My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"You don't have to be crazy.......

                                    "You don't have to be crazy to work here,
                                                           But it sure helps".

   Some years ago, when I was Nurse-Aiding in a Psychiatric Hospital, someone pinned this (interesting) proverb onto the noticeboard in one of the wards (needless-to-say it drew a few comments as to it's appropriateness but, most saw the joke behind it). The same could be said for the idiots amongst us, like yours truly, who spend a cool  winters Sunday out busting-their-guts mountain-biking (if this is a symptom of insanity, I am guilty as charged). Today, Sunday 5th February 2012, I left home at 8:30am and, 7.5-hours + 88km later, I arrived back  buzzing (check 4-b) (at 80km I felt I could do another 20km but, bad-light, cooling temperature, a worrying wife, and a can-of-beer calling to be opened, made me think otherwise). So, I have decided to let you, my fellow "outdoorholics", decide whether I am crazy or just .......... (?). This is my story.
Today's ride (view the route here) was very-undulating (to say the least), consisting of five uphill climbs and descents through a mixture of scenery - isolated villages, farmland, narrow lanes, shrines & temples (a Barcock outing wouldn't be complete without a shrine or temple included). After a 30km ride, I (finally) arrive at my destination where I say goodbye to civilization and hello to serenity/beauty. 
About a kilometer up the road I came-across my first photo-opportunity - a small shrine tucked-amongst the trees. These small, out-of-the-way complexes, have an appeal to me. They are so peaceful (do you experience the same feeling?).
Then, just-around the corner from the shrine, I happened-across a small Jizo nestled amongst the bank on the side of the lane. These come in many shapes-and-sizes and never fail to attract my attention.
Torii, entrance to Okumiya-jinja Shrine.
In the photo on the right, I am about to commence on the second-half of my second hill-climb (can you follow that?). Over the next 1.2km I shall climb 142m and, I may add, it was gut-busting stuff (I shall let you into a little secret here, I had to walk some of the way), but worth it. The lane is part of what is known as the "Tokai Nature Walk".
Okumiya-jinja Shrine.
  The 142m climb was worth the effort as I was greeted by a quaint wee shrine atop Iwama-yama (Mt Iwama 380m) which offered views over to Biwako (Lake Biwa) and Ritto & Kusatsu Cities.
Okumiya-jinja Shrine was the perfect location to stop for my first break. As my cycle-computer was telling me I had cycled 37km at this point, I was aware I was about half-way through my trip.
  After lunch, consisting of an egg sandwich, banana, snickers-bar and hot tea, it was time for my first down-hill segment (albeit short) before my next ascent.
Hirade Village.
  Hirade Village, during rice-growing season, is a delight to experience. In the photo you can see an arrow pointing to my next plateau. It may not look steep from this angle but, the last 150m requires some effort.
   After another descent, and another (long) hill-climb, I reached a junction (Location.) and, although I knew where one lane went to, I was curious to see where the other went to. The village of Ikenoo sits in a valley surrounded by mountains and consists of many old traditional Japanese houses.
Ikenoo Village.
I love this type of cycling environment and, one day, when I get around to it, I hope to tour keeping to villages like this. But, in saying that, I can't imagine myself travelling a great distance as I would spend most of my time sightseeing. Ikenoo village (unfortunately) is so isolated, there is only the one road in & out. So, time for my 5th and last hill-climb.
The next section was a 258m descent over a 4km distance, with sweeping bends. Ideal terrain to let-loose and go-for-it. At one point I managed to read 55kmph on my cycle-computer. It was at this point I needed to remind myself of my age  (a young 58) and slow-down. I was glad I did as, at that point, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted another photo-opportunity. On a hot, fine, sunny day, I would have stripped and taken a rinse in this pool. 
and the end of another great outing.
   Uji. One of my favorite places in Japan. God-knows how many times I have been here. I still enjoy returning (check-out my "Everytrail Guide"). Behind me, where I am having my bite-to-eat, is the "Tale-of-Genji" bridge. I always make for this spot for my breaks (I think the people who operate the shop, opposite where I am sitting, have come to recognize me). After a cuppa', some bread-rolls and a banana, I move on for the final segment - home (25km away). I've had a great day and, if you want to experience this area, when you are visiting Japan, I would be more-than-honored to show it to you.
   Okay, you have read my story. Do you think I am crazy?

   Footnote; My apologies to anyone who may be offended at the use of some words used in this blog.

1 comment:

  1. Crazy like a Fox Barry! I loved this story and I can definitely relate!