MotoGP at COTA – 2016

Since the opening of the track in Elroy, Texas (Suburb of Austin, TX).   My self and a few of my good friends have been coming to support motorcycle racing at it’s best.   I consider myself lucky to have such a wonderful venue so close to my home in San Antonio, TX that we can just ride up to COTA (The Circuit of the Americas) to partake.

My good buddy Javier was chosen to be a track marshal.  With his stature and build, you would want him helping you get your strayed bike back on the track.  He really enjoyed himself.   Shared that there were volunteers that came from all corners of the US.  And a few from abroad.   Would like to help out at one of these races either for MotoGP or MotoAmerica one of these days.

My group of friends and I have really enjoyed sitting in Turn 15, Section 15 for the last couple of years.   You can really enjoy some really good battles from there.  Plus it’s close to the eats/drinks, entrance and the retail stuff.

I was lucky enough to meet and get an autograph from Pol Espargaro.  Very friendly fella.

Ideas for next year.   This area was teaming with families and their young kids.   I have a 3 year old that would love this.  My wife, not so much.   We will see.

This section was just after the bridge leading into the Retail area.   The smell of the racing fuel and the sound of the racing engines were intoxicating.

 

Bravo Ducati!   Your Ducati Island is one to greatly admire.  No demo bikes to ride though.  Maybe next year.  🙂


 

Posted in MotoGP | Leave a comment

“Eleanor”

My good friend Nelson had mentioned that this bucket list bike was my “Eleanor”.  Taken from the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds” to describe the automobile the lead actor longed for but never owned.  I’ve owned a couple of 6th Generation VFRs but have been told the best version was the 5th gen with its gear driven cams and no VTEC voodoo. 

More to come later.

Posted in Motorcycles | Leave a comment

Consuelo is gone, the itch is back.

The time came to sell my 2009 Kawasaki Concours 14.  She was a fun and reliable steed.  But once again I long for something different for this new riding season.

Disfruta Diego!

image
image

Posted in Motorcycles | Leave a comment

MotoGP Viewing Party at COTA

image

To celebrate the return of a new season of MotoGP, The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) hosted a viewing party of the 1st race from Qatar.  The sponsors RideSmart and Woods Fun Center gave out door prizes and raffled out goodies.  COTA graced us with a parade lap!  Thanks to the powers that made this happen.  I hope they do this again in the near future.

Can’t wait to return for the big show in April with a few of my friends.

GO ROSSI !!

image

image

image

image

image

Posted in Ramblings | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Off season gear shopping

It’s summer in Texas and the temps are in the triple digits plus humidity at +50%. Most of my riding is on hold until the weather gets a little cooler. During this off time I start to “troll” through Craigslist and eBay for riding gear. Trolling is simply the act of enthusiastic searching. Shopping can be very fruitful when looking for off-season riding gear.

I’m a bit of a collector of riding gear and because of that I have to be frugal when shopping. This leaves me looking at quality pre-owned/used gear. Some are put off by used gear and I can understand. Most jackets, pants and such can be washed/cleaned. I would be leery about purchasing a used helmet but almost everything else is game. My suggestions and methods may vary in your area or your comfort level. Used gear can be from from online retailers, forums and local classifieds. When dealing with an online retailer, you may not have the luxury of a return policy. Knowing your particular size from the manufacture you are considering is key. Most manufactures will post sizing charts and guides to give you an idea how their gear will fit. A common issue is that European companies tend to sway to a more a slim/athletic fit. We here in America tend to be more robust in areas so be aware. Sizing can also deviate from the normal XS-XXL and use a traditional jacket measurement utilizing Chest/Waist/Neck sizing normally found in suits and others. Sizing may be in inches others in metric measurements. A quick visit to YouTube can sometimes find a review or two from a retailer that can help with sizing.

I start with my local Craigslist and a similar site called OfferUpNow. Search through the general catagories vs the specific category to cast a wide net. Trying common misspellings and such. Next in the motorcycle sale ads. Sometimes you can pick up some gear from a person selling a bike. Next I’ll try SearchTempest.com. SearchTempest is a search engine that polls multiple Craigslist cities at once. Sometimes it will pull up older ads folks may have forgotten or passed by. Dealing with an out-of-town seller can take some trust. Some may agree to a PayPal transactions other may not.

Forums are another great source for gear. But with like minds comes like tastes. Gear usually gets snatched up pretty quickly. The trust level is higher in forums. Folks tend to have a reputation within that community and the likelihood of being scammed is low. Your riding groups is another great resource. Some use Meetup and Facebook to organize rides and discussion chats. Easy to set up a face to face for a purchase or even a trade.

