The other day I got to witness the most amazing experience of watching a lady in her 70s touch an iPad for the first time, and right before my eyes the delight and sparkle on her face transformed her into a young girl again. It was magical.
Yet this experience at an Apple Store in Ohio was marred by some shockingly un-Apple bumps in the road.
I'm in America visiting my folks, and took the opportunity of being here to help Ann, a family friend in her 70s, buy her first computer. Until now her most technically-advanced electronics were a flip-phone and a television, but she was ready to take the plunge into email and Facebook. She was familiar with the unrelenting grief and despair Windows caused her husband, so she wanted something different. We headed to the Apple Store.
It was packed, which as an AAPL shareholder I always like to see.
We were soon attended to by staff, and I let Ann interact with them, describing what she wanted a computer for, and listening to their ideas and recommendations.
First she was shown the lowest-end MacBook Air, a tiny laptop. My mom has one of these and earlier at lunch had shown it to Ann, and had raved all about it, so prior to arriving at the store, Ann and I thought that she'd probably buy a MacBook Air. Under direction of the Apple sales staff, Ann used a MacBook Air for some basic web surfing and email, and seemed pleased. She took to it easily.
Then she was shown the same basic browsing and email on an iPad Air. Over the course of a few minutes Ann's demeanor changed from mild interest (she'd heard of these “iPad” things before) to pure, unfettered delight.
I've never seen anything like it, and I cannot begin to adequately describe the situation.
Ann has a youth and vibrance that belies her age, with an easy laugh and smile that I've seen many times, but nothing prepared me for the reaction written across her face... giddy, unadulterated, sparkling delight. There's no other word for it.
As she exclaimed “This is it, this is for me!”, I told her that the sparkle in her eyes made her look 30 years younger, but in reality the only time I've ever seen something even close is when a young child gets the toy they've been wanting. But this was less materialistic, more pure. I imagined a duck living in the desert for decades not knowing that water even existed, finally entering a lake for the first time. I feel I'm a better person just for having witnessed it.
In comparison, the exuberant “amaaaazing” reaction of my 23-month-old niece to her first iPad experience seems pale (but if you've not heard the short audio on that post, it'll certainly bring a smile to your heart).
Anyway, Ann bought an iPad Air, a wireless keyboard, and a case/cover, and Apple staff helped her set it up. Both before and after the sale, staff spent considerable time with her, never rushing, never pressuring, always patient. Ann felt truly the center of their attention, with their concern not for the sale but for her happiness and satisfaction. It was a wonderful experience.
That was the good. The rest of this long story is not always so good.
Setup of the iPad involved creating Ann's first email account, and this is where I got my first surprise of the day.
I figured that they would create an iCloud account for her, but no, to create an Apple ID they needed an email account from outside the Apple ecosystem, so they created a GMail account for her. This struck me as very odd, but hey, they're the experts.
They then used her GMail address to create an Apple ID for her, and set up her iPad. They helped her install the Apple Store app, then used that to schedule a free training class at the store next week.
Pleased as punch and floating on air, we went to her house to show her husband, and we sat for some basic lessons. I showed Ann how to surf the web, make bookmarks, do email and create contacts, Facetime video conference, use the camera, check the calendar, talk to Siri, etc. She took to it very easily.
But we ran into some problems that I didn't know how to solve.
Disappointment #1 for the day was that the iPad Air Smart Case didn't seem to fit her iPad Air very well, and the hole for the camera didn't line up properly. When deciding on what model of iPad to buy, Apple staff had explained the differences between the “iPad Air” and the “iPad Air 2” included subtle physical differences like the location of the camera, so it seemed to me that Ann must have been sold the wrong case. Yet the labeling on the box for the case (“iPad Air Smart Case”) clearly matched the labeling on the box for the iPad (“iPad Air”) — neither referenced the “Air 2” we'd seen on packaging for the newer models — so I was confused.
Disappointment #2 for the day was in my call to Apple Care to ask about the issue. The lady who answered my call seemed utterly uninterested in life, doing her job on autopilot just to get to the end of the shift. I've had more enthusiastic calls with the DMV.
So we went back to the Apple Store and showed the clearly-misaligned camera hole along with the clearly-matching packaging. I figured we be told “yikes, sorry about that, here's the proper case”, but instead we got an inexplicable “Yeah, sorry, it's hard to explain”.
