bikes x mcdonalds

After days and days of Japanese food on my Japan Bike Tour, I have the worst confession in the world. It is a blasphemy to all foodies, fitness addicts and the health conscious…

Eight days in the ride, Jody and I decided to use a rainy day to make a 60km loop to the nearest McDonalds to our inn while the rest of the group took the day off and toured a temple. During breakfast, someone asked us why we would go to McDonald\’s and Jody pointed out that it was the journey that mattered not the destination… but I really wanted to go to McDonald\’s. Fuck the journey, this ride was about the destination. Hah! It became more about the journey after we satisfed our craving and took the scenic way home.

To make it worse, the first and last meal I had in Japan was McDonalds. French fries to be exact. When I landed in Narita, I checked into my hotel and walked down the street… the first thing I came by was McDonalds and the thought of french fries consumed me. 11 days and 75o kilometers later when we arrived back in Narita, I checked into the same hotel, walked down the street and bought some french fries and chicken nuggets. And a burger.

That is 3x more McDonalds I eat in a year at home! But then I always said that McDonalds is always okay on vacation and during epic bike rides. In fact, I had McDonalds mid-ride, a few weeks ago in mid-September when I did my biggest ride ever. I really think that McDonalds really lit the fire in my legs because I easily spun myself the last 60km home, on a segment where I usually die on. So you see, as long as you are doing epic bike rides or traveling (and not give a sh!t), then McDonalds is totally okay.

But guess what? No guilt! We worked for it!

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    bike tour  x  japan

    bike tour x japan

    As I am almost a month into my Asia trip, I am sitting in my hotel room in Hong Kong, finally having some alone time and am beginning to reminisce about my trip thus far. On September 27, I got on an airplane and flew across the Pacific Ocean to the Land of the Rising Run. Japan seems to be on everyone\’s bucket list and I\’m not sure why, but it has never been on mine. When my friend, Jim, presented me the opportunity to see it by bike, I didn\’t hesitate and committed as soon as I could.



    Our daily routine began with an early start and funny enough, because of the minor jet lag (that I never use to get when I was once young) got me up early and ready to sleep by 10pm. I never had any trouble getting up! We would commune as a group for breakfast at 8am, pack and get our bikes ready, check out and roll out by 9-10am. We\’d stop somewhere along the way for lunch, arrive at our destination mid-afternoon, check into our next hotel, where I would head straight to the onsen. Around 7pm, we would meet again for dinner which took an hour or two and then I would retire back to my room. The days must sound monotonous and drab but for a cyclist like me, it was heaven on earth. It also gave me the opportunity to \”detox\” from the non-stop busyness of life (although I abused my body physically by consecutive days of vigorous riding) and most importantly, my deeply-introverted self got quite the escape.

    The inns we stayed in were no 5-star hotels but they were mainly traditional Japanese inns— clean, simple and cozy with delicious breakfasts and dinners, and indoor onsen. Being in the dirty and sweaty state that I was in after each ride, the barest accommodation would have been fine with me (as long as it was clean). We were also met with the legendary hospitality of the Japanese. I couldn\’t have had asked for more! The 11 days I spent touring Japan by bike with very minimal belongings really taught me that you don\’t need much to live on and be fulfilled.


    And the FOOD.

    This tour was a CYCLING + FOODIE HEAVEN! Unfortunately, I think I was the only \”foodie\” on the trip (it must be a \’millennial\’ thing as the rest of the group were much older) and I seemed to be the only one who was sometimes too dramatically excited when we walked into the dining room. Good thing I really have no shame when it comes to my piggy problems. We awoke each morning to a beautiful Japanese bento box breakfast prepared by our hotel and as someone who doesn\’t normally eat breakfast or prior to bike rides at home, I still had to devour everything. The excuse I gave myself: \”this is part of the journey!\”


    For lunch, we stopped at small restaurants (think mom n\’ pop) along the way: ramen, udon, soba. Omigod, you have no idea how much I LOVE noodles. As delicious as breakfast, dinners and all the snacks in between were, there is nothing quite like a hearty bowl of noodles.


    In the evenings after a long day of riding to our next ryokan, we were presented with a huge spread of meticulously prepared Japanese dishes while a never-ending stream of plates came from the kitchen as we devoured our way through dinner. No two meal we had were the same and I dined on some of the best dishes I\’ve ever had. Every meal was overwhelmingly decadent in size yet still managed to be light and healthy at the same time. No wonder the Japanese lives for so long! I have never eaten so well in my life.

