Hiroshima to Kyoto Daily Log

Day 1 - Hiroshima to Kyoto
Today was easy! Definitely the easiest day in will have. Showed up in Hiroshima at about 2:30 and checked into my cool cheap hotel room which was 5 minutes from the station. I am overlooking the station and can hear all the trains as they go by. I will be leaving around 5:30 am tomorrow so no sweat. Thanks to Jenny this worked out great.
After checking in I dropped my bike off in the room and unloaded my backpack. I am only carrying a backpack and one set of clothes this time washing them nightly. When I did the tokyo to nagoya ride I had my mountain bike set up with saddle bags with a lot more stuff. This will be different as I am riding the road bike with a backpack and staying very light for the next 5 days. Let's see how it goes. I have not done a long ride in a while so I am a bit nervous. The last time was several months ago and it was about 100 km. Over the next several days I will ride 450km and it will be in cold weather ranging from 3 degrees C in the early morning to about 10 degrees C in the midday.

After checking into the hotel I went over to the amway office to see what it looked like and meet some of the people there. I took the tram which was kind of cool as tokyo does not have one. The office and people were nice as I think that they were happy to meet me as they do not see too many people from the head office there. The shop is right next to the peace park so I headed over there to look around. I saw the A bomb dome which is the last standing building from WWII when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. I posted some pictures on fb and will post more later and send the link around. I also walked over to the children's memorial statue which is dedicated to all the children that died because of the bomb and the radiation sickness afterwards. It always makes me sad when I see this. I have seen it once before with my own kids and it left me sad once again.
After walking around a bit I started back to my hotel near hiroshima station. The tram took about 15 minutes so I decided to walk back. It was nice to see the city in action. People owing around, shops and restaurants opening or closing up for the evening, and people in general rushing around. It was different than Tokyo as people in Tokyo seem to always be rushed but here they seemed to more relaxed about everything. The streets are much wider and every direction that I looked I could mountains in the distance. Hmmmm....mountains that I will have to ride over to get to Kyoto!! Should be fun!
It took me about 1 hour to get back to the hotel. It was about 5:30 so I cleaned up and headed out again for dinner. I wanted to have the famous hiroshima okonomiyaki, something like pancakes with noodles and all kinds of other stuff in the middle' and kaki, oysters, which Hiroshima is also famous for. The from desk told me about the place a few minutes walk from the hotel so I headed over there. The place was incredible. There were about 20 restaurants on the same floor set up for okonomiyaki. They were all yelling for me to sit down at their place as I walked by. I chose one and was rewarded with an english menu!! I ordered their special - eggs, noodles, pork, kimchi, shrimp, squid and green onions. I also ordered oysters in butter along with Hiroshima saki. It was all fantastic and delicious!!!
Afterwards I walked around the area and headed back to my hotel. I have now set up my bike and prepped for tomorrow. The plan is to ride about 120 km to a place called onomichi for my first stop. I will be meeting a friend in a place called tadanoumi and we will ride together for about 25 km. I will be leaving here pretty early and hope not to get lost!!! :-) can't wait for the ride to start.

