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Odevices Bike Adventure Update


#1

How’s the two week journey there been? Has the wedding happened yet? Any photos of the trek?


#2

Here is how the route turned out in the end. Before leaving Tokyo, all I had decided that was that I needed to be sure to get to Seoul by April 28th to make it in time for my friend’s wedding.

All routes are drawn by hand in a very approximate fashion. The routes look 1-dimensional but in reality they have closer to a (fractal) dimension of 1.3 :laughing: I’d say it was just a bit over 1000km of cycling total, with an average of 80km per day, so a pretty leisurely pace most of the time with LOTS of stops to eat. I slept in a tent half the time and in a hotel (or equivalent) the other half. I did not cook but I did wash my clothes in a stream once (the other times I just waited until I could get to a wash machine or hotel sink).

I’m really bad at taking photos. Actually, I might be a genius at taking photos but we will never know because I hardly ever take them. Probably the best photo that I have was taken by someone else:

I met these (Australian) guys randomly on the road in the middle of Shikoku and rode with them for about 2 days. This is the morning after stealth camping in front of an abandoned temple after a grueling 25km climb up Mt Turugi. I’m standing near my beloved bicycle.

My “photos” look more like this:

Typical pee break

Typical snack time in Japan

Typical snack time in Korea

Since I didn’t plan stops beforehand, I just slept where ever I found myself. Sometimes that was a hotel,


and sometimes it was a park.

I slept in some beautiful places actually but for some reason I don’t have photos. Typical me.

Fundamental geographic elements encountered when cycling the interior of Japan: rivers, valleys and tunnels.


(Can you spot the tunnel?)

Most tunnels are just a couple of hundred meters but this one,

was 5.432km long and all down hill! It was quite a surreal and adrenaline-pumping experience zooming through this tunnel which I highly recommend but make sure you enter from the Kochi side so you get to ride it downhill. On the other side, I met an American cyclist on a heavily loaded bicycle going the other way. I imagine he did not enjoy it nearly as much.

Oh and bridges, lots of bridges.

My route in Korea was not nearly as exciting and consisted mostly of this kind of stuff.

with occasional hills of grades higher than 10% that lasted continuously for more than 1 or 2km without a single switch back for relief.

Still great cycling but I was spoiled by then and I deserved it for letting the national Korean water works (K-Water) set my cycling route.

About halfway from Busan to Seoul, rain and slippery roads forced me to throw my bicycle on a bus to get to Seoul in time for my friend’s wedding (which was beautifully done). So I took the extra time and cycled Han River and also to Chuncheon a small city north of Seoul. Other than that the weather was perfect: warm during the day, slightly chilly at night. I did have fun riding my bicycle into the posh hotel lobby in Seoul. :laughing:


(Can you find the bicycle?)

I had no bicycle troubles except occasionally my freewheel would lock up and turn my bicycle into a fixie which would be a bit harrowing on a downhill. I eventually figured out after stopping at 2 bicycle shops that my rear hub was over-tightened. On my way back I decided to take the plane to Osaka and cycle from there and circumnavigate the largest lake in Japan, Biwako. The highest elevation that I climbed was Mt Turugi at peak height of 1.5km drawn out over about 25km of horizontal distance and approx 40 switch backs. I learned then that I actually like hill-climbing on my bicycle, or at least prefer it over flats.

All in all it was a hugely rewarding experience and I’m already looking into my next cycle tour. :blush:

(Sorry about the lack of quality photos. I took more but they are really quite random and boring. “You had to be there” kind of photos. :bowing_man:)


#3

Woah!

I have fantisized about doing this very kind of thing myself. My version was a big backpack loaded up as sparesly as possible while still having everything I needed. I would stop to eat, and sleep where ever (would have an awesome 1 man tent as well). I’d be on a race bike as well, so not practical at ALL!!! Still I keep fantisizing about it.

Your trip sounded like ti was awesome. Do you have a bike comp? Could you maybe tell us your average speed?


#4

Awesome!

Thank you for sharing, really glad you had a good trip, I hope you are feeling very refreshed and energised :slight_smile:

I don’t think you really missed anything here, maybe one or two posts need some input :wink:


#5

Thank you for sharing!
It sounds totally amazing!


#6

Sounds like quite the adventure and so nice to see a picture to be able to put a face to your online presence :slight_smile:


#7

Sounds amazing.


#8

I wanna skate through that lobby


#9

Congrats Brian on adding to the repertoire of experiences that will likely stand the test of time for having made an indelible impression in your memories. Simple existence compared to the alternative is certainly welcome, but creating monuments within our lives feels rare and those fortunate enough to manifest them are cut from another cloth and will hopefully encourage others. Maybe our dreams risk becoming nightmares, when unrealized late in life they add to some sense of remorse at what we didn’t have the courage to try. We must explore our dreams even when they end in compromise or failure. You are obviously searching for the experiences of having been present in your life, that is both admirable and inspiring. Thanks for sharing.


#10

Thanks everyone! :star_struck:

@2disbetter I didn’t have a bike computer but I probably averaged somewhere between 15 and 20 km/h. I put a lot of effort into equally loading the front and rear of my bike for comfortable and responsive riding. Compared to the other cyclotourists that I met, I was also loaded on the light side, probably because I didn’t bring any cooking gear and I had invested in a decent lightweight 1p tent. A bikepacker would probably go even lighter still? My next trip, I definitely want to see how much lighter I can get, especially if I am cycling through relatively populated areas.

