Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cycling Nippon; Part 1

Hey Binglemaniacs. Lets get right to it. It was a whirlwind three days in Tokyo, and after getting myself outfitted at Ys road shop with the help of my man Kuji i hit the road and made my first day into a centruy up to Oarai to catch the ferry noth to Hokkaido, i also get my first flat thanks to a rusty thumb tack. Anywho, after a 19 hour ferry ride made land fall and a quick 40 miles for my first night camping in Biratori, along the river enxt to a huge dam. Awoke early and made my second century to some no name town named Shihoro, where i found a nice piece of camping ground next to some public toilets. I will abmit i hit a small moral low at this point, i didnt really talk to anyone in two days and i wasnt anywhere that i really wanted to be. But things were to change.

After two days cycling lowlands and cookie cutter towns, i made it to my first national park, Akan, which is made up of three lakes. Camped at the first lake, Akan, and then made my way all rambly like to the biggest of the lakes, Kussharoko. Twas a beautiful lake, and i camped right along the waters edge. All very nice. I had my sights set on the enxt park, Shiretoko, up at the tippy top of the north east of Hokkaido. Soooo, thats where i went.

Shiretoko Penisula, a world heritage sight, is amazing, probably more so in winter when drift ice covers the western shores. Spent two night here, hiking along the five mountain lakes and falling off my bike. What? Thats right, had my first little mishap. I had unloaded the bike and so when i had a little down hill i went faster than expected and didnt seem to brake enough and opps, went off the road into a muddy watery ditch. But no worries, the bike is fine.

The only way to go from here was west so thats where i went, towards my third national park, Daisetsuzan. Took two days but made my way to Sounkyo for another two nigths, and my firsts day off the bike completely. Why, becuase i went on a stellar 6 hour hike up in the mountains along a volcanic crater through alpine vegtation. There was permafrost, my first snow sighting, smeels and colros of autumn. It was AWESOME.

Back on the bike a new man, i headed further west, wanting to make my way to the Sea of China on the west. Had to camp one night at an abandonded Buddhist temple which was a bit strange, but today i pulled my longest day yet, 104 miles and went down along the coast, through many mountain tunnels (got my first honk in one of them) and am now sitting pretty in the capital, Sapporo.

Tomorrow, its a free tour of the Sapporo distillery and then a small jit south to the next and last naitonla park on my itinerary for Hokkaido, Shikotsu-Toya Park, another lake park but with pure volcanic cones in the middle. This will take me back down south for two days and then i will head all the way back north to Otaru to take the ferry to Niigata, back to the main island of Japan. Whats my ideas for there? Well, to do the stupidist thing a touring cyclists could do, to corss the Japanese Alps. I just got to.

So far, the cycling has been great, my legs are still strong and taking me where i need to go, the bike, a Marin Muirwoods Urban bike that i outfitted with cargo racks and Deuter Rack packs has been humming like a beauty. I have seen and nearly touched some deer, no bears, some dead snakes, a dead fox, a live fox, meowing cats chasing a man, CROWS!!!! man i cant stand those crows, mountains, blue skies, gray skies, temples, shrines, wierd signs, and best of all the insane and strange Japanese. I have also been trying to experiment as best i can with food, the nato is actually really good.

So thats it, only two weeks into it, and a whole lot to go. My routes have been changing as i go, so i dont really know where i will go or end up. Also, i have no idea the enxt time i will get back on internet, seems only the bigger towns have internet and i try to steer away from bigger towns. So untill next time all your binglers out there. Stay in the saddle.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Plan Z

As most of us do on any normal Tuesday, i will be flying across the world to the Empire of the Rising Sun, Japan. For the past few months i have devised, revised and discarded many ideas/plans/thoughts about what to do with my time in Japan, using my trusty rough guide as a guide, roughly speaking. But after my little travels here in europe i have developed what many consider to be the ultimate pinnacle of plans regarding traveling to Japan for two months. In fact, it is a little embarassing to even admit that this wasn't my first and only plan when considering Japan. I'm going to cycle the country.


