Some friends organised a camping trip to Lake Inawashiro, and we decided to go there by bike. There’s no way to avoid the range of hills between our home and the campsite, but luckily our friends offered to take all of our camping and cooking gear in their car, which made our ride much easier.
We left home on a familiar road, past the Culture Park and towards Naganuma. At the Laurel Valley golf course, we turned on to local route 67, and began to climb. The road narrowed as we pushed on uphill into the forest, and soon it became barely wide enough for a single vehicle to pass. It grew steeper and steeper still, and before long we’d worked through our gears, and were exhausted. We stopped and rested, then started again.
The twisting course of our route and the high trees made it difficult to get any sense of progress towards the top of the pass, so we relied on the speedometer to judge how far we had to travel. Eventually, the gradient defeated us, and we decided to get off and push our bikes over the final kilometre or two. The downhill route was full of blind corners, so our descent was measured and cautious. We broke out of the forest, to a stunning view of Mt Bandai in the distance, and a long straight road ahead of us.
We camped on the south-east shore of the lake, in what seemed to be a semi-official but entirely free of charge campsite. There were toilet facilities, a dishwashing and grilling block, and a big parking area. But there was no office, no signpost, and nobody collecting camping fees. A family with a huge frame tent were set up in the woods, and not far from them were a group of younger people with small dome tents. We chose a quiet spot where the grass of the woods merged with the sand of the beach and set up our tents.
Our barbecue was a feast: spiced belly pork; a whole chicken, spatchcocked, Jamacian jerk style; gourmet sausages; tender beef steak; garlic prawn and chorizo skewers; whole mackerel; langoustines. We played cards and drank beer as the sun went down.
The next day we decided to go home a different way, so as to get to know two routes through the hills. We took local route 6, which is more direct, but goes through a long-ish tunnel. We climbed gently from the lakeside, stopping a vending machine for a hot coffee, and soon arrived at the start of the tunnel. A narrow pavement meant we pushed our bikes the full 1365m of its length. Once we’d cleared the tunnel, it was downhill all the way home. We stopped for sandwiches made from barbecue leftovers, and let gravity guide us back to our front door.