7/6/16. OK. So it was stupid to tempt fate with yesterday’s post referring to the weather. We were duly rewarded with overnight rain that continued throughout most of the day.
We did, briefly, consider wimping out of the ride to Kurashiki but could not cancel the hotel room that we had booked – one of the disadvantages of planning ahead! But still, it did mean that we KNEW we had somewhere warm and dry to spend the night once we got there.
The rain was full on when we set off and steadily grew heavier with large puddles forming on the road, meaning that periodically we were given a shower by passing cars. Nice! The only saving grace was that the water was quite warm from sitting on the tarmac.
We both tried to remember the last time we had ridden in such a downpour and both reached the conclusion that it was in Korea nearly two years ago, on the day we ended up in the “love hotel” with the stallion cream! Happy memories!
We were following a main road (national route 2) through Fukuyama and Kasaoka but thankfully there was a reasonable footpath/cycle route most of the way, or a reasonable shoulder when it disappeared for short sections. It passed through long stretches of urban development so the view (what we could see of it through the rain – a particular problem for Christine with her glasses, of course) was uninspiring so it isn’t all beautiful coastline and lovely temples here in Japan!
We did, however, spot our first shinkansen (bullet train) racing by, which was a highlight for both of us. Unfortunately it doesn’t look as though we will get to go on one this trip. Maybe next time.
As the afternoon wore on, the rain eased off, and even stopped altogether a couple of times, but by now we were soaked through. (Of course, Sod’s Law dictated that by the early evening the clouds would start to clear and it would be quite pleasant when we went searching for something to eat.)
As we approached Kurashiki we encountered a large river (the Takahashi). When we climbed towards the nice, shiny, new bridge we saw a sign indicating that bikes were not allowed to use it. The map showed another bridge 2 or 3 km downstream which we could just see in the distance and looked even busier than the one just in front of us. We didn’t fancy the extra distance in our bedraggled state, especially when there was a risk we might be barred from that bridge too. So we decided to take a chance and play the dumb foreigners if a police car happened to come along. Just as we reached the bridge itself we caught sight of the old bridge about 200 metres upstream on which the only thing moving was a bike! We immediately turned round, riding into the oncoming traffic for a short way before we could dive down a slope to safety.
Once across the river the route rejoined the road and took us straight into the centre of Kurashiki where we were mighty relieved and happy to spot a tall building bearing the name “Hotel 1-2-3” right next to the road we were on.