Motocynic on: Track Days to get Good

In 2009 after owning the BMW for 6 months I went to the track for the first time. I’d always wanted to go, but the Ducati Monster just didn’t have the ground clearance for me to feel comfortable on it.  I’ve wanted to go back since then, but since I was back on the Monster for a long while I once again didn’t feel comfortable. With the new motorcycle I would have loved to have gone, but shortly after having a new baby made it hard to justify the cost.

Then after having crashed my motorcycle a year ago and watching my brother struggle to be comfortable on his new motorcycle I decided to use part of my government stimulus money and take us both out to the track. Both my brother I needed to be more aware of the limits of our motorcycles and ourselves.

The Track is really the only place you can safely grow your skills as a motorcyclist. If you mess up a corner on your favorite back road how much room do you have to fix your mistake? Not much as I discovered painfully just over a year ago.

It is also a ton of fun.

I had a good time, unfortunately it took me a while before I was pushing hard enough to feel like I was learning, and that was towards really the last couple of sessions. I was finally braking into the faster corners and leaning a bit more.

It was definitely worth doing, learning stuff plus having fun, can it get better? 

Turn 9…. I need to work on consistent body position.

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Thunderhill West

I did another track day, it was amazing, and I want to do another soon. I went up to Thunderhill and did the West 2 Mile. The last time I  was on a Track was in 2009 and it was on the BMW F800S, yes the bike that a year later tried to kill me. That day was fun. Last Saturday was awesome. 

Thunderhill West 2 Mile Track

I went with my brother, he’s been struggling to get up to speed on his Suzuki VStrom 650, so I decided we would do a Track Day together. I think he learned some things, mostly how to get passed by people going fast. 

I didn’t learn as much, more after the fact than during the day. Most of the day was me getting comfortable with the track, and learning how to go around it with out almost crashing on Turn 4. 

Whatever the story, about what we learned or otherwise, Track Days are awesome. We had a lot of fun. I really can’t wait to do another one!

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One Year Ago Today

Once was too many times, twice is just sad… and yet, there I was picking myself off the road. My wrist hurting and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pick the bike up and ride home. In fact it was hard to try and call for help. Eventually one of the people who stopped did call 911 and get me an ambulance to take me to the emergency room. I’ll admit to freaking out a bit when I saw blood, it was the first (and hopefully the last) time I have seen blood when I crash, I wear so much gear that it’s really hard to get blood, but you can smash your wrist bad enough that your bones break skin…

I ended up with a plate and nine screws in my wrist, holding everything together mostly. Apparently I mashed it up pretty good.

Oh I’m still riding, but I do question the wisdom of it more often. Trying to slow down, but that’s hard for an adrenaline junkie like myself.

I’ll just try and keep it rubber side down from now on.

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Spring Ride 2021

It was a long couple of days.

My brother and I rode over 700 miles, and it was tough, tougher than I expected. I knew that it was a little ambitious, but we ended up cutting off 80 miles of the second day. I guess we are both a little out of motorcycle riding shape, though my brother more so than I.

We rode from the San Francisco Bay Area, down via backroads to McKinnick and then out to Oakhurst to Angels Camp. That’s where we gave up and headed home. I had planned to go all the way up 49 to Auburn, but we weren’t making great time so we decided to head home early instead of getting home super late.

It was a nice couple of days, we should have camped instead of getting a hotel, but that would have also changed the trip significantly. I also didn’t know that the weather was going to be so great when planning. 

I’m looking forward to our trip in the early summer, it should be fantastic!

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Spring Ride!

Motorcycles and I are having a bit of a Renaissance, I am planning a Spring Ride for the first time in a little while. My Brother and I hope to ride over 700 miles in two days. Just a weird big loop inn Central California.

I’m very sad we won’t be riding down the coast, since the Central California Coast in the Spring is amazing. I’ve done it several times and nearly every time I’ve had my breath taken away by the beauty of it all.

However, we will ride some new roads and see some new sights. I’m sure it will be beautiful and a good ride.

I can’t wait!

Spring 2019.

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Looks Who Back in my Garage

FrankenMonster!

After having some amazing adventures with my friend, my Monster has come back home to me. No not the child, the motorcycle. 

