The highlight of our month was a Coast to Coast tour across Honshu. We booked a little time off work, and spent a week travelling through Fukushima, Miyagi, Yamagata and Niigata prefectures. Our route took us over some tough hills, and through some pretty hairy tunnels. The fields of rural Japan were finally waking up to springtime, and the last of the cherry blossoms were slowly fading away. We had the chance to try out all of our gear, with our rainwear getting an especially thorough test in the wet conditions at the end of the week. Despite the bad weather, we had a wonderful time. If you’d like to read more about it, you can see out CGOAB diary here, and a set of photos we put onto Flickr here.
We’ve also been on several day rides. The botanical gardens at Sukagawa are only a short hop away down the river, so we invited some other English teachers from our area to join us for a group excursion and picnic. It was a beautiful day, as you can see from the photos at our gallery page here. We also went out for a couple of afternoon rides, including a fully loaded training ride to Miharu Dam, and a quick dash along the Konan highway. It feels very satisfying to say that we have been out on our bikes every weekend this month.
When we’ve not been riding our bikes, we’ve been busy planning our summer tour to Hokkaido. Japan’s northernmost main island has a cooler climate than the rest of the country, and is a very popular cycle touring destination during the humid summer months. We’re planning to meet up with our friends Clare and Andy, who live just outside Sapporo. They are also keen cycle tourists, so we’re looking forward to riding with them for a few days. There’s a little more information about our plans so far at this page, including a few interesting links to do with cycle touring in Hokkaido. We’ll add an updated plan as we make more choices nearer the time.
Warm Showers is a hospitality exchange network for cycle tourists all over the world. We signed up as hosts in February, and this month we had our first hospitality request. We’re really excited about hosting Amaya and Eric from World Biking as they travel through Japan. Eric and Amaya are on a quest to cycle in every country on the planet, and we’re glad to be able to support the Japan leg of their epic mission.
Tom Bruce’s amazing journey through the harsh Karakalpakstan desert featured in our March reading list. This month he released his book, Every Inch of the Way: My Bike Ride Around the World, and we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. Our review is available here.
June is another busy month for us. As well as hosting Amaya and Eric, we’re participating in the charity cycling event Cycle Aid Japan 2013, so we’re riding around Lake Inawashiro on June 8th, and then from Inawashiro town to Fukushima city on June 9th. We’re cycling out to meet some friends for a spot of lakeside camping on June 1st and 2nd, and on June 15th and 16th we’re going on a road trip to Akita. In June we’ll also be putting together a more detailed plan for our trip to Hokkaido, and picking up any extra gear we need for our summer trip.
This month’s reading list includes an amazing touring story. We also develop the discussion of some topics we’ve covered in previous posts, and look at a new one.
Our pick of the month is a tour journal across Lake Baikal in Siberia. Andy and Waltraud cycled on the frozen surface of the lake for more than 1000km, in temperatures that reached 40 degrees below freezing. Their site includes videos and kit lists. Jaw-dropping stuff.
We talked about cycling with technology in a Cycle Touring Question of the Week recently. There’s a comprehensive breakdown of dynamo hubs, solar panels, power supplies and batteries over at Cycling About. If a fuller exploration of cycle tourists’ charging options exists, we’ve yet to find it.
The Adventure Cycling Association wrote an interesting piece for cycle tourists on how to be a good guest.
Finally, we recommend checking out Japan By Bicycle, an excellent touring journal. As well as a blog, the site includes a video documentary and a free 300 page ebook. It’s easy to get lost in all the detail they’ve included.