“Naked” | Bicycling May 2009


Even a mismatched couple can share a few passionate rides when exposed to the unspoiled and exotic roads of Japan.

“You did what?” Elizabeth asks, looking up from her newly purchased and costly looking sake bowl. “Naked?”

“It seemed like the thing to do,” I say as I shrug, standing in the hotel-room doorway in my bike clothes, grinning and giddy.

A half hour earlier, flying down a lonely mountain road in deep rural Japan, I’d impulsively shed my jersey and shorts;

I’d wanted to feel the late-afternoon sunshine, the forest-scented air brushing across my skin. All of my skin.

I didn’t worry much about oncoming traffic: On this weeklong bike tour of the main island of Japan, one of the most densely populated nations on earth, we’ve seen more scarecrows than people. Outside the big towns, we’ve had the narrow, winding one-lane roads pretty much to ourselves. And in the unlikely event that I encountered a bus-load of camera-toting tourists, I was pretty certain they would have looked right through me.

Brow furrowed, Elizabeth thinks for a moment, then composes a short poem:
Free bird 

in Japanese 


“Naked” by Bill Gifford | Bicycling Magazine May 2009 | Photography: Marco Garcia

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