Kanazawa to Shirakawa

•September 25, 2016 • 1 Comment

48 miles and 4200’…with lots of ups and downs and some pannier-load challenging grades. They call this the “Japan Alps” region, which has some passes up to 8000′, that I’ll do in a few days, but the elevations are nothing compared to the US Mountain Region. Nonetheless, the climbs are still a workout. 


Small mountain village


This region is known for its many traditional thatched roof homes


First time I saw a shrine dedicated to a big root.  Nice root, though.  

In my route planning, I’ll always choose the “route less traveled” when possible.  This section was definitely less traveled.  


Japan’s bicycle infrastructure- Kanazawa

•September 23, 2016 • 2 Comments

 These photos are pretty typical of the bicycle infrastructure in Japan.  I’m in Kanazawa a few days as the starting point for my tour. 


  You can never say things are not clear here in Japan for bicycles 


 First time I saw a bike graphic with a basket 

 A bicycle parking area near the train station 

 The bike ramp leading down to the walkway under the road 

Another Japan Cycling Tour – Sept 2016

•September 20, 2016 • 1 Comment

This time I’m staying in the region known as the “Japan Alps” in West-Central Honshu.  I’ll be riding between the cities of Kanazawa, Takayama, Matsumoto, and Nagano, with 10 days of cycling, 400 miles, and about 40,000′ of climbing.  Once again, small, quiet, but hilly roads.


The routes can be seen in these links:


Kanazawa to Takayama (2 days)

Takayama loop

Takayama to Matsumoto (2 days)

Matsumoto Loop

Matsumoto to Nagano

Nagano Loop

Takaoka to Kanazawa


Italian Food, Part 1: Sardinia (and also a little bit on cycling)

•May 4, 2016 • 4 Comments

Sure, southern Spain has fantastic roads, great climbs, charming white-washed hilltop villages, unbelievably courteous drivers, and wonderful weather.  And Sardina has very good cycling, but honestly, it’s not Spain.  

The Sardinian coast and island interior 

But, while the Spanish cycling is amazing, the food can be a bit tedious. Yes, great food can be found in nicer restaurants, but the menus can become repetitive.  When cycling and wanting to grab something relatively quick, the options are often deep fried. 

Italy, and in this case, Sardinia, makes eating a great joy.

[But both countries have a limited definition of breakfast: In Southern Spain its toast with tomato purée and lashings of olive oil with jamon as an option; in Sardinia (and most of Italy), it’s maybe a croissant accompanied by an amazing coffee (though, this morning the B&B did put out a great spread).]

Now, the Italian dinner is something else entirely. Perfection all the way through…including the wine and digestif. 

Wine and a big pizza: $10


I remember on a recent trip to Rome (but it could have been anywhere in Italy), reading a blog comment about “the best” restaurant, and suggestions for “great meals”… really?  That’s total BS… You can close your eyes and stumble into the first place you hit and you have about a 90% chance it’ll be good. A 75% chance it’ll be great.


OK, I’ve had a bad meal in Italy…but it’s damn rare.


Carte musica…

Oh yes, so far Sardina cycling: 168 miles & 17,447′ of gain… Which is damn fortunate ’cause there’s a lot of eating going on here.





Andalucia tour finished, now to Sardinia

•May 2, 2016 • 3 Comments

Finished cycling Spain with 375 miles and 29,700′ of gain. I’m now on the overnight ferry to Sardinia for 8 more riding days. 

This day started with an amazing cycling road.  For over 15 miles it was perfect pavement, and I saw a total of zero cars.  The rest of the day was very good riding, but this section would be hard to beat.

The road approaching Zuhara.  And once again, a brutally steep final climb up to the village. 

Yes, they do put these hilltop villages in fact on the top of hills. 

Looking back to Zuhara

The front of my hotel in Osuna.  Osuna is a town filled with old palaces (my hotel was an 18th century palace, which was beautiful, but had 18th century plumbing), churches, and convents.  Lots of streets had names that included the words Jesus, Christo, Dios, etc.  

