Throwing sumi-ink, blindfolded…
Last year I started my first solo Length of Japan cycle tour, but after 10 days and 540 miles I had to fly home unexpectedly. This year, I’m taking up where I left off.
Once again, I will be posting photos of my trip. In this “Phase II Tour”, I will ride 21 days, rest a few, and cover about 1200 miles from the very north of the main island of Honshu to the south of Kyushu.
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Here’s the route…
N. Honshu: Aomori to Murakami, 250 miles, 11,000′, 4 cycling days
C. Honshu: Nagano to Mt Fuji, 180 miles, 20,000′, 4 cycling days
Kansai: Toba to Wakayama, 150 miles, 10,300′, 4 cycling days
Shikoku: Tokushima to Yawatahama, 240 miles, 14,200′, 4 cycling days
Kyushu: Beppu to Cape Sata and Ibusuki, 325 miles, 27,200′, 5 cycling days
I’ve always believed that the vast majority of drivers do not hate cyclists, it’s just that they don’t consider them, they don’t look out for them, and they don’t always know what to do when they approach them.
Today, cycling up to the Ski Basin, on a stretch of road that was relatively straight allowing for at least several hundred feet visibility onto the left lane, my belief was confirmed.
Given that I was going up, my speed was slow enough that a passing car would only need to be in the left lane for a few short seconds. There was plenty of visibility for a car to safely give me lots of room. I was riding as close as reasonable to the white line considering that the edges of the road are still pretty crappy from the two-year old chip seal job.
A mid-size SUV passed me, and its left wheels did not even touch the centerline. Which meant that I could have stretched out my arm and hit the passenger side rear-view mirror. My instinctive reaction was to make a sweeping motion with my hand to the left while yelling, “move over” (actually, in all honesty, what I really said was, “move the fu**k over”, but I seriously doubt the driver heard me). However, the driver did in fact see my waving hand and thought I was in some sort of trouble, so the car stopped.
I pulled out my phone to record the conversation, only to have a middle-aged women stick her head out the window and say, “are you alright?” I asked her if she was “blind”, and that she came “way too close to me”, and said, “next time, don’t ride so close to cyclists”. And here’s the clincher. Her response? And I quote, “Oh, I didn’t realize”. I didn’t REALIZE. I didn’t realize… that I should not come so close as to scare the hell out of you, almost running you off the road.
I didn’t realize. I guess that’s the problem.