Sunday, October 30, 2005

Day ride: Mount Morris, IL

Today’s mission was to take some pictures of the fall colors before they completely disappeared. The colors peaked last week, but there were still some decent colors if you knew where to look. I started out at Lowden State Park, near Oregon, IL where the predominant colors were shades of gold, yellow and orange. This morning was not as cold as yesterday, but there was a bit of wind and there were more clouds then blue skies.

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Lowden State Park, Oregon, IL

At the park I ran in to a couple riding an Adventure KTM, we chatted for a while. They knew of me from ST.N and my website. We talked about trips, the great west and bikes. It’s always cool to run in to people that really tour.

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Rick and Diane were supposed to meet me in Mount Carroll for lunch so I took off toward Dixon to take more pictures before heading out West toward Iowa. A couple hours later I got a voice mail from Rick, they turned around and went home, he wasn’t feeling very good.

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Rock River

I took 64 West but only got past Mount Morris. The sky was dark in that direction and I noticed it started to sprinkle. There was rain on the way and if I continued west I’d surely run in to it. I turned around but the clouds decided to chased me all the way back to Oregon, continuing to sprinkle.

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I pulled over along RT 2 a few more times for pictures and made my way home via 72 stopping at the mCDees in Genoa for a really late lunch early dinner snack. Lately I’ve been really craving those McNuggets with BBQ sauce, I can’t seem to get enough of them. As I sat and ate my nuggets, I saw the Adventure KTM go by on 72. What are the odds of that?

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I finally put on my layers, today’s high temperature reached the upper 60’s but now they were starting to fall again. I arrived home just after sunset. It was actually really warm in the suburbs. I parked the ST3, which now had over 5,000 miles.

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Then I took the 954RR out for a spin, the wind was starting to pick up again, 20 minutes later I was back. One of these days I really need to take the 954 out for a longer ride.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Day ride: Peoria, IL

Today started out cold, only mid 30’s. I got rolling after 9AM heading towards Dixon to meet with Rick, Jay, Bernie and Chris. My Widder west was on, heated grips were also on. The wind was blowing me around the road, but the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Traffic was slow through some of the smaller towns as they were celebrating Halloween. I arrived about 10-15 minutes behind the group.

After a Red Bull and a granola bar, we took off for Peoria. Today’s ride was all about having lunch at this spot that Bernie knew. We took 26 South, to 29 to 150. We arrived at Schooners, home of the King Tenderloin, located at 730 E War Memorial Dr, Peoria Heights, IL. It was about 2PM, the temperature now in the 60’s, still very sunny and a bit breezy at times, but not as bad as this morning.

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We wanted to sit outside in the sun, but they were not serving outside so we had to go inside and order our food as take out and then take it outside to eat, fair enough as long as we got to enjoy the weather. Rick and Bernie were brave enough to order the King Tenderloin sandwiches, and they were HUGE! I got a hickory smoked chicken sandwich and onion rings, the rings were awesome.

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Rick devouring a king tenderloin sandwich (look how small the bun is)

After lunch it got even warmer, we took 24 East and then we were going to make our way back to 26 North. After a couple of u-turns the group kind of got split up. I ended up in Eureka, IL and was too lazy to check the map there, I needed to go west so I took 117 West. This was a very straight road, so I turned the throttle and got myself to Washburn, the next town, quick. Finally got the map out, I was not very far, took 89 North to 17 West. As I slid the signal indicator button to the right, getting ready to turn right on 26 North, I saw the group at a gas station to my left, I pulled in. Rick was having trouble with his ST3, had the seat off and they were crowded around the bike, looking at something. The bike seemed to be running fine as I walked up. Apparently it was running fine, he just couldn’t turn it off. Rick didn’t have his owner’s manual with him so he borrowed mine, but after a few minutes they decided to take off and keep riding as long as the bike was still running.

