gave a few encouraging words before mistaking Aoyagi as an anime club member before going back to the hotel with the Housewives Alliance.
In the Nikkou Kihara Inn, where Kyofushi shares with 3 other bike clubs, Midousuji are nowhere to be found after coming tied second with Naruko. Komari also is missing. It turns out Midousuji is training at night, he sucks his left bicep until it is bruised. Yamaguchi Noriyuki recalls that Midousuji threatened to quit the team in the middle of last year's race, and fears that he would do it again. He spotted broken guardrails, and become fearful that he fell to the beach and badly injures or killed himself. Little that he knew, Midousuji is riding back to the dorm, next to a car, in the opposite direction, so Noriyuki couldn't have spotted him.
Meanwhile Mizuta instructs the first years to catch breakaway, but Midousuji comes back to the dorm in time to shut him down, while Komari also not offering reasons for his absence.
When Noriyuki receives the call to return to the dorm, he is relieved, but Midousuji's strategy is almost identical to the usual: Dropping anyone that cannot keep up on the flats and before the climbs.
Hakogaku, who lives in the hotel, gets reassurance that Kuroda would be back to race on Day 2.
The course for Stage 2, as drawn by Kyofushi, starts of with a small climb, then has a gradual and long drop in altitude before a flat section, another flatter downhill section will continue throughout the third quarter, before the climb at the final 15% of the course, before finishing just 100m lower than the highest point. The more precise version, according to Teshima, the stage starts where Stage 1 fished, going back the chicane, riding noth using all of National Route 120, cutting through Senjōgahara at 1400m above sea level, then the winding 10km climb will get them to 1800m. After passing Konei Pass and Konsei Tunnel, the long descent begins past the ski slopes and lake. They go past Fukiware Falls, through Numata City. It is the longest stage of the Inter High.
Before the start of Stage 2, The starting point is the same as the finish line of Day 1, and after Hakogaku's photo op, Shinkai Yuto spots Onoda after he drops his lucky anime models. Yuto tells Onoda that he wasn't able to do his job to stop Onoda because he was too far behind to require his service. Despite this, Yuto still calls him Mountain King in deference. Onoda was unaware of his status, but he still wanted an bug-type naickname,while Yuto hastily introduced himself a Peak Hornet before the cameras focus on them.
Issa hyperventilates before the starting gun, to the point that he starts becoming defensive over his nervousness. Aoyagi decides to be 'God of Orangina's messenger' and orders Issa to slow his breathing and follow him closely, and will deliver the messages from God 'when the time is appropriate'. Kaburagi finally calms down, but he forgets that Teshima, Aoyagi, Onoda and him, as well as the rest of Hakogaku (except Kuroda, who must start at the back as he finished Stage 1 nearly at the back of the field) starts three minutes and fifteen seconds later as that was the margin to the leader the day before, so Aoyagi still had to hold him back. Manami is pleased to see Teshima, who has grown respect for him, given they never talked to each other before the battle yesterday.
As for Sohoku's strategy, Onoda must help the team catch up to Imaizumi and Naruko, while they rotate as the leading rider to keep the competitors in check while conserving energy. However, they must immediately respond to Hakogaku's attack. Little that Onoda knew, Doubashi, a sprinter, is also a decent puncheur, so he can still attack on small climbs without much effort. After Onoda launches an attack, Hakogaku promptly gave up chasing because they want to give Kuroda every chance to catch up, but they go on a drop all the way back to the peloton. When they picked Kuroda up, they can attack as five again, and giving them a 5-4 advantage in the pack race.
The pace Onoda set is too tough for Issa to maintain, and he spaced out twice and fell off the pack. Although he manages to catch up, Aoyagi already senses his problems. Issa spaced out for hte thrid time, and is dropped by both Sohoku and Hakogaku packs. He drafts behind Doubashi after regathering his thoughts, but Doubashi finds his reasonings petty and told the Hakogaku pack to drop him. Issa was later forced to retire due to left leg fatigue. By the time Teshima notices he was gone, it is already too late, because if it was a mechanical problem, Issa would had screamed or signalled for help like they practiced. Teshima, however, was philosophical because he was the only first-year in the race, being further and further away from , so the burden of him catching up to the seniors and taking on the responsibilities are too much, the same problems Koga faced when he was the only first-year student in the Inter High team, problems that Onoda didn't have as he had Imaizumi and Naruko to help him. Onoda thought about dropping back to pick Kaburagi up, but as he is the defending champion, it would be nearly impossible to carry the role as effectively as he did last year on picking up Tadokoro. Onoda also have new responsibilities. He is like a king in a chess set, he's supposed to be protected, rather than being in the open to protect others. It means Teshima has to order the team to drop him behind for good, but Aoyagi has taken on the role to drop back and try to bring Issa back instead.