Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hakone Skyline

The weather forecast for today was supposed to be rain. Well, for some of us riders, it may have been better if it did. Instead, the published 40% chance of rain, ended up being a cloudy but dry day, perfect for running the curvy bends of the hakone and izu skyline. 8 riders, 4 manufactuers, and 1 goal: to melt some rubber. We met up at the starbucks off the Yoga entrance ramp to the Tomei Expressway, the scheduled time was 8am, but it wasn't until 8:30 did all of us manage to trounce our way in. The field was varied, most were seasoned riders, a couple of beginners (myself included), and a seasoned veteran getting back into the game. 2 Ducatis, 2 Suzukis, 3 Hondas, and an Aprilia. The ride down was uninteresting, speeding through the tomei traffic was as always an exercise in nerves. When we got to the skyline the riding was pretty intense. Single lane traffic meant that we had to pass cars in pretty tight conditions. I almost found myself in the ditch at the side of the road once when I just couldn't negotiate a tight right hander after passing a slow car. Man, thank god for those tokino double disk front brakes, else I would be fishing my bike out of a storm gutter. We had lunch at the top of the hills, a mecca for bikers, as driving into the parking lot we could see a proverbial showfloor of bikes of all makes. We managed to sight one of the more rare bikes in the world, a Italian Virus. Orange, and looking more like a weapon in the US army arsenal with its missle launcher intake ramscoop, it was a marvel of engineering and a beauty to look at. I took several pictures before the rider invited us to his shop at the top of the mountain pass. Enjoy the pics. The mountain roads and conditions were beautiful, there were points when it felt like we were riding through a windy road in the shire, it was like one big roller coaster ride. After lunch in the biker mecca, it was onto the Izu skyline, which is professed to be even more beautiful than the hakone turnpike. The connecting road was windy and even more narrow, and unlike the turnpike, had many uneven changes in grade. Oh, and more slow cars. So passing them was even more nerve wracking. Not long after thinking that, did chance lay its (back of the) hand on us, and one of our group (who I'll call "M" ) overshot a quick right hander, and flew off the road into the dreaded storm gutter. I was fortunate to have seen it in my rear mirror, so I turned back to help. Another in our group, and a kind passerby on a R1200GS stopped to help M (thankfully unhurt) lift the bike back out of the gutter. No small task, as the bike is 150kg. A little shaken, but unhurt, the bike looked practically unscathed short of a busted passenger peg, and a warped windscreen, and we all thought that 'M' got off pretty lucky until we saw the big puddle of liquid that was gathering in the gutter. The bike was bleeding oil. On closer inspection, the bike had fallen straight into the concrete ditch, which is about 1 foot wide and 2 feet deep, and the concrete hand ground a 2 inch gash in the bottom of the engine block big enough to fit 3 fingers into. Not good. And because the engine was a wet sump, oil was bleeding out of it like a victim with a punctured carotid artery. Hmm... Thankfully, I had with me some electrical tape, so we fashioned a temporary patch of the hole, and 'M' and I continued to ride down to the closest town, while the others continued onto the Izu skyline. 'M's poor hornet was leaking the whole way... 20km later, we got to a gas station, where the attendant basically told us that he could do nothing for us. We got some more tape, (unfortunately, there was no duct tape for sale) and filled up the engine with more oil (it had bled itself dry). Immediately it started bleeding again(it was really hard to plug a hole that big with just tape) but we decided to make a run for it another 20km to Odawara, where there would be a bike repair shop. We make it there, and thankfully they can effect repairs there, so we leave the bike and double up to ride on home. What a testiment to honda reliability! Running an engine pretty much dry of oil, for 40km without a seizure. We were lucky. So lessons learned, and nobody hurt, we all congregated back in the Sizzler cafe on route 246 back in the outskirts of Tokyo to tell our tales. One thing is certain, some of us (myself included) will be paying a lot more attention to how hot we ride into right handers and also to always keep a roll of ducktape and oil cleaner while travelling, as that would have been able to make a much more effective hole patching kit (compared to electrical tape). Oh and the total bill for the repairs to M's bike? 15,000yen for a new engine cap and oil. Not bad at all. Considering when I replaced my front disk brake it was 25,000. We count ourselves lucky today. Ride safely. Here are the pics

1 comment:

gen said...

Have you read "The Pace" from Nick Ienatsch of Motorcyclist?

Highly recommended.