søndag den 22. juli 2007

Monday Nov. 13 - Pumpkin Sally & Their Ratrod

Ted picks me up at nine, we have breakfast and then go see some of his hotrod friends, one of which has the honours of starting up the whole movement over here about 15 years ago. Before then nobody cared about the things, but now the authorities have loosened up on rules. Today you can build the wildest choppers and custom cars, ride without fenders etc., although it is still easier to modify an old vehicle rather than a new one.

After bidding my farewell to Ted, wife and kid I track down the ‘Pumpkin Sally’ workshop, and take pictures of one of the toughest looking ratrods I have ever seen. The thing barks, roars and smokes, shaking like a dog every time the owner floors it. I also change the oil on the Nimbus, for the last time over here. Then I head north, using the same road on which we drove south last night. It is only half as nice as I believed it to be, and I’m only slightly delayed by all the cops, who naturally wonder about my helmet-habits.

The mountains are just as cold as yesterday, and temperatures drop for every hairpin turn I encounter. I put on every single piece of my clothes when starting off down at the coast, which keeps me reasonably warm. So far; Mt. Fuji in its majestic beauty lies to my left, and will soon block the warming rays of the sun. Still I manage to cross the first mountain pass without suffering frostbite, and note here how the red leaves are long gone, and all the trees stand naked.

At a crossroad in a typical vacation resort, a Kawasaki W3 rider going in the opposite direction does a double-take, as he recognizes my Nimbus from some Classic Kawasaki homepage. We stop and talk a bit, trying to figure out if there are any hotels some 50 clicks further out in the direction I’m going. One of the locals tells me not to sleep in the tent (fat chance), because the temperatures went below freezing last night.

The Kawasaki-guy – Hidey Katsumada - leads my to a tourist information 10-12 kilometers and one mountain pass away, where we learn that the nearest accommodation is a few hundred meters from where we first met. We ride back over the pass, with no cars but now also no daylight, so I do my very best to keep up with his tail light – which disappears every time his revs drop when changing gears, as his battery is shot. Still we make it back to the resort, I find a hotel, and we go out for a dinner of wild boar noodle soup. Today he is the fifth or sixth Japanese I meet who speaks a tolerable English – maybe my luck changes now that the vacation is about to end.

The last pictures get taken, business cards exchanged, and he will have to find a car to follow over the next mountain pass. “I never ride in the dark”, he said earlier, and if this is to be taken literally, it’ll be quite some debut. On the other hand, I’ve done this often enough on a Nimbus, so I’m not too worried about him.

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