But I’d do it every weekend of the year if I could. I’d even do it on a higher level if I could. But I’m just not that fast. I’m fast enough to get to the racetrack in a reasonable amount of time, but can’t get around the track nearly as fast as the pros. So I watch them, and enjoy the show. Making it even more enjoyable, I write about what I see for Gas2 and when there’s no electric races to cover, RideApart. Or even Jalopnik. Sometimes I also write for CleanTechnica, like this piece about the rad solar farms I saw being built on my favorite back road en route to Laguna Seca.
I’ve been riding Yamaha R1’s since 2002. Even I find it hard to believe that over a decade has passed since I first discovered that absolute power does indeed corrupt absolutely. I love my big boys, but they’ve never had names. They certainly have more personality than the Honda’s I’ve ridden, but not as much as the Ducati I owned, which almost immediately told me his name was Fred. Making the annual pilgrimage to Laguna Seca, our favorite way to bond, he told me his name, Big Will. What’s interesting is that this didn’t come until after living together just over 3 years, and him tossing me off in December because I made the slightest error on the wrong tires. Lesson learned, I switched back to Pirellis and had him fixed up.
But now he has the scars of a crash, something none of my R1’s have endured. It’s weird to think I haven’t crashed a single R1 in all these years. I’ve crashed other bikes, developing a theory that I only crash bikes I don’t like. I wasn’t thrilled with my 09, I loved my 04 better. But she had 50,000 miles, and when the stator & rotor melted together I decided it was time for something new and shiny. That new & shiny R1 happens to be a lot heavier, and seriously thirsty. Then right after our 3rd anniversary, I abandoned him for Shaq, a Zero FX which is perfect for everyday riding, as I reported here. Big Will sat and collected dust until the time came to get that starting issue sorted before the sabbatical. $1300 later, he was ready to go anywhere, as fast as I dared. Yet I discovered on this year’s ride I just didn’t want to go as fast. It’s really unnerving, and something I hope to work through in Level 4 of California Superbike School sometime soon. Continue reading My R1 Has a Name
Riding down Western through Koreatown under a full moon, hoping nothing spectacular would happen. Full moons and Friday nights, especially a holiday weekend, tend to spell disaster on the streets of LA. I smelled it, and this time it was easy to tell which car it was coming from- the hooptie 80’s sedan that had seen some hard miles. Windows down, they stop for a red light. I see the driver is smoking. I think “shit, they’re Black. I don’t want to be that asshole profiling Black dudes.” I pull alongside the passenger, and stop. I look in, planning to threaten to call 911 and report the driver for DUI.
When my friend Jenny said “I’d like to visit Portland for my birthday” I said “Let’s go!” I’d only been once before for the Net Impact Conference, and had a great time. Since then I’d gotten deeper into pedal-powered bikes, so I wanted to explore the country’s Bicycling Capital. We made a stab at getting bikes from friends, but wound up just renting these single speed hooptie city bikes. They were painfully slow, geared to handle most riding for most people, so we didn’t really get much of a workout. But we rode all over Portland for a few days! It was rad.
So I’ve got a new love. He’s big, black, and thrusts harder than any of my previous loves. Best of all, he doesn’t have any dirty habits and is totally low maintenance. Read all about him, and our first 180 miles of the honeymoon over at Gas2.
Like I am with bikes, I dove right back in the deep end. I’ve been a fairly good patient these past 9 weeks, following doctor’s orders, babying that pelvic fracture to the point where I’m overusing the cane. But today I couldn’t take another minute of it. London had dried out, and I had to get from the Waterloo tube station to the Tate modern- a considerable distance for someone who’s supposed to be “taking it easy”.
