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!

Been hunting a good summer base layer shirt for years. Prefering one of the long sleeve variety, to limit sticky arms and random arm hair pulling 😦 , it really narrowed down the choices. Had to breathe exceptionally well, wick away sweat, dry quickly, resist stinking and look n fit half decent even after several washes. Oh yeah, and not require special treatment at cleaning time which should be rarely πŸ˜‰

It seemed most offerings were for drier climates and not hot and humid summers. Some were cheap and performed well FOR THE PRICE. Others were expensive and expected to be treated as such.

Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to try out Mont-bell’s long sleeve ZEO-LINE lightweight cool mesh offering. It works!

Ridden in temps between 22 and 38deg C it performed as hoped. It flowed plenty of air on the move, wicked well and continues to hold these qualities and it’s shape after several washes. It dries remarkably quickly too.

Added bonus was that it never felt too warm or cool. It just kept me in a comfy zone. I’ve been wearing it under a textile mesh jacket with no shirts or extra layers and from cool mornings in the mountains to middle of the day roasting heat, it deos well.

The only drawback is that I bought black which draws the sun and with its open weave, a fair amount gets through which at a standstill, like when loitering around at drink breaks and such, I get HOT. All’s good in the shade though.

Don’t let the hiking garb fool you. It works for riders too πŸ‘

It looks a little thick but is very lightweight due to the open weave.

There’s that open weave. Can see the lighter colour of my lilly white arms through the thinner areas.

And the tissue test to show how open it is. Can definitely see the tissue through the fabric.

Surprisingly, even when the temps dropped off quickly, I never got a chill or felt cold. It creates a decent layer of temp stability. Probably due to the thickness.

The price isn’t uniqlo time sale cheap and it certainly isn’t platinum card premium either.

Here’s what Mont-bell has to say about the tech that makes this shirt work.


Function 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Durability 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (still early days)

Form 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Price 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (I’m stingy)

Does what it says 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Now to find something matching my lower half…