June 22, 2008

after a month on hiatus, things haven’t changed much on the personal front. let’s just say i have more free time on my hands. so i thought i’d try to keep myself busy and restart posting.

i went for a ride this afternoon after enjoying some french toast and oj for brunch when a testy storm system barged through the cleveland area. i was heading down I-71 to medina to meet up with phil to christen my new babolat but it was all for not. as i approached middleburg hts, the ominous dark clouds unleashed a deluge. unfazed i road through until i passed strongsville. there things went from bad to worse with fat raindrops turning into ball bearing-sized hail. let me tell you, it stings. i pulled to the berm to recover and wait for a break. the hail dissipated and i returned to the highway looking for refuge under an overpass. the weather gods mustn’t like me because it started hailing even larger ice chunks. luckily, i made it to the overpass in brunswick. i waited there for 10 mins soaking wet and mildly irritated.

after the weather let up, i rode to the next exit turned around and made my way back home shaking my head the whole way. funny thing was it was perfectly dry with blue skies in lakewood.

i guess this puts things into perspective. enjoy the nice weather because sometimes it’s not going to be nice.


moto-vation on hiatus

May 21, 2008

i’m going to put the blog on hiatus until i sort some personal matters. i’ve got a lot of things on my mind at the moment and i can’t think and let alone write about motorcycles. i’m gonna regroup and hope to be back soon…

school of hard knocks – motogp round 4 shanghai

May 6, 2008

the shanghai gp was the first round this year that i enjoyed from end to end. three televised hours of great action.

the weekend started off with a bang, especially for jorge lorenzo (fiat yamaha). on his 11th lap of the first practice session, lorenzo was launched into orbit as his m1 highsided.

upon touchdown, he fractured both ankles as he smashed into the unforgiving tarmac. you know it’s bad when rossi covers his eyes. unbelievably, he returned the next day suffering more troubles (a horrendous tankslapper in qualifying) and subsequently finished a stellar 4th, salvaging a rough weekend for the rookie. the boy deserves my R-E-S-T-E-C-P

after 2 podiums this year, valentino rossi (fiat yamaha) was itching for a victory to keep his championship hopes alive. he and his crew finally got the package (rider/bike/tires) right and nabbed the much-needed win. but it wasn’t easy. dani pedrosa (repsol honda) brought the fight pushing rossi until the end. pedrosa erred on the side of caution and eased the pace on the waining laps. he, along with most of the field, was caught out by the tailwind on the back straight as engines were tap dancing on the rev limiter. rossi nailed the setup of his m1 perfectly.

casey stoner (marlboro ducati) came in a lonely 3rd with lorenzo coming on strong at the end of the race. i wonder if rossi would have had to battle with his teammate if he was 100%?

marco melandri (marlboro ducati) and toni elias (alice ducati) both seemed to tame their wild gp8’s coming in 5th and 8th, respectively. melandri probably saved his seat on the factory squad with this ride. hopefully, it’ll continue throughout the season.

shanghai seemed like a tire neutral circuit as bridgestones and michelins were nicely spread throughout the field.

i’d like to point out that this weekend’s tv converage was very well produced cutting to action wherever it was, which was everywhere. mad props, bro!

with four winners from as many rounds, the championship is up for grabs as only 9 points separate the top three. grab your beret and baguette because in a fortnight we’ll be at le mans. a bientot!

a TRIUMPHant british supersport debut – round 2 thruxton

April 23, 2008

the bsb and bss finally got underway this weekend at thruxton, a fast flowing circuit found in south central uk. it was a great weekend for the factory-backed map embassy racing team. glen richards piloted his 675 to a second place podium position while teammate paul young managed a top 10 finish (9th to be exact).

surprisingly, richards stunned the paddock claiming pole position on the first outing for the 675 in bss.

richards got a great start and lead the field for the first lap. however, steve brogan (hm plant honda) pried the lead from him coming into the chicane at the end of the second lap. throughout the race, the triumph looked unsettled braking into the double apex right-hander. richards then shadowed brogan for several laps until the safety car came out on lap 8 when james webb (padgetts honda) and dennis hobbs (centurion honda) clashed at the chicane. the safety car (a sweet audi r8) was out for a couple laps and then racing resumed with richards taking the lead. brogan answered back and stuck it out until the checkered flag. richards almost stole the win just missing the mark by 0.09 sec.