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Rick reading my ST3 manual

We passed a couple of squad cars on 26, the first one flipped his lights on, as a lump started to form in my throat, but he kept going and no one got pulled over, the Duc decelerates very quickly, 75 to 55 in a blink of an eye. We turned on 71 East but just before the road got twisty, we had to turn on 178 North, 71 was closed off to traffic. We made our way to 6 and continued to Ottawa. We stopped to change out our tinted helmet shields for the clear ones, Bernie didn’t have one so he took off for home, there was only about half an hour of sun light left and he wanted to make the most of it.

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We took a short break and continued on 71 behind him. From there we took 47 North. We caught up to Bernie. Now it was totally dark. Two deer were standing by the roadside as I was reminded why I don’t like riding at night, especially in the fall. I turned off on 64 heading towards the west suburbs. The temperatures were holding in the mid 50’s. I had the heated grips on, didn’t even need to fire up the Widder vest. What a great day for a ride! I hope there are more days like this in November.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Silly Sequential SportShift

My Acura RSX Type S, now with 34,500 miles, needed new brakes. I requested a loner car while my car was being serviced and I received a 2006 Acura TL, sweet!

I found the black beauty in the parking lot, I opened the door and entered the vehicle; the smell of new leather filled my nostrils, I love that smell. I turned the ignition key and the dash lit up in red, white and blue. The interior of the car was nicely decorated, black leather seats and door panels, brushed silver trim and carbon fiber accents.

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I looked at the shifter. I had an option: Do I drive it in manual or automatic? Traffic was still heavy and I had about 20 miles to go, I chose automatic. I hardly ever drive automatic cars, the first few minutes it’s always interesting and I’m getting used to it, pushing in the imaginary clutch and reaching out to shift gears. The 258-horsepower V-6 VTEC engine accelerated quickly, and I was playing around with the navigation system, the screen was huge. I wish I had one of those in my car.

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The following day I tired out the sequential SportShift, which was inspired by the transmissions used in Formula One(R) race cars. Sequential SportShift allows the driver to shift the forward gears semi-manually or enjoy the shifting ease of a conventional automatic. This was my first time driving a car with SSS. Well, it felt silly to me. I like the clutch, I like to shift gears, I like to release the clutch, push the gas pedal and squeal my tires, I like to be in total control of my vehicle. I didn’t feel like I was in total control of the TL. Was this the lazy man’s stick? And is this a new trend or it is here to stay? Are the manual transmission cars with clutches going extinct? I hope not, I really enjoy my stick. It was good to get my car back. I can smell the leather, just not as strong. Three years later and I still really, really like to drive my car, even compared to something newer and more expensive.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

October ST.N dinner

So what does sushi and sport-touring have in common? Absolutely nothing, unless you are riding a Japanese motorcycle to dinner. Tonight the sport-touring folks had an organized dinner. The place: Tsukasa of Tokyo in Vernon Hills. Only a few people made it out to dinner. When we originally organized the dinner and set the date, we had no idea the Chicago White Sox would make it to the finals and end up playing (and winning) the world series. The final game was scheduled for the same night as the dinner. Well, thankfully not all of us follow baseball so some of us made it out there and had a good time.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Heated Grips Kit Install

You know what is better than having friends that know how to do things? Having friends that know how to do things and are willing to show and help others. That’s my friend Peter, who on his day off rode with me up to the north suburbs to help me and my friend Rick install our heated grip kits on our ST3’s. What a nice guy. We got the kits from here: it’s the same kit I have on the 954RR.

The weather was a chilly, mid 40’s, cloudy. It started drizzling half way up to Rick’s house. The leaves on the trees were extra vibrant against the gray sky. The ride itself was not too bad, I wasn’t very cold, except for my hands. But soon that would change.

The great thing about this install was that Rick’s and my bike are identical. Peter did the install on Rick’s bike first, that was our ginny pig. That install took longer, since we had to figure out the best way to go about it. Mine was a quick install, a duplicate of Rick’s except he wanted his on/off switch on the left and I wanted mine in the middle, right under the instrument panel.

