Monthly Archives: June 2011

Back at Rumoi Riders House

Today was another short day and the wind had died down a lot meaning that we finished riding in the morning. I think this has to be a first.

We checked back into the riders house again, did some shopping and went to the Sento. It was too hot to stay in for any period of time, so we didn’t hang around. The Sento is much more functional than an Onsen, so it is not as nice to hang around in, I think I might have said that last time. Back at the riders house I read a bit and relaxed. Another cyclist we met at the northern most point in Japan is also staying at the riders house as is another cyclist we met a few days ago.

Tomorrow we are starting on a new route toward the port where we will get the ferry back to Tokyo, this will take us a couple of days.

I went on a walk after dinner around the town/city it was good. It is hard to describe the feeling in Japan, so I am going to wait or maybe not do it at all!

I have also been listening to Belle and Sebastian’s album If Your Feeling Sinister, it really is good.

Tokyo Bound

Today we carried on our journey back to Tokyo. Today we did not have as far to go as we were aiming for Tomamae.

The journey was slow as there was a significant head wind. The weather was dull and not much happened whilst we were riding. Whilst we were stopping to take a picture of a big penguin which might not be a penguin but different bird another touring cyclist pulled in for a chat. He spoke very good english and he explained that he was retired and used to work in forestry and now teaches at a university but takes the summers off to holiday. He had recently visited manchester and norwich.

It was good to chat to him and have a look at his bike it was a an normal size bike but the frame could be taken apart.

After this little break we carried on had lunch at the same 7-11 we stopped at on the way north and went back to the same supermarket and brought similar ingredients for dinner as we had on the way north. We stopped at a campsite in Tomamae on a cliff top, the view would have been nice but it was so dull you couldn’t really see anything at all. This was the first nights camping we have paid for on the trip, it cost ¥500 each which was not so bad. We went to the Onsen nearby which had a great view over the harbour were I watched the night draw in.

The onsen was very relaxing, hopefully the wind will have died down a bit for tomorrow.

I forgot to mention that we visited a very strange museum it was a local history museum, everything was in Japanese so it was hard to understand. There was everything in there from a life size reconstruction of a bear attack to dinosaur bones and a chain saw and strimmer.

When cycling around Japan I have seen a lot of people strimming, grass. These are not normal strimmers though they are like a strimmer but were the strimmer twine would normally go there is basically a circular saw blade. I am not sure how safe these are and what advantages they have over regularly strimmers.

The wind still seems to be here still and inside my tent sounds very similar to how I imagine being inside a packet of crisps would be.

Free Shower

Short blog today as its a bit late and I am sleepy.

We left the fishermans, youth hostel, riders house after two nights there. There was a photo before we left, and they gave us frozen water bottles that defrosted much quicker than expected, and some rice and egg which we eat as a snack.

We cycled back the way we came but in much worse weather it was raining and windy there was a lot of water on the road and it was hard to tell how deep the puddles were.

Every time a lorry went past we got a free shower, this wasn’t very nice! Despite wearing full waterproofs I still got wet, and I don’t trust anything that claims to be waterproof expect for my bags which luckily seem to keep most things dry.

We stopped for the night in the same campsite as we stayed three nights before. This was good because there is a large shelter so we could hang things out to dry. Although they are not drying that quick.

We watched a bit of a tv program tonight about Mark Beaumont who held the world record for cycling around the world, and drank a bit of whisky which we brought from a connivance store. It is from the distillery we visited a few days ago. The rain seems to have stopped but the wind has picked up.

Bed time!

The North

Today we cycled to the northern most point on the Japanese ‘mainland’. There are some island further north but we weren’t that easy to get to.

This was the first ride we did with out much luggage as we were staying in the same place as we stayed the night before. It was good riding without a lot of luggage, and meant that we go a little faster, this is only the second time we have stayed in the same place for more than one night on the trip.

The northern most point had a few attractions like a sign and shop, and a number of memorials to different events. And some peace bells. There was also photographer who jumped very quickly out of his car to take photos of the bus loads of tour groups.

After reaching the northern most point we headed back, this is the first time we have ever gone back the way we came, it didn’t seem as strange as I thought it might do. It did seem a bit strange I guess and despite cycling 70kms it felt like a day off.

We will be heading back the same way as we came for the next few days as we make our way back to a port, (a different one to the one we came into) before getting a ferry back south to a port that is about a days ride from Tokyo.

We are just watching a Japanese film about cycle couriers. It is hard to understand what is going on but the gist is that it is bikes v motorbikes.

After dinner which was grilled fish we headed to the onsen and watch the setting from the outside pool.

Fishermans House

Its late so this won’t be very long!

We cycled alone some lovely coastline with nice views of islands today, and by some luck managed to find the riders house which was recommended to us by somebody in the last riders house. We found it mainly by luck and bit by the photo we took of a photo of it.

Lucky there was somebody nearby who spoke english, otherwise it would have been very hard to explain that we wanted to stay for two nights.

They were worried about us not liking the food and being unable to use a futon but we were okay!

Dinner was included in the deal. Dinner was a lot of raw fish it was tasty, we had to wash up after ourselves.

The room is above the fish shop and there are a few motorcyclists staying aswell.

I watch the sunset over the sea which was good, the sky was very red.

The fisherman and his wife gave us some snacks and saké. Saké was like nothing I have tasted before, it is very clear, and I am not really sure how other to describe it. I am painting a very vivid picture aren’t I!

Tomorrow night we are staying in the same place as tonight and cycling to the northern most point on the ‘mainland’ of Japan.

Sunset Tower

We left the riders rest and continued up the coast. The wind picked up and reminded me of cycling in Australia.

