As the 2010 track season is right around the corner, I can’t help but to think and reflect on 2009 and what I have learned in such a short amount of time. At the track, everyone is there for the same reason… to ride, and have fun. Everyone is more than willing to help one another, and help in any way they can. I really learned a lot about what a track day is through the lens of my camera.. as a silent observer if you will. If you are hungry, a complete stranger will make sure you are fed. if you have a headache, someone will make sure you get some aspirin. If you are hurt or you go down on the track, a flood of complete strangers will come by just to check on you and make sure you are ok. I have also seen countless acts of kindness when it comes to bike maintenance, with complete strangers helping other riders get their bike dialed in, even if it means missing a session or two. It is this type of environment that I have grown to love in such a short amount of time. This is where my excitement comes from filming events like this. Being able to capture these types of behaviors, along with some fantastic riding, is why I do this.
Well, I saw that the forcast called for rain. When I had a bike, and the forcast says rain, those of you that know me well know what that means: It’s time to go for a ride! Well, I had a bike. A 2007 GSX600R.
I sent out a few text messages, and before I knew it, Matt and I turned into Matt, Rob, Han, Kev, Mike, and myself, all about to embark on a little fun.
We took the fastest route to the mountains possible from Elk Grove, slabbing up 99 to 50 before exiting off the freeway and jumping on Salmon Falls Road. I hate the slab. Freeway is not, nor has it ever been my friend. Anyways, the trip up Salmon Falls was fairly uneventful, as we the trip up hwy 49 (The Gold Country Highway) to Old Auburn Foresthill Rd. However, things changed ever so slightly when we made our way up Foresthill Road to Get to Mosquito Ridge Road…it started to POUR. We could see blue skies to the north whilst we road towards the darkest, nastiest looking clouds we could find to the North-west. Hehe.
…Lets take a quick step back first… A couple of the riders in our small group had never ridden in the rain before. At least, not intentionally. They’d been caught-out in the rain while riding in town before, but never had they experienced the True Grit kinda’ ride that I’ve been HIGHLY accustomed to over the years… Morale was not high amongst some of our group once we reached the gas station at the MRR turnoff, to say the least. In fact, as the ride organizer, I was nearly overthrown and our merry little band of wet rats almost disbanded before the ride had even started!
After a bit of pep-talking, and a crapload of peer pressure, everyone was in. Reluctant, but in.
I’m not gonna go through a mile-by-mile play-by-play, but there was something worth mentioning: as the clouds above pummelled us with cold, stinging rain, we got to witness one of the coolest things I’ve EVER seen in nature… a rainbow. But not any ordinary rainbow…this one was unlike anything I’d ever seen. It was AMAZING! The topmost portion of it sprayed out of the hillside roughly 100ft up, only about 500 feet in front of us. It was VERY thick… and bold… and vivid. It arced over the road and down the hillside before planting itself back into the rocks about 500 feet below. I could see both ends of this rainbow touching the ground. I half expected to need to swerve and dodge leprechauns and unicorns and rivers of Skittles as I passed beneath it. I know, it sounds like I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but really, you had to be there to see what I mean. Unfortunately, it was DUMPING rain and I didn’t want to stop to take a picture. I really wish I would have though. I’m still kicking myself for not.
I’m really tired of typing, and think I’ll simply let the pics do the talking. There’s only a few as I only pulled out my camera twice. It was a good day. Lots of fun and ZERO mishaps…unless you consider someone making a u-turn, losing their footing in the wet, and simply falling over a mishap. *giggle*
Our group of wet rats
Something is not right, and I think I have figured it out. Joe rode on the street. For realzies. At speed. For the one person that just woke up from a coma after highsiding on the street, Joe gave up street riding after the following picture was taken. Oddly enough, the caption was already there.
In the time that he has been back on the street, there have been no fewer than three notable earthquakes in the bay area, not to mention the one up in Humboldt county. You know, the one that “harshed the mellow” of countless potheads who were forced to move from their couches after their couches moved across the floor. I recieved the following email from Chauncy Phillips to my 4TheRiders email address.
