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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Magma Hotel

The Magma Hotel.  Superior, AZ.  2005
I've been rummaging through my old photos lately since I don't feel much like writing.  This shot from 2005, my late, great Aprilia Caponord in the picture.  I never should have sold that one.

The towns of Globe, Miami, and Superior, Arizona were once thriving copper mining towns but time, markets, and who knows what have left them only shells of what they once were.  Not abandoned, entirely, just decaying as they try to transition to the ubiquitous rustic, "art colony" and antique shop driven economy.  Great places for photographers and motorcycle people to visit.

The photo was taken with my old Nikon CoolPix 8700 in 2005, more proof, I think, that you don't have to have an expensive camera to get decent pictures.  Oh wait, I paid about $700 for the 8700 when it came out.  You can find them now on Ebay for about $75.  A couple of weeks ago I gave mine to my friend Keith who was still using a Nikon 990 from about 1998.  He's even more of a retro-grouch than I am.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Storm Clouds At Sunset

Rain storm on the horizon.  Nikon CoolPix 8700

Most of Arizona being a desert, it follows that we don't get a great deal of rain over the course of a year.  Seven inches a year is about normal for where I live.  I rarely even carry a rain suit unless I'm wandering further afield than my local area.  When it does rain here it comes down in buckets for a short period of time, usually in a limited area, and it's hot enough outside that you're blown dry before you get home.  The only legacy of getting soaked during the ride is the dried road slime everywhere on you and the bike.

You can see out aways near the horizon in the photo, that I'd be wishing for my rain suit if I was headed that way.  Fortunately I wasn't and beat the bad weather home.  The bike in the photo was my first Kaw 1600, the Classic model rather than the 1600 Nomad I'm now riding.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sojourn Chronicles Comes To Visit

I'm not afraid of a little rain
In the nearly seven years since I started 40on2 I've only met in person one other moto blogger.  Apparently my part of Arizona is the part that no one in their right mind normally visits. Some have passed through but either I didn't know about it, was otherwise engaged, or they were purposely avoiding me, not wishing to tarry in in a really boring small town.  Believe me, I can understand that last reason.

I've been reading the Sojourn Chronicles blog pretty much since Brent Miller started it back in '05.  Brent's operating the Ohio based blog now as part of his larger web site so the name is sort of gone but the quality remains.
Brent and I have traded e-mails over the years.  We seemed to have quite a bit in common -- motorcycles, blogging, photography, interest in airplanes -- and always meant to get together to swap motorcycle stories and general blog related stuff the next time he was in Arizona visiting his family.  Finally, this year, we managed to meet up at the Hangar Cafe at Chandler Airport.  He had been telling me about the eatery for a long time but I'd never given it a try.

Nondescript but with good food and a good view if you like airplanes.
Now, the day was one of those rare Arizona days when the weather looked doubtful, there was even a forecast for a 30% chance of rain.  My wife suggested "Why don't you take the car?" "Ha!" I replied. "Show up to meet a fellow moto blogger in a car?  I'd never live it down."  So with an eye on the darkening clouds I rode my clean and shiny Kaw 1600 the 40 miles to the airport and guess who showed up in his car...

I wasn't fooled by the helmet, I know the difference between an SUV and a Suzuki V-Strom
Yes, the mere hint of rain put Brent off of riding his V-Strom the 10 miles from Mesa to Chandler.  Okay, I made that last bit up.  In the Midwest, where Brent lives, it was 30°F and raining + snow so he left his bike in Ohio.  I don't blame him for driving the car out to Arizona,  I wouldn't even ride 100 miles in 30° weather, even if wasn't raining.

I was going to make up a lot of stuff about our meeting, I thought it would be great fun.  Maybe something like  “He slid from the seat of his bike like outlaw Cole Younger sliding from the saddle of a stolen horse. With a sardonic smile playing across a face that had seen many a mile on a bike, and with a John Wayne swagger he strode up to me.  Brent Miller, the man, the legend, held out a right hand the size of a baseball glove and said in a voice aged with whiskey and too many ceegars, “You must be Doug.” “Yes sir, Mr. Miller, I am he” I answered.  His handshake was like a velvet vise. I tried not to wince and I reminded myself that I wouldn’t want to anger him anytime soon, he was clearly a man that would not suffer a fool gladly....” 

During lunch I outlined my plan to use a blog post to build him up into a mythic, outlaw figure and Brent reminded me that he has a blog too and than paybacks are a, well, you know.  So I've just stuck to the truth here, mostly.

