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Tour de Boso Hanto

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Flying_Monkey, 12 Apr 2008.

  1. Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    Back in 2006, when I was living between Newcastle and Tokyo, trying to work out a way my wife and I could live together, I went off for a tour around the nearby peninsula of the Boso in Chiba prefecture. It's not the kind of place that most people would bother with cycling around, but I'm odd like that so I went anyway...

    This is the story (rescued from another place)...


    Whilst my lovely other half is in the UK for a job interview (fingers crossed!), I am off on 'The Beast' (my cobbled together 7-speed MTB) for a 4-day mini-tour of the Boso Peninsula (Chiba Prefecture). It's neither glamorous nor the middle-of-nowhere, but it has enough quirks to make it interesting. Photos when I get back, but here's the agenda:

    Day 1:
    Nippori (north-east Tokyo) to Kimitsu (west coast of Chiba on Tokyo Bay).
    Distance: 110km
    Characteristics: City, industrial wasteland. :eek: I'll let you know if the sky over Chiba City is 'the colour of television tuned to a dead channel'... (Neuromancer ref for all the cyberpunks out there...)
    Stay: Cheap ryokan with Onsen (Japanese inn with natural hot-spring - oh, yes... :smile:) You might think Japan is expensive but for just over £35 a night you get bed, hot spring bath, full local seafood dinner and breakfast. Not bad, eh?

    Day 2:
    Kimitsu to Amatsu (south coast of Chiba)
    Distance: 150km Undecided
    Characteristics: Windswept rocky coastline, out-of-season holiday resorts.
    Stay: Cheap ryokan (without onsen this time...) :sad:

    Day 3: Amatsu to Shirako (west coast of Chiba)
    Distance: 100km
    Characteristics: inland, more mountainous Smiley , narrow roads, out-of-the-way temples and shrines.
    Stay: slightly classier ryokan with onsen. :biggrin:

    Day 4: Shirako to Nippori
    Distance: 75km
    Characteristics: flat farmland then back to the industrial wasteland etc.
    Stay: back at our place, which is here...
    http://www.chc.or.jp/kankan/kankan.htm
     
  2. OP
    OP
    Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    Pictures are now up at:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/33512161@N00/sets/72157602524247259/

    Report to follow next - just a few lessons I learned for now:

    1. A single 42T chainring is not recommended for mountains! (especially if you only have 4 usable rear cogs)

    2. Beer does not make you faster (see also 1.)

    3. You can get a really excellent dinner, room and breakfast for £35

    4. ...but you can also get a truck-stop.

    5. Smiling and bowing does not make you a better driver.

    6. Vaseline is the petroleum industry's finest product.

    Here we go then if anyone actually wants to read this...
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    Day 1

    I knew the first day would be the worst - it was just a matter of zipping as quickly as possible through the mean streets of Tokyo and the detritus of Chiba and getting to the 'real' start, somewhere where things would begin to look something less like city.

    Getting out of Tokyo, I managed to get lost trying to take a short-cut to the Ara River quite near where I live. This is surprisingly easy in the shitamachi (literally, 'low town', more working class) areas with nameless narrow twisty streets, and few distinctive features to neighbourhoods. There's lots of micro-scale difference, little details: the exhuberent displays of roadside potted plants and tiny gardens squeezed into small spaces, and crazily-assembled houses that seem to have accreted wood and corrugated iron rather than having been built - but, in general one neighbourhood is pretty much like another.

    i got out eventually, over a level-crossing and up some steps over the concrete embankments of the river - every river has concrete embankments in Japan - I think it's the law. Really, it's a combination of paranoia about disasters and the fact that the construction industry is huge and ravenous and must be fed.

    Cycling on the major roads out of Tokyo is real urban warrior stuff - you have to watch out constantly, squeeze through gaps, command the road where you can, and leap onto and off pavements - pavement cycling is legal here, but the pavement traffic generally consists of mama-chari (literally 'mum mobiles') moving at 5mph. The problem with this is that most people: pedestrians, cyclists and drivers don't expect cyclists to be moving faster than that. You have to assume that cars will always turn left across you or park suddenly when you are right behind them and so on. But they'll always give a little bow, if they know that a mistake has been made - this doesn't help much if they've actually caused a crash as happened right in front of me as a drivers of one of the ubiquitous miniature vans turned left across a moped which went down. The guy got out, pulled the rider's arm a bit as if to say 'get up, you're fine' and then proceeded to drive off as if that was his 'giri' (social obligation) in the matter concluded.

