Saturday, December 20, 2008

Racing and the Economy



If you're a racer, you know how expensive racing can be. Heck, racing a little 'ol Honda 500 Ascot out at Willow Springs could cost upwards of $500 a weekend, and that's if nothing broke and I didn't crash. Now imagine you're part of a team...Big bikes, sponsors, big truck and trailer, motorhome...you're racing in style. That's a whole lot of money, you need big sponsors. Let's step it up one more time, you're the factory or the importer of the motorcycle. Now you have all the other stuff plus...the riders salary, a couple of mechanics (at least two or three) they have to be paid too, BIG trucks, a motorhome a bit above your average Winnebago, a caterer....you can see the dollar bills just flying out of the exhaust pipe.

In Europe, motor racing gets large, no, huge crowds. Two or four wheels, it doesn't matter. On The Continent they love their racing. Fans show up wearing leathers just like their favorite racer, their bike is painted in the same livery...they love racing. Racer's are gods. So, why is racing shrinking? As a former President of the USA once said, "it's the economy stupid"

Check out what is going on. We'll start with a small but significant event, 'The Legend of the Motorcycle Concours' held at Pebble Beach California, has been canceled for 2009. Why? The economy. Next up on the 'Hit List', Craftsman (Sears) pulls their sponsorship of the NASCAR Truck Series...Why? The economy. NASCAR teams are shrinking because sponsorship is drying up. Audi, the most successful team in the American LeMans Series, has pulled out due to economic concerns and Honda has pulled out of Formula One racing altogether. And, even though Honda is citing global economics and it's effect on Honda as the reason they have pulled out of AMA Pro Racing for the 2009 season, I think there is more to it than that. That is another post as well.

Car sales are down, motorcycle sales are down, of course the factory's can't continue to spend gazillion's of dollars on racing. It's simple stuff. Valentino Rossi is going to have to sell one or two of his houses around the world. Dani Pedrosa will have to order off the value menu on Tuesday and Thursday and Ben Spies can't have Texas Barbeque flown in fresh each week.

But here is the Silver Lining to that cloud. Scooter sales are up world wide and I'm working on a plan to set up a World Scooter Racing program. Can you see it?? Vespa vs Kymco vs Honda vs Lance. It's gonna be great. We'll be on network TV all over the world..we'll have screaming fans wherever we go...we will be the new gods of racing.

Excuse me, I have to go take my medication now.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Weird times in roadracing

Yessiree gang, we have got some strange times heading our way. Professional roadracing in America seems to be taking a detour. I have written and podcasted about the changes happening and the dissatisfaction that riders and manufacturers have about those changes.

Let's do a quick recap; AMA sells off the racing division to Daytona Motorsports Group figuring they can do a better job of promoting racing. Who is DMG? For one, they own NASCAR. NASCAR is second only to the NFL in popularity here in the states. DMG changes the name to AMA Pro Racing. APR proceeds to talking about changes in the class structure and rules. The Big Four (Honda,Kawasaki,Yamaha and Suzuki) cast a wary eye and start backing away. Some riders are quite upset at the structure, we all know that Matt Mladin is pretty peeved and has said he won't ride under the new structure and others are just hanging around to how the dust settles.

Next, final class structure and rules are set out. We all know that Suzuki was not happy from the very beginning, the other three were still somewhat sitting on the fence. Dunlop becomes the the only tyre supplier to AMA Pro Racing, that's OK, spec tyre rules seem to working for World Superbike and Formula One..it's been adopted by MotoGP...so that's the trend. No big deal. But wait..there's more?!

Every December, Dunlop holds the Annual Tyre Test at Daytona Motor Speedway. Everybody that uses Dunlop shows up and works with the newest latest and greatest from Dunlop. Factory teams and privateers. New bikes in plain clothes, test mules and young hot shots hoping to impress the factory teams, a big event in American roadracing. This year was a little short on participants. Kawasaki decided they didn't like the new rules and decided to boycott the event, Honda and Suzuki went along. Only Yamaha committed to the event. Recently I had spoken with a representative from Yamaha and he was a little concerned that Yamaha had stuck their neck out pretty far. Eventually Honda decided to go. But...Honda factory pilots Miguel Duhamel and Neil Hodgson didn't have contracts for the 2009 season, Erion Honda Superbike rider Jake Zemke was there riding with a 'Gentleman's agreement'. Weird huh?

A week later Honda announced that they were pulling out of AMA Pro Racing for the 2009 season! Honda cited economics. They said they would continue support of the Erion Racing and Corona Racing teams, but as a factory team they would not be racing. Do you really believe that 'Global Economics' is the reason Honda has pulled out? I don't. I think it is an easy way make a statement, to thumb their nose at AMA Pro Racing.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Let the show begin

This blog-post is being powered by ZZ-Top today. And... Marshall Crenshaw, Cream, The Kinks, John Hiatt...I believe all of them are bikers at heart. This kind of work environment drives my wife crazy but it works for me.

This last weekend was the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach. I love going to the show..whether for work or fun. I always run into friends,
see the new bikes and all the goodies I would love to have. This is when my credit card is taken away from me before I go. Wives..spoilsports that they are.

Friday morning is the start of Media Day at the show. Even though Long Beach is not the first show of the season, a lot of new bikes are unveiled there. The logic is simple..Southern California is the main market and this is where the magazines are located..gotta have press coverage you know. That's why The MotoWorld is here.

My good friend Michael and I survived the L.A traffic and arrived at the show looking forward to some good interviews, checking out all the newest,latest and greatest in the motorcycle world, seeing old friends, meeting and talking with people who you know their names,their writing, but not their faces, and making new friends.

Between Michael and I, our day was full with interviews, photo's and the basic media circus. Can't complain at all. The new Harley XR1200, some very cool Cafe Racer's from roadracer turned custom bike builder Roland Sands some vintage Cafe Racers from local guys...I need to blame my friend Erik for my newly rediscovered love of this genre of bikes...remember he and I have a contest for building the coolest Cafe Racer out of a Honda 350...there was a really neat little Honda 160 all cafe'd out a couple of beautiful Guzzi's and a waaaay trick CB750.

All in all a great day...but, I have to say, even though there are a lot of technical improvements in new motorcycles, they all look the same, feel the same and...well, I don't know...for me the show was more about the people. Industry types and regular riders. I guess that really is the essence of motorcycling, the people that ride.
So today, go out and ride your motorcycle...cruiser,sportbike,cafe racer or scooter, just go ride.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

So much news...so little time

I have been writing personal blog posts of late and have let news features fall by the wayside. Well, today is different, lets talk about what is going on in roadracing. Those of you that know me, have listened to the podcast (www.themotoworld.com) and / or read this blog, know I have been a roadracer since 1981 and that is where my heart is. I occasionally delve into the off-road world but as my old friend and racing adversary Danny Farnsworth of the Willow Springs Motorcycle Club used to say..."pavement is racing, dirt is for growing potatoes" thats why today is all about roadracing

One of the most popular podcasts at www.themotoworld,com we have done of late is titled "All news, All the time...Well kinda". It was fun to do because there is so much happening in the roadracing world right now. A new organization with new rules, some manufacturers not wanting to play, new riders on new bikes, a spec tyre program in both AMA Pro Racing and MotoGP, a potential for International rules for National series.

Let's start with AMA Pro Racing vs. the 'Big 4', Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki. The final rule changes for the 2009 racing season were announced last week and three out of the big four were not happy. In the past, only one has been annoyed. The details of the rules can be found at other websites such as www.roadracingworld.com so I won't get into them here, but the gist of it is that it all started with a change of tire sizes and fuel tank alterations that Kawasaki was not happy with. Honda decided to follow suit and the Yoshimura Suzuki joined in. Yamaha said "we're going racing"! Well, this coming weekend is the Daytona Tire Test. Usually a big event. I wonder who's going to be there?

And still more from the soap opera we lovingly call AMA Pro Racing. President Roger Edmondson has made a big deal about the fact the rule changes coming forth are designed to make the racing better by leveling the playing field, or race course as it were. Spec tyre's, horsepower limitations ala Moto-ST, which he also runs and is doing quite well and new homologation rules for aftermarket parts. There has been and is still a lot of unhappiness about all the various changes. Mr Edmondson is trying to get more motorcycles from more manufacturers on the grid. Good for him. I think we all agree that we would like to see the likes of Ducati, Aprillia, KTM, Buell and Triumph alongside the Big Four. Here is where it gets a bit interesting.

In the "Middle Weight" classes, AMA Sportbike and AMA Supersport, we could see a VERY wide range of machinery on the track. For the 2009 racing season we will see the 600CC bikes from Honda, Kawasaki,Suzuki and Yamaha but...also the Triumph Daytona 675, Buell 1125R, KTM Superduke, BMW1200ccHP2 and the Ducati 848. Would make a very interesting and exciting field don't you think? I do. But wait, what's wrong with this picture??? 1100 and 1200 CC motorcycles against little'ol 600's? It's been done before. But that was back in the day of two big heavy, two valve aircooled cylinder motors, not lightweight, high performance, liquid cooled four valve motors. And,why is Ducati limited to 848CC?? I must be missing something here. Let's get a small picture of how this looks. Based on press releases available to all; the Buell 1125R comes from the factory with 146HP and 82 Ft lbs of torque, ok, cool. The Honda CBR600RR comes to the party with a paltry 105HP and a meager 46 ft lbs of torque, poor little Honda.

So, the question is now, how is this a level playing field? I'm not sure, but it might make for some very interesting racing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lost mentor

This has a been a tough year. Losing friends and motorcycles, motorcycles are friends too actually. I found out yesterday that the man that caused my sickness...riding and racing motorcycles...passed away a while back.

Michael Norton Spence was my step dad. I have mentioned him in posts of late and I find it interesting that because of those posts I learned of his passing.

Michael was born in 1935, took up flat track racing in the early 50's, and roadracing a little later. The pictures of he and his brother racing back then are great, I wish I had them. Michael took me under his wing in the mid 60's and created this monster that has lived in me ever since...the love of motorcycles. We raced in the California Desert together for a few years, rode every twisty road in Southern California and destroyed a few motorcycle's along the way.

I have numerous memories of time with my step dad...some good, some not so good and some just plain memorable. I learned to figure out how to get a motorcycle running again when you're stranded in the desert or on a Highway in the middle of nowhere, how to tune a motorcycle by ear and why Triumphs are the best motorcycle's ever made...well, I still own one, so I guess he taught me well??

A favorite memory I have comes from the trip home from a race in the desert. Just your basic 'Hare and Hound', 100 miles across the Mojave, but..it was my first trophy..third place in the 'Open Novice' class. I was on top of the world. The day got better...we were passing the old '395 Cycle Park' in Adelanto, California where a TT race was going on. We stopped to watch a bit and I ended up getting a chance to ride in the TT on a Bultaco Astro 250, too much fun. I didn't do all that well, but I followed my basic race philosophy...don't crash and don't be last, I succeeded.

It was a really hot day in the desert and what is always great on a hot day?? A cold beer! Two guys covered in dirt, in an old truck with a couple of beat up motorcycles in the back and one of the guys is only 17. Let's stop at the next roadside bar we see. The Rocket Inn. A dive outside of town, people that have been sitting at the bar since opening time (6AM), a really bad jukebox, really cold beer and no ID required. A great end to a great day. It is a great memory. Oh, and the really, really good part, I beat my step dad in the race...by a long way!!

I moved to New Mexico in 1973. My move to New Mexico was on my motorcycle thank you; at that time a 1972 Kawasaki 750. Unfortunately it was also at that time Michael and my mom parted company. I lost touch with my motorcycle mentor. I tried to find him a couple of times over the years since with no luck and actually thought I saw him once in a restaurant.

The man that got me started on this life long path of motorcycling was killed while walking across a road near his home in Las Vegas. Over thirty years later I found that he was an associate professor at a local college and still riding his old 1952 Triumph Speed Twin.

Thank you Michael for sending me on this path. I owe you much my friend. I hope you are riding your motorcycle in heaven and I know that heaven for you is riding that bike.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The coolest tool

Only thirty eight days to Christmas... so start saving your pennies because I know what I want under the Christmas tree. Now, we're all gearheads here and we love tools, how can you go to Sears, Lowes or Home Depot and not head for the tool section?! It would sacrilegious! That's when the wife takes my credit card away. Some of the better motorcycle shops have cool special tools as well. Motion Pro goodies are especially dangerous. Then there are catalogs like Rider Wearhouse, Dennis Kirk, heck, even JC Whitney has some neat stuff. Being a gearhead is a sickness cured only by more tools and as 'Tim the Tool Man' says..."More Power". Well, I think I have stepped over the line.

Here at The Motoworld International Headquarters we are putting in a new driveway. The contractor doing the work showed up with a crew, a big truck, sledge hammers, pick axes and...a Bobcat! You see them all around at job sites but when you see one in your driveway doing it's job, well... It does everything, turns tighter than a MotoCross bike, can lift that MX bike ten feet in the air and with the right attachment it can transport a Gold Wing across town.

Why am I putting this on my Christmas list and what has this got to do with motorcycles? I want to build a TT track in our back yard and the Bobcat is the perfect tool. Getting the Bobcat is probably easy compared to getting permission from the wife to build the track. Wish me luck.

Ride safe, ride fast and have fun dreaming
See you on the road,

Paul

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Old bikes again??!! Yeah, sorry about that

As most of us do, we subscribe to different mailing lists and forums. For me, it's the Bevelheads (vintage Ducati's),The VJMC (vintage Japanese bikes),the Hinckley generation Triumph list (the new stuff from Triumph)and a few more for motorcycle business stuff.

This last week a topic on the Triumph list came up that brought up reliability issues of Triumphs. Now, the new Triumphs are so good that the only issues that could be brought up were regarding older Brit Bikes. I and a couple of other list members were accused of trashing and slamming old bikes. It was all based on a couple of comments about unreliability. Hey, we all know that motorcycles of the 50's through early 70's American, English, Japanese, left a bit to be desired in the reliability column. Good jokes about Lucas Electrics being the Prince of Darkness...'Jap Crap'and if you add in the AMF Harley days..you know exactly what AMF means...Adios Mother F....R. I'm sorry I hurt this guys feelings but oh well.

