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Old 09-06-2013, 06:33 PM   #16
twinrider
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Originally Posted by Edmond Dantès View Post
Twinrider,
living in Setagaya, 5 minutes from the Tomei Entrance.
The offer to join a ride out is much appreciated.

Would love to be able to tour Hokkaido again this month with you guys. Two GSs and the Super Ten, definitely the right tools for the job

Please let me know about any future trips you may have planned. It would be great to tag along.

Best of luck for your upcoming Hokkaido run. I do hope the weather is kind to you.

Paul

Thanks for the well wishes Paul. Will definitely be praying to the weather gods. I lived in Setagaya for years, now in Yokohama. I think I met you briefly at the Nankai shop in Ota-ku a while back unless there's another giant gaijin riding around Tokyo on a Varadero. Will PM you my contact info so we can get in touch.

Jim
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Old 09-07-2013, 03:56 PM   #17
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Twinrider,
Quote:
I think I met you briefly at the Nankai shop in Ota-ku a while back unless there's another giant gaijin riding around Tokyo on a Varadero.
That must have been me!

Quote:
Will PM you my contact info so we can get in touch.
Sounds good.
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Old 09-07-2013, 05:12 PM   #18
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Awoke to find that every moth in the area had decided to congregate on my tent and hold an egg laying competition.

Moth eggs on tents can't be good for its long-term future?


I Start pulling them off and get creative with their flight patterns.
A man approaches at this point and introduces himself as a Buddhist monk.
I apologize for my treatment of Siddhartha's creatures.


It turns out he is a ronin monk, spear fisherman, and long term (16 years) traveler in his van.


Much appreciated was the steaming hot pot of coffee he brought over for me.
After discussing the meaning it all, he broke out his weapons cache and started pointing a loaded harpoon in every-which direction. I thought this a good time to beat a hasty retreat before something went, twang.



View Larger Map
Today's plan: Ride the east section around lake Shikotsu - cut through the mountains to the expressway - bypass Sapporo on the expressway, head to Fukagawa - head to Rumoi - up the west coast of Hok on Ororon Line and Sarobetsu Line- Wakkanai - up to Soya Misaki and to a campsite on the east coast.

I ride the awesome east part of lake Shikotsu. The road twists and turns right on the lake side. The morning light was superb.
After playing around with the GoPro I realize I had not pressed the record button properly, and had therefore no footage of the lake side ride.
I was kicking myself....

Still, I plan to be near the lake again at some point, and thus have another bite at the cherry.

Up on the west coast I start to find the space I was searching for:










The multipurpose map comes in handy here. Like to see you try that with a GPS?


Along the fantastic straights of Sarobetsu and Ororon Lines:


As anyone who rides daily in a traffic light laden, congested city can appreciate, these roads are heavenly:


Going Straight


The sky darkens. Time to unpack the wet weather gear:


Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 09-07-2013 at 10:27 PM
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:12 PM   #19
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It was interesting to see the signs in Wakkanai written in Japanese, English and Russian.
Then it's up to Soya Misaki, the northern most point in Japan.




The winds were really strong around the cape and I was feeling too tired and lazy to unstrap my heavy tripod from the bike's crash bars, so I mounted my little point and shot camera on my light weight tripod and sadly this is the last picture the camera will ever take:

A huge gust of wind blew the tripod over and smashed the front lens of the camera. Gutted because we had done a lot of traveling together. I had bought it in Phnom Penh, Cambodia after a similar accident had destroyed my former point 'n' shoot in Vietnam.

Oh well, at least I am safe, the bike is fine, and my other more expensive cameras are undamaged.

On the east coast I locate the campsite at the remote Sarufutsu Koen Campsite 400 yen ($4) for the night.
Pay the park attendant and go to start the bike to find the bike will not start. There is enough juice in the battery to power the lights, but not enough to power the starter motor.

Dead as Disco Dancing!


With every attempt to start it the battery gets weaker and weaker. I decide to swear at the bike for 10-15 minutes, but that doesn't seem to help.

Nothing I can do now, it's getting dark. I decide to pitch the tent out of the wind before it gets too dark, get a good night's sleep and worry about it in the morning.

Surprisingly the next morning the battery was as dead as the dinosaurs and I wasn't just dreaming it.



