Bicycle touring Japan - Hokkaido - Part 1
In this post I review my first week of bicycle touring in Japan, riding down from the very North of Hokkaido along the Sea of Japan to the South, then skipping on (by bus) to Sapporo and discovering there a very nice bicycle road.
Bicycle: 271 km
Other transport: 2670 km
Total riding time: 18:15 h
Total ascent: 1,043 m
This first week of bicycle travelling in Hokkaido was also the first time for me to be on the road for more than 2 days, probably since I was a child and did some 3-4 day trips with my father.
Below an approximate (!) map of the rides ...
... the detailed maps of the rides and more description for each day can be found here:
And here for an overview of the costs.
From the stuff I brought (see here), I did not use:
- any of the rain gear
- the shoes
- any of the bicycle repair stuff
- 1 of the two cardigans
- the fleece jacket
Now obviously rain gear seems to be important, as well as the bicycle repair stuff. I hope that I will continue to bring it only along without ever needing to use it. The cardigan and fleece jacket would have been handy had the weather been colder, so as I will restart riding late Sep/early Oct, I think I will still bring them. I have more doubts about the shoes. I definitely prefer riding in sandals and last year was riding in sandals until November... But if it rains, wouldn't closed shoes be better? Also off the bicycle... But those shoes are heavy... Difficult decision, but I think I will continue to bring them along. Although I "fear" that I will only rarely / never use them.
In general I enjoyed the week quite a lot, the weather was absolutely ideal for cycling and also the region of Hokkaido I picked, I think was great for cycling, at least for me. There was really only 1 day with some up and down, but in the end I managed without needing to ever to push the bike or without giving up and hopping on a bus. So that was great. I noticed however that I need every now and then a day "off". And either do something not so much on a bicycle, e.g. some cultural activities, or simply just a relaxing day. I think specially once I will set out for the longer trip around Japan, I will need every now and then (maybe at least once a week) a rest day and also some time in the same location. That should assure that I can either rest that day or visit something local (and thus also spend less time on the bike, or no time) and it would also make washing clothes easier, if they can dry an entire day in one place.
I am however definitely still very much motivated to continue my travel re-starting from end September, once I am back from Europe. I kind of have the feeling that 2 months will not be enough to do all the travelling I had hoped to do, so will need to choose wisely, but also according to weather, as this really influences a lot how much I can enjoy a day on the bike. No cycling in rain, I hope!
Pre-booking the accommodation in Hokkaido was a good idea, as the coast between Wakkanai and Rumoi is not very densely populated and I could have easily got stuck somewhere. I however still hope that in other, more populated areas, pre-booking, at least so many days ahead will not be needed. But I also think that I am not the type of person to just ride the entire day and then search for an accommodation once I have arrived somewhere, even in a big city. At latest around lunch, I should have found my accommodation for the night (via internet) and then ride towards it.
The best cycling in Hokkaido was probably the first part from the Northern peak off Wakkanai (Noshappu) down the coast to about Teshio. Specially the first kilometers on the 無事カエル road were great.
Further down the road, after Haboro, traffic became more intense, and the landscape didn't change so much compared to the previous days, so nothing new. I could probably also have avoided to ride into Rumoi, which is a more or less industrial city and as such not very nice. Well, none of the cities / villages I came through was nice as such, but Rumoi was also industrial. So maybe taking the bus already from Obira would have been a good idea... but well, my self established goal was Rumoi and I made it until there.
The other cycling highlight was the cycling road from Sapporo to Kitahiroshima. Unfortunately I only road about half of it. I should have researched better and maybe I could have used it also for a part of the road to the museum.
In summary, I am happy to have started the ride of Japan! More to come at end of September / early October.