Keith and Linford rode: 661.1 miles, 22,423 ft climbing and 51:51 hours riding.
Dale rode: 792.2 miles, 47,031 ft climbing and 68:07 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]
Things get a bit tricky this week as Keith & Linford are doing a ride south of Osaka whilst Dale is riding alone heading north out of Osaka. Both itineraries are given below.
Things have got out of wack because Dale has been visited by Sandra and Rylan these past 10 days whilst Charlie and Camilla arrive to rendezvous with Keith and Linford this w/e!
Day 9: Sunday October 20th:
We were up early for breakfast and then had short ride of 14 miles to Beppu ferry terminal. Three hour crossing to Yawatahama went pretty slowly. Feeling rough from yesterday 👍
We came straight off the boat and pushed on to Ozu which was only 20 miles away and mainly through built up areas.
We arrive at our hotel in enough time to set up laptop/tv and settled down to watch the second set of 1/4 final games. Both good games👍, but both results not what I wanted ☹️. [Wales beat France and South Africa beat Japan: Ed]
Day 10: Monday October 21st:
We have 75 miles planned for today but the weather outlook is not looking very good. We were out sorting the bikes at 7:30; bit of oil here and there, air in the tyres and adjusting a front wheel bearing. Ready to roll.
It was a steady climb for the first fifteen miles and slightly chilly and damp. Unfortunately as we climb up the valley the views are ruined by low cloud and mist. It does’nt change all day. After a hour or so we pull over into a Co-op looking for fruit. Seems Seven-Eleven and the other convenience stores don’t sell fruit. Pick up a couple of apples and a bag of tangerines.
The day just gets duller and duller as we follow the course of the river. Traffic’s busy and the roads are not great. Lunch is a microwave meal in a “Family Mart” with coffee and chocolate eclairs to finish.
The final climb of the day and Linney’s on a mission. Not sure if he’s upset because I ate most of the eclairs or he wants to finish before it rains. No worries we’re soon making enquiries for a room in another dodgy hotel.
We leave that behind and find the delightful “Love max Hotel”. It’s not lovely at all.
Day 11: Tuesday October 22nd:
It was Coronation Day yesterday. A holiday we knew nothing about until the parades started in the evening. There were plenty of drums and the same float as the autumn festival.
We were up and ready to go at 7:45; pumped up Linney’s tyre, oil my chain and off we go. A lap of the car-park to discover I sheared a bolt on my rear pannier yesterday. 5 minutes and rolling. Amazing things Ty-wraps.
The first 10 miles is up hill this morning, then all down hill pretty much. It was a steady climb in the muggy atmostphere. Sun was threatning to break out as we passed some lovely small holdings along the river. Not long before we reach the top, marked by a small tunnel. We descended following the Yoshino river which is pretty sizeable given it was close to its source. We stop for photos on the IKEDA dam.
We picked up some bits for our picnic at the “Lawsons Store”. and pulled over at a mini golf course on the side of the river to enjoy our lunch. Followed by fresh strawberries and banana chips.
The rest of the day was very enjoyable, downhill, along the tow path ( a cycle route).
We arrived out our shabby hotel at 15:00.
Later we went out for dinner at “Buddy Buddy” – the craft ale sign outside was the decider. The chef guy was lovely and chatty; Linney had the set Oyster dinner and I stuck to the chicken. The craft ale was on tap and we tried a few; all very good but the pale ale was exceptional. Pity we won’t be back.
Day 12: Wednesday October 23rd: OUR LAST DAY OF CYCLING
Fly-through Map of Japan Day 12.
We were up and out at 07:00.
The ferry leaves at 8. We were relieved to find our bikes haven’t been touched as we’d left them in the hotel open carpark. It was a warm bright morning as we pull into 7/11 to buy breakfast.
On arrival at the ferry terminal we purchased tickets and joined the queue to board. It was still only 07:25 but no boat was in sight.
