APC Rally - Preparations and Random Blather

Discussion in 'Racing' started by frenchy750, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. frenchy750

    frenchy750 Work work work work work

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    None of the above!

    I have been editing another lousy video - this one is my experience in the Warrior Dash race. That lousy video will be posted shortly after New Years Day.

    Thanks to work and the holidays, other than running, most of my Rally training has consisted of playing Baja 1000 on the Wii. I'm taking my kids out to ride their ATV's at Gorman this week, so I'll get a little riding in.

    And maybe edit another lousy video as well.

    My next goal is finishing the LA half marathon on Jan 15. As of now I run about 25-30 miles per week. Still don't like running, but since the day I signed up for the APC rally and started running, I've dropped 37 pounds, so the cardio and fitness are slowly getting there.

    On the half marathon application, I put down my estimated finish time as 99:99, so I will probably be in the 'crazy cat lady' pace group.

    Then, my first ever USDR race in February. That will get its own post, I'm sure.
    #21
  2. frenchy750

    frenchy750 Work work work work work

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    It's beeeen such a loooong time....

    Yeah, that's definitely one of my favorite Boston songs, and also should be the subtitle for this saga. Recently, people started implying my silence must indicate I've realized that the Australian Property Center Rally was more than I could handle, and I must have taken up crochet instead.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    With the holidays and a brutal end-of-year work schedule, I have not been riding in the dirt nearly as much as hoped I would be. Nor have I written much of late. Regardless of that, I can guarantee I haven't picked up the crochet needles, or hooks, or whatever the fuck those things people use to crochet are called.

    What I have been doing is trying to get my cardio, strength and overall fitness to improve. Which, aside from running up to twenty miles a week, means a lot of this:

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    And this:

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    While it didn't involve motors, my first actual race was quite a success. My friend Pat and I signed up for a Warrior Dash on December 4th. Part of he reason for my lack of progress updates was I was learning how to use all the miscellaneous software involved in editing the video I shot of the race. How real video editors do their jobs without cracking up I will never know. It's a stupid amount of tedious work.

    Anyway...

    Finally, after WAAAY too much ado (about nothing, really...) here is the World Premiere of my first ever feature length video - the Warrior Dash 2011!

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/5zXZDciy4h4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Since that epic adventure, I've run a 10K race, finishing 32nd out of 141 runners, and coming in second in my age group (full disclosure: there were only two people in my age group, but whatever... it counts!)

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    This past Sunday I participated in the LA Half Marathon, finishing 13.1 miles in one hour and fifty three minutes:

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    So just what exactly does all this running around have to do with preparing for a motorcycle rally in Australia? Well, in my opinion, a lot. The cardio and stamina benefits are already apparent. The day I signed up for the APC Rally, I weighed in at a portly 210 pounds. The most exercise I got, in between shoveling food into my gut was opening a bottle of The Macallan. Now, some five months later I tip the scale at a more respectable 175, and opening those bottles is no trouble at all anymore! While I wouldn't exactly say I was lazy back then, most other people probably would say I was.

    To be completely honest, I hate running. Despise it in fact. Despite the despising, I do it. The reason is simple. I figure during the APC Rally there will come a morning when I simply do not want to get back on that motorcycle and continue. But, just like I feel every morning before I run, I will suck it up and get on with it. I've learned the easiest, and hardest part of the game, be it running or dirt biking, is the mental part. The body will do whatever the mind tells it to do. I'm working on that mind over body part every single day.

    The so-called 'experts' at this point always say, "That's great, but all this fitness shit isn't enough to improve on a dirt bike, Dumbo. You really need to ride that dirt bike."

    "Yup," I say. "I know." Since I really need a concrete goal to get anywhere, I've also decided to challenge myself by entering Round 1 of the US Desert Racing series on February 5th.

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    502 S! 'S' is for... SENIOR! UGH!

    My goal is simple. Finish the race. For me a finish = a win, since I've never attempted anything like a desert race before. Am I ready for it? No. Does that matter to me? It probably should, but it doesn't. I must have Senior-itis!

    I spent some time getting my old red sled nicknamed Mid-Wife Crisis ready for the complete thrashing in store on February 5th and all the practice leading up to it.

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    There will be a report of some sort after the race. It more than likely will not be one of those reports where the dude says, "I entered my first ever race, passed every single bike, and I won it! Dirt racing is sooo easy!" I hate reports like that. Mostly because I know I will never write one.

    Now, off to celebrate my birthday with my lovely fiancee and the old red sled in the desert!

