Ojiya to Niigata
Distance: 63 miles
Total Distance: 1123 miles
Photo Album

IMG_3961 Like the afternoon before, today was a lot of urban riding–we had decided to just get through the Niigata area as quickly as possible so that we could enjoy some better days of riding as we went up the coast.

We woke up very early after not sleeping well (too hot and lots of noise from the road); despite a little morning grumpiness we headed out early and were soon making progress down the road. Even though the scenery along this major highway was not pretty, we still enjoyed the early morning riding–it was nice and cool, we had a wide bike lane, and there was not much traffic yet. We were in a huge flat valley filled with farms and small buildings. The highway was slightly higher than the rest of the land, so we had a good view of the area. As the miles passed, we could see the elevated tracks of the shinkansen (bullet train) slowly coming closer to us across the plain. These tracks dominate the landscape, towering above the rice fields and farmhouses.

By mid-morning we were in the next big town north from Ojiya–we tried looking for a bike shop there, but had no luck so we decided to do our shopping in Niigata. Our goal for the day (besides getting past Niigata) was to purchase some necessary bike equipment: an allen wrench for adjusting Vicky’s brakes, a new helmet (Vicky’s had cracked in the crash before Nozawaonsen), a thermos bottle, and replacement brake pads. Since Japanese bike shops are very limited in inventory, we needed to go to a big sports store for all of this, and Niigata would be our last chance for a while.

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The English translations on the signs are sometimes funny... like this one for reisure and lest

By early afternoon, we were going through some of the ugliest areas we had seen so far on our trip–an endless series of industrial parks, machine shops, pachinko parlors, and construction areas, with a constant stream of large trucks and cars rushing past. We pressed on with only a short konbini lunch and were in the outskirts of Niigata by late afternoon. We found a large sports store just south of an intersection with the expressway, and did all of our shopping there.
Resupplied, we st out to navigate through to the coast northeast of the city, where our Touring Mapple indicated a campground. We had a few missed turns, but were aided by unexpectedly discovering a bike path that took us all the way past the major river in Niigata and to within a few kilometers of our destination.

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Finally out of the city!

  

As it turned out the campground was not open yet for the season, but it was in a very nice area called the “Seaside Forest”; this was a stretch of 5 kilometers of coastline that had been planted with pine trees to prevent erosion. We pushed our bikes through this little forest and came out on a beautiful range of sand dunes overlooking a fishing jetty and a wide, empty beach–a great place to camp!

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Checking out the beach camping situation

 

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Women running around on the beach before sunset

 

While Vicky set up the tent, I biked quickly down the road for a couple of miles for dinner and and snacks. I made it back to the camp just before the sun went down, and we had a nice happy hour and dinner while watching the sun slowly set behind Sado Island on the horizon. We fell asleep to the gentle sound of waves on the beach, enjoying the thought of a nice day of riding along the coast tomorrow!

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Not a bad place to pitch a tent

 

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Fisherman watching the sunset