Gearing up for our cycle ride.  How come Jonathan gets the electric bike?

Gearing up for our cycle ride. How come Jonathan gets the electric bike?

The cooling breeze as we cycled north along the Kamo River that bisects Kyoto was a welcome relief compared to the days we’ve hoofed around in the heat.   It was a Sunday and the banks of the river were populated with a slices of Kyoto life — families having picnics, senior citizens painting, children playing sports, men fishing, tourists napping…

Kyoto is a sprawling city, with hidden gems waiting to be discovered in every neighborhood.  And, as much as we tried to explore on foot, a month was not enough and we left many areas unexplored.   The bus system is comprehensive, but we discovered that cycling is loads more fun.

We rented two bikes from our local bike store (which are ubiquitous), one an electric hybrid with a rear child seat large enough to fit Zara (something that would be rare in the US) and a regular city bike for me.  Although Zara rides a bike well, it’s been nearly a year since she’s been on a bike and we didn’t want her to have to relearn the rules of the road while navigating the crowded city streets and sidewalks.  It wasn’t a tough sell, she was more than happy to ride along as passenger.  She found it a welcome relief from pounding the pavement for miles each day.

Princess passenger

Princess passenger

Cycling in Kyoto is easy because it’s the norm to ride on the sidewalks–thus, risk of serious accidents are minimized (unless you are a pedestrian, in which case this practice leads to much higher risk from walking).   Nobody wears helmets, but again, the risk seems acceptable when riding primarily on sidewalks or down quiet alleys.  The feel of the wind through my hair brought back fond memories of the years before bike helmets were mandated…

We headed north along the river banks until the urban noise quieted as we hit the northern suburbs and then circled back and towards the west to join up with the Philosopher’s Path.  We’d done that walk the week before, but this time we seized the opportunity to get a tasty snack at a cafe situated on the famous path.  Nothing like a 20+ mile bike ride to assuage feelings of guilt while eating a matcha cake.

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