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Rick helped, I watched, Peter did more of the work. Three hours later we were done. The only delay was Rick lost one of those rubber screw backers from his wind screen somewhere and had to take the bike apart again. He never did find it and then remembered that he had some extra ones laying around somewhere.

On the way back Peter took the interstate to the city and I continued to the west suburbs. It was 4PM now and a bit colder. I was heading straight in to the dark clouds ahead and there was no question, I was about to get drenched. My grips were turned on high and my hands were toasty. I also has my Widder vest on. Then the rain started and accompanied me all the way home, but I was dry and warm, except for my gloves, since forgot to bring my rain gloves.

This was my first time riding in the rain with the ST3, and it handled pretty well. The only thing that was weird, when stopped with the engine running, I would have clouds of white steam floating up from the engine. The steam fogged up the inside of my wind screen while I sat at red lights. My other bikes never did that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It’s alive, it’s ALIVE!!!!

The 954RR didn’t start two weeks ago and I drained the battery trying to start it. I admit it, I’ve been neglecting it. It’s been sitting in the garage gathering dust since I bought the Ducati ST3 on September 1st. I only fired up the 954 once since then on September 8, but I didn’t ride it. Lately I’ve been riding the crap out of the ST3, which now has 4,500 miles. Well, it’s my new toy, that’s how it goes. So I guess the 954RR has been sitting now for 7-8 weeks.

So tonight after bike night, I had some friends come over and help me. I had borrowed a charger from a friend on Sunday but I couldn’t get the seat off the 954. It was bolted down with two 5mm hex nuts and the bike’s tool pouch didn’t have anything in it that could get those off. Yea, I know. I have to get some real tools.

So we got the seat off and connected the charger. The battery was charged in about 10 minutes but the bike still didn’t start. The guys decided to push start it, one was sitting on the bike and three were pushing it. They pushed it all the way down the street, it finally caught and roared back to life half a block from the house. It was great hearing that sound again. It’s ALIVE!!!!

So it was determined that my 954 is very finicky bike, I mean that is so weird, it’s a HONDA, my F4i would sit for months and start right up. This is the second time the 954 sat and didn’t start since I've owned it. It just doesn’t like to sit. The battery is strong, but the bike won't start.

The guys were taking off and I followed them for a bit. I wanted to ride the bike to make sure it was fully charged. The bike felt weird to me, like I never rode it before in my life. I couldn’t find the button for the signals and when I found the signal button I couldn’t find it again to cancel it. The first 5 minutes I rode it slow and carefully. I have close to 30,000 miles on the 954, I should have jumped on it and felt right at home. It’s weird how I got used to the Duc already.

The 954 also felt very underpowered, I’m used to the torque of the Duc. So now that I rode both bikes back to back, I noticed that the ST3 turns easier and of course it’s just so much more comfortable. That seat on the 954 is as hard as a 2x4, and I did a saddle sore on that bike just a few months ago, that’s unbelievable to me now after riding it last night.

The only thing I have noticed about the ST3, compared to the 954. It was in the mid 40’s last night and the fairing on the ST3 doesn’t protect my hands from wind as well as the fairing on the 954. The ST3 is getting a heated grips kit installed soon, but having the hands so exposed to the wind, they will never be as warm as they are on the 954.

It's safe to say that in the last two weekends I’ve actually started to fall in love with the v-twin. So it took a while for me, maybe it’s because just now I’ve learned how to ride it. I still miss-shift once in a while though.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Day ride: Slinger, WI

The meeting spot was at the house of one of the riders in Algonquin. It was a chilly ride up there and the thermometer only read 38 degrees at 8AM. Brrr. I wish the ST3 had those heated grips installed already. Everything else was warm, except for my hands.

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We had some coffee, scrambled eggs and pastries and we were off. The day was warming up nicely. The Gypsy took the lead for the day, as we meandered though the northern part of Illinois and in to Wisconsin. We stopped on “H” at the Kettle Moraine coffee shop & deli for a beverage break.

