“If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” Probably every state in the US claims this saying as its own. Having grown up in Maine, I can attest that my state is one of the many to claim it, and this is not altogether unwarranted for its weather is quite unpredictable. After about a month of exposure to the elements of Japan, I have come up with a proverb for Japanese weather patterns. “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 2 hours, enjoy an hour of peace, begin to think the bad weather has passed, and then expect it to get worse for the rest of the day.”
Andrew and I awoke Tuesday morning baking in our tents from the morning sunlight. The sun was strong enough to quickly dry off our tents from light rain the night before and to fool us into thinking that we might have a nice day for biking. It was no more than 20 minutes into our ride when we saw what the day would actually be like–wet. I’m still not sure if it actually started raining at that point or if it just got so humid that water droplets suspended in the air and smacked us in the face as we biked through them. Nevertheless, we knew that it would actually rain soon. Andrew opted to put on his rainjacket, but since it was so warm, I decided to endure the constant poking of raindrops through my soaked shirt. An hour later, Andrew gave way to the heat and removed his jacket. Between the hot, humid weather and the distance to catch up with Dylan, we could tell the day would be tough, and we accepted it.
As the proverb goes, there were a few very pleasant breaks in the bad weather. During one particularly nice break, we rode past a gorgeous stretch of beach. I couldn’t resist the temptation to swim, and Andrew kindly agreed to stop so I could get my fix from the ocean. Soon after getting back on our bikes, we had a nice steady push from a tailwind. Of course, I just assumed the sea reenergized me and made it easier to pedal. The nicer weather and hearing news from Dylan that he had recovered his wallet led us to believe it wouldn’t be such a bad day after all.
Well, it wasn’t a bad day. Andrew and I pulled into Shizuoka Station a little later than we had hoped, but it was record mileage for us at 162 km, just shy of our first century! We were proud that we had made it so far in one day and had enjoyed a healthy pace of 24 km/hr despite the heat and steady soft rain.
It wasn’t a bad day, but it would be a bad night. We found Dylan sitting on the sidewalk at the station and talking on his cell with his friend Haruna, whose house we would be staying at that night. The grim, exhausted look on his face told us that all was not well. Apparently, there was a breakdown in communication, and Dylan had just learned that Haruna does not live in Shizuoka City but further into Shizuoka Prefecture in Fuji City, another 40 km by car beyond Shizuoka Station. We were faced with the option of biking on or trying to camp somewhere in the city in the rain. Both Andrew and I felt pretty good so we were ready to press on, but we were concerned about Dylan.
Dylan’s trek to Shizuoka Station was a little bit tougher than ours. Backtracking to recover his wallet at a cheap ramen restaurant 50 km behind him added 100 km to his trip on Monday. After getting only 2 hours of sleep on the front steps of a bike shop, he biked the rest of his 302 km two-day total to the station only to find out that he might not be seeing his friend that night after all. On top of that, his back rack had started to bend under the weight of his panniers and the team’s food box.
We talked it over, had a little caffeine, and decided to press on. One of the deciding factors for heading to Haruna’s that night was that Dylan had learned from another biker that a typhoon was due to hit from the South the next morning. This explained the nice tailwind Andrew and I had experienced. The thought of packing up soaking wet tents only to bike in a typhoon seemed to make it obvious we should keep going that night.
The typhoon hit us regardless. It poured and poured, leaving puddles so deep that, at times, they would reach our pedals and soak our shoes. Visibility was poor, and at one point, we found ourselves biking on a bypass with trucks screaming past, splashing us with cold stormwater and sometimes honking to tell us that bicycles were prohibited from the road. Long story short, 62 km later, we ended up at Haruna’s house at 3 am, drenched and shivering. She kindly sent us to the shower and, after that, placed warm bowls of soup and cups of tea in front of us. Dylan had biked back-to-back centuries on 2 hours of sleep, and Andrew and I had biked 224 km in one day. I certainly hope that is the longest day of the trip.
We’re now recovering and waiting out the typhoon at Haruna’s. Today, we slept in till 1 pm, washed and dried our wet clothes at the coin laundry, stuffed ourselves at Yakiniku King, which is an all-you-can-eat BBQ meat restaurant, and finished up with a relaxing soak at the town bath house. Haruna’s friend Miki also joined us for the dinner and the bath house (men and women on separate sides, of course). The night ended with me starting to write this post. Now, the morning of Day 29, it’s finally finished. Phew. The typhoon is still drizzling outside, and the team is enjoying Haruna’s hospitality.
Calves: Yakiniku King
Spock: Hello Wallet