After spending a few days in Seattle finishing up some work, I headed out to Japan to spend a week scoping out a project for next year. As always I was hoping to squeak in a ride if time permitted. I rented a mountain bike for the duration of my visit to serve as my primary means of daily transportation and potentially some recreation as well. The weather was forecast to be pretty much icky for the week with Wednesday being partly sunny. Wednesday came around and partly sunny was indeed the case with a full serving of windy and brisk to boot. I was able to open my afternoon enough to get in some “Off-Site Strategic Planning” accomplished on the bike. While I still have some places to explore in this area on my list from previous visits, I would not have time for that with the shorter days October. I had a handful of miles to ride on the streets to get to Zushi City where I would pick up the first part of the afternoon’s dirt adventure. I had nearly forgotten just how culturally interesting in can be riding on the streets over here. Narrow sidewalks, mom and pop businesses, scooters whizzing by, Japanese School Girl Uniforms, lots of people out walking and peddling, etc… It is just an intersting scene.
On one section of road with a bit of a climb in it I came across a new sign that was not there in June of last year. I can’t read this sign but I know what it means. And I like it. The Japanese have a knack for iconing things so that just about anybody can figure things out. Rider Up!
Once I made it over the Sengen Trails which is commonly referred to by us Engrish folk as Duck Pond since the trail starts at a small pond that typically has ducks in it. What a bunch creative Gaijins we are . The trail starts with a heiniouly steep hike-a-bike up to a ridge that typcially requires you to shoulder the bike. With the rain the day before I knew this was going to be a fun section with plenty of slick clay. It was about this time I thought about the fact I had never taken the trail around this little pond. So I decided to delay my hike-a-bike fun and go around the pond. I was fairly stoked to find that at the end the pond was a little boardwalk that was quite fun on the bike. It was just tight enough to be interesting and combined with the really brisk air and the thought of falling into the shallow mucky end of this pond made this section downright fun. I had to do it a couple of times in both directions. This was a pretty cool 5 minute detour and added some newness the ride right out of the gate. The Hike-A-Bike up to the ridge was every bit of clay treachery I expected, but I was soon rolling along the ridgetops.
After climbing along the trails I made it up to the top of Sengen Hill (or Peak – can’t remember ) there was some nice views of the mountains in the Hakone National Park in the distance, but it tooks some effort to see as mother nature is reclaiming the clearing in a hurry. As is often the case, Mt Fuji was hiding behind distant clouds. From here it was time to head down and I took one of my favorite routes down through the Tennin trail system before popping out on another street.
After a short bit of road interconnecting I got onto a series of trails that headed westward towards Kamakura. There are some really good trails that are quite popular with hikers. Many of the trails are hundreds of years old with some of the more direct routes between the temples being over a thousand years old.
There are several sections along the route where the trail cuts through the top of the ridge via a slot or notch. Sometimes the notches are 20-30 feet deep. I orginally thought that this was a result of the trail being “cut” by some machinery or tools sometime in the past. The slots in the ridge were actually created from the countless footsteps of people who have walked these trails for hundreds of years. Feet, time and errosion have cut through the ridge tops. After riding and climbing along these ridges the exit was like most of the trails in the mountains around here, Hike-A-Bike up and White Knucklers on the way down. The wet conditions earlier in the week made the descent quite challenging to ride and not much easier to walk. There was a least a couple of clay samples taken.
Once I dropped off the ridgelines down into Kamakura I worked my way along the streets back to Yokosuka and my hotel. Later on that evening I met some old friends for dinner to catch up on thngs and to fawn over their new baby girl. It was good times on pretty much all facets of the day.