Will I be able to cycle 75km?? My Shimanami Kaido challenge (Japan, April 2020)
Hi guys! I'm in Onomichi and for those who don't know, Onomichi is well known for its cats, for cherry blossom, there's quite a lot of those around but also it's one of the two entry points of the Shimanami Kaido which is probably the most famous cycling road in Japan um and that's what I'm gonna try to do not (just) today but in two or three days. This road for those who don't know is 70 (75!) kilometers long and it goes from Onomichi to Imabari. Onomichi is in Honshu island and Imabari is in Shikoku island so one of the two main islands in Japan and this road goes through six/seven small islands and and that's what I'm going to try to do: try to reach out to the other side and I'm gonna try to show you this is the very very good bicycle that I have to do that, that's gonna be fun. So
I'm gonna try to sleep on one of the islands, almost mid-course and then we'll see if I made it on the other side. 75 kilometers isn't that long, many people are doing it easily in less than a day. A lot of good cyclists are doing the round trip for training in a few hours To me it was both a big challenge but also a leisure trip.
I stopped all the time to admire the views, take pictures and enjoy the moment. There's a big reason why it's considered one of the most beautiful cycling road in the world, you're mostly going to go along the little mountains and the sea so enjoy the journey! All right so I made it to the first bridge, I did the first island and this bridge is actually pretty cool I'm gonna show you. So you can see (or not) that the upper deck is for cars and the lower deck is for bicycles, pedestrians, scooters, and see the view is not too bad! Going up there was like one kilometer going up, it's like a three percent ascent which is not too much but it kind of killed my legs. I did the Shimanami Kaido in April 2020 when the cherry blossoms were in full display and I really recommend you go at that time. Before you probably suffer from the cold and in summer I can't even imagine how to do it in the blistering heat.
I'm on the second island and I did something that I don't think a lot of people are doing when they're cycling. There's this mountain I don't know how it's called (I do) but basically at the top of this mountain there's some kind of temple and mostly it has a lot of Buddha statues. I'm gonna show you some images after that I'm pretty sure there's an easier way to arrive here but I followed the road that uh cars are tacking and it's a 15% climb, so let me tell you I didn't ride on my bike, I just pushed my bike and I'm exhausted, it took me forever. The place is beautiful especially right now because you got all the cherry blossoms but I'm not sure it's worth it, I don't know I will see tonight if it was worth it because I still have a lot of kilometers to to go and my legs are hurting so badly. Also when you're
arriving at the parking, the car parking then you still have like 200/300 steps to go on it's it's not very far from the Flower Center and I think a lot of people are stopping there it's just way up from the flowers I think. You can stop at the Flower Center and just climb by just walking I think it's pretty steep but at least you wouldn't have your bike to carry with you. I don't know I couldn't find any other road so I wasn't sure but once I arrived at the top I could see other roads with natural stairs so I think it's possible to go the other way but not with the bike but don't take the bike, it was awful, it was terrible So it's Mount Shira... wait I'm trying to read over there, Mount Shirataki. I mean the area is insane, you got this amazing view of a few of the islands and it's it's very high and obviously it's really pretty but going there yeah... I mean I think it's gonna be almost noon and I'm still on the second island. 4 to go! If you wish to go to Mount Shirataki, don't do it like me, do not take the road made for the cars, go to the Flower Center a bit further down the road, drop your bike and hike. The view is
incredible and all the cherry blossoms with the 500 Buddha statues made a very good visit. I'm on the third island and I just went to one of the road station to change my bike because it was just not braking, I couldn't stop anymore with it and it was making this kind of weird noise and everything it was terrible but then I realized that all the bikes they presented me, they actually don't work when we use the rear brake so we have to use the front one but I don't know how it is in your country but in France you learn that you don't use your front one especially when it's very downhill because then (you crash) So I have a new bike that doesn't really stop either but doesn't make any noise now so it's good. So I'm in, I guess, the main attraction when you're doing this road. It's a temple, again, but it's probably one of the
most beautiful temple I've ever seen and between Korea and Japan I've seen a lot of temple. There's a lot of marble around here and I can't wait to just look around everything. It's 2.30pm so I have quite a lot of time to visit because I'm not that far from my accommodation for tonight. This place is, I'm gonna show you some images, it's pretty good.
Kosanji is probably the biggest attraction of all the islands that you'll go through. I recommend spending at least an hour there. This is not an ancient temple it was founded in 1936 by a rich businessman and the construction took more than 30 years. Many of the buildings are modeled after some of Japan's most famous temples so it might not look unique but it does bring the best of what Japan has to offer. Some will appreciate the beauty while others might think it's a bit too much.
Six degree inside when it was a pleasant 19 degree outside, you'll have to brave the cold to discover the cave inside the temple. Lined with artifact set to represent the idea of hell in the buddhist faith, hundreds of statues and a little waterfall I urge you not to miss it. This unique lookout is called Heights of Eternal Hope for the Future. It's made entirely of imported Italian marble and it's a very bizarre yet very aesthetic area.