Day 2 Hiroshima to Kyoto
Today was my first day of riding and it was absolutely great! I woke up early, actually did not sleep that much at night. Perhaps it was the hotel room next to the station with the trains running by every few minutes or the dryness of the air in the room or me being nervous. Does not matter now as I ended up getting out of bed at 4:30 am and getting ready to head out. I left the hotel by 5:15 am thinking that it would be a long day. I stopped at the local Lawson shop to pick up some onigiri ( rice balls) and some coffee drink - no Starbucks around at this time or in this place. The were a bunch of drunks leftover from last night milling around but they did not bug me too much. I think they were trying to figure out the European finance problems but not having much luck....or just trying to figure out which was was up as a couple of them were crashed out on the street. After that hearty breakfast I head off to find route 185 which would take me to the onomichi royal hotel, my first stop.
Cycling at 5:30 in the morning was usually okay but coming out of Hiroshima was interesting as it was dark, actually pitch black, no sun, not street lights for much of the way and my little headlight was not cutting through the dark. I was looking at the white line on the road only a few feet in front of me to try to keep track of the road. Note to self: get a bigger light!!!! Trucks and cars kept zooming by me and every time I one passed me I would say "thank you for not hitting me"! After a while I realized that they were not trying to push me off the road or scare me. In fact they were being very friendly about the whole thing. The trucks and cars would more over to the other lane to pass giving me lots of room or they would wait patiently until they could pass safely, I. A few cases they hung behind me as if watching over me like guardian angels until they felt it was safe for me and then pass. This was completely different that last year when I was on route 246 or route 1 heading for Nagoya where the truckers had bets on who could push me off the road first!! These Hiroshima guys were very nice. I was still worried as I could hit a hole in the road but it was all good and around 7 am the sun started coming out.
When the sun came out I was completely amazed. I had been riding next to the ocean and the views were absolutely amazing. In fact throughout the entire day I saw the most incredible view of the ocean and the many islands that are off the coast in that area. It was really amazing and I took a lot of pictures which I will post but suffice it to say that I was blown away over and over again today. I think I fell in love with Japan again. It really is hard to describe, the many small islands sprinkled around with the sun shining on them. To me it was perfect and I will definitely go back for a longer stay to explore.

I continued along 185 as I was supposed to be in tadanoumi to meet a friend from Tokyo. She was staying on one of the islands and her friends were showing up the following day. Yoshiko said she would meet me at tadanoumi train station at around noon. It was about 85 km from Hiroshima.
There was not a lot of wind as last year on the Nagoya trip so my pace was pretty comfortable. As I had several more days of long rides I tried to maintain an pace of about 25 km per hour. The were a lot of hills - much more than I expected - but it was still okay. I found out that I still am very bad on going uphill but continue to be a strong downhill rider :-)
About 45 km into the ride I got a flat rear tire. I changed it but turned out that it was fortunate as I was able to see an incredible view of mountains and small village that I would have missed without the flat. So all good!!!
I made it to tadanoumi station around noon and met up with Yoshiko. She had come over from the island she was staying at on the ferry with her bike. We went for lunch as I was starving and so was she. We had the local specialty of okonomiyaki and headed for the hotel in onomichi. She was staying there as well and would head back to the island the next day to meet up who her friends. We had about 35 km to go so we took a nice lazy pace and enjoyed the scenery and took lots of pictures. It was really amazing to see so many hundreds of islands dotted all over the place. I continued to take many more pictures but in this case pictures cannon convey the true beauty and feelings.
We arrived at the hotel and I was feeling pretty good. It was my first 120 km ride in several month and I felt good even though a bit tired. After checking in. Yoshiko said she was hungry again and I was too. But before eating we heard to the local bathhouse to get cleaned up. It was great spending he next hour there. After that we found a bar and ate like crazy. According to Mr. Garmin (my cycle computer) I had burned 3500 calories. I felt great and consumed several beers and some interesting drink based on oranges.
After that we headed back to the hotel.
I will be heading out around 6am for the next leg the trip. Tomorrow I will be looking to do about 135 to 140 km. let's see how that goes!!!