    I don't mind this excitement for short rides on a day-to-day basis, but when you're on tour, you want it a bit more relaxed. Unfortunately Chiba City was worse. Chiba City has nothing to recommend it. William Gibson was right in Neuromancer: the photochemical smog of car exhausts and factory smoke does hang over the place so that the sky is always 'the color of television tuned to a dead channel', even on a sunny day like today, but Chiba City in reality lacked even the seedy glamour of a cyberpunk novel. I stopped by the grey and disturbingly slimy sea, banks of rubbish were pushed up on the undersides of the expressways, and piles of rusting metal lined the crumbling wharfs. Gas flared in the distance. It was not looking promising.

    Leaving was not easy either. The main roads are basically arteries flowing with lorries and construction traffic. There's no actively nasty driving but HGVs brushing your elbow for miles is not good for the nerves and there were sections of the road I took where suddenly and unexpectedly the 50cm space next to the road lane where you have no choice but to cycle vanishes and you are walled in with the sound of air brakes hissing violently behind you... my advice - don't ever take the pink/red roads with a number in a shield if you are anywhere near one of the big Japanese conurbations - technically it isn't illegal to cycle on them (unlike expressways) but unless you enjoy flirting with death on a constant basis, they aren't the best way to go.

    A few miles down the road I stopped at a cheap roadside chain pasta place, filled with the Japanese equivalent of charva mums (orange-dyed hair, over-tanned skin, fake D&G etc) with kids, and rather hefty schoolgirls in the mandatory tiny skirts skipping the school canteen, and had some surprisingly palatable pasta and plenty of free soda.

    From here I was able to get off the main drag, headed due south, crossed a torpid river and sped down towards a diversion to the Tokyo Bay Aqualine Bridge-Tunnel. It was very hot and my back-pack straps were rubbing into my shoulders in an unpleasant manner - vaseline was applied - truly the best byproduct of the petrochemical industry. The Aqualine... what can you say? Certainly it has a sinuous grace as it fades off into the distance across Tokyo Bay, but it's about the best example of a completely unnecessary construction project built entirely because an industry pressure group had drawn a circle on a map and said that Tokyo Bay could not remain unbridged... except Tokyo Bay is very wide and heavily trafficked by large ships... so it would have to be a bridge and a tunnel, and why not have a hotel in the middle too? Rather like Las Vegas it is quite stunning in its stupidity but that still doesn't stop it being impressive.

    Strangely, the area immediately around the slip-roads onto the Aqualine is quite rural and I found myself on some narrow tracks avoiding farmers burning evil-smelling things (as farmers like to do everywhere), and, taking a minor diversion to avoid yet another massive road-widening scheme (well, you got a huge bridge-tunnel to get to, so you need bigger roads - obvious really!), I pushed my aching legs a bit further and made it to the hotel by around 4. Just on 100 km (slightly less than anticipated).

    The hotel had advertised itself as a 'Ryokan' (traditional Japanese inn), but in reality if you were on the 'business' package, as I was, it was basically a truck-stop and overnight construction workers' hostel. The Ryokan bit was off-limits to the likes of us, they even had their own separate fancy dining room, whilst we had canteen-style food (but lots of it) in a formica-tastic space with blaring TV. The room was Japanese-style, but was utterly infused with tobacco. Being a truckstop it also had a coin-operated porn channel with disturbingly digitized naughty bits (of course I had a look!), and a weirdly domestic scenario quite naturalistically acted. However, I was just having a quick look, and didn't check out the advertised 'aggressive' programme later - having caught a glimpse of some of the comics you get on sale here, I can imagine the content. Don't get me wrong - this place was still a decent hotel and English truck-drivers wouldn't believe that their Japanese counterparts live this well.

    Before going to sleep I went out for walk to check out the local town. For those of you who know New Jersey, you'll understand this part of Chiba. It's a sprawling dirty industrial suburb, the overspill of Tokyo, where it puts its necessary but unwanted workers, its dirtiest jobs and its waste. It's strip-malls and dingy parking lots and chain-links fences, aggressive dogs, pachinko parlours (instead of bowling alleys), and 7/11's. There was nothing happening. And I found the sign for the 'Milky English House' faintly disturbing...

