Curse of Choir Camp, or Soggy Riding once again 〜 合宿の呪か?


Kamogawa to Iwai, 82 km, 8 hours.
鴨川から岩井、82キロ、8時間

I’m beginning to wonder if riding to choir camp isn’t an activity banned by the gods. This is the third time I’ve done it, and the third time I’ve ridden in day-long seriously soaking rain. Two years ago on the way to the same area as this year’s choir camp I wore the brakes to nubs in the mountains and spent the next day riding with no brakes whatsoever. The summer before that I rode two full days in rain. And today, after two hours of light rain, the next six hours of riding were done in seriously wet conditions. Road gunk eventually clogged up my Brompton’s derailleur leaving me with only 3 of 6 gears working. At least the brakes held up!
自転車で合宿先へ旅立ったのは今回で3回目です。今回も一日中雨に降られた日(今日も)がありました。もしかすれば、禁じられている行為かもしれません。2年前は東京から勝浦へ大雨の中走りました。途中でブレーキのパッドが削り減ったので、二日目ブレーキが全くきかない状態でサイクリングをしました。その前、夏合宿へ走った時、二日間雨の中で走りました。今日、最初の2時間は小雨でしたが、午前9時から到着の15時までは本降りの雨でした。変速機に泥水が入った結果、6ギアの半分はきかなくなりました。まあ、スピードが少し落ちた程度のダメージで済みましたので、文句は言いません。

On the positive side, all of my belongings were double bagged, so nothing important got wet. My rain gear kept most of the rain off my body as well, and my iPhone functioned well as a wet-weather camera (all pix today were taken with it). But you really can’t change the fact that strong headwinds and heavy rain makes for less than pleasing riding conditions.
荷物は全部ビニール袋に詰めましたので、大事なものは全部無事でした.そして、レインコート、レインパンツ、靴カバー、などは体を守ってくれました。雨でカメラは使えなかったが、防水携帯のおかげで写真は続けて撮ることが出来ました。雨と向かい風以外は良い日だったと言えるでしょう。

Looking on the bright side, my four-day goal to ricde 300 or more kilometers from Tsuchiura to Iwai via the Boso Peninsula coastline was successfully completed, and turned out to be 90% enjoyable. A Brompton folding bike CAN serve as a touring bike, though it is not happy when the road gunk gets in its chain and shifting mechanism.
今日、土浦から岩井への300キロ以上走る計画は無事に終わったので嬉しいです。ブロンプトンの折りたたみ自転車で軽いツーリングが出来る事も確認しました(ギアの問題以外の視点から見れば)

Tonight I have the Minshuku Sajimu all to myself. Tomorrow 40 some young singers from the Rikkyo All Saints Chapel Choir will join me, so the peace will be shattered, and I will go back to work (gladly) for a week. Before the students arrive, I’ll share photos from the last leg of my journey.
明日、立教大学のチャペル聖歌隊が岩井に到着します。午後から1週間の合宿が始まりますが、今夜、この広い宿(民宿サジム)が貸切となりました。静かです!

1. Sea views before the rain started to get serious
本降りになる前の海

2. A pleasant break was spent at Rosemary Park, a Shakespeare-themed area along the way
ローズマリー・パークでの休憩


3. The southern part of the Boso Peninsula is famous for flowers. Here is a field where people could pick and take home their choice of blooms. The fragrance was quite strong.
南房総は花で有名です。自分の欲しい花を選ぶ花畑は多くありました。香りはとても強かった。

4. Proof of wet conditions
雨だった事の証拠写真

5. Dark, rainy days are perfect to explore a Shinto shrine that just happens to have a spooky a cave in the precints
暗い日は神社を冒険するのに最適です。洞窟のある神社こそ。


6. Before the last hour leg into Iwai, I enjoyed a small reward in Tateyama City. When damp with sweat in cool weather, though, it doesn’t pay to sit around for long. Short breaks were the norm today.
館山から岩井へ出発する前プチご褒美がありました。しかし、長い休憩をすれば体が冷えるので、数分ずつしか休めなかったです。


7. Finally, there were more mysterious Christian signs in some of the villages I rode through. Who puts these up, I wonder?
最後に、謎の看板がまた現れました。なんのため、そして、誰がこれらを国中に飾るのでしょうか?

