460km done and home by 3:30pm for a nap. 😂
All done, 485km and some well rounded rubber. Until next Sunday….
So, who’s keen for trying the Coast to Coast #10 on September 19, 2021? Yup, this September.
It’s still warm but cool on the Peaks and most mountain passes are open. There is a chance of typhoons scuppering things and we’ll have to deal with that. If we start the salutations to the weather and road Gods now, we oughta have a good shot at a green light.
As to the State of Emergency, that’s out of our hands and will be dealt with as the restrictions dictate. In any case, social distancing and respect for local covid concerns along our route needs to be a top priority.
Anyway, if you’re keen, pencil it in and let’s see if we can’t have a ride to see out the warmer weather.
Got out for a leisurely 320km through Izu to see out the year.
It’s been a lonely year on the road. Looking forward to seeing off this plague and catching up with the Twistybutts in May!
Roll on 2021!
Left home in the cool pre-dawn for what I thought would be a morning excursion but one thing lead to another and before I knew it I’d gone Coast to Coast and still had to get home, which is near the coast so…
Was a fantastic ride! @1150km in 20hrs with @250km of that on the expressway.
Nice and cool at altitude so tried to stay up there as much as possible.
Got to finally do a road on my bucket list, Sugawa Touge on the 403 between Niigata and Nagano. Exceptional views and a fantastic hillclimb. Bit narrow on the south side though. The phone was overheating unfortunately so here are some other snaps from the ride instead.
About the Bones
Now, why did I start the day with a 190km expressway run out to Nikko? Let’s roll the clock back a bit.
Almost two years ago to the day while returning from several great days of touring Tohoku with a Viking, coming around a right hander into a narrow bridge crossing, I was met with a a black van on my side of the road and a tough choice…
Head on Collision…nope!
Dodge the van and likely hit the guardrail over the bridge…guardrails are rather unforgiving from previous experience, so…nope!
Try to pull up and go off the corner…lots of thick grass to plow, a concrete pole and tree to dodge but ok…
It all happened so fast that there really wasn’t a decision process to ponder. As soon as I grabbed that brake lever, a wide line was inevitable and going off road it was.
The braking was strong enough to leave a faint gray streak for the last metre or so before leaving the sticky stuff but by then we’d slowed to running pace. After shimmying across the dirt and then off the brakes into that long welcoming green grass with about as much traction as butter, the grass had a another surprise for us.
Just as I was sizing up the tree’s thick branch that we were going to have to plow through at just above front wheel height, we launched a little on a hump hidden in the grass. Not a space bound launch but I’ve many a time thought what would have been if I’d hit it with pace… In any case, it threw me out of the saddle enough to unsettle me and after that I was a mere passenger.
It was about then that my eyes widened to dinner plates as there was a gaping trench below the branch which had also been hidding behind that long grass!
A stone walled creek/river of unknown depth and bottom. Yep, the crash that keeps on giving! Branch crack, crunch of fairing-plastic and then the odd pop-click-crack, like lobsters on the reef if you’ve ever heard that when diving but a hundred reefs of them pop-click-cracking out from your marrow to your sensors. Bones n joints doing what they aren’t intended to. Head first into the wall! Just above the helmet visor. Then again to the crown of my head on a lower stone step protruding from the wall.
I came to, draped over the FZ1 with my left fingers in mesh summer gloves filtering clean clear mountain waters gurgling below me. The old beast had saved me once more.
I did the sensory check and then the digit-limb-everything check and I was in one piece, operational but quite badly winded. Clambered to my feet noticing a sore wrist and bit of dizziness. Looking around, I was ankle deep in a 2-3 metre high 2-3 metre wide concrete bottomed, riverstone lined creek/river teeming with life, both plant and insect. The FZ1 had lost the front below the fork stanchions but looked ok. It wasn’t. Discovered a fatal frame crack much later. Still pains me.
Back in the trench, I was bewildered and having a little trouble staying upright when the Viking appeared above. He’d been some way back but close enough to see something amiss. I just remember asking, “Did I fk up?” Oviously!
On extracting myself from the trench with the help of a good samaritan passerby, I painfully realized something was not at all right with my wrists. As the shock and fight or flight chemical dump wore off waiting for the ambulance, it became painfully apparent there were a few things not quite doing what they should’ve been doing.
The ambulance and fire crew were great while the local inspector Cluoseau wannabe bordered on comical with his various hypothesis and line of resulting interrogations.
Later, at the hospital after some xrays and CT scans, the injuries were clear.
Rehab lasted a while. The back is still not right, the left wrist isn’t either but I’m no spring chicken and that wasn’t my first rodeo. I can still ride!
And ride I will. One day shy of the second anniversary of that decisive day, I went to look over that place and make peace with my demons.
It is a beautiful little area and was all the more so in the early summer light.
