Friday 22 June Day 14 Kushiro to Ikeda (102km) (Total 1211km)
Saturday 23 June Day 15 Ikeda to Hidaka (111km) (Total 1322km)
Two long and rainy days rolled into one report!
The cycle from Kushiro to Urahoro was along an up-and-down and relatively busy road, but usually with a generous side-lane to cycle in. The coast line between Kusharo and Onbetsu was particularly beautiful with relatively rough seas that had attracted brave surfers.
I was lucky to meet a Japanese cyclist (kyoo – sp?) from Osaka just as I pulled into the service centre at Urahoro for lunch (at 1pm, and I was starving!). He spoke pretty good English and asked me if I wanted to join him for lunch at the adjoining restaurant to discuss our cycle trips, and I was delighted to do so! He had been cycling in Hokkaido for four weeks, and had covered a lot of ground in that time.
He didn’t have a Hokkaido Touring Mapple, so was interested to check how far he was from Kushiro (almost 70km, unfortunately for him!) and see if there were any camp-sites along the way (there was one about 20km out of Kushiro). We had a nice lunch (Katsu pork & salad set-meal for me!) and said farewell.
The ride into Ikeda was lovely along Route 73, so there was hardly any traffic, although there were some steep up-down hills that taxed my weary legs all the way into Ikeda. I didn’t know, but Ikeda produces wine and the information site in town is a “wine castle”, which is certainly worth popping into for those cycling past. There was lots of yummy food on offer (including soft-serve ice cream and wine tastings/sales) I brought a small bag of semi-dried apples, which were delicious, and got directions to the town campsite from the helpful information desk.
The campsite was basic, but included a clearly marked camping area, running water for washing up, and clean (squat) toilets. There was a Japanese motorcyclist sharing the site with me, which I always prefer to camping alone.
Although the day had included some light drizzle, I was lucky that it didn’t start to really rain until the late evening.
Saturday morning started off drizzly and did not let up all day as I cycled from Ikeda to Hidaka.
The 15km or so from Ikeda to Makubetsu were along a quiet road, but from Makubetsu to Shimizu, I followed the busy Route 38 (including through Obihiro). There was generally a good side-lane to cycle in, but I never really enjoy cycling with lots of cars – I need to concentrate on my position on the road far to much to enjoy the sights and sounds I pass by along the way.
Luckily, the cycle from Shimizu to Hidaka was along a less busy stretch of road, but included a significant Mountain mass (1050m+), which I did not know about in advance! The cycle up the pass took a long time (90minutes+ climbing) but was not too difficult with a general ~6% gradient. Once at the top of the pass, and on the way down, there were a lot of tunnels!
Once in Hidika, I decided that I was cold, wet, and tired enough to justify a night in a Hotel, so called into the only Hotel in town. Unfortunately, they were booked solid and the only other Hotel nearby was 15km away… so I decided to stick to my original plan and stay at the family campsite in town. It is inexpensive (¥400) and includes well-landscaped camping areas, nice bathrooms, clean wash-up facilities, and a sheltered dining area. Once I go my tent all set up, boiled some water to have a pigeon-shower in my tent, and put on some fresh and dry clothes, I don’t mind camping tonight :)