Due to some unfortunate circumstances she needed a new place to call home, I had some room in my garage (not really) so I went and got her. It made a fun daytime adventure with my little girl.



We made her right at home while I get some parts and get her back on the road.

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A Short Ride

This past Sunday my brother and I went for a ride. We both need make sure we’re no rusty when we go for a little motorcycle vacation at the end of the month.



We met up at a Starbucks in Cupertino, then we went wound our way out to 9 and then out to Davenport. Riding through a small part of the area that was damaged by the wildfires this past Fall was intense. 

We then worked our way North. Through Pescadero and up Pescadero Road to Highway 84 to Alice’s. We then went out separate ways.

It was nice. Not great, it was too chilly and I would have really liked to been able to have a cup of coffee with my brother or eaten lunch with him, but not yet. Hopefully soon.

 

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Motorcycle Trip: Fall 2020

Way too much time has passed since I’ve gone on a motorcycle trip. The last time I went on an overnight ride was early April 2019. Which might as well be a lifetime ago, especially with everything else going on in the world.

So it was with great joy that I rode north last week. Motorcycling in the Fall is the best time to ride. Sure there is a chance of rain, but the weather is much nice than in the Summer and during the week the roads are even less likely to be too busy. This year I had the added bonus of being able to see a friend from Portland.

We met in Eureka, CA. I rode up the coast, while he took a shorter route down Hwy 5 to Grants Pass. 

My ride north was nice, I’m still lacking confidence in my skills as a motorcyclist and during the ride up I took it really easy. There was a lot of fog as I followed Highway 1 north, some of it was very dense making riding unpleasant. I was nervous enough with out adding damp and questionable traction to my concerns. 

I did catch a break from the fog in a couple of places, one of the nicest was a long the Panoramic Highway which cuts through Mt Tamalpais State Park. I’m glad I wasn’t swimming through fog for that since it’s a twisty piece of beautiful road, but as soon as I was close to the coast the fog was back and stayed for a while. The rest of the ride was nice, the fog was finally gone once I was north of Mendicino and I was able to enjoy a break in Fort Bragg before heading up to some of the best Road on Highway 1. I mean if it wasn’t for cars driving slow (which luckily there weren’t many) Highway 1 from Fort Bragg to basically Fortuna is great. There’s the amazing 22 miles from the coast to Legget and The Avenue of the Giants. Just lovely scenery and some great twisty road.

I did have to take a break as the afternoon wore on, my new helmet is still not fully broken in and I was suffering from a hot spot on my forehead. I was fortunate since the Avenue of the Giants is a great place for a break. It was very relaxing sitting in amongst those towering redwoods.

Overall I made good time. I arrived well before my friend and took my time getting some coffee and relaxing.

The next day, Friday, we took it easy. I haven’t seen this friend in a very long time and we had lots to catch up on. We had a leisurely breakfast before heading out to the Lost Coast. Lovely scenery and a fun ride, but I would love it if maybe they could smooth out that road. I spent about half the ride fantasizing about coming out with a grater and paving machine and smoothing it out. The coast is lovely and very stark out there. The other highlight is the last six miles of road through some of the largest Redwoods in the Humboldt State Park. 

I had a long debate with myself on how to get home. I was feeling pretty worn out Friday night as I was making my plans and was seriously considering just taking Hwy 101 the entire way home. It would be boring, but fast and allow me to see my Wife and Daughter as soon as possible. I was definitely beginning to miss them both.

I ran several maps and couldn’t make up my mind on what to do that night. I eventually decided that I would just see how my morning went and make a decision from the road. I woke up later than I planned, sleeping in Hotels is not always the best, but I got a decent start on the day. I stopped for breakfast just  few miles down the road in Fortuna. I was feeling a little more adventurous after getting some caffeine and food, but I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do.

I was still debating as I went past the entrance for the Avenue of the Giants, I mean I just had rode it in all it’s glory two days before, and for a four lane freeway the Redwood Highway (as they call 101 up there) is pretty beautiful. 

Then I stopped at the vista point about 15 miles from where I had breakfast. It was beautiful. I’m not sure pictures do it justice. I was definitely rethinking just taking 101 south, it’s very boring compared to the coast and if I took 128 back to 101 it only added an hour or so to the ride.

