Cherry Blossom Bicycle Crazy

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Make a pilgrimage to see the 30, cherry trees on Mt. Info: Japan National Tourism Organization. About Us. Brand Publishing. Times News Platforms. Real Estate. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options. This photo shows blossoms from a few years ago. March 9, Washington, D. Mary Forgione. Follow Us.

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Can you get in trouble going to Cuba on your own? The answers are yes, yes and yes. But take heart. There are solutions. Cuba: Go or no? The answer is more complicated than you might think. Not excessive, but when you are riding a folding steel cherry blossom loaded with 12kg of gear and sitting in a rather regal upright position, those hills became mountains!

Neither route is what you would classify as difficult riding, especially on a road bike. We had gone from travelling in Japan with one bag and rental bikes, to a case and bike bag each.

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It was the last part I found the hardest to deal with…. First lesson: get over it! Next lesson: remember how to fold the darn thing up so we could store them easy when you know how and then remember how to remove a hub-gear-with-derailleur rear wheel in case of puncture.

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The Benefits of a Brompton. Then came the gears — I love my Specialized Ruby with 22 gears and a 32 on the rear end. But now I had just 6 gears to play with! However, the lowest gear on my cherry blossom folder actually came pretty close to what I was familiar with on the Ruby.

But what threw me most were the leaps between each gear — that really took some practice. Then came the climbs. Yes, I found it hard…really hard. But on the upside, the downhills were like sitting on a mini rocket! The Japanese really know how to create a great cycling route — the paths are mostly segregated from traffic, and when you are on a shared section drivers are incredibly courteous and patient. The Shimanami and Tobishima are both distant enough from the throngs of major cities that the locals love to wave and smile as you ride by.

Despite having breezed through the route previously on a road bike, on the Brompton it was a different story. The local oranges and mandarins left roadside by locals were a welcome and refreshing excuse for stops. The slower riding on our heavier, touring Bromptons meant taking in the sweet smell of the ripening citrus orchards and admire the breathtaking views across the Seto Inland Sea was mandatory.

Folding bikes are pretty much dime a dozen in Japan, but it seems not many actually fold them up! When we pulled in at local cafes locals were intrigued — you mean you can ride AND fold it up? That was of course until we met up with our road bike buddies from Japan at the start of the Tobishima route. They looked at us, looked at the bikes and laughed. They would drag us the distance of the Tobishima and judging by their fast and excited discussions, and much gesturing and pointing at ride start we figured they might well have made a quick change of the intended route.

They chose well; a few gloriously flat sections on empty roads following the coast, with a few inland climbs in the rain. While Aki and Mari took turns at leading, Gon-san sat on my tail on every hill guiding me up. There was no doubt I found the Brompton tougher on the hills. It was a joy to feel so unbridled and free of the constraints of a carbon road bike.

Our final bridge on the Tobishima was within site. The rain had been setting in and the pre-winter chill moving in as the light dimmed. Aki, Mari, Hiroko and Gon promised to escort us over the last bridge before we parted ways.

Japan in March 2015

As we drew close to the end of our ride Gon-san turned to me and in broken English he apologized. So sorry…one more hill! A half Iranian woman who has experienced inequality in all its force is on a mission.

The good, the bad and the ugly of cycling in your city

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