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Published: October 31st 2005
Back row: Sian and Brandon
Front row: Emily, Kim, Jane, me, Lisa, and Rob
OH WHAT AN INCREDIBLE WEEKEND!!!! Lisa and I had no idea what we were going to do. I talked to my other friend Jane for the first time in a LONG time and she said she was going on this bike ride that this guy Rob was planning. Lisa and I kind of invited ourselves and found ourselves on a great adventure that none of would ever forget. We ended up riding our bikes from Onomichi in Hiroshima Ken on Honshu across the many islands in the Inland sea to Imabari, Ehime Ken, Shikoku. The ride itself was 75 km, but since we got lost it actually turned out to be about 90 km...THATS THE FURTHEST I HAVE EVER RIDDEN A BICYCLE!!! And, we did about 40 km of it in the pouring rain!!!! But as I said, it was absolutely fabulous.....
So on Friday night it was pouring rain. We all got a text from Rob, aka "Dad" saying that the weather was supposed to clear up by Saturday afternoon and we will be fine. We met up early Saturday morning in Onomichi and it was lightly sprinkling. It honestly looked like there was going to be a
This is the first of the many bridges we crossed
break in the storm and the sun was going to appear by noon. What we thought was the end of the storm turned out to be a lull. The eye of the storm came that afternoon. A few people bailed so we had a troop of 8 people. We rented our not-so-great bikes (but they did work) and were on our way. I felt like we were like the Von Trap family gathering together to go on a family bike ride. It was great. Rob became "dad" because he planned everything and basically took care of all of us. When our bikes had problems, dad was there to help us :-). He had done the ride 3 other times so he knew what we were doing. Our departure time was around 9:30. There was no turning back after that!
Biking through the islands was incredible. We got to see all the different parts of the islands...the beaches, mountains, huge farms, and little island villages. We were quite the sight as 8 gaijin riding bikes across these islands. Many of the Japanese people had probably only seen one foreigner at a time....now 8....it was a little much for them!
Lisa and Jane posing with the next bridge in the background. This is pre-rain and pre-sore butts!
Then when we started to ride in the rain we got even more stares! In total we crossed 6 islands: Mukaishima (shima means island in Japanese), Innoshima, Ikuchijima, Omishima, Hakatajima, and Oshima. We crossed a total of 6 bridges. The bridges were HUGE suspension bridges that connected all the islands. It was really neat crossing all the bridges. The hard part was getting to them. In order to get to the bridge you had to climb these HUGE hills. By the time I reached the bridge my thighs were burning!
At noon we stopped at this tasty ice shop and it started to actually rain outside. Fortunately it was not cold, just wet. I forgot my raincoat at home so to keep myself dry I wore a plastic garbage bag, courtesy of Jane's apartment. It surprisingly did a very good job at keeping me dry. As long as we all stayed somewhat dry we were going to be fine. There was no turning back so we kept cycling as it started to rain harder and harder. The best part was that no one complained. We were all equally wet and there was nothing we could do about it
That's Lisa's rainsuit from Fuji-san she thought she would never use again. That's me in a trashbag. Doesn't get more fashionable than that!
except enjoy ourselves. We sang many songs, including "singing in the rain" and "raindrops keep falling on my head." We stopped for lunch on Omishima. Our feet were drenched and weighed a ton. We thought maybe after our little break the rain would let up a little bit. NOPE. It kept pouring. We bought clear ponchos and headed on. By about this time, just over halfway, my butt was starting to hurt and we were getting tired, yet we kept trekking. The longest bridge was from Oshima to Shikoku. It was this huge white suspension bridge. It was sooo nice to get to the otherside, we had reached our goal! YES! What a great feeling! We were there! Or so we thought....
We arrived on Shikoku around 6. Rob told us that all we had to do then was ride our bikes to the train station, drop off our bikes at the rental place, and then jump on a train to Matsuyama. The people at the train station told us that the bike drop off place was only 2 km away. We rode in the direction he told us to go for at least 2 km, possibly 3.