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Italia was representing today, the line up consisted of 3 Ducatis, 1 Honda, 1 BMW and 1 Suzuki. Some trees were in the peak of color as we continued up though the Kettle Moraine. I’ve never been on some of the roads before, they were nice. The high temperature for the day was in the mid 60’s and there wasn’t even one cloud in the sky. At 2PM we stopped for food in Slinger, WI at the bar and grill. The food was OK, we all sat at the bar and ordered burgers. I had the Mexican burger with avocado, cheese and salsa. It was a lot of beef and for $6 it should have come with fries, but it came with potato chips. The burger actually goy me sick, I don’t eat a lot of beef and I think this was too much beef in one sitting. As I’m writing this today, I’m holding my belly. I wish those tums would start working already.

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After lunch we started to make our way back and finally made it to 12. So who’s idea was this: The highway portion of 12 ends and like 50 cars have to merge in to one lane and stop at a stop sign and turn left to continue on 12. There was a lot of traffic on 12, at RT 31, the group separated. 3 of them continued on 12 and three of us continued on 31. I made a pit stop to pick up a battery charger form a friend. I hope to get the 954 running this week.

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I got home around 8PM, it was still nice out, what a great day for a ride. I hope there is many more of these before the snow hits.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Day ride: Dixon, IL

At 8:30AM I was already in route to my friend’s house to do an oil change on the ST3. The bike now has 3900 miles and I was supposed to do an oil change at 3K. He also has all the tools that are needed. All went well with the oil change and since I had no plans today, a friend and I met up with a group of sportbikes at Woodfield Mall. Now, meeting up on a Saturday afternoon for lunch at a busy mall? Not my first choice, but it wasn’t my ride. So off I go. Now, we sport-touring kinds like to meet away from congestion, not ride directly in to it. This is a very popular mall, and it was pretty busy too. Since I don’t go to malls I had a tough time finding it and the place we were meeting at. But I finally made it. No one was there.

I call my friend to ask where the heck is everyone? I’m told to go to the other side of the mall, they are at the Hooters. So the lunch spot was changed? It takes me 20 minutes to get there. At first I didn’t see the place, went past it, the trees were in the way and I couldn’t see the building at all. Then I couldn’t figure out how to get in to the parking lot. I attempted to turn in but ended up on a road that led out of the mall and couldn’t turn left from there in to the lot. Finally made it.

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After lunch I volunteered to lead to Dixon. The ride took a long time to get out to the boonies, there were a lot of bikes and the traffic was really bad. We stopped a few times too. The wind really picked up in the afternoon, it was very gusty at times, but the temperature was in the mid 60’s and it was sunny and very pleasant. The wind doesn’t bother me as much on the ST3. Riders kept leaving the ride and by the time we got to Dixon, only half of the people made it. From there we split and only four people ride back with me. Then it was me and my friend, and it was dinner time We stopped at a Mediterranean joint for some dinner. I had some chicken kabob on a pita. Food was good, the night wasn’t too cold either.

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So this ride made me think. There are some major differences between the riding styles of sportbikers and sport-tourers, even when doing a day ride.

Sportbikers like to socialize first, ride later, ride less
Sport-tourers like to ride first, socialize later, ride further

Sportbikers make a lot of unplanned stops
Sport-tourers stop seldom

Sportbikers don’t venture very far from where they live and 3-4 hours on a bike is a long ride for them
Sport-tourers usually spend 10-12 hours on a bike, and that is not even considered a “long” ride

I’ve had sportbikes for a while, but I never rode like a typical sportbiker. I think that is why sport-tourers ride with sport-tourers and sportbikes ride with other sportbikes.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Fall Colors SW Wisconsin Tour

October 8 - 9, 2005

With the Midwest touring season coming to an end (notice I said “touring” season, not “riding” season) I really wanted to spend the whole weekend on the bike before it got too cold to go anywhere far. The weekend’s weather forecast was cold for the Chicagoland area. Highs only in the middle 50’s. The original idea was for a group of us to head South to Missouri for the weekend. But Andy was getting ready to put the bike away and sell it in the Spring, so he didn’t want to get a new back tire. His back tire was nearing the end of its life, so MO was a bit far and the temps didn’t seem to be much warmer in MO then in WI, well, maybe like just a bit warmer. After a few e-mails back and forth, it turned out no one else could get away this weekend, so it was my friend Andy and I riding, and we decided to head up to WI instead.

