Yoshie and I took a four day bicycle trip around eastern Hokkaido last week. On two folding bikes, we covered over 200 kilometers, went through two national parks, rode along two oceans, conquered two 2000-foot mountain passes. We saw five foxes and dozens of deer, bathed in four different hot springs, and saw the Russian-controlled island of Kunashiri. We managed to avoid rain during our ride, but got only one sunny day. We skipped Notsuke Peninsula because of driving rain, but caught the local festival in Shibetsu that night instead. We climbed Shiretoko Pass on Saturday in spectacular weather, with lovely ocean views, and Kiyosato Pass on Monday through a pine forest of dense fog, made spookier by the unnatural man-made rows of trees.
It was a leap of faith for Yoshie, who had never done anything like this before. To convince her, I insisted I would carry all of our supplies myself, in my bike trailer. I also consented to staying in a bungalow on the second night, and a youth hostel on the third, instead of camping the entire trip. Anyway, it was great fun, and I think by the third day, after a small amount of strife, we worked out a good travelling relationship. For me, I worked at staying close together on downhills and climbs, making sure to signal turns and moves on and off of the main road, as well as hollering the number of rear-approaching trucks and buses on narrow sections in Shari and Nakashibetsu. Yoshie did a good job of letting me know when she needed to stop, when her rear brakes weren’t working at all (!), or simply putting up with a boyfriend who is used to riding alone and making stupid turns, quick decisions, and completely random stops for dumb photos.
Here’s a rough map of the route: