27 November 2010

To Nagahama

So the Friday I took off started out well with the fire & rescue adventure I could witness, as noted in the previous post.

After that I managed very well on route 54 and transferred to the 330 to get to Nagahama via the mountains. Around there I got some shots of keitō flowers 鶏頭 ケイトウ, that my friend and I dubbed “brain flowers” after using them in ikebana (actually just a regular arrangement on left—it had been my first time). There might be a lot of piled rubbish to photograph, but there are also some great gardens!

The roads were very quiet, being the back of beyond, especially once I got on the 330. Just beware of the old man in his Kei truck who seems to be aiming for you, or the Kuroneko driver who is so used to owning the narrow country road that he only notices the cyclist when she is already right next to him about five centimetres from his truck. I’m beginning to think that the single track width of the roads gets the countryside drivers used to driving in the middle of it, even if they can keep a bit to the left. Unless there’s a white line, they drive in the middle, even when it’s wider.

The countryside does however more than make up for it with adorable people. In some part of the vast Yanagisawa 柳沢 I was taking pictures as the postman was making his rounds on his scooter. He stopped to talk, asking either where I was coming from or where I was going—the polite Japanese still comes at me a bit fast sometimes. I told him I was traveling from Uchiko to Nagahama via the mountains. He said oh and take care because it’s steep. He went on his merry way again, only to pop back two minutes later with a chocolate bar for me, for “when I get tired”. That’s the kind of thing I’d like to remember forever.

I was very much enjoying my photographic journey and I was also delighted to find a large area of terraced fields. I’ll definitely go out there in the summer again. It was however in this area where things started to go wrong. As you can see in the pictures, the red arrow route markers are perhaps somewhat aged and not so useful anymore. I did figure out I was way off after a while, and came back down from the mess I was in. Then I was back on the 330, but so desperate to continue that I kept going down when I should’ve taken a right to stay on the route—I figured all this out after the fact with Google maps. So after I had gone very far down I realised I was still in the mountains (not over them at all) and after much head scratching I went a little up the road only to come to a place I had been before. Hours ago. Very bad. By this time I didn’t think that I could regain the lost altitude in time and travel along before it gets dark, as it does, promptly around 5 p.m. so I took an escape route.

I went back to where the 54 and the 330 met up and took the 230 out to Kitayama 喜多山, then continued on to Niiya 新谷 and Ōzu 大洲 and took the 24 out to Nagahama 長浜. The traffic was heavy and the wind from the sea was from the front but I was just happy to make it to my friend’s house before nightfall.

I wasn’t brave enough to spend another whole day in the saddle attempting the route from the Nagahama side, so I’ll have to try it again next year. We’re leaving for our South African home time holiday soon, and when I get back it’ll be too cold and snowy in the mountains for this kind of trip. So maybe come March, I’ll be up there again.

Total distance: Maybe like... more than 45km. Not counting the most lost times.
Lowest point: When I had gone in a circle.
Highest point: When I arrived in Nagahama safe and sound.

P.S. If you want to compare the planned route with the actual one.

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