Osuna’s old homes have an interesting pop-out window detail.  


The Fiesta started in Córdoba with an interesting mix of activities, which mostly included decorated church plazas, big flower-covered crosses, and large beer stands.  An odd mix of religion and serious partying.  And true to the Spanish tradition, it was loud and went long into the morning hours.  

Day 3: Antequera to Ronda

•April 25, 2016 • 3 Comments

67 miles & 6745 ft. The road leaving Antequera makes for some truly fantastic cycling, and lots of climbing. 


The morning started with some fog



And the drivers actually follow this law


In the complex, cramped hilltop villages, the GPS sometimes thinks these are rideable 


More great roads…

Touring Andalucia Day 1: Córdoba to Zuheros

•April 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment

58 miles, 4505′.    Most of the climbing was at the end. The final ¼ mile up to the village of Zuheros on the cobble road hit 17%.  A killer with a loaded touring bike!


In the courtyard of the apartment we rented

This stage is mostly riding through farmland. A typical farmhouse in the back. 

Zuheros…the quintessential white village. 

Zuheros could NOT be any more picture perfect. 

Flamenco in Córdoba

•April 19, 2016 • 1 Comment

Probably the best Flamenco show we’ve ever seen.  

Cycling Andalusia and Sardinia

•April 6, 2016 • 1 Comment

I’m doing these two solo, self-supported loops: 7 days cycling in Andalusia and 8 days cycling in Sardinia. Total of 783 miles and just under 70,000′ of climbing.  Spring Training!

Sardinia Loop 2016


Spain Loop-2016

Platinum-Palladium Prints of Recent Travels: People in their Environment

•April 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

GO TO: Platinum Palladium Prints

Washi Artisan

Washi Artisan

For some time now I’ve been working to improve my Platinum – Palladium printing techniques.  It’s been a long road…

Oaxaca – 2016

•February 13, 2016 • 4 Comments

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kyoto…and then, Tokyo

•October 19, 2015 • 3 Comments

Shots from inside a small temple garden in Kyoto…

And the widest bed we’ve ever slept in…6″ wider than a US king, and 22″ wider than our queen.  An aircraft carrier.


 In Tokyo, seeing the unusual becomes the norm

The contrast of the park setting and the enormous buildings was quite something.

And another very public wedding

Alison giving a donation to a Zen Monk

The shot above was taken on the main Ginza shopping street.  There were thousands of people, but being Japan, amazingly quiet. Tokyo, a city 1.5 times the size of NYC with mostly hybrid cars humming about and shutting off at the red lights, zero beeping horns, no street music, no buskers… You would be hard pressed to realize you’re in a city with almost 14M people.  Almost silent.


Playing with small stone spinning “tops”

This woman really wanted to have her photo taken with Alison…

Me too…

Nara: visiting a Sumi artisan, Inkan craftsman, and having Tea

•October 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Some photos of our visit with a Sumi-ink artisan


At the oldest Sumi-ink producer in Nara.  They have been making Sumi for 400 years.


 A Shinto purification ceremony… A nice surprise


A visit with a Inkan craftsman


Then lunch and tea at a beautiful temple.  That was a sweet with tea.

Clipping hedges that were already perfect. The temple gardens were gorgeous.

Cycling Shikoku

•October 12, 2015 • 5 Comments


The family I stayed with for two weeks while I was taking a Japanese language course.  The father sitting down is 100 years old. 


 The last meal they cooked for me was a Japanese treat. “Sazae”… A big snail  


 Where bicycles go to die 



The average farmer in Japan is well into their 60s and they are always in the fields and working really hard, especially this time of year  


 Huge pumpkin!


Today’s catch

This is outside one of the hotels I stayed at…a very remote location 


My typical cycling routes…But they’re not always THIS nice  


The following photos are from the Shimanami Kaito bike path that goes across the Seto sea linking Shikoku and Honshu



 Yes that’s a dedicated bike path 


 Sometimes the pathway goes underneath a bridge 



 And sometimes it was a bike lane on one of the islands 



 And at the end I stated in this really cool Cycling hotel 


Cycling Japan: Northeastern Kyushu

•September 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

 One hell of a bike lane! 

