Just passing through: Japanese cyclists stop in Salisbury during cross-country ride

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2022

Just 11 days ago, Kosuke Inano and Masaya Hayshi, left Washington, D.C., on their bicycles. They stopped in Salisbury on Tuesday evening, spent the night in a tent, ate breakfast at Jeter’s Deli and grabbed a shower at the YMCA on Wednesday morning.

I got a call from David Stafford at the Hurley Y early on Wednesday morning that the cyclists were in town, and somehow had ended up pitching a tent at the Y. David said, “They called in and our front desk folks listened as they asked questions. Not really sure what they were asking, one of staff said that we must have agreed to let them pitch the tent here. I told the men about your cycling, and they were eager to talk to you.”

I was immediately excited too, changed a few lesser plans and headed to the YMCA.

Very personable, young and fit, both men were all smiles as we talked about their plans. I gave them a book about my desert and southern border adventure from last summer. As we talked, I learned that they planned to do much of the same trip but going east to west toward California.

The duo, from Osaka, Japan, plan to arrive in Los Angeles somewhere close to July 20. Kosuke is 26 and speaks better English, while Masaya is 24 and is constantly filming videos. As the veteran cyclist, Kosuke has already visited the United States and pedaled Route 66 to Santa Monica, California. He said, “Route 66 is famous in Japan and there is a Japanese dream about riding it. I love the U.S. and Americans. They have been so generous and helped me with food, money and places to stay on my trip three years ago. I was traveling around the world, using trains, the bus and walking. I bought the bike in New Jersey.”

Kosuke said, “I am always thinking about traveling. I want to challenge myself and not waste time sitting around. When we arrive in the Los Angeles area, we are likely to head for South America. I’m a little concerned what will happen because neither of us speak Spanish. There is no end to our ride in sight.”

Masaya is on his first trip in the United States and he and Kosuke plan to make their way toward the Southern border of the United States. Kosuke said, “Our goal right now is to head for Charlotte today and start working our way toward New Orleans. I’ve heard about the music and how beautiful the city is, how scenic the gulf area is. Then we will head to El Paso, Texas, and on to Phoenix, Arizona, before finally reaching Los Angeles.”

As endurance cyclists do, I shared with both men about my impressions of the two cities. El Paso was crowded and hot, and I thought the hills and traffic would never end. But I liked Phoenix a lot more, just because there were many well-kept areas with colored gravel yards in place of grass. Both cities had plenty of convenience stores.

We shared what others consider a surprise about long-distance cycling. Kosuke said, “I love meeting new people. The cycling is about meeting people, but its harder to meet people in the big cities. I love the small towns the most, where people seem to care a lot more.” Most think that cycling travel is about the scenery along the way, but it is truly about the people.

I shared with both men how I thought that they should get to Charlotte from Salisbury, and they told me that they were big fans of Walmart, where they stopped for supplies last night. I suspect their bikes came from Walmart too. Kosuke said his phone wouldn’t receive calls in the U.S., but he was quick to find a map following my suggested route. I told them that there will be few Walmarts along the southern border, but there is a better chance for Dollar Generals, even in the more secluded areas.

I plan to keep in touch with both men and will update Post readers as Kosuke and Masaya continue their travels.