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Ride Snow & ice free touring/bikepacking suggestions - mental health mid life crisis I guess.

TheAussieinJapan

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Apr 15, 2014
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404
Hi all,

First of all I hope that all of you are doing well.
It's been a really long drawn out time for us in Tokyo thanks to the dicks not wanting to rock the Olympic boat, and everyone has a different experience and is affected differently.
Watching people get back to normal in Australia, while we are still seeing crowds grow in Shinjuku, Shibuya, low numbers of tests and hospitals full has been depressing as has the uncertainty of when I can get on a plane to visit family.

Having said that I want to drop my big tough guy self image for a second and share that I am struggling lately, and being in a continual state of fight or flight, with a multitude of complexities of life, work and managing covid-19 safety measures has worn me right down. Hence mid life crisis kind of title.

So I might have some time off soon and decided that getting out of Tokyo, now that the don't go to travel campaign has just diverted the crowds to city centres. I think I might have anywhere from 1 to 3 months off, and to take care of my mental health (I'm struggling lately. Lets call it corona exhaustion), I don't just want to sit around the house.

My first thoughts were for a rather Forrest Gump like impulsive ride across country, figuring it out as I went along. Then the part of my brain that is more sensible kicked in and I started to think that if I was taking smaller roads, not the main highways would mean a lot of hillclimbs and downhills, elevation means cold, means ice and downhill sounds scary with risk of ice in the shade.

So if I had say 2 weeks to just ride, and I have bike packing bags, a tent, sleeping bag & cooking gear already, where are some places to head to starting from Tokyo.

1. Of course could head down to see a mate in Osaka.
2. Explore the wilds of Saitama? Where is that exactly?
3. Head along the river to Boso peninsula?

What are some ideas that some of the more well travelled folk here might be able to suggest.
Chasing sakura might be nice later in March too.


If anyone wants to use this thread to discuss men's health I am more than happy to use it for that too. I reckon there's a few of us that just put on a brave face and let it all build up, and that can lead to impulsive bike purchases right...
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
3,765
1,987
Thanks for starting this thread. It actually takes a tough guy to admit they are struggling and I think we all do from time to time. The last 13 months have not been easy. I am looking at some big changes coming up myself. I am questioning some life choices but find it better if I stop comparing myself to others, not always easy.
Feel free to DM me if you want a chat or something and don't forget there are a heap of resources out there for mens' mental health.
 

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adventurous cyclist

turtle speed cyclist
May 16, 2019
960
993
Well, life in Japan when young is great. I always say to the young ones that want to live in Japan that Japan is fun when you are young and dumb. I'm not meaning that as an insult either. I just got my yearly Nenkin statement for last year. I made 201,801 yen all year. Who the fk can live on that. I also get American Social Security and I'll say this, people that are on welfare make more then I made, my income from that is below poverty level.
Was it a smart move to move to Japan at the age of 39 ? I was still young and dumb. LOL Still probably a bit dumb these days, but... I'm breathing and for my age I still can walk a 7 hour walk, though not in the summer, that would be foolish.
To read your thread makes me think a bit my situation and why I wish it was May or June now. The situation I'm in is that I have something important the will come up in May or June, which I touch a bit on another post. If successful, well I'll be happy, if not, I have my bicycle and , yes, I want to see Japan all these years. I actually worked 6 days a week here, but... that is another story. Retired from an actual job 5 years ago. Yes, I want to work part time, but... sad story here.
I'm not well traveled here in Japan but Aussie, it would be good to get out I think after the cherry blossoms are over. Warmer weather and a lot of bikers and may cyclist on the rode then. Head south while the weather is warm, yet still cold at night. Take the trains also.
I posted for some help because I am not familiar with Japan, only Yamaguchi prefecture and I've been almost every where by bike and scooter. Nice and the ocean routes are great. The countryside by bicycle is very lonely actually, but the people are very friendly.
Head south if you can.

AC
 

jonmanjiro

Maximum Pace
Dec 29, 2019
97
139
Thanks for starting this thread. It actually takes a tough guy to admit they are struggling and I think we all do from time to time.
Completely agree.