I know of one retailer that sells pre owned gear. That is Motorcycle gear.com (formally new enough.com). Revzilla and others may post closeout and limited size runs sometimes but are few and hard to find sometimes. I really miss YellowdevilGear.com. The owner moved on to other things but her gear exchange store was unique and classy.

eBay tends to be self-explanatory. What I have found out is to search for misspellings and sometimes auctions with little description. You can ask the seller for more info to see if an item fits the bill. Don’t be swayed away from the international market. I have found some great deals from Europe and Australia. Shipping can be higher but it all depends on the deal.

I hope this helps someone fill their gear closet with the missing pieces they need. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to share.

Posted in Buying/Selling, Gear | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Prescription Eyewear and Helmets

Riding motorcycles for a person that is near sighted leaves us with a few of options. Either wear contact lenses, wear glasses or have a procedure to correct your vision like LASIK.
I’ve been wearing glasses ever since elementary (primary school). So I’ve grown accustomed to them and they have, in someway, become part of my personality. I tried the contact lens route but was troubled with the wind drying them out and continuously applying rewetting solution. The risk and quality of Lasik still concerns me and I am willing to wait for bigger and better things.
But as most of you (fellow glasses wearers), our battle with our glasses and helmets is a daily task. I used to struggle with my metal frames, carefully trying to tuck them in between the padding or my helmet and my head. Either to slowly start tearing the padding or bending/breaking the temples itself. So I started researching other options. I remembered watching war movies that involved pilots and how they seemed to wear glasses with temples with flat paddle temples that were not curved around the ear but straight and contoured to the shape of the head. The only glasses I could find in that style were the old square aviators. They were not back in fashion at that point so I looked else where. Found a cool pair of Oakley Fives.

IMG_0512.JPG

IMG_0511.JPG

IMG_0510.JPG

I wore the Oakley Fives through 3 prescription changes until I came across a classic frame. The Ray-Ban Wayfarer. Flat paddle, fairly straight temples and a much sturdier frame. Combining this frame with the latest transitions lens coating makes this combination my favorite so far.
The only thing that is still a pain to deal with is the fogging of my glasses even thought my visor has a pinlock lens on it.

IMG_0506.JPG

IMG_0507.JPG

IMG_0508.JPG

Hope you find some of this helpful.

Ride safe.

Posted in Riding Gear | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Riding in Central Texas

The mild winters in central Texas comes with its trickery.  One part of the day will give you a sunny clear weather with manageable temps.  Next will have trechorous rain, wind and sleet.  With that in mind, I have learned to always dress for the worst of it and peel off the layers as needed.

The market gives a rider many winter riding options.  From one piece riding suits to two piece jobbers. My budget limits me me a bit so for now it’s the two piece option.  I’ve worn hybrid jackets like the Joe Rocket Alter Ego and the Tour Master Transitions.  But they seem to leave me with either a loose fitting bare mesh jacket or a complicated multi-layered bulky jacket.  I have to blame my slender build but I’m sure they work for many riders.  But just not me.

Mid cost range companies like Joe Rocket, Tour Master/Cortech and a few others give the entry level/budget minded rider some decent options.  But as I gain riding experience and a little bit more budget, I long for better gear.  Fit and comfort are becoming more important and with that sometimes comes more cost.  When possible, I shop for deals from European companies like Alpineatars, Dainese and Rev’it.  Their sizing tends to be less roomy than the typical ‘Merican (American) sizing (small, medium, large).   But their gear is tested in races like MotoGP, British Superbike and AMA races in the US.  I recently replaced my Joe Rocket Alter Ego jacket for a Rev’it Ignition jacket.  Still a multi-layered Hybrid jacket but the fit suits my build a bit better.

Back to winter riding gear. Let’s start with your base layer. Layering is very important when riding in unpredictable weather.  I’ve been very happy with Cycle Gear’s Freeze Out and Heat Out base layer gear.  I find it to be very affordable and functional.  The only complain I have is the sizing runs extremely small.  I normally wear a medium in most things but in their freeze/heat out gear I wear an XL to XXL for comfort.  Mind you that most base layer clothing is designed to be worn close to the body to perform optimally.  You want the base layer to function like a second skin.  Wicking away sweat to keep the body comfortable.  You will notice that with the use of a base layer with wicking properties, you don’t have to layer as much as you would traditionally.  So you ride much more comfortably and longer.     I wear a top, bottom wicking layer and a helmet liner to keep me comfortable during both winter and summer riding.