    More to come....
    #22
  3. beechum1

    beechum1 Dandole Gas al Burro

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    Still following. Keep it up. I need to get a kettlebell. I used to work out with them and it's the best workout *I've done.
    #23
  4. Steve_C

    Steve_C Been here awhile

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    Great following your progress and dedication.

    Subscribed.
    #24
  5. frenchy750

    frenchy750 Work work work work work

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    "What a perfect night! The stars are so bright!"

    Fiona was right, the stars were bright. It was a perfect night, the night before my birthday, just me and my lovely fiancee out in the middle of Jawbone Canyon OHV park, surrounded by rolling hills. We sat in front of the fire and watched the stars a while, noticing one that was particularly bright.

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    Then we noticed that particularly bright star was moving in a peculiar fashion, almost as if it was slowly coming down a mountain. It dawned on us that this star was in fact coming down the mountain, because this star was in fact a miners helmet light attached to... someone walking down the mountain path directly toward our little Mobile Desert Assault Base Camp.
    Within minutes this strange, mountain climbing dude was standing in the middle of our camp.

    "Shit! What a long way down!" he started. "My dog ran away and my truck is stuck up at the top... you know that cabin up there? Yeah, well I got a flat and then I had to walk all this way down and..."

    And? And then, with no further explanation, he turned and marched out of our camp towards the main road, never to be seen again.

    As the miners light disappeared in the distance, we both looked at each other, wordlessly saying, "What the hell just happened here?" Didn't get much sleep that night.
    Spent my birthday doing my second favorite thing in the world:

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    Later that day, my good friend Keith, aka Unleaded from the Great Unsponsored Nova Scotia Expedition and his son stopped by to help me and Fiona celebrate my forty-second year on the planet.

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    We shared the story of the mysterious mountain man. Keith immediately wanted to ride to the summit to see if we could find the dog, the truck, the cabin or anything at all.

    Here is a video of our Ride to the Summit:

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/zlvyPaVvDYw?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    No luck finding mountain man, but the junkyard at the summit was pretty impressive!

    Without a doubt, my APC Rally off-road riding training is coming along nicely, and of course, this was the Best Birthday Ever!
    #25
  6. frenchy750

    frenchy750 Work work work work work

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    During my forty-two orbits around the sun I've been fortunate enough to ride a bunch of different street bikes to a bunch of different places.

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    I've spent a lot of time on the road, covering vast distances to point at a sign and take my picture next to it. I even managed to make it to Australia to ride once before, though all of that riding was street oriented as well, though riding on the 'wrong' side of the street.

    [​IMG]

    When I signed up to participate in the Australian Property Centre rally, I realized how much of that street riding experience will come in handy on the 7000 kilometers of dirt trails this rally will cover.

    None.

    Incidentally, that brilliant insight also covered the fact that in my then-present shape, best described as 'Entirely Out Of' I would never make it to the finish line.

    So, I made a few decisions. First, if I was going to actually participate in this rally, I would have to make a commitment. I would need to get into a shape other than 'Dough Boy.' This fitness commitment is coming along nicely; that quest continues to this day and will continue right up to the day I get on the plane for Australia. Nowadays I spend far too many hours a week running, at Crossfit, kettlebell training, P90x and doing whatever other torture I decide to subject myself to, and little to no time at all in the bar. Sad, but that's what commitment means, I guess. My overall fitness has improved enormously, and it's nice to be able to see my feet again.

    Lack of overall fitness was a big part of my problem with the rally, but not the only problem. The other half of the equation is the fact that other than a few dirt detours on Rain Cloud Follows, my trusty Yamaha FJR road bike, I really have zero experience riding in the dirt.

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    Thanks to a windfall from Mohegan Sun Casino, I bought a dirt bike, nicknamed it Mid Wife Crisis, and started trying to learn to ride in the dirt. Where my lovely fiancee Fiona and I used to spend time exploring the back roads, now we explore the deserts of Southern California. The learning curve in the dirt is pretty steep, so I set out to get some help straightening the learning curve out.

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    His name is Rob, and he works for Motoventures, a highly recommended SoCal off-road teaching facility. For two days Rob's job, difficult as it is, was to teach this old dog some new tricks. During the pre-ride meeting the first day, Rob asked why I was there. I told him I had signed up for a 4300 mile off road rally in Australia.

    He asked how many years I had to learn to ride before the rally.

    I replied, "Six months."

    With a low whistle, he shook his head, knowing he had his work cut out for him.

    Rob is one of those guys that make dirt riding seem effortless. His bike can fly, he can wheelie over anything, ride up or down a hill so steep it would trip up a mountain goat, and never, ever breaks a sweat.

