August 31, 2006
Three Days until I take off for Asia!
It's getting to be crunch time, and it's coming up too fast! I'm just easing back into life in Europe and dealing with the homesickness that comes from my extended stay in San Francisco a few weeks ago. I miss the food, but moreso, I miss the opportunity to spend time with the people that I truly care about.
We're continuing to develop new design's and strategies, and I'm very pleased that the next stage of MotoLiam is just around the corner. There's a solid group of amazing people assisting me with the project, and I simply can't say, "Thank You", enough.
Much of my time has been spent, gasp, fixing my apartment's broken washing machine. I'm happy to report that a new circuit board cleared everything up, and starting tomorrow we'll all be back to doing laundry again. Apparently, using non-liquid detergent has negative side-affects, so I'm off to get some.
I'm riding daily now, as opposed to just the weekends, and BMX'ing through the city has been phenomenal. The mechanic in me has kicked in, and as this bike is a couple years old, it could use a few things to get it back into tip-top shape. First on the list is a set of neck bearings, followed by a front brake cable and lever/adjuster. I think I'll completely dismantle her during the off-season and really do it up right. Anyway, enough about the little bike - I'm getting ready for three races in as many weeks! Woooo-Hoooo! I am so stoked about Australia, the land where I was conceived. Nice thing about the coming weeks is that I'll be back on Islands again, and that's always special.
I've also been trying to collect as many of the photos and experiences I've had in the past month and get them up and onto the web. I still have plenty more to go, but here are a few posts that never made it onto the mainpage, about Sachsenring and my time in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Starting from furthest back to most recent, here they are:
Karl Marx Stadt, Sachsenring, part 1
Pizza? In Germany? Sachsenring, part 2
the Wrap-up, Sachsenring, part 3
Shiyena and Rhiyena, L.A. part 3
Checking in with Bob, L.A. part 4
Cool Stuff, L.A. part 5
My Dad and Brother, L.A. part 6
American Sport Bike Night
Checking in with Burton
Mom's in town, part 2
Fixing my laptop
The Food Adventures Continue!
We've got a lot more in store for you, so check back regularly. My travel schedule is going to be pretty hectic for the next month, but I'll do my best to update as frequently as possible. It's getting real close to go-time, and I'm starting to get that tingle of excitement that can only come from MotoGP.
See you guys at the races!
August 30, 2006
Red Bull Rookies Cup
So the Red Bull Rookes Cup in Valencia, Spain, has come and gone, and according to MotoGP.com, a field of 170 hopefuls will have been narrowed to just 20. That's about 12 percent of the entries, so no doubt there are going to be a lot of sad kids come Wednesday night.
Some important things to consider when thinking about the selection process. I think it's extremely difficult to gauge young riders from different counties who are lapping around on bikes that may be unfamiliar to them, and also on a world level track that they have probably never ridden on. To complicate things, the American entrants appear to have run on worn out tires, and with bikes that were not tailored to them. You can read a first hand view here. I'm not trying to say that the try-outs were in any way "rigged", but I want to point out that this purpose of the MotoGP Academy is to foster talent from a variety of countries - countries where riders don't have a chance to grow amidst a strong talent pool. The United States, however, enjoys having a very competitive National Championship, and has produced amazing riders throughout the years.
I think that Dorna pays special attention to riders from countries where they would like to establish a stronger viewership. An up-and-coming rider from France, Germany, or Britain? That would be great, as these are important markets for Dorna, and you can be sure that they are constantly on the lookout for the "next big thing" from one of these countries.
On a side note, I've seen Cameron Beaubier run, and I've known about him for a few years now. Back when I raced with Fast50s I first came into contact with him through Roseville Cycle, where his uncle was a sales manager. It's interesting that the children selected for the Red Bull Rookies Cup try-outs weren't picked out of the blue, but had to apply for it. Why wasn't Elena Myers there?
August 28, 2006
What's a GP mechanic like me do on his days off?
A couple days after I returned from Brno, I finally had enough energy (or rather, enough discipline) to start doing my laundry from that race, and also start preparing my gear for the 3 fly-aways races starting next week.
