Nyabing to Pingrup 40km

A coffee at the Hub as there is nothing in between today.   A quick level ride as we get into more agricultural areas leaving the sheep behind.  Farmers are seeding, its very dry and we still see salt lakes with dead trees looking like tree graveyards.

There are small undulations despite the flat profile on the gpx files.  Way in the distance the Stirling Ranges are visible.

10km to Pingrup I can see a group of silos getting bigger as I click over the kilometers.    We have been on the road for a week and now larger than life is the first of the painted silo of our tour. I am minuscule as i gaze at the brilliance of the artwork.

We have had an upgrade for camping and given access to the Pingrup Race Club facilities,  lovely grassed hockey field for the tents,  great kitchen and open areas. It’s a bit like a ghost town here,  the General Store is closed, there is a small roadhouse/ petrol station.  

We hear that there is a Premier’s announcement early this afternoon … everyone is interested … Perth and Peel regions are headed for a 3 day lockdown due to Covid … whew … we feel thankful we are not in the effected area, and feel for the cancellations in the city over the weekend.

The Sailor Arms Hotel is looking like it needs a lot of love and up for sale. We venture into the hotel it looks equally in need of love and smells of cigarettes. The publican is not the friendliest; perhaps he’s in awe at having so many people at once, he soon warms to the situation and breaks a few smiles, as the wine and beers flow … ching, ching.

The publican is adamant that dinner orders don’t start until 7pm we all leave and eat our packet/ dried/tinned dinners that we have been carrying with us for such an occasion. A great night of chatter, with puzzles and Bananagrams being played.

Ravensthorpe to Lake King – 75km

Rolling hills and a continuous climb. Just outside of town the painted silos shone with morning sun, further on the open cut Galaxy Lithium mine visible from the road.

We turn off towards Lake King. With fresh legs it seems like an easy ride, however there are heaps of trucks most are road trains, cars and caravans in both directions.

Banksias, onesided bottlebrush and pin cushion hakea are in flower. With no town in between it’s a very long road.

The monotony is broken with the odd decorated roadside farm mailbox.

I’m at Lake King by midday and feeling every kilometre and more. It was 11C when I left this morning and now it is 32C very glad to put up the tent and shower. We are all feeling exhausted and happy to be off the bikes. Grassed ares for camping are sparce therefore we are close knit campers.

The hotel is something to be seen; a rammed earth building with thatched ceilings. Lovely lounges and heaps of tables and chairs. The meals were equally as tasteful.

2021_a long drought for overseas travel

Hi All, I’m back and about to take off on a 3 week Silo Tour in the Western Australian wheatbelt. We won’t to talk about where I would have been this time last year – there are 1000’s of those stories from everyone you see. I am just grateful that friends and family have been pretty much unscathed by the 2020 world disaster of Covid19.

So … in the last year I’ve kept busy with my local cycling clubs, tennis, mahjong and enjoying my 2 and 4yo grandkids. It has been a great summer and I’ve spent many hours walking and swimming on our wonderful beaches that Perth has to offer. Leighton Beach is my favourite with long stretches of fine white sand and only 20 minutes away by car.

But today I venture out with (last count) 47 other cyclists from a local club, CTA (Cycle Touring Australia) starting from York. Stay tuned and I hope you have a great ride with me.

Monday 17 June – Sapporo-Bangkok-Perth

You’re going to Japan? … it has lots of hills!

This is my last blog post for Japan. Yesterday was filled with packing the bikes and our luggage to scrape into the 30kg limit.

The town turned it on with the Shrine Festival … a procession of colourful floats that paraded through the streets … drums, flutes, tradional dancing on the floats … it went on all day with 1000’s of people involved.

The evening was spent with 4 other cyclists we had met along the way on the road and through the Japan Cycling Navigator FB site – we all happened to be in Sapporo together an opportunity to talk about our travels and experiences, what a great night.


Reflections

Sue: I’d like to go away for 3 months and as it will be my 60th … push the boundaries and do something we haven’t done before … Japan??

Inspired by:

  • Steven Herrick’s travel books – ‘Bento, Bicycles and Bathhouses‘ and ‘Kimchi and Kimonos’

We cycled 4591kms … the hills were not at all that bad; the most climbing in a day was 945m. Tunnels are very scary and some without cycle paths. The longest tunnel was over 5km. One day we went through 21 tunnels; the hills, farm land, coastline, lakes and forest all amazing – I never tired of rice paddies – I prefer the country to the big cities.

