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North Hokkaido "Real Time" Tour

Day 1 - (7/28/02)

On the first day of this "real-time tour," I was to ride from the airport in Chitose to Sapporo - either 40 km by boring highway or 70 km by way of Lake Shikkotsu. On this beautiful day, naturally I opted for the latter, despite the fact that it involved a 500m pass. I'd been on this road once before, but hadn't remembered one crucial fact: there are NO stores of any kind, and not even a vending machine, from Chitose to the lake and from the lake to almost the city limits of Sapporo. If you cycle this way, be sure to bring your own water. There’s also a bikepath, but it’s mainly a glorified sidewalk.

Not having followed the above advice, I arrived in Sapporo very thirsty - and this city was quick to answer with its own version of the Octoberfest. It turns out that Sapporo is a beer city in summer, with outdoor beer gardens set up along the entire length of the Odori Koen park that stretches through the middle of the city. Reportedly this is the largest (temporary) beer garden in the world. Here you see one section, devoted to the city's fine microbrews. I sampled a stout that was sweet but very smooth - yet another reason to be glad I had come.

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