First load? Relatively minor, four shirts, seven pairs of socks, seven briefs, and a pair of pants. Pretty standard, right? Second load, just about the same, probably even easier. Five work shirts (three polyester, two cotton), a pair of cargo pants, and another pair of socks. Everything was working just fine, and doing back-to-back loads meant I was getting a lot done - cleaning up my room and working on the internet while the machine was doing it's thing! When I threw in the third load (which was again, minor), I thought I was home free. Meaning, I thought I would get all the major stuff out of the way and be packed up with a week to spare, more or less. I'm taking two carry-on sized pieces of luggage, but I'm splitting my work gear up, in the event that one bag gets lost in the shuffle. Just after I started the third load of laundry, I was getting restless and ready to leave the house - so I did.
Nothing like having a nice ride to the beach area and stopping in the Borne district at (what I believe to be) the best Pizzeria in Barcelona.
Come back a couple hours later and find my clothes sitting in the machine in a large puddle of soapy water. Well, not really a puddle (and not really soapy, either!), but it was obvious the machine had loaded the tumbler with water and soap, and then stopped. The soap crystals (yes, I know, how cheap and barbaric. I don't even have liquid laundry detergent!) weren't broken down, and were spread out over all my clothes like giant dandruff. I thought, hmmm, it IS Spain, so it's possible the machine got lazy, or just needed a long lunch break. To top it off, the door was electrically locked shut, so I couldn't open it and get my clothes out if I wanted to. I played with the settings, tried making music with the control panel buttons, but nothing happened. I gave up and unplugged to machine to see if it would perform some kind of master reset. And I waited. A day. Two days. Nothing.
By this time, my roomate, Daniel, had started to notice that there was a load of laundry in the machine constantly, so he asked me what was up and I tried to explain it to him. Needless to say, you cannot be a professional mechanic of any kind and not be expected to work on Everything. Got out the handtools, pulled the machine (which was surprisingly heavy!) away from it's little corner, disconnected the water lines, and got down to some nitty gritty with a machine from god knows where and with parts from Thailand, China, Italy, and who knows where else. Score! For having time away from the GP garage, I sure wasn't expecting to be working on a another high-horsepower beast, so I was happy. Happy that I was turning wrenches, but still, c'mon. It's a washing machine fer-crissakes!
C'mon, said the little rabbit. Just follow me down this hole!
God, I was sooo hoping it was going to be something simple like a proper mechanical failure. Like maybe the belt was broken from the motor to the tumbler or something. But nooooooo. Nearest I could tell, with the amount of errors the settings were giving me, and also the electric lock's failure to open even though the system was drained of water, it was electrical - and I think I know where the problem is. The problem is somewhere in here . . .
Yup, this area looks a little burnt. Like it got a little H-O-T.
Further evidence of the heat was wiped away inadvertently by my roomate, who needs to touch everything.
Oh well, that's it for my feeble laundry machine repair technique - hopefully my diagnosis is confirmed when the part is replaced. In the meantime, check out some of my other electrically based problems - here.
August 25, 2006
A Parting Shot, Brno
The last night I was there, Monday after the test, I went out with a couple of my close friends on the team. We situated ourselves in a nice bar on the fifth floor of an oldtime building with dark colors and Afrikan influences. I found they served this . . . . . . .
We began our night out with the usual talk of who was going where for next season, and the revelation that Valentino Rossi would be joining our team next season in order to have the exact same equipment and tires as Max Biaggi. . . . . . . .yeah . . . .. right!
We had time and Kroens to burn, and as the night progressed we delved deeper and deeper into our own thoughts . . . . . Tomas, our resident Frenchman (he's the good kind), demonstrates.
"Yes, yes, I see what you mean."
"Very Inter-resting!" - the Absinthe was beginning to take it's hold upon our fragile moto-minds. . . . . .
"Would you like another?" "For Sure!"
I couldn't help it. I was trying so hard not to laugh, but I failed! We had a monstrous conversation about various topics, and I finally learned the secret of why French people are "like that". Was that what was so funny? I don't recall . . . .. . .
Tomas is still thinking about it. Probably.
Absinthe does strange things to you. You'll notice all our eyes turned red, and we began to see things. . .
All in all, a magical elixir.
When the photos started looking like this I stopped.
More to come, as I proceed to upload things from Germany and California - Stay Tuned! And keep a eye out for the coming music selections. . . .Brno's were great, and it's only (always!) going to get better! Now keep on laughing and let the spirit move you!
