Cycling the Shimanami Kaido (しまなみ海道)

What is the Shimanami Kaido?

The Shimanami Kaido (しまなみ海道, Shimanami Kaidō) is a 60 kilometer long toll road that connects Japan’s main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea.

Cycling is a popular means of experiencing the Shimanami Kaido. The bicycle route is well marked and maintained, and diverges from the expressway on the islands. The ramps leading up to the bridges were built at small inclines with cyclists in mind. At about 70 kilometers, the bike route is a bit longer than the toll road, but because there are no large inclines, it can be comfortably completed in a day by intermediate cyclists.
Japan Guide

Hot Tips

  1. Don’t Rush it. It’s a simple route, any novice could complete it in a single day, it’s not a great achievement. Take the time – plan and explore the area; talk to the Locals, stop and go for a swim. There’s so much to do.
  2. Visit Ōkunoshima (Rabbit Island) – A quick ferry ride from two potential ports be surrounded by cute and furry friends and spend the night at an amazing Japanese style hotel with sunsets and beaches.
  3. Bicycle Rentals – Ensure you’ve booked your bike rental before arriving. They often shut on weird days of the week but will make an exception if you have booked ahead. I recommend The Red Bicycles Onomichi
  4. One way or Return – logistically speaking… it’s MUCH simpler to ride the bike back to where you picked it up. However if you don’t have the time you can pay for returning the bike via a courier. I’ve not done this but want to note it is an option. I’d recommend return trip and trying an alternate route starting from Onomichi.
  5. Routes of the Shimanami Kaido – there are multiple routes / lines you can follow on your adventure. The main line I find to be good but think the Island Explorer to be the better options; there’s less traffic (cars and trucks), less polluted and better scenery. See recommended (Black) route below.

Things Nearby

It’s a small town – if you haven’t been outside the major cities this will be a charming small town with good cafe’s food and fun little things to do such as:

  • Onomichi Ramen: Onomichi is a ramen style that consists of soy sauce-based broth that is occasionally flavored with pork, seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, chicken, or dashi. The broth is served hot with flat wheat noodles of medium thickness and a generous serving of seabura – pork back fat. Recommend Denyasu – most places are quite crowded but this one is just as good with almost no wait. 
  • Senkoji Park – Amazong Views and Sakura (cherry blossom) flower viewing. Recommend walking up/down at least once to see the Cat Alley and winding streets and temples.

Route and Points of Interest


Signing up for Noosa Tri (2021)

About 2 years ago I signed up for almost every race in the continent.  From a 2K Ocean Swim in Coolangatta to a 50K trail race in Warburton Victoria. Included in that was the Noosa Triathlon in 2021 which was actually out of normal tickets so I opted to run for a charity. 

Noosa Tri now lays claim as the largest Olympic distance triathlon in the world and is consistently ranked in the global top-ten triathlons by athletes. The 5-day festival – which includes 11 events in all – hosts over 13,000 competitors supported by more than 30,000 spectators on race day.

It was an easy pick in terms of which charity to run for as my niece has heart problems as a kid and HeartKids support kids like her and do all kinds of good research in that area. I raised just shy of $2.5K and actually topped the individual fundraisers for the Charity, something I never expected and very proud of.

2 years later after 2021 was closed for interstate travellers due to COVID19, the time had come. I had never set my goal to get a podium as that would be so unrealistic. I just wanted to complete the event and give it a good crack. Before race I was expecting ~30mins in the swim, 1.5hours on the bike and ~40mins in the run.

Race Day

Swim – 28 minutes

  • Went in not too nervous but also not completely confident
  • Started getting ‘tired’ and a bit more nervous after a few hundred metres but went away after I realised I was able to keep up with the people around me
  • After the halfway point I knew I had it in the bag and walked out 28mins
  • Key Takeaway: I should definitely train for ocean swims with real ocean swimming

Bike – 1h 21 elapsed (1h 18m moving)

  • The bike makes a real difference. I don’t care what each tradesman says
  • I was on a hybrid and thought I did very well averaging ~30kms/h
  • My biggest mistake was not reading the rulebook as I drafted someone after like 2mins of riding and copped a blue card and a 3minute sin bin. I actually think most people were doing this and it’s just luck whether you get caught or not
  • I was destroying the average riders uphill which felt good. But those good riders were just next level. Considering the bike is the longest leg, this is where a lot of opportunity is

Run – ~40mins

  • Did very very well here and made up a lot of time. I was flying and think there was only 1 guy on course who was running faster than me in my line of sight


Final Thoughts

  • Great and fun event. Highly recommend doing it.
  • I think even for the non-podium people you can very easily get caught up in the competition aspect and forget to enjoy it
  • I’m not one for crowds and it was very annoying trying to get out of the area
  • I beat Spencer (my old colleague) and that was my only time goal. Accomplished.