November 29, 2005
Happy Birthday to me!
Today is my 30th birthday, and I'm celebrating it in relatively quiet way. No need to go out and go big when I haven't secured a job yet! I spent the day doing laundry, hanging my clothes to dry (no dryers in Spain!) and riding the Metro (underground train) outside the city to an industrial area where I looked at a bike for sale. It was not exactly as pictured in the ad I found for it on the internet. Somehow the owner had "forgotten" about an accident the bike had been in and didn't know why the front end was slightly twisted, the forks wouldn't compress, and why the headlight was crooked. Hmmmm. Not to mention he had driven off with a lock through the rear wheel and bent the shock. It was a disaster, and I wasn't going to spend good money on it. On the way back I decided to hoof it for a while and see the surrounding area. I ran across this pub and thought, how appropriate. I'm at my normal bar now waiting for a couple friends to show up for dinner, at 10! We'll see how it goes after that.
As for a job update? This is what I woke up to this morning. I got this just after midnight from a high-level member of the Repsol Team Honda:
Thanks very much for your note.
I have forwarded it to HRC for consideration.
Don't hold your breath - there is a queue a mile long of people wanting to
work for the team.
They will be breaking for winter after the tests in Sepang this week so I
would imagine there will be a long silence after a hard year.
I'm sure one of my colleagues will get back to you if there is a vacancy.
Thank you for your interest and good luck.
It bummed me out at first, since Nicky Hayden himself had given me several email addresses to send my information to, but what the hell. Today's my birthday and tomorrow I will come back with a vengeance! I'll be a day older and that much wiser!
I thought I was just going to sneak by, since I hadn't told my roomates, or any of you guys, for that matter. I had a nice Belgian beer, a Chimay, and then met up with one of my roomates and some friends for dinner.
I live in an area that has a couple of nice little places and we randomly chose one based on the amount of gay guys inside. I live in a somewhat gay area called the Ei'xemple (Hospital District) area that's filled with tiny gay bars and restaurants. It feels just like SF! My friend Hiro surprised me by coming to dinner, because I thought he was still trying to get one last test in at Jerez before the winter break. Next year Hiro is riding for the new KTM 250cc effort with Harold Bartol (who did a great job getting the KTM 125cc team and bikes competitive and also has a strong history of winning with Derbi). I thought it was a one year deal, but Hiro has signed for 2, and they hope to develop the bike during the first half of the season into something strong. He doesn't know much about the bike yet, because the testing was delayed due to KTM's inability to have the bike ready by now! Still, I hope he has a good season and continues to improve. Another interesting thing we talked about was how Honda (HRC) has decided to spend a fortune on F1 this upcoming season, and as such, doesn't have much money for MotoGP, 250cc, and the rest of motorcycling. I wonder what impact this will have on motorcycling this season? Or maybe it's a smokescreen while Honda prepares their 800cc '07 bike. I felt kind of bad for him because he was rotated out of HRC's 250cc team after two years and a top four finish in the category. It's tough to win when your teamate is the dominant rider. Look at Colin Edwards; he also placed fourth in the championship this year riding with Rossi. Hiro told me that HRC's structure is based on a two year program and that you have two years to make it or go home. Who is Hiro being replaced with? His younger brother, Shuhei. How's that for a family grudge, haha. Nonetheless, we decided that Hiro was still luckier than me, because at least he has a job lined up!
November 28, 2005
Boring Mondays, and MotoGPod, my MotoGP DVD, and ?
Hanging out on a monday. It's been an uneventful weekend. Relatively.
Saturday brought about another session of working on my roomate's scooter. It's a Honda Lead 100cc four stroke with lots of bodywork. Under normal conditions, working on a bike wouldn't be a problem for me, but this is Europe. In the city. And it's really cold outside. And I don't have access to a garage.
Where did we work on it? On the street. Sitting on a curb in the 40 degree weather with lots of wind. Ghetto-Style. In true urban fashion, we kept an eye out for the local cops because you're not supposed to work on things in the street. A tense moment arrived when a meter maid came walking up the street ticketing cars, but we quickly dumped all the pieces into a large plastic garbage bucket we had brought downstairs from the apartment for just this event. A wink and a smile and she kept on walking. How obvious were we? Bike in pieces, tools on the floor boards, and a bucket full of bodywork. In exchange for my work, he bought dinner supplies and a bottle of Negrita Rum. I then taught him how to cook burgers without burning them, and they turned out pretty good. Toasted white bread, burgermeat, gouda cheese, and some chopped onions. Tasty.
The final tests of the season are here and I'm considering going to Jerez for the Ducati and 250cc tests. It's a long haul by train if I do it, and I don't know where I would sleep, but I'm thinking about it. I wanted to make it to Sepang, Malaysia, but that's out of the budget this time. I did some research into buying a vehicle while I'm out here and so far I haven't been able to get any concrete info. Part of it is the language barrier, part of it is my own inability to surf Spanish websites accurately. In any case, it looks like insuring a vehicle will cost a lot. I'm not sure it's worth it, because I could just go and get a bicycle. Still . . . .
About my DVD, the BackStage of MotoGP:
We recorded that interview on Thanksgiving, early in the morning. I don't remember all of it so I'm sure I'm gonna download it and listen for any goofy comments I might have made! If you guys don't already know, www.MotoGPod.com is a podcast (the only one concerning MotoGP) and is run by a really nice guy named Bob Hayes. If you go to the website you can download individual episodes (they're available every Friday) or just play them by clicking on them (no need to subscribe if you don't use iTunes). However, I'm a subscriber and it's just easier that way. Whenever I'm puttering around the apartment, I play one in the background.
The dvd is titled, "The Backstage of MotoGP".
It's got a nice Alex Barros interview, as well as one with me, and some photos and video you just can't get anywhere else. My friend, Alex, is in charge of production, but he's leaving for Brazil to visit with family for a few weeks. I don't know if you can still catch him, but you can email him here:
Actually, this DVD will be available later this year as a downloadable feature, so hang on!
He should have a couple copies left and can mail you one. Here's a shot of the cover art which was done by yet another Barfer, Albert Santoso! Albert (IEHawk) is a talented graphic artist, and if you need some special work done you can email him here (P.S. he does hi-resolution work, haha):
So I went walking around today (surprise!) and found this really neat little shop about a mile from my apartment. I'd never seen one of these bikes before so it was a total treat for me! Can anyone tell me what it is? Sorry it's a little dark, but the little Sony Cam I've got is getting old and it just doesn't do the bike justice. At least I've gotten over 3000 shots with it, and we're both still kickin!
