Day 33: Sekikawa, Niigata to Yamagata, Yamagata

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Nothing went to plan today. But, you know, I think it’ll turn out alright. I’m writing this from a small wooden box. Dark wood effect walls on three sides, a sliding door with a narrow window on the fourth side. My trainers are tucked neatly under the step. The floor is one large black faux-leather covered cushion and a small brick-shaped cushion awaits my head. I have a blanket across my lap and a too-sweet cup of hot chocolate on the desk, I’m listening to Rodriguez and looking longingly at the pizza menu. I am a temporary resident of the Kaikatsu Club Relax Combini and I intend to get some shuteye before England’s 4am kick-off.

My legs have undoubtedly become stronger. I can ride now without really even noticing the rise and fall of the road. I automaticallly change gear when I need to and my legs just keep on pedaling.  That’s the reason my plans changed initially, I reached my planned destination by 1.30. When you’re intending on spending the evening alone in a tent the last thing you want is for that evening to start at 2pm, so I decided to keep going. I checked my maps again and highlighted another campsite – and great! there’s an onsen nearby. I completed the extra kilometers by 5 and took a short dip in a scolding, but soothing bath. Then I headed for the campsite. After climbing a very steep track and putting all that cleanliness to waste I spoke to a man who was out tending to his vegetables (ooh, madam!). He wasn’t sure about a campsite but pointed me in the direction of the park I’d mentioned. More up up up. Sweat pouring down my back and making my forehead sticky. Then, with no warning, a road block. The road was entirely sealed off, there was to be no accessing that campsite.

Right. Change of plan. I had an incredible view over Yamagata city and I thought, what the hell, forget the tent I’m going to try my luck in the city. I whizzed back down the unnecessary mountain and into the throng of Thursday night. I located a ‘British Pub’ called, obviously, Luisiana Hurricane but they had no intention of showing the football and in fact didn’t even seem to realise there was a game on. But, the owner did recommend another place. I checked it out and while the barman was still setting up he was very excited that I’d be back in the middle of the night to watch the game. Japan also play – at 7am. This could upset my rhythm.

I’m going to crashout diagonally across this little booth now. Good night.

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