Category Archives: Motorcycles

Saturday Oct 25th- Terlingua green scene, a little motorcycle ride, and the porch

We all woke up relatively early and got my parents and Gilli packed for the trip back up North.   A quick breakfast and a non-Minnesota goodbye, and I was on my own.  I was sad to have such a short overlap with them,  but that’s life.  We at least had some time together and the chance to get me introduced to some of the locals.

I headed up to the ghost town to grab a “Viva Terlingua” bumper sticker for the bike and scout for souvenirs for the boys.  After that, I wandered down to the community garden, which was having it’s “Green Scene” event.  There was a solar powered generator on a trailer that I thought was quite nifty- cleverly made from off-the shelf components with a minimum of customization, it looked ideal for off-the-grid situations.

Trailer-mounted solar power station.
Trailer-mounted solar power station.
Terlingua community garden.
Terlingua community garden.
Terlingua community garden.
Terlingua community garden.

I wandered up the hill and watched a demo on the “one rock dam.”  It took a few more rocks than one to accomplish what they were going for (preventing a fairly severely eroded gully from growing), but the principles were simple:  Slow the water down so it doesn’t get to a velocity or volume that it starts scouring the landscape.  There’s a lot of scouring going on here,  as can be attested by Terlingua creek after a local rain.  It turns a very muddy brown as the local topsoil has no choice but to end up in the creek.  I watched the demo, fascinated by what seemed like common sense but really took a bit of art to accomplish.   They showed previous years’ efforts with this technique and how the soil had begun to accumulate and allowed some of the hardier desert plants to start to flourish.

I had a good chat about bikes with a guy named Ed.  He has a similar bike to mine:

Ed's GS
Ed’s GS

He’d done a 6000 mile trip to Glacier a couple of years ago, so we chatted about that and travel and things each bike had that worked and didn’t.  I’m surprised by the number of GS’s out here- I’d have to say they are probably the second most popular bike besides the ubiquitous Harleys.

Next, I suited up and headed west on FM170, which is considered one of the better motorcycling roads in North America (apparently #2) .  I’d ridden it back in 2009 when we did the Vision four corners tour to finish up the testing on the then-new Victory Vision.  It was a fun road then, and it’s a fun road now.   I’d forgotten just how technical it was- many crests where you don’t know which way the road is going to go, or whether there’s a burro or a javelina on the other side.  I took it steady and still had some fun.  I turned around before I got to Presidio, and headed back.

Viva Terlingua bumper sticker.
Viva Terlingua bumper sticker.
Selfie with GS somewhere on FM170.
Selfie with GS somewhere on FM170.

I stopped in at the Lajitas general store for some fluids, and met the Mayor of Lajitas:

Clay Henry, mayor of Lajitas.
Clay Henry, mayor of Lajitas.

There’s a bit of a story here, and it’s hard to tell where truth leaves off and fiction kicks in.  I suppose it doesn’t really matter as much out here.  As long as there are enough longnecks for everybody.  I will admit to being a little surprised to see “resort” and the sorts of luxury things you’d expect in Arizona or wealthy Colorado mountain towns, but I suppose gentrification strikes all over, and if the well-to-do bring more money to the area then the area should benefit to some degree.

On the way back, I picked up a 12 pack of Bud Light for the construction crew, who was working, on a  Saturday, in 90+ degree heat.  I was happy to hear them kicking back in the game room playing ping pong when I brought the ice-cold brews in.  They were very appreciative… they had earned that break.

Good deed done, I headed back up to the ghost town to hang out on the famous porch.  Met a couple of interesting individuals who had been coming to Big Bend for years and had many great La Kiva stories and tons of tips on what to look for in the park.  We had dinner, and TJ even insisted on picking up the tab.  Thanks TJ!

View from the porch.
View from the porch.
Sunset from the porch.
Sunset from the porch.
Starlight Theatre at night.
Starlight Theatre at night.

After that, I headed back, crashed at 10pm, and woke up some 12 hours later.  Apparently I needed that sleep.

 

 

Friday Oct 24th – Terlingua

On Friday morning I woke up again to the “light switch sun” that we get here in Terlingua.  One minute you’ve got gloriously backlit Chisos Mountains to the East, and the next you’re in full sun as the sun clears the mountains.  It’s like <insert supreme being of your choice here> flipped a switch and BOOM, you’re in full sunlight.  Best alarm clock I can think of.

View from my tent at sunrise.
View from my tent at sunrise.

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Scenic camping spot, right next to the old toilet block.

Now that we had some time, I got the full tour of La Kiva.  I think it’s fair to say that Friday was the low (high?) point in terms of demolition.  In fact, I certainly hope so!  The structure has next to no roof.  Some vigas remain, but many need to be replaced.  All the floor inside is gone (except for the great room.)  Most of the stucco walls were too rotted to survive, and one even fell down of its own accord one night.  Walking around I marveled at how much work it must have taken to get to this point.

