460km done and home by 3:30pm for a nap. 😂
All done, 485km and some well rounded rubber. Until next Sunday….
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!
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!
Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan – @550km
Early morning in a very comfortable bed...
Meanwhile, down by the Pacific Ocean, all fired up and ready after waiting all year to ride coast to coast, 80 odd riders and their steeds were all kinds of excited, sleepy and confused, I’m sure.
Another epic collection of bikes and riders!
5:20am…ishRising up out of a great sleep to a beeping alarm, had the feeling that someone was watching me and none too impressed…
Then it hit me. COAST to COAST Twistybutt day! The one day of the year not to sleep in! So, like Fred Flinstone but onto a bike, I was outa there!
7:15ishRolled in to the start point and of course no one was there. Beautiful morning though 👍
So, with hares to hunt, it was time to get to know the SP side of the MT-10SP.
The Viking caught me here and plied me with rider fuel as I topped up the somewhat thirstier than usual eMpT-10 ☺ Then we were off again!
Toilet stop and refocus here.
Blasting through a subterranean valley to valley wormhole, loving the thrum of the MT10 crossplane rattling the tiles on the tunnel wall, I realized I’d completely missed the turnoff for the snaking touge overhead and as a result had lopped off around 20km of the C2C500 route! Doh! It was time for a pitstop and refocus. The riverside here did the trick. 👍Head back on straight, no time for photos and deciding to try and catch one pack or another doing the same route, the tyres stayed medium-well done all the way till Asama yama was in the mirrors and my furnace needed fuelling. Still hadn’t seen anyone I recognised but it was lunch time.On the road again headed for the Tsumagoi Panorama Line with the bike and belly full, the Touge Express was ready to rock again! But, within 300m, the grey sky turned black and a chill took the air.Ouch! Took a hard hit to the knee… Bug? Maybe. Ping-tock-ouch! Something bounced off the tank, hit the bottom of my helmet and jammed in between my neck and collar. And it burned till I dug it out! Then the heavens opened and grape-sized hail was bouncing around everywhere. Luckily, across the way there was a post-office with a decent verandah out front. In the MT and I darted. And as fast as it started, it finished.The remnants of the hail was melting away and there was road to ride so away we went. Over the 292, through Nakano and Iiyama and along the last farmer/panorama line before dropping down into Joetsu we went. And with plenty of daylight left, the MT10sp and I pulled up on the sand by the Sea of Japan.
Got to the hotel just behind one of the groups I had had in my sights but that was it!The rest of the riders, groups and coast to legends rolled in over the following hours. Yearly acquaintances were renewed, new faces were put to names and we gassed on about our rides and the freedom of carving one’s way from coast to coast, again. Brilliant!It had been a few years since I’d done a solid C2C Twistybutt and although it was only @490km, it was truly one for the nostalgia files.
2019 Coast to Coast Twistybutt Legends
Hida to Kanagawa @ 610km
The run back to the Pacific.
Eyelids slowly seperate and a new day’s light pins the retinas. Thank you! Woke up to the rustling of futons in the next room. The Viking was up. I wasn’t…
Creaked into a somewhat upright position and sculled some water and decided a 10minute back stretch was in order. Then the paparazzi pounced. Good morning day 3, for me.
Being surrounded by Hida’s finest roads was bound to draw at least one of us out early. Barely out of bed and the drainpipe on the KTM fired to life and could be heard trundling down the hill. Not long after, the Viking was wailing on the throttle and announcincing his gallop off into the twisties. Worth noting, the Viking helmet version of a muffler was already over a kilometre and one ridge away and sounded like one long gravely “O—DI—-N!”
All packed up and cabin in order, we headed out into the cool fresh Alps air under an inviting blue sky lightly dusted with high faint cloud.
First order of the day, west in search of breakfast. The 41 down to the Miyagawa River was just the wakeup tonic needed. Munched thru a simple combini feed then back on the road.
The Viking’s GT was a little on the smokey-sick side so he headed out early again taking it easy this time while the rest of us swung back east to get a little slice of 471 heaven again before a hop-step and a jump over to the run out of Takayama heading for Kiso.
The 361 was a treat once again but a little of its character seems to disappear every year as more and more bypasses are added. Still a fun workout though and just before Kiso, we pulled in for a coffee and rest. And something smelt good!