Andy met me at the house shortly after 8AM, it was in the mid to upper 40’s in the burbs. Since the weekend’s weather was on the cool side I decided to take the 954RR since I could use the electric vest on that bike and the heated grips. (I just ordered the heated grips for the ST3 on Friday, a bit too late). It turned out that the 954RR didn’t start. The battery was strong, but it wouldn’t turn over. Maybe the Honda is mad at me, I’ve been neglecting it since Labor Day Weekend, since the day I brought home the Ducati. The last time I rode the 954 was end of August, although I did start it on September 9th and ran it in the driveway for a few minutes. The bike had only about 20-30 miles of gas in the tank plus the reserve. It wasn’t totally on empty, but I should have filled it up before parking it in the corner and totally forgetting about it. I re-packed from the 954 to the ST3 and we were off toward Wisconsin around 9AM. It was cloudy and cold. We arrived in Mount Horeb, WI chilled to the bone and hungry. We grabbed lunch at the bar and grill on 78 South, just four doors to the right of the Mustard Museum. The chili was good, the grilled cheese and tomato sandwich on sourdough should have stayed on the grilled a bit more.

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After lunch it seemed a bit warmer. I still had the lectric Widder vest cranked on but at least my hands weren’t frozen anymore. The temperature was now in the low 50’s. We left Mount Horeb and a few minutes later I saw what looked like rain drops on my visor, but it never rained, it just looked like it would. A few hours later the clouds were beginning to thin out in places and finally in the mid to late afternoon the sun finally came out. We just rode around all day with no particular plan or route. I had a few towns in mind for lodging tonight. As the day came to an end we turned toward Richland Center and the Super 8. It was starting to get cold again and the sun had already set. To our surprise there were no rooms available at the Super 8. We rode to the Ramada and it was also booked up, the other smaller places were all filled.

We got on the bikes and took 14 Northwest toward Viroqua. There were no other motels on the way. Thirty cold miles later I noticed the small motels were in Viroqua displaying the big “NO” or “no vacancy” signs. We pulled up at the Super 8 to find out what we had already suspected, there were no rooms here either. The lady working the desk told us there were no rooms available anywhere, not even in La Crosse, or Sparta or Tomah. Not anywhere between Dubuque, IA and Black River Falls, WI. We were so screwed! It was 8PM now. It was Dark outside with deer running around everywhere, I’m sure. The temperatures now mid to low 40’s. Where would we go? Back to Chicago? While at the Super 8 we got the phone book out and called every motel listed, sure enough no rooms. We joked about just spending the night in the lobby, there was a nice big couch there. Seriously, we were starting to panic. Thinking of getting back on the bike and riding anywhere in the middle of the night was out of the question.

After about 30 minutes, after making the last phone call and getting no where, the lady mentioned that there was an empty room upstairs that they didn’t rent out, it was mostly used as storage, but has a murphy bed, TV and a bathroom. We must have looked desperate because she called the hotel manager who not only rides a motorcycle, but is also a female and also a MSF instructor. She told the tale of two tired and frozen riders from Chicago and the manager told her that she can rent out the room to us. It was a true miracle! Finally riding a motorcycle paid off. I mean, how lucky were we? The room was great. We cranked up the heat up and ordered some pizza for dinner.

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Sunday morning started out just like Saturday, cold and cloudy. We did some road exploring, and trying to stay warm. Found some spectacular roads, some very scenic with fall colors that just looked amazing in places. Then we realized we could still make it to the STN coffee meet in Galena by 2PM. We slowly started making our way south. We were running just a bit late already, but got delayed when we came upon an accident that was in the middle of cleaned up. There was a fire truck hosing down the road so we had to wait.

