by Dave Maloney and Laura Williams
On June 8th and 9th we took part in Cycle Aid Japan 2013, a mass-participation cycling event to raise money for victims of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster. Twelve rides of varying lengths were scheduled over two weekends in three affected prefectures in Tohoku. You can find out more about the event here. We chose two rides that were nearest to our home in Koriyama, and our friend Brad joined us.
From Hideyo Noguchi’s house in Inawashiro town we made a clockwise circuit of the lake. Conditions were cool, and the course was flat, so the riding was easy. We enjoyed spectacular views of Mt Bandai across the water, and exchanged smiles with the many stewards and other cyclists we met along the way. Brad arranged for us to stay at a lakeside onsen that he knew. We made friends with a man named Hideo in the hot outdoor bath, and enjoyed chatting with him as the sun sank over the hills.
Hideo joined us the next day, riding from Inawashiro town to Fukushima city. The route took us to Bandai-Atami, and through the foothills of Mt Adatara around Motomiya and Nihonmatsu. The weather was hotter than on the previous day, and the route was longer and hillier too. Sweating our way between aid stations under the merciless sun, we slogged up and over climbs, then zoomed down the other side. It was tiring, but worth it for the amazing views: deep green forested hillsides; rice fields laid with youthful shoots; the vastness of Mt Adatara looming in the middle distance. After a brutal final climb, our approach to the finish was lined with spectators, applauding and cheering us to the close of an exhausting but satisfying day.
We had a great time during Cycle Aid Japan 2013. It was a good way to see a beautiful part of Fukushima, and we enjoyed meeting other cyclists on the route. Best of all, we were able to spend time with friends, and to make some new ones too. What a wonderful weekend. Now, where do we sign up for Cycle Aid Japan 2014?
More photos available here.
This Article Originally Appeared in the July 2013 issue of the Lucky Island.