Following on from our mountain loop bike ride yesterday, Haidee and I headed to the sea today to explore the peninsula-like land-form encircling Muroran Harbor: one of Hokkaido’s largest and busiest harbors.
I call this ride the Muroran Sky Ride, because the route follows a summit road along the ridge of the peninsula. The views of both Muroran City (and the expansive Japan Steel foundries) to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south are just stunning. See the route map for detailed elevations.
We started the ride at the Muroran Institute of Technology and headed straight down the Washibetsu River to the sea. Right away we were struck by how clear and blue the sea here is.
The beaches themselves seem to be mostly forgotten by city administration. A lot of money was obviously put into development at one stage, but now the infrastructure is dilapidated and sand-drifted. Trendy surfers were seen hanging around their cars, looking out to the sea, obviously waiting for the swells. It wasn’t long before we hit the climbs. A summit road wends its way up along the peninsula ridge, and right away affords magnificent views of the massive Japan Steel foundries.
The sheer proximity of the foundries to the residential areas is quite fascinating.
A friendly goat on the side of the road liked the taste of my sweat-soaked leather handlebar tape…and as we climbed higher, the road curved just so…and the entirety of Muroran City to the north came into view.
It was as if the road was giving us one last view of the madding crowds before shunting us up a little higher, over the other side of the ridge, and straight into a completely different world. The grandeur of the mighty Pacific Ocean.
A few more bends in the road and we were more or less out of sight of the city.
We really hadn’t thought too much about planning for today’s excursion, and thought that the 30-odd kilometers around the peninsula would be a walk in the park. But in total for the day we would climb 780m vertically in total, while never going over 150m or so in altitude. By lunch time we were concerned we’d have to cut the trip short and head back into town; we’d not taken any food with us for snacks.
Fortuitously however, one of “Hokkaido’s 100-best natural views” presented itself just on noon: the (apparently) famed Cape Chikyu. Like most famous and touristic spots in Japan, there were a few rudimentary food stalls, and we manged to get a passable lunch.
The views were also passable, although to be honest, this angle below is probably the best you’d get of the cape (unless you were in a boat looking at it from the water).
The remainder of the ride was on delightfully quiet roads…with unending clear views (including Mt. Yotei, the Mt. Fuji of the north). And the odd glimpse back towards the reality of the guts of Muroran City.
But with crystal clear waters on the Pacific side, and frequent sheltered bays, we are looking forward to exploring the beaches for swimming potential in summer.