After this I went to a world famous Salsa Bar, called the Mojito Club (www.mojitobcn.com). It was jam packed by midnight; so rare in this town apparently. I couldn't believe the amount of girls shakin' it and gettin' down! The music was raucous, horns blaring, people shouting, everybody dancing in large circles around the dance floor. This was the first time I'd ever been to a Salsa club, so it was a novel experience. The Spanish people treat their salsa dancing as if it was a major sporting event! There were guys and girls stretching out in front of some huge mirrors at the entrance of the club and at first I thought they were a little strange. A few minutes later I realized why they had been doing it. Yow-Zah! These people made my little 50-cent arm pump move look retarded! I couldn't hold a candle to them, so I didn't even try. Ran into a couple of nasty British girls who had lived in the Bay Area a couple years ago and they had nothing but lame-o comments to make. It was ok, though, because dem b*tches ain't got no riddim! Overall, it was a really nice dance to watch, everyone was spinning in unison and clapping hands. The dance is so simple to start but then it just keeps on going and getting more and more complex and artistic. Mainly, I learned that I don't like Salsa music. Too many high pitched sounds, and after a while I started going crazy. I had to split out early. Tomorrow? The adventure continues!
It's a Voxan. This shop had a bunch of the roadsters and a couple other models inside but I couldn't get any good pics so I'll wait until another day. I'm also having trouble finding a website for the Ducati SC Caracchi team. They fielded Fonsi Nieto earlier this season (but let him go early, before his wedding!) and later had Lorenzo Lanzi, who won some races. I dug around on Google but couldn't find anything useful. Does anyone know where I can get more information about this team? Thanks!
Might as well get a shot in of the Store. Hey Frank, did you know there's an international branch of your favorite SF magazine?!?
Interview with Road Racer X
Here's an interview I did with Chris Jonnum, of Road Racer X. We did this through email, and it turned out better than I expected. Not to mention, the photo of me and Randy Mamola made it into the magazine! Since then, Chris and I have shared information, speculations, and photos, and it's been nice having someone to bounce ideas off of.
Interview with Liam Shubert at Road Racer X!!
November 24, 2005
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Happy Thanksgiving to all! Today we give thanks for all the goodness in our lives, all the little miracles that had to happen in order for us to still "be" here. How many of us lane split? How many of us like to push in the rain? Take a moment to remember the riders that aren't with us anymore, and think about it when you're riding. Some of them met their end doing the exact same thing we all love to do, so give thanks that you are still out there, feeling the spirit of riding move inside you. It only takes a split second for the "badness" to enter our lives, so today we thank whatever is out there for allowing us to see another day and breathe another breath.
On a more personal note, I give thanks that my friends and family are in good health, and that my dog, Spike, is still alive and living out his golden years in Hawaii. Happy Thanksgiving Spike!
Small Time bad news.
Here's a nice shot of Hiro and me checking out some Gaudi stuff one night. Gaudi, and competing architects, have made some incredible structures throughout the city. I hope to take some great pictures when the sun comes out so you guys can see what I mean. On a more depressing note, Davide Brivio, Yamaha Race Director, emailed me today saying
"Anyhow, unfortunately we have completed the Team set-up for the 2006.
I wish you a good luck and I hope to see the next year in some Team."
Rats! But the quest continues!
November 23, 2005
Forgot to mention how many people in Spain actually Ride!
check this out:
One thing I forgot to stress earlier about the Spanish is that they are a motorcycling people. I think it's part of the national identity. Every Spaniard I've come across believes they have moto-skills and will race for fun at the drop of a hat. On just the Sunday of the Valencia race, more than 124,000 people showed up to watch. That's more than Laguna Seca got in Three Days! Here are some shots of the parking lot on one side of the track. I have to thank my friend, and fellow barfer, Albert Santoso (IEHAWK) for splicing these photos together for me, since my photoshop skills are limited to resizing pics to fit on Barf! Sorry I couldn't post up the super high-res versions, Albert, but this should give people and idea of how many Tens of Thousands of motorcycles showed up!
Continuing the parking lot theme. Yes, these are ALL motorcycles. Unbelievable. Throughout the course of the day the squids would fire their bikes up and rev the crap out of them, bouncing off the rev-limiter as a means of celebration. Some people even brought modified air horns (presumably from trucks or trains!) and would blare them from the crowd constantly. It was a zoo, and traffic lasted for several hours after the last race, I think about four hours. . . .(coulda been shorter, but the Spanish are known to party a bit after the race)
Thanks to Willit, I have uploaded a short MPG clip that I took in Valencia. This was early in the morning, note the long shadows, on Race Day (Sunday), about 7AM. Every morning the various soundsystems would blast music so the workers would have a beat to get down to. I was enthralled, watching the corner workers dancing trackside and generally just hanging out before their long day in the sun began. Most people wouldn't show up at the track until 9-ish, so it was like I had the whole track to myself. Surreal. The track is in a "bowl" so sitting in the grandstands meant you could watch several corners. It's like a Greek auditorium, except the drama plays out on two wheels. Much better than the US tracks that don't think of the spectator, and force you to pick a corner and stick with it. Can someone tell me what song and mix this is?
go for it
Random Bikes on the Street
I've been walking around for a couple weeks, and I keep seeing all these bikes! It's driving me mad not having one of my own, because surely the roads in the mountains outside of the city are spectacular. Here's a beautiful Speed Triple, in white. I don't think it matches the personality of the bike, though.
The Honda FMX 650 is quite popular here, but I still think it's a little heavy. The reliability can't be questioned, and it's heritage runs deep with the XR and Dominator series.
Here's a neat little scoot!
Anyone care to tell me what this is used for?
Sweet little 50cc Motard. These things are everywhere, and the young kids buy them and soup them up to the gills. Hmmmm, maybe this isn't the best example, but it sure kicks butt anyway!
November 21, 2005
Really Cool Shots in BCN, Bikes, Cars, Stores, and More!
Now that the rains have stopped I'm able to go walking around a bit more. I even rode on the Metro today. I thought the metro was the bus system, but it's a really cool underground subway system that traverses the city. It's pretty cheap, too, by US standards. Walking to the station I found this bitchin' little ride. Who says you need big rims to pimp!
