Saturday, 12 October 2013

Oct 5 day tour - Day 5 - Aizu to Niigata City

I woke up early and rode towards the famous ramen town of Kitakata were I stopped at the station to use the toilet , while at the station I saw on telly that bad weather and rain was forecast to hit later that day so started the ride out of town towards the mountain R 459 , right at the turn off I stopped at 7/11 for breakfast and somehow forgot to turn left but headed straight instead. After a few kms I realized my mistake turned around and soon found the correct road. The weather was cool which made cycling easy but if I was to make it to Tsugawa early in the afternoon I would not be able to take many breaks. I stopped at every fresh water spring I came to and even though I had ridden this road several years ago things had changed quite a lot at least on the Fukushima side were they were busy widening the narrow mountain roads.

There are only a few small towns along R459 , most of them are very small one of them called Miyako is famous for its Soba noodles and there are fields of buckwheat going all around the village. Once getting onto the Niigata side it was clearly to see that it had rained early that day making some of the steeper down hill sections on switch back roads a little scary but thank god I still had some stopping power from my disk brakes. 

I keep pushing on and soon had re entered Niigata prefecture and the weather by this time had become much hotter , soon I was alongside the mightly Agano river and around this time I thought I had a chance to make it back into Niigata that day. Even though I took 6 days off the thought of a free day before returning back to work sounded pretty nice and the idea of spending a night in the rain did not seem very appealing. I rolled into Tsugawa station at 2pm having covered 90km already and asked the station master how far it  was roughly was into Niigata city he said is was another 57km !. I did a quick calculation and accessed my current condition - could I ride another 57kms along the river and into the city. 

I decided I could so I pressed on and about 10 kms out of Tsugawa I was stopped by some guard men at a road works site, I had experienced a lot of this throughout this tour so I thought if I wait a few minutes I will be allowed to pass. To my horror this was not to be the case , the head guard man told me the road had been washed into the river and when  I asked if I could pass through on my bicycle he said it was not even possible to walk past the landslip so he said I had to return the way I had come back up the road into Tsugawa and take the busy R49 down into Niigata. Why they hell had they not put another guard man 10km back up the road at the turn off warning road users that it was impossible to pass !. I had to decide quickly what to do and the options were 

Option 1 . Stay the night free camping in the river side park and most likely face a night of heavy rain

Option 2 . Find the nearest 7/11 quickly stock up on food, water and snacks and hit R 49 for a 3 hour ride back to Niigata City

I decided as it was already 2.30pm to get to the nearest 7/11 , soon I had found one and bought the following supplies to get me back into the city. 2 ltrs water , hamburger, pack of fried chicken cutlet sandwiches , 2 x snickers bars , I consumed everything but one snickers bar and refilled the 2 ltr drink bladder plus I still had more Soy Joy bars left over as well and fast the busy R49 back to Niigata City.  One great thing about R49 is that is mostly downhill but apart from that I was faced with a tunnel that was 2666 mtrs long, not my ideal road to take home but as soon as I could I got off R49 onto some more quiet back roads and crossing the Agano river back towards the city dusk was already upon me and with my lights on I entered Niigata city to finish my tour. The last day was one of the toughest days I have ever had on any bicycle , but I pleased to cover 153 km in 11 hours on a loaded single speed and had a fantastic adventure over the past 5 days. 

For those of you that would like to check out all the photos I took while on tour they can be viewed here 


Brenton said...

Really nice stuff. I enjoyed reading your trip report. Would have been nice to show a photo of your sleeping arrangement, given you were bikepacking vs carrying panniers. But still enthralling. I lived in Okayama a few years ago and miss Japan a lot. So much exploring out there to do and generally a very safe place to it in. But those tunnels... The memory of riding through those still gives me the heebie jeebies... Cheers, Brenton

Don Speden said...

Hi Brenton

Thanks for the comments and if you look back further in my blog you will see my sleeping set up. Later on I will do a few posts on the gear I took with me on this trip and yes riding through tunnels gives me the heebie jeebies as well !