Third track day: Yamanashi Sportsland adventure

On Saturday morning (May 25th) went in to service my bike to get it ready for the track day.  Got my chain tightened a little bit and everything else looked okay.

As usual I got lost on the way back and made an illegal right turn when it was a forward+left arrow (oops).  Somehow my brain lapsed and I thought it was a green circle so I went to the middle of the intersection to get ready to turn right.  However there was a cop sitting directly in front of me just waiting.  He pulled me over and saw my international license and then quickly gave up on giving me a ticket, instead warning me that I should take care of my passenger, Mako.... true.

Then... I find out the track session is a morning 9am-12pm 3 hour "flex time" so I decided to start the 1.5-2.5hr drive to Yamanashi.

So we head to the inner tokyo highway(首都高速)and try to get on, but get stopped by the gate guys and told to pull over.  We completely forgot that riding with a passenger is forbidden on the inner city highway!
Sign we overlooked at the entrance

It's all because of some law from the 90's to prevent Bosozoku from causing mayhem, even though they could do it without a passenger.... but whatever, it's the law and we broke it.

It ended up turning into a big ordeal where we waited for 2 highway officials to show up and ask for my name, license, and plate number; only then to have 2 cops show up and do the same!  It was officially a big waste of time and it's a stupid law, but what are you going to do.  We got back on the road and headed to Yamanashi, now with an expected arrival quite a bit later into the night.

..........a couple hours later we arrive, it's dark, no streetlights and a very lonely city.  With a bit of luck we found the hotel (旅館)and the old man in charge helped us find a ramen place and kept the hotel bathhouse open late for us to use when we got back.   At the ramen place I think we got stared at pretty intensely, either do the the fact that I'm black or the fact that we are an interracial couple, but it was a little strange to say the least.  The room at the hotel was a traditional Japanese style, which might have been the first time I stayed at a hotel like this, and as excited as I was for the day ahead I tried to get a good night sleep.

Made it to the track nice and early, got my bike ready and met up with my new friend Pete, who I met at Gaijin Riders (handle AntKiller).

I'm still pretty slow, but I think I did alright for my first time on this track.

Sam giving me some tips

Pete, Sam, and Souchi gave me lots of tips on riding position, breaking, etc and helped me increase my time by a second each time I went out.  That's obviously because I'm slow to begin with, but I'll take progress in any shape it comes.

The track may be small but it was an amazing 3hr session, which I rode about 1.5hrs.  The smallness of the track actually helps you with quick transitions and dealing with bumps, cracks, etc.

I think Mako enjoyed seeing me out there, but it was probably a bit long for her, so we made sure to end the day with something interested for her.  We stopped at a local soba shop and had a late lunch.

Last turn before the straight

Taping up the bike
When you go for track days on a street bike you have to tape up all the things that would smash and explode over the ground in a crash, i.e. lights and mirrors.  This time around my friend advised I just remove my mirrors and zip-tie the holes to hold my fairing to the front stay the VFR has; smart idea.

The yellow device on the right side of the bike, attached to the passenger rear sets is a lap timer.  This course has lap timing with 4 sections laid out on the track, so here I can get nice accurate data on my improvement~ (Track sheet 1Track sheet 2)

On the way home we stopped at a rest stop, the mecca of motorcycle rest stops, where at least 100 bikes were parked.

There were choppers, cruisers, sport bikes, touring, dual sport, you name it....wish I got a picture of it...

Resting up a bit and headed back to Tokyo.  At the beginning of the day I was a bit worried that the thread on my tires was getting low, but we made it home in one piece and my tires weren't slicks yet (phew).  Having that sort of worry on your mind, worrying that you might not be able to get back home because of tire thread or crashing, while at a track is not cool and that's why I need to get myself a track bike :-D


Second track day at Sodegaura Forest Raceway

So this time I went to the circuit alone and improved my time by a couple seconds.  I don't have an actual lap timer so I just used the video to estimate my lap times.  This time around I got about 1'36" but that's probably off by a second or two, but still not too bad.

So far my videos are still pretty boring and I'm going super slow, but hopefully someday soon people will actually think watching my videos is interesting, but until then I'll use these boring videos as a indication of where I came from when I get to wherever I'm going.

It's still only my second time out on a circuit so I barely know what I'm doing.  I'm sure I'll get much better with time and experience, or at least I really hope so.   








First track day at Sodegaura Forest Raceway

Japanese version of this post

May 12th 2013, my first track day, and the start to a new chapter in my life.

I found out about this track from some guys I met on Gaijin Riders and Facebook.  The guy in the far left is really into this track and invited me to tag along.  Thanks to the people in this picture I had a great time and learned a lot.

While at the track I made a Japanese friend, Taisuke (in the right of the picture) who didn't bring his bike that day but came to get his license. I started talking to him because I was confused about some information they needed on the license application.  He's a really nice guy and he even stayed the whole day to watch us ride and hang out.

Before getting on the track I was pretty nervous, sitting there in line waiting

I can finally ride faster without worrying about all the dangers of the road.  Dogs, bicycles, and gravel were always in the back of my mind preventing me from going faster, but I was able to go and ride safer and faster.

It might be an expensive hobby but I definitely want to keep it up.  And I hope that someday soon I'll be able to enter into my first race.

On the last lap of my first 30 minute session a guy on a CBR comes flying past me on the long double corner, one of the fastest corners on the track.  He then goes off into the grass, flies back onto the track and high-sides in front of me... scary to say the least (_)

It looked very scary since it was a high-side but the aftermath wasn't that bad.  The guy was okay, but the bike was all jacked up.  I think he came there on the bike (had a license plate on it), so I he had a fun time getting home.






その一本の三十分の最後のラップで、僕の前で人が僕を通る共に転んだ (_)



九州ツーリング : その他








九州ツーリング : 帰りフェリー



すごくいい旅行だったね〜 またいつかもっと楽なバイクでしてみるやな〜


九州ツーリング : 熊本




城に行く道でこのくまもんのガラージドアをみつけて、この可愛い熊と一緒に写真とった〜 このガラージはくまもんのおみやげショップで、同僚にあげるためのクッキーをかって、マコもくまもんのラーメンはランディの人達にあげるのために買った。



いい天気で、いい城の景色で、エネルギーがあったからまた逆立ちしちゃった >_<



九州ツーリング : 佐伯市


マコの妹が妊娠で実家に帰って、弟以外みんなと会えた〜 おばあさん達もおじいさんたちも四人も会えてよかった。初めて彼女の家族と会うことだったからちょっと緊張だった。僕の日本語はまだすごく下手で何言えばいいかわからなくて、恥ずかしかった。文化的に変なこといちゃったかもしれないけど、日本人が言う通り「しょうがない」かなぁ。これから家族の信用もらえたらいいねと思てる。




〜 へへ 〜