    Still, I got a good night's sleep and in the morning even the sight of the scrap yard beyond didn't put me off...

    TBC.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    Day 2 - On the coast, the wind is always against you...

    Day 2 was always planned as the longest day: about 146km of coastal roads around the bottom of the Boso peninsula ending up in Amatsu.

    Unlike Day 1, when I was afraid I would get sunburned, it was overcast with ominous banks of grey cloud and very windy, especially once I'd turned the corner to head up the southern coastline towards the Pacific.

    The morning showed just what a dull town Kimitsu was, but it was over pretty quickly and I headed out to my first calling point of the day at Futtsu, where a narrow spit of land juts out into Tokyo Bay giving you an almost 360 degree view, especially from the top of the enormous concrete viewing platform. The Futtsu area is basically a summer tourist trap with a ‘fun park’ and wildlife refuge. At this time of year and at this time of day, non-one was around and the fun park was closed. At the point, a solitary biker eating some convenience-store noodles from a polystyrene tray glanced at me briefly as I wheeled onto the dirty rubbish-strewn sand. Looking back, the smoke from the factories of Chiba seemed to be the source of all the cloud... looking south-east I could just see the outline of the Boso peninsula: the way ahead.

    From here on for about 40km, the coast was rocky and the road switchbacked and cut through tunnels, most of which luckily had separate pedestrian and cyclist tunnels - even with the requisite lights, you really don't fancy your chances going through some of the quite dark longer tunnels which don't have separate routes, when huge lorries going at speed could appear from behind you at any time. The trick in this case, is to look back downhill for a good gap in traffic and then sprint through. Good for anaerobic training if not for the nerves...

    Halfway down an enormous if not particularly interesting statue of the Bodhisattva of infinite mercy, Kannon, stood on a hill looking the way I was going. I felt slightly reassured, but taking the Japanese attitude I thought I would get extra protection if I prayed for myself and my bike and my wife's success in her job interview, briefly to the local Kami (nature spirits) and the 7 gods of good fortune at a small roadside Shinto shrine. I could say it worked because I had no punctures or problems during the whole trip, but we still don't know the interview outcome yet...

    I cruised down from the coastal hills into Tateyama, a nondescript town which is the centre of the local tourist trade and start of the Boso Flower Route around the south coast. I stopped at another cheap diner, causing a stir amongst the obviously bored waitresses, who spent the whole time speculating about me, giggling behind their hands, and arguing about who was going to serve me next! (I don't think they realized I could understand most of what they were talking about...). If you're a young white foreign guy in Japan who isn't obviously ugly, you'll generally be considered 'kakui' (handsome) by many women. That's the nice side of being a 'gaijin' (outsider). Unfortunately you can also get all sorts of hassle especially from the police, but usually not as a tourist and not on this trip, so that's another story...

    Beyond Tateyama, the scenery was definitely an improvement on the urban wasteland of the previous day, but once I'd rounded the point at the south-west corner of the peninsula, the road was long and straight and directly into the wind for miles, lined by Rape flowers (Nano hana - the prefectural flower of Chiba, and considered to be a beautiful sign of spring, completely the opposite of the view of it as an ugly product of industrial agriculture in the UK...). I put my head down and just kept going and made reasonable time, stopping briefly to photograph the most astonishingly kitsch golf resort hotel, complete with inexplicable Native American totem pole at the entrance. All the fairly flat land outside of towns and villages in Chiba seems to have been turned into golf courses, and they're spreading into the mountains too...

    Further on, after more out-of-season resort towns, with mundane 'famous lighthouses' and so on, I suddenly came across what looked like a pretty authentic Elizabethan-style garden! It turned out to be part of Maruyama district 'Shakespeare Village' - complete with reconstructed Anne Hathaway house and a 'Forest of the Imagination', which for some reason had two goats grazing grumpily in its depths. Personally my imagination doesn't have much to do with goats, but for some people, maybe this is their fantasy land... There was also a helpful sign which told me it was 15,600km to London (as the crow flies).

