80-year-old biker from Japan lands in Wiregrass during cross-country trek

GENEVA COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — Eiichi Ichikawa is an 80-year-old from just outside of Tokyo, Japan and he is currently biking from San Diego, California to New York City.

His journey started in March of this year and has taken him all across the southern half of the United States, but for the past week, he has been staying with Rachelle Strickland, Stacy Strickland, and their son Jacob Lisenby in the town of Black. They met Eiichi when he rode up on his bike while they were selling produce.

“He came up sweating profusely, tired, and he came up to my husband and said, “Please. Rest. Water. Please.’ So from then on, we gave him a glass of water and something to eat and he got to tell his story,” Rachelle Strickland said. “We realized that Eiichi is a very special man.”

From Black, he will go to Atlanta before making it to his final destination of New York City. He will then fly back home to Japan.

This is the 7th biking trip he has made through the United States, each has spanned over 800 miles in length.

His first came in 2016.

“2016 was the first time and I went from New York to Chicago,” Ichikawa said.

Eiichi speaks very little English, but every place he visits he makes new friends and you can tell by all the people who have signed his helmet.

“We have had a wonderful time,” Eichii said. “He has posted his journey on his Facebook and Instagram. He has had a lot of fun.”

During each increment of his journey, he bikes for two weeks and then takes a week-long break to recuperate before hitting the road again.

On Wednesday, Eichii will leave for Atlanta leaving the Strickland’s home in Black.

“We are so proud that he decided to stop in Black, Alabama, and choose us,” Strickland said.

“Arigato,” Eichii said.

“We are so happy to have him,” Strickland said.

The Stricklands tell WDHN that Eiichi has already planned to return to Black next year to spend a month hanging out with the family.

During his week-long break, Eichii celebrated his 80th birthday, one of the family member’s birthday, and Rachelle and Stacy’s wedding anniversary.

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