Sunday 25 September 2022

Part 3. Morioka city to Hachinohe.

Taking a power nap at Tsushidakinrin

Morioka city is quite small. At least that's what I thought. It is the capital of the Iwate prefecture. Iwate prefecture is located on the northeastern top of Japan. It is bordered to the north by Aomori, to the west by Akita, and to the south by  Miyagi.

After all night cycling, I reached Morioka city at around 7am. The city streets were not full as expected. As I was stopping to check my google map I  noticed a bunch of kids walking in a straight line on the opposite side from me.

Each one was following the student in front with one adult walking in front and the other behind as guards. They must be heading to school on a holiday, I thought. In Japan, there seem to be no holidays for kids. Even on school holidays, the kids are still required to do other school activities and even the homework is prepared specifically for the kids to do while on holidays.

While I was cycling to Morioka I planned to take a nap there when I arrive. So, when I arrived at Morioka I started looking for a park to rest my feet and take a nap. I searched google map and found  Tsushidakinrin Park. This is the park nearest to me. I then headed in the direction where google map pointed me to. 

The road to the park took me away from Route 4 into the streets of Morioka. Soon the buildings and the street gave way to a beautiful green space. I found myself at my Tsusuhidakinrin park. I stopped for a few seconds as I watched little kids playing at the elementary school's playground next to the park. Then I pushed my bike and walked around the park looking for a good spot to rest. The park is a typical Japanese park where you have trees, walking tracks, a kids playground, benches, and of course! , toilets, and drinking water. It took me around 5 minutes to finally spot the best place to take a power nap.

10 minutes after arriving a found a small shelter with a good bench to lay down. I parked my bike in front of me. Unstrapped my light reflector and removed my backpack. I used my backpack as a pillow on the bench and rest my head on it. That's all it took for me to fall asleep in less than 1 minute. 

Beautiful view of Kitakami river from Route 4 on the overpass.

Heading to Hachinohe.

When I woke up it was  9 am. My stomach was begging for food. I checked my backpack and found a packet of bread and a tin fish. I brought them with me all the way from Sendai city. I quickly opened the packet of bread took out two lofts, opened the tin fish, and sandwiched the tin fish between the bread. My stomach was so empty it took me just four bites to finish the whole bread. I then drank water from the water dispenser in the park. Hurriedly packed my things and set out again. Headed back to Route 4.

Today's trip, I estimated to take me at least  4 to 5 hours. It will be short cycling just 100km and I will be in Hachinohe. I left Morioka city and slowly cycled northbound onto Route 4. This time there were more people and cars on the streets. Not the same as when I arrived. I found Route 4 a few kilometers into my cycling and continued on my journey.

When I left Morioka city the weather was fine, sunny, and warm. I prayed that it would be a good day. Please don't rain on me, I said to the clouds.

Passing through Iwate Shinkansen Station

Direction board over the road at Iwate city.

Hachinohe in 5 hours

I left Morioka city and followed Route 4. My cycling will take me through Iwate city, Ichinohe city, and Inohe city. All these cities are on Route 4.

Four hours into my cycling and the clear blue skies slowly vanished. Rain clouds started gathering up ahead. I came prepared, I bought a raincoat and wore light polymers clothing that doesn't stay wet for too long.

At around 2 pm a huge storm met me on the way. The rain was so heavy it felt like a tropical storm. Back in Papua New Guinea, such heavy rain storms don't last long, I thought. However, the rain keeps getting bigger and bigger. 

I also faced another problem. Narrow road and no space for a bicycle. Hugh trucks are zooming past at a very speed. During heaving storms like these, the driver's vision is not good, I thought from my experiences back home as a driver myself.

So at Mido, I pulled to the side of the road and took shelter under a small tree while waiting for the rain to pass. 

After the rain passed, I took off and did smooth cycling all the way to Inohe city. I only stopped when I wanted to take pictures or take a drink. I never had the chance to take pictures the night before on my trip from Sendai to Morioka. But this time, I have all the time to take pictures.

At Ninohe city just before I took the shortcut Route 395 and 340, I made a stop at a Family Mart convenience store and bought water and cake. I took a few minutes to eat and rest. My leg was a bit tired. So the rest made my legs feel much better. In Japan, if you decided to bike through the mountains it is important to eat full stomach or bring extra food with you. Because they are no stores in the mountains and most time, no people live in the mountains.

Taking shelter under a small tree and waiting for the rain storm to pass.

  Passing through the direction board at Kazuya. 

Route 395 and 340.

I did not want to take Routes 395 and 340. It was the google map recommendation with its screen pop-up messaging saying "we have found a shorter route with less traffic,  take Route 395 ". I once went to Wakanani, north of Hokkaido, and google map recommended I take a shorter route. It was dark and I  regretted making the decision to follow google. The road google map recommended led me into the darkness of the mountains and forest. I became very tired and exhausted. There were no street lights, no houses, just the night's darkness surrounding me on all sides.

