Saturday, June 27, 2009

First three days: wind, rain and a thief.

June 25 - 27, 2009: What a great trip so far! Sho and I started riding from Cape Soya on Thursday, June 25 and are now by Lake Saroma Ko on the northern coast of Hokkaido. We spent the first night in our tent in the yard of a wonderful couple, Mr. and Mrs. Minoshima, on their farm near Hamatonbetsu (see pic).
We also met a thief! As we came out of a convenience store, we set down our bag of food by our bikes, and a large, black, sneaky crow pounced on the bag, snatching a 6-pack of rolls and bounding into the air with his loot before we could stop him. He flew to the roof of a house across the street and ate the rolls mockingly in plain sight, but out of reach. I took a picture of the thief, who must have marked us as easy targets the minute we rolled up.
The weather has been fantastic, sunny and low 70's F much of the time, except for an impressive thunder storm that soaked us in the afternoon of the 2nd day. See pic of a dripping Sho. We stayed in a minshuku (Japanese inn) in the town of Omu that night as the storm raged outside, and I spent the evening drying off our things.
Much of the ride has been along a picturesque ocean front. We look left to see the glistening expanse of water punctuated from time to time by eagles, cranes and sea gulls prowling for food. We look right to see an expanse of farms populated by hawks, horses and lounging cows. Sho often calls out an exaggerated, "moo!" that usually draws bovine stares of disdain and boredom.
The wind has been impressive, especially on the first day, sometimes slamming directly in our faces so that we struggled to maintain much more than a pitiful crawl. At other times, it buffeted us from the side, threatening to knock us off the road. I knew the wind would be an issue early on after seeing rows and rows of towering wind turbines along the coast.
During one of our breaks at a rest stop, Sho met a boy his age, and they immediately bonded over their Pokemon Battorio coins, haggling for 15 minutes over which to exchange (see pic).
We slept last night in a comfortable shack by Lake Saroma Ko, sharing a room with Sato-san, an ultra marathoner who is running a 100km (62 mile) race as I write. Apparently, the Lake Saroma Ko ultra marathon is quite prestigious, boasting 4,000 participants. The race which started at 5am, goes along the route we will ride today, and we plan to watch some of it before hitting the road at 8am, cheering on our new friend. Sato-san is from Niigata, a town we plan to visit in mid-July, and he invited us to stay in his home when we pass through. One of the best parts of this trip so far has been meeting friendly and interesting people like him.
My wife Eiko and 2-year old daughter Saya have been tracking us in a rental car this first week. They have been sleeping in hotels and meeting us for meals along the way, which gives us something nice to look forward to. Eiko has been particularly helpful with navigation and finding a room for us the night of the storm. They return to the U.S. next week, a parting that neither Sho nor I are looking forward to. :-(
For the technofiles out there, I am writing this blog using a 1-lb, Intel Atom processor-based Willcom D4 mobile Internet device. It's a computer in my pocket that makes it easy to blog from the road.
Thanks to the many people who have sent us good wishes. We're doing well and having a blast!

1 comment:

  1. It is not only thieves that follow you... Your friends are with you all along!! Lots of love and cycling energy from sunny New York (yes, it has been more sunny than not and quite warm in the last three days)!