Ride 4 day ride - Aomori to Sendai, via the Pacific coast

WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
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#1
It’s that time of year again, with enough days off in a row to head out on another multi-day bike tour, and/or make a general nuisance of oneself.

As I went over my list of rides around Japan, (beginning back in 2005), I realized that I’m slowly running out of coastal roads that I haven’t been on:

Apr 2005, Tokyo to Kyoto – 560km: 4 days
Apr 2006, Kyoto to Shimonoseki – 580km: 4 days
Dec 2006, Around Kyushu – 980km: 8 days
May 2007, Tokyo to Aomori – 880km: 6 days
Sep 2009, Tokyo to Niigata – 358km: 19 hours
Dec 2010, Tokyo to Kameyama – 438km: 28 hours
Apr 2013, Tokyo to Kashiwazaki – 375km: 2 days
Apr 2014, Kanazawa to Toyama (Noto Hanto) – 380km: 2 days
Dec 2014, Osaka to Kameyama (Kii Hanto) – 600km: 4 days
Aug 2016, Niigata to Aomori – 580km: 3 days


As far as Honshu goes, there are only 3 long stretches of coastline that I haven’t ridden yet – 1). Shimonoseki to Kanazawa along the Japan Sea coast, 2). Sendai to Choshi down the Pacific coast, and 3). Aomori to Sendai down the Pacific coast.

Shimonoseki to Kanazawa would take at least 6 days, plus an extra day to get to the starting point. The coastline south of Sendai is still aglow with the Fukushima radiation. So that just leaves the final option.

The plan is simple:

Day 1: 115km – Aomori to Hachinohe

I’ll catch the shinkansen up to Shin-Aomori station on Saturday morning, arriving at about 11:20am. From there, I will ride leisurely to Hachinohe. About 115km, going the long way around.


Day 2: 165km – Hachinohe to Miyako

I hope to catch up with Kiwisimon while I’m there, and with any luck he will ride with me part of the way down the coast. I’ll do my best to take the smaller roads that follow the coast, rather than the main roads this time – Expect some nice pictures before I’m through.


Day 3: 174km – Miyako to Kesennuma

I have a feeling that this one is gonna hurt. From the profile, there are a lot of ups & downs as it follows the coast. I’ll do my best to leave a bit earlier to give myself some extra time. Again, probably a nice day for some beautiful scenery.


Day 4: 165km – Kesennuma to Sendai

Hopefully not as hilly as the day before, but my legs might be cooked by then anyway. The final day is usually pretty relaxed, and I imagine a nice easy-paced run in to the proverbial finish-line. My original plan was to meet some friends there and come back the next morning, but said friends will be out of town, so I can just come straight home that evening.


Looking forward to this ride.
 

kiwisimon

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Dec 14, 2006
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#2
Looks like a plan. There is still a heap of construction being done after 3/11 but hopefully with GW things will be more relaxed down there.
Can recommend this place at the 106km mark for a lunch break. This is a pic with the rising sun providing the light but it's still worth a look. See you on Sunday.
 

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WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
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#3
Day 1 – Aomori to Hachinohe.

Strava details

My train was due to leave Tokyo at 8:20, so I got there a bit early and lined up. I made sure to get a seat at the very rear of the carriage so I had room behind the seat for my bike – It worked perfectly.

The train arrived at Shin-Aomori station at 11:19, so I set up the bike, filled the water-bottle, and set out at about 11:40. The first 45km were somewhat familiar from having ridden along there 10 years ago with @thomas & @kiwisimon. Similar to last time, the wind was favorable, and it was easy to ride between 35 ~ 40km/h with very little effort. It was at the 45km mark where I had my first break, in a small town called Noheji.

After a quick bite to eat, and the water bottle was filled, I pushed on. I follow the road around the bay until I was almost heading directly north, but then turned off on Rte.5 heading east towards the Pacific Ocean. This was the only hilly section, with the rest being pancake.

