Ogusuyama Wanderings

For my second outing on the trails near Yokosuka,  I paid a return visit to Ogusuyama.  When I lived here in Japan for most of 2004 this was my twice a week lunch time loop.   On this trip I was loosely going to follow that same route.   That was the plan anyway.   Things went a little off kilter right from the beginning.    I am staying at a different hotel than I have in the past.   Instead of riding from my hotel back to the my well known starting reference point I decided to just cut through some side streets and connect up to my known route “mid-stream”.    So off I went cutting this way and that, cross checking with my phone.  (More on the phone in a future post).   After working through some unfamiliar side streets, I came out to a junction where the memory banks fired off and I knew where I was at and which way to go.    I stopped looking at my phone at this point.     As I am rolling along, visual cue, visual cue, bang, bang, bang, I have been here before kept clicking in my head.   I was rolling.    A fair ways down the road I noticed that the route had not turned uphill yet.   I should have been climbing by now.   I checked on my phone and realized I had been going off a tangent for over three miles.   Looking at my phone I realized there was no corner to cut to get back on track.  Three miles and change back the way I had came was the quickest way.  WTF happened came to mind.  How did my eyes fail me?    A bit of further reflection and it dawned on me.    I was following the visual cues from memory towards the wrong trail system.    I had clued in on the streets I taken in the past to head over towards the Takeyama Trail System.     That is what I get for being too cocky about my recollection of the streets and roads of this area.

So after backtracking and getting onto the route for the trail I wanted to ride on things started clicking properly.   There was climbing to be done and the good news was I was warmed up.

Visual Cues
Bamboo along the side of the street

One thing about riding on the residential street here in Japan as you start getting up in the hills they often will be single lane.   I kind of did a snicker while shaking my head at the thought that many of our San Diego County multiuse “Trails” are nearly twice as wide as these residential streets in Japan.

Ogusuyama looking to the west towards Segami Bay

Once onto the dirt I made my way over to the summit that included some hike-a-bike up some stairs.  Once on top I was surprised to be treated to some signs of spring.   This was quite a contrast to the beginning of the week where it had snowed.

Cherry Blossums
Signs of Spring

After getting my fill of the sights on the summit I backtracked a bit and got on what was supposed to be my main trail to shed off some elevation in nice single track fashion.

I was quite bummed to see the trail I was looking to take was well blocked off.    None of the other options I knew were appealing as they would put me on the other side of the peninsula, involve hundreds of steep steps carrying a bike or go back the way I came.

Ain’t No Engrish here!

There was a map nearby that clearly laid out in Japanese what to do with the situation.  It was a real bummer to see how much of the trail was closed.   I was hoping that the reroute would not be some hike a bike down BS.   Just when I was about to roll out a hiker came up and was looking bewildered into her phone.     She clearly asked me for directional help but my Japanese has atrophied down from his highpoint of bad some number of years ago.   After a couple of  rounds of international charades and collective pointing at her phone I figured out where she wanted to go.    The trail down the mountain she needed to take was no shown on her phone.    It was not much of a back track for me so I rode back with her following and got her on the right trail.    I remembered the trail as it is a calf burning hike-a-bike on the way up that is not easily forgotten.

My reroute goes through here

My good deed for the day done, I started off on my reroute.   The trail it took me on started out quite flowing but soon turned quite steep.   Luckily it was not also slick so some technical roots and crotch riding the rear wheel took me down to a street.   The reroute then took me through what looked like somebody’s backyard farm before I was back on a micro-sized residential street.   After a bit on the street I was off onto a single track and then back to gravel road.  Shortly thereafter I popped out at the bottom of the closure and familiar ground.   While I was bummed about the section of trail I could not ride, the forced route finding and new bits of trail I went on was a nice bit of unplanned adventure.

Such a nice bit of trail

The next section of trail was just as nice as I remembered it and it popped me out near the entrance to a couple of shrines and temples.    Checking these out were not on the agenda today (I have toured them before) so I continued along the remainder of my old lunchtime loop route.

Here is the spot on Google Maps.  There are four pins in area for the shrines and temples that include photos as well.

The remainder of the ride was street riding back to my hotel.   There were not further navigational misdeeds on my part.       It was great day to be wandering around on Nippon dirt!

A Rising Sun Ride

Work has me in Japan for a few weeks so it was about time to get out and hit the trails.    The fall weather here is pretty nice so I opted for a crack of dawn ride as my Saturday midday was already booked up.  The previous day had been remarkably clear and tomorrow was supposed to be overcast so I was hoping to catch a window to see Mount Fuji at dawn on top of Ogusayama the tallest peak on the Muira Peninsula near Yokosuka.  It was still pre-dawn when I rolled out of the hotel at 5AM but not by much.   The ride along the city streets was really quite and almost surreal.  It was pretty much just me and the cats along with couple of early risers like myself.

