028: Kyoto, rest day (or two)

Sunday, April 24th – Monday, April 25th

I spent Sunday touring Kyoto’s many cycle shops. I lost count, but i’ve probably been to eight or nine, maybe ten now, that’s excluding the cycle section of the huge Yodabashi store here.

I quickly gave up on the idea of replacing the forks, I’m hoping they’ll hold up for for now. Finding a replacement front wheel was hard enough.

I got up early on Sunday after eating a breakfast of one plastic wrapped piece of bread and cycled around the empty sleepy streets waiting for things to open. It restored my faith in bikes and cycling again, though of course breezing around a quiet city is very different from riding a fully loaded bike half way up a country.

Now I have a new front wheel, the rear wheel is straightened (for the fourth time – it will probably need replacing soon), and instead of a front rack for panniers I have a front ‘shelf’ – the only close thing I could find at all. I’m going to get rid of most of my cooking stuff, post some more stuff home, then hopefully get what remains back on my bike tomorrow.


I stayed an extra day in Kyoto since I didn’t see much on Sunday and I liked the feel of the place. I cycled to Arashiyama for a while, and tried to cycle the bamboo path, though it was a little too busy. I spotted someone else’s touring bike locked nearby and thought about waiting around to speak to them but instead had a green tea ice-cream and headed across town again for a burger at Grand Burger, a simple diner style place near the imperial palace park.

I went back to the hostel for a bit to re-sort my things, and then posted a couple of items home. I skirted around the edge of Maruyama park, then back to a cafe and book store i’d spent a bit of Sunday in via a small thrift store where I bought a few old photographs from a box stuffed with them.

I barely saw any shrines or temples, but I know I spent most of my time in these back in 2008, and since I have only strong memories of one or two, I don’t believe i’m missing too much. And would rather enjoy just being in the city, cycling around, drinking coffee, and stopping at what interests me. I’ve pretty much given up the ‘Lonely Planet’ way of travel after Central America, and feel that discovering a city on your own terms is a far better way to experience things. Though my tour of bike shops wasn’t the usual tourist trail it was fun trying to figure things out, and I saw a lot of the city in the process.

I’m over half way to Tokyo. And this week (thanks to Strava) I noticed i’d cycled over 100 hours, and covered over 1000 miles on my bike in the last month or so – that’s like doing my work commute, to the office and back, for an entire working year. Putting things it that perspective, it felt more acceptable for things to start breaking.

These couple of days were a chance to reflect on how far i’d come, both distance-wise and my state of mind in relation to travel. I couldn’t imagine going back to backpacking now – despite the problems i’ve faced on the bike I feel it’s given me the purpose and challenge that I was missing before.

I’m planning on getting up early tomorrow to see Kiyomiza-dera temple, one of the few which stuck in my mind my earlier visit, before heading out of the city in the direction of Mie Prefecture and the Ise Bay.


Mac Demarco – Chamber of Reflection