I haven’t spoken much about the cycling aspect of the trip, I think this is because the riding just happens, and I am not really sure how. The bike is lovely to ride, and is still going well. So far so good when it comes to the mechanics of it.

As we were cycling today there were a lot of motorbikes a lot of Harley Davidsons, some with handle bars about 5 meters in the air they didn’t look comfy. There were a few waves and thumbs up, and one biker asked for his photo to be taken in front of the big bear pictured.

There was also somebody on a very small bike that looked like the bike they used in Dumb and Dumber.

Lunch was a 7-11 bento box, rice bit of meat and sauce.

After lunch we headed on to Enbetsu. We found a nice campsite that seemed to be closed and are planning to stay here strangely all the water and lights, toilet block is still open.

There are a lot of frogs making noise.

After dinner we quickly climbed a viewing tower to watch the sunset behind a radio or tv transmission aerial. It set very fast and looked good with a island to the right.

Riders House

Today we got of to a slowish start before heading off after a good breakfast, muesli provided by Rob. The crows stole most of our bready treats in the night.

We cycled through a lot of tunnels, and had a normal lunch of rice, brought at a convenience store. Before heading on to Rumoi.

There was a cyclist camped at the same spot as us last night and he told Rob that there was a Riders House in Rumoi. We found this with the help of Rob (well he found it for us) and helped us with the check in process before getting the train home.

The Riders House is provided free of charge with donations for certain things like the use of gas cooker.

There is a large area downstairs for parking bikes, both cycles and motorbikes, it is probably about 50/50 and then there is a kitchen sitting area. Upstairs there is a large dormitory with sleeping pads to borrow.

There are no showing facilities but there is a washing machine and a public bath- Sento nearby, which we used. This was much more functional than an Onsen but it was good to get clean.

There about 10 people staying here and we have been chatting and route planning with some of them. They are very helpful but language is a bit of a barrier, but not to much.

Three hour Onsen

Today we woke from our river side location and packed up before breakfast, we eat in a nice shelter before heading off to the 7-11 where we had arranged to meet Rob, and cyclist and longboarder more info, we met him through a friend of Cliff’s girlfriend. It was good to speak and learn about his adventures. Rob is going to be cycling with us for a couple of days.

The weather after we left the 7-11 was not very nice it was not raining but very grey. We cycled along the coast cutting in land a bit to go over mountains and through tunnels.

We made good time, and found a nice camping spot, but first we headed to the warmth (I was going to say dry but that would be wrong) of the Onsen. There was an outside pool, and we stayed there for about 3 hours spending more time in the relaxation area, before heading back to the camping spot.

The tents were up before the rain got heavier which was good we are now cooking in the sink shelter.

Its now raining quite hard, tonight might be like sleeping in a drum. Good job I brought the eye plugs!

The Angles Share

Today started with a bit of rain so on with the waterproofs it soon stopped and it was on with the sun cream.

We cycled on up and down some nice hills. The next thing that caught our eye was a sign to some space apples, we were not sure what these were and will never be as we didn’t find them but we did got ushered into the Nikka Whisky Distillery in Yoichi. The museum was very good and there were some interesting videos in English.

As we arrived they let us park the bikes inside and stuck a sticker on us which meant we were not allowed to have any of the three tasters, in the end we took this off and had a little try.

After looking around the museum we went to the gift shop, were we brought a snack of crabs, they were dried and had some sort of seasoning on them. They were alright.

The story behind the whisky distillery set up goes back to scotland. Masataka who set up the distillery was the first Japanese to study the techniques of whisky making in scotland and bring them back to Japan. The distillery was founded in 1934.

The angles share is the whisky that is lost to evaporation during the maturation process.

Cycling on we headed to the city of Otaru the city of canals, we had a quick look it was no venice, but only have a quick look and never being to venice that a pretty unfair assessment. We took some time finding a supermarket that was over the train tracks and in a massive shopping centre before we headed on the outskirts of Sapporo. We spent quite a long time looking for somewhere to camp. We saw signs to a greenspace, this turned out to be a pitch and put, and an unfinished park. We headed to the ‘dream beach’ this was more of a nightmare, the sand was a gray dusty colour and there were a lot of sheds trying to sell thing most looked closed at the moment.

We headed on to another forest park this was perfect apart from the annoncement that we thought said it was closing so we left and headed on to a river bank that is quite nice and good for camping.

Cycle Sauna

Parts of today can only be described as cycling in a sauna. I think it was the hottest it has been but then I think back to some days in Australia and it was pretty hot so in fact maybe it wasn’t the hottest, but it was pretty hot!

We made a few stops one at a service time station called a Michinoeki these are all across Japan. They are normally a shop selling local produced and arts and crafts. This one was fairly standard. We brought a massive 500ml can of coke for the same price as a much smaller can at the next door vending machine. We washed our clothes and filled up our water bottles and headed on.

An aside about vending machines. There are lots all over Japan some in the middle of nowhere.

We cycled on to another Michinoeki this one had a good view of the mountain shown in the picture.

We had a little chat with a Japanese cyclist who was interested in our equipment and Cliff’s copy of Found Magazine that a couchsurfer gave to us.

We brought a few postcards got some water and cycled on to a MaxValue a super market chain, to get lunch, dinner and breakfast.

Cycling on up and over some lovely hills and seeing snow capped mountains in the distance it was a good afternoon if a little hot. We got some good waves from some motorcyclists and two cyclists. Before finding a layby with a stream above it.

We had a good wash of ourselves and our clothes which was great. There is nothing better than a good wash after a sweaty days cycling and we got to try out the washing line we brought for a ¥100 at the supermarket.

Dinner is now cooking so I best cook and eat.