May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine

The Trip-Finder, January 1999
Mountain-Biking Hokkaido
Outfitter Price Accommodations
Active Journeys
800-597-5594, www.active
$2,150 tourist hotels

The Route: A 13-day, 450-mile tour on the paved and dirt roads of Japan's wildest and least populated island. You'll log 50 miles a day along the rocky beaches south of Sapporo and then head north to alpine Asahikawa, bunking at roadside campgrounds equipped with soothing traditional baths.

When to go: July

Difficulty: Moderate

Travel advisory: This is one of the word's most hospitable cycling destinations: Motorists routinely slow or pull over to avoid catching cyclists in their slipstreams, and village farmers and fishermen are likely to invite you into their homes for tea.

High/low points:

  • Gazing at Lake Akan's intensely green waters from a forested ridgetop and then riding hell-for-leather down to camp on its pine lined shore.
  • Struggling to find the energy for long, steep climbs after a few days on the local low-protein rice-and-greens diet.

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