Bicycle Ride Around Japan’s Largest Lake, Part 1

Wednesday's Outing
230km (143 miles) by bicycle

I had a nice bicycle outing on Wednesday with friends, riding around Lake Biwa (the largest lake in Japan). I ended up covering about 230km (143 miles).

Despite being almost twice as long as my previously-longest ride, it was much easier for two reasons: it was mostly flat (just 1,600m / 5,250' of vertical climb over the 230km, compared to, for example, 2,500m / 8,300' over 99km), and I was much better at keeping myself filled with calories. I'm starting to discover that it's easier to ride the bicycle when you have energy.

Gathering in front of Sanjo Starbucks, Kyoto Japan Gorm Kipperberg , Kumiko Naka , and Joshua Levine 5:38 AM (+12 min) - 1.3 km (0.8 miles) -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/200 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Gathering
in front of Sanjo Starbucks, Kyoto Japan
Gorm Kipperberg, Kumiko Naka, and Joshua Levine
5:38 AM (+12 min) - 1.3 km (0.8 miles)

To explain the last line of the caption, the photo was taken at 5:38am, 12 minutes (and 1.3km) after I left my house. Most photos are denoted this way to help give a sense of travel. The elapsed time (+12 min in the example above) is just how long since I left the house, so it includes both travel time and pauses (traffic, chatting, snacks, sightseeing, etc.)

I'm not one to get up that early, much less be out and about already that early, but we knew we had a long day ahead of us, so the meeting time was set for 5:30am. As ridiculously early as that is, the sun is up even earlier... it rose at 4:42 that day. The sun rises early in the Land of the Rising Sun. (I didn't realize until checking the data while writing this post, but the sunrise at 4:42 that day is the earliest of the year.)

Anyway, before we could go around the lake, we had to get to the lake, so we got going and headed over the small mountains in between. This involved two little climbs totaling 200m (650') of elevation gain. We arrived at the lake in great spirits ready to go.

Arriving at Lake Biwa 6:22 AM (+55 min) - 13 km (8.1 miles) taken while cycling at 14 kph (8 mph) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/2500 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Arriving at Lake Biwa
6:22 AM (+55 min) - 13 km (8.1 miles)
taken while cycling at 14 kph (8 mph)

The cyclist at the left in the photo above is not part of our group. He looks to be setting up his bike for a picture, likely before he starts his own trip around the lake.

Photo on the Go 6:23 AM (+56 min) - 13 km (8.2 miles) taken while cycling at 25 kph (15 mph) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 44mm — 1/4000 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Photo on the Go
6:23 AM (+56 min) - 13 km (8.2 miles)
taken while cycling at 25 kph (15 mph)
My Attempt at a “ Selfie ” 6:23 AM (+57 min) - 14 km (8.4 miles) taken while cycling at 18 kph (11 mph) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/1000 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
My Attempt at a Selfie
6:23 AM (+57 min) - 14 km (8.4 miles)
taken while cycling at 18 kph (11 mph)
Dawn at the Lake 6:26 AM (+59 min) - 15 km (9.1 miles) (it wasn't really dawn, the sun having been up for almost two hours, but it still felt that way to me.) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/12800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Dawn at the Lake
6:26 AM (+59 min) - 15 km (9.1 miles)
(it wasn't really dawn, the sun having been up for almost two hours, but it still felt that way to me.)

We soon stopped at a picturesque spot to take some photos before starting the circumnavigation loop in earnest...

Memorial Photo 6:31 AM (+1h 4m) - 16 km (9.9 miles) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 56mm — 1/2500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Memorial Photo
6:31 AM (+1h 4m) - 16 km (9.9 miles)
Misty Morning -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/10000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Misty Morning
Shooting the Breeze -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 67mm — 1/3200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Shooting the Breeze

This was the first attempt at a trip around Lake Biwa for all of us but Joshua, who has done it many times, and his laid-back demenor rubbed off, and we all felt at ease.

Bottom of the Lake 6:35 AM (+1h 8m) - 16 km (10.0 miles) taken while cycling at 19 kph (12 mph) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 32mm — 1/6400 sec, f/2.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Bottom of the Lake
6:35 AM (+1h 8m) - 16 km (10.0 miles)
taken while cycling at 19 kph (12 mph)

The huge lake narrows in the south to eventually become a river. The bridge seen in the background of the photo above cuts across the bottom of the lake/river, so our route takes us over it to the eastern side of the lake.

