Here is something different to finish the year: a lake loop instead of a river ride. I had been wanting to do this one for a long time and the mild sunny late autumn weather in Tokyo gave the perfect opportunity to go for it. This one is also unusual since I start and finish at the same station, in front of the Seibu Station, buy hey it can’t always be perfect. Even though you’ll need to change trains in Nishitokorozawa, it’s just a walk across the platform.
From the Seibukyujomae station I followed the main road to the left and then took a small road branching right. It was so steep I had to go the highest gear! it goes past a temple and ends at the road, from where I turned left and eventually got to Sayama lake and it’s dam. I already knew my way around since I had already been to the area a few times last year in order to explore the remains of Totoro’s forest that dot the area.
From the far end of the dam I could see Mt Fuji with it’s winter coat, as well as the Okutama and Chichibu mountain ranges. Beyond that I crossed a small park and followed a road anti-clockwise around the lake. There are a number of love hotels at the beginning and the road is in good state. A little further on, it becomes a dirt path and it was much more trying for my poor little city bike. In addition there are a lot of up and downs when moving to the far end of the lake, away from the dam so my gears had a good workout too. This is in fact the perfect course for a mountain bike and I saw a few along the way.
Eventually the path became quite nice with forest on both sides. Unfortunately there was a fence on the left side, the lake side, which was there to supposedly protect the nature around the lake but in reality was just an eyesore. The trees look just as good on either side of the path. Since it was a Sunday, I saw quite a few people walking along the path as well. I saw various signs and forks leading to places which names I didn’t recognise and couldn’t find on my map, but I didn’t worry about it too much and stuck to hugging the lake contour.
At one point I came upon an entrance in the fence on the left that led to a path where bicycles were not allowed. After inquiry, I found out that the path I was on did a circle of about 20 kilometres and that the fenced off path was like a short cut going down the middle – good to know. After a while I got to an open area with roads again and good clear maps of the area. I had reached the end of Sayama lake. There was a rock garden with supposedly some view points but the only good view point I found was from the observation tower about a few hundred meters on the road back.
From the top, I could see the Tanzawa range as well as Mt Takao, Okutama and Chichibu ranges. To the East, the skytree was visible. I had the rest of my lunch at the base of the tower and then continued on my way, now returning to my starting point along the other side of the Sayama lake. The path turned to dirt again with lots of downhill sections, rough on my bike but very beautiful on the eyes. There were lots of side paths which I wished to explore but they would have to wait for another time.
Just before reaching the road again, I passed a kids playground with lots of things to climb on and play with. It looked fun but I was behind schedule and couldn’t linger. Fortunately progress was much swifter along the road and in no time I reached a fork. The road to the left led back to the Sayama dam but if I continued straight I would reach the Tama Lake and dam. I hadn’t really planned to do both but if the road was good i.e asphalt I could manage. I decided to risk it. Besides there were plenty of escape routes. The road to the Tama dam was easy and mostly slightly downhill and I got there in record breaking time.
The Tama dam and lake are pretty much the same as the Sayama ones except you can’t see Mt Fuji. However there is a good road that goes all the way around the lake. Not as beautiful but at least you can make good speed. There was a crossing with a rest area that made me hesitate but another cyclist told me it was straight ahead. Finally I got back on to the same road I was cycling along at the end of the Sayama lake tour except on the other side of the road.
I decided to hang around the Sayama dam for another half an hour so that I could see the sun set close to Mt Fuji (but not on top). It was beautiful but really cold, it is December after all. After that I quickly cycled half way down the dam and then had to push my bike down steps the other half and finally reached the station and caught the train just before it got pitch black.