March 2019 – I’m back in Japan for the Infinity Ride! It’s my third visit to Shikoku Island and although it feels like I’m visiting my friends in Kochi and Sukumo City, the nature and surroundings of the area keep surprising me. Photographer Maarten de Groot captured it all.

“Oshi!” Let’s start with food. Experience has learned that a restaurant doesn’t have to look fancy to serve delicious food. Or maybe even the more unrecognizable it is as a restaurant from the outside, the better the food is inside.
Local on lunch break.
Paying close attention – a lesson in traditional Japanese calligraphy.
Giving it a try myself.
Shikoku island is also the setting for an ancient walking trail that connects 88 Buddhist temples and the full walk covers more than a thousand kilometres.
Enkōji is temple 39 on the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage.
The pelgrimage on my bucket list, now I have the book and the first ‘stamp’. 87 To go!
The morning of the Infinity Ride! Pre ride meeting with all participants.
The Japanese have their priorities when it comes to cycling. Equipment and outfit are all very much on point. And in the right order.
There were quite some women joining the ride. These ‘cycling skirts’ is a very common thing here. Like the look of it!
All smiles at the early morning roll out. Excited about what the day will bring.
Typical Shikoku landscape: Small roads cutting through rice fields, surrounded by mountains.
Communicating with the participants is a bit challenging, but fortunately the cycling-language is one we all understand.
Leading out the mayor of Sukumo City (who’s a big fan of the (Dutch) cycling – see the Dutch Olympic jersey and Giant Rabobank bike).
Views on Shimanto river.
Blossoms and local bike riders
The Infinity Ride is two days of riding with a total of 285 kilometres. It’s called ‘Infinity’ because of the omega shape of the course and it takes place in the very southwestern part of Shikoku Island, in the Kochi prefecture. This region is trapped between mountains and sea and is regarded as one of the wildest and most remote places of Japan.
The ride is also famous for it’s local cuisine. Loads of feed stations along the route and all worth stopping for!
A rainy start of the second day of the Infinity Ride. The weather is actually so bad that the ride is shortened to 25 km…
No matter the weather, we’re having fun!
Rain suit on point and so are the fresh tomatoes.
Along the coast of Shikoku Island.
That’s it! Looking forward to next year 😉

Thanks to Maarten de Groot for the photo’s and Kochi prefecture and Sukumo City for inviting us. – Iris Slappendel