Mt. Osore – Aomori
I awoke early as usual, in sync with daybreak, slightly surprised to have fallen asleep to the sound of desperately hungry bugs. Yet, as I emerged from my tent, all was still; the heathen swarms having dissipated back into the depths from whence they had came. A thick band of mist clung to Lake Usori, partially obscuring its luminous glow, as the pinnacle of Mt. Ozore floated mysteriously above, coaxed in a clear blue summer sky.
My day started with a series of steep climbs up and out of the caldera; I scaled a number of energy zapping gradients ranging from 9% – 12%. This is never a good way to start the day; always more appealing to be able to gradually ease one’s stiff muscles into a climb – as opposed to an immediate gung-ho assault. Yet having devoured my banana stash at breakfast I would soon find my rhythm.
After about 3 miles, I‘d find myself looking down upon Lake Usori; its dawn mist already spent, revealing the water’s intrinsically vibrant colouring. On the opposite side, to the south beyond a wave of pines, lay the city of Mutsu and the Ominato Bay – from there I could straddle close to the coast all the way to Aomori.
Descending from the mountains, the steep gradients allowed me to pick up some serious speed, which saw me smash my previous high speed record of 32.6 mph with a breakneck 40 mph. The adrenaline was pumping and my brain power was truly limited as I maniacally overtook a couple of cars.
Down in the uninspiring Mutsu, I rewarded myself with an ice cream from Family Mart before making tracks along the uninspiring and much more plaintively dicey Route 279 south; along the western axe handle of the Shimokita Peninsula towards Noheji Bay. It was whilst traversing this section that a bulk of my possessions decided to deteriorate in a tightly contested and well synchronised fashion. Wear and tear was always an inevitability, but it’s stressful when everything decides to pretty much shit itself in such a collective manner.
Firstly, my front pannier was beginning to dip further and further south, to the point where it was almost touching the front tyre; on close inspection the screw and nut fixture had bored straight through the thread. Using some bigger washers I could remedy this but it would mean having to lighten the load. I then I had a phantom noise coming from within my seat post, a clicking noise from my right pedal and my odometer was running out of battery juice too; which annoyingly meant wiping all the data when replacing the battery. Sadly, my new DWR (Doughty World Record) of 40 mph would henceforth become nothing more than mere word of mouth.
My final cause of concern came from my camera. Whilst taking a picture of a tiny dollop of an island situated just off the coast, I noticed some big black smears on the lens. I sighed heavily in disgust, somehow alienating the temptation to launch the device into the bay. Memories are priceless, but pictures of memories are beyond priceless. Heading to the prefectural capital however would ideally see the problem remedied. Yet, upon my arrival in Aomori, my optimism was soon dashed as I encountered only one camera shop; the owner of which dismissed my custom and, in my stubbornness, I refused to seek out another.
I hung about sulkily for a couple of hours in an otherwise pleasing enough coastal city, visiting the Nabuta Warasse Museum; a bizarre looking building veiled with a collection of blood red slats that within detailed the story of Aomori’s big summer Nebuta Festival. If one happened to be in Aomori in early August they would no doubt witness a vibrant party atmosphere of cheering masses; the streets filled with a contingent of huge, immaculately detailed floats made from paper and bamboo, depicting various Japanese mythological characters. Taiko drum beats would thrum around every corner and haneto dancers and audience members alike would be shaking their booties deep into the technicoloured night. But, like I said, this all takes place in August, and it was currently the back-end of June which put me shit out of luck.
Out of Festival season, the city centre of Aomori had very little else to offer the passing nomad; I wound down the evening in a local curry house before heading out upon an extensive search for a ditch in which to lay my increasingly itchy head.
It gives me great pleasure to announce the release of my book ‘Tokyo to Tokyo – A Cycling Adventure around Japan.
Enjoy the ride.