Kevin Ricker Modifications Course Whereas Biking Japan – Bicycle Touring Professional

by jpc_touring-bicycle

Kevin Ricker is a local Colorado resident who moved to Japan to show English after which determined to discover his new homeland by bicycle.

When Kevin first contacted me about his biking journey in Japan, he acknowledged that he had set out with the intention of using to 1 location on his bike, however as soon as hitting the street, modified his thoughts and went off on a wholly totally different course altogether. Better of all, it appears as if his change of plans enabled him to decelerate and benefit from the expertise greater than he ever would have been capable of together with his initially deliberate route.

To be taught extra about Kevin and his biking adventures in Japan, take a look at the interview transcript under.

Kevin, are you able to clarify the place you’re from and precisely what it’s that you simply do?

I’m initially from Colorado.  I’ve spent a lot of my life in Colorado.  About 10 years in the past I lived in Auburn, AL for 2 years after which I moved to Tokyo, Japan for one yr.  I returned to Japan one yr in the past and I’m at present educating English at a non-public faculty, MeySen Academy, in Sendai, Japan.  Sendai is about 2 hours north of Tokyo and is sufficiently big to have all of the conveniences of a big metropolis, but I’m capable of get on my bike and get out of city in about 20 minutes.

And the way was it that you simply first came upon about bicycle touring?

That could be a powerful query.  I suppose I noticed just a few individuals touring on their bikes as I rode my street bike round Colorado.  It makes me take into consideration your article on how touring cyclists are perceived.  Bicycle touring didn’t curiosity me a lot.  The considered carrying the whole lot I wanted in 4 luggage, going with out showers and trying to find a brand new campsite each night time sounded lower than interesting.

Then I had a pal do a motorcycle tour down the coast of Oregon and California.  That was the primary time I personally knew anybody that did a tour.  I nearly went with him, however gave some excuse like, I don’t have a motorcycle, cash, or one thing like that.  I actually remorse that call!

Why did you determine to offer bicycle touring a strive? And why did you determine to go the place you probably did?

My first summer season break in Japan opened up 10 days that I needed to fill with a trip of some kind.  Sadly, journey, lodging and meals can add up when vacationing in Japan.

I remembered using in “Journey the Rockies” in 2003 and the way a lot enjoyable it was simply to bike all day.  I suppose that was my first ‘bicycle tour’ but it surely was a completely supported occasion.  They carried all the bags, had sag wagons, and relaxation stops with snacks, water, and meals alongside the best way.

I’m unsure what lastly prompted me, however I made a decision to buy a touring bike and take my trip from the seat of a motorcycle.  I heard one of many the most effective locations for biking in Japan is Hokkaido because of the openness, magnificence, and lack of visitors, so I set my websites there. I researched bikes, gear, and tried to seek out any itinerary of different bicycle vacationers for Hokkaido.  I made a decision to set the northern level as my aim for my journey. I discovered an internet site the place individuals are proposing a bicycle route from the northern tip of Japan to the southern tip. The Hokkaido leg was posted 6 days after I made a decision to go. It vastly bolstered my planning and I revised my itinerary to extra intently match their route.

What sort of motorbike and equipment (pannier, trailer, or backpack) did you utilize and why did you choose these explicit gadgets?

I began doing analysis about 3 or 4 months earlier than my trip.  I checked out totally different bikes (primarily tire dimension: 26″ verses 700c).

A number of individuals requested if I’d simply take a backpack with all my stuff in it. Personally, I don’t like using with a lot weight on my again.  I didn’t actually contemplate a trailer both.  Possibly it was on account of my psychological picture of different bicycle vacationers I’d seen. Additionally the tire dimension on trailers is usually odd, so I’d really feel compelled to hold 2 further tubes and a backup tire.

I thought-about a Trek, a Louis Garneau however I made a decision to get a Large, Nice Journey 2. This was vastly decided by availability. Many bike retailers in Japan solely promote ‘mama chari’ bikes. These are bikes with baskets, and are typically two speeds: go and cease. The Large Nice Journey 2 got here with entrance and rear racks, and 4 waterproof panniers. It’s only bought in Japan with this setup.  The tires are 26″; I learn that it’s simpler (and located from some private expertise in Japan) to buy 26″ tire than the 700. Since I used to be going to Hokkaido and didn’t know what the bike store state of affairs could be like, I made a decision the 26 inch tires have been the best way to go.

The bike value round $860 USD and was able to go from the store.  I added a cycle pc, deal with bar bag, seat bag, and rear rack bag that sits on high of the rack.

(Just a little notice: I went to the bike store to order the bike about 2 months earlier than my journey.  I figured it might take a few weeks to get the bike.  They mentioned 2 months.  It will be arriving within the store about 2 or 3 days earlier than I deliberate on leaving.  I used to be on a 5-day faculty journey instantly earlier than my trip and upon my return I had a message on my cellphone saying my bike was in!  I picked it up 2 days earlier than I left. I DO NOT advocate this! Once more, as Darren talked about in a current article: Get your stuff now!)