The guy tried to explain something that he clearly didn't understand well himself, causing me to finally interrupt him and say “look, she just wants a case that fits her iPad. She doesn't care what it's called... can you show her something that actually fits what she just bought?”.
Again the response was unexpected. I thought he'd say “Sure, just a moment”, but instead we got a “I don't know, but we can go take a look.”. Wow, this was not the Apple Experience I was expecting. How hard can it be?
It was a fiasco. They had a huge wall of cases, with half clearly marked “iPad Air 2” and the other half clearly marked “iPad Air”. You'd think that it couldn't be simpler, but in reality all the cases were for the iPad Air 2, including those marked “iPad Air”. Why were they explicitly labeled differently when they were explicitly for the same device, and explicitly incompatible with the device for which it was labeled??? It was beyond surreal.
The guy explained that if you looked on the back of the “iPad Air” package, the little sticker with the barcode included microscopic text that said “(second generation)”, meaning it was for the iPad Air 2. The logical person inside of me wanted to explode at the stupidity of it... not only of the misleading labeling, but mostly at the unmitigated stupidity of how the Apple Store handled the display and sales. The guy who sold Ann the iPad Air explicitly mentioned the differences between the models and explicitly told her that the iPad Air 2 cases wouldn't fit her purchase, yet somehow didn't realize that the “iPad Air” cases wouldn't either. This was his job. How could Apple Staff not know this? The Air 2 has been on sale for almost a year... were we the first to discover this crazy labeling. Beyond surreal.
In marveling at the absurdity of the situation, I happened to noticed that one of the “iPad Air” cases did not have the “second generation” microtext on the back. Oh, we're told, this one does fit Ann's purchase. Apple Staff hadn't realized they had these mixed in there. Of perhaps the 70 “iPad Air” cases on display, I noticed three that would fit Ann's “iPad Air”. She didn't like the color, but it was that or nothing, so she exchanged the case. The guy offered to order her the color of her choice and swap it out when it arrived, but by this time we just wanted to move on.
(The only plausible explanation for the labeling that I can come up with is that when Apple started selling cases for the new iPad Air 2, they still had a huge stockpile of packaging for the original model that they didn't want to waste, so they shoved the new cases into the old packaging and slapped the microtext sticker on the back. When that ran out, new packaging included the proper “iPAd Air 2” on the front, and this mix of labels we saw at the store reflected the mix of old and new stock. On the other hand, I have not been able to come up with a plausible explanation for how the Apple Store handles this mix as they do, utter than pure apathy and incompetence.)
Overall, what a disappointing, un-Apple-like experience. Things were about to get worse.
I had two questions about the email app, both leading down holes I never would have imagined.
The first seemed pretty simple: why is there no “trash” icon when viewing an email message? How do you delete a message? The identical app on my iPhone has a trash icon that's obvious and intuitive, but on Ann's iPad the same spot instead has what looks like a filing-cabinet icon whose purpose didn't seem apparent, and upon testing we couldn't figure out what it actually did.
The guy spent a considerable time in the labyrinth of iPad settings and couldn't figure it out, so we put that on the back burner and moved on.
My second question was about push notifications for new messages. It didn't surprise me that push notifications wouldn't work when connected only via Wifi, so I just asked to confirm this. But no, I was told that they should work. Ann wasn't getting notifications when I sent test emails, so the guy dives again into the labyrinth of settings for what seemed an eternity, only to end up suggesting to switch from GMail to iCloud for her email.
Just a few hours prior we'd been told that a non-iCloud account was required, but now we were being told to switch to iCloud. I didn't want Ann to have to juggle two email addresses, but no worries, Apple Staff told us, we'll switch your Apple ID registration to your iCloud address so that you can completely abandon the GMail address. Geez, okay, why didn't we do this from the start, but okay, let's do it.
So he create the new account and we explained everything to Ann, who for the first time in the long day was starting to show signs of being overwhelmed. Once things were finally set up, test emails from me showed up on her iPad with immediate notifications as we wanted, so it was worth it. Then he went to switch her Apple ID registration over to her iCloud address so that she could completely abandon the GMail address they'd made for her earlier, and he hit a snag... it wouldn't let him switch.
