Kanazawa to Shirakawa

•September 25, 2016 • 1 Comment

48 miles and 4200’…with lots of ups and downs and some pannier-load challenging grades. They call this the “Japan Alps” region, which has some passes up to 8000′, that I’ll do in a few days, but the elevations are nothing compared to the US Mountain Region. Nonetheless, the climbs are still a workout. 

 

Small mountain village

 

This region is known for its many traditional thatched roof homes

 

First time I saw a shrine dedicated to a big root.  Nice root, though.  

In my route planning, I’ll always choose the “route less traveled” when possible.  This section was definitely less traveled.  

 

Japan’s bicycle infrastructure- Kanazawa

•September 23, 2016 • 2 Comments

 These photos are pretty typical of the bicycle infrastructure in Japan.  I’m in Kanazawa a few days as the starting point for my tour. 

 

  You can never say things are not clear here in Japan for bicycles 

 

 First time I saw a bike graphic with a basket 

 A bicycle parking area near the train station 

 The bike ramp leading down to the walkway under the road 

Another Japan Cycling Tour – Sept 2016

•September 20, 2016 • 1 Comment

This time I’m staying in the region known as the “Japan Alps” in West-Central Honshu.  I’ll be riding between the cities of Kanazawa, Takayama, Matsumoto, and Nagano, with 10 days of cycling, 400 miles, and about 40,000′ of climbing.  Once again, small, quiet, but hilly roads.

japancycling

The routes can be seen in these links:

Kanazawa

Kanazawa to Takayama (2 days)

Takayama loop

Takayama to Matsumoto (2 days)

Matsumoto Loop

Matsumoto to Nagano

Nagano Loop

Takaoka to Kanazawa

 

Italian Food, Part 1: Sardinia (and also a little bit on cycling)

•May 4, 2016 • 4 Comments

Sure, southern Spain has fantastic roads, great climbs, charming white-washed hilltop villages, unbelievably courteous drivers, and wonderful weather.  And Sardina has very good cycling, but honestly, it’s not Spain.  

The Sardinian coast and island interior 

But, while the Spanish cycling is amazing, the food can be a bit tedious. Yes, great food can be found in nicer restaurants, but the menus can become repetitive.  When cycling and wanting to grab something relatively quick, the options are often deep fried. 

Italy, and in this case, Sardinia, makes eating a great joy.

[But both countries have a limited definition of breakfast: In Southern Spain its toast with tomato purée and lashings of olive oil with jamon as an option; in Sardinia (and most of Italy), it’s maybe a croissant accompanied by an amazing coffee (though, this morning the B&B did put out a great spread).]

Now, the Italian dinner is something else entirely. Perfection all the way through…including the wine and digestif. 

Wine and a big pizza: $10

 

I remember on a recent trip to Rome (but it could have been anywhere in Italy), reading a blog comment about “the best” restaurant, and suggestions for “great meals”… really?  That’s total BS… You can close your eyes and stumble into the first place you hit and you have about a 90% chance it’ll be good. A 75% chance it’ll be great.

 

OK, I’ve had a bad meal in Italy…but it’s damn rare.

 

Carte musica…

Oh yes, so far Sardina cycling: 168 miles & 17,447′ of gain… Which is damn fortunate ’cause there’s a lot of eating going on here.

 

 

 

 

Andalucia tour finished, now to Sardinia

•May 2, 2016 • 3 Comments

Finished cycling Spain with 375 miles and 29,700′ of gain. I’m now on the overnight ferry to Sardinia for 8 more riding days. 

This day started with an amazing cycling road.  For over 15 miles it was perfect pavement, and I saw a total of zero cars.  The rest of the day was very good riding, but this section would be hard to beat.

The road approaching Zuhara.  And once again, a brutally steep final climb up to the village. 

Yes, they do put these hilltop villages in fact on the top of hills. 

Looking back to Zuhara

The front of my hotel in Osuna.  Osuna is a town filled with old palaces (my hotel was an 18th century palace, which was beautiful, but had 18th century plumbing), churches, and convents.  Lots of streets had names that included the words Jesus, Christo, Dios, etc.  

Osuna’s old homes have an interesting pop-out window detail.  

 

The Fiesta started in Córdoba with an interesting mix of activities, which mostly included decorated church plazas, big flower-covered crosses, and large beer stands.  An odd mix of religion and serious partying.  And true to the Spanish tradition, it was loud and went long into the morning hours.  

Day 3: Antequera to Ronda

•April 25, 2016 • 3 Comments

67 miles & 6745 ft. The road leaving Antequera makes for some truly fantastic cycling, and lots of climbing. 

 

The morning started with some fog

 

 

And the drivers actually follow this law

 

In the complex, cramped hilltop villages, the GPS sometimes thinks these are rideable 

 

More great roads…

Touring Andalucia Day 1: Córdoba to Zuheros

•April 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment

58 miles, 4505′.    Most of the climbing was at the end. The final ¼ mile up to the village of Zuheros on the cobble road hit 17%.  A killer with a loaded touring bike!

 

In the courtyard of the apartment we rented

This stage is mostly riding through farmland. A typical farmhouse in the back. 

Zuheros…the quintessential white village. 

Zuheros could NOT be any more picture perfect. 

 
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