Slow tour comes to Japan: Day 2

Tobishima Kaido

A beautiful 42 km ride following a blue line across seven islands. There was no need for GPX file. There is useful information on the Kure Area Travel Report website.

The islands

  • Shimokamagarijima
  • Kamikamagarijima
  • Toyoshima
  • Osakishimojima
  • Heirajima
  • Nakanoshima
  • Okamurajima

Our starting point was Nigata Station – it took two trains from Hiroshima. A rapid service and then one stop on a local service.

To get to these seven islands we crossed seven bridges.

We also had a few tunnels to save our legs we benefitted from some tunnels. But a tunnel is always easier than riding over a hill.

Ate lunch at Marichan’s – her Okonomiyaki was sugoi oishiiii!! We required help from so locals to find the narrow lane that it was located on. We’ve taken a photo of lane to help you!

We took a short detour to visit an old Edo era village with many of its original buildings intact. Interestingly, it also had the bike used by the first Japanese person to ride around the world. At least, that’s our memory of the information at the site! We will stick with that.

At the end of the ride, we took a ferry to our overnight accomodation and the starting point for Day 3 of the Slow Tour – Imabari. Imabari is:

  • the second largest city in Ehime Prefecture
  • home to the Shimanami Kaido
  • shipbuilding town with a beautiful castle and an attractive old commercial district
  • one of the largest production center of towels
  • a city on Shikoku Island, Japan
  • home to Imabari castle.

Slow Tour Comes to Japan: Day 1

Hiroshima

We arrived in Japan from London at Tokyo International Airport (HND) walked briskly through immigration and customs to the arrivals hall where we met our friend, Takero. We promptly pulled out our pre-prepared cycling luggage – two Brompton Bags and two small panniers and our bikes ready for our flight Hiroshima.

In Haneda we took advantage of the luggage delivery service – which meant our big bike bags and our other suitcases would magically arrive at our hotel 4 days later and appear in our room! Awesome!

Perhaps what is more amazing is that the Japan Airlines transported our bikes without any protective bags to Hiroshima without incident. They carefully placed our bikes in the boxes shown above and added some protective bubble wrap. Here are our bikes in Hiroshima. It is a caring service.

Hiroshima is:

  • the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan
  • is located on the broad, flat delta of the Ota River, which has 7 channel outlets dividing the city into six islands which project into Hiroshima Bay
  • an industrial city of wide boulevards and criss-crossing rivers along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea
  • a bright, modern city with a sad history: in 1945 it was the location of the world’s first nuclear bombing  

The Route

Hiroshima is a convenient location for getting to the Tobishima Kaido and Shimanami Kaido. These two blue-line cycling routes are the the objective of our journey.

After at an awesome Okonomiyaki lunch – Hiroshima style, I did however plot a loop ride that took us past many of the interesting spots in Hiroshima.

Lunch

Hiroshima is a mostly flat city. So included what seems to be the only hill. Up there is where the art gallery is! Some photos from the ride are below.

Hiroshima Peace memorial

We came across some fellow travellers from Lithuania, they’ve been doing an epic ride over a couple of months in Japan that had bikes that matched ours.

Hiroshima Castle
Memorial Cathedral for World Peace

Preparation for the big day ahead

Getting ready for the big ride the next day meant plenty of carb loading! Remember no gyoza, no life!

Bonus Day 3 Slow Tour: London

The object of this day in the town home to Boris Bikes and Boris himself was to sample a range of quietways, cycleways and cycle super highways while seeing the sights of London.

While we started with one plan we ended with another, in my opinion, far better one.

The ride started in Paddington and ended in Greenwich. Greenwich is:

  • an area of South East London
  • home to the Merdian Line, Cutty Sark, the Old Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum, and Greenwich Market.
  • the home of time, Greenwich is where eastern and western hemispheres meet.
  • famous for its naval and military connections and its green spaces.
  • on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The route we took was around 30kms in one direction. We took the London Riverbus back to Westminster.

Chelsea Breakfast

The first part of the ride followed a quiet way through Hyde Park to Chelsea for breakfast at A Wanted Man.

Very yummy breakfast.

Battersea Park

We continued on the quiet way across the Thames and visited Battersea Park. This is a big park that includes and number of different uses and has a nice promenade next to the Thames. There are some paths for cyclists and other pedestrian only areas.

Westminster and the Super Cycle Highway

We crossed over the river on to one of the super cycle highways, which made for easy, safe and fast cycling. Good integrated lights. We crossed back again over the Vauxhall bridge to experience the South side again on the quiet ways again. They are not bad using less busy roads and some infrastructure -but they are slower and harder to follow.

Transport for London are planning to change the names from quiet ways and super cycle highways to just plain old cycle ways. But it misses the point that the name actually communicates useful information. What is even worse is that there must have been cycle route called the London cycle network, that are still signed but not maintained or promoted. London cycle routes are a bit confusing.