paul young also had a great start launching him from 12th to 6th on the first lap. he maintained his position until the safety car came out and then leaped into a rostrum position for a brief moment. however, his tires began to fade and young prudently decided to consolidate his 9th place. 

not a bad start for the fledgling team. battling with such a notable squad as hm plant honda (basically factory-backed by hrc) means that the 675 is a force to be reckoned with. this circuit probably favors the rev-happy i-4’s with the high speeds so expect the triumph to be even more competitive on the tight, twisty tracks where drive out of the corners (torque) is more important. 

beaverun bump

April 20, 2008

yesterday, my friend richard (on an r6) and i did the nesba beaverun trackday. it turned out to be a gorgeous day. you couldn’t have asked for better weather, esp for it being the middle of april. 75 and sunny with clouds rolling in at the end of the day.

we arrived early since we knew we had a lot of work to do on the bikes, esp mine, to make the first session. we unloaded the bikes, taped lights, and got the bikes to tech for inspection. we then quickly pulled my wheels and dropped them off at the tire vendor for new italian loafers (pirelli dcIII – fantastic tires). we had the obligatory riders meeting, picked up my freshly shod wheels and briskly fitted them just in time for the first beginners session.

the morning sessions were ugly. i was riding over my head. i was fast but i had no clue on how to get around the track. my competitiveness was also a problem. in fact, it lead me into the grass of turn 1 at 120 mph. luckly, instinct/guardian angel saved my ass and i managed to keep the bike up. the first three sessions were an absolute debacle and i was utterly lost.

during lunch richard and i discussed how the day was going. he gave me good advice: ditch the ego and run at my own pace.

after the break, i was pulled aside by pascal, a control rider (cr), and he inquired how i was doing.

“not so good,” i answered.

he saw me out on the track and read me like a book and it was titled riding over your head. he suggested that i’d benefit by slowing it down a bit and concentrating on my line.

the next session was no better. i felt like i was riding conservative and focused on consistency but i was still off line. another cr gave me a tow and i still didn’t get it. i was frustrated and upset with myself.

the 5th session of the day was a little better but i still had my doubts, esp cresting the hill at turn 7. the head cr of the beginner group, buck, noticed my performance and asked me to follow him the next session for an “evaluation.” i didn’t realize it was a test until afterward. i thought i was just going to learn the line.

buck gave me a tow for half the session and i followed him apprehensively, trying to learn and absorb as much as possible. that’s when it all clicked. everything seemed to fall into place. the corners now seemed linked and the track flowed. i wasn’t fighting the bike anymore, rather letting the bike do it’s thing. it was great seeing buck pump his fist as i correctly hussled around the once threatening track. he then let me take the lead while he followed in close proximity. in fact, i saw a wheel come up the inside a couple times, a test of things to come. i just kept my rhythm and followed the newfound line for 5 or 6 laps. the checkered flag ended and i was finally happy with myself. we pulled into the paddock and i asked buck how i did.

he retorted, “do you want to bump up?”

i was shocked! i thought i heard him wrong. i then asked him if he thought i was ready.

he walked over to the registration tent and grabbed the yellow “Intermediate” sticker and asked me again if i wanted the bump.

i cautiously responded, “i think so. will we have another session?”

he said, “yeah! in fact, go ride in ‘I’ the next session.”

i whimpered, “will you be riding with me?”

he shook his head and he released me into the wilderness that is the Intermediate group.

when i made it back to our pit, i was ecstatic. i didn’t know what to do. richard and a couple guys around us congratulated me. i had 10 mins to regroup for the last session of the day.

our pit neighbor, ben, was riding Intermediate and i asked if he could show me the ropes. we gridded at the back of the group so we wouldn’t get in the way. we stayed together for the 1st lap and halfway around the second i got my first taste of Intermediate action. a gsx-r1000 passed me on the way out of turn 7. i took it in and assessed my riding so far. it was conservative to say the least. i had a lot of speed in reserve. at turn 8, i decided to go for it and got a great drive out of the corner, passed ben, and focused on the yellow gsx-r ahead.

