Selfie 170531


Leaving the woods of our campsite this morning in Shiraoi on day four of nine heading to the very top of Hokkaido. 

I’m starting to look very grubby which we resolved later in the day with a stop enroute at an Onsen – a Japanese bath house. 

Oonuma Lake


It’s cold and spring is late. 

We camp here tonight where there are signs warning about bears. We’ve already spotted a fox shadowing us as we put up the tent, it’s presence given away by the crows trying to chase it away. 

The woods are full of familiar trees – chestnuts, silver birch, maple and beech – all just coming into leaf.

Fukuoka to Hokadate Stats


Finally we reach the last big island of the Japanese archipelago. We have another three weeks of cycling and then the year of pedalling will come to an end.

Japan continues to be a revelation in everything and is somewhere we’ll definitely be returning to but only when we have some better understanding of the language which we’ll try to learn on our return to London.

Hokkaido feels immediately much colder and further north despite being on the same latitude as Rome. Today we had on our warmest clothes just to walk about the old port side town of early merchant houses built typically in timber but with a curious Japanese and northern European twist of sash windows and symetricality.

The stats so far are as follows:

  • Distance ridden – 2,261km
  • Days riding – 24
  • Average daily distance – 94km
  • Longest day – 141km from Muryama to Nr. Minamisaniku
  • Punctures – 01 when my front wheel’s valve got ripped off by my pannier which bounced off over a pavement’s curb
  • Mechanicals – Many. Yasmin’s bike broke when she crashed needing temporary repairs and then a new front brake replacement. We both needed new front tyres as they’d become so worn after New Zealand – a third set. My front wheel’s spoke broke leading to three days of nervous riding on a fully loaded bike with a wheel that was becoming increasingly wobbly until we got a fix in Aomori.
  • Other cyclists – 22. We only count the properly touring variety as otherwise in Japan there are cyclists everywhere!
  • Pies – They remain at 33 as none have been consumed so far on this leg of the journey.

Pieta


We’re beset by more mechanicals. This time my front wheel’s spoke snapped three days ago and I’ve been riding as softly as possible to prevent any further progressive collapse as the rim slowly distorts.

We finally reached Aomori and through our Airbnb host, Erwin, were kindly taken to his local bicycle mechanic to try and sort a fix. Not only does Pieta replace the broken spoke, but also re-tunes the wheel and re-sets the bearings, charging only 200 Yen – less than ¬£2. I try to pay more but with no success. He says simply ‘enjoy your cycling’.

On the wall there’s a signed poster of Marco Pantani. His website is at:

http://setagayacyclebox.web.fc2.com/pieta/pieta_home.html