Category Archives: SPLENDOR

yamabiko 2006

Last weekend was the annual Splendor rally at Yamabiko-so. This marked the 19th annual run, so next year is sure to be a big event, celebrating two decades of Splendor at Yamabiko-so! I don’t remember how many times this is for me, but I suspect it’s probably about my seventh.
We didn’t have too many people in total this time (only about 30 bikes) and an even lower rate of participation from the local “Takatsu-gumi”. Just me (the Stinger), my wife Yuka, the buxom biker babe Mako, kick-ass Edokko Ara, and (hopefully) soon-to-be Harley owner Hosotchi. Boz also meet us at our rendezvous point at the Ebina service area on the Tomei expressway to see us off and ride with us as far as Atsugi. Big Ben had to give priority to Lin’s kindergarten enrollment ceremony (hey! These things are important too, y’know!) and so was not able to join us. We’ll make it up over Golden Week, though!
I also heard later that Go and Kazu tried to make it on their own, but were dissuaded by roads that were closed due to rock slides. Oh well!
The skies were a bit too threatening and the temperature a bit too cold to feel like stopping to snap lots of pictures, so I don’t have that many, but here’re the highlights of what I did take.
Man! That headwind was a bitch! On the expressway I had to hold on to my handlebars so fiercely that my fingers went numb!
All in all, it was good to get the hog out for the first long run in several months. It was also fun to switch bikes with my wife and test the CB’s maneuverability on the mountain twisties! I’m looking forward to some great riding experiences and more stories this year!

The wind was so strong at times that some of our comrades on lighter bikes had trouble keeping the shiny side up! One such victim was Don-chan and her Zephyr 750

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Have I used up my 15 minutes yet?

The Stinger and I are featured with our bikes in the “Custom Dojo” section of the Jan. 2006 issue of Mr. Bike.

(I’m on the bottom left with my Softail, Stinger’s on the bottom right with his Zephyr.)
Not the most flattering pictures, but the bikes look cool, which is what’s important, right?

This is far from the first time we’ve been in Japanese biker mags, and far from the biggest feature we’ve been in. What’s unusal about this time is that it had nothing to do with this site. A reporter from Mr. Bike had come to the Club SPLENDOR Hirayu Camp knowing that there would be plenty of custom bikes to take pictures of, and getting gaijin was just an exta bonus. The others on that page are friends from SPLENDOR, including the Stinger’s lovely wife Yuka.

Having this site has brought us a lot of attention over the years, from TV appearances both on Japanese TV and on BBC cable’s “Mary Anne’s Bikes”, to several magazine articles about us, and we even ended up writing an essay for the Japanese Harley mag Vibes. The shots we use on our top page and our about page were from a photoshoot for a Vibes article.

The best thing has been getting mail from bikers all over the world. Just yesterday I got an email from a guy in Brazil politely requesting that I ship him some official Gaijin Bikers in Japan decals (which don’t exist, of course. Is there really a market for Gaijin Bikers merch?) There are also strange things like when some guy linked to us a few weeks ago with only the cryptic comment “Hmmm…” I can only assume he was relating us to his previous post about “dasai gaijin” and calling us deeply uncool, but I can’t really get angry at a guy who’s been touched by the noodly appendage.

It’s also always nice to go to rallies and have bikers we’ve never met treat us like longtime friends because they feel like they know us from the site.

It’s a lot more attention than we deserve for simply living our chosen lifestyle in a country we love, but it’s damn good for the ego.

Hirayu Onsen Touring 2005

「秋のタイフーンツーリング」 SPLENDOR 平湯キャンプ2005






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How far would you go for good noodles?

This weekend was the CLUB SPLENDOR Kitakata Ramen Touring & Camp. Kitakata is a town in the middle of nowhere in northern Japan that’s famous for its ramen noodles. It’s about 4 hours from Tokyo and has lots of great uncrowded roads on the way. The guys in the club I ride with have been doing this run for the last 17 years, and yes, the ramen really is that good.

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A lesson in Japanese roadsigns

At first glance, this looks like “road closed”, doesn’t it?
But look at the beautiful winding mountain road on the other side, and the perfect weather. It couldn’t possibly be mere accident that there’s just enough space between the barricades to ride a motorcycle through, could it?

Same road, a few kilometers on:

This looks even more convincingly like “road closed.” In fact, to the uninititated, the Japanese “通行止” would seem to mean exactly that.
But no, “通行止” really means “closed to those in vehicles with more than the optimal number of wheels(2), and to those without adventure in their hearts.”

We only had to move three of these roadblocks. It was great riding, though a little harrowing to be leading the pack on this particular run. Not to worry, we are responsible citizens–we moved the barricades back into place after riding through.