    For the last part of the day, I couldn't really avoid going back on the main road and sprinting through some more tunnels again. In one, there was a pedestrian walkway (which you are obliged to take if provided), however it was on one side only and going against the traffic, very narrow and the with the tunnel curving inwards, somewhat precarious. Halfway through with traffic rushing by only centimetres away, suddenly there were no lights and I became slightly disorientated, brushing the tunnel wall and almost coming off the path with an HGV only a few metres ahead. It was the closest shave of the trip, and made me even more convinced to have as little to do with the main roads as possible.

    Overall the day really didn't feel as hard as I'd thought it would, and once in Amatsu, the Ryokan was easy to find, and this time it was a lot nicer. The owners were enthusiastic and helpful, the room had a kotatsu (low table with duvet and heater underneath) and a sea view, there were nice hot baths and the evening meal was fabulous: lots of local seafood (as sashimi (raw) and cooked in various ways) and vegetables, and free beer. What's more I got talking to a lovely woman only a couple of years older than me, who was a peripatetic software engineer. Unfortunately I drank a bit more than was wise, which I would regret a little the next day, but it was all good practice for my Japanese. Anyway, the place was a real find, and I would recommend it to anyone on a budget: about £35 all inclusive..

    And I still got to bed early but didn't sleep entirely well...

    TBC
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    Day 3 - mountains, 4 gears and beer do not mix

    What a ridiculously hard day! I was woken up early by really hard rain pinging off the metal roof of the downstairs extension of the hotel. On the TV the weather forecast was for this to continue all day with high winds and 4m+ waves along the coast. And the rain continued all day everywhere from fine mountain mist through splattery droplets to heavy blatting rain direct into my face on the coast. It was as windy as the day before too.

    I had planned to cut inland today for a bit of variety, to head up through the mountain valleys north to a large lake and then down east to the Pacific coast. I'm sure that route would have been very nice, however I hadn't reckoned on a combination of the mountains being very, very steep, my bike being totally overgeared for this gradient, my legs being a bit heavy from the previous night's beer and getting lost...

    I started out to take a minor road up into the mountains through a forest park. The hillsides were lush and green and it felt like I'd been transported hundreds of miles up to Tohoku, only Tohoku is still under snow at this time of year. A month earlier this road would have been closed to traffic too for the same reason. But despite the rain, the delicate pink of the plum blossom was out, the road was empty and I even caught a glimpse of deer as they charged off the road ahead of me and tried to look invisible amongst the trees. The road got steeper and steeper as it twisted and hair-pinned up through the forest. Some corners were definitely of the 1 in 4 variety, and with a fairly heavy hardtail with a 42T front chainring and only the 4 highest back cogs accessible, I was pushing at my limits. But I made it. On the way up I got fabulous views of misty valleys, but at the top I was in the mist and it was cold. About 350m from sea level in about 8km.

    A couple of km over the top I got a surprise. There was a junction were I wasn't expecting one, and the road that was going in the direction I had thought I was going looked broken up by winter erosion and generally unusable. The road left looked better looked after, so I thought that it had to be the more important one on the map. It was a great descent, with sharp turns and little bridges over streams, and at one point I rounded a corner into the most magical valley of cypress and emerald green ferns. I began to see some signs of farming, but worryingly I could also feel that the sea was ahead and the shapes of hills seemed somehow familiar. Soon I swept under a bridge and I was back on the main road just in from Amatsu, a few km back from where I had started the climb.

    So around 20km of hard climbing and descending done, almost 11am and I was no further on... and it was raining harder again. But I felt I had comprehensively ridden out any remaining hangover, and after a brief stop at a local temple, I decided to take the coastal route, but sticking where I could to the minor roads that connected the fishing villages. This section of the coast is a bit like Cornwall - rocky, steep-sided valleys with fishing villages crammed into the small flat areas where the valleys meet the sea. This makes for picturesque scenery but hard cycling as you are continually taking sharp descents followed by equally tough climbs out of the villages. Some sections were steeper than the morning's mountain. I think I put in a lot of vertical metres in today.

