Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 111

With no bikes to ride, today was a day off and so I joined a couple of the group members on a trip using the Metro system (underground trains) to the other side of the City to see an old temple and a bit of souvenir shopping, and yes you guessed it, I got stickers for the bike!

There was also the last group meal of the trip in the evening where we went out to a restaurant for some Japanese beef. Unfortunately we had to sit in three separate areas so didn’t feel quite so much as a group meal as we had in the past.
Upon getting back to the hotel, it was time to say our goodbyes as we were all leaving at different times the next day, but a few of us decided to play one final dice game, winner takes all competition with just one game but scoring up to twice the usual amount. Unfortunately I didn’t win but it was a great game none the less and a great ending to the GlobeBusters expedition. 

Of course, a few of us will meet again at the Ace Café in Orlando if all goes according to plan!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 110

The plan for the final days ride in Japan was planned that we went our own way to start with and then all meet up between 1-2 pm to ride a s a group to Triumph Tokyo where they will host a welcome event for us.

Kevin did ask me to try and be on time today, I just laughed and said sure thing. Although, as I had decided to ride on my own this morning, it was no sure thing at all, but I would try my best!

The mornings ride was a in the mountains again, but this time the roads were wider and more open space around them. Quite a few of them were also toll roads which was a little annoying having to keep stopping and paying for each road you turned onto. I would much rather pay one larger toll fee and ride where I like. Of course, these roads were also much busier meaning more cars, more yellow lines, thus more controversial over takes, but I was getting used to this now and didn’t find it anywhere as frustrating as the first couple of days riding in Japan. These roads were also very popular with local motorcyclists on a variety of bikes but mostly big sports bikes.

I didn’t stop as much as I thought I might for photos, but there was one place that really did grab my attention and this was an old abandoned building on one of the mountain passes that was roped off, which I just stepped over to take a closer look with my camera in hand.
It had a funny green hat like roof and on the side of it said, ‘Global Environment and Energy Museum’. It was a quirky building that now had several smashed windows, graffiti and all over grown foliage around it which due to my fear of spiders, stopped me exploring it as much as I would have liked to.

Despite getting a little off route due to navigational issues I arrived at the meeting point just before 1:30pm so that turned out to be just fine.

At 2pm we rode as a group with Hiro leading for the final 35 miles through crawling traffic on the express way and busy city traffic as we got close to Triumph Tokyo, where despite most of us turned up on BMW’s as there was just three Triumph’s amongst us, they still gave us a great welcome with food, drink and gifts which we all appreciated very much.
Hiro, our Japanese guide and an excellent rider!

The three of us going to the USA met the Japanese shipping agent for air freighting our bikes which they would collect from the Triumph dealer the next day whilst the rest of the bikes got collected to be sea freighted back to the UK.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 109

It is the penultimate riding day of stage 2 of my trip, and the final part of the GlobeBusters journey and the remnants of the tornado that we have been dodging for the last few days, is just some light rain to start our day off.
Hiro had one of his friends come along to ride with us today and he was riding a Harley Davidson Street Glide. Due to the light rain, we started the day with our waterproofs on, and set off as a group of 7 riding out of town with Hiro leading.

Once clear of the town we headed to a wooded area and followed an old broken up road going up. Now with the wet weather and the fact that we were all on roads tyres it proved to be a bit of a challenge and one group member got caught out by some large slippery stones which led to them laying down to rest for a bit. Another few hundred yards and there was another rider down so it was decided that we should turn around as it was getting steeper all the time. But what really amazed us was that Hiro's friend on the Harley just trundled along behind us, even up that slippery forest track, totally awsome!

Once the rain had stopped we removed the waterproofs and roads towards Mount Fuji. Initially we got a good clear view of Japan’s highest mountain. But then within 5-10 minutes, and before we had a chance to stop for a view without buildings and powerlines in the way, the clouds had come in thick and fast to the point we could hardly see it at all. I was a little annoyed with myself for not stopping to take some photos when I first saw it, but this can be the downside to riding as a group. We went to a hotel up a hill where we then had coffee and cake waiting for the clouds to disperse which they did slightly move so we could just about make out the shape of the top of the mountain and taking a quick photo before riding on. As we rode around the coast line we got to see it again from the other side of the water but it still was nowhere near as clear as it had been earlier on. 