    No matter how much I love riding…


    …Once the realization that we are almost at our destination hit, there is only one thought consuming my mind: showering (unless I\’m working out, I hate being dirty). In this situation, no matter how painful that day\’s ride was, I always knew I had one thing to look forward to: the soak in a JAPANESE ONSEN! Each ryokan we stayed in contained an indoor onsen and I was the only female of the group, and sometimes, in the entire inn, so it was like having a huge, luxurious private-public bath! I don\’t like enclosed spaces and cleaning bathrooms so I have become a huge fan of public baths. It really felt great to make a mess, splash water everywhere and not have to clean up!! You are required to shower before going completely naked into the hot tub as not to contaminate the water… the water is supposedly clean but I always had another quick shower after (because you never know). Let me tell you, there is nothing like peeling off your dirty cycling gear and a wondrous onsen soak after hours and hours of riding in hot/cold/wet/windy weather. The thought of it made the painful parts of the rides much less painful. I know we should say, \”it\’s the journey, not the destination\” but sometimes, you have to admit a shower and a hot tub is not a bad thought.

    Again, as much as I love riding, that could arguably be the best part of the ride. Aside from the food. Aside from the epic climbs. Aside from… wait, I guess that makes everything about this bike tour equally the best!!

    Perhaps I will get to writing more about this epic bike tour later. Stay tuned…

    In the mean time, please head over to the blog of our dear leader, Jim the tour organizer, for a daily account of our Japan Bike Tour.

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      Bike Touring in Japan: Packing

      Bike Touring in Japan: Packing

      I have been traveling a lot this year and I\’ve learned a lot of lessons and picked up the a lot of quirks (and some bad habits). My next big trip is a 10-day self-supported [\”credit card\”] bicycle tour in Japan and I knew packing was going to be a challenge… I really don\’t like messing anything up when it comes to my #BIKELIFE. Afterwards, I\’ll be traveling around Asia for a month so it is crucial I pack as light as possible, although I will probably Fedex all my cycling gear home right away. The last few tours I\’ve done have all been fully-supported so packing had never been a problem but I\’m excited to try being (kind of) self-sufficient!


      Being the #lazycyclist that I am, of course, I did not plan this tour. My friend, Jim, whom I met when I first started riding seriously in 2012 because he led a group in Vancouver, and whom I like to call my \”bike dad\”, toured in Japan a few times and has been talking it up over the years. This year, he decided to organize a tour for a small group of us. We will riding north of Tokyo and staying in hotels and ryokens. Lots of rain is forecasted but being a Vancouverite, I honestly don\’t mind riding in the rain …especially when I know a long soak in an onsen and delicious Japanese food will be prescribed at the end of the day. Cycling in a new country is an exotic experience… you don\’t know what you may come across but whatever it is, you know you won\’t regret it.


      I am flying to Tokyo with my small carry-on, my Rapha backpack and my purse, and then my friends will bring my large (most likely overweight) suitcase and Weekender when they fly in after my tour. Utilizing Japan\’s efficient overnight mail delivery system, we will have two small bags shipped alternately to our next hotels. Each bag will contain a couple sets of street clothes to satisfy my need for variety, shoes, undergarments and toiletries. I always regret \”dressing like a bum.\” Life is too short to wear shitty clothes.


      For long vacations, I never travel without my supplements, my favorite hair brush, an electric toothbrush and toiletries… all my full-sized skin products. I learned that there are some luxuries a woman should never have to give up! But over the last few months, I have been testing and downsizing my makeup products because I\’m sick of traveling with heavy palettes for those trips where we jump from city to city. For this bike tour, I packed all my larger toiletries in one bag and a bunch of sample sized products in the other since I need double of everything. Ugh, why am I so high maintenance? Well, I will be unapologetic about it. I\’m not bringing much make up except for a compact, eyeliner and chapstick… but I am bringing an electric toothbrush and floss! My dentist is my least favorite person in the world.

      \"Packing \"Make

      I am packing 3 jerseys, 2 sets of bibs, 2 headbands and 2 sets of arm screens. Japan in October is hot and humid (20-30°C) so all I need is a vest, a light rain jacket and maybe knee warmers (for chilly roll-outs!). There\’s no point packing anymore rain gear because once you are wet… you are wet. Suck it up!! I am bringing my own shoes, helmet and lights but I rented a roadbike from G.S. Astuto which is conveniently being delivered to my hotel upon my arrival. Life is too short to ride shitty bikes.


      In my Rapha Apidura saddle bag, I\’ll be carrying essentials such as my phone, passport, tools, sunscreen, wet wipes, a vest, rain jacket, an external battery, my charging cables for my phone + bluetooth headset + Garmin, mints, food… and deodorant. You can\’t forget deodorant!! I can probably fit all of this into the (bulging) back pockets of my jersey but the Rapha Apidura saddle bag is too pretty to not use, and has been proven not to be cumbersome even when packed full.

      We\’ve been talking about and planning this trip for almost a year now and I can\’t believe the time has come. I don\’t normally get excited for vacations but when it comes to BIKES + ASIA (which has a soft spot in my heart), I can\’t help but to be giddy. I hope I didn\’t under-pack… but I guess that gives me an excuse to shop!


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