Fiat 500 by Abarth (tuning house)
It's like a cooler Mr. Bean mobile!
Check the rest of these out, I think they're even cooler!
A common sight here in the bars/restaurants are these! This is Jamon (Ham-own), a pigs leg. It's quite popular and a nice one can set you back about $125 or more! They slice it really thin (it's half fat, too!) and then put it on pieces of bread with oil and tomato sauce. It's pretty good, but not what I want for my main meat diet.
On a more practical note, I ran into a couple Gringas last night at a language interchange event, all of whom had horror stories concerning robbery. I met a tough chick from NYC and she immediately told me that her purse got stolen off her chair while she was having a coffee at Starbucks last week. Another American girl, from LA, told me that three bags (her's and her two friends') got lifted at a popular restaurant while they were sitting with a couple of big guys. In all cases, nobody saw anything, and lost money, credit cards, and passports was the result. To the two girls it was a sort of bonding experience for them, since they both could relate to getting robbed and they laughed it off as if it was part of their initiation to Europe. I don't want to join that club at all! I'm a little paranoid now, locking my bag to chairs and tables when I sit down. Also, there are plenty of scams to distract you while you get jacked. A popular technique is to pick a fight and then you get jumped by a couple of guys. Another technique is the "chess" game. A guy offers to beat you in three minutes and while the crowd gets into the game and is watching intently, someone slips through the crowd and pick-pockets everyone. Genius! If I hadn't heard about this I might have fallen for it because I'm a chess nut. Earlier today, my roomate, Patricia, was walking down the street in front of her workplace. Five 12 year old boys ran up, tried to grab her purse, and wrestled her cell phone from her hand. She threw her purse in the street, lost the phone to them, and despite her screaming and yelling no one helped her or chased the kids down. Freaky-Deeky.
So being in a foreign country and a strange culture is a little shocking to say the least. Fortunately I prepared for this by watching a great movie called "Lost in Translation". I misunderstood the movie the first time but it's been getting clearer for me lately. So with all the walking I've been doing around the city one thing has become clear. BOB HARRIS is the bomb! Or should I say. . . .. ED HARRIS is the BOMB! He's all over this place. This is one of many bus stop ads I've seen with him, and there are ads and billboards everywhere.
So I've had motorcycles on my mind for the last couple days. After walking around for the last couple weeks it's apparent to me that I need some wheels. Two of them. Badly. But there's so much variety and I don't want to blow the bank, so I'm thinking about getting a scooter! Two stroke? Four stroke? Hmmm. Get a small one and supe it up? Get a larger four stroke (like a Honda Dylan 150cc!) so I can motor up through the Pyrenees? ARGH!! This is the longest I've been without a bike in YEARS! Here's a real motorcycle that I found walking around. My buddy Josh really likes the F4i's, so Josh -- this is for you!
It's for sale!!! But, I don't want to deal with the hassle of taking care of a "real" motorcycle right now, and mopeds can park anywhere they want, it seems. Besides, the automatic scooter is appealling to me because you can use your cel phone and smoke at the same time while you're riding around! Trust me, I was riding on the back of an ancient Honda Scoopy while the driver was smoking and talking on the phone. While we were weaving in and out of traffic!! Soooo much better than the 101 commute :)
P.S. it was not immaculate!
Also, I've seen quite of few of these things running around. I need to make some new friends and see if I can get ahold of one for an afternoon! Later this week I'm working on a Honda Dominator, 650cc single. I can already see it now. . . .change the gearing and the jetting and it'll be Wheelie-City!
After going to several local grocery stores I finally made it to a super store called El Corte Ingles! There are several of them in every major city in Spain and they carry everything, from household goods, foods, high end clothing, electronics, every cel phone you can think of (as well as the various companies and plans), and more. They are usually stand alone buildings comprised of six or eight levels. My roomates told me you can even buy cars and motorcycles through El Corte Ingles! Since I'm not looking for clothes and cars I went downstairs and found this:
I know there are women who read this thread, and when the subject of Europe comes up it's always fashion, fashion, fashion! It's true. The clothes and styles here make the stuff we wear in the US look like we all shop at Walmart. I feel like Americans look like the characters from Napoleon Dynamite (the movie), and the Europeans are on a whole other wavelength. With the relatively healthier diet here I think the majority of people are more fit compared to the US. And believe me -- when they got it, they flaunt it! I thought this was kind of neat: Not sure what country they're from, but maybe I'll meet one of these bear people in a club and find out.
Not that I'm buying, but I thought this was funny. I always thought Benetton was a high end women's store, not a store to get women's end's up high. Found this in a little Belgian Bar, Belchica, the only Belgian bar in town! They're very proud of their beers, and everytime I go in someone approaches me and asks if I've had "this" or "that". No Guiness here, either, so that negated my initial plan to "drink" my dinner. I sprung for a fancy beer last night and the honest truth is that I don't like fancy beers. Too fruity, or sweet, or bitter, or chocolatey. WTF is wrong with a good, simple beer?!?
Here's a nice example of copyright infringement! I found this surplus/fashion store in a crusty area of town last night. The neighborhood was the west Raval area and was populated by Moroccans, mostly, and a couple of East Indians and Afrikans. It was a little dangerous and I kept a sharp eye out and my ears open! As I continued walking I saw the local police shaking down some street kids and going through their pockets for pick-pocketed items. Why would five boys have a beautiful, red and white girl's jacket?
