We said goodbye to Kazuko this morning. She had a dentist’s appointment this afternoon so had always planned to leave the tour at this point but she’s not missed out on very much. Damian and I will make our grand return to Sapporo tomorrow, so she has missed just one night and two days’ cycling.
With tears in our eyes, Damian and I rode to the nearest konbini to stock up on drinks for the ride, have a hot can of coffee and find solace in a little bit of third breakfast to get us on our way.
Our road today took us through hilly countryside but as it also followed a river, we had no big climbs and it turned into a day of following a mild descent. Our big challenge was to keep our travelling speed down so we wouldn’t arrive too early. We did this with plenty of toilet stops and a long morning tea, which we stretched into first lunch.
Today was also the first day of having a summery warmth in the air and it felt odd riding without the familiar mild (and sometimes not so mild) chill in the wind. Not only were the cherry blossoms out, but there were also plenty of other flowers about the place – daffodils and tulips planted by community-minded gardeners and the local dandelions were in full bloom.
Damian and I had no troubles finding accommodation for tonight, as we made Kazuko tee this up before we let her on the bus. We are in Takikawa, home of the Matsuo chain of Jengisukan restaurants so for dinner tonight, we shall be dining on barbecued lamb’s meat. We may have a nice glass of beer as well.
Tomorrow we head south to Sapporo where Kazuko will probably not be waiting for us with a lovely home-cooked meal and an icy-cold glass of beer. In fact, I think she said she was going out with friends and that we were not to disturb her if we came home late.