Tag Archives: Hamada

A Saturday ride to the Gotsu lighthouse

Another day, another ride… the day started with a quick visit to the Iwami Seaside Park to check out a friend’s new tent and tarp, and that was when I spotted the site for the day. For years I have camped here, and for years I have thought about visiting the Lighthouse on the other end of the beach. So Yuki and I saddled up and took a ride over.  

As you may know, riding gear is really not made for hiking, but the short hike up to the lighthouse was well worth it.  I am sure the view at sunset is amazing, but all the bear warning signs make me wonder if it is with it. 

Pointing to the spot where we usually camp, and where I am posting this from tonight. ;^) 

Iwami Loop

Yuki and I decided to take the bike down to Masuda on an errand, and we ended up doing a nice long Iwami Loop. We took route 9 down to Masuda to get a tennis racquet restrung, and when we learned it would take four hours the only option was to ride it out. We headed down through Hagi, and over the border into Yamaguchi to the Tamagawa campground. We drove down past the campsite to walk out to the beach, where we took the only two photos of the day.

After a couple of great burgers from Wild Kitchen at the Tamagawa rest stop, we headed further down route 191 to catch route 315 into the Yamaguchi mountains. This may be one of my new favorite roads. I will definitely be back. It has a nice balance of twists, turns, and beautiful mountain views. I think I need to go back to see it again in the fall…

From 315 we hopped on route 13 to swing through Tsuwano, which is a fantastic town to visit. However, today we just cruised straight through and hopped on route 9 back into Masuda, where we stopped in for a coffee at KuriKuri Coffee. Rather than return home up the coast on route 9, we decided to take another of my favorite roads, the Western Iwami Farm Road (A.K.A. 石見西部広域農道). This is a beautiful winding mountain road which is fairly new, and very lightly travelled. This is the nicest ride home from Masuda to Hamada, and it brings you right into Yasakamura, where you can visit friends before grabbing route 34 for the last thirty minutes back home.

Overall, it was a beautiful day for 200k. I am looking forward to a lot more beatiful two-up rides in the future. Next time I will remember to take more photos…

Route 34

Another Thursday, and another longer-than-necessary ride home.

Last week on the ride home from Masuda, I passed the Sun Eight rest area in Mito, and today I thought I would stop in there for lunch. Sadly, they did not have a place to eat, but they did have a map on the wall which changed my planned route home. I was planning to take the same route home as last week in order to get some good video of the ride, but as soon as I say the map I noticed the loop in Route 34 just a few kilometers down the road. The decision was made.

The road from Mito to Hamada would bring me through Kitsuka and Yasaka before dropping me on route 9 along the coast. The first half of the ride was fantastic, as I don’t think I saw another vehicle the whole way to the Kitsuka Dam. The roads were just twisty enough to be fun, but the stray sticks, leaves, and stones kept me at a reasonable pace. That and the constant riding-in-the-sticks fear that someone who lives on these roads, and rarely ever sees vehicles, just may be crossing the street with a bamboo pole over their shoulder. (It only had to happen once to become a feature attraction in my riding sub-conscious.)

The second half of the ride, after the dam stop for some dam selfies and photos the dam lake in Kitsuka, was fairly relaxing. The traffic picked up here, as I actually started seeing an occasional car, but the roads became less ‘twisty’ and more ‘mildly wavy’; just the way I love ’em. Sure, I love to lean into the twisties and test myself a bit, but I find the slow wavy roads along rivers to be the most relaxing to ride. This is what it was like for most of the way after the Kitsuka Dam. Once passing through central Yasaka the road does twist up a bit, and as it is slowly dropping down nearer to sea-level the ride is quite fun. As usual, there were few cars, so I did not have the frustration of being stuck behind a slow-mover through the twisties. That said, Japanese countryside drivers really are fantastic about making room for riders to pass.

Yet another beautiful Thursday, and another great day on the bike. Now I have some camping to look forward to this weekend, and hopefully I will get my first paddle on the SUP in as well. Any week which involves both the bike and the SUP is a damn good week…

Kanagi Motorcycle Shrine

IMG_0058Another beautiful day for a ride in Shimane… The day started with a two-up trip with my daughter up to Iwami Ginzan. My mother is visiting from the states, so we needed to use two vehicles to make the trip up there. (Not that I really needed an excuse to take the bike out for the day.) The winds were exceptionally strong today, so I ended up soloing the ride back, and stopping off at the オートバイく神社 (Motorcycle Shrine) in Kanagi.

There seems to be a Shinto shrine for just about everything you can think of, and the Kanagi Western Riding park built the Motorcycle shrine just a year or two ago. If you get a chance, you should definitely visit. It is a nice place to visit at the beginning of the touring season to get in your prayers for safe rides. The shrine is unattended, so there are no charms for sale, but the panoramic view is fantastic.

So if you want to put in your prayers for motorcycle safety this touring season, come on down to Shimane and stop in at the Kanagi Western Riding Park and enjoy the view.

Feeling At Home in Shimane

img_0013.jpgI took advantage of the national holiday to spend some time with the bike. She has been dressed up in her cold weather gear for too long, so we started out by swapping the big touring screen for the sleeker and more streamlined stock screen. Somehow it makes her seem like a different bike altogether.

It has been a while since I took the bike for the ride, and I am really glad I did. Something about riding around Shimane, whether exploring the coastline or taking a jaunt into the mountains, always makes me feel at home. It is a feeling that is sometimes elusive in my ex-pat life here in West Nowhere Japan. So it is as good an excuse as any to spend more time on two wheels.

I am glad I got out today. It was nice to see the rocky coast, to relax at Yuhi Park and chat with other riders, and to sit at Kikufu beach and watch the surfers.

Let the touring season begin.


