25 September 2010

Granite Trial

There's good news and not so good news, but I'm happy with my day!

Part of the good news is the SactoPITS property. It's just under 40 acres and their events fit inside it just fine. Also, it's absolutely undevelopable so they'll have it as long as they want it. It's two miles from the Eagle Lakes exit of I-80 on a section of Old Hwy 40 that turns to one-lane rocky shit a mile out. I-80 passes about 300 yards to the south (you'd never know it was there) and the main electrical transmission lines across this part of the Sierra pass virtually over it. I was impressed. The place is perfect for this kind of small event. Trees and rocks. Lotsa rocks.

Next in the good news department: I asked the sign-up ladies if I could pay my 2011 dues (I skipped 2010) five days early and ride on it rather than pay 15 bucks for a one-day membership like I did at the Granite Patch in July. They took pity on a poor old whiney senior citizen and let me do it. The guy next to me in line said that sounded good to him and they let him do it too. Heh.

PITS requires AMA membership and so I had dug out my membership card to take along to show them. I've been an AMA member for 52 years and hadn't even seen the card in probly 25. Everything's different than on the newer cards and they'd never seen one like it, sweet young things in their 40s that they were. Those gals looked at me like Sasquatch, or maybe Moses, had come a-boilin' down outta the hills to ride their event!

Actually, lotsa old guys ride this sport, but as resident Olde Pharte around here I have an image to maintain.

The best part was Mrs.G caught me on video cleaning a section. We had the dogs with us (they had a blast!) and she was keeping an eye on them. She did her duty and put their little asses in the truck and came looking for me. This was the only section she got to with the camera as it was the closest one to the truck. Thank you, sweetie.

If you saw the vid of me bein' a non-ridin' squid at the July event, this one takes some of the sting out.

Section 6 at SactoPITS Granite Trial near Eagle Lakes CA on 9-25-10. They make the "4 line" sections very easy for us beginners.

I will now put the sting back in.

I gotta leave ya hangin' 'til tomorrow. Certain parts of me are threatening to go on strike if I don't get into a hot tub toot de sweet! I better get outta this chair while I can do it unaided by the Fire Department! See ya.

Monday afternoon. Sorry I haven't finished this post yet. I've been busy. I will.

I have now ridden two events. I didn't finish either one, but I've learned a lot.

A word about the scoring system: Trials is scored like golf - lowest score wins. '0' or 'clean' is the goal in the observed sections. You get points for putting your foot on the ground or stopping, up to a maximum of five points, at which point there's no more glory.

On balance, I'm improving. In my first trial in July I scored two 'cleans' in eight sections, or 25%. In this trial I scored four 'cleans' in six sections, or 67%.

The observed sections for my skill level are pretty easy, as you see in the video. The club does that so beginners won't get discouraged and take up knitting or something. No problem here, knitting needles are too dangerous and I'd probably strangle myself with the yarn.

The actual sections aren't a particular problem for me, but the trail in between them IS! Only maybe a coupla hundred feet or yards, but rocky, narrow, occasionally steep up or down and winding. Mountain goat shit, at least to me. I'm not very good yet at riding this motorcycle. I've only ridden it, other than right around my house to make sure it runs OK, in these two events, almost certainly less than five miles total.

I could ride my regular dirt bike over any of this terrain a lot better for two reasons: 1) I'm used to it, and 2) it has a seat. Think about it - you stand up on any dirt bike to negotiate rough terrain, but if you hit a particularly dicey stretch you can paddle with your feet for balance and still be attached to the bike with your hind end. If you gas it, it's probably not going to jump out from under you. Riding standing up all the time because there's no seat, which totally sucks by the way, if you try to paddle with your feet you're only attached by your hands. If you gas it a little too much, your foot or feet are somewhere between the ground and the footpeg and only the top half of you is likely to go along with the motorcycle. You have no balance whatsoever and eventually something will happen that makes you let go of the handlebars, or maybe worse, NOT let go, and then it's all over. Kind of a comic visual unless you're the Wile E. Coyote - wide eyes, ears straight up, puff of smoke far below. Heh.

It won't be too long before I'll be able to toodle along on the trials sled as easily and well as the hordes of little kids who are presently blowing my doors off, but for now the in-between trails tire me out big time, which means I don't ride as well, which tires me quicker, and so on and so on. Each section I actually arrive at is a small victory.

In section 7, the next one after the one in the video, my concentration lapsed for a second and my bike tipped over. I put out my foot to stop a fall. Woulda worked, too, if there had been any ground there, but the ground was three feet under the foot. Eventually, foot reached ground, but there was no saving it and I went ass over teakettle.

While I was lying there, I realized how exhausted I was and decided to call it a day. The section personnel all ran to my aid and got me up and outta there and I rode back to the truck.

The biggest blow was to my pride of course (nothing new), but Mrs. G noticed a quarter-sized booboo on the part of my elbow that I couldn't see (note to Self: wear the protective gear, idiot). She whipped out the medical gear, cleaned the wound and put a band-aid on it. Had to pull a coupla pine needles out of it first.

A note about trials people: I turned in my scorecord as a DNF so the club wouldn't go looking for me and told the lady what I thought was a humorous "you guys kicked my butt". She actually apologized and I had to backpedal fast, "oh no, please. I had a lotta fun." As I was sitting on the motorcycle rack on the pickup recovering from all this, all kinds of folks came over and asked if I was OK. Word spreads fast in a small club like that and they don't know me from Adam. Very, very nice folks.

