- Day 20 – Lake Biwa to Echizen
- Distance: 71.9km
- Ascent / descent: 636m / 630m
- Weather: overcast and cool
- Accommodation: Couchsurfing host Saskia in Echizen
It was a cold night but I managed to sleep ok. The park was noisy from around 6am with people packing up tents (and banging pegs!). It was overcast and a cold morning so I went back over to the road to the 7-Eleven for a hot coffee and to try and defrost.
Saskia, the couch surfing host in Echizen had got in touch to give me her address details and I replied to say I thought I would arrive around 4pm.
I continued on the cycle path beside the lake briefly before turning off and then mostly weaving in and out of rice fields and old traditional houses – the type that once would’ve had thatched roofs before it became an expensive and dying art.
I started gradually climbing but nothing too crazy and not as bad as it looked on the elevation profile on Komoot. The road was mostly quiet and as I was in a low gear going slow uphill, an animal crossed the road right in front of me. Was it a Tanuki? I’ve wanted to see a Tanuki forever. I’m not sure it knew I was there but as I tried to get closer and step on some twigs it ran away so apologies for the photos but that was as good as I could get!
I passed abandoned ski rental buildings nearing the top of the mountain pass and then I finally came across a vending machine on the top of the second climb at a ski resort. I entered into Fukui Prefecture then the winding descent seemed to last much longer with many more curves than the uphill and I was very grateful to be riding in this direction! . It was cold descending so I was delighted to pass a soba restaurant there I stopped for lunch and to warm up. The friendly owners said I was the third ever cyclist (cycling the length of Japan) to go there and they were very interested to hear about my trip so far. Lots of photos were taken and I was sent off with a fond farewell.
I had a tailwind for the very first time and nice roads the rest of the day to Echizen and I was having a really good day.
I stopped via a supermarket to pick up dinner and breakfast then went to meet Saskia and had a lovely time chatting non-stop all afternoon and evening. Meeting her felt like catching up with an old friend and it was great to compare stories of teaching in Japan.
It started raining in the early evening and I was very glad to have a warm bed to fall into rather than the tent… oh how soft I’ve become 😉