Pirika to Lake Toya
June 17, 2023
Today was the first of our last three rides in Japan. It was scheduled to be an easy 75 kilometers with a fairly flat 700 meters of climbing. However, that route was set up over five years ago and the current experience found that there were three tunnels on that original route with heavy traffic. TDA decided that it was unsafe and scouted out a new route to avoid the danger. That route jumped the distance from 75 kilometers to 131 and the climbing double the original 700 meters. Welcome to your day Bob.
Let me say that there have been longer rides and more climbing. The distance and climbing are things that I am built for and used to. However, when your mind has been set on a day to loaf along and now you need to get hard and gritty, it takes a bit of mental adjustment. All part of the adventure when you tour by bike, just suck it up and ride.
The ride was through a lot of countryside very similar to the places we have already been. I decided not to bother with more pictures of rice paddies and volcanic mountains. However there were a few things of interest.
Throughout the island of Hokkaido we have come across buildings that have been abandoned. Some have fallen in upon themselves while others seem to be in the process of doing so. Some are nothing more than shacks but others seem quite elaborate. In a land prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, things often lack permanence. The Japanese try to consider these threats when they build and they often build with the idea that nothing will last more than twenty or thirty years. Tall buildings are seldom seen outside of Tokyo and even the big hotels seem to top out at twenty stories. Of course there are exceptions and the Japanese are masters of building with materials and engineering that will withstand what the planet throws at them up to a point.
Another interesting sight was an ostrich farm. One of our riders decided to get personal with the birds and the bird decided to try to snatch his cell phone. He imagined that the bird may have wanted to phone its relatives back in South Africa.
Eventually, through ups and downs and zig-zaging turns that moved us in anything but a straight line we came to our evening destination, Lake Toya. The lake fills an ancient caldera of a still active volcano. While the volcano is still active, it is not still belching smoke and tossing lava and rocks the way it would if it was erupting. Active means that it may vent form time to time with time being measured in centuries and not years. Seems fairly safe for now and the Japanese flock to the Lake for summer recreation.