With views like this how could you want to make your ride shorter?

I debated it for the next 35 miles on my way to Garberville, by the time I got gas I was almost positive I was taking the coast. Soon after I was happy to get out from behind a CHP car and turn right to continue on Highway 1 to the coast. Those 22 miles once again didn’t disappoint. 

However, I was in for a bigger treat than I knew. I’ve ridden 128 a couple of times before. It never really stuck in my brain. I know one time I rode it in some pretty extreme heat and in relatively heavy traffic. I was hoping that I would be able to avoid those with the weather being a bit cooler and still a little early on a Saturday.

I was mostly right, the road was not heavily traveled in the direction I was going. I only came up on 4 or so cars and they all moved over for me. Which made the road an absolute joy to ride. I could just go at my pace which still feels slow to me, but maybe my memory is just on fast forward or something. It was just lovely. The whole thing. Starting out in some lovely redwood forest and then slowly working your way into the golden California hills, with vineyards and little towns.

It’s about 44 miles from Highway 1 to 101 along 128 and it was the best hour or so I had on a motorcycle this year. Maybe in the last two. (I haven’t been riding much) There was a point where I was nearly crying with joy. It was definitely a good ride.

The less said about the last hour or so on 101 the better. I made good time, I got some lane-splitting practice and I got home safe.

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Moving Forward: Purging the Crash Demons

In the last couple of weeks I’ve ridden up Page Mill Rd. for the first time since April 29th.

It was significant because the last time I rode it I came down it in an ambulance, with a badly broken wrist, barely broken ankle and a giant impact to my ego.

I had had begun to think that I knew every corner of that road like the back of my hand and that I could go as fast as I wanted on it.
I was wrong.

The first time I rode it recently I was going pretty slow. I’ve been back on the motorcycle doing my once a week commute for a couple of months, but it was my first time I had been on a twisty road. I took it easy and my brother was with me. I rode through the corner that I crashed on and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how I crashed on it. I’d been blaming it on gravel or something else in the road that I didn’t see, and after riding it that first time it was still my only theory.

I rode it again recently. The second time post crash. This time I pulled over and looked at the scene of the crash. I got off my bike and took some pictures, and really thought about what happened that fateful day almost five months ago.

The real reason for the crash, was I was going too fast, which of course is the reason for almost every motorcycle crash ever. Sure I wasn’t going much faster than normal, but I was definitely going faster than my reactions and observation could handle. Definitely so fast that the bumps and irregularities of pavement that at normal speeds might mean nothing now became dangerous.

I don’t know if I could have prevented it if I was paying closer attention, I do know that if I was going slower I could have prevented it. So as I move forward from this crash and hopefully move on, my main take away will be as it should always be.

Slow the Fuck Down

 

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Motorcycles are Dangerous: Looking Back at my Injuries

You can hurt yourself badly riding a motorcycle. Of course, I still think that if you want to ride a motorcycle you should. Living life not doing something you love is not living life.

I would be lying to say that riding a motorcycle is not dangerous. You should always wear protective gear and you should pay attention to what you are doing. I always do the first and try to do the later, and I’m here to say that there are consequences if you don’t, trust me I did the research personally and the results aren’t pretty. I let my confidence in my self, my skills and road knowledge to let me carry too much speed into a turn where some surface irregularities caused me to lose traction and control of the motorcycle. Next thing you know I’m rolling down the road and my bike is sliding in the other direction. I could feel my wrist hurting before I even came to a stop and I knew immediately that I wasn’t walking this one off.

It’s been five months and I’m still feeling the effects.  I shattered my right wrist, which was also a compound fracture. I also had small fracture in my  left lateral malleolus and a badly twisted right ankle. It was pretty scary crash. When you wear as much gear as I do and you still see blood coming out of your sleeve from an arm which was hurting quite a bit, it can make your imagination go to a wild and dark place.

Thankfully I had people stop to check on my right away and I wasn’t far from Stanford Hospital. Luckily with a good surgeon and physical therapist I’m back to almost normal and riding again.  

If it looks bad, its because it was. I made the top of my Radius into lots of little pieces.

 

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