Because it was so hot it was really hard to get to sleep even with the tent fly open , so when Brian realized it was raining we both got up and packed up our tents quickly saving them from getting wet. The rain hammered down about an hour later and we retreated to the cover of the main building to cook breakfast before heading out into the rain and down the valley towards Sanjo. Our first stop was back in Kamo at MacDonalds we after a 2nd breakfast we had a MacPunture which was carried out using their sign board as a bike stand before pressing on back into Niigata city for some Italian Gelato before arriving back to the bicycle shop around 11.30am. In total the entire ride was only 126km return but in the extreme heat and humidity it made it feel a lot further . It was a great adventure by bike but I will not be planning any more cycle events at this time of the year again !
Sunday, 27 July 2014
After the last short climb up to Snow Peak HQ we checked in and found a great shady spot near the back of the camp ground over looking the golf course and put up our tents , 3 of us had our own tents while the other rider rented a tent and sleeping bag from Snow Peak who must make a lot of money from renting out camping supplies as there were many large groups who had done so that weekend. After pitching the tents it was beer time which considering the type of heat we had ridden it was very well deserved and tasted great. Later on we all cooked up a big feed for dinner with Brian & I cooking Katsu curry while the other chaps dined on pasta.
Back in the winter when I had free time I planned all of this years cycle events for my bicycle shop. Sitting inside a warm shop watching the snow fall it was easy to think about warmer weather and the type of shop rides that I wanted to do this year , I knew August was out as it just gets to hot to cycle anywhere but I must have forgotten about July being almost the same. As Fuji Rock was on the same weekend we only got two riders attending but even though we faced extreme temperatures on the Sat ( over 36 deg ) and hard rain most of Sunday morning we all had a great time. We rode out of Niigata City to towards the mountains stopping several times to take a drink and arrived at a local supermarket in Kosodo just before opening time. I wondered why so many people had filled the car park and once the doors opened it was a mad rush towards the ice cream chillers were all ice blocks, ice creams we 50% off from 10am - 12pm. People were going crazy buying boxes of ice creams , but for us who had nowhere to carry such vast supplies we made do with a couple of ice creams each instead.
The next main stop was in the mountain town of Kamo where we dinned in style at Gusto a popular family restaurant and made good use of their drink bar before pressing on upwards through the village of Kamo stopping off at a 140 year old roadside snack shop that sells cold drinks and a tokoroten and kind of gelatin made from seaweed that is served cold and boiled eggs.
After leaving the snack shop the hard work really began with almost no shade and rising midday temperatures we began the accent of the mountain pass the divided us from the route to Snow Peak HQ. As usual Brian set an amazing pace on his single speed 29 MTB climbing the 6% gradient pass in his 33 T - 13T gearing . I rode on ahead to take a few photos of them passing and then managed to overtake the last rider on his geared cyclo cross bike before reaching the summit. After the summit it was mostly down hill passing brilliant green rice fields soon due to be harvested before arriving at a local super market to buy our evening food supplies
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
In 2013 I decided to start cycle touring again after a break of many years, my previous long tours have been a 3000 km loop of New Zealands South Island, another 3000 km loop of Northern Thailand , and several shorter week long tours here in Japan. Touring is something I really love - why ? , well after many years of MTB racing when I was younger back in NZ, going on my first bicycle tour around the South Island in 1995 was a big adventure as I could ride at my own pace and stop anytime I liked to take a photo , chat to the locals or even have a beer !. Even today at 44 years old every time I decide to go on a multi day tour I pick some where new that I have never been to before and look forward to a new adventure, what will happen along the way, will the weather be hot or will it rain, what interesting places will I see and who will I met along the route. Last year I had a fantastic time touring into Fukushima and back alone and learnt a lot more about myself - I can now ride a single speed fully loaded with bikepacking gear for 156km in a day , something I never thought possible.
For this Octobers tour I have decided to attend the Single Speed MTB championships which will take place in neighboring Nagano ken in the mountain resort village of Hakuba. Its the first time the race has been held on this side of Japan so I decided to give it a go and include it in the middle of my 6 day bikepacking tour. Below is a map of the course I will take
In total the entire tour is bit less than 500 km which allows me two leisurely days to ride along the coast camping halfway before arriving in Hakuba village were there is camping available at the race venue , 2 days staying in Hakuba before heading over a large mountain range and down into Nagano city and on past Tokomachi to the next half way point in Tsunan camping again before the final big push back over the mountain down into Tochio and back to Niigata city. I am really looking forward to the challenge of cycling somewhere new and taking part in the Single Speed MTB champs which looks a lot of fun. Below is a youtube video taken of one of the previous events