Some Oregon Fun

So, I got another email yesterday kinda out of the blue mentioning my blog and how they enjoyed reading it and the likes.

I felt both pride and guilt…pride because I don’t really keep track of who actually reads my blog. How many people read it? I dunno…I guess I don’t always write for other people; I mostly do it for myself…but I still get a certain satisfaction knowing that other people enjoy reading it. Guilt, because I neglect the hell out of my blog. Haha! I seldom ever take the time to write anymore. That makes me a bad human, I know. *sigh*

Anyhow, Brianna and I had two extra days to kill on our way from The Ridge Motorsports Park down to Thunderhill. Frankly, I wanted to take as long as possible, knowing that it’s supposed to be a hundred and fifteen fucking degrees on Friday at the track. I’m sooooo not looking forward to that…so instead I plotted some squiggley lines on the map and headed for Oregon.

I didn’t realize it’d be as hot as it was in Oregon…it was 100F for the better part of the day today, but whatever. It wasn’t 115F. :)

Our route was from Wolf Creek Rd to Agness, OR with several other side roads thrown in. I posted the general layout of what we’d done below:


Continue reading Some Oregon Fun

Life is Funny. Sometimes it’s Not

This weekend, I decided to make a comeback to AFM and take pics. Something I hadn’t done in almost exactly a year. Mostly because I’ve been away at other events, but partly because I know AFM is in good hands with Max and Koi out there doing their thing. This weekend, I just happened to be free, it was along the way to my next event, and because, frankly, I could use a bit of extra cash.

I got to see a lot of faces I hadn’t seen in some time. It’s always great catching up. I also met many new faces…racers whom I’d never seen in events past…everyone’s numbers were different. Half the time, I didn’t recognize who was who out there…on one hand, it was good. I shot all my photos fresh and new, as if i didn’t really know anyone out there. There was no favoritism. I didn’t particularly lean heavily on anyone (except the few that preordered photos and I’d commited their race numbers to memory). I simply did what I know how to do best: made memories of everyone to have and share.

Bear with me, if you’d like; I have no particular path with this post, only a final destination. I’ve got many, many thoughts, and they’re in zero particular order.

I’ve been taking photos of motorcycles, riders, and racers for about a dozen years now. I’m not sure there’s anything left that I haven’t seen. Both good and bad.

On Saturday while on track, I was thinking back to one instance in particular some years ago where Michael Earnest had crashed in the opening laps of Formula Pacific while cresting t3a at Sonoma. I caught it all on camera. He’d hurt himself, but managed to get the bike up and going again and restarted the race. Honestly, I don’t even remember where he’d finished after the restart, but I do remember it like a hero-story. I chased Formula Pacific around the track that race as fast as I could, capturing this “saga” of Michael Earnest. I was at start/finish when the race ended. As Michael crossed the line, he pulled off to the tire wall on the left, put his head down, and whimpered, leaning on the tire wall, unable to dismount his bike, unable to even finish the cool down lap. He was in a lot of pain.

I captured all of this. It’s something I’ll never forget. I was proud of man-kind at that exact moment. I don’t fully even know how to describe it, honestly. Michael was able to do something that not a lot of people can. It may not have been smart, but the pure guts and determination of it all…it was memorable. It was honest. It was pure.

On the flip side, I’ve seen many riders crash to greater and lesser degrees. Not all of them get up. At least, not right away. One of the first things I do when someone crashes in front of me is take pause and listen. Why? Because the next sound they make tells me how hurt they really are. When I hear a string of curse words first thing, I know they’re good. When I hear the moan of pain, I know they’re hurt, but it’s likely not all that bad. When I hear the wet gurgles, then I know it’s not good at all. When I don’t hear anything…well, I just keep listening because eventually they’re gonna wake up and I’ll hear something.

Twice now while shooting photos, I’ve heard the nothing. I kept listening, but they never woke up.

Allen Rice was a track rider on a Triumph 675. He hit the wall at about 50 miles per hour. Right in front of me. I didn’t know Allen. I’d never met him in my life. I don’t ever recall seeing him at the track prior to that afternoon. But I remember his name. I remember the way his face looked as he lay there on the asphalt while medics did CPR. I remember the sound his body made as they did chest compressions. I took one last click with the camera and walked away dazed. I didn’t ride that day as I’d intended. I briefly wondered if I even wanted to ride motorcycles anymore. It was a haunting memory for a long time.

Joseph Pusateri was a racer on a Kawasaki 636. Another human I’d never met before. It was my first time shooting a WERA race. I clicked away at 6 frames per second as he lowsided, seemingly gently, in a pretty slow corner. I remember thinking to myself that that should be a guaranteed sale. Everyone loves to get their crashes on camera. Except…he didn’t get up either. Instead, he lay slumped in an awkward position next to his bike. The medics came. Then the coroner.

