April 26th, 2004

It's been a while since the last Daytona log entry. I didn't ride much at all this winter. The first track day of the year is in just a couple days, though, and I'm one week into unemployment, so I figured today would be a great day for a long haul motorcycle ride. Yesterday I got the bike all in shape, lubed the chain, and went through a complete check of everything. Rumor had it that the road between Fossil and Antelope is just amazing (this is in northern, central Oregon). Dennis and I decided to investigate by way of a 400 mile loop. Weather for the day was expected to be in the upper 80s, so we started early. The route started by taking us 100 miles down I-84, until highway 206, about 15 miles east of The Dalles. 206 begins winding up into the hills. Things actually started out rather cold, probably around 45-50 degrees at the east end of the columbia gorge. Once we got past Wasco, it began to warm up. Oh, BTW, Wasco has an airport, but the locals told us there was no gas station there. We could either back track to I-84 (10 miles), or journey on to Condon (40 miles). Being that neither of us had a gas light, we ventured on. 260 was a semi-interesting road, as it cut through a grassy canyon. Certainly a change of scenery from the west end of the cascades. Along the way we crossed through the windmill fields. You can buy windmill power from PGE for twice the cost of dam power. The picture doesn't quite represent how massive these windmills are...

Once in Condon, I put 4.7 gallons of gas in my 4.755 gallon (18 liter) tank. y0w. If those numbers are accurate, I could have made it another 1.76 miles before running out of gas. Once we fuel ourselves with food, we decide not to do an additional 100 mile loop (206 - 207 - 19), and instead just head down highway 19 to Fossil. I now wish we would have done that loop, because on the map the roads looked twistier than any of the roads we wound up going on. Highway 19 is curvey between Condon and Fossil, but not tight turns at all... very fast sweepers. Most of them I was taking between 120mph and 140mph. Different than the turns I'm use to, but the speed made them fun none the less. At one point I come upon a group of birds in the road. When they hear me coming they take off, but one decides to fly the same direction I'm going. Unfortunately for him, he's not going 120mph like I was. At the last moment, he dove in front of me, and "landed" on the armor of my right glove. Dennis, who was behind me, said he saw a spectacular poof of feathers, and the poor creature fall to the ground. What a bummer. My hand stung a bit after the impact. Once in Fossil, we turned back west onto highway 218. This is the road we came for. It somehow has this great reputation as being insanely twisty. I was rather disappointed. It was a decent road for sure, and the change in scenery made for an interesting ride, but I know many roads that are better. It was relatively clear, but in all the really tight turns there was gravel sprayed across the road. It made things feel a bit on the edge. We saw a cool looking mountain halfway down 218 and decided to stop at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument for some photographs. I think this is called Iron Mountain. Pretty neat, and stuff we're not use to seeing, living west of the Cascades.

After the photo opp, we continued down 218. For the most part, 218 was another really fast road. There were some tighter turns where we had to slow down to 70mph, but most of the time was spent around 110mph. Traffic was incredibly light, and police presence was non-existent, which equals no speed limit. 100-120mph is what seemed right and what I kept settling in on. We continued on highway 218 through Antelope (former location of the Rajneeshie cult wackos), and into a beautiful set of curves... unfortunately in appearance only. They were riddled with gravel so could not be enjoyed, but they certainly make for a good photo opp.

A cool aerial photograph from space can be seen of these turns here at TerraServer. The rest of 218 kind of sucks, so we turned back, went through psycho land again (though it looks normal enough now), and continued west on 293 until we hit highway 97. 97 is a pretty major highway, going to Madras, Redmond, and Bend. Once we hit 197, we took it west, towards Mt. Hood. 197 was pretty straight. The only thing that made it bearable was the average speed of 120. There were a couple spots where it was totally straight and wide open, so I followed the roads lead and went wide open. In top gear I hit 170mph indicated (who knows what that really is), and held it there for a while, but it wouldn't go any faster. I was only at 9,500rpm, and redline is at 10,800... but it just wouldn't go anymore. I must be hitting the wind barrier. In two separate spots I hit 170mph, each time couldn't get beyond it.