London Tower

We continued on the super cycle highway until London Tower. At London Tower we learnt about the London river bus. This when we change our mind and decided to cycle to Greenwich.

We took the road across Tower Bridge to connect up with another quiet way to Greenwich. There is no cycle route over the Bridge but the traffic moves so slowly that a bike is the fastest way across.

Greenwich

The quiet way took us through areas definitely not on the tourist map. It is also the only time it rained. It must have been fate that it started to rain only as we came across a very nice coffee shop that did nice cheese toasties.

Well, I told you about Greenwich earlier in this post. Here are some photos from Greenwich and the ferry back.

Resources

  • I could not find any useful GPX files for this ride. Transport for London website does have cycling maps, which I used to get some ideas for this ride. But, the experience is quite frustrating.
  • Our Strava activity could be converted to a GPX file, by you would need to fix up some of our mistakes.

Slow tour bonus day 2: Oxford

Oxford is quite a small size and in the center it is very crowded. We couldn’t find much good in information suggesting a bicycle route either as GPX file or pamphlet. So we made one up instead.

The Bodleian Library is:

  • is the main research library of the University of Oxford
  • one of the oldest libraries in Europe
  • the second-largest library in Britain after the British Library
  • particularly rich in Oriental manuscripts and collections of English literature, local history, and early printing
  • one of the most impressive anywhere.

Our route took as past some of the key parts of Oxford but also a little further a field. It is in three parts.

Our bike tour included visiting the Bodleian Library, the Botanic Gardens and a bread shop. Here some of the photos from along the route. Helen provided a good blog post on the bread shop – https://bromptoneering.blog/2019/11/07/great-stop-in-oxford-hamblin-bread/

Normally I’d provide a list of resources for the bike trip. But, I couldn’t find anything two useful. You can use our routes from Strava to get some ideas.

Bonus day 1: Slow tour visits Birmingham

The slow tour has let Yorkshire for London. It could take us two and half hours on Hull Trains our, in true slow tour fashion it could take for days via Birmingham and Oxford.

In Birmingham we made up a leisurely bike route of around 20 kilometers. It was better than any GPX file I could find. It included, in slow tour style, an accidental visit to Cadbury World. Bournville is:

  • ward within the council constituency of Selly Oak
  • a model village on the south side of Birmingham
  • site of the original ‘Factory in a Garden’
  • best known for its connections with the Cadbury family and chocolate
  • one of the nicest places to live in Britain.

The ride was made up of two parts. To Cadbury World and from Cadbury World.

To Cadbury World

We started near New Street Station. That was quite confusing to work out which way we should go given all the buses and taxis around the area. But it didn’t take long before we found the entry to the canal.

The Birmingham towpaths seem to be in pretty good shape. At times the path becomes quite narrow because of the bordering hedges or the right and low bridges.

Cadbury World

Fortunately, we arrived too late to get entry to Cadbury World this day. After buying some chocolate, we retreated to Bournville the model village built around the factory. As you ready earlier in this post, Bournville is one of the nicest places in England to live.

We visited a nice cafe and Selly Manor.

Returning to Birmingham

On the way back we rode though some suburbs and Birmingham University to Edgbaston and through Cannon Hill Park.

Resources

  • There is no clean GPX file for this rude. You might get some ideas from our Strava accounts. Part 1 was to Bournville and Part 2 was the return.
  • Cycling In Birmingham has good information to help you put your own route together.

Day 10: Slow Tour of Yorkshire

The Hull Hustle

The final day of our Slow Tour of Yorkshire allegedly involved a loop around the city of Hull. We did have a GPX file to follow. But we quickly abandoned that route and followed something more random.

Part 1 of the route broadly followed the River Hull and then moved towards Hull University. Coffee and food provisions were bought from Newland avenue.

Part 2 of the route involved a random ride towards Helen’s Uncle’s House. If you follow it pop in and say hi to Bob.

Part 3 of the route involved a direct ride back to the Hideout Homebase along Anlaby Road in the wet!

The first two parts of the route are provided below, The last part, unfortunately, was not recorded. You know how it goes with tech. Works 95% of the time but let’s you down for the last 5%.

We spent three weeks in Hull. We found a city with a group of people that are taking the history of Hull and making something with it. There is a good theatre and music scene. There is also good food and coffee.

Frankly, the Hull City Council has continued to improve the shopping and old town areas. Everywhere is having a tough time with commercial properties given the disruption of retail by the internet. But I wonder whether Adelaide is a one-trick pony. Rundle Mall in the 1970s can not be all there is to be done? So many of our city streets are run down and there are indeed things that our Adelaide City Council could learn from Hull.

