500km of Kanto’s finest

Had planned a 800km day of smooth twisties but things kinda went sideways and we called it quits at @500km, well 2 of us did πŸ™‚

Ready for the road trip? .. . . let’s roll.

Signing on – 0km

800km of speed restrictive twisties needs a decent chunk of time to complete. Even without stops and running an average speed of 50km/h, you’re locked in for 16hrs. So, we needed to be on the road early.

Luckily, we were doin this around the summer solstice and starting around 4am so would have plenty of time with a 4:30 sunrise and 6:45 sunset. So we had at least a good 14hrs of light.

Right, let’s get this thing on the road.
Woke up a little late and had to hustle to make the 4am meet up at Ebina SA on the Tomei. Suited up and swung a leg over old faithful FZ1 and thumbed the ignition. The straight thru pressure wave barreled out the can, boomed back off the concrete wall behind and resonated around the carpark. Yep, time to ride!

Watching the temp gauge flashing a ‘not ready yet!’ signal, decided to give another local contender, LOCO, a buzz. Riing, riing, click then some unmentionable but inspiring expletives πŸ™‚ He was way ahead and not waiting around by the sound of his LeoVince howling in the background. I had some catch up to do and 15minutes later pulled into Ebina next to Kiwi’s ride(F800), the JAVAsaurus(XR1200X) and the LOCOmotive(FZ1N).

Not long after, SCORPION rolled in on a retarded sorry motarded Honda XR with a true jack-in-the-box surprise in tow. TWINRIDER on the TDMsuperstead! Seriously, I’ve never seen him out and about before breakfast before. Good job TR and better job for draggin him out Scorpion.

So, that made 1-2-3-4-5-6. Where was lucky 7? A few false alerts and then the the bellow of twin blue-flame mufflers at revs rippled through the carpark, a forewarning of the power of the sun about to flood the joint. Yep, JamesK on the USS-FJR was docking at Ebina and then we were 7!

Some map loading and gas tanks to top off then we were on the road.
First turn, Atsugi exit off of the Tomei and looping around onto the 129 northbound before some cut and chop to the 603 out to the jump over the river and immediate right then right onto 64 for the fun run upto & through Douzaka touge and then alongside Miyagase dam. Following the 64 all the way to the 413 and the glide down the Doushimichi we were on a roll. But the Doushi decided to run us through a dusky wringer. Fog, mist, dew and wind misleading some of us in and out of the ghostly shadows through the tunnels and twisty bits.

We all made it to the 24. JamesK, JAV, LOCO and myself in first with TR and Scorpion escorting a navi-less KIWI to our 1st stop. Somewhere along the way, in the excitement and confounding fog and even after stopping at the entrance to the 24 not 50 metres from the Doushi, we missed our first pic. All of us! Sign of a good ride? πŸ˜€

Well, we had a few things on our minds with LOCO’s tail light on the blink, literally. And the tail of the pack not sure how to manage the naviless Kiwi. LOCO jumped into the repairs with JamesK in the wings. The tail of the train settled on a work around involving a Kiwi sandwich.

Back on the road for leg 2 starting with the great little 24 then onto the 139 wriggling through some earlier morning suburban streets before it opening up for the winding delight north of Otsuki. Somewhere around Kuzunogawa dam my navi did its 100 point screw around and put us on the white road side of the dam headed south. Mmmm…. while second guessing the navi and recalling the route we rounded the corner to see TR in his tennis ball stitch coming straight at us with Kiwi and Scorpion in hot pursuit. So, first I did a U turn while TR’s crew started U turning and before we started a ring-a-ring a rosy I bumbled on by and out of the way for JamesK to lead. I needed a map reload anyway.
The FJR charged off and stepped it up a little with Jav passing me while I settled into the tail.
Fantastic view across the dam from north up there above the clouds. Great to follow the rumbling 1200 and see Jav weave his magic through the tight stuff up to Kosuge too.
Around Kosuge, things get a little tricky as the jump to the 18 doesn’t look like the right way to go. James, Jav and myself pulled in to bunch up the group on the 18 but I got worried that the hard white line of the 139 might steer lonesome LOCO astray as he was running naviless and midriff between the packs. No probs though, he was right on us and soon we were jabbering on about the great roads, weather and the symphony the machines were singing out through the canyons. A thundering torquey inline 4, A tooth rattling big Vtwin bass drum and another inline 4 but higher strung and raspier. While LOCO was singing, or screaming his own solo in the background.
Just then, a nice little Lotus went whistling by as the tail of our group came soldiering in. Not wanting to let that rabbit go with Imagawa touge ahead I spurred JamesK into the chase. That little Lotus was hustling and looked like a ton of fun with a wiggle here and a slide there but was struggling on the steep climb compared to the pack of torque monsters behind. After a while JK shooed me by and a little while later the Lotus amber flashed me by too with a few bike lights in my wake. Yep, bikes 4 cage 0 πŸ™‚
10 or so kms later and having had our fun over the touge we missed the next photo at the 18/411 junction πŸ™‚ even though we got stuck at the signal for a good few minutes. Did give us a chance to give the little Lotus pilot a good thumbs up though. And the pack came back together.
Well, we’d missed the photos but not the fun on the twisties and as the light turned green and we swung left on to Omekaido(411) the morning was fresh and bright and twisties awaited. The charge was on again! We sailed up the twisties until the forest parted and the climbing road fell away and we were headed down into Enzan.
On the way up the climb we snaked thru an S section that brought me back to 2006 and a ride that changed my life and seemed to be a very important stepping stone to where I was right then in 2011.

