Mark says: this dates from the 15th
yesterday the monsoon rains arrived. we woke up and mounted our bikes for a long slog in a constant drizzle. homeboy had grown weary of the truck traffic breathing down our necks, so he plotted a course on a parallel road. basically, there are three roads following the river north from Gifu: a highway that the government had shot through mountain tunnels and high bridges, a prefectural road 156 which much of the trucks use, and a series of often single lane roads hopping the riverbanks. the small roads took us through dozens of little neighborhoods…modest houses almost always with a rice paddy alongside.
the incessant rain wasn’t so bad, but an hour or two into the ride my right knee developed a pain where i have never had pain before. i’m not sure what’s causing it…i think it might be the wider stance of the touring crank. whatever the cause, an hour or two further on and i was gasping in agony. this was and continues to be a major problem…
eventually we made it to a town where the little road and 156 met up again, with a view of the amazing infrastructure of the big highway spanning tunnels set high into the mountain. we found a town info center, and i negotiated for the very helpful woman there to set us up in a ryokan (traditional inn).
this ryokan was like f%&#ing shangra la to us. we were filthy and just knackered. The Kanbe ryokan didn’t have a view, but it had clean tatami mat rooms (without centipedes) and served dinner with the room. after an induglent japanese bath, we got this huge spread of food. so many courses of japanese cuisine….shabu-shabu, pickled vegetables, potatoe soup, sashimi, seafood custard, and more. the room, all that, and breakfast for 6500 yen each. well spent.
however my knee is definitely not good. we are going to have to shorten our route because i can’t make a good pace. we’ll probably make a shortcut to Takayama rather than go to Shirokawa-go. At least the sun is out, but all roads forward go up into the mountains….