Once I got to Rte.338, it was a straight shot directly south to Hachinohe. I had another very quick convenience-store break, and then rode the final 40km pretty much non-stop. There was a bit of a headwind, but it wasn’t too bad.

I arrived here just on 4:30pm, an hour earlier than I expected.

Tomorrow will be longer, and slower with a lot more climbing.



 

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WhiteGiant

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Nov 4, 2006
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#4
Day 2 – Hachinohe to Miyako – 161km


The short version: It was windy. The end.


The longer version: I woke up early and had the buffet-style breakfast at Toyoko Inn. I rolled out at exactly 8am, and headed to the meeting place that @kiwisimon & I had arranged the night before. I met him and his son, Tyler there and the three of us started riding just after 8:30.

We rode together for the next 18km, and dropped Tyler off at his grandmother’s place. Simon & I continued south towards Kuji, the next major town. About 5km north of Kuji, Simon told me that he would turn around and head back, so I would continue solo from there.

After riding about 85km, I stopped for my second break to have a snack and fill up my water bottle. After I started riding again, instead of pressing “Start” on my Garmin, I hit “Save Ride”… This means the data for my ride is in two parts instead of one – Annoyed at myself.
Strava - Part 1
Strava - Part 2

If the first half of the ride was classified as “windy”, the second half was definitely “hilly”. It’s weird, there are no climbs over 200m (elevation) the entire way, yet I did more than 2,000m of climbing. I did however, make an incredible discovery – Its name is Rte.44 What an absolute gem of a road. Best pavement all day, and barely any traffic. Nice rolling ups & downs, with beautiful scenery – One of those rare roads that make cycling a real joy.

Soon though, I was back on Rte.45 with all the other cars & trucks, and rode the final 45km to Miyako at an average pace. The wind wasn’t quite as strong as it had been in the morning, but I had more uphill sections to contend with. I arrived here just after 16:30 – Again, an hour earlier than expected.

Tomorrow will be, without a doubt, the most difficult day of this trip – 175km, and maybe twice as much climbing as today…. Stay tuned…



 
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thomas

The Crank Engine
Nov 1, 2005
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#6
The first 45km were somewhat familiar from having ridden along there 10 years ago with @thomas & @kiwisimon.
I can't believe it's been ten years! :eek: @WhiteGiant , definitely one of the most adventurous rides ever. And a well-deserved whale burger in Hakodate...


Enjoy your ride and keep us posted! :)
 

WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
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#7
That backpack looks big and heavy!
5kg of pain-inducing goodness :)
I brought a whole lot of cold-weather gear that it looks like I won't need. Still, better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it!
Besides, with the extra weight, my leisure trip doubles as a training getaway.
 

WhiteGiant

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#9
Day 3 – Miyako to Kesennuma – 173km

Strava details

Wow! That was quite a day!

I knew it was going to be a long day, so I did my best to leave as early as possible – In the end, I managed to roll out by 7:40am. It didn’t take long to get out the town area(Miyako), and before long I was on the first climb of the day; 3km at about 8~9%. This would set the mood for the day, as there were many more climbs just like it ahead of me.

For the most part, I stuck to Rte.45, the main road that runs all the way from Miyako to Kesennuma, my destination. However, there were a few places where I chose to detour off the main road in order to a) get some climbs in (ha ha… really!) and b) avoid some extra long tunnels.

The first of these was Rte.41, which contained the abovementioned climb. The next was Rte.231, followed by Rte.242. Rte.242 was really nice, similar to Rte.44 from the previous day, just a nice secluded climb with almost zero traffic – My own private Rindo! – And it was a great descent from there too.

The last one was Rte.250, which I took specifically to avoid going through a 2km tunnel on Rte.45. It was also a very nice secluded rindo. Once I was back on Rte.45 for the final time, I had to pass through a few towns, and I noticed that I finally had the wind at my back. On the flatter sections, the pattern was to get down in the drops, and set the legs to “medium grind”. Hence I made good time on the final run into Kesennuma, and got here at about 17:20.