If you’re in Yorkshire – visit Hull – it might be at the end of the train line – but it has much to offer. Here are some photos to tempt you.

Resources

  • If you actually want to follow the correct loop, then it is available from Let’s Ride UK.

Day 9: Slow Tour of Yorkshire

You know it’s big when …

Like the Tour de France, the Slow Tour of Yorkshire demonstrates its success by leaving its namesake for this stage of the tour. While starting at Hessle, most of Day 9 was actually conducted in neighbouring Lincolnshire after crossing the Humber Bridge. Overall the ride was about 49km.

Humber Bridge

The Humber Bridge is:

  • a breath-taking, Grade 1 listed structure which links Yorkshire and Lincolnshire on the A15.
  • a single span road suspension bridge
  • fifth longest bridge of its kind in the world
  • one of Hull and East Yorkshire’s most iconic landmarks.

Lincolnshire

Most of this figure 8 ride was undertaken on quite country lanes. While there were some steady climbs the downhills were the best of the ride.

The views included farming, ports, industry and mining. A truly worthwhile ride. Barton upon Humber was the only significant urban area that we traversed.

The route has a special loop into Ulceby so you can visit the team rooms for lunch. Te@6 offered a lovely ploughman board and soup for lunch. Along with some good tea!

The villages had some fine buildings and a nice duck pond.

Hessle

The ride back over the Humber Bridge in the afternoon was better than the ride in the morning. Less wind and more sun.

We finished off the ride by heading into the village of Hessle. This is a well serviced area with a range of shops and coffee shops. It has plenty of bus services to Hull and is serviced by train services.

Resources

Day 8: Slow Tour of Yorkshire

Goole, Howden and surrounding areas

On Day 8 we visited the Goole and Howden area. Surveyed the region with a loop ride. Howden is:

  • a small historic market town and civil parish in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
  • dominated by its Minster.
  • strategically placed as one of the most inland ports in the UK.

The ride was made up of a number of distinct segments which we found on a nationwide bicycle route and group ride site called Let’s Ride. The first map shows the route we took from Goole to Howden. We then returned to Goole to catch the train back to Hull.

Goole to Howden

The route from Goole to Howden was largely traffic free path alongside (for the most part) a faintly busy minor road. But it did the trick of getting us to Howden. Crossing both the motorway and the Ouse River.

Howden

Howden is certainly dominated by its Minister. Part of the Minister is a ruin.

Howden seems to be well served with trendy eateries and wine bars. But this ride was on Monday, so some where closed. The ones open were doing good business. We went to the Kitchen – which seems to make the biggest cakes in the world. Our lunch was HUGE – I had to put the wide angle lens on my iPhone to fit in the boards.

After lunch we did a loop ride from Howden to Howden. It was quite country lanes, which meant that the ride was fast and fun! They are certainly the best routes to ride.

Overall the ride was about 30km. We did visit the Goole Library when we returned. If you are concerned that we are not getting enough libraries in.

Resources

Day 7: Slow Tour of Yorkshire

Hull to Fort Paull

Day 7 sees the Slow Tour return to Hull for start on a special route created by us based on bike maps and Google. The route leaves from Hull on a rail trail towards Hedon ending at the Fort Paull Musesum, which is:

  • Yorkshire’s only remains Napoleonic fortress.
  • a gun battery situated on the north bank of the Humber.
  • full of Underground tunnels and rooms.
  • the home to the world’s only remaining Blackburn Beverley aircraft.
  • in need of renovation badly, a clean up with a duster wouldn’t harm the place and a fresh lick of paint.
  • very interesting and informative about the history and uses of the site.
About 21km according Strava

Hull

The ride starts in the old town of Hull. We stayed at the Hideout Hotel in the old town – well located near markets and good food.

The ride moves to the Museums Quarter of Hull, with the Streetlife Museum, William Wilberforce House and the Hull and East Riding. We checked these museums out as part of this ride.

The ride towards Hedon is mostly traffic free following the Humber River east. Thus taking in some industrial sites including the Siemens factor making wind turbines. The route then transfers to a rail trail, after a crossing the busy A63 road.

Hedon

After crossing over the rail line with a bridge, the rail trail starts of quite well with a pleasant tarmac surface. About halfway along, however, it turns to a very narrow mud track, great fun if you have a BMX. This where Google let us down – the Sustrans paper map did have an exclamation mark on this part of the route suggesting that it might be rough!

Hedon is a pleasant village with a nice church and shopping area. It has all the services (and a range of barbers) that a local village needs. I had a Hawaiian gammon for lunch!

This was quite tasty – almost as good as my cooked ham

Paull

Paull is a Humberside village that includes the Fort Paull Museum. I think the dot points above fairly summarise this place. Below are some photos for you.

We caught the 79 Bus back to Paragon Hull interchange. Be careful they are infrequent.

Resources

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