Now to outer the outer shells. I’ve been riding with a Tour Master Saber 3/4 jacket when the weather is pretty crappy.  The jacket is water proof with zippered vents.  It also comes with a removable inner quilted liner.  The jacket length tends to be not the most stylish but I have to say, the length of the jacket is functional when you’re in the cold wet stuff.   I normally ride without the stock liner and use with my Cycle Gear Sedici heated jacket liner.  It works wonderful.  In 30 degree weather, have not had to crank the heat over the lowest setting. For pants I’ve been lucky and happy with a hybrid pant by Joe Rocket called the Alter Ego. Weather proof exterior with armor at the knees, padding at the hips, a removal inner rain liner and a removable vent panel that runs from the top of your lap to the lower hip. This allow the pants to breathe during the warmer seasons.

Next comes boots and gloves.  Winter riding usually brings all things cold and wet.  A goot pair of waterproof boots and gloves will give your feet and hands the comfort that they deserve.  being the most outer extremities, warm blood takes the longest to reach them.  So look for boots and gloves with weather/water proof technology like Gore-Tex, Hypora and any of the similar variations that are on the market.  This layer will keep your skin feeling warm by also wicking away sweat but not allowing moister to penetrate the garment.  I currently ride with a pair of Cortech water proof torug boots and a pair of Alpinestars DryStar gloves.

Well, that’s my two cents. Ride safe

Posted in Commuting, Gear Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

Break Downs / Roadside Assistance

Breaking down/being stuck on the side of the road is a reality we all face in our cars and motorcycles at one point or another.  If you have yet to experience it, consider yourself lucky.  I’ve had a couple a flats on long road trips and they were eye opening experiences on what you need to prepare yourself for such a day.

My most memorable disablement was a flat involving one of the tubed tires of my 2006 Harley Davidson Sportster.  This happened during a long road trip into the Davis mountains of Texas.  We were way out in the sticks and I was accompanied by three other bikes.  All who had tubeless tires.   As I came to a stop, my riding buddies accessed the situation and whipped out their plug kits.   Upon a closer look, the tire was not repairable with a plug kit  and we moved on to fill the flat tire with slime and aired the tire a few times to get to the next stop.   Luckily, I hobbled to a state park and found out that I had severed the nozzle from the tube and the tire was no longer holding air.  So I pulled out my handy mobile phone to call my motorcycle insurance roadside assistance.  They called tow companies within a 100 mile radius and due to my remote location, none wanted to go fetch me and my bike that evening.  I left the Harley and hitched a ride with one of buddies to get to our home base in a near by town to figure out a plan B.

203970294

I was dumbfounded that my trusty roadside assistance was not very helpful.  Next day, We found a local with a motorcycle trailer that was able to fetch my Harley (dusted with morning snow) and he connected us with another local that was able to replace the tube.

Moral of the story is that no matter how good you believe your roadside assistance service is, always be prepared to do a little work yourself (plug kit and air pump) or seek the help of a local and gladly pay for their services out of pocket.   I was able to get reimbursed from my insurance for my cost but what an experience!

If you plan to tour on a bike that has tubes, learn how to repair it yourself.  We recently took a trip to the Ozarks and one of our buddies was riding his trusty WR250.  He found himself needing to replace his rear tire, instead of holding the ride, he ordered the tire to be shipped to our hotel later in the ride and he did it himself.   Wow!

 

 

 

Posted in Ramblings | Leave a comment

Moto Vlogging is Hard!

I’ve been following a few motorcycle video bloggers on YouTube for quite some time now. Have yet to muster up the balls to start one until recently. I took a ride a few weekends ago and recorded about 30 minutes of footage. My limitations lie on my equipment. I have a 3rd gen GoPro Hero HD (no ext mic option). So I’ve been trying to stitch together the video/audio for a few days now. Loosing more hair by the moment. Will have something up soon.

Posted in Podcasting/Moto Vloggin | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

1st Track Day

photo 13

After months of flak-ing on my friend Ross about joining him at the track, my birthday month came to an end with a trip to the Harris Hill Raceway (H2R) in San Marcos, TX.   Ross has been taking his track ready Moto Guzzi Griso there for just about a year now and he is hooked!  Our riding group have been out to the Raceway to witness, from the visitors area mind you, Ross and his Italian beauty race around this 1.82-mile, 11-turn asphalt road course.  The course is 36-feet wide with over 150 feet of elevation changes and a challenging mix of on and off-camber turns, including the 80-foot rise and drop – The “Santa Rita”, Turn 4, named after the patron saint of the impossible task.