Rice fields everywhere 




Don’t ask 




One of the “7 Hells of Beppu”

The shower at the Onsen in Beppu 


 There are sulfur-smelling steam vents all over Beppu

 Onta, the small pottery village in the mountains above Hita.



One of the kilns.  



 “Onya”, or “sweet fish” in Hita.  It was “oi-shee” (delicious).




Another Japan journey

•September 23, 2015 • 3 Comments

A few days in Kumamoto before starting my 2 week Japanese class and homestay.

Pictures of the Kumamoto castle:

Kumamoto castle

Trunks of some thousand-year-old camphor trees

There were a series of these very cool benches along the river

A Hello kitty temple???

Japan has to have the worlds most expensive grapes.  $8.50 for 19 grapes…that’s about $.45 a grape. They were good though.   However, after that I had a fantastic lunch with several courses, sushi, soba noodles, and miso soup, for $0.25 more than the grapes.

Continue reading ‘Another Japan journey’

Some images of Morocco

•May 25, 2015 • 1 Comment





Marrakech, Morocco

•May 14, 2015 • 3 Comments

Far away from Santa Fe.  Morocco is having a heat wave. The temperature in Marrakech is 106 today, but it’s cool in our riad deep in the labyrinth of the medina.  


  On our 15th anniversary. 













Cycling Andalusia, Spain

•May 6, 2015 • 1 Comment



  Cycling in Spain my new Touring Bike. 

Continue reading ‘Cycling Andalusia, Spain’

A Guided Tour: Cycling the Length of Japan

•March 9, 2015 • 2 Comments

I’ll be leading a fully supported tour, cycling the length of Japan, 11 Sept to 12 Oct, 2015.

You can learn more at: JapanBiking 

Poster REV

Signs, Menus, and Translations

•November 19, 2014 • 4 Comments

I was looking through my photos and came across these shots of English words and translations.


Gotta love the toilet instructions.  This one has a wireless remote.  “posterior” is not a word we hear much.  Always lots of options when on the toilet. (click image to enlarge)


OK, so how hot could it be?  Well, you could easily have brewed tea with this water. Scalding is an understatement.


I guess hair dying is a problem in Japan hotels.


This was in an “Italian” bar and restaurant.  Looks like the glasses were printed with a small typo.


From a distance, this looked like a sign to say “no peeing”.


I have NO idea…  Fuku??


Some interesting menu items


The sign below happened a lot, especially on menus.  The title in English, and the rest in kanji.


Shirts with English words are everywhere.  Sometimes they make sense.


Kyoto: Final Images Before Heading Home

•November 3, 2014 • 9 Comments

 In Kyoto, for the last 9 days in Japan…


 Some very stern looking marchers


 This group looked a bit more cheery


 Uji is a center for tea growing. We took a short train ride there to buy some tea. 


 We met up with a large group of elderly women… Alison was at least a foot taller then most of them, but every time I tried to take a photo they stopped out of my field of view – trying to be polite – not knowing they were the subject!


 Nighttime at Shorin-in Temple



 Sometimes the attention to detail is quite something


The garden pond at Ryon-ji Temple


 Burning trash near the temple… seems like very un-Zen sort of thing to do


The Arashiyamma bamboo forest 


The only thing worse than taking a photo with an iPad, is taking a movie with an iPad.  And even worse, is taking a selfie with an iPad.  

I’m wondering: if someone is taking a selfie, and is also being photographed doing so, and I’m photographing both of them, will I fall into some sort of fourth-dimensional photographic parallel universe? B/T/W, every time she took a selfie, he took a photo of her, and while I watched, those were the only shots he took. 

The selfie-thing is completely out of control – to the point of this bizarre, obsessive-compulsive trend. These telescoping selfie arms are far too common. I wonder: are they being used in the US?