Strange and Beautiful Brno - Places, Faces, and Food!
I'm doing my best to recap my adventures through Brno, and while I relish the opportunity to share my life with everyone, it's as much for myself that I keep this log. This year I feel like I'm under an information overload (it seems like only last year that I starting using the internet, haha), and because I'm bouncing around so fast it's easy for things to fall through the cracks. Here is the last sampling of photos I took while in the Czech Republic, and they include some of my favorite food memories and then some.
A lot of the city can be described as "stark", and the faces of the people, the cut, reflect that they have had a hard life - for hundreds of years. I felt so gifted to be there, so lucky to have the opportunity to come and go as I please. We are truly blessed - and we must make sure that we are all good guests when in foreign places. I have run into some people who give english speakers a bad name, so look sharp, smile, and be thankful for what you have.
This magnificent building is one of the old train stations.
I had the chance to experience some new foods, and while this may not sound like a treat, it was surprisingly good. Banana, Apple, and Cheese Pizza. Try it!
On first sight, I thought this was a little Volkswagen Rabbitruck - but it wasn't!
Name that vehicle!
I also ran across this beautiful family at the Hotel Continental. They've been to several races throughout Europe this season, and plan to wrap it up in Valencia. Each member has their own favorite rider, from the Italian mother and son (who want anyone Pasta-Related to win), to the Dutch father and his daughter, who is a John Hopkins fanatic. We spoke at length and they told me they'd be across my garage with a large Italian flag and they'd look for me on raceday. True to their word, sometime after the race and everyone else had left the grandstand area, I heard yells and whistles, and when I looked across the straight there they were! I love all fans of the sport, and to see the passion moving through different countries, cultures, and bloodlines is beautiful. I hope that one day I can share my joy of the moto's with a family of my own. Rock On!
Raceday breakfast at the hotel consisted of some "waffles" with natural yogurt. Soooo Cute!
The view from my hotel room. It's difficult to see, but behind the trees is the infamous Moulin Rouge.
For the life of me, I can't figure out why this country doesn't have the top spelling bee contestants in the world.
A mural near town centrum. Reminded me a little of one of my favorite childhood books, Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak.
Found this curious looking tree. . . . . anyone know what it is?
Here's a great place to have lunch. I can't remember the name but if you recognize the background, you've found it. This restaurant listed "Sponsors", including Red Bull and Diesel (clothing!). This is fairly central on the main drag through the town, so you can't miss it.
I had a fantastic lunch, special Duck over greens and wild riceballs. Yummm!!!! But. . . .what's that in the corner?
Chocolate Mousse. . . . with some mango on top and a little bit of love inside. Shazam!
Of course, everyone knows I'm not rolling in cash, so that was something of a special treat for myself. I'm a sucker for good duck. Here's something a little more the norm for me. Les'see, 14 Kroens is about 60 cents in Euros, which is 75 cents USD. Yes! Pizza for 75 cents!
It was cheese and onion, and they asked you if you wanted ketchup on it. I wasn't sure what they were talking about so I said yes (thinking they meant tomato sauce), but they were dead on. Have some ketchup, foo!
Tiramisu? Czech! Errrr, Check!
Nice little bee cruising around. He actually made it into the shake and then dried his wings and was off again. In fact, now that I think about it, the entire racetrack was swarming with these guys, and several people, on my team alone, were stung throughout the race week. They seemed to hover around any kind of food, and a little part of me thinks the hotel shampoo attracted them.. . . . . .
August 24, 2006
Brno, Paddock Shots.
The Paddock in Brno. Actually, this is a small part of the whole circus, and everywhere we go in Europe, it's similar. Impressive.
These trucks have criss-crossed Europe several times, and while I was "vacationing" in California, they were making their way through Spain for the Spanish Nationals. When they arrived in Brno, they were definitely in need of a scrub down.
There were a couple of these jets divebombing the circuit, at least on two days. Sonic bombs a-plenty! They would swoop down and run along the main straight before cutting up and out and looping back for more. Name that fighter!
Now this is a positive helmet lock!
Talk about the coolest trailer ever. They were promoting and selling products from the front when the visor was flipped up.
