Cycling: Slowing Down

Photo above: A girl taking a break at the festival in the Gujo hills.


Late September last year I cycled to Gujo Hachiman to photograph a tiny local festival in the hills. The festival was wonderful – one of those hidden gems that you only get access to via word of mouth or being local.

The bike ride to get there was only a 100kms and my route followed the Nagara River almost all of the way there. It’s one of my favourite routes in central Japan – not too difficult, plenty of shade in summer, and the usual picturesque countryside scenery.

But I didn’t enjoy it. 

The last time I rode more than 100kms. I knew something was changing. Why else would I photograph my cycling shoes? (Fuji Velvia)

After I’d finished I sat waiting a couple of kilometres from where the festival was about to start at a michi-no-eki and I wondered why I hadn’t just jumped in the car with everyone else. At that moment (there were other smaller moments too) I realised that I’d reached the peak of my cycling adventures and that it was time to slowly (very slowly) wind things down.

The michi-no-eki at the base of the hills. (Fuji Velvia, hence the weird colours.)

Up until then I’d think nothing of going out exploring all day in all kinds of weather on all kinds of roads. Mountain passes, valleys, urban commutes, bike packing, you name it I’d try it. But not anymore. I guess I was ready for a change.

We all know change can be intimidating, especially when it’s so sudden. I still want to enjoy riding all day and go searching for new secret gems of roads. But I don’t have the willpower. I feel done – finished. And that’s worrying. But more worrying would be to continue doing something for the sake of it.

One day I might hit the road and ride all day again but at the moment riding is starting to take a back seat with hiking in the mountains taking precedence.

*Easier said than done with a young daughter.

Cycled since I was a kid, moved to Japan in 2001, bought my first 'serious' camera in 2005. Spent the later half of the 1990s travelling in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Nepal, Japan, and the Philippines and wish I'd photographed a lot more back then.

Leave a Reply