The street riding to the trails is mostly uphill the entire way.  Before long I turned off the primary streets to smaller and smaller secondary streets as things became more rural and I started passing little family farms.   I was nearly to the dirt trails when the rising  sun joined me on the ride.

In 2004, I spent the better part of year living over here and I rode the Ogusuyama trail network numerous times so this place is kind of like home away from home dirt.  Fall is just thinking about starting here so the colors are not happening yet but the leaves on some of the trees are starting to get a little sparse so views occur a little more often.  This typically reveals just how steep some of the hillsides are that the trails cut across. 


I made pretty descent time to the top of Ogusuyama, but there were some distant clouds so Fuji was in hiding.   So while the planned far-view scenery was not to be had, the nearby stuff was pretty awesome as a clearing near the top of the mountain was flush with flowers.

After the stopping to smell the flowers break, I opted to continue heading west down the other side of the mountain to the Segami Bay side of the pennisula.  The trail I took has a lot of fun flowing sections but it makes you work for them as thier are some really rooty sections that require all of your bike handling attention.    If the roots alone were not interesting enough the soil in this area is mostly clay and with the rains a few days prior the bare clay sections had traction qualities that are best described as “I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter”.     There were many times along this trail where I’m sure my facial expression would be best described as being that of a “terrified smile”.  

Below is one of the sections that was just blissfully fun.

Eventually the trail came out on a tiny litte street about the size of the golf cart path that feed to a series of other streets each a little wider than the last until I came out onto the main two-lane street down by Segami Bay.  I did a bit of flat-land street riding to connect up with a another street that would turn into a fireroad that would take me back up into the Ogsuyama area.  Before getting back into the climbing gears, I had to grab a bit of morning coffee.   The vending machines over have canned hot coffee which are simply awesome.   I am big-time addict of these coffees and being able to grab a quick fix on a ride is pretty awesome.    Coffee Crack in a can — Good Stuff!

After getting my coffee buzz on I was climbing back up the mountain. The grade was a bit steep in spots and it felt good to get some burn in the legs. Once back up near the top of Ogusuyama I took a different set of trails that would take me to southeast and down into the community of Kinugasa.   As I rolled off the trail I was quitely in the town which was fully awake now with lots cars and people fluttering about getting their day taken care of.   It was a little bit taken back by it at first due to the  juxtaposition of the sleepiness of the streets a few hours ago.  From there is was quite a bit of street riding back to the hotel and before long I too was fluttering about getting the rest of my day taken care.   I think I am going to have to do another rising sun ride before I leave Japan.

Green Goodness on Ogusuyama

It has been raining almost solid for the previous two days which will basically make the trails way to slick her in Japan until early next week.   When I say slick, I mean like butter on a tile floor slick.   While my playtime this weekend is going to be off the trails, earlier this week I got out to one the “local” loops,  Ogusuyama (aka Mt Ogusu).  Like most of the riding I have done over here there is a bit of street riding involved to get there.  I enjoy these street rides as I always see something culturally interesting.  

On this cruise to the trails while on one of the many tiny side streets, I passed by an onion stand that caught my eye.  This stand was totally unattended and there was not even a window of a home within sight.  It was totally on the honor system.  There was not even a one-way coin box.  Just pick out your onion and drop your 100 yen (About $1) in the box. If you need to, make change.  I think this one little stand says a lot about the values and culture of rural Japan.

The last little bit of pavement passes by a really thick and sizable patch of bamboo that always real cool to look into.  The canopy is so thick that I have never seen direct sunlight on the ground here. 

Once on the trail, the light drizzle from the day before had left some slippery spots on the trail.


I rode this area back in Decemember, but did not hit up all of the trails. I made a point to hit up the trails I had missed last time.  Ogusuyama is the highest peak on the Muira Pennisula and the trail I took drops down to far side of the pennisula from Yokosuka.  

I have no idea what actual name of the trail I took is but most of my friends have just referred to it as Trail 3.   This trail was really fun as it had great flow and cashed out the elevation in a way that allowed you to carry plenty of speed in most sections. 

This is one really cool trail marker.

Once down the on the other side of the pennisula I did a bit of riding along the streets before picking a dirt access/fire road to head back up the mountain.  While there were some steep pitches on the climb overall it was not brutal.  I have certainly climbed plenty of uglier fireroads.


Once back up on the top of the mountain, I decided to a take a path less traveled.  While I noticed this faint trail heading off in the bush before, I had never ventured onto it.  Today I gave it a shot as I had a decent idea of where it should go.   I was riding solo in foriegn country on a lightly used and new to me trail.  Throw in the fact I have an extremely rudimentry knowlege of the language at best and you should see why I felt so alive with healthy dose of excitement coupled with just a dash of anxiety. 

The trail ended up coming out pretty close to where I expected it and I enjoyed the stroll back to the apartment.   It was another good day to ride a bike.