My name is Don Speden and Brian has invited me to to join him in posting about cycling and our lead up to taking on the Great divide race in 2015. I like Brian have lived in Niigata for almost 15 years and even though my job as the manager and mechanic of Furumachi Bicycle here in Niigata City is very busy I try to get out for a bike packing trip as often as I can. This year I have completed 3 overnight trips into the local mountains as practice for an up coming 6 day tour in early Oct. This post details my last trip away which was about 135km return.
Yesterday I rode out of Niigata city in the early morning to head to Snow Peak HQ, located deep in the mountains of Tsubame Sanjo. Snow Peak is a famous brand of outdoor goods and has their factory and shop located in a scenic area up in the mountains and they also have a large campsite as well. I took a direct route out of the city along side the Shinano river but unfortunately by the time I reached that road it was busy with morning traffic either coming into the city or heading up river. Once I left the road I headed inland to the foothills to the small town of Kamo ( named little Kyoto in Niigata because of the river the runs through the town center ). After passing out of Kamo the road heads deeper in the mountains on Route 290 and involves some short but tough climbs, I like Brian are currently riding a single speed 29 inch MTB and mine is a 2013 Kona Unit which I find fantastic as a good solid touring & commuting bike and am happy to say that with a 33T front chain ring coupled with a 16T rear cog I can ride even steep grades fully loaded with bike packing gear at a reasonable pace of about 16km per hour. Once over the low mountain passes I headed up another small valley to finally reach Snow Peak HQ around lunch time. I enjoyed a relaxing over night stay there and had plenty of time to check out their well stocked outdoor shop. Early the next morning I returned back to Niigata via a more direct down hill route and stopped for a breakfast have way home at a 7/11 , a snickers bar and a 4 pack of raisin butter bread rolls gave me enough power for the long hot ride back into the city. I ended up getting quite sun burnt as I had no idea it would reach 32 deg at this time of the year. Below are a few photos taken on my latest trip