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Soon we were on our way but went looking on the wrong side of RT 20 for the place we were meeting at. Then Andy lead me up the hill of doom. We climbed Hill Street and I hate steep roads and so far this was the steepest one that I had ever been on, I mean a street with stop signs and traffic and houses. Then half way we get to a “T” in the middle of this street and Andy went right, I was not positioned to make that tight right turn up, so I made a left. I wouldn’t mind steep roads as much if I could flat foot my bike. But knowing that I can’t maneuver well on steep roads just makes avoid them all together. I waited at the top and Andy found me, then went to find out where we needed to be. I think he actually enjoyed riding those steep old streets. We arrived at the place at 3PM for coffee and dessert and hung out for about an hour and a half. It was sunny and warmer now, possibly as warm as the high 50’s. The trip home was also warmer. I actually unplugged my electric vest. The traffic was heavy at times as we followed long caravan of cars with no chance of passing. Then all the sudden, the sun kissed the horizon and the temperatures dropped instantly like 15 degrees.

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I still had my tinted visor on, but we agreed not to stop for dinner until it was completely dark so not to waste any sunlight. We were still in the middle of the corn fields, and only thirty or so minutes away from civilization. We arrived in suburbia and grabbed some dinner at Chilie’s restaurant. Warmth and first real food of the day. Another bowl of chili for me and a turkey sandwich, some hot tea to wash it down. Then it was another 20 miles home for me, now my lectric Widder vest for plugged in and my thinsulated gloves on, I was warm. I arrived home at around 9PM. We still managed to do about 800 miles on this cold weekend.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Femmoto 2005... The Experience

The girls of STN decided to do femmoto this year, a woman’s only demo track day, which was held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I’ve been following the event for a few years now so I jumped at the chance to go, even though it was going to be a very expensive weekend since I had to fly there.

Friday, September 30, 2005

I woke up way early to finish packing and then ended up wasting 45 minutes looking for my swimsuit. I guess I don’t use it often enough. I was almost packed when I walked out the door to put in half a day at work. Then back home to finish packing and off to O’Hare Airport to catch my 2:45PM flight to Las Vegas. My TED flight left on time, there was no head wind so we would be there a few minutes early and I got the whole row to myself. I’ve been to Vegas twice before but I have never landed at LAS. Landing in Vegas is cool, you see water, canyons and the casinos.

I had arranged a ride to the Last Vegas Motor Speedway from some of the CF ladies that were also going to be at the airport around the same time. One of the girl’s flights got in almost an hour late so we were late getting out to the track for the registration. It was almost 7PM when we got to the track. Registration was held from 5-9PM, but by the time I made it to the Kawasaki line, which was the longest line, I didn’t stand a chance riding the bikes that I wanted to ride (ZX10, Z1000 and Z750S). I had my fingers crossed but when my turn came up, there was nothing good left. The same thing with Aprilia and Moto Guzzi, so I made it to the Buell line and signed up to test drive 5 Buells for the 5 sessions tomorrow. Note for next time, take Friday off and get there early.

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By the time we left the track, it was too late to go to the hotel before heading out to dinner, so I got another ride with another group. We went to the buffet at Harrah’s. After I ate I started yawning, it was already 1AM Chicago time. By the time I got to the Sahara, found my motel room and got ready for bed, it was already 2AM Chicago time.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

There were a total of 7 STN girls at the Sahara. Three of us in the room I was staying in and four in the room next door. One of my roommates ended up driving to Vegas from California, so everyone in my room went to the track with her. The other four girl’s had a rental car. We got to the track before 8AM and pitted with the CF girls. I was ecstatic to find out Red Bull was a sponsor, free Red Bulls all day long. I was in heaven. The morning temperatures were in the mid 60’s but the day started to warm up quickly and by the early afternoon it was in the low 90’s. I was drinking a lot of fluids and felt really good all day, never too hot. This dry heat is awesome. There were three groups, Novice 1, Novice 2 and intermediate. There were two tracks, so technically, we were broken up in to 6 groups. There were 150 women participating in femmoto this year, so far the largest number of participants. We did 2 sessions and then lunch was served. The $80 included the femmoto membership and a t-shirt, STT membership, woman’s demo track day (including a pick of 5 different bikes to ride), lunch and a dinner banquet. What a deal!