An example of how hard Ivan Silva (my rider this time around, as Alex Hofmann was substituting for Sete Gibernau again) rides. He managed to prevent a low side in turn one, and regularly gets an elbow down during practices and races. Watch out Spies, there's another guy your size that gets jiggy with the tarmac! My co-odinator, Luis Solano, models the goods.
Why, yes, I would like elbow sliders with that! The levels of grip, even on Dunlops, are out of this world. Can you imagine saving something like this? The bike never touched the ground!
Tough to see, but the arrow is pointing at someone from Airwaves. . . . . . .
This one is for you, Vince!
Say hello to Paolo, our assistant for a couple of the European rounds. We're always giving him a hard time, but deep down we know he's a good kid.
Name that former World Champion!
This girl had a couple of world champions of her own, haha.
What a brilliant race for Loris Capirossi and Marlboro Ducati! After all the press conferences and trophy presentation, the entire team celebrated with cheers and clapping. I managed to grab a photo of the joyous occasion.
Loris with his mother, "Go slowly, go slowly".
What better way to celebrate than with a new toy? This rolled in late Sunday afternoon. . . . . .
Next up, Brno by night - and finally, food shots!
Brno, Czech Republic. Part 3
As everyone knows, I am running slightly behind schedule. I have back-posting to do from the Sachsenring race in Germany, and more from California, as well - including the "Computer Chronicles"! I think the best thing for me to do is continue telling the story of Brno, then bouncing back to Germany and the USA in the coming week. I had a great farewell dinner last night with my old roomate, Mario, along with his girlfriend, Thoci, Daniel, and Hiro, and several of us plan to hit the beach later today (in the interest of saying goodbye to BCN for Mario, who is moving with Thoci to Madrid this weekend).
One week ago I was working hard in Brno, and let me tell you, it was great to be "back in the saddle" again! Here are some photos I took on Tuesday evening. I left my apartment in BCN around 5AM to catch a flight that would take me to Marseille, then Prague, and finally to Brno. Five of us took some taxi's to the hotel and then we had some free time to explore the city and soak in a little of the culture.
Driving in, the first thing you notice is the large castle/cathedral in the center of town. Like many medievil spots, it is located on a hill and served as the chief lookout point for incoming attacks.
Although the Czech Republic is no longer Communist, there is still a heavy vibe among the people, and they stared at us as if we were alien creatures who had too much money (If only they knew the truth, haha). The streets seem to aim at towards the center of town, so we headed for the church to get a better view. I was pretty wiped out from several days of travel, and the constant harassment at the airport security check points. I just wanted some coffee and a serious nap - as in a couple day's worth of sleep!
When I got this close, I gave up because I would have had to walk around a huge museum and I just didn't feel like it was a smart idea to be poking around a strange city at night . . . . .
Nice, clean, old-style buildings line the streets.
But there is still new growth happenning, as evidenced by this modern parking garage. Parking on the street is dangerous at night because of the high crime rate, and parking in the hotel's underground area was unusually expensive.
Here's a neat shot of the garage. Not only did you need a security passcard (with barcode that changed daily), but the garage was protected by dual doors. They opened simultaneously, one sliding to the side, and the second one raising up. Very Bat-Cave-like. Too cool, but at the same time, kind of sad.
Just another shot of Brno. Can't remember what building this is, but it's stately.
Mega bonus points if you can figure out what this is. Some mafia type dudes were rolling around in it, and I barely had time to get a shot (discreetly, of course).
Many of the bars/clubs are downstairs. . . . and if you're in the area I Highly recommend the The Mandarin and the two spots right around the corner. You can't miss them on a weekend - there are tons of people going in. . . . .
Down, down we go!!
Check out the cool Red Bull mini-fridge. I don't know why, but I find things like this really neat. I wish I had a tiny one like this in my apartment back in BCN, for diet Cokes - or as they say in Spain, Coca Cola Light.
What kind of trinkets were we shopping for? Moto-goodies!!! I didn't trust any of the prices on anything, because there were signs all over for 20% off, discounts, you name it. Everything seemed to be up for bargaining, and because we were foreigners who didn't speak the language, I knew we'd get screwed. Not like I'm shopping for anything, anyway. About this time we got back together with the whole team and went out to eat. . . . . you guessed it, Italian food!
