Standing at the start line, ready for a challenging 105 mile ride to start, mist and fog rolled across our path, it had rained the night before so the roads were a bit damp but not too wet. As we rode the hilly, rolling course the sun started to peek out over a misty horizon and dry the roads. At times during the ride it felt like being on a roller coaster because as soon as you crested one hill, you were blasting down the other side and getting ready to start pedaling up another short and steep hill climb. All along the route, about 30 km’s apart there were aid stations staffed with friendly, smiling and waving people from the local town offering up homemade local specialty foods. Octopus curry, Sweet red bean, cake buns, shark fin soup, and a special knobby looking, red sea urchin cooked to perfection, each and every one more delicious than the last.
What kept all the riders motivated and pumped was not the thought of the finish line but the crowds of friendly people lining the road along the course waving and cheering for you as you went by, as tired and sore as I was feeling, I could not help it but wave, smile back and thank them as I whizzed by. Many people who recognized the military team jersey stopped us to talk, shake our hands and thanked us for all the help during Operation Tomodachi.
As the ride drew to a close and nearer to the start-finish line, riders were digging deep for that little extra push of strength to finish, all along the road riders were encouraging each other with “ganbatte” and my favorite, “let’s go.” Rolling across the finish line was fantastic as every group or rider that crossed that line was greeted with cheers, applause and flashes from cameras going off documenting your crossing of the finish line. What a great way to spend a Sunday, on top of that we met some local officials and the U.S. Ambassador to Japan as well, Ambassador Kennedy, she rode the course too. She handshake with us and asked tons of questions of our group. What a day, what a ride.