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Lunch was good, I had a chicken wrap, some potato chips and a big ass cookie. Then we did 3 more sessions. By session four I was feeling good, I knew the track pretty well, although I was starting to get tired. By session five I was pretty tired and the wind started to pick up a bit too, also this was the hottest part of the day. The sessions were not long enough for me to actually get used to the bikes I was riding, so I took it pretty slow all day. When I rode the same model two sessions in a row, I noticed immediate improvement. This event is really not a track day, it’s a demo on the track. I think two or more ladies crashed and they made an announcement to remind us that those are not our bikes and we were not racing. In all, the day was amazing, I had so much fun. All the women there were so cool, I couldn’t even believe it. All day long you would strike up conversations with women that you didn’t know, and all day everyone was so nice and everyone wanted to know where everyone was from and what bikes they rode at home. Just a very friendly, laid back environment. Not to mention, it was awesome seeing all these women on the track and guys holding umbrellas for a change.

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When it was over we packed up. Apparently while I was in the bathroom, some chick stripped down naked and rode her SV around the parking lot, then ended up dumping the bike. I miss all the weird stuff. The girls have pictures though.

When we got back to the Sahara, it was time to get ready for the banquet, which started at 7PM in the same casino. We got there a few minutes early to snag us a table. Dinner consisted of appetizer type finger food, but everything was good, although the line to the buffet was very long and plates were very small.

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After dinner Fairchild Sports (Hein Gericke) put on a fashion show for us girls, new woman’s gear that was about to hit the market. We also got to touch and try on samples. And they gave away a MZ scooter. I didn’t win it and even if I did, how the heck would I bring it back to Chicago.

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Most of the girls were pretty tired by the time the banquet ended, only a few of us went looking for some more fun, and we didn’t have to go far. At the Sahara, we found the NESCAR Bar. Some people from femmoto were hanging out there including Jessica Zalusky the AMA Superbike racer, Super Sarah, a guy from Aprilia, a few of the journalists and a photographer. So we stayed to have some drinks and ended up dancing the night away, it was karaoke night too. It was a pretty late night.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

After a few hours of sleep we went down to the pool and lounged around with daiquiris. I actually didn’t know how long we were out there and I put on the sun screen a bit too late, I don’t think I’ve had a chance yet this year to wear my bikini, a few parts got a bit red, maybe burned would be a better description. After enough pool time, we decided to eat lunch at the Quark’s Bar & Restaurant at the Star Trek Experience, which was within walking distance at the Hilton.

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Lunch was good, the place really interesting. I like Star Trek. Afterwards we did some shopping at the gif shop, then we took the monorail to Paris. We walked around and when we could walk no more we came back to the Sahara. I had an 11:30PM flight, so I packed early and then we went downstairs to the Mexican restaurant for dinner. After dinner I said my good byes and grabbed a shuttle to the airport and shortly I was on my way home. The red eye flight back was more packed than the Friday afternoon flight in, but there was a no show and I ended up changing seats and sat next to the window again. I prefer window seats, I like to check out the views. Taking off from Las Vegas was spectacular with all the casinos lit up so bright.

I was very tired but I had a hard time sleeping, I’m sure I got a nap in there somewhere. We landed at 5AM and by 5:45AM I was home. I was going to take a shower and go to work but I was so very tired now, so I took a 3 hours nap. After that I was functioning very well. I made it though a whole work day with no problems.

What a great weekend. The weather was awesome, hanging out with motorcycle chicks was way awesome, doing bike demos at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was super awesome and Las Vegas is pretty awesome too. I hope to make next year’s event.

