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FlyingDutch
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exclamation General advices for biking the Henro Shikoku
« Thread started on: May 7th, 2017, 12:14am »

Based on our experience, I am going to share some advice for those who are thinking on embarking in the route by bike.
Of course everybody has his own approach, so I don't expect the following to be golden rules.

- Where to start: we started at Zentsuji, since our bikes could not fit the size for carrying them on the bus. We ended up changing 5 trains and spending 1 entire day from Kansai Internation to Zentsuji. Japanese trains are not really made for carrying big stuff like a bike bag.
We later realized that there is a service from KIX to deliver/pick up baggages, so if you are not short of budget you might consider it for easing your transfer.

- Drivers are generally extremely respectful thoward cyclists, even on large roads like 55 and 11. Normally to overtake a bike they take the complete opposite lane. Only in big cities like Takamatsu, Kochi, Matsuyama, it can happen that some extra attention to traffic is needed, but if you are used to ride in a European city it should not be a problem.

- Theft is not really a concern: having seen the "dental floss" most japanese cyclists used to lock their bikes, I felt a bit overshooting with my steel chain.

- Wear reflective gear and always have a powerful light. Countryside and coastal roads are often pitch dark.

- Pay some extra attention to elderly people riding a bike or walking. They travel slowly but tend to make sudden manouvers, like stopping or changing direction. Announcing your presence in due time may not be enough to be noticed.

- You can bike on sidewalks, but you will share them with pedestrians and also with cyclists travelling the opposite direction.

- The road is not always evenly paved: paths for blind people, tiles lines, patches, bumps, all will often act a rail for your wheel, expecially if you ride on a narrow tire like we did.

- Be extra cautios if you want to enter a gas station: 90% of them has an uncovered rain collection trench all around their perimeter, few centimeters wide and few centimeters deep. It's no concern for a car, but if you take it too grazing with your bike you will end up on the ground for sure.

- As much as possible wear your hakui. We didn't for some part of the trip, and the difference we experienced in how we were treated was noticeable.
« Last Edit: May 7th, 2017, 12:23am by FlyingDutch » User IP Logged

tneva82
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xx Re: General advices for biking the Henro Shikoku
« Reply #1 on: May 8th, 2017, 04:01am »

on May 7th, 2017, 12:14am, FlyingDutch wrote:
- Drivers are generally extremely respectful thoward cyclists, even on large roads like 55 and 11. Normally to overtake a bike they take the complete opposite lane.


They do that for walkers as well. Sometimes to ridiculous level but not that I'm complaining cheesy

Quote:
- Theft is not really a concern: having seen the "dental floss" most japanese cyclists used to lock their bikes, I felt a bit overshooting with my steel chain.


I left my backbag regularly unattended. Not a problem. Japan is mega safe country.

Interesting bit about hakui. I had it always except for rain but then again with staff and conical hat hakui wasn't really needed to make me clear pilgrim. Might be different for biker without staff and hat which aren't all that convenient for bikers.
« Last Edit: May 8th, 2017, 04:02am by tneva82 » User IP Logged

FlyingDutch
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xx Re: General advices for biking the Henro Shikoku
« Reply #2 on: May 10th, 2017, 10:56pm »

on May 8th, 2017, 04:01am, tneva82 wrote:
Interesting bit about hakui. I had it always except for rain but then again with staff and conical hat hakui wasn't really needed to make me clear pilgrim. Might be different for biker without staff and hat which aren't all that convenient for bikers.


When we were wearing the normal cyclist gear (we only had the henro "bandana" (sorry, I don't know the exact name) on our heads and the staff bell attached to the handlebar), people occasionally approached us to ask where did we come from and if we were doing the Henro Shikoku.

When we wore the hakui, people came directly to us with osettai and encouragement words, without even asking questions upfront.
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dldlpl
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exclamation Re: General advices for biking the Henro Shikoku
« Reply #3 on: Jun 19th, 2017, 10:32am »

In late April and early May of this year, 2017, I did three day-long rides exploring the area around Kochi City, the largest city in South Shikoku. In this post, I would like to share a bit of my experience, with the area, and with riding in Shikoku.

I flew from Haneda to Kochi, City of Wisdom, on ANA, taking advantage of their “Experience Japan” fare. I paid about $200 round trip, roughly half of the normal fare. I did not bring a bike so I can offer no intelligence regarding baggage policies.

Kochi is favorably sited, with a long bay, Nagahama, attractively delimiting the eastern side of the city, and receiving the flows of the Kokubu River from the north and the Kagami from the west. The Kagami bisects the city, and is spanned by numerous bridges, reminiscent of Portland Oregon in this respect. Forested mountains and hills surround and shape the city. The city center is lively and attractive, with a covered shopping arcade running for about 1.5 km west from downtown to near Kochi-Jo, the castle.

My plan was to ride to temples 33, 32, and 31 the first day, 30,29 and 28 the second, a local day of exploring, and then a longer ride to temples 34, 35, and 36, followed by a circumnavigation of Uranouchi Bay and return to Kochi. I enjoyed a wonderful 4 days of riding and exploring. Here are a few thoughts which may benefit other riders.

The Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide is indispensable. However, I found that the map depictions are not always correct. Using GPS and asking locals often are my best suggestions for successful route-finding. Finding your way to temples in reverse order or out of order, is especially tricky as the maps are not proofed in that way, and locals, even temple staff, are not very familiar with the temples “behind” them. The route between 29 and 28 looks simple enough on the map, but is tricky.

When filling water bottles, be sure to ask temple staff or relevant locals about potability. “Nomi mizu desu ka” (is this or is there drinking water?) is one simple way to ask. “Nomi mizu wa arimasu ka” (is there drinking water) is better grammatically.

Beware of tunnels. Tunnels are your friend because they reduce climbing, but they are dangerous. Some tunnels have no bike lane or sidewalk. These should be walked, not ridden. An example is the tunnel on Highway 34 going south out of Kochi toward temple 33. Some tunnels have a sidewalk but no barrier. Unless you have a very bright headlamp, the sidewalk edge can become invisible in the gloom and dark spots of the tunnel, creating extreme perception problems. And tunnels which appear well-lit at the entrances are often dark and confusing in the center. I carefully chose routes with few and shorter tunnels, as for example, Route 37 south out of Kochi heading to Temple 34, rather than Route 56. Expect foot and bike traffic in tunnels. Best to just stop and allow others to proceed.

In sum, Shikoku is a wonderful place to ride and explore. I plan to take a new bike there in October!
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