(The wages of sin are death. The Bible.)

(The kingdom of God has drawn near. The Bible.)

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Day 3, or Wind & Wetsuits 〜 風とサーフィング


Day three of my “Big Fun” is already over. One day to go to the goal, and a weeklong pause in order to run the annual spring choir camp.

While pedaling along today I started to figure out how long it has been since I last rode this many days in a row. It seems it has been 45 years! If I wait another 45 years to do this I’ll be… well – one doesn’t like to think about such things. The last time I did as much consecutive riding was when I was a junior high school student, and my Boy Scout group rode around the Olympic Penninsula in Washington State, a trip of some 500 miles, or 800 km. I am encouraged by the sucess of this trip to do more of these extended rides.
ビッグライドの三日目が終わりました。明日も走りますが、明後日から聖歌隊の合宿先が始まります。そろそろ真面目な人間にならないといけません。

今日、今回ほどの長く走ったのはいつだろうと思い出そうとしました。なんと、45年前でした!ほぼ半世紀ぶり!?前回は中学生の頃、ボーイスカウトの団体と一緒にアメリカのワシントン州にあるオリンピック半島(ペニンシュラ)を一周しました。約800キロのコースで、キャンプをしながら行なった記憶があります。今回は成功しましたので、次回は45年待たずに、と思っています。

Today I rode only 65 km, from Shirako to Kamogawa where I am staying tonight. The Wind Gods did indeed smile on me, and I blew through the first half of the ride with a brisk tailwind. That part of the area wasn’t particularly picturesque, but I did see a dream boat, and a lovely temple, thanks to a slight detour.
今日、65キロしか走っていません(白子から鴨川まで)。昨日と違って、追い風を楽しみながら楽に走りました。最初の1時間は景色が特に良かったとは言えませんが、ドリームボートと古いお寺の発見がありました。(写真)





The atmosphere of the peninsula changed considerbly as I rode along. South from Shirako, surfing is the thing, with shops catering to the sport everywhere, and the beaches teeming with people in wetsuits. Another detour to the coast from the town of Onjuku brought me to a surfer’s paradise. Big waves, clear skies, warm temperatures. I’d like to share a video of the amazIng techniques I saw, but blogging on a cell phone has its limitations. It was impressive, though.
どんどん南へ進むと、半島の雰囲気がかなり変わりました。空き家や空き店舗の数が減り、サーファー関係のお店と施設が目立ちました。御宿町は特にサーファー天国だった気がします。町のビーチへ行ってみましたが、サーファー達のスキルにびっくりしました。ビデオを撮りましたが、旅中このブログを携帯電話で書いていますので、アップロードができません。


Two things caught my eye as I rode through the Katsuura area: tunnels and dolls. Let’s begin with the dolls. Today was the “Big Hinamatsuri” (or Great Doll Festival) in the town, so everywhere I looked there were fabulous displays of dolls. The best was a shirne in Katsuura, which had dolls perched on bamboo poles, in the shrine itself, and in a display in the shrine office.
次に勝浦を通りました。印象的だったのはトンネルの数と「ビッグひな祭り」でした。どこを見ても、人形が飾ってありました。僕にとって、一番美しい場面は町の神社でした(写真)。




To my sister Lynda – you’d have loved it!

Tunnels. Well – some were fun. Many of the car tunnels have narrow side tunnels for bikes, and these were a gas to bomb through. Narrow and dark, and absolutely deserted. The other side of the coin were those without side tunnels, when I had to ride my legs off in competition with the cars. Not too much fun, though the drivers were considerate enough.
次にトンネル。車が通るトンネルの横に歩行者専用トンネルもよくありました。長くて、暗くて、サイクリストにとって最高の楽しみです。しかし、最後の4つのトンネルは歩道もなく、歩行者専用トンネルもなく、キツかったです。幸い、運転手達は優しかったので、なんとか無事に通る事が出来ました。


After three days of fabulous weather, they say it is going to rain all day tomorrow. I am not concerned! In fact, I welcome it! After carrying around my raingear for 230 km so far, it’s time to give it a try. AND, the iPhone 7 Plus is waterproof, so tomorrow I’ll share some soggy shots with you.
今までの天気は本当に最高でした。しかし、明日から雨になるようです。私は心配していません。逆に、楽しみにしています。雨用具は完備ですし、iPhone7プラスが防水だから続けて写真を撮る事が出来ます。明日、違った雰囲気の写真を提供します。