I can’t even remember anything else about that weekend. I don’t know if the races continued. I don’t know if they were cancelled. I don’t know if I even took more pictures after that. The only thing I can remember was thinking about Joe’s wife running out onto the track, fighting with the corner workers and medical personel trying to get to Joe. I cried then. I’m fighting back tear now.

Inherently, motorcycles are dangerous. I’ve joked about how dumb we are as motorcyclists in the past. Really, we are. We’re not smart beings. To take the risks we do, day in, day out. On the track at speeds “normal” people would consider ludacris. On the street dodging cars and thousands of other hazards every day. In the woods, avoiding cliffs and trees. On the motorcross track jumping 100 foot triples. It’s risky. And to put yourself at continual risk like that…it’s not smart.

But it’s what we do. It’s what we need to carry on. It’s in us like the blood that runs through our veins. Smart or not, it’s what we motorcyclists need. I can’t refute that. If i said I could quit riding, that would be a lie. I’d never be happy again not riding.

I’ve seen SO many people injured doing what we do. Bad. Life alteringly bad. Dave Stanton, Mario Bonfonte, Eric Arnold to name a few. Eric ended up taking his own life rather then carry on. I’ve wondered to myself many times how I could cope. IF I could cope. I really don’t know those answers. I only know the questions.

In all this, I’ve learned to hit the “off switch.” At least, I try. I guess it’s never truly off, but I’ve been able to close off most of the dam, so that it’s only a trickle that gets through anymore. I’ve even been accused in my personal life of being “robotic” at times. It’s true. I can be that way when faced with emotional things. I try and set aside emotion and instead rely on logic to get me through hardships.

Sunday was no different. Jason Blancas, racer #780 passed away at Thunderhill during a race. From what I’ve been told, he made contact with another rider in turn 8 and was highsided from his Yamaha R3.

I wasn’t in turn 8 when it happened. A few of my friends were. Glenn was there. As he told me about it, the lost look in his eyes was soul crushing. I didn’t say much. I only hugged him and fought back tears myself. Taylor came in to the building in tears. She was on com in t8, relaying information as best as she could, holding her composure like a true professional until it was time to come in. It was only her second time corner working at AFM. She just had her 18th birthday. Another corner worker came in, whom I don’t know her name. She was also sobbing.

I kept smashing the “off switch” over and over until until it finally stayed in the off position…and I went about my day, hoping no one would ask me about it.

So many lives change in literally a fraction of a second. Jason is gone. I didn’t know Jason, but many people did. I’m sorry for the loss you feel with his passing. I’m sorry for everyone who was there, trying to save him, if he could even be saved. I know that every single person at AFM feels it. I know the corner workers and the medical staff and race direction did the best they could in any role they could fill. I thank you guys and gals for everything you do. You are all amazing. Your efforts at keeping everyone as safe as possible in this crazy sport we choose to do will never go unnoticed or unappreciated. Thank you.

Rest in peace, #780.

jason blancas 780

Etna, CA – RVLife

We’ve had a great last couple of days exploring and riding. As we’ve got nearly 2 weeks of time to kill, we decided to come down the Washington and Oregon coastline, stopping in various places. We unloaded the bike a few times and explored the backroads and the likes…but the PNW weather isn’t always cooperative. It pretty much rained on us every time we rode. Meh.

But then we got back to CALIFORNIA! The sun has been shining and the temps have been magnificent! As much as I’m starting to dislike CA and it’s politics, it’s pretty damned hard to beat the motorcycle roads out here. I mean sure, there ARE great roads in other places…but nothing like we’ve got here in CA. At least not to the extent Cali has ’em.

I’ve done a little bit of riding in the Etna area before…but I hadn’t explored ALL the roads yet. This trip did not dissapoint.

On Weds, we boondocked somewhere along the eastern portion of highway 96. We got there in the afternoon, but still had plenty of time to unload the bike and ride 96, Scott Bar, and whatever that road is north of Seiad towards Oregon. :) All roads I’d previously not been on. And it was good.

thor four winds siesta fj09 tracer mt09 highway 96
Our camp for the night
Continue reading Etna, CA – RVLife

GoPro Karma Drone Crash in Follow Me Mode

While flying my Karma today using follow me mode in mimic, my Karma had a mid air malfunction, causing it to crash. Nearly everything was destroyed. It had never been crashed prior and had been problem free.

I was riding my motorcycle at approximately 25-27 miles per hour with a passenger who was observing the video (making sure it wasn’t going to fly into the mountain, etc), holding the controller in her hand but not giving any input to the controller (unless necessary, however none were necessary as it had a clear flight path).