I became a modern age soccer fan during the last World Cup in Korea/Japan, in '02. I would stay up until 2:30AM watching the midnight game, then wake up to watch the 4AM game! For two weeks I was in sports fanaticism heaven. A big match was coming up here in Spain between the two largest cities. The newer big money city and the older, more artsy, hipster city. And so it was that last Saturday night I went out to try and watch the giant Futbol match between Real Madrid (the big money team with Zidane, Beckham, Ronaldo, the list goes on -- they're like the Yankees or something!) and Barcelona (Barca, with a far less good looking team but awesome players nonetheless!). The whole city was out of the house for this one. Every bar with a tv was standing room only and people would stand in the cold on the streets to try and get a glimpse of the match. When a goal was scored the people would shout and go crazy, setting off fireworks and other exposives throughout the city. In unison, every car on the road would blare it's horn and it was a frenzy of Futbol Madness. There is a huge rivalry between these teams, moreso than Oakland/49ers, and it ran deep! Normal people became blood-thirsty, rabid fans, screaming insults and death threats at the tv. I couldn't believe my eyes, everyone, and I mean everyone, was into it. I barely knew what was going on, and was just trying to be inconspicuous so I wouldn't get mistaken for a Madrid fan! After the game, around 10 at night, I expected the city to settle down. Boy, was I wrong. I went walking with my roomates and people (middle aged couples, older people, roving gangs of soccer hooligans) were walking around for hours, into the two and three o'clock range. Everyone was wearing Barca colors and chanting in the street. I remember in '95 when the 49ers had just won the superbowl. The streets of SF were crowded and cars honked their horns, and sorry to say, it was Nothing like this. The first couple days after the game people were still talking about it. My mild-mannered roomate would casually complain about it (he's Argentinean but considers himself a Madrid fan) saying he would F*cking Kill so-and-so if he ever met him in person. I said, dude, it's just a game, what's the big deal?!? He said, yes, it's just a game, not that important. "But I would F*cking Kill him because This Is F*cking Futbol!" I backed away slowly and retreated into my room. Still, I love it when foreigners curse. I wonder if they think the same thing when I do?
Some of you may have heard of J-Bone (Johnny Ducati/Hacksaw Johnny) laying his chrome gas tanked Monster 750 down on the 101 morning commute last week. Another Barfer was there to make sure he was ok after sliding across three lanes, so props to that barfer! Since it's looking like his bike is not going to get up for a while (itsa tweak-ed) I thought I'd share some pics of a Chrome tanked bike I found here in the city! J-Bone, heal up and think about switching brands. . . .
I'm not sure, but chrome wheels don't seem to be the style here. Do the Europeans know about unsprung weight?
November 20, 2005
High Paint Design
While I'm sitting here in a coffee shop emailing back and forth with Dorna, Kenny Noyes introduces me to a great helmet painter named Javi. Unlike many of the painters I've met back in the US, Javi doesn't seem to sniff paint! He's crystal clear and quite eloquent (at least, I think so). He has a website and we spent some time checking out the helmets he's done. Shhh. . . don't tell him but personally they remind me a little of fancy metalflake bowling balls from the 70's!
See for yourself at: High Paint Design
November 19, 2005
Old World Cool
Here's a perfect example of Old World coolness and not so coolness. These are two of my house keys, one for the small lock, one for the deadbolt. The deadbolt is the two sided key and for something that looks so simple, it is suprisingly hard to pick, even with my Dyno Quick Pick. When I first arrived, the key I received was damaged, looking like it had gotten smashed under a car or something. No problem, I thought, and I proceeded to hammer it back into shape. A little bit of filing with a heavy duty nail file and I thought I was good to go. The key would turn the lock and the deadbolt would come out of the door, but it wouldn't go back in. The locks here work in "steps", meaning you turn the key one full turn and the bolt comes out one step. Two turns, two steps. All the way to four steps. Anyhow, my barbaric methods weren't working, so I tracked down a little Cerrajero (locksmith) and had him work on the key. One Euro later I was hustling back to the apt. only to find it didn't work. Back to the locksmith for another try (this one was free) and the "master" went to work, cutting, grinding, hammering, you name it. Still didn't work. I ended up buying a new key for 6 Euros and it worked. I honestly can't tell the difference between the old and new keys with the naked eye, but apparently there is a difference. Another strange thing about the locks? You slide the key in the slot and have to "find" the lock mechanism. If you're sloppy you can wriggle the key around for a long time and never get anywhere. All in all, these keys are pretty neat except for the fact that they're large and make your pocket bulge a little. I feel like I'm back in the days of the Smurfs, because these keys remind me of something Gargamel would use.
It's not all roses
Glad to know everyone is enjoying the ride as well! But, all is not roses. In the interest of making mi dinero last as long as possible, and also to save some money for the inevitable travelling expenses I'm sure to incur, I'm saving money when and where I can. I've reduced costs to the most minimum I can and that means no shopping! As it is, my iPod Shuffle took a crap the last couple days, the buttons not working, nothing working. I would've just bought a new one but instead I found a Mac store of some kind and tried to explain that it was "No Funciona". They took it in back and someone told me in English that it was being sent to Holland for testing and if it was broken they would send me a new one within a week, and if they were out of stock, two weeks! How's that for international service! As for saving money, here's what I had for dinner tonight. Ham and Cheese sandwiches on toast, with margarine and mayo. For dessert? A jam and margarine sandwich! I can't find Peanut Butter anywhere, and apparently no one likes it so nobody sells it. Who would've thought I'd need to find a specialist shop who sells American food to find peanut butter Please note, I did splurge a little and buy a bag of FILIPINOS. I gotta admit, even though these are good, the filipinas back home taste better. Just kidding. Another strange and beautiful thing about living here are the amount of women who ride. I can't tell you how many girls I've seen walking down the street carrying a helmet. Sure, they're on scooters, but hey! They're riding! Guys, if you like girls who ride you need to check out Barcelona. It's a motorcycle city for sure and it's known to be so throughout Spain and Europe.
November 18, 2005
My roomates had some drinks and it was my night to take care of everyone. Here is one of them playing Policia with Pinkie, the magic helmet.
Another roomate slipped and fell in the rain. Beware the power of Pinkie! I think I've given up trying to stay with the Spainiards in terms of partying. Halfway through the night I left the group and had dinner by myself. Huevos and carne, with a coffee. I got charged the tourist price of 4.5 Euros for the coffee so I was a little bitter. Lots of drunken English people out and about. Not very classy, either. I'd rather be sitting at home most of the time watching Lost, haha. Actually, I hate watching tv, and refuse to watch tv (or eat fast food) while I'm in Europe. My roomates have this crazy obsession with Friends, and they've seen up through season 9. More than once. I only have one word for that, and it ain't nice.
November 17, 2005
Name That Bike, Valencia 05
Here's a special bike I found. Can anyone tell me more about it? Haha, I have the scoops already but it's fun to see new/old machines. For me they're pieces of artwork.
The style of chopper in Europe is a little different than in the States. I can't tell which I like more. Anything with two wheels is good!
November 16, 2005
Here are some town shots of Barcelona. Lots of little alleyways and people live from their windows. New smells and old ideas. It's fascinating how one generation bleeds into the next. Unlike America, there aren't track houses going up everywhere, and a strip mall. . . What's a Strip Mall?!?
