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.


Mormons On Fixies

Flipping awesome, is what I say.  More people on bikes is a good thing.  Cooler bikes is a good thing.  More people on cooler bikes, very good thing.


Aww, I just went to look again, and most of the pictures have been yanked.  According to the posting, it was drawing unwanted attention.  Oh well, guess if they had major butt-hurt over it…  But I thought it was cool.  LDS Missionaries on fixies.  Probably the coolest cross-cultural mashup I’ve seen involving the LDS since Orgazmo came out.

Side note: I saw this movie in Salt Lake City.  In the theatre.  Perfect audience.

BUT WAIT.  Something doesn’t add up here.

Aren’t these cycling proselytizers in the business (and believe me, with that much cash on hand, it’s a business regardless of the taxedness or exemptness of the whole operation) of intruding into other peoples’ daily lives and trying to convert them?  I’ve seen these missionaries on college campuses doing their thing.  I’ve seen them at our local ice cream store pestering patrons, for Chrissakes (Where?!?!??!?!)   So doesn’t that, by the nature of the way they choose (or are compelled) to spend their time, kind of put them… out there… you know, in public?  Where it’s legal to take their picture?

Fortunately, on the Internet nothing ever really gets deleted as long as somebody had the good sense to copy it, so I present to you here, in all their fixie glory, the SLC Hipsters, the Saintly Barspinners…

Mad props for the matching tie (third from left)- it takes a set to pull that off.  Keep rollin’, guys.

Side note: I wonder if Gore is working on a wicking oxford twill for shirts?  Think Shimano would ever make SPD compatible dress shoes?

On a related note, after 30+ days on the bike, my Crossfit performance seems to have gone through the roof on some workouts.  I had two in a row with a significant aerobic component, and I tore my old times apart and threw them in the toilet… 30+ percent faster on both workouts.  I haven’t seen gains like that for a while.  It will be interesting to see if that continues.

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!

Fortuitous fixie ride, a garage sale, and Hasselblads

So I head out this afternoon for my daily >5 miles of two-wheeled self abuse.  It’s day 22 of 30, and so far I haven’t repeated a ride yet.  I’ve repeated some stretches of road, but every time I go out I try to take a different turn and find a  road I haven’t been down yet.

This has led to some discoveries.  I have a couple of locations scouted out where, when the light is right, there should be some decent photographic opportunities.  I’m looking for lush but sparsely decorated landscapes that will allow the sky to be a good backdrop and no power lines or anything muddying up the shot.  I have a buddy working on an XS650 Bobber (for the uninitiatiated, that’s a motorcycle built in a certain style) that I want to shoot when he’s done.  He built the rat rod I shot last summer.  He loved the pictures- he even got a coffee cup made with my favorite printed on it.  Only thing is, the picture has power lines and way too much going on in the background.  That car really belongs on the Salt Flats to get a decent shot.  It’s pretty Mad Max.  Slapping it in farm country doesn’t match the car’s character.

As I’m getting rolling and the legs are starting to warm up, I notice a sign for a garage sale, so I bank hard right and roll through the development to the house.  Turns out it’s a photography studio that I noticed on Google Maps once:


Of course, I missed the cameras and lenses that they had at the garage sale.   Only got to talk to them for a little bit, but Jeff and Lee Ann clearly share the same passion for photography.  Jeff mentioned that he has a Hasselblad for sale.  With the 40mm lens.  Damn.  If I didn’t already have a full Bronica SQ setup, I’d be tempted.  We chatted photography for a bit.  Jeff’s an amazing photographer.  He also looks to be a pretty shrewd businessman.  I guess you’ve got to be in order to support yourself with photography.

After that nice little interlude, I found a lovely little road that snaked up, down, and all around and made for a nice little 7ish mile loop.  It will make an awesome run when I get into the marathon training.  A bit hilly, but last I checked there were no absolutely flat marathons around here anyway.

On a totally unrelated note (or maybe not…) I actually abandoned a Crossfit workout today.  Just didn’t have it.  I got my running intervals in on the treadmill as a warmup, then went to do the workout, which basically consists of finding your max squat, shoulder press, and deadlift.  I could understand hammered legs, but my shoulder press was weak too, so I said “bugger this for a lark” and went home.  First time in a long time that’s happened.  I wonder if the biking has anything to do with that?

Hmmm.  Must keep an eye on that.  I’m thinking that after the #30daysofbiking is up a few days off might be a good idea.


After much faffing about cleaning, soaking shutters in solvents and practicing loading film into the film holders without looking, I shot some large format tonight on the way home from the gym.  The Stillwater Lift Bridge never rolls its eyes, wanders off to go play with its trains, or closes its eyes just as you fire the shutter, so it became my first large format subject.

I am pleased to report that I managed not to totally screw anything up.  Got the whole darkslide thing more or less sorted out.  You don’t have the benefit of a light-tight idiot-proof container for holding your film like you do with 35mm.  It’s all up to you, and whether you keep track of what film holders have unexposed or exposed film in them.    Pull the wrong lever at the wrong time, and you could lose your exposure, or re-expose it.

Everything worked pretty well.  My only major goof was running the developer (HC110 dilution B) a bit warm.  I reasoned that the film I bought (from a shady Russian character at the camera show) was probably old, so I did the first three shots at the nominal development time of 8 minutes.  Bad call.  Those puppies are dense, indicating overexposure/overdevelopment.  I figured it was the latter, so I dialed it back to 5 minutes for the second three shots, and that seems to have produced better looking negatives.

Luckily, modern scanning and image manipulation technology allows us to do things that Ansel Adams devoted entire books to, so I was able to rescue the overdeveloped negs.    I was a bit worried after seeing the previews, but once I got everything into Lightroom I was able to pull them back from the brink sufficiently.  Image quality suffered, but given the size of the negative there’s more leeway.

I get some weird shadows in the sky on some of these shots.  Need to dig into that a little more.  Time to join APUG, methinks.

Note:  all of these images link to the Flickr images, which contain the high-res versions.  I only used 600 dpi for scanning (For 35mm I typically use 2400, and for medium format I use 1200.)  When it counts, my cheap old camera will be able to generate 100+ megapixel images.  Now that’s progress!

Obligatory cycling content:  What’s not progress is the Brooks saddle on my fixie.  That damned thing is getting harder, not softer!