Japan: A feast for the senses – Smell 2: Cycling the Shimanami Kaido

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This is actually all about the great 150km cycle ride we did over two days and it should have been all about the sense of sight, except we couldn’t see much due to the drizzly rain and sea mist!

We’d been promised spectacular views from the longest suspension bridge in the world but in the end it was all about the smells as we cycled across the islands through the orange and lemon groves.

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We arrived in Onomichi which is the start of the ride and went to shop for supplies to take on the ride. Luckily we didn’t have to smell this to know we didn’t want any:

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There was a huge choice of bikes – even electric ones, but the route was pretty flat and you can only rent those for one day so we chose two high quality hybrid bikes. Only 1000¥ per day! (About £7)

We asked for a pump and repair kit to be told there weren’t any. Any problems, just call! (We did when I had a puncture!)

Having chosen your bike you set off and….. head to the ferry! There are bridges connecting all the islands…except the first one.

You simply follow the blue line for the next 75km. It really was that simple.

The bridges are spectacular, especially the Kurushima-Kaikyō Bridge at 4km long, the world’s longest suspension bridge structure. Unfortunately we weren’t able to see the views due to the misty rain but to be honest I was quite happy as bridges, especially long ones over water, are not my strong point!

There were also some interesting signs en route and even an incredibly convenient vending machine…only in Japan!

We stopped for the famous Japanese lemon cake (and free coffee for cyclists!) at the  Setoda factory shop and had our photo taken on the insistence of the waitress!

This was just after my puncture which was quickly overcome by exchanging my bike at a handily located bike rental station on the route….after an ‘interesting’ telephone call with the original bike hire centre at a local convenience store!

We also saw and smelt some spectacular sakura (cherry blossom)

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and I sampled some dried shark at a stall at the ‘cyclists’ sanctuary’ by one of the long bridges…delicious!

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The Shimanami Kaido cycle route really is an absolute must if you’re in the area and very doable whatever your fitness level. The books all say how challenging it is but it is flat except the segregated cycle paths up to the bridges. We stayed overnight in Imabari in what must be one of the most fantastic Airbnbs in the world  (contact me for details) and cycled back the next day.  On the way back we followed an ‘alternative’ way-marked route past a shipbuilding company.  stone quarries, a rose garden and we even found a hill to climb!

If you find yourself in the Hiroshima area, take a day or two to cycle all or just part of the Shimanami Kaido!

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