I procrastinated for most of the morning, helping myself to some cereal, which I haven’t eaten in months, then lounging around until 11am. I knew today’s ride was going to be rough, I looked up the elevation profile and saw that there was a tunnel at 950m above sea level, while I was currently sitting at 250m elevation. I dragged my feet on the bike too, I cruised for an hour and finished the first 16km, then climbed upwards for two hours to finish the next 16km. I was slow, sweaty and getting stomach cramps, but I just kept going on my lowest gears (aka granny gear).
Along the way I passed a few wineries and orchards, although I was just in between seasons because up to May they have strawberries and the grapes aren’t ready until July and August. Of course, all of this flat and open space meant that there was no shade until I was halfway up the big climb.
It was a relief to get to the top, but the tunnels were a bit scary, there were lots of cars and trucks going past and there was a 20cm wide section for my bike. I forced myself to relax, keep my head straight and remind myself “you’ve got your bike lights, the cars have lights and they can see you, nothing bad is going to happen”. Even though I know that Japanese drivers are polite and cautious, the sound of vehicles in tunnels is still terrifying.
Arriving at my hostel was lovely, the place was like a nice hotel; comfy beds, amenities galore, soft towels and sheets. For super bonus points they had free cereal, milk and a nice coffee machine.
I met a couple from Holland who have been travelling for the past ten months and chatted with them over some chocolates and beer. We had dinner together at a pork cutlet place around the corner and everything was delicious, even the shredded cabbage. Back at the hostel, the other dorm occupants were tucked in and asleep by 9pm, which was a relief, since the last hostel I stayed at in Matsumoto had two guys snoring for three consecutive nights.
Day 50 Churieto Pagoda and not much else
It was cloudy today and forecast to be rainy and cloudy for the next few days as well, so I didn’t do much sightseeing. Even if you can’t see Mount Fuji, you can tell which direction it is in, because when you face south, he whole city slopes upwards towards the mountain. My legs were pretty tired and I only ventured to Churieto Pagoda, which was 2km away and 398 steps up (I counted them just in case).
For lunch I headed to a local restaurant for a 360 yen ($4.50 AUD) bowl of udon and copied the customers around me. There were no spoons involved, people just slurped the soup straight from the bowl, it was a very enjoyable experience and I actually liked the extra chewiness of the noodles in the region.
There was a bit of drizzle coming in, so I headed back to the hostel and picked the next ebook to buy for my kindle. For the past month I’ve been slowly working my way through “Amazon’s Top 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime” and it has been quite enlightening. For the rest of the day I just did some admin and caught up on the blog, before getting some steak for dinner at a Gusto Cafe. I assumed it would be average, since it’s a casual, family restaurant style chain, but it was surprisingly good. The little stove top was handy to cook the beef to my liking and all up it only costed 1000 yen ($12 AUD).
With rain forecast for my ride to Fujinomiya tomorrow, I moved my bike under the shelter outside and preemptively bought some feel good snacks, in case I got soaked and sad in the rain. I might not get the perfect photo of Mount Fuji during my trip, but at least I’ll always have the memory of the pretty manhole covering instead.