This time I don't want to make the same mistake but the edge to take a shorter route to Hachinohe was very strong. So, I went ahead and took Route 395. Before taking it I looked ahead at where I was heading. I saw lots of mountains ahead.

I knew this route is going to be tough. My legs are already exhausted from non-top cycling in the last 4 hours. But I also love mountains. Cycling through mountains is difficult but it's amazing. In Japan fewer people live in the mountains so by going through the mountains you will get to enjoy the real beauty of nature. 

The satisfaction you get when reaching the top is superb, and the view at the top of every climb is mesmerizing. Trust me if you cycle, take the mountain roads on your next bike trip.

Passing through a beautiful roadside creak.

A beautiful rock sticking out from the mountain top.

The forever climb.

After I turned off Route 4 and took Route 395 I cycled for a few 100metres and I started the first steep uphill climb. In my mind, I was already cursing the moment I saw the mountains and the road. I thought it will be a short climb. But to my surprise reaching the top seemed forever. About 200m uphill, the hill started getting steeper. I had to get off my bike and push it. Paddling up was difficult. 

My leg can't take the weight of the bike. The power I applied on the paddles to climb was not within my muscle power to drive the heavy bike up the steep hill.

When I finally thought I  reached the top my happiness was short-lived because there were more hills to climb. At the same time, it started to get dark. The road goes through the mountain's forest and the sunlight dimmed under the trees. The shadows of the forest slowly crept into whatever sunlight was available on the forest floor.

From there the road seemed to go up forever. Every time I reached one mountain top. I keep saying to myself this must be it. This is the top, right but then there is another top. Mannnnn!, I was so mad. My head was screaming. I starting to get mad at google map. If google map was a person I would beat him up already. But then I kept telling myself I knew what I was getting myself into but I took the route anywhere.

The climbing went on for what seemed forever. All my energy was gone. I ate all my energy bars on this single mountain road. I also finished my water and I am getting desperate for water. I started to feel dehydrated. I keep asking myself in desperation, where is the top? when is this climb going to end?

Around 6pm or 7pm, I finally reached what I believed is the final top and the end of my desperate struggle to reach the top. I stopped my bike and took a 15-minute break. I was so hungry and thirsty. But the break gave me strength and a good feeling. I made it. Though, the view was not good from the mountain top where I am. I was so happy to finish the climb and ready to start my descend 

On my descending, I rod in Route 340 and followed it all the way into Hachinohe. Route 340 has few climbs but It was much better. I made it into Hachinhoe just after dark. Hachinohe city is big. Not too big like Sendai but reasonably big. I cycled into the city, through downtown, pasted downtown, and followed the coast down to the Ferry Port. It took me almost an hour to finally reached the Ferry port from the southern end of the city to the Ferry port on the northern seaboard.


The beautiful rock view.

Arriving at Hachinohe Ferry Port.

Saturday 17 September 2022

19 types of bicycles and their uses

 Hi guys,

I'd like to feature something a little different for this edition.

Let's talk about types of bicycles and their uses.

In our list today, we will feature 19 bike types and provide basic details about them.

I know you would be curious to know about the types of bicycles and what their uses are.

After reading this edition you will have a better idea of different types of bikes, their names, and their uses.

Bicycle's background.

The earliest record showed the unveiling of a bicycle in 1500 AD and it is attributed to  Gian Giacomo Caprotti. He was a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci.

In 1817 Baron Karl von Drais invented what he called the running machine. Just like a modern bike but without paddles and chains. In 1819 the British got the idea from Germany and made an improved model and started selling it. The public then nicked named it the hobby horse.

From the 1820s to the 1850s more wheels were added to the bicycle. In 1830 the first mechanically propelled two-wheel vehicle was built by a Scottish blacksmith maned  Kirkpatrick Macmillan.

In 1890, the first safety bike was made, changing the public's perception of bicycles as man's toys into an everyday machine that women can use. 

In the 20th century, the derailleur was made in France, and in 1930  European racing organizations allow racers to use gearing. Also,  In Word Word 2, multiple-speed bikes were used by the militaries.

In the 21st century, bicycles continue to evolve especially the frame. They continue to get lighter without compromising their strength.