So today I wanted to do a quick post about old Triumphs again. My step dad, who I blame for my sickness...loving motorcycles and in particular English motorcycles, started me on a little Yamaha dirt bike, moved me to the Bultaco, to a Honda 350, a Triumph Bonneville, then a BSA Lightning 650...on and on..In between all those bikes I was allowed to ride his 1952 Triumph Speed Twin. Only once in a while but I did get to ride it. I learned a lot about motorcycles with that bike. How to cut your own clutch plates out of cork, replacing a primary chain and servicing a 'sprung hub' style ...suspension??

Early on in motorcycle history, the frames were rigid. Something of a front suspension was there and the rear..well, the seat had springs on it like an old tractor, but that was it. Then came the sprung hub...in the center of the rear wheel the hub had springs built into the wheel..a very ingenious design...didn't do much, but was better than a rigid! I know Vincent had an incredibly modern suspension, way ahead of it's time in that period, look at a Yamaha Mono Cross suspension of the Seventies and you'll see how modern a Vincent was! One of the poster's on the Triumph list extols the virtues of his Vincent on a regular basis..and I envy him a lot!!

So, the point of this little story...modern motorcycles are so reliable you don't have to think about them hardly at all. Older bikes, and I don't care where they came from, needed love and attention. Many of us learned the lesson...ride it for one hour, work on it for two. We may look back and criticize them for unreliability and sketchy handling, but those of us that rode them then and still do, learned about taking care of your motorcycle so it would get you there and home again. I hope you get the opportunity to spend some time with an older motorcycle, learn to clean and set points, adjust the timing and your clutch, tune the spokes on your wheels, tickle the carbs just right so it starts on the first or second kick and to love the sound and feel of an old motorcycle. Besides all that good stuff...they're chick magnets!!! even for us old guys.

Ride safe, ride fast and ride old...oh, and here is the next bike on my wish list
See you on the road,
Paul

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back in the day...


When you could go out riding in the mountains and deserts with your friends, ride a Hare and Hound or an Enduro. Few fences, no Sierra Club and only a few endangered species of plants and tortoises. Times have changed, haven't they?

The other day while reading through postings on one of the mailing lists I subscribe to I came across a great photo gallery that brought back a lot of special memories.http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcgreeneiv/sets/72157600755463552/show Vintage photo's of desert racing and enduro's from the fifties through the seventies. It's really great stuff. Great racing, trail riding, sand dune riding, friends and family. All the best of riding a motorcycle. Looking at those pictures got me to looking at my own history.

I started my racing career in 1968 in the Mojave Desert with my step dad. At the time he was riding a Triumph 500 twin. Basically a stripped down street bike with semi knobby tires, a skid plate and straight high pipes...commonly known then as a 'Desert Sled'. Big, heavy, fast and ridden by manly men, ninety pound weaklings need not apply. Now, I wasn't a ninety pound weakling but, those things were beasts. Fortunately my step dad wanted me to have fun. So instead of torturing a sixteen year old novice on a big heavy bike, something lighter was on the shopping list. I started on a Bultaco 250cc Matador. . That Matador was great fun. With the lights attached, it was street legal and I could ride it anywhere, pull the lights and it was my race bike. Bultaco's weren't what you would call the most reliable bikes in the world...I mean hey, it only stranded me in the desert, uh...four times,um, maybe six?? but I loved that bike.

If you love or even like Vintage off road riding you are going to love the slide show. I hope it brings back memories for you too.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Can this become that???

I love Cafe Racers. I have written about this before and talked about them on our Podcast. My good friend Erik is way into them (check out his blog at caferacers.wordpress.com). Almost any bike can be turned into a Cafe Racer. But...what is a Cafe Racer? I'm glad you asked.
A Cafe Racer is more than just a modified motorcycle, it's also a type of motorcycle rider. The roots of a Cafe Racer go back to a British counterculture of the 1960's. Did you ever see the movie Quadraphenia? The Mods and The Rockers. The Mods on their scooters...highly modified and stylized and The Rockers on their motorbikes...highly modified and sylized.Your basic culture clash of the 60's. Both groups arrive at Brighton Beach, England for holiday. A brawl ensues ...arrests are made, bikes and scooters destroyed. But wait, these guys were basically doing the same thing to two wheels, just a bit differently. The Mods were into modern music and style... picture The Beatles; The Rockers into classic 50's American Rockabilly and leather jackets...picture Fonzie on the TV show Happy Days.

The origin of the Cafe Racer culture is really interesting. Post World War Two, soldiers coming home with some cash in their pockets and buying motorcycles. In Britain it started as a contest between riders sitting in a cafe drinking coffee, bragging about how fast they are...the race was on. But, this race was a bit different, it was not two riders on the road racing each other, that's too easy.. This race was one rider racing against... the song on juke box in the cafe??! You pop your nickel into the juke box, pick a song, run out the door start your bike and ride to a designated turnaround point and back to the cafe before the song ended. Crazy indeed. Back at that time most songs were only about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes long and the roundtrip was somewhere around 3 miles. Do the math. You had to be riding really fast, usually over 100mph to make it back in time. That my friend is where the phrase 'doing the ton' came from. The 'Ton' was 100mph. Enough of Cafe Racer culture education, I want to build one.

So, how do I make a Cafe Racer? The basics are strip it of everything that is unnecessary. The lighter the better. Here in the USA that is how 'Choppers' got started, on The Continent (Europe) it was the Cafe Racer. I need to add here that there is ONE, count 'em, ONE American Cafe Racer and it is the only Harley Davidson I would love to own...the 1978 Harley XLCR.


I'll start with this little old Honda SL350..why the SL?? Well, first off...it's because I have one that runs great and no one wants to buy (it's been on e-bay and Craigs list for a while) and because it has a double down tube frame instead of a flimsy single tube chassis, a steeper steering angle for quicker steering and it's kick start only..very vintage and the cool factor is higher.
Drop in a CB front end so I can easily stick a better 18" front wheel and tyre combo. Fork mods are easier on the CB as well. From there it's simple stuff like brake shoe upgrades, better shocks, a set of clubman handlebars and a cool paint job.

My friend Erik is also going to build one out of the spare parts that I have. We're going to make a contest out of this...looking at what he has to start with...and what his vision is...his will be cooler for sure. But I'll be riding mine a lot sooner. Good luck Erik.

Back to the original question...can I make this out of that??? I'll keep you posted. Should be a fun winter project.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

You meet the nicest people...


...on a Honda!!
Everyone knows that old advertising slogan...well, at least you should. Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys) even wrote a song for the 'Hondels'?? about a 'Groovy Little Motorbike'

Anyway, yesterday I got an e-mail from an old friend, an article in the London Telegraph Newspaper (www.telegraph.co.ok/motoring/columnists/jamesmay/) about the Honda Cub motorbike. It was a wonderful surprise to get this e-mail from my friend for a number of reasons.
First, I have a Honda Cub...not just a Cub, a 'Super Cub'!!! 1959 C110. A whopping 55cc, I think about 8 horsepower..I'd bet on the 8 horses in a race however...second,my daughter learned how to ride a motorized two wheeled vehicle on that little motorbike, she made her basketball player (read, TALL) boyfriend ride passenger on it and thirdly...my friend Terry (who sent the article) crashed our little Super Cub in a garage at Willow Springs. It was the first time she was on a motorbike..I guess I wasn't a very good teacher. Sorry Terry.

