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Part2 - Arakawa Dam
Approaching mid-day the occasional eateries that we pass are only open on weekends for motorcycle tourists. With very few choices, timing for lunch is difficult. We stare through the window of a noodle shop but ride past because we aren't hungry. But then I prepare for Yuji to start complaining of "glycogen depletion". Why can't he just say "I'm hungry", more straight forward and human-like.
There was a bigger problem for Vincent: Forced to ride with bronchitis, combined with constant up/down, and rapidly dropping temperature take a toll on his breathing and he has to abandon the ride. Physical pain that does not involve broken bones is one thing, we would have left him for that, but sickness is different. We know how tough Vincent is being the only former pro cyclist, so we trust his judgement. Of course, whatever the reason for getting off the bike, we give him a hard time.
Down to four riders, we pass countless 50m tunnels, continue down the twisty road hugging along gorges and the ever crumbling cliff faces until we reach the open spaces at the Arakawa Dam. Some noodle shops line the streets, tourist cars, we are actually relieved to see clear signs of civilisation. Funny how some of us always seek soulful places, become one with nature, but at some point anxiety builds up and in a severe case, turns into total fear.
We find a small noodle shop at the Arakawa Dam. It's already past 2pm and the sun is barely hovering above the saw-toothed 3000m peak line in the west. Just a few leaves still hanging on almost bare trees, a few late season tourists are slurping soba inside, zero conversations. Why do half of the tourists always look unhappy to be there? We are also quiet as the sky turns amber and we realise daytime is running out. But once hot broth goes down our throat and warms our core we relax and a few words start to come out. For a moment, it almost feels like the ride is over.
"Inside a pitch dark tunnel, you lose the sense of physical existence . Then when you start to pedal again you're reminded of the legs" - Yufta Omata
"Our shadow reflected on the road is too long. We are definitely riding into the night and I can see and hear that everybody's feeling it. I see that Yuji is delicate, and his mental suffering seems to feed into my motivation." - Daisuke Yano
"Saddle just falls off. One more unnecessary stress. I only have myself to blame, but don't know where to direct this frustration" - Seiichi Watanabe
"The udon was warming and a welcome reviver. Ironic thing afterwards, I was trying to avoid getting car sick on the wicked winding mountain roads. They looked like fun." - Vincent Flannagan