Passed my test.

So, it’s sorted. I worried that I might blow it on the ipponbashi. For the last couple of days I was going over the course in my mind, trying to remember the full drill, when to indictate, look over my shoulder, all of it, but every time I thought about doing the ipponbashi I started to get very nervous. It was the only part of the course I was making mistakes on. Anyway, I took it calmly and slowly, and enjoyed it and got it done.


Now it’s a rush to get the bike registered in my name and get my licence. It’s a bummer how it’s done here. Back home as soon as you pass you can ride any bike you’re insured to ride. Some weeks later your licence arrives in the post. Here you can’t ride until the local bureaucracy put the licence into your hand. That means traveling to a government building, filling forms, buying stamps and waiting. It’ll take half a day to do. Thankfully the holidays have started for me. Two months before I start back to classes. Nice timing.

The bike is sitting there under the car port. It’s a really tall bike. Did I mention this before? Maybe not. The windshield stands almost as high as my head. The petrol tank rises high above the seat which itself is tall,  85cms from the ground. It’s not a sports bike in the slightest. It has an upright seating position, meant for long rides. The fairing will provide lots of protection from the wind. It’s clocked to 160kmph, slow for a 400c, whereas in-line-4 250cc bikes are moreoften clocked to 180kmph. It’s not meant for speed. It’s meant to be ridden without rush. That’ll do me nicely.

I was surprised when I read the documents that came with it to see that it’s 19 years old. It has 44,000km in the clock, not a lot for a Honda V-Twin engine. It’s a touch groggy and needs tidied. A piece of fairing is hangin off and needs reattached and there is a lot of rust on the spokes which needs attended to. There’s rust in other spots, but nothing to be concerned about I think. All surface stuff I’ll take wire wool to and then treat. The last guy who owned it lost interest in it by the looks of it. I’ll get it looking clean again and get a good ride out on it.

There are a few people waiting for me to get ready to ride so that we can head out some day, head off along a bit of highway then into the hills, take a ride along some mountain roads, but I’ll be doing my first ride by myself. I know the bike is going to take a fair bit of getting used to, given it’s height and bulk.  I want to move at my own pace, travel roads I want to travel and take it easy. I know a beautiful road from here into the mountains north of Toyota city. I used to take it on my 50cc scooter to a school I taught in a village called Fujioaka. The 50cc could manage it rightly as getting over 50kmph was simply too dangerous. I’ll take that road this weekend, head up to Obara village and find some small place for a bowl of buckwheat noodles and mountain vegetables, a cup of green tea.

Large stretches of the road are lined with tall pines, right to the roadside. The first time I travelled it was on the scooter during autumn two years ago. It was a fresh morning and a ground level mist hung over the road. I was taking it easy trying to keep the noise of the scooter down when a black kite came out of the trees and glided along the road a short distance ahead of me. I slowed well down to watch it, an impressive bird with a wingspan of almost a meter. It didn’t flap its wings once. Just glided along and as as I caught up with it it swooped left into the trees. The noise of the scooter is a touch shrill so it can spoil a nice ride, but the Transalp’s V-Twin engine runs low, with a dull crack when you give it gas. I’m looking forward to hearing the sound of it as I rise into the mountain and feel the low rumble of the engine as I take it easy on gas going down the other side.

I’ll not break the 40kmph speed limit the whole time. Past Fujioaka, there’s a stretch of road with two lanes rising further up to Obara. The speed limit is 50kmph there and I’ll enjoy that. Here the police tend not to bother you until you break the limit by 10kmph. 59 is borderline, but by law they can’t fine you unless you do 10kmph over or more. That means paperwork without being able to notch up a fine, so they tend not to bother. That’ll allow me to sit at around 55kmph safely. It’s a good speed to travel at, allowing plenty of time to take in the surroundings. There’s no need to rush through roads like that. Riding them is itself the destination.

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