Did you are taking any cool/neat gadgets/electronics/toys in your journey which can be value mentioning?

Essentially the most attention-grabbing factor I introduced was an digital dictionary (Canon Wordtank V90). In any other case, I believe I used to be fairly boring on my checklist of electronics. I introduced a pocket ‘level and shoot’ digital camera that takes movies and is waterproof.  I additionally introduced a Nikon D70s which I put in a ‘dry bag’ when the climate turned unhealthy. I nearly introduced an mp3 participant, however determined I didn’t wish to idiot with it and I might use the time away from expertise.  I don’t have a mobile phone, in order that wasn’t an choice.  I did contemplate getting a pre-paid cellphone for emergencies, however didn’t try this. I introduced 2 books and a journal. I discovered I didn’t learn as a lot as I believed I’d have, but the books have been nice on the ferry experience.

What did your loved ones and associates take into consideration you leaving on such an epic bike experience? Did they assume you can do it? Had been they nervous? Excited? Scared?

 A number of of my associates thought I used to be insane. (They nonetheless do.)  I instructed them I used to be planning on overlaying 600 miles in about 8 days.  Some questioned what I’d do if one thing unhealthy occurred.  I’m positive others have been frightened about me getting by with the language barrier, however  I’m able to ask for instructions and may typically perceive the solutions I’m given.

Speak concerning the first couple days of your journey and precisely what sort of ideas have been going by means of your head. What occurred within the first couple days of your tour?

Technically, the primary day of the tour began with a 1-hour experience to the port and getting on the ferry.  But, mentally, I didn’t begin till the ferry docked in Tomakomai round 11 a.m. the next day.  I deliberate on using round 50 miles the ‘first day’ and it began raining after about 3 hours of using. I ended for round half-hour hoping the rain would let up.  It appeared to cease, so I took off after which it dumped on me once more.

I did attain my aim of biking 50 miles on the primary day and located a dry place to arrange my tent.  I used to be a bit discouraged by how drained I used to be and principally with the rain. And it at was at this level that I began having ideas that I wouldn’t make it to the northern level.

I hadn’t calculated a relaxation day/rain day into my plans and it sounded as if it rained all night time. Moreover, I checked out my common velocity and realized it was considerably decrease with a completely loaded touring bike than I anticipated.

I woke as much as a heavy fog and a few drizzle.  I wasn’t inspired by that and considered bailing and simply doing a brief experience across the central a part of Hokkaido.  I made a decision to press on.  I ate a granola bar, some Cheetos and took off.  The clouds burned off and I used to be feeling nice!  Then I spotted I didn’t eat breakfast and this leg of my journey has no cities for about 60 miles.  I ate a number of granola bars and eventually stopped simply earlier than I bonked and had some rice and immediate curry.  I used to be feeling far more drained than I believed I’d.

There was a number of climbing at the present time and the load of the bike began taking its toll on my bodily and psychological state.  I used to be exhausted on the finish of at the present time and began contemplating an alternate route or aim.  The next day I modified my course and determined to get pleasure from the fantastic thing about Hokkaido as I rode.  It was very liberating and allowed me to cease and relaxation some extra, take photos, and simply benefit from the magnificence round me.  On the finish of the experience, I believe I might have made it to the northern level if I pressed on, but when something went unsuitable, I could not have made it again in time for my ferry.

Ultimately, I loved my experience a lot extra by merely taking within the locations I used to be passing by means of, slightly than making an attempt to hurry to my closing vacation spot.

What was the most effective place you visited?

Essentially the most stunning place was Toya-ko.  It’s a lake with an island within the center.  It was completely stunning! I’d not have made it there if I went to the northern level. The campsite was proper on the lake and so they have fireworks each night time throughout the summer season.


What was the most effective a part of the journey (not essentially a spot, however an expertise)?

The most effective a part of the journey was after I modified my course, I began having fun with the journey.  I used to be not pushed by what number of miles I needed to cowl, and the way drained I used to be.  I used to be capable of speak to individuals I met alongside the best way and to cease wherever I wished.  I met some faculty college students at Toya-ko.  They got here all the way down to camp for one night time. They invited me to hitch them of their BBQ.  It was a good time!  I additionally met some individuals on bikes later that night time.  We talked the subsequent morning and I noticed them at one other cease the subsequent day. We had just a few good conversations (in damaged English and Japanese).

What was the most important factor that shocked you as soon as you bought out in your tour?

