mandag den 23. juli 2007

Thursday Oct. 12 - Urban Warfare On Two Wheels, The Manga Babe On The Scooter

I ride out to mini-monkeybike man Osca, two hours and 30,000 traffic lights from the hotel. I want to see that secret new motorcycle project of his, that he talked about the other day. I also want him to translate my official Danish permission to ride without a helmet, which he does using some sort of ‘Babelfish’ translator program. The text goes back and forth a few times, and ends up rather weird, but it’ll do for now. Programs like these may be part of the explanation about why most Japanese speak English like they do.

Osca may also have the world’s smallest storage/office/workshop for his motorcycles. At least 50 are stacked in boxes floor to ceiling in his tiny house, and amidst the chaos there’s a prototype with no less than two small 25 cc ohv engines. Osca reckons it’ll be good for about 80 kph. He also tells that his customers assemble their bikes themselves, despite the earlier mentioned 3-400,000 yen purchase price. 25 of them have been sold to the US and 5-6 to Europe. The last one he brought over went in his Samsonite suitcase.

Riding back for another two hours trough dense city traffic, makes the toll road seem like maybe not such a bad idea. Wear and tear on the brakes and clutch, as well as the higher fuel consumption, will be part of the equation. On the other hand, I would have missed racing the Manga-babe on her large scooter with all the ‘Hello Kitty’ stickers and the Supertrapp exhaust, and a bunch of other interesting sights and do’s. Besides, it is nice to learn that my New York City riding instincts are still all intact. Lane splitting (filtering) is widely used here – I feel it’d be almost impolite not to do it - and only the Nimbus’ wide motocross style handlebar prevents me from keeping up with the locals.

At the hotel I get to talk to a Japanese phd-student from Kyoto. Being shown the no-helmet permission written in kanji, she decides it needs a total makeover, and being the ambitious person she is, the woman does a very thorough job of this. It is probably also much more fun than laboriously studying the ethical dilemmas in connection with kidney transplants, which is what she’d otherwise have to do. This is all done at the local watering hole Tepui Bar. Later that night, on my own way back from the bar, I see one of those guys with his red illuminated Star Wars saber do a dance show, while directing traffic around some road repair. My guess is that he was rejected from the ballet school a few times too many.

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