Japan day 28
Japan day 28
Mori-Oshamanbe 62 km
Now I know some of you have a low boredom threshold with travelogues like these, especially if everything appears to be going to plan. Newspapers can’t sell copy if all they report is good news. We’d all much rather hear about failure than success, even though we might not admit it openly. So, as a pre-amble to the next few minutes of your reading, there were a few minutes this morning when my attempt to reach Cape Soya might have had to be abandoned. Imagine the front page headline: Frank Burns’ epic ride in the balance. Read on……
I left the ryokan early, grabbed some breakfast at a nearby 7/11, checked emails, and headed off for the very manageable 100 km ride to Toyoura. I knew it was along the very busy Route 5, but……..and this was almost unbelievable, once again I had a strong tailwind. Buddha has forgiven me, I thought. For the first 20 km, I was making such fast progress that I thought I’d finish the ride by midday. Then there were spots of rain……then the road turned so that it became a crosswind, all the while gaining in strength.
Now you may think you know where this is going. That I’ve decided to wimp out, turn round and go home with tail between my legs. Well, of course, you are wrong. But if I were to tell you I had had an accident…….
Now I understand that you might assume that to be a cycling accident…… Anyone who is riding 3000 km in a foreign land is likely to have a few cycling-related incidents. But no, it wasn’t even cycling-related.
Route 5 is a very long, desolate, exposed highway with very few services along the way. With my battle against the crosswind and the rain, I had to stop at a tiny food store, both to escape the elements and to get some food and coffee. I was pretty desperate…. The owner was busy restocking his shelves and, believe it or not, that was the “juggernaut” that was hurtling down the road in my direction. As I turned a corner while browsing his shelves, I tripped on an empty box and came crashing down against one of his units. So heavily did I fall that I thought for a few minutes I had done myself a serious mischief. I felt the impact, perversely, on the leg that is held together with pin and plate.
The good news is I was able to get up and walk (though limping) from the scene, but had to get myself a coffee and sit on some empty crates to allow the shock to subside. As I gazed out at the growing fury of the storm, I had to calculate my options.
The next town, Oshamanbe, was 25 km away, so I decided to declare war on this wretched weather and just go for it. Whatever I have said in the past about any other ride being the worst of my life, it has now been replaced by those 25 km. It was unbelievably bad. Absolutely no redeeming features about it. The wind was intent on sweeping me into the ditch, and passing trucks simply drenched me with their spray.
I eventually squelched into the train station at Oshamanbe, started stripping outer layers off in the waiting room, and was asked by two ladies if everything was OK. One of those ladies was German, but a fluent Japanese speaker (married to a Japanese man), and she helped me find a ryokan at the information counter.
I couldn’t believe my luck when I learned that all ryokans in this town have their own onsens. When you are very cold and very wet, and your leg has taken a battering from a fall…..there surely can’t be anything more inviting on this earth than soaking in a 44 degree C thermal pool. If there is, let me know about it.
So, the bottom line is: I am 40 km short of my target today. Is that critical to the final outcome? The answer is definitely ‘no’. The shortfall can be made up with a bit of juggling.
So, that was my day. How was yours?