moto

Sic

Just watched the Indian F1 race where they started with a moment of silence for Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli. I haven't been following Indy Car so don't know much about Dan Wheldon, but bummed about Simoncelli.

Makes it hard to believe these guys can get back in their cars and on their bikes after things like that happen. Especially since these guys die so publicly and, with the moto deaths, so... I guess the word is obviously. Meaning you can see exactly what happens. Not to be morbid, but those moto crashes are disturbing.

The most heart-wrenching shot from the MotoGP race is Colin Edwards kneeling in the grass, pretty badly injured himself, looking back at Simoncelli on the track. You can't see his face behind his helmet, but the body language tells a lot.

I'm not usually one to get worked up about celebrity deaths, but like I said, these are just so... public.

Here are some photos I took of Simoncelli from the last two years at Laguna Seca.

Tales from Laguna Seca

Okay, not really tales, not yet at least. More just photos. I'll give the tales later.

Rossi in The Corkscrew


Stoner, your race winner.


Nicky Hayden in Rainey Curve!


Colin Edwards waving to the crowd in The Corkscrew.


Ben Spies and Colin Edwards.


This was going on trackside. Baby hummingbird fell out of the nest. Mama was feeding him.


Ben Spies in Rainey Curve, pretty much the best place to take a photo.


Ben Bostrom with Nicky Hayden coming in behind him.


Pedrosa! Those Repsol colors are awesome.


Turn 4, near the beginning of the race on Sunday.


Reigning World Champ, Jorge Lorenzo.


More will come, but I wanted to get a few of these photos up. And, of course, How the whole trip went.

Photos from AMA Road Racing at Infineon

Just my ride up to Sonoma was interesting. Planned to meet Sean at the Hercules Starbucks at 11:30, so I left my place around 10:30. The sun was bright and warm, soaking into my black, leather jacket and helmet, warming my skull as I rode up 101 toward San Francisco. All very pleasant as I sang Beatles songs in my helmet and just cruised up the freeway. I've been on a huge Beatles kick lately. I'm not even sure what triggered this one.

From under the Grandstand. :)

First interesting part of the ride was crossing the Bay Bridge which I realized I hadn't done in a while. So cool to see the new section so much more... "done." It looks shiny and streamlined compared to the hulking girders of the old span. And, of course, whenever I'm dangling over the bay like that, I always think of earthquakes. I felt that being on the moto I'd be much more agile if things started coming down. Then I look at the massive structure surrounding me and think either one: this thing will never come down, or two: if the earthquake was big enough to bring this down... Why do I always get morbid? Anyway, the new section looks amazing. Can't wait to ride on it.

The rest of the trip to Hercules is uneventful, but when I got there, what an awesome place to people watch. Sean was, as usual, operating on Sean time (he's like a chick or somethin', yo), so I sat and watched the people going about their business in the parking lot. Paunchy guy with long, long, gray hair chatting it up with everyone, a Latino kid was reading, or acting like he was reading, a sign outside a little grocery store for literally a half hour. I couldn't figure out what he was doing, but his demeanor reminded me of when I was sent to sit in the hallway in 3rd grade, but pretended to be looking for something in case the principal walked by and asked me why I was out of class... "Oh, I dropped my lunch money out here and can't seem to locate it in this clean, tiled, empty hall. I definitely wasn't talking in class and you definitely don't need to tell my mother about this."

Sean finally arrived and we headed on over the Carquinez bridge and on to 37 toward Sonoma. 37 is a bizarre road that belongs somewhere in the South. It cuts through this marshy area, just skimming above the watery grasses and hummocks surrounding the Napa River. Just highlights another reason why I like the Bay Area. An hour in any direction and you feel like you're in another part of the country.

Sean checking the schedule

I'd never been to Infineon before and I have to say it's a pretty cool place. It was also cool because it was Friday and we were there to watch some practices and some qualifying, so the place was really empty-ish. Compared to the throngs at Laguna Seca, this was really pleasant. We could walk all over without lines of people, take photos from just about anywhere, everything was so clean and new looking, just a really nice place.

A little excitement when Alex texted me thinking he might be able to get me a two-up ride around the track, but, ultimately, that didn't pan. Still thinking about paying whatever it is to do one of those follow laps at Laguna just to say that I've piloted around a MotoGP track. Yes, a track day would be better, but I'm poor.

Ultimately a good day at the track and I road home across the Golden Gate, stopped at Land's End to take a few photos of the bridge and pretty much collapsed when I got home from all the riding and buzzing of motos. Awesome.

Here are some photos from the day:






The rest I'll put in a gallery, but check them out. Only issue I have with the AMA is trying to figure out who everyone is. The top guys I can figure out, but after scouring the internet I can't find a nice easy guide to who has what number on their bike. Really kind of a pain. Some guys I was able to piece together from other sites, but it became too much trouble. So photos include, but may not be limited to: Martin Cardenas, Tommy Hayden, Ben Bostrom, Larry Pegram (looking awesome on his new, blue, BMW), Chris Clark, Chris Peris, Josh Herrin, Dane Westby, Tommy Aquino, etc. I'm actually not even sure if I have a photo of Josh Hayes. If someone sees one let me know. He should be riding with the #1 plate, right? I'm ridiculous.


[gallery link="file" order="DESC" orderby="ID"]

Moto Chummy

I call this: Self-Portrait in Moto Helmet with Scratch while Getting Gas

Yeah, that's correct. Moto Chummy. Back in my pre-moto days, I always kind of thought most moto pilots were kind of... well, douchey. You had your guys on cruisers who invariably had extreme facial hair, leather vest and or chaps, looked angry at everyone, and those awful pipes. Then you had your sport bikers pulling wheelies as they redline and lane split all at the same time. Your subclasses like guys on Cafe Racers (hipster pills) and guys on choppers (pretty much criminals with their chrome brain buckets and skeleton bandanas tied around their faces like the robbers when we played cops and robbers as kids). I don't know. Just didn't seem like the type of people I wanted to hang out with.

Don't get me wrong, I always loved the idea of a motorcycle, always wanted to learn to ride, but felt I wasn't gelling with the community. Then I find some of my friends ride or have wanted to for as long as I have, and they are normal people... mostly. So, take the class, get the license and buy a bike. I believe my bike is what's called a standard motorcycle, a bit sporty, but naked so you can see its guts. I have since modified it a bit so it comes close to what you would categorize as a street fighter. At least, that's what I'm saying. If I was pre-moto, I would have called it a sport bike and thought that the guy riding it was probably a dingle-berry.

Why do I bring this all up? Until recently, I was still thinking that my friends and I were probably the exception to the rule as far as douche bags on motos goes. But I just keep meeting more and more friendly people. And today it was just one moto chummy thing after another.

Stacy, at bolty.net, just put up her second Friday happy hour post in as many weeks where she's asking everyone to introduce themselves, share their blogs, etc. Really nice, chummy (are you sick of that word yet?) stuff. I thought it was a great idea and you can just tell from the tone of her posts, tweets etc. that she's a nice person.

After reading her post, I headed off to the hills to get a ride in before the rain comes back to the bay. And, of course, riding up in to the hills you pass a lot of other motos and I dig that moto wave. I remember visiting my sis and her family (well, just her husband at that time) in North Carolina when she first got married. I was blown away at how many people my brother-in-law knew while we drove around the flat, country roads, crops rattling their picket-fence rows against my head. There wasn't one car that we passed where he didn't wave (well, wave may be too strong a word, usually a lifted finger off the steering wheel). And they waved back. Finally I said something like, man, you know everyone.

He said, "What?"

"You wave to every car that goes by and they wave back."

"Oh," he said in a southern draw that, when we first met, I actually needed translated sometimes. "I don't know everyone. It's just you wave to everyone around here."

I figure it's the same kind of thing. Since motos are more rare than cars, you're acknowledging, hey man, I see you on your moto. There, in NC, other people are so rare, you're acknowledging the same thing. Haha. Just kidding... a little. It's because they're so damn friendly in the south. Unless, of course, you're not white. Oh Zing! Just kidding again all you southerners... Well, most of you southerners. Hehe.

I'm feeling happy off Stacy's post, leaning back and forth into the turns of 84, giving my two finger, peace-type wave to the other motos, etc. When I got up to Alice's, I saw I needed gas. After I filled up, I started my bike, getting reading to dive into more turns when a guy comes up to me, my age, maybe a little older, his leathers kind of peeled off him to the waist like a banana or surfer, and he says, "Hey," pointing at my exhaust. "I've got a Yoshimura that looks and sounds just like that. I thought it was the same for a second."

"Oh yeah, this is a Delkevic. It was like 150 bucks," I say.

"What? Wow. I wish I had known about that. It sounds awesome!"

"Yeah, I like it a lot," and I proceed to tell him about when we first put the Delkevic on Rob's bike and how excited we were when he started it up, that throaty growl. "We were really worried it would sound like balls since it was only $150."

"No, man. It sounds great."

"Thanks!"

So, when I pulled out on to Skyline I had to give it just a little more than I normally would, because I knew he was listening. Haha. Maybe I'm the douchey one.

The rest of the ride I was listening to the exhaust. I have said this before, but right in there at about 5500 rpm's to 6000, sounds so pretty to me on my bike. And when I'm driving around town, coming to a stop, when I first let off the throttle sometimes the exhaust crackles and spits, sounding very MotoGP bike. I love that.

Final chummy moto thing is the way we all kind of look out for one another. On Skyline there was another pilot on the side of the rode, looked like he was messing with his bike, so I slowed down and gave him the is-everything-okay point/gesture. I'm not sure how much help I would have been if he hadn't given me the yeah-I'm-okay wave, but I would have at least stopped and seen what was up. And I'm sure another pilot would have done the same had I been in trouble. Its the us-against-the-cars unity that we feel. I saw more of that moto bond centered around an accident while we were at Laguna Seca which you can read here.

Ultimately, I've met moto pilots who ride every kind of bike and are really nice, fun, cool people. So I will stop being a moto bigot (as shown in the first paragraph) and start being more Moto Chummy! Another term I'll try to get to catch on. Be Moto Chummy everyone!

A Cappella Moto Truck

If that isn't a band name, I don't know what is.  Their hit song would be an epic tale of a day trip to Santa Cruz to pick up a motorcycle and listen to music, music that employed only voices as instruments...

Actually this post is more one of amazement and love for my little, black, Toyota pickup. What a beast this little sucker is. A hundred and seventy thousand miles on it, brakes worn, suspension kind of hosed and yesterday it was stuffed with three guys (2 that are like 6'3" or more and me) and a Suzuki SV650! The truck didn't even blink... or if it could blink, it didn't... Would stalling be blinking in the car world? Actually, why do we even say "didn't even blink." That doesn't seem like a form of protest or giving up to me. The truck didn't even hold up its tires and beep madly, "Fuck that, you ain't stuffing all that inside..." Okay, that's just starting to sound pornographic. What was my point?

Let me start from the beginning... Alex, Sean and I headed down to Santa Cruz yesterday to load his moto, that had been sitting for months, into my truck so he could bring it home and get it back to running. When Alex asked me, I have to admit, I didn't think my truck could do it. So we piled in and headed down 101, 85, 17 etc. over the hill to Santa Cruz. It was gray-ish, little blasts of blue sky, a ray of light, then gray again on the ride over.

Ian peein' piddley poo (his proper name) was going to be singing with his a cappella group, Cloud 9, on a street corner in downtown SC as well, so we decided to first stop and watch that. Even though I thought I had, I never have seen Ian perform live and in the flesh. I've only seen YouTube clips which were all very good, but something doesn't translate with YouTube (I say that about to post video I took of them on YouTube). They were great. Really entertaining and goofy and everything you want in your a cappella. And while the group was great, Ian really was awesome. He was working the crowd (really big crowd for a street corner as well), and committed to the whole show and performance. I feel like I'm writing a review: "The group had an excellent nose, nutty with a hint of the desperate sweat it takes to harvest such brilliance. A robust, harsh, yet beautiful color, like a winter sunset pulling your eyelids open, forcing you to watch (the weird, eye opening device from A Clockwork Orange), but you're in love with abuse."

Yeah, so go see Cloud 9 perform. It's awesome.

As a side trip, before the show started, Alex, Sean and I went down to Streetlight Records to browse around and kill some time. I have to say, I don't know what to do in record (cd) stores anymore. I remember being in that same store not too long ago with Dave Dworak and we were in our element, digging through the racks of music, looking for awesome deals on obscure, Japan-only-released singles, flipping through boxes and boxes, the clack of the anti-theft, plastic cd holders keeping time to a rare, staff favorite, blasting through the sound system... Now I just kind of wandered, couldn't really figure out where I would even start to dive in and start looking. I didn't know the band that was playing, didn't know what to do really. Now it's all clicking through websites and music blogs and iTunes to find music, videos from La Blogoteque - Take away shows. I'm not complaining. It's just so different from, well, somewhere between five and ten years ago.

After Cloud 9, we headed to Alex's fave brewery in Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Co. for a beer and a hot dog. We then headed over to a sell-everything-i'm-driving-cross-country-to-Boston sale / kegger / hang out that a friend of Alex's was having. This was a very typical Santa Cruz event to me, but one I just don't picture Alex involved with. When I thought about it, I didn't really "see" Alex in Santa Cruz at all. You know, Santa Cruz, hippy-dippy-doo, pot brownies, surfing, naked on the beach Santa Cruz. I think of none of those things when I think of Alex (I was about to type "no offense, Alex," but am pretty sure he would take none from that statement). It was a cool little gathering at a business called Five Feet From the Moon. They make concrete and iron-work type furniture and sculpture, etc. Very cool space. Even the dogs running around were cool. Too cool to be petted by me. I was literally dissed by a dog. Bitch. See what I did there? :)

After gathering keys and driving to Alex's friend's house, we proceeded to load his moto into my truck. This is where I thought it was gonna get ugly, lifting the bike in, tying it down, stuffing us all back into the cab... I just thought the truck would just bust down to its "knees" and surrender. Yeah, completely wrong. I think it took us all of fifteen minutes to load it and be ready to go. My truck was like, "yeah, man. whatever. that's all you're gonna load?" My truck was feeling the laid back, SC, vibe.

With moto secure we went back down to meet Ian and his gf for food and one for the road. Of course, we had another side trip to the driving cross country party to return keys... and another beer.

Food and drinks consumed, catching up with Ian caught up, we piled back in the truck and headed up Highway  One, back home. Once we got out of rainy-gray Santa Cruz, it was a beautiful drive up the California coast as it always is. My mantra if you live here: Don't take California for granted. So lucky to live here. the Pacific was smooth and greenish-blue, the sun was setting behind chunks of clouds... Amazing.

That's pretty much the tale, now here are a mix of iPhone and XTi photos and video.



 





 



 



 



 



 


Alex supervising Sean on strap re-adjustment.


 



 


[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAuYo00f-4k&hd=1]


 


You can watch the video in HD, but for some reason, either YouTube or WordPress took out the ability to embed in HD. Anyone know why?


On another side note, I think this is my first post that includes all the categories contained in the subheading of my blog, writing, photos, music and motos. Exciting.

Testosterone

This either really makes me want a track day, or really makes me want to kill something. 'Scuse me while I bite the head off a Komodo dragon... .

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EglLi6nZnZU&feature=player_embedded&hd=1]

I Think I'm Starting To Warm Up

Mistake number 1: bragging about California's weather to my poor, frozen friends on the east coast via FaceBook.

