This blog is about travelling through Japan on a foldable bicycle (Brompton) but also by train, ferry, plane, bus or any other transport, if sea, weather, mountains or the like come between me and my desire to ride.
I have tried to summarise information that could be potentially helpful also for other bicycle travellers through Japan, such as list of bicycle roads, helpful web pages etc. Once I start my ride, I will upload the actual routes taken, together with some pictures and description.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Day 26 - Naoetsu through Omi to Kurobe 直江津から大海経由で黒部へ

Bicycle touring Japan - Day 26

Back on Honshu, I used a day of perfect weather to ride down the coast between Naoetsu and Omi and was lucky to find a bicycle road on an old train track, along the busy road. 

Bicycle: 58  km
Train: 40 km
Riding time: 3:50 min h
Total ascent: 212 m
Route: Naoetsu to Omi by bicycle, then on to Kurobe by train
Weather: Perfectly sunny, 21 C

Today was an ideal day:
  • Weather: Sunny, not too hot, not to cold, no wind...
  • Sightseeing: Nothing special sightseeingwise was planned for today, but I found along the way some nice temples and shrines plus the view over the ocean
  • Ride: A bicycle road appeared miraculously right there where I needed it
Today was actually a day like I had imagined this trip to go. And yes, there were already similar days, but with the last 2 days being cold, and worse, the outlook still for the next 10 days being pretty bad, today was a specially enjoyable day, as it had the feeling of a "last chance" to it.

So I set out after a meager breakfast from my onsen-hotel in an ugly outskirt area of Naoetsu towards the coast. As I hadn't transferred (apparently) correctly the updated course to Garmin, my first few kilometres were "free-hand" and as luck wanted, brought me to an area of Naoetsu full of temples and shrines. Probably around 5 - 7 different ones. I only visited the Kokubunji temple and a shrine close-by. 

The temple even had a 3-story pagoda:

While at the shrine some parents had brought their small son for the Shichi-Go-San festival:

It was a nice surprise to see such a wonderful relaxing place so close to the rather ugly shopping mall-gasoline station-McDonalds... area where I had stayed for the night. 

Then I continued down towards the coast.

The first few kilometers were on a very quiet road, but not for a long time, as that road joined national road nr. 8. Which was surprisingly busy, specially with trucks. I say surprisingly, because I had somehow assumed that road nr. 8 at this part would not be very busy, as there is an expressway just parallel. 

However, that's where my luck of the day set in again, miraculously a cycle path appeared:

At first it was just a bike path on the pedestrian walk way, but as it was so well indicated, and as there were no pedestrians to be seen, while a lot of trucks were, I opted for it. 

Later on I saw more information. This is a bicycle path leading for over 30 km along the coast on toward Itoigawa:

There are parts that just run on the sidewalk, but in a big part it has been traced on an out-of-service train line, which includes also a number of small tunnels:

Apparently it has already been constructed (at least) 40 years ago:

And well, at some parts not a lot of cleaning has happened in those last 40 years...

But overall this path was heaven-sent and quite often it offered spectacular views of the ocean.

I don't know if because of the good weather or because this is an officially recognized bicycle lane, but today I did meet a number of cyclists. None of them seemed to be out on a trip, but at least out for a ride during the day.

Today I also got a sunburn. And the strange thing is, I was aware all day long, while riding, that I would get one, as I had put sun protector only on my lips, but was riding in my tank top and shorts... But still, I kind of wanted to get this sunburn, as a last recollection of the sun, before 10 days of rain. (Well, let's hope that the prediction is wrong)

The bicycle road ended shortly before Itoigawa, so I needed to search for a path through the city, which however was doable. I was aiming for the station of Omi as my target for today, both because at the time I would get there it was going to be 15:30, but also afterwards some up-and-down was projected and no more cycle lane and still a lot of traffic on that national road nr. 8.

Bicycle touring Japan - Ride maps

For details on the bicycle tour today in Niigata, checkout the below maps:

From the train I had hoped for some more nice views, but actually a lot is blocked by highways and other constructions just above the sea or by protections against sea water or wind.

With the train I came until Ikuji where it was a short ride to my actually quite nice (and big room!) hotel for the night.

And tomorrow off into these mountains... by train:

Bicycle touring Japan - Ride maps

And for completness here the ride from Ikuji station to my hotel at Kurobe:

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