Sunday 20 August 2023

24hours of Summer Cycling from Sapporo City to Kitami City

                      28th August 7:30 left Sapporo 29th August Reached Kitami City

The Hokkaido cycling goal.

7:30 am I left Kita Ku and headed on my way to Shiretoko National Park.

In 2019, after buying my own bicycle. I made plans to cycle to all the corners of the Island of Hokkaido. From 2019 to 2021 during my stay in Sapporo, I cycled North to Wakanai.The North Tip of the Island of Hokkaido.

I also cycled South to Hokudate. This city is at the southern tip of Hokkaido just over the sea from Aomori Prefecture. After these two trips,  I have one more place to cycle to and that is the  Shiretoko Peninsula on the Easter tip of Hokkaido. 

But towards the end of  2022, I moved to Fukushima and I never get to do the Shiretoko cycling trip. However, the plan of cycling to Shiretoko has always been on my mind since.

In April of 2023, I moved back to Sapporo. When I moved back, I told myself, this is it, during my summer vacation before my knee surgery on August 4th. I have to cycle to Shiretoko to achieve my longtime goal.

For those who don't know. I got my knee injured in June while practicing Judo. After seeing the doctor we scheduled my knee ACL reconstruction surgery for the 4th of August.

Packing and Rolling.

                              The weather was beautiful as I left Kita Ku and started cycling.

A few days before my summer break in late June. I started doing my planning for my Shiretoko bicycle trip. I did planing on what things I should carry with me on my bike, which routes to take, and where should I stop for overnight camping.

I set my Shiretoko cycling trip to begin on July 27th. I wanted to reach Shiretoko and cycle back before my knee surgery. My surgery is in a week's time. Just enough time for me to return from my trip

However, on the 27th, the day of my cycling trip, my company send out an email for our annual drug test and it on the same day of my cycling. It completely bunkers my plan and so I have to postpone until the 28th.

That night I packed my tent, sleeping bag, camping pot, camping gas, and my bike tools. Also, I packed extra clothes and snack foods. The next day I planned to wake up at 4 am and start cycling. However, I slept late that night and work up at 7am on the day of my cycling trip.

Leaving Kita Ku, Sapporo.

                  Leaving Sapporo City and on my way out of Sapporo

July 28th, Friday morning. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was already out and shining bright. In the summer, the sun usually comes out early, usually around 3:30 am. This is the time when you can see the first daybreak.

There were no clouds in the sky. The sky over Kita Ku was blue and beautiful. I knew it was going to be a hot day of cycling.

Around 7:30am, a left home and cycled through the Kita area to the Toyohira River. Taking my usual route to work. The sun was bright and my heart was singing happily as a bike. It was early so there were fewer people and cars on the road.

I cycled past Sapporo Beer Garden, then passed Kita Gas Arena. Kita Gas Arena is a community place for practicing sports. I got my knee injured there. Then I followed route 275 and crossed the  Toyahura River through Kariki Bridge. 

Leaving Sappro.

           8am Arriving at Ebetsu city 18km outside of Sapporo.

Leaving Sapporo behind I headed North east to Ebstu city. I have been to this city many times. My fiancee is from Ebetsu City. 

While cycling, I checked my bike speed, looked at my tires, and checked the weight of my bike. My baby was just rolling along Route 275.

The sun was hot, and there where no breeze. The summer weather in Sapporo always reminded me of my Papua New Guinea. 

Route 275 to Ebetsu is mostly flat. But as it is the main route into the city there are large industrial lots located along the route. Some places along the route are just bushes.

Arriving at Ebetsu city

Left: Main street in Ebestu city                  Right: Overhead Crossing at Ebestu Station

After an hour of cycling, I arrived at Ebetsu Midomachinshi 1, the center of Ebestu at around 8 am. I then headed East, crossing Ebetsu station, and headed straight for route 12.

Ebetsu is a beautful town.At this hour you hardly will see people on the streets. Most are still sleeping or in their houses eating breakfast.

I left Ebestu and pulled into Route 12. This route will take me to Asahikawa City. One of Hokkaido's biggest cities apart from Sapppro. It is located in the middle of Hokkaido west of  Daisentsusan National Park. A 2000m high landscape of mountains, rocks, and hot springs.

6 cities to Ashahikawa.

Right: Toyahoro Station in Ebstsu   Right: Passing through Iwamizawa Main Street

Asahikawa City is 150km from Sappporo and 130km from Ebetsu. From Ebetsu City to Ashahikawa City according to Google Maps, it will take 8 hours by bicycle.

Left: Koshunai Sation in Bibai city      Right:  Stopping to have ice cream at Micho-no Eki at Naie city.

Route 12 will take me from Ebetsu City to  Iwamizawa City, Bibai City, Sunagawa City, Takkikawa City, Moseushi City, and Fukagawa City.

Left: Sungawa city 3 more km                   Right : Hokko Park in Sungawa city

Once I reached Ashahikawa it will cut my total destination distance to half. I will have just 200km more to reach Shiretoko National Park. 

Left: Sorachihashi Bridge over Sorachi River    Right: Takikawa Parking 2km

I planned to camp at Shiratakikoge camping ground. Located halfway between Asahikawa and Abashiri.But you never know, plans do change.

Left: Road site resting place at Fukugawa city.    Right: Heading into Asahikawa

Between Ebetsu and Asahikawa City, the road is flat so, I estimated that it should take me less than 5 hours to reach Asahikawa.

Beautiful scenes in Asahikawa city.Took this picture as a pass through the Ishikari river which runs through Asahikwaka city.

