Today was perhaps one of the worst of all possible situations: heavy rainfall all day long, lots of tiring uphill climbs and dangerous rainy downhills, and finally a big national road with lots of fast traffic and nothing interesting to see along the way. Not that I could see anything interesting anyway, as it was a bit foggy and the rain limited the visibility a lot. Despite all that, I quite enjoyed myself today.
The morning started out quite messy. I knew that if I tried to just wander my way down south I would get stuck on a peninsula with no way out but to backtrack, so I tried to get back to route 42, which will take me all the way around the Kii peninsula. Trying to get there was tough though, as there are twenty different roads, some of which are tiny and have horrible uphill climbs, whereas others are completely flat and follow a river. I finally settled on road 13, which I didn't manage to find until after I asked for help at the tourist office. They were very kind to me and gave me a huge map and a towel, which was very useful, as the rain already completely soaked me after only 1 hour of cycling. Road 13 and the first part of road 42 were fresh countryside roads. The sound of frogs was incredibly loud, so I will name road 13 hereby Frogroad.
After turning onto road 42 I got a nice rhythm going. I guess I'm getting more fit, because despite the many uphills and downhills I was able to go on for 2-3 hours between breaks, making great progress. The slopes were tough, but I enjoyed it more now that the uphill is taking less effort for me. Yay legs. I lost a lot of time on the downhills because of the rain, which forced me to slow down a lot because I was afraid of slipping and falling. It turns out my brakes were only about 50% effective in the rain, so I squeezed them a lot harder today. As a result, at the end of day both my front and rear brakes are near useless, and I have to readjust them tomorrow. I think nothing's broken, but I definitely need to look at it before I continue. I wonder if I can get a disc brake installed when I get to Kyoto...
Still, today felt good. I was afraid my iPod would get wet so I didn't listen to music all day. I thought that would bore me, but instead it left my mind free to think about all kinds of things while on the road. Normally I'd be too preoccupied with suffering, but it's getting better recently.
People are more kind to me in the rain. I stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch and took about 10 minutes to take off most of my wet clothes before entering the shop. When entering the old lady (yet another old lady I made friends with! Where are the young ladies??) provided me with a small heater for my feet, which were all shriveled up from the water. I had another curry udon, which I am starting to believe is the greatest meal ever created. It's easy to eat because it's noodles, it's very warm and soupy, and yet it's also curry. Brilliant. Upon leaving the restaurant a random guest came up to me and gave me a towel, and the old lady owner gave me some candy. So nice.
Shoes, socks and gloves were all soaking wet, of course. I entertained random passers-by with my water-jesus act, where I create flows of water by squeezing my hands. (my gloves were not waterproof)
When I first entered route 42 I had already done 40+kms. Every x kilometers a road sign would pop up saying "Owase x km". I have never heard of Owase, nor have I thought of going there, but apparently it's my destination for today, and that's where I am now. I'm in a business hotel, not too expensive, but I could have saved money by spending more time looking for the youth hostel. I asked three locals if there was a youth hostel, and they all told me that there is one, but they didn't know where. Rather than spending more time in the pouring rain I decided to be lazy and go for the crappy business hotel instead. After I cycled 100+ km's can I call myself tired instead of lazy? Hm.
Anyway, this place is more awesome than I expected. It's not a hotel room, it's actually a regular apartment. It has a kitchen, living room and bedroom, all Japanese style. The best part of it is that there's a washing machine in front of the room, so I finally had an opportunity to wash my clothes! And now that my cold is over I can actually smell the difference! :D
Tomorrow I have to fix stuff: bicycle computer stopped working today, front and rear brakes need fixing. The weather's supposed to be good so I think I can camp.
Lastly, a minor rant about truck drivers. Some truck drivers are bloody brilliant: they overtake in a very wide line, don't go too fast so they don't spray water all over you (well, me), yet still manage to overtake quite quickly and without trouble. Then there's the asshole truck driver type, who overtakes at very high speed with only centimeters to spare. I tend to insult these people in English even though I know they cannot hear it. This satisifies me. As for car drivers, there's only two types of drivers: normal drivers and ridiculously careful drivers. The careful drivers fail to overtake about 3 or 4 times at areas where it would be easily possible to overtake me, and then when they do finally overtake, they don't leave enough distance between me and them, and they go really really slowly, creating a dangerous situation for the drivers on the other side of the road.
Ok, enough ranting, time to go to bed!