Today was a good ride. A perfect example of a day that could have ended up a lot worse. but the dark clouds disappeared, the wind was pushing me along instead of blowing in my face, and the camp site I had pre-marked on my offline map appeared at just the right time of the day, just when I was starting to feel tired.
There are many ways to feel uncomfortable on a bicycle. Cold. Wind. Saddle. Rain. Sweat. Today, for most of the day, it was cold. Cold enough for me to want to wear a thin coat over my usual cycle shirt and base layer, to break the wind a little and keep me warm. The problem with that is that it does keep me warm, but it also makes me sweat a lot more, which means I'll cool down like crazy whenever I take a break. It also makes everything smell bad. Fortunately the sun heated things up later in the day and I was able to take it off. The sun also cures smells, seriously.
Most of my day was spent on route 101 around the north-western coast of the Japanese mainland. There's no other options, no alternate routes to take, and not much along the way. It's never completely desolate, that's pretty much impossible in Japan. There's always tiny fishing villages, beaches and beach toilets, roadside 'stations' full of vending machines, souvenir shops and so on. Not many convenience stores though. Route 101 has a good rhythm. The ups and downs, the nature-then-fishing-town-then-nature-again rhythm is good too. It's never too difficult and almost always scenic.
After the cold and uncomfortable ride in the morning, the clouds slowly started to disappear in the afternoon, and it finally started to heat up a little. The wind picked up a lot, which is normally a bad thing, but this time it was pushing me exactly in the right direction and I was able to make great progress. It wasn't too long after lunch that I was able to take the inland road that would take me towards the camp site. Around 4PM my tent was set up and I was done.
The place I'm staying at is a bit peculiar. As expected it's way too bloody cold for any sane person to consider camping, so I'm here alone again. But the camp site is part of a much larger park full of sports fields, a restaurant and an amphitheater that you're not allowed to enter. Quite scenic though. The restaurant is a lucky break, because it was getting a bit too cold for blogpost typing outside.
Tomorrow I'll reach Aomori, which is only 50 kilometers from here. I'm hoping to take a ferry on the same day and reach Hakodate, where I plan to spend a break day. I need to make a plan for Hokkaido: decide which route to take, try to optimize warmer and less windy areas if that's at all possible, buy some new cycling gloves cause my old ones are really worn out, and possibly some winter cycle wear too. I would really like some clothes that are more comfortable/less sweaty in the cold while still providing warmth. Hakodate is a fairly big city, hopefully it'll have something useful for me.