Brent's lunch won the eye appeal contest.  Mine tasted better than it looked.

The food was good, not great, but good enough to try again.  I'm told that breakfast is their best menu.  Best of all the Hangar Cafe really is part of an active hangar and sits right off the ramp where you can watch some pretty interesting planes come and go while you chow down.  Seems like it would be a great gathering point for beginning or ending a ride.

Two Great Lakes biplanes.  I flew in one back in the '70s. Very cool.
The two of us had a fine time talking bikes, blogging, bikes, cameras, bikes, and other, less important topics.  After more than an hour over lunch and another hour yakking in the parking lot we'd only scratched the surface of all the things new friends find to talk about.

Hopefully the next time Brent heads this way from Ohio he'll be on his Suzuki or maybe the Moto-Guzzi V7 Classic after which he's been rightly moto-lusting and we can get in some proper motorcycle riding.   It was good to meet the guy and discover, as I thought I would, that he's as fine a fellow in person as he appears to be on-line even if he's not a mythic hombre of the toughest sort.

Brent got the best photo of the cloudy day, re-used here from his blog, by permission.
I'd be the good looking one on the right.

Friday, April 01, 2011

$140 Well Spent

MotoGP racing live on my 23" monitor
 Over the last couple of years I've become a bit of a fan of MotoGP racing and exactly how that happened, I couldn't say.  I used to be a NASCAR fan back in the '80s and I have no explanation for that either, I'm not even sure I should admit it and I got over it long ago.

MotoGP racing in the motorcycle world is pretty much the pinnacle of technological achievement with a motorcycle.  Some land speed bikes are faster, some drag race bikes accelerate faster, but slicing around a twisting road race course on a 230lb bike with 230+HP is a spectacle all of it's own and I've developed more than a passing interest in it.  With a 1:1 ratio of horsepower to weight, a MotoGP bike is like an F16 fighter glued to the ground but a tighter turn radius and better brakes.  Apart from the racing action itself, the visual flow and beauty of the race is mesmerizing.

Having grown weary of the claptrap, commercial ridden, over computer graphic'd coverage of the racing by Speed Channel, I decided to subscribe to the live, on-line coverage of the 2011 MotoGP race season.  If you Google the phrase "speed channel sucks" you get over eight thousand results.  Google hate+"speed channel" and you get even more.  Apparently I am not alone in my opinion of how they cover races.

via MotoGP.com

The on-line broadcast quality of the MotoGP.com coverage is 720p HD which is pretty good and looks decent on my computer monitor or on my 52" TV using the "Logitech Revue" gizmo. The picture quality sometimes goes a bit pixelated in close up shots and over all isn't quite as crisp as a regular satellite feed but it seemed good enough after I watched for a while and I stopped thinking about the slightly reduced quality.

The icing on the cake is getting to watch not only the races but the full practice sessions with no commercials whatever and no inane commentary.   Of course the commentators speak English English which can be a problem sometimes but I'll gladly miss a few things here and there for the blessing of no commercials and no behind the scenes fluff pieces.
via MotoGP.com

The on-line commentators are in fact the same guys you hear on Speed Channel but without the useless fill-in bits by some American guy.

Now you might say "But I just use the DVR and just fast forward through the commercials and dumb stuff."  Okay, I've done that too, that's half the reason for having a DVR.  But figure that in a race that typically lasts an hour, you'll miss 1/3 of the action to someone trying to sell you underarm deodorant, motorcycle insurance, flavor sugar water, + Speed Channel displaying overwrought computer graphics of motorcycle racing instead of just showing the motorcycle racing.   Imagine if every time you sat down for a bowl of ice cream your neighbor's mangy dog ran in and ate 1/3 of it.  That's Speed Channel covering motorcycle racing.

If I divide the cost of the MotoGP subscription, about $140, by 18 races with practice sessions and qualifying, the cost works out to about $1.90 per hour to watch it all, uninterrupted, and with sensible commentary.  That's pretty darned cheap over the course of a season to see the best road racing in the world in the next best way to being there in person.  Moreover, that doesn't even include watching the the other two race classes which are also part of the package.  And if you don't watch it live, they have it all saved on a "no spoiler" page so you can watch it whenever you want.

If you've been watching MotoGP on TV in the US, the on-line subscription is definitely worth it.  I just hope I can afford it for 2012 also.

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