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East meets west, northeast and southwest

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Although it was the toughest physically with long climbs and descents, Kato enjoyed the B.C. leg of the trip through the mountains the most. Northern Ontario was also beautiful he said, but the roads tended to be steeper with more twisting and turning than British Columbia.

The droughts and heat waves that affected Canada all summer were also tough on Kato, especially in the treeless prairies. He didn’t see any rain until he hit Quebec, where he was caught in a few rain and wind storms that made riding more difficult.

In Indiana his bike and trailer were ruined when he was nudged by a truck. Unable to repair the bike or the linkage to the trailer, Kato had to buy a new bike and trailer to continue his trip.

In Oklahoma City, Kato was forced to flee a motel he was staying in during the middle of the night when it caught fire.

One section of highway in California was riddled with nails.

"I had a lot of holes, and the tire was all patches. For 115 kilometres I rode on a flat tire until I could hitchhike to Barstow," said Kato.

During the trip, Kato avoided parks and motels to save money. On the Canadian leg, Kato slept in baseball parks, in playgrounds, or under the eaves of supermarkets. Sometimes he would have to pedal after dark to get to the next town where he could find food, water, and a place to sleep.

The American leg was easier, said Kato, because the towns are closer together and there are more options for places to eat and sleep.

The Canadian leg cost Kato $6,100 for 103 days, and the American leg was $4,500 U.S. for 93 days, including the cost of the bike and trailer. To afford the trip, Kato worked 15-hour days with Federal Express in Tokyo, taking off nine days a month for a year and a half.

"I looked at the maps, and saved a long time for this trip," said Kato. "The country is very beautiful and the people were very friendly. Everywhere I went people asked me questions about my trip, and were very curious about my trip. Once I told them, they were very excited for me, and offered me dinner and places to stay."

Kato doesn’t know what his next epic bike trip will be, but is considering different trips in Europe, Mexico and South America. He’ll know more in the spring, he said – after a long break from sitting in the saddle.

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