Nikko (Japan) 2005 – Flashback #16

The scanner is back from the dead, so here is another older post beefed up with new pictures.

Cycling buddy Nigel and I did a couple of rides from Tokyo over the years (if you just can’t get enough of him, fret not! He is prominently featured in Flashback #5), starting with a 400 km loop up to Nikko.

Tip#1 – if you want to ride for any distance in and around Tokyo without traffic, find a river. If you are lucky it’ll have a cycling path. We were, and this one did (Tonegawa), which was nice but it kept stopping, then starting up somewhere further down or even on the other side of the river. Anyhow, it got us up to the relative quiet of the hills on the edge of the Kanto plain. Here is Nigel at lunchtime, proving he can use chopsticks.

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And our bikes at the noodle stall.

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This is Toshogu shrine , part of the UNESCO-protected temples and shrines of Nikko, and the one with the ‘hear no evil, see no evil, say no evil’ monkey carving, if you’re into shrine trivia.

toshogu-11

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And a bunch of sake barrels at the same temple. I’m sure they’re used for religious purposes…

sake

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The following day we threw ourselves at irohazaka, a winding climb of 38 hairpin turns (I didn’t count…it just seems to be a well-known fact) that is steep and full of cars, but makes it all worthwhile by selling soft ice cream at the mid-way point. Here we are sweating – proof of the struggle this hill demands.

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Thinking we had the worst behind us, Nigel and I relaxed at Lake Chuzenjiko, even taking time out to photograph some of those ridiculous Japanese swan boats you can find on just about any lake in the country.

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But it wasn’t over. We still had another few hundred vertical meters to go up, but luckily after the lake the traffic thinned out and it was a really pleasant ride to the pass. The rest was a fast downhill to Numata City, and some re-hydration.

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The following day, our last, was insane. This was a 3-day weekend and we had to get back home for work the next day. But there was a slight problem; we were very, very far away. I can’t speak for Nigel, but I was afraid to know how far exactly, so we just got up real early and blasted off towards Tokyo.

This is one of the only shots I have from that 200 km day. I look quite fresh, I think, at least when compared to the crumpled heap of jelly I was at home some 12 hours later.

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3 thoughts on “Nikko (Japan) 2005 – Flashback #16

  1. That was a great ride – I miss those days, it was great riding around the countryside.

    Funny reading it now, though – I bet you don’t think riding 200km is ‘insane’ any more… (Though I doubt you lug panniers on your training 😉

    • Yeah, I can’t believe we didn’t do more of that in Japan. What were we thinking!? Outside the big cities, Japan is ideal for traveling by bike. That trip was a keeper.

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