I suspect the regulator/rectifier, one of the Achilles heels of the Mk1 Varaderos. I do know my Vara is still using the original flat sided (shitty) regulator that was bolted on at the Hamamatsu plant. As I neared 50,000k on the clock people were telling me to change the regulator and monitor the fuel pump connections condition.
I am carrying tubes to bypass the fuel pump if it goes south (the other Achilles heel of these bikes), a spare clutch cable and clutch lever, but like a bell end, I didn't bring along a spare regulator/rectifier. The new heat sink types are supposed to be of much longer lasting design..... oh bugger!

I kick myself for not buying a spare reg/rec for the trip


I ask the locals for advice:

I've heard it said before on this forum that until things go wrong it's just a road trip, but when things go wrong it becomes an adventure.

I manage to get the bike started by getting a jump from some dudes in a car.
There is nothing for miles along the coast. I decide to try and reach a town away from the coast. The bike starts acting weird like there's a poltergeist in it. Speedo and Rev meters rising and falling of their own accord, the clock and trip meter resetting and flashing.
Finally the bike dies in the middle of nowhere. I see a farm several clicks up the road and start to walk towards it in the pouring rain.


The farmer jumps out of his skin to see me. I must have looked a sight in full wet weather gear appearing out of nowhere in front of his tractor.
We put the battery on charge. It is taking a charge. Not a good sign. That means it's not the battery and something else is fooked.

I have a good chat with the farmer over coffee while waiting for the battery to charge about Holstein cows, his ruined marriage, his daughter's college degree, and farming. He said that you can never take a day off in farming. His wife hates cows and left him. He has no son to take over the farm when he retires in 6 years. His daughter wants to be a doctor (and hates cows as well). I told him I love milk and drink several liters a day. This seemed to cheer him up a bit.


I jump on the bike and poltergeist it towards a small town the farmer told me to make for.
The bike just makes it to the edge of the town before giving up the ghost.


Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 09-15-2013 at 06:14 PM
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:27 PM   #20
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Old 09-07-2013, 11:14 PM   #21
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So many lovely water views. Thank you.
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Old 09-08-2013, 02:48 AM   #22
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I had my rectifier suddenly die on my 2005 TDM900, only was stranded in Yamanashi but it was still a PITA getting the bike back home. After that I picked up JBR rescue insurance including unlimited mileage tow service for 10,000 yen a year. Will PM you that info as well...
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Old 09-08-2013, 11:09 PM   #23
Edmond Dantès OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinrider View Post
I had my rectifier suddenly die on my 2005 TDM900, only was stranded in Yamanashi but it was still a PITA getting the bike back home. After that I picked up JBR rescue insurance including unlimited mileage tow service for 10,000 yen a year. Will PM you that info as well...
I am a member of the SOX road service but it is only 100km from the nearest shop. Not a lot of good in Esashi District, Hokkaido...

10,000 a year for a tow service sounds like a good deal. Would much appreciate the details. Cheers Twinrider.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:48 AM   #24
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Well there's a dude staring at me from across the road. (I get that a lot in Japan) He's riding a bicycle that is way too small for him. I take him for the village idiot.

It turns out he is a fellow biker and is riding a borrowed bicycle from the Rider Station he is staying at to run some errands.

He helps me push the bike to the mechanic's shop up the road.


After a few tests the mechanic informs me that, yes, the regulator is fried and it is going to take 3 days to get a replacement shipped from Honshu to Sapporo to Asahikawa to Nakatombetsu.
And with Sunday being a holiday, 4 days before I can be on the road again. Bummer, gonna cut into my riding time. I don't want to shorten the Hokkaido riding, so I decide to axe the planned route home along the Japan Sea side of Northern Honshu. Bummer.


Nakatombetsu, that is the name of the town.
Pop: People: 1,980. Cows: 30,000 Bears: unknown number

I am invited to stay at the Rider Station.



The Rider Station is an old skittles alley that has been 'converted' into a hostel for bikers and cyclists to stay at.

The sleeping quarters:



The common room:


It is free to stay at the Rider Station and everyone is very friendly.
The utilities bills are paid for by the town, in exchange the town hopes to attract travelers to stay there and help the local economy.