 Night cycling.

Photo taken as I was started my climb up Mt. Daisetsu National Park at Night

I reached Asahikawa City aorund 4:30pm. I cycled through the main street and soon came upon a 100 yen shop. From there I parked my bike outside and went inside and bought a bicycle backlight, extra batteries and a light refect strap.

Then I cycled to Shundokai Park and took a long rest. At the park, while resting I took time to think about where should I camp for the night. There I made a bad decision and set only one camping ground for the night. I should have a few other options.

Taking a 1-hour break at Kamikawa city before going on to climb Mt.Daisetsu, National Park

When I finally left Shundokai Park it was 5pm. I have 1 or 2 more daylight hours of cycling before it's dark. The camping ground I am heading to is still 80km away. I was already exhausted and tired from cycling in the hot 32-degree Celsius sun.

My plan was to reach a small town called Kamikawa and then I will decide whether to take a rest for the night or continue to cycle towards the targeted camping ground.

Left: Having dinner  At Kamikawa             Right: Drinking hot coffee at Seico Mart, Kamikawa city.

Night cycling M.t Daisetsu National Park.

Left: Sounkyo Tourist area at Daisetsu                                Right: Sounkyo Tunnel

I stayed at Kamikawa for more than an hour. Around 11:30pm I left Kamikawa town and headed back for route 39. I was exhausted, but I decided to cycle the whole night.

After cycling 1 or 2 kilometers, I reached the final junction. This is where Route 39 split into Routes 333 and 273.

First, I wanted to take route 333. Taking route 333, I can go around Mt.Daiseteu and I don't have to climb up 2000m. 

However, upon entering Route 333 I saw that the road was complete darkness, with no cars and no lights. So I turned back and took route 273. Not knowing what awaits me. Turning back was a bad decision.

After turning back and heading on Route 273. I cycled for a few km and started the climb. It was around 11:40 when I started climbing Mount Daisatsu. Mt. Daisetsu is around 2000m. My climbing will take me up half that distance.

Daisetsu National Park is a breathtaking place with one of Hokkaido's stunning views. However, cycling at night I never get to see and enjoy these views.

After cycling for 3 hours. I reached Sounkyo.A resort area near Daisetsu Peak. It is a beautiful place located right in a sund valley and it's surrounded by huge mountains cliffs on both sites. There are a lot of hot-spring Japanese bath hotels there too. 

Down breaking 3:45 am at Sekihoku Pass at Daisetsu National Park.

After 4 hours of cycling up Daisetsu National Park. I finally reached Sekihoku Pass. This is where descending to Kitami begins. 

It was 3:45 am when I finally pulled into Sekihoku Pass. I rested there for 30 minutes as I watched the down slowly break. The temperature there was around 18 degrees Celsius and as I was standing there I felt the amazing cool mountain bracing again my body. It was so refreshing.

 After, all night of cycling. I started to feel terrible friction between my legs. It has now become clear to me that getting back on the bike will be very difficult.

After resting, I jumped back on my back and descended down Sekihoku Pass. It took me less than 20 minutes to reach Kitami City from the Sekihoku Pass.

  Left: 4:17am making  my breakfast, Rbeshibechiofukimi Car Park                                                                       Right: Kitami City 28km more to go   

Shiretoko Trip called off.

Left: 9:43 am arrived at Kitami city                         Right: In front of Miwa Park, Kitami city.

After descending down from Daisatsu National Park. I can't cycle anymore because I was so exhausted, sleepy, and in so much pain from friction between my legs. I took a break at a roadside resting place. There, I slept on the bench for that establishment for 1 and a half hours.

 I felt much better after taking a nap but my friction still continues to get worst every time I cycled. So I decided that when I reached Kitami City which is about 20km more to go. Depending on my pain I will either continue this trip or cancel it and return home. 


Left Kitami station Olipc Calying ball moment.      Right: Water fountain at Ko Park Kitmi City.

At 9:45am I arrived at Kitami City. I was so excited but my cycling is getting much more difficult. Every time I tried to cycle my friction pain gets worst and I have to use a lot of power to move forward. So my speed was getting slower and slower. I definitely can not continue on this trip with my current situation.

My thigh and butt are in so much pain and to add to these discomforts, my injured knee also was swollen and gave me more discomfort. All of these make riding impossible.

This is when I told myself. It was time to call off this trip and returned home.

Heading back to Sapporo

At 10 am, I arrived at Kitami Bus Terminal and enquired about the bus ticket to Sapporo. The clerk lady said,  'We will book you for the 1 pm bus because there are fewer passengers'. "Then, you will have space for your bike'.

I paid for the ticket and then went to Ko Park and rested. I waited there till 12:30am and then I went back to the Kitami bus terminal and packed my things and my bicycle. 

The Sapporo bus arrived on time and  I took my bike and placed it in the cargo compartment. I went on the bus and in no time we are on our way to  Sapporo.

Kitami to Sapporo by bus usually takes 6 hours. So, I have enough time to take a good rest.

Sounkyou Daisetsu National Park.A tourist resort area. The photo was taken upon returning to Sapporo by bus. From the background, you can see the roadway up to Mt. Daisetsu Peak.

Before reaching Sappor we made a stopover at Daisetsu National Park Sounkyo Area. We stayed there for an hour before heading to Sapporo. By the time we reached Sapporo, it was 7pm

I got off at Sapporo station resembled my bike and stuff and slowly made my way home. I reached my home at around 8pm.

By Joshua Sasahombi

Summer bike cycling.


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