|Christmas come early.
We ring Chris from the Lawson conveniece store on Route 18 as we arranged. He comes out to meet us on his BMW and leads us to his house, which unusually for Japan is brick.
He kindly offers to let us stay which is good as by now its 3pm and we will lose the light shortly but before we do he produces an electric drill with a screwdriver bit, you will need this he says leading us to the garage. Therein are our two precious packages from home (our first since we left) and with Chris’s help we open them up. Casper and Nigel my good friends at home have made a superb job of obtaining the things we need and then constructing two mini wood crates from plywood because of this all the precious contents have arrived without a scratch. Inside one box is a spare rear drive box (bevel box) and cush drive plate along with a new drive shaft. We sheared the drive cog of the cush drive plate in Russia and it was welded back together to keep us going. It got us to Vladivostok and all around the North of Japan but it was never going to last forever. I asked Casper if he could get Dave (from P & D customs at Slinfold near our home town of Horsham England) to run a bead of weld around the base of the new cush drive plate to strengthen it. I will post some pictures of the old and new ones on the site and flickr, its not hard to spot the difference. Dave is a superb welder and the tig weld he made looks incredibly neat and strong.
I don’t think we would ever have had a problem with the drivetrain with normal road use, they are usually very reliable. I think the drive cog probably initially cracked in Mongolia, that’s when I first noticed some noise from the drivetrain. At the time I thought it was something inside the bevel box and I just crossed my fingers that it would hold out. I think the crack then slowly spread until it finally let go in Russia. The old bevel box was still working but the drive coupling inside it was a mess and it was easier to send a whole spare (which I had waiting at home anyway) than try to strip and replace it in the field with limited tools.
We open the other box and it’s like all my Christmases have come at once. There is a new MSR water bag to replace the one we lost in Turkey. A new Ortlieb folding washing up bowl to replace our other one which was pressed into service as an oil change pan in Mongolia. Some spare memory cards, new dash warning lamps (ours were all smashed in Kazakhstan) aftermarket batteries for my video camera and another 12 volt charger for our digital cameras (the first one didn’t work). There are also some other small parts for the bike and cards and presents for Karens birthday. Unwrapping this lot makes us very happy.
Chris’s wife cooks us dinner that night and we have a couple of celebratory beers, all is good with the world.
Next day I wake up early and start work on the bike, I can’t get everything done now but as Chris has kindly offered to dispose of the old bevel box for me I need to get that changed and replace the back tyre whilst the wheel is out.
Changing the bevel box is an easy job, wheel out first then 4 nuts and it just pulls off the end of the swingarm. With the drivebox off I can pull out the driveshaft and coupler and change this also as I know the cardan joint is good. Changing the tyre is more time consuming especially as the bead doesn’t want to seal when I am trying to inflate the new tubeless tyre but after a few attempts it works and we are sorted.
Towards the end of the morning a few of Chris’s friends come over to take a look at the bike and say hello. Hiroyuki Nagahara got in touch with us via facebook and is with his wife and young daughter. They are really nice people and we all go to a local noodle restaurant together for lunch. Their young daughter has a training set of chop sticks that you can put a finger and thumb in, Roof laughs and says I need a set of those. They did a round the world trip by motorcycle a few years ago on two dirt bikes so we have lots in common. After a delicious lunch of buckwheat noodles and tempura vegetables we all return to Chris’s where we resume trying to pack a quart into a pint pot and we are just losing the light when Yoshi turns up. He greets us with a smile so broad his whole face lights up and his eyes disapear, we like him instantly. He says we can come and stay at his place which isn’t far away, we gratefully accept as we don’t want to outstay our welcome with Chris who has been more than helpful but we equally don’t want to be searching for free camps in the dark.
I drop a bit of a clanger as I completely forgot that Hiroyuki offered us a place to stay weeks ago on facebook. There has been so much going on and Karen normally does all the facebook stuff, so sorry guys it wasnt anything personal just my rubbish memory !
The other bonus with staying locally is that everyone is going out for sushi this evening and we are invited. We follow Yoshi and his girlfriend back to his house which is Japanese style, small but nice and we are made very welcome. Yoshi is also an overlander indeed his bike is still in Spain while he has come home for a break. He knows what its like to live on the road for an extended period and asks all the right questions like do you want to use the washing machine and would you like a shower both of which we gratefully accept. Later on we all bundle in his car and drive down to a restaurant called 105. We skip the enormous queue waiting for a table as Chris and a few others have already bagged two tables and sit down. We have tried Sushi and we like it but this was a new experience for us. 105 is so called as every dish is 105 yen (about1GB Pound), they come past your table on a conveyor belt and you help yourself to what you fancy and when you are done they just count up the plates. It is great fun and a good way to try new things, Yoshi was in his element “here try this one” and “you have got to taste this” we really like Japanese food.
We head back to Yoshi’s and a very convivial evening talking about bikes and travel etc until quite late. Next morning Yoshi’s girlfriend cooks us a slap up breakfast which was really good and we pack up the bike. Our destination is Matsumoto and Yoshi shows us some good biking roads to get there on our map. Just before we leave a couple of his mates that were at the meal last night turn up on their bikes to say hello and take a look at the Guzz. We have a big photo taking session before we say our farewells, its been fun !