On Saturday morning (May 25th) went in to service my bike to get it ready for the track day. Got my chain tightened a little bit and everything else looked okay.
As usual I got lost on the way back and made an illegal right turn when it was a forward+left arrow (oops). Somehow my brain lapsed and I thought it was a green circle so I went to the middle of the intersection to get ready to turn right. However there was a cop sitting directly in front of me just waiting. He pulled me over and saw my international license and then quickly gave up on giving me a ticket, instead warning me that I should take care of my passenger, Mako.... true.
Then... I find out the track session is a morning 9am-12pm 3 hour "flex time" so I decided to start the 1.5-2.5hr drive to Yamanashi.
So we head to the inner tokyo highway（首都高速）and try to get on, but get stopped by the gate guys and told to pull over. We completely forgot that riding with a passenger is forbidden on the inner city highway!
|Sign we overlooked at the entrance|
It's all because of some law from the 90's to prevent Bosozoku from causing mayhem, even though they could do it without a passenger.... but whatever, it's the law and we broke it.
It ended up turning into a big ordeal where we waited for 2 highway officials to show up and ask for my name, license, and plate number; only then to have 2 cops show up and do the same! It was officially a big waste of time and it's a stupid law, but what are you going to do. We got back on the road and headed to Yamanashi, now with an expected arrival quite a bit later into the night.
..........a couple hours later we arrive, it's dark, no streetlights and a very lonely city. With a bit of luck we found the hotel （旅館）and the old man in charge helped us find a ramen place and kept the hotel bathhouse open late for us to use when we got back. At the ramen place I think we got stared at pretty intensely, either do the the fact that I'm black or the fact that we are an interracial couple, but it was a little strange to say the least. The room at the hotel was a traditional Japanese style, which might have been the first time I stayed at a hotel like this, and as excited as I was for the day ahead I tried to get a good night sleep.
Made it to the track nice and early, got my bike ready and met up with my new friend Pete, who I met at Gaijin Riders (handle AntKiller).
I'm still pretty slow, but I think I did alright for my first time on this track.
|Sam giving me some tips|
Pete, Sam, and Souchi gave me lots of tips on riding position, breaking, etc and helped me increase my time by a second each time I went out. That's obviously because I'm slow to begin with, but I'll take progress in any shape it comes.
The track may be small but it was an amazing 3hr session, which I rode about 1.5hrs. The smallness of the track actually helps you with quick transitions and dealing with bumps, cracks, etc.
I think Mako enjoyed seeing me out there, but it was probably a bit long for her, so we made sure to end the day with something interested for her. We stopped at a local soba shop and had a late lunch.
|Last turn before the straight|
|Taping up the bike|
The yellow device on the right side of the bike, attached to the passenger rear sets is a lap timer. This course has lap timing with 4 sections laid out on the track, so here I can get nice accurate data on my improvement~ (Track sheet 1, Track sheet 2)
On the way home we stopped at a rest stop, the mecca of motorcycle rest stops, where at least 100 bikes were parked.
There were choppers, cruisers, sport bikes, touring, dual sport, you name it....wish I got a picture of it...
Resting up a bit and headed back to Tokyo. At the beginning of the day I was a bit worried that the thread on my tires was getting low, but we made it home in one piece and my tires weren't slicks yet (phew). Having that sort of worry on your mind, worrying that you might not be able to get back home because of tire thread or crashing, while at a track is not cool and that's why I need to get myself a track bike :-D