Usually I ride a mountain bike, but sometimes I enjoy exploring Shiga Prefecture on my old Trek 520 touring bike. Recently I have become a fair weather road cyclist. Health issues limit my speed and endurance, and I see no point in riding unless I can enjoy a nice, calm day.

Standing in front of my house with my Trek 520 bicycle

Hayamagawa (葉山川)

Saturday, July 18, 2020 was a very rare fine day, so I put on some cycling clothes, grabbed my camera, and took a short ride. One of my favorite routes runs down Hayamagawa (葉山川) in Ritto City and Kusatsu city. Along the way I often stop at Kusabira Shrine (菌神社) in a quiet corner north of the river in Nakazawa, Ritto City.

Entrance to Kusabira Shrine (菌神社)
Entrance to Kusabira Shrine (菌神社)

In Kusatsu City the bicycle path along the left bank of Hayamagawa offers a quiet and safe route for pedestrians and slow cyclists. From the riverbank I often see large birds, especially ducks, egrets, and herons.

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea, アオサギ)
Grey heron (Ardea cinerea, アオサギ) at Hayamagawa in Kusatsu City

Urban pleasures

As much as I enjoyed cycling on this nice day, I decided not to exhaust myself by riding all the way to Lake Biwa. A few kilometers before the lake I turned back toward Ritto City and home. Since my purpose was to enjoy the day as much as possible, I decided to stop for lunch at the McDonald’s in Al Plaza near JR Ritto Station.

McDonald’s lunch at Al Plaza in Ritto City

As I neared home, in Deba I saw a child crossing sign with a boy on a horse. Ritto City has a large race horse training center, so horse racing themes often appear. Quite a few child crossing signs feature images of boys and sometimes girls on horseback. Shiga Prefecture is full of child crossing signs. In Japanese they are called 飛び出し坊や(とびだしぼうや)and other names.

Child crossing sign

Trek 520 bicycle

Trek 520 bicycle
Trek 520 bicycle at Kusabira Shrine (菌神社)

My 1996 Trek 520 touring bike has carried me many thousands of kilometers. I’ve overhauled it and replaced parts several times, most recently in 2019. Many years ago I customized it with new brake handles, traditional downtube friction shifters, a Brooks B17 leather saddle, tough Schwalbe touring tires, and Kleen Kanteen stainless steel bottles.

In 2019 I overhauled the bike with new cables, wheel bearings, etc., and set it up for comfortable road and gravel riding in any weather. It now has Panaracer Gravelking SK TLC tires (700x35c), a Brooks C17 saddle, and an Ortlieb Saddle-Bag Two. I also removed the speedometer (cycle computer), so I ride more leisurely than before. (Trek still sells the 520 touring bike. It has evolved over the years, with some major changes in the new Trek 520 disc.)

Over the years I have added quite a few photos to a Flickr album, Cycling in Shiga, Japan. As long as I remain healthy enough to ride, I hope to enjoy more fine days of cycling in Shiga Prefecture.

Published by Greg Peterson

Professor Emeritus, Kyoto Notre Dame University (1977-2020). Since 1980 I have lived in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, where I enjoy outdoor activities, especially photography, hiking, and cycling.

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