Think I’ll make this a regular place to visit around this time each year. A pilgrimage to pain and life and what could easily have been my last ride!
As the MT10 has been up on stands since March due to the plague, I was initially worried about the battery as I rarely leave the bike unridden for long and if I do, the battery is disconnected.
The MT10 has a great little gadget I installed when picking up the bike from Apexmoto. It has made checking the battery crazy easy. A bluetooth battery monitor.
I walk past the bike almost every day but rarely carry the keys for it and only enjoy unwrapping the mummy-like cover if it’s gonna be ridden or wrenched on. So, walking by and accessing battery condition via an app on the phone is a mere 10 second chore.
It’s got plenty of data and functions on hand too. Big favourite is the alarm for preset battery levels. Thankfully, I’ve not had them go off yet. But in the three times I’ve gone to wrench on the bike, the app readings have matched the bike’s voltmeter. 👍
This had for an interesting and simple stress reliever I hope will keep on doing so for many years. And as it is simple, seems durable and waterproof, it ought to do so. I’ll report back on it again at a later as to this.
Will keep adding here as the boots break-in.
March 2020 @320km
I’ve only done a few hundred kms in my Travel Stars so far.
The toe box is vast. I’m usually a 42/43 and as many said they ran large, I went 42. Should’ve gone 41 or even 40.
However, the ankle is tight. And extremely inflexible. Had to adjust the shifter a lot to accommodate the change. I’m expecting that to free up as boots do.
Quality is superb.
The arced zippier performed better with a bit of wax but that curve is not to my liking when zipping up or down. Supposed to make it comfier long term though.
Speaking of comfy, they are indeed that.
Very happy with them so far. Rode home in torrential rain and spray laden traffic for about 90km/90minutes and still had bone dry hooves. Couldn’t say the same for the rest of me.
The water that poured in the top from fjording a submerged road earlier in the day also dissipated within a few hours.
May 1, 2021
Meet – 4:30am
START – @4:50am (sunrise)
Pacific Ocean to Japan Sea
Start: Sagami bay in Kanagawa
Finish: Joetsu in Niigata
To ride from the Pacific to the Sea of Japan in a single day via as many great roads as can be strung together without touching a highway or toll road!
Then, settle in for beers, a feast and soak…
Three days. That’s right! For those looking for a longer ride, we’ll do the traditional coast to coast on May 2 then a free day to recover/explore on May 3 and then a return coast to coast on a rare east route on May 4.
No major changes from the last 3 years’ route, just a little trimming and tweaking of the same great route taking us on the back of an almost endless snake of twisting, climbing, carving and winding tarmac!
Long – roughed out in 2011 – 600km+
Short – The route above but smoother and shorter- 500km –
ALL FIRST TIMERS WILL ONLY BE GIVEN THE 500 ROUTE.
15-20 touges (mountain passes) to traverse on the route, 2 of them being the 2 highest national roads in Japan! And where there are touges, you know there have to be hillclimbs, hairpins and oodles of twisties, right! Yep, that’s the twisty part covered.
How about the butt part? Well, at 600km+ with NO expressway, it isn’t exactly a Sunday squirt or a scoot out to your favorite lunch spot. It’s far enough to feel it and due to being packed with great roads banking you left and right, it is gonna take a while. So, you’re gonna spend your day with eyes tracing tarmac and butt parked, sliding this way and that polishing your seat, tank sides and foot pegs.
This isn’t the 1st time we’ve done it and we’ve tried to improve the route each year and encourage spirited riders to come along and give it a go. Don’t go getting the idea that encouraging means you’ll be joining a ‘follow the leader’ train of riders though. This is a tough ride and one to do at your own pace on your own schedule. You’ll probably find a rider or two around your pace to roll with but don’t count on it. Everyone has different styles, fuel ranges, bladder sizes and concentration spans so you may find yourself rolling with different people or even alone at times. But generally, small groups of similar paced and style riders have coalesced early on past rides.
If you’ve got a pack of like minded riders already then great, get your train together, study the route, load your navis if you have them and get on with it.
Just don’t take this ride lightly. It is a tough one! A hell of a lot of great riding but tough and dangerous if not respected. Heed the warning.
1. You are responsible for yourself, your ride and leaving your whinging and whining at home.
2. Have your bike in long distance ready condition. Plenty(50%+) of tire and a full tank of gas!
3. Have yourself ready to roll. Well slept, fed and healthy.
4. This is not an easy ride! You will be on the road for the best part of daylight and maybe more than 12hours with little time to just cruise and zone out. It is a true feast of twisties that even gluttons have trouble swallowing. Know that!
# START TIME # Sunrise – 4:50am – If you miss the start, don’t give up. Ride your own ride and you’re bound to catch up with others on your way to Joetsu.
Ride considerately, safely and within your limits.