More stuff to come, like always.
August 23, 2006
Next Year's Dreams are here . . . . . the 800's!
Brno was fantastic! Beautiful race, and Monday was set to be a day of testing for almost all the MotoGP teams. Many people were testing tires, riders, and also new engine parts. Two factories decided it was time to start testing with next year's dream machines.
After the stress of the first week of racing after the break behind me, I went into Autodromo Brno much more relaxed on Monday, passing through some small villages along the way and headed to the forest where the circuit is located.
It was a gorgeous day, and not at all rainy like the forecasters had predicted. The forest surrounding the track is similar to Sachsenring - dark, mysterious, and full of life. I know it sounds corny, but it was totally a "One ring to rule them all" kind of spot - once you got off the main inroads to the track. I took some video, maybe I'll throw it up one day.
It was quiet in the paddock, as most of the 125cc and 250cc teams had packed up and left. A handful of us made our way through the trucks and had some impressive food at the circuit restaurant. One of my team members re-established contact with a girl he had met there three years ago. She was still working at the restaurant, he was still working in racing. If you look carefully, you'll see someone cool on pit wall.
I was in box 14 for the week, and part of 15. Factory Ducati was in 16, and part of 15, too.
I took a moment to walk around, check out a couple things, and saw this sitting in a garage, waiting. It is truly something special for me to see the birth of a new machine. I know I wasn't involved in any way at the factory, but I can say that I saw it before a lot of people, before she was even wearing her colors. Score! For being out of the mall, for being away from the television, for being where I need to be - for now.
Heya Bernie! This was mid/late afternoon, and the bike hadn't gone out yet. I was thinking it might not happen, because it was getting colder, but as other websites have shown, she definitely got ridden.
Just hanging out at the track - and then I saw someone interesting checking out the Ducati pits.
"Know where I can get some good Italian food around here?"
It's magnificent. There's really nothing more to say, except that "This is the future". I can't wait. Exceedingly high RPM ceiling, F1-like sound, and all in that unmistakable Ducati Red. I managed to see a lot of the bike up close, and I'm so happy and excited about next season. It's going to be an incredible year, and I hope everyone is on the same page when it's game time. Better start planning your trips and tickets now!
August 16, 2006
Brno, Czech Republic. Part 2
This sweet jet came along with from Prague to Brno.
Actually, it was just the prop motor on this older plane used by CSA. Brno airport is very quiet and smalltownish.
There's literally nothing around this area, at least until you get near the center of town. This is definitely the middle of nowhere. Kind of.
That was the back of the airport, this is front. See what I mean? I met three others from my team who had flown out from Madrid. They lost their luggage on the way.
You know you're getting close to the source when you start seeing stuff like this. Can't wait for the weekend to begin!
August 15, 2006
Prague, Czech Republic. Part 1
The Iron Curtain is parted, and I'm right in the middle! There is such a change in attitudes the further you go into the previous Communist countries, but no matter what, people still get a charge out of Motorcycles, and that's why we're here.
I've got a date with Mrs. Praga.
Funny story about the cab driver. Seems like they all "ride" here in BCN, and when they find out I work in MotoGP, they always tend to punch it. By the time I whipped out the camera, he'd already slowed down to 180KPH, from 230! All I have to do is mention that I'm late for a race, and it's on!
Can't get enough of that coffee! Sooo Goood!
Yay!!! Czech treats on the flight!
More Czech Treats revealed themselves at the airport. . . . . . . . .
My enthusiasm was somewhat tempered by the machine gun toting police, who popped out of rooms like this throughout the place.
I'm part asian, so I really like eating soups with egg in it. Great stuff, and with the Orange/Grapefruit juice I had, I couldn't believe it was only 3 Euros. Welcome to the Republica Checa!
Where am I again?!?
Back to Europa, back to Barcelona. . . .
Overall, the journey from San Francisco to Frankfurt wasn't too bad. I anticipated the delays at the airport, and didn't mind when they pulled my toothpaste and whatnot. What did bother me was that they grabbed my Haribo (German) Gummi-bears and gummi-cola's. As if I'm going to bite the heads off the bears and stick them together to make C-4.