To conclude today’s post, here are a couple more of those mysterious Christian signs I found. They appear in the oddest places – on fences, on the walls of abandoned buidings, and on some homes. All in villages with nary a church. Fascinating. (the first one says “Believe in the true god – Jesus Christ”. The second one is jollier – “If you die with your sins you’ll go to hell for ever”)
最後に、またキリスト教的に看板を発見しました。最初の方は比較的優しいメッセージを伝えますが、二つ目は怖いですね.自分もクリスチャンですが、こういう言い方はが逆効果ではないかと思います。

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Day 2, or Riding & Religion 〜 二日目、宗教とサイクリング


Day two of “big fun ride” is safely completed. I’m staying in an area called Shirako, some 70 km from last night’s hotel. As expected, today’s ride was not particularly exciting. After the first hour of hill climbs, the route ran near to the coast, and was mostly flat. The comforting tailwinds of yesteray gave way to not-so-welcome headwinds, making each kilometer harder to gain. Still, there were great vistas of the Pacific ocean, dunes, and plenty of local village scenery to keep the mind busy while pedaling.
ロングライドの二日目が無事に終わりました。今夜、白子と言う町に泊まっています。犬吠埼から約70キロ走りました。予想通り、エキサイティングなルートではなかったです。最初の1時間は坂が多かったですが、その後海岸に近い平地を通りました。昨日の追い風が向かい風に変わってしまったので、先に進むのは昨日よりエネルギーが必要でした。しかし、海の素晴らしい風景があったので、つまらなかったとは言えません。


Some things I found interesting today:
Continuing work to raise all the seawalls on the coast in an attempt to keep out tsunami. This is a huge project – construction rages all up and down the coast. The coastal expressway was even torn out to enable the wall raising.
面白いと思ったもの:
津波の被害を防ぐため、海岸のほとんどの堤防を高くしています。巨大スケールのプロジェクトです。海岸沿いで走っていた高速道路が完全に取り壊され、そして、その場所の堤防が引き上げられました。

地震が発生した時、避難場所のない地域のため、様々な工夫があります。人口坂(山?)を建設している公園もあり、展望台という形の避難場所も見かけました。


Let’s say a big earthquake hits and you have a few minutes to run from the incoming tsunami. What to do if the seawalls don’t contain the incoming water? Well, all sorts of high ground has been constructed for that eventuality. Some of it consists of raised earthen mounds, some comes in the shape of towers, and some escape places are building rooftops. Here are two of the tower-types along the road:


Another thing I found fascinating was the number of abandoned buildings in the area. Once-beautiful homes, businesses, gas stations, etc., are all slowly rotting away.
また、興味深いと思った現象:空き家と空き店舗の数。かつて美しかった家、などは少しづつ腐っている。




Signs of religious practice were everywhere today. Shrines and temples, of course, are to be expected, but one can also find Christian graveyards and the occasional evangelical message board. The aspect of religion that best fits the countryside, in my opinion, is Shinto, in the guise of the shrines that dot the landscape. They come in all sizes, configurations, materials, and locations. At some points along they they could be spotted several to the kilometer. Here are some favorites:
宗教関係の観るものも少なくはなかったです。神社と寺はもちろんありますが、キリスト教関係のスポットもあります。探せば、キリスト教の墓、宣教運動と思われる看板、などは目につきます。個人的には、神社が一番地域に似合う気がします。様々な形の物が存在し、数え切れないほど多かったです。





Naturally, there are also Buddhist temples in the towns and villages. Also, one finds signs of Christian activity. Here is the Christian cemetery mentioned abouve, which I found while off course in the backroads.

