Shikoku-chūō Shi

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9 travelers at this place
  • Day34

    Blue line

    June 11, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    I had been looking forward to this day for a long time. I also had several scenarios planned depending on the weather because i wanted to do a famous bike ride called the Shimanami Kaido. A 77km long trip across several islands and bridges that would lead me from Honshu to Shikoku. My original plan was to do it in two days but the forecast for the second day was mainly rain and thunder so i had to complete the trip today. That unfortunately meant a little less sidetrips and a little faster pedaling but hey i'm Dutch and biking is in my DNA. ;-) I woke up early to get to Onomichi, the starting point of the bike ride. Renting a bike was incredibly easy. No ID necessary, just pick a bike you like, pay the man behind the counter 2000 yen and fil in you name on a simple form and you're off. The bike trail starts with a small boatride to the first island and from there the trail is either a separated bike lane or marked with a thick blue line. Easily recognisable and painted over the entire length of the trail. Now you might think this is easy enough but with my renowned navigation skill i g took a wrong turn at roughly the 5th crossroads. The brochure said the entire trail consisted of gently climbing slopes and there i was pushing my bike up a 15 percent incline, while cursing and sweating all the way up. On the top of the climb was a gentle older Japanese man and i asked him if this was the trail. He had to laugh very hard and then told me i missed a turn. He was friendly enough to guid me back to the trail. I thanked him for his help en continued my way on the gentle slopes leading to the first bridge. It was a really nice and scenic trip up to the first bridge and the fact that the bikelanes are separated from the other traffic really adds to the rhustic feel of the trip. Crossing the bridge was a breeze and the views from the bridge into the island dotted inland sea between Honshu and Shikoku were nothing short of awe-inspiring. On the islands the trail mostly goes over the same roads that the other traffic uses, although there often are quiet and smooth sidewalks you can ride on. Every now and then i would take a small break to catch my breath and take some pictures of the surroundings. I kept an eye on the time and when i was halfway down the trail (the distance to Imabari was clearly marked on the blue line), it was time to get some wel deserved lunch and cool off a little bit. The sun was already hammering down at this time so this break was more than welcome. A half an hour and 5 deepfried chicken nuggets later i got back on the back and got reminded of the advantages of prober cycling gear. I was wearing just my normal clothing and it felt like my underwear was trying to cut my legs off. Luckily on of the other side effect is that your butt gets numb since the bloodflow is cutoff so that helped to ease the pain a bit. As i stopped to take some nice pictures of the next bridge i would cross i noticed my mobile phone, which i use as a camera too, had totally crashed, possibly due to the heat of the sun. I had to into a konbini to let it cool down before i could finally reset it and use it again. This had cost me some valuable time as i had to get to the bike rental station at 5pm and i had to cross a small mountain ridge between me and the last bridge. I switched to beast mode and just pushed the pedals like it was nobody's business. I heard some people with carbon bikes and professional outfits growl as i passed them with my 5 speed bike with basket on the handlebars. I've had people actually cheer me on as they saw me passing by, hauling ass on my "old ladies" bike:-P
    The last bridge promised to be spectacular as it spans a total distance of more than 5 kilometers fro the last island to Shikoku. The bridge was really high and involved some spiraling climbs to get to the bridge deck. The view of and from the bridge was just spectacular and eerilie high. After i crossed the bridge it was just a short ride to Imabari station where the blue line ended. I quickly found the bike rental station and got on the train tu Masuyama, home of the Dogo onsen. One of the oldest onsens in Japan. A true treat after a day of cycling. In Matsuyama i transferred to a tram which would bring me to Dogo onsen. At the tramstop i saw Shine and her family. They had been the ones cheering me on. We had a nice talk in the tram stopped at the final stop it was time to say goodbye. I went straight up to the hostel, which was still a climb, for a bath and a change in clothes. I walked down to the tramstop to get some dinner from the konbini. I walked around a bit and took some pictures of the Dogo Onsen before going back to the hostel for some well deserverd sleep.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Shikoku-chūō Shi, Shikoku-chuo Shi, 四国中央市, SKZ