Three lorries, six cars, three motorbikes and our two bikes to load. Doesn’t take five minutes. We go on board looking for a quiet corner were we can have our breakfast and a snooze. No worries, there are only a handful of passengers. You do well to meet people as you walk around the decks. Smooth sunny crossing, but nothing to look at.
We disembark dead on time after a 2 hour crossing. 50 miles today give or take. The first twelve are uphill out of the port then a couple of miles of flat countryside and then 35 miles of urbanisation. We take a break straight away. Linney wants to change his shorts. I take a look at my bike rear deraileur playing up. Shit iv’e broken the gear cable. What to do?
1, Change cable. (probably an hour, bar tape removed, gears may not be perfect)
2, Shorten chain (single speed)
3, Adjust deraileur to run on a higher gear (Use front deraileur, 3 gears)
I adjust deraileur in a couple of minutes and off we go. Linney leading (as always ) up the hill. I think he’s forgotten I don’t have all my gears. It’s only an hour, so press on up. Just happens to be a bright sunshiny day. Over the top then a nice descent into the town (past a petrochemical works).
Soon it’s time to eat again, “picnic” Linney says “there’s a park and lake ahead”. So we pull into Lawson’s Store for food. Out the store and into the park. Think reservoir with grass band around it. Not to worry it’s clean and quiet.
We spend the rest of the day riding through town but it’s not bad we keep rolling using both the roads and cycle-paths.
We book into our hotel at 15:00.
That’s our cycling over, I for one will miss it. Seems sad that we are done, but Charlee and Camilla arrive tomorrow. That’s exciting.
We have pizza for dinner as I fancied something more like home. Will be full on Japanese again tomorrow with the girls.
Day 13: Thursday October 24th:
[I’m guessing they hung out in Osaka all day and then went to the airport to pick up Charlee & Camilla: Ed]
Day 14: Friday October 25th:
Day 15: Saturday October 26th:
[No news or photos from today. I expect they enjoyed the England vs NZ game though!: Ed]
After spending time with Sandra and Rylan travelling around Japan Dale is now cycling North on his own. [He’ll be looping back to Yokahama for the Rugby semi-final and final w/ends and will rendezvous with the others there: Ed]
Dale Day 1: Sunday October 20th:
It was a great result last night as England stuffed the Aussies [Rugby World Cup 1/4 final 40-16: Ed], Sandra & I watched it in an English bar in Oaska but Keith & Linney had tickets. Fair play we could have had tickets, but Sandra is flying home very early in the morning, so we could not take them up on the very generous offer of tickets; another bonus point for me, the doting husband that I am!
It was a very early start and we were up at 05:15 to walk Sandra to the station sort the tickets out and say our farewells agai. It’s only for 3 weeks this time as I have booked a flight home on the 6th November.
Then I went back to the hotel had breakfast and then get the bike ready. To be honest I was pretty nervous, not about riding on my own, but just getting out of Oaska, then riding through all the busy towns and cities. It’s really not my forte, especially without the expert map reading skills of Linney being there to guide me. Hence I had picked a relatively easy route out of Oaska; down to the river then follow the river to the outskirts of Otsu and then follow Lake Biwa around to Takashima; nothing could go wrong.
To be perfectly honest I was quite pleased with myself as it all went pretty smoothly to the river bank. Though the cycle track was very good with loads of road bikes on it every few miles they did put in some serious barriers to stop vehicles which were ok for road bikes but a pain with all the panniers on. I soon got the hang of it though. So enjoyed traffic free cycling for the first 25 miles and it was excellent following the river and watching all the sports going on; rugby, football, baseball, tennis, golf, with a bit of rowing and kayaking thrown in, all in all a good mornings ride.
Then I hit a busy road into Otsu had lunch on the very nice promenade of Lake Biwa, and then carried on a minor road hugging the lake. I knew the rugby was on at 16:15 so I really wanted to be done around 15:30. Just as I was coming up to that time I overtook a guy on a shopping bike with a massive backpack on and said the normal “hello” he replied the same with a massive Manc accent. We ended up watching the first game with him and his mate from Guernsey and they sorted a place for me to stay at a friends of theirs place about 8 miles down the road.