There they were, proudly waiting right outside the station, whispering “take me! I’m yours! I’ll get you there swiftly, safely, and with far more pleasure than any other mode. take me, I’m free!” So I did. Got on a bicycle for the first time since April 6th. Wearing the same pants I wore that night too. In London, a city I was so terrified to ride my motorcycle in I’d only ride on weekends and usually at night or in the burbs. I’ve ridden in lots of cities, American and European, but the whole left side traffic thing makes it a little too exciting. Especially on a bicycle. One which I can’t be bothered to figure out how to change gears. And without a helmet. I felt safe enough cruising around Barcelona without a helmet, but there’s a lot less traffic there than London and it’s all on the right side. Perhaps it’s also that I drive/ride more like a Spaniard or an Italian than a Brit. It felt so wrong to be riding without a helmet and with only my purse for hi-viz, but London was good to me, and I also rode slowly on the sidewalks when traffic was too scary. Looking forward to getting the official go-ahead! from the Doc June 20th…
Now I’m near Silverstone, looking forward to volunteering with Riders for Health this weekend. More about that later…
I was really shocked when I saw this GOOD infographic, which states that 0.9% of LA commuters go via bicycle, and so few commute via motorcycle that we’re lumped in with “other”. But when I looked around, I realized I do indeed see way more bicycles on the streets of LA than motorcycles. And now I’m becoming one of the 0.9%. I got a new bike on Black Friday, a Fuji Absolute hybrid. I call her Miss Absolute. It’s immensely more comfortable and faster than the vintage bike I was on before.
I was so excited about seeing these films, I thought today would be the greatest day ever. Well, maybe not as good as a track day at Laguna Seca, but still good. Being in a theater packed with race fans was awesome, as was Fastest. But the most exciting part of TT3D was the ride home from the theater…
Fastest showed two sold-out screenings at the Downtown Independent, a theater I can walk to, always a plus. It was a great movie, as I’ve come to expect from director Mark Neale. He did an excellent job of showcasing Rossi’s talent, going into detail about certain accomplishments the American announcers on Speed TV really hadn’t conveyed. But it was also a sad film. Not just for all the interviews with Marco Simonicelli, but for what felt like the end of Rossi’s career. 2011 has been the worst year of his career, and when they showed him announcing his plans to move to Ducati, I screamed “Don’t Do it!” and the whole theater laughed. Yes, I love being with my people. We understand each other. I cried openly when they read a few lines from the goodbye letter he wrote to his Yamaha, just as I cried when I first read the translation.
1985: 1981 Vespa P200E
Greatest Memory? Every ride with Cheri (memorialized here), especially the ones where we snuck out at night and rode to the city 20 miles away.
The first time I went for a ride, on the back of Rob Bond’s Suzuki GS550, I knew I had to have one for myself. Sharing was simply not an option. So I spent the next year (until I was 15 1/2) working my parents over. By the time I was old enough to get my motorcycle permit, they relented. Because people (mistakenly) perceive scooters as being safer than motorcycles (it’s the other way around, actually), my parents let me buy a Vespa. I worked all summer in a paint factory to pay for it, but still only had about 50%. So my super awesome dad came up with the other half. The day I turned 15 1/2 I went straight to the DMV to get my motorcycle permit. I passed the test. Back then, you didn’t have to get a car permit in order to get a motorcycle permit. And I hadn’t heard about the MSF, as it was just starting up in 1985. Too bad, it would’ve saved me launching that 1981 Vespa P200E into the bushes across the street in front of my parents and the guy selling it to me.
I’ve lived and ridden in LA for over a decade. In that time, I’ve seen some messed up driving and survived plenty of threats on my life. (some perceived and some real). I’ve even grown pretty confident on my bicycle in the 5 months I’ve been riding. But the past couple days I’ve seen some seriously crazy shit. And it’s not even a full moon. What is going on?
Last night I rode my bicycle from downtown to Hollywood and back. I had 2 cars almost run stop signs into me. Then a minivan pulled into the oncoming lane to pick his friend up at the corner just as I was turning the same corner. I discovered I can lock the wheels on my bicycle very easily without crashing. two wheel slide! wootwoot! But just the same it scared the hell out of me. That kid’s parents will be getting a nasty letter from me courtesy of the DMV’s letter forwarding system if I can find the link on their new website. Although I fear that budget cuts may have led them to discontinue that service. Continue reading Is LA Suffering an Outbreak of the Crazies?