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    Rob Flying Through The Air

    My poor bike can't fly, the only time I ever wheelied it scared me so badly I had to stop, and on the hill climbing section of the lesson, I fell off so may times I lost count.

    Yeah. That's right. Six months from now I will be riding around Australia.

    I took one class with Motoventures before our trip to Jawbone, then repeated the same class with Rob the week after. Rob was impressed with my improvement in the second class. I made it up the hill that stumped me the first time, and made it through the technical trails without even having to put a foot down. I was pretty proud of my accomplishments, though I still have a long way to go.

    The only way to improve is to keep on riding, which is exactly what I plan to do.

    I learn best with a little pressure, so to make my steep learning curve a little more interesting, I am racing in my first ever US Desert Race this coming Sunday. My class, Senior One Beginners, has a one hour time limit on a six mile course. I have no illusions of being anything but horrible in the race, but I know it will expose more weaknesses that I'll need to work on. If nothing else, it will be an endurance test, and of course the race will be a hell of a good time.

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    More to follow.
    #26
  7. griffo1962

    griffo1962 Long timer

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    You do know this is a non-competitive ride don't you. Sounds like you're preparing for a major off road race not a 2 week ride....... :evil :evil there are no prizes for finishing first or even at all. Other than that I admire your determination.
    #27
  8. johnno950

    johnno950 Long timer

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    Couldnt agree more,its not a race,sure you will be amazed at the scenery of australia........as we would be if we went for a ride over your part of the world,ride and enjoy it.
    #28
  9. frenchy750

    frenchy750 Work work work work work

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    The day I'd been anticipating with a healthy mixture of fear and dread finally arrived. One thing I know about myself is I am very goal oriented. If I have something to strive for, I put maximum effort into whatever it takes to reach that goal. My current goal is to learn to ride off road well enough to get me through the four thousand plus miles of rugged outback terrain in the Australian Property Centre rally in late July.

    Somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that if entered a desert race, I'd be forced to learn how to go fast, how to make quick decisions on the dirt bike, if my months of cardio and physical training were enough to give me the endurance and stamina to finish a somewhat grueling off road race, and if I was any good at racing at all.

    I raced my first US Desert Racing race on Sunday February 5th. Here is the little video I made to tell the story of my conquest:

    <iframe width="640" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/mjjGhyTrKsU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    I finished. Not well, but at least I finished. As I sat in line with the other Senior One Beginners waiting for the green flag to drop, every instinct told me to get the hell out of there. When the flag dropped, I fully expected to be left behind in a cloud of dust, which I pretty much was. But then I realized that I was actually keeping up with some of my fellow Seniors! The guy next to me sucked at racing just as much as I did. As soon as I realized this, I instantly started having fun.

    The best thing about a race is there will never be traffic coming at you from the other direction, the only traffic I had to contend with was the really good racers lapping me about three laps in. I moved out of their way, and enjoyed pushing my personal limts; sliding harder than I ever had through the turns, and even jumping my bike a bit. I managed four laps in an hour and sixteen minutes. My first lap took 21 minutes. The number one racer finished his first lap in 13 minutes. I have no idea how the hell he managed that.

    I probably will never have any idea what it is like to be that fast.

    As the video shows, I am pretty much a shit racer. Cyril Despres and the rest have nothing to fear from this mid-life crisis suffering Frenchy fool. Neither do the rest of the USDR racers. But it was fun, and I have already signed up for Round Two on March 11th.

    My goal for Round Two? A top eighty finish!
    #29
  10. Rusty Rocket

    Rusty Rocket Life behind "Bars"

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    subscribed :lurk
    #30
  11. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    Great video :thumb
    #31
  12. wrk2surf

    wrk2surf on the gas or brakes

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    two tips.. First, use a heat gun or good hair dryer to get stickers to lay down and second... STAND UP as much as possible..

    good job!
    #32
  13. KZJohn

    KZJohn Been here awhile

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    I was going to say that!:D

    I will say that I am really enjoying this thread. Your video and editing skills are way above most and you naration is entertaining. I have been racing a long time and your thread reminded me what it was like to be new at this. I had to think long and hard as to what was my first race. 1985, Johnson valley, summer, D-37 race, I don't remember who the host club was though. I finished, I don't know how. Just a skinny 135lb kid on a Husky 500cc 2-stroke.
    Keep it up and remember, the #1 goal is to have fun. Life is too short not to.
    #33
  14. frenchy750

    frenchy750 Work work work work work

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    Good? Meh...

    Fun? Hell yeah!

