Kenta-san's Travel Bookmarks
|11:00||Arrival at "MERIDA X BASE" Bicycle rental|
|12:00||Get ready and go|
|12:40||View of Mt. Fuji at a recommended spot (bus stop: entrance to Nagaisaki Elementary and Junior High School)|
|13:00||Lunch break: Tai-don (bowl of rice topped with mandarin orange) at Yamaya|
|14:50||Arrival at Heda Pass|
|15:20||Arrive at the Nishi-Izu Skyline "Darumayama North Trailhead"|
|16:10||Coffee break "Daruma Mountain Highlands Observatory"|
|17:00||Arrival at hotel "Kona Stay Izu Nagaoka"|
DAY 1 is over!
|9:30||Departure from Kona Stay Izu Nagaoka|
|10:00||Coffee break at The Crank, a recommended spot|
|11:00||Ukihashi Fierce Slope|
|11:45||Arrival at Izu Velodrome|
|12:30||Arrival at "Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace"|
|12:45||Lunch break "Reverberatory Furnace Beer Restaurant Homura"|
|14:30||Coffee break "Izu Gateway Kannami"|
|15:45||Arrival at "MERIDA X BASE" Rental Bicycle Returned|
DAY 2 is over!
Day 1 begins: MERIDA X BASE Arrival & Departure!
E-BIKE Ride with no need to bring your own bike
The trip started at the MERIDA X BASE, a Merida exhibition hall where the latest bikes are displayed in a huge indoor facility. Kenta-san, who has back pain, and Mountain-king Tsucchi, who is weak in the face of steep slopes, rented e-bikes (electric road bikes) here. A local rider recommended a good course to ride through a mandarin orange grove, and since mandarin orchards are often located in the middle of mountains, it was inevitable that they would have to ride on a course with hills. Kenta-san rented the latest model "ROADREX i 6180". The battery drive has settings for Eco, Normal, or High Power, and the range per charge varies (105 km for Eco, 85 km for Normal, and 70 km for High). This was the first time for me riding an e-bike on a long distance ride in casual clothes.
View from "Nagaisaki Elementary and Junior High School Entrance" bus stop
View of Japan's deepest bay and Japan's highest peak at the same time
This great view at sea level you are able to take in both the grand Mt.Fuji, and Suruga Bay, the deepest bay in Japan. It was almost flat continually so even for a beginner you'll be able to drop by. Unfortunately, the summit was hidden by clouds, but it was nice to have a broad view of the foot of Mt. Fuji
Lunch at Yamaya
Unique menu using local ingredients
Lunch was at Yamaya, a restaurant with a reputation for creative cuisine. I ordered a bowl of tai-don (sea bream rice bowl), which is made using sea bream purchased directly at the market across the street from the restaurant. The rice in the bowl is changed to the famous "mikan gohan (mandarin orange rice)" (available only from September to March). This rice, which I could not imagine before eating it, is cooked with the juice and finely chopped peel of very early ripening mandarin oranges from Nishinoura, and is as orange-colored as the name suggests! The subtle scent of mandarin oranges and the simple sweetness go well with seafood!
To Nishi-Izu Skyline while enjoying tangerine fields
Quite a comfortable uphill climb with the power of the e-bike
After lunch, we resumed riding along the Nishi-Izu Skyline, famous for its spectacular views. As we begin to climb the mountain road with the ocean at our backs, we are suddenly greeted with a steep hill (over 10% gradient!) This is where the e-bike really comes into its own. What is especially noticeable is the motor assist when the bike starts pedaling after a pause in the middle of the hill. It is super comfortable to start pedaling without putting any weight on the bike. As we climbed higher, we could look back and see the ocean. We can easily climb up the hill while stopping to take pictures. The mandarin oranges are still green, and we are looking forward to the season when they will change color.
Arrival at Heda Toge (Heda Pass)
Finally arriving at the merge onto the Nishi-Izu Skyline.
It took about an hour to climb the steep hill. We arrived at Heda Pass, where it meets the Nishi-Izu Skyline, without passing a single car. Thanks to the e-bikes, we made it up the hill with only a little sweat on our backs; without the e-bikes, the climb would have taken twice as long. Kenta-san, who had been worried about his back, was relieved that he would be able to continue riding comfortably.
Go to the "AXA Direct Corner" as it's commonly called
The view near the top of the Nishi-Izu Skyline is spectacular!
From Heda Pass, we climbed up the Nishi-Izu Skyline for another 20 minutes until we arrived at "AXA Direct Corner". This is a winding road with a series of curves near the top of the mountain, and is a popular spot for viewing Suruga Bay and Mt. Fuji. The spot recieved it's nickname because it was once used as a filming location for an automobile insurance commercial. If you climb up from the trail, signposted 'Mt. Daruma Mountain trail north exit', you can take a look the scenery from a higher location.
Rest at Daruma Kogen Observation Deck
Rest & prepare before the long descent
Leaving the AXA Direct corner, we headed back down the road we came. We took a break at the Daruma Kogen Observation Deck on the way. Since the Daruma Kogen Restaurant House on the site was closed, we took a coffee break at a vending machine. Since the descent continues after this, it seems a good idea to prepare here to keep your body cool.
Steep rock face with the setting sun
At last, the final stage of today's ride. On the way to the inn, the sun shines on Joyama (342m above sea level), the symbol of Izu-no-kuni, and I stop the bicycle involuntarily for a dramatic view. According to the recommended spot information, you can sometimes see people rock climbing on the sheer rock wall.
You've arrived at a renovated, cyclist-friendly hotel!
