To Nagano

•October 6, 2016 • 3 Comments


My bike on a local train.  A few stops after I took this photo, the train started filling up, so I moved my bike to the front where there were no seats.  There was more than 4′ of unoccupied bench next to me, and only a few tiny spaces here and there in my car.  This was a local line…not a tourist route.  At further stops, more people boarded than departed, but no one took the space near me, they just squeezed into the other spaces.  I didn’t take it personally.  


I’m not sure this is even physically possible

05.jpgI cycled through that half tunnel 


A festival in a town I cycled through 


These wrapped ears of corn are displayed all around.  Must be a autumn thing. 

Rainy days

•September 30, 2016 • 3 Comments

It’s been raining off and on the last few days.  Fortunately, I’ve been mostly on very small mountain roads so the rain hasn’t been a huge issue.  Plus it’s been pretty light and reasonably warm. 


 Setting out in the rain 

 Taking a break to get dry for a while 

サラダ says “Sarada” or salad, but Salad Road?

 The only other place in the world I’ve seen wood so neatly stacked was Switzerland 

 Primping for the camera in front of Kumamoto castle 

 The menu at the restaurant last night.  I can read Hiragana and Katakana pretty well but I can read absolutely zero Kanji, so this was mostly useless for me 

A bike shop.  It was open for business if you could make it through the mess



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.


The routes can be seen in these links:


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.  

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