When the Coronavirus pandemic started, many people suddenly felt very restricted. They couldn’t go to cafes, bars and restaurants, or enjoy activities such as sports as they had normally done. I too felt like I had lost a lot of the things I enjoyed in my life. I looked for something new to entertain myself that I could do while “social-distancing” and I came upon cycling.

After a little research, I learned there was a cycling course all around Lake Biwa- the biggest lake in Japan, and that I could rent a good road bike near the lake for a reasonable price. I invited one of my friends and in September 2020, we cycled “Biwa-ichi” – Once around Lake Biwa.

Immediately, I was hooked. The freedom I felt, along with the beautiful scenery, the wind, and the adventure of traveling completely independently was exhilarating. I decided to buy my own road bike (which was not cheap!) and since then, I have been back to the tranquil waters of Lake Biwa again, along with the beautiful coastal roads of Awaji Island and the steep mountains of Shodoshima. With the use of a special bicycle bag, it’s possible to carry your bicycle onto the train, and then to any destination you like. Trips to Awaji Shima and Shodoshima also included ferry rides which made me truly appreciate how wonderful the transport system is in Japan.

My latest adventure was at the start of autumn this year to the famous “Shimanami-kaido” – starting in Imabarai in Ehime prefecture, crossing numerous bridges and islands in the Seto inland sea, and finishing over 100km away in Onomichi in Hiroshima prefecture. Again, the scenery was spectacular, and although it was a long and hard journey, I felt a great sense of achievement when I had finished.

Next year, I will be 40 years old, and thanks to my cycling adventures I’ve realized it’s never too late to start something new, even in a pandemic. I look forward to my next adventure.




  • Feel restricted 束縛を感じる
  • Come upon ~を見つける
  • (be) hooked 夢中になる、~に病みつきになる
  • Along with ~と共に
  • Independently 独立して、独力で
  • Exhilarating 気分爽快
  • Tranquil 穏やかな
  • Coastal road 海岸沿いの道
  • Steep mountains 険しい山々
  • Made me truly appreciate ~のありがたみを実に感じさせる
  • Transport system 公共交通機関
  • Numerous 多数の
  • Sense of achievement 達成感

Robert Normile.