The Motorcycle as Time Machine

No, the title doesn’t reference the embarrassing fact that I’m just now getting around to writing about a touring trip we made in early April. This is more about one of the things I love about riding motorcycles in such a dramatically mountainous country: being able to experience multiple seasons all in the same day.

When we left the Tokyo area, the few remaining cherry petals were fluttering down from the trees, marking the end of the most eye-catching part of spring. But after heading down rows of towering cedars toward Nikko, we headed up over the mountains toward the Aizu region of Fukushima, and gradually moved back in time through the seasons as we gained altitude, toward fully-blooming cherry trees, then partially blooming, then bare, followed even by the earlier-blooming ume (plum blossoms), before dropping our altitude again into the town of Kitakata, where it was nearly hot enough to feel like summer.

ノジ君のバイクのクラッチワイヤが切れそうだ

Noji had noticed that his clutch wire was partially frayed (<– foreshadowing), so we picked up a spare wire at this bike shop, which has been thoroughly occupied and taken over by cats.

Shadow

We then picked up enough altitude for it to feel like spring again. (I love what the late afternoon spring sun does with shadows.)

DSC09403fb

The next morning, it felt nearly autumnal outside our cabin.

寒いに決まってるけど、ここまで来たんだから

And then, despite warnings, we simply had to explore the Bandai-Azuma Skyline, which often tops polls as one of Japan’s most spectacular roads.

White birch, snow, and beautiful winding roads

We kept gaining altitude, and soon headed into a wintry world of snow and white birch.

Noji-kun on the Bandai Azuma Skyline

We weren’t really wearing the right gear for mid-winter, but it was beautiful enough to make it worth some shivering.

Cold bracing morning

磐梯吾妻スカイライン

There was never a question that we made the right choice.

Not a bad location to fix a clutch wire

Finally down from Fukushima’s highlands and off through the gently winding roads of Ibaraki back toward home, Noji’s clutch wire did in fact break, but by then we had returned to mid-spring, so we had some nice scenery to enjoy while we made the repairs.