Proposed Loop from Osaka to Hiroshima and back
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Week 18 Summary: Island Hopping
This week: 355.8 miles, 14210 ft climbing and 30:11 hours riding
Day 1: Saturday October 12th:
We woke up this morning and it was teeming with rain so we decided to have breakfast and discuss our plan for the day.
Rylan delivered the tent pegs and poles just after 10am. So that meant we had everything we needed to ride; apart from the weather.
We left the hotel at eleven in pouring rain and high winds; it’s Typhoon Hagibis, as you’re probably all aware.
It felt diffent riding on the left hand side of the road and using the cycle paths you share with pedestrians. Off we went, Linney and I happily cycling along in the rain. It wasn’t cold, above 20° but after about an hour the wind seemed to be getting stronger.
We stop and start all the time,; the Japanese are very strict on waiting for the lights to change. Even on pedestrian crossings they were waiting in the pouring rain.
Debris from the trees, spilt bins and bikes fallen over seemed to be everywhere. Broken umbrellas and potted plants were strewn across the pavements. Linney hit a patch of steel and lost his front wheel. Luckily he managed to step of the bike and he stayed upright. Only his dignity was hurt as he picked up his bike. I was thinking “should we be doing this?”.
After a couple of hours and very little progress due to the stopping and starting we found a fast food joint to eat in. Teriyaki seafood for Linney and burger and 10 chips for me. 😦
We get back on the cycle-path and it’s turned colder, so we decide to ride on the road. Now we can ride faster and warm up. Linney spots a hotel after a while, “what about this place?” he says. “Fine by me” I say; It’s ¥3900 for three hours? Whats that all about?
I found out when we tried to book in. One old man (me) and a young boy (Linney). I think I went slightly red as it dawned on me what sort of establishment it was. We rode away fast!
We found a nice hotel a little later, but they only had smoking rooms. Ours smelt like a 70’s cinema.
Later we had a great night in Murphy’s bar with owner Dave Coffey and his locals watching the Ireland v Samoa game. It was the best bar I’ve been in for four months. Cheers Dave!
Not great. Very wet and windy. Didn’t get very far as the cycle paths aren’t great, very stop and start. At least we made a start tho and further away from the storm. Yeah we wanted to get a bit further really but didn’t wanna get in late. Nice early start tomorrow and see where we end up. Linford.
Just when you think you’ve rode through all the worst possible conditions/days, the hot, the cold, the high, the long, the shit roads, the no roads. Just added typhoon to the the list. What’s next? 😅 Linford.
Good day today tho👍 Bit breezy and damp😂🍻 Keith
Day 2: Sunday October 13th:
It was a late start today; Linney has had to many late nights and we were finally away about 9:00. It was a fine dry day but still a bit blustery at times.
We had a nice ride out of town through some rice fields into the next town. Here we stumbled across an Autumn festival. Not a big event just a group of guys carrying a large Mikoshi shrine.
They took great delight in our interest and stopped and banged out a tune. I hade failed to notice that this thing had a 4 boys and a drum inside.
We left them to celibrate and cracked on. Shortly after Linneys back brake was making a funny noise. so we pulled over dismantled it and put it back together; all good.
In the next town we come across another massive Autumn festival. The guys were all in their Sumo outfits and the ladies in traditional dress. TRhey were all doing traditional dances and consuming alcohol. (tomorrow’s a holiday). We spent some time here talking to the locals and taking photos.
Onward we went out into the countryside proper. What a lovely place. Beaches, coves, fishing villages and lovely roads. It had been a pretty slow day in all so we cracked on down the main road. Low and behold after about 15 minutes the Police are onto us.
After the initial, ‘who are you?’ and ‘where are you going?’ they were very nice. They took all our details and asked us to follow them back the way we had come 400 metres.
Then they ensured we knew where we were going and checked our route, kindly shock our hands and let us go.
Linney says no worries only 6 or 7miles to go. Off we set still laughing at our experience with the Police.
Then we rounded the corner to see the steepest section of road I had seen in a long time. “No worries” says Linney “you’ll work up an appetite!”.
We went over the hill and down into the lovely fishing village. A small homestay is our shelter for the night.
We meet our hosts and expain that we want to shower eat and watch the rugby (Japan v Scotland). They were fine with the first three but slightly puzzled with the fourth.
