Friday, October 14, 2011

Day Off in the City - 10-13-11

Good times for a change
Just kidding - most times are good for me.
Trying to leave by 7:45am is not so easy; if you do not prepare your gear and bike the night before. Why can't I learn this with all the early rides I take? Breakfast meeting with Chuck at a Marie Calendar that turns out to be eliminated from the books. Plan is to meet up with brother Sal for lunch in Chinatown 12:30. So pancakes is all you need to power thru the city. That and some cash! What is with me? So after breakfast we make a stop at Safeway. Temperature is starting to climb on this Indian summer.

I walk blind sometimes
When you hear stories about Chuck you will notice he is a first responder. If someone is lost and crosses his path he helps with directions. If you have a heavy load he will pick a corner and lift it with you. He stood in the shade with our bikes. When I get back with my money Chuck is checking messages on his phone. As I put my jacket, helmet and gloves on I hear an old woman with her big bag of groceries finishing a conversation with Chuck (read on this is all how long it took) she stands in the middle of the sunny parking lot her friend is standing next to a cab a few feet away - "and my friend?" she asks - Chuck smiles and walks over tells them not to worry pays the cabbie the fare and helps load the bags into the trunk. I am baffled. What happened? Chuck saw his neighbor trying to get to the bus but not fast enough. At first she did not want to bother - would rather wait on the next bus. That is my friend Chuck. By association I get to witness good deeds.

More food
Park in the shade of the Transamerica pyramid. There are security agents walking the perimeter wired with communications coming out of their collars and dressed in dark FBI suits. They might as well have an FBI windbreaker on. But, how scary would that be? Instead they look like business guys on the way to a meeting. But if shit went down they could take off at a sprint with guns out.

On the way to 550 California I can't help noticing the summer dresses on women in a city that is cold about 360 days out of the year. What are the beautiful women bringing in the wheeled suitcases they drag behind them? Are they models with makeup and extra clothes? Sales people with samples, catalogs and order forms? Assassins with modular high powered rifles? All of the above because we all need to wear more hats in these tight economic times.

Sal brings us to a restaurant he frequents and it is similar to the one our parents would take us to as kids. Good times. Good food. Across the street was the theater that our cousins took us to go see our first Bruce Lee film. That's when everybody was kung fu fighting in the 70s.

Apple store
Day before the first shipment of iPhone 4S. Crowded and sweaty. Lots of walking. Red Bull and water in a breeze way by a water fall fountain. Up to the top floor of the renovation in progress Metreon where City View is being finished and available for large events. Loud open spaces and beautiful faces. Some gardener is watering the vertical wall of plants. Art project or experiment?

 Avoiding rush hour traffic
Back on the bikes and across town to the Cliff House. You could get killed out there on the streets of San Francisco. Chuck almost gets taken out by a mindless mini driver. Not the actress. We get to Lands End and hike down the cliffs by the Sutro Bath ruins and onto the beach below the new Cliff House. Lawyers and agents and tourists drinking and dining as the sun sets and container ships push in and out of the Golden Gate.

Thursday is dine out for locals
Beach Chateau for near beer calamari and pork sandwich. We sit next to two guys finishing their happy hour. I go to the rest room to wash off this sweat and grime. When I get back and these guys are leaving one says have a good one to Chuck and he answers ok son. What? Turns out this guy shows Chuck a black and white picture he carries in his wallet of him and his dad when they were both young. Chuck looks just like his dad. I would have played it for profound effect by telling him "I am your father - from the future with good news." Then sell him some insurance.

Summer in the city
Is there any reason to drive or own a car in SF? Sure if you want to jet out of town at any moment and your work needs you to be mobile - but a lot of people live just fine without. Many just rent or subscribe to zipcar. Saving money and avoiding alot of aggravation - waiting and parking and traffic and accidents. The cost of freedom. Ask not what your car can do for you.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

steve jobs & Fleet Week

What a week it was
 First and foremost October 5 steve jobs passed away at 56. i spell his name the way he signs - all lower case. He will be missed. There will not be another like him.

