With the lifting of the corona virus state of emergency and local prefectural no-travel requests, it was time for the steed and I to chase the horizon once more.

The waxing glow on the horizon hinted at a great day of riding ahead.
Bright but Fuji’s peak isn’t glowing yet. Sunrise is still behind us.
Headed up into Hakone to give the centre of the tyres a break.
eMpTy10 drinking…again.
Fuji was everywhere for the first few hours.
What kind of frozen trickery is this? I’d dressed for the predicted 25Β°+ Max temp. Needless to say I was feeling chilled.
Pitstopped for breakfast at Misaka Touge. Tranquil until…
The Alfa club roared out of the tunnel. Some nice cars there though.
Eased 51km out of the reserve after being left parched by two closed gas stands closed before finding one open in Karuizawa. Last time I got 50km from reserve, I had to push it the final 300m. πŸ˜‚
Always a tyre torturer and grin widener.

This was the road that inspired the second wind and got me to thinking that a Coast to Coast Twistybutt had to be done. From here on there were mostly epic roads, views and the autumn colours would be even better. Besides, the 502 was ahead and I’d read a few months before that it’d be open for the start of October. If you get to the 502, it’s all downhill to the coast, right? Onward!

292 was in fine form.
Manza is getting some colour.
Top of the world and back down to 13Β°C again.
Great to be back! It’s been too long since running this epic road.
The sun was falling and…
… the navi was saying a sunset arrival on the beach was slipping away. But the views deserved some photos.
Then it slipped away. Quite literally, I tried to get a pic of the sun but the road was only going downhill and by the time I stopped, it was but a glow on the distant peaks.
Pulled up at this odd boarded up joint for a look down over the coastline. Great location and views.
How far away is that coast down there in Joetsu?
30 odd minutes later, C2C580 Twistybutt done!
There it is. Out n back. Coast to Coast to Coast with a C2C Twistybutt one way.

The expressway run home was a cold monotonous cruise control enabled decompress. It was the easiest and most economical leg of the ride though and traffic was surprisingly light.

This twisted fossil thoroughly enjoyed the stretch of legs and right wrist. And the MT10sp is proving a great steed for such stretches. Just wish it wouldn’t drink so much. πŸ˜‰

TAP the pics below for bigger images.

Steamy summer fog lingered in the valleys.
Was still too early for the primitive people to be up and about, apparently.
Leaving home and trundling through the lowlands saw a steady temp of 27-29Β°c. I’d dressed for that and the heat of the day ahead. Climbing into the mountains, it kept getting cooler and the run upto 411’s peak from the east saw a good stretch of 15-17Β°. Thankfully, the soft breeze wafting up out of Uenohara on the west side was warmer and it quickly jumped back up to a comfortably cool 20Β°c.
Good morning Fuji San.
Running the Fruits Line out of Uenohara around to Fuefuki, the sweet smell of peaches was on the morning air and it was hard to resist a peach stop.
Nice atmosphere, plenty of social distance and the peaches weren’t bad either. ‘Four to go please!’
Heading west to Minami Alps, thought I’d take a run at Yamabushi Touge. Websites were showing it intermittently open but it was a Sunday… On the way, stopped by Kenshinnotaki. Great waterfall, cool and refreshing mist falling from way above and plenty of colourful butterflies flitting about.
Yamabushi Touge? Not today!
That’s where the road used to be.
Looks like a full headland rebuild was in progress. Thought I could sneak around on that dirt road so gave it a go. It deadended at some chains.
Man’s armada lined up to do battle with the wayward whims of the river gods. The towering mountains made the gathering look positively punny. πŸ˜‚
Now that’s a road.
Climbing again and the midday sun weaving its way through the summer green overhead cast dappled light making rock n debris spotting a challenge. MaTe got through unscathed. πŸ‘
And not a cicada to be heard… Just a stream cutting its way down the valley.
But that light sure was as deceptive as it was captivating in some places. See how things can disappear in it?
While most of us avoid flying off the sides of mountain roads…
Although it got a bit hot here n there, top of 35Β°c, all in all a good rubber rounding day.
And it was great seeing Fuji San through a clear sky again.

