Enjoy visitor-friendly cycling road with mountain view in Ibaraki Pref.
the-japan-news.com -- May 17
Having heard that Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Road, an about 180-kilometer-long cycling course in Ibaraki Prefecture, became even more visitor-friendly this spring, I tried out a section about 40 kilometers long between Sakuragawa and Tsuchiura.

I'm in my second year at The Yomiuri Shimbun after graduating from university, where I trained as an American football player, and was quite confident in the strength of my legs. However, it turned out not to be so easy.

From this fiscal year, a total of 102 rental bicycles, including some suited for women and children, are available for biking the route, representing an increase of 60. Cyclists on the route can enjoy beautiful views of Mt. Tsukuba and Lake Kasumigaura.

I called in advance to reserve a crossover bike, and on April 28, I left my house in Mito at about 7:30 a.m. for Sakuragawa, which I chose as my starting point because I had heard that I could enjoy a close view of Mt. Tsukuba while cycling.

I got off the train at JR Iwase Station before heading to Takasago ryokan, a Japanese-style inn that also rents out bikes. A one-day rental fee was ¥1,500. Toshio Takamatsu, 68, the owner of the inn, saw me off with a smile, saying: "From Sakuragawa to Tsuchiura, the route is slightly downhill. So it'll be easy."

I put on a helmet, got on my crossover bike and began pedaling enthusiastically.

Rural area with old station

The route from Iwase Station through the countryside toward Mt. Tsukuba in the south utilizes the now-defunct Tsukuba tetsudo railway. Riding in the spring sunshine, the crisp breeze through my thin long-sleeved shirt made me feel comfortable. Besides the occasional tractor's engine I heard only the sound of the wind. My spirits lifted when I took a deep breath of the fresh air, and I began pedaling out of the saddle.

Soothed by the canola flowers swaying in the wind, I didn't feel tired at all when I arrived at the Amabiki rest stop, five kilometers from my starting point. The former platform of a now-defunct train station there provided a good atmosphere.

News source: the-japan-news.com
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