Go Live
October 3 - monday - changes in the custom chrome website. Takes a lot of work - plus it will now be connected to the new inventory, accounting and ordering system. This is an ongoing project.

Fleet Week
Aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson came under the Golden Gate Bridge at precisely 11am. This was the last ride for Bin Laden before his burial at sea.
Decided to take the VFR up to the city and that made it easier to park and get around traffic. But, traffic was crazy. Got to a parking lot at the Presidio just as the carrier came through the fog and under the bridge. Something that big coming under the bridge made the Golden Gate seem small.
My first shot below was with my helmet still on. Can't figure out what i was focused on - or maybe macro setting was on.  Navy helicopters hovered near the ship as it came under the bridge and then circled it into the bay.

Blue Angels above Lombardi Sports
Greatest rooftop party to view this event. On the approach flight path for the marina and Fort Mason. Feels like they are only a couple hundred feet above. I parked at the bike parking across the street on Jackson.
$2 burgers and a quick exit out. Might be a better show near the water - but you are pretty much stuck there for the day. Maybe a mountain bike. But, just too many cars in one place.

I remember bringing Joe to see the Blue Angels early on and it is always amazing to feel the power of those jets on a fly by.

Captain America: The First Avenger
End the day with a good movie. The theme was stars and stripes for the day.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Red Zone 9-24-11

There is a stretch of 280 north that climbs out of Palo Alto - starting at Sand Hill Road and climbs north to the junction with highway 92. Long sweeping curves of four lane interstate. Picturesque landscape and you are surrounded by fast company. Drivers up there have fast cars and they do not care to travel on the more fuel economic straight and crowded 101.

I take my time going through this section of 280. Back in 2006 on my FZ6 Yamaha i was pulled over with the Toyota i was following. Guilty - 85mph. We both got tickets and the CHP was a young guy that informed me that he knows that on a bike it is easy to get above 80 mph; safely. He probably would let me go if I would have been closer to 75. So, after traffic school i made a mental note of this area. Take it down a notch and take a slower lane. Let the cowboys run up or down the hill.

Today, 2pm I was returning from the city and so were a number of people. Southbound as you approach 92 CHP will sometimes sit with a radar gun under one of the 92 ramps. I will usually ride one of the two middle lanes. No CHP  today at 92; just lots of traffic going south into San Jose. Some drivers feel there is safety traveling in packs three abreast just like what they see in NASCAR. Do not allow them into your safety bubble. Go around when safe to do so. Do not sit on their rear bumper trying to intimidate them into getting out of the way. They do not use mirrors or turn their heads to check the lane they are moving into. Does it seem that anyone who would run door to door, side by side or tea party style with another car has issues? Either they are oblivious to what can happen or they want the other guy to lift - back off - this is my road and i say back off on my highway. Passive aggressive or just aggressive aggressive.

I do not like to pass on the right - very dangerous - but sometimes the tea party crowd likes to hold hands as they run down the hill. I will wait a bit until they get staggered a bit just to make the odds of one or two cars getting wild and wiping us all out, a lower number. There must have been 3 - 4 of these small packs. I get around and then get ahead and then back to a 75 mph range.

Then on my left in the fast lane a brand new black 5 series BMW shoots past me. As he does this we pass a CHP on the Sand Hill shoulder - he was getting back in his cruiser - must have had radar out and the engine running. It all looked like one smooth motion - we all knew he was after the BMW - so we gave him room to merge in and sweep past us all to the fast lane and then... "GOT HEEM!" The beemer saw the CHP  - but, too late and tried to weasel back into the pack.

Why does that make you smile or laugh or fist bump? Is it because so many times they shoot down the road and there are no CHP around? Well, if you get the CHP at your window chances are you cross the line. Happy trails and be careful out there.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day Run

Run up Hwy 9 about 10am - traffic light for a holiday. Weather started cloudy and marine layer burned off by 9:30. North on 35 skyline to Alices to meet Chuck for breakfast. We came down the mountain to Hwy 1 then south to Davenport just 11 miles north of Santa Cruz. Then up Bonny Doon road into the Santa Cruz mountains - never took that road before - i usually go up Western Dr to UCSC and then up Empire Grade then down into Felton. This may be my new favorite - clean new asphalt - smooth sweeping curves.