I let the others ride on whilst I waited to see if the view of Mt. Fuji would become any clearer which it did but only a little. I just felt like I needed to ride alone so that I could stop at other viewpoints or make U-turns when I thought the light had improved in order to get my best chance of seeing this iconic mountain in my own time.

And the time ticked by faster than I had anticipated until  it soon became apparent that I was not going to make the 6pm meeting. I did try sending a message to Kevin to say I was OK and just running late but later learnt that this did not get through. I pressed on up the coast heading towards the hotel, but even as the light of the day started to fade away, photo opportunities kept arising and as much as I tried, I just couldn’t let them all go by without a quick snap, after all, I doubt I will be back here in again so I convinced myself to seize the moment.

The concentration on time then shifted from the meeting to the start of dinner at 7pm and although I was getting very close now, when it came to finding the hotel I just rode up and down until eventually I saw a couple of the group who had decided to come away from the meal and point me in the right direction as they too had found it difficult to find. This was much appreciated, and just showed the bond that we had achieved since starting on this journey back in April. So I had missed the meeting altogether and the start of the meal, but I had also forgotten it was one of the group members birthday, which meant I also missed that part too which was a shame and made me feel a bit uneasy. So not the best end to the day but you can’t end every day on cloud 9.
Doh, mustn’t mention clouds, they ruined my photos of Mt. Fuji earlier and I don’t want reminding of that!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 108

This morning a few of us were going to see the local attraction, Matsumoto Castle, the oldest of its kind dating back to 1595. It is again one of Japan’s premier historic castles, along with Himeji Castle that I also visited recently, but the one distinct difference from Himeji, is that this is painted black in colour. Time didn’t allow us to enter the castle but we did walk all around the outside while Hiro gave us some information on this and other associated Japanese history.

Hiro then led us out of town and into the mountains. As usual I was looking for photographic locations and was hoping that as we climbed higher we would get some great views, but this was not easy for two reasons; the side of the mountain was covered in trees obstructing our views and on the odd occasion you could get a glimpse through the trees it was evident that the cloud base was very low, meaning any views that may have been there were now absorbed into this greyish white layer.
However, we did eventually get a clearer view the other side of the mountain, or was it another mountain all together, I wasn’t sure as the tight twisty road took us up and down so much I lost any such sense of location, but then some would say I didn’t have a lot to start with!

Down came the rain forcing us to pull over and put on the waterproofs. This pretty much ended the photos stops even though the rain dried up later on, either the scenery was not good enough, the light was not right or I didn’t feel like stopping, but tomorrow is another day that may bring more opportunities.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 107

I set off early today, refreshed from a good night’s sleep, but even this was not enough to enable me to navigate my way out of town easily. I didn’t agree with the GPS to start with so tried going another way, but this took me in a circle, but even when I admited defeat to the elctronic lady and follow her evry command, I found myself going in the opposite direction to what another rider was. But with persistence I eventually got onto the right road and left town with a sense of relief and amazement.

It never ceses to amaze me how much difficulty I have leaving a city first thing in the morning, something which at the early satge of this trip used to annoy me, yet now just amuses me and I go along with it wondering how many U-turns i will make as I try and figure out which way to go. I think part of it is that my GPS doesn't like mornings and takes a while to wake up and give me the directions. However, I cannot wait this long so just make my own decision as to whether I turn left or right to start with. Then if I realise I am going in the wrong direction I put off doing the first U-turn thinking I can work out another way, but this often does not go well, with me giving up, turning around and then looking for the purple line. It just gets a tad embarrising if I see people following me, though at this stage of the trip I am sure they have worked it out not to trust my navigation early on!

It was not long before my first photo stop of an old  dis-used foot bridge that caught my eye and then within another couple of miles some flowers lining the side of the road. Now, I am far from being a garden lover, but the sight of the Marigold’s pulled me up as they reminded me of my grandads and parents gardens. The smell was distinctive and with another red flower (that I have no clue what it is called) further along, I thought this would make for a good photo with my bike alongside just a little further up.

It was just a bit further along where I caught up with two of the others from our group so rode with them after that through some great mountain roads. That was until we lost one rider, and then there were two!

We stopped off at a historic village which was very popular amongst tourists, where we enjoyed a nice cold drink in an air conditioned restaurant and also met some of the other riders there too.

Now power lines have been plaguing our photos for the last 3 months but I did see one photo opportunity where the power lines actually made for a great subject, well in my mind anyway!

At this point the road ran out, but so as not to waste the moment, I took a photo before we found an alternative route.