Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cycling Shimanami Kaido

We found a treasure in our back yard yesterday.  I was looking for fun places to ride bikes and there is a series of islands connected by bridges, that starts about an hour away from us by car, that has separate bike lanes across the bridges.  It sounded pretty cool and it was a bonus that you can get there without using the toll roads.

We drove down yesterday morning and took a short ferry to the first island (maybe 5 minutes on the ferry and it only cost a dollar each).  You can get a free English map specifically for cycling in this area.  The main bike route is 75km (46.6 miles) each way and is marked on the roads, all turns are marked and there is a mileage marker every kilometer.  There are several alternative routes and the end of the marked bike route also has lots of good additional cycling.  It would be easy to spend a week riding all over the area if someone wanted to make a bike tour out of it.  It was a road biker's paradise!  Ever couple of kilometers there was a rest area specifically for cyclists with clean free bathrooms, bike pumps and places to refill your water bottle.  There were also vending machines that had cold beverages if you wanted something besides water.  Many of the restaurants and cafe's along the way catered to cyclists and had bike racks and pumps.  There were areas that had a little bit of car traffic but the speed limit was slow, 30 MPH in most places and cars are extremely polite to cyclists.  Oh yeah, did I mention it was beautiful? 

This is where Jeff and I stopped for lunch.

Jeff on the bike only path after crossing the bridge behind him.

Pretty bridge.

Proof I was there.  Nice that there happens to be a cycling team with my name, isn't is?

Another bridge.

We stopped a couple miles from the end of our ride to enjoy the clouds, the light and watch the herons fish.
Got this guy in mid flight.

Heron looking for dinner.
Jeff and I rode about 50 miles.  We only made it slightly more than half way and then turned around.  Plenty of time to explore the rest of the trail in the upcoming months.  It was a fantastic day and we had a wonderful time.  Jeff said that this was one of his favorite places he's ever ridden a road bike.  We will definitely take people here if the come out to visit and and Jeff mentioned taking some of the other expats from work since they have bikes.  It was lovely.  Expect to see/hear more about this area again in the future.

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