After Maupin, we hit highway 216, and continued towards highway 26 and Mt Hood. 216 was similar to all the other roads, with many straights and long sweepers. Speeds continue to hover above 100mph, until we hit a grove of Ponderosa Pine trees. We don't see those too often in Oregon, but the dryer south east side of Mt. Hood is the perfect climate for them. There were some pretty large ones, with their beautiful orange bark shouting out. I was hoping to stop and take a picture in one of the larger groves, but couldn't find a good spot. So that I could appreciate these wonderful trees, I slowed the pace to around 80mph. Once out of the Ponderosas, and back into some twisty bits, we upped it to 100 again, until we hit highway 26. The early parts of 26 continued at 100+mph, but once we got closer to the mountain, where traffic and police presence was greater, we slowed the pace a bit. 26 on back was rather boring, once the views of Mt. Hood went away, since we were basically back in civilization.

Once home I checked my odometer, and the ride was almost exactly 400 miles from my house. Truly, for about 1/2 of the ride, our average speed was probably around 100-110mph. The time I left my house until the time we I got home was 6.5 hours. That includes two stops at Dennis' house, three stops for gas, several stops along the road to eat, drink, and take in the views. But even counting all the stops, that calculates to an average speed of 61mph over the 6.5 hours. Kind of funny...

The ride was fun, but I do wish we did that extra 100 mile loop. I was hoping this ride would have more tight turns than it did. The sweepers were fun, but the only thing that made the ride bearable was the fact that we could do most of it above 100mph. I'll have to do some more exploring the roads around there, because there are some others that look even better on paper, but next time it'll probably be in the car. Maybe in a few months...

April 29th, 2004

First bike day of the year at PIR. I've had this one on the calendar for a while, and the track gods cooperated by keeping the skies clear and raising the temperature to 79 degrees. Pretty perfect weather for the track. On Monday, while on the central Oregon ride, I noticed a problem with my left wrist. Operating the clutch got progressively more painful throughout the day, and I wasn't sure why. I was hoping it'd go away by the track day, but it hadn't. I noticed while riding down to the track, and after a tip by Dennis, that keeping my elbow down so that my wrist was more straight while operating the clutch did help matters. But due to the wrist, the fact that it was the first track day of the year, and since I seemed to be feeling a bit lethargic, I figured I'd take things pretty easy this day. That was the plan, anyway, but the first session out I could tell that I was already as fast as I was last season. Starting the second session I felt a bit faster than last season, but I didn't increase the amount I was hanging off, even though my corner speeds were increased. This meant bits on the bike began dragging along the ground, which clearly is never good. For the first time ever I began dragging both foot pegs through some corners, and scrapped the headers through turn 2. I mainly had these problems in the first and second sessions, probably more relating to my lethargy. Towards the end of the third session I was getting over more and had a knee down in pretty much every turn except the back straight (which is a slight turn; not sure anyone gets a knee down there). For the first time I was consistently putting a knee down in turn 7, and probably carrying at least 10mph more speed into that turn. It's really amazingly fast on a bike. Here's a gallery of various dragging bits from the day...

During the third session, right after I passed someone in turn 5A, while going over the Porsche bumps, I got into a slight tank slapper, and after correcting I found the bike way on the left of the track. A bit of a hairy moment, but once that was straightened out, as I was going into turn 7, while braking and downshifting, I seemed to have lost all power and heard this horrible clunking sound coming from the drivetrain. I wondered if I blew the motor, or busted the chain. I pulled off the track and inspected the bike. Everything seemed okay. I put it in first gear and took off just fine. I played a bit with the bike in the paddock and things seemed just fine, so I went back out on the track. Everything was fine for two laps until the session was red flagged from another crash (there was almost at least one crash per session today. One requiring the ambulance, and most being multi-bike incidents. Quite a drag). In the 4th session this loss of power and clunking happened again. I realized it was right after I attempted to down shift. I think it must not have gone fully into gear. Pulling the clutch in again and kicking the gear shift lever, things were back to normal. This happened a couple more times. Interesting. I seem to be having gearbox problems. I wonder if this relates to me finding a "false neutral" between 4-5 while blasting down the front straight in previous track days (only did that once this day).