Clearly this staff member was outside his area of expertise, but instead of asking one of his more-experienced colleagues, he starts Googling for a solution. This did not inspire confidence, and I “strongly encouraged” him to ask someone for help. He did, and the end result was that we backpedaled on the whole iCloud thing, reverted back to GMail, and simply gave up on push notifications. By this point the store was closing and we just wanted to get out of there.
But somewhere along the way he had figured out how to get the trash icon for Ann, so at least we had that going for us.
Overall Ann was thrilled with her first foray into high tech, but wow, the experiences at the Apple Store sure put a damper on things. As a tech geek I was mortified, and as an APPL shareholder I worry how this bodes for Apple's future.
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 360 — map & image data — nearby photos
“Riding” a bicycle posture-fitting apparatus, at PedalForth Fitting in Kyoto, Japan
photo by Thomas Busch
If you ride a bicycle for long distances, as I have been wont to do lately, you want to feel comfortable on the bike and ride with a posture that doesn't lead to injury. If something is so obviously uncomfortable that you notice it right away then of course you correct it or at least try something else, but it's the subtle poor riding posture that can insidiously lead to long-term injury.
I often get numbness in my fingers after a long ride, and my own brother had to give up cycling after a long ride left him with chronic pain. As I move toward more serious cycling and a more serious bike (and further into an age where injuries take a long time to heal if they heal at all), I thought I'd take the precaution to do things right by having a session at Vincent Flanagan's PedalForth Fitting.
Vincent is a former professional cyclist with an impressive resume... Australian National Mountain Bike Champion (1991), and two-time All-Japan National Mountain Bike Champion (1996, 1997). His non-cycling background is nursing and sports massage.
I thought I'd learn what size bike was appropriate for me, and perhaps how to adjust the seat and handlebar locations to best suit me, but I was surprised to learn so much more.
But first, let's look at some of what a “bike fitting” entails. German friend and ultra-marathon runner Thomas Busch, who cycles just to augment his run training, did a fitting just before me, graciously allowing me to watch and photograph.
I couldn't photograph (or remember) everything that went into it, but here are a few of the high points...
First there's an interview where Vincent asks about your cycling history, equipment, goals, desires, relevant medical history, etc.
Then Vincent takes an inventory of your current bicycle setup...
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400 — map & image data — nearby photos
so it can be measured and, if required, returned to its exact initial position
The shape and construction of the bicycle frame apparently has a strong impact as to how it rides, but from a rider-posture point of view, only three things matter: the location of the pedals, seat, and handlebars. Those are the locations where the rider attaches to the bike, so nothing else really matters, from a posture point of view.
Everything is measured with respect to the crank axle at the bottom of the frame. From what I recall, for the seat the measurements include how far above and behind the crank axle, as well as its tilt and size and cushioning. For the handlebars, how far above and forward. For the pedals, how far from the axle and how they attach to the shoes. Of course, proper shoes and how they attach to the bike are also important.
Vincent takes an inventory of your current setup prior to making any adjustment.
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 320 — map & image data — nearby photos
( it's difficult to see in the photo, except where the laser is painting a red line across Vincent's hand )
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
if the distance to each brake lever is the same, the handlebars are balanced
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 280 — map & image data — nearby photos
laughing at my comment that he looks as if he's about to bless the bike
After taking inventory of the current setup, Vincent takes inventory of some important body characteristics that influence what kind of riding posture is appropriate...
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1100 — map & image data — nearby photos
measured via plank
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 900 — map & image data — nearby photos
special seat shows where your seat-contact points are
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 500 — map & image data — nearby photos
gives insight into the strength of the foot arch
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 360 — map & image data — nearby photos
checking shoe size with a Brannock device
Finally it's time to measure posture on the bike...
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 560 — map & image data — nearby photos
( why do we still call shoes with pedal clips “clipless”? )
Nikon D4 + Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM — 1/160 sec, f/7.1, ISO 3600 — map & image data — nearby photos
the camera is off to the right, facing Thomas square to the side
In the end, an experience cyclist may end up finding out nothing more than “your current setup is good”, and if that's all you get for the $200 fee, it may at first seem steep, but I look at it in the same way as insurance: you do it because you don't know the result ahead of time. I spent $1,000 on travel health insurance for the family's RV trip across America earlier this year. We ended up not needing it, thankfully, but that doesn't meant it was a $1,000 waste.... it was a prudent hedge against uncertainty.
