Shimanami Kaido — Game On!

And here we are with two days to go. Fearless Leader Joe went over his handlebars in January, taking a gouge out of his leg which required stitches and immobilized his knee for a couple of weeks. But that was followed up by an undiagnosed fracture which he finally had treated in late February. Long story short, he’s out. And Sanborn, our other Lake Biwa and L2P partner, dropped out for family reasons. That leaves me and Guy 2.0 to carry on.

While all the above was going on, I carried out a furious schedule of procrastination. In part I was waiting for FLJ and Sanborn to confirm dates with me, but mostly I was avoiding the challenge of making the arrangements. I’ve got a deep-seated aversion to trying new things and that’s compounded by the language barrier. Long story short, although I’ve been in this country for decades, I’ve always relied on others to take care of things like booking hotels.

Cyclo Tourisme Shimanami
Cyclo Tourisme Shimanami offers guided cycling tours

My partner finally goaded me into action just a week ago. She’d been asking me for some time whether I was going. There’s a meet-and-greet at our new condo on the same date as the ride, and she needed to know if I’d be going with her. By this time I’d already confirmed that Shimanami Renta Cycle was fully booked, as was Cyclo no Ie, and so it was time for Plan B.

When I finally made the call to Giant Store Onomichi, it went very smoothly. No problem getting two road bikes in the requisite sizes. Just a few basic questions, a request that I bring appropriate ID (the clerk asked for a passport but I’m assuming my national ID card would be OK, too), and a reminder that they won’t guarantee to have the bikes if I’m more than 30 minutes late to pick them up. And then, after the call, I found they have a page describing the whole process in English.

Next up: Accommodations

The next step was to book a hotel in Imabari. I found some beautiful onsen in the area, but they were another 10km on from the end of cycling course, and uphill at that. In the end I just looked for hotels near the port on Google Maps, and found one that I could book via Rakuten. Since I already have a Rakuten account (and since this meant I could feed my introversion by booking without calling someone in person) it was appealing. The hotel is near the port, adjacent to the castle.

The booking doesn’t include dinner, but I’m sure we can find something in the neighborhood. Breakfast is offered over a three-hour period. We’ll probably be up early, anyway, eager to get on the road.

Finally: Bullet Train

Onomichi is a good four hours from Tokyo by shinkansen and JR. I’d originally planned to go out Friday afternoon and spend the evening there, but then my partner made plans for us with friends in Tokyo. And I knew that Guy 2.0 would prefer not to miss work on Friday. So I went to JTB to book the bullet train. This is something I’ve actually done before on my own, so I figured it wouldn’t be an issue. It’s a good thing I did in the end. Not only does it save us the worry of getting a ticket at 5:50 a.m. in Tokyo Station (for a 6 a.m. train), but the train was filling up fast. I was able to get two seats together.

Last-Minute Preparations

I have a couple of days off now so I can take my time packing, making sure everything is charged up, and double-checking my list. I’ve printed out all the relevant materials, and I’ll have it all on my phone as well. Meanwhile, a coworker recommended that we stop by Kosanji, an unusual temple featuring reconstructions of other famous temple sites, while we’re on the ride.

Any posting I do from the road will be via twitter, so follow along there starting Saturday morning.

Cycling the world for mental health

Neil Sharp-Dent, via Facebook

Neil Sharp-Dent, 39, sets out today to cycle around the world to face his fears head-on and to show others “they can do anything.” In addition to the challenges faced by any cyclist setting off on an around-the-world tour, Neil is confronting his own battle with anxiety.

“It affects me in pressure situations, particularly my decision making,” explained Neil, as quoted in devonlive.com. Reflecting a rather Japanese approach, he notes, “I tend to agree with people in difficult situations in order to avoid confrontation.”

Neil’s website, www.worrying.bike, explains his vegan philosophy and gives background on why an anxiety sufferer would choose to venture so far from the comfort zone.

I’m cycling around the whole world, turning my physical effort into funds for Mind [the mental health charity] to help other people struggling with mental health. For me, it’s worrying on a whole new scale.
Neil Sharp-Dent

In addition to maintaining a vegan diet through his two- to three-year around-the-world biking adventure, Neil hopes to avoid using non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels when he can. For example, from Oman to India, Neil will take a sail-powered vessel.

Neil Sharp-Dent at worrying.bike
Neil Sharp-Dent at worrying.bike

That’s part of the reason I’m doing this, to make sure people see [anxiety] should not stop you achieving your dreams. People are often scared about talking about anxiety but it should be spoken about openly like a physical illness.
Neil Sharp-Dent

Follow Neil on Twitter at @worryingcyclist and on Facebook at #worrying, and live via spotwalla.com.

The race is on

Jenny Graham, from Apidura

Adventure Syndicate member Jenny Graham is attempting the women’s unsupported around-the-world cycling record, and she will depart on the same day as Vedangi, covered previously.

While Vedangi plans to set out from Perth, Jenny will begin from Berlin. The routes are largely similar (as dictated by the terms of the Guinness Book of World Records), but the contrasts between the women are strong. Vedangi, at 19 years old, is a frustrated footballer. Jenny, a 37-year-old mother, hails from Scotland and began distance cycling in 2015 with the Highland Trail 550. Vedangi sets her daily goal at 260km to 300km, for an overall 130 days, while Jenny puts it at firm 290km and 110 days.

Who will take the prize? We probably won’t know until early October, but we believe that embarking on the challenge is the noteworthy accomplishment.

Jenny Graham at The Adventure Syndicate
Jenny Graham at The Adventure Syndicate

Read Apidura’s profile of Jenny Graham, or follow Jenny on facecbook, twitter and Instagram. Read more about Jenny’s attempt at The Adventure Syndicate.