View Larger Map

I will spend five days in Tokyo, a sleepy fishing where i will purcash a touring bike and needed touring gear... and bike shorts with padding. Then, the idea is to hop, or pedal, onto a ferry to the northern island of Hokkiado where national parks abound, the bears roam free and the water can kill you. Then, well, south as far as i make it. I have no schedule or stops i need to make, so where ever i get to i get to, i can always get a horse and buggy to Osaka where i ultimatly fly from.

So thats its, a touring holiday in Japan. I will post about Tokyo and the gear i get prior to departure to the north. So till then, cheerio from London.

Lastly, on the lighter side of bicycle news (OH, i almost forgot, Lance Armstrong was in Ireland the same time i was, maybe even stalking me, not sure, but he was taking part in a Tour de Ireland) watch a video of some famous french dude who i never heard of celebrating a tour stage for some random brit bikers:

http://www.break.com/index/one-man-tour-de-france-prank.html

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Biking the Wrong way


After two years, i have returned to an English speaking place, the United Kingdom. After a brief stint in London, about half a day, it was 14 hours on a bus plus a ferry ride over to Belfast in north Ireland. not one to sit still, i decided what could be better after two days on a bus from Belgium to London to Belfast with no sleep than to rent a bike and head off in the rain, wind and cold. So that's what i did after arriving in Belfast, got a bike and headed off to bike the Causeway Coastal Route while normally a driving route, i made it a biking route, partly following the Causeway and partly following the National Cycle Route 93.

That first night camping in the howling winds and pouring rain were, under normal circumstances, not the best, but being that i hadn't slept for days, were fantastic. Awaking semi refreshed, it was off for another day along the causeway, 100% against the wind. Every mile felt like two, and felt like all uphill. But it was a day of the natural beauty of north Ireland, and also its one UNESCO site, The Giants Causeway (its whats the picture is off above) 43,000 hexagonal columns formed 60 millions years ago from very quickly cooled lava. Before reaching this though i went to the rope bridge, which i had one idea of based on some pictures and then a whole new idea of once i got there, but still nice.

Arrived at Bushmills, home of the worlds oldest distillery from the early 1600s, still making whiskey. Stayed in a hostel for the first time and slept, well, i slept and slept and slept. Day 3 and who would have guessed it but again 100% against the wind, and the most hill climbs of the whole route. For about 5 miles it was uphill, against the wind. It was... torturous to put it mildly. However, the downhill afterwards was sweet. And finally, after about 8 hours of hard cycling, i made it to Derry, or Londonderry, or the walled City. The old part is still encircled by walls, and this is the site of a violent uprising now known as Bloody Sunday

And that my friends is the Causeway Coastal route. The coast of North Ireland is beautyful, green as can be, and windy. If you plan on biking it, start from Derry and make your way to Belfast, it'll save you. In two days i head back to London and then off to the Empire of the Rising Sun, Japan. What lays ahead in Japan.. only time and the next blog post will tell.

Until then, be sure to bike on the left in the United Kingdom, the weirdest thing ever, even the bell is on the wrong side of the bike. North Ireland is a great place for cycling, and they are working hard to make it a great place to cycle, the buses and trains all allow bikes on board, the cycle route signs were great, they were everywhere and always told you where to go.

From biking North Holland in the Netherlands, a day bike ride in Belgium, and now biking the Causeway in North Ireland, it seems like Europe, and whatever the United Kingdom considers itself, are working to make cycling easier, and more integrated as a apart of life which it is already in many parts, like in the Netherlands. They are a great example of how the most efficient means of transportation can be an integral, useful, important way for people to transport themselves and cargo, and also an easy, impact free way for people to exercise and see the wonders around them.

So get out there and BIKE!!!!!

Did you know that the bicycle is the most energy efficient transportation mode? It is 3 times more efficient than walking, 5 times more efficient than using the train and 15 to 20 times more efficient than driving a car.

Here is where I am:

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=derry&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF8&split=0&gl=uk&ei=Q-iiSsmeGIne-QbtrfHODw&ll=54.996721,-7.325478&spn=0.091773,0.336113&z=12&iwloc=A