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November 6th Ride To Nagano With Jim


On Saturday night, I stayed up until 4 AM Sunday morning, putting my new Bandsaw together after painting and refurbishing most of it. I knew that on Sunday morning my lovely wife and kids were going out, so I could sleep in, and sleep in I did. At about 1:30 PM Jim calls and wakes me up (man is it nice to sleep in on a Sunday now and then). Jim says gHey what are you doing?h I groggily reply gWell I was sleepingc. What time is it?h

He then says, gItfs a beautiful day, get on your bike, lets go for a short ride to Okutama, might be the last day you can get out this seasonh. At first I was not inclined, I have lots to do, but Jim made the point that I ALWAYS have lots to doc

What the heck, Ifll meet you at Koshukaido and Kannana. 

The VTR Touring Machine!!

I get up, get ready to go, go downstairs and the stupid cheap lock, an Abus knock off, would not come off my VTR!!! I was just about ready to get out he diamond cutting wheel and my angle grinder when it finally popped off, got to love WD-40!

The new Givi Touring Screen


I scanned a map of our route, but I did not want to put the big version here, as it is, well big.
Click the map above to open the large version of the map, it is 505 Kb

Shots of the mountains from the Chuo Expressways

Nice eh?


On the Expressway I saw this bike go by me, all set up for touring. People are often surprised when I tell them that the VTR is so good for touring, but this bike would be most people's last choice for touring, but this guy had full luggage on it, and looked like he was going somewhere, can you guess the bike?

We drone on out on the Chuo to Katsunuma, and then we head up into the hills. Ifm not exactly sure where we went on the way from Katsunuma up to route 140, but it was amazing!! 

Pit stop on the way up into the mountains
Here in the parking lot was a guy on a fairly new ZXR1200, he had a neat tankbag with a GPS
Car Navi, the guy said it was fairly easy to use, and could be swapped from car to bike.

We headed up into a beautiful fall scene, the mountains were robed in a multicolor cloak, it reminded me so much of the fall in my hometown in Canada, I had to make sure I watched the road, as I was enjoying the view so much. Going fast was a secondary consideration, as the light held we would come around another corner and be rewarded with yet another beautiful vista. We came up on one spot where there were some trees that were a blazing red in a parking lot for a viewing area on top of this dam. We stopped and took some pictures. 



Jim looks like he is enjoying himself!

The picture is out of focus, not me!

The lake and the views over it were spectacular as well. As we drove off, and went over this bridge that curved to the right, there was a waterfall under that bridge which was a sight, I wanted to stop and take a pic, but there was nowhere to do so on the bridge. 

I have to say that this new attitude Ifm trying to adopt of not just going fast on nice twisty roads, but to actually slow down and enjoy the view along the way was paying great dividends. 

More snaps from the saddle


Even on the expressway there were some amazing sights to see, if you could see over the noise fences that line the highway, Ifm sometimes reminded of the scene from the movie Brazil at the end when Sam, has escaped into insanity and is driving down the highway with Jill in her truck, and the highway is lined with billboards on both sides as far as the eye can see. 

Reminds me of the Billboard lined highway in the movie in Brazil

While at the Dam, I also took some nice pics of the lake above the dam, I wonder if you could fish in there?

At least on the Expressways in Japan, there are mountains too look at. From the dam, where we took the pics of the bikes under the blazing red maple trees, we were soon at the entrance to this really long tunnel. 

A great thing about Japan, nice clean public toilets just about everywhere!

Stopped here for a quick leak, and then 580 yen for the tunnel, yes that seemed a bit steep, but the tunnel was really long, and took us to the other side of the mountain, where we would soon join up with route 299. 

Long tunnel

This tunnel has corners and everything but a rest stop, it was something like 6 Km long??

On this tunnel road, we got behind a group of cars, and there really was no safe place to pass, and as were where in our gEnjoy the viewh mode it did not matter. In the group of cars ahead of us was a guy on a Harley with a sidecar. I can really say that I did not envy this guy; it looked to me like he was struggling around some of the longer corners. If you look at the map, there is a point near Chichibuko lake, where the road is way, WAY up in the air, and does a complete 360 spiral down to the valley floor below, what a view, but I would not want to be on that road during an earthquake! As we were heading down towards Chichibu, we made a left turn off the main road, router #140, and then a short time after that we came up on route 299. Jim, being the sly dog that he is let me lead, and I was soon going further and further away from Tokyo, which I was not intending to do. Got to hand it to you Jim, tempt me on the phone with a short ride out to Okutama, and the next thing I know, Ifm in freaking Nagano!! 
Not that Ifm complaining, it was a great ride!!