Konastay Izu Nagaoka
The stylish hotel with a Japanese atmosphere was renovated from a ryokan (Japanese inn) in "Kona Onsen". The hotel is quite accommodating to cyclists, allowing them to bring their own bicycles to their rooms, rent bikes, and selling stylish cycling items. They even rent out MERIDA X BASE e-bike chargers, depending on the model of bike, so you can charge your bike in your room. Leave your bike in the alcove and wash away the fatigue of today's ride in the natural hot spring.
Toast with local beer while watching the bonfire
In the hotel courtyard, vending machines sell many kinds of local beers. It is fun to sit around the fire pit set up in the center and reflect on the day's ride.
Dinner at a popular local izakaya (Japanese-style pub), featuring a variety of chicken dishes
We went to a popular yakitori izakaya, a 2-minute walk from Kona Stay. Although it is a yakitori restaurant, there is a large "ramen" curtain on the exterior. The restaurant is a good place to enjoy yakitori with salt. The yakitori served with salt goes well with beer, and the "salt ramen in chicken bone broth" recommended by word-of-mouth is as good as the yakitori with its refreshing aftertaste.
Depart from Kona Stay!
Here's a customary blunder
Thanks to the e-bike, I should be back to full strength... but I forgot to recharge the battery, which is the most important thing, the display already shows 40% remaining. We are planning to go uphill again today, but if the battery runs out halfway through the ride, will I be doomed...? The second day of the ride has started out like a game of 'chicken' with a dying battery!
Riding along the Kano River
Started a leisurely ride, a complete change from yesterday
The second day of the ride was another fine day. We headed south along the Kano River, which runs through the center of Izunokuni City, first heading for Shuzenji Station. The banks of the river are for bicycles and pedestrians only, making for a pleasant ride.
Take a break at The Crank
Stylish cafe decorated with 100-year-old bicycles
About 8 km after the start, we took a break at a recommended spot, a cafe. "The Crank" cafe was created by the owner who loves bicycles. The owner of cafe, who loves bicycles, has a counter where you can buy bicycles without entering the store while riding on them. Kenta-san ordered a dark green smoothie called "Green Grin," which contains kiwi and apple. The refreshing sweetness with frozen lemon is perfect for relieving the excess of the previous day's drinking!
Heading to the Cycle Sports Center in ultra eco-mode
Pilgrimage to a sacred place for cycling
From here, we left the city and headed uphill. We were looking at the battery level and wondering if we could make it on our own or if we could use the eco mode. After about 40 minutes, we arrived at the Izu Velodrome of the Japan Cycle Sports Center, which was the venue for the Tokyo Olympics track races. It is the highest facility in Japan dedicated to cycling, with the only "indoor 250m wooden track" in the country. On this day, it was under renovation, so we just admired the exterior and continued on.
Ukihashi Fierce Slope
At last! The biggest challenge of the second day, a steep hill!
Beyond the velodrome was the most difficult point of the trip, with a maximum gradient of 15% (on the Strava display). In reality, however, it was more than 20% in some places. Kenta used his precious battery power, which was down to critical levels, to get over the hill in eco-mode. On the other hand, Tutti, who had plenty of charge, blew past him with ease in high power mode and showed off his composure as he turned around to take a photo.
Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace
Historic building where they used to build gun emplacements
The Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace is located at the bottom of a steep slope. It is registered as a World Heritage Site as part of the "Industrial Revolutionary Heritage of Meiji Japan. Originally a facility for casting and making cannons, it was located by the coast in Shimoda, where Commodore Perry's fleet of black ships arrived, as a preparation against foreign ships attacking from the sea. However, the fact that the military facility was visible from the sea was later considered problematic, and it was relocated inland to the mountains. The turret built here was also installed in Odaiba, Tokyo.
Lunch at Reverberatory Furnace Beer Restaurant Homura
Charcoal Grilled Whole Chicken Thigh! The famous "Homurayaki" is a tremendous dish
Lunch at a beer restaurant adjacent to the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace. The restaurant boasts of its own craft beer, but we had to hold back because we were riding... We ordered the reverberatory furnace curry, limited to 10 servings a day, and a sirloin steak. The rice is served high in the shape of a reverberatory furnace and is topped with a whole charbroiled chicken thigh. The curry, which is infused with vegetables, is slightly sweet with a hint of spice.
The flat course we've been waiting for!
Straight course with ears of rice in color
After a fairly hearty lunch, we resumed our ride to refresh our stomachs. Around the town of Kannami, fields spread out and the course was flat for the first time in a long time. It was nice to ride straight through the autumn scenery, feeling a special relief on the flat terrain. The e-bike seems to disengage the assist at speeds of up to 20 km/h on flat terrain, so the ride inevitably became a leisurely pottering ride.
Coffee break "Izu Gateway Kannami"
Recharge for the final push
Finally, the e-bike's battery is running low. But first, Kenta-san's caffeine ran out, so we took a break at the "Izu Gateway Kannami" roadside station. While wandering around the roadside station, we found the official store of Tanna Gyunyu, a brand of milk from the town of Kannami. We resumed our last ride of the trip with an "iced cafe au lait" made with milk that boasts the freshness of raw milk to give us a boost.
Kano River again
Starts and ends at the Kano River
After leaving the roadside station, we entered the Kano River, where we had driven in the morning, and headed south along the river. Fuji seen from the Kano River at dusk was spectacular by word of mouth, but unfortunately, clouds covered the view that day and we were unable to see it.
Just arrived at the MERIDA X BASE!
Triumph over the fading bike battery!
We arrived safely back at the MERIDA X BASE, our start and finish point for the trip! The course was hilly, but we left with enough energy to return again, making for a relaxing trip. 2 days and 1 night in Izu Country was quite a fulfilling ride, enjoying the spectacular view from the West Izu Skyline, seafood, and fashionable cafes.