Saturday, April 25, 2015

Day 26 -- Endurance training, part 2

Total distance: 97.09, a lot more than it should have been. Still, a record.

I got up early and was out and on the road before 7:00. Today was the first day I’ve done that in forever.

Getting the day started early is so refreshing. I absolutely love it. If I had a nickel for every time I reminded myself of that fact I’d have... well, at least 4 or 5 nickels at this point.

Temple 65 三角寺 Sankakuji (~42 km)
This was a long haul. About halfway through I stopped for breakfast at a Sunkus (that’s a convenience store for those not in the know), ate it on a bench outside, left my wallet sitting in the open, and biked a good 5k further before I realized it was missing. I biked back and thank goodness it was there still. Japan is a very safe country.

Sankakuji had a road leading up to it (unlike yesterday’s Yokomineji), but it was still quite an incline. I did end up walking my bike quite a large portion of the road. Of course I made up for the time lost coming down. Mountains are fun on the downslope.

Temple 66 雲辺寺 Unpenji (~24 km)
So. Unpenji. The highest temple of the pilgrimage.

There were two routes. One, a walking-only route accompanied by a small service road going about halfway up, approached the temple from the south in a straight line north from Sankakuji. It was intensely steep and required an equally arduous trip down the north side of the mountain.

The other route, moving west along the coastline to the north face of the mountain, culminated in a short ascent to the Unpenji Ropeway. I think you can probably guess which one I chose.

The ropeway was a lot of fun (even though I was a little freaked out over the heights), and it moved faster than I had anticipated. That was nice.

The temple itself was huge and included what I’m sure were hundreds of unique statues of bald men holding animal friends in their laps. I’m not sure what the story behind those statues was; I took a picture of a number of signs in Japanese but haven’t gotten around to actually reading them yet. My book wasn’t any help.

Still, it was a great temple. One of my favorites.

Temple 67 大興寺 Daikōji (7.6 km)

I biked down from the ropeway base after riding it back down from the temple. The next (and last for the day) temple was a fairly close ride and it was only 3:30 so I had a bunch of time.

Still, the road was twisty so at one point I had to stop and check my map. An old lady and her two grandchildren ran out to have a conversation with me. The older boy asked me how, if I’m from America, how did I get my bicycle all the way to Japan? The younger girl was pretty shy and didn’t say much. The grandmother bought me some juice and I gave the kids some American coins, a dime and a penny. I don’t know if they care at all about foreign currency but it was the only thing I had on me that was even remotely giftable.

The temple was nice. As it turns out I had been following a pretty large tour group in a bus all day. I’m much slower than a bus (obviously) but the logistical things they had to deal with slowed them down enough that we were going at about the same pace all day. It was very interesting. They found great joy in teaching me a bunch about some of the more esoteric tidbits of knowledge of the temples we were in.

Anyway, then it was another 7.5 km to the hotel and that’s about it. Bam.

1 comment:

  1. "If I had a nickel for every time *** I’d have... well, at least 4 or 5 nickels at this point"
    I am totally stealing this.
    Nice writing!