I’ve been playing with the thought of track racing for sometime now.  Visiting the facility in the past, as an observer, you will find the precautions the track takes to make your visit as fun and safe as possible.  A controlled environment is a wonderful place to learn how to “Push the limits of machine and man” (Rush – Red Barchetta).   Medics, instructors and vehicle tuners are available to help you with your skill progression and safety.  Yes, there are other wonderful facilities and training methods.  But having a facility like this so close to San Antonio, TX is awesome!

photo 4

Our day started fairly late in the morning since the track was not ready for use until noon.  A quick, cheap trailer rental from Uhaul was all we needed to make sure if we did get into trouble.  If we did get into some trouble, we can easily drive back including our bikes.   I was quite impressed with the towing ability and gas mileage of my friends BMW suv.  A good set of tie down straps and maybe a wheel chuck are highly recommend.  Don’t cheap out like I did and pay something thin and cheap.  Buy something of quality to hold your baby in place and to prevent it from getting damaged or damaging the bike next to yours during transport.  I also purchase bar end tie down by Canyon Dancer.

This allowed the sport bike (and all its delicate fairings) to be secured in such a way not to damage any plastics while in transport.  Kudos to our local Cycle Gear for having this available.

My first video  is of me and my friend Ross on his gorgeous Moto Guzzi Griso, leaving the safety check area.  There I found that my throttle was sticking a bit due to a maladjusted grip and my chain was too tight.   Both were fixed right there using my tool kit (Thanks Honda!)  As we entered the track, my first impression was the feeling of being unleashed.  i was quite nervous up to this point.  As I followed Ross, he allowed me to follow him for a couple of laps to make sure what the was expected of me (as instructed at the safety area).  Entering the track from the pitting row requires a rider to stay on the out lane of the track to allow upcoming traffic to continue ahead you safely.  Only after approaching the second turn are you able to merge into the traffic.  The seasoned track riders were more than happy to oblige.  For one, it was to protect themselves and the on-coming rider.  Passing was not something I practiced this first day but will share as I understand it more in my next few visits.  Exiting (or pitting) required upon reaching the 300 foot sign to gradually move to the outer lane and raise your left hand or foot.  This would signal the approaching riders that you do not intend to continue and they can proceed safely.  I didn’t edit the videos so please feel free to jump around as needed.

My first few runs, I kept it to 3-5 laps to promptly return to the parking area to inspect the bike for any unusual tire wear, loosened parts, fluid levels and such.   After about 10 laps in, I felt comfortable to press my ol’ 2002 Honda VFR800 a little harder and she did very well.  The bike has linked front and rear brakes although the front operate independently from the rear.   When using the rear brakes, this operates one of the two calipers of the front braking system.  Some folks like it some folks hate it.   Didn’t bother me much.   The lesson of warming up your tires was instill even further in me after I witnessed one of our fellow riders low side his bike (Low Siding is when the bike brakes free from you but winds up in front of the rider with its rider behind the slide/crash.  The more sought after kind of fall of most if it happens.   The follow video will show this.  The time marker is about 5 min in.

Luckily, the rider walked away thanks to his protective gear (one piece leather suit, riding boots, gloves and full face helmet).  His pride and lovely GXSR were the only ones that suffered much damage.  His buddies made sure to get him back on the track with one of their  bikes to avoid any kind of issues the next time he visits H2R.

On another note.  The anxiety I had approaching this day regarding the right gear, is my bike cool enough or fast enough to fit in were very unfounded.  The crowd was very friendly.   I met this one fella that was riding a mid 1990’s BMW R1100R motorcycle.  By looking at it, you would be quick to discount the abilities of this bike.  But paired with the passion of its rider, this guy was cooking it around the track.  Just to show you, it’s not the shininess of your bike, but the passion in your heart that gets you respect.

The raceway was designed for use by autos and motorbikes.  When you drive up to the main parking area of H2R, you are greeted by many parked race cars on the ready for their owners return.  From high performance Miatas, Mustangs, Porsches, Ferraris, Lambos, open wheel cars and F1 looking rockets.  Your mouth just drops with the amount of horse power that is out there at one point.

photo 11

photo 12

I hope this was somewhat entertaining.   Get some instruction, support your local track and play it safe.

Track Day Me

 

 

 

Posted in Rider Training & Education, Track Racing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment