Daily Archives: September 19, 2013

The Grasshopper and the Towtruck

As I mentioned in a previous post, the rear tire on my bike is completely shot and the towtruck was coming today to bring it in to the shop. The truck was supposed to arrive around 14:00, but I guess he was so keen on seeing my bike that he decided to show up 90 minutes early. At least he called to give me five minutes warning…


So I ran out to the backyard to pull out the bike, which I keep parked in the space below the stairs to the upstairs apartment, and push it through the overgrown grass into the parking lot. Just as I had backed the bike into the grass I wondered if I should have checked the area for snakes first. The show up rarely enough, so I convinced myself that I was fine. However, as I rode the bike from the parking lot up onto the patio area in front of the house, I felt something climbing up the inside of my right pant leg! I hopped of the bike without putting the kickstand down first, which I never do, and then jumped about trying to shake the bug, which I could only imagine was a mukade (huge poisonous centipede), out of my pants while trying not to drop the bike.

I was able to get the bike on the side stand, and then I immediately ran up the front steps and stripped off my jeans in front of the entrance to the apartment. I ran in to get a fresh pair of pants so as to not frighten the neighbors or towtruck driver who was supposed to arrive momentarily. Once I came out fully dressed again I took a closer look at my pants and found the little green monster pictured above hanging out in them. It was just a grasshopper, but that really doesn’t mean much when it is climbing up the back of your leg inside your pants!

I pulled out my camera to grab a quick photo, so that my wife would not think that I was making things up, and the towtruck driver pulled in to find me there with a spare pair of jeans just lying on the ground. He probably just noticed that I was a foreigner, and foreigners just do strange things, of course, so he completely ignored me while I kicked the grasshopper across the parking lot and threw my bug tainted jeans back towards the front door of the apartment.

Once the bike was loaded on the truck the neighborhood wives all came out to find out what was amiss. They were all curious as to why my bike was being taken from me. I explained that I had “ridden too much”, and now my tire was too damaged to ride on.  They then all quizzed me on the current mileage on the bike, and quickly turned to scolding mode when I told them I had racked over 13,500 km in the last ten months. The towtruck driver even joined them, and started to claim that he had not put as many kilometers on his truck in the same time, but I think he decided at that point to stay out of it… lol

That said, they did not seem to phased when I suggested that I might take my son motocamping to Mt. Daisen this weekend. They just casually started discussing distances and tabulating my new high score. So, sometime tomorrow I will pick up the bike, new rubber and all, and start planning for Daisen over the weekend.

Is 1,350 km/month really a lot of riding? How much do you do a month/year?

Hokkaido Report Via PlaceMe

PlaceMeWhen thinking back about past rides  we often focus on the roads taken and the destinations more than the stops. However, if you try out the iOS/Android app PlaceMe, it is easy to be reminded of all the forgotten places you stopped along the way.

Want to find that ramen shop you stopped at again? Did you forget the name of the campsite you stayed at, or the location of those awesome sunset photos you stopped to take? PlaceMe has you covered. It is a dead simple set-it-and-forget-it app. You simply set it to log any location you stop at for more than five minutes, direct it to send daily logs to your Evernote account, and that is it. At the end of each day you will get a summary of all the places you have been.

As an example, here are the maps for the twelve days of my Hokkaido trip earlier this month. (Click the first image to view them as a slideshow.)

You can see from these maps that my first day, riding from Hamada to Kanazawa, was a long ride with few stops. On the other hand, the ride from Otaru to Kutchan was overwhelmingly beautiful, and you can see that we stopped numerous times to appreciate the views. Using this data, I can fairly easily pinpoint the locations of all the photos I took with my DSLR, which does not have GPS data on its own.

The daily log that gets uploaded to your Evernote account actually includes details for each stop. If the app knows the location, it will create a link to the location’s Google+ page. If it does not know the location, it will give you the route number and city, which may (or may not) successfully link to a Google map. Take my final day as an example:

Here you can see that my first location is set at 9:59 p.m. on the 14th. That would be the apps best guess at where I was staying that night. It seems to have selected a restaurant near my hotel, but close enough… The next stop is a convenience store, Lawson’s, where I stopped to use an ATM and to drain the water from my boots. (See The Long Ride Home for the full report on this rainy ride.) The next stop was at 12:15, when I stopped to get some gas at Dr. Drive. As I had been riding for seven hours in the rain at this point, my next stop was 20 minutes later in a McDonalds to get some food and warm up a bit. Miraculously, the rain stopped while I was warming my hands around a cup of McDonalds’ infamously nuclear hot coffee, so the last stop before home was on route 9 in Gotsu, where I stopped at ゴリラ酒 (“Gorilla Alcohol”) to get some beer so I could warm up with a shower beer when I got home. (It seems there is a website for everything these days…) By the way, the route 9 link above is a perfect example of how this app fails for unknown locations outside of the USA.

shower beer

My data for the day ends in Gotsu, as I did not really move from home after enjoying my shower beer.

So now that I’ve shown you how I use this to track my stops when riding, how would you make use of this app?

Disclaimer: If you plan on cheating on your spouse, murdering someone, or just participating in some anarchy, you might want to turn this app off. The author will not be held responsible if  you accidentally place yourself at the scene of a crime.