RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY!
Day Two: Fukugawa to Shimonoseki | 113km
I woke up to the relentless pitter-patter on my tent. The floor of my tent was more soaked than when I went to bed, but surprisingly my sleeping bag was semi-dry. I put on my steamed-up glasses and check the time. 7am. Ok, time to get up…and back to the toilet I went for breakfast.
I boiled up some water for my coffee and instant oatmeal. I must say, this turned out to be a nice start to all my days on the road (even the rainy ones spent in a public restroom) and I highly recommend Quaker Oats packets. The only thing that would make it better is sliced bananas and whole milk.
The rain is finally starting to ever-so-slightly let up around 8:30am, so with breakfast and hot coffee in my belly, I decide to go out and assess the water damage and pack up.
I go over to my bike and look inside the panniers and pull out a waterlogged book that I had borrowed from my buddy, Steve. It’s All About the Bike by Robert Penn. It seemed like the perfect book to take along on a cycling trip. Robert Penn, an avid cyclist set out to travel the world to build the perfect bike that would last him the rest of his life. I have since watched the documentary of the book on youtube. Very cool for any cycling enthusiast or history buff in general. I have since ordered a replacement book by for the time being, sorry Steve and Mr. Penn, this one is not going with me.
With my tent and bags packed up, I put on my neon-yellow rain jacket and slip into my waterlogged cycling shoes. I must be carrying an extra couple kilos of water. Figuring this is the best it’s going to get for a few hours, I bid goodbye to what would otherwise be a fantastic little beach, and hit the road.
Today’s goal is to make it to Shimonoseki, the last city on Honshu before crossing into Kyushu.
After 20 or so kilometers the rain starts to pick up. There also seems to be an unusually high number of trucks on Rt. 2 today, which doesn’t make me feel any safer. So as I roll down a hill and into a small town, absolutely soaked, I stop into a 7-11 and decide to wait it out.
I grab a can coffee (never my favorite) and a pack of Meiji-brand chocolate-covered almonds (always my favorite!) and wait….and wait. Being on vacation alone is great, but with no one to tell you to eat healthy (mom), I am consuming copious amounts of junk food!
After about an hour it’s finally letting up a bit, so I get back to it. I pass through one unmemorable town after another. There really doesn’t seem to be any redeeming qualities to this part of the country. And the rainy skies aren’t any help.
I finally get to Yamaguchi City, about halfway for the day and the rain finally stopped but it’s still humid as hell.
Route 2 gets a bit funny in places, I’ve found. It will go from a two-lane road with stoplights then suddenly turn into a four-lane interstate where bikes are prohibited. But I more or less follow it to Shimonoseki.
However, about 40 or so kilometers outside of Shimonoseki, Rt. 2 starts to have a nice wide cycle path instead of a shoulder. This is great! The last 20km into the city, the path goes off the main road entirely and goes through suburban farmland and rice fields.
At this point there is almost a line in the sky between the rain clouds and the sunshine. This pretty much sums up my entire trip…Honshu: rain/misery, Kyushu: sun/awesomeness! I also get my first glimpses of Kyushu and the big bridge that connects the two land masses.
I was planning on camping when I got to Shimonoseki, and start to head in the direction of a campsite I found online. But even as I’m heading that way, I’m thinking, no way! I’m tired, my knees are hurting and all my gear is soaked. I head back towards the main station and look for a cheap business hotel.
At ¥4,900, the Hayashi Business Hotel is bit more than I wanted to spend but I’m tired of looking. So I get to my room, crack open a celebratory drink and start to unpack all my wet stuff.
I crank up the heater in the room to 30 degrees, and with a couple of hangers, hang my tent and shoes to dry. I also do some laundry in the bathroom sink. This hotel was unplanned but definitely needed.
I end up not leaving my room at all that night and cook the same dinner of sausages and rice in sauce over my gas burner…in the toilet of all places!
What a day it’s been. Finally dried out, I go to bed at 10pm. The alarm is set for 6:30am. Tomorrow I say goodbye to Honshu and cycle to Fukuoka. Things HAVE to get better at some point! Right?