@kel Thanks to you and everyone who kept an eye on the forum while I was away! I am refreshed and on top of that the temporal (and physical) distance gave me a chance to appreciate a wider perspective.

@Unity2k Deciding how much to share is always a dilemma for me.


#11

Sterling effort Brian! Thanks for sharing it, as others have said, is great to hear some of your life away from the screen and soldering bench!

The water quality in the river valley in Japan’s interior looks remarkably clean. Is the natural environment outside the urban areas generally well cared for?


#12

Was it difficult for you to determine what you needed to bring? While you were riding did you feel better about your decisions in packing or did you think you should had more or less?

Thanks again for sharing all of this! I find it all very interesting!


#13

Great write up Brian! :slight_smile: When I lived in Tokyo I used to ride with the Half Fast club on the weekends - your pictures brought back some great memories!


#14

Oh man, this is so awesome. From one touring cyclist to another, you did it up right!


#15

I’ve been very impressed with the conditions of the interior rural regions areas that I’ve seen so far in Japan. It’s a lot of area to generalize about but I do repeatedly see significant signs of nature protection and awareness from both individuals and groups.

I did spend a good amount of time thinking and researching on this. However, the final packing list depends so much on the parameters of your trip that it is hard to give advice. On my trip, I saw cyclotourists across a wide spectrum. There was a French guy who had been on his bike for 2 years when I met him going the other way on a mountain road. He had at least 3 times as much gear tied to his bike as me and he told me that he had recently even started baking bread. There were people in the middle range who were going to be living on their bicycles for a few months and were carrying what looked like 30kg of gear. Some even with portable speakers! Then there were the people who were clearly on a day or a one-night trip with either just the clothes on their backs or maybe a single small pack somewhere on their bicycle. Since my trip was only for a few weeks and it was through mostly populated areas, I could get away with “just”

  • a tent,
  • a sleeping bag,
  • an inflatable sleeping mat,
  • 2 sets of dry weather cycling clothes,
  • 1 set of regular clothes,
  • 1 set of rainy weather cycling clothes,
  • bicycle repair kit,
  • first aid kit,
  • microfiber towel,
  • personal hygiene kit,
  • a lock,
  • my smartphone,
  • a 25000mAh battery w/ charger,
  • sunglasses,
  • roll of velcro (much more useful than tape for repairs),
  • helmet w/ compatible hat,
  • a small soft-case cooler for food bought along the way,
  • some cooking gear which I sent back home after my second night.

I’d say in the end, I was carrying a little under 15kg of stuff. It is easy to buy a good light tent and sleeping bag but selecting the correct clothes was the hardest part for me. In this matter, I found that merino wool is your best friend, it does not matter whether is hot or cold, rainy or dry. Another tip for reducing the number of clothing items that you bring is to invest in good quality leg and arm warmers. Arm warmers make long sleeve shirts redundant and leg warmers are more convenient because you can put them on and remove them easier than tights. They also need less washing due to this property because as soon as you get warm enough to possibly sweat, you can take them off in seconds. I got envious looks from the other tourists on how well I balanced the load on my bike. A lot of people buy 2 large panniers and hang them off the rear of their bicycle. I opted to buy 4 small panniers and distributed the load 50/50 across the front and rear of my bicycle. It makes a huge difference on how your bicycle feels and handles.

Everyone says and I can personally attest, that bringing too little feels better than bringing too much EXCEPT when it comes to clothing. :wink:


#16

I’ve been very impressed with the conditions of the interior rural regions areas that I’ve seen so far in Japan. It’s a lot of area to generalize about but I do repeatedly see significant signs of nature protection and awareness from both individuals and groups.

I’m glad to hear it. When I looked at the googles on first announced of your trip I could not see much evidence of the famed bush in Japan that I’d heard so much about. There certainly looked to be A LOT of urban development along your route and elsewhere that my satelite imagery searched took me. Of course images don’t speak to the actual health of the environment but that river looked very clean.

I must say that i was impressed when I saw the lightness of your load in the image where your tent was pitched.

+1 for the merino love as far as versatile clothing goes probably only matched by alpacca (I am biased as a 4th gen Merino farmer tho’!)


#17

Keep in mind that all my gear was stored inside the tent and its vestibule area. :blush:


#18

I don’t think I’ve ever came across this on a clothing label. Is it a newer thing? Should I be looking for it? Or can I stick to merino?

Indeed. For example, that particular river feeds into a man-made lake (Lake Sameura). Who knows what effect it has had on the surrounding area but it does seem to have resulted in a (pleasant) kind of tamed wilderness.


#19

Stick to Merino :slight_smile: I have a jumper my grandmother knitted from wool grown/spun on her/my farm 40 years ago and it’s still sturdy and warm (albeit with a few moth holes!)

I actually misspelt Alpaca. It’s older I’d say, in terms of length of domestication even though Merino originated around the 12th C (I don’t know for sure about the domestication of the Alpaca edit: just looked that up and it seems “Control of domesticated alpacas and llamas was in effect by 6000–5500 years ago” so…winnah! :wink:). It’s a lighter fibre than sheep’s wool so has all of those wonderful warming whilst wet qualities but moreso because it’s hollow. It’s very fine and light so you can layer it for added warmth without much weight.

2 Case(s) in point regarding judging books by covers! :grin:


#20

Brian, I love how complete your responses are. Thanks for taking the time to write them!

So do you ever see people with a backpack riding a road bike, but going for longer day and week trips?

Or is it just too uncomfortable and no one does that. The longest I’ve rode is 3+ hours and while it wasn’t wonderfully comfortable, I think I could make it work.