The little Super Cub was the coolest little pit bike at Willow Springs..going for gas, new tires, lunch, visiting friends...it didn't matter, the little Honda was always there. My friend Jay (another derelect 500cc singles racer) had a Bridgestone 50cc pit bike. We used to race around the access roads of Willow Springs between races for fun..that's how we met World Champions Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey one day. They were racing Go Karts on 'The Streets Of Willow' course,but,that's a story for another time.


I still have that little motorbike..needs a battery, but other than that, it runs great. It's been sitting in my barn for about four years now. My daughter moved home recently and receiving the article got both of us to thinking...for puttin' around town, to the grocery store, the auto parts store, Radio Shack...nothing better than the little Super Cub. A high 'Giggle Factor' ride if there ever was one. As you can tell, it needs a bit of TLC. OK, a lot of TLC. I'm having a guilt attack right now about that little bike, so I think I'll go out to the barn and get the 'Super Cub' back on the road. I'll keep you posted. You know what..I need to cruise E-Bay first to see if I can find a basket to put on the front...how cool would that be!

Have a good ride today and don't forget to vote tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The 'one percenters'

Good afternoon all,

The AMA, American Motorcyclist Association, has said that 99% of all motorcycle riders are good law abiding citizens and the other 1% are outlaws. The 'one percenters'. The motorcycle gangs. We've all seen the movie 'The Wild One', well, I hope most of us have seen it, Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin and a sweet innocent girl in the local cafe', great stuff...anyway, with a little bit of literary and artistic license it portrayed the motorcycle gangs of the fifties. Riding, drinking, fighting and general mayhem. Ride into town, intimidate the local folks...scare the crap out of them really...take what you want and ride onto the next town. That movie along with others like, Hells Angels on Wheels, Wild Angels and more, stamped the outlaw biker image on the American public. Easy Rider on the other hand, showed 'the biker' as a loner, criminal and maybe not such a bad guy.

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley of California. A suburb of Los Angeles. Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Ronald Reagan, Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, many celebrities and notables called 'The Valley' home. So did some motorcycle gangs. The Hessians, The Mongols, The Hells Angels and a couple of minor gangs. Everybody saw them and heard the myths about them. In those days, they really didn't lay low. The parties were legendary, the crimes..violent, the image..huge. True modern mythology. Then for a few years, it seemed that the gangs were, well, not such a big deal. You didn't hear much about them, didn't see them everywhere so, almost forgotten. Relegated to history. Not so.

Motorcycle gangs became businesses. Corporations no less. Violence was down, business was up. Crime does pay. Territories set and observed. There were still investigations, arrests and convictions. Fued's between rival gangs still existed but no longer on the front page of the L.A Times. All seemed pretty quiet on the Motorcycle Gang front.

A few years ago that quiet ended. And I was a little closer than I would like. I was in Laughlin, Nevada celebrating my brothers birthday. I had ridden my Ducati Darmah and the valet guys let me park right by the front door. Two days later my Ducati was surrounded by a sea of Harley's. It was the beginning of the annual Laughlin Run. After a lot of careful manuevering, I was able to extricate my motorcycle and get on the road for home. I was heading west, and a caravan of Harley's was heading east. It was quite a sight..and sound. Before I had even gotten home that night, the Motorcycle Gangs were back in the spotlight. Stabbings, shootings and dead bikers. All at the same hotel I was staying at.

I used to own a small retail business here in Southern California and a few members of a motorcycle club were our customers. They were OK guys, always nice, polite and respectful. We treated them the same way. A couple of members even offered to 'help' when our store was broken into. Uh, thanks but no thanks.

This big club decided to have their International 50th Anniversary party in our town. The town government went into a panic. 'No Motorcycle Parking' signs up all over, adding police officers from all over the county. The city spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to protect the citizenry and in general, making this club feel very unwelcome. The Anniversary event went off without a scene. The members from around the world spent money in stores and restaurants and went home.

A few months later, a large number of the club members were arrested, including the club president, on a wide variety of charges. Some stuck, some didn't but the clubs days of doing their business quietly or under the radar were now over. Motorcycle gangs had a few brief moments on the front page again. Then just as quickly, out of the spotlight.

Until the other day. Another very large international Motorcycle Gang was raided in the Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley areas. Raided big time! Guns, money, drugs...the stuff of motorcycle gang lore. Back on the front pages and the 11 o'clock news.

This is a bit of a different post for us, but we do call ourselves The Moto 'World' don't we? Well, gangs are part of the motorcycling world, for better or worse. One motorcycle club's own website has a unique line at the bottom, "When we do right, nobody remembers, when we do wrong, nobody forgets". I guess participating in toy runs at Christmas are the good things that make up for the bad things?

Earlier on I made a comment about being closer to motorcycle gang activity than I would like. More than the brawl in Laughlin, more than customers in my store. A young man that I have known since he was just a little kid... good family, good friends, a good surfer and computer wiz, is joining a motorcycle gang. Why? I don't know. It makes no sense. I don't want to lose a friend to that life because as the gangs say, "once you're in, you're in for life".

Motorcycle gangs are back in the news again, but hopefully, they will be back out of it just as quickly. Those of us in the 99% don't need negative publicity.

Ride safe, ride fast and stay in the UPPER 1%, not the lower.

Paul

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Start 'em young, or...



...the family that rides together...uh, rides together.

I think I was fourteen years old, my dad had just returned from a tour of duty in the Vietnam War. He was only going to be home for six months before heading back. He had a Honda 160 tucked away in the garage. After he settled in, he took the sheet off, put in a new battery and went riding.

A couple of weeks later, dad was washing the bike and asked if I would like to learn how to ride. I couldn't say yes fast enough. After the basic.."here's the clutch...here's the brake...down for first...etc" I was ready???? Ok, I'm guessing that you are already getting a picture in your mind of what happens next...

Actually I did pretty good. Until...the clutch lever doesn't work the front brake! Here's the 'Homer Moment'...DOH! right into the back bumper of my dad's car. More damage to ego than motorcycle or car. I have been on two wheels ever since.

Fast forward a few years... I have been racing bikes out in the desert and lots of trail riding. My son Kelly was about 2 years old when I first put him on a motorcycle, he rode with me all around Kennedy Meadows, to the Speedway races in Costa Mesa and all around parts of New Mexico. But he never got the bug like I did. Sigh.

After Kelly graduated from High School I sent him off to Europe for a few months. He came back with great stories of course, but he also came back with a desire to ride motorcycles? Here's how the story goes...On the Greek island of Corfu, he rented a scooter and rode everywhere for a few days. When he got home he told me that he never understood my love of motorcycles until then..now he wants to ride. Christmas day, while the turkey was cooking, we took out 'The Mighty 350' and rode all around our town. Kelly went on to roadracing, commuting and traveling around the country(9000 miles in 3 weeks) on two wheels. The seed was planted early on, it just took a really long time to sprout.

My good friend Erik is a hard core rider..roadracer, rally rider, traveler and commuter. He also has two little kids, Emma and Ethan. For Emma's eighth birthday, Erik bought her a little Honda XR50. They live close to an off-road vehicle park so going riding is easy fun.
Here's the catch though...she has to share the XR50 with her little brother once in a while. Anyway...Little Emma is totally hooked...the stories I hear from Erik are just great. She likes to brag that she's 'racing' with the big kids!!??
Every time I talk to Erik, the conversation heads to how much fun he is having riding with his kids. I know the feeling, I'm sure a lot of us do. Emma is going to be the next 'Star' on The Motoworld Podcast"


I was still racing into my early fifties with my son, and my dad was still the 'Crew Chief' at the races. Dad and I traveled all over the Western U.S and Canada together. Lot's of great memories, pictures and stories.

