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Virtual bike ride across Japan - Quin's 2009 exercise project

NOTE: I'm doing this project again in 2013.

I needed an exercise project for 2009, and I've come up with one that combines equipment I have - a stationary bike - with something very important to me: the country of Japan. Specifically, I am riding 3,300km (a little more than 2,000 miles) along a route stretching from one end of Japan to the other. My goal is to stick with this project and complete it before the end of 2009. The reasons for this project are losing weight, gaining muscle and endurance, and generally turning my life around.

The widget at right shows my latest ride and my progress so far. The "Total Kilometers" number is how far along I am on my 3,300km trip. You can also follow my exercise log at Dailymile to see how I'm doing in greater detail.

Scroll down below the map to see more information about the project and the logic behind it.

Makurazaki
Ibusuki
Kagoshima
Yatsushiro
Kumamoto
Kurume
Fukuoka
Shiminoseki
Hiroshima
Mihara
Onomichi
Fukuyama
Okayama
Bizen
Himeji
Kobe
Osaka
Kyoto
Otsu
Hikone
Ogaki
Nagoya
Toyokawa
Hamamatsu
Shizuoka
Fuji
Numazu
Tokyo
Oyama
Utusnomiya
Ôtawara
Shirakawa
Koriyama
Fukushima
Shiroishi
Sendai
Osaki
Ichinoseki
Oshu
Kitakami
Hanamaki
Morioka
Hachinohe

Aomori
Hakodate
Muroran
Tomakomai
Chitose
Obihiro
Kushiro
Nemuro
0
43
90
217
253
331
370
440
621
686
700
719
781
809
861
919
957
999
1010
1070
1110
1148
1168
1213
1290
1328
1348
1474
1559
1591
1633
1670
1707
1756
1793
1837
1881
1929
1959
1982
2000
2042
2152

2264
2454
2692
2761
2794
3004
3151
3300


Kilometers per day. Dark/light columns = months, dark/light rows = 5km, different shades of red = different legs of trip. Updated each time a leg is completed.

Why I'm doing this: I haven't been in great shape for a long time, but I was doing pretty well after a two-week trip to Japan I took in June 2007. During those two weeks, despite eating lots of wonderful food, I still lost 15 pounds, mostly because I did a lot of walking in Tokyo. In the 18 months after I returned, things went horribly wrong for me; my job became stressful and consumed all my energy and time. I gained 60 pounds, barely had enough drive to make it through each day, and was really questioning the value of my own existence. I lost a lot of friends and lost interest in almost everything I cared about. I figured the first step of recovery was to do something about my physical condition. So I've given myself a reason to exercise daily and to care about something I'm doing. Let's see where things progress from there!

Why this route? Japan was a natural choice. I've been interested in modern Japanese culture and the Japanese language for some time. I also associate my real trip to Japan in 2007 with losing weight and getting exercise, which is an added bonus. I'd also like to make another trip there in the future once my health is better and my linguistic skills have improved. The route itself is based on train and bus routes, and the distances between towns was approximated using maps and measuring a flexible strip of paper laid along the route. (Some distances are undoubtedly incorrect.) Some legs of the trip are very short (Kyoto to Otsu is only 11km, less than a day's ride), while others are amazingly long (Hakodate to Muroran is the longest at 238km, and the last 10 are an average of 130km).

So how's it going? My last ride was in early October, and put me a little above 2200km. But I've decided to drop this project. It's not that I can't make my goal and hit 3300km by the end of the year; it's that I'm not seeing any positive signs from the workouts. I'm in no better condition now than I was in December. There are other changes I have to make in my life before this kind of exercise can be meaning ful. Perhaps I'll try again when these changes have been made.

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