Connects to the northern section of Empire Grade and you climb north and then down into Boulder Creek at Hwy 9. Red Bull stop and then we decided to drop into Santa Cruz for lunch.

Stopped at my friend Ed's Wing Stop near the old neighborhood. Like salmon returning to where you used to live. Almar Ave. - Garfield Park Gang - good times. Always good to be in the old town.

Then a run up 17 with the beach traffic and into San Jose. Split some lanes in Los Gatos. Chuck splits off at 85 for the city and i went home after a quick stop on Stevens Creek Blvd for a battery. Nobody got hurt and no tickets and great roads and weather and what more could you ask for?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

MotoGP 2011 Laguna Seca

Once again Chuck and i roll into Monterey. Friday night it is drizzling in Pacific Grove. Dinner at Fishwife, Asilomar. Had the Mahi Mahi Bowl. Saturday morning breakfast at the Breakfast Club Seaside. Waffle combo. overcast with 70s forecast for the day. Ducati Island and am i going too fast?

Rev Limiter Passes
Allows you access to stand next to Pit Exit. No videos..... how could they tell? Repsol brought 3 riders - gone is the Repsol hospitality tent. Budgets.

Millions in salary and his leathers have a fitment problem. Or is this a new U.S. ritual? He is the obvious crowd favorite. Though the Honda and Yamaha Teams have more grunt for some reason.
Back on the Island
Ducati Island is a fun spot. Old and new bikes - people from all over. We were in the tent watching qualifying on the monitors. Sitting at a table drinking espresso and eating muffins and fruit. A guy did not sit down and stood in front of the monitor eating his grapes. I asked him discretely and kindly to please sit down so we could see the screen. He acted like i just insulted his whole family. I pointed to an open seat in front of him. He didn't say a word just took his grapes and walked away. Woah. Sorry, for not having xray vision. His friends sat at the table and asked him to come sit and he just said no. Otherwise most people on two wheels are just like other people. They have their bad days and good days.

The Corkscrew
This is a climb up the hill - sit in the shade of the old oaks and watch the racers fall off the top of the world into an asphalt pit. Chuck and i watched the Daytona Sport Bikes race and one guy slid thru the dirt and back onto the track with his bike and stopped in the middle of the road. That red flagged the race.
So, we crest the hill and order up some California Kitchen Pizzas. Back behind the beer tent we pulled up some empty kegs and sat down. Look at that view. You see the tower with big screens and most of the turns on the track. Plus you have the cool ocean breeze. Some guys were sitting over to our left mixing a lethal cocktail of Corona beer and tomato juice. What is the deal with that?
River Road
Reservation Road goes under 68 and turns to River Road. It heads south through farm land and vineyards. Kind of dusty and sandy out there. Returned to Salinas and a huge italian dinner at Ginos. Of course there was leftovers and we bagged them and i balanced them on my tank. Since i did not bring the saddlebags and tank bag. Pasta for breakfast. Sunday run home - up highway 1 to Santa Cruz - avoiding the beach traffic on 17 we took 9 to Ben Lomond and ate dinner at the Tyrollean Inn. When we left it was dark. Real dark. Riding in the mountains at night is not easy. When you get into a tight turn your head turns to see what is on the exit of the turn but all you see is black. Thank God made it home without an accident.

July 30 Breakfast at Alices
Met Chuck for breakfast - ran up 9 to 35 and it was sunny and dry until about a couple miles from Woodside. Fog and wet trees dripping on the road. But, a ride is more enjoyable when you can see where you are going. It all burned off - great ride.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

MotoGP Laguna Seca

Since MotoGP returned to Laguna Seca in 2005 i have been trackside.

2010 Chuck and i walked the track. That was a hike but you get a detailed look at every turn.
This lap of the track gives you the rider POV.

We walked by the Ducati garage on pit lane and they fired up a bike.

Best part of the race weekend is the big race but, there is alot going on out at Ducati Island.