It is without a doubt a very challenging time for many if not all of us. Many countries are already in lockdown/isolation to try to slow the spread of Covid-19. When the situation seems grim, I think it is important to look forward and hope that there will better days in our future and that this too shall pass like all the other crisis. Like many people, I also spend a lot more time at home. This gives me more spare time to once again come back to my blog, share with you some of my past adventures and thoughts and hopefully transfer some of the positivity to you.
In September 2019, I was incredibly blessed, thankful and proud of myself for completing the Kyoto to Tokyo Cycling Tour! The total distance covered was 453 km in a period of 8 days. It was a huge personal achievement!
I was also very thankful to be able to cycle with another great group of people. I was truly inspired and motivated seeing how determined and energetic everyone was and this helped me to keep pedalling even when my legs wanted to stop.
Through this cycling tour, I re-learnt that we can do anything that we set our mind to! Age is just a number – do not let anyone tell you otherwise! Determination, passion and persistence are what matters! All the 5.30am alarms and 6am indoor cycling training has really paid off!
This cycling tour was undertaken with Intrepid – Cycle Japan Tour. It started in Kyoto and ended in Tokyo, Japan for a period of 11 days with 8 days of riding. Below are some of the highlights.
Day 2 – Around Kyoto
An easy 45km cruising around Kyoto with a few rest stops and attractions such as Arashiyama. The challenge was the heat and humidity! The temperature reached mid-30s degC by mid-day and with the humidity, it felt like in the 40s degC.
Day 3 – Kyoto to Nara
Day 3 was another cruisy 50km ride from Kyoto to Nara. The heat was even more of a challenge compared to day 2 probably because of the trails were more exposed. We visited the Todaji Temple, famous for its very cute free-roaming wild deer and giant Buddha housed in the largest wooden structure on the planet. We returned to Kyoto by train.
Day 4 – Around Kanazawa
A little bit different today as we took the train from Kyoto to Kanazawa before we started another easy day of 10km riding exploring the city of Kanazawa.
Day 5 – Noto Peninsula – Kanazawa to Togi
Here comes the hills of Japan! Day 5 was more challenging for our legs with 80km covered as we pedalled from Kanazawa to Togi. We entered the Noto Peninsula this afternoon and had the first taste of undulating hills of Japan! The weather was gentler today with clouds coverage to shield us from the heat, although it was still very humid. We managed to dodge the rain almost the whole ride except for the last few kms.
This laid back part of Japan captures the Japanese concept of “satoyama”, society in harmony with nature, and “satoumi”, coastal areas in which the sea has a strong connection with people’s livelihoods. Other highlights include riding on Chirihama Beach Drive, an 8 km stretch of beach along the Sea of Japan as well as passing by the Hatagoiwa rocks, home to Japanese sacred spirits.
Day 6 – Noto Peninsula – Togi to Wajima
A slightly shorter ride today with 55km on the legs but more undulation as we passed small villages and beautiful rice paddy terraces. Leaving the coast, the road passes through the hilly Noto mountains to the charming port-town of Wajima, known for producing some of the finest lacquerware in Japan.
Today was my birthday too! Woohoo! Huge blessing to celebrate my birthday by cycling in Japan!
Day 7 – Noto Peninsula – Wajima to Suzu
Extremely proud of all of us for completing the hardest day of this cycling tour! Today was not only long, an 80km ride but also filled with several steep hills! I am extremely pleased with myself for completing Day 7 ride without having to get off the bike and push it up the hills. Two months ago I could not ride this long and this hilly in Vietnam with a road bike. I had to switch to an e-bike or hop onto the support van.
Today’s weather was also the best compared to the last few days! Although there was a very strong headwind/crosswind, adding extra efforts on the climb.
I also experienced public onsen for the first time! It was the most awkward experience ever in my life. I thought public speaking is my top fear but public onsen might just top that! I doubt I would do public onsen anymore in the future – I will avoid it at all costs :p
Day 8 – Noto Peninsula – Suzu to Anamizu then train to Wakura Onsen
Another long ride today as we covered 70km from Suzu to Anamizu with several undulating hills. The hardest part of this cycling tour would be over by the end of today. The heat and humidity was very strong today – All of us were like little kids asking for ice cream, the tour leader gave in and bought us some 🙂
We then boarded a train at Anamizu heading towards Wakura Onsen, which is a hot spring town with a history stretching back 1200 years.
And…there is a private toilet in our hotel room! YAY! There is public onsen as well.
Day 9 – Sightseeing around Tokyo
A rest day for our legs today – Hallelujah! Two trains to take us to Tokyo today – One was an hour train from Wakura Onsen to Kanazawa (Btw, it took us 4 days to cycle from Kanazawa to Anamizu + another 45 mins train ride to Wakura Onsen!). Then, bullet train all the way from Kanazawa to Tokyo.
When we arrived in Tokyo, our very friendly Mayuko brought us for a sightseeing around the main parts of Tokyo. After spending four days in the countryside, Tokyo became overwhelming for me! It was just too crowded for my liking.
Day 10 – Around Tokyo – Our last day 🙁
Today was our final day of riding…I was not ready to say good-bye to the group yet 🙁 But all good things must come to an end right?
Weather was rather gloomy too – heavy rain for the first few hours of our ride, then intermittently for a while and finally stopped before lunch at around 1pm. Of course, cycling in nice weather with blue skies are always preferred but raining also meant lesser traffic, making it slightly easier to go through the busy streets of Tokyo. I am actually quite pleased with myself – I think I have become a little more hardy compared to just a few years back. In the past, I would not want to be out and about when it rains, let alone cycling for 6 hours!
WE DID IT!!! We completed the cycling tour in one piece!
453km, 2860m of climb in 8 days! All of us are absolute champs!
I am incredibly thankful for this experience! I am very thankful that all of us made it safely (although one member fell off her bike on the first day, had to go for operation – I feel very bad for her and family. Husband & wife flew back to the US once operation was done. The daughter stayed on with us and had an incredible time). I am also extremely grateful to our guides that worked tirelessly to make this tour enjoyable for us despite the heat!
I do recommend this Cycle Japan Tour with Intrepid if you are a hobby cyclist and love to experience or explore sights on a bike. However, if you are more of an enthusiastic or serious cyclist, I would not recommend this tour because there are many stops throughout the tour especially in the cities to explore the local sights. It could be quite a challenge to start and stop and start again when you are on a roll especially in the heat.
I hope this blog post has provided a little bit of entertainment and good distraction in this very uncertain and grim time. More importantly, I hope this post could encourage you to start doing that particular ‘something’ that you have been wanting to do but was doubtful whether you can do it.
You can do it! You can do it if you put in the determination, persistence and hard work!
Thank you for reading and visiting my website! Hope you enjoy the blog! 😊
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All photos and videos were taken using iPhoneX and GoPro Hero 6 respectively.
Music for the videos were licensed from Soundstripe.