I had planned on getting new luggage in the California, and thanks to my friends at MotoStrano, I now have some worthy luggage to travel the world with! I tried to pack light, butI didn't really succeed. Part of the problem was/is that I have to make my life in Barcelona when I'm not at the races, and that means I want to have some of the small conveniences that make like liveable in Europe. Things like clean clothes, new socks, and my trusty, old Haro Mirra 540 Air BMX took up the bulk of my cargo. Other cool things I picked up in the States will be revealed over time. I still cannot get over my Alpinestars flight gear, though. You simply cannot put a price on things that work, and stylish things that work are worth even more (and you know this, Ladies!).
About the only thing that really bothered me on the trip to Germany was the odd collection of Croatian Water-Polo fanatics who were returning from an event at Stanford (I think, my Croatian is at an all-time low). Like the Spaniards, they liked to yell across the rows and drink - a lot! Maybe I'm just lucky, who knows?
I was a little nervous about landing in Germany, because they really like to follow procedure, even if it costs you your connecting flight (see January). I was already two hours late from SF, so I was worried about missing my flight to BCN, but somehow we made up a bunch of time in the air. After wading through a grip of slow moving security lines, I found my gate and learned that the flight was delayed over an hour as well. So far I had been travelling for more than 16 hours, airport time included. I needed some fuel, and this is one of the most expensive Orange Juices I've ever paid for. Roughly 10 USD for a 25cl of juice and a teeny Coke. Outrageous!
After waiting an hour for the luggage to arrive at the terminal in BCN, I caught a cab back to the pad and started unloading my gear. I needed to connect with my Spanish buddy, Nachete, to pick up my plane tickets to Brno, so that was priority numero uno. We met within an hour of my arrival in the city and went for a nice walk to have a couple cervesas and some olivas. Not a bad welcome back! Thanks Nachete!
What's Super Duper Cool about this picture?!? I tried to take a nap after Nachete caught the train back to Reus (about an hour out of the city center), but I didn't really get in a good one. I couldn't wait to get back to the Spanish coffee, and it ended up keeping me awake more than I expected. Oh well, at least I was ready to head out on time . . . .
It is soooo awesome to be in San Francisco one day, and the next thing you know, you're halfway around the world. In 48 hours I was in California, Germany, Barcelona, Marseilles, Prague, and now I'm in Brno! Rock on!
So long, San Francisco - Thanks to Everyone who made it so Special!
I shipped out of San Francisco on Sunday, and after travelling some 21 hours+, I have arrived safely back in Barcelona. What an incredible trip for me in the Bay Area, and there are photos and stories that I will hold for a lifetime. After a delay at SFO (thanks, governments), I confirmed what I already knew: You cannot bring stuff like this onboard the flight. I'm actually surprised they let me photograph this stuff, but I told them it was for my website and not my terrorist training manual.
I'm in BCN for approximately 12 hours - just enough time to unload my baggage at the apartment and catch some much needed sleep (sleep? Hahaha, yeah, right!). It's 4:45AM and I'm leaving the house around 5 to go catch an early flight that will take me to Marseille, Prague, and then finally Brno. Because the flight is so early, I won't be able to catch the AeroPuerto Transporte, and will have to shell out for a taxi. Small price to pay to get to another fantastic MotoGP race! I should be there by the evening, and if I can wade through the information overload that my "vacation" in San Francisco was, I should be posting later this week. Huge thanks to everyone who came out to meet with me, and to those who helped me out along the way. I won't forget you, and I can't wait to see you all again. In the meantime, see you guys at the races!
August 13, 2006
More Food Adventures with MotoLiam! SF06
One of the coolest things about travelling for work is the opportunity to eat new foods. While I was back in California, I made sure to sample some of the places I remember as being the best, and here are some shots. Not only did I manage to make it out to some great places, I also was lucky enough to have some homecooked meals, too. Thanks everyone!
Random, and not so random food shots. Oh, heck yes!
Sweet Yams, Shrimp, aaannnddd Curry Sauces? YESYESYES!
Spicy Wraps, pot stickers, and noodles? Count me in! Thanks Maryann, it was fabulous!
Much love to Evan and Joanne, who put together some amazing meals while I was back in Cali. Nothing beats the basics - and Evan's got a mean Grill-Hand, too!
