The Girl Next Door

It was early in the year for a westbound cross-country cyclist to show up at the Adventure Cycling office, arriving at our door on May 15th of 2005. Kenichi Ikeda, or Ken, as we called him, started this trip four years earlier in August of 2001 from his hometown of Sapporo, Japan. Before North America he had ridden across Asia and Europe, pedaling the entire distance through countries like China, Pakistan, and Iran.

As Ken was preparing for this trip back home in Japan, he had signed up for an event tour to get some training in. It was then that he met a Taiwanese girl who had traveled over for the tour. Her name was Hsiu-hsia, and they got along great on that tour, but since he was leaving for an extended time, Ken knew that it would be difficult to maintain a relationship.

In the first year of his trip, he took time to travel back to Taiwan to ride in a cross-Taiwan event with Hsiu-hsia. They became closer during their time together, and when Ken went back on the road she was also able to join him for brief periods in India, Vietnam, and Turkey.

When Ken left our office in Missoula, he continued on to the West Coast before flying off to meet Hsiu-hsia again. They headed to Pangdong, China, to ride the last part of the trip together back to Sapporo. After 34,600 miles, Ken finished his tour at the same place he started, but now he had company. Three months later, on December 10th, 2005, they were married.

Reflecting back on the trip, Ken looks at it as just a long loop ride starting from his house. He astutely observed, “Everyone is just my neighbor’s, neighbor’s, neighbor’s neighbor.”