First proper roadtrip on the new bike.
And I'm super stoked. The big inline four power plant delivers silky smooth through the gears. Ergonomically everything is right where it should be. The seating position has me just leaning perfectly into ride, with rider and pillion foot pegs set in a comfortable neutral location. So many late model sport tourers leave the hapless pillion perched awkwardly with knees up around their ears. Not so with the CB1300ST. Fitted with the factory panniers, I've added a GIVI top box. This meant I could do the city, and highway part in the rain, meeting Pania at a train station down the coast with her helmet and gear neatly packed away.
I ended up getting there an hour late as I made a rookie mistake, getting on an underground motorway, loosing signal on my google maps and missing my turnoff. What was 10 minutes at 80kph in the wrong direction underground turned into 50 minutes trying to get far enough out of the city center so my maps wouldn't try and put back on the tunnel rd.
Once on the correct highway things went really smoothly. Rained all day on the first day so once off the motorway it was pretty slow going along the coast road. I wasn't too bothered as it was stunning, passing through scattered fishing towns and villages with lots of nice surf beaches. Although wet and probably not the best condition roads, the bike felt really together. The suspension plush yet firm if that makes any sense. Even hard braking in the wet, the ABS gave me plenty of confidence although I never really felt it engaging. Never had a bike with ABS before.
Finally made it to the designated train station and it was cold and wet. We decided I would ride another 50 minutes further along solo and Pania would get back on the train and meet me a bit further down the coast. I was dry apart from my hands which was a little disappointing from new gloves. Not sure if it was because I had to remove them to pay for two of the tolls which weren't automated, and got my hands wet, or if they leak. Either way thank goodness for heated grips.
I made the next station in good time, feeling really good with the CB. Pania's train arrived a short time later and she was into her riding gear and we were off. There was little noticeable difference in the bikes characteristics with her on the back. Conditions were far from ideal but she was a trooper and got into the groove quickly. The road was slow from that point though, mostly around 50kph with the odd dash up to 80 if there was a bit of a straight. We stuck to the winding coast to avoid the snow which was settling only a few hundred meters away up in the hills. The hill/mountain country rises sharply as you head inland.
An hour or so further into our ride and we were both ready for food. There's no shortage of places to stop but when you are traveling on a motorcycle and it's wet you need to consider what to do with your gear, parking and everything else. We were so lucky to happen upon a fantastic cafe called Spice Dog. It was quiet although extremely spacious for a Japanese Cafe. They even had a kerosene burner going so was a great opportunity to dry my gloves out a bit and warm up. The Cafe itself had a definite surf theme, and as it turned out, the owner was an old surfboard shaper. His collection of boards on display, once we got chatting he was extremely enthusiastic in talking about the area, his boards, and bnb options locally available. He was probably about 70 and spoke no english, and with my nihongo still in it's infancy, it was my handy dandy personal translator (aka Pania) to the rescue. Great food, great company, and warmed through it's sometimes hard to get back on the road, however we had another 1.5hr ride to get to our destination and we wanted to get there before dark, and of course before temps went sub zero.
Back on the bike, and on the road again. Small towns with very little traffic we quickly found our rhythm and the riding felt quite effortless. We made good time to Kumomi. The traditional inn we had booked was very nice, with off street covered parking.
Checked in, panniers up to the room and unpacked, we decided to go for a bit of a walk to the shop, buy some snacks and check out the waterfront. It was still grey and wet but the views from the jetty were nothing short of magic. Back to our room and it was time for a drink and a bath.
That's an outside bath by the way. There are blinds but it was a little chilly until you can get in. Great way to warm up and reflect on the days journey. After the soak we got the call to dinner. Traditional style Japanese Inn food is something to behold. So many dishes and flavors, you just sit and sample everything. We also washed it down with two bottles of Rice Sake. So good.
Dinner done, back to the room, light our little table fire for some ambiance, and open a bottle of Moet I bought Pania for Christmas. I don't recall drinking it before and I am relatively new to being able to appreciate wine. I will however state, it was almost certainly the nicest bottle of bubbly I've ever tasted. Of course by this stage I'd had a beer, a highball, and a bottle of Sake. You do kind of need to drink plenty at these places though, as the beds (futons) are on the floor and they are not really designed for people who are of heavier persuasion. Not saying I'm fat.... well maybe I am a little.
Next day and she's a cracker. Sun is out, sky is clear and views all the way to Mount Fuji. We had a lazy lie in and went downstairs when we got the breakfast call. Breakfast is an event in itself. Again with the variety of dishes served in traditional Japanese fashion. No marmalade on toast here.
After breakfast we went for a proper look around the harbor area before packing up and getting on the road. With the weather clear it was immediately apparent this is a popular motorcycle destination. Lots of bikes on the road, many riders happy to wave out to fellow riders. We're the same everywhere. Nicer weather also meant more stops to take in the contrasting rugged coastline switching from sheer cliffs dropping to the sea, to popular surf beaches. Again, we stuck to the coast. Snow was clearly visible in the nearby hills where it had settled the night before. We stopped for a hot drink at a small cafe which was nice, although I was a little disappointed, when if we had carried on another kilometer we could have stopped at the legendary Spice Dog. Never mind, I shall return. Then it it was a meandering winding journey back up the coast to drop Pania back at the train station. With traffic getting heavier at the end of the weekend, she could take a comfortable train ride home and be back before me. It also meant I could stretch the bike out a little on the motorway, and filter and lane split through the congestion.
All in all a wonderful weekend and super stoked with the bike. Looking forward to exploring a lot more of Japan over the next few years.