*Nostalgia warning! Back in 2006 I’d met JamesK, the Dude and Solo for a great day of twisties through Miyagase, Okutama, Fuji and Hakone. Solo was the GUN and imparted a copious amount of ride technique and criticism in his usual catch me if you can style. He had JamesK starting bushfires digging peg trenches on every corner. The Dude was really getting out of the saddle and spinning up some high rpm symphonies on the Agusta F4. Me? Well, I’d been riding the rear tyre, dirt style, and he got me chinning the bars and hanging off forward of the tank to get that front tyre working. It worked! I rode the absolute snot out of my tricked cb400 that day. Seriously, I got home with warped rotors, pointy tyres, scuffed toes and a twisty addiction! Thinking back on it, that was my 1st twistybutt!
Well, top of the mountain looking down over Enzan, Solo had us cut our engines and attempt to maintain our speed by running smooth wide lines, with minimum braking and maximizing contact patches. The silence was captivating and took me back to my bicycle road racing days. Thanx Solo. So, I did the same thing again this time. JamesK motored off and Jav roared on by while I glided down the mountain until LOCO’s pipe came into earshot. A glance at the gas fuel meter showed the reserve flashing and knowing LOCO on his similarly equipped FZ1 was seeing the same thing, it was time for fuel and food. We missed the 1st little fuel station where JamesK and Jav had pulled in but were soon dropping stands at a 7/11 just down the strip. The rest of the train soon pulled in and we had some breakfast and our first decent yarn and walk around. Some fussing and fixing was given to a weeping Harley and a BMW’s tyres.

The rides - Kiwi - Loco - I - Twinrider - JamesK - Jav - Scorpion
The rides – Kiwi – Loco – I – Twinrider – JamesK – Jav – Scorpion

Back on the road we were headed south west for the run through the vineyards then up and over Misaka Michi before running down to and over Kawaguchiko before the glorious Subaru-Line Climb to the north west 5th station of Fuji.

The FZ1s needed juice so LOCO and I branched off for the nearest juice stand south of the vineyards. Then we were back on the road chasing down our hairs up and over Masaki Michi Pass. Coming out of the leaky old tunnel the view of Fuji was too good to pass up so .. . .

LOCO looking out over Kawaguchiko to Fuji

Next stop was Mt.Fuji’s northwest 5th station and after missing a turn we made it onto the only toll road for the northern part ofthe route. The Fuji-Subaru-line. Very fast hillclimb with a nice surface and great views.

Fazers at Mt.Fuji
Fazers at Mt.Fuji

Arriving at the top, we were surprised to be the 1st ones there and more than a little .. . cool, for summer. At 2100m, we had climbed near on 1 and 1/2 vertical kilometres and the temps had dropped accordingly. It was a refreshing relief from the heat and humidity below and made a hot coffee all the more enjoyable. But, after 2 coffees and some chilled shrinking bladders, we began to wonder. Where the hell are the rest of the guys?

