bike Hokkaido travel

Northern Hokkaido Cycling

I finally posted all of my photos from my four day bike ride north from Oumu around Cape Soya and then south to Rumoi.  The captions of the photos chronicle the trip well enough.  I’ll let them and the photos tell the story without a blathering blog post.

Photo below links to the gallery.

Here’s a map of the route:

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bike Hokkaido travel

Eastern Cycling Trip


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:

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bike festivals Japan Saroma travel

Okhotsk Cycling 2009

Okhotsk Cycling

Make that the International Okhotsk Cycling 2009.  Including myself, there were three non-Japanese among the 982 participants.  Good thing we participated, or they would have had to change all of the signage.

Over the weekend, I rode 212km (132mi for those in the dark ages) over 2-days with 981 other people, by bicycle, along the Sea of Okhotsk from Oumu to Shari.  It was good.  Kind of weird, but good.

There are some definite advantages to riding with such a large group.  When you ride alone, you usually don’t have a cheering crowd and different refreshments in each town you pass through, nor brass bands and cheerleaders performing for you when you depart.

When you’re alone, though, you can go as fast as you want.  You can stop whenever you want.  You don’t have to listen to Mr. Sato from Sapporo’s misaligned derailleur grind along for kilometer after kilometer.  You don’t have to wake up at 4 AM if you don’t want to.

The race entry fee and the fee for the town cycling club trip to the race and back was 24,000 yen ($260).  For that, I got:

A ride and bike transport to Oumu, luggage transport from the start to the finish, a place to stay for two nights, two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, and quite a few cans of beer.  Fresh milk, cheese, and sports drink jelly in Okoppe, more sports drinks and snacks in Mombetsu, ice cream in Kamiyubetsu, hard candy and dried scallops and barley tea in Yubetsu, bananas and juice in Saroma, bread, tea and juice in Abashiri, and potatoes and butter in Koshimizu.  I even won a gift box of various kinds of sugars in the drawing at the end of the race.

Overall, not bad.  A good way to meet other cyclists, drink beer, experience the different towns along the coast, and generally have a good time with other people.  I also got to show off my weird bike and all my cycling gear, including the cool Alaska “gold rush” license plate jersey my parents got me.  Check out this picture: (don’t I look cool?!)

Me and bike