Archive for August, 2006

Why I love my girl

Other than the superficial obvious things (like her being drop dead gorgeous), Amanda never ceases to amaze me. She’s got an baby girl, and most of you that read this know what that entails. Somehow, despite that, she manages to work and help her family out – and still makes the time to call me just to say “hi” or “goodnight”. When plans don’t quite work out as expected, she stays positive about whatever time we actually do get to spend together. Not a lot of people can put up with so many outside influences (kids, family, the government that owns me), but she manages to do it. I don’t smile much under most circumstances – but I can’t help but smile every time I see her.

So there ya have it. Amanda, I love you!

Crashing Wolf Pen Gap

My mission this weekend was to ride the twisty fun that is Wolf Pen Gap (aka GA 180), put a few hundred more miles on the SV, and take some photos of the scenery up here in N. Georgia. Not really wanting to ride this weekend alone, I called up my riding buddy Shaun. We set a launch time of 0800, which I kindly slept through, pushing our departure back to 0900. I was supposed to have come up with a clear route the night before, but I didn’t – so I let my GPS do the calculating. Not having the detailed map for N. Georgia loaded, I knew a lot of the roads I was headed for wouldn’t even be on the GPS.

Blue Ridge Lake seemed like a good place to stop, it’s close to great riding, and happens to be a real “city” so I knew we could find a room, and food. Anyway, we got here to Blue Ridge with little cause for excitement – one idiot did nearly run me over on I-75 in Atlanta, but that’s pretty much par for the course in ATL. Once we got settled in at our room in Blue Ridge, and stretched a bit, we headed for Wolf Pen Gap.

The trip there was pretty fun, taking GA 60 from Blue Ridge to Suches. The ride there proved that one need not break into triple digits to have tons of fun riding a motorcycle. In fact, on the vast majority of the two lane roads here, the only places you could dream to even see a triple digit speed are few and far between – they also tend to lead up to 15mph curves lacking runoff or guard rails. Just outside Suches, there was quite a lot of gravel in the road, but we both dealt with it quite well. Gravel would turn out to be a non-issue today.

The yellow line is what got Shaun, at least from my front row seat POV. He entered the turn fine, but saw something to the inside that he wanted to avoid. He ran wide and stood it up to scrub speed. His mistake was the point where he leaned it back over to roll on the throttle and power through the curve. His rear wheel was on the yellow line, right at the tar spot that used to hold a reflector. It slid, and before he could high side, the front end went down the side of the mountain. Shaun luckily recognized that gravity wins, and let go of the bike. He ended up sliding 3 to 5 meters down the side, while the bike went a good 30 meters down the side, before coming to “rest” against a tree.

The Culprit

ZX6R in the Trees

Seeing all of this from just behind him, I let loose a series of blasts from my horn, and popped a u-turn. This road is really narrow, and my front wheel hit the edge of the road. I actually ended up getting off the saddle while holding my front brake to walk it back onto the solid ground, and took off before I was fully back in the seat. I found the one area of runout and parked, just as Shaun came climbing back up onto the road. For some reason, we went down the mountain to go to the bike, and that was probably my first mistake. Shaun’s exit path went right through a yellow jacket nest, and one of the flying devils stung me on the left hand. It hurt. A lot. I made my way up to the road with much quickness. Unfortunately, two more yellow jackets left their marks on my head in the process.

By some stroke of divine intervention, Shaun walked away without a scratch. His Kawasaki ZX6R on the other hand did not fare as well. In fact, I’d say it’s fairly well destroyed. See for yourself here.

Hanging Around

Be careful out there.

Weekend Fun

This weekend was mostly full of downpours that somewhat reminded me on monsoon season in Malaysia. Somehow the effect was completed by a 5 hour power outage, I almost felt like I was under the grip of Tenaga National again. Hot, humid, and no power. Been there before! Anyway, the power went out so I figured it was a great time to go for a ride as the roads had mostly dried up.

Having not used my helmet cam in a while, I decided it was time to make another video of two roads I ride down rather frequently. I also wanted to take some more photos at the park I was at last weekend with all the Spanish Moss. Not having anything better to do gave me the time to do both. So if you’ve got the time, or are just really bored – go ahead and click here for some video (it’s 15min, and has 3 Joe Satriani tracks as audio). I would have kept some of the engine noise, but the placement of my mic was such that all you could hear was severe windblast. Ooops.

Recommended for Promotion: Yes!

The title says it all – all four members of the promotion board put their check in the “yes” box for me today. In itself, the board was interesting to say the least – all I can chalk my success up to is keeping my cool, answering honestly, and probably a side order of divine intervention. Anyway, tomorrow at 0600 I take a PT test which seals the deal in my status as a promotable soldier. In 60 days, I’ll be SGT Martinez.

A photo from before the board.

In Class A's

edit: Passed the PT test, as if that surprises anyone ;)

10k miles and counting

Rolled over 10,000 miles on my SV yesterday after a “photo ride”. My mission was to just go out and ride – if I saw something I wanted to photograph, pull over and photograph it. I only shot about 31 frames, and I probably won’t keep half of them, but it was fun overall. The little bugs that live on the grass off the side of the road sure do love to swarm a nice sweaty rider though.

My SV650S has been a great bike over the last year or so, not giving me any real problems in 10k miles. The only thing I have needed to replace was my chain. Tires? I wanted to change those. Suspension? Also a matter of want, there was nothing wrong w/ the factory forks or shock – I just have a problem leaving things stock! 10,000 miles, and nearly a year after I first put my leg over my shiny blue SV650S – I still get the same big stupid grin when I start it up and ride off.

Over the course of its life, my bike has seen more states than half the people I know. The one place it hasn’t been, that I’d like to take it anyway, is the race track. Camping, dirt roads, superlong slabs of flat interstate, microsized kinks on mountain roads, the grocery store, a wedding, and a briefing with a Major General – just to name a few of the places I’ve been on the SV since I got back from Iraq in January. My passenger seat has enjoyed company on a number of occassions – introducing more people to the joys of motorcycling.

There are still a few things I’d like to do though, before I hit 20,000 miles. I still haven’t strapped her to a dyno yet, so the base map on the PCIIIUSB is still there – dumping a nice rich fuel/air mixture into my cylinders. Eventually, I’ll get the bike somewhere that can handle this task well. My old XO does custom work on motorcycles, so I may see if he can either make me a seat, or recommend someone that can – then I can get busy on a hard luggage solution. I really am going to ride the wheels off this bike.

In related news, I’ve updated my wishlist with two new pieces of riding gear.

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