søndag den 22. juli 2007

Sunday Nov. 12 - Time Tunnel Race Meet, Part II

The local Brit – Simon Godden – reappears, telling about his nice motorcycle riding experiences in this country, about his plans for starting a race series with older Triumph Tridents, and about how minor private toll roads can be treated almost like road race courses, seeing that they’re devoid of speed cameras and similar unpleasantries. Technically these are still public roads - just like the Nuremburg Ring in Germany, where you just pay at the gate for doing a lap or two – so there are no insurance issues. SG also kindly feeds me cans of hot green tea and coffee, sorely needed on this cold day, even if I detest the taste of the latter. But for as long as I hold the can, at least I can feel my fingers.

The last four or five heats are ridden, of which the 250 cc class is the most interesting. The guy on the orange Lambretta fights his way from the back, up through the field, overtakes at least six real racers along the way and ends on fourth place, behind a Ducati, a Bultaco and a Honda. Good going, and nice to see an underdog being able to tune a scooter this much, and use his racing tyres to the max.

Luggage racks, tent, footpegs etc. goes back on the bike, and while I sit there, being annoyed with myself for not having put an ‘INFORMATION ABOUT A NIMBUS IN THIS AREA WANTED’ sign on the topbox, a young guy comes over. Problems with the gas cable on his H-D KR prevented him from doing any serious racing, but we haven’t spoken yet, even if he has the second most interesting bike here. Turns out he once saw a Nimbus in a shop close to where he lives. This was about ten years ago, but he may remember where the place is, and offers to lead me there when the race meet is over. I’ve learned a long time ago never to reject such an offer, despite the last three hours’ fantasizing about going back to the onsen, in order not to catch pneumonia. Now follows 2½ hours of insane traffic jams, half through which my battery almost goes down, and I start riding without lights. Things are so slow going, that we can exchange snacks and candy along the way, and I start taking notes on my little writing pad while sitting there. If any nation on this planet needs hybrid cars, it has to be Japan.

Amazingly he finds the place in first try, but the girl in the scuba equipment shop says the motorcycle place ‘Scramble’ moved or went out of business about four years ago. Ok, it was worth the try, but we arrange to go out for dinner instead. Now we’re in the neighbourhood I have to meet one of his friends from the custom car shop ‘Pumpkin Sally’, a place specializing in Ford F100 vans. Actually I knew about them beforehand. I’ll be back here tomorrow to take pictures.

The KR guy Ted/Takeshi drives his wife and tired small kid back home, the Nimbus rolls into his large workshop, and we find a place to talk about the US, bikes and whatever else we have in common – like the Peace Tail Light, one of which he has, or the Czech PAV bike trailer he once bought along with a Jawa. Spooky. Ted used to work for Bud Ekins, the actor Steve McQueen’s riding buddy for decades, but only learned much later of BE’s fame. Ted was the practical link when everybody in Japan suddenly wanted old Kawasaki Z1’s and the wild three cylinder two-strokes, both of which there were plenty in the US. He also told that von Dutch worked for BE, without Ted knowing who the hell vD was.

At ten I’m being dropped off at a ‘sento’ (something like an onsen), with the same baths and sleeping accommodation as the place up in the mountains – even if this one has not half the charm and elegance of the first one, and has the same computer game machines I noticed at the tube hotel in Nagoya, where guys sat making virtual hot babes take of their clothes. Half an hour under water, and I finally feel like a warm-blooded species again.

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