The cycling paths and roads have been very frustrating over the last few days since Sunday. We have been cycling along the Pacific Coast. There is the Pacific Coast cycle trail along part of the coast. When it was there it was often excellent, but then it would suddenly disappear. Once we followed it along the coast and then inland a bit, as it headed away from the coast and suddenly, without sign or warning we were on normal roads. Stephen found a route back down to the coast, and after a short while we saw a sign to the trail and it restarted. Later I saw a map of the area, and it showed the 2 sections of the trail, just as we had cycled them, with no join!! The next day we were following the trail, but the sand dunes were encroaching, sometimes just a couple of inches of sand, but a couple of feet at one point. After getting on and off the bikes many times to push through the sand we gave up and descended to the road. Again all that day and the next the trail would appear and disappear at random!
In addition to that, there have been few roads in some places over the past couple of days. Yesterday there looked like 2 possible routes: 1 with a long tunnel on the small coastal road and one alongside the very busy Route 150. We opted to try route 1, as we thought the tunnel on the coast road might well not have a separate path for cyclists or pedestrians and so be dangerous. We found Route 150, and after approaching it from both sides found that cycles were forbidden as it was a dual carriageway through a tunnel. We then cycled back and up the hill to the old coast road. A new tunnel was being dug and completely blocked off and impassable. We could see the old tunnel, which looked short and as there was just a chain blocking it off went through. We then discovered why a new tunnel was being built. The entire road and hillside where the old road was had collapsed. Absolutely no way through. It looked like we would have to go miles around. There was no indication of any alternative route for pedestrians or cyclists. Then on the way back down we met 2 Singaporeans on their way up, having exactly the same problems. One of them texted a friend and was told of an alternative via looked1, and failing that Route 280. We cycled a few kilometres over to Route 1 but there were signs forbidding bikes. But then suddenly there was a sign saying cycle route to Shizuoka, where we were heading! But you only got the sign once you had found the route! This followed Route 280 until it joined the same Route 1 as we had tried before, only now it had a cycle path beside it and through the next tunnel! Then as we descended suddenly, out of nowhere was a sign for our old friend(?) the Pacific Coast Cycle trail starting half way down the road!
We thought today would be fairly straightforward, and it was till we came to a pinch point around a headland where a dual carriageway, a motorway and a rail line all run close together. We cycled along hoping for a cycle path, then suddenly there were no pedestrian or cyclists allowed signs, just fast moving traffic. We looked at our maps, it was many kilometres to an alternative road, but it looked as if there might be a much shorter footpath. We decided we would try the footpath, and even if we had to push a bit it would save a very long detour! Luckily, just as we had decided that a lady came past and with much pointing and gesticulating made clear that if we retraced our route a bit, we would find a cycle path on the other side of the dual carriageway. It was completely invisible from where we were, and despite the sign saying no cycling, there was no map or indication where the cycle route was. When we retraced our steps we managed to find a tunnel over to the other side of the dual carriageway, and there was a lovely cycle path.
We have found this to be typical of our experiences here. There seems to be very little middle ground. The cycle route is either brilliant, or not there. The roads are flat or steep and hilly. Rolling countryside does not appear to exist in Japan. At times we are finding it hard!