So, go riding with your kids and have two wheeled fun for years to come. Like I said,"the family that rides together has more fun than others...for a long time.."

Ride fast, ride safe and ride with your kids..
See you on the road,
Paul

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

From Houston to the World


The sun is just starting to come up here in Southern California and I just got off the phone doing an interview for our podcast. I spent the past thirty minutes with a racer that I have admired for years. Not only for his racing, but his overall involvement in motorcycling and with motorcyclists. Kevin Schwantz. 500cc World Roadracing Champion in 1993, founder of the Kevin Schwantz Suzuki Riding School www.schwantzschool.com and coach for the Red Bull Rookies Cup team.

Kevin had just wrapped up a two day school at Road Atlanta and was heading off to the airport for a motorcycle show in Paris and then down to Valencia Spain to coach the American Red Bull Rookies for a race against the European Red Bull Rookies. In our chat together you could hear the enthusiasm and pride he has for these young kids. When Heather and I were at the AMA Superbike Finale last month at Laguna Seca, Kevin was there coaching the kids all through the weekend. As we would walk around the paddock, we would see Kevin with his riders and they were all having a great time...hey, who wouldn't? A couple of times we went looking for Kevin to talk with him for the podcast and we found him in the KTM Red Bull pits giving a pep talk to the kids. You should have seen these kids, their eyes and attention completely focused on what Kevin was saying.

Kevin came into this teaching and coaching position through a side door, you have to listen to the podcast www.themotoworld.com to hear about that side door, you can hear how much he has come to love it. I have a good friend who has attended his school twice, once as a journalist and once on her own. Angie credits Kevin with her success in roadracing. She was always fast, but Kevin helped her become smooth and fast.

Kevin Schwantz is an interesting man. Starting off trials riding in a ditch outside his family's motorcycle shop in Houston Texas to World Roadracing Champion to Stock Car racer to owner of a Stock Car team to teacher and coach in motorcycling again.

It was a great thirty minutes with Kevin, well worth getting up before dawn to have a visit. Listen to the podcast and get to know Kevin a bit better, you'll like it. I did

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Another day in Paradise??


Fire Season in Southern California...ranks right up there with Hurricane Season on the East and Gulf Coasts. It really plays havoc with your life. I really feel bad for the people that are directly affected by these catastrophes. We here at The Motoworld live in area prone to fire danger, as a matter of fact we were watching fire come over the hill towards where we live a year ago, fortunately the wind shifted and our little town was spared.

Today, I'm watching the news about fires that are happening right now in areas that I have ridden motorcycles in since I was a teenager. The mountain areas north of Los Angeles offer some of the greatest riding you could find anywhere. Roads like Angeles Crest Hiway, Sierra Hiway, Lake Hughes Road, Angeles Forrest Hiway, Upper Big Tujunga, Bouquet Cyn....the list goes on. Off-road areas like Texas Canyon, San Fancisquito Canyon, Green Valley, Leona Valley and more.

I have reminisced about riding areas that have disappeared due to development or environmentalist concerns(?) but when whole areas burn, there is nothing to do but watch and pray for those in the way of the fire.

So, I'm writing this today because I'm watching the fire spread and I'm thinking back on the days that I rode my Bultaco Matador or my Honda Sl350 in those hills that are now burning. It was great riding back then and if it wasn't all closed up now, it would still be great riding. It's just sad to see it burning.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

where are they all going?

With the uncertainty of the status of motorcycle roadracing here in the U.S for next season, what are racers going to do? Where are they going to be racing? It seems like no one knows. As we were preparing to go to Laquna Seca for AMA Superbike Finale a couple of weeks ago, we contacted the PR people for the Big4 to line up interview time and as I mentioned before three said interviews are fine but don't bring up politics and one, Suzuki, said no interviews at all. As a matter of fact the PR gal completely ignored us at the track. Oh well.

Yamaha, Kawasaki and Honda have always been helpful and fun to deal with and the PR people and riders have become good friends. When the subject of the current situation of roadracing came up, we were told that the guys are just tired of hearing about it and the truth is no one knows whats going on. In our interview with Honda's Neil Hodgson, we were talking about the off-season, he brought up next year and his quote " God only knows what is going to happen" my response was "and he's not telling"..we both got a chuckle out of that.
So he
re are a couple of things we do know and a couple of rumors and speculations. We do know that Ben Spies is going to World Superbike. He wanted MotoGP but maybe in reality, WSBK is a perfect stepping stone for him. He has a good deal with Yamaha and Valentino's contract runs out in a couple of years, who knows what Ben's next step could be, but I think Ben will be a major force in World Superbike. We do know that Troy Corser is going to BMW and Max Biaggi is going back to Aprilia. We know that Ben Spies is taking Troys seat at Yamaha, but who is taking Max's seat at Sterilgarda Ducati. AND...who is taking Troy Bayliss's ride at Xerox Ducati???

Now, onto rumors and speculations...back in July, we here at The MotoWorld www.themotoworld.com interviewed Erion Honda's Jake Zemke and he came right out and said that he is looking to Europe for a ride next year, and besides that, his wife loves Italy. Josh Hayes has a ride for the end of this year in World SuperSport and finished ninth this past weekend..good for you Josh. That is both Erion Honda riders looking eastward. What is Kevin Erion doing for next year?

Did you watch this last weekend's World Superbike race from Magny Cours, France? More importantly, did you listen? During the broadcast, one of the announcers made a couple of cryptic comments. First was a hint that Noriyuki Haga may be leaving Yamaha to Ducati, could be a good match, could be the one that finally gets the 'perenial bridesmaid' a World Championship that he so richly deserves. That would fill Troy Bayliss's seat, and, I think 'Nitro Nori' is probably only one of a couple that could fill Troy's seat. So, who steps in to fill Hagasan's ride? Well, another comment was made by the Speed TV commentator that there was a possibility that Ben Bostrom may be heading back to the continent. Let's see, he has had a good bit of success in World Superbike, and he is the AMA SuperSport Champion on a Yamaha..a very good fit in my view. But..and this is a very BIG but..Ben Bostrom and Ben Spies as teammates?? Uh...BBoz could be a good teacher helping BSpies get used to the World Tracks, but would he want to? BBoz is highly energized and back in a big way in his racing. He likes winning. Helping out someone else...not so much.

And then there is Jake Zemke. AMA Formula Extreme Champion. He wants to go back to Europe. Jake would be a perfect fit on just about any team. There may be a couple GP teams??? John Hopkins at Kawasaki might be needing a new teammate


The top racers here are still wondering where they are going to race this next season. A few have a pretty good future overseas but at the same time, the World Teams are on a budget like everyone else. You simply can't bring every AMA ex-patriot to Europe.

An interesting time in roadracing here in America. I feel it's almost like a game of chicken

Friday, October 03, 2008

Actors or racers?



Last weekend while at The AMA Superbike Finale, word came that Paul Newman had passed away. A sad day indeed. A moment of silence was observed and it got me to thinking of another great racer actor, Steve McQueen.