Check out the rest!
Another nice shot of town. These are the nicer buildings near Platha De La Universitat. It's pretty much town central and I'm sure it's pretty pricey to live here. People walk around this area day and night and you should look out for pickpockets. In the plaza there are young skateboarders and inline skaters doing tricks on the benches. They seem to get along with one another.
Just like the shot I got in ShangHai, people fix their bikes in the street. It's not totally legal, but what choice do the people have? This guy let me take his picture and thought I was a little weird. He ended up getting radiator fluid everywhere. Amateurs! I've also seen people doing complete four stroke top ends (pistons and all) on the street. Nasty!
I found Che in Las Ramblas! Apparently he smells like whiskey now. He stands around for hours but I think he makes enough money to survive. More than me at least, haha. Also, there are people painted up like robots (like in SF!) but without the little whistles. They're not as good at popping-and-locking as we are, naturally.
I saw these street vendors cooking Yams and Chestnuts on the street. This was a Tuesday, and it was some kind of holiday. Taking this picture just about started World War III!!! I was planning on buying a yam, since I like them a lot, and thought I'd get a picture to remember it. Whoa. This was a bad idea. The three old people started yelling and screaming at me like I just stole their souls or something. I listened politely and tried to explain myself in almost non-existent Spanish but it was no use. Some girl walked up to help me and was translating a little. After they yelled are her for a bit she gave up. I ended up buying a yam and they sold me Montezuma's Revenge. Tit for Tat I guess.
Who would've thought I'd find some Dixieland Jazz on the street in Barcelona! Not many people know this but I woo'ed a girl once with a Banjo. . . . .
Everywhere in the world, Banjo People are strange! Funny coincidences, my very first guitar was bought by my mother in Hawaii while I was in high school, about thirteen years ago. She bought it at a garage sale and I used it to rehab my arm after breaking a collarbone. It was a Spanish Classical guitar that only had four strings when I got it. My dad replaced the strings for six good ones and drew my a chart with chords on it. It was the Valencia model. When I left California I dropped off my minibikes to Brad Renolds apt. in Mountain View. He lives next to Valencia Street. My current apt is on the corner of Avenida Roma con Villarroel. The street behind me (same block) is Valencia. Strange. Do other people have weird connections like that?
November 15, 2005
First Contact, Luis d'Antin
Here's a strange sight I captured. This is "the" D'Antin. The man behind the team. He rolls around on his two wheeler through the pits taller than everyone, haha. Here he is surveying his riders out on the track during testing.
I know I've always said "anything on two wheels" but this is a little over the top, even for me!
November 14, 2005
Shots of Valencia Proper
The morning after I woke up early and went on a walkabout through Valencia. I left Felix sleeping on the bathroom floor (sorry Felix) but I needed to use it and I ended up rushing downstairs and using the hotel lobby's one. After using the bathroom I couldn't remember which room I was staying in and my keycard didn't work on any of the doors on the eleventh floor, so I had no choice but to set out walking. It sure was bright at 8.30 in the morning! This is an older section of town with some great restaurants in the rear part. I really like the colors.
This is the Tram Station in Valencia, where I would catch the train back to Barcelona five days later. A huge rainstorm hit on the second day of practice and the next week (almost) was filled with water and puddles. Not fun at all. Still, I captured this shot in the dry and I'm happy about that!
What would pictures of my travels be without bike pics?!? Here's the ER-6N everyone is comparing to the SV650. In person. . . .it's still not cool, haha. Got to admit, though, the headlight cluster is kind of neato.
During the race, my hotel was very expensive and needed to be booked almost a year in advance. After the race (most people went home on Sunday night!!) the hotel opened up and many of the teams stayed there. Here's a small group of Kawi people (about a third of them, actually) having some beers after work. They mostly spoke English so I was able to eavesdrop and then join in. Topic of the night? Should the best rider in the championship be forced to take the worst bike the following year? Complete order reversal. It would be a neat thought if only Hondas and Yamahas were running, haha.
Karlitos showed up the next day and we went looking for numbers for his race bike. He was slotted to run a regional in the Spanish Championship but that was eventually rained out. We went to some bike shops in Valencia looking for numbers but no one carried any! We ended up buying electrical tape at El Corte Ingles. Here are some of the bikes that I saw. A 1000 Kawi! Look out V-Strom! The Ugly is catching up to you!
Also found this neat Derbi 125 racer. It was fully street legal and was 4600 Euros. . . . that's $ 5750 US!!
Lastly, I found this sitting in a corner. I couldn't get a good angle on it so I had to go outside. In Person, it's a little bigger than I thought it should be, but then, I like skinny bikes.
We all had dinner at a Crepe joint. The kitchen was in a remodelled bus! Four Barfers are present:
Karlitos, Voo Voo, MilleRBoy, and Robo50! The other girl was a guest of Kat and Andre from Maui. Hawaii connection!
Naturally we had to go out and celebrate my final Barf Meeting for awhile. We went bar hopping, then clubbing. Here's Kat with two girls we found. Does the one on the right look familiar to anyone?
She was Rossi's umbrella girl from the race on Sunday. As with everything, the night came to an end and the following day I took the train back to BCN. It was a pleasant ride and I took this shot of the countryside. I really like the movement shown. Big thanks to everyone involved in my Valencia trip and thanks goes out to Karlitos for all the assistance and driving. We couldn't have made it without you!
I forgot to throw this pic up. It's from Monday, following the race. The changeover from team and sponsor happens quickly and already the teams were swapping paint and colors. Here's Sete's old crew preparing Elias' new ride. They've ripped the Movistar logos off the walls and have new clothing already. That's Pedro in the front. He's from BCN and a really nice guy. He spoke more English than the rest of the crew and we got along. I'm not sure if this is post-able (maybe I shouldn't have taken the shot, savvy?) but who knows.
It's difficult to see but they even had decals to place on the tires! All for the show, and for the media attention these bikes would be getting.
