When we started planning our ride, we took a look at two key factors – distance and elevation. After our first ride day we decided that we’d been a bit too liberal in calculating how much of each we could do in a day. We went through our list of ride days and found a few rides that just weren’t going to be possible for us, and our ride from Beppu was the first and by far the one that would be the biggest pain.
The ride would have taken us up near Mount Yufu and past the Hells of Beppu, which are a series of scenic hot springs in the area. The overall climb was around 800m and was for a distance of just over 13km with the grades reaching upwards of 13%. Rather than kill our legs and hate ourselves for it, we opted to skip directly to Fukuoka via train and give ourselves an extra day there to relax, but not before trying out one of Beppu’s onsen ourselves.
We had just missed a festival where every onsen in the city was free, but the one we went to was only ¥100 for admission anyways. We entered, stored our bags in some lockers, and went into the bath (separately). The bath was nice and hot, though bathing with other people is still a weird experience that I most likely wouldn’t repeat. People carry small towels for modesty but I’ll take bathing alone over it any day. We stayed in for a short time before toweling off and leaving to get some food at the local mall. We ate at the mall, then rode over to the train station where we disassembled our bikes, bagged them up, and got on the train to Fukuoka (and thankfully had no issues with surly train station attendants).
We arrived at Fukuoka’s Hakata station and made our way to our AirBnB. We spent that day and the next in Fukuoka taking a bit of a breather. We checked out local craft beer bars, in addition to the canals, and the cherry blossoms at Fukuoka Castle.
After our two days in Fukuoka we decided to ride to Kitakyushu, marking our return towards the East side of the country. We had planned a 120km ride to Ube but not wanting to strain ourselves, and having a few days to kill before getting to Hiroshima in time to meet our friends, we decided to only ride about 65km to Kitakyushu. The ride itself was fairly uneventful, a little wet, and didn’t have much elevation so we made it in good time. The hostel we stayed at was nice, and they even allowed us to bring our bikes in as opposed to leaving them outside in some tire-bending bike racks (which we would have had to pay for). We dropped our bags off and went out to the local shopping arcade to find some food for dinner.
The next day we set out for Ube which was going to be even less distance than before (55km) and was nice and flat for the most part. We also decided that instead of tackling another 150km ride the next day, or over the next two days, that we would take the train from Ube to Hiroshima and spend more time in the big city. We rode for a few hours and when we got to Ube we disassembled and packed our bikes up in bike bags and hopped on the train bound for Hiroshima.
We arrived in Hiroshima and made the short walk to our hotel, which was right across the river from the train station. The hotel was nice, but our room was very small – just a single double bed in a tiny ~110ft square room, where we would take turns sleeping on the floor. We dropped our bages at the hotel, dropped our bikes off at a bike storage place near Hiroshima station, and started deciding how we would spent the next few days while we awaited our friends from Toronto to arrive.