After a lovely traditional chicken noodle stir fry I opened the laptop up to watch the rugby. After their innitial apprehension and with Japan winning and many Sakis
they got right into the spirit of things.
Excellent evening, the nicest saki ever and new followers of Rugby. Can’t be bad.
Day 3: Monday October 14th:
Cornflakes and coffee for breakfast; could be at home! It was a cool overcast morning as our host Yumi waves us off.
It was not great riding this morning as it was very built up and we are not allowed on the major roads (as we found out yesterday!). No traffic to talk of as it’s a bank holiday. The roads are tarmaced but not great. Along with the poor maps we have from various sources everything becomes a little harder. Oh for those long straight roads in Kazakhstan!
We pulled over at a bakery around midday and purchased a few items. Curried doughnuts! These sound horrible but taste great; no sugar in the dough? Also a pork slice sandwich, excellent as expected and a noodle bagette, also very good. All topped off with a chestnut loaf, my new personal favourite.
We found a quiet spot next to a lake and sat down for our picnic. Within minutes we discovered crickets, large ladybirds and turtles. Linney also spotted a Kingfisher but I didn’t see it ?
It was a busy ride today with very little open roads or countryside. Linney saved the best till last again. The map says it’s 5 miles this way but if I go this way it’s only 2? After a mile and a half we spotted the quayside so we popped down to take a look. Nice views and a ferry across to a Island. We could use that tomorrow maybe!
As we were leaving we meet a guy from Ireland in his cycling kit. Turns out their are eight of them and they’re cycling on the days off between games having flown their bikes out and hired a van. Nice idea (Dale).
He was in a rush to catch up with his mates so we gave him a card and wished them well. Off we go only half a mile to the View Hotel. (Clue in the name I think). We rode up the road crossed the railway then a took a left turn up the hill. Well I managed the first 400 metres up a very steep alleyway and then came to a set of steps. Linford had made a turn and managed another 60 metres. We looked at each other and said ‘we can go back a couple of miles or drag the bikes up the forty or so steps we could see’. No going back. So we dragged the bikes up forty steps, then another forty around the bend, then fifty with a concrete slope to one side to make things easier (not). Then finally around the last bend and 30 metres of hell.
We arrive outside the hotel pouring with sweat to the worried faces of our fellow guests. After 10 minutes and I’m still dripping the receptionist comes out with an iced glass of water and a smile on her face. She explained that whenever they get a booking they email back and advise against this route. I wonder why!
However it was a lovely hotel owned by a Thai kickboxing champion.
Day 4: Tuesday October 15th:
We started the day with an excellent Thai breakfastat the Sea view Onomichi Hotel Seizan. It’s owned by former kick boxing champion Klahan Prapun. Smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, soup and a mixture of cold vegetables. Far better than it sounds.
No rush this morning; we were to go back down the hill (the correct way today) onto the ferry then six islands and six bridges in 50 miles.
As we got off the ferry we studied the map along with a couple of local cyclists. We followed them for the first mile then over-took and made our own way. The route was shown with a thick blue line along the gutter. Easy, what could go wrong? Approaching the first bridge there were many view points and food outlets. We decide to carry on.
Linney for once letting me lead the way. Not long later I had missed the fact the the blue line had changed colour and I’d missed a turning. That was my day at the front over. No worries we backtracked the 100 metres and carried on.
We had lovely scenery all around us; dark green shrubs and trees inland and lovely blue waters out to sea.
Later we stopped off after the fourth bridge for a spot of lunch at a 7 Eleven. Not the best but cheap and convenient.
It didn’t take long before we were climbing up to the last and biggest bridge (Kurushima) at 6Km. As we rounded the final bends to the bridge we heard a friendly hello. It was from a guy called Max from Brighton; he had been chatting to a couple of Dutch lads in their hostel and they had mentioned us. So he’d set off to find us. Nice chap chatted along for the whole 6k of the bridge. Then we made our way into town to find a hotel.
Day 5: Wednesday October 16th:
We had nice simple breakfast of rice, pickles and coffee. It was a bright day with dark clouds over the mountains.
It was a nice but hilly ride for the first 20 mile with lots of small orchards and rice fields dotted around the hillsides. Lemons, limes, kiwi fruit and green tangerines abundant in the trees. Some were already bagged?
