Lake Shikotsu to Sapporo
June 19 and 20, 2023
With a pre-party the night before and free beer, I was surprised to see all riders up early, chipper and eager to get started. It was a short ride to Sapporo but it started with a climb out of yet another caldera. (Are any Japanese lakes not either reservoirs or calderas?) As climbs go on this trip it was fairly tame; not much more than doing the Foymount hill. After that there were a few rolling hills but pretty much downhill afterwards to Sapporo. There was a nice gale force headwind coming off the lake to keep us from becoming overheated.
The only real point of interest on our short ride, aside from some nice scenery at the beginning, was a very large Buddha, reclined across what appeared to be a cross between a temple and a tourist attraction. I make this latter judgment based upon the fact that they charge an admission fee just to get close enough to take a nice picture. I guess all of that gold paint is expensive.
We arrived a the very swank JR Tower Hotel in the heart of Sapporo and convenient to the train station. Convenient in the context that it is connected to the train station and owned by the railroad. Our first duty was to begin to break down our bikes and box them for the flight home. It is a sad but necessary chore to pack away your two wheeled companion after so many days of adventures. With three connections on my flight home I can only hope it somehow follows me there.
Since I was leaving the next day, I did not get to see much of Sapporo except for a walk to the Sapporo Tower for a final group photo and another longer walk to the Sapporo Brewery for an all you can eat and drink, goodbye dinner. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Still, I managed to retain my sobriety and enough sense of mind to find my way back to the hotel to finish my final packing for the next day’s long march home.
I can’t say enough good things about the TdA crew that took care of all the details to make our Journey to the East possible. They are a cheerful, skilled and professional group. Company founder and fellow rider for part of our tour, Henry Gold, can be proud of these people and the great job they do in making his company’s tours the enjoyable experience I have found them to be.
There was a lot of discussion on how to get our bikes to the airport. Taxis in Japan are ridiculously expensive with one that can fit a bike box and a passenger charging 21000 Yen for the trip. (app $200 Canadian) However, the train will make the same trip in half the time for about $10 Canadian if you don’t mind trying to drag your large, boxed bicycle and your luggage to the proper platform and squeezing the entire package onto the train. Two of us decided to team up to make the trip in case we needed to shuttle a piece of gear of two. As it worked out we both are good pack horses and accomplished the journey without having to do any back and forth trips.
My flights home were long, boring and stressful those times when there was not much time between connecting flights. Every time I hit a new airport I was put through security screening which made it that much tougher to get to my next departure gate on time. I made it but Air Canada was unable to get my bike onto my final flight, an expected surprise when I hit the ground in Ottawa. After a very long journey home I was not too pleased to stand in yet another line to report my missing bike and wait for the paperwork to be created to track it down and see that it gets shipped to my home.
With this last chore performed I was finally free to have my son and my wife Chris, pick me up and get me started on my two hour drive home where a rye and ginger ale awaited along with a comfortable bed. No matter how far I roam, coming home is always the best part of the journey.