~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 - Looking Back

2005 was a year of ups and downs but then what year isn't? The downs have been real downs though and the ups have been high rpm, red line ups. Life is always the most interesting near the red line.

The biggest downs for 2005 were the loss of my friend Daun to cancer at age 36 and my friend and co-worker, Mike A.K.A. "Killer", at age 54 in a solo bike crash. I wrote a bit about Daun previously but have not written anything as yet about Mike's demise. I'm still pondering his crash out on Apache Trail and trying to piece together in my mind what happened late at night when Mike was all alone on his VMax. We can ramble on all we like about bikes and riding and roads but ultimately it's the people we meet along the way that matter and give real character to riding. To ride and not in some way share the experience with fellow riders is to miss a good bit of what makes motorcycling so special. To lose motorcycle friends is to have the motorcycling experience diminished and put into a more realistic perspective.

Downs of a much, much less significant nature were the departure of my beloved Caponord. Yes, I still miss the Capo and sometimes find myself scheming about ways to get another one. Reason still prevails but just barely. My Kawasaki 1600 Classic left this year but didn't leave the empty spot in the garage like the Capo did. I need an Italian bike again and preferably an Aprilia even though buying an Aprilia is largely an act of faith and madness because of the sketchy support and parts situation. One must believe fervently in the solidarity and reliability of the brand to attempt ownership. The timid owner, those in need of dealer hand holding, need not apply.

Having talked a bit about the downs, I'd rather focus on the ups. There were a great many this year; here's a few highlights:

First and foremost is that I put another year of riding behind me. There were a few moments when things went wonderfully right but could have gone oh so wrong. A 100+ mph blast up Kitt Peak and similar wail down Aravaca Road burned the sound of the Aprilia v-twin into my mind and heart. A moronic driver in a junker Chevy crossing the yellow line in a fast curve on Aravaca Road nearly spoiled my year though. It was a matter of inches. Often in motorcycling triumph and tragedy rub elbows.

The wild flower rides early this year were great fun and maybe the most relaxing rides and getting out to ride for the first time time with my buddy Doc Henry and the redoubtable Angry Bob was grand.

Other, good stuff came in the form of the new Honda ST1300 in the garage.

I took a bunch of pictures in 2005. I am still very much enamored of mixing motorcycle riding and photography. My new Nikon 8800 is a wonderful camera. I wish there were disk space available to share more of what I shoot. A couple of favorites follow:

Magma Hotel, Globe/Superior, AZ

East of Tortilla Flats, AZ.

Eloy, AZ

All in all I rolled up about 6,000 miles in 2005. Not as much as in '04 but I'm hoping to improve that number in '06 by including at least one longer trip instead of the usual day rides I've been doing the last couple of years. '06 looks very promising on several levels and I remain hopeful of lots of miles and great rides.

The blog has done surprisingly well too. I have actually turned down some opportunities to promote it further because I prefer to write when the mood strikes and without feeling beholden to anyone. It's a tiny blog with just a few visitors when compared to the bigger, better known blogs but that's ok with me. I enjoy the writing and judging by the mail a regular group of people enjoy the reading. I genuinely appreciate your e-mails and the time you spend reading here. 

I wish you all well in 2006. Ride Safe!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Instamatic Memories

 Prior to the start of the Elsinore Grand Prix
I was rummaging around some old boxes and assorted stuff and ran across some pictures from a long time ago. If you've ever seen the movie "On Any Sunday" you'll likely recall the segment on the late, great Elsinore Grand Prix. If you have not seen the movie and you consider yourself a motorcyclist you need to watch it, you've missed a couple of hours of superb motorcycle entertainment.

As it happens I was at the particular edition of the Elsinore Grand Prix they filmed for the movie although not competing myself.  In On Any Sunday there is an overhead sequence shot from a helicopter before the start of the race and if you look real close I was down in the crowd with my Super 8 movie camera filming assorted stuff including some helicopter flying low.  I was also snapping still pictures with my little Kodak Instamatic camera.  As we all looked up at the low flying copter someone remarked "They're filming some sort of movie about the race, I guess because Steve McQueen is racing in it." You can't actually see me in the crowd but I was there. Big deal, I know.

I wandered up to near the front of the starting field of bikes and not too far back from the front row stood Steve McQueen by his Husqvarna. I've never been much on celebrity fascination but it was fun to see one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the time getting ready to race a dirt bike.

Later, McQueen was sitting quietly on his bike, collecting his pre-race thoughts no doubt, and folks were mostly leaving him alone. A woman walked up with a pen and paper and asked for an autograph. I was close enough to hear him say firmly but not impolitely "Not now, catch me after the race."

A bit later a little girl walked up, she was perhaps 7 years old, and offered up a pen and paper and asked for an autograph. McQueen looked down at her and flashed his million dollar smile, "Honey, for you, sure!" He picked up the little girl and sat her on the red tank of the Husky and put his arms around her and autographed her piece of paper. He chatted with her a bit but I couldn't hear what was said. I always thought that was a classy thing to do. No doubt the little girl had been put up to it by an adult but McQueen was too much a gentleman to disappoint a child.

No. 98, Steve McQueen, AKA "Harvey Mushman"

I always liked McQueen after that; in a single gesture he'd shown that he was a real person first and a famous guy second. He was also a really, really good motorcycle racer.

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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence

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