Lake Biwa


At 9:50am, August 20th, 2002, Phillip L. Evans set off on a bike ride that would take him from Kayashima to Lake Biwa and back again all within a 12hr timespan. He followed the not so scenic Route One (pictured on the left) where he was forced to wear a mask because of all the diesel fumes that assaulted him from the trucks and cars thundering by him as they attempted to shake him off his seat. Despite the bad scenery, the fact that Phill'd never cycled for more than an hour, and the ridiculously fast winds blowing him to a virtual standstill, his determination and hope were both strong.

His ride?
A "mamachari". A.K.A. a Granny Goes Shopping Bike. Check out the stats.

Speeds: One
Frame: Tinfoil and easily bent by wind and white cars coming out of parking lots
Brakes: One
Handy dandy basket for storing groceries and such: One
Useless bell for warning 3 ton semi's, passing within inches of him, of his presence: One
Cost: 4,000 yen (about $37 US at the time)
Chance of carrying Phill all the way to Lake Biwa and back: None.


Sure, sure, Phill had a lot of factors working against him, but that wasn't going to stop him from enjoying the trip. So he stopped every time something bright and shinny caught his eye. One time it was a Sega Land arcade. One time it was a one yen coin. One time it was a mirage of a one yen coin that was a result of Phill's steadily progressing hallucinations. And yet another time it was the awesome playground that is pictured on the right of this page.

Yes, Phill was a little afraid of all the cars and trucks speeding by him as he rode alongside traffic during the times when there was no sidewalk for him to traverse. And yes, the hot and humid Osaka weather was wearing him down rapidly. None the less Phill was Living On A Prayer and a little friend by the name of Destiny was "taking him by the hand, promising he'd make it, cause he was already half way there".



Besides, the scenery was beginning to improve. There were rivers, buildings, and even a few temples and shrines as Phill entered both Kyoto and his 3rd hour of riding.


Yes indeed, things were looking up! Too bad the driver of the now infamous white Honda (license plate 70-47, Kyoto) wasn't looking up as he drove out of the ramen parking lot [oblivious to Phill's frantic bell ringing] and slammed his car right into Phill and his bike.

It was Phill's first time to get hit by a car, so he isn't quite sure, but he thinks he was probably as undamaged as anyone could possibly be that got hit by a car. In fact he wasn't harmed at all if you don't count the strain on his vocal cords from yelling a string of obscenities at the unobservant oaf of a driver, the over extended muscles in his index finger from the frenzied ringing of his bicycle bell, or the urine stains all over his shirt and pants. His poor little granny bike however was another story.

After the kind driver sped off into oncoming traffic without acknowledging any remorse Phill noticed that his bike was moving a little slower than before (which up until then he didn't think was even possible) and making some strange noises. As a result, Phill gave up his life long dream of riding from Kayashima to Lake Biwa on a crappy ass bike and just hopped on a train at Kyoto station for the rest of the distance.


And after all that pain, boredom, bowel moving fear, and agony, boy oh boy was Lake Biwa worth it! Sure it was pissant small compared with the Great Lakes, it was too cold to swim in, and had absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But boy was it
worth it!

And to top it all off Phill got to go on a fantastic voyage aboard Shiga Prefecture's sister state named boat "The Michigan". Look at the unfathomable joy on his face in the picture (above right) as he forms a Block O and hums "we don't give a damn about the whole state of Michigan cause we're from O-HI-O". That great state's vessel was even equipped with a gaggle of real live gaijin (that's Japanese for foreigner) that sang their stunning renditions of 1960s and 70s classic American rock songs while "The Michigan" aimlessly meandered around the austere waters of Lake Biwa.

And after all that fun Phill still managed to squeeze in 3 1/2 more hours of bike riding between 5:30pm and 9:00pm of the same day. After which he went directly to bed and slept for 12 hours straight in an attempt to forget that day ever happened.

Phill would recommend attempting to ride a crap ass bike all the way to Lake Biwa in the middle of an Osaka August to anyone whom... well.... er.... basically, Phill would recommend doing what he did to anyone whom he really, really, didn't like. Everyone else he would advise against it.

 


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