THE ACT OF STANDING at the monument on Japan’s northernmost tip is not overwhelmingly significant. Medium sized and fairly simple, the triangular stone statue marking the point of Cape Soya is not a highly coveted tourist destination. However, this is contingent upon how you arrive. If you pull up by bicycle, having pedaled 3,518km for 43 days from Japan’s opposite extreme point, then standing at this marker suddenly becomes very special. This was the case for us when we stood at the monument today.
Today, Day 43, we arrived at Cape Soya and completed our end-to-end cycling tour of Japan!
With a fixed focus on finishing the trip, we departed early from our generous ramen shop host and took the shop owner’s advice to head up the 106 which proved a profitable decision. This less-trafficked road skirted around the wetlands and also cut 10km off our route. Impossibly straight and flat, the pavement melted into the horizon as we cruised along at a good clip. At times I felt like I was cycling on a treadmill as the gorgeous coastal scenery never seemed to change as I pushed the pedals. Eventually, we finished the infinite marshy shoreline and hit a major milestone, Wakkanai, the northernmost town in Japan. Past Wakkanai, only the Cape remained.
With 30km between us and completion of our goal, we rested briefly in the town so Dylan could pursue a very important side quest. With some encouragement from Scott and me, he decided to eat one waffle ice cream bar for every Seicomart convenience store we passed today on the way to Cape Soya. Up until Wakkanai, he was up to only four (which he ate all at once at this stop), but by the end of the ride, the total climbed to 10 ice creams! We documented him eating each one. I assure you that in each picture, Dylan is eating a different bar of ice cream.
From Wakkanai, it was a very windy trek out to the Cape. All in all, Hokkaido proved itself to be a worthy final challenge due mainly to the will-crushing cold gusts. Nonetheless, we pressed on toward our goal. With 5km left, the team broke our usual single file formation to ride three abreast (when cars weren’t coming), hooting, hollering, ringing our bells, and generally celebrating our approaching accomplishment.
The Cape was cold, but our spirits were so high that it didn’t matter. Together we walked up the steps of the monument and completed our trip. After a toast and proper speech-making, we posed for pictures and took a video to document the occasion.
Having cooled down, we bundled up and rode the chilly 30km back to town where we met up with our host for tonight and tomorrow night, Dambar. He is from Nepal, speaks five languages, and is in the process of earning a graduate degree in IT networking at Wakkanai university. To our delight, his other Nepalese friends came over, and we greatly enjoyed ending the evening swapping stories while eating delicious curry.
Tomorrow, we will take a welcome day of R&R here in Wakkanai; then, we head home. I will take a bus to Sapporo, fly back to Fukuoka, and meet up with Lori. Dylan plans to hitchhike back to Sapporo where he has a couchsurfing host until his flight to Canada. Scott will hitch with Dylan, fly out of Sapporo back to Nagoya, and then return to Boston.
I think I can speak for myself, Dylan, and Scott that cycling the length of Japan was difficult but brought us together and will stand out in each of our lives as a major feat. Personally, this journey has shown me that doing big things is completely possible. The real challenge is daring dream big enough. Completing this trip has been a life-goal of mine for many years. It is deeply satisfying to have finished the trek, and with two of my best friends no less. Also, now I have some quality stories to regale my future grandkids with.
Thank you so much all of you who tuned in! Your comments and encouragement were a wonderful support to us as we cycled. I encourage you to set big goals for yourself. This trip was result of three average guys deciding they could bike Japan. We had never done anything like this before, but we knew we never would if we didn’t try. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. If we can cycle all of Japan, I know you’ve got what it takes to do something big too.
Crash: Life Goal Complete!
Spock: Really though, “What’s next?”
UPDATE: Donation Goal Exceeded! Thank You!
It is my pleasure to announce that through your generous support we have met and exceeded our fundraising goal for the earthquake and tsunami relief aid! I wish to express my deep gratitude to all who have supported our bicycle trip and fundraising effort with prayers, donations, spreading the word, and following our blog. This trip has impacted me in a way in which I will never forget, and the team owes the success of it to all of you.
It is my pleasure to announce that through your generous support we have met and exceeded our $10,000 fundraising goal for the earthquake and tsunami relief aid! The total amount raised ended up being $13,902! I wish to express my deep gratitude to all who have supported our bicycle trip and fundraising effort with prayers, donations, spreading the word, and following our trip journal online. This trip has impacted me in a way in which I will never forget, and the team owes the success of it to all of you.
I can assure you that all of your donations have touched the Japanese people we met. So many wished to express their sincere thanks to us for giving them hope, and this thanks really should be extended to all of you who have supported our trip in one way or another. Please join us in the celebration of reaching Cape Soya and raising over $10,000 with a kampai! (Japanese toast!) wherever you are.
Finally, I would like to say to our parents and family, our friends back home, our new Japanese friends we met along the way, and our wonderful couchsurfing hosts, thank you. A special thank you to Tammy, for letting Andrew and me take Dylan from you for two months, and to Lori, for all your behind-the-scenes work on the web site and helping us prepare for the trip.