he pulled on me on the back straight but i realized that i could hang with him, esp in the corners. i made up a lot of time in the carousel, turn 10. i felt good and didn’t loose ground on the front straight. i inched closer braking into turn 1. this battle progressed for 3 or 4 laps, constantly reeling him in. i pounced at the carousel riding around the outside as he was balked by a slower rider ahead. that was that. i got my first kill. several other riders succumbed to my superior cornering 675 and i made passes at turns 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, and 11 (as well as the straights). i was seriously hauling!!!

there were a couple moments, however. i had 2 bad tankslappers at 120 mph heading onto the back straight which were due to rippled asphalt. i had a millisecond of doubt that i was a goner but kept it together. richard said he could hear the front tire chirping as it violently oscillated from side to side. and he was on the opposite side of the track!!! wish i had video of it!!!

i was running consistently in the 1:09’s early and then dipped into the :07’s by the end of the session which was probably a little faster than average Intermediate pace.

i was exhausted and stoked as i entered the pits. i motored into our camp, cut the engine, and enjoyed the moment as i coasted to a stop. as i was dismounting, riders were stopping by giving me “mad props” on the riding, esp the gsx-r that i duked it out with.

i was happy. a day that started so grim ended well. it took a while to get back into the groove and iron out the kinks. i’m glad i didn’t give up. thanks to nesba for holding such a well organized and staffed event. and “big ups” to buck who showed me THE WAY.

bmw unveil superbike

April 17, 2008

well, bmw motorrad’s superbike is no longer a rumor. today, they took the wraps off their 2009 world superbike entry, the s1000rr.

details of the bike are sparse. here’s what we know:

  • engine is an 1000cc inline-4 allegedly with some special features, esp in the cylinder head (pneumatic valves?)
  • suspension is handled by a conventional inverted fork (for compact packaging – uhhh, britten and motoczysz?); no mention of rear suspension layout
  • expect a trick traction control system

sounds very japanese. as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…

the styling of the bike is reminiscent of aprilia rsv 1000r with the gaping central intake up front. it looks good but nothing special. i’m kind of disappointed that the rear subframe isn’t supportless, which as everyone knows adds 5hp :D

the “s” designation, which stands for supersports, marks a new category in bmw motorrad’s model line (will we see a 600 next? i hope so!). the s1000rr will be competing in the 2009 season of wsbk with help from alpha-technik developing the bike. bmw motorrad’s goals are very ambitious; they’ll be looking for top 10 finishes in the first year and challenge for podiums the next.

with the capital and engineering backing of one of the largest automakers in the world, the wsbk paddock will have to take the s1000rr very serious. along with the german marque’s entry, aprilia will also be competing with their rsv4. the more the merrier!!! refreshed

April 16, 2008

after a lengthy beta, finally let loose its new version of the website today. thank you, carmelo!

the previous iteration of was a monstrosity. it was built entirely on flash, a big no-no. it had gobs of information but was a pain to use.

dorna’s web designers dramatically improved the site in several ways, especially in compatibility, functionality, and speed. in order to do this, they ditched the drab flash interface and went with a fresh web 2.0 look based on css. 

the new layout looks great! it’s a very minimalistic design which makes it easy to navigate and find information quickly. in particular, the top header centralizes the different areas of the site. news stories are also now tagged so searching is effortless. i’m relieved to see that you can now copy and paste text from the site making plagiarizing much easier ;D

i’m also stoked that i can finally access the site using my iphone. it looks exactly as it does on my desktop computer. the previous version was inaccessible due to its flash underpinnings.

however, there are a several issues that still have with the site. video is still requires windows media player or realplayer. these are both antiquated solutions to video. instead, they should use quicktime h.264, which is much higher quality, to stream content. in addition, subscriptions are also ridiculously priced costing at least $95 to watch the races and interviews. no thanks… has come a long way but there’s still room for improvement. it’s THE site to go to for stats and news but i’ll pass when it comes to video.