After spending 6 days in Tokyo, doing everything a tourist wouldn’t do, (and unwillingly avoiding every single thing a tourist WOULD do) we jumped back on our specializedTricross bikes and started cycling towards the Japanese alps and the city behind them, Niigata.
With little to no surprise, we left Tokyo relatively late and the first day flew by too damn quickly: traffic, street lights, last purchases for the trip and more then 50km before even finding ourselves outside of that urban jungle.
As soon as we reached the first little village outside of the suburbs of Tokyo, we pitched the tent and went to sleep super early.
The following day, we woke up bright and early and covered as much distance as possible, leaving the flat plains around Tokyo and finally starting to climb the first mountain towards Niigata. As soon as it started getting dark, we stopped at a little village, washed the living hell out of ourselves in the local hot springs and got our tent ready to go to sleep, but not before playing for a little too long with a story cat that seemed to like us a little too much. We decided to call it “broth” because, why the hell not!
The next day we woke up fully rested and throbbing with energy, ready to start what we thought was gonna be nothing less of an epic climb through the alps.
In all of this, there’s one thing I didn’t mention: Sio was still carrying on his bike a box full of super nintendo video games, emulators and much more because, being timing one of our strong suits (read: it’s not. at all.) we thought of waiting for the very last day in Tokyo to post said box and other things to our friends in Hokkaido, but we kinda forgot that exactly that day marked the beginning on the golden week, Japan’s most important public holiday, during which post and other public services are… on holiday!
After an initial hard climb for 35km, we stopped for lunch at a convenience store (the only place serving food for kilometers!) overlooking a mountain lake. And by overhearing a random conversation, we magically realized that convince stores in Japan can not only receive mail for you, but they can post it too! After a quick check of what we wanted to get rid of, we put together a bigger box and posted to Hokkaido, free to continue cycling without all those useless kilos in excess.
But not even 500mt after having left the convince store, I heard Sio screaming to stop.
“Yo, I saw a billboard a moment ago, it said you can do bungee jumping here somewhere, should we check it out?”
And that’s the story of how we ended up jumping from a bridge, with a bungee cord tightened to our waist.
To be honest, I had wanted to try bungee jumping for all of my life. Sio, on the other hand, really never gave it much of though since… he’s got a massive fear of heights. But that didn’t stop him this time. Well, almost.
Right after the jump, we had so much adrenaline in our bodies we could have possibly started selling it!
With all of that energy and excitement, we ran to our bikes to keep on climbing, just to realize it was getting way too dark.A few kilometers later we had to stop, pitch the tent and talk ourselves to sleep.
After a great sleep, we woke up super early, ate super much, and started cycling super determined to reach the top of the mountains and finally start our descent towards the sea.
With much of a surprise, the last climb towards the top of the mountain was not that hard at all, especially since we encountered no traffic and we were surrounded by incredible views (that help so damn much when you’re climbing uphill for more than 20 km). In under two hours, we found ourselves at 1100 mt of height, ready for the long and definitely well deserved descent through a series of small mountain villages and ski resorts.
For the rest of the day, what we cycled through were rice paddies. And more rice paddies. And even more rice paddies. We kept on cycling all the way until dusk, reached a beautiful hot springs centre well over 90km from the start, took a bath and called it a day.
The following day, we cycled the last few kilometers before reaching Niigata…