La Kiva interior during construction
La Kiva interior during construction
The front door remains.
The front door remains.
Panorama showing the full extent of the demolition
Panorama showing (most of) the full extent of the demolition

Most of the wonderful woodwork has been taken down and put into safe storage.  All of the decorations have been carefully preserved.  The great room has been turned into a command center, and is the only part of La Kiva that has wi-fi and air conditioning.  I camp out here  a lot when it’s in the heat of the day and catch up on editing photos and updating the blog.

On Friday morning, shortly I got up and made some excellent full strength coffee with my aeropress. (seriously- best coffeemaker I have ever used:  http://aerobie.com/products/aeropress.htm  You can safely ditch the stirrer, funnel, and filter holder and pack this thing along with you wherever you go.)  there was a commotion in the parking lot.  I grabbed my camera and found that it was the first big truckload of building supplies being delivered.  This marked a turning point in the rebirth of La Kiva, and I was lucky to be there to witness it:

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After the tour I went for a walkabout on the property.  There were many finds, including some rather nice camping spots.  Apparently “bring back the camping at La Kiva!” is a common refrain, and  I can see why.  It’s a beautiful area.

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John cheerfully threatens me with a power tool.  Luckily, he’s standing on the other side of a trench deeper than he is tall.  We have an excellent relationship, provided there’s a trench there.

It turns out that I arrived at a good point to be an impartial sounding board for some of the very important decisions that were yet to be made.  As my parents were going to be out of town for up to a week, getting the final plan on the layout of the new construction was critical to avoid any delays.   I’ll let my Dad communicate the decisions via his blog (another shameless plug, and a shout-out to my sister Joanne who does a great job keeping it updated and available : la-kiva.com )  My favorite contribution came to the floor.  The question was “do you want polished or rustic?”  My observation was that, when I go out drinking, I need all the traction I can get.  That seemed to be a compelling argument.

I spent the good part of the afternoon in the relative cool of the “Situation Room” and got caught up on photo editing and the like.  Around 5pm the serious discussions started, and were settled over beer and wine at the picnic table in the shade of the RV.   Once consensus was reached we headed over to Rio Bravo and had a very nice meal.   That was that for the day.  Crawled into my tent and did a really outstanding job of not thinking about anything related to work.  Bliss.

Thursday, October 23rd – Snyder to Terlingua

After a decent lie in (which annoyed the cleaning crew no end) I loaded up the bike and headed south.  The ride was uneventful.  The development around Midland and Odessa was amazing.  It’s a real boom there due to the energy they are now able to extract at economical prices.  My family rememberst traveling through the area in the early 1980’s when the opposite was true- the area went through some hard times.

I stopped for lunch at a BBQ place in Odessa called Jack Jordan’s.  They had a smoker fired up right in front  of the restaurant, and it smelled great.  In the restaurant there were clear signs that the owner is a gearhead.  Ducati posters, a signed poster from the Pratt & Miller Corvette ALMS team, and tons of airplane stuff.  Upon entering the bathroom I was confronted with this:

Ducati bits on the walls
Ducati bits on the walls
Smoker.
Smoker.

I had a brisket sandwich, which was pretty good.  The sides were a little bland, but the flavor of the brisket made up for it.  I think I probably was supposed to add lots of BBQ sauce, but I wanted to see what the food tasted like, not the sauce.  I was pleased to note that they had left, if not all, at least some of the fat on the brisket.  That really made the flavor jump out.  Also, I suspect they were using some sort of vinegar-based basting concoction, because the bark was very tender and had a faintly sour and tangy taste.  It was delicious.  Next time I am through there I shall try with the sauce and see what I think.

Brisket Sandwich.
Brisket Sandwich.

The drive through this part of Texas is fast, and there’s a lot going on, but there’s not much to look at unless you’re a fan of explosive development and geek out about oilfield services equipment.  Not much worth taking photos of, plus I wanted to make good time so I could finally see my parents again, however briefly.

The drive from roughly Fort Stockton south gets much better.  The scenery gradually changes.  You pass a huge pecan grove, which I’d never noticed before.  By the time you get to Alpine you can tell there are mountains ahead.  The drive south from Alpine to Terlingua is a great motorcycle road.  Nothing very tight, but lots of higher-speed sweepers that let you settle into the corner and roll on the throttle.  It’s been a long time since I enjoyed riding a motorcycle like this.

I got to La Kiva around 4pm and almost didn’t recognize the place.  The level of rebuilding going on is staggering.  I will try to get some good pictures to post (or to send over to my Dad’s blog at www.la-kiva.com )

Our favorite dinosaur is still in place.
Our favorite dinosaur is still in place.

We had a lovely dinner at the Startlight Theatre and heard some good live music., including “The Mines of Terlingua” which is really starting to grow on me. (It was featured in this documentary: http://www.ghosttown24.com/p/home.html )

Ford Model A club of Texas was visiting.  Beautiful cars.
The Ford Model A club of Texas was visiting. Beautiful cars.

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This was also in the parking lot, but no cyclists were around.
This was also in the parking lot, but no cyclists were around.