On one of the descents Linney’s back brake was play up again so we pulled over and changed his brake pads and adjusted my own. 15 minutes and we were away again.
We saw lots of wildlife about from huge spiders, to birds of prey. Missed this sort of stuff throughout China.
At lunchtime we pulled over at a local bakery; the array of cakes and biscuits is quite amazing. We made our choices and set out somewhere to enjoy our lunch. After a short time we settled on the quayside. We unwrapped our precious lunch. Linney with his curried doughnuts and me with butterscotch muffin and to top it all a loaf of chestnut bread. All wonderful sweet stuff.
Only 30 miles to go this afternoon with sun still shining and the wind behind us. As we dawdled along a fellow touring cyclist sped past. I looked up to see Linney drop his gears and set of in pursuit. That’s that then and off I went. Wasn’t long before Linney was reeling him in and I would be there shortly.
Turns out the guy was German, traveling very light, and in a hurry to catch a ferry. We rode as a group for 5 or 6 miles before he went his own way. Turns out he had arrived in Japan to take part in a particular race that was shortened due to the tornado.
Only 10miles to go now and my garmin says 3000ft+ of climbing. That can’t be right? ‘Three tunnels’ Linney says. I say ‘we are not allowed through tunnels son’. ‘I hope we are because the alternative is not very good Dad’. What should we do? Crack on and see what happens we agree. Pleasently surprised to find the cycle paths following the roads although the lighting in them was very poor in places.
Soon we were out the last tunnel and following a steep 4 mile descent to the hotel.
Lovely, booked in smoothly and soon in the shower.
Great day all in all.
Day 6: Thursday October 17th:
We left the hotel heading for Misaki port along the peninsular. It was only 21 miles but bumpy and via the dreaded tunnels; 18 in total and a couple of bridges thrown in. After about 8 miles we came across a roadside cafe with a veiwing tower. It was 8:54 and the place didn’t open till 9 but the lady inside saw me try the door and so came over and let us in. Nice. Once inside we were hit with offers for coffee and local produce – all we wanted was to get to the viewing platform. So disappointed, no great veiws at all. Over looked what seemed to be a nuclear power station [Ikata Nuclear Power Station: Ed].
Back down into the cafe they greet us with the now familiar “Kon’nichiwa” chorus. (Good day). There was a huge aquarium and two kids feeding the fish through a clever contraption on the glass of the tank. Linford and I were looking at the free samples of manderins. I never knew there was so many different types. Over 20 on display and tasters for all of them.
Back on the road it was tunnel after tunnel with the cars sharing the same space. Luckily they are such very polite drivers. Never feel at risk. Down we roll into the port which was heavy commercial place. Not very pleasant. We went straight into the booking hall got our tickets and up the ramp to the ferry. Arrival and departure from Misaki in 15 minutes flat.
It was not a very large ferry; maybe thirty cars and a hundred passengers. We sat on the deck planning our route to Oita from the port. We had not much to look at as it was a fairly miserable day now. Overcast and threatening rain.
The hour soon past and we’re on our way; 17 miles to our hotel. As we approached the city Linney suggested lunch before we reach the hotel. So we went into Lawsons (think 7 eleven) picked up some fruit, savoury pastries and coffee. Sat inside as it was raining outside.
Oita is a large industrial city slightly grubby and rundown in places. Not a holiday destination. But a lovely stadium on the outskirts of town. Looks vaguely like a clam, with it’s retractable roof. We soon found our hotel a large rectangular yellow building with uniform square windows. Must have saved a Yen or two on this one.
Day 7: Friday October 18th:
[No cycling today. I believe the plan was to go fishing but the day was overcast so they went to the zoo instead: Ed]
Day 8: Saturday October 19th:
[Match Day! Keith and Linford had tickets for the Rugby World Cup 1/4 final match between England and Australia, which England won 40-16: Ed]
Dale, Sandra and Rylan
[Not a lot of news on this front. Rylan had to fly back home to work and meanwhile Dale & Sandra travelled about Japan seeing the sights: Ed]
Overland To India
See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.
I’m not exactly sure where they are right now! Perhaps resting in Bishkek or perhaps they have already flown to India.