... that is, going for a 120 km bike ride across Japan without training... but, that's what having a long, long weekend gives the opportunity for.
Just in an Internet cafe in Hamada now. Tried a bit of super-broken Japanese (like: "intarnetto" etc) to ask if I could use one of the computers. There are not many English speaking people this part of the country. Have been using 'one-word' Japanese most of the trip. Let me share a few brief experieces before I write the more detailed one at home.
Low down: Friday AM 9:00 left Hiroshima, headed north to get out of Hiroshima. Followed Route 191 along some beautiful rivers out of the city. Magnificent mountains, much steeper than the Aussie variety. Lunch by the river after a swim (hoping the locals wouldn't mind). Easy riding until this point (about 40km out of town).
Tough up hill, ascending about 800m, not really knowing where we would stay. Had sleeping bags, but no tent, no real idea what accommodation lay ahead. Just an our before Sabbath, we finally got to an onsen (hot spring) place, and it did have accommodation!
Long story short, one of the kind Japanese men who worked there gave us twin for price of single, then offered us his home for the second night! Friday night and Saturday relaxed... sooo nice. Spent some good time reading "End Time Living" by Mark Finely. Good spiritual, devotional book. Perfect opportunity to think about life and direction, etc.
At the Geihoku Oak Garden (where we stayed), there we went to the hot spring, and did the whole Japanese onsen style (read about it somewhere else). Beautiful surrounds, trees, grass, moon, stars, air con, kimono, tatami, futon... very nicely Japanese. The people are very polite and accommodating. You can't really repay them.
Saturday night... traditional culture. The kind man took us there and showed us the Autumn festival (end of harvest, Sep 22). Many cultural dances, rituals, shinto icons, priests, and very authentic. I left the sake alone, but enjoyed trying to talk with the locals. Amazing!
Bike ride almost all down hill today! So much fun. Clocked 61km/h. Rode through road tunnels. Arrived Hamada. Booked bus (ensuring our bikes could go on as well). Found accommodation and relaxed.
Tomorrow, bus back to Hiroshima. Hope to not stay so sunburnt. Legs ached yesterday when I woke up, but, hot spring, relaxing, light stroll, good food and Sabbath rest helped revive us for the last 30 km today.
In the morning, George and I will see some sights around Hamada. I hear there a beach, a hot spring, some ice skating, and some cultural things, so we'll see what happens. After a hot, sweaty bike ride, it's nice to be clean, cool and calm.