We caught short ferries between islands and one 19hr overnighter from Oarai to Tomakomai to fast track to Hokkaido – no train travel as its too difficult with bikes on trains in Japan.

Couldn’t do it without Komoot (a mapping device) and syncing it with my Garmin made life so much easier it enabled me to map to the doorstep of our accommodation.

Accommodation was generally easy to find however at times we sought assistance from the tourist office. Golden Week was the worst … escalated prices beyond belief. We stayed at hotels, ryokan’s (traditional Japanese rooms with futon beds and straw matting floors – that straw smell will remain in my nostrils for quite some time), a few Love Hotels the first will remain in my memory – round bed which rotated 360° and lifted to another floor level adorned with mirror panels. (I’m not sure who got the most laugh … probably the two ladies who showed us the room and had to explain the bed controls), Guesthouses, Youth Hostels.

The bikes were very reliable – this is their 4th overseas trip, John had 2 punctures within the first few days then was puncture free; I had none. I had a complete set of brake pads changed once.

I loved – the onsens; Japenese people were so helpful; ability to park your bike outside fully loaded and it will be there untouched when you return hours later locked or not; convenience stores good for a snack, coffee and free wifi and extremely clean toilets; toilets were available everywhere; supermarkets – they had a sitting area with a microwave oven to heat up any purchases and eat there; security – you don’t have to watch your valuables like a hawk … nobody will touch them or steal your wallet from your back pocket; hotels have a microwave oven and coin laundry at very reasonable prices. Food was good and fresh … I still like rice and noodles, water drinkable from the tap, bakeries in rail stations and supermarkets were amazing.

Love that the Japanese have kept their traditional even if it does my head in – constantly changing slippers; when you enter a place (some restaurants, accommodations or shops); go to toilet; go outside – all different slippers – walking upstairs is very tricky.

The cycling network on facebook was extremely helpful with routes, general advice and friendships.

The weather – perfect, only one day we were held back due to rain a few days were spent riding to a hotel in the rain otherwise perfect.

12 weeks … done and dusted with some fabulous memories, friends, stories to tell. A great country to explore on 2 wheels.

Sapporo – Friday 14 June

I’ve missed a day … never mind, yesterday was securing bike boxes, the guesthouse owner had a contact only 1km away and kindly arranged it all. It was cold, cloudy and windy we walked to the Sapporo station then found many shopping centres and the underground space of 520m between stations with 2 shopping centres and general shops … and no wonder, this city has snow for 6 months of the year.

Today is very sunny and warm, a little windy – t-shirt weather … we picked up the bike boxes then headed out on our bikes, first the Former Government Office building, a lovely old building and open to the public and exhibitions in English (a plus); a ride through the Hokkaido University Campus surprisingly all the signage was in English and Japanese, then onto the Sapporo Brewery Museum which was very well presented and informative.

Another park up the other end of town … here we discover that there is a festival this weekend … the penny drops … accommodation was at a premium and hard to get. The park is full of stalls selling food of all description; game booths etc … I hear screaming … a ghost train ride. Lots of people taking advantage of the beautiful weather and the teens and above are out in their Komonos – such a pretty sight.

A nice soup curry for dinner … baseball is on TV what better thibg to watch on a Friday evening.

Shimamatsu to Sapporo – Wednesday 12 June

60th birthday …

A latte ride into Sapporo … along the cycle path from Chitose to Sapporo. What a wonderful route for our last hoorah … through farming and forest before reaching Sapporo – no trucks or cars just us and other cyclists, walkers and joggers.

We are near the busy end of town but happy with a quiet Italian Restaurant for dinner, after securing our remaining accommodation.

A budget guesthouse for 3 nights and hotel for 2 nights … that is all good. The manager is taking us to a friend at a bike shop tomorrow to secure bike boxes which we will pack the bikes ready for the flight back home.

I can now relax …

Numanosawa to Shimamatsu – Tuesday 11 June

It’s Tuesday and it didn’t rain …

A lovely breakfast … the youth hostel prides itself on home grown produce. Lovely home baked bread, vegetable fritata, asparagus salad, vegetable soup and home made jams … lovely but not John’s cup of tea for breakfast. The manager does the cleaning and cooking while her elder sister helps out; her day job is working in the farms up the road in the hot houses.

We set off to do our last serious mountain climb, a very quiet road no traffic within 5km a farmer on a tractor stopped us and had an in depth, animated conversation with us. We gathered that we couldn’t go further so turned back on the main road headed to Sapporo.

