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Nine Weeks Across Japan on a Hand Powered Tricycle

By: Stephen Carr

Date Posted: 2000-06-10

Karen Dark, from Yorkshire, England, was recently in Okinawa on a nine-week cycling trip through Japan, which started in Sapporo.

Dark is an unusual endurance cyclist in that she cannot walk. She broke her back in a climbing accident some years ago.

Dark wanted to stay active and although she couldn’t climb any more, she thought cycling would be a good option. Five years ago she had cycled from the North to the South Island in New Zealand with a friend from her university days, on a tandem.

Three years ago she completed a cycling trip through Europe and Asia. Starting from Kurdistan, going through China and Pakistan she covered 1600 kilometers in six weeks.

Dark uses an off-the-rack hand powered tricycle, made in Canada, which cost about $3000.

Revisiting the place where she had the accident, Chamonix, in France, she met a Japanese woman who suggested she come to Japan on a cycling trip too. In Hokkaido Dark gave lectures with slides in city halls and schools.

She was in Hokkaido when the volcano blew up but apart from that forced diversion, did not have any mishaps more dramatic than having to change tires four times. Dark said the other volcano she saw on this trip, the one at Sakurajima, actively pumping out smoke, was more spectacular than the northern one.

The cycling she most enjoyed was in Shikoku, which had quiet roads and good weather. She went skiing in Usu and while in Okinawa, just relaxed. She did not plan any cycling here as she knew it would be the rainy season when she arrived.

Dark also visite Yakashima Island which impressed her with its beautiful beaches and spectacular cedar forest.

Dark, who works for Shell as an oil exploration geologist in Aberdeen, Scotland, has written a book which has been published in Japan. Its title roughly translates as: “Hold That Dream”.

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