    After a brief section of main road just beyond Katsuura, where I had another diner lunch, I headed back off on the steep minor roads, some of which clung to the cliff edge above the crashing waves and eagles hanging ragged in the wind, and some of which curved down inland past farms and through tranquil rice fields. Of course, there was also the endless litter and concreted slopes and cliffs (anywhere that has even a minor possibility of landslide seems to be treated with concrete), dismal out-of-season 1960s hotels and inexplicable corrugated sheds... Japan is a sometimes baffling combination of beautiful attention to created detail and a complete lack of interest in the wider natural beauty of place.

    The final run up the Pacific coast to Shirako was flatter and more exposed and generally less pleasant. I took the smallest roads through miles of hedged holiday homes and finally a dedicated cycle route between sand dunes and toll road. The final 20km felt much longer than that, but I still arrived at 4:15, legs aching.

    Luckily the hotel this night was a slightly more expensive one. A really rather cute young lady did the fully-kimonoed introduction to the hotel, the room was spacious, and it had a fantastic sento (public baths) with inside and outside hot baths and sauna, which was all just perfect. I spent about an hour soaking and steaming before a reasonable dinner - it just didn't quite match up to the night before and the beer wasn't included (luckily!). Again I couldn't really sleep worrying about my wife over in the UK and her interview. She had promised to call me as soon as it was over, which would be about 2 or 3am Japan time...

    TBC
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    Day 4 - Sand in the Gears

    I was woken up at 3am by my wife's telephone call from distant Newcastle. She wasn't particularly happy as she thought she had really messed up the interview due to being so nervous that she could hardly speak English. I tried to make her feel better, but I couldn't sleep myself after that. I turned on the TV and watched this odd programme they have on overnight for hours called 'Music Box' which is basically randomly chosen J-pop songs from the last 20 years accompanied by equally random TV library footage. It is actually quite a good way of seeing the changes in Japanese society and fashion and so on... although it does have a slightly unhealthy tendency to concentrate on schoolgirls (however his too is a not uncommon feature of all sorts of Japanese popular culture).

    Eventually I managed to drift off a bit and was woken by my alarm call at 8am, for the usual breakfast.

    I should explain a bit about Japanese breakfasts for those of you who think I had been eating porridge every morning. A traditional Japanese breakfast consists of fried fish, boiled rice, a selection of pickles, nori seaweed, miso soup and usually something called 'natto'. Natto is one of the most challenging Japanese foods for foreigners. It is basically semi-fermented whole soybeans, is one of the strongest, stickiest substances known to man, and smells like mouldy coffee. I used to think it tastes that way too, but mixed with the accompanying soy sauce and mustard, I have got to tolerate it if not develop an actual liking for the stuff. For breakfast, what you can do is take some rice, add a bit of natto and wrap the combination in a strip of nori. This is actually quite nice. The breakfasts in hotels often have several addition dishes, in this case a shellfish and rice 'chanko' (a sort of stew/soup cooked on the table).

    Today was like a different continent. The sun was up, the sky was an unfamiliar blue colour, and the breeze was light and fluffy. Time for the beach!

    The first challenged was trying to work out how to get over/under the massive Toll expressway that has thoughtfully been built all the way along the coast. After carrying The Beast over two pedestrian bridges, I spotted an underpass way over yonder, but it was too late by then. I took a short sandy path through pine trees and could hear the roar of the Pacific surf from over the line of dunes. Cresting the rise, the ocean boiled with a huge swell ahead of me - I could see why surfers frequent this strip in summer. I couldn't come all this way without going in, so I rolled up my now rather pungent 3/4 length bib-shorts, still damp from yesterday's rain, and strode into the waves. Of course the water was still ice cold with winter currents and snow melt and had I been stupid enough to have dived properly might have been fatally cold. Chilling my feet and ankles to the bone was enough for this morning. The sand stuck to my feet and resisted brushing off - that would be coming back to Tokyo with me along with a few shells I picked up for my wife.

    The bike was covered in sand too - not from the beach today but from the journey yesterday - and the rear derailleur was making crunchy sand-munching sounds, which continued all day. Sand is one of the best arguments for hub gears!

    Stripped down to one layer for the first time on the trip, I sped north along the coast until I got to a fairly minor road that headed inland, north-west. I had decided to avoid the worst part of the Chiba-Tokyo route by taking a curving way north over Chiba on as minor roads as I coudl find before rejoining the main road into Tokyo further on. This meant a few extra km than I had planned originally, but as the weather was good, I was feeling great and had done fewer kilometres the day before, this seemed fine.

