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That’s my girl!

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Last Saturday, I had to drop my youngest, Mai, off at her swimming class, but my wife somehow managed to lose the car keys, so I had to take her there on the back of my bike.

Apparently, she had fun even just riding through the neighborhood, because she insisted that we take a real ride on Sunday. It’s still a little cold, but I can’t refuse a request like that.
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Mai has never shown any interest in bikes until now, even when her older sister Lin and I come back from a ride with happy stories. Now they’ll have to argue over who gets to go.
面白い石をずっと探してた。
Thanks for losing the keys, Yuri!
Father and daughter on a bike jaunt

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Cold morning ride with Fujisan

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This has not been much of a year for motorcycling for me, for a number of reasons–some good, like a trip to Taiwan and a long stay in Yellowstone and Tetons, and some bad, like my father-in-law’s funeral and my own bout of cancer (I’m fully cured, but recovery from the surgery took a while)–and I’ve really missed the mountain roads. I finally got a free morning last week and took a spin on some of my favorite roads in Hakone for a photo session with my ride and the mountain.

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Bike and Ocean

The ride can’t always be great


I realize that nearly all my touring reports start and end with something along the lines of “that was an amazing ride!” And I pretty much always feel that way when I get back from touring, because even when we have nasty weather or mechanical trouble, the positive stuff and great times always outweigh any negatives.

But it can’t always be that good.

Today, for instance. I woke up bright and early ready to conquer the roads and go visit the mighty Pacific, but cloudy weather and other stuff delayed my departure. Then once I got out of the tunnel on the Aqualine across Tokyo Bay, the wind was gusting so strong I had to slow down to a crawl and was still getting blown around to the point where I couldn’t ride in a straight line. On top of that, the air was filled with cedar pollen, particulate pollution, and yellow sand from China, and the haze kept visibility to a minimum. Even when I did finally make it to the ocean, blowing salt and sand and haze made for a much closer and less impressive horizon than I had been hoping for.

I think I got ten or fifteen minutes in the twisties where the mountains blocked the wind enough that I could enjoy the winding roads, but I spent pretty much the entire ride battling wind and grit.

But the thing is: I somehow enjoyed myself anyway, and I still can’t wait to get back out on the road the next chance I get. Because these unpleasant ones really are the exception, not the rule. We just have to keep riding.

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Kanagawa Toy Run

This will be the final post in my “get the 2012 stuff out the door before the end of January 2013″ series!


Every year, riders from Gaijin Riders, Japan Riders, and SBK (all active sites with real communities—far more useful and informative than this fossilized site) dress up as Santas and reindeer to bring presents to children at orphanages in Kanagawa Prefecture.

For privacy reasons, I can’t upload the pictures of the huge smiles on the kids’ faces, but we had a great time playing, eating pizza, and joking around with the kids, and their smiles were a better present for us than anything we could give to them.


This giant reindeer’s going to have to make time to visit them next year too.

Doshi no Mori Camp Touring


Lin is really getting good at the pillion photographer gig.


We took a trip up to a place nestled in the mountains of Yamanashi Prefecture called Doshi no Mori. We adult bikers had the usual great times talking and drinking and BBQing, while the kids explored in the woods and collected tadpoles and such.


My girls made friends with some other kids at the campground, and everybody wanted to take cool pictures on the bikes.


The camp lanterns made for some amazing lighting for some spectacular shots.


Riding into the night on Noji-kun’s Z2.


The next morning, the kids still wanted to take more pictures.
(By the way, if anyone reading this knows Himari-chan or Ebe-chan [Elizabeth], I’d like to get in touch with their parents, so please drop me an email.)


Bikes and frisbee fun under the late spring greenery are a good way to start the morning.


But then it was time to hit the road. Road cameraman Lin got more great shots from the back of my bike, including this self portrait.


Woochee driving the support van (with me reflected in the door).


It’s rainy season, but we managed to get nice weather both days, and it felt great to be on the road.


I’m really enjoying sharing these experiences with Lin, and she seems to be having a wonderful time too.

Doshi no Mori Camp Touring

The continuing adventures of a couple of American bikers in the Land of the Rising Sun