Mistake number 2: piloting the moto to work without really checking how cold it was outside this morning.

Results... I may lose 2 fingers to frostbite.

Not really, but they were mighty red when I pulled my gloves off at work. Right now, it's pushing 70 degrees outside, amazing, sunny, t-shirt and shorts weather. This morning it was hovering around 45. I think refrigerators are set at 45.

The ride home should be pleasant though... If I leave before the sun goes down.

Karma Police


It was cold yesterday. Of course, I mean that in the California sense of the word. I've decided 50 degrees in California is like 15 in a state that actually experiences cold weather. So yesterday, when it started out at around 42 degrees outside my apartment, frost on the laurel-like ground covering, well that's pretty much the deepest, darkest heart of winter for California. It's no time to be riding a motorcycle (without heated gear). But I'd been playing racing games all morning and Rob and I had cleaned and lubricated our chains a couple days ago (you're sick, shut up), so I was in the mood to at least just ride around a little bit, if not head into the twisties...

At first I was just going to ride around the reservoir a bit, but I got to 92 and thought, I'll head over to the coast maybe, just there and back... Well by the time I got to Half-Moon Bay, I was ready to ride. So, 92W, South on Highway 1, then back up 84 into the hills. What can I say, that bike is fun, and with an ungunky chain (thanks bolty.net) and the sound that my exhaust makes right in between 5500 rpms and 6000... It's gorgeous. The bike sounds happy right there. A throaty note as if one of the birdy creatures from The Dark Crystal had been drinking too much milk on a hot day when they were required to do their little, harmonious call. It sounds tough, a bit dark, a tiny hint of foreboding. And right there the bike is ready for anything. An opportunity to pass and it jumps from its hum into a screamy war cry, ripping open the air, feels like it's slicing right into the metal of the car as I swing out, around, and slide back into the lane.

It was a pretty day as well. The sun, low in the winter sky, pushing my shadow out next to me so I can see my silhouette racing by my side, stretching and squashing with the landscape. When I turned East again on 84 the sun was behind me and the hills that usually take on this suede-like brown color and texture during the summer are bleached out even further in this light. The grasses look hollow and brittle like bone, everything really dead before the rains start greening it all up again.

As I got deeper inland the temperature started to drop and by the time I got into the shade of the redwoods, I was cold. The road had patches of wet now, then even some puddles near the edges of the macadam. I'd try to push the tires down into the turns, but I could feel the little slips from the back and had to slow down and straighten up. By the time I got to La Honda, I was pretty much froze.

The road did get drier as I started to climb back up the hills as more of it was exposed to the sun, but just when it was dry enough to start really riding again, a line of cars formed in front of me. I got past two of them (pretty illegally) just to bump up against 6 more. This is the most frustrating thing to me as a moto rider. Good road, slow drivers. All I want them to do is pull over a little and let me go by, just a smidge.  I made the most of what I could salvage, really slow on the straights so I can throttle through the turns before I come up against a facefull of exhaust again.

I reached Alice's like this and then had to pull over to warm up my fingers. Another game I play... I will literally sit idling, waiting for traffic to get way ahead of me before I start heading down the road again. But you also have to go before more traffic comes. So, I wait until the last possible second, when I see a car headed down the road I want to go down, and then I blast in front of them. I need at least half the way down to be traffic free.

But the cold and my bundled-upness against the cold, isn't very conducive to leaning and sliding around on the seat and looking deep into turns, mostly because I can't really move under all those layers and the fact that my muscles are as stiff and brittle as cold taffy in this weather. And on top of that, I ran into more traffic barely a mile from the top.

All this is building my frustration and, with my bad attitude, and questionable "moves" to get past people, dirtying up my moto karma.

I finally get down to Woodside and turn north on Canada road. I can do a couple things here. Take Canada all the way to 92 or take it about halfway and then jump on 280. I should have just taken Canada all the way, but I was cold, frustrated, and pretty over this ride. I dove onto the on ramp for 280 and here is where all that frustration got let out. I ripped through the gears and was doing 85 before I even got onto the freeway. Some slalomming through the traffic, 95-100 mph and you get to 92 pretty quick.

