Mid-winter cycling on Ishikari Beach


In summer, Ishikari beach to the north of Sapporo, Japan, is a soft sun-tanners paradise. In -10 deg C mid-winter, it freezes solid. Which means one thing: cycling perfection. Upon Alex’s invitation, I went for a bike ride there today. Alex rides a fatbike. That means his tires are huge; made to float over soft stuff like sand. And snow.

The only issue is access to the beach. This consisted of about 15 minutes of tough pushing through deep snow. The hope of clear, wave-washed beach further down kept us going.

After some hefty pushing, however, a glorious sight greeted us. Little to no snow on the beach. And even better, the sand was frozen solid like concrete. With my skinnier 29×2.25 tires, this was a relief!

It was a beautiful day for it. Sun, clear visibility, and around -5 degrees C.

Alex was on 4.8-inch tires. I was on 2.25-inch. Quite the difference in terms of float: The wider the tires, the less they sink into soft stuff. But when everything’s frozen (and so long as there wasn’t too much snow), my bike handled it OK.

It was amazing to see wild foxes, and even more amazing to see Hokkaido sea eagles. Massive majestic creatures.

We cycled all the way from Ishikari Port to the end of the beach at the north end, where Ishikari River meets the sea. The further we got north, the more ice we saw. And a fascinating phenomenon: small slithers of ice washing up on the beach like pebbles.

It was a hard slog back the way we had come; the afternoon sun had softened the beach a little. Or was it just my tired legs?

All in all, it was an amazing morning/afternoon out. Thanks for the idea Alex!

And yes, that is a guy using a kite-surfing kite on the beach, on the snow. Looks like great fun.

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