    When I originally decided to race this race, it was really just to force me to learn to ride off-road better, in preparation for the APC Rally. I didn't realize that racing was like crack, and as we all know, crack is whack! Racing is whack too, and I have already signed up for USDR Round 2 on March 11th. It's a sickness....

    As for the actual race, I wore my heart rate monitor to see how hard I was working. The results:

    Duration: 02:41:37
    HR Avg: 119
    HR Max: 176
    Calories: 1425Cal
    Training Load: 193

    The race was exhausting, but I never blew up. I got tired on the third lap and slowed down a bit, because slow is supposed to be fast, though my results show that slow is actually just slow. For comparison, I also wore my heart rate monitor when I ran the San Dieguito Half Marathon last Sunday. The results:

    Duration: 01:59:39
    HR Avg: 160
    HR Max: 196
    Calories: 1803
    Training Load: 327

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    450th out of 1288 runners. 8:33/mile

    As I suspected, running is great training for off road riding and racing, and both are hopefully great training for the APC rally. I'll keep doing both, and start ramping up my training, because the rally starts in a mere 160 days.
    #34
  15. Stagehand

    Stagehand Imperfectionist

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    Admirable tenacity, sir and noob to noob: racing is fun, eh? :freaky
    #35
  16. richo360

    richo360 Long timer

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    Of course you came 450th, you've only got short little legs :)
    (OK, its probably just the camera angle?)

    BTW, can you move one step to the left please..........
    #36
  17. frenchy750

    frenchy750 Work work work work work

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    Rather than going on and on about more boring running or my awesome 'racing' exploits, I thought I'd take a minute to introduce the reason I've entered the Australian Property Centre rally, my friend Dan.


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    I met Dan back in 2003 at a stop sign in California. Way back in those days, the days before Facebook and blogs and everything like that, I used to write journals of the rides I took, mostly because the 2003 version of Frenchy must have realized that the 2012 version of Frenchy wouldn't be able to remember breakfast, let alone epic adventures from nearly a decade ago. I dug through the recesses of my hard drive, and finally came up with the journal I wrote of that fateful meeting.

    This story is oddly prescient, because it was written long before I'd met Fiona and become an adopted resident of California.

    Here it that journal, in all its unedited, yawn-inspiring glory:

    June 1, 2003 - I headed out to the WWE show in San Diego, and by some great comedy of errors, the travel department had not booked the flights I requested. I left at noon, which put me into San Diego at 5:30, I usually like to travel out later in the day, so I can have as much time at home (or wherever I am) as possible, But this time it was all right, since the weather at home was crummy, and it was a long flight anyway. I planned to take two days off after the trip, rent a Harley and just ride around, with no real purpose or destination. I begged, bargained and haggled with the WWE travel department to arrange my flight home. They finally ended up getting me a flight that would get me home on Friday morning. Of course it was on the crummiest airline in the world. (ATA for those keeping score) The flight left California at 11:30 PM, 6 hours after the bike was to be returned, but it didn't matter, I was going to RIDE in CALIFORNIA!! Never mind that I had no destination or plans, or reservation for a room for that matter. I was staying out in California with two days and no plans. Perfect! It is kind of unusual for me to do this, and I really don&#8217;t know what made me decide to stay, but I knew it would be fun.

    The hotel in San Diego was right on the ocean, and there were seals in the harbor. I got to see a few and hear even more of them. (for most of the night in fact&#8230;) It was a good day, and a good start to what would end up being a GREAT trip.

    I had recently decided I wanted to buy a bicycle to keep on the tour bus. Since we don't have to be at work until 10:30 on Tuesday, I can get up at 7 and have three hours to ride and explore. It just so happened that there was a Performance Bicycle store next door to the arena. By a further stroke of luck, this was their last day in business, and the prices were slashed. 30% off all bicycles and 50% off all accessories! I ended up with over $700 worth of bicycle and gear for $480. A good deal.

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    My Bike!

    I mixed the RAW show, and it went well. There were more live segments than usual that night. I actually enjoyed mixing the show. It was a short hour bus trip from San Diego to Anaheim, and I stayed up for the ride instead of hitting my bunk. I love shows on Pacific Time, because RAW finishes at 8 PM, and I don't have to be at work on Tuesday until 10:30 AM.

    I was so excited about riding my new bicycle that I got up at 5:30 in the morning on Tuesday in Anaheim, and set out. I used to ride a bicycle every day when I was younger. In fact I used to race both street and mountain bikes a long time ago. However, I hadn't ridden a bicycle in years. The concierge told me of a path that followed a river, and I headed out to it. I had so much fun riding that I put over 20 miles on that first day, and I wasn't nearly as sore as I had thought I might be the next day. I think I am really going to enjoy having this bike on the road.