When we came up to the intersection of Route #299 and Route # 462 I knew I was not in Kansas anymore. I wanted to see a map and see how far a field Jim had taken us. Looking at the map, it was obvious the way to go was to head up #299 to #141 and then down to the Chuo and back to Tokyo. Well at least there was a lot of road ahead of us. Here route #299 is a fast sweeper kind of road, wide nice and there were a few tunnels thrown in for fun. As we got further up the road, it narrowed and became a goat trail, one that would have my Voxy van scraping both sides on bushes lining the road. 

In Canada where I first started to ride street bikes, we had an abundance of roads like this; they are not even gBh roads, more like gDh if such a thing exists. I could not believe this was still Route #299. It became a twisted, tortured, thin band of asphalt in the middle of nowhere, the kind of place you would go to dump a body. 10 meters off this road was oblivion. I LOVE this kind of road, and the VTR is just about the perfect tool for such a road, well for a streetbike it is, I would imagine that Dennisfs Super Motarded DRZ400 would have railed here, not to mention my RMX, but the one thing my VTR has over those bikes is an HID light. Even so, I have to say that Ifm going to sell the HID set-up, go back to a juiced up conventional bulb, and then get some of the PHID Eyes of God driving lights!! I guess the other bikes that would have been great on this road are the KTM950 and the R1100/1150GS, Jimfs old bike with the PIAA 910s would have ruled as well.

I was having such a great time, and I guess Jim could tell, because he was honking his horn and flashing his lights at me, I stopped, he gave me a quick reminder that on this kind of road you just never know what is around the next corner. I had to agree with him, and turned it down a notch or two. I must say though, the VTR is just such a great tool for this kind o thing, the engine is so versatile, I could let it drop down to around 2000 rpm and just chug around corners, but open the throttle and we were off to the races!! 

Chug Chug Chug!!

The bike handles well, and is light enough to be fun in this kind of setting. After a while, at the slowed down pace, which was prudent, I found myself going into an almost Zen like state, I noticed once or twice that I was not thinking about riding the bike, just riding it, I was not thinking about which way the road was twisting, I was just feeling it, just flowing, it was such an awesome feeling, one Ifm sure some of you will giggle at, but if you have ever had that kind of moment, you will understand, if you have not, keep trying, it was so cool!

By this time, it was dark as the inside of a cat, and it was getting cold. I had my stitch on with only a t-shirt and a very light long sleeved shirt, I was getting cold, which for me is unusual. I really wish I had brought a sweater or my electric vest, but the electric vest would not have been much help, as the plug for it is not the same as the plug on my bike (guess I should fix that). When we got back onto the wide and fast #299, I decided to step it up a notch, and we started to fly. Finally we got to route #141 and went south. 

Jim was telling me about a good family restaurant, a Chinese place, he lied to me and said it was gnear byh, but then again, so is Guam compared to Chicago, from Tokyoc. I was set for a quick pit-stop at a 7-11 and on home, as I had stuff to do at home, but once we got onto #141, I was all for a sit-down meal in a heated restaurant, the waitress was cute too! 

To show how slow I was getting in the thinking department, I did not remember that I had my rain suit jacket with me!! Not to mention that even though I have that big Givi Box on the back of my bike, it was empty! Ifll blame the fact that I was woken up and just gWenth on this ride without the usual preparation, next time Ifll as least have a newspaper in the Givi box to keep me warm, not to mention my usual traveling tool wrap, which I also forgot.

Once back on the road we were soon on the Chuo expressway. Yes the drone home. 
Oh well, nothing we can do about that I guess, unless I were to move out of Tokyo, ya right.

Some thoughts;
I really have to admit that all the riding Ifve done in Japan, and I have next to no pics of most of it. The pics I do have are mainly when we would stop to have a coffee at a convini, or at a tollgate where we were having a quick pee break. I think Ifve seen the light, and Ifm going to endeavor to take more pics, after all, some of the vistas we ran across were nothing less than stunning, and while a good ride on a twisty road, is certainly enjoyable, and something that I crave, I also am enjoying the pictures I took yesterday. They are something I can share with my friends, and my wife and daughters. The girls were amazed at the brilliant red of the leaves on those trees, well so was I, which is the reason we stopped to take the pics.

Jim doing his "Easy Rider" impression

As much as I say Ifm busy (and I am) Ifm not so busy to be able to take a day here or there and go for a ride. I also like the small group, if two can be called a group, and in fact I may even do a solo ride now and then. With a large group, there are always so many conflicts, and such. Hey I do like the large rides, from time to time, but I think that I will be riding more in the small groups, or two or three.

Riding at a sedate pace is fun, if you have something to look at, and here in Japan, if the sun is up, and the ride is in the mountains, you almost always have something to look at, so Ifm going to slow down and take a look, Ifll stop for pictures when I see something of interest as well. 

Once the sun goes down, I need better lights, I got to save my pennies and get some of the PHIDs as they are simply brilliant!!

Thanks to Jim for yet another great ride, and I have to say, I sure like my VTR, man what a bike, does everything I ask it to, with Honda reliability and that wonderful V-Twin soundtrack!!