It was inevitably one of the coldest nights of my life. At around 11pm I found myself a little spot on a baseball pitch. I camped up and it seemed mild enough before snuggling into my sleeping bag. The fact of the matter is I usually work up such a profound sweat setting up camp that the climes around me can be quite deceptive. But I was also content enough by the fact that I was wearing 8 layers of clothing. The cold couldn’t possibly antagonise me.
Fast forward 2 hours from my initial naivety and my water bottle had ice flakes in it. My body had spent the best part of 20 minutes trying to convince myself to get up, pack everything away and get moving. But my mind was telling me otherwise, trying to slyly persuade me that it was too cold for that, “Nah stay where you are mate, it’s way too cold outside of this here tent, there could be nonce’s out there anyway!” And then suddenly I clutched my senses, my sub-conscious took control of my mind that was quite simply trying to murder me the bastard. I leapt into life, did a couple of laps running the baseball pitch, a few star jumps and I was then pumped enough to pack my gear away. I fear that the onset of hyperthermia was drifting dangerously close, this was to be a learning curve. A curve that I also fear will never align itself appropriately.
I still had some 4 hours or so to kill before day break. Traversing the mountains during the dark not being an option I found a 24 hour Sukiya, a sort of fast food noodle outlet that supports drunks and English idiots that nearly freeze to death within the local vicinity. I sat down and ordered myself a beastly bowl of Ramen. The hot broth instantly hitting the spot. Across the way from me were 3 drunk, noisy Japanese girls. They started to try and converse with me in a mixture of Japanese and slurred English, their Japanese perhaps slurred as well but considering how awful my Japanese skills were that was a difficult one to wager. I could smell the booze in the air, they reeked. Even when I can understand the language a drunk person conversing with a sober person is a near on impossible conversation, the wave lengths just being that far apart as to render the situation awkward, annoying and unwarranted. I slurped my noodles with haste and equalled the bill. The remaining couple of hours or so were spent abusing wifi in 7-Eleven and browsing through the jazz mags.
At around 5:45am the dark shadow formerly cast upon Mt. Buko began to lift. The Sun was beginning to wake and the formidable mountain before me looked nothing short of spectacular. It was still ice cold outside, but with chattering teeth I began my journey out of the Chichibu mountain range.
The route wasn’t as strenuous as the previous day’s ascent. The only issue I had was a very anti-cyclist tunnel some 1800 metres in length under a series of mountains. The sidewalk was tiny and I couldn’t risk cycling along it with the amount of traffic heading in both directions. One false move and limbs would have started going astray. I had to walk the entire length of the tunnel pushed up against the wall. The walls were thick with grime and the path slippery. The thrumming of approaching traffic builds up the closer vehicles get to you and can become rather intense. It was an altogether unpleasant experience and the beginning of my hatred and somewhat of a general fear or these cyclist death traps. But at times a necessity and a time saver.
From the other side it was pretty much a downward descent, I was tired and in need of a sugar rush. I eased off the peddles on the descent letting the gradient and my wheels coerce me down a winding road. I found myself so formidably tired that I almost nodded off on a couple of occasions. The thought of falling asleep at the handle bars was far from sexual and I was glad that a 7-Eleven convenience store cropped up when it did. I plied my body with coffee and chocolate and this in effect woke me up somewhat and bought me back some stamina.
The most difficult of the day’s work done and my little Saitama test run virtually complete. My legs a little achy but nowhere near as bad as they were the previous summer when I cycled the wavy East Anglian coast of England. And as I neared the northern Tokyo suburbs dusk was breaching, the neon lights began to flicker into life as of the pulse of traffic surged to and fro like the veins to a colossal beating heart of an ever omnipresent beast feeding off the energy that its minions provide. Without this bolshie vibrancy the beast would be drained, but alas with so much to give and so much desire it can only grow stronger. And somewhere tonight, a bukkake was taking place.
Start 05:45 – 18:00 Finish
Today: 62.9 miles
ODO – 175.6 miles
Total Run time – 21:30hours