KARAOKE OUTPOST SURVIVAL
(photos of the ride from Tokyo to Osaka)
We head along along the southern coast of Japan for Osaka:
- Leaving on the first day of the ride at 3:30pm to ride to Kamakura.
- Staying at a little house on the hills overlooking the ocean. Inside the house are a huge wolf skin with green felt fringe, a calendar with a drawing of a smiling watermelon and the words "Knee-grows", and shag rugs in patterns of boobs and female genitalia.
- Riding up a pretty big mountain (874 meters high) near Fuji in one day, mostly at night. We camp under some trees on the edge of a parking lot on the shores of a beautiful mountain lake. In the morning we go for a swim (even though we were told not to) and watch the tourist pirate ship ferries and swan paddle boats on the lake.
- While we were climbing the mountain, we kept passing/being passed by a Japanese couple on "Mama-chari" (Mama-cruiser) bikes. They made it to the top, but found that their brakes weren't really cutting it for the long steep descent. But we did get a group photo together before they left to take a train the next day.
- Finding an abandoned motel on the mountain.
- Flying 874 meters down the side of a mountain on our bikes.
- Encountering another cyclist with some pretty sweet riding shorts.
- I get stung by wasps and jellyfish all in the same afternoon.
- Getting sloppy directions to Toxic Works bike shop and going 20km past it. It is not until when we stop for directions at another tiny bike shop along the way do we realize our mistake. The owner of the shop then closes his shop and gets a high-top van to fit the tall bikes and gives us a ride the 20km back to the town we had passed (with his friends as a motorcycle escort). He even searches up and down the street to help us find the shop before dropping us off.
- Staying at Mamiya's house and bike shop, Toxic Works, in Shimizu-ku. He gives us all the floor space in his bedroom,, hot showers, cold beer, dinner, and custom wooden headset caps. He makes custom bikes out of used bikes/parts, including one with wooden handlebars. Unfortunately, used things (even cool ones) are not very popular in Japan.
- When we leave the next day we stop by the tiny bike shop that gave us a lift and deliver a custom-decorated bottle of sake as a thank you.
- We find some anime porn in the trash.
- Andrea gets sick.
- Pitching a tent along a raised highway. Getting four hours of sleep before being woken in a puddle of sweat by the sauna-tent affect.
- Riding VERY precariously through many mountain tunnels.
- Getting terrible directions (corroborated by more than one person) that send us from the coast inland, but to a road that turns out to be an expressway. We try to avoid it and find alternate routes, but eventually the hills force us on to it. We head up into the hills with cars and trucks screaming past us. After passing through a few tunnels we stop to collect ourselves at the side of the road after a particularly nerve-wracking one. After a few minutes, a couple cops pay us a visit. They are very nice and seem a bit nervous about their lack of English. They explain that bicycles are not allowed on the expressway and point the way down an on-ramp (the first one we'd seen) to another route that we didn't know about. Disaster was averted.
- Riding along some beautiful fortified coastline.
- Finding a great river for swimming, complete with a playground and "bouncy tubes" (see video below).
- "I will show a titty for a carrot right now."
- Conrad's favorite snack foods in Japan seem to always look like turds.
- Mochi in my moustache.
- Coming across a crazy junk shop/scrap shop with weird, crazy stuff inside.
- Sleeping in a tiny railroad-side orange grove.
- The half-abandoned swimming pool.
- An upside-down house.
- Meeting a weird Japanese version of a childrens-style Jimmy Buffet puppeteer hanging out at a public swimming pool in a park. He dressed up in an elephant costume and did a little performance for us. He would also hang out just outside the pool area with his puppets and make them dance, but no one seemed to ever watch him.
- My jellyfish wound eventually stops swelling and the thin "tattoo line" of blood turns into a raised line of clear puss on my back. It eventually bursts, bleeds, scabs over and scars.
- We develop a tendency to sleep in till noon, putz around, and then leave somewhere between 3:30 and 5 pm and then ride late in to the night.
- Cranking out over 140km in one day to make it to Nagoya, or to the outskirts anyway.
- Finally landing in Nagoya, but failing to connect with our contacts there. We end up sprawled out all over the sidewalk in front of a closed Starbucks, using their internet and gorging ourselves on snacks from a .99 cent snack shop.
- We solve the mystery of why dumpstering quickie marts in Japan is no good: .99 cent quickie marts with all of the day-olds.
- While riding to find a place to sleep, we encounter a girl splayed out on the sidewalk next to a crashed bicycle. We fear the worst, but it turns out she was just passed out drunk. We move her off the center of the path and hang out until she moves on under her own power (walking her bike).
- Sleeping in a eucalyptus grove in a graveyard park in Nagoya.
- Hanging out the next day at Cafe Jaaja with the friendly owners and their band mates.
- Stopping to stay at a "love hotel" we unexpectedly encounter in between Nagoya and Osaka. It is called Chapel Coconuts, and there are waterfalls, tiki torches, and animatronic birds. There is an issue though, since we are a group of four, but with only one girl. It turns out that two men are not allowed to get a room, even if it's just to sleep, which is what we wanted. So we have Greg go outside, rent it for one person, and then sneak Greg in later. In the morning he goes to Conrad and Andrea's room to wake them up by sticking half his body through the room service door and yelling at them. He then gets a prompt and stern scolding in Japanese from a woman who suddenly appears in the hallway.
- Greg gets the first flat tires of the Japan trip, both in the same day.
- Getting my lips stuck to a red bean ice cream bar which rips off chunks of skin. A little bit of blood with ice cream is still good.
- Riding up into the mountains at night on narrow, windy, no-shoulder roads with lots of trucks. It's stupid. A handful of close calls happen, including Greg's shoulder being clipped by a truck's rear-view mirror.
- After climbing a lot of long steep hills all night, we reach a long downhill tunnel with a separated bike lane. We fly down through the tunnel, hooting and hollering, and pop out the other side to be greeted by a breath-taking view of Osaka lit up stretched out below us. A perfect punctuation to the end of the cycling portion of our trip.
- Favorite food: Mochi.
- Favorite drink: Tangerine "sack" juice.
- Mainly what I live on: Rice balls and milk coffee.
"Jitensha" = Bicycle.
"Sega takai" = High/tall (as in height/location).
"Tasukete" = Help.
"Mayotta" = I got lost.
"Hidari" = Left.
"Migi" = Right.
"Honto" = I see/really?
"Sugoi" = Super.
"Yama" = Mountain.
"Tatami" = Bamboo mat flooring.
"Kurage" = Jellyfish.
This is your new favorite song. Such a brilliant pairing.
• Japanther + Spank Rock - Radical Businessman
A band's place at last.