Sorry guys, we aaahh….. . didn’t really worry about you as LOCO and I were busily engaged in some very important public duties. We were proudly representing bikers at the ‘UN of Titties ‘! Yep, we’d stumbled across our true calling up there in the clouds. Trying to look our coolest, the camera clad tourist girls from China, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, somewhere in Europe and wherever else, they came for their photos with the embassadors of bikes. Of course, we did our part to …ahh.. .placate the hordes of hunnies and fend off the trolls πŸ™‚

After the tourist buses rolled out, we came to from our delirium and realized we were friggin cold and the others were still not there. So, on the horn and they were lost, or their navis had lead them to dead ends. They’d continued on the route. Fine but we’d lost an hour and a half on ambassador duties. Yep, the Fazers soon felt the lash of our delay. πŸ˜€

Back down into the heat and humidity, we scouted around the south side of Kawaguchiko lake, glided along the Tohoku View Line north and west of Saiko lake(yep, real name), ran a short stint on the Panorama line then hit the Shoji Blueline north. Nice road that one! But we were really seeking rt36 for the run west to Ashigawa and then a couple of lefts and south down the 409 to the next photo stop.

Again, no one there but a quick buzz told us JamesK and Jav had been thru there a while ago and were already at Mt.Fuji’s southern 5th station. Way ahead! And the remaining 3 were in our wake. Was a pretty remote place where we had stopped and after fighting off some monster insects, we decided to hit the road. But… LOCO just had to get his Olivia NewtonJohn on.

LOCO stretching out the road knots.. . and attracting locals
LOCO stretching out the road knots.. . and attracting locals

Blasting into the tunnel we fired out onto the 409 and 414 twisties. Tricky but fun, the Fazers rubber was working on reeling in JK and Jav. Loco stepped up and the Fazers cut a symphony of synchronized blips and roll-ons through the mountain foilage, across the valleys and down the ravines that will be with me for some time to come. Then we hit the Motosu-michi and lapped up all that magic road had to offer. When you roll by a pack of parked up bosozoku and they have come to the roadside to nod you by, you know you’re pumpin out a tune that crosses genres and even the deaf can appreciate  πŸ˜€

Banking right at the T, we were back on the Panorama line, south bound this time. Before long, a left then right and the 71 was rolling out the red carpet for a fair stint through rolling fields to the 72. At the corner of the 72 we pulled in to quiet our tummy rumbles at a corner convenience store. Settling on a small wall outside we downed a small village’s annual harvest. Truth be told, small children fled, old ladies crinjed and men grinned and gave our ravenous maulings a wide berth.

Time for a bike check and .. ahh . . oops! That 1500km of front PilotPower I thought I had was looking pretty sad. Playing catch-up will do that. Past the wear markers is fine but if things got wet, that could be entertaining. Other than the lack of rubber, the bikes were popping and crackling on cool down as they should have been and all was fine in Fazer land.

Then the horn rang and Twinrider called in lost. Seemed their lead navi had lead them astray. They had gone west on Mutosu-michi instead of east and then they’d decided to straight-leg it to the next stop near us. Promised to wait a while but as we were still behind schedule from our embassador duties, we couldn’t wait indefinitely. Besides, rain was starting to spit down and we had the southern Fuji hillclimb ahead. Waaaaay too enjoyable to waste that on wet roads πŸ™‚ especially with fingerprints for rain grooves on the tyres.

We pulled in to juice up at the little Ma&Pa Eneos on the corner of 72 and the Fuji Skyline. The spitting had eased but the hills ahead were  cloaked in thick daerk clouds. Hitting the road, a 350z roared off to clear the way for us. Cool! But moist areas became more and more common the higher we went which was annoying with the sweeet long climbing sweepers ahead. But we made do and caught our hare just at the turn off for the run to the peak. The silver z continued on while we turned off and disappeared into the pea soup.

Cool thing about that road in fog/cloud is because it climbs so fast and so far(1000m in 4km), it is rarely a constant run in pea soup. That day was the same and the pea soup was relatively low on the slopes but it was wet! We climbed out of the soup and scrabbled around the switchbacks to the carpark at the peak.

LOCO at Mt.Fuji 5th station
LOCO at Mt.Fuji 5th station & it’s DRY!

Views admired, aching knees sympathized and photos taken, we moved onto the wrist and inner thigh busting decent 😦  Loco donned some wet weather gear but I.. . .well, I’m not as sharp as my naked FZ1 riding compadre at the best of times.

Fuji being the most of what a mountain is meant to be, it wasn’t going to let us go without experiencing a good shower. Halfway down the hillclimb, it started. A sprinkle to a drizzle to a steady rain and all in the fog. The antifog visor turned to a blur and then the trickle started running in from the corners. So, it was time to pop the lid and we all know how that goes in those conditions. Like leaving a windy beach and waddling to a shower with sand in your crack 😦

Well, we soldiered on and swung back onto the lower Fuji-skyline westbound. Some foggy sweepers later and then a right onto the Green line and the rain picked up again. Usually love this road downhill and even in the rain it wasn’t too bad. The water started seeping in here and there and the gloves were soaked but warmer conditions in the lowlands had me thinking it wasn’t a problem.

