Bye bye Hokkaido

I didn't really want to wake up today. The bed was nice, the ride was supposed to be short, so I figured I could lie in, but I somehow naturally got out before 8AM anyway. Today is exciting because I get try out my new really uncool hat!

So I headed out slowly, taking it easy until I got to the outskirts of Sapporo on the road that would eventually lead to Lake Shikotsu, when I spotted another touring cyclist. I caught up and we had a chat while cycling. Jack from Southampton had just begun his journey from Wakkanai and is on his way to Cape Sata, the southernmost point in Kyushu, where I ended my last trip 4 years ago. Since Jack was going the same way, we cycled onwards together and exchanged touring experiences along the way.

At some point I got a bit ahead of Jack and took a break at the roadside, when by chance I happened to examine my rear tire. SUDDENLY, SHOCK! The rubber on the tire was flattened and at many points just completely disappeared, showing the underlying threads. It's been a while since I inspected it this closely, but damn. I'll have to add this to my pre-flight checklist. I made a mental note to find a bike shop in Tomakomai before getting on the ferry.

Just before the lake we reached a junction where Jack was going to veer off to the far side of the lake, whereas I would stick to the road that heads to Tomakomai. We parted and I had a wonderful downhill bit right down to the lake, where I finally spotted some vending machines and a lovely lakeside restaurant. Good timing too, because I had all run out of drinks on this extremely hot day. Must remember to pack more tomorrow, because even my emergency water was nearly finished.

As I examined the vending machine to see what wacky drinks I would buy today, suddenly Jack appeared again.He changed his mind about his route and decided to head to Tomakomai with me. Excellent! So we had lunch together and cycled on for the rest of the day. The lakeside road was flat and offered great views, definitely one of the more scenic roads I've cycled in Hokkaido. The road down to Tomakomai was surprisingly nice in that it offered an actual separate cycling path. It was kinda long though.

In Tomakomai we parted once more at a convenience store, after I had located some bike shops nearby with my mobile wifi. It really is incredibly useful to have internet in these occassions. I cycled to the biggest shop, which was slightly further away, but they couldn't help me because my 26x.1.50 tire size is quite rare. So they pointed me to a giant big shopping mall a few kilometers away, which had a 'bicycle corner'. And indeed, the bike shop corner guy was able to help me out. He had exactly one 26x1.50 tire, and it looks a bit like it could fit on a tank. I was skeptical at first, but didn't really have much choice.

It took a bit less than an hour to fit the new tire, which I spent lounging around in Mister Donut, playing on my laptop. Yeah, that's the touring spirit.. When it was finished I took it out for a spin, and it feels really great. It's somehow more.. robust, now. I didn't get the tank vibe at all while riding, so that's great. Oddly enough, when I took the bike in it was still sunny but getting colder; when I got it back, it was completely overcast, a thickĀ fog had appeared and temperatures had dropped from 32C at the lake to 10C at the seaside. Brrrr.

I headed to the ferry terminal, which was located right behind the shopping mall, but I had to cycle a bloody 2 kilometers the wrong way and then 2 kilometers back to get past a railway track. Shitty town this! Then, when I got there, in the middle of nowhere, full of heavy industry, in really creepy mist, it turns out I couldn't pick up my ticket yet since the counter would open three hours later. So I headed back 2 kilometers the wrong way and then 2 kilometers back again to the shopping mall, where I had dinner and am typing this blogpost right now. The mall is ridiculously generic and might as well have been in the UK. Oh well, at least it's warm and light and comfortable and not creepy and foggy and dark like the ferry terminal.

Hachinohe tomorrow! Rainy season might be coming :(

Posted in Spirit of Japan 2