While fish-feasting, the Viking called in to report he’d just had a little private time with a member of the constabulary. No penalties but a timely heads up for us.
We continued on over to the 152 and on the run north started to get some warnings of more constabulary ahead and sure enough came across two on bikes hiding up on a perch ready to pounce. Fortunately, we werent to be prey that day and we still had the twisty north section to enjoy.
From Chino, we supercruised down a busy Chuo expressway and rolled into our first view of Fuji in a couple of days. Tony put the hammer down for Tokyo here and said farewell until we ran into him again at a service area. T, really wanted an ice-cream there with you but we had a time sensitive treat for the lads. Next time. 👍
Actually, that service area was past our turn-off but was a warranted detour due to the eMTy10 needing a drink.
All fueled up and saying farewell to T, we sailed onto a deserted but hot Chubuodan Expressway with great mountain views all around. Our last stretch of monotony before getting back to rubber rounding on the climb up to the five lakes region of Mt. Fuji.
Swinging south after Motosu Lake, we rode straight into bumper to bumper traffic leading to a local cherry blossom festival. Those poor cagers, it was like a parking lot for several kilometres in all directions. And sorry gents for riding us straight into it. 🙏
We got through it though and were soon circumnavigating the mighty Mt. Fuji from west to south before turning up the Fuji Skyline and climbing on the long switchbacks to the highlands before the final tight climb to the 5th station. Michael loved the highland section sooo much he sailed right on by the turn up to the final climb. At the turn-off, John and I waited, called and then thought he’d probably already gone ahead up the mountain so we followed. Didn’t really have time to wait around either as the shadows were growing longer. Only at the 5th station did we confirm we’d left him behind. Sorry mate.
Always a great view and special place to be but boy it was chilly up there and we had to make tracks as the next day was to be a big one.
Buuut that festival’s traffic we’d waded through earlier was now on the march home, as were we, and gridlock was everywhere. So it was time for some roads less travelled. Interesting fun roads!
Our route had us up on the Ashinoko Skyline right on time for a fantastic sunset over Mt. Fuji.
From there, it was a wriggle across and then run down the Hakone Turnpike and Seisho Bypass home.
Good long day gents. We made a lot of ground and had a variety of riding. Too much fuzz maybe but…the tyres were still round all over and not a chicken strip in site! Well done.
More to come. Stay tuned…
MT-10 SP Update
Had the chance to ride the MT10sp back to back with a BMW S1000XR again. Always a pleasure.
A couple of days and 1000+ kilometres aboard the MT10sp had shown it to be a quick and comfy tourer. The XR is really smooth and easy to handle making it an even comfier tourer on top of being deceptively quick. Quicker than the MT10sp…? Maybe after a few hours in the saddle and the comfort possibly makes for a less fatigued rider.
But for outright squirt and tarmac twisting, the SP has got the upper hand, with a caveat. The S1000XR, for me, had the ability to make a quick rider of almost any jockey right out of the box. The MT10sp on the other hand is sharper and more focused and speaks volumes more about its interaction with the road and you. And for that, not as easy to handle as the bigger spoungier S1000XR. But if you can learn to read its language and utilise what it telegraphs from the road, it is far more rewarding and the conversation will have you whooping and laughing all the way to the next fuel stop which comes up all too soon!
Oh and let’s not forget the sound! The Yamaha CP4 firing out the upswept muffler sounds like rampaging clydesdale hooves! 🎶 Charge!
Rumble Pack Award
First Team In
Most Tenacious Award
Eco Rider – Team Award
Over the Alps and into Hida
Joetsu to Hida @ 450km
Started out with a morning hotspring soak and the view from the outdoor tub was of a blue sky over snow dusted majestic mountains to the south. That’s where we were headed and it looked cold.
First up, meet for breakfast at a nearby cafe.
Some really needed it. Wasn’t sure if it was the beer or their first naked public outing the night before. Yep, John’s first onsen 😂 You did well mate 👍
All were in good spirits thanks to the much improved weather. Caffeined up and general plan acknowledged, it was a 150km expressway haul to Matsumoto then west into the mountains again. Had intended a visit to Matsumoto Castle for John and Michael’s benefit but in the lead, I was lead astray by my garmin and the alluring mountains in the opposite direction.