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    My Rented Bike

    June 2, 2003 &#8211; This was the morning I went to pick up my Harley. I originally wanted a Heritage Softail, similar to the bike I own, but when I called to reserve one, I was told there weren&#8217;t any available. Wonder of wonders, when I showed up to pick up the bike, there was one waiting for me! A beautiful black 2003 model! Things were looking up!At Eaglerider, I asked for directions for a scenic route. They told me how to get to the Pacific Coast highway, and I proceeded to take a wrong turn and end up in a VERY seedy part of Los Angeles, South Central... I think this is where the riots were, and I can understand why. Desolate, depressing, with garbage strewn all over the place, and sad and desperate people everywhere. I stopped for directions at a gas station, and the attendant told me to "get on Highway 5 and get the hell out of here!"

    I found my way out of this hell, and got on California Route 1, and ended up at the "Motorcycle Mile" where I stopped in at Bartel's Harley Davidson dealership. With a new Bartel&#8217;s T shirt and some directions for a "great" ride, I was on my way.

    I finally turned on the PCH 1 and took Topanga Creek Blvd to Mulholland Highway. The name is deceptive, because this "highway" is actually a twisty two lane road that few people live on and even fewer travel on. I did something that I have never managed to do before&#8230; on one of the tighter turns I &#8220;ground&#8221; a footboard, that is one of the footboards scraped against the road. I must have leaned WAY over for that to happen, because even though the Harley doesn&#8217;t have the best ground clearance, I have never managed to have a footboard hit the road before. It was surprising.

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    Once I realized what had happened, I started laughing out loud. It sounds dangerous, but it really is just startling more than anything. I rode this excellent road to the end, got back on PCH 1 and stopped at Neptune's Net, which was described to me as a sort of biker/surfer hangout. I had a great lunch of salmon steak and fried calamari, then headed further north on PCH 1. It was cloudy, and not exactly warm, but I was out there and had a great day.

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    I stopped in a town called Oxnard and had a coffee at Starbucks, then decided to turn around. At this time, I didn't have a room reservation anywhere. I was a little concerned because in my travels on PCH 1, I saw a lot of RV parking, but not one single hotel.

    I rode through Malibu and ended up in Santa Monica. I stopped in Santa Monica, mostly because it had some hotels. (Not to mention this is where Neil Peart currently lives&#8230; you never know when you might run into the &#8220;Ghost Rider&#8221;!) There was a roller coaster and Ferris wheel on a pier, and it just looked like the place to stop. I was cold and getting tired, even though I had only ridden 211 miles.

    I found a room in the Holiday Inn, for the ridiculous price of $149! Whatever. It was better than sleeping on the beach. There was a great looking sushi restaurant and a British pub nearby, so I figured it couldn't be all bad. I had some expensive sushi then some reasonably priced Guinness, then headed to bed. I still didn't have a plan for the next day, and was debating whether to take the bike back early and try to get and earlier flight out, or ride some more. The weather was not promising&#8230;

    June 3, 2003 - I woke up this Thursday to a misty and gray day. I walked over to Jink's Cafe and had breakfast, then got back on the bike. It was not exactly raining, but it was close enough. Heavy mist stuck to my goggles and skin. Oh well, it's just water...
    I decided that the Mulholland highway was so much fun, with such amazing scenery and turns that I would ride it one more time and then probably head back to Los Angeles to return the bike early.

    As I got back on Topanga Canyon road, there was a small traffic jam. Someone had decided to drive their car off the road and down the embankment&#8230; It was a good way down too. There was an enormous tow truck there trying to pull the car back up to the road. I later found out that not one but two cars had followed each other down there. Never heard how the occupants made out.

    The day was still gray, it was still heavily misting, and I was still debating turning around and returning the bike early. I was stopped at an intersection, with my headphones blaring and not really paying attention, when another bike, a white BMW RS 1100 pulled up next to me. The rider looked over at me and said &#8220;So much for sunny weather!&#8221; I nodded and said &#8220;Could be worse.&#8221; We waved and he went on his way.

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    Dan!

    I saw the same guy further down the road at another intersection, this time he was off his bike and had his cell phone in his hand. I pulled up to ask if he was all right, and he shrugged and simply said, &#8220;Work found me.&#8221; I introduced myself, and found out his name was Dan. He said he was heading to Neptune&#8217;s Net for coffee. I told him I would meet him there and continued on my way.

