Bicycle Touring in Japan – Sanriku Coast from Hachinohe to Miyako.

The weather pattern has not been favorable for a fair-weather-favoring cyclist like me. It’s been raining very often in recent weeks. But don’t feel sorry for me, it’s also raining for everyone else who was also in Hachinohe.

Started off the day riding down Route 1. Route 1 on the coast down from Hachinohe is absolutely beautiful in terms of scenery.

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Kabushima Shrine

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Can you hear the waves crashing on the rocks? No?

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There’s a long network of hiking trails, if you’re keen on that

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Who put that there?

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It was great to meet Yuka, who is doing a lap around Japan on her motorcycle

I thought about camping at Tanesashi campground, and I sat in a gazebo for a few hours just checking on the weather, hoping the rain will calm down. Not wanting to camp in the rain, I decided it was a better idea to ride through the night towards Miyako. Looking back, a questionable decision.

Since it was dark, I figured being on a larger road would mean more opportunities for places to hide from the rain, and probably come across some convenience stores. Both of these turned out true. I don’t know how it is for on other Japanese roads at night, but Route 45 was very dark. There aren’t many street lamps around. My (cheap) bike light and (equally cheap) headlamp allowed me about 10 feet of visibility ahead of me, so the riding was very slow. Compound that with showers and mist, it wasn’t very pleasant. Sweating up a hill with your rain gear, then freezing on the way down. It was about 11c (low 50’s) during the night. Traffic was very sporadic after about 9 pm, so that was good. Since it was dark, I can’t comment much on the scenery.

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Sought refuge at a roadside station. Everything was closed

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Another stop for canned coffee. Didn’t have any warm options, however

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Moshi-moshi pit

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Lovely Route 45 past midnight

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Thank you

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Traffic-less tunnel, best tunnel

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4:13 am in Kuji

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I think this is Noda train station

Let’s talk about Route 45 for a moment. This is one of the ways to get to Miyako. At night, this route is quite pleasant. But during the day – it’s horrible (mostly). Tons of trucks on the roads carrying goods and materials to rebuild from the destruction caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

By the time I got to around Kuji it was dawn. Soon after, the trucks are out in force. There was quite a bit of climbing from this point on. The mountains aren’t big near the coast, but there are many of them. Route 45 has a bunch of these diversions where one route is for vehicles, and the other route is for 125cc bikes, pedestrians, and cyclists. I suspect, these diversions means that us low-powered plebs have to climb the hills through the mountains, and the vehicles get the newly-made flat expressways. I cannot confirm this, as I am a low-powered pleb relegated to the pleb course. These diversions were not always bad, but they were always uphill. But even during mid-day, there would be relatively low traffic on the road when the traffic splits, minus a few trucks going up and down doing their thing. Alas, they converge, and it’s trucks again. There were also a large number of road-side improvement maintenance going on, such as: weed wacking, landslide wall beautification, and other stuff.

Don’t let my words dissuade you from riding Route 45. With the right attitude (which I lack) and mankind’s ingrained spirit of adventure (also lack) will make this ride undoubtedly full of fun and discovery. Even though the riding can be quite stressful, it may be to your interest to take a look around at the progress taking place in some of the areas devastated by the 2011 event.

Route 45 does have a lot of green, which makes for pretty good scenery. I could see road cyclists having a lot of fun on this stretch from Fudai to Miyako.

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Somewhere around Noda

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You get to see a lot of this from the bridges

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Tree over the stream caught my attention

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Sometimes you have to pull over the side of the road for a shot

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The final push on Route 45 before Miyako had 4 tunnels, if I remember correctly. And for some reason, the most trucks. At this point, I’ve been awake for about 35 hours. I was walking my bike up many of these hills and through tunnels. Most hills won’t have a pedestrian walkway and a sufficient shoulder, riding is the safest way. I also managed to scrape myself to a stop on a wall of a tunnel. I was riding on a meter-and-a-half wide walkway; the lack of sleep was getting the better of me. I walked quite a bit after that.

I was really happy this part of the journey came to a close, and I can finally sit down and doze off in the comfort of a dry hotel room. The distance from Hachinohe to Miyako is about 150 kilometers (93 miles). Took me all night and day to do this (pathetic). I don’t think there are any more overnight riding attempts left in me.

Thanks for reading.

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Screenshot of planning phase. Approximate route, with approximate trip time. Definitely not my moving time

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