On route, deep in farmers’ country, we had a rendezvous with a water god memorialised beside a crystal clear icemelt channel flowing out of the Hida Mountains.
Powerspot Pitstop – Fresh air, green fields, blue skies and cute little frogs everywhere.
After fueling the steeds, we twisted our way up the 158 to Fuketsu no Sato michinoeki for some wasabi croquet and pig on a stick. Yum!
Just a tad over 10°C – Four lounging lizards happy to catch some rays.
Palletes tickled and itching for twisties, it was time to torture some tyre writhing up the 158 to the wormhole that pops you out on the west side of those majestic peaks, in Hirayu.
On the other side, colder, rimmed by steep mountains and snowcapped peaks. We pulled in to the covered rest area to acclimatise.
Layers added and shrunken bladders emptied, it was on to Hida’s little slice of heaven. Rt 471! Blue skies overhead, sun-warmed roads under tyre and cool Alps air being syphoned into some seriously starved airboxes. The sound of the string of 4s and the big Vtwin must’ve appeased the road gods as the 471 didn’t disappoint.
Swinging left over the big blue bridge and onto the 41, we made our way west on our way to the night’s cabin. That little bit of the 41 has a few chickenstrip chewers too. Big long ones! Pulling up in the cabin carpark and the crackles and soft hisses from the steads spoke volumes. 😉
Just after midday with cabin secured and packs offloaded, we hit the road again to sample the Hida region’s ample twisties.
Back to twisting and turning, we’d chewed through a fair chunk of time over lunch and the Viking on the GT had sailed out way ahead of us. So, we took a little squirt down the extensively tunnelled and bridged Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway to attempt, unsuccessfully, to catch up with him in Shirakawago.
Look at those smiles!
With daylight fading, we made our way east and back toward the cabin.
After suffering chokablock traffic through the near endless and choking tunnels on route to Takayama, we were glad to get out into the fresh air, even if it was hand numbingly cold and pitch black.
We made for Rt.90 which also had an epically long and chilly tunnel. But just before we got there, the rain started to sprinkle softly and add to the 5°C chill.
Emerging on the backside of the 90, coming out of the tunnel to find no rain and some nice winding tarmac made things better. But still cold.
Pulling into a combini at the bottom of the 90, the Viking, who was way ahead, chimed in to let us know he’d found us a place for dinner and it was warm and inviting. Michael took the lead and with the promise off a warm meal, we had a great blast through the night!
Hida beef on hoba miso buried under stringy mushrooms and chopped shallots. Hida at it’s most delicious!
Was a cold night back up the mountain in the cabin. Our fuel expert John got the kero stove fired. The hot carpets were wicked up also and we were all good. Then it was beer o’clock!
More to come, stay tuned…
MT-10 SP Update
The silver surfer performed flawlessly! First day I started to feel at home on it. Climbing, twisting, turning and stopping with ease and confidence. The riding position continued to feel just right but the seat was proving a little unforgiving the further I rode. Neither my butt nor the seat were yielding it seems. 😂
Fuel economy was proving more reasonable than I’d been lead to believe with an average of just over 15km/l. The first bar of the fuel gauge being 1/2 tank was odd though.
Was also the first day of extended dry nice twisties and the traction, suspension compliance and trailbreaking proved a treat! A lack of braking feedback was becoming more obvious though.
Did find I was getting used to the buried indicator knob. Also had a good play with various settings. Actually find myself hoping for red lights as an opportunity to adjust something. Settled on level 2 across the board.
Yokohama to Joetsu @ 525km
A little Coast to Coast Twistybutt Scouting
Woke up to an overcast morning with sunshine promised. Michael and John were in Yamanashi, as was Oyly so we were meeting there.
Old ironbutt, twistybutt and general touring marauder mate Tony had chimed in and was joining for a few days too. 👍
The SP was ready and waiting having gained a garmin navi, fuzz warner and luggage resplendent with bunjy cords and a cargo net seemingly big enough to double as a hammock. Never know…
Hit the road with an hour and a half to the meet surging from light to light until zipping through a toll gate onto an expressway.
