We had snow and cold, we had sunshine, we had a couple of surprise climbs and we had a pretty pleasant day’s riding. Damian’s opinion may differ – it was 95km today and he’s not quite back yet – but I’m going to go out on a limb and say he enjoyed it too.

We went to bed last night to the sound of rain, only interrupted by the van driving up and down the main street playing traditional Ainu music and inviting us all along to a traditional Ainu dance demonstration. I would have loved to have gone but as it was after 8:30pm, it was well past my bed time.

This morning when we woke up the rain had stopped because it had started snowing instead. We had a tasty breakfast at our minshuku followed by the best coffee we’ve had yet on the tour – admittedly not a difficult task given what we have been drinking.

From Lake Akan we had to climb back up the mountain but once over the ridge, we assumed our ride would be mostly downhill all the way. Luckily, the snow wasn’t very heavy and as we got further up the mountain, everything had a nice, light coating of white. There was enough snow falling to sting my eyes a bit on the descent but otherwise, I can’t complain at all.As we descended out of the snow, we passed farms, forests and rivers and became once more familiar with the particular scent of dairy farms.

After lunch at Ashoro, we found a surprise climb, which helped to warm us back up but before long we found ourselves on a steady descent to our destination of Shihoro. The sun came out and the scenery was quite splendid with farmland all around us and mountains in the distance, which seemed a good place for them to be. They’ll be increasingly less distant tomorrow and we may even ride over some of them depending on how we go.








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