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Old 07-19-2010, 06:03 PM   #1
Guy Jinbaiquerre OP
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Talking BMW Beach Bonanza

Braved the broiling sun to hit Kyoto, Noto Peninsula, and the mountains of Gifu-ken, racking up 1,400km over the 3-day weekend in Japan. Since the extra day off was in honor of "Ocean Day", it seemed like the perfect time to take the GSA to the beach. Here's one pic, full report to come later:


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Old 07-20-2010, 07:59 PM   #2
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Nice

The KTM love affair was short lived?

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Old 07-20-2010, 08:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
The KTM love affair was short lived?
No, it's a sad tale. The SMT is a great bike and she'll always be in my heart. But she hurt me (well, at least my lower back between L4 and L5) too many times. I had to say goodbye to her before she hurt me again.

As my lower back gets worse and worse, I find there are fewer and fewer bikes I can happily ride. Dirt bikes and feet-forward cruisers and scooters are out. The SMT used to feel all right, but over time, my back started to complain after, and even during, a ride.

The GSA, with its long suspension and wide, thick seat, is good as it gets for me, though, so I'm pretty sure I'm in a long-term relationship this time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
Sorry I didn't get the photos up last night; work and a crying baby have kept me busy. Stay tuned...
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Old 07-21-2010, 06:37 AM   #4
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DAY ONE: 523km

I started packing at 1am Saturday morning, and was ready to leave by 3am. Unfortunately, I first had to go into the center of town and swing by my office to pick up my Etymotic earbuds, which I had left plugged into my work PC.

That detour shows up as a tiny hook on the right side of the day's track:



I was heading to Kyoto, for the first annual meeting of the KTM 990 SMT Owner's Club Japan. This was complicated a bit by the fact that I recently sold my SMT due to back problems, and since then I had been riding around on a big red GS Adventure. But the club guys were cool about it and welcomed me along anyway -- even though I had switched sides to support the enemy!

I met the first two SMT riders at a service area about 250km outside of Tokyo. Then we kept heading west toward Kyoto. Here's our next service area stop after that:



Japanese service areas are a little different from those in America. For example, sometimes you get bands of taiko drummers performing at them:



The drummers were cool, but we pressed on to the west. Just south of Kyoto, we met up with the other two SMT riders, who had come from Osaka and Hiroshima, and stopped at this farm-style restaurant for lunch:



You can see how the GSA stands out a bit in a lineup of SMT's.

After lunch, we took the bridge across Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, and posed for a scenic group photo:



I really felt like a traitor to those guys with my GSA, but they were cool about it.

Although they did take a few "KTM-only" photos...



It was blisteringly hot out, and for the first time in my riding career, I felt like I might be starting to suffer from heat stroke. Before we rode on, I bought two bottles of water from a vending machine; I drank one and poured the other into my helmet and suit. That did the trick, and I was good to go. We headed into the mountains north of Kyoto, where thankfully the temperatures were cooler, and eventually we reached our destination: A ryokan (Japanese-style lodge) nestled in the woods, with a nice onsen (natural hot spring) to soak in:



And of course no ryokan would be complete without a kindly old obaasan serving tea:



We had all been up and riding since the wee hours that morning, so after a soak in the hot spring and a big dinner, we fell asleep almost instantly on the futons that had been spread out for us on the tatami-mat floor.
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IBA # 42657
96 Honda XR250 Baja
09 BMW R1200GS Adventure ・ 09 KTM 990 SMT (sold) ・ 97 Honda X4 ・ 95 Kawasaki ZZR400 (sold)

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Old 07-21-2010, 02:06 PM   #5
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Nice!! Japan ride reports are always interesting... more please
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:44 AM   #6
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DAY TWO: 509km

The next morning, our bikes were covered with dew:



We all had different plans for the rest of the weekend, so we were going to split up and head in different directions. But first, a hearty (well, not really all that hearty) Japanese breakfast:



I knew I wanted to try out the Chirihama Beach Drive, a several-kilometers-long section of beach where the sand is packed pretty firm and motor vehicles are allowed. But that meant I needed to make a several-hundred-kilometers-long detour up to the Noto peninsula:



What the heck, I'd come this far. After a quick blast up the Hokuriku expressway, I was at the beach:



I was the only guy at the beach in a full-body textile suit, go figure!



I had never ridden sand before, and it was fun. But I didn't realize at first how unstable the sand could be in the places where it wasn't firmly packed down. I had a few seconds of terror where my front wheel skittered back and forth on some loose sand before I settled the bike down and figured out how to keep it rolling straight ahead.

I was glad to check the beach drive off my list of must-ride spots in Japan. But in hindsight, this wasn't the best time of year to go. Not only was it blazingly hot, but the beach was crowded with beachgoers in their cars. So I couldn't really open the throttle; I was always watching out for cars. If I came back in November, I'd probably have the whole place to myself. Moreover, because I had planned to meet some friends at a campsite way to the south, I didn't have time to ride around the entire Noto Peninsula, which is known for having lots of scenic roads and "old Japan" buildings. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to come back some time!

After retracing my path back down the Hokuriku, I headed up into the mountains of Gifu prefecture:



There, my plan was to meet two other riders and camp out for the night. I set up my tent and we got a good barbecue going:



By then, we were all pretty tired, and it was easy to fall asleep to the sounds of the river roaring past the campsite.
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IBA # 42657
96 Honda XR250 Baja
09 BMW R1200GS Adventure ・ 09 KTM 990 SMT (sold) ・ 97 Honda X4 ・ 95 Kawasaki ZZR400 (sold)

Guy Jinbaiquerre screwed with this post 07-22-2010 at 05:25 PM
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Old 07-23-2010, 06:07 AM   #7
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DAY THREE: 422km

In the morning, I woke up first and found this couple guarding the campsite:



Those were the first people to find this part of the woods, hundreds of years ago. But an evil spirit captured them and turned them to wood. To this day, they still stand on the very spot where the spirit caught them with its evil magic spell.

Well, at least that's what I'll tell my kids someday when I bring them here.

Pretty soon, we were all up, even Phorest's wife, who had been zonked out in their tent since early last evening, worn out from a day of riding pillion:



You've got to love the matching Kawasaki T-shirts.

The other guys lived fairly close by, but I headed home to Tokyo, with a long ride ahead of me:



On the way to the Tomei expressway, I hit some scenic roads:



I didn't linger too long, though, because I needed to get home in time for my wife's brother and his family coming over for dinner.



Made it!
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96 Honda XR250 Baja
09 BMW R1200GS Adventure ・ 09 KTM 990 SMT (sold) ・ 97 Honda X4 ・ 95 Kawasaki ZZR400 (sold)
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