A HUGE CYCLING ENDURANCE CHALLENGE
In September 2015, I will take on a huge cycling endurance challenge across Japan to raise awareness and funds for Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project. The work Ric and his team do is truly inspiring; to end the captivity, live trade and cruel slaughter of dolphins around the world. I really want to help educate people about what goes on in aquariums, swim with dolphin shows and the way cetaceans are cruelly exploited for money and greed.
The brutal Taiji dolphin drives in Japan are one of the many places around the world dolphins are captured or slaughtered.
The Academy-winning film ‘The Cove’ (a must watch!) exposes what really goes on here, with most Japanese people completely unaware of the cruelty. I aim to meet and speak to many people on my challenge to show them what goes on in Taiji, to educate them but respect their culture. Most Japanese people don’t eat dolphin meat and are disgusted when they hear about Taiji. I also hope to reach many, many more people around the world.
The ride covers 3,600km over 21 days, climbing 175,000ft during typhoon season. I’ll spend one day to help as a Cove Monitor when I arrive in Taiji, another climbing the summit of Mt Fuji. I’ll ride completely solo and unsupported and cannot wait to start! Please help by donating to this great cause, all your donations do great things.
My my my! The last day of the challenge! A short ride by all accounts but tested my legs from the get go with a big headwind most of the way in. The sun was shining, blue cove day confirmed and I was finishing one of the best experiences of my life, today. The ride took me through some rolling hills and final glimpses of paddy fields, farms and villages. I eased back on the pace to take it all in and breath the country air. The countryside was so green and vibrant, I really wanted to see it at a relaxed pace before hitting the urban overload of Tokyo. I am going to miss this. The wind was a parting gift for the last day, as were the small hills which seemed like mountains when I knew the end was in sight. As I cycled through the last of the countryside before urban sprawl, I thought about what an amazing journey this has been. I have been overwhelmed by the support you've all shown me. Your comments have really motivated me, given me the encouragement and drive to carry on. The donations have been so generous, I've been blown away by the amounts given and how far reaching across the globe they've been! I wanted to show people what Japan is like and not just a small village in Wakayama prefecture. I wanted to be able to have something in common to Japanese people I've met and tried to converse with, I've seen your country at..
Is this really the penultimate day of this challenge? It hasn't sunk in yet. I'm missing home like crazy now, my beautiful girlfriend Kate, my amazing dogs Elmo and Wilma, my friends, Dad, Harriet, family, everyone at work, the pub, Norwich City Football Club, Homelands, falafel, Hummus and Redwell larger as a starter for 6! Despite my aching legs, I told myself I wanted to cover a good distance today. To see as much as I could before the hair raiser ride into Tokyo Shibuya tomorrow! Good job my legs paid attention! It wasn't long before news came through of a blue cove, I love hearing that! I just wish everyday was a blue cove and we didn't need to campaign against this cruelty. I decided to head out to the lighthouse near Choshi, I figured it would be good to see out to sea before heading down the coast. At 7:30am I get to see families going about their business for the day ahead, people heading to work and children off to school. It's the same in any country, one group are excited and eager to get there, the next few kids you see look like they'd rather pull a sickie than be in school for the day. Lagging behind, scraping their feet along the ground. It brought a smile to my face thinking of days I felt like that at school. The main road in was drab and boring. Strip malls and car dealers for miles and miles, but Chiba wins the 2015 'Best..
I can't believe I have 2 days to go. 2 weeks ago when I was getting battered by typhoon rain and wind, it felt like this challenge would never end. Yet fast forward to now and I can't believe it's nearly over. I've just about reached 3,000km covered, what a great end to a day to celebrate a blue cove! It took me a long time to get going today, the climb, speed and miles I did yesterday took their toll a little. I headed out on busy rush hour roads from Koriyama into a very hot and humid day. The roads were awful all day. There was hardly any space for me, after all, some of these roads wind their way around rivers and mountain valleys. It made for a very stressful ride. The paths were the worst I've had to ride too. More often than not, just a carpet of weeds, grass, gravel, sand, vines, trees and broken slabs. Add to that the worst day of dangerous driving I've had to endure. Often I'd find myself with no path so had to use the narrow roads. Huge trucks were sharing the road, most of them didn't wait for any gap in oncoming traffic, they just flew past me. Twice I was forced off the road because they'd pull back into the lane straightaway. I was a nervous wreck for a lot of that ride. If I could use the road during a clear patch of traffic, I'd try to go as far as possible...
I woke up the spriteliest I've felt all challenge. I sprang out of bed and was champing at the bit to hit the road. Bike was all packed, but breakfast wasn't until 7am, I managed to set off at 7:30am to a foggy start. It soon cleared and news came through that it was a blue cove day which really made my day. Roads were really clear, it was Sunday after all. I didn't use the paths once, I had a wide space in the hard shoulder which I used for most of the ride. As I turned along the 6 route, I was met by a stiff breeze. Nothing too much, but enough to add on more effort. But today I felt really strong and like I could take on anything. I'd averaged 19.5 mph for the first 60 miles, unheard of here given the amount of traffic, lights, junctions, paths and obstacles. But I used the road today and timed lights well. I had plenty in the tank, a day off the bike had done me good yesterday! I missed the turn for Minamisoma so wasn't able to call in and see the housing shelter dogs again. Further on I could see more damage from the tsunami, more scars on the land and construction work on sea defences in the distance. It looked bleak, I couldn't see many more shelters like the one Takayo and I visited yesterday. There are thousands upon thousands of black bags containing tons of contents all over the countryside. These..
No cycling today, I couldn't pass by the area without spending a day where the Tsunami hit. Takayo had read about my challenge and messaged me offering to help arrange somewhere to go. She did a fantastic job! Takayo is a legend, she's a voice against dolphin hunting, even coming from a town that whales, hunts sharks and dolphins (to a lesser extent), but is totally against it. She has put up with a lot of pressure and harassment for her views in Japan, I have the utmost respect for her. She picked me up at 9am after which we headed to a big store to fill her car up with as much as we could fit. We beelined for the toy section straightaway! Great minds! We soon filled 2 baskets full of all sorts of toys. Cars, dolls, Lego bricks, kites; we went and got another pile of baskets to cope with the load. 4 baskets full of toys, cuddly bears, colouring books, it was great fun! Realising we needed room for other stuff, we contained our eagerness for toys and grabbed a load of kitchenware. Another couple of piled high baskets and onto clothing. We'd be advised to buy winter clothes so bought dozens of pairs of gloves, warm socks, blankets, scarves and some towels too. We finished in this section and headed to the cashier who had 3 ladies working through the hundreds of items. It was great fun buying all of that, but we needed some pet food too. All we could carry were..
MAKE A DONATION
All donations are gratefully received and do great things to allow Ric and his team help fight the cruel slaughter and captivity of dolphins.DONATE NOW
FOLLOW THE CHALLENGE
You can keep up to date with daily blogs during the ride, photos and info. You'll even be able to track Ollie's progress using an interactive map!