I sat watched the rugby with them but went careful on the beers and then moved onto the Japanese style lodge and natural hot spring (Onsen) they had arranged for me. Well the place was superb, but unfortunately no WIFI so I went to the local bar and caught the 2nd half of the game. The hot spring Onsen was really good; where were they when we needed them a couple of months ago? I felt brand new when I came out; a bit pink but nevertheless very relaxed.
Dale Day 2: Monday October 21st:
My bed in the traditional Japanese Inn was surprising comfortable; just a thin mattress laid out on the wooden floor and a weird pillow. With no breakfast supplied I had a croissant, coffee and bananas bought from the local store the previous night. I said my thanks to the owners and made an early start.
My plan was to head to Fukui through a couple of ski resorts via the Port of Tsurga though nothing was booked; just pedal and see how it goes.
The road was not that busy thankfully as it was not that wide. The first part was just a bit bumpy before a steady climb past the ski slopes of Kunizaki snow park. Quite a nice climb just steady nothing too serious, though it did get the legs burning after a couple of weeks out of the saddle.
Before I knew it I was coming into the Port of Tsuga. It was nice to see the sea but I kept to the outskirts of the town rather than going through the middle. As the road got steeper I hit the first of a series of 7 tunnels all about 1000m long. They were very well lit but not much room and really noisy. I stopped for lunch at a shrine over-looking the bay, really nice spot and a nice bowl of noodle soup; the guy took the meat out of it for me!
After lunch I stayed on the coast for a while and met a group of Chinese cyclists touring in Japan. We had a nice chat and exchanged our details hopefully they will get in touch again. Then I headed inland where it started to get very built up again through the city of Echizen and stayed like that all the way to Fukui.
I stopped at a 7-11 just before Fukui as they have a good WIFI and sorted out a hotel before I rolled into town, ready for another Onsen, then some food, before sorting out tomorrows ride.
Dale Day 3: Tuesday October 22nd:
I’m still getting used to this cycling alone thing. I enjoy the time on the road but it’s a bit weird at meal-times. Nevertheless I had a really good fill this morning; a cheese pasta dish. Strange for breakfast but very nice.
I had a pretty steady day planned for today up to Kanazawa but through the busy industrial area of Komatsu. All being well I should be able to keep to the outside of it.
With my plan in place I set off to get out of Fukui, all pretty straight forward,. Book a place near to your exit point; experience counts, all good. It was quite a pleasant morning sun breaking through the clouds with mist over the mountains I will be climbing tomorrow. I was feeling good so got a good pace on. Stopped for a drink at a little picnic spot and a nice lady gave me a free cup of coffee and a little cake; she used to live in Cambridge and was selling stuff for a local charity. She was very impressed with our charity thing too.
Then before I knew it I was in the outskirts of the industrial area; very stop and start for the last 20 miles just through industrial sprawl. It was a very easy day on the bike but it will all change tomorrow when I start to head for Yokohama across the mountain ranges. Looking forward to the adventure; nothing can go wrong.
[No photos from the 22nd: Ed]
Dale Day 4: Wednesday October 23rd:
I woke up to a lovely sunny morning which always makes you feel better. As does a massive breakfast. I knew I had a big day of climbing ahead of me. I set off early to get out of the city Kanazawa before the rush hour started in earnest. Actually it was not that bad as once again i had stayed on the right side (the exit side) of the city. I was soon out of the city and hitting a steady climb up to the mountains. It was nothing too serious with the climbing and the road was very quiet. This made for a lovely start to the morning, happy days.
I was just enjoying the clear roads and the lovely scenery as I meandered up the steady climb through the small villages and towns and had a bite to eat and a nice chat to a lady who ran a small shop in Inotan when she warned me that the road would get a bit steeper very soon.
