My Big Spring Fun No 1 is finished. It all went well, and served as a trial run for Big Spring Fun No 2, which begins on Friday of this week. As I mentioned in my last post, this Fun was a ride from home to Atami (114 km) in order to participate in a work-related overnight. My wife joined me the following day for free time in Atami and one more night at the hotel before I rode home yesterday. The route out:
I left home at 5 am, and arrived at 4 pm. Total time actually moving was 6 hours 48 minutes, since the cycle computer doesn’t count time spent at traffic lights or on breaks. For the first time in weeks it was a calm day (the Tokyo area has terrible winds during the winter and early spring) perfect for cycling. The first two hours through the dark city were fun, as was seeing the sunrise at the Tamagawa River crossing:
From the fourth hour or so, the terrain turned flat and rather dull, from a sightseeing perspective. Here is the crossing of the Sagami River. Not very exciting until I rode down to the pedestrian underpass – it was ablaze with graffiti! Riding with one’s eyes opens sometimes pays off.
I normally take breaks every 60-90 minutes, and count myself as fortunate when I run across nice parks to relax in. I didn’t find many this time, so some breaks were roadside impromptu types:
Some breaks led to interesting chance encounters with locals. I wasn’t sure whether this dog wanted to give my tire a washing, or was just curious so kept watch:
In contrast, the city of Odawara was full of good stopping places, as well as a famous castle for photographs. I had an hour lunch break here.
From Odawara the route runs along the historic coast road known as the Tokaido, or Route 1. Glimpses of the sea tantalize, and more than a few attractive buildings and old pine trees dot the roadside. Hill climbs on the Izu Peninsula gave fine sea views:
My arrival at the destination was an hour before I had figured, so had plenty of time for a dip in the hotel’s elegant sea-facing hot spring bath before the arrival of my colleagues and dinner. Proof:
A few words about my bike for this ride. I chose my Brompton folding bike, partly just to see if I could do 115 km with a loaded bike, and partly because of the ease with which it folds. I was ready to check into the hotel within 5 minutes of arrival. All there was to do was to take off the front bag, fold the bike and carry it in. My other folder, a Bike Friday from the USA is most definitely a faster and more comfortable ride. But it is messier to fold, and with limited space in the shared hotel room, the tiny folded package of the Brompton won out. Because a Brompton is slower than a road bike, I’ve been training hard in strong headwinds this winter, which paid off. Hills were doable (at least, the ones I encountered on this ride), and with bar ends attached I was able to tolerate the handlebars without drops for position change. Both bikes are great, and I learned quite a bit by doing this one on the Brompton.
Sunday was spent relaxing in Atami city with my wife, who chooses not to go places by bike (strangely enough!). Atami has a fine beach and natural setting. Some good shopping is to be found, as well as more than a few rundown, closed buildings. Those I found more interesting than the “pretty” places, so my photos don’t really give the best impression of the city. Some places I liked:
Since there are natural hot springs in the town, interesting collections of pipes are to be seen, carrying the hot water here and there:
Being a seaside town, fish and related edibles are available to purchase. Here, a shop person grills squid for the passerby.
And, as in all Japanese towns, there is a popular ramen shop:
The return trip on Monday was shorter (67 km). I had already decided not to bother with the dull flats between Atsugi and Tokyo, so was prepared to take the train from some point along the return route. In addition, I had a strong headwind the whole way back that slowed down my progress considerably. Even so, I did find several attractive places for breaks. Here are a few I found before settling in to battle the winds and forget about photography for the remainder of the ride.
Now that “Big Fun No 1” is safely out of the way, I’m getting ready for “Big Fun No 2.” This will be a four day ride to choir camp on the Boso Peninsula of Chiba Prefecture. The choir will join me there (they too forgo the use of bikes and ride a bus!) on Tuesday. I’ll leave home after 4 am this Friday, so wish me luck, both for equipment and weather, which isn’t looking so nice at the moment. There’s no turning back; hotel reservations are made, and bags are packed, so come what may. Photos and reports of Big Fun 2 to come this weekend.