The relatives are here. Rowland is Haidee’s (my wife’s) brother, and Alicia is his wife.
They are here with us in Hokkaido (the northern most island of Japan) for a week and a half. Due to the fact that Haidee and I’s apartment is about the size of a small shoe box, we decided that instead of hanging around big-city Sapporo, a bike tour around the Shiribeshi area of southern Hokkaido would be much more conducive to a good time together.
Haidee and I have our own bikes; Haidee’s is a 2011 Trek FX 7.5 WSD, and mine is a 2011 Surly Karate Monkey (thanks to Surly for hooking me up with one at cost). For Rowland and Alicia, we borrowed a couple of bikes from Leon at Hokkaido Adventures. All his standard rental bikes were hired out for the time we needed them, so he gave us his two back-up bikes for next to nothing, in exchange for me sprucing them up a little. A couple of days of enjoyable bike maintenance resulted in a couple of great bikes for the trip.
Today, the first day of the bike tour began with the inevitable last-minute packing chaos, our small apartment straining to contain the madness.
It all came together in the end, however, and the merry troupe was ready to leave at 10:30am. Which is actually about midday in any other sane society’s reckoning. The sun rises at 4am in Hokkaido in the summer, and for some unknown reason, nobody has thought of instigating any form of summer time. And even though Hokkaido gets up to 6m of snow in the winter, and 20 degrees below zero (Celsius) in the colder months, the noon-day sun in Hokkaido is as hot as it gets. 31 degrees was forecast for the day we left.
Most of today was spent stopping and starting through Sapporo and Otaru Cites, trying to get out of the massive urban sprawl.
The city cycling was punctuated with short stops at eateries (eating was to become somewhat of a theme during the trip). Lunch was had at a dingy ramen (noodles in soup) eatery; a first for Rowland and Alicia.
Our destination for the day was the beach in front of the kayak tour place called Blue Holic just out of the small settlement of Shioya (about 6km past Otaru on Route 5). The route was further punctuated by long tunnels and heat.
Due to the late start, we finally arrived at the beach in the heat of the day. We have a kayak tour booked with Blue Holic for tomorrow morning, and they allowed us to camp on the beach in front of their place.