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Almost Coast to Coast


Speeding Up
Jan 7, 2007
I and Okey-san will depart to so-called Coast to Coast route to Naoetsu tomorrow. But this will be near Coast to Coast since I am not starting from the ocean side as you can see in the map.:D

We will take either cycling road or classical route, visiting some classical post stations along the route. Its distance is approx.350km, not bad.:bike: spending two days and nights.

I will report the trip on this sled later.

Minoru Arai
Great looking trip!

Looking forward to reading how it goes and seeing the pics...

Day one report: Usui-to to Karuizawa

This was the best of the best cycling route for me,,, , next to Hokkaido.:):)

If I express this route in one sentence, this is the route by the combination of traffic free cycling roads and quite classical roads, or "kyu-do". Total distance from my place to the Oceanside of Japan Sea was 340Km. I have wanted to make this trip for the last few years and finally was able to complete this, which turned out to be one of the most memorable trips.

The first day started early in the morning to hit Irimagawa CR near-by my place, reaching toward Arakawa CR where I met with Okey san at 8:00AM. The real Coast to Coast should start from Tokyo bay like Kasai-koen park, but we did not do this. We stayed on Arakawa CR up to Kumagaya-city which is the standard route and familiar to me. From Kumagaya-city, we headed north to Oizumi-cho where we entered into a CR along side Tonegawa river which is one of the largest river in Japan. This CR should lead us to Takasaki-city but we missed the route on the way and took a local street. These CRs are just a standard CR and nothing special, but we enjoyed cycling under the clear blue deep sky.

From Takasaki-city, we entered into Usui CR along the Usui-gawa river, but this CR was short and soon we hit an old route of hwy 18 toward Yokokawa where the climb to Usui-toge starts. This old route was very quite, lining up with old houses and nice atmospheres. Usui-toge is 960m high and 600m climb from Yokokawa in 16Km. Its gradient is low. This was not too bad but was long.:eek:uch: Traffic was little.

From the toge, the famous resort, Karuizawa, is only 10 minutes ride down. We stayed in one of the minshuku. The distance of the first day was 180Km.:bike::bike:

Minoru Arai
Day two report : Japan sea

The second day started with the long down hill on hwy 18 heading to Komoro-city. On the way, we were able to identify the classical route "Hokkoku kaido" street. On the route, there is a district called "Unno shuku" where many 400 years old houses are well preserved. Passing by the district gave us a sense of being in Edo era. It is fortunate there are only a few souvenir shops in the area unlike many other similar districts. In all houses, real life of the residents is still on going.

Just before entering Komoro-city, I had the first experience in my whole bicycle life. That is a puncture in my rear tire. This was quite an experience but was ok.

From Komoro-city, we entered into Chikuma-gawa CR along the Chikuma-gawa river.
Since Usui-toge is the dividing ridge to the Pacific ocean or the Japan Sea, rain drops on the toge go into Chikuma-gawa river toward the Japan Sea, which means you will just go downward as far as you stay on the CR. We stayed on the CR as far as 30Km. The CR is originally built for the maintenance work of the river bank and now made use for cycling and local farmers. The view from the CR was just great overlooking snow covered high mountains. Late spring in this area gave us some spring flowers along the river.

We got off the CR at IIyama-city. From the city, the first and last climb of the day starts toward Wakui-toge. We could avoid this climb by choosing hwy 18 but did not want to ride together with heavy traffic on hwy 18. This is just 250m climb in 8 km. This was a short climb but gave us a long downward ride heading toward Japan Sea. The road on the initial 20Km from the Wakui-toge was very quite but ,as we approach the ocean, we had to face some traffic.

Then, we finally reached the ocean at Naoetsu-city. The distance of the second day was 160Km making the total distance of 340Km form my place.

This route was actually very similar to the one described in the book I introduced before, "The best cycling courses in Japan" by Takashi Niwa. In this book, he shows ten cycling routes, three of which I have so far done. This route really deserves to be chosen in this book. Short climb gives long downward ride. :):)

Minoru Arai
Fantastic report and pics--thanks for sharing. Really makes me want to do something similar.


route and equally good account. Nice report !

Perhaps a target for Silver Week in September ?

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