…on the road again!

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I’m finally on the move! I think this is day four and thank god I’ve finally settled onto the bike. It’s been an interesting process, day one leaving tokyo I managed to fall off twice, much to the confusion of local Japanese who could just see a gaijin sprawled on the floor shouting a range of luckily indistinguishable English. Bless them they did try to help, but given that both incidents were firmly my fault I was too embarrassed to be graceful about the situation! So yes my knees are now a mismatch of scratches but what kind of cyclist would I be if they weren’t!
As you can probably tell from my nose (que photo above) I’ve also managed to get sunburnt, sighhhhh! I have now found factor 50 sun cream (cheers for the English/Irish complexion family) and no wonder I struggled to find it, it looks more like morrisons own deodorant than sun cream. But yes, you guessed, am currently sat in my hostel with nose, arms and calves covered in sudocream… There’s no way I’m getting out of the horrendous tan lines with this one.

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Despite all this I’m actually having a damn good time, I went past mt. Fuji the other day!… Too impatient to wait for the clouds to clear pah, no photo is perfect, my camera wasn’t even good enough for a selfie, disappointment. Can’t deny it was pretty cool to see, up close the original plan of climbing it seemed too painful to actually attempt… Vesuvius was one thing – that mountain wasn’t half covered in snow! I most certainly do not have the fortitude to put up with the cold up there! Also I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be up and down in time for bed!

No joke. I’m currently sleeping 11hours a day minimum… It’s a joke! It isn’t even a choice! It’s like I sit down to do something and then BAM it’s 8am, time to get on the bike! Almost seems like a waste paying for a hostel when I’d sleep just as well on a clothes line! My current evening plan in a hostel (most of which don’t have wi fi) consists of get in, eat as much food as possible and get in the bath before I fall asleep on the next available flat surface. Yes Japanese hostels have communal baths, not separate showers… This social aspect is not something I have yet to contend with since I have been the only woman present in EVERY hostel outside of Tokyo. Not kidding! Haha I feel guilty that they have to open up the female area just for me but oh well!! It’s particularly luckily there is no one else present since I don’t think my oil stained legs would go down too well, and I am not kidding IT WILL NOT COME OFF.

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After going over the mountains on my first night… worst hostel decision of my life – yes, let’s choose a hostel at THE TOP OF THE BLOODY MOUNTAIN, WHY NOT EH!? Sigh now that was a beasty walk… Yup, defeated on the first day to push my bike 5km up a hill steeper than any in the Yorkshire dales, and there was some kind of geothermal stuff going on because steam was coming from the grates in the floor! Most disconcerting to walk over I can tell you! On the plus side it did mean that the morning after consisted of a ten mile (not exaggerating, I measured) descent to the coast! The road was perfect! I reached over 35mph and the bike was raring to do more!… That is deffinatly one way to check the brakes you totally readjusted that morning are working.
The coast here is gorgeous, I’ve seen loads of surfers and billabong shops are becoming as common a Starbucks! Unfortunately it took a few days before I could see it, I’ve been less than a kilometre from the coast for most of the time, but the coastal wall at Tokyo extends for miles and miles, then it turns into other forms of defences. Only today have I really seen the beach and coupled with the sun it makes a good change from the noise of Tokyo! All I need now is my sunburn to heal so I can knock out the flip flops and shorts!

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The apparently lonely life of a solo traveler in Italy!

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The question “aren’t you lonely when your away”…often coupled with “don’t you have any friends?” (Charming I know) are so common I’m thinking I should come up with an amazingly witty set response which I can use to explain the truth of it to everyone who has obviously never travelled alone. It takes SO much effort to make traveling a lonely experience.
When it gets to the point that you can’t sit outside a supermarket making up a sandwich without being wished “Bon voyage” by a passing elderly lady. When you are constantly being quizzed by hordes of passing men as to the weight of your steed. Or can’t go for an evening snack in a small bar without ending up drunk with the barman (que photo)…

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…and his rabble of teenage friends (the awesome group above – with a rather red faced version of myself) none of whom spoke a word of English – to say I spent most of my time indebted to the translate app on my iPhone is an understatement! But regardless, in the safety of Europe you are never really in a language barrier. Even when too inebriated to spell english correctly on my phone we resorted to easy topics! Bands, place names, big name brands, movies – American TV is deffinatly popular across Europe!

Then there is what I learned in Sicily… To both my pleasure and annoyance (the alone time on the bike had thoroughly ended) was the ease with which cyclists can chat! The roadies that came to cycle along side me didn’t want Indepth life conversations – they wanted distances traveled, climbed, where you were going, bike technical jargon that I don’t even understand in English! But it really did come easy… And when they got bored with either the conversation or speed, away they could go! Although shocked at the low numbers of female cyclists I encountered in Italy I must say all the blokes were the example of kindness, shouts asking if I needed help/a pump were frequent whenever I stopped for a breather!

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This lovely bloke saw me struggling over the hill/mountain north of Messina, in torrential rain and gale force winds it felt slightly like god himself was against me that day. He didn’t speak a word of English but when he realised we were going the same way refused to leave my side, when the winds got so bad I could barely move the bike he physically put his hand on my back and pushed me up! Not even exaggerating the situation! It is a good job I’m not a proud individual or it might have been a touch soul destroying. But god I needed him! Salvadore you are the nicest man I’ve met in a long time! Amidst cheers at the top he attempted to give me detailed directions onwards before leaving for home. That man turned one of my worst mornings Into my best, hopefully one day I will return the favour!