The Karma was oriented on my left, slightly ahead of me, as we went into a corner. As we passed underneath the Karma, it suddenly flipped itself upside down from roughly 60ft in height, completely unobstructed, and flew itself into the ground mostly upside down the entire time. I happened to be looking at the screen at the very moment it errored and saw “Camera Disconnected” suddenly flash across the screen while watching it’s last moments in the air before impact. After the crash, I stopped a few feet later and looked back at the screen. It was prompting me to locate the Karma now or later. I selected “now” and found it 64ft (according to the controller) to the right of the road (north), upside down. I took a picture of it in it’s resting place before I picked it up.

Photo link (with full EXIF data): https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Blog-stuff/n-f3hQL/i-VR6fzv2/0/f2f26ae0/5K/i-VR6fzv2-5K.jpg

crashed gopro karma drone
Continue reading GoPro Karma Drone Crash in Follow Me Mode

This Week in RV Life (Jan)

This last week has been a weird one, but ultimately a pretty fun one. We’d been staying in the greater Phoenix area for the last 3 weeks as we had a YCRS school that we were working at on Jan 6th and 7th…rather than leave and spend a bunch of money on fuel, we opted to hang out locally.

I made my first big “boo boo” while emptying out our holding tanks…I wrote about it on Facebook:

Jan 4th, 11:22pm
I made such a rookie move tonight while dumping holding tanks in the RV…
I didn’t secure the poop-shoot-tube into the dookie-hole in the ground properly… I popped the valve and EXPLOSION! Hahaha!
I flew backwards like a bandit in a western after catching both barrels to the chest, then ninja-cartwheeled back towards the valve and snapped it shut with only about 3-4 gallons on the deck.
Somehow, some way, nothing splashed on me and I didn’t even step in it.
I cleaned it all up with a nearby hose, flushed my tanks, topped off my water, then slunk off, knowing 100% of that was captured on CCTV and I’m gonna get laughed at tomorrow. #lifeontheroad

There are zero pics or video for proof…except the video the RV place probably has since saved and posted to youtube by now. Haha!

So anyways, we’ve been “Wallydocking” about 50% of the time so far… It’s a term I’ve heard being used to describe staying overnight in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Haha! It seems as tho they have a mostly nationwide policy to allow RV’s to stay in their lots overnight. It’s actually pretty convenient!

While walking Bijou, the @TinyTinaTurnerDog the other night, I came across an entirely new sight that brings my faith in humanity to an all time high. ;)

catheter bag at walmart wal-mart wallydocking

I mean, why not, right? Bleh.

I ended up doing some more modifications inside the RV. I’d put in 1 watt LED wedge bulbs in the dining area and stuff..they were terrible. I had quite a few left over G4 LED bulbs, so I bought some G4 bases to swap out in the light fixtures…I spent about 30 mins wiring everything all up, and now I have perfect LED lighting inside the RV. Each bulb is only 2 watts…and BRIGHT. I’ve linked directly to the products I got above.

Here’s the video:

I also got this ammeter/voltage meter that I’m going to install today…in fact, right after I’m done writing this… :D

VANJING DC 0-120V 0-30A Color LCD Display

Back to YCRS; we had a great time! It’s only the second time I’ve been to Arizona Motorsports Park… I turned a bunch of laps on Saturday by myself and a bunch more on Sunday two-up with Brianna. It was her first time on that track. No pics of our riding this time, but I did get a fun slow-mo video of Kyle backing it in!

We left AMP on Sunday night and started heading north. We simply drove until we didn’t feel like driving anymore, hit a dirt road and….and… and…then it got super gnarly, the road was all overgrown, and there was no where good to stop…so I drove all the way back to the main highway and started heading north again. Ha! I drove for another 30 mins or so until I found another dirt road that looked inviting on the GPS…and BAM! Parked for the night, listened to the coyotes yipping for an hour or so in full force before falling asleep.

We woke up to this.

I’m loving this RV Life stuff. Freggin loving it.

We left again and drove up over by Hoover Dam before stopping for a little walk. Bijou gives zero fecks.

teacup poodle poop tinytinaturnerdog bijou

I’m currently writing this from Beatty, NV, where we’re at the Space Station RV Park. $25 for the night for full hookups, Wifi, Cable TV, power, etc. Oh, and no specific check out time. I love RV people so far. Everyone is so go-with-the-flow. I love it!