On a slightly more somber note, the further south I came, the more apparent the damage done by the tsunami in 2011. One of the worst hit places I saw was a town called “Rikuzen Takata”. There was a heavy feeling in the air, even now, like the weight of all that water was still pressing down on people’s lives. It really is hard to describe.

Tomorrow, should be a bit easier – Not as far, and not as much climbing. Once I get to Sendai, I’ll pretty much jump straight on the Shinkansen, and be back home for dinner.



 
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WhiteGiant

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#10
Day 4 – Kesennuma to Sendai – 165km

Strava details

Although I felt pretty good at the end of day 3, by the last day fatigue had set in. There was very little pep in the step, so to speak. Thankfully, there wouldn’t be that much climbing – only 1,400m or so. And by the grace of the wind-gods, a tailwind to carry me home.

I’d gotten into a routine of “early-to-bed, early-to-rise”, so I managed to get in 8 hours, and get up at 6am. I was rolling by about 7:45, and once I made my way to the main road (Rte.45), I noticed the wind had my back.

The first 40km were not very pleasant at all, due to the narrowness of the road and the high number of trucks – Large earth-carrying dump trucks.

I have a number of songs that I sing in my head (and sometimes aloud) as I’m riding. The most notable being “White Lightning” (Def Leppard) , which I purposefully change to “White LINING”… as usually that’s exactly what I’m riding on at the time. Another one that often comes to mind when being passed at close quarters by massive monsters of earth-laden steel & rubber is: “It’s not my time” (3 Doors Down), as both a calming mantra and a vocal prayer…

So after 40 hair-raising kilometers of singing the same ol’ song, I finally turned off onto Rte.389 and voila! BLISS! What a beautiful road – very little car traffic, and ZERO trucks! 60km of coast-hugging beauty between Minami-Sanriku and Ishinomaki. This is where I could forget about everything and just pedal. It has everything, little ups and little downs, as well as a long straight section along the Kitakami river.

The uphills, small as they were, were getting to my weary legs, and I decided that at the next large-ish town I got to, I would head to the Post Office and send back any luggage I didn’t need for the rest of the journey. So it was in Onagawa where I finally lightened my load. 5kg > 2kg… *Sigh of relief*

Now here’s a thing… Prime Minister Abe.

Just as I came out of the Onagawa Post Office, I saw, crossing the road (on foot!) and followed by about 100 journalists, film-crew, and cameramen, the leader of the country, not 10 meters away from where I stood… total co-incidence.

After my brief near-brush with politics, I headed to the nearest Family-Mart, and had something to eat. From there I had 70km to go.

I left Onagawa and was soon in Ishinomaki, where I was once again surrounded by trucks/lorries although the much wider roads here meant the locals were saved from my singing. I came past the JDF Air Force Base, and as I crossed the Naruse River, turned off Rte.45 and onto another little peaceful country road that led to what is known as the “Oku-Matsushima Park Line”, or more simply, Rte.27. I followed Rte.27 all the way through Matsushima town, which was quite busy with tourists, and then finally back onto Rte.45 for the last time.

Traffic now was more reminiscent of “city-riding”, which is what I’m used to. So despite being even more surrounded by cars, I was actually less anxious the closer I got to Sendai itself.

I made a bee-line for the station, arriving at exactly 5pm. Not too bad considering the fatigue, but mostly thanks to a favorable wind. After packing up my bike and having something to eat, I got a ticket for the Shinkansen back to Tokyo, and was home by 8:30pm.

 
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kiwisimon

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Dec 14, 2006
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#11
Thanks for the write ups Travis. I miss good ride reports and you always do a good job. My son today did the same ride we did but both ways and on his own! Trucks I told you the further south you went the more foreboding they would be but I think the truck drivers up here are really good. I feel safer with a truck approaching than just about any other vehicle.
So all that is left for you up here is a loop of Hokkaido. Shinkansen goes to Hakodate now you know. keep it rubber side down and good luck in Okinawa!