She was correct but it was still ok as I followed the river (not sure of the name [Jinzu and then the Takahara: Ed]), past a series of dams and hydro-electric plants. I reached a peak just before the town of Hida and did my usual thing; stopped in a convenience store for a coffee and more importantly WIFI and booked a place to stay. It all seemed good.
So then set off again for the final 12 or so miles on nice traffic free roads. As I got closer to Takayama I had to make a little detour as no cyclists were allowed through the tunnel. It’s a bit weird as I had been through many tunnels earlier in the ride but it’s not a big deal; just a smaller road over the river.
I had made the same mistake as Keith and Linford with the hotel as it was an adults only one booked by the hour! Not for me! So I pressed on until I found another convenience store, re-jigged the booking and ended up with an Onsen again. I think I am getting used to the hot bath after a hard day in the saddle.
Later I had a lovely meal in the restaurant down the road; vegetable raman and rice, accompanied by a couple from Israel and another couple from Norwich, which capped off a fine day on the road.
Dale Day 5: Thursday October 24th:
I had another good breakfast; left over spaghetti! It’s a massive treat so I had a few bowls as well as the cornflakes and fruit.
I left Takayama and headed straight for the mountains with a pretty steep climb to start off with. You could see the snow-capped mountains in the distance which always gives me a bit of a buzz. I carried on the small road 381 with very little traffic which was nice and signs saying watch out for the bears and monkeys.
It was the same as yesterday as I was climbing all you could see was hydro-plants and dams through pine forests; but it was really pleasant riding. I had to contend with the occasional tunnel but I’m getting used to them now. I keep my back light on and then just ride like Mr Magoo as I can’t see a thing!
I came out of one tunnel and saw a pack of monkeys sitting in the road; amazing! I tried to get my camera out but just took a picture of the trees! I could hear them all around me and I think they could smell the peanuts that keep me going all the time.
Then I went through the biggest tunnel yet about 3 miles long just as my Garmin gave up the ghost. It just froze so I resorted to my phone with a downloaded ridewithgps map; nothing could go wrong!
I’d had a few little mishaps early on but it seemed to be going good and I could even see the screen better. I also had a few battery back ups as well, so all was good.
I just kept riding through the amazing scenery with next to no-one on the road but I did meet a load of New Zealand guys out on the road with hired bikes and a guide. I met them just outside a tunnel. Their guide was a bit worried but I just said “follow me I can’t see a thing!” A few of them did but the rest held back.
As we came out there was a bit of a rest-area with an old steam engine. I took a few pics with them and exchanged details and then got on my way.
It nearly went pear-shaped just after that as I missed a little turn but I managed to go back and find it. Naturally it made me smile that I can still get off-road. It was just a really steep section on an unmade road but pretty good fun and then a really nice downhill to the hotel.
Dale Day 6: Friday October 25th:
A big day is planned for today; will ride to Sagamihara a town just on the outskirts of Yokohamma and then get the train in tomorrow to watch the rugby.
I had an early breakfast and hit the road just after 7:00 in light drizzle hoping it would dry up later. After less than ½ an hour I had part of the answer as it started to rain pretty heavily. I pulled over and put on the full rain jacket, gloves and hat. It was not that cold but with the damp clothes it felt like it and it was coupled with a heavy mist in air. It was a shame as you could not see the stunning scenery, just a murky silent morning.
Thankfully not too much traffic on the roads for the first 20 odd miles but after that it got quite busy through a lot of small towns. Traffic lights at loads of junctions slowed my progress a little and I got some strange looks. “Why is that mad bloke out on his bike in this weather?”; the rain was coming down like stair-rods now.
I was that wet now it just was not worth stopping for anything to eat. I had nuts a bit of fruit, chocolate and plenty of drinks, so just I rode on through. It was good to get out of the built up area and I enjoyed the climbing rather than the descents, as I got a bit cold coming down.