The first bicycle to be unveiled in 1500AD was called the running machine 

                         1. Road Bikes 

Bicycle Type: Road bike 
Use:  Design to ride on the road 
Wheels & tires: Skinny  tires
                               Handlebars:    Drop handle bare that curve downwards.
            Track types:      On paved roads and smooth surfaces

2. Mountain bike 

Bicycle Type: Mountain bike  
Use: Mountains and off-road trails 
Wheels & tires: Knobby tires. Some have front and back suspensions.
handlebars: Flat and wide handlebars.
Track types: Off-roads and mountain trails

3. Commuter bike

Bicycle Type: Hybrid/commuter bike 
Use: Commuting, getting around town, and sometimes can be modified and used for off-road.
Wheels & tires: Slicker and narrower tires but sometimes the tires can be changed to off-road tires.
Handlebars: Flat
Track types: Towns and off-road 

                     4. Gravel bike 

Bicycle Type: Gravel bike  
Use:  On and off-road trails 
Wheels & tires: Multiples tire sizes 
Handlebars: Drop handlebar
Track types: On and off-road, including gravels 

5. Folding bike 

Bicycle Type: Folding  bike  
Use:  Commuting, can be folded and taken on the train, etc. 
Wheels & tires: Small sizes
handlebars: Flat and short
Track types: On and off-road

6. Cross bike 

Bicycle Type: Cross bike 
Use:  Can be used on a combination of pavement, unpaved trails, gravel, and grass
Wheels & tires: A little wide
Handlebars: Drop handlebar 
Track types: On and off-road

7. Touring bikes 

Bicycle Type: Touring bike 
Use: Design for pavement and long-distance rides. They have all the necessary bolts and spaces for mounting cargo racks and fenders.
wheels & tires: Skinny wheels
Handlebars: Drop handlebar 
Track types: On the pavements

8. Triathlon/Time Trail Bikes 

Bicycle Type: Triathlon 
Use: Road bikes with special design to maximize their aerodynamic properties
                          Wheels & tires: Skinny
Handlebars: Special aerodynamic design
Track types: On race tracks and pavements

9. Fitness bike 

Bicycle Type: Fitness bike 
Use: Use for multiple purposes like commuting and touring. They have space for mounting racks and fenders 
                                      Wheels & tires: Space for bigger tires 
Handlebars: Flat handlebars
Track types: Efficient on paved but can be fitted with bigger tires for unpaved

10. Fix gear bike 

Bicycle Type: Fix gear bike 
Use: Designed to be ridden on a velodrome. It is a bank oval track, especially for bike racing. 
                                Wheels & tires: Skinny  
Handlebars: Drop handlebars
Track types: On the race track but can be used also on pavements for commuting  

11. Hybrid bikes 

Bicycle Type: Hybrid bike 
Use: Good for casual riding around the neighborhood, bike paths, short-distance commuting, and errands around town.
                                Wheels & tires: Medium-width with a semi-smooth tread 
Handlebars: upright handlebar.
Track types:  Ideal for paved or unpaved bike trails.

12. Dual sport bike 

Bicycle Type: Dual -sport-bike 
Use:  Riders to experience  multi-surface versatility and a more aggressive style and riding position
                         wheels & tires: Wider tires
handlebars: Flat or upright handlebar.
Track types: Good commuter bikes, and are also good for touring on unpaved trails.

13. Cruiser bikes 

Bicycle Type: Cruiser bikes 
Use:  Design for casual riding, have a very comfortable, upright riding position, and a large, comfortable seat.
               Wheels & tires:   Wide "balloon" tires,
Handlebars:  Upright handlebar, and can be swept back 
Track types: Short-distance commuting and errands.

14. Flat-foot commute bike 

Bicycle Type: Flat-foot commute bike  
Use: Very similar to a cruiser bike but allows low seat riding so your foot can be on the ground.
                  Wheels & tires:   Wide 
Handlebars:  Upright handlebar, and can be swept back 
Track types: Short-distance commuting and errands.

15. city bike 

Bicycle Type: City bike  
Use: Use quite well for riding and commuting in a city. The bike has characteristics of both a hybrid bike and a cruiser bike.
                                                 They have some special features

  • Fenders
  • Chain guard
  • Skirt guard on the rear wheel
                                   Wheels & tires: Wheel size of a hybrid bike. 
Handlebars:  Flat handlebar 
                          Track types: On pavements and in urban centers.

                                      16. BMX bike 

Bicycle Type: BMX bike  
                 Use: Kids bikes but can be used by adults to perform various tricks 
                                               wheels & tires:   Wide 
Handlebars:  Upright handlebar, and can be swept back 
                                                    Track types: On pavements.
                                  17.  Recumbent bike 

Bicycle Type: Recumbent bike  
                  Use: For comfort ride. Difficult to transport and ride uphill.
                        Wheels & tires:   Different sizes 
Handlebars:  Upright handlebar, and can be swept back 
                                      Track types: On pavements.