November 13, 2005
Sundays in Spain
So far I´ve only been in Barcelona for about a week and a half. I spent a 8 days in Valencia for the race and then to watch the testing for next season. As such, I´m still feeling my way about the city and everything is very different than anything I've seen or experienced before. Today is Sunday, and virtually the entire city is closed for business. There are bars/restaurants that are open, and the occasional locutario (like the one I´m paying for right now!), and some grocery stores. Other than that, I can´t find anything else that is open. Aside from the Sunday routine of nothing gets done, many places also close their doors from 1.30PM to 3 or 4.30PM for lunchtime and siesta. The hours posted on people´s doors usually read 9-13:50 and 16:50-19:50. No mention of Sunday, since it´s a given everything is closed. It´s a fascinating mix of old and new. Decrepit buildings, high fashion, and digital music players on everyone. Most people don´t seem to like computers (distrustful is the word) and yet I can´t figure out how they´re putting music on their iPods! Maybe I´m just hanging out in all the wrong places, haha. Maybe in America we´re just addicted to the internet. Here´s an applicable quote:
I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance. --Reuben Blades
As for the people I´ve met, the natives are a mix of friendly (Spanish) and not friendly (Catalan). This city is undergoing a small political movement, the Catalan one, which seeks to cecede from Spain and go independent. The languanges are different, and both are spoken here, but I can´t tell the difference at this point. I´m looking into Spanish classes but I think finding work should be priority numero Uno. There are lots of cool things to see and the foods are fresh and varied. Last night I found the Spanish version of Champange in the barrio gothica. Pricey but worth it for the experience. I´ll update more tomorrow when I get a chance to use my own machine with which I can upload photos. Until then, rock on!
Right now it's about 3 in the afternoon and I'm sitting in a coffeeshop that one of my roomates found. It has free Wi-FI!!! Not only is this place about three blocks from my apartment, the atmosphere is really laid back and I am sure to get a lot of work done here. They don't mind if I plug the power adapter in, either, which is a big deal in power conservative Spain. No matter what's going on my roomates are constantly turning the lights off and it's always dark in my place. I wonder if this is a sort of mental/psychological holdover from the dark ages?
I first found this place late last night and I ran into a couple Americanos! Turns out the coffeshop is run by a mother/daughter team and the daughter, Jana, is dating Kenny, the son of Dennis Noyes. Dennis is the famed American rider/journalist, currently working for Solo Moto. Here they are working on some articles for Road Racing World and Speed TV, online. What a coincidence, huh?!?
To find out more about Kenny log onto Kenny Noyes
Bike Technique, or kitchen implement disaster?
November 12, 2005
Alan Cathcart at Valencia
During the testing I was able to meet one of my motorcycle heroes, Sir Alan Cathcart. We spoke at length about many things and we concluded that if MotoGP is like Mecca, then World Superbike is true Christianity. Haha, it's insights like this that keep it fun. Here he is interviewing Davide Brivio, director of Yamaha racing.
Here is Sir Alan onboard the Desmosedici getting a helping push from Loris Capirossi. Immediately following the push Sir Alan *GASP* Stalled the bike! Everyone had a good chuckle and after a restart Sir Alan took off! I have later learned that the bike itself had a problem, and not the rider.
Here's Sir Alan at speed exiting Turn 2, Ricardo Tormo, Valencia.
Man, I got around! I was all over the place, and without the help or the speed of the Ducati Desmosedici GP05!
November 11, 2005
Pre-Season Practice shots, Post Valencia GP '05
Here are some shots from the practice on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday tests went horribly because the temperature was too cold to get the tires really sticky. Also it was either drizzling or raining so the riders were super cautious. Still, they were hauling. On Monday Nicky was just hammering the bike. Melandri was the second fastest and both of them are sure to go head to head next year. Here's a shot for you Hopper fans.
More Practice shots in the Extended Entry - Click Below!
It took me a second to get the big camera up and running since this was the first time I was using it for action shots. Here's Nicky on his slowest lap. The first one.
Here's Nicky cooking down the entrance to turn eleven. Love the rake on that front end!
Vermeulen got up to speed very quickly, but he paused here to get a tow from Roberto Rolfo.
I think since I was the only guy in the grass at turn two, all the riders noticed me clicking away. I have photos of almost all of them looking right at me. This is Nobuatsu Aoki showing off (the only guy with the balls to stunt for the camera, also the only guy without a race contract next year). But. . . my ego is not that big. Actually right before this shot Nobu's wife rolled up on her suzuki scooter and he was showing off for her. Naturally she missed the shot with her monster camera so she asked me to email it to her. I lost her contact info in the shuffle of getting kicked out of my room later (a whole other fiasco, I'll tell you about later.)
Here's a shot for you two stroke lovers.
These Chupa-Chups helmets are everywhere! Jorge Lorenzo shows up how he does it.
Dani Pedrosa hanging off while getting used to the big bike. This kid's got a great touch.
Here's some more practice shots. Can you tell me what's wrong with this picture? It's Andrea Dovisioso, 250cc rookie of the year.
This is Luca, the rep for Spidi leathers in the GP paddock. He's got great style on the bike but if I put the whole picture up you'd see his line through 2 is all wrong.
During the week I was there the team loaned me a scooter and a helmet so I could get around after the race. On race days I simply stuck out my thumb and because of my fancy team gear someone always picked me up and gave me a ride to the track in the morning. This scooter was 50cc and went about 35 MPH. It was fun riding it around but when I first got it I drove home and promptly ran out of gas. I had thought maybe the gauge was busted but I was wrong. Whoops! Oh well, pushing it was easy and in about ten minutes I was at the gas station next to the freeway.
This is Kent Kunitsugu from Sport Rider Magazine testing the Duc. I gave him a bunch of pictures I took so cross your fingers and hope he uses one. I could use some magazine exposure to help me in case I need to talk to Dorna and get a press credential to take photos in the future. Can anybody help me?
The HRC tests we set up rather quickly and it was run what you brung so to speak. The originals of all these track photos are really crackin' but because BARF won't let me load the big files the res. is pretty low. A common sight in the evenings at the hotel bar was me having an Amstel and chopping photos.
Can anyone tell me who this is?!? It's Melandri's bike with a special guest rider. . . . .
Who would have the juice to get a ride on the #2 bike in the world? Arguably the best bike in the world!
I grabbed this shot really quickly so the quality is pretty poor. Still, you can see how out of shape these two guys are exiting corner 1 and into the little straight before turn 2.
Here's another example of mismatched bikes. This is Thomas Luthi, current 125 world champ testing out the bike. I was watching for wheelies coming out of the slower corners but the traction control has pretty much eliminated them. I really hate how much computers are taking away from pure riding skill. The highest wheelies I saw from the hondas were about two to three inches off the ground.
