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Friend Mike had an old cycling buddy living in the area, so we called him up and invited him along. When he took an hour to arrive, I began to get antsy (we carried no camping gear), so I spent some time asking questions in the Nagano Station tourist office, and then more time on the phone. The effort paid off; by the time he arrived, we had a reservation at a minshuku in a place called Manza Onsen - not only a hot springs, but one that was right on our route - as was this vineyard. For the record, Nagano also produces some good wines - I'm rather surprised that the Nagano Olympics reporters didn't discover THEM...

After hearing other cyclists talk about how nice it was to pedal along mountain roads over the 2,000 meter mark, it was time to give it a try. It was also Golden Week, the big end-of-April, beginning-of-May holiday when most of Japan is on the move. Amazingly, the road to the start of the first day's climb wasn't crowded at all.