søndag den 22. juli 2007

Wednesday Nov. 1 - Around Shikoku, Then a '2001' Flashback

I ride all the way down the southernmost tip of Shikoku, knowing this may well be the last time ever I see The Pacific this close and from the saddle of a motorcycle. Wind blows, it’s colder here, there are the rough looking cliffs. Lots of restaurants too, advertising whale meat. One even has a large bronze sculpture of the animal outside, so it’s not hard to figure out what the locals think of a ban on whale hunting. On the east side there are sandy beaches, and lots of surfers. Riding this road I also see more pilgrims clad in white, walking a route that will lead them to no less than 88 temples. Apparently there is something really cool about visiting all of those. Eventually the road turns into a four- and then sixlaner.

Time for the third oil change, and I note with some satisfaction, that all nuts and bolts are still tight. The Nimbus has really done well. Literally no technical problems, cheap with gas, and fairly comfortable even when the road surface is of dubious quality. Whether the rocker arms or ‘The Peace Tail Light’ have caused most amusement, I do not know, but the reaction to the bike has been very good all the way. I have lost track of how many non-motorcyclists – hotel owners, gas station attendants etc. – have taken pictures of the bike, or how often I have taken pictures of them sitting on it. The Japanese just love that photo thing. I also could have saved myself all my worries about whether the police or other authorities would let me on the roads without turn signals, or if the damaged slightly-out-of-balance front wheel rim should have been replaced. No cops have said a word about the former, and at the speeds I’m doing the rim is fine.

I jump on a toll road across the island of Awaji-Shima, in order to reach Kyoto by nightfall. This rewards me with a beautiful view of the sunset over the ocean, though I’m not sure if I had enjoyed it this much, had I know what the charge for riding here was. Legal robbery, that was. Still I pay for the expressway up to Kyoto, where I have booked a bed-place at a small hostel, that was recommended at one of the earlier cheapo hotels.

This wide expressway is an experience by itself, as it winds its way through of foretaste of what the sci-fi writer William Gibson calls ‘The Sprawl’: A large urban area stretching from Tokyo and all the way down the south coast. 60-70 clicks on the multilane freeway, along parallel freeways, over- and underpassing freeways, with monorails snaking back and forth across them – long well lit tunnels where an endless stream of trucks with polished aluminium sides and yellow, blue, red and green lights overtake me on both sides – just as shiny noise walls curving in over us, all in all a scene reminiscent of the last part of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey’ – and suddenly a plethora of road signs ensuring that I miraculously reach my destination in Kyoto in record setting time (I’m not used to that). 350 kilometers today, longest one-day distance, if one does not count the Copenhagen-London-Tokyo stretch.

2 kommentarer:

ross lane sagde ...

Great story! Can't stop reading and now I want to go to Japan with a Nimbus! I love the altered pictures-"cat can't be trusted either"! And the cat passed out with a bottle in its arms!!

ross lane sagde ...

Hello from Western Canada! (Vancouver Island)