Day 3 Hiroshima to Kyoto
Left around 5:30 am again. It was about 5 degrees C and pretty much stayed that way all day. There was a lot of traffic as I was riding on one of the major road in the area. As this was the first day of the holidays for many people the expectation was that there would be traffic. Most of the morning was dealing with trucks and cars. The inaka (countryside) drivers were a pain. Many would turn into the street without looking or some would look directly at me and then as I approached they would shoot out in front of me. Not sure how they got their drivers licenses. A lot of times i was forced on to the sidewalk because there was so much traffic. The pace was also a bit slower as there were huge numbers of traffic lights spaced about 50 or a 100 meters apart for what seems like about the first 35km. The scenery was was mostly roads and traffic with mountains in the far off distance. I thought that today the ride would be simple and boring. And it was for the first 90. I had to do about 135km today to reach the hotel in Akio city.
At 80 km it was about noon an I decided to stop someplace for lunch. I had my usual breakfast of onigiri at around 6am at the local 7eleven. It was interesting to note that the only person working there was an older woman by herself, never in any other country would this be allowed. For lunch I had just passed about 5 km of restaurants and figured there would be something soon...I was wrong. I did not see anything for the next 10 km!! The place I saw was a Yaki niku (Korean bar b q) place. I stopped and had a great meal of meat!!! And some vegetables. It turned out to be perfect. It was 1 pm and I figured that I could make the hotel in the next 2-3 hours. I rode for another 5 km and the road I was following turned into an expressway with no bypass.
I looked for a detour - thank you google maps and apple - and found a route that would take me to my destination.
The cold was starting to get to me a bit and I was stopping more often to warm up a bit but the detour was nice. An soon the scenery became really beautiful. I came across a picture perfect lake and bridge. Saw many temples along the way. It was really nice. The road started to turn up into the mountains and it looked like the detour would take me over them. The riding became pretty touch as the gradient must have been around 8%. The road became so narrow and it looked like it had become a hiking path. It got pretty tough and I ended up walking the bike up to the top. It took about 90 minutes of slow pedaling and walking and I was pretty exhausted. The downhill part took about 15 minutes!!
After this I made it back to the road I needed to be on to get to the hotel. It was 4:30 and I still had about 30km to go. It was also starting to get dark. The road had a number of uphills and it was a bit windy so my pace was not that great. After a while it was pitch black again and the road became narrow. I was riding on the side in between the while line and a ditch. It was pretty wild going downhill in pitch black...I actually had a lot fun but by this time I was really exhausted. I pulled into Ako city and found the hotel. I was so happy to see that place! It was 6:30 by the time I made it there and I was starving. I headed straight for the restarunt and had several beers and a lot of food! After that the hotel had a great bath house so I spent about an our there. Headed back to the room and crashed around 9pm.
I had done 150km and burned 4500 calories...although I think I ate that much at dinner :-) but it was a good day. The trip to Kobe tomorrow will be about 100 km but the winds will be a bit stronger and it will be colder along the way. I will also start out a bit later as I do not want to be riding in pitch black again.
The ride will be along the coast so it should be good.

Day 4
Happy New Year to everyone reading this!!
Started off late today -about 7am and was happy that I did. About 2km away from the hotel I ran into a lot of uphills and Downhills. After last night I did not want to deal with this in the dark! The sun was up so I enjoyed the ride along the coast. The scenery was fantastic again. Could not believe it. The day was perfect although a bit cold -was about 5 degrees C the whole day but the ride was great. I ran into a lot of other cyclists as well. I kept stopping to take pictures and probably could have spent the entire day along the coast taking pictures. I think I found the rolling hills of Japan along the coast. Up and down, up and down until about noon when I exited the mountains and got on the road to Kobe. This road was pretty boring and I spent the next 3 hours on it until I got to Kobe. The traffic was light so it was very easy riding. I did 105 km and burned about 2700 calories. It was a really nice ride and a very nice way to end the year. I am 75% complete and will head for Kyoto tomorrow. Another 100km which I hope will be the same as the ride today!,

Happy New Year everyone and may the year of the dragon be a prosperous one for you!

Day 5 - the end and the beginning
Jan 1, 2012
Happy New Year or Akemashite Omeditogozaimasu ! And welcome to the Year of the Dragon!

