Day 1: Omihachiman, Shiga to Shibushi, Kagoshima

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Should I call it Day 1 or not? I’m on the road now but not my ‘official’ road. But then nobody decided the road but me so I suppose I can do what I like. I call it Day 1. I’ve been waiting long enough.

When you are preparing for something brand new it occupies your whole mind. Days drift by without anything else even threatening to become a thought. I didn’t check BBC Sport for 5 days and I nearly forgot to watch Game of Thrones entirely. My mind was all bike saddle pants iPhone blog padding tent mat stove pot cup spork (yes – Cyndi Moyo would be proud) lights tubes helmet loneliness fear excitement excrement Christine fatigue filthy Philthy contacts etc. etc.

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The ferry to Kyushu left Osaka Nanko at 5pm. I took the train to Osaka station for 2.15pm. There are only 18km between Osaka station and the ferry terminal. I ran it fairly close! Osaka port is a huge conglomerate of ports, warehouses and factories and 50% of it is built on man made islands that jut out into Osaka Bay. This has created a lot of canals, and bikes don’t cross canals as a matter of design. I negotiated the multicanal complex using a series of underground tunnels and big lifts full of other bike pushing folks. It was wonderful.

Occasionally there is a bridge. But keep your pants on, they proved equally hazardous. They are obviously built somewhere else and the slotted together like Lego because there are metal joints that look like jagged iron teeth about quarter of the way up each side. While not ideal for bikes they are generally negotiable with the right approach angle. My final bridge however was much bigger than the rest and therefore had much bigger teeth. Cruising along, I was, when I see the metal line approaching. But only when I’m within a couple metres do I realize there are huge gaps between the teeth; not big enough to cause a car a problem but big enough to send me over my handle bars. An action film sequence flashes before my eyes but I dismiss it and slam on the brakes. I stop with my front wheel balancing on the edge of a long rounded metal tooth. Imagine me in a tuxedo riding a Harley teetering over an Arizonan precipice. It was a lot like that. I take a deep breath, swear at the lack of signage and roll back down the bridge and use the pavement instead. A group of motorcyclists that ‘Hi’ed me earlier ‘Hi’ me again with a knowing look and then roar over the bridge, its teeth just a little bump to their fat tires.

The ferry rock and rolls it’s way south through the night. I check I’m not breaking any rules and get some sleep.

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Kyushu, the most southerly of Japan’s four main islands awaits me in the morning. I’ll cash in on the free bath before I get off, though.

おやすみ

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