Matsuyama to Oshima

(58 KMs)

Friday 27th October

Matsuyama - Oshima

Sheltering from the storm

My weather app had forecast showers and winds up to 50kms an hour.  Simon was relying on Google’s default weather app which had a much more optimistic forecast. It looked like Google was right as the day dawned clear and sunny and there was only a slight breeze as we headed off around 9am.  We made our way through a park where food vans were setting up for some kind of event and then through the backstreets of Matsuyama. It was largely flat until it wasn’t.  Seemingly out of nowhere there was a massive hill and our struggle to the top caused great merriment to an elderly Japanese lady climbing the hill at the same time.  She laughed at our efforts to make it to the top without dismounting.  Soon we were back at the coast and following the Hamakaze Sea route. 

We passed Kashima Island with its national park full of deer.  Whilst part of the route was on the main road, much of it was on quiet backroads or on a levee along the coast. After around 20kms we found a nice little rest area for a cup of tea and watched a group playing beach volleyball.  From a distance they looked to be really good and it turned out to be the first day of an international three day tournament.  We continued on to the nearby Kazahaya no Sato Fuwari roadside station for a toilet break and to buy a cold drink.  We struck up a conversation with a group of cyclists wearing Oka Tour jerseys. It turned out 6 of the 8 were Australians and we compared notes about cycling in Japan.  They were most impressed that we were doing it by ourselves.

It was easy riding along the coast and we made good time. We decided to stop at Restaurant Takotakotei and try Takoyaki - a ball-shaped grilled batter  snack filled with octopus, pickled ginger and green onions.  it was ready in minutes which was good, as the sky was becoming increasingly ominous. The restaurant owner was pointing to the clouds and indicating that there was a storm approaching.  There was little shelter at the restaurant, just a bit of shade cover, so we decided to sprint to a park some 3kms down the road and see what shelter it might provide should the weather worsen.

We made it undercover as it started to sprinkle rain and made ourselves a cup of tea whilst we watched the weather.  By this time, we had sourced some radar imagery which showed heavy rain around Imabari which was the direction we were headed.  The disabled toilet had a large covered room next to it and as the rain increased we moved the bikes in there.  Soon it was hailing as well. We were dry and protected from the elements but had managed to find the least clean toilet of our trip so far.  I moved out to sit on the picnic table so I could be a little more comfortable but had to put on extra clothing as it was cold and windy as well as wet. 

Finally the rain eased and we could get back on our bikes.  The sun was shining and the wind had dropped.  We approached the access ramp and gradually made our way up to the Kurushima Kaikyo bridge and the start of the Shimanami Kaido.  The bridge was actually three suspension bridges covering a total length of 4.1kms over the Kurushima Strait between Imabari and Oshima Island.  When completed in 1999, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge structure.  There were lots of cyclists coming the other way, maybe because they too had waited out the storm. 

As we crossed the bridge we could see rain approaching again and it was a race to see if we could make it to our accommodation without getting wet.  The rain was becoming unpleasantly heavy as we reached YoshiYoshi Guesthouse where we were greeted by the owners Yoshi and his wife Eddy.  They wiped down our panniers and helped us inside as it started to pour. Eddy offered to make a reservation for us at Inakamon izakaya restaurant.  As Yoshi was not well, they had stopped taking guests so we were the only people staying tonight. 

As another storm approached, Eddy returned and offered to drive us to the restaurant some 2 kilometres away.  We were relieved as we had no desire to get wet again.  It turned out the Inakamon was a genuine Japanese pub, with low tables, ashtrays and smokers.  The smoke was heavy in the air and there was a child coughing nearby.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t leave as Eddy was returning to collect us so we had to make the best of it. Fortunately the beers were cold and the food was tasty, particularly the fish gratin.  But we were in and out in under an hour, smelling of smoke and hoping that we hadn’t caught any nasty virus.