After Thomas' fitting, it was my turn. Thomas kindly took a few photos along the way...
I have very flat feet, with no arch in my foot whatsoever. When I did the single-foot squat test, most of my energy was not spent on lowering my body, but instead on trying to stabilize my body above my foot/ankle. A normal person with a normal arch wouldn't have to waste that energy. Vincent then placed a small folded towel under my arch to provide makeshift support, and the single-foot squat was suddenly much easier.
This revelation was shocking to me, as I never gave a thought to the mechanical problems caused by flat feet. Until now, I thought it merely impacted shoe-fit comfort.
I'd done that single-foot squat test a week prior when I'd stopped by to make and appointment (and ended up chatting for an hour), so when I came today I brought a box of various arch-support insoles that I'd accumulated over the years. I didn't have any cycling shoes at the time, but Thomas lent me his for the fitting.
(As I write this, I'm visiting my folks in The States, and through the magic of Zappos.com I now have two pair of cycling shoes of my own. It seems that European sizing is used for cycling shoes regardless of where you are in the world; my pairs are size 48 from one company and 49 from another.)
The bike-fitting machine includes the ability to monitor the power output of your pedal stroke, and that data, along with much else, is displayed on the computer display...
The machine went up to 450 watts, which I could do easily for a short period. The pros can do that for long periods, which is why they're pros and I am not.
In the end I got lots of good tips about posture and shoes and riding styles, and detailed specific information about what size bike is appropriate for me. I'm in the process of ordering a “real” bicycle now, which hopefully will be waiting for me when I return to Kyoto. Then I'll go back to Vincent to put the fitting's results to practical use in final adjustments on the new bike.
Overall it was a great experience and I learned a lot; if you are near Kyoto and ride often, I highly recommend it. His web site is currently in Japanese only, but of course he can conduct the fitting in English as well.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/10, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Hirosawa-no-ike Lake (広沢池), Kyoto Japan
On a morning bicycle ride other day to Kyoto's western mountains, I made a few snapshots of Hirosawa Lake. It feels like it's a million miles from anywhere, but it's actually just one mile northeast from the teeming tourist crowds in the Arashiyama area.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 28mm — 1/2000 sec, f/2.1, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/125 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250 — map & image data — nearby photos
the place I visited here
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + 17-35mm f/2.8 @ 17mm — 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 360 — map & image data — nearby photos
Kuginuki Jizo Temple (釘抜地蔵)
Without question, the most unique and solemn temple I've ever come across in Japan is the small but emotionally-packed Kuginuki Jizo Temple here in Kyoto.
Its official name is The Shakushoji Temple (石像寺), but its name in the local vernacular, kuginuki jizou (more or less “nail-pulling guardian deity”) reflects the images of nail and spike pullers that permeate the temple grounds...
Nikon D4 + 17-35mm f/2.8 @ 35mm — 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 360 — map & image data — nearby photos
nail puller and nails
Until you understand the meaning behind it, it certainly feels quite odd. But once you understand the meaning (which we'll get to below), you'll understand why the temple is so solemn.
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/2.2, ISO 100 — map & image data — nearby photos
or the like; it's about four feet tall
As is common with jizo statues (like these), this spike puller has a little bib.
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/640 sec, f/1.4, ISO 100 — map & image data — nearby photos
with its “shrine name” 家隆山
The temple is in the middle of what is now urban city, with its only exposure to the street being a small unassuming entrance. You could walk by this place every day and never notice it.
The red lanterns across the top have the common name of the temple (釘抜地蔵尊), while the beautifully carved wood with golden lettering has the “mountain name” for the temple, 家隆山 (karyuzan).
This “mountain name” business is a bit interesting, and I didn't understood it until a month or so ago when it was explained to me by the lady of the temple at the Shimyouin Temple (志明院) when I stopped by during a bicycle ride....
I don't know the purpose of the stone wheel along the entrance path, but I have a hunch it's related to prayer wheels.