I rode my first motorcycle race in 1962. I didn't fall off in that one and rarely did thereafter. In thousands of racing miles I have never, say again never fallen off in two consecutive events like I have in this sport, and never at 2 mph or less.

That shit's gotta stop. This season's pretty much over, but my plan for next year will start with a simple act: as soon as this coming winter's snow melts I'm taking the cap off the Dakota. That will let me load up and go practice, practice, practice at a moment's notice instead of messin' with the rack.

This season was pretty much about riding a couple of events to see if I liked it. I do. My simple goal for next season is to finish an event and to do that I just have to ride, ride, ride the damn motorcycle until I know what it's gonna do and what I'm gonna do in a given situation and thus gain confidence and expend less energy, and since there's a level of athleticism I had not considered but which has been brought home rather sharply, to get my 'sickle-ridin' muscles (roughly from just above the knees to just off the ends of my fingertips) in shape.

Stay tuned. This is gonna get better and better.

04 September 2010

Some things never change

I didn't understand a word of this except for the Indian gent who probably doesn't speak Hebrew. You don't need to understand Hebrew to understand this: Bike riders are the same everywhere!

Get Hamas and Hezbollah on these bikes and presto! Peace! Would you believe bench racing?

השקת אופנועי "royal enfield" בישראל - 08.08.2010

Thanks to Calcalist, Israel.

03 September 2010

Rough seas ...

As folks who followed our trip to the Baltic know, I ran into my buddy "David the Engineer", formerly the 1st Engineer on Queen Elizabeth 2 and now with Carnival Corporation Fleet Division. He was doing surveys on Holland America Line's Prinsendam and then on Queen Mary 2 the same time we were aboard. Much beer was consumed. Heh ...

That said, he gave me some of his personal pics of Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Victoria in rough seas as they chased each other across the North Atlantic for Vicky's New York debut, a couple years back.

My buddy Dave was aboard QE2 and his buddy was an engineer aboard Vicky and they took these pics while texting each other in real time. From what he related, the texts went something like this:

Vicky to Lizzie: "You're a dragster."

Lizzie to Vicky: "You're a submarine."

Vicky to Lizzie: "Dragster, submarine."

Lizzie to Vicky: "Submarine, dragster."

Queen Elizabeth 2

Queen Victoria

Click pics to embiggen

It was nice to have a mate to hang with at nights and catch up on sea and car stories. We also have a mutual friend so we got to say bad things about him because he wasn't there to defend himself. Heh ...


This is for Comrade Misfit, who knows a good ship when she sees it. Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2 at Pier 92 on NYC's West Side. My buddy Dave took this pic from the Empire State Building.

02 September 2010

Chase Scene

I ran across this video and just had to share. It's from a TV movie, The Ballad Of Andy Crocker from 1969. I remember watching it because it had motorcycles in it. The movie was pretty forgettable, although it turned out to be prescient in its main theme.

The film tells the story of a young man's struggle to reclaim his life after fighting in the Vietnam War. Written by actor Stuart Margolin, the film is notable as being one of the very first films to deal with the subject matter of Vietnam veterans "coming home". It is also noted for its unusual casting, which placed a number of noted musical artists in key acting roles.

Stuart Margolin is best known for being "shifty friend and former cellmate of Jim Rockford" ten years after this flick. We all have friends like that, and he served to remind us to always keep bail money in a safe place for when he gets us in trouble. Heh.

The last sentence in the quote explains why 'Marvin Gaye' is in the title of the clip. Posted by a fan, no doubt.

In this clip, Our Hero is making his bird after his world comes apart, and attracts the attention of a coupla motor cops who dutifully give chase. The clip is accurate in that a 500 Triumph could not outrun a Panhead on the road (a 650 woulda left 'em in the dust) and Andy wisely takes to the dirt.

The scene is hilariously inaccurate in that the motor cops fall off where motor cops, who are notoriously good riders in real life, wouldn't fall off, but the script called for it. Kudos to the stuntmen who fell off on cue right on the 'X'. Also, about 30 seconds in, there's a front wheel shot. This musta been put in by an editor who couldn't tell a Triumph from a Honda(?), or didn't have the right clip the director needed, because it's not the bike it's supposed to be. The theory is a) it's a low budget flick, and b) most people will never know the difference. Or care.

Kudos also to the sound editor, who got the exhaust sounds right. Nothing in movies galls me as much as seeing a Triumph, one of the best sounding bikes ever, going down the road sounding like a Husqvarna.

The movie is set in East Texas, but the scenery is northwest of Los Angeles and the bike has a CA license plate. I saw the movie once, forty years ago, and memory being what it is, he may have stolen the sled in California and ridden it home to Texas. Movies do this kinda shit all the time. Nothing's as funny to a resident of L.A. as seeing, say, Rockford doing a screeching turn off of Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank onto Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu when the two are thirty miles apart.

The final scene is a break point in the plot where Andy realizes the world he left a year ago is not the world to which he returned. Running outta gas is a metaphor for his hopes and dreams. I woulda just gone and got a can of gas and come back and tried it again.

Enjoy this for what it is.

Thanks to SBP519, Canada.