As far as I know, Paul Newman was never a motorcyclist, just into sports car racing. At age 78 he was racing his Corvette in the Trans Am series..and check this out, at 78 years old he finished 5th in a field of 17!!! Back in the 70's he did a car racing movie 'Winning' that was just so-so, but it was what he loved. There are lot's of wonderful things to say about Paul Newman in all the fields he was involved in... acting, philanthropy and racing. Newman Racing has been supporting racers for many years. Paul Newman was a very classy guy. He will be missed by the racing world for years to come.


Back to Steve McQueen, another great actor racer. I was lucky enough to race in the Elsinore Grand Prix with Steve, I got to talk with him for a minute or two and he was a really nice man. I almost wanted to say a 'cool guy' but that is a way overused term in his case. True, but over used. Everybody has seen Steve in the greatest motorcycle movie of all time, 'On Any Sunday'
But to see and ride with him..actually he was quite a bit faster than me so I can't really say I rode with him...just on the same track and out in the desert once or twice.

Later in years, Steve was living not too far from I do now. He was spending a lot of time out at The Santa Paula airport, hanging with Von Dutch and some other unique characters. I still have a gas tank from my 1967 Triumph Bonneville pinstriped by Von Dutch.
As Steve's cancer progressed, he went to Mexico for some experimental treatments and eventually came back to Santa Paula.

Sadly, both Steve McQueen and Paul Newman passed away due to cancer. Both really classy men in all ways. So, did we lose two great racers that acted or two great actors that raced? Either way you look at it they are both missed.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

play it safe or...?

It’s 9:30 Sunday morning here in the media center at Laguna Seca all the photographers are gone, out on the track, the journalists are typing away and we already have two interviews done. Jim Allen of Dunlop Tires,
and
the Chief Technical Inspector for the AMA, my friend Jim Rashon. Two more this morning, Ducati’s Larry Pegram and Kawasaki’s Jordan Szoke. Hopefully we’ll pick up a couple more this afternoon. This is going to be good day. Hectic, but good.

The championship of two races being run today have already been decided, one is just about a done deal and one is still up in the air. While talking with my friend Jim Rashon of the AMA (we had a really great interview) he brought up an interesting question, Ben Spies, Superbike Champion, will he just cruise along and play it safe or will come out and prove why he’s the three time Champion? Same question goes for Aaron Yates, Superstock Champion. My thought, they are both going out with guns ablazing. There is a third rider that question can apply to and he is not the declared champ, yet, that’s Ben Bostrom in Supersport. He has a pretty strong points lead and all he has to do is finish better than seventeenth.


In our interview with Ben he posed that question to himself “do I cruise along and finish tenth or do I go out and win it? I know we can win it”. Well, Ben is on the pole, so much for cruising, and like he said in our interview “ I love roadracing”. My money says he goes out for the win.

Times a wasting, back to the pits and look for Kevin Schwantz.

Racing families

As this little podcast continues to grow, we work at more races, meet more people and get taken more seriously. As we interview more racers we have a found a couple of very cool families. Honda and Yamaha, and within Yamaha, the Bostrom brothers.


We just got out of our interview with Ben Bostrom. He was still in his leathers having just come from qualifying for the Supersport race. He was hardly sweating!! Anyway, we had a really fun interview. Ben was enthusiastic, laughing and as he put it “in love with roadracing again” Make sure you listen to it at www.themotoworld.com. Also a while back, we had a great chat with his little brother Eric, also on the factory Yamaha team. They both are really stoked to be on the same team .

When I said we have met two great families, I was referring to Honda and Yamaha. We start with PR people, who then get us to the riders and we get a great interview. We watch the mechanics and other team personnel and they are all happy as can be. The riders have all told us that being on those teams feel like family and you know what, it shows. Heather and I always have fun when we get together with either of these teams. We are really looking forward to next season. Daytona here we come

Meet the Prez

I have written and podcasted many times about what is going on with AMA Pro Racing having been bought out by The Daytona Motorsorts Group..the owners of Nascar and other racing organizations throught the country. The riders started off rather nervous that their sport was going to start looking like Nascar, the last thing any self respecting roadracer would want. Then the projected rules and class structure were proposed and everyone was up in arms, teams threatening to back out, tracks saying “no teams, no race”. Since that time things seem to be getting worked out instead of worked up.


Today, Roger Edmondson, CEO of AMA Pro Racing, held a press conference here at Laguna Seca to bring eveyone up to speed on progress being made for the 2009 racing season. The basics of what he said today are that all the current tracks and two new ones are all commited AMA Pro Racing for next season. He declined to talk about rule changes and class structures saying that it was still a very delicate subject . However, Mr. Edmondson did alude to a new class being set up. Called the Sportbike class, it is designed to bring younger riders in the sport on motorcycles with very limited modifications. And lastly, the subject of a control or spec tire is in the works as he said that three manufacturers all sent in proposals. All in all it was an OK event, The Moto media was expecting a lot more. This thing is really dragging out.

And a little race up date, Formula Extreme pole sitter is Josh Hayes with his teammate Jake Zemke next to him. Here’s a neat little tid bit, this season Josh has been wearing the number one plate and Jake was #2, next season it’s the other way around, if they are both still here. Josh has gotten a ride for the last three races in World Supersport and Jake has his feelers out for Euro ride as well.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A need for more fans..but how?

Good afternoon all,

We got home last night from an interesting weekend at Laguna Seca for the AMA Superbike Championship Finale. Even though some championships were already decided there was still some incredibly exciting racing.

But, there really weren't that many spectators. It's a great venue, there was great racing and really...this is one of the premier roadracing series in the world. So here is the question... how does the promoter, in this case Corona beer, get more fanny's in the seats? When Heather and I picked up our credentials the gentleman there told us that we didn't need a parking pass because this was small event and it wouldn't be a problem. Well, he was right. So, the question still stands..how do you get more spectators?

The DMG, Daytona Motorsports Group, thinks they have the way. Change the class structure, make it look more like NASCAR(?), give the riders nicknames, etc, etc...but my thought goes a lot further than that.

If more Americans rode on two wheels, whether it's a scooter, sportbike, cruiser...the interest in all things two wheels becomes more interesting. I mean, hey, there are scooters that have paint jobs that look like MotoGP bikes! If local and state governments would work to make cities more two wheel friendly, more people would ride motorbikes. That in itself would do so much for traffic issues, parking issues, the environment and save you and I a lot of money at the gas pump. Just look at Europe. When we were in Italy last year and Mexico the year before that, scooters and small displacement motorcycles were everywhere. In Mexico, the police ride 250's and your pizza is delivered on a Honda 125.

Motorcycle manufacturers need to work harder at pushing the government to make riding a scooter or motorcycle more friendly, and safe. What I mean by friendly is make lanes for bikes on major roads and freeways, create parking for bikes that is free, give tax breaks for going on two wheels. You can put four motorcycles in the space of one SUV.