Today is the last day of the ride. Getting ready to leave around 6am from Kobe to Kyoto. The last 100 km today. Slightly rough morning. It was after all new years eve last night ad I was at some yakitori place in shin Kobe. Great yakitori and some great Sochu and sake and beer. Woke up very stiff and spent some time stretching. After. Packing up I headed out and started riding. After - few minutes the remaining stiffness fell away and I started to cruise down the road. Although I felt great...which was surprising....I can definitely say that today I was one with my bike. Every pebble, rock, pothole or bump the I went over my entire body felt it through the saddle and into the core of my body!!! It was also very cold, it was about 0 degrees when I left and never reached more than 3 degrees. There were digital thermometers posted along e route every 10 or so km.
What struck me was that there was no one on road. Perhaps because it was still early but I was riding through a relatively large city and thee were no cars and only a few people walking on the sidewalks. It was very quiet and it was very cool to ride like that in the early morning. The people that I did see in the early morning were interesting in that they were young kids who were still drunk or families returning from a night of praying at their local shrine. I also saw quite a few women in kimonos who I assumed were also returning from the shrines. New years is one of the biggest holidays in Japan and families usually get dressed up to goto the shrines overnight.
The ride so far was pretty good, although I continued to feel every bump. My hands were also starting to get numb, I assume from her several days of riding. I think that the next time I do this I will do a bit more training in advance. I usually do but through various circumstances in oct, nov and dec I was was not able to ride too much but I still wanted to do this ride as I had been thinking about it for some time.
About 30 km from starting out I saw a few people coming out of a shrine so I stopped to take a look. It was the sumiyoshi temple and I went up rang the bell and clapped my hands and said a little prayer for my ride and a prosperous new year. It was really nice and peaceful and I took a pictures.
About 20km later I saw a road sign that said it was 53 km to Kyoto - the home stretch!!!! I was feeling very elated and started to pedal faster. This only lasted for about a kilometer as I hit a long uphill slope. This uphill Ladd for about 5 km....a slow gradual rise that just takes all the energy from you especially when it is so cold! As I was huffing and puffing and pushing I looked over and saw a woman on a bicycle, a type referred to in Japan as a mama chari - a big big heavy rugged bicycle for carrying lots of stuff. She had a child in the front and a child the back and she was passing me and smiling at me as she overtook me!! I nearly hit a car and then realized it was motorized bicycle. Unreal!!!! But very funny. The downhill was nice as it was just as gradual as the uphill. A nice ling downhill to relax a bit...before the next long gradual uphill! After the next equally long downhill saw a sign for Kyoto that said it was 35 km. I was about 11:30 am and I decide to push on and get to Kyoto as fast as possible which today was kind of slow as I was hitting some headwinds and certain parts of my body were hurting. Actually of of the funniest things. That happened was that I was riding up to an area where a lot of buses were parked. The bus yard was pretty busy as they were pulling in and out of the yard. I was riding by the main building when a door opened and a driver came out....how did I know he was a driver? He had a big white doughnut that you sit on in his hand and that was something I could use right now!! Well it was funny for me.
Down to the last 20 km. On both sides of the route there are snow capped mountain in the distance and it was really beautiful coming into kyoto. I was tired but I was really excited as I was about to reach my goal. The journey would be over soon an I would return to my daily routine and this trip would be a distant memory in a few months.
Last year I did Tokyo to Nagoya and it was a tough ride up the side of mt. Fuji and then 3 days of some of the strongest headwinds I have ever ridden. In many cases I could only manage about 5 km an hour. But it was a good should searching trip as this one has been. I was having a rough time in 2010 and decided to start 2011 on a positive note by meeting a personal challenge. And that trip had helped my attitude change into a much more positive attitude. On this ride i reflected on 2011 and felt that it had been a great year with lots of positives. In fact I could only think about a couple of things that were not that great but they were out of my control. Overall it had been a great year with great support from friends, family and Jenny. Now on Jan 1, 2012 as I approached Kyoto I am thinking that this will be a good year too. It great to start the new year with any type of positive achievement in orders to set the tone for the coming year. 2012 is going to be a great year!

I was now only about 3 km away from the station and my target. I passed several large temples which make Kyoto famous and stopped to take some pictures. It was a great way to finish...or so I thought :-)
I arrived at the station and grabbed some guy to take my picture...he freaked out at first...some big yellow gaijin asking him to take picture of him in front of the station. He got over it and took my picture. I locked up the bike and walked into the station and at my right was a guy handing out sake! I had one and told him that I had just cycled from Hiroshima - he gave me about 5 more cups of sake. Now that was a proper finish to the trip and welcome to Kyoto!!

Also thank you for your support and encouraging emails and posts on Facebook. Even though I did the trip solo I really didn't as I had so much support.
Happy new year to everyone and may 2012 be as wonderful as possible for you.