April 29, at various times throughout the afternoon and evening and after an unusually warm day and near perfect weather, bikes and riders rolled up to the Japan Sea coast after riding 500+ km of great roads across the interior of Honshu. All their tyres were well rounded, the brake pads thinner, seats polished and the riders road weary but satisfied.
In all, there were 81 of us out there twisting, carving and seeking roads that day. A good number and a sign that the last few years are in the rear view mirrors.
Congratulations to the 23 new Twistybutts. Hope you had a blast and it’s lit a fire in you for more great twisty riding.
Thank you to all you Twistybutts for riding well and enjoying yourselves. You now know your bike, the roads and your own skills better for it. Keep up the ride time and challenging roads and let’s ride coast to coast again next year!
Remain calm, realise it’s currently at 60% chance of rain as it has been this far out on probably 60% of previous Coast to Coast Twistybutts and that there are several different weather zones of which we should hope to find ever better riding just over the ridge.
But over the ridge into Gotemba and the clouds were localised to the west…
So, best not be taking the forecasts too seriously or jumping to tragedies just yet. It’s still early days.
Best save your focus and optimism for the omnipotent guardians and enablers of the Roadwarrior, the Weather Gods!
Let’s have copious offerings and boisterous praise and pleads. Fire, chant, break stuff, masks.. no freaky monstrosity style ones and song with sacrifice… Whatever gets it done for you!
Now’s the time to prep, be realistic, keep researching the route and making sure you are ready and the Weather Gods will be with us. 🤞
The Coast to Coast is a long day with a huge variety of roads and weather conditions. To maintain energy and concentration, it helps to minimise stress and maximise enjoyment. Makes sense right? So how can we do that?
Knowing the route so you can enjoy the road helps.
Ever year many riders start out on the wrong foot by not knowing the route well enough, especially new entrants. Some don’t even make it 10km without getting lost, discovering their chosen method of navigation doesn’t work as they thought or missing a turn and getting disorientated.
With only one week to go, if you haven’t test ridden the route from the start to Gotemba or Yamanakako, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Get out there this weekend for a few hours and make your mistakes before the big day.
The route linked below is a good step by step for the first enjoyable road on the 500 course that will take you to your first touge, Ashigara Highway. There’s a nice view from the top too. Recommend loading it up on Google maps, trying not to look at your device and just watch the corners and landmarks.
It’s a long ride and plenty of riders get seperated from their friend or group of friends at some point resulting in a stop to call and arrange a meeting point. It’s half the fun for some…
If that’s not your idea of fun, like me, you may want to try Google Maps location sharing. You can share with specific people who have google accounts if you’d like to keep some privacy or go full public and let it all hang out. 😂
In either case, as long as you and your fellow road warriors have a network connection, it updates fast and precisely, letting you all know where each of you are and if you do go off grid, it says where you last were and how long ago.
It’s also a good one to share with loved ones not on the ride…just in case.
There are plenty of online tutorials on how best to set it up. If you can navigate Coast to Coast, you oughta be able to figure this one out on your own too.
I’ve been using this for several years and it works. So, if you want to take the guess work out of where your friends are on the ride, maybe give this one a go.
Tsumagoi Panorama Line is a magic wide open picturesque winding and undulating road through north-western Gunma high country farmlands.
The Manza Highway is a fun rubber rounder that runs from Tsumagoi upto the often snow caked Manza hotspring area and provides a convenient back door to the epic 292 Shiga-Kusatsu Road, avoiding the tourists and traffic of Kusatsu.
Although it may look like these two roads intersect on maps, zoom right in and you’ll see that the Manza Highway flies over the Tsumagoi Panorama Line via a bridge.
Due to that, your navigation device of choice is going to follow a loop to link up these two great roads.
So, when looking at your navigation map with route lines seemingly all over the place, don’t let fatigue befuddle your logic, which is easy to do at this stage of the ride. Just remember this section and stay on the Tsumagoi Panorama Line until you reach the T-junction at Rt.59 and turn right.
Oh, and when you get to the one and only toll gate on the whole route up there on the Manza Highway, do yourself a favour and check the weather up on the 292. It’s best to add layers or switch gloves there as there are few opportunities to pull off on the Manza Highway as it climbs @600 metres in @15 kilometres and can get cold fast!
36hrs prior, the wear indicators denoting safe water dispersion and roadworthiness were seemingly adequate for a day ride.
The Coast to Coast Twistybutt is not a normal day ride. Then there’s the ride home… Snow melt, numerous weather zones possibly with rain, punctures…
Best take a good look at brake pads, fluid, oil, coolant, chain and battery while we are at it. Do you have a puncture repair kit? A lot of those roads are no place for bike troubles. Best be prepared and leave the worry at home and just enjoy the ride.
There are plenty of challenging roads on the Coast to Coast Twistybutt. From cliff hangers to narrow dirty roads to finger freezers.
But only one road on the C2C has taken three riders down. It’s not super fast, off camber or strewn with dirt, nor does it have dopy deer or blind cresting corners.
What it does have is the wear and tear of hard cold winters with dips, bumps and snow cracks filled with big long fat tar snakes that get hard and slippery when cold.
Doesn’t help that most riders run it around 6-7 hours into the ride, fatigued just before lunch. ALSO, it’s the downhill run from the second highest road on the route and has some nice scenery and straights at the top to lull you into tourist riding instead of tar snake dodging.
It’s the Marchen Road on the 500 course. Pronounced Meruhen kaido or メルヘン かいど。It’s on the western leg of the lengthy 299 running all the way to Western Tokyo.
The skies are clear, not much traffic and the roads are relatively clean and dry. On the other hand, it’s bitterly cold, you can’t ride the highest mountains and the daylight hours are frustratingly short.
That simple? Not quite.
With over 50% of riders entered so far using Google maps to navigate, it’s time to revisit an easier way to do it. Nothing specific to report, just that it is getting some extra attention already. Stay tuned…
One for each rider will be handed out to all riders on the day at the start point. Make sure you get one and stick it on the back of your helmet so other riders know another Twistybutt when they’re following one!
Second and/or third stickers are available for those donating to the Touge Express route exploration fund…help put a few, or several, litres in the tank. ☺
Not sure how popular multiple stickers are going to be so best let me know in advance if you’ll be needing more than one. email@example.com
Eyeing a new start location right on the coast with a great view and ample space. Will announce details if it fits. For those booked close to the usual start, don’t worry, it’s not far away and a nice ride there.
Looking forward to seeing all the Twistybutts old new and otherwise on the road again in spring!