|02-10-2010, 04:50 AM||#1|
Joined: Feb 2010
First ride in Japan.
I just got my bike licence a couple of weeks ago and bought my first bike, a 1991 Transalp 400V, and a mate took me for a ride into the moutains of Gifu prefecture in central Japan. Here's my ride report:
A mate took me on my first proper ride this week (leisure ride that is). We took mountain roads out of Seto, through northern Toyota and into Gifu Prefecture, back into Toyota coming along the Yahagi river, passing several large dams en route.
The mate, David, rides a BMW R 1200 GS, a truly beautiful machine. Of course, if you can afford to put one of those under your arse you can afford to strap a GPS unit onto it, but I'm not so sure he needed it. He's travelled this route numerous times and it was very easy to see just why.
We were on mountain roads almost as soon as we left Seto city. Funnily enough the first road we took was up to Fujioaka, a really high rising, twisty affair which I used to tackle on the Vino 50cc as I commuted to a senior high school I used to teach at. Actually, I blogged about it just recently, the road that I saw the Black Kite on.
Leaving Fujioaka we headed up to Obara, a mountain village in deep rural Toyota, famous for Japanese washi paper. I used to teach a private class of adults there a while back, some of who made a living making washi paper. From Obara it started to snow lightly and that continued for the rest of the ride. By the time we hit Gifu, the temperature had dropped to freezing. We entered a mountain tunnel in Toyota Prefecture and left it into Gifu, the blast of freezing air was brutal on my face. Thankfully, I was well dressed for it. It's amazing how the weather can change on just the two sides of the same mountain.
We stopped at a couple of dams along the Yahagi River. At one stop there was some sort of ornamental water wheel and visitors' centre. It was worth the stop, but we had hoped to grab a bite to eat yet the little food booth was closed, so we did the classic Nihon bikers' lunch of a tray of conbini yakisoba sitting in the conbini car park beside the bikes.
The Transalp performed very well indeed. I was quite surprised to be honest how smoothly the engine run for me. In the city I've been wary of over-revving, changing gear very early as I gather speed, but out in the open it's harder the hear the engine revving so I was letting the revs rise to over 5,000 before changing up a gear and the lift on the bike was very impressive (OK so I can only compare it to a 50cc). I was getting it up to 80kmph in 3rd gear well before the red line. The bike seems particularly comfortable with it. The pull on my arms as the speed picked up was a lovely feeling indeed. Speed is not necessary when touring around, but it's nice to have the option to overtake the odd truck doing 30kmph on the twisty moutain roads.
Where I live is pretty much a blessing for rides like this. All together I did no more than 150km on the ride and no sooner was I off the mountain roads was I back in the house with a nice cup of coffee, tapping away on the keys writing this up. I reckon I could follow the most of that route myself without David to guide me, so I'll be taking runs out that way myself soon enough.
You can follow my travels in Japan on my blog:
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