Flying with motorcycle gear

This was the first time I have ever flied with my motorcycle gear. Since I was so paranoid that the airlines would loose my luggage, I decided to take on board everything that I needed for the demo track day. Which meant that I shoved everything in to my small carry-on suitcase, the Syed one-piece, back protector and gloves, plus some small miscellaneous clothing items. I checked a bag that held all my clothes and toiletries. I also took two pairs of motorcycle boots with me, my touring boots, which give me some height and my race boots. I packed the race boots in the bag that I was going to check and I wore my touring boots. My helmet bag was my purse and I filled up my helmet with all the crap that I would usually carry in a purse, wallet, keys, and stuff.

They didn’t loose my luggage, but better safe than sorry.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Femmoto 2005... Bike Reviews

I rode 4 bikes at femmoto, here are my reviews:

Buell XB9R Firebolt

Engine:Thunderstorm® 984cc Air/Oil/fan-cooled, four-stroke, 45º V-twin
Peak Horsepower:92 hp
Peak Horsepower:7500 RPM

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This bike was a bit tall for me. I like the way it looks, I think it’s the best looking of all the Buells, especially in yellow. The Buell is not as smooth as my Ducati. By lap three I was amazed how uncomfortable this bike was, compared to my 954RR. My legs were cramped and my air hump was digging in to the back of my helmet. The bike cornered well, and had plenty of power. The bike felt light with a low center of gravity.

Buell Blast

Engine:Air-cooled, 4-stroke, single cylinder
Peak Horsepower:34 hp
Peak Horsepower:7500 RPM

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This was the worst bike I rode all day. I almost killed it twice coming out of the pits, I somehow couldn’t control the throttle on this one. There was no tachometer on this bike, the instruments looked like I was riding a scooter. The foot pags were in front of me, like on a cruiser, not a comfortable seating position, and not fun for cornering. I though this little bike would be easy and fun on the track, but I found it was the hardest to ride from the all the Buells I rode that day. The bike ran rough, shifting was jerky, sometimes I though it was going to die on me if I wasn’t on the gas hard, and the worst part was that on my second lap I started dragging my toes, so I had to slow down. With the pegs up front and low, this bike didn’t have much clearance for cornering. The bike felt light with a low center of gravity.

Buell XB12Scg Lightning & Buell XB12S Lightning

Engine:Thunderstorm® 1203cc Air/Oil/fan-cooled, four-stroke, 45º V-Twin
Peak Horsepower:103 hp
Peak Horsepower:6800 RPM

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The ‘cg’ is the lower version of the Lightning. Slightly taller then the Buell Blast. I rode the XB12Scg first, then the next two sessions on the XB12S. The taller XB12S cornered way better, I enjoyed riding that bike, it was my favorite of the Buells. The XB12S has a very short wheelbase and the seating position is near the front of the tank, since it has no windscreen nad you sit above the instrument panel, thre is nothing in front of you, only air and the road below you. It took a bit to get used to that. The key location in on the left side, it’s kind of hard to turn the key with your right hand and I’m not a lefy, why would they put that there? I also liked the iPod effect on the tank, it’s a translucent orange plastic, kind of neat, you can see inside. Even though this bike has handlebars, it cornered quickly and had plenty of power. By the time I took the bike out again, I was more comfortable on it and it was even easier to ride. The bike felt light with a low center of gravity.

My Buell rating:

(1=worst / 5=best)
Buell XB9R Firebolt 3
Buell Blast 1
Buell XB12Scg Lightning 3
Buell XB12S Lightning 4

My general impression of the Buells:

I will not buy a Buell until it runs more like a Ducati. I was not impressed at all with the bikes. They vibrate and shake like hell too, compared to my Ducati ST3 especially the XB12S. The throttle/power is not as smooth as on my Ducati. I had a lot of problems pulling out the kick stands on all of them except for the Blast, since they are located in a weird place and you can’t see it when you are on the bike, your leg is in the way. But they do look nice.