I met a nice couple in the paddock, and the woman timed me some laps. She said in the 4th session I was running consistent 1:22-1:23, and had a lap (or a couple?) at 1:21. So I was yet again a few seconds faster per lap than the last day. I had said that I thought maybe a 1:21 was possible, and now after doing one, I'm convinced I could probably still shave about 4 seconds off that time, on street tires. I'm not saying I will, because I'd have to be quite a bit more aggressive in some areas and I'm not sure I want to go there, but I can certainly see it happening if I pushed it.

Dennis was out there in his new '04 R1. For a few laps he followed right behind me and grabbed some interesting video (27 meg MPEG). The photo above is from the video. I am directly in front of the camera in the whole video. There is also another, shorter video (7.1 meg MPEG) where Dennis is a bit closer for most of it; it's just not quite as long (there's no redundent footage between the two videos). I've certainly come a long way in hanging off the bike from my first bike day. Dennis trailed me that day too, but after watching the tape I wanted to burn it, so we didn't save it. I'd be neat to compare that day to this day, though. Amazing it's just 3 track days later.

On Sight Productions was there again, taking their famous crooked pictures. I don't know why, but the camera man holds his camera crooked by anywhere from 4 to 30 degrees! It makes the pictures look so much worse. If he could actually hold a camera level I may buy a picture from him... but until then, I'll be content to just straighten out his thumbnails the best I can...

The day after the track day my wrist is really killing me. I'm not sure what it is. It almost feels like it's sprained. It's either tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. I hope it goes away, because if it doesn't I'm not going to be able to ride like this. I may have to see a doctor about it.

August 5th, 2004

Again, another big gap between entries. I think I've only ridden the bike three or four times since the last track day in April. I think I'm just bored with riding solo on the street. You can't do much safely, and if I'm going somewhere I'd just rather drive the car (more comfortable). Now if I actually knew people who road motorcycles, and I could go on some rides with people, that'd be a different story... it's always more fun riding with someone else.

Anyway, on to the point of this entry. The event was Ducati Northwest 2004 at PIR, hosted by Ducati North America and our local shop, MotoCorsa. Basically it was just a celebration of Ducati, with all kinds of booths setup from various retailers (including free RedBull, free Ducati branded water, and as it turns out, free dinner). There were LOTS of Ducatis here, but lots of other branded bikes, too. All the bikes kind of parked around the perimeter, so I couldn't capture all of them, but you get some idea of the hundreds (maybe 500 total) bikes there. Since Tonkin owns the Ducati shop and also Tonkin GT (the local exotic dealer), they also had a Ferrari 360 and Maserati on display.

Besides the fun event, the added bonus was some cheap track time. Whereas a normal day at PIR runs from $165-190 for bikes, today was a mere $50 for an on-track ticket. Of course, we figured track time would be severely limited since there were 250 on track participants. At initial sign-up, they told us we could register for three 15 minute sessions on our own bike, plus one on a Ducati demo bike. Unfortunately, since we got there only a half hour before we were suppose to, all the 999 and 749 demos were filled up for the whole day. Bummer. I wound up signing up for a Multistrada 1000DS, which is basically a sport tourer, with standard riding position. I was lucky enough to get the one with carbon slip on exhaust, and without the luggage:

It was certainly an interesting machine. Mounting it, I felt like I was riding a horse, not a motorcycle (it kind of looks like one, too). It has the most upright riding position of any bike I've ridden (I've ridden a cruiser, but that feels like you're... cruising). The first thing I noticed once I got underway was how I wanted to throw my legs back to the footpegs, but the second I lifted my feet off the ground, they were already on the footpegs! May seem simple and obvious, but it was strange. The demo wasn't going to be nearly as fun as the Aprilia Demo day, where you basically just had open track in the C Group. These Ducati guys had a follow the leader setup, with no passing. Being that there were only two demo bikes behind me, and Dennis on the Multistrada in front, we just went about 50 on the straights, went much quicker in the turns to catch up to traffic, and by the time the next straight came we were caught up to the other demo bikes. At one point some Ducati 999's blasted past us at 3x our speed on the front straight, but then in the turns Dennis and I caught them and were on their asses through the turns! On a couple of horses, mind you! Well, this was the C group, I guess. It was really odd hanging off the Multistrada... it's so tall and upright that it was rather difficult. To really lean the thing over and hang off of it, my outside foot was actually off the footpeg at times. It was odd. Overall, for a horse, it seemed like a capable machine. Would I ever want one? Hmm... never. *shrug* It was a good experience to have, though.