Because much of Europe is on two wheels, they relate to two wheel sport. Would it work here? Only if the governments and manufacturers work on it. It is a project well worth working on for so many reasons.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The politics of racing

We live in strange times right now, from the government wanting to give away your tax dollars, to seeing Nicky Hayden leave Honda. I don't blame him at all. He came to MotoGP as Valentino's teammate, a hard spot to be in..all the good stuff would go to Valentino. But, Nicky did win the championship. Then comes Dani Pedrosa, Nicky is again relegated to second banana. I have had a couple of good talks with Earl Hayden regarding Nicky's unhappiness at Honda especially in light of being a World Champion. I wish Nicky the best of luck at Ducati because he certainly deserves it. And, being a Ducati rider...I'm happy to see young Mr. Hayden on a red sled

Now, on to what I really wanted to write about today. The politics of roadracing. I, and many others have written and podcasted( www.themotoworld.com )about the struggles of the DMG/AMA Pro Racing and the riders and manufacturers. As I have been getting ready to head up to Laguna Seca for this weekends AMA season finale, I'm also working with the teams PR people to line up interview time for our podcast, www.themotoworld.com . Here's where the politics come in. We have been told by three out of the four manufacturers that we can do interviews, but we can't talk about whats going on in racing, where are they, the company and the riders are going be next year. With the DMG who has said that they have lined up all the promoters and tracks, or the speculative MIC series also known as the SBBC series, that really don't have much set in stone as yet. The fourth manufacturer said no interviews at all.

So, it looks like interviews this weekend will be limited to "what did you have for breakfast?" OK, it's not quite that grim..I get to talk to Jake Zemke again to see where he is headed for next year, his wife likes Italy..Ben Spies about his plans, does his mom like Europe? And, I think we'll have a lot of fun with Roger Lee Hayden.

It's going to be a very interesting off season don't you think?

Ride safe, ride fast
Paul

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The best laid plans, or...


...the irony of it all.

The MotoWorld resides in a rural area about 50 miles north of Los Angeles. Orange and avacado groves, the California Condor Preserve and some beautiful riding areas. We also have a BIG back yard, about an acre or so. Some trees, shub's, gardens...but mostly weeds. However, ya gotta mow down the weeds too. We have a twenty plus year old yard tractor to handle most of that chore. We also have a bunch of motorcycles. Our barn became very crowded.

A lot of you can relate to this, in order to get to one motorcycle, the one you want to ride that day, you have to move three others. In my case it also included a tractor.

My wife Heather decided we needed a shed out back to hold motorcycles. Fine with me. After a bit of thought we decided that we would move the yard equipment into the new shed and keep the motorcycles in the barn. A much better idea in my mind. The plan worked out great. Her tractor fit in the shed perfectly along with everything else and the motorcycle collection resides happily in the big barn.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago. We bought a new tractor. Newer, bigger, better...perfect. And a new bigger, better trailer too!

The irony factor. The new tractor is 52" wide...the door to the yard shed is 46"

So....yard equipment back in the barn, motorcycles relegated to the shed. Well, the bikes and I can listen to NPR and ride around the back yard, we just don't have that pot belly stove we used to have while doing oil changes in the winter.

Ride safe, ride fast and I guess, ride in your back yard?

Paul

Monday, September 01, 2008

So there I was...

...minding my own business, cruising down the road on 'The Mighty 350' when all of a sudden it hit me, yeah, a bug the size of a U-Haul truck!!! Darn near knocked me off that little bike. I hate when that happens.

So, here's my question...why is it that great big 'ol bugs, you know the ones that splatter really big, always hit you in the face shield? Not on your jacket, not on your pant leg, but right in the middle of your face shield??!! Then,if you try to wipe it off, it just smears all over the place and makes everything worse. Sheesh.

Do great big Kamakazi bugs have something against motorcycle riders? A philosophical question for the ages.

Thats all I could think of to write today. So I guess I'll go out for a ride and see if I can rid the world of a few more U-Haul sized bugs.

Ride safe, ride fast and kill some bugs.

Paul

Oh wait, there's one more thing, an old saying...You how you can spot a happy motorcycle rider?? The bugs in his teeth...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

once a gearhead...

...always a gearhead

A few years back, a young friend of mine, actually a friend of my son's, came into my surf shop with an idea of having a car and motorcycle show at the local fairgrounds. Not chrome, paint, hydraulics and bling...Primer. Rat cars, rat bikes and tattoo's. The real deal. You had to drive the car in, ride the bike in...no 'trailer queens' allowed.
"The Primer Nationals" was born.

Tory DuVarney, Dave and the guys at 'The Shop' in Ventura, California pulled together one of the coolest, and this is truly a great use of the word 'Cool', shows you can ever go to. This weekend was the annual 'Primer Nationals'.


Chopped and channeled, slammed, frenched, shortened, stretched, fender skirts, continental kits, it's all there. Mercury, Buick, Ford, Cadillac and Chevy. Trucks, coupes, sedans, wagons, buckets and convertibles. Flatheads to SOHC Ford's. Open headers with cutout's to 'twice pipes'. An amazing show. Every sight, sound and smell (some hot rodders need to take a shower...ever seen the 'Rat Fink character?) was there.

Why a post about a car show? Well, besides a fleet of motorcycles I also have a '63 Ford Fairlane with a built Boss 302 motor. And, it has a lot of primer on it...

It is a good destination for a Sunday ride. See you there next year.

Ok, there were a few cool choppers and bobbers there too...

Drive safe, drive fast..most importantly, drive cool

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interesting way to go

A couple of years ago I ran into a friend on the way home from a weekend ride. Heading home, Heather and I opted for the San Marcos Pass route versus the coast.

A stop at the Cold Springs Tavern is mandatory. Lot's of motorcycles...mostly the Harley crowd, but a few sportbikes thrown in for flavor. My old friend Matt is the bartender and it's always good to see him...and by the way...he limits me to ONE 'light' beer. If you're lucky, you'll get to listen to Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan...two of the most talented and entertaining musicians you'll ever hear. It's a great Sunday ride destination. This day turned out a little different.

While enjoying my 'one' light beer, checking out motorcycles and enjoying an afternoon in the mountains, the master of high performance exhaust systems for cars, my friend John Wayne taps me on the shoulder. John is a great man. Hot Rodder, biker, terrific dad and friend.

As we were talking about his new bike, a Road King, a group gathered around a bike in the middle of the road. Whats the crowd about? John explained to me what was going on. A riding friend of theirs had passed away recently from cancer. His family had him cremated as per his wishes.Some people put a fancy urn on the mantle, some spread the ashes on the ocean or out in the garden. But what to do with this mans ashes?

This group of riding friends figured it out. Spread his ashes at the places he liked to ride to. They spent the day riding to their compatriot's favorite destinations to spread his ashes and spirit.

Now...here is the interesting part. At each stop a friend would take a handful of ashes, stand behind another friend on his motorcycle..the rider would rev the engine and spread the ashes with the exhaust blast. All there would cheer, celebrate his life and then ride to the next 'resting place'.

The most interesting funeral, or in this case, celebration of someones life I have ever been to. I don't know the man, I don't even know his name, but I know he was loved by many. We should all be so lucky.

Ride safe, ride fast, ride far and have good friends.
I'll see you on the road,

Paul

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What a long strange trip it's been...

Thank you Jerry Garcia...

No, I'm not a 'deadhead' but as I have mentioned before I have put a lot of miles on a motorcycle. From an old BSA to my little Honda 350, to a Kawasaki H2 750 (evil bike that she was..I still love that motorcycle) to a more civil Honda CB750F, back to a Triumph 500 and the list goes on.

