Saturday, November 12, 2005

Portland OR, Yamaha Starliner Press Intro

In September I attended the Press Launch of the new (Yamaha) Star Stratoliner. Here's some video I shot on the ride from downtown Portland to the Hood River bridge. (8:21 mins, 31Mb).

All text, photos and video©mark kalan and may not be reproduced.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

MotoGP Podcast

You've got to check out Bob Hayes' podcast called MotoGPod on motorcycle racing. (Click here or on the logo for the site.) Bob's has a professional quality voice and produces an entertaining show. While he admits to not being an expert on all aspects of racing he does do his homework. The man puts the wind back into being a Fan. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with now that the '05 season has ended. BTW-You don't need an iPod, just the ablity to download and listen to an mp3 file.

Here's Bob's description of his program: A podcast for MotoGP and motorcycle road racing. MotoGPod’s primary focus is MotoGP, but we’ll have occasional sidetrips into the world of AMA Superbike, AMA Supersport, AMA Superstock and FIM SBK World Superbike as well. Find out what’s going on in the sport that is the pinnacle of motorsport, motorcycle road racing! New episodes every week and a race wrapup after each race.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Godspeed Christian!

One of the major points stressed in motorcycle training is “risk management.” Wearing safety gear, riding sober and riding within your limits are all parts of the risk management equation. Regardless of how safety conscious we try to be, there’s always the unknown, the X factor.

On July 15th Christian Neuhauser, the Editor & Publisher of RoadRUNNER magazine was bitten by the X Factor while merging onto HWY 40 near his home in NC. I haven’t heard a final verdict on the cause but instead of merging into traffic, his sidecar rig merged into a tractor trailer truck, at speed. The ensuing accident blocked traffic for 40 hours. Christian was the only fatality.

I've had the pleasure of riding, racing, dining, laughing and arguing with Christian. Looking back, all those moments were too short and too rare. I'll miss him.

He loved to ride and he loved motorcycles of all kind. He was Austrian born and his readers benefited from his Teutonic need for quality, precision, and the inability to settle for the mundane.

The profession of motorcycle journalism is populated by a small cadre of unique individuals. Underpaid and overworked we don’t complain because we're envied by so many, especially those who are forced to live lives of quiet desperation. For that reason alone magazines like RoadRUNNER are necessary, if only to remind us that there is a light at the end of a tunnel.

When one pays this price for God and Country we deem them martyrs, hold ceremonies and build statues. Motorcyclists, and especially motorcycle journalists, being such a minor portion of the population, never receive recognition in the larger sphere. We become just another highway statistic.

Therefore its up to us riders, and us alone, to keep the flame burning in honor of Christian, those who went before him and those of us destined for a similar fate.

Christian’s remains were returned to Austria for his last ride.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

I score a set Hot 'n Tasty Twins at Rancho Mirage!

As the jet took off from White Plains Airport I closed my eyes to welcome the sandman. It was barely time to open for business and I'd already spent the last few hours moving at warp speed. Now it was time for the professionals to do their job so I could catch some shut-eye.

The Plan: Fly to Cali for two nights at the exclusive Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage where I had a date with not one but two hot twins. You might expect that at my age and having been married nearly a quarter-century I'd know better than to drop everything and spend a full day traveling completely across the country just to meet a couple of young twins. Well Bunkie, I may be middle-aged and married but as has been said many times before, "I ain't dead!" Besides I was their guest and they come from a very well respected family that I couldn't refuse. As I fell asleep I figured that at the very best I'd get would be to spend a few hours alone with each one for a quick fondle and grope. I'd just have to ditch the rest of their family. At 30,000 feet I fell asleep visualizing what I was going to do when I finally got to California.

The yellow sign bore a twenty mile-per-hour warning coupled to a squiggly arrow curved more ways than a Coney Island contortionist on a holiday weekend. A train of newly minted silver motorcycles sprouting leather-clad pilots spin by effortlessly at triple that speed. Desert wildflowers lined the road in stripes of yellow, red and blue that shivered in the passing vortex. On the horizon volcanic rock hills glowed red as they bathed in the last rays of sporadic spring sunlight. The entire scene was a breathtaking tableau of man, machine and nature.

In either direction the road offers an mélange of hairpins and switchbacks carved into canyon walls and mountainsides following paths that could only have been dreamed up by a deranged landscaper during a drug-induced joy-ride in a bulldozer. Or by a motorcyclist.

Some roads travel full circle or more as they cling to the canyon walls on an inner spiral only to spin out to the hillside roller-coaster-style with each turn demanding total concentration to negotiate at speed.

I'm part of a small cadre of motorcycle journalists privileged to be riding BMW's latest sport touring twins, the R1200ST and RT. We've just left the tight twisties of Mount Palomar and as we descend the hairpins that open up to sweeping curves with panoramic views of high desert, civilization, and in the distance Rancho Mirage home to the Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa. I fought the urge to do a 180 and head back to the hills.

My pre-lunch riding hours were spent fondling the R1200RT. Both of these twins represent the latest incarnation of BMW's two-wheeled philosophy. For '05 the engineers added power and shaved weight; the standard formula for going faster and improving handling, and they did it well, increasing power by more than 10% on both bikes and reducing weight on the RT by 70 pounds and the ST by 55 pounds over their respective predecessors.