 We went up to Mount Hiei: first we cycled to the train station, then we took a short train ride, then this inclined tram (the steepest I’ve ever seen), and lastly a cable car. Mt Hiei is famous for the Marathon Monks that live up here. These are some very dedicated monks.

 Nijo Castle 


Okayama, and cycling the Kibi Plain (max speed 5mph)

•November 1, 2014 • 1 Comment

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kyushu – Historic Trains, Hot Sand Baths, and a Charming Village

•October 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

We took this historic train to Ibusuki.  It had well dressed staff, wooden paneling, and was more about the experience than anything else.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Ibusuki is known for its hot (really, hot) sand baths that are on the beach. Kinda bizarre. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



 We had dinner at the the Yatai, or street stalls in Fukuoka


Dazaifu is a day trip from Fukuoka: temples, gardens, and a small traditional tea house.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Dazaifu, a small place had this huge museum near the temples and gardens

Note the name of the leaf blower. Nothing particularly Zen about a leaf blower.



 Quite a Starbucks!



The Last Ride

•October 21, 2014 • 8 Comments

My last ride on this trip took me from Ibusuki to Cape Sata, which is the southernmost point on Kyushu and the main archipelago. I had to take a ferry to start the ride down to the point.  

 The 3000′ high, perfectly conical Kaimondake volcano is close to Ibusuki. 

At first I thought this was a woman, but she’s a manikin. Then, a few hundred feet further there was another, then another. This went on for a few miles. Very bizzare. 

Like the rest of Japan, the mountains are steep.  

Cape Sata sits just below the 31st parallel, which is also just south of Ensanada, Mexico or Houston.  I saw the sign below near Sata.  Cape Soya is where I started my ride last year, 2700 km away, which is on the 45th parallel (same as near Portland, OR, or Bordeaux, FR). 


My last tunnel

I haven’t totaled up my miles yet, but the number won’t be particularly big; however, total elevation gain certainly will be!

3 Big Days Riding on Kyushu, one with no GPS

•October 18, 2014 • 4 Comments

Kyushu is the southern-most island of the main archipelago. My cycling routes here were mostly on narrow roads through small villages and hilly farmlands (the operative word here being “hilly”).  The first day was from Beppu, a city famous for its many hot springs, and hot sand baths, to Aso which sits in the bottom of a huge caldera, with the active Aso volcano nearby (Japan’s largest active). 

Alison and I did this hot sand bath, but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera at the time

The ride from Beppu to Aso was 70 miles, with 8000′. Wasn’t supposed to be quite that much, but for some reason my GPS decided it wasn’t going to navigate the entire route. So, I had to improvise. 

When your GPS isn’t working, a sign like this brings no comfort

Fortunately, vending machines can be in the most remote of places, so finding water is never a problem

The ASO caldera is 17 km x 25 km, or 350 sq. miles… about the size of Denver. The floor is billiard-table flat, and is ringed by a range of mountains several thousand feet high. I cycled down onto the floor from the other side, then cycled up this side to one of the five peaks that make up Mount Aso. The volcano was spewing a huge cloud. 


The second day on Kyushu my GPS started working again. This ride was 80 miles with 6500′. Two monster days considering that, while my added weight is relatively low compared to a camping bike tourer, I’m still carrying an extra 23 lbs, which includes packs, rack, contents, and all the ancillerary items like lights, GPS, etc. 

I said small roads!  I’m assuming this pine tree debris was from the typhoon. It’s really soft, so riding on this for a few miles was not a problem

These arrows went on for miles…”yea, I get it, drive on the left!”

The third day, while not huge, added 55 miles and 4000′ to make the last three days 205 miles (that, in and of itself not a huge deal), but it had 18,500′ of climbing (with an added 23 lbs). No wonder the knees ache a bit. 




Continue reading ‘3 Big Days Riding on Kyushu, one with no GPS’

Okayama, waiting for Vonfong to pass

•October 13, 2014 • 2 Comments

Takashimaya department store is the Neiman-Marcus of Japan. The rain was playing music on their sign.  (Listen to the pings behind the rain)


Here’s a few more shots from Naoshima




At a street faire before the rain hit in Okayama.  These are bean paste sweets. 