Dude. Your boss Joe like totally owes me some cash bro. I was at home watching the Pauly Shore marathon on Turner classic movies when the house started to shake. And I don’t mean like when my roomie Maggie has gas, bro, I mean like my velvet Marley poster fell off the wall shaking. I was like wait? What? and then it hit me Bro, and I was all “EARTHQUAKE”, and then Maggie was all like “NO WAY” and boom. The bong goes flying out of my hand spilling bong water all over the carpet. I am going to send you the bill for half a carpet cleaning, I mean cuz we needed one anyway what with Maggies cat, but come on bro…bong water.
I am not paying for this stoner’s carpet Joe. I’m not saying to stop riding the street, I am just saying be safe out there, and maybe keep it under 6 on the Richter scale.
So, we’re taking 4theriders to another level. We’ve decided to offer up VIDEO as well as photos for 2010. Though, it’s not going to be the typical bike-chasing-bike kinda of video that we’ve all seen done in the past. We are offering up GoPro Hero HD cameras for rental to customers.
Not only are we going to be renting them out, but we’re also going to be providing a video editing service, where customers can unload all of the footage taken from the cameras to us, and we will edit them up into a 3-5 minute long video of the best parts of their riding from the day, edited up to their choice of song/genre or whatever they want. Even an option to surprise them with whatever we feel suits the video best. Customers will be able to keep all the raw footage as well.
I received the first of several cameras a few days ago and have done a little bit of testing with it. I want to make sure to learn all the do’s and don’ts of using this camera before renting em out and getting less than perfect results with it. On Thursday, I took the camera up to Mosquito Ridge Road (my favorite road in all the land) and did some various mounting while shooting on the cameras LOWEST setting (720p, 30FPS) and here are the results!
That was just a quick throw-together from some of the footage I shot on a chill ride. I learned that mounting the camera to your helmet does NOT yeild the best audio results with the waterproof backing. I’ll have to try it with the opened backed one, which is supposedly better with noise at less than 100 mph.
Still more testing to be done before February 8th, but progress is being made!
4theriders has been fortunate enough to receive help from Pashnit.com, a motorcycle website created by a local rider over many years of riding and documenting the best riding roads all over California. Tim Meyhew, the owner, also offers motorcycle tours (which I’ve been fortunate enough to ride on several of them, and they are a BLAST! Even having sportbikes mixed with touring bikes and even cruisers, the comradery is top notch, and the experiences last a lifetime). The Pashnit forum is also a great place to meet like-minded riders from your area and beyond where you can share your experiences or live vicariously through the experiences of others as they travel through California, the US, and the globe!
Help support local moto business owners! If you plan on getting a GoPro Hero HD camera, buy it here: Pashnit’s GoPro Hero HD site.
i needed to. so i did! as some of you know, i crashed hard on mosquito ridge road (MRR) in may of 2008. i broke my back and ribs and all kindsa other fun stuff, and completely wadded up my bike, kitty. i then decided to give up riding on the street, as i was too irresponsible, ham-fisted, and retarded (especially after bumping my head).
anyhow, since then, i did a slow loop out to posers in berryessa on an fjr1300 once (taking nearly all freeway), and then once on a drz400 (which i loaded in the back of a truck to get it there) on FR23 in the pouring rain which turned to blizzard snow. so technically, i have been back on the street twice since 2008, but NOT a proper ride.
a buddy of mine went outta town and was brave enough to leave me his R6 to play with. :eek
anyhow, i woke up bright and early yesterday morning and headed out. it was cold. damned cold. it was in the 40s, and the entire sacramento valley was under dense fog. i headed up hwy 99 to hwy 50 for a few miles until i was so cold that i had to turn off onto surface streets. slower speeds meant less chance of my balls freezing and falling off.
i meandered my way through carmichael and folsom until i reached the last stop before salmon falls road where i sat at startbucks for the better part of an hour, not only simply to thaw out and let some of the fog burn off, but to think about what i was doing, where i was going, and how to stay responsible.
