Tag Archives: tour

Another quick trip to Chiba

Now and then, I like I take a day to go over the bay to Chiba and just run some of the twisties on that peninsula on the motorbike. It was a nice day, and after a 7am start, took a relaxing ride down the coastal road to Kurihama to meet a friend, and take the ferry over – just a nice relaxing 40 minute boat ride, and time for a chat and a cup of tea on the way over. There’s usually a few bikers on this ferry, and a decent percentage on dirt bikes, as Boso apparently has quite a few kilometres of off-road for those so inclined.

My friend was looking to give his new Triumph Tiger Explorer a good run on some twisties, and I was looking to simply have a more successful run than last time. When we came over in March, we had stopped for a traffic light when some genius in an SUV rammed my bike, forcing me almost 10 metres forward and effectively stopping the run before lunch. That day, dealing with the police and the hospital meant we’d lost most of the day, but with bits taped up on my bike, the police at least let me ride it home.

On the Ferry Again
On the Ferry Again

For some reason, I get a really simple pleasure from riding my bike on and off ferries, and we found some great little twisties along the way, very little traffic, some nice views, and generally had a good time.

We stopped for lunch, originally intending to eat at an Italian restaurant we saw, but it turned out – after we’d walked in – that it was closed; generally unless there’s a sign outside saying “Closed”, I work on the theory a place is open. Anyway, it wasn’t, but the upside was that the neighbouring ramen place was, so we settled for that, and in a great piece of serendipity, the place turned out to be fantastic and quite cheap. Getting good food on a run is always good, with the bonus that you can balance your expanded stomach on the tank when you set off again. The only downside – I lost the receipt and forgot to mark the place on my map.

Ramen For Lunch
Ramen For Lunch

The Boso area is very different to the crowded urban Chiba bordering Tokyo; where we were it was very rural, lots of fields and hills, though I got this sense that it’s faintly run down – we passed a lot of abadoned or disused buildings, and it seemed like a lot of the petrol stations had closed. I wonder how the local economy is faring nowadays since so much seemed to hark back to the bubble of almost two decades ago.

Rural Chiba
Rural Chiba

As the afternoon moved on though, the weather began to close in a little, and we opted for coming back via the Aqualine, a part bridge, part tunnel connector between Yokohama and the Boso peninsula.

I have to admit, I don’t especially like the 4Km bridge section – it’s across Tokyo Bay, it can be windy, there’s a lot of fast, big traffic, and even in good weather, it’s not so fun on a smaller (400cc) naked bike. The weather was getting worse too.

As the road goes from the bridge section on the Chiba side, to the tunnel section on the Yokohama side, there’s a very large service area called Umihotaru, which is on a man-made island. It’s basically a multistorey car park and shopping centre, well known as a bit of a date spot. We weren’t on a date, but we did stop off, if only to have a last warm drink before the last 50Km run home.

It was also raining by then, which is no real problem – the rain gear is always under the seat – but the wind was also picking up, so we got the rain gear on, and headed down in to the tunnel, then broke off from each other as I headed to the west.

My route takes me over a lot of bridges, skirting the coastal industrial areas which means a lot of wind and large lorries, but not usually anything dangerous. The wind was really cranking up though, and I was having to lean the bike into it, hunkering down low over the tank, and trying not to let the bike veer too much from my line as some cars were passing just off to my right, not really judging it well (I could easily touch a lot of wing mirrors), and then the rain started coming down.

In these conditions, on this 80Km/h road, I usually drop it down a gear, keep the revs up, and go down to about 60 Km/h, meaning that usually there are people still blasting past me and probably cursing this biker who is making them actually maneouver their nice wind shielded, dry cars.

Over one bridge and the innevitable swirling of wind around the large bridge towers, and I noticed that no one is passing me any more, but I’m still the same distance behind a tanker in front of me, so I have a look around, and it seems like this weather isn’t just affecting me – everyone is going 55 – 60 Km/h. Nice to know I’m not the only one having to be careful. After about 30 minutes the road took me a little further inland, giving some protection from the wind, to sit up a little more, increase some speed, and not have to lean in so much. I ride year round, and try to be wary of ice and such, but one thing I think I handle better now than previous years is riding in the wind – revs up, tank gripped with the old legs, arms relaxed, and hunker down over the tank.

It was nice to quietly roll up the hill to the house, a little tired from holding the bike through what seemed like the edge of a decent sized storm, but I think it was another good day out if only because it was good to feel like my biking ability had improved a bit through the twisties and that weather, which is always a good thing.
[Run length only ~260Km + ferry]

Out in the Hills – Jan. 2012

As it was a national holiday here in Japan (Coming of Age Day I believe), a few of us headed up into the hills of Izu and Hakone and spent a few hours riding the twisty roads and taking in the sights. I have to say it was quite cold up there, especially on the bike and when out of the sun, but it was a good ride with clear skies, and not many people on the road. A great day out, and I clocked up 187Km door to door, which is not too bad for the first run of the year.
Ready for the Off

Black and White Mountains

Bike Trip: Hakone and Ito

Yesterday, DG and myself got on the bikes for the first day trip of the year, clocking up 290Km (180miles) door to door, which was a fair distance given we barely hit an expressway – just small local roads.

We went from Fujisawa in Kanagawa-ken, down the coast road for a while, then up into the mountains of Hakone on some of the great special roads. Often when I’m up there I go to the Gyoza Centre near Gora for lunch, and then we headed down the spine of the Izu peninsula, before the long haul back up the 135 coastal road. We actually headed to a bar a friend of mine owns for a soft drink, but unfortunately he seemed to have shut it for the night.

I was pretty pleased with the day’s ride – I think my riding’s getting better especially on the corners and inclines which is good, staying on top of the throttle a bit more, and keeping the bike lower when i need to in corners.

As always, there were great moments and views you wish you had a helmet-cam for, but there were others – a parade of about 20 very expensive sports cars (Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini) and customs, a lot of very nice ‘bikes – which we did get some photos of. It was kind of ironic, as we sat in the tea lounge of the Toyo Tires Turnpike Cafe, we saw a woman posing (for want of a better phrase) who might have been a model of some kind being steadfastly ignored by all the men around as they gawped over the expensive car show. There’s no accounting for taste I suppose. Finally she gave up and got back in the Ferrari she arrived in.

Other interesting notes were route 102 which where we joined it had a very impressive incline for a few kilometres, and about half way up, a set of traffic lights, which mercifully stayed green, and a fully automated self service petrol station, which had us a bit confused for a couple of minutes.

I had to avoid a bat of all things on one road at about 70km/h, and avoid a moron stepping in the road just a kilometer from home, justifying again that the most dangerous part of a bike trip is in the last few miles. Fortunately, neither flying mammal nor walking mammal were hit (although why the guy was walking around in the road I have no idea).

As soon as I have the route plotted, I’ll put it up on brightblack, as much for my own benefit, but I hope someone finds a new, great road for them.

Update: Finally got it into Google Maps here (Aug. 10th).