Summer Tour of Hokkaido

Summer’s in full swing in Japan. So are the countless Matsuris (festivals) taking place all over the country. And it’s not just the fireworks that’s sizzling the air. The weather is hot and humid with a chance of a few random typhoons blowing across the southern islands.

But I plan to ride in more agreeable climes — up north on the island of Hokkaido. 2 whole weeks of it.

I intend to camp as much as I can. I also intend to end every single day of riding by visiting an onsen  — sheer luxury for tired muscles; better still if accompanied by a nice dry Japanese beer while soaking away the lactic acid…

Camping at Lake Shikotsu, Hokkaido. I’ll be coming by here (pic stolen from some website)

But before I can even crank that first pedal stroke, I have to overcome a logistical nightmare — planes, bullet trains, express trains and … trains, just to get from Tokyo to the starting point of Hakodate, Hokkaido.

Alone, lugging a Bike Friday even if its folded in a bag, 2 panniers, handlebar bag, and a big dry bag holding my tent, a Thermarest mattress and pillow, and a sleeping bag which, thankfully, is a light one meant for summer temps — it all adds up to some really cumbersome hand-carried luggage. But once everything is on the bike… all that hassle will be forgotten.

Tomorrow, on a 3pm AirAsia flight, I will be on my way to Japan.

I can’t wait.

Below is the approximate route I will be riding — 1,000 kms, give or take a few sushi and ekibens; from the entry point of Hakodate all the way to the northernmost point of Japan — Soya Misaki, a mere 25 km swim from the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia. Should be a bit frisky up there.

(map courtesy of japancycling.org, an excellent site on cycle-touring Japan)

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