Our first bike ride in Japan sucked. Drafting a semi truck in the pissing rain down a pothole strewn road at 50 kmh I began to wonder what we were attempting to accomplish, besides coating our bikes and bodies in sticky black road grime. We had set out to film a beautiful sunset ride on the Japanese coast, but it didn’t seem to be working out as planned. Our local Japanese handlers had assured us that there would be great ocean views to be had along this road, but they were failing to materialize amongst the massive oil refineries and sprawling shipyards. With the already minimal light fading as quickly as our moral, we abandoned ship and stuffed our bikes into the chase van. A quick scan of our map revealed a faint grey line of a road tracing the coast line to the north of us, a glimmer of hope in the gloomy rain soaked expedition.
Everything came together as we unloaded our bikes and the sun broke through the stormy clouds. Our secret road clung precariously to the side of a steep cliff overlooking the ocean, dipping and diving in and out of lush green jungle and across spectacular exposed cliffs as it made its way up the island. Lit by that special golden sunlight that appears as dusk approaches and storms recede, the road glistened with the recent rain, beckoning us into its embrace.
Water began arcing off of our tires and diffusing into rainbows of light as we raced faster and faster into the sporadic mist from waves crashing on the rocks below. The next hour became a blur of optical mischief as we tested the driver of the chase van’s skills with the cameramen hanging awkwardly out of the windows and sliding rear doors capturing everything as we rocketed down the road. At every turn we were greeted by new vistas of sea, sky and storm fighting an epic battle to win our attention and spurring us on further and further into the spectacle. We kept at it until the batteries were drained, the cards full, and the last fleeting light was finally erased over the horizon in a brilliant red/green flash.
The van ride back to the hotel was filled with our silent contemplation and reflection of moments in that singular experience, appreciating those fleeting instances of beauty accessible to us via bicycle in a foreign landscape, and the idea that sometimes the best things come to us when we least expect them.