Left onto the 46o, headed south-west, and the rain shifted up a gear. Stay on target I voiced ‘Stay on target’! How many times can you say that before you finally throw in the towel? A weak 15km in my case!

We pulled off into a side road with tree overhangs that I’ve pitstopped at before. There was NO rain cover in them parts and some overhang was the best we were goingto get. It sufficed. Just then the rain eased to a drizzle and we could enjoy a stop, make some calls and take stock.

The Fazers hiding out
Wet and dirty Fazers hiding out
Making calls
Making calls in the fog

Jav and JamesK were smokin and waaaaaay ahead! Maybe an hour or so, two ridge tops away, and there was no rain there. So, with the promise of dry roads ahead we fired up the Fazers and 300horses gingerly made their way down the damp Susono roads looking for some dry tarmac to get a gallop up. We finally found some cresting the 337 onto the Ashinoko-skyline around the north end of Ashinoko lake and the throttles were wound on. But it was still cool up there and the rain evaporating from my pants was chilly. Thankfully the gortex boots were doing what they were supposed to do.

Through some of Hakone’s(rt75) twisties, onto rt1 and under the big red Torii, the traffic was light for a Sunday. Next left turn was the Tsubaki-line and then left again onto Hakone Shindo for the glide down onto the Kanto plain. By now, we were over 400km in and the Shindo was a welcome respite from tight turns and blind corners. Of course, the big sweepers are the real attraction though πŸ™‚

We made it to the bottom and pulled in for what was supposed to be the .. . ?photo stop at the Hakone Shindo PA.

Hakone Shindo PA - RIP
Hakone Shindo PA – RIP

Don’t bother looking for it now though and the road is now toll free πŸ™‚

We thawed and touched base again with the others. Jav and JamesK were still waiting and getting toey to hit the road again. Twinrider, Scorpion and Kiwi were on route and not far out. So, the Fazer riders thought long and hard. Do we make haste for the meet with the others or stay on course and enjoy the rest of the run? . . . mmmm. . we thought, we pondered and then 300horses went twisty hunting! That’s what we were there for, right?

8km of expressway and then we were seaside and following the coast south on the eastside of Izu. Destination, Yugawara. 135-740-135 and right onto the 75 for the run up through Yugawara for a return to the Tsubaki-line. This time from the east end. The Fazers had run this 135-740-75 combo together several times before. After the days adventures, we really felt back on home ground and super-cruised to the PA half way up the Tsubaki-line hillclimb.

Tsubaki-line PA above the clouds and were gettin a little Loco
Tsubaki-line PA above the clouds – Loco’s in heaven!

Yep, the clothes were dry and the hearts warm but man, we were feeling raggard. The view over the clouds, from the PA, was fantastic but the shadows were getting longer, we were still behind schedule and the faster part of the Tsubaki-line was still ahead. So, throwing a leg over, dropping it into 1st and trundling out of the PA, Loco was filling the mirrors and we got down to business.

55 corners later, we pulled into the PA at the top-o-the Hakone-turnpike just as the rest of the crew was sailing out. JamesK swung it around and came back to give us the heads up. They were headed south for a feed and more riding. No more of the twistybutt route though. Loco and I needed a rest and some thinking time  so we sent JamesK on his merry way and off roared the mighty FJR!

We watered, rested and had a bit of a chat. With over 500km on the odos, that was a fair effort and the next leg was a 4hour loop at best. With around 2hours of sunlight, no one else on course and 500 being a nice round number, a return to Ebina was our next goal. So, off we went down the Hakone turnpike, up the Atsugi-Odawar road and onto the Tomei for our final landing together at Ebina.

return to Ebina
return to Ebina – 550km done

Pulling into the parking area, it was loaded with bikes.  Can honestly say I got off with my chin held high wondering howmany others there had even come close to doing what we’d done that day? Not many would be a good guess.

One thing for certain, Loco and I had shadowed each other the whole day! Through the slow stuff, the tight stuff, the dirty stuff, the wet stuff, the stressful stuff and spuring each other on, we’d done 550km of Kanto’s finest! Cheers Loco. See you on the road someday Champ!

Signing off 547km
Signing off – 545km in 13 hours

But, 545km is not 800km, is it? Next summer

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