The view from the bridge was pretty...

desktop background image of morning view at Lake Biwa, Otsu Japan -- View from the Bridge 6:39 AM (+1h 13m) - 18 km (10.9 miles) -- Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 65mm — 1/2000 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
View from the Bridge
6:39 AM (+1h 13m) - 18 km (10.9 miles)
Desktop-Background Versions
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Waiting At The Trail Start 6:41 AM (+1h 14m) - 18 km (11.4 miles) -- Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Waiting At The Trail Start
6:41 AM (+1h 14m) - 18 km (11.4 miles)

Immediately at the end of the bridge one can get onto a walking/cycling trail that runs up much of the eastern side of the lake. I had stopped for a minute to take photos, so they waited for me there. Then it was time to being the ride in earnest...

6:43 AM (+1h 16m) - 19 km (11.7 miles) taken while cycling at 23 kph (14 mph) -- Kusatsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
6:43 AM (+1h 16m) - 19 km (11.7 miles)
taken while cycling at 23 kph (14 mph)
Many Facets of the Shore Area 7:06 AM (+1h 39m) - 29 km (18.2 miles) taken while cycling at 24 kph (15 mph) -- Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 32mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Many Facets of the Shore Area
7:06 AM (+1h 39m) - 29 km (18.2 miles)
taken while cycling at 24 kph (15 mph)
Biwako Rainbow Bridge 7:17 AM (+1h 50m) - 35 km (21.5 miles) taken while cycling at 26 kph (16 mph) -- Moriyama, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/7.1, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Biwako Rainbow Bridge
7:17 AM (+1h 50m) - 35 km (21.5 miles)
taken while cycling at 26 kph (16 mph)

Before the lake really opens up, there's one area where it narrows to less than a mile across, and so there's a big bridge over it at that point. Joshua wouldn't have time to do the whole trip around, so we stopped at the bridge for snacks before he left us with parting advice on the upcoming route, then took the bridge heading back toward Kyoto.

Pause that Refreshes snacks and stretches 7:23 AM (+1h 57m) - 35 km (21.8 miles) -- 琵琶湖大橋東詰(バス) -- Moriyama, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 33mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Pause that Refreshes
snacks and stretches
7:23 AM (+1h 57m) - 35 km (21.8 miles)
My Caffè Latte it's mellow and rich -- 琵琶湖大橋東詰(バス) -- Moriyama, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
My Caffè Latte
it's mellow and rich

After the break, the three of us (Gorm, Kumiko, and I) continued the trip around. We still had almost 200km (125mi) to go.

At one point we came across a truck with a jet engine mounted on it, shooting its massive exhaust into the trees...

Recycled Jet Engine? 8:00 AM (+2h 33m) - 43 km (26.6 miles) taken while cycling at 25 kph (16 mph) -- Yasu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Recycled Jet Engine?
8:00 AM (+2h 33m) - 43 km (26.6 miles)
taken while cycling at 25 kph (16 mph)

It was spraying some kind of insecticide, I suppose. They had us wait while they turned it off so that we could pass.

Rice Paddies 8:02 AM (+2h 35m) - 44 km (27.2 miles) taken while cycling at 27 kph (17 mph) -- Yasu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/640 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Rice Paddies
8:02 AM (+2h 35m) - 44 km (27.2 miles)
taken while cycling at 27 kph (17 mph)

At one point we came near a twisty access road for a temple high up on a mountain (Choumeiji Temple / 長命寺). Gorm and Kumiko kindly waited while I popped up the 150m of vertical climb up a 12% grade. I couldn't access the temple grounds proper with the bicycle, so I didn't have any nice view from up there, but a third of the way back down the access road, a nice view opened up:

Nice View from 100m Above ( a little snippet of) the Lake 8:34 AM (+3h 7m) - 53 km (33.1 miles) -- Omihachiman, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 72mm — 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Nice View from 100m Above (a little snippet of) the Lake
8:34 AM (+3h 7m) - 53 km (33.1 miles)
Continuing 8:45 AM (+3h 19m) - 57 km (35.4 miles) taken while cycling at 26 kph (16 mph) -- Omihachiman, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 40mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Continuing
8:45 AM (+3h 19m) - 57 km (35.4 miles)
taken while cycling at 26 kph (16 mph)
Gorm Always has a Smile 8:48 AM (+3h 21m) - 58 km (36.0 miles) taken while cycling at 21 kph (13 mph) -- Omihachiman, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Gorm Always has a Smile
8:48 AM (+3h 21m) - 58 km (36.0 miles)
taken while cycling at 21 kph (13 mph)

I don't know how common a name Gorm is in Norway, where Gorm is from, but had I heard it prior to meeting him I would have thought it was the name of a medieval overlord who ate children for breakfast. But with his incessant smile from the first moment I met him, he's forever made the name Gorm synonymous with robust friend of cheery attitude. (Wikipedia lists various meanings for the word, including a king from the 900s.)