Nikon D4 + 17-35mm f/2.8 @ 35mm — 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 180 — map & image data — nearby photos
long moment in prayer
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/800 sec, f/2.2, ISO 100 — map & image data — nearby photos
this donated statue is dated 1964
So here's the meaning behind the nail/spike pullers...
Some emotional or physical pains are so intense that they feel like a spike through the heart, so you come here to pray that the spike be removed.
It's a simple concept made all the more meaningful by the mood at the temple. It has absolutely no feeling of showy trappings catering to the tourist; it was a 100% low-key local temple for the benefit of those who visit. In my visits, I've never seen a tourist (other than myself and those I brought). It's not that kind of place.
Despite no tourists, the patronage was lively, with visitors seemingly split into two groups: those visiting it simply as their local temple, and those visiting it for its specific spike-pulling specialty.
Because of the delicate nature of that latter group, I took care not to photograph people's faces, and went out of my way to not make people feel they were being watched by the camera. Someone dealing with death or illness or heartbreak comes here for emotional salve, not to be featured on my blog.
If you visit, please take care to be on your most humble, respectful, least-intrusive behavior.
The vibe at this place is so unique and wonderful that I seriously considered whether I should even post about it, worrying that loud touristy visitors could destroy the mood. Folks who read my blog have, by definition, class and good taste 😉, so hopefully it's not a problem.
It's always good to keep in mind when visiting any temple or shine (or church or synagogue or mosque, etc.) that even though it may not be a religious place for you, it is exactly that for some others, so conduct yourself accordingly.
Nikon D4 + 17-35mm f/2.8 @ 17mm — 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 160 — map & image data — nearby photos
has an engraved spike puller
The temple itself apparently dates from about 1,200 years ago, but according to the story given on its Wikipedia page, the nail-pulling aspect is only four or five hundred years old. The story given there is that there was a merchant with intense pain in his hands that nothing could cure. He prayed intently here for a week, after which he was visited in a dream by the guardian deity and told that his pain came from someone in a past life with a grudge, placing a curse on him by driving huge spikes into a voodoo doll representing the merchant. As evidence, the deity showed the merchant the spikes. When he awoke from the dream, his pain was gone (the spikes having been removed and all).
Nikon D4 + 17-35mm f/2.8 @ 25mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 160 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + 17-35mm f/2.8 @ 17mm — 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 250 — map & image data — nearby photos
in front of the main altar
The main devotional action at the temple involves walking around the small central building. First you collect a number of bamboo sticks equal to your age...
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/1.6, ISO 500 — map & image data — nearby photos
each with the name and age of someone who donated it as an offering
So, if you're 77 years old, you collect 77 sticks.
You then walk around the building, and when you get to the back wall, you touch a special something (I don't know what it is)...
Nikon D4 + 17-35mm f/2.8 @ 28mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 450 — map & image data — nearby photos
In the photo above, you can see the vertical bar has had the paint long worn away. That's where folks touch on the way by. In practice, I saw some folks just stroll by without touching, while others stopped and clasped their hands together in prayer.
As you continue your way around the building, you drop on stick back into the box as you go by, and start over again with another trip around the building, continuing in this manner until the sticks are gone. So, in total, you make as many circuits as your age.
The temple grounds are quite small, but feel big with as much detail as they have packed into them. There are numerous little side areas for devotion...
Nikon D4 + 17-35mm f/2.8 @ 22mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 900 — map & image data — nearby photos
on the head-high pointy end of a tin roof
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 1000 — map & image data — nearby photos
this deep well was just a source of water
for cleaning, watering plants, etc
I think this is the first working well I've ever seen.
It's a unique place and truly worth a visit if you can be sure not to disturb the ambiance. The entrance is here.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 46mm — 1/125 sec, f/10, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Shirahama Beach, Takahama Village, Fukui Prefecture (福井県高浜町の白浜海水浴場)
1:35 pm (from the start of the ride: 9h 11m / 107 km / 66.4 miles)
Tuesday was the “Sea Day” holiday in Japan, so I took the opportunity to make my first bicycle ride to the sea. Kyoto is about as far from the sea as a big city gets in Japan, so even though I've been to a lake that looks like an ocean, I'd not yet been by bicycle to the actual ocean.
