I’ve been cycling ever since I was a kid. When I moved to Japan permanently way back in 2001 I brought my mountain bike with me. This was two weeks before 9/11 so I just turned up at Heathrow Airport with the bike, pedals off, tyres deflated and it went onto the airplane without any problems. Of course that wouldn’t happen nowadays.
I used the bike to explore the Tokushima countryside and then did a 30+km commute every day to work after I moved to Aichi. I bought a road bike in 2004, took part in a few races and hill climbs, got into bike packing and also set monthly goals of 1000kms of outdoor riding which I’ve been doing for the last 4 years or so. For about 18 years I’ve done almost nothing but ride (and take photographs).
Recently though I’ve been feeling less motivated to ride long distances and have felt the need for a break. This started around about the time I took a trip back to the U.K. in May, and as a result there’s been a lot more hiking posts on here over the last few months. When I look at a map of Aichi, Gifu, or southern Nagano prefectures now the sense of adventure and intrigue has waned as I’ve ridden a lot of them countless times and know what to expect. Instead I’ve begun taking a closer, almost awe inspired interest in all the hiking trails in the area. It started seriously with Mt. Norikura late last year, followed by a snow hike up Mt. Gozaisho, and then Kurofuyama, Sampukutoge & Eboshidake, Kisokomagatake, and this weekend Mt. Ontake.
Mt. Ontake is renowned throughout Japan as one of the easier 3000m+ hikes and on the weekend, especially at this time of year, there are countless numbers of hikers both serious and casual that make their way to the summit. I’d tried twice before to reach the top but had to turn around both times due to bad weather. I’ve also ridden around it and written a blog post about it here and here.
On this hiking attempt though the weather was different. Perfect temperatures and a perfect sky. The hike started from Nakanoyu (中の湯) and took about 3 hours to get to the 3067m summit where there were wonderful views of Mt. Norikura, the Kita Alps, the Chuo Alps, and even a brief glimpse of Mt. Fuji way off in the distance. Cyclists say cycling slows you down and allows you to see a place in a way that’s not possible in a car and I agree. But if cycling slows you down, walking and hiking take it to the next level.
I’ve abandoned my monthly cycling goals and reduced my yearly goal and replaced them with more hiking orientated goals. This should provide a more balanced exercise regime and keep me motivated to both ride and hike well into the future. Cycling is not going away but I’m looking forward to more summits of a different kind. As with most things in life balance is key.