You’ll recall I got through describing the Tokyo leg of Dimitri’s visit but left you all in the lurch by refusing to post more information until I could get at the videos Dimitri made while he was here. None of the local shops stock the bloody unit on their shelves but I Dimitri has taken control of the situation by making his own video and doing a far better job of it than I would have done any way.

I’m going to keep you in suspense before I link to it though by giving a run-down on what we got up to. Naturally, the run-down is severely hampered because it was all more than a month ago and I don’t take notes.

After bidding a fond sayonara to Tokyo, Dimitri and I caught the bullet train to Hachinohe, as far north as it would go, before changing trains another couple of times, first to take us through the Seikan Tunnel between Honshu and Hokkaido – the world’s longest underwater tunnel and again at Hakodate to get to Sapporo. Apparently they are working hard on the bullet train extension to Sapporo but that won’t be open for a number of years yet.

We had three days of riding ahead of us in Sapporo but my road bike frame was clearly moribund so I took the rear rack and mudguards off the Trucker and lowered its handlebars to give it the impression of a racing bike. I also put in a phone call to Mr Kon to come and join us for a ride and the next day we headed out from Sapporo to Shikotsuko and back along this route which handily also took in the route that Mr Kon and I would later ride in the Tour de Hokkaido:

Shikotsuko again

The theme for the day was set early with either Mr Kon blasting ahead on the flat or Dimitri taking off up the hills and me wallowing in their wake pretty much all the time. During the hilly bits, Dimitri was kind enough to stop and wait for us and after one of our regroupings, I tried my best to stay on his wheel for as long as I could which I think was less than five minutes. We did all regroup for the flat ride along the lake where Dimitri led us out at an impressive more than 40kmh. On the way back, I thought Mr Kon might have been slowing down a little but after a short break in Eniwa, we needed him to show us the way to the start of the cycling path in Kitahiroshima and the next thing I knew, I was in danger of being dropped again. Dimitri set the pace on the cycling path. The highlight of the ride back was one chap ahead of us impressively falling off his bike for absolutely no reason and managing to lose his shoe in the process.

The next day, I had intended to head north for another 100km or more day of suffering trying to keep up with Dimitri but luckily for me, Kazuko suggested we go to a crab restaurant for lunch so we made it a short ride and went up Mt Teine instead.

And on the last day, we rode a nice hilly loop to the spa town of Jozankei. To keep the theme of the week going, as soon as the road turned uphill, I waved goodbye to Dimitri but, as ever, he was kind enough to come back for me once he got to the top of the climb and we rode in to Jozankei together, stopping briefly to inspect the dam just near the town. Because of the natural hot springs, Jozankei has a few places where you can stop and put your feet into warm water. As we got to town, it had got a bit cool and had started raining just a little so when I saw one of these places, I whipped off my shoes and put my feet in, only to find this particular one had scalding hot water. I could manage 10 seconds in there with extreme willpower. After this, we rode to another one where the water was not so hot and had a rest there before riding back home in the rain.

And so, without further ado, I present you with Dimitri’s video. Be sure to watch out for me figuring out how to use a bin and for the whale steak that we ordered at one of the restaurants where we ate. Also, if you double-click on it, it’ll take you to youtube where the picture is bigger. Or click here for the HD version.

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