The 250's can still bring it, though! I was thinking that was a pretty "sell-out" helmet, because of the obvious advertisement on it. Walking down the street yesterday I actually saw a girl carrying one, so I guess they do sell it!
A mini-wheelie. Speaking about traction control and computers, anyone see the last corner of the Valencia race? Watching Marco come in tight to protect the line, and seeing his tiny mistake. . . . I think his mistake inadvertently helped him beat Nicky to the line. Marco went a little more sideways than he wanted too, and thus Nicky had to correct a little more. When two equal bikes are coming out of the same corner, with the same traction control, how does one beat the other? It's not like two years ago when the riders were flat-tracking them in and out. All things being equal, Nicky came damn close.
I sent a copy of this shot to Hopper. He was very laid back after the race and during the testing week. I can't believe he's so young because in person he really comes off a lot older and more mature. I hope he does really well next year because the word is that Suzuki has something up their sleeve. . .
Since Dani is so small in stature, he really has to get everything he's got off the bike in order to get it cranked over at speed. Here's a comparison shot of Dani and we'll look at some other riders in the exact same spot later.
Here's Darth Gibernau in the same spot with the Ducati. I wish he was running black next season instead of the obligatory red. It seems to suit his personality and his luck a little better. Seeing Juan Martinez in Red (Ducati gear) during testing was also shocking. Juan has a team he runs in the Spanish National Championship so he's always multi-tasking. Really nice guy and I hope one day to be working with him. . . or against him!
I really like this shot because it's rare for riders to be this close in a race. Nicky was hunting Loris for two laps before he made a pass. Sad thing for Loris. One the way to the race his mobile home caught on fire and burned to the ground! How's that for bad luck before the race!
November 06, 2005
Raceday! Valencia GP '05
The race on Sunday was "the business". I got access to the track interior and placed myself at turn one to watch the holeshot. The crowd around the track in the stands was doing the "Wave" before the race. I started timing it and the wave took between 1:50 and 2:10 to circulate the circuit. I got some video but I don't know how to throw that stuff up on Barf. A couple laps after the start I knew that Gibernau's bike had quit so I took off running for the box. I got there just in time to see the bike come back in and watch a devastated team of mechanics rip into it. It was cyl 5 and no one was sure what was wrong. Literally the mechanics were tearing up and the two japanese guys representing HRC were looking horrible. If you can imagine grown men crying and looking like they had run over the family dog, that's what the feeling was like on that side of the box. Meanwhile, Melandri's crew was quiet and optimistic. There were gleams in their eyes and the contrast between both crews was as big as it gets. When Melandri won his whole team was cheering, jumping up and down, and yes, also crying. I teared up a little, too, but that's cause underneath it all I'm just a big softy.
Jeez, enough with the practice shots for now! One Sunday after the race I ran into Kat and Andre. They were beat but I convinced them to join me for a drink in the hospitality suite. While we were sitting around we had an opportunity to watch a press conference with Sete Gibernau with tv cameras, reporters, the works. He's incredibly soft spoken. We had something to drink and then it was back to net-WORK-ing for me!
Check out the Extended Entry!
We were lucky enough to get ahold of a couple of these. This was the BIG PARTY, and most of the team members and pilots made an appearance. Unfortunately it was too crowded and full of people not really invested in the sport. You can see my ticket is number 1205, and I assume there must've been a couple thousand made up. Luckily I finagled my way into the inner sanctum of the festival. . . .upstairs in the VIP!
They had the strangest bartender I've ever met! Sorry for the poor pic quality, at this point I was a walking zombie after working hard for four days and talking with hundreds of people. Add to that the celebratory drinks and, whew, what a night!
Voo Voo (Kat) got a chance to sit on MJ's lap. His bodyguard kept blocking my shots with his arm so this is the only one I got. Total ass. Oh well, it was still a nice night to remember.
Kat and Friend. . . . . and that's all I'm gonna show!
November 03, 2005
Working for Movistar, Valencia GP, '05
Finally! About five minutes after I arrived at the track (which was fast since Raul was doing 180 KMH in a diesel compact!) I had to get to work. I was working for Movistar as the mechanic for one of their exibits, which was a mini-moto event with a nice little track and 7 Polini's.
Anyone that knows me should know that this was right up my alley! I had to assemble the bikes and get them prepared for three days of constant abuse.
Four Speed 110 cc Four Stroke. This doesn't sound like much but the fuel we were using was really toxic. These were fast and wild to ride. I think I replaced about sixty levers this past weekend. And then some!
Nacho swung by and dropped this off. Tha Shizz!
The keys to the good life! Thanks Nacho, Patricia, Rocio, Elena, Bito, Davide, and others, for letting me live like a true Movistar!
I later upgraded to the Gold Paddock Pass, which allowed me to enter the interior of the circuit and view the races from inside the track. INSIDE! Also, I took some time to screw around with some guy's bike. We had a selection of great machines to fill a Museum that Movistar presented. Awesome!
Just an example of how small the bikes are. This is Pedrosa's old 125 championship bike. My hands aren't that big, sorry girls.
Back to working, Thursday night, I still had to prep the bikes. Flat tire? No problem! Didn't have all my tools so I used a #2 flat blade screwdriver and two mini screwdrivers's. Not fun, but I did it!
So everyday I was busy working my "booth" at the Movistar exibit and trying to keep the bikes working correctly. They were getting hammered and there's a definite riding style difference between us and the Europeans. By my standards (or any) it was a tight track. Still, the Euros would go edge to edge and rail the corners with high corner speed. I was more flat track, go sideways, and point and shoot. Lots of traction breaking and "show-boating". Here are some shots of the course and whatnot. The bathrooms were immaculate and there was a bathroom attendant stationed there who cleaned it every hour or so! Not like the "crappy" US portapotties!
Here's a photo of the course. Note the empty parking lot in the background. This was about 6.30 in the morning on Saturday.
Oh, forgot to mention the group of us went out for dinner on Friday night. I thought maybe eat around nine and home by midnight (I was beat!). We ate at ten, finished around one, then partied until five! Just cruising through Valencia we ran into Venezuelen ex-GP rider Carlos Lavado. He runs the Venemoto team in the AMA and is trying to move his boys here to run the Spanish Championship.
