Jesse will be pleased to know I’ve returned to researching cycling routes in Hokkaido and today had one of the best stretches yet. Weather and job hunting have kept me off the bike for a few days, so it was a pleasure to wake up to a lovely day and go for this ride:

There it is. Click for the full ride summary.

There it is. Click for the full ride summary.

I’m getting more used to riding in Sapporo’s traffic and cruising at my own pace instead of trying to race all the cars. Today must have been some sort of road safety day, as there were hoards of people at every intersection holding yellow flags and telling people to drive safely. In fact, the signs said “speed down” but I decided to spare them from a lecture on English phrasal verbs. The further I got out of town, the numbers of people at each intersection dwindled until i got up to a toothless, grey-haired old bloke who unceremoniously wound his flag up and wandered off. I can’t say I noticed anyway speeding down but I’m sure everyone was bearing it in mind.

I caught my first sight of the ocean since I’ve been here and took a pretty terrible photo of it:

You can see the ocean. It's there between the land and the sky.

You can see the ocean. It's there between the land and the sky.

And then headed into the first tunnel of the day. This was a long one so I got off the road and rode through on the footpath.

Tunnel of hate?

Tunnel of hate?

After that it was downhill to Otaru, Sapporo’s port town and then left on to the most enjoyable road I’ve been on yet in Japan. It satered off at a nice, gentle upward incline into a small spa town and up to a dam. Here’s a view of the road I took:

Look! I can see the sea.

Look! I can see the sea.

And here’s the dam:

Such a lovely sunny day.

Such a lovely sunny day.

Here’s the view from the dam of the road I came up:

Nice loop.

Nice loop.

And here’s what the water looked like:

water and mountains

water and mountains

After this the road got a bit steeper but never turned into an outrageous climb. It was a wonderfully quiet road with just enough traffic to satisfy me that I wasn’t going to get caught up in some sort of cycling version of Deliverance and most of the time all I could hear was the trickle of mountain streams which complemented perfectly the green aroma of the forest. There were several tunnels along the way but none of them intimidating. I’m getting better at cruising uphill instead of imagining there are fictional cyclists ahead of me that I need to catch and other behind that I need to stay ahead of. Finally the trail turned downhill. I didn’t realise at the time but it ended up being pretty much downhill all the way. Eventually I got to a bigger dam near the spa town of Jozankei and the pictures are as follows:

IMG_0099

IMG_0101

That's the dam wall there.

IMG_0103

And clearly it was time to stop for a little break and the obligatory onigiri for brunch:

There's the pista.

There's the pista.

Today's onigiri was the best yet. Thanks Kaz!

Today's onigiri was the best yet. Thanks Kaz!

After this, it was through Jozankei and down the hill back to Sapporo. The road from here is a major one but it still had a nice wide shoulder to ride on and the only moment of consternation came in the form of a lady who ran a red light turning on to the road I was on and then tried to take up the whole road. Luckily she chose not to side-swipe me. And I got all of this done before lunchtime.

Updated bit:

You can virtually relive parts of the ride thanks to Google streetview (if that sort of thing tickles your fancy):

Relive the leg out of Otaru with streetview

Relive the leg out of Otaru with streetview

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11 Comment on “Sapporo – Otaru – Jozankei – Sapporo

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