Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Great Tohoku Cycling Adventure: Day 5. the mindset

I wake up bright and early in Miyako and feel a bit like death. But I get ready and am ready to roll 7am.... only to find I have 2 broken spokes from riding on the sidewalks the night before.

LESSON LEARNED: Seriously. Don't ride on the sidewalk. Broken spokes are a pain and if you don't know how to change them (like me) require finding a mechanic.
LESSON LEARNED 2: Bike mechanics don't open till 10am or so.

With less disappointment than I might have expected, I go back to sleep for 2 and a half hours.

The local police are very kind in helping me find a bike shop in the phone book and giving me extensive directions. The shop isn't technically open till 1pm but after giving the mechanic my truly disappointed face, he helps me out early. Also I buy gloves. Finally.

LESSON LEARNED: I never understood why cyclists wore gloves until I got blisters on my hands. Gloves are a good thing.
I'm a bit unhappy that I'm not rolling till after 1pm and feel "behind schedule." The coast is beautiful. I start to both come to terms with and then (finally!) discard the feeling of "behind schedule" that has followed me the whole trip so far. My body is SOOOOOOO tired and the road seems to be just one climb after the next. But after 40km, I start to hit a good groove. I make a well worth it detour to the Unosu cliff lookout.

So, on the couchsurfing boards there was a thread about called "songs for cycling" and one song that often goes through my head when my body is feeling crappy but I look up and see how fantastically beautiful the world is an Ani Difraco song called "Come Away From It." The connection probably doesn't probably make sense to anyone not living in my head but you can see the lyrics and find a mediocre cover here. The world is certainly beautiful enough...

This patch of flat road made me so happy I nearly cried. But once again, I will say I'm proud that no tears were shed the entire trip.

Rt 44, which was highly recommended by Sato-san the fantastic bike mechanic, was unfortunately closed because of a recent major earthquake. But friendly mostly toothless locals directed pointed me toward a smaller road that got me back down to sea level.

LESSON LEARNED: Locals don't necessarily know how far 10km actually is. It probably means some distance between 3 and 22km. Understanding when a local actually knows what they are talking about or are just trying to get you to leave is an important survival skill.

Though I'd only done 75km, my shortest full day of the trip (though not really a full day considering the spoke...), I was running out of daylight and mental fortitude so I decided to call it a day and save the legendary climbs and scenery for Day 6.

Seemingly unfortunately, all the minshuku were closed. The only place open was a posh hotel.

But at $80/night including breakfast and dinner... that's still way better than Tokyo prices.

The view from my window.
My room:

The dinner:

Man, was that beer well deserved.

Breakfast, they said, was served at 7am. Just like everywhere. And for the first time, I did not despair and think that I would have to miss breakfast and get on the road early. Instead, I FINALLY started to relax. Breakfast is at 7. Breakfast is at 7 just about everywhere. That means I can sleep in till 6:30. Score. Hell, this means I'll be getting 10 hours of sleep. Score.

After a shower and fantastic food, after 5 days and 460km, I finally started to relax. It had been months and months since I had properly relaxed. Who knew it would take 5 days of the hardest physical exertion and therefore equal (though not hardest) mental/emotional exertion to wear myself out so much that I could finally chill out.

Man, I'm stupid sometimes. But at least I finally realized it and it felt good to go to bed knowing that tomorrow would be a totally different sort of day.

And what a sunrise it was.

(and then I happily slept for two more hours before breakfast)


Joseph said...

Man, in our trip, I don't think we ever got started before noon...

Kori the tomorrow lady said...

"overly ambitious spaz" is my former middle name. It's really dark by 7pm in this neck of the world too. When did you stop?

Claudious said...

I love hearing about your journey, Your list of lessons learned made me smile. I haven't tried to fix a bike in years, and I have to admit I'm a little far to help, but I'm glad it worked out.

Aw Vil said...


Kiki said...

Your pictures are absolutely BREATHTAKING!
You are the Lao-tzu of traveling.
Thanks for taking us along in your

Anonymous said...

Hi Kori,

Deej from TCC here. Wonderful travel accounts and photos. Those cliffs! Bravo on your solo journey, and double bravo for documenting it with wit and humor. It's got me hankering for a little rambling myself.

We'll have to hook up on the west side for some mountain madness one of these weekends.


Michaelpanda said...

i wanna write more but i'm about to fall asleep from exhaustion. However, I just wanted to say that your bike trip looks AMAZING and I really enjoyed the posts you made about them. Looks like you really got in touch with the essence of Tohoku and inaka Japan! I loved the bit about the bike shop fellow escorting you out of town to the main road - things like that are definitely part of the charm of rural Japan.

Great job!

Murray said...

I miss your stories! Come back to us. =)

I hope you're well.