Fishing Obsession

Since paddling along the coast the other day, and observing all of the men out fishing on the cliffs as I passed by, I have been obsessed with the idea of trolling behind my SUP. It has driven me to distraction…

All week I have spend my evenings sketching ideas and furtively googling “fishing SUP” and perusing the links. While I found a lot of avid fishermen out there on SUPs, which led to sketches like the one above, I just did not think that was what I was looking for. Most of these people seemed to be fishermen first, and paddlers second. I, on the other hand, find myself leaning the other way. As such, I was really interested when I found a few posts about an avid paddler who just happens to drag a trolling line behind her.

(Click for source)
(Click image for source)

This seemed much more my speed. Here is a gal who goes out with barely more than a line, and brings back some impressive fish. Reading up on her set-up had me reworking my plans. She actually ties her line off to her paddle, which somehow does not get in the way of paddling, and just tosses it aside when she gets a hit. She then pulls in the line hand-over-hand. To get this to work for me, I mocked up the image on the left. The idea was to connect the line to the paddle near the handle, and run it through a carabiner connected to the side carry handle. This way a strong hit would pull forward, rather than back, so I would be more likely to land on the board if I hit sent me reeling. Also, I added a float to the paddle, and another by the carabiner to keep from damaging the paddle if it were pulled up tight.

Still a bit much...
Still a bit much…

Additionally, I started wondering what would happen if I hooked a ヒラマサ (Yellowtail Amberjack) rather than a ワカナ (Japanese Amberjack) as planned. While ワカナ, which the name for a juvenile of the species, are about 30 to 40 cm, ヒラマサ run a meter or larger. They are both also known as ‘fighting fish’, so they pull. So, I decided that I just may have to rig things so that I can run the line through the bow loop if a larger fish starts to drag me. As my SUP only has a 30 inch beam, I don’t think things will go to well if a strong fish starts pulling perpendicular to the board.

It was at this point that I realized that I was complicating things, so I just hopped in the car and headed over to the fishing shop. I ended up buying some line, lures, and a hand reel to get started. Then I went all out and picked out a ‘fish grabber’, pliers to remove hooks, and a stringer to drag my catch. This last one is the most interesting to me, as I once read, and had confirmed by the fish shop clerk, that if you hang Amberjack on a stringer they tend to attract other amberjack. It’s like chumming for fish with their chums…

Evernote Snapshot 20150528 225828
Simplified kit, complete with a 100 yen zipping folder to carry it all.

So there is the simplified kit. It should all fit easily under the lashings on the front of the board without adding much weight. That means that as long as I don’t catch any fish I could still use the bike to bring the SUP to the beach. I am sure that the wife would be more than happy to provide some ‘fish taxi’ service on the off-chance that I actually get my hands on something…

Exploring Tatamigaura on a SUP

Swami Seaside ParkNo matter how many times I visit Tatamigaura, I always find it interesting. More so now that I can view it from the sea. It is a quick trip from the Iwami Seaside Park (which is a GREAT camping area), so it makes for some good exploring.

I have actually paddled the area a number of times already, but since it was a beautiful Sunday morning, and my head was still a bit unclear from the Saturday night camping activities, I thought it would be a great day to take it slow. The water agreed, as it was as smooth as glass, which makes it far easier to hug the rocks and navigate the more interesting caves and inlets.

In the interest of brevity, the video I threw together is just highlights, but I hope you find it interesting. Even though I was there in person, and alone to boot, I still enjoy watching it. I have also consciously decided to not add background music to paddling videos, as it is the stillness of the experience that I truly enjoy. Gliding along with nothing but the sound of my paddle and board moving through the water accompanied by waves slapping rocks, birds calling out, and the occasional sound of fish jumping and/or flying.

Here is an album of some highlights from the paddle.


I actually spotted a few fish on this paddle, and a number of fishermen as well, so a trolling rig for the paddle board is in the work. I am hoping to be catching my dinner during my weekend paddles from now on.

Looking for a place to drop in

IMG_4496Another beautiful day in Shimane… I decided to take the bike out today to seek out a nice spot to drop-in with the new stand-up paddle board. While I know of a few places already, I was hoping to find something new. I spent the day riding along the coast, following some of the same roads as from the Winter Seaside Ride post.

I came across fishermen, a couple of scuba divers taking a lunch break, and some surfers as well. I ended up finding a great spot just the other side of the “意味ない橋” (Meaningless Bridge), or the Marine Bridge, as they actually call it. There is a nice little protected cove, behind a tetrapod barrier, perfect for launching from. It gives access to a few small islands, which are perfect for fishing, as well as a nice starting point for a trip beneath the bridge. It seems like commercial traffic may be something to consider, but I can’t wait to strap the SUP to the back of the bike and paddle out do do a lap of the islands.

It looks like I can do a  few nice routes from this launch point. There are three islands; Majima, Yanajima, and Setogashima, which is the island the launch point is on.  A lap around Setogashima would be nice safe option, as there are no potential crossings of commercial traffic from the port. Yanajima is the next safest, being the smaller of the two other islands.  I guess I will just have to get out there and see how it goes sometime soon.

I think a sunset paddle would be fantastic in this area…

Biking to Boxing

It is nice when you can combine hobbies in a way that they are mutually beneficial. I love that joining the boxing gym gives me an excuse to ride the bike, and I love that having an excuse to ride the bike motivates me to go to boxing.

This is a winter ride, so the ‘greens’ are all brown, but the roads are the same shape all year. The ride there was fairly straight, as if followed the coast. Some nice beach views that way. The ride home, however, was rather twisty. I took the Green Line from Gotsu to Kanagi, which is a fantastic ride. Half way through I took a detour down the windmill maintenance roads, which are always fun.