The MitsuBachiMura Lat 45 Degrees North Nakatombetsu:





Technically you are supposed to be traveling on two wheels to stay, but some guys who have been coming here for years told me that all kinds of people have stayed in the past: a dude on in-line skates, a man traveling around Japan by local public bus, quad riders, and even someone traveling around Japan pushing a cat in a baby carriage!

Ko Chan and Mr. Hassey


Ko Chan (with a near encyclopedic knowledge of motorcycles), and Mr Hassey tell me how they work winter jobs to fund spring and summer long bike rides in Hokkaido and Tohoku.

Ko Chan from Kyoto tells me he has been riding his BMW up to Hokkaido every summer for the last 18 years.
To illustrate that my bike problem ain't no biggie, he unfolds a map of Hokkaido and shows me all the places and reasons for breakdowns over the years. He goes on for quite a while.



Mr. Hassey


I meet a lot of cool people at the Rider Station.

Dudes looping the country on Honda Cubs:




College kids cycling around the islands:



Aki here rode a Mk1 Vara for many years:

He also has a 600cc 2 stroke snowmobile. Many of the roads are closed with gates during the winter, but the snowmobiles bypass the gates and have the roads to themselves. Wicked!



Big up Rider Station in Nakatombetsu!
I could have been camping in a field talking to cows for 4 days.


Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 09-09-2013 at 04:55 PM
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Old 09-09-2013, 06:30 AM   #25
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Great to see another Japan ride!
My wife and I rode Kyushu and the Goto Islands two years ago, and apart from that, reports are very sparse. We trained it up to Wakkanai, with snow 2 metres deep along the tracks, and 3 metres deep between the buildings in town, so you gotta pick your seasons. But, it did look good riding country, so you are inspiring me to head north one day.

Enjoying the pics, particularly the ferries, as we rode into plenty of them around the Gotos, and they brought back that familiarity. And the Mapples, the best road guides there are in any language, and I can't read a word of Japanese.
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Old 09-10-2013, 02:32 AM   #26
Edmond Dantès OP
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TwoUpTourer wrote:
Quote:
And the Mapples, the best road guides there are in any language
+1 that TwoUpTourer

Some good hiking trails around the hills of the valley







Get to shoot (with a camera) a few deer







While walking by Mr. Ishiguro's farm one afternoon, I am invited in for coffee and snacks.

Mr. Ishiguro has traveled the world and showed me some of his wonderful photographs.

A couple of his spring photos of the area:





Holstein

Mr Ishiguro looks totally relaxed

Whereas the city slicker:



With just crows, cockroaches and lapdogs in Tokyo, it was great to see some real animals:



His wife gave me a huge bag full of tomatoes to take back to the Rider House which would cost a king's ransom in Tokyo.

I also met the wonderful Ms. Watanabe who runs a public bath. She lived in Nepal for 2 years and makes the most delicious chai.


Ms. Watanabe made me a surprise dinner one night which I ate in the reception hall of her public bath. People were coming in and out. A couple of the local people asked whether I was the foreigner with the broken motorcycle. They then went home and returned with more food for me. I have never experienced hospitality like this anywhere else in the world.
Truly an experience and the most wonderful people whom I shall never forget.


Ms. Watanabe hopes to open a Nepalese tea room in the future next to her bath house. I wish her the very best of luck.

But at the end of the day, I am still a man without a bike, and pining for the fjords


Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 09-14-2013 at 06:02 AM
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Old 09-10-2013, 03:11 AM   #27
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What's that third bike in the back?


Go for a ride with Ko Chan and Hassey for the afternoon.


All seems hunky dory, jackanory, yoridori midori.




Have a smile on my chevy chase the size of the Bay of Bengal!










Up and at 'em tomorrow morning. Gonna ride the coastline of
Okhotsk Subprefecture
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Old 09-10-2013, 03:23 AM   #28
Wildman
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Very cool! Just finished three days around Mount Fuji. No time for any more.
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Old 09-10-2013, 03:48 AM   #29
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Very cool! Just finished three days around Mount Fuji. No time for any more.
Love the lakes around Fuji. Some good riding to be had there. Did you ride the Hakone Skyline?

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Old 09-10-2013, 04:00 AM   #30
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Love the lakes around Fuji. Some good riding to be had there. Did you ride the Hakone Skyline?

Oh yes!

My route here.
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