So whilst many 20 year olds prepped for the Coming Of Age Day national holiday, I awoke early, got a nice hot cup of tea, wrapped up well and headed off for my first run on the bike in 2011. Even though I’m still a novice and have a basic bike (a 2006 Honda CB400 SuperFour) I do like to get out all year round. Knowing it would be chilly, I went for two layers under my leathers, and set off.
For the sake of the blog, let’s call a ‘run’ something over 100Km door to door, and a ‘trip’ something over 250Km? This one ran to approx. 124Km., so not a long one.
I only had the morning due to family commitments in the afternoon, but wanted to see how far I could comfortably get. The run down Route #1 and then out onto 135 – the coastal road – was OK, but it was already apparent how cold it really was, and the roads were wet.
That said, that road is awesome to see the sun rise, the early fishermen (and women) on the beach, and on the clear days, Mt. Fuji in front, and to the right of you.
After a cold start, I pulled in to the service station at about 7.45 on the Seisho Bypass just past Kouzu to get a cup of coffee from my flask and see who was around. This is a very popular meeting point for people – especially bikers – as there’s a special bike parking area and quite a bit of space, but there were only four of us there. Four. Usually there’d be ten times that. The other three riders were all in serious winter riding gear so either I was part of some dedicated few, or I was being a bit foolhardy/optimistic.
One thing I did do was to put my rain gear on as an extra layer, and the effect was nigh on instant – reducing the wind chill significantly, and proving once more why you should always keep rain gear on your bike!
Back on the road the only issue was dodging the snow clumps blowing off the roofs of cars flying past – really, is it such a difficult task to clean your whole car? Good luck when you brake.
I will admit that my next route was ridiculously optimistic – I went up to the Toyo Tires turnpike entrance, despite the apparent snow on the sides of the roads, and the generally wet surface; looking at the mountains towards Hakone and Odawara, it had obviously had a decent amount of overnight snow. Unsurprisingly, the chap on the gate, looking at bit bemused at myself and the biker rolling up behind me, explained that the road was closed due to snow and ice higher up. So that was Plan A down, so I went to Plan B, which was to continue a nice run down Route 135.
It was still cold, but the sun was a bit higher now, around 9am, and getting a little warmer, however, that road is twisty and the surface was wet and glinting in the sun, and at least once I could feel the back wheel slipping on the white paint from zebra crossings, so between those (and there are many), the manhole covers placed conspicuously on the best riding line, and the twisties, it was a good riding workout.
At about 9.30am, I saw a small McDonalds by the side of the road and decided that this would be my halfway turn around point. Now, I don’t usually like McDonalds but at that time of morning, feeling a bit chilled, I quite fancied a muffin and hot coffee, except I seemed to have stopped at one of the few McD’s which doesn’t have the breakfast menu, so I settled for the smallest hamburger I could order with the largest coffee (no fries). I will also say that the music being played was a pretty decent attempt at an 80’s rock revival which took me back to school disco days.
After the food and coffee I decided to walk a little before getting back on the bike and resting the stomach back on the tank, and followed an under road track to the beach where I chatted to a couple of people fishing off the pier. It really was a beautiful day for it too by this time.
The ride back was fairly relaxed, even if it was getting a little congested by 10.30 and again, there’s plenty of driver’s who don’t see the point in cleaning snow off the roof. I did stop off at the Nexco Tachibana services for a break and a coffee, and I’m happy to report that whilst the esoteric vending machines which play invigorating Colombian music are still there, the toilets and rest area have been renovated. The outside sitting area has now been encased in glass, so you can get out of the wind a little more. Well done Nexco.
So it was a short run, and hopefully I’ll get somewhere new and a bit further away next time, which at this point is likely to be next month but it was worth it to get out and feel a bit of road under the wheels.
For those interested – Seijin no Hi – became an official national holiday after the Second World War, and celebrates people who have turned 20 since the previous January 15th, and it generally the age people can smoke and drink and do all those other fun things.