Newbie cyclist here so I can't offer any route suggestions, but if you can take the time off, go for it. It's easy to overthink things, succumb to analysis paralysis and end up sitting on your arse at home (guilty of that myself), so just balance your inner Forest Gump with your more sensible side, get your gear packed, have a basic idea for a route, and jump on your bike and start riding I reckon. Things will fall into place as you go. And if they don't, well... they don't, and you can turn around and head home. No shame in that, because at least you gave it a shot.
 

bloaker

Sincerely A Dick
Nov 14, 2011
3,067
4,604
Shorter Trip - but https://camp.bairdbeer.com/ is a great place to bike camp. You can use it as a solid destination or as a base camp to ride the skyline route or do a beach loop of Izu. I find this spot a great place to recharge. Yes - it is connected to a brewery, but also being outside in an area with a great climate helps!

A bike trip will do you wonders. Breaking away from the news/tv/fb/negativity is always a bonus for me.
 

bloaker

Sincerely A Dick
Nov 14, 2011
3,067
4,604
@TheAussieinJapan - I feel for you and wish I had an answer to help.
My only strategy in this whole thing has been to keep my brain occupied.
The most difficult part was when I was working from home with both my kids.
Since my job is uber-stable - I have luckily dodged all the financial concerns many others are experiencing and I continually try and count blessings.

My inbox is open to any conversation you want to have and If you want to disappear with some kind of Wanderlust, I will offer you my Krampus. You can take that thing down any fireroad/singletrack/doubletrack your heart desires. I can set it up with/without bikes racks and with a adventure touring setup. Just let me know and it can be yours for several weeks.
 
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Chuck

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Feb 7, 2011
1,307
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Good thread.

For me, what helps is to go to new places and get up in the mountains. A one to two hour train ride can get you to the base of a nice climb or trail and avoid 90% the traffic. The VeloViewer Tiling 'game' has been a great motivator for me to explore more and get out of the rut of riding the same routes a hundred times. Last year, I had some epic (for me) one-day hike-a-bike trips and did my first two-day overnight hike up in the mountains. I always come back refreshed (and usually exhausted) because of the quiet and the beauty of the nature I walk or ride through, the fact I have to focus on the task at hand vs. the day-to-day stuff, and because there is usually little to no traffic on the trails. Best anti-depressant I've found.

So, for anyone who likes to get out in nature, is less concerned about speed than enjoying the ride, and doesn't mind occasionally leaving the bike behind and scrambling up some sketchy trails...you're welcome to join me.
 

jdd

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Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
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So if I had say 2 weeks to just ride, and I have bike packing bags, a tent, sleeping bag & cooking gear already, where are some places to head to starting from Tokyo.

1. Of course could head down to see a mate in Osaka.
With a two week window, I think I'd train it back and forth to a nice area to spend the pleasant/quality time riding there, instead of using any of that to get to that area and back.

So train it to Osaka, see your friend, and then train it on a little from there. Onwards a little would mean training it as far as a ferry to Shikoku (and then ride around there), across to Maizuru and then along the coast there (tho riding north out of osaka wouldn't be too bad), or even on to Kyushu for some riding there.
 

Kangaeroo

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Jan 24, 2018
926
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Good luck, mate! Now is the best time of my life and I owe a lot of that peace of mind to cycling.
Something that has worked for me has been what's called the Serenity Prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Wisdom has never really been my forte, but I have managed to be able to accept and take more action since I started to keep this passage in mind.
Take care. Thanks for your courage and openness.
 

adventurous cyclist

turtle speed cyclist
May 16, 2019
960
993
Good luck, mate! Now is the best time of my life and I owe a lot of that peace of mind to cycling.
Something that has worked for me has been what's called the Serenity Prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Wisdom has never really been my forte, but I have managed to be able to accept and take more action since I started to keep this passage in mind.
Take care. Thanks for your courage and openness.
Hey Kangaeroo
It's nice that you mentioned wisdom. I was just out walking tonight and prayed to Jesus asking about wisdom ( well praying for it actually ). As I got older, my ears and heart had opened up to words of wisdom from the wise. As you know, I plan on solo cycling this spring and a member mentioned that it is safety in numbers. I've always solo'd while cycling but I am always aware of the dangers that may come unexpectedly.
Thanks for the Serenity Prayer. Much appreciated.
 