    Dan pulled into Neptune&#8217;s Net in a few minutes after I did, and we got a table. I got a cookie and coffee, he had clam chowder. We talked for a while, and he told me that he was going to go to Route 33, because it might be sunnier there. He asked if I wanted to come along, and I said &#8220;Sure, as long as I can have this bike back by 5 in LA, why not?&#8221; He said he had to be back home by 3:30 so that wouldn&#8217;t be a problem. Having agreed on this, we set off on an impromptu adventure.

    We rode about a half hour up the PCH, and it started to actually rain, but I didn&#8217;t care. I was happy to know that there was someone else that was as big of a motorcycle nut as me to ride in weather like this. We got to Route 33, and it was an even better mountain/canyon/valley road that the one I was on before, with huge bright yellow flowers lining both sides of the road. It was incredible! Dan rode much faster than I did, stopping to wait for me several times. His BMW was much better suited to this type of riding, which is exactly why he bought it he told me. But I also had to slow down often to just look at the amazing scenery all around me. (I ended up grinding another footboard on these winding roads!) Dan would later comment that it was &#8220;like riding through a Dr. Seuss book!&#8221; It definitely was, and this day had already turned out better than I thought it would.

    We kept climbing higher on these great and very twisty roads, and soon we were in the clouds. I could see the fog rolling up the mountain, and over the road. It was cool to ride through the mist, it would sometimes be suddenly cooler then quickly get warmer. When we crossed over the top of the mountain however, the sun came out and suddenly it was WARM! WOO HOO! It went from about 60 to well over 80 degrees in a matter of minutes.

    [​IMG]
    Clouds roll across the road

    We stopped at 2 PM at a little grocery store that had a deli in it. I had a roast beef sandwich, and Dan opted for the healthier salad. An grumpy older man walked in and asked if they had &#8220;gotten his cigarettes&#8221;, and was disappointed to find out that they had. The grouch seemed angry now because he had nothing to complain about. He also gruffly asked when the milk man was going to deliver next. Strange little town, but cool too.

    Dan said we could take Highway 5 south back to LA, but then suggested a road that paralleled Route 5 instead. We took the back road. It was another 35 miles of twisted mountain roads. It didn&#8217;t exactly meet the definition of &#8220;parallel&#8221;. I was starting to wonder if Dan might be trying to keep me out in LA for another day of riding&#8230; which actually wouldn&#8217;t have been so bad.

    [​IMG]

    An American and a German, two new friends at the lake

    The sun was still bright and strong, and at 3:30 we stopped by a lake so Dan could make a few calls (cell phones didn&#8217;t work in the area we had had lunch in, how cool is that?) I was still wondering about making it back to LA by 5, because LA is famous for its incredibly bad traffic jams. Dan assured me we&#8217;d be &#8220;fine&#8221;. We got on Route 5 south and cranked up the speed. We moved into the HOV lane when we got closer to LA. Motorcycles are allowed to travel in this lane, and I felt sort of relieved that we were making good time until of course ALL traffic came to a complete stop. Even in the HOV lane. Great. Dan looked at me and said &#8220;Wanna lane split?&#8221;

    Lane splitting is legal in California, but I don&#8217;t know how smart it is. Basically the thought is that a motorcycle can pass a car either in its lane or on the white lines that divide lanes. I have always thought that motorcyclists doing this were INSANE, but we were up against the clock, so I figured what the hell?

    I haven&#8217;t had a constant surge of adrenalin like this since the very first time I mixed RAW. It was QUITE a rush! It wasn&#8217;t quite as dangerous as I had thought, because once you start splitting the lanes, your focus intensifies, and you can really see the &#8220;lane&#8221; between the lanes and cars. Not that I will ever do it again, but it definitely WAS very intense riding.
    There was a bad looking accident off to the side of the highway causing the traffic jam. A tractor trailer had rear ended a copper colored Ford and crumpled the whole rear end in. I could see that the air bags had deployed. The family was standing around the car in daze. The ambulance was on the scene, but the paramedics were just standing there. I was glad to see that nobody was seriously injured.

    We ended up riding 348 miles that day. With our lane splitting, we made it back to the rental place at 15 minutes past five. I was afraid there would be a late fee. The guys at Eaglerider understood though, and didn&#8217;t charge me extra. In fact they gave me two days for the price of one&#8230; Thanks guys!