16 years were needed for the sculptor Ittô Kuetani to create this immaculate white garden. And yes I do think it's a nutcracker on the top. The wind and the sun were my biggest enemies. From the last hour of the first day and during the full second day I had to go against strong winds while I didn't expect the sun to burn my skin so quickly. The hostel was really nice, made for cyclists, extremely clean comfy and with a lot of space.
Also there is a Family Mart in front of it so you can eat on the beach. It's the beginning of day two and as you can see the wind is strong. It was already strong yesterday afternoon during the third island and well everyone says that it's easier to do the road from Imabari to Onomichi because mostly you're gonna have the wind pushing you whereas in my case I always have the wind against me. I loved the third island, I thought it was really beautiful but it was a struggle and I basically had the choice of sleeping at the end of the third island and have this really amazing sunset view or going to the beginning of the fourth, so doing the bridge yesterday and not having the sunset but just the thought of starting the day with a bridge it was just too much. Sunset was not worth it. So I did the bridge on the beginning of the fourth island. I mean the view waking up, I just had breakfast just here, that's
not too bad, that's all right I'm not that disappointed of not seeing the sunset. The bridge was tough with the wind and everything so I hope that the wind will lessen during the day because basically I'm literally at the middle. It's 75 kilometers I did 37, so I have literally the same amount of cycling today than I had yesterday which is not a comforting thought. I mean my legs right now are okay, my neck is a bit sore but the huge issue is the pain in my private parts let's say... this one I seriously don't know if i'm gonna make it to Imabari because just the thought of sitting on the bike, it's kind of what makes me want to cry. But let's head it and see how far I can go.
This is the bridge for the fifth island I just went a little further before taking it to be able to see this thing, I know if you see the current, this is a natural phenomenon and I don't know if you can see because there's a lot of trees but it's just in this area if you look around there's just no current It looks like a tiny tiny vortex. There it is, the last bridge, not the least definitely, it's 6.4 kilometers so it's huge, I mean you can't see the other side. It does feel like the Golden Bridge. I mean that's what it makes me think about. So one big push to go up then 6.4 kilometers I hope the wind is not too bad because the last two bridges it was really tough due to the wind and then on the other side it's Imabari! Two three kilometers after that and I'll be done. I was super lucky a few minutes ago
I was looking at the map and I saw there was this viewpoint but it was like three kilometers of very very tough climbing. You can't even see it, it was behind that little mountain and well anyway, one guy stopped with his car and he was like 'do you want to see the viewpoint?' and I was like 'yeah but I can't do it with with the bike' and he was like 'yeah no you can't do it with the bike, just leave the bike here and I'll drive you' and he drove me. We spent like I don't know 20 minutes over there, the view was absolutely insane I'm so thankful because the people have been really nice over these past few days. I'm gonna stop talking and I'm gonna start cycling again. See you on the other side, last one! I made it! As you can see see here welcome to Imabari there you go! Oh my God, 75 kilometers! In two days of course but I'm so glad it's over. I don't have much energy left in my thighs and I'm sore in a lot of places you don't want to be sore at but I'm really proud that I managed to do that because I'm cycling maybe five times a year so it's really not something I have experience in. I mean I know how to use a bicycle but yeah I'm gonna pay for it in the next few days for sure but it's been a really great experience, it really helped me focus just on the road and just finishing that instead of just being anxious about the virus (again, it's April 2020), my future in Japan or in France and I just gave back my bike and I'm gonna check in my hostel and I think cause I've still tomorrow off so I think I'm just gonna take the ferry back to the islands I just did and just enjoy going back to Onomichi by boat I think. Obviously you can also go back just by taking the
highway bus which is obviously the quicker way to do that, I could even do it right now and go back to Onomichi but I already pay for my guest house here and it's five so I'm just gonna see if there's something great to see in Imabari and start early tomorrow. Ahh it's done, I can't Wow! I'm a bit disappointed about one thing is that basically on the road you're just following the blue line so there's just no way that you're gonna lose yourself on that trip and then almost every kilometer you have like well for me Imabari 75 kilometers, 50 kilometers, 10 kilometers and it stop at three and I couldn't see Imabari zero I mean you got all these flags when you arrive in town so it's cute, you can even take a little flag for you, saying that you did it but yeah I wanted to take a picture of like Imabari one kilometer or zero it would have been fun but it's all right. It's been a really good experience, the views are amazing so if you feel like you can manage physically then definitely that's something that I recommend. The Shimanami Kaido check it out I was surprised to have enough energy to go see the castle once I arrived in Imabari, I had the place by myself during sunset and that was the perfect ending to the day. Going back to Onomichi by speedboat and bus was really quick and easy but way less beautiful and satisfying.
I do recommend to stay a few hours in Onomichi especially if it's cherry blossom season. All the area around Senkoji temple and the park is absolutely gorgeous. I really hope you liked this little journey and see you soon!