My largest shock was how a lot slower I rode on a completely loaded touring bike.  I used to be additionally vastly shocked by how straightforward it was to discover a tenting spot in Japan. I bought a “Touring Mapple” map that’s all in Japanese, but it surely lists all of the campsites, “Rider Homes”, and hostels (right here it’s a must to learn a little bit of Japanese to seek out them, campsites and rider homes have photos).  Each campsite I used to be at had water and bathrooms.  Over 1/2 the campsites I stayed at have been free.  I typically paid from $3 (for a spot on a grass garden) to $5 (for a tent spot with an electrical fence round the entire campground to maintain bears out). A “Rider Home” is usually for motorcyclists which can be touring. Individuals open their place as much as those that wish to cease by and relaxation for the night time. Some are free and the amenities vastly fluctuate (showers, laundry, and so forth.) It was very straightforward to alter plans as I had no reservations at anywhere and campsites have been plentiful.

Talking of bills, how a lot did the tour value you? 

Since many readers will probably be considering in USD. I’ll give the costs in USD on the alternate fee of final summer season – roughly 105 yen to 1 USD (Costs rounded to nearest greenback).

Total value per day (with out ferry value): $18

Total value per day (together with ferry): $40

Ferry value (spherical journey, 15 hour journey in a single day low cost room with bike under): $225.

Meals: $12 per day – $120 for the entire journey.

I introduced oatmeal, rice, path combine and granola bars with me, so I didn’t determine that into my value.  I’d buy rice balls from a comfort retailer, with a drink for lunch (roughly $4 per time).  I’d get immediate curry or one thing just like dump over rice and eat that at night time. I discovered that oatmeal for my morning breakfasts didn’t at all times fulfill me.  I’d buy the oatmeal packets for $1~$1.50 at a grocery store.

I did eat at a restaurant just a few occasions.  Ferry: $10 for all you can eat breakfast buffet, and $20 for supper buffet on the best way again.  Lunch in the future $7, and lunch the final day $15.00.  (That put my final day meals complete to about $40.00. Breakfast: $5, Lunch: $15, Supper: $20)  I’m fairly low finances relating to meals, so this might improve if you happen to get pleasure from good meals.

Campsites: $16 for complete time. I paid for 4 campsites. In the event you select to remain at a youth hostel, you’ll pay about $35~$40 per night time.

Onsens (public baths): $20 for all the journey.  I’d have gone to three extra, however generally the campsites weren’t shut and I used to be too drained to make the journey, (One campsite had showers accessible for $1 for 10 minutes).  Onsens could be anyplace from free to $25 per time.  I discovered some cheap ones, however I’d determine about $10 for every onsen.

Misc: $17 (Zoo entrance, $5 for cellphone calls (pay telephones are usually not low cost), $1 for range gasoline).  I didn’t do a lot in the best way of paying for sightseeing.  The zoo was it.

In the event you had only one piece of recommendation for somebody who was new to bicycle touring, what would you inform them?

Prepare arduous and tour straightforward.

No, I’d say benefit from the experience.  Make your targets extra course of oriented than aim oriented.  What I imply by “aim oriented” is making an attempt to experience a sure variety of miles in a set period of time such that you’re unable to get pleasure from the fantastic thing about being on a motorcycle.  Plan your route with flex.

Have you ever thought in any respect about one other bike journey for the longer term?

Sure. I’m going on a 4-day tour this Could with a pal.  We’ll journey by bus for two days and do a 2-day bike experience.  I’ll return to Hokkaido this summer season.  I ought to have just a few extra free days this yr and I’ll go to the northern level and, if time permits, a small island off the tip of Hokkaido.  I’ll do some weekend journeys round Sendai in preparation.

Is there anything you wish to point out or add for the readers at

I’m 36-years-old and am now hooked on bicycle touring. The route I’ll soak up Hokkaido will probably be mainly the one I didn’t full final summer season. It’s roughly 1000 km (600 miles), and I’ll be going across the center of August. Let me know in case you are enthusiastic about becoming a member of me.

If anybody is contemplating an identical journey, the campgrounds are required to make a replica of passports if you happen to should not have a Japanese tackle. The Japanese are very accommodating and I felt very protected on the roads always.

You may also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Kevin Ricker Modifications Course Whereas Biking Japan – Bicycle Touring Professional  
Boite de 300 acidofilo pik cola haribo *  The 2023 European Games in numbers – Team GB *  Land Before Prime (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) (Transformers Rescue Bots) by John Sazaklis (2015-01-06) *  *-* Festnight Sac pour Baguettes Batterie, Drum Stick Bag Etui Résistant à l’Eau avec Dragonne pour Baguettes *  YouTube Influencer Grace Helbig Shares Breast Most cancers Analysis – Additional *  MORCHAN Womens Off épaule T-Shirt en Dentelle Top Ladies Tops Blouse Tee *  -*-   Kevin Ricker Modifications Course Whereas Biking Japan – Bicycle Touring Professional *Kevin Ricker Modifications Course Whereas Biking Japan – Bicycle Touring Professional