この間のは海の日で初めての海までのサイクリングをしました、京都市内から。二時間の帰り電車を含めて17時間掛かりました。157キロを走って、一番山が多い道を選びました。 獲得高度は2,800mでした。 楽しかった。
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/4000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Mermaid Beach, Obama Japan (人魚の浜、福井県小浜市)
4:32 pm (from the start of the ride: 12h 8m / 145 km / 90.3 miles)
photo by Antti Riikonen
It was a long trip.
I left the house at 4:24am, and returned 17 hours later at 9:33pm, though two hours of that was the return from the ocean by train. All in all it was 151km (94 miles) of cycling to and along the ocean, followed by a train back to Kyoto, then another 6km (4mi) of cycling from Kyoto Station to home.
Befitting the length of the trip, this post is also long.
I was joined by Antti Riikonen, whom we saw shining in this day of mishaps last month, and Eric Findlay, who I'd run into by chance the day after that ride when he recognized me from my blog while we were both at the same bicycle shop.
We met at 4:30am in the early-morning dusk (sunrise was 4:58am) and headed north towards the mountains. Before diving into the mountains for the real climbs of the trip, we stopped at a convenience store that would be our last access to food for about five hours...
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
5:08 am (from start: 44 min / 11 km / 7.1 miles)
Ichihara Lawsons (ローソン 静市市原）
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
having just poured refrigerated water over his head
( it was already hot at 5 am )
I picked a route with as many mountain passes as I could fit in... Hanase Pass (花背峠/760m/2500'), Sasari Pass (佐々里峠/739m/2400'), Gonami Pass (五波峠/656m/2200'), and two smaller unnamed passes.
With this in mind, I took it easy going up the first and biggest climb of the day, Hanase, only to be shocked the next day when looking at the stats for that climb that I missed my PR (34:20) by only 10 seconds. Not only wasn't I trying, the road in many places was a shallow river due to runoff from a typhoon that had hit two days prior, and one can feel the slowdown as the tires have to cut through the water.
I did keep the camera in the back bag instead of around my neck, so perhaps that sped me up a bit.
Antti wasn't even trying either, it seems, since his time was almost 5 minutes slower than his best, but even then he was 2½ minutes faster than me.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 72mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
6:46 am (from start: 2h 22m / 31 km / 19.6 miles)
taken while cycling at 20 kph (12 mph)
It was absolutely beautiful in the mountains, perhaps in part because of the early time of day. The first six or seven hours of the ride were the most beautiful I'd ever done.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
6:56 am (from start: 2h 31m / 35 km / 21.7 miles)
taken while cycling at 24 kph (15 mph)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/1250 sec, f/2.2, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
7:04 am (from start: 2h 39m / 38 km / 23.6 miles)
taken while cycling at 28 kph (17 mph)
iPhone 6 Plus + iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at an effective 29mm — 1/460 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image data — nearby photos
7:58 am (from start: 3h 34m / 55 km / 34.3 miles)
photo by Antti Riikonen
While flying down a long hill between Sasari and Gonami Passes, we came across a turtle smack in the middle of the lane. Both sides of the road were extremely steep slopes — one up the mountain as seen above, the other down to a river — so even if the turtle didn't get smooshed by a truck, his outlook wasn't good.
I found a slightly less-sleep slope heading down to the river, and left the turtle in the ferns. Hopefully it's a good spot for him.
Not long after that, at the turnoff to Gonami Pass, we were surprised to find a cafe that was sort of open. They were hosting overnight river-rafting customers for breakfast and so weren't really open, but they kindly spared some coffee for us.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 50mm — 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Tautasya Cafe (田歌舎)
8:11 am (from start: 3h 46m / 58 km / 35.7 miles)
Once on the bike again, it was all new roads for me, starting with my first ascent to Gonami Pass. 23 minutes later, a the peak we cross into Fukui Prefecture.