It was a pity because if the weather was clear, I would have been able to see Mt Fuji, from around the town of Kofu to Otsuki. But nothing doing, I could only just see my front wheel. It was the same for Lake Sagami but my consolation is that after the rugby I will be coming back out this way. Hopefully the weather will be better.
I stopped just after Lake Sagami and adjusted both brakes as it was getting difficult to stop in the wet weather. I then did the final descent into Sagamihara. At about 8 miles out they had closed the road as there had been a landslide and then as I started the diversion I met a guy from Hastings on a touring bike, (Graham). He had been on the road for over a year and had cycled from the UK taking the southern route. I had a really nice chat with him. He was on his way to Tokyo and then flying back to Europe next week. We said our good-byes and wished each other luck. He was not into his rugby. Then we went our separate ways.
[Filthy weather meant no photos from today: Ed]
Dale Day 7: Saturday October 26th:
[Dale has tickets for the England vs New Zealand World Cup Rugby semi-final, but heard no word or received any photos! He’s probably in a ditch somewhere: Ed]
[Apparently not! these came in late so apologies to the email versions which missed these: Ed]
Dale Day 8: Sunday October 27th:
Dale didn’t ride today but stayed in Yokohama to watch the Rugby World Cup semi-final between Wales and South Africa: the Boks won 19-16.
Yesterday Dale watched England vs New Zealand in the other semi-final. England stuffed the All Blacks 19-7.
Dale also saw the Wales vs South Africa semi-final, but its wasn’t such a great game.
Dale Day 9: Monday October 28th:
I’m back on the road again after two days watching the Rugby semi-finals. I went to both games: Saturday’s was excellent, a great game from an England perspective but unfortunately the Sunday game was a bit of a damp squid and never really got going with South Africa running out the eventual winners,
I met the guys running Ron Rutland’s press releases (him and a guy called James cycled from Wales to Japan, they have loads of sponsors and even brought the whistle out for the first game) one of their main sponsors is DHL, so it looks like we will be able to get DHL to ship our bikes back for us. I’m awaiting confirmation but he seemed very positive.
My plan is to now cycle back to Osaka taking the eastern route this time. Starting with todays ride with a potential view of Mount Fuji if the weather is favourable. In the morning we had clear blue skies so it’s looking good, though it can change in the mountains very quickly.
I was climbing all morning up to around 2000m on really good roads with very little traffic. It was quite pleasant with nice views of Lake Yamanakao, the Doshi river and the mountains Yakiyama Omuro, Komotsurushi and Mikuni. It was a stunning section of road across the top of the mountains athough the cloud came down on the western side making it impossible to see Mt Fuji; fate and all that but still a really nice ride with a lovely descent before the final climb of the day.
A good day in the saddle and I needed it after two heavy days watching the rugby!
Dale Day 10: Tuesday October 29th:
Here we go again woke up to the sound of rain pelting against the windows; happy days! At least it is not cold and I only planned to do 70 odd miles. Still it’s really not nice going out in the pouring rain. It’s a bit different when you get caught up in the rain as you have very little choice but to carry on. However I have to move on to get back to Oaska and sort out getting my bike home [Steve’s frame though: Ed], then build myself up for the final; surely nothing can go wrong.
So I hit the road with a steady downpour. I just keep smiling as it’ll all be worth it when England bring home the Webb Ellis trophy (so I kept saying to myself).
All I can say is the rain never stopped all day, in fact it got worse, so I did not stop for lunch and just powered through. I arrived at the hotel around 13:30 but the girl on the front desk said my room would not be ready until 15:00 but I soon sorted that out and gave her my best sad face whilst dripping water all over the place. I think they were well please when they got me a room straight away.
No pictures today as everything was to wet and you could not see anything anyway. The good news is that it is meant to be a little brighter tomorrow. I hope so.
Dale Day 11: Wednesday October 30th:
I woke to a lovely sunny morning so different from yesterday. Once I got out the road my Garmin started to play up. I think it was operator error last night when I downloaded the ma. It was sending me all over the place for the first 10 or so miles as think I had set it on Mountain bike trails by mistake.
So I kept the Garmin running but reverted to MapsMe. This does eat up the battery on my phone but I had a couple of battery packs with me so it should be OK.
This route took me along the shores of Lake Hamana, a very tourist place with hotels doted along the shore and all sorts of trails to follow. I was glad I was not following my Garmin now as I would have been in forest for sure. I had a lovely 20 or so miles along the lake, quite flat and really sunny.
Then it was a nice steady climb up into the forest where I stopped for a little bite to eat at the top of third climb where I prepared some stuff for a radio interview later in the evening.
Dale Day 12: Thursday October 31st:
It’s my penultimate riding day in Japan and another sunny day. I hope it’s the same for Keith & Linford who are visiting Mt Fuji today.
I knew my ride today was going to be through busy towns and cities so I had a few different plans for the day just to see how it plans out. The first part of the ride along national road 23 was not too bad but it ran adjacent to E1A which was really busy and anyway cyclists are not allowed on them. I stayed on the 23 for around 35 miles on pretty good cycle paths across loads of bridges and heavy engineering works.
I’d had enough of stopping and starting now so plan B came into operation. So just after the city of Yokkaichi I turned off onto the minor roads using downloaded google map. It was so much better getting away from all the traffic and before I knew it I was out in the countryside where I belong past forest campsites and warning notices about the monkeys which I didn’t this time.
I then took a single line paved track up to the top which was really good riding. I only met one other car coming down and he looked like a forestry guy. I had a bite to eat at the top and a drink in a picnic site. Then it was back on the bike for the down-hill ride into Otacho. Well as in the UK it’s never all downhill in Japan with their rolling roads, but nevertheless it was a really nice ride today the first part in typical Japanese cities and town and the second part in their fabulous unspoiled country-side. Quite a contrast between the two.
Dale Day 13: Friday November 1st: Last Day on the Road
It’s my last days cycling in Japan; it has been a wonderful experience they are really nice people and their manners are amazing. The food’s not really to my taste but vegetable ramin is pretty good, when it’s available,
I woke up to a really foggy morning but the girl on reception assured me it would all clear shortly so sat and had an extra coffee and cake with her and sure enough the fog cleared. Just as I was about to leave Keith contacted me about ticket prices for the final. I said do it mate from our joint account so I left with a spring in my pedals thinking, “we have only gone and done it! cycled here and get to watch the final, nothing can go wrong”.
But my navigation was wayward for bit as at 2 miles I got a bit confused but managed to get back on track in the end,. Then it all went a bit pear shaped at 15 miles in; there was a massive mudslide so I could not pass the road but the guy sent me down this little track. Mate is was rough, good old planning, bhut even that was un-passable at the end so I backed up and went on the road. It was really nice scenery and the guys working on the mudslide offered to give me a lift, I just smiled and told them I had World Cup final tickets so no problem. I’m not sure they understood a word.
After that it was a surprisingly pleasant ride into the outskirts of Osaka and then I hit highway number 1, which you are not allowed to cycle on, but as I stopped and tried to look intelligent looking at electronic maps, a really nice guy said there is a cycle path adjacent to the highway, he drove his car up to show me, nice guy, so a relatively easy ride into the city.
I booked into the hotel had a quick shower then went out to sort the bike packaging. Then I had tickets to Yokohama for tomorrow to sort out.
It was a great tour of Honshu Island, with really pleasant people and all a credit to the nation.
Keith & Charlee
These two did some travelling around. Sadly the hike up Mt Fuji was called off – bad visibility. But they did have a great days rafting on the Yoshino river.
Dale Day 14: Saturday November 2nd: World Cup Final
[Dale, Keith, Linford, Charlee and Camilla are all going to the Rugby World Cup final: England vs South Africa. Hopefully we’ll get some photos: Ed]