< class="pagetitle">Posts Tagged “bicycle”

Here’s a video of me riding my bicycle to work. It’s really not all that exciting, but I wanted to try recording with my friend Tomas’s camera just for kicks. (If you’re interested, it’s the GoPro HD Hero2 with fisheye lens housing mounted loosely to my handlebars using an old flashlight mount.)

It’s “unlisted” on YouTube out of a vague sense of… not privacy concerns per se, but because I’d rather not have directions to my apartment searchable on YouTube, really.

Anyway, it’s only five minutes long, so even though the mount is pretty shaky, you can probably suffer through it. 😉

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A while back, I went on a bike ride exploring my area of town. I chose a major road I knew pretty well, and just… went. These rides of mine sometimes turn into really interesting exploratory ventures, and this time I had the foresight to bring my camera. Lucky for me, I happened onto a used car dealership specializing in sports cars, where I just wandered around blissfully until an employee came out and started talking to me about the cars, showing me his favorites, and it got even better. Here is a slide show of some of the pictures I took.

(Because FaceBook won’t import the slide show, to see the pictures, you’ll have to visit my actual blog here:

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I’m going for a ride on the Shimanami Kaido bridges again tomorrow, so I figured I should at least post about my last trip first, to avoid any confusion. Serena, May, and I rode northbound from Imabari (Sunrise Itoyama, specifically) in the middle of Typhoon #6 a few months ago. (Japan numbers their large meteorological events instead of naming them. I guess it’s to keep them at arm’s length in case they don’t call in the morning.)

Sunrise Itoyama is a bicycle rental place in northern Imabari, very close to the start of the bridge system spanning the Seto Inland Sea. (I rented a bicycle instead of trying to ride my craptastic mama-chari one speed Japanese clunker of a city bike across sixty kilometers of sparsely populated islands and bridges.) It’s a beautiful ride, with bridges hopping across a series of islands that peek like giant stepping stones out of the water.

The weather forecast for the day said that the typhoon might be right where we were, but we were hoping it would just graze us. Regardless of the weather, we couldn’t change the details of the ride, as it had been organized as part of Bicycle for Everyone’s Earth (BEE), a group here in Japan that promotes environmentally conscious living through eco-friendly education and consumption. Each year they organize a two-month, 3000 kilometer ride from Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido to the southernmost island of Kyushu, and the three of us joined them for the day they planned to ride north across the Seto Inland Sea.

So we all brought our rain gear, and it’s a good thing we did. It was just lightly sprinkling rain when we set out, but by the time we made it onto the first bridge, we were in the middle of a deluge. We turned around when we didn’t see the BEE team in the first bridge, as the rain just kept getting heavier and heavier. By the time we got back ten minutes after starting out, the water was deep enough on the street in front of the bike rental place that you couldn’t pedal- the water was above the pedals’ lowest point.

When we got back inside, we found the BEE team regrouping; they had set off just after us and come back just before us, and were already hard at work drying off their clothes. We talked to them about their travels while waiting for the rain to slack off a bit then and set back out on our grand adventure.

The day quickly turned into a series of fiascoes, though. The BEE team suffered through a number of flat tires, two broken spokes, and a broken rear pannier rack, and eventually told us three interlopers to go on ahead of them. That was the last we ever saw of the team…

We got a late start and were riding slow because of the rain, and as a result May was running short on time and had to bail in Omishima, just shy of the halfway point. Serena and I pressed on, actually making a wrong turn at one point that ended up being a “shortcut” through a rural area instead of following the major highway on the other side of the island.

It rained on and off the whole day, but luckily it was never as heavy as it was in the first ten minutes. It also got dark surprisingly quickly. Fortunately, a couple of the bridges had separate, well-lit decks for bicycles. It was totally dark by the time we arrived in Omishima, which was an unanticipated problem. The rental place had ostensibly closed an hour before we arrived, but there was still an old man sitting in a shack on their lot, whom we convinced to take out bikes off our hands. Then we had to figure out how to get back to Matsuyama. “The guy” at Sunrise Itoyama said there was a late southbound bus back across the bridge system, but it wasn’t running that Sunday. By the time we realized the late bus didn’t exist, the last actual bus had, in fact, just left the bus depot.

One of the waiting bus drivers took pity on our plight once we managed to explain it, and he got a waiting taxi driver to take us through some super-secret door on the highway overpass to a pickup point just ahead of that last bus we needed, where he personally waited with us and made sure we got on the bus. I tell you, between learning that the depot had no more buses home, figuring out how to get help in Japanese, and waiting for the bus on the bridge, that was a seriously stressful hour or so, and I am still amazed at the generosity of the Japanese people.

The bus ride back to Imabari was uneventful, Serena and I just unwinding from the day. Then it was an easy train ride back into Matsuyama and blissful recuperative sleep.