iPhone 6 Plus + iPhone 6 Plus front camera 2.65mm f/2.2 at an effective 31mm — 1/60 sec, f/2.2, ISO 40 — map & image data — nearby photos
9:09 am (from start: 4h 45m / 63 km / 39.3 miles)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 28mm — 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 1000 — map & image data — nearby photos
for his “Gonami Pass” shot
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/40 sec, f/4, ISO 3200 — map & image data — nearby photos
9:15 am (from start: 4h 51m / 64 km / 39.6 miles)
taken while cycling at 14 kph (9 mph)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 31mm — 1/320 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
9:18 am (from start: 4h 54m / 65 km / 40.1 miles)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
while a road crew cleans up after the typhoon the other day
9:43 am (from start: 5h 19m / 67 km / 41.9 miles)
This is Eric's first long mountain ride with his new Trek bike (the one he was ordering when we met), and so the rock-strewn road was perhaps new as well.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 54mm — 1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 640 — map & image data — nearby photos
9:54 am (from start: 5h 30m / 68 km / 42.2 miles)
taken while cycling at 42 kph (26 mph)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 65mm — 1/125 sec, f/9, ISO 800 — map & image data — nearby photos
that the photos are not doing justice
9:58 am (from start: 5h 34m / 69 km / 42.9 miles)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 27mm — 1/125 sec, f/9, ISO 320 — map & image data — nearby photos
too steep even for the road to be cut into the mountain,
the road is a ledge wrapping around the mountain
10:06 am (from start: 5h 42m / 73 km / 45.2 miles)
taken while cycling at 39 kph (24 mph)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 27mm — 1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 500 — map & image data — nearby photos
10:08 am (from start: 5h 44m / 74 km / 46.0 miles)
taken while cycling at 27 kph (17 mph)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/500 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
like so many of them tucked among the mountains of Japan, filled with fly fishermen
10:13 am (from start: 5h 49m / 77 km / 47.7 miles)
taken while cycling at 13 kph (8 mph)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 28mm — 1/1000 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
10:38 am (from start: 6h 14m / 79 km / 48.9 miles)
10:38am - taken while cycling at 24 kph (15 mph)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 60mm — 1/250 sec, f/7.1, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
10:41 am (from start: 6h 17m / 80 km / 49.8 miles)
taken while cycling at 24 kph (15 mph)
After crossing the small valley, we could have continued on a fairly flat and direct route to the sea, but instead we jigged west for 20km (12mi), taking a little-traveled road over two unnamed mountain passes. I don't think we saw a single car for over two hours.
Just after the first little pass at 342m (1,125'), 7 hours after starting the trip, we got our first distant and hazy view of the ocean...
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
through the haze of an increasingly-hot day
11:19 am (from start: 6h 55m / 89 km / 55.6 miles)
Along with our first view of the ocean, we got our second view of a flat tire...
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 37mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Eric's other wheel's tube calls it a day
A bit farther down the mountain there was a little lookout with a nice view of the ocean...
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 44mm — 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
11:33 am (from start: 7h 9m / 90 km / 56.0 miles)
I didn't realize it while taking the photos, but in looking at them after the fact, I find it odd to realize that Antti is never smiling in any of the shots. He's such a pleasant guy to ride with and chat with, such that I always see him as smiling, but I guess it doesn't come across to the camera.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 70mm — 1/80 sec, f/5, ISO 3200 — map & image data — nearby photos
repairing a flat under an overpass
12:23 pm (from start: 7h 59m / 98 km / 61.0 miles)
taken while cycling at 10 kph (6 mph)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/60 sec, f/5, ISO 800 — map & image data — nearby photos
public road over a mountain inexplicably closed off
( we had to go through a 700m tunnel instead )
12:51 pm (from start: 8h 27m / 101 km / 62.5 miles)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 30mm — 1/160 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
1:18 pm (from start: 8h 54m / 106 km / 66.0 miles)
taken while cycling at 14 kph (9 mph)
iPhone 6 Plus + iPhone 6 Plus front camera 2.65mm f/2.2 at an effective 31mm — 1/2400 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image data — nearby photos
taken with the iPhone so that I could send to Fumie
1:19 pm (from start: 8h 55m / 106 km / 66.1 miles)
iPhone 6 Plus + iPhone 6 Plus front camera 2.65mm f/2.2 at an effective 31mm — 1/1300 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image data — nearby photos
taken with the iPhone so that I could send to Cycling Kyoto
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 35mm — 1/160 sec, f/10, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Torihama Beach, Takahama Village, Fukui Prefecture (福井県高浜町の鳥居浜)
1:23 pm (from start: 8h 59m / 106 km / 66.1 miles)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/10, ISO 250 — map & image data — nearby photos
to make it official
We moved east along the beach on a beach-front bicycle path, and upon rounding a bend found the crowds that I'd have expected on a holiday...