While I prefer the low bars, lighter weight, sleek profile and altered chassis design of the sporty ST especially for canyon carving, those of you who carry a passenger will find the luxury of the RT as difficult to pass up as it is for others to pass it. From the wind and weather protection of the motorized windscreen to the RT's heated seat and grips this bike is equipped perfectly for early spring temperature changes that occur during a long day's ride. And as darkness falls the new triple H7 headlights with show you the path.

Both bikes instantly rocket to illegal speeds courtesy of BMW's latest re-design of the 4-valve twin 1170cc powerplant that they introduced in 1994. Shaving that speed off when you see the trooper is effortless thanks to servo-assisted brakes with ABS.

The big tech news is the optional ($750) electronic suspension adjustment aka ESA; which allows you to tune the ride to meet your handling desires as easy as it is to change radio stations on the single-CD stereo receiver.

With the day's riding over and all of us flying or riding off in different directions BMW once again proved their command of touring uncharted territory by taking us to dinner at a Caribbean yacht club in the middle of the desert but all I really wanted to do was play with the twins some more.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Where Have All the Titties Gone?

Perhaps I've only noticed because my wife's been in Amsterdam for a week smoking-up our 401K but I'm beginning to really miss seeing titties. Not only her titties in particular just titties in general. The older I get the more I notice that there are less titties around. There was a time when motorcycle magazines bore myriad mammary. Face it guys, that's why we bought motorcycles in the first place. So we could see titties up close, personal and jiggling. And jiggling titties are the only excuse for riding a hardtail. Face facts; Motorcycling made titties immediately accessible to our testosterone charged hands with the added benefit of providing portability. And if men had teats we'd still be living in caves and eating roots.

"Where have all the titties gone?" you may ask. I haven't a clue but I know where they're not; Wal-Mart. Despite a fresh crop added to the population on a daily basis there are no titties at Wal-Mart. There are no titties anywhere on the shelves of Wal-Mart. There are no titties on the DVDs sold in Wal-Mart. There are no titties on the Compact Discs sold in Wal-Mart. There are no titties on the geriatric greeters, who used to own their own businesses but are now forced to smile at you while at home they skip meals, collect cans, and pinch pennies so they can afford to take a bus to Canada to fill their Prozac, Lipitor and Viagra perscriptions. Most of all, as I'm sure you've figured out, there are no titties in the motorcycle magazines at Wal-Mart.

Iron Horse was the greatest motorcycle magazine on the planet. It didn't matter that their writers could barely construct a complete and proper sentence, that the layout was visually repulsive or that only three companies in the country would advertise in the rag. Iron Horse had two saving graces, possibly the two most important ingredients in motorcycling; Titties and Testicles.

A few decades ago three bikers, one American with a screw loose and two patch holders from the Moscow branch traversed the USSR. The triumvirate tooled through the dreaded Iron Curtain on three antique beater Harleys. During the trip they survived every mechanical malady that machines running magnetos and tube tires could generate.

On a dark and moonless night with only one of three headlights functioning, a feat made possible because of the makeshift jumper cables fastened to it from the one bike with a working generator—itself tethered by similar wiring to the third bike which boasted the only working battery, they came upon a military checkpoint. Secure in the knowledge that if stopped the bikes would never fire up again and they'd be vacationing at a Siberian labor camp they pegged the throttles, stood on the floorboards and blew through the checkpoint WFO smiling and waving. The guards were in such shock that they didn't even lift their weapons.

I read about it in Iron Horse and as I recall, the reason for the trip was so one of the three could visit his girlfriend. They did it for the titties! Titties proudly pictured in Iron Horse magazine. The original Iron Horse has long been out of print although the name is still owned by descendants of the publisher. Rumored to be in gestation thanks to artificial insemination and cash infusion Iron Horse might return*, probably watered down to the consistency of day-old gruel and definitely without the titties. Because Wal-Mart won't sell the rag if its got titties front and centerfold. And Wal-Mart sells more magazines than our politicians have pork barrel projects and tax cuts.

The only American rag running today that could even be compared content-wise to the old Horse is The Horse-Back Street Choppers. You can buy the teat-less wonder at Wal-Mart.

Motorcycle industry analysts bemoan the ageing of our sport's customer base. It seems that every few years we find out that the average rider is about...our age. Which is of course, older than we were when the previous study was done. Motorcycling has no farm team rising through the ranks. Yet according to the Motorcycle Industry Council's most recent Press Release, we sold more than a million motorcycles last year. The last time bike sales numbers were that high three wackos on rat-bikes were riding across the Soviet Republic just to get their hands on a set of titties. Rumors are rolling about that the Big Box stores are quietly buying up franchises for motorcycle dealerships. Some are already practicing by selling cheap Chinese knock-offs. Soon they'll get good at it and titties will be totally eliminated from motorcycling.

Not to worry though, we'll all be able to get minimum-wage jobs with no benefits working as greeters to the Big Box Bike Department and at that point even if we get to see any titties we won't remember what to do about it.

‘Till next month my friends, ride well, ride far, ride fast and remember that you're only as old as the woman you feel.


*since this was written the original Iron Horse is back. And I maintain my opinions. -mk

Google Search