    Dan asked me what I was going to do, and I told him I was planning on going to the airport and waiting five hours for my flight. He invited me back to his house for a few cold beers. Cold beers always sound like a great idea to me! He gave me directions and I called for a cab. He went on ahead to make sure there was no &#8220;dirty underwear&#8221; on the floor.We sat on his deck and had a few cold beers and talked about the different riding experiences we have had. He told me about riding with some other friends he had met on the roads and staying in a motel where the clerk told them that the local kids are &#8220;hoodlums&#8221; and let them park all their bikes inside the lobby of the motel! He also told me that his father had died at the young age of 52, and forced him to seriously rethink his priorities. We shared our experiences and talked about life and many things.

    One of the things we talked about was riding to Alaska. This is something that has been rolling around in my brain for a while, ever since I read Neil Peart&#8217;s &#8220;Ghost Rider&#8221; and a few other books that talked about what a great experience it was to ride the 1500 mile Alaskan Highway. Dan mentioned he wanted to ride up there next summer, and I really think that we will end up doing it.

    Another thing we talked about is how everything is being developed. It seems that every open space there once was now has a house or strip mall or Applebee&#8217;s and Lowe&#8217;s on it. I feel that the developers are ruining everything with this greed, but Dan had a different point of view. He feels that the land have been constantly developed, it is just happening at a much faster pace now. He said that it used to take people twenty-four hours to get from downtown LA to the beach by stage coach in the 1900&#8217;s. Beverley Hills was a getaway for those that didn&#8217;t want to make the trip. Now you can make it to the beach in twenty minutes (if there is no traffic jam&#8230;) He thinks that it is just the way of the world. I am not sure who is right.

    We went to a Thai restaurant and had dinner, and Dan&#8217;s wife Maxine met us there. The first thing she said to me was &#8220;Hello, what&#8217;s your story?&#8221; It seemed she was used to Dan bringing home &#8220;strays.&#8221; Dan used to commute to Australia to see her before they married. She was definitely an interesting person, and when dinner was over, they made me promise that I would be back again (which I know I will).

    Dan took me back to the airport, and he again made me promise that I would come back. A handshake and a hug, and I was on my way. I told Dan, &#8220;I will see you again, my friend, we have a lot more riding to do!&#8221;

    This little trip turned out to be exactly the reason that I ride motorcycles. So much can happen in one day! Amazing scenery and a new friend that I will definitely see and ride with again. To get out of the rut and meet new and interesting people. To experience life not in a metal tube or box&#8230; to be in the moment and a part of the scenery instead of safely isolated from it. To get away from the plastic people that merely exist and LIVE.

    Yeah, these few days are exactly why I ride.

    THE END


    But, it wasn't the end, not by a long shot. Ride we still do. That first meeting and talk about riding to Alaska turned into Dan and I riding 7400 miles to Alaska exactly one year later. Dan moved to Australia in 2007, just as I was stalking, err... chasing after... no... I mean... as I was trying to get to know Fiona. Yes, that is what the lawyers told me was the appropriate term.

    The timing of Dan's move sucked a little, but in 2009 Fiona and I went Down Under for a visit. Dan and I (with Maxine and Fiona) rode around Australia for a week on the wrong side of the road. And in 2012, I will go Down Under once again. The day after my long flight, Dan and I will line up in Bathhurst to start (and hopefully finish) the APC Rally.

    Dan's been training for the APC Rally as well, recently completing his first Warrior Dash, sans Mohawk. He's done some long training rides on the APC rally tracks. By July 28th we'll be as ready as we can be to tackle this ride, and no matter what happens, we'll have a hell of a time doing it.
    #37
  18. richo360

    richo360 Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,055
    Location:
    Bottom of the barrel and still digging
    A good read Frenchy.
    The last dozen or so words are right on the money.
    #38
  19. Steve_C

    Steve_C Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    283
    Location:
    Gold Coast
    Enjoyed reading your yarn about meeting Dan. Tx for posting.
    #39
  20. frenchy750

    frenchy750 Work work work work work

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    Oddometer:
    276
    Location:
    Kingdom of Rhode Island
    It's 8:58 AM on Sunday, February 4th. The day is a bit chilly, but clear and crisp. My heart is pounding much harder than it does after a Starbucks black eye double espresso. In two minutes, my race career as "502S" will officially begin.

    [​IMG]

    I'm lined up in the seventh row, happily continuing the theme of "I have no idea what I am doing." This has been my central theme for the entire race weekend. I line up with hundreds of real racers, surrounded by exquisite racing machines all growling and roaring. I&#8217;m not even sure why I am here other than because I said I would do it. I told too many people I was going to race not to race. I have no idea what the starting procedure is, hadn't really given it any though. In fact I really have no idea of much of anything at all, except the course is over six miles long, and I have to complete as many laps as I can in a hour, then do one more lap. I 'practiced' on the course for forty five minutes the day before, trying to learn as much as I could about how everything works.