This IS NOT competitive touring or a race.
In no way is any other rider or anyone associated with this ride responsible for any other rider on the ride.
We will likely have a variety of different riders/bikes/attitudes out there. Respect that and keep it real.
For the safety of your fellow riders and yourself, keep a safe distance between all riders and ride in a staggered formation when in a group. Staggered provides better vision, keeps the pack together and the tires in the car tracks reducing the chance of a puncture.
Have a charged phone on hand at all times with your emergency contact and the other riders’ contact. Details will be shared closer to the start.
Notify someone on this ride asap if you have any difficulties or leave the ride.
Our route parallels a lot of expressway so if anyone wants to swing off on a separate adventure for a bit, take a nap or get lost then there is flexibility for that. Hell, if you just get a crook neck or the bike develops a reluctance to rock’n’roll then make a beeline for the goal and wait for the rest of the crew to roll in. There is always another day and the support of your fellow road warriors waiting for you at the goal.
***MUST***, Even if you have a navi, KNOW the ROUTE, have your back-up maps / Mapple or stick with someone who does. All routes will be distributed sometime in April.
What do we do when we get there?
Everybody meets up at the same place for a feast and to share tales from the road.
Joetsu Sun Plaza – Click the following pic to be linked to the Sun Plaza online booking page.
*It’s in Japanese but easy enough to do with Google translate.
If you can’t get a room with the rest of the riders at the Sun Plaza, try one of these two hotels:
Monzen no Yu – https://www.greens.co.jp/monzen/
How do I get in on this?
Spirited riders are always welcome. So, just reply here and/or PM me if you’re a definite and I’ll keep you in the loop.
Hope to see a ready pack of Twistybutters on May 1st and a festive bunch on the opposite coast!
Iida to Home @425km
Had a great night’s rest and woke up ready to ride. But the inn was silent. Climbed out of my cubbyhole trying not to wake anybody but old wooden buildings like to chat with even the most cautious of feet. So with creaks and squeaks but never a thud, I dressed, loaded up and crept downstairs. Snoring continued from at least one cubbyhole…
The peace and quiet and soft morning light splashing over the mountains and flooding the vast western windows of the inn before seeping its way through the open wooden labyrinth was a magic way to start the day.
MotoGP pit the night before, twisty hunter staging area the following morning. ☺
And out the door we went.
The Michael way to minimise downtime!
Making our way south east, the conditions were just right and we were having a ball on the wide open bypasses and squeezing through the tighter canyon passes.
Came upon a deserted XR and after a short trek into the thick mossy forest..
… spied Michael soaking up minus eons down by the waterfalls below. Nice!
Then we climbed…
Crossing over into Misakubo, the wildlife are quite different…
Seems the wildlife like to jump onto the back of speeding bikes too. So best to go slowly, apparently. Defies my logic but I’m not a cute girl on a dualsport so…
Michael and John enjoyed the climb. 👍
Who’s that way over there?
Mountains to the horizon..
How do you like that John?
Just like the way up, endless twisties from there on down.
Views aplenty too!
Soon we were back tracing a river and a closer look was warranted.
Out on the mossy bridge taking pics, soon discovered that my new can’t-miss-that-yellow helmet was a flying-bug magnet. And there were plenty of big stingy ones above this river.
So, back on the road I went! 🏃
And where there are steep mountains and deep canyons with roads cut into them, there are almost always sharp stones falling from the walls. The MT10SP picked one up unfortunately.
Fortunately, mechanic Michael was there to save the day. I pulled in under the dragons…
… and he flew into action.
Nice plug mate. 👍
Plugged and pumped up, we got back into it and soon found ourselves in the great green lined hills of tea.
This is the kanji character for cha = tea
Flowing east and then north we twisted our way up toward Ikawa and its mighty dam.
Round the north side of the dam, we pulled into an old favourite for lunch.
The food’s always fresh from the local fields and the kitchen is staffed by local ladies who know what they’re doing with such great ingredients.
From there, with furnaces fueled, we twisted our way back down out of the mountains and headed east for home.
Back in the big smoke, Michael’s work spoke for itself by getting the MT10sp and I back without event. And the rest of the tyres show it was a well rounded test. 😂
The only thing left to do was celebrate @3000km and a week-plus well ridden.
Abalone anyone? Couldn’t wait…sorry. ☺
Now that’s some choice Hayama Premium beef!
Great suggestion Michael. That was an epic post-tour feed. Thank you!
Brilliant Goldenweek of riding with a great crew. Full of sideways skewing events but nay a scar or regret. The weather gods tested us a few times but blessed us with predominantly fine weather and clean clear roads. The tour started and finished with three and hats off to Michael and John for their endless enthusiasm, tireless tyre rounding and being a ZERO-PITA. 😁
Already looking forward to next year!