After a night spent near Niigata City enjoying the warm hospitality of HOPE International development officer Takeishi Norio and his family (see the JC2C Gallery), Lowell and Stuart braved the worsening weather conditions on the first full ride of the Tohoku Coast to Coast. It started with a wet but pleasant 10km ride along the Arakawa River before the first climbs of the day. At about the 20km mark, they started to climb again in earnest and after a total of about 42km the pair arrived mid-afternoon, wet but otherwise none the worse for wear, at the Shofukan minshuku at Oguni onsen.
Tony drove ahead along the proposed cycle route today checking tunnels and mountain and coastal road conditions and is now at the HOPE-JP accommodation in Kurihara. On the way, who should he happen to meet but Norwegian Gunnstein Lye, who on his recumbent bicycle is cycling north to join the Tohoku Cycling Festival this weekend. One silver lining to the cloud cast by this typhoon is that the weather should be glorious for the festival. So there’s no excuse not to pack your bags and your tent and come join us in Miyagi. More info here.
Meanwhile, with the typhoon bearing down and weather conditions meaning possible closed roads and other hazards, it was decided to change tomorrow’s route to avoid a more than 100km ride over remote mountain passes and stick closer to civilization. The route now will take the riders on a long 79km ride over and down the mountains to Yamagata City. After a night there, they will head on down to the coast, though Thursday is also when the typhoon is expected to be at its most intense in the area. AGain, you can follow their ride and their route in real time via Lowell’s online RunKeeper account.
Speaking with Lowell this evening, he told me how delighted he and Stuart had been by the sudden surge of fundraising support they had received in the last 24 hours, and he asked me to express their immense gratitude to everyone who has pledged a donation. The support received so far has pushed the pair over their target amount, but if you haven’t pledged yet, remember they still have many challenges ahead and would really appreciate your donation and it will no doubt provide much-needed psychological support when they brave the elements again tomorrow. Go ahead and make your pledge now!