Friday, November 23, 2007

Cruising the Sky

My trip to the track in Pahrump also included a trip to Tucson to visit family.

Since the trailer I borrowed had room for two bikes and I couldn't convince anyone to join me (Dave, Joe and Jason, this is where you should feel guilty and ashamed of yourselves) I decided to bring the Suzuki. That way I could enjoy the Tucson weather if the opportunity arose.

It turned out to be a good idea. (Insert Guinness-ad "Brilliant!" here.)

Just outside of Tucson is one of the best mountain roads anywhere. It covers about 25 miles from Tucson up to Mt Lemmon Ski Valley. The scenery ranges from the Sonoran Desert to pine forest as you climb from 3000' to about 9000' in elevation. ... Well, here's a good description. The road is Catalina Highway but it's less commonly called Sky Island Scenic Byway.

I hadn't been on Catalina Highway since I lived in Tucson in 2002. Back then they were in the midst of a long-term repaving project of the entire road. But, much to my delight, they've finished that project. That means gorgeous smooth wide asphalt for 25 miles.

In 2002 I would get up early and get in a few spirited mountain "laps" before the cars showed up in force on the weekends. (I'm not the sort of person that drags a knee on public roads, but if I were, Catalina highway was one of the best places for it. It wasn't hard to find times where there was zero other traffic on the mountain.) But for this trip I had the Suzuki. It's a much different ride on a cruiser. Not better, not worse, just different. You pay more attention to the scenery than on the sport bike. But it can still be a spirited ride.

If you're in Tucson with a bike it's a ride you won't regret.

I'm starting to think that moving back to Tucson might be worth the 20% pay cut. A couple hours each weekend on the mountain might save me enough in therapy costs to make it worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pahrump Revisited

November 8th and 9th STAR held their year-end track event at Spring Mountain in Pahrump. Since I had a new bike I figured it would be a good way to get it out on the track for the first time. (1. The riding season around here ends in Min-October. 2. My impression of open track days here isn't good, there's just too much chaos.) So I borrowed an enclosed trailer and a truck to pull it with and headed down.

As always STAR put on a great event. They now have professional photographers that take pictures of the on-track action. The pictures are then used in the classroom sessions to help illustrate what you're doing well and not so well. You also have the option to buy the pictures of yourself. Here are a few:

You can see how my spray paint turned out on the racing body. The nose and fairings are sprayed. The tank and the tail section are OEM. The bellypan isn't OEM but it came already black.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you have a sport bike you owe it to yourself to take it to the track. You don't have to be a daredevil or a speed freak. If you're the conservative type think of it as learning the capabilities of your motorcycle to make you a better and safer rider when the unexpected happens on the street. Regardless how you validate it, going to the track is an absolute must.

I know there are some people out there (well, assuming *anyone* reads this blog at all I guess) that think "That bike is too expensive to take to the track. What if you wreck it?" True, that would stink. I'd cry and whimper and spend a week naked, in the corner, in the fetal position. But bikes like this are designed for the track. That's their whole purpose in life. Otherwise they might as well be in the living room as sculpture. ... Come to think of it, that wouldn't be a bad idea either. :)