And some dude named Angel Nieto! (12+1 Champion)
Here's our bartender at a bar called Las Animas. Find it in in Valencia! This is a poor picture but you get the idea. Just a quick note about that bartender. . . . . She´s a Man, Baby! Apparently the best clubs in Valencia are filled with marraconnes (sp?) and travestis. I´m absolutely positive this bartendress was not what she appeared to be. Last night MilleRBoy wasn´t let into the club because he was wearing white running sneakers. What a Goof! We´re in Europe fercrissakes! We partied through Old Town and did the traditional pub crawl. Everyone got sauced and by 4 or 5 the crew went home. I got in the mood and couldn´t be shut down so I kept on partying until about nine in the morning and then hit a coffee shop. I actually fell asleep before I ordered and and hour later when I shook my head clear enough to order I had two coffees. Now I´m in an Internet Locutario checking my email (for two Euros!) for 45 minutes waiting for the team to get their butts out of Saler and into Valencia Proper. The drinks they pour here are outstanding, meaning the alcohol content in the beers is quite serious and the shots they pour are Eight Count. 8! I remember my first night being amazed at how much whiskey they were giving me. Little did I know that double is the standard!
Forgot to throw this picture up of turn one early in the morning. Absolutely Gorgeous!
Along the course of the day Voo Voo and MilleRBoy showed up. I snuck them upstairs into the grandstands using my "juice". First Barf Social in Valencia!
Second Barfer Meeting! This is Rzypvs from the east bay! He owns a lot of two strokes and is a big fan of the sport. He brought his wife Marta and his Mom!
Saturday afternoon was great! Some 125 riders showed up to check out the action. I threw them on the track with three bikes and let them get acquainted with the track layout and the bikes. Within two laps they were backing it in beautifully, three in a train like clockwork! After giving them some seat time I jumped on a bike to Represent!!!
This is Jorge Cardus, one of the fastest small bike small track riders I have ever seen. He's listed in MotoGP but I couldn't dig up any stats on him. I gave them two corners and started chasing them down. It was a fantastic show for all the people and they were clapping and cheering with every turn!
This is current 125 rider (but I forgot his name)! About ten laps into the race we were all having a great time. I pressured Cardus into crashing out and I then proceeded to pass the other two to take the win! Small bikes are my bag, Baby. The riders were super cool about it, took some photos with me afterwards, and promised to come back on Sunday for a rematch! Later in the day, early evening really, Randy Mamola showed up with his son and I let a couple of the kids ride around for as long as they wanted. Randy was super nice, as was his wife
So Saturday night I was tasked with driving some of the riders to a giant festival in Cheste called La Fire. Cheste is known for building large parade float looking things and then burning them. All the little towns in the area compete for the top prize and it has to do with size, complexity, a bunch of stuff I don't really understand. Movistar commissioned a nice big one (over ten meters tall) since they are bowing out of the championship next year. All the famous Spanish riders went as well as Hiro Aoyama. This was my first time driving an X5 and it was a diesel!
It wouldn't really break loose for me because the tyres were huge. We had a policia escort with lights and sirens blazin' and we formed a six car train that was ripping through the hills behind the track. At one point I was playing Rallye and had two wheels in the dirt. I had to drive Angel Nieto, and since we had met a couple nights earlier he was cool. As in not dismissive, haha.
There were Policia everywhere and they were holding hands and trying to keep the mob behind the little fences they had erected along our route. Thousands of screaming people. I have never seen anything like it. The roads were so tight that people were reaching out and slapping the car and rocking it back and forth as I was creeping through. Here's Sete and Dani and some of the Movistar Staff escorting them to the presentation.
It's a little blurry because everyone is bored and moving around. There was a champagne toast and a small speech by a local official and then we were all hustled upstairs by the cops. I don't know why (and I didn't get any pictures) but some of the local Cheste police were really hot chicks!
This is the monument. It's in the town square and there were thousands of people surrounding our building. The riders threw down t-shirts and hats and it was a huge party since it seemed the entire crowd was tipsy. . .
La Fire. I couldn't believe how much heat this thing was giving off. We were pretty far away but within a minute or two the rooms we were in got really uncomfortable. We quickly made it back to the cars and high tailed it back to the track.
On the way to the '05 Valencia GP!
On Thursday morning I got ready to go to Valencia. I had packed a small suitcase (which I borrowed from my roomate without her knowing) and proceeded to the rentacar joint where I would meet my driver. Yay! Free ride to Valencia from BCN!! I bought a coffee at the cafe halfway down the block. I don't know if the dude at the cafe liked me or what but here's what my coffee looked like when I got it. . .
Raul Jara was my driver. He's second in command at the MotoGP academy (director or coordinator -not sure), and one hell of a good rider. He got injured a couple years ago so he just manages things now. We spoke in English (thank god) and had a nice time. We plan to race Karts at some point, but with the crazy schedules the racing puts on everyone, I don't know when that'll happen.
I would say he's also Pedrosa's right hand and confidant. Nice guy, truly.
November 02, 2005
Here I am at the Aquarium. It was really nice and next to a giant mall in the harbor. You had to walk over these small bridges that swayed as you went over. However, if you've ever been to a good aquarium, like the one in Monterey, CA, I'd advice you to keep your 20 Euros and put it towards something nice, like Cava!
Found this monument down at the bottom of Las Ramblas, near the sea. Gorgeous! As a tourist attraction, Las Ramblas is a busy street, filled with street performers and pickpockets. Once you get away from all the madness you end up right on the water, which is where I was headed!
Learning from Nissin Racing
I went out the following night with Hiro and the bigwigs from Nissin Racing. I learned so much from Tomo-san and Yoshi-san after picking their brains for three hours at a chinese restaurant. I have becoming a Gp guru of some sort, haha, and I asked all types of questions concerning brake rotor materials, pads types, exclusivity, everything.
November 01, 2005
The next day I had some free time and I went out and got a prepaid phone. I wasn't sure if I should get a standard plan, but because I technically don't know how long I'm going to last here in Spain, I figured something month to month would be better.
Man, that logo looks familiar!
Scooter work, in the dark.
Back to business. Since my roomates knew I was a mechanic the first thing they had me do was work on Daniel's scooter. Now, I'm not opposed to working on such things, but c'mon, working on the street in the dark? How primitive!
Little 4-strokes are my bag, baby! It was a freezing job, and inconclusive, but I'm glad I got in there. Nowadays, the scooter is just fine. . . just needed a little special lovin'.
The UPS truck
Even the UPS trucks are smaller out here. This one is for your collection, Ferdie.