Wow! Now I’m ready to go do it again! 😀

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Originally written two weeks ago. Sorry for the delay. 🙂

Today was a seriously good day. We had a brief rain in the morning and cloud cover all day, so even with the extra humidity, it was still nice and cool.

50 points if you know why I didn’t wait for the red car to get out of the way before I took this photo. 🙂

While making my shopping list this morning, I got a wild hair and decided I wanted to learn how to cook tempura. So I rode my bicycle down to the co-op, stopping to put on my shoes and grab my unbleached cotton bag on the way out the door. My aunt Julia would be proud. And yes, I’m totally serious; I have a reusable cotton bag that I use when I shop at えひめコープ (literally “Ehime Co-pu,” but they chose their own weirdness and write it “Coop Ehime”), whose 20th use will net me a coupon of indiscernible benefit.

I figured I would find the ingredients while doing my regular semi-daily shopping, but it took me a bit of dedicated searching to find the tempura batter and oil. Then I had to look at the backs of all the bags for the ones that had pictures, and try to piece together the process for making the batter and frying the food from there. That was my hope, anyway.

Here’s my now full refrigerator.

I got back to the house, put away the groceries, and decided to turn right back around and get back on my bike, destination unknown, just to explore while the weather was beautiful. Mindful of the recent adventure I had trying to find my way home, I chose one major road and decided to take it as far as I dared. I took Iyotetsu Road southeast near my place, and just kept riding. Along the way, I passed an indoor ice skating rink with an outdoor waterslide and pool complex, a Mazda dealership, a Nissan Red Stage dealership with a new GT-R in the showroom, and saw a lot of local flavor. The road started petering out after a while, and eventually became what turned out to be a secondary inter-city road. I took it about 13km out of town, to the outskirts of the next town, passing through increasingly light commercial and residential areas which became solitary homes, gardens, rice fields, and streams, and was surprised to see that it intersected with another major road that also runs (relatively) near my place.

There’s a pedestrian crossing bridge over the intersection of Iyotetsu Road and Route 11, about twenty feet above the road surface. I paused with my bike to soak in as much as I could. I really wish I’d had my camera with me, because there’s no way I can describe the beauty of what I saw. I love overcast days with a slight chill in the air, and I may be romanticizing a bit because of it, but the countryside I could see took my breath away. The rice fields are newly sprouting bright green right now, and the sky was this mottled pattern of steel grey and dark backlit blue. I had an interesting vantage of the surrounding fields, organically arranged against the hills and streams, all cut with the rigid lines of the highway, and the businesses popping in single file to line the road and catch traffic as it passed from one town to the other.

Reasonably certain it would get me where I wanted, I took Route 11 back to Matsuyama. Along the way, I found something that made me happy- a Subaru dealership. They were closed because of the string of national holidays called Golden Week, but that just gave me license to wander the lot unmolested. They had a number of interesting models, some modified with aftermarket parts, which you don’t normally see dealers selling in the US. Next door to the Subaru dealership, I discovered something else that got my heart going- a used performance car lot. Absolutely astounded at my luck, I wandered around looking at the Nissan Skylines, Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru STIs, Nissan Fairlady Zs, and many other high performance vehicles that have never been sold in the states. Some even had aftermarket parts that looked to be straight off the track, but not in a trashy, “body by Bondo” sort of way- the Japanese know class, and these cars were all put together really well. And I really need to start carrying my camera.

As I got closer to my part of town, I recognized a section of road I traveled while I was lost and had a silent chuckle at myself. I also passed a second Mazda dealership, as well as Daihatsu, Alfa Romeo, and Suzuki (automobiles, not motorcycles) dealerships. I guess Route 11 is something of an automall.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, but when I got back to my apartment, I decided to not even go in this time- I just stayed on my bike and headed off to find a sembe (rice cracker) shop my manager told me about. I didn’t know exactly where it was, but I remembered the general directions she gave me. Her directions put me back on Iyotetsu Road of all places, but I still didn’t find the shop. This time I decided to follow Iyotetsu back to my neighborhood and call it a day.

Now I just had to tackle my dinner project. I won’t make a long story even longer by giving you the play-by-play, but let me say that making tempura is surprisingly easy. It turned out quite well, and here’s a picture to prove it. You can see the shrimp I peeled and deveined myself, with the red and yellow peppers and the asparagus (which I wouldn’t have thought to get but for the picture on the package). It all turned out really well (and with the mixing, prepping, frying, and eating, made a mess that positively consumed the kitchen), but I’ll probably wait a while to make it again. It’s a lot of work, and as light as tempura-fried food is in comparison to say, KFC, it’s still food that sits heavily in the stomach.

All in all, it was an exceedingly satisfying day. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a food coma to sit out while I try to understand the evening news.

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