I have now made it off the Island of Shikoku on not just a bus, train, and ferry, but a bike too.
The Shimanami-Kadio is a 70km route that includes six bridges, running over small islands in the Seto Inland Sea to connect Ehime Prefecture (in Shikoku) to Hiroshima Prefecture (in Honshu).
Christine and I had been planning to bike that 140km round trip journey for some weeks. The weekends preceding our trip were beautiful. Last Saturday we woke up in my apartment to a heavy rainfall. We got in the car regardless and got on our bikes at about noon, just as the rain let up.
Having the time to bike or walk somewhere is a privilege. The evenings I have spent on a bicycle taking the route that I typically drive to school I notice intricacies that could easy go unnoticed for two years in a car.
The bridges that provide an exit off Shikoku are far bigger when traveling by bike than by bus.
While I was pedaling I thought about all the times I drove from Pittsburgh to North Carolina. And how it is possible to walk this route. I spent the following hours primarily in my head, occasionally eating the chocolate almonds in my backpack and talking with Christine when we momentarily paused, I thought more about this hike I wanted to do and the hikes I have done in the past. I also thought about the job I have now and the jobs I have had in the past. The thoughts that involved movement and being outside were far more pleasant than the thoughts that involved international school lunches and a computer screen being an important means of escape.
We arrived in Onomichi City in Hiroshima at about 5 p.m. Naturally, there was a festival. Which meant there was festival food. Christine and I found the French fries. They were especially salty. We stood over our bikes and ate them. Not needing to speak about how delicious and special French fries are.
Andrew, Emma, Maya, and Sarah had started biking a few hours after us and met us around 7 p.m. that evening. We went to a delicious izakaya where we sufiecently gorged on food, drank beer, and met a drunk old man who, naturally, talked to us too much.
The following morning the six of us turned around to return to Shikoku. There was no rain, but a strong wind blowing in the opposite direction we were cycling.
Before each bridge is a 90 meter uphill ramp. Once on the bridge it is a straight ride followed by a rewarding downhill ramp. Other celebratory moments were spent on the islands, sharing momentary instances with the sun.
We cycled to my car as dark clouds rolled in once again and drove towards the rain. Then back to routines of ignition, gas, brake, and deep breaths in front of a computer.