TheAussieinJapan

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Apr 15, 2014
241
404
Good luck, mate! Now is the best time of my life and I owe a lot of that peace of mind to cycling.
Something that has worked for me has been what's called the Serenity Prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Wisdom has never really been my forte, but I have managed to be able to accept and take more action since I started to keep this passage in mind.
Take care. Thanks for your courage and openness.
That is the quote I need, and thank you for sharing. Cycling makes a difference.
I think joining the "Church of not giving a flying F*ck" will help. Attention to detail, noticing stuff others don't has become a bit of a cyrptonite lately. Getting out into the sticks on a bike is looking like a great idea.
 

adventurous cyclist

turtle speed cyclist
May 16, 2019
960
993
That is the quote I need, and thank you for sharing. Cycling makes a difference.
I think joining the "Church of not giving a flying F*ck" will help. Attention to detail, noticing stuff others don't has become a bit of a cyrptonite lately. Getting out into the sticks on a bike is looking like a great idea.
Thinking for oneself is the best way to survive emotionally in a foreign country. Try it and peace within is beautiful.
 

TokyoLiving

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Dec 9, 2015
806
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I went through a mid life crisis about 5 year ago here in Japan. Been living here going on 15 years now. I can say that it was not easy. While cycling helped it did not solve the crisis. Crisis of this kind are an inside job meaning a spiritual realigning I do not mean religion per se although that may be for some. Rather it was about how as a middle age man I want to live out the rest of my life in happiness. That meant I had to make changes, both inwardly and outwardly (different for each of us). I can say that I have been on the other side of the crisis for a few years and life couldn't be better, even during corona.

Again, cycling helps, but the old adage, "Wherever you go, there you are," holds true even in the saddle.
 
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kiwisimon

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Dec 14, 2006
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"Wherever you go, there you are,"
I need to think about that as it's the first time I've heard it.
Sometimes I wish Japan was still doing naturally growing mind altering plants
Damn Yankees. Took away mixed bathing and a good number of drugs. How fun would have that been?
 

adventurous cyclist

turtle speed cyclist
May 16, 2019
960
993
I need to think about that as it's the first time I've heard it.
Sometimes I wish Japan was still doing naturally growing mind altering plants
Damn Yankees. Took away mixed bathing and a good number of drugs. How fun would have that been?
Yeah I think the fisherman got kind of upset when the hemp
Was outlawed.
 

joewein

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Oct 25, 2011
3,254
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Hi @TheAussieinJapan,

Travel outside Japan always helped to restore my mental balance, but now that that is no longer possible I find that going on bike rides comes pretty close. It is a chance to do a lot of watching and thinking.

Even so, very few of my rides involve any kind of overnight stay. I'm usually back with my wife and family the same day or the next day.

Dealing with the winter for me mostly means staying away from higher elevations to avoid ice and layering up against the cold. I ride as much in January as in any other month of the year.

If I had all the time in the world to travel now, I guess I would just stay away from the mountains and anywhere north / on the Sea of Japan until the spring, but that leaves all of the Pacific coast from Chiba to Kyushu. I have never made it to the Seto Inland sea / Shikoku, which I would love to explore as I have heard nothing but good things about the riding experience and hospitality there. And if I had even more time, I would ride all around Kyushu. Closer to Tokyo, I highly recommend Izu and Boso peninsula in Chiba.
 

TheAussieinJapan

Maximum Pace
Apr 15, 2014
241
404
I just wanted to thank everyone for their comments, suggestions, shares and kind words. I was a bit hesitant to go post something quite personal on a public forum, but as I know a few people here, have gone on rides and its mostly guys I thought that I could also do my part by putting my hand up to say I was struggling, as too many guys I know don't do it.

Quick update, I've followed the guidance, putting my hand up to say I've been struggling was the first step to recognising rather than just trying to power through it all as I always have. Listened to family, friends & colleagues and have used the resources available to me. Luckily I've got a great workplace that let me have time off straight away while I figured a few things out.

Saw a doctor the other day. He diagnosed me with the black dog, depression and signed a certificate for at least 3 months off.
Focus is on:

1. Getting in 5,000-6,000 steps walk per day, and/or some cycling.
2. Don't overdo the exercise, as that makes things worse apparently.
3. Eat healthy, paying attention to fruits, vegetables, whole grains but especially getting enough protein. (I'd been no where near the required amount of protein)
4. Take it easy, don't try to pack 3 days worth of plans/activities in to 1 day.
5. Get good sleep, don't think about work.
6. Don't drink too much coffee. (this sucks)

So I am now using Strava new heat map on routes feature to plan out some shorter daily rides, rather than huge 100km-160km rides. Got permission to go bike packing, but told to not overdo it.

First day went for a walk, listened to a podcast and without realising it walked 12,000 steps & 9.5km! Overdid it already.
Off for a short ride, then come home to plan a few local rides to fill in the gaps in my heat map. I'm thinking along the lines of a small scale of Mike's Velo tile game.
 

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