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We covered Maui

Maui was booked as a post bike trip to unwind.  We anticipated some rest and relaxation and actually planned some workouts to ensure we kept up our fitness. It turns out none of that was needed. We crushed Maui by swimming, snorkeling, hiking and surfing everyday. We were pleasantly surprised the whole time by the number of activities that we had to do and that kept us on the move. The best part was that we rented a campervan and were able to be anywhere we wanted to be so quickly on such an accessible island. I will break it down again by day:
Day 1 : Arrrival
Picked up the van and went right to Paia. Explored and grabbed some lunch to eat on the beach. Baldwin beach in town gave us our first taste of sand and salt water and instantly we were hooked. Slept at a questionable wayside park that introduced us to the homelessness and addiction problem on the island.
Day 2: West coast snorkeling and whale sighting 
On our way out of our campsite we could not believe it but we spotted a humpbac…
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Reflections on a Japanese Bike Trip

In 2015 we did our first bike tour around the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec. The purpose was to try bike touring and see if ultimately it might be something we wanted to try again internationally. We knew the answer was yes but needed to find the right time and the right location. Japan presented itself once we secured a longer leave from work. Most of the trip was covered in previous blog posts but there are some random thoughts that we wanted to cover. This post is mostly going to seem obscure but there are a few things we wanted to get down to help us remember them.
Convenience stores: Lawson, 7-11 and Family Mart were the convenience stores we encountered at every turn in Japan, like literally every turn. They are everywhere!!! On a bike tour they offer so many things; wi-fi, bathrooms, a place to sit and take a rest, snacks and coffee. At 7-11 we discovered our favourite lattes which were made from actual ground beans! At Family Mart the best seating was usually available where Lawson…

Kenji, Ramen and Disney

When we arrived in Hiroshima we had some sights we wanted to see but we knew we had to spend some time getting our bikes packed up and shipped beforehand.  The whole process went so smooth thanks primarily to the manager of our hostel, Kenji. Honestly he embodied the Japanese hospitality and thoughtfulness that we had experienced throughout our trip. He helped us with everything from printing labels to tape and even double checking our measurements and restrictions.  During the rest of our stay we spent a lot of time chatting with him, overall he really made a difference in our stay in Hiroshima. 
While in Hiroshima we continued our "food tour" by trying the local specialties including
Okonomiyaki and oysters. We also took in the two main sites, peace park and Miyajima. Both were very interesting and worth checking out. The peace museum was especially well laid out and displayed. In Miyajima we took in the shrine at high and low tide. We also walked around the island where the…

Final stretch

Before we cover the last leg we need to complete an addendum to the last post. It was written, as mentioned, in a coffee shop in Beppu whilst waiting to check into our accomodation. After the completion,  we struck up conversation with the shop owner, Mickey. After almost 2 hours of talking we ended up planning to meet up with her and some of her friends who had dinner plans that night. What a great experience! We joined them at a Japanese BBQ place where you use a grill in your table to cook. We shared all kinds of foods we would have never ordered but are quite common like intestine and liver. The best part by far was just spending the evening with a group of people we would have never met at a local restaurant. We have a picture of the group we took afterwards that we will include below.

The next morning we woke up to complete the last leg of our biking journey. We left Beppu by ferry and entered the same port we left Shikoku on at Yawatahama. The purpose of going back to Shikoku w…

Arigato to Highway 11

Kyushu has presented us with so many highlights including an active volcano, a city thriving in a crater, a quaint onsen town and a geothermal park. Above all that though, highway 11 has taken first place as our number one ride in Japan so far. Here is a breakdown of our time on Kyushu.

Day 1 : Usuki towards Aso We woke up early and took the ferry at 5:40 a.m. to Kyushu arriving at the port city of Usuki where we started our climb towards Aso. We covered about half the distance before staying at a cute little (and another legitimately free) campsite just after Harajiri falls. The riding was not super interesting and the wind was demoralizing so we took a long midday lunch break.
Day 2 : Aso City Completing the push up, over and into Aso city after an early morning start. Aso city is a city built inside a crater that was once a lake. It is incredible to have a city surrounded 360 degrees by a huge crater wall! We entered the national park and saw Mount Aso, a collection of five volcano…

Shikoku Tour

The post below was written last night. We made it this morning at 4:30 a.m. to the ferry and are currently on our way to Kyushu!!! 

The drive for many of our travels to date have included incorporating multi-day hikes. We love them because it means multiple days are booked, we get to be active and we see amazing scenery. Shikoku turned out to be our parallel for a multi-day trek but nestled into our bike trip. There were no big sights to see. We primarily went to towns we had never heard of or planned on visiting and the vistas were amazing every single day. Something else of note is that Shikoku,  although one of Japan's four main islands, is much less populated and therefore has a much different pace than the main island of Honshu.  I will break it down in terms of days to try to cover some of the details. 
Day 1: Tokushima to Izari We arrived on Shikoku and stayed in the port town of Tokushima to allow an early start the next morning. We headed out to catch route 26 along the Ea…

Kyoto to Shikoku Route

The way out of cities is often filled with stops and starts and can be a little frustrating on a bike,  but the way out of Kyoto was a biker's paradise. Less than a few kilometers from our accomodation we hopped on a river side trail that took us all the way to our planned lunch stop in Nara. We actually planned to go to Nara because it was about 50km from Kyoto and we knew there was a big park, apparently with loads of deer roaming around. We figured it would be perfect for a picnic lunch. What we found was indeed a park filled with deer but also a huge temple complex featuring the world's largest wooden structure enclosing a massive buddha. The translation came out as the "Buddha's Den" and it was really quite impressive. The kind of thing that makes you wonder if your eyes are tricking you because the scale is so enormous and the likelihood that this was actually constructed seems impossible.  
After leaving our awestruck experience in Nara, we headed onwards …