Hirayu Onsen Touring 2006 (English)

Last weekend we made our yearly trip up to the mountains of Gifu Prefecture for the Club SPLENDOR Hirayu Onsen Touring.
We haven’t had any really cold weather yet this fall, so the foliage wasn’t quite as spectacular as in previous years, but we had perfect riding weather and the roads, as always, were exhilirating.


We met up early in the morning at Dangōzaka service area on the Chūō expressway.

Ami-chan, who’s joining us for her first SPLENDOR touring event, sprained her ankle on Thursday.
But she’s such a badass that she still decided to come along, hanging off the high ape bars on her Softail.

Here I unexpectedly bumped into GB from Riding Sun, who was heading off in the same direction for a trip around the Venus Line with his buddies from Club X4.
I was kicking myself for not snapping a picture, but I couldn’t have posted it anyway to protect his pseudonymity.

We headed off with Kazu on her Sportster, Go on his Dyna, YOS on his shovelhead FL, Yuka on her CB750K1, Ara on his Springer, and Ami, the Stinger, and me on our Softails.

It just isn’t touring until something on YOS’s shovelhead breaks.
This time, it was the clamp holding on his muffler.

We got off at Shiojiri and YOS fixed it temporarily with some wire.

Here we met up with our buddy Mitchi, who lives in the area.
So far I’ve always only met up with him at rallies, so I had never seen his old shovelhead tourer in motion before.
Great to finally have a chance to ride together.

The weather report for Sunday was looking bad, so we decided to get in as much riding as we could on Saturday, and took the long way around, looping south through the Kiso valley past Narai-Juku.

A quick break before heading over the pass.

There were some areas where dried pine needles covered the road, making for some slippery riding, but the winding roads and colors of Nomugi pass in the fall made for some spectacular riding.

At a roadside rest stop near Takayama, we grabbed some local delicacy beef-on-a-stick (and some not particularly good ramen).

The Stingers make a great couple don’t they?

We met up with our friend from Nara, Muracchi, just before Takayama.

His bike broke down the week before, so he came by car, but that allowed him to take some pretty good pictures of us.

Heading up the mountain towards Hirayu, we got stuck behind tour buses and such, so at times it was hard to stay awake leading the pack.
But all the great-looking bikes in my mirrors made up for it.

We made it! The colors here at the campsite always look great.
(Of course, anything looks good with my bike next to it.)


We strolled to the local onsen bath to rinse off the road dust and relax our muscles, and then grabbed some dinner.

We got back to find SPLENDOR’s leader, Marcy, with a modern sculpture designed to be destroyed.

Noriko showed up after dark on her gold-lamé flame Softail, and immediately went full-throttle into party mode.

Hasshi’s panhead wouldn’t start in the morning and he didn’t get started until after noon, but as always he still made sure to get there in time for the party.
(I usually don’t take pictures from this angle, but I wanted to get a feel for how people usually see me.)

Kuma-chan borrowed Mizuki’s leather goods for some cosplay
Mizuki was busy smoking some chicken in his portable smoking kit.

MaSa brought delicious udon noodles all the way from Kagawa on Shikoku island.

The weather report called for rain, but the rain gods know better than to incur my wrath like that.
Another day of great weather!

The “Sexy Dynamites MC” from Toyama

Matsumoto Heaven & Hell MC’s flash vs. SPLENDOR’s flash

Yuka and her CB750K1 with fall colors

Nike and his chopper

Noriko and her new vibrator

We headed out for a morning bath at the Shinzansō mixed bath.
What with the deep blue skies, the vivid mountain colors, the hot water and the liberating feeling of the bath, we ended up taking lots of pictures, but not many that can be posted on a family-oriented blog like this one(?).
We got some great shots, but you’re all just going to have to imagine them.

Well, OK, if you insist.
I’ll post just one.

Alternating hot water and cold wind helped take the edge off our hangovers.

We got completely relaxed and warm to the core before heading down the mountain and back to the Chūō expressway to speed back to Tokyo.

The traffic was surprisingly light, and we got home with some daylight left.

Thus ends another amazing weekend with the SPLENDOR crew.

I’m lucky to have such a great group of bikers to ride with. Thanks Everybody!

From other people’s perspectives:
Nike’s pictures
Go’s moblogging touring report
Yuka’s touring report

9 thoughts on “Hirayu Onsen Touring 2006 (English)”

  1. Looks like you had a great time – just love Noriko’s vibrator!! By the way….excellent blog….I borrowed your definitions of a biker for use in a post on Cruising Down Under.

  2. Thank You for the cool photos and the great story of the Splendor Crew. I loved the flavor of your experience way out here in un-tasty and too cold to ride Washington State.

  3. Hello. I’m planning a bicycle tour of Japan this fall, and am thinking of biking from Narai to Takayama over Nomugi Pass. I haven’t seen anything about this road though, and it’s pretty remote when you’re on a bicycle. Can you tell me a bit more about what it was like? Was it paved the whole way? How was the traffic? Did it seem to you like it would be a safe place for a bicycle?

    Thanks for your advice,

  4. Scott,
    The road is paved the whole way and well-maintained, and there’s some beautiful scenery along the way. While some parts of it are two laned with a proper centerline and shoulder, parts (like in one of the pictures above) are just the one lane, and cars have to stop to let each other by. Some of the steepest, twistiest bits are also the narrowest, but there are proper mirrors on all the curves with bad visibility. Not much traffic if you avoid the peak foliage season, and even then it’s not too bad.

    I’ve passed bicyclists on that road before, so I know it’s doable. Good luck!

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