Being the spring equinox, it was a good opportunity to thaw out the riding skills with a little controlled conditions training.
The Honda Motorcycle School in Saitama runs a good show with excellent instructors and a large fleet of modern hondas to play on.
A couple of days before, the weather took a turn but 17 of our 20 enrolled stepped up for the challenge. What a challenge it was! Temps plummeted to a wintery chill hovering a little above 0℃ and a steady northerly wind drove the precipitation under cracked visors and into open collars. Brrrr…
Our fleet for the day supplied by Honda: VTR250, CB400Revo, CB650F, CB1100, CB1300
The first hour or so of cone carving and slaloming knocked off the rust while I got familiar with the cb400Revo. 2nd gear tamed the jerky throttle and the crouch or lift technique being instructed helped maintain momentum and weight transition. 👍
As the laps rolled by, numerous cones were clipped, shunted and tipped. A couple bikes ended up on crash bars(including an instructor’s :-D) and a LOT of adrenalin was flowing. There was a noticeable improvement in control and pace from many. And we were going to need that confidence.
At our first break, the rain started to crystalize and quickly went from rain to sleet and then snow. It wasn’t sticking though so with some instruction on steering and head-elbow-shoulder position, we headed back to do battle with the course, corners and snow!
Great opportunity to push it in disconcerting conditions. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I wasn’t alone. But many had semi-frozen paws and needed regular stops to thaw digits on toasty engine heads.
Disappointingly, the day was cut short due to snow with the afternoon sessions cancelled. But we all got to have lunch together and share slip, spin and near miss recounts. Then, we headed home, some on two wheels, some on four. The ride home through rain and snow was a breeze after the morning’s antics.
Great short but entertaining morning with good training and mates. Valuable warm up for the annual Coast 2 Coast Twistybutt too.
Back in the city, MT10 zone, and where things are more complicated…
Glad to see a growing appreciation for local legends in the area too.
Having ridden the hills, city and the nights, it was time to hit the beach…
Cody came to pick up the MT10 late that afternoon and the romance was over. Great Tuesday to Saturday aboard Yamaha’s king of the MT range. Looking forward to the next ride through the old haunts. Cheers for some great riding Perth, thanks for that sonorous crossplane powerplant and cruise control Yamaha 🙂 and cheers Cody for making the MT10 available.
As the sun set on my final night in Perth, fireworks lit the night drawing a cheer from us on Dan’s balcony and a fair farewell.
The S1000XR and Multistrada weren’t available so it was an R1200RS. Complete with topbox and a pannier which fit our gear for a couple days.
Set the suspension for 2up and we were off fighting our way through morning traffic out of the city.
Took a while to figure out the navi was set to avoid expressways but once sorted we were off and soon flying through the rolling hills of Tuscany north of Pistoia.
Riomaggiore… there it is! One of the 5 Cinque Terre nestled in the crook of a valley lapping the Ligurian Sea.
A wonder of colours, walls, steps, shadows, depth and dysfunction in the night light threaded with plenty of laughter, footsteps and fresh air carrying wafts of delicious food on the scent of the sea. We had to eat..
With my better half wanting to see the towns from a boat, it was time to snake along the coastline and do some bike bonding. So, headed north to Levanto before turning around and heading south again to meet in Portovenere.
Click the pic below for the run from Levanto to Portovenere. Best turn the volume down as the wind noise is horrid 😦
And Portovenere was magic!
With a deadline before the R1200RS turned into a pumpkin, it was time to saddle up and hit the Autostrada making a beeline for Firenze.
We arrived just in time to drop off the bike then had a great dinner and enjoyed strolling away our final night in Firenze.
That’s our 2nd time riding through Toscana. Fantastic again! I’ll be back and for longer next time…
Met some of the usual suspects and a gaggle of prospective Twistybutters at a nondescript convenience store nice and early to beat the summer heat. So nondescript that some found themselves in empty carparks, even the most experienced!
With the wait, some were chomping at the bit to get going but most were happy wandering around the herd putting faces to bikes and names waiting for the stragglers.
Around 5:15, the engines fired, kick stands went up and those on the 500km course went downhill while those on the 600km went uphill.
The carpark cleared quickly except for one reluctant Ninja 10R which had run out of zap and needed a bump start. Some huffing, puffing and pushing later and the carpark was clear. Our group were definitely bringing up the tail but we had a good group. The mighty FZ1 in the lead followed by GPZ900R, Z1000, Street Triple and Ninja 10R. Good pack of experienced and well matched riders. Had a great run crossing paths with the 500s here and there and 70 odd kms later we pulled up to a red signal around 6:30am with a pack of 14 riders! Was awesome to see.
We climbed up through the cool mountains, took a brief break at the top and then down to the south of Kofu for a break.
Fueled up the bikes and huddled inside to fuel the riders. Cheers for the cold drinks Sanekata-san. It was already hot! 8am and 30deg! Hot enough to get us moving, but not without a push for the green machine… then it was off to twist our way around the west of Fuji. Along the way we passed and were passed by Mike B on the mighty African Twin.