For the record, I have no evidence that Gorm eats children for any meal whatsoever, though as a professor of economics with a PhD from UC Davis, he may well be similar to a medieval overlord; you'd have to ask his students.

8:51 AM (+3h 24m) - 59 km (36.6 miles) taken while cycling at 21 kph (13 mph) -- Omihachiman, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 28mm — 1/80 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
8:51 AM (+3h 24m) - 59 km (36.6 miles)
taken while cycling at 21 kph (13 mph)
Passing Over an Inlet River click through for a wide panorama 9:05 AM (+3h 39m) - 65 km (40.3 miles) taken while cycling at 23 kph (14 mph) -- Higashiomi, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Passing Over an Inlet River
click through for a wide panorama
9:05 AM (+3h 39m) - 65 km (40.3 miles)
taken while cycling at 23 kph (14 mph)
Interesting Sky I like the shadow of the contrail on the apparently-slightly-lower layer of clouds 9:06 AM (+3h 39m) - 65 km (40.4 miles) taken while cycling at 24 kph (15 mph) -- Higashiomi, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/2000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Interesting Sky
I like the shadow of the contrail on the apparently-slightly-lower layer of clouds
9:06 AM (+3h 39m) - 65 km (40.4 miles)
taken while cycling at 24 kph (15 mph)
More Rice Paddies a common sight along much of the east side of the lake 9:09 AM (+3h 42m) - 67 km (41.5 miles) taken while cycling at 30 kph (19 mph) -- Hikone, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 26mm — 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
More Rice Paddies
a common sight along much of the east side of the lake
9:09 AM (+3h 42m) - 67 km (41.5 miles)
taken while cycling at 30 kph (19 mph)
Gulf the lake is about 16km (10mi) wide here 9:52 AM (+4h 25m) - 78 km (48.5 miles) -- Hikone, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 46mm — 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Gulf
the lake is about 16km (10mi) wide here
9:52 AM (+4h 25m) - 78 km (48.5 miles)
Right Along the Lake 9:53 AM (+4h 26m) - 78 km (48.7 miles) taken while cycling at 27 kph (17 mph) -- Hikone, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Right Along the Lake
9:53 AM (+4h 26m) - 78 km (48.7 miles)
taken while cycling at 27 kph (17 mph)
Somewhat of a Tropical Feel 10:51 AM (+5h 25m) - 103 km (64.2 miles) taken while cycling at 23 kph (14 mph) -- Nagahama, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 40mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Somewhat of a Tropical Feel
10:51 AM (+5h 25m) - 103 km (64.2 miles)
taken while cycling at 23 kph (14 mph)

We still hadn't gone even half way yet, and what we'd done so far was mostly flat, though with many small undulations up and down along the way. Some major climbs awaited before we turned the metaphorical corner and started heading home.

Continued here...


All 5 comments so far, oldest first...

143 miles, that’s impressive! And I’m still awe-struck by your ability to take photos while riding… I’ve considered trying it a few times, but I don’t think I have the balance and coordination to pull it off.

I’m looking forward to part 2!

— comment by David K. on June 15th, 2015 at 12:00am JST (2 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Noticed that you are using a Panasonic LX 100. How do you like it so far?

Writing a blog post about it now. 😉 —Jeffrey

— comment by Tom in SF on June 15th, 2015 at 3:56am JST (2 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Looks like a great tour. Would have joined you, but the furthest I’ve ever cycled on one day was a bit over 100km – and that was 10 years ago. Not to mention that I’m on the wrong continent.

Midevil got me. Had to look it up. According to online sources it’s a misspelling on medieval. Or is it the normal spelling in the states?

“Midevil” is the normal spelling in The States when one doesn’t know how to spell. (Thanks, fixed! 😉 ) —Jeffrey

— comment by Daniel Cutter on June 15th, 2015 at 5:00pm JST (2 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Any reason why you didn’t get the Sony RX100 Mark III?

Not that I remember. I looked at reviews, picked and ordered the camera, and moved on. I didn’t even remember what I ended up choosing until it showed up. —Jeffrey

— comment by JJ Lee on June 15th, 2015 at 5:35pm JST (2 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Sadly I have been away from cycling for years. Your Tour de Biwako looks great!!

— comment by Masa on June 16th, 2015 at 6:40pm JST (2 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink
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