    And it was for the first half. I passed through an area known for strawberry farming - grown under plastic over winter and now ready for picking. The air was full of the smell of strawberries, and getting off the bigger road I had had to take for a while, I headed up alongside a rural railway line, past the still dry rice fields, and small irrigation channels, before taking a minor road which went up the hill that the main road avoided. I wasn't planning on any serious climbs today and the map didn't seem to be very contoured here, but it was certainly a climb. However my legs felt strong and it was just enjoyable. Coming down the other side, I took even smaller roads though fields rapidly disappearing under new housing developments - the whole of northern Chiba seems to be becoming a dormitory for Tokyo, and developments show no sign of stopping as, despite Japan have now gone over the population peak, people continue to desert the remoter countryside regions for the Greater Tokyo metropolis (now over 30 million people).

    From here, it was back into the wasteland. Bigger roads, speeding trucks, badly surfaced pavements, strip malls and diners, and too many people. I even had to wait to be served at lunch - I was definitely back in the city.

    I don't know what it is about hot days, but it seems to bring out the poor driving. I had not had any problems on the trip so far from other road users, but I was almost taken out twice during the last half of the last day: by a van driver pulling out almost broad-siding me; by one of those hideous American-style SUVs that are just way too big for narrow Japanese roads, which turned across me despite the fact that the driver knew I was going fast and had right of way - he even laughed as he saw me complaining so I slapped the back of the car and gave him the finger, something I have never done in Japan before. The big problem is that if you show any sign of a negative reaction, especially as a foreigner, people seem to think that you deserved what had previously happened to you, or that you are the problem!

    Anyway, it was fast urban warrior stuff again all the way back through the satellite cities of Chiba and back into Tokyo. Partly because I didn't want to end the day on a sour note, and partly because I fancied a nice section of car-free cycling, I headed back to the Ara River cycle route and decided to head round the long bend in the river to where is gets closest to where we live - and extra 10km or so, but my legs felt fantastic and with the sun still warm, kids teams playing baseball and soccer on the riverside pitches, and hundreds of happy runners, walkers, rollerbladers and cyclists out on the tracks, I didn't want the day to end.

    Turning back into the city, down the long main road, a guy on a road bike decided to engage me in a bit of a traffic light sprint, and I was pleased that I could take him easily even on my bodged-up Beast, with a backpack on... I felt strong and alive and happy and had a generally good feeling that everything was going to turn out alright.

    Back home, I took a long shower and then logged the tour on Cyclogs (about 110km, and my fastest average speed for the tour of around 23km/h), and as we had no food in the flat, went out to get some cheap sushi and smoked almonds from the konbini (convenience store) on the corner. That night, despite all my worries about my wife's interview, I did sleep well.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    Ride Stats

    All my figures are based on detailed map readings and the use of a conventional watch, rather than using a computer, so they are approximate and rounded down to the nearest 5 kilometres and 15 minutes. I exclude the time for lunch (usually an hour) and other rest stops, but not the time stationary at red lights, or for other minor stops. Hence my average speed is probably lower than it would be if I used a cycle computer.

    Day 1: 100 km (60 miles), 5 hours 30 minutes, 18.2 km/h (11.3 mph).
    Day 2: 145 km (87 miles) , 7 hours 30 minutes, 19.3 km/h (11.6 mph).
    Day 3: 85 km (51 miles), 5 hours 30 minutes, 15.5 km/h (9.3 mph).
    Day 4: 110 km (66 miles), almost 5 hours exactly, 22 km/h (13.2 mph)

    TOTAL: 440km (264 miles), 23 hours 30 minutes, 18.7 km/h (11.2 mph).

    I was quite pleased with this. This was on a bodged MTB with only 4 working gears. I was deliberately trying to spin rather than grind, and to keep my speed down so that I didn't even feel too tired - this was after all a tour, not a race.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    A Postscript

    My good feelings turned out to be more than endorphins! Although My wife was very depressed when she got back, on the Monday afterwards, she got an e-mail saying she'd got the job...

    After almost 4 years of disruption, uncertainty and separation, we would finally get to live together properly in one country (for a few years at least) from May 2006... and we have just celebrated our second wedding anniversary. :eek:

    A Happy Ending.