Humming along at a steady speed with 100+ uninterrupted kilometres ahead, it was time to test the cruise control and…for several kilometres, I poked, prodded, slid, swiped, long pressed, short pressed, double tapped and even resorted to multiple fingers. Thought it was broken or I was missing something and I was. Finally stumbling on a usable velocity…it maxed out at 105km/h indicated. Jp-spec! The right hand was sorer than intended on arrival at the meet and the gang was already there.
Just waiting for the MT-10
Had a bite and a coffee while catching up. Then it was off to do some twisties and scouting.
The blue skies turned grey running through the southern lowlands of Yatsugatake. Approaching Suwa Lake, the temp started to drop and as we climbed, at around 900m and 12°C, a spotty rain started. Soon climbed into low foggy cloud and up around 1100m winter’s white was lingering.
Sailed on through patchy weather with just a stop for fuel demanded by the eMpTy10.
The bikes were starting to look ridden 👍
With the MT showing 8°C, a soft steady drizzle and the road shiny, the Venus Line wasn’t as fun as it could’ve been. Especially on Pirelli Rossa Corsa II… which Michael assured were ringed on the edges with pure carbon ‘slippery when wet’ death-strips! He was on the same rubber and wasn’t trying to overtake me so I took his word for it and we kept it real while waltzing the steeds along the winding mountain main roads and down through Ueda on the way up to Jizo Touge for a lunch break.
Was similarly chilly up there, crossing the Nagano-Gunma border at @1750m, and the hot beef curry went down a treat!
Yunomaru ski run atop Jizo Touge showing rare May snow
Riders fueled, it was onto the Tsumagoi Panorama Line – Manza Highway and up to the Shiga-Kusatsu Road.
Climbing the Manza Highway and passing the snowline from where it got whiter, colder and incredibly scenic when the weather allowed, it was time for me to add a layer, done the heated gloves and plug in. Pulling over in Manza outside the visitors centre, much to John’s confusion ☺, I got to it. He looked even more confounded when I started flapping my hands about like a princess in a fly farm. Yep, the cold wet hands needed help getting dry enough to slide into lined gloves.
Gear on and feeling warmer with every rev, we picked up Tony and his green machine then made the final switchback twist up the snow covered mountainside to the Shiga-Kusatsu road. Japan’s highest national road, peaking at 2127 metres.
Øyvind and Michael waiting up in the fog on the Shiga-Kusatsu road at almost 2000 metres. Thanks for waiting gents 👍
They didn’t wait long with the empty scenic mountain top road rolling through the snow drawing them ahead. That left John, Tony and I to get the snow wall photo.
Pic taken, away we went. Saw 3°C near the top @2100 metres. Getting stuck behind a bus for a bit then a truck, looking through the grit encrusted visor was like getting a feed from a fridge in a blackout. Thankfully, warm-n-safe have a handy visor wipe on their gloves that works damn well!
Rounding up the truck, wiping off the visor and dropping a gear, the run down into Nakano was fun bar the odd Pirelli shimmy on wet expansion joints.
As the road straightened, we got the gang back together and soon pulled into a combini for our last powow before the run into Joetsu.
Well, almost the last stop. One last stop to pay our lack of respect to the returned drizzle and the limiters on the jp spec bikes! 🖕
Twenty or so kilometres later, we were slabbing into Joetsu as the afternoon sun was falling fast behind thick cloud. It hadn’t been the best weather but the roads trumped the weather and all were in good spirits.
Tired, cold and thirsty, it was time to retire to a hotspring soak followed by a good feed and some much deserved rehydration.
Cheers for a good day fellas!
More to come, stay tuned…
MT-10 SP Update
Was a testing first day. Comfy bike and no handling, braking or power delivery surprises. It did rain a fair bit of the time though. Good day for traction control and ABS testing.
- JP-spe = 105km/h cap on the cruise control and most definitely a 180km/h speed limiter.
- The cruise control positioning was obviously designed and tested by someone with a triple jointed thumb with a very thin hook on the end…
- Limited luggage attachments and the rear/pillion seat is tiny for touring bags.
- Turning is superbike wide.
- Filling the fuel tank to the brim only gets an extra 8-900cc of fuel.
- Headlight/s are shockingly bad off centre when banked over.
- Seat moves a lot and lets down the quality feel.
- There’s a tick from the top end..
That engine sound! Almost enough on its own!
Surprisingly good wind protection for a naked.
Suspension makes it feel planted.