There continue to be the inscrutable signs (see yesterday’s post about the lake of fire). Here is another I found with a friendlier message (“the risen Christ gives eternal life”)

Probably Buddhist, but simply impressive was this bronze statue standing in the middle of nowhere:

Tomorrow I finish the flat coast ride and head into a more hilly area for another 60-some km ride. A tailwind would be most welcome, if the gods of the winds are listening.
明日、平地のサイクリングが終わります。またヒルクライムが多くなるので早く寝ます。可能であれば、追い風が欲しいです。

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The road to choir camp is a long one 〜 合宿への道が長い

I’m on the road again, this time for business. Well, I must admit that I am mixing pleasure with work. The annual spring choir camp begins next Tuesday, and I left home today (Friday) in order to spend four days cycling to the Iwai, where the camp is held. But not directly! Today I was up at 3:30 am in order to catch the 4:50 train with my bike. I started pedaling from Tsuchiura at 6:30 am. The route was ideal – lake dikes and cycling paths for half of the way, and country roads for the remainder. Not to mention the fact that I was blessed with tailwinds for the entire day! This must be a foretaste of heaven.
聖歌隊の春合宿へ出かけました。学生達は火曜日出発しますが、私はちょっとした遠回りで行きますので、今日(金曜日)午前5時前に出発しました。仕事にサイクリングを加えたくて、合宿先の千葉県岩井へ行くのに、最初に土浦へ電車で行き、今日の宿まで100キロ走りました(地図は以下にあります)。土浦を午前6時30分出発し、50キロ先まで車はほとんどなかったルートでした(霞ヶ浦の土手とサイクリングロードを通りました)。風も協力してくれました;一日中追い風に助けられました。

Day one details:
1. The first 20 km was on a lake dike, with Kasumigaura on one side, and lotus farms on the other. Lotus farmers have a tough job – they muck around in the chest-deep mud in cold early morning. I have no idea what they were up to, but don’t envy them their job.
私の右側が霞ヶ浦、左側は多くの蓮池がありました。早朝から蓮の手入れしている方々が頑張っているのを見かけました。


At the 20 km point, I happened across a rest house for cyclists, and most amazingly, they were serving breakfast! Fukaya-san was on duty, and he and I had quite a chat about this and that while I enjoyed a plate of his excellent French toast. Quite an unexpected pleasure!
約1時間走ったところで、新しく出来たサイクリストのために作られたレストハウスがありました。8時前だったのですが、既にモーニングセットを提供していました。今日の担当は深谷さん(写真)で、大変美味しいフレンチトーストとコーヒーを作って下さいました。去年7月頃出来た施設で、まだあまり知られていないそうです。是非行って見て下さい!土浦から約1時間のところです。




For the first half of the ride (100 km today in total) I saw no cars, riding along the lake-like Kasumigaura dike and cycling path.
50キロの時点まで車との出会いがほとんどなかったです。(写真)

As always, there were oddball things to enjoy. (The sign in the first photo says “Heaven is eternal life. Hell is a lake of fire. The Bible.” So, who wants to be a Christian? いつものことですが、面白い発見は多くありました。以下の看板と捨てられた石造り巨大招き猫。


The real point of this ride was to see the mouth of the Tonegawa River. A great bridge spans the river at this point, leading to the fishing port Choshi City. I met a man on this windswept bridge who told me all the places I should see while in town, as well as giving me a cycling map to the area. People are friendlier here than in the city.
今日のルートを選んだ一つの理由は利根川の落ち口が見たかったからです。大橋を通って銚子市に入りました。



My goal, the Inubosaki Kanko Hotel, was exactly 100 km from the start of today’s ride. You really should come here. The rooms are gorgeous, the lobby funky, the food good, and the hot spring bath fabulous. The combination of the ride, bath and dinner made today one of the highlights of my cycling career. Tomorrow I continue down the Pacific coast of the Boso Peninsula.
今日の目的地は犬吠埼観光ホテルでした。本当にオススメします。部屋が大きくて綺麗で、食事も美味しい。ホテルは海に面していますので、露天風呂はビーチの前です。最高です!明日から外房を続けて走ります。


Finally, today’s map, and the proof photo:

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To Atami and back 〜 自転車で熱海へ

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.

a Shinto shrine in Odawara

a castle gate in Odawara

a cyclists’s high-calorie lunch

a castle-themed Odawara building

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:

And coastal towns and villages made pleasing places for a rest stops in the sun

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.

More seafood: “the wife” checks out some dried squid

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.

a seaside shinto shrine

a seaside Shinto shrine

a gorgeous Buddhist temple on the Tokaido

a gorgeous Buddhist temple on the Tokaido

a wooden train station

a temple dedicated to the protection of fishermen

a temple dedicated to the protection of fishermen

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.

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