Okay i butchered that japanese word. Puikura is very popular among teenage japanese girls. You take photos and then can design them. Notice how wet we all are, yet all smiles! Sian bought a bottle of sake to 'warm us all up.' Def. not my favorite!
There was nothing there. We ride back halfway and ask another guy. He says 2 Km in the direction the other guy told us. So we were a little lost. A Japanese guy said he would lead us to the bike drop off place in his car. He said it was only 2 Km away. Well, 2 km came, still no bike rental place yet the guy was still with us leading us. We stopped and asked again and he goes "only 1 more km." After we had been riding for what seemed forever Lisa goes "Casey that's the Pachinko Parlor we passed on the way in, we are back where we started." Sure enough, a few seconds later we could see the suspension bridge and the large hill we so happily came down 45 minutes before. It had to have been a good 5-8 km out, NOT 2!!!! We were backtracking!!! There were 4 of us who needed to return our bikes. We had all been troopers through all the chaos of finding the bike place. At this moment we all kind of cracked. We were ready to leave our bikes on the side of the road. We were
Riding, riding, riding
Powering through the rain, nothing is going to stop us...no turning back now!
exhausted and still wet. We ended up walking our bikes up the hill and FINALLY returned them to the rental place. We told the bike shop that we wanted to burn the bicycles. We were maybe going to ride our bikes back the next day. After this none of us wanted to sit on a bike for a while, or would be able to as our butts were sooooooo sore!! The guy who so kindly led us to the rental shop gave us a ride back to the station. At last, we could relax.
We took an hour train ride to Matsuyama, which is the largest city in Shikoku. Once we checked into our hostel we headed to the Dogo Onsen. As I explained in earlier blogs, an onsen is a natural spring. The Dogo Onsen is one of the oldest and most famous ones in all of Japan. It is very very traditional. The one I went to on Etajima was modern and had all these different baths and massage pools. This one had one big pool of HOT HOT water. Again, we were quite the sight as 6 gaijin girls get into this big pool. Lisa
Lisa, Casey, and Jane
Yes, I know there is a big water glob on Lisa's face. I find this photo rather perfect to capture the weather. It was really really wet!
overheard one of their conversations and they were talking about how our boobs did not look like theirs! hahaha! We made them all a little mad but we didn't really care. An onsen could have never felt soooo good, although I couldn't sit on the seat because my butt hurt too much! Afterwards we went to get Okinomiyaki (Kansai style), had a few beers, and I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
The next day was glorious. It would have been a GREAT day for the bike ride! Hah! We did some sightseeing around the castle and the famous garden. The castle is one of the oldest castles and was not rebuilt like most of them. Unfortunately the castle was now under reconstruction so we did not get to see the beauty of it all. They did post pictures so we knew what it was supposed to look like! It was a really beautiful castle. The best part was getting there. We had to ride on a chair lift to get to the top. Instead of going back through Onomichi, Lisa, Kim, and I took a ferry directly from Matsuyama to Hiroshima. Oooh it
The LONGEST Bridge
This was the bridge leading onto Shikoku. Iknow be jealous because I look so stunning. Hope you like the plastic poncho. It really was beautiful...and a tone of fun
was absolutely beautiful. Looking out into the Inland Sea you couldn't tell if we were in Thailand, Malaysia, or Japan. It was a beautiful way to end an incredible weekend. We saw the sun set over the edge of the mountains and rolled into Hiroshima around 7 pm. We jumped on a bus and were home.
So yeah, it rained a lot and yeah, it probably would have been a little better if it did not rain, but I still loved it. Rob has now done it 4 times and said that the one we did was definitely his most memorable. So another successful weekend. We got a great workout, saw many of the islands on the inland sea, I fell once and scraped up my knee, got sore butts, experienced a permanent camel toe, rode a bike 90 km, made some new friends, and had an incredible time. Definitely something I will never forget!!
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