at around 9am, i left thebux and headed towards salmon falls. the fog only got worse. in fact, it was so bad, i was having to wipe my visor clear of condensation every minute or so, and visibility was down to about 50ft. halfway up salmon falls, doing at or less than the speed limit (mostly less due to frozen joints, no visibility, and dew on the road), i started rethinking what the hell i was doing. i nearly turned around. i was getting sad.
i arrived in pilot hill. the temps seemed to have gotten just a little better. i stopped for a minute to thaw and have a cig. “to hell with it. i’ve come this far, i may as well mush on,” i thought to myself. i still wasn’t really enthused about it though. but i did. i mushed on. hwy 49 north, through cool, and dropping down into the confluence…when suddenly, the blanket of fog was 100ft overhead! i could see again!
It started innocently enough, probably before I can even remember. No, now that I have had some time to think about it (I spent a few hours looking at old pictures… You will soon find that I have a bit of a problem focusing) I remember the exact moment, and have the picture to back it up. This picture was taken at a time in my life that holds very few but fond memories. I was four after all. I am fairly certain that this one event, documented in living color by my mom and one of those 110mm cameras with those bizarre tall flashes that you can flip over so you can use the other side 31 years ago is the first self promise I made to uhhhh…. myself.
I have long since forgotten what my voice sounded like back then, but I distinctly remember telling my mom that someday I was going to get my very own motorcycle. Granted I still had a bit of a journey.
Like training wheels for example. And Women. A short list of estrogen filled roadblocks. It started with my mom denying my repeated nagging for a mini dirt bike, not to mention the bigger dirt bike that she would not allow, or finally once I turned 16 the “ninja”(it might have been a Honda, my bike recognition ability was pretty bad back then too) that I wanted. I thought I had her once. I was 18. An adult. I still lived with my mom, but I was paying rent, and she no longer could keep me from my destiny. I even lived above a motorcycle dealership in Kenosha Wisconsin. Destiny. So why didn’t I get my first bike until I was over 30? I will spare you the details, but the 15 years that separated my living with my mother and my living with an SV650 in the garage were filled with financial hardships and estrogen roadblocks two and three… I now have an awesomely supportive wife, two bikes and two jobs (Technically all three if you count working turn 11 at Moto GP) that would not exist if it was not for motorbikes. My point? Not sure if I had one, but it is the off season for racing, I needed something to write about, and the holiday season usually brings back childhood memories. This year I was reminded that staying true to yourself pays off, it just sometimes takes 15 years.
4theriders had a snow day. 11 of us came, only 3 returned. we left the dead for the bears. we have all kindsa video footage, including riding 2 up down a goat trail covered in mud and snow, carnage, towing sleds, ramming mountains…everything we could think of. hehe.
we’ll start with a “moto” so it’s relevant…hehe.
kevin, beating on my scooter.
I have an abnormally non-celebratory set of parents when it comes to things like holidays. So, since Christmas came and went (please no “that’s what she said” jokes), I decided to gather my resources and bring Christmas to a deserving family.
My main source of helping hands was through a variety of local riders: Sac Riders Forum, Sac Crotch Rockets, Central Valley Riders Forum, 4theriders.com and even Throttle Worx. Regardless of how much anybody pitched in to help, it is greatly appreciated. Except for whoever donated the stuff that fell off the back of their motorcycle (kidding). Many people want to offer their time to help out for a good cause and instead of having those people search, I found them.
Damn, just a few days ago I swear it was sunny outside, but no longer. My hills and twisty roads have transformed from something beautiful and fun to something terrifying, dark and full of high-side. Every turn to me screams all of a sudden “No! Don’t do it! I’ll make your life horrible”. So what else is a man to do but turn in, hide the bike under a cover, or inside a garage and wait for better days? Well, of course that all does seem rather silly, especially because supermoto exists, but still, the weather puts a bit of a damper on riding.
Well, it’s officially my off season. Now I’ll be going weeks at a time with no work and lots of time to spare.
I DO shoot other things besides bikes, so you know. If you need any photo work done, or know of anyone that might want a party shot, or portraits, or weddings, or anything, feel free to take a look at my portfolio and contact me if you want. :)
Here’s a somewhat recent shot I took; posting it for giggles..