Osso, Maico, Can Am, and Bultaco. Not the capital of Norway, a body shop, an airline and a new Mexican joint. These are brands of motorbikes that many have never heard of, but that does not mean that they are not fast in the right hands.
Well, me and Infineon Raceway go back a few years. I’ve been shooting there since 2006. I’ve watched at least eleventy trillion bikes pass by me in every corner of that track. Fast guys, slow guys…whatever. I’ve seen and documented probably around 100 crashes at Infineon alone. Most in turns 2 and 9, for sure, but with turn 3 having a ton of crashes as well.
Three years ago, it wasn’t even in a turn that had me spooked. Three years ago, Allen Rice crashed into the k-wall as he was exiting the track and tragically, he passed away as a result of that crash. This had all happened just in front of me, as I was making my way back to the pits to get geared up to ride Infineon for the first time. Needless to say, I didn’t ride that day. In fact, I’d decided that day, after what I’d just seen, that I had no desire to EVER ride Infineon. “It’s too damned dangerous,” I’d tell myself.
And I didn’t.
For three years, I never even had the inclination to ride. I’ve seen some people make mistakes and have incidents sometimes out of their control at Infineon causing life-changing crashes. From Shawnery having come together with Brian in turn 8 some years ago, to Eric Arnold at the start of a race before turn 1. Infineon scared me. I was genuinely fearful of riding the track.
Yesterday was a Zoom Zoom day at Infineon. The conditions were absolutely perfect. The weather simply could not have been any better for a day of riding. I’d made up my mind: I was going to ride.
Neither myself or Toe can give you tomorrows winning lottery numbers. We can’t channel the spirit of your long since passed favorite childhood pet fish Mr McFlufferson. We can’t read your palm and tell you how many times you’ll get laid. No, we can’t read your mind or, sadly, we can’t control your mind either… what we CAN do, with terribly high accuracy, is take your money when we bet you that so-and-so is gonna wad up their bike after having seen them do a single lap.
Before I get into it too much, I kinda want to drive the point home…we’ll talk about the point later.
Yesterday, I was at Infineon Raceway shooting a Supermoto Schools event. It ended at about 2pm, and I went down below to the big track because I saw a few fancy looking sprotbiles down there along with the big Pirelli truck. Chris, from Pirelli, is my friend so I stopped by down there to say hi and chit chat a bit and to see what was going on down there.
Turns out, Motorcyclist and Sport Rider magazine were doing a test with the major manufacturer bikes: MV Agusta, Ducati 1198R and Desmosedici, KTM RC8, Triumph 675, Honda CBR600RR ABS version, BMW S1000RR…oh, and the new R1 (*giggle*) just to name a few that I saw there.
I was in the garage where they keep all really well organized with the use of Auto News Center tips online, I started chatting with Tucker and Jeff Tigert , when I happened to see one of the test riders coming through turn 11…I just blurted out the first thing that came to mind as I always do…
“That guy is going down.”
Tucker looks over and replies, “what? On the R1?”
“Yeah. I think it said [name omitted] on the back of his leathers,” I says to Tuck-Tuck.
“Noooooo,” he laughs, “that guy is good! He’s FAST!”
I chuckled to myself, and simply replied back, “Mark my words, homie. That dude is going down.” Tucker shrugged it off and we resumed conversation about the idiocy in the design of the rearsets on the ~$70,000 Desmosidici (Seriously…what the hell was Ducati thinking?).
Not more than 10 minutes later, the very rider on the brand spankin new YZF-R1 I’d said was going to hit the deck limps the bike into the garage covered in mud and grass, most of the right side plastics dangling in the breeze. Tucker just turned and stared at me in disbelief. All I could do was laugh.
As I sat at my computer I was getting this sudden PANG of NEEDING to be in the mountains. It was as if the trees themselves were calling me. A distant howl that I could hear from my office chair, beckoning me to come back.
Sure, I’ve got a Gixxer sitting in my garage…and sure, I’ve gone on a couple street rides with it.. but I dunno… I don’t really FEEL like a street rider anymore. there’s so many cars on the street. Idiot drivers. Deer. Guard Rails. There’s no run-off in case of a mistake. It just feels so damned dangerous out on public roads. I like the track, where I can totally fuck up a corner and live to tell about it, and prolly not even fall down.
That leaves me with a bit of a predicament, cause I always long to be in the mountains on twisty roads away from civilization under canopies of Firs and along rushing streams and brookes…Since I stopped really riding on the street, I’m away from the mountains for months at a time. I hate it.
Yesterday, I needed to go back.
I didn’t feel like riding. I knew the weather was going to be somewhat inclimate, and I thought about doing some trails in the Element. I tuned to 1580AM before leaving only to hear about chain control and snow and this and that over Donner Pass, so I thought about it for a sec then called Han. :)
It was drizzling a little bit when I headed out the door for Han’s house. I was going to trade him the Element for his Nissan for the day. I love Han’s truck. It’s a Nissan Frontier with the Nismo Off-Road package. I got to his house, and we switched. Of course, he hands it off with the dash flashing “12 DTE” at me (distance till empty) and for those of you that know Han…well, he doesn’t live close to ANYTHING.
So my adventure begins: will I even make it to the gas station? Haha!
I did. And I headed east, towards Foresthill; destination: Robinson Flat. Well, a few miles from Foresthill, I realized that my plans were going to have to change…
So, a couple of us went up onto Mosquito Ridge Road the other day and decided to roach up some perfectly good Diablo Supercorsa Pros…and get it all on film. Toe, Mike J, Kev, and myself wanted to shoot some street footage with the new Sony HD cam along with some more GoPro HD footage. We still want to get more footage before actually editing up any videos right now, but I figured I may as well tease you guys with a few still frames from the video. :D
i headed up the mountain to go visit rweezy. i ain’t seen him in about 2 years, so i figured it was time for a surprise visit. i didn’t bring my camera, but i did bring the gopro..i took a few pics on the way home. nothing special.
did an oil and filter change at his shop really quick and threw on the obligatory 4theriders-red grips like i do to all my bikes. i can’t help it…dunno what it is…i HAVE to have red grips!
This is my third winter as a year round rider. The cold, wind, and rain fade into the background if you have good winter gear. I actually prefer the bike over the car, and given the choice of riding or taking my wife’s car I gear up 100% of the time. My wife does not share this view of the weather, so sometimes I am forced to endure the confines of a Subaru Legacy GT. Don’t get me wrong, I owe my life to a Subaru, and the Legacy has some nice features. Heated seats, satellite radio, cup holders, reverse…you know, all the same stuff as a Honda Goldwing.
I bring this up because I had to drive yesterday. The rain was fairly steady from Concord to Fremont, and since it was a weekend, I didn’t have to deal with the commuter traffic. We listened to the comedy channel on the satellite radio, there was Starbucks in the cup holders, and at risk of talking too much about my behind, the heated seats were functioning flawlessly. Once we got to our destination my wife brought up an interesting point…
40 minutes or so on the freeway, in the rain, and not once did I hit the switch for the wipers. I shrugged it off but paid more attention to it on the way home. George Carlin? Check. Peppermint Mocha? Check. Warm rump? Check. The wipers, however, remained off. Although it was quite dark in the car because of the rain and glass tinting. I have recently done window tinting (more at Dalo Auto Tinting website) and haven’t got used to it yet. I guess I prefer the way the world looks through my visor, and yesterday this was the best I could do.