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 67mm — 1/400 sec, f/10, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Wakasawada Beach (若狭和田海水浴場)
1:38 pm (from start: 9h 13m / 107 km / 66.7 miles)
taken while cycling at 14 kph (9 mph)
Without the tree cover of the mountains, the sun was really hot, with a temperature to being with of 35℃ (95℉). The route called for a little excursion to a view spot on a nearby mountain, but Eric was feeling tired, so he relaxed in the shade at a temple while Antti sprinted up and I plodded up.
It took me 11 minutes to climb the 160m (530') to the top (Antti just nine), and by the time I got there the heat was sucking energy from me at an alarming rate. The view was worth it, though...
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 25mm — 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Yasuragi Park (安らぎ公園)
the beaches we'd ridden past are in the center
( water at right is the sea; water at left is an inlet )
1:57 pm (from start: 9h 33m / 110 km / 68.5 miles)
We descended back to the beaches to collect Eric and load up on cold drinks, and continued East.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 70mm — 1/2000 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
we'd be going across that later
2:38 pm (from start: 10h 13m / 117 km / 72.7 miles)
taken while cycling at 27 kph (17 mph)
There's a train station across the bridge, and Eric took up my suggestion to avail himself of it to head home. He was clearly quite tired, but never once complained or asked us to go slowly or in any way modify our plans. Of course we would have, but he didn't want to impose.
I don't think he estimated the level of the ride quite right, but having done 118km over more than 10 hours and 2,300m (7,575') of vertical climb, it was more than enough to be proud of.
So, as Eric headed across the bridge to a train station, Antti and I headed for the next big mountain climb.
Except we didn't make it... it turns out that the road we intended to take becomes rough gravel:
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 43mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
3:27 pm (from start: 11h 2m / 124 km / 77.2 miles)
My usually-meticulous route preparation had failed us this time, as I thought it was paved the whole way. I was bummed because I was really hot and tired, but had resigned myself to just exit my body and do it semi-consciously. I was also hoping to get great shots from 500m up.
Instead I had to make do with a rare break in the foliage on the way back down the little paved road that we'd done...
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
3:28 pm (from start: 11h 4m / 124 km / 77.3 miles)
Since the beaches, we'd been heading deeper out onto a peninsula, so had to double back to the bridge to return to the mainland.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
of the inlet created by the peninsula.
3:47 pm (from start: 11h 23m / 130 km / 81.0 miles)
Then it was 20km or so along big roads and bicycle paths toward the town of Obama.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 56mm — 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
4:09 pm (from start: 11h 45m / 138 km / 85.5 miles)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 25mm — 1/640 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
4:14 pm (from start: 11h 50m / 139 km / 86.5 miles)
taken while cycling at 17 kph (10 mph)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/800 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
4:28 pm (from start: 12h 4m / 145 km / 89.8 miles)
taken while cycling at 35 kph (22 mph)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 35mm — 1/400 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
at Mermaid Beach
( I didn't think it was possible to have whiter skin than me, but the boy from Finland proved me wrong )
5:48 pm (from start: 13h 24m / 149 km / 92.7 miles)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.2, ISO 3200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Antti and I both brought bike bags so that we could bring our bikes on the train. But I'd loaned mine to Eric earlier in the day, and Antti had forgotten his at the beach. But we stopped by a 100-yen shop and bought some bicycle covers, tape, and Velcro... we then removed the front wheel of the bike and used Velcro to afix it midbike, then covered everything and taped up the bottom.
I wasn't sure that the train company would let this haphazard cover through — I'd heard that they were quite strict — so I was fairly stressed about it, but it turns out to have been just fine. Being the end of a three-day weekend, the trains were packed and we had to stand most of the way, but we got a great connection and it took only two hours to reach Kyoto Station.
A short ride from there to home, and I was enjoying a cool shower by 9:45pm and a cold beer by 10pm.
I was quite achy the next day, but got talked into riding up to Hanase Pass again. This time I actually did go very slowly, but it somehow seems to have broken the achy feeling, and I actually felt better after that.