Here's where my tiny little mirrors let me down. It wasn't until I was on the ramp to 92 and the CHP cruiser was right on my ass that I saw him. The small elation and frustration cleansing ride tightened right back up into an ugly ball of "oh shit" in my chest. Would I get lucky again? He didn't have his lights on, he's going for someone else... He's going to blow past me when we get off the ramp to chase down someone else...

Lights, small siren blast and I'm on the side of the road talking motos with one cop while the other checks out all my information. Maybe if I make enough nice and small talk they won't give me a... "I wrote you up for 80 even though we were going over 90 to catch up with you at one point." Of course, you'd be going faster than me to catch up. "Oh, thank you officer." "You can go to traffic school if you haven't been in 18 months." "Oh... thank you officer. Thank you very much."

Thermal Inversion

I learned about this in 8th grade science I think. It's when a higher layer of warm air holds a lower layer of cooler air down, like in a valley. I was a prepubescent, red-headed, son of a teacher and the only thing I had going for me was that I retained some things I learned in school. This didn't help me in life, just on tests in school. I did exponentially better on tests regarding subjects in which I was interested. I was the only one in my class to get 100% on the sex ed test in Health. Everyone else was probably just having it.

Why am I thinking of thermal inversion now? It's one of those things I learned and then was reenforced by actually experiencing it. This happened on warm, humid, New York, summer nights.

In the most distinct memory I'm driving my mother's beige Ford Escort, a cassette tape player in the backseat, as this was a car we inherited from my grandmother and she was fine with the AM radio. I was not. Three of my friends are with me (not sure who at this point) and we're headed to a house in the woodsy fringes of Middletown. A house of our friend with a pool and beer and parents in NYC for the weekend.

All the windows are open, we're in shorts and t-shirts and the fecund air is rushing around inside the car with the music spilling tinny strains of Huey Lewis singing, "buzz buzz buzz goes the bumblebee, twiddley diddley dee goes the bird." It smells like the ferns and fallen trees rotting back into the ground, the condensation on the leaves, it's fresh and earthy and warm.

Warm until, that is, we come to a small "valley," or long dip in the road. Maybe the ground gets lower because we're passing over a small creek and the temperature drops, I don't know how many degrees, but enough that the new colder air feels like a cool hand going up my short sleeve then dissipating against my body. It's like drinking really cold water on a hot day, the way you can feel it go all the way down, and then it just disappears in your guts. I remember saying, "Oooo, thermal inversion," whenever this happened. And I think I said it every time, "Oooo, thermal inverrrrrsion," until my friends would tell me to shut up. Then I'd whisper it spookily, like an incantation.

What does any of this have to do with motorcycles? Well, I rode to work today. I was happy because it had warmed up over the past couple days so I knew I wouldn't arrive at work a clawed, bent-kneed popsicle. And as I was getting onto 280 from 92, climbing that first hill, right past the vista point, the sun blasting straight into my forehead, I was thinking, "Wow, it's actually kind of warm this morning."

I knew 2 spots along the route where you get a thermal inversion at this time of day; one is at Woodside Road (a blast, seriously blast, of cold air) and the other is at the dip right before the Stanford Dish, just past the Linear Accelerator. This second one wasn't just cold, it also smells like cow crap... cold cow crap. And the second one seems longer so I'm close to shivering as I climb back into the sun.

But every time I feel this phenomenon, I'm compelled to explain it to whomever I'm with and I think of 8th grade, or summer parties in the woods, I think of things you retain over the years or the things that have changed or that have been lost... If no one is with me, which is usually the case on the moto, I still just whisper it inside my helmet, an incantation, "thermal inversion..." It still has some power even if it is vestigial. Thermal inversion... Thermal inversion. Go ahead, say it. Thermal inverrrrrrrsion.