My touring bike has finally arrived and just in time to give my liver much-needed break from its cultural investigations. Thanks very much to Robo at Elite Racing Cycles (see link to the right) for the excellent job of packing the Long Haul Trucker and its accessories. I thought, now that I was palping gears again, I could go for a good, long ride and was hoping to get to the Shakotan Peninsula which looks like a pretty nice place to visit. Because I had all sorts of bags and things, I packed way too much. Sure it was cloudy and can be a little cooler in the mountains but why would you pack a raincoat in the middle of summer?
To get there, I have to follow the main road out to Otaru that I took on my ride to Jozankei but instead of turning left, I kept going into Otaru town itself. To get to Shakotan, I would have had to keep following this road but by the time I got to Otaru, I was getting a bit sick of being amongst so much traffic. Also it was getting warm and I was starting to realise I probably wouldn’t be able to get all the way out to Shakotan and back, so I looked on my map and found a road through the mountains that looked like it would be quieter and decided to go along that one and make a decision about where to go next when I rejoined the main road.
With all those gears at my disposal again, I was particularly enjoying going uphill, so when I saw a sign promising The Summit of Mt Tengu in 5.3km, and particularly as I recalled Tengu was some sort of mischievous god, I thought I’d better head up and have a look. Full respect Tengu – I’m pretty sure that’s the steepest section I’ve come across here. I changed down to the Trucker’s granny chainring and watched the GPS gradient stay steady between 9-12 percent for quite a long section. It’s amazing the Tour de France guys can keep up the speeds they do for sections as steep but much longer than that.
I finally got to a flattish section just as I was getting into some clouds.
And took the time to inspect the forest.
It went down, then up again until finally I got to the top and was rewarded with pretty good views of Otaru.
After stopping for a rest and a couple of onigiri, I went for a walk to see if I was right about Tengu.
So I could have wished for the well-being of my family members but selfishly opted for safety from traffic accidents instead. I think it was a wish well-invested as on the way home, one chap tried to turn across two lanes of traffic and straight into me but I felt the shield of Tengu descend and force him to apply the brakes. I wonder how long the protection lasts. People with more complex wishes write them on a piece of wood and hang them near Tengu’s head.
There were a few other shrines nearby.
After all this excitement, headed back down the mountain and thought I might try to go home via Jozankei but unfortunately just as I was riding past the first dam and the road was about to get good, the road was closed. I have no idea why this was but there was a gate shut across the road and one bloke’s job for the day was to sit in his air-conditioned car and hop out every time someone looked like they wanted to go through. I had to turn back and go home the way I had come. Here’s a map of the day’s ride:
And a couple of things I saw on the way home: