Every wednesday I've been riding with Sakai-san roughly 200 kilometers a ride but I've only been able to break the 200 km mark once. However on that day my bike computer didn't register some of teh kilometers so it said I had 185km for the day. It has become my goal to break the 200 km mark for about two months now, so that I can take a photo of my bike computer reading 200+ kilometers.
Sakai-san and I have ridden all over Hiroshima prefecture including to nearly into the next prefecture, Tottori. This famous mountain Sakura tree, above right, is growing near the border between Tottori and Hiroshima prefectures. On this particular day after nearly entering Tottori prefecture we headed a different direction and went into Okayama prefecture, the prefecture to the east.
At the top of this mountain in Okayama prefecture it is possible to see both oceans surrounding Japan. In the above left image we can see the Green Line on the right hand side which is on the ocean to Japan's southern side. In the right image in the far distance is Bizensan which is on Japan's northern edge on the Japan sea side. From this mountain we can see both oceans, or all the way across the entire country.
A week later we had a training ride with the team in Omishima which is one of the islands in the inland sea. On the first day I rode 186 kilometers and on day two the team and I rode another 70 kilometers together. On day one I was nearly last up every hill and the last person to come home. Which really bothered me because I've been clocking in more time on the bike, and more kilometers, than I have ever done before. I've been riding nearly 200 kilometers a ride and been doing between 300 and 400 kilometers a week! I was blown away, how the hell was I coming in last on every hill climb?! However the next day I realized where all my effort has been made. On the 70 kilometer ride on day two, I was the first up every hill. Then when everyone else decided to pack it in and head home after the first 70, I decided to head on to Imabari before going home, which gave me 192 kilometers for the day. All my riding with Sakai-san has definately paid off, in stamina. In those two days I rode a total of 372 kilometers.
During our stay at Omishima we had a great time. The "hotel" that we stayed at is an old elementary school and you can see the hallway in the image above and to the left. It's right on the ocean and absolutely beautiful, above top right. In the image above and bottom left, everyone is heading home, I had time to snap this photo and with bag and all still made it to the top of the hill first, heh, thanks Sakai-san! Above and bottom right is the last hill of day two and you can see me on the left of the pack making my attack, I came all the from the back and made the climb in first place.
Above are two group photos from Day one and day two both outside of the school/hotel building. Above and top-left is me coming down one of the last hills of the day on day two.
In any case now it was time to head on to Imabari. On the way there is a mountain, Mt. Kirou and it is one hell of a mountain but at the summit they have the best ice cream in the whole of Japan, salt flavored and damn delicious! You might not think that salt flavored ice cream would be the best ice cream ever, but trust me it is! However before I devour a bunch of delicious ice cream first stop is Imabari so I pass the mountain and head on to Shikoku.
I stay just long enough to snap a quick photo and head on. I go as far as the gate because I didn't want to pay the toll, even though its only 200 yen, 2$. But that 200 yen is my ice cream money, so I head back to Mt. Kirou. Before I left, I spent a little bit of time gazing at Shikoku though, because I knew it would be the last time for me to come this far, for quite awhile, a part of me was a bit sad to be saying goodbye to such a beautiful place.
After leaving Shikoku my mood was a bit "quiet" for awhile but after I made it back to the entrance of Mt. Kirou I was reminded I had a hard climb ahead of me and a delicious treat awaiting me the summit. Above and left is an image of Mt. Kirou from one of the nearby roads, I took this shot on my way to Imabari. As far as the climb went, this time the it was particularly tough because I was caring a good couple of extra kilograms in my backpack, but the hard push to the top was well worth it. As soon as I arrived I ate my first ice cream. I bought another and hiked up to the viewing area to grab a quick shot of the bridge to Shikoku. Then I headed back down to the ice cream shop and hook myself up with number three, dammit is that stuff delicious! The shop owner slaps on a bonus scoop of Hasaku, a citrus fruit which grows all over the place in the islands. Half way through eating it he slaps on another bonus scoop, this time fig.
Now it's time to head back down the mountain, completely full of ice cream I cruise down easy, at the bottom it's 61 kilometers back to Onomich and its 4:00pm. I should be able to make it back by sunset, which I consider perfect timing.
As a side note, cycling in Shimanami is great for many reasons but my favorite two are pictured above. The first is the number of signs, they have signs all over the place, literally. I'd say on the 70 kilometer course from Onomichi to Imabari they probably have around 1000 signs, nobody could possibly get lost. The second reason is because of the people who live on the islands. On the right image above, people who own citrus farms have placed giant buckets of citrus fruits and a can on this bench. You show up and drop 100-200 yen in the can and you can take something like 20 mikans, or hasaku or lemons or whatever it is they are selling. Incredibly generous and very delicious. These types of places are all over the islands and they are easy to find. In the event you are thinking to cycle Shimanami you can also rent bicycles from either Onomichi or Imabari and use them for a one-way trip, they also rent bicycles all throughout the islands between the two ends of the course. During golden week which was our training ride session we saw probably over 1,000 cyclists throughout the different islands.
After the 60 kilometer ride I am back in Onomichi and snap one last photo of me riding the ferry back to Onomichi at sunset, perfect timing.
On the way home I am dead tired and I've got about 15 kilometers to go. There is a T-intersection where a ferry loads on passengers but the light is red, I barely notice and end up going straight through it. As soon as I do I notice the second car going in the opposite direction is a cop and I am currently more or less breaking two laws, one - going through a red light, and two - not having a light on my bike at night, both which can cost 500$ each. Shit! Even though I was dead tired, I got up on my pedals and got the fuck out of dodge, I was doing 45 km/hr in no time. Luckily Onomichi is a place I know well so I sprint like hell to the next intersection and I'm instantly into the back roads. I didn't see or hear any sirens so technically I am not running from anyone, just training, really really
hard! Boom, boom, boom, backroad, after backroad after backroad, all the way home, no breaking, no resting, never dropping below 40 km/hr. Finally I got home, no sirens, no lights, home free! Maybe they didn't give a shit, maybe backroad knowledge paid off, maybe I got lucky, maybe all three, all I knew was my legs were killing me!
Thanks for reading.