- Day 1 – Kagoshima to Nejime
- Distance: 72km
- Ascent / descent: 249m / 253m
- Weather: drizzly for most of the morning then a sunny afternoon
- Accommodation: camped in a park behind Tategami Shokudo restaurant a few km past Nejime michi-no-eki
I left Kagoshima a little later than planned and took my time loading the bike for the very first time. It felt heavy and I had an audience of staff waiting to see me off when I finally got on and started pedalling.
‘Just don’t fall off in front of them’ I was desperately hoping! The road was wet from the night of heavy rain and the first thing I had to do was get down the hill I was on. What better way to test a bike I’d just put together for the first time?! (Of course, like I usually do and really should remember, I forgot to turn the GPS on until I got to the bottom of the hill!)
Before leaving the hotel, I had looked up a bike shop that was recommended by staff at the Kagoshima Mont Bell outdoor store, called Cycle Base Asahi. It was actually on my way, just 5km after leaving Kagoshima. I wanted to swing by and get someone to give my bike a once over seeing that I have no experience of putting bikes together!
Cycle base Asahi were brilliant, they gave my bike a thorough check – brakes, gears, pedals, mudguards, backrack, air pressure and tightened everything up. They also told me that their shop can be found throughout Japan, so that’s handy to know.
Because of my somewhat late start, it was 12pm when I left the bike shop and I had 45km to do in order to get the 3:45pm ferry from Ibusuki to Nejime. My stomach was already starting to rumble (2 donuts for breakfast wasn’t the best / healthiest idea) but I didn’t want to stop because it barely felt as if I had started. The map showed that I would be passing two Michi-no-eki’s so I would stop there and see if I could get something quick.
The road was busy and I started off on the pavement but it was bumpy and quite annoying so I eventually joined the road and the traffic was very cautious of me.
I stopped at two Michi-no-eki’s that I passed: Kiire & Ibusuki then stopped at a convenience store in between these two to get an onigiri salmon rice ball and a pizza-man-bun for lunch.
I arrived at the ferry terminal with 10 minutes to spare and the ferry was arriving. The ticket office was a vending machine so I bought my tickets (¥1,000 ferry ticket for me and ¥500 for the bike) and pushed my bike onto what seemed a very small boat! The captain vigorously tied my bike to a rail at the back and told me I should take a seat inside rather than standing upstairs as it would be too rocky… I’m not a huge fan of boats, especially small ones when the captain says it’s going to be rocky!
It was very windy on the other side of the bay and hilly! I had to get off and push my bike up a big hill, but it was fun to ride down the other side. The next michi-no-eki was only about 4km away and according to the map I’d be able to camp nearby, but unfortunately when I arrived they had already stopped serving meals and only had sweets on sale. The staff recommended a restaurant a couple of km further along the road and also said that I’d be able to camp nearby so I hopped back on the bike and arrived at Tategami shokudo restaurant. (I’m carrying my stove and I have two ‘emergency dehydrated meals’ on me but if I’m camping I don’t mind buying dinner.) There was a park behind it overlooking the sea and I spent some time trying to find the least windiest spot to put up my tent. Once the tent was up I went to the restaurant and had a delicious katsudon and ramen set (¥980) and was able to charge my gps, GoPro and iPhone while there. The couple who ran the restaurant were very welcoming and brought me in a sliced orange for dessert.
I saw a mukade centipede while walking back to the tent in the dark, aarrggh. My shoes are inside the tent with me after that sighting but most of my bags are still on the bike so I’ll have to give it a thorough check in the morning.