Downwards – Sort of!

4/7/16. The early morning sun promised a hot day in prospect, so we made a move as soon as we could.

After Saturday’s marathon climb we were looking forward to some prolonged downhill although the map showed some twisty roads towards the end if the day so we were a little apprehensive that there would be some climbing involved. As it turned we were right to be nervous.

The day started out well with the road being relatively quiet and having a reasonable path for large sections. In addition, it was gloriously downhill – not too steep but sufficient to require little pedalling. And all the way we were surrounded by beautiful, wooded mountains and occasional sights of Mt Fuji bathed in sunlight apart from a picturesque little “cap” of white cloud right at the very top.

After about 25 km the road joined a more major one and we were pleased to see a sign saying “Tokyo 93”. We will not be riding into the middle of the city because we are booked in a hotel near the airport at Haneda but it cheered us to think we are getting close. At this point Christine’s average speed was almost 15.5 kph – almost unheard of but in the other sense to Stephen’s recird from Saturday.

Unfortunately the road we had joined was busier, particularly with large trucks, and the path was much more sketchy so, although the scenery generally remained lovely, we saw much less of it as we had to concentrate on the traffic most of the time.

By lunchtime the temperature had soared – at one point the thermometer in Stephen’s bike computer showed 48° (full sun, not shade) but we are not sure how accurate it is – in all probability, not very!

The road got worse when, as alluded to above, it started to climb although, overall, it was heading downwards. Thankfully though a slight haze came in which just about took the edge off sun’s heat.

Eventually we came to the point where we turned off this road. Unfortunately much of the traffic seemed to have the same idea so we pleased to find a much better path beside this new road.

It was now heading towards 5 o’clock so when we saw that Paddington Bear’s Park, which we happened to be passing, had camping we decided to stop sooner than we had intended. After going through the entrance barriers we found that we faced a 2 km ride, mostly uphill of course, to reception before we could find out if they had space and what the cost was. We struggled our way there to find they had plenty if room but the cost of one night’s camping (with our own tent, don’t forget) was ¥5,900 or £44! Thanks, but no thanks.

As we headed back down to the barriers we could hear thunder rattling around the mountains and, by the time we reached the road, the storm broke. We took cover in a bus shelter but still got a little damp as the wind blew some of the rain onto us.

After about 20 minutes the storm blew itself out and we set iff again with the roads drying rapidly in the heat. By 6.15 we were still some way from the campsite we were aiming for but Stephen spotted a little park/garden with toilets. There was an area of grass that was well hidden from the road so we decided to give wild camping a go – not least because everyone we speak to or read about who has done it says that you can camp “almost anywhere” in Japan and all you get are strange looks.

So here goes!

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