Story & PhotosHokkaido_Story_%26_Photos_1.htmlHokkaido_Story_%26_Photos_1.htmlshapeimage_13_link_0
Nuts & BoltsHokkaido_Nuts_%26_Bolts.htmlHokkaido_Nuts_%26_Bolts.htmlshapeimage_14_link_0

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A dammed lake, but a damned fine one. The by-now clear skies were a double-edged sword: on this trip, it was so unseasonably cold that many cyclists and motorcyclists chose to ship their camping gear home and compete for limited space in the youth hostels. The moral of the story is clear: be sure to check both weather and temperature reports before you do your final packing.

During that long, long ride, I stopped only briefly - once to talk to a fellow cyclist at the top of one of the aforementioned mountain passes. This lady had come all the way from Shikoku to cycle through Hokkaido on her mountain bike. In summer, Hokkaido attracts plenty of cyclists - but among young Japanese, the island's chief claim to fame is as Japan's semi-official Motorcycle Heaven. In the warmer months, packs of motorcyclists roam the island, staying mostly in Hokkaido's many campgrounds or in the "rider houses" that spring up like mushrooms to meet the demand.