On to the Triumph experience. The whole first session, I barely even put a knee down; it really took me a while to get back into the flow of things. By the third 15-minute session, I was feeling pretty good. Normally traffic is a real drag, but since this wasn't an all out track day (we could even keep our mirrors on and not tape up!), it's what made it fun! I wasn't concerned with lap-times; just having fun. The traffic was an absolute blast. I was eating 5-10 guys in the braking zone on the front straight (many already doing 80 when I initially grab the brakes from 160... zoom), zipping around two bikes in turn 1 and 2, splitting between two more on the straight between 2 and 3, grabbing a few more through the remaining back S's, then taking out a couple more in the braking zone before 7. It was an absolute riot! I was doing this nearly every single lap. Remember, 250 total bikes registered, so there were always a lot of bikes out there (though of course only a fraction of the 250)! Instead of being annoyed at the traffic holding me up, I used it as the game for the day. While no speed records were broken, this probably would have made for the most entertaining video to date. I really wish I had a camera for the bike... I don't recall ever being passed during my last 5 sessions... except by Doug Polen... but... he has won two World Superbike championships, and holds the record for most races won in a season (17 of 24). Soooo... I'm okay with that. :-) (he was running 1:09s earlier) After the third session, we went to sign up for more sessions, and there were plenty open! When all was said and done, I ran 7 sessions! These were way shorter than usual sessions, so only 110 total miles on the track, but that's the same as a normal track day! And all for just $35 (since I was going to pay admission to this event even if it didn't have the track time). Dennis timed me in my last two sessions. Mostly through traffic I was doing 1:25-1:26, which I guess isn't that bad since I was passing a dozen guys per lap. I did get a few clear laps, and the fastest he timed me was 1:22 flat. There was only one guy who I passed that lap, but he hardly impeded me at all... a second at max, maybe .5. That lap was probably my quickest of the day. The new goal is a sub 1:20... still need a reliable timing method, though! Hmm...

After the last session ended at 4pm, we waited around for a while since they were raffling off at Ducati Monster 620. Not the most interesting bike, but I had a 1 in 250 chance of winning! Unfortunately, I didn't win. Instead, a guy who had just purchased a new Aprilia won. He now has two bikes with less than 100 miles on them.

There were some cool bikes on display... including a bunch of neat, old Ducatis, a Parts Unlimited 999 race bike (used in the AMA Superbike series), a very blingy (though tasty) custom Ducati Monster (with a very nice exhaust and rear end job.. I actually like it in this form), and a totally carbonized Ducati Monster (everything that could be carbon fiber on this bike is... including all the faring, tank, and the wheels):

Today was a ton of fun! I hope they hold this event annually, now. Besides all the cheap track time, it's just fun having a gathering of that many motorcyclists in one place. I certainly got my motorcycle fix for a while. Good deal.

December 23rd, 2004

I have ridden the Triumph twice since the last track day the first week of August, and decided it was about time to exercise it again. Dennis also wanted to take a friend for a ride, and she just so happened to have another friend who wanted a ride, so we did a two bike two-up ride down Skyline. The weather was fairly clear, but the road was still very damp from previous days of rain. As we ascended, we started going in and out of clouds where visibility went down to about 20 feet. At one point someone in a pickup truck came rounding a corner entirely in my lane! What an idiot! Unfortunately it's not rare to run into this kind of driver out here, but in the fog??? Glad I was able to get out of the way and not have to be the one to teach him a lesson with a lawsuit. I just left him with a middle finger. Once we got above 1200 feet we were mostly out of the clouds, and had some spectacular views of all the volcanos out east, with dense fog in the valley. We stopped at a decent view in front of Hood.

It was nice to be out on the bike again... though damn cold (45 degrees at game time). After charging the bike the previous day, it still wouldn't start in the morning, nor after the ride to work. Luckily some kind co-workers gave me a push start. A bit embarrassing, but I was on my way none the less. Time for a new battery...

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David Paris
Last modified: Sat Jun 4 11:51:43 PDT 2005