Most trips of late have been on a Yamaha TDM850. An Albatross on two wheels. General traveling, motocamping, semi-offroading..it did it all. And..a lot of it with the beautiful Heather on board and a load of camping gear. Yamaha brought the bike into the U.S for only two years 92/93. It is still available in Europe, even though it's not quite the 'Adventure Tourer' it was back then.

A while back, while cruising the net, I found a really neat site that lets you plot out all the places you have been. www.epgsoft.com Not in great detail but state by state and in Canada.
So, here is where I have been...for the most part....

Ride safe, ride fast and ride far. See you on the road.

Paul

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

when you love going fast



When you love going fast, you will always love going fast. Sammy Haggar put it perfectly..."I can't drive 55". I met Sammy Haggar when I was working for a radio station in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a very cool guy.

Another guy I consider a good friend can't drive 55 either. Meet my friend Kevin Johnson. Willow Springs roadracer extraordinaire, great mechanic and connoisseur of fine Kentucky bourbon. Kevin loves going fast and he loves being with people that feel the same way.

Two years ago Kevin and I helped propel a friend to a Land Speed Record at the Bonneville Salt Flats... get this...on a 1959 Norton.

So what is Kevin doing nowadays?? Building vehicles that go really, really fast. Look at these pictures. When Kevin sent these to me they were titled "what I did on my summer vacation"

A couple of weeks from now are the 'Bub Motorcycle Speed Trials' at Bonneville, Utah. Kevin and I planned on being there with our friend Ken Canaga of Left Coast Racing working on a Norton Streamliner to go over 200MPH. A couple of things came up and plans changed. Kevin is going to be racing a Gilera 500CC single at Miller Motorsports Park instead. I envy him.

Like I said, when you love going fast, you love going fast on anything.

Ride safe, ride fast and Kevin...don't go 55..

Paul

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Sunday Ride


Thirty plus years ago was one of the best evenings of my motorcycling life. I was going to UCLA and down the street the local movie theater was playing Bruce Browns 'On Any Sunday'. I sat there in the theater and watched the movie twice. At around midnight when I was told to leave, they wouldn't play the movie again for me...not customer service oriented I guess, I walked out into a drizzly night just wanting to ride my motorcycle. Lucky for me, my 1969 Triumph T100R (Daytona 500) was sitting right there.

I rode all night into Sunday morning. Mulholland Drive to Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard to Pacific Coast Hiway, Tuna Canyon to Stunt Road to Mulholland Hiway and back to the coast. It was a great night. Visions of Steve McQueen, Mert Lawill and Malcolm Smith stuck in my mind. My little Daytona never faltered (remember, it had Lucas electrics??!!) and we had a great time.

After arriving home in time to have a cup of tea with my grandmother, a short nap and a couple of phone calls to riding friends..it was the best of Sunday rides..up Angeles Crest Hiway. Perfect weather, no traffic, no CHP...nothing but a high giggle factor day.

Riding all night into Sunday doesn't happen so much any longer, but I still ride a Triumph Daytona. The Sunday ride is still the best part of any week.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This one is different


Good Sunday to you all,

I lost another friend yesterday. This one didn't have two wheels, he had two legs and two hands. Two very talented hands. Most importantly, a BIG, BIG heart.

I have been riding motorcycles since I was fourteen, but I have been surfing since I was ten. My friend Dave had bought a $10 homemade surfboard and we went to Santa Monica and learned to surf. Later down the road, I bought a P.O.S surfboard and continued surfing. Back then I could go from my house to Malibu on a dollars worth of gas...gas was 25 cents a gallon at most!! We even rode the bus to go surfing.

I started in the surf business doing ding repair for a local surf shop in 1968, I ended up working for them for a lot of years until I started my own surf shop in Ventura in 1990. My son and I opened up a second shop a few years later. During that time we competed around the world..well, not we..he. We made a lot of good friends.

Yesterday, one of those good friends passed away of cancer. Midget Smith. Surfboard builder, contest organizer, professional surfing judge, great coach and terrific father. Midget did more for more kids surfing in the San Clemente area than just about anyone. No, he did do more for these kids than anyone. Midget, along with wife Mary Lou, ran the Western Surfing Association, the most competitive series of surfing contests in the country. He taught kids competitiveness, sportsmanship and a few of them the craft of building surfboards. Midget will be missed by a world wide community.

What has this got to with motorcycles, motorcycle racing or motorcycle traveling? Nothing. Nothing at all. Except the things that my friend Midget taught in the surfing world are good in any world. Motorcycle racing too.

Midget is no small man in any way. His influence was and will continue to be HUGE. Good bye my friend...god speed.

Ride safe, ride fast and ride with your heart in the right place

Paul

Friday, August 22, 2008

gettin' weirder all the time



Good morning all,

I am a fan of Suzuki Superbike pilot Matt Mladin. He is highly skilled, intelligent, outspoken when it comes to rider safety and a really nice man when it comes to talking to fans. All in all a good representative of motorcycling and motorcycle racing.

However, he seems to have pissed off the powers that be in AMA Pro Racing (the DMG). As we have all read, Mr. Mladin was disqualified from last weekends Superbike races at VIR for a possibly illegal crankshaft. HMMMMM.

Matt has been very outspoken regarding the upcoming changes in American roadracing next year. More than just outspoken...critical. American Suzuki/Yoshimura have also been, how do I say this...very displeased with the plans. So unhappy that when DMG head honcho Roger Edmonson came to California to talk to 'The Big Four' he made a comment that three out of the four were receptive and one's behaviour (Suzuki) was unacceptable.

In past Motoworld podcasts, I have spoken with Matt about the changes, he has categorically stated he won't race 600's.
So... are we now seeing a 'pissing war' between AMA Pro Racing and Suzuki? More pointedly, between AMA Pro Racing and Matt Mladin?

Think about this, in AMA Superbike rules as they currently stand, modifications are pretty minor...Superstock bikes with even less mods are almost as fast as the Superbikes!!?? Team members are pretty much riding the same motorcycle with suspension changes and EFI mapping changes for personal riding styles. Not much else is different. Why was Matt singled out? Shouldn't AMA Pro Racing have pulled ALL the Yoshimura bikes? They have been more than dominant the past seasons, everyone else racing for maybe third and with Tommy Hayden healthy, probably fourth.

As the old saying goes 'somethings rotten in Denmark' or in this case, Florida

Monday, August 18, 2008

It takes balls

Good afternoon all,

Up until a while back, this time of year I would be preparing for the annual '3 Flags Classic' ride put on by the SCMA. It's a great trip. Somewhere in Mexico to somewhere in Canada in 3 1/2 days on mostly secondary roads. I made new friends, saw new places and got to know myself a bit better. Time inside your helmet does that to one on a long ride.

One particular '3 Flags' ride I came upon this sign. I was laughing so hard I almost rode off the road. Only in the farthest of places in the mountains will this happen. Apparently it's a big event. Too bad it had already happened, it would have been worth the delay to participate.

Maybe the 'Testicle Festival' is a worthy destination for my next big trip? I'll see if I can convince the wife. I can pretend to be surprised on the way to Glacier National Park or to the Beartooth Pass. What do you think the odds are? Slim and none? Me too.

Ride safe, ride fast and ride far

Paul