Many of the older homes have burnt walls. It’s to protect the wood from a certain bug infestation. 


This is looking out our hotel window while waiting for the  storm to pass


These bikes outside my hotel didn’t stand up to the winds


Typhoon #2: Vanfong Causes a Major Route Change

•October 11, 2014 • 4 Comments

This is heading for southern Japan. Which is where I am at the moment. My route was supposed to take me through the southern part of the island of Shikoku. Which is where Vanfong will hit land, exactly when I was supposed to be riding. I took the train to the art island of Naoshima and met Alison for a few days. Then to Okayama to sit out the storm before resuming the ride schedule on Kyushu. 

I was able to squeeze one nice ride on on northern Shikoku. Shikoku being famous for its Route of 88 Temples.  Many people do the entire circuit, either walking (takes about 3 months), cycling (I met a couple doing that, they said it would take a month), or as this group did, by tour bus. 

Cover for apple orchard

 Making Udon Noodles

Kneeling the dough by foot!

A drone exhibit

Alison on Naoshima. 

Naoshima is a truly unbelievable place for art junkies. I’ve never seen such a commitment made to contemporary art. Definitely a must visit place for the art lover. 


A Few Rides Between Tyohoons

•October 11, 2014 • 1 Comment

Typhoons have a certain binary nature to them. First nothing, then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose, and then…it’s over: the wind stops and the sun comes out. After hunkering down for a few days, I was anxious to get going. 

I had to adjust the schedule, which necessitated a train ride. The Shinkansen part was uneventful, but when I transferred to the local train things got interesting. I was going to Matsusaka. And normally I write my itinerary in my book and show it to the ticket agent with times, connections, and each Line name. Well, this time I was rushing so I simply said I wanted a ticket to Matsumoto. Matsumoto is nonwhere near Matsusaka. 90 minutes toward the wrong destination I realized my mistake. So 90 more minutes and two transfers I was on my way to Matsusaka. Travelers Note: many city names sound alike to the Westerner’s ear, so be careful!

The ride today was another route with great roads and punishing, but wonderful climbs. This road was a bipass around a series of long, uninviting tunnels. What I didn’t know was that it had a long section of 10 to 12% grade. Plus, it had been hit by the typhoon a few days before, so there was debris from the trees all over the road.  Still, a great climb.

I’m guessing these trees blew down from the wind

My GPS has been indispensable. I can’t imagine doing a ride like this without one. But today for the first time, it told me to do something that was impossible. It suggested I make a left turn on this “road”. I came up with an alternate plan. 

Most of the route was on roads like these


These cars have nothing to do with my ride. I was sitting in front of the grocery store having lunch looking at this row of cars in front of me. I realized that since I’ve been in Japan, I have not seen one- not one -dirty car. And remember, this area was hit by a typhoon a few days ago so you would think that a curtain few might be dirty. But no. And then there’s the parking. Not like Santa Fe, where half the people park over the the line. Not here!









Nothing like a Typhoon to alter the cycling plans

•October 4, 2014 • 4 Comments

Typhoon Phanfone is bearing down on southern Japan. Which is where I am now. The rains started last night, and have not let up for the last 18 hours. The forecast for today and tomorrow says there is a 100% chance of rain. I’d say they are pretty confident.  

And, to make matters a bit more unpredictable, regarding the cycling, there is another typhoon laying patiently out to sea where this one started. Could be an interesting week. 

Unlike our Santa Fe thunderstorms that are very isolated, and can be seen approaching from miles away, this tropical storm is so huge, the sky is a homogeneous light grey, slightly luminescent lid. There is no definition overhead. Just a relentless, even downpour. Fortunately the winds are calm… for now.

I’m in Fujinomiya an extra day ’cause the ferry I was supposed to take today is not running. Tomorrow I take the train. Supposedly the storm, this storm, will pass the southern region Monday night.

I should be on the bike Tuesday, though with a slightly altered plan. 

%d bloggers like this: