Ride Report: West Izu

Another Corner in Life
Reading Time: 6 minutes

I know it has been a long time since I wrote up any ride reports. In truth, the first half of 2019 was bad for ‘long’ rides for me for some dull medical reasons which I’ll skip here as it’s not an exciting story. Anyway, it was late July 2019 and the road was calling.

Since it had been a while since I did anything more than running some errands, and I was planning to go a little over 350Km., I went over to Kurviger, and started to plan a route. I had a look at a route TougeExpress had put together a few years back, and merged it with some roads I wanted to check out, along with some actual expressway riding up front, since I don’t especially like it, but it is a necessary skill and I avoid it perhaps too much.

West Izu 2019
West Izu 2019

So there I was, a whole day booked off work, and a gpx route all ready to go on my phone. That is a solid start to a day. On the map above, have a look at the altitude graph at the bottom – from sea level to 1Km high, and back again, several times.

I left the house just after 6.30am, so not super early, then made my way on to the Tomei Expressway west bound, away from Tokyo. Traffic wasn’t heavy and it was warm, so it was a nice easy bimble to the exit I needed, 7-2 Susono, to launch into a few higher elevation twisties, and head into the Izu pensinsula, initially via route 337. Before that excitement though, let’s just stop and take a minute at the Family Mart for the obligatory onigiri (rice ball) breakfast. That morning’s was barley, beans and cheese – a first. It wasn’t bad.

Family Mart Breakfast
Family Mart Breakfast

The road from there starts nice and gentle, then suddenly turns into one car width twisty inclines, which isn’t too bad when you’re expecting it.

It wasn’t long before I was on the Ashinoko Skyline, a toll road which climbs to the ridgeline of some small mountains, and has several stopping areas for people to take in the views. Cloud had moved in though, and visibility was way, way down. Still a great road, but care was taken since my visor was getting covered in droplets, so I had to open it. It wasn’t much better with it open and now my face was getting wet instead. Fortunately there wasn’t much traffic and the road as far as I could see for about 40m was great. Fortunately I roughly remembered where the toll gate was, because it emerged from the mist seemingly right in front of me!

Bit Misty
Mist Sample

Fortunately that mist began to clear somewhat as I headed south on the venerable Izu Skyline, and then jumped off to a local forest road a kilometre or so from the southern exit to head west on the Ito-West Izu road until I hit the coast, through wonderful rural farmland, then a left turn south, to take in the mostly commercial fishing areas. I was planning to get some fuel on this stretch, but oddly, the JA station I’ve often used was fully closed. I’m not sure whether it’s closed for good, or being refurbished, but it definitely looked out of use when I passed. It wasn’t a concern, as I had a backup fuel stop, so it was East again for a short while, and back into the farmland.

View for the Bike
Moss for the Bike

On the 410 eastbound there are sections of steep winding turns, and I’ll confess that I had a misshap. I love this road, but for reasons beyond explanation I came to one corner, stalled and ended up dropping the bike. Yes, very low speed, bordering on stationary, but kind of embarressing, as I should know better and took a terrible line. I picked it up, uttered quite a varied selection of profanity at myself, and as there was no traffic either way (and I had only seen a few cars for quite a while), I walked it to the other side of the road and had a nice cup of tea.

After a bit of a rest, I decided it was time to be off, but easier said than done. The flat area at the side of the road I’d chosen to take the break at, was covered in moss, which was incredibly slippery on such a humid summers day, and with my riding boots on it took a few attempts to get on the bike. Finally, I was off again, and was reminded about how much I really do like this part of the world – it’s a lot of uphill fun. I do like uphill roads.

Another Corner in Life
Stall Corner

Up on to the 411, that’s a pretty fast winding road at elevation, which has great views, though there can be road water if you’re riding after a lot of rainfall, which transitioned into the 127 for more of the same, before a turn again, back down to head to the coast.

One the way, I stoped in at Kurura Heda, a Michio no Eki. Yes, I know I have an irrational liking of Michi no Eki. To very quickly recap, they are rest areas which aim to promote local produce and sights, and generally I find them to be fun little places to chat.

It being late July, down by the coast was hot – quite a bit hotter and more humid that it had been during the more mountain stretches, so it was nice to take a break and have something to drink from my water pack.

Kurura Heda Michi No Eki
Kurura Heda Michi No Eki

This is one of the newer ones, and inside were the usual selections of local gifts and food, some images of local comedians, and a brief exhibit about local fishing, and certainly there was a sea faring theme to much of the place. Further down the road, I got the fuel I needed, and had a short chat with the owner about bikes – it’s amazing to me still how many people used to ride bikes, or have a bike still but dont get out, and work at petrol stations. Get out and ride!

Bike on the Dock by the Bay
Bike on the Dock by the Bay

As suggested at the Michi no Eki, I took a stop down by the quayside to look at the boats which were a collection of small inshore fishing vessels and a few pleasure craft. The place was pretty much empty, so I stopped and got some looks from a nearby workers cafe as I took pictures of the bike.

Boats at the Dock
Boats at the Dock

The road from there to the north western corner is narrow and winding, but a procession of beautiful views over the ocean on one side, then hills and trees on the other, passing through small village communities, some tiny becahes with local families on then, and the odd convenience store.

You can have enough of a good thing though, and mountain twisties were calling, so I turned inland once more, and climbed back up, before heading east for the last time on the 18, crossing the peninsula, and it is a great traverse, passing some local attractions, some farming communities and passing through the city of Ito, as it hugs its river. The town is quite nice and itself has been a tourist draw, meaning the roads are quite tight, and unforgiving if you miss a turn.

Then it’s back on these wonderful sweeping roads, passing golf courses, solar panel ‘farms’, and a few other bikes. Usually I would take the 80 down to the eastern coast, but if you take the real 80, you end up doing an fun, steep, narrow, declining road through a lightly residential area, under the train line, before seeing the ocean again – it’s more fun that the more relaxed other 80. Then it’s that usual ocean view ride, before indulging yourself in the twisty goodness of 75 near Hakone.

Overall, a great day, and for me, after 6 months of being limited to short hops, it was nice to ride for a couple of hours without stopping.

(As ever, it’s worth remembering that petrol stations are often closed, and it’s a bit of a gamble sometimes, so make sure you have a backup plan!)

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