We’ll press on today with very little by the way of plans. Ultimately, Reno is the next official stop, followed by Vacaville. We’ll get there. When we get there. ;)

Another FJ09 Oil Pan Bites the Dust

So, as you guys may have read in a previous blog of mine, I did a 12 Step “how to” to replace your FJ09/FZ09/MT09/Tracer oil pan after you crater your shit. If not, you can read it here:

The 12 Step How to Replace the FJ09 Oil Pan

Well, so, yeah…I smashed another oil pan the other day. Luckily, it wasn’t nearly as bad as shearing off the entire bottom of the oil pan like I did last time. This time, I simply put a small hole in it while parking for an epic photo. Yes, while parking. I was doing approximately half a mile an hour. *sigh* I was so livid that I didn’t even get the shot I wanted.

fj09 oil pan cracked fz09 oil pan mt09 oil pan
Continue reading Another FJ09 Oil Pan Bites the Dust

You’re Crazy for Putting a Shinko on your Bike

Shinko 009 Raven Radial Rear Motorcycle Tire 180/55-17 XF87-4047

EDIT TO ADD// I put 5231 miles on that Shinko tire before I mounted up another one. It’s THAT good. Now read on:

Ha! I bought this tire as an experiment…I’ve always ridden hypersport tires on the street and race tires on the track…and I’ve always steered WAAAY clear of Shinko… but I have an “old man bike” now (Yamaha FJ09/MT09/Tracer…whatever you call it in your country). The tire is good. In fact, it’s GREAT on my bike. I turn TC off every time I get on the bike (how the hell else am I supposed to do wheelies!?) and I run it in A mode (pure, un-ECU-flashed angry A-mode!).

I’m not slow. And this tire works.fj09 fj 09 mt09 tracer yamaha iowa hill road

Normally, I get around 1000 miles on a Pirelli Rosso 2 rear or about 1400 miles on a Dunlop Q3 rear… so far, I’ve put 600 twisty miles on this tire, and aside from striations and some minor tearing of the leading edge of the tread, it barely looks touched (the tearing is undoubtedly due to the stock shock being undersprung). I wanted to see if I could get a tire that would last me 3000 miles without being made of bowling ball material…this tire looks like it might be it!

I approached grip cautiously on this Shinko 009 Raven…I expected the worst. I imagined high-siding out of the local Starbucks parking lot the moment I turned the throttle even though my old man bike doesn’t really allow me to carry elbow dragging lean angles like I do on my spr0tbiles at the track…Alas no! Thus far, I’ve been pleased! I’ve even purposely spun it up just to see how it reacted and it’s smooth and predictable. It didn’t spin any sooner than a hypersport tire would.

Trust me, guys, I’m just as shocked to be writing this as you are to be reading it.

All that being said, I’ll be buying this rear tire for my FJ09 again (only $97 on Amazon) if it continues to perform as it has been. I will continue to run hypersport tires on the front of the FJ09, as fronts last me about 2500-3000 miles anyways and I won’t compromise front end grip, no matter the budget. I WILL NOT put these tires on my track bikes…and I’d be somewhat hesitant to put them on a street going hyperdupersupersport-leader-bike GSXR 600-750-1000 yut-ugh as well…mostly because of Shinko’s reputation, not because of real-world experience…

I’ll let you know if I end up upside down because of this tire later on. :D

Buy it here for cheap: Shinko 009 Raven Radial Rear Motorcycle Tire 180/55-17 XF87-4047

shinko 009 raven sport touring

Sportbikes are the Problem, Part 2

As I am sure you have read Joe’s letter to the world, “Sportbikes are the Problem”, I am your savior, I am here with the Solution.

Here is where Joe and I differ, he believes that the FJ-09 is an “Old Man Bike”. Listen here Billy, it’s motor is in a naked street bike with oversized dirt handlebars (comparable to hypermotard, speed triple, etc). No matter what hooptie frame you slap in that there engine block in, there is no way it can be a touring bike. That ain’t no old man bike! It doesn’t have massive side storage pockets!

Unlike Joe, I actually went full AARP and bought myself a proper old man bike, a Honda ST1300. It’s this elongated, elegantly bagged and refined piece of Japanese craftsmanship. Straight from the early 2000’s this bike set the standard for long distance, mile munching comfort. What’s the catch? This piglet weighs in at something like 730lbs, its manly aluminum monocast frame and related giblets aren’t light. It’s a good thing that it makes rocketship like power from it’s 1300cc restaurant freezer like engine. Cause she’s hefty.

st1300 wheelie aerostich od man bike
yeah….she hefty alright.
Continue reading Sportbikes are the Problem, Part 2

The life of the Rallement

I’ve had my beloved Honda Element (affectionately known as the Rallement) for 7 years now. I bought it used with 33K miles on the odometer. I now have 330,600 miles on it. It’s dying now. It needs a heart transplant. And I’m sad.

It’s funny how one can drive so many miles, yet never really leave too far from home. The Rallement has visited California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Arizona. It’s literally never been any further than those states. Even though I’ve driven enough miles that I could be nearly halfway home on my return trip from the moon. I could have driven the Rallement to New York City and back 57 times. I could have driven around Earth just over 13 times. There’s so many places I could have gone, things I could have seen. Cultures I could have immersed myself in. People I could have met. Friends, experiences, and memories I don’t have because instead of driving around the Earth 13 times, I simply drove back and forth through the 6 states I mentioned.

honda element rallement
Continue reading The life of the Rallement