Getting fucked up in the Japanese Alps (4/4)

It was whilst atop Mt. Norikura, amongst a dirty grey mist, that I stumbled across a graveyard of abandoned racing bicycles. It appeared that the ‘Racing Carnival’ was no more as up to 100+ of some of the most expensive bicycles on earth lay strewn across the mountain top, not an owner in sight. Their…

The Japanese Alps – Part 3

Norikura Kougen – Takayama 37 miles Up and away by 06:30am the skies were dreary; contrary to the weather forecast. The climb was slow and steady and a number of race cycling enthusiasts passed me en route to the summit. Each wished me good luck as they went by, some would comment upon my heavy…

The Japanese Alps – Part 2

I wouldn’t be the first Englishman to tackle Mt. Norikura, and certainly wouldn’t be the last. In 1878, a: professor, mining engineer, mountaineer, foreign advisor, writer, archaeologist, better man and fellow Englishman, William Gowland, became the first to summit Mt. Norikura. He noted then how the beautiful, multi-pinnacle terrain was reminiscent of the French Alps,…

The Japanese Alps – Part 1

Ueda – Norikura Kougen 65 miles Judgement day pulled closer; apprehension and dread becoming a commonly frequent fixation of my latest dreams. All because of the Norikura Skyline, a road that scaled the roof of the Japanese Alps at some 2,715 metres, officially making it the highest road in Japan. But not the highest public…

Dawn of the Alps – Part II

Yudanaka – Kusatsu 31 miles Breakfast started with a brutal 10% incline which set the pace for the bulk of the day’s journeying, as I traversed Japan’s highest public road – amongst its abandoned summertime ski slopes. I wondered if I was insane to be lugging some 30kg of property up into the skies with…

Dawn of the Alps – Part I

Joetsu – Yudanaka 50 miles Nine of the twelve highest mountains in Japan can be found in Nagano; a fact alone that was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat, and this was before a hearty old man with the essence of doom paid me a visit whilst I was packing up…

Last Day in Exile

Sado Island – Joetsu 39 miles The rain would return as I cycled the southern half of Sado. Yet perhaps on this day it was a good thing as I’d long since forgotten the last time I’d actually taken a shower – or a bath. I’m not normally a stinky person, but when you can…

Robot Touching in Exile

Sado Island 77 miles An evening boat would take me to Sado, some 30 miles west off the coast of Niigata. I’d arrived in darkness and quickly found myself an unkempt stretch of coastal parkland to set up camp. Sado is a place with a morose history, and that’s even before you consider the slave…

Summer Time in Snow Country

Agano – Sado Island 41 miles The skies were clear first thing and the day was already well on its way to becoming hot. Instead of heading directly to Niigata, I took a bit of a detour further into the depths of the prefecture’s lush agricultural heartland. For a prefecture that prides itself on having…

The Nipples of Hirosaki

Aomori – Hirosaki 30 miles I’d riled up a nest of ants during the darkness of night, whilst slyly parking my tent in the grounds of the Aomori Prefecture Sports Park. Passing unnoticed through the compound’s gates, I’d found solace behind a small congregation of bushes in a blind spot from passing vehicles. Here I…