Thoughts of his conversation:

‘I don’t want you stealing my melons’

That way is infested with bears chasing cyclists’

‘It is a dead end’

[Looking back it was a dead end … Komoot what are you thinking??]

Feeling subdued, we follow a main road, small climbs along the river sharing with trucks, then great downhill descents with great views of farming area. We are now on flat land with headwinds, it appears to be a truck route.

We reach our accommodation and get a prepared meal at the supermarket. In the meantime a Chinese family come in with food to cook and ask if we would like to join them …

Shimukappu to Numanosawa

On a deer and bear hunt …

We had a lovely Japanese dinner at the Guesthouse … no wifi so we were a little restricted with planning.

Another day crossing over mountains through the forest and over bridges and rivers.

An early start knowing there were a few climbs … why should we worry … we own the hills!!!

We were assisted with several tunnels, a busy road with several trucks. We heard a couple of woodpeckers drumming nearby. Rivers everywhere and on the lookout for bear and deer as roadsigns kept reminding us not to leave food scraps around.

We were at our destination by 1pm and able to check in

We are at a Youth Hostel in the middle a the forest/farming area. Lovely pine A-frame building surrounded by forest. A 1.9km trip to the supermarket through quiet roads and close to hot houses. I just love this country!!

We are on the patio watching a fox – poor thing has one mangled front leg.

I have spent a few hours syncing garmin/komoot/phone … something went wrong, now it’s all good. Technology is great when it behaves!!

An amazing dinner followed by a walk and seeing a deer and 2 foxes … my day complete.

Furano to Shimukappu – Sunday 9 June

A very pretty ride …

The Petit Melon Hotel had a free happy hour last night … it was nice meeting all the guests over a wine and snacks as well as the managers.

I’m so pleased we persisted to go this route. A short 50km ride – we were on route 985 from Furano, a quiet road among farms and mountains to our right some with streaks of snow. There were threatening heavy clouds but no rain. It is a Sunday and lots of people in the farms working … a tractor is busy spraying an onion crop, some hand planting in the fields. A couple struggling with lengths of plastic in the breeze as they make small rows of hot houses.

Gentle rolling hills … it’s 27°C and only 9am. Rockmelon vines well established under plastic, a scattering of vineyards and some asparagus, and of course rice and grain crops … possibly barley. The combination creates such an interesting landscape.

Water channels are a many coming from the hills, which adds to the beauty and tranquility.

After 14km we turn onto route 237 as the mountains close in we are going through a heavily forested valley crossing several rivers and attractive rail bridges. The forest is very thick and we are looking for deer everytime we see the familiar deer road sign.

Then up for a long climb over the mountains – a bit of relief with a 500m tunnel. Then a great descent, before we knew it, we were in Shimukappu at 1pm.

A small village in the hills with a few visible ski runs on the mountain above the township.

We are at a guesthouse that has seen better days – it has a public bath which is always nice after a ride … not the mineral water kind. Accommodation was extremely hard to find here.

Shirogane to Furano- Saturday 8 June

After a considerable amount of rain overnight we were lucky to have a partly cloudy day. We first climbed 295 stairs in a covered stairway to a lookout of the mountain range … sadly the cloud looked there to stay for a long time.

We back tracked a few kms from yesterday without having to peddle for 4kms – Komoot tried to lead us on gravel we managed to get around it on other roads through the forest. Gentle hills and great descents. The forests and mountains around us.

Back into agricultural areas … I whiff cattle … sure enough a sign for a dairy. Barns stocked with round hay bales. The cows are all housed in sheds so we don’t see them.

Closer to Furano we visit Tomita flower farm … this is what is seen on media outlets selling this area for the summer season. On the hills is the beginning of what will be a kaleidoscope of colour in weeks to come attracting tourists. Today it is very quiet … outlets selling local produce. This area is also renowned for rockmelon … a stall selling everything rockmelon.

Within a km we pass by Nakafurano Flower Park, the hill is starting to get a bit of colour as the seedlings are starting to grow. Then we pass the lavender park – no flowers yet.

The houses have lovely gardens with backdrops of the mountains. It’s very scenic here … snow activities in winter and beautiful gardens in summer.

Furano also boasts a winery and cheese factory, and located in the middle of Hokkaido; an annual Bellybutton Festival is held in July. All things have a center; for a person, this is the bellybutton. Hokkaido’s bellybutton lies in Furano.

We are based within metres of the ski lift … it is not operating at the moment but busy in the snow season.

A lovely Japanese curry (soup style)