Had a great run until my wrong turn up the Fuji Skyline. A wrong turn that turned into a cool reprieve. Nice chill 21deg at 1100m. So, we hung there for longer than we should have. By this stage, we’d welcomed a spritely Yamaha tracer to herd but the GPZ and Z1000 had to split off there and head back to work. Too bad…
From there it was south into Izu and a run down the Izu Skyline. Divided by traffic,our group of four broke off into 2 with the Street Triple and Tracer missing the turn-off for the entrance to the Big Izzy. Oh well, gave us a chance to tag along with another crew of Twistybutters. SuperDuke Ken, Capponard Beppe and CBR Gil. The 10R approved as it fired to life voluntarily! Then we were off and the 10R was a galloping. By the time we reached the Golden Temple, we were back to two.
Twisted on over a couple of touges through the forest across the hinterlands toward lunch. the five of us regrouped there and had a good chat over lunch. I was feeling pretty well drained at this stage and a little crabby. Sure appreciated the feed, aircon and company. And as we were gearing up to roll out KJ and his band of merry twistybutters rolled in all smiles and looking as hungry as we had an hour before. Small world 😀
After that we did the south west, west and north west coast and the heat was really getting to me. Remember rolling into a combini and thinking I may not make it. Not the full 600km course anyway. Stood there like a zombie in dire need of a second wind. Mentioned/mumbled I really needed an ice coffee and ‘hey presto!’ there was Tony T with a tall ice coffee. Legend! Part time awesome wingman, part time track racer, part time Skyline fiend and awesome coffee dispenser! Cheers T.
The north west corner was fun and we passed a number of twistybutters going up and down the twisty bits. A tracer here, an orange street triple there and the trio we lost on the Skyline! Met them again up on Heda Touge and was delayed with… bike/rider issues. Soonish, all was sorted and we were off again.
Bolted across the peninsular into the fading light back onto the Big Izzy and decided on going north instead of south, trimming @10km off, to get us to the goal a little hastier. It helped until we hit Atami and its summer festival. Complete with floats, closed roads, men in blue on every other corner and… it was a bottleneck. Sorry all. Didn’t check the calendar on that one. Soldiered on and ran the Seaside Line before climbing again into the hills and up to the goal at Daikanyama. The 5 of us were probably last in but glad to be there. Exhausted but glad.
Gassed on for a while and then decided to hit the road and we all went our seperate ways. Some back to Tokyo, some back to Kanagawa. And me? Well, I was off to a nearby hotel. 20km away and the rain was starting to spit. It only spat while on the peaks and soon I was barreling down into Susono and some much needed fluids and food! I was late though and rolled in around 9:30pm.
Got in to the hotel and a few of the Twistybutts were lurking around the foyer area in various states of reanimation, topping up on amber fluids. The call was made to head to a restaurant next door where we foraged, drank and shared tales from the road. It wasn’t the huge gathering of the Coast2Coast but it was a good time with fellow Twistybutts. Cheers Gents!
Next morning, woke up to team KTM(Neil and Patrick) heading out. Met others for breakfast downstairs and we were all a little crusty and road-worn.
While the others headed back to the big smoke, Brian(aka Ramen Rider) and I headed for the Fuji area to try something new.
The drone worked a treat and we had fun with it. We screwed around on the south side of Mt. Fuji and then keeping in the cooler temps above 1000 metres, we went clockwise around Fuji to Lake Saiko.
At the top, there was a most excellent viewing building with a great launch pad for the drone.
Following that we bade farewell and made our separate ways home. I took the opportunity to scout out some twisty touges in the area but …
Decided to twist it back and wriggle around the traffic. Glad I did!
For the last run of twisties of a great couple of days of riding, it was up and over Ashigara Touge and Ashigara Highway back to the coast and home. Great weekend of Kanto’s twisties with the Twistybutters.
Rolled into Ebina SA @5am to meet up with another Twistybutter only to find I was the only bike there. Over the next 1/2 hour, the bikes started rolling in.
With a coffee down and the sky lit, we scooted across the carpark to top off the tanks before setting out. I’d fueled up the car the day before at my local for 122yen/litre. Ebina SS with its great service was making us pay for it, 145yen/litre!
Great to climp into the cool fresh mountain air…
The Road Gods have been prepping the twisties for extra grip with a little help from the drifters!
Took the time to explore a little and this shrine and meeting place was a cool pitstop.
What a magic place with equally magic woodwork.
Found some twisties of course!
Although cool on the peaks, we saw a low of 9deg at 1800m around 9am, the forests were alive. And the spiders of Tabayama were out in force….
But some were definitely out having some fun once the sun came out. Like this father and son.
Had to to give that a go! Woohoo!!
Was cloudy but bright all morning and around 10’30 the blue skies came out making for some magic views and great roads!
Well, most of the roads were great…
All in all, the route is looking good. We did a good deal of the questionable roads and were able to be back in the big smoke by 2pm, But, we sure missed the cool mountain air. Guess we’ll have to head back out there. 😉