Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Great Tohoku Cycling Adventure: Day 4, My Hobbit Adventure

I roll out of Ofunato bright and early 7:30am after a true breakfast of champions--instant yaki soba. It's rained at night and is foggy but the forecast says it won't pore on me. My sunburn is thankful for the clouds and fog but I put on sunscreen anyway.

I head out and quickly lose the feeling that my bike may fall apart on me. Things are good. I'm feeling ready. and then...

But, surprisingly, the climbs go really well with few stops. The descents are amazing, albeit very cold. It's about 24 degrees C and after sweating my way to the top, zooming down at 6o+km/hr is cold.

I take a detour off of rt45 on rt 250 --mainly because I'm scared of the long tunnels-- and am well rewarded.
The craggy coast line really is all it's cracked up to be.

The ride is certainly hard work but exactly the small quiet beautiful road I set out to find in Tohoku.

LESSON LEARNED: Rt 45 may be the fastest way up the coast (and rt4 the central route is fasted overall), but the detours are well worth the time/climb in my opinion. After all, why else would you cycle tohoku? (says the newbie who really had no idea what she was getting into).

I push on to Kamaishi with out much of a break and totally start to zone out once I can sit down and eat. As per a deal with myself this morning, I also mail back a few things that are too expensive to throw out.

I mail back: sandals, my wallet--after emptying money and important plastic into my waist bag, my electronic dictionary, and my Japanese study book (yes, I did think I might study at night... yes, you can laugh)

I remember when I read about the modern day pilgrims who circle Shikoku, Japan's smallest main island, carrying everything they need on their back. One had a rule that if you don't use it once every two days, throw it out. Nonetheless, I did keep things for rain and potential emergencies.

LESSON LEARNED 1: Don't wait so long before eating something substantial.
LESSON LEARNED 2: Seriously, pack light. And because you won't really know what that means until you get on the road--pack things that you feel ok throwing out/mailing to yourself.

After a long lunch and dealing with the post office, my body was a little slow to get back on the bike, but once moving the cycling went fantastically. It is so beautiful up here.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get a good picture, but these are hundreds of little boats all tied up in a small harbor. I don't know what they were doing or waiting for.
Nearly every day I was on the road, my mind would get caught on something and crank away. After all, I having only my bike to talk to and working physically harder than I ever have in my life is bound to produce some crazy psycholical nonsense. Mostly it was good stuff my brain got caught on. Today, it was hobbits.

When I was young, the age where most kids who think they are small adults read Tolkien and other adventure stories, I very much wanted to do a long "hobbit journey." I wanted to set out one day and walk as far as I could. The next day I wanted to do the same. And so on. The idea of progressing through a landscape on your own power --driving a car wouldn't do-- and feeling very part of the geography was something I had always wanted. Here I was, doing it.

I certainly didn't set out to complete a "hobbit journey." It was one of many random memories that came back to me with startling clarity and perspective.

After calling ahead to a youth hostel to make sure they were indeed open/had spots, I push ahead into Miyako. Unfortunately, I hit the city soon after 5pm and the streets were full of people ready to get home after a long day at work. Feeling fairly zonked and not interested in fighting with hungry tired drivers, I tried my luck with the side walks again-- this time keeping my speed down.

I clocked out at 115km. My first 100+day. I'm so happy.

I awoke the next morning, ready to roll at 7am to find two more broken spokes...

the adventures continue...


Claudious said...

I'm totally floored by the pictures you were able to take on your bike ride, I'm so glad you have taken us with you. I'm envious, what a wonderful adventure, though I can imagine much of the journey just being a journey.

Jessica Stier said...

What a cool adventure!!!!! I am totally blown away.

I found your blog through your post on Pioneer Woman's photography post. I am totally going to follow your adventures now so I can live vicariously through you.