We rolled out of Topher’s house around 11 am this morning. This was later than we had hoped, but we still made good time. Around noon we stopped to get a snack at a convenience store. Seeing our bicycles, the owner and his wife asked where we were going. I think they expected a response like “All the way to next prefecture!” since they were stunned when we told them of our plans to bicycle the entire country. Generously they gave us each a cream puff! If you ever want to put a cyclist in your eternal debt, give him a cream puff. We can never eat enough calories, and these unexpected gifts were very appreciated. I quickly penned them a thank you note in Japanese. We gave it to them, bowed, smiled, and were on our way.
Thankfully, the hills today were gentle inclines and quite manageable compared with some of the terrain we faced on Day 1 near Cape Sata. Although a little sore, I was able to complete all 85 km of today’s ride and felt very able to continue without a problem. It seems that my body is finally admitting that it will be doing a lot of work and is starting to get in gear with the mileage we are trying to tackle everyday. Either that or I’m slowly going numb from this new grueling work-out routine. It’s a lot different from my previous “sit-all-day” regime.
Around 6:45pm arrived in a town called Isa and had split up to look for a campsite. This is when Maryann Hiwatashi pulled up next to me in her car. “What are you doing?” She asked in English.
“Nani to iimashita ka.[What did you say?]” I reflexively said back. One of my ultimate pet peeves is when Japanese people don’t understand my Japanese simply because they weren’t expecting it. Now I had done the same thing to this lady.
Thankfully she was undeterred. “Haha, you’re Japanese is excellent! I saw you biking about three hours ago in Kirishima. What are you doing?”
I never know how to answer general questions like this. All I could come up with was, “We’re going to Hokkaido.”
“Hahaha! You guys are crazy. Do you need a place to stay tonight? Why not come and stay with my family?”
This was an easy decision. Scott, Dylan and I followed her back to her house where we expected to camp on the lawn. Of course, Maryann would have none of this nonesense and had us dump our gear in her guest room. She then drove us to the local hot springs and even paid for us! I suspect this was because we stank something powerful, but I’m not complaining. If I had invited three sweaty bikers into my house, I would probably treat them to a bath also. As if this weren’t generous enough, she took us to her husband’s izakaiya (Japanese pub) where we were given more food than we could finish (almost) and hung out with her mother-in-law and two wide-eyed middle school daughters.
It turns out that Maryann was originally from the Phillipines. After marrying a her Japanese husband they settled here in Isa where he runs an izakaiya and she raises their two daughters and high school age son. Now, I’m sitting in the Hiwatashi’s living room writing this journal entry before turning in to the guest room where Scott is already asleep. This sure beats camping.
Crash: Finally getting in gear
Calves: Asleep when this was posted.
Spock: Overwhelmed by hospitality