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Virtual bike ride across Japan - Quin's 2013 exercise project

I decided to recycle an uncompleted exercise project from 2009 as a new project for 2013. Once again, it combines equipment I have – a stationary bike – with something very important to me: the country of Japan. Specifically, I am riding 2,050 miles (3,300 kilometers) 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 2013. The reasons for this project are the same as the ones I had in 2009 – losing weight, gaining muscle and endurance, and generally turning my life around – but they take on a greater urgency as I get older; each passing year makes it that much more difficult to get back in shape.

The widget at right shows my latest ride and my progress so far. The "Total Miles" number includes 1834 miles left over from my 2009 attempt and a few other attempts to ride since then, so my total distance for this 2013 project is listed under "2013 Miles". 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
26.7
55.9
134.8
157.2
205.7
229.9
273.4
385.9
426.3
435.0
446.8
485.3
502.7
535.0
571.0
594.7
620.7
627.6
664.9
689.7
713.3
725.8
753.7
801.6
825.2
837.6
915.9
968.7
988.6
1014.7
1037.7
1060.7
1091.1
1114.1
1141.5
1168.8
1198.6
1217.3
1231.6
1242.7
1268.8
1337.2
1406.8
1524.8
1672.7
1715.6
1736.1
1866.6
1957.9
2050.5

Why I'm doing this: (same as the 2009 version) 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? (last updated 1/15) I'm off to a great start, although it's blemished from a few days I took off, first from coming down with some sort of creeping-crud that was going around the office, then from not immediately starting back up once I was feeling better. So far I'm rather pleased with my pace and the distance of each ride; I've already gone a distance in my longest ride that's equal to about 75% of my longest ride in 2009, and I've only been back on the bike a couple of months. I find myself pushing myself hard, trying to beat a recent distance by 1/10th of a mile or keeping a pace faster than my previous pace (though today's epic ride made doing the latter a lot more difficult). The challenge, of course, is sticking with this project. The way I'm riding these days, I could possibly finish the ride by June or July if I stuck with it consistently. But as I learned in 2009, it's very easy to stop riding and rather hard to start again...

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