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.
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.
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.