Friday, September 4, 2009

Ride Report: Nagoya to Tsu

Total ride distance: 85km

It was cloudy as I rolled out of downtown Nagoya this morning. Within the city center, the roads were comfortably wide, althogh the traffic lights at every intersection slowed me down a good bit. Early on the ride there was a bit of rain spitting down from the sky, but by lunch time the sky had cleared completely.

As I found route 1 and followed it southwest out of Nagoya, the road gradually narrowed and the sidewalk turned into the more common collection of potholes, traffic signs, cones and random bumps that characterizes the shoulder of most roads around here, so my pace continued unabashedly slow through largely uninteresting low density city areas. Occasionally a larger intersection had an overpass for pedestrians and no pedestrian crosswalk. The first one I came to, I hauled bike and trailer up, over and down the other side. Having thoroughly proven to myself that that was a far more hazardous venture than just following traffic across instead, I ignored overpasses after that.

After two long bridges (both of which had nice cycling paths separated from the car traffic by several inches of solid steel), got to Kuwana, where the road widened again and I found a nice cafe to grab some lunch and rest during the hottest hour of the day.

Right after lunch, found a bike shop and finally got some chain lube. (I'd been borrowing some from the team before, and the suff we had wasn't very water resistant, so it had all washed off in the downpour in Tokyo.) My chain had been quite unhappy, so cleaning and lubricating it made it feel like I was riding a new bike. :)

Soon after, the path I mapped shifted from Route 1 to 23, which goes along the coast till Tsu. If navigating 1 had been tricky, then (excuse nerd reference) 23 was like doing the Deathstar trench run on a B-Wing. Instead of enemy fire, I was dodging the ridiculous amount of broken glass on the road. The cycling area itself wove in and out, up and down, passed through one tunnel with a 1.6m clearance (wtf? I'm 1.76m tall, for reference), randomly disappeared into patches of grass or shot off away from the highway and didn't tell anyone how to get back, and a few times ended inside some random factory's parking lot, leaving some gate guards rather puzzled as to while a touring bike was leaving the factory...

Got a nice reprieve when said path dropped completely away from 23 and landed on 6 for a few km. A much nicer route, with less traffic and more space to bike, not to mention less broken glass. By the time I rejoined 23, it had turned into a full highway with a nice, unused frontage road. Also met a stiff headwind at that point, but since I didn't have to deal with ADD paths, broken glass, potholes or traffic, it was still quite pleasant. :)

The last part of the ride went by fairly quickly, and soon I was passing that weird zone just outside a bigger city where all the outlet malls and big chain stores plunk themselves (yea, it's just the same in Japan now as in the US). Stopped for directions a couple of times to zero in on my ryokan and was comfortably installed in a very nice 8-mat room before 5:30pm. The place is really hard to find, which may explain why it was so cheap ($30/night).

Now for some dinner and a good night's sleep. Tomorrow I head with the bike unloaded to Ise and back.

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