Rhino Cam 16: South Korea and Japan

This latest Rhino Cam is biblical in length, but if you’ve only got a few minutes, just skip to the end and watch the utter madness of our 24 hours in Tokyo.

Within hours of landing in South Korea, our life on the road changed dramatically. We were instantly surrounded by hundreds of cyclists, many on top of the range racing bikes sporting Rapha, Pinnarello and every other expensive bike brand you can think of. Coffee shops littered the pristine cycle path that whizzed us through Seoul city centre and out the other side. Without us even realising we had rocketed straight through one of the biggest cities in the world. South Korea clearly has gone bike crazy. Life was easy again.

The interior of Korea is packed with stunning countryside  and a pristine cycle path that takes you all the way from Seoul in the north to Busan in the south. Anyone who has the opportunity to do this ride, should. It has been one of the highlights of the trip so far. We enjoyed a fantastic few days in Ulsan with Johan’s ex-work colleagues and my bike absconded to the biggest shipyard in the world to get a much needed make over.

We hit the ground running in Japan and headed straight up into the hills where we spent two days on some of the most magical country roads of the trip. A trip to Hiroshima to see the peace memorial left us humbled but we were soon island hopping around the Inland Sea and loving life again. 200km of of continuous city cycling took us through the urban nexus of Japan from Kobe to Osaka to Kyoto. We’re not big on cities, but Kyoto was the loveliest city we have seen so far, with oodles of charm, lovely lantern lit streets, just maybe a few too many temples! To the mountains. Our first few days climbing up into the Japan Alps found us battling against heavy rain from the the tail end of a typhoon and narrowly avoiding the eruption of Mount Ontake, which popped it’s lid just 24 hours after we climbed the col on it’s north ridge. The climbing took its toll though and despite the lovely scenery our numb knees decided to head down to Tokyo a bit earlier than planned. The good Doctor Matt McVicar kindly introduced us to the insanity of Tokyo and left our senses reeling after 24 hours of non-stop neon, cutie culture, manga, J-pop mayhem. Japan we salute you. You were expensive, but worth it in every way.

South Korea and Japan were in essence a holiday after the hostility of the Asian interior, but we still had challenges, mostly in our minds. With life on the road being relatively straight forward our brains had the time and energy to drift and wander into all sorts of daft places, which has made the last few weeks a bit of an emotional roller coaster. We crossed a threshold many weeks ago that is hard to explain, but in essence what we are doing became normal, even natural. Our old preferences just don’t seem as interesting and a night in the tent is now preferable to a bed, a bike better than a train, a pot noodle better than a spaghetti bolognese. Madness. With the last leg of the trip in sight the prospect of returning to our old lives all seems a bit bewildering.

Everything changes now. We fly to San Fransisco tomorrow to meet Anna and Reece. Team Rhino is going from two to four! We couldn’t be more excited and are thrilled to have them join us for the final leg! The company will do us the world of good. Roll on America. Let’s make it epic.