    I watch as the first row gets the green flag. When I see them charge into the first turn, a 180 degree bend that leads to the racetrack proper, I realize my choice to line up on the inside most spot was probably not the best idea I've ever had, because I will have to make the tightest turn of the entire Senior-1 Beginner group. The racing learning curve may be pretty steep, but as an old dog, I'm game to learn some new tricks. I look to my right, taking in the revs of the enormous KTM next to me. I count fourteen people in my line, there may actually be more, I'm not entirely sure. I valiantly decide that I'll let them scrap for the lead instead of battling for it and taking everyone out. I may not know much about racing, but I do know this much. Nobody wins in the first turn.

    Hundreds of thoughts scream through my head. Wave after wave get the green flag, and before I can properly process it, my wave is next. This has suddenly gotten very real. The green flag is pointed at me then follows down the rest of the line, then it waves high in the air. With a loud roar, the line is off.

    By design, I am behind them all. The course starts on a motocross track, and I am jumping along slightly behind the rest of the S-1 Beginners. Woo! Scary fun! Rather than hitting the gigantic step up, I opt to take the chicken path around the scariest obstacle I have ever seen. I realize that nearly everyone else has opted to skip the jump as well. I start to think that these guys are just like me, probably many of them also racing their first race. That realization forces me to relax, and from that point on I start enjoying myself. Racing is fun!

    The course is fast, at least to me. I do my best to stay on course, not take anybody out, and keep the black rubber circles underneath me at all times. I drop the bike when the course turns sandy, slowing up a few other riders. Fortunately, the CRF 450x restarts with a quick stab of the starter button. My clutch lever is bent, my pride is dinged, but I am still smiling, still intact, and still in the race.

    The course snakes into some tight technical single track. An ATV has died in that single track, its rider frantically waving to everyone to warn of his newly made obstacle. I make my way around the four wheeled obstruction and continue around to finish lap one.

    It feels like the hour should already be up, but sadly it isn't. I am all by myself on the track now; the faster racers all ahead of me, the slower racers are... well, there probably aren't any slower racers than me. In my helmet I tell myself that I am actually in the lead, decimating the field. This lie keeps me motivated until the faster riders catch and pass me, leaving me in a cloud of roost and dust. How they go so fast is a mystery to me. I watch in awe as they make pass after pass. One rider hoots, hollers and revs his bike to let me know he is behind me. I move over, not wanting to ruin anyone's day.

    Other than dropping my bike at the same exact sandy spot as before, lap two is mostly uneventful for me. I relax a little more, and realize my back end is sliding though some of the turns. Does this mean I am starting to pick up some speed? Or am I just getting tired and sloppy? I am passed a few more times, but it doesn't bother me. Racing is fun, even when you are the slow guy.

    On lap three, I actually catch a rider, but have no idea how to make the pass. Of all the eventualities I was prepared for, passing someone definitely wasn't one of them. Eventually, I hoot, holler and rev my engine. He moves over to let me by. The learning curve may be steep, but this old dog has already learned at least one new trick. Once again I drop the bike in the sand. The result? My clutch lever is now bent like a curly munchkin shoe. Once again I pick the bike up, and once again it starts without too much protest.

    Lap four begins like lap three ended, meaning I am still mostly by myself. I eye the flagger, expecting to be waved off the course and given the award for 'Best Comedic Performance on a Motorcycle'. Again it doesn't happen. My biggest problem, other than I am starting to get tired is I haven't figure out a good system to get a drink, and I am very thirsty. My Camelback hose has come alive like a snake, wriggling out of reach, forcing me to slow down every time I want a drink. I manage my way through the sand trap without falling, which to me is a major victory. I pick a new spot to drop the bike instead. A course marshal shouts encouragement as I pick up my battered ride for what seems like the hundredth time.

    Finally the white flag waves. I have one more lap to go, and I do my best to make it count. I am surprisingly tired at this point, all the running and Crossfit training and everything else I did to try to get my conditioning up to par have no doubt helped, but I still have a way to go to get fit enough to be competitive. Of course that nasty sand trap claims me once again, but at this point, with then end in sight, I don't care. I break into a huge smile as I cruise to the checkered flag, one hour and sixteen minutes into my racing career. I cross the line 87th out of 107 overall, and 14th out of 16 in the Senior One Beginner group.

    [​IMG]

    I'm exhausted but happy to have finished my first ever US Desert Racing series race intact.

    I do know one thing. I'm hooked! I will be back for more, Round Two is only a few weeks away!

    [​IMG]
    #40