                                  18.    Tandem bike 

Bicycle Type: Tandem bike   
 Use: The bikes are designed for two and can be ridden on various tracks. They come in all styles  of cruiser tandems and hybrid tandems
                                       Wheels & tires:  Medium size
                                    Handlebars: Flat handlebars 
Track types: Bike path or boardwalk, off-road mountain bike tandems, and high-performance road racing

                                                19.  Adult Tricycles 

Bicycle Type: Adult Tricycles 
 Use: Ideal for old folks and those with special needs.  Also good for industrial warehouses.                                                            
                                    Wheels & tires:  Medium size and a little wide
                                        Handlebars: Upright
                                    Track types: Pavements.

Thursday 8 September 2022

Part 2: Night cycling-Sendai city to Morioka city

Sendai hiccup.

It was  8:30 pm when I finally got everything sorted and ready to leave Sendai city. The street was buzzing with people and cars. It's so difficult to bike your way through the crowd. But the crowd was not the only problem. Finding my way to route 4 at night by following and listening to google giving me directions is crazy. " In 100m turn left. You have missed your turn. At the next traffic light take a right onto the bridge". blablabla. 

For a good 45 minutes, I  biked around the main street in Sendai looking for a way to get onto route 4. Route 4 is the main highway that will take me from Sendai city to Ninohe city. Then I will take routes 395 and 340 to Hachinohe.

At around 9:30 pm I made it onto route 4. I stopped and took out my pump, usually hanging from my bike's frame, and gave a bit of air to both tires. Then I  adjusted my front and rear light to be more transparent to the traffic. After that,  I opened my tool bag, took out the screwdriver, and tighten my rear bag carrier. Finally, I packed everything into my bike's attackable frame bag and took off.

8:30 pm night crowd in Sendai city.

Night cycling.

In Sendai city when I locked on to my phone's google map direction. The distance shown was 200km to Marioka city. Morioka city is located northwest of Sendai city. It is the capital of the Iwate prefecture in the Tohoku area of Japan. 

Did you know that nighttime is the best time to cycle? Well!, I don't know that either. But after I did cycling all night I found out. 

I was full of energy and enthusiasm that despite the 20kg weight of my bike bearing on my thighs and calves muscles I felt nothing. It's like sailing by catching the wind.

The night cycling will take me through several cities. Osaki, Ichinoseki, Oshu, Kitakami ,Hanamaki and into Morioka. 

At first, when I looked at the map I  thought I will not make it to Morioka city. In my mind, I thought, if I can't make it to Marioka city or if I am too tired I will stop over at Kitakami and call into Wagagawa Green park and rest for the night.

Roadside vending machine at Kurokawa-Ohira

On the road.

After I left the main streets of Sendai and hit route 4. I pressed hard and faster on my paddles and  I  took off sailing. I only made a few stops at convenience stores and roadside vending machines. Otherwise, from 8pm to 9am it's just continued cycling.

Route 4 is perfect. There are no mountains to climb. The road is lit with lights. Also, there's enough space to cycle on the side where the cars would not run into you and the road surface is so smooth. My spirit was high because the road was empty. Only a few semi-trailers zoomed passed me. Pulling their heavy loads along with them. The road was silent and calm. Occasionally the silence is broken by cars screaming passed me.

I wanted to reach Morioka on time so I can make it to Hachinohe city on time for my ferry. My schedule to reach the Sliver Ferry port at Hachinohe was tight. I only have a  day of cycling to reach the ferry port. If it took me more than one day to reach Hachinohe Ferry port. I will definitely miss the ferry. So, I have no choice but to cycle 26 hours non-stop.


0:31 pm I pulled into 7 11 convenience store at Kurihara-Kanari for coffee.


While cycling I looked over to my right shoulder and there it was the first light of the sun slowly lighting up the night sky. I checked my phone and it was  3:52am. In Japan, during the summer the dawn usually breaks between 3:30am to 4am.

By then, I was halfway through my 200km cycling goal. I still have 100km and all day to cycle. After cycling all night at a speed of almost 20km/h. I was a bit exhausted and when I saw the day breaking I  reduced my speed to around 16km/h. 

Exhausted and tired from cycling all night. The dawning of the new day gave me renewed energy and happiness, although my stomach was crying for food.

I made a quick stop at a Family mart convenience store just after the dawn had broken and had something to eat. When I cycle I don't overeat. Don ask me why? I have my reasons. 

I bought ice cream and 2 buns with a sports drink. Rested for 10 minutes and ate my breakfast. Then no time to waste I hit the road again. This time nonstop all the way to Morioka city.

I reached Marioka city at around 9:30am. I was exhausted, my bum hurts, and I needed to rest to get my strength for the next 100km. By now I have covered 300km and last 100km more to reach Hachinohe Ferry port. I knew that if I rest a little  I will cover the 100km in just 4 hours.

3:52am the dawning is breaking, Kanegasaki,Isawa-Gun-Mikajir.

4:43 am sunrise at Muraskino in Kitakami.

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