Then we went over to some friends of my parents and watched the stars from their back patio, which overlooks a sharp dropoff with a  stunning view.

Because the fifth wheel didn’t make it down, my accommodations are my tent, which is a little earlier than planned.  I pitched it next to my bike in the parking lot and went to sleep.

 

Ducati Minneapolis Track Day – photos and video

Here’s the

gallery

Lots of fun was had by all.  There was some great riding being done out there, and it was cool to see people learn their tracks and bikes as the day progressed.  I had a couple of brain-fart moments, though nothing serious.  I even got the back sliding a couple of times, which felt really cool because it was on purpose.  When it’s not on purpose, it’s a pucker-inducer.  When you try to do it and succeed, it’s a thrill.

Gus and Eric did some one-on-one with people, which appeared to really help.  The riders got smoother and more confident as the day progressed.

Ducatis are beautiful machines.  It’s nice being on the track with them- they just please visually and aurally.  I love the old school look of the 998, the newer 999 (a design that has really grown on me) and the newer 1098s and 848s.  My friend Shannon brought his brand new 848, and can be seen scraping knee in a few of the shots.  What an awesome bike.

Want!

Maybe my wife will take a hint from his wife, who got him the bike for his 40th birthday.  How about it, honey?  The kids can get loans for college if they need them… :)

I took some video with the GoPro from aboard my humble SV.  I have found the camera likes the PNY SD cards (Class 4) better than the Class 6 Transcend cards.  Weird.  Whatever works.  Here’s the first video.  I have another that I still have to edit.

Ducati Minneapolis Track Day at DCTC

Yesterday, I got the chance to help out, ride, and take photos at the first track day put on by the new Ducati Minneapolis dealership.   Talk about a day that scratched all of my itches…  This one pretty much nailed it.

What a hoot;  Attendance was pretty light, but there was some beautiful machinery rolling around.  Everybody looked to have a good time, and it was fun to watch the riders gain confidence on the very difficult surface.  This is definitely a track that rewards smoothness and composure.   With 18 or so turns in about a mile, you definitely get a chance to practice your transitions and work on your body positioning.

The track was a little bumpy and needed a lot of sweeping to get it serviceable.  Weather was perfect- temperatures in the 80s and low 90s with low humidity.

Here’s the gallery.

Mark Z proves that farm implements can go around corners.  Note the PTO close to scraping the ground.  After this lap he hitched up the brush hog and mowed the infield.

Here’s a video of my second session.  Went cautiously on this one, took a couple of laps to warm up the tires.  I used the GoPro motorsports hero suction cup mount for this one.  It was a bit wobbly, and loosened up during the session.  I’d like to build a better version that gets the camera up and back.  I’d also like to get the camera in front of the bike and really low.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzr9Y66IGbw]

Volcanoes and Victorys

This is simply stunning:

Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull – May 1st and 2nd, 2010 from Sean Stiegemeier on Vimeo.

I love a good timelapse.  These are just outstanding.  I particularly like the camera movement during the shot- it must be what a snail feels like.

Today was day 29 of #30daysofbiking, so I celebrated by riding the fixie all 32.3 miles into work to pick up my Vision (our top of the line touring bike.)  I worked on the bike a few years ago (front and rear suspension, along with some other stuff), but I really wanted to get a Cross Country as that was my most recent project.  Turns out they are hard to get, so I popped for the Vision, and I am very happy with it.

The bike has everything (Mine is pretty much a carbon copy of the one in the photo above.)  Heated seats, grips.  4-speaker stereo.  Cruise control.  Electrically adjustable windshield.  HID driving light.   The storage is ample, the seat is comfortable, and the engine is powerful.  You can tweak the aerodynamics to suit your preferences as you ride.  Heck, you can even hook up your Ipod and control it through the control pod on the left handlebar (XM and CB are also available.)  Those badges on the side?  Yeah, they light up.

Mine is going to get a few select improvements- more blacked out bodywork, a cupholder, etc.  Don’t laugh.  One of the significant determinants as to whether I ride my bike or drive the cage is whether I can listen to NPR and drink coffee.  With this bike, I can do both.  Plus, black is cool:

not named sue

Some complain about the space-age look.  I like it- it’s sculpted, and the lines all make sense to me.  I remember seeing the bike take shape in the early stages of the project… it was far out.  The early sketches were not diluted much in the making of the bike.  In fact, the original styling model looks like a running current production bike.  Not many companies can or will do that- the marketplace is littered with products that were diluted by endless rounds of focus groups and surveys.  Not this bike.

I also like that the whole lineup makes sense.  You look at all of the Victory motorcycles in a row, and it’s obvious that they come from the same family, from the same small, passionate team that isn’t afraid to take a risk and do something differently.  It’s plain as day that we stand for innovation, style, and performance.  I know that sounds like marketing drivel, but it’s true.

I’m excited to see where this bike will take me.  The storage and comfort means I should be able to get pretty much anywhere with a great deal of camera gear.  It’s going to be a good summer!