This past weekend I spent a day at the Fujimi Panorama Resort near Nagano get some downhill action on. In 2004 I rode here twice with my XC bike (Intense Spider) and it was a freaking blast. I was super excited for the return trip here as I now own a better suited bike (Intense 6.6) and have five years of skills development to put to the test. Of course getting my bike to Japan is an interesting and still unfinished story. I decided to go cheap and ship it USPS as it only cost $65 to ship an oversized 70lb bike box. I should have asked how long it would take but did not. I should have as I have since found out that it takes 3-6 weeks. So here I am the day before the trip and still my bike, armor, helmet cam enclosure, shoes, etc… is not here. The good news they have some good rentals at the park and you can get a full kit that includes a well equipped downhill mountain couch, full set of armor, full-face helmet, lunch, and a day lift pass for about $150. As luck would have it my friend Ken had to cancel so he let me borrow all of his gear that included his pig big.
Ken has a really awesome bit of mojo bolted to the fender on his bike. I was present when this stick and Ken’s relationship first started. At this park five years ago Ken took an unplanned aerial tour of the forest along the A course and this was his souvenir from the tour.
Notice how far up the stick some of the “moisture” marks are. Ken basically had this thing impaled up to where my fingers are at it in one of his butt checks. He literally ripped him ripped himself a new one. Needless to say Ken was a real (Carnage Warning) Pain in the Arsh to be around. While Ken was not laughing his ass off, some of us where in stitches. God did he act like he had a stick up your ass. Man have we had some great pun at his expense since then.
So anyway, despite my postal misfortunes I had a fully capable gravity oriented rig and was headed up the mountain. I showed a couple of my new friends the easier “C” course down the mountain as I wanted to get a feel for the bike before. In addition to a different bike, it was my first time riding with flats. It was bit of an adjustment, but for lift-assisted riding I could get used to it.
After the first run I felt pretty comfortable with the bike and decided to give the “A” Course a run. Man was it awesome. I remembered the course well enough to allow for some downright ripping speed. Last time I was here I did a lot of brake checking on the jumps and sucked the bike up underneath me to keep things on the ground. This time I was letting the bike go and sometimes I was even preloading before the kickers. There was one kicker in particularly that I got so much more airtime than I expected as the trail just fell away after the kicker with a slope that nearly matches trajectory of a fast moving bike. While never more than six feet off the ground, I floated for well over 30 feet before touching back down into a buttery smooth landing zone. While there were several spots I scared myself, the run is best described as a continual string of “Joygasms”. (Thanks Dan for the word)
I spent the rest of the day just digging the ludicris speed downhilling. That is until near the end of my forth run. The bottom of the A course has an optional more technical section that is a couple yard long before it rejoins the main line as you come into a rocky sweeping turn. I rejoin the main trail will a good head of steam going and I leaning into the turn really hard, when my rear wheel breaks loose, the bike get sideways to the trail and I come off the bike and the bike goes flying some 15 feet before he hitting a tree.
While I did not have a scratch on me the bike’s front wheel looked a little wose for wear. It iwas hard to walk a big bike down the mountain (even a short distance) with a rear wheelie. So I call up my buddy Ken with the classic I got some good news and some bad news. I spun it that the bad news was I would not get another run down the mountain and the good news was that see a brand new front wheel in his future. 🙂
The good news up that I could have only gotten in one more run in so no huge loss. I swung by the 4X course to see the happenings there. There we plenty of groms and adults out on the course.
At the end of the day we stopped at an onsen (hot springs) in town and let the muscles loosen up for an hour or so before hitting the road for semi-longish drive back to Yokosuka. The onsen was an great way to end an awesome day of riding. In Japan the onsens are a nude affair so no pics.
The drive back was pretty cool as well. Above is a view from the road we exited the mountains.
The evening view of Mt Fuji from a gas station in Gotemba. I slept like a baby that night.