Off Track - April in Hokkaido - CycleBlaze

Off Track

bear tracks

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The friendly American guy tells us about a minor road he likes to cycle on, and we decide to give it a go in the morning.

When we get there it seems a bit dodgy, as it's iced over in places. Sod it. We venture along it anyway. It looks too good to pass up.

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After about an hour or so, a construction crew tells us the road is blocked due to a landslide, so we have to go back to the 237.

Never mind: it was good while it lasted.

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Maybe we're still intoxicated from the beer we had last night, but we decide to ride on another one of the closed-for-winter logging roads.

According to the map, this one is a more direct route south - and it will obviously be devoid of traffic. The sun is out and we have enough time: So, why not?

We shuffle our bikes under the padlocked steel gate. The tarmac looks great. It then turns into hard gravel, which at first is plain sailing.

After swerving up and around the contours, however, the patches of old snow get longer and deeper. In places where the sun hasn't hit, the path is still blanketed in white, which is hard to ride across. I let Debbie go first.

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Eventually the shingle trail disappears altogether, forcing us to push through knee-deep drifts. Whose idea was this?

To make things worse, fresh-looking imprints crisscross the white surface - huge bears' feet with claws as long as our brake levers. Scary stuff. The only course of action I can think of is to ding my bell, just so we don't accidentally frighten any of the creatures and invite an attack.

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After an hour of hard slog, we get to a fork in the road, which isn't shown on the map. Rather than head in the wrong direction, we turn around. We've had enough adventure.

In case you're wondering, the logging roads don't usually open until mid-May.

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Our penultimate night is spent sitting around the wood-burning stove back in Yubari Forest Youth Hostel - again by ourselves.

Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 344 km (214 miles)

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