460km done and home by 3:30pm for a nap. πŸ˜‚

Bad choice of music πŸ˜‚

Now that’s a Sunday sun-up view! Today wasn’t like that. In fact, it was overcast, steaming and threatening rain. So, it was time for something different. Let’s get cool. 😎

Straddling the Shizuoka Yamanashi border, Abe Touge is rarely open on the Shizuoka side but does climb to around 1500 metres so thought it a cool place to round some rubber up to. At 5am by the coast, it was already 28Β°C and some altitude would be welcomed. So, over Hakone Touge we went and then hop skipped and jumped over to the Shin Tomei Expressway.
Saw this little Honda with a monster top box when I stopped to rehydrate after exiting at Shin Shimizu and enjoying the twisties up the 52 to Tomikawa.
Turning west off the beaten path with towering peaks getting closer, the local welcoming party was out……. to terrify!
From small to large, it seemed all the waterfalls were flowing.
And the scars of rivers gorging on rain were very fresh.
Climbing and getting cooler. This was a comfortable hillock to admire the view, until the ants mounted their assault. πŸƒ
Look at that landslide! If the land slides in the mountains and no one is there to see it,…
And with the climb came the low cloud loving carpets of moss.
Almost there. Too bad it was thick with cloud or Fuji would have been a great sight from here.
Made it! But the warning sign showed major damage on the Shizuoka side.
Shizuoka lockout. Oh well, at least it was a dryish and a refreshing 20Β°. Back down we go.
How must it have looked in full flow, tearing at the banks?
That looks menacing.
So, that’s what the impeller of a hydroelectric turbine looks like!
Still more landslides…
An old but well kept school.
The blue sky unfurled for Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan – the world’s oldest continuous hotel. Magic riding out to it too.
It had been a good run and with a traffic free climb up the Motosuko Road to the base of Mt Fuji, the MT10 found some other steeds to hang with before the run back through Hakone and home.

All done, 485km and some well rounded rubber. Until next Sunday….

Got out for a leisurely 320km through Izu to see out the year.

Left home late and it’d warmed up to 5Β° which wasn’t bad. The temp followed altitude and sun between 2Β° and 15Β° through the day. Scottoiler(blue screen) showing 5Β°C
After following the coast and snaking up the Tsubaki Line then wriggling down the 20 and into central Izu, got to the Pizza Bus just before 12 but they said the oven wasn’t ready, come back in an hour. Nishi Izu Skyline is only a few kilometres away so away we went.
Dry, overcast and a little windy but the road was clean views were great. A Porsche club and a train of MX5 were up there stretching their legs. Sounded great!
Fuji was a beacon to the north. The tighter section up there was still in the shade, is all day this time of the year, and slick in spots. All the bikes were tiptoeing through there. This spot never gets old, even after 15 years.
Back for lunch and wasn’t the only biker there.
Lunch! Plenty of social distancing and the howling beagle to welcome you. The sausage, bacon and tomato pan pizza were good too!
Pit stopped at Takachiyama on the Izu Skyline on the way back for a view over Atami to Sagami Bay and where I was headed.
Looking out over Numazu to Suruga Bay and the setting sun, the haze making what lies beyond unclear, I thought ‘Yeah whatever 2020…’ Lit the wick on the MT10 and revved a crossplane tune over Hakone Touge and down across the Kanto plain.

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.

Who are those four jokers?
Where’d the 406 go?

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. 

Two broken wrists, concussion, lung contusions and three compressed vertebrae.

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.

Morning mate!

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. πŸ‘

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! πŸƒ

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. πŸ‘

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. πŸ˜‚

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!

Cheers Gents!

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!

Sun’s up!

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…

You too?

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 πŸ‘

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. πŸ‘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.

Michael: “Ready to Ride!?” … Me: “Almost…”Β 

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!”

This was right outside the cabin door. ☺

So were the waiting steeds.

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.

Ontake in the background and a torn Michael centre. The bike he has at home to the right and the bike that stole his β™₯ that day to the left. πŸ˜‚

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!

It’s good John πŸ‘ no mate, I don’t eat the head. πŸ˜‚

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. πŸ‘

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.

Mt. Fuji over Motosu Lake after a spritely run up the 300.

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. πŸ™

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.

2400 metres and 3Β°C

Well done mate. Another one checked off the bucketlist for John.

Ah, there he is! We did hear you coming Michael πŸ‘

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

The rumble of an approaching pack of bikes pricks the ears of all on the roadside. A decent size pack will make a real rider’s heart pound and skin tingle! This year’s ‘Rumble Pack Award’ goes to Nine members of one of the twistybutts most enthusiastic regular groups who completed 600+km. They were also the biggest group start to finish! Great effort all! πŸ‘

First Team In

Arriving at the hotel just after 4pm, this creepy trio ran a smooth C2C500 and had a ball doing so it seems. Well done gents! Good luck next year.

Most Tenacious Award

Although we had some odd entries for the Coast to Coast Twistybutt this year, Neil takes ‘The Most Tenacious’ award for his 600+ km aboard his bespoke Honda Cub. Well done mate πŸ‘

Eco Rider – Team Award

Hanawa, Andrew and Nagai took out the team Eco Rider title with their ‘whip it till the end’ 500+km Coast to Coast run. Pulling into the hotel at dusk, they were all smiles and high fives. Seems they had a really fun ride. Well done gentlemen!