Sunday, November 25, 2012

Eat. Work. Ride.

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! 
I hope you all enjoyed the celebration with good food and surrounded with your beloved ones.
My disappearance for almost one whole season has made me think that my blogging days were over. Joining into a new research project and increasing my part-time works are what keep me busy like a bee. Not the queen, of course. Now add to those works a regular headache that comes every time I encourage myself to be more serious (and not stubbornly picky) in finding me a job for next year.So, I really apologize to my blogger friends because I haven`t visited their blogs for these past few months, but I promise I`ll drop by more often.
Do I still cook? Yes. And an incredibly fluffy souffle cheese cake is what I wish to share with you next time. Do I still take pictures of food? Err...yes...and no. Yes for lovely food I have outside. Like this beautiful sashimi rice bowl containing piles of tuna, salmon and the roe, shrimp, octopus, and sea urchin with a dollop of wasabi on top. Ah, just lovely.

But no for my cooking rituals. Not that I won`t take pictures again, but maybe I need to take a break for a while.  And in the mean time, this is actually what I`ve been doing after works and during weekends. Here is me riding a 4-cylinder Honda CB400 at my driving/riding school, which I`d totally recommend to those of you who live in Sendai and are interested in getting driver`s license. I need to complete at least 17 hours of training sessions before taking the final test to get the license and I`m still like half-way from finishing everything.

Have I told you that I got my car driver`s license in summer? Well, if I haven`t, I did. Yaay! 
But, as buying a car for me seems to be a long term plan, a motorcycle would be a better option for me. I`m perfectly happy with my current 50-cc scooter, which is apparently not a "motorcycle" according to the motorist terms, except that it`s difficult not to exceed the 30 km/h speed limit for 50-cc vehicles when riding on a big road along with the faster cars and sometimes the bigger motorcycles too. That`s why I`m planning on upgrading my commuter to 250-cc motorcycles and for that I need a new driver`s license, again. Now here`s the tricky part for me. What I want is being able to ride a 250-cc motorcycle, but the system in Japan requires me to practice riding on a 400-cc motorcycle and get a license with that. I couldn`t find any better chart to explain the driver`s license categories in Japan, but I hope this Wikipedia link can help you understand what I`m saying.

This handsome Honda weighs about 200 kg. I, on the other hand, weigh one forth of that and I (and the instructors) have lost count on how many times I dropped the bike, especially on my first days of training. And I still sometimes do until now. Dropping the bike must sound awful to you, but believe me, trying to lift it up is the hardest part for me. The second hardest? Putting it on the center stand. I`m not sure whether it`s because my lack of muscle strength (and height maybe?) or my ability in excelling the technique. Anyway, if it wasn`t for its weight, I would ask Santa to bring me this CB400 for my Christmas present as I`m seriously in love with it.

Now here are some videos during my practice showing some parts of the motorcyle riding skills that are going to be scored during the test. Riding a motorcycle in a straight direction with fast speed is easy, even for me on this 200- kg bike. It is, however, super difficult to ride slowly and maneuver it in a zig-zag direction while keeping it balanced. You`ll see in the video that I need to work harder in improving my skills.

Cone weaves. 
I need to weave through a series yellow cones under 7 seconds. If I touch the cones or put my feet down during an actual test, the test will be terminated. 

Quick stop
Within a quite short distance, I need to speed up to 40 km/h and brake the bike so it stops before the second white line. I think my speed was still not enough, but my front tire passed the line. I`d definitely fail if this was a test.

Slow ride on a narrow track. 
I need to ride on this very narrow track and finish it at least within 7 seconds, which means speeding up is not an option no matter how tempting it seems.

Slow turns on multiple curves. 
I`ve got bruises and muscle pain from the fallings and bike droppings, but the part that made me utterly frustrated and literally sob is this one. Working on the throttle, clutching, back braking, turning, and counter-weighting simultaneously is what it takes to pass the curves without putting down my feet. Or worse, falling down. After tons of failures and two extra sessions only on this part, I`ve finally made some progress and I really really hope I won`t mess up during my test later.

I can go on and on when it comes to my motorcycling practice, but the bottom line is, riding is so fun! Riding also makes me sweat and it`s like 7 degrees C outside. Another bottom line: I would probably stick with anything less than 200 kg even if my future license allow me to ride the bigger ones. And speaking of future license, please wish me luck so I can pass the test before the snow falls hard.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy preparing for the holiday season!