Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alps tour update

A small update on my European alps ride. The weather has been near perfect, fine every day with the exception of a little rain on day 6 which cleared away quickly to allow another amazing day of riding.

More later when time permits.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Held Score gloves review

I have been talking about getting new gloves for the tour and I finally got out on the bike on the weekend to test them.

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The gloves I went for are made by Held and the model is called Score. I became aware of the company when I started looking for what gloves were getting the very best reviews. The guys over at WebBikeWorld are very demanding with gloves having tested so many and so when I noted the Held gloves are one of their favorites I figured that was pretty high praise.

Held is a German glove company dating back to 1923. I have not seen them in Australia and if here the dealers would want ridiculous amount for them so I ordered from the USA. The build quality is very high and superior to the two more famous Italian brands of which I have owned a few pairs.
The Score is a touring glove yet construction is technical like a race glove. I am not into quoting specs for things I review unlike most reviewers tend to do, you can read the factory line at the web site. What I will say is they perform superbly. Despite being a Gore-Tex waterproof glove they breath incredibly well. My hands were warm in the early morning over Mt Glorious with full wind protection and then when the day warmed up I was ready to change to light gloves however my hand were not hot nor did they sweat at all so I kept wearing them all day.

Now a (sub tropics) summer glove they are not however the inner has a special liner which wicks away moisture and kept my hands at a even temperature inside despite the varying temperature outside. And so to the all important comfort factor. I had read other reviewers rate these as the most comfortable gloves they had ever worn and I thought they will never beat my super soft deer skin gloves, but they come close. To put that into perspective these are a armored multi layered technical glove and the Chilhowee gloves are a simple single layer soft deer skin glove so case of oranges Vs apples which makes these a very comfortable indeed. 

They are not cheap gloves, in fact the most expensive I have ever purchased. Since I suffer from chaffing with gloves due to hand dermatitis I have no choice but to try for the best to keep me riding however you could spend nearly as much on more famous brand  gloves but only get 1/2 the glove these are.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Easy does it, North.

I did something today I have not dared try for many years. Ride over Mt Nebo/Mt Glorious on a Sunday morning.

It really is such a nice ride. As I have mentioned before I live close by however I have skipped it for some time to avoid the Sunday morning Knee Sliders and Police Blitzes’.

Quiet as a mouse there today. A few motorcycles at the cafe, many more push bikes than ones with engines on the road. Had a really pleasing and relaxed ride just enjoying the flow of the corners and the sunlight filtering through from behind to illuminate everything softly in the early light. Passed one car and saw no other vehicles until bottom of Northbrook Parkway.

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I have not been doing much riding the last few months and it shows. My focus slipped more than once this morning so I pulled over to take a look at some heritage farm buildings and old graves just off the road and rest a little while.

A lot of water in the 2 dams and a lot of motorcycles at Somerset cafe. Actually was like a parade (of motorcycles) all the way to Kilcoy and back towards Woodfood, many riders must have been doing a loop over Mt Mee and back via Mt Glorious. Glad I was riding opposite direction.

Rode over the Maleny Stanley River Road and via Dulong to Mooloolah Valley for early lunch. Then some back roads south not really bothered to visit Peachester for the few hundred metres of good road there that everyone over rates.

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The old Gympie Rd (above and below) is a nice flowing thing in a number of spots and has not a bad view either. The last bit south was just simple highway riding more or less but not a bad. If anything it was just as good as riding south from Peachester and avoids the crawl through Woodford. 

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I would have skipped Mt Mee if I could have done so without taking the highway. Much of the road is bumpy and that 60k limit on all the southern range is mean spirited on such a flowing road. Add the high enforcement and well it’s not a road I particularly enjoy. I went up via Wamuran and up Campbells Pocket road. This is a low traffic back road with a nice set of tight corners, I liked it a lot.

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After clearing Dayboro I rode back via Clear Mt and Bunya Rd. As I was riding home I was struck with the thought that of the many roads ridden today the last, Clear Mountain and the first, Mount Glorious were by far the best riding for me, offering plenty of flowing curves enjoyable at a modest pace.

So many corners so close to home.

Route can be found here.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Japan 2010 tour update

To follow on from my last post, I found a place that will rent me the new Honda CB1100. The motorcycle I would probably buy if I was in the market now. So I am very excited to now be able to ride this new machine. Click here to see a superb video about the making of the bike.

The shop is called Bike Rental 819 and is a chain that operates in a number of locations in Japan and appears to move bikes between shops to offer a very large range of motorcycles for hire. The nearest to where I will stay is in Kichijoji, very handy and not too difficult to get out of Tokyo from. Got to work out getting the bike the afternoon before so I can do the tour as planned so will shoot them an email about that.

Very excited about this and need now to update my GPS routes.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Japan tour 2010

After the European alps I am heading back to Japan for an extended period so naturally I have planned a ride.

The timing should be good, its going to be Autumn and in Japan that is lower rain fall season with spectacular foliage on display in the mountains. It is a very hot summer there this year and so I may push back the ride back until first week of November if need be however at this stage I am still aiming for October. Really depends on the amount of rain each week I am there as I need not book the bike or hotels until just prior.

I am probably going to rent with Kokubo the same company as last time, their bikes are a bit older however the price is less and the location at Hachioji-shi works for me, being out of town a bit to avoid the madness. Also they offer for you to collect the bike the afternoon prior to departure which is a significant item as shops do not open in Japan until 10.00am or later thus without that you would only get 1/2 a first day riding. 

There are a couple of hotel chains in Japan that I will use and heartily recommend. Super Hotel group are an excellent budget chain as are Route Inn group and the more well known Toyoko Inn group.  I am using Super and Route Inn this time, Super Hotels are the cheapest of the 3 chains however each days hotel was chosen by location not price, the ease to get to and park being important to me. All offer modern rooms with free wi-fi and complementary Japanese style breakfast.

When I first started going to Japan I stayed in traditional Ryokans but let me tell you these are more expensive and offer much less. Last ride in Japan I navigated by paper maps, this time I have the Japanese UUD map made for Garmin GPS installed and my routes plotted using Tyre. I am confident this ride will be easier than last having the GPS to navi me through towns and intersections and then take me all the way to the hotel door each day, this later being the hardest part since Japan does not use street number/name address system like the west.

Day 1, I ride west via the Mitaki valley, an area I often visit by train and noted popular with motorcyclists. There are many high mountains that I have ride between on my way to Mt Fuji where ride parallel and then ride the Ashinoko Skyline and Izu skyline before looping around the coast road and re ride the Izu skyline, one of Japans highest rated motorcycle roads back to Gotemba.

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Day 2, I ride Mt Fuji Skyline and Fuji Panorama LIne with its magnificent views and then scoot up to Suwa and ride the Venus Line and some excellent roads over to Shiga Kusatsu then a few more mountain passes to Shibukawa.

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Day 3,  I ride the roads in the very mountainous areas around Nikko. Besides the famous 99 corner mountain road my Mapple top 100 rides touring book rates the roads around Nikko very highly. After this I will ride the daddy, Mt Bandai, voted no 1 ride in Japan then return to Aizuwakamatsu.

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Day 4, I have threaded another route over the Japanese alps based solely on my own judgment that any road this twisty has got to be enjoyable to ride. A bit of motorway riding today to blast back towards Tokyo in a reasonable time and then once closer I jump off and explore some more back roads before winding it up.

Hope it is fine for the four days.