At some point, a couple of us made it to Zeitgeist to have some burgers. They did not last long enough to be photographed.
Made it to one of the better Sushi places in town - one that employs Chinese sushi-chefs!
While my favorite in the city is Ebisu, Godzilla Sushi on Divisadero is a good place for some decent eats.
It is imperative to start your meal with Miso Soup!
Not traditional, but then, neither am I! Yummy!
Managed to wrangle up one of my most special treats!
Prepping for the best appetizer ever.
If you see this, you will be in one of the most under-rated restaurants in San Francisco. Order up!
You cannot beat this kind of food, and the price is unbelievable, too.
Very Special Thank You to those who shared their time and meals with me. Good food is never great without good company, and everyone helped make it magical for me. Thanks, and see you at dinnertime!
August 12, 2006
Apples and Oranges - Fixing my computer!
A few months ago, sometime in April, I noticed the hard-drive of my laptop starting to make noise. Occasionally when it was very hot it would begin clicking and clacking away in the laptop body, and would sometimes lock the computer up, forcing a restart. I wasn't really sure what the problem was at the time, but because the computer always started back up, I wasn't tooooo worried, and I also figured that I would have it checked out in California when I was back for the USGP. Turns out, it was more dire than I thought, and by June it was freezing regularly. After one particularly bad episode, which forced me to reinstall the operating system, I decided I needed to take action. With my travel schedule being so hectic at that time, I didn't want to leave it with a shop in Spain, and I also didn't want to be caught out without a computer - because it's my gateway to my friends, my music, and the world! I ended up trying to baby the machine as much as I could, and we limped home to the USGP together - intact but wobbly.
As much as I love Mac's, I must confess I was disappointed to have a hardware failure, but all machines have their limits and I'm extremely good at finding them! Maybe this happenned because I rode a rigid chopper for so long (no rear suspension) and the vibration had some kind of negative effect. Regardless, I needed to fix my machine!
I'm not a computer specialist by any means, so the first thing I did was bring it by Evan's place for a prognosis. We decided it was most likely a hard-drive failure and started making plans to extract as much data as we could from the bad unit. This proved problematic, as the computer had some issues and would stop working in the middle of the data transfer, and Evan had to do it "manually" and sort through all my folders until he found the corrupted one. Turns out my problem files were part of the promotional media cd I got from Camel Yamaha earlier this year.
The Doctore at work:
While on another errand on the Peninsula, Evan and I swung by Fry's Electronics to buy an aftermarket hard-drive. It is always a headache going there and dealing with the "customer service", but we persevered and left with what we thought was a 100GB HD. The next couple days were a blur, and we didn't get around to attempting the swap until almost a week later. It was at this moment that Joann, Evan's wife, pointed out that we had, in fact, brought home a 60 GB drive. Arrrrggghhh! The seven digit part numbers between the two drives were off by one. ONE! That meant another drive back own out of the city to Fry's to (hopefully) make an exchange for the right drive. Frustration aside, it was a good time to hang out with Evan and just try to relax a little bit. Once we got to Fry's, I spotted one of the neatest limited edition cars made in the last few years. Could this be the future MotoLiam mobile?!?
Even here at Fry's, I found some motorcycle influence. . . . or is it the other way around?!?
I gave back to "sponsors" of the sport by picking up some Full Throttle Energy Drink while I was there. "Mr. Empty Pockets hammers his credit cards picking up the supplies he would need for an extended stay in Europe once again - this time armed with more knowledge!"
Another hour's drive and we were back at Evan's. I proceeded to get right down to business. Step one, establish a relationship with the client - or lay the client down on the table. The blue tape is upside down, so the small parts will stick to it, and I also made sure to do everything in order. That made reassembly that much easier because everything was laid out in groups and I knew when and what to do. The battery, Ram card, and keyboard come off first.
It's a little tricky getting the top, faceplate off. I don't suggest using Harley Special Tool #1 (or the Ducati Special tool, either). Be patient and she'll work with you.
If you take the blue pill, everything will be normal again. If you take the green pill, you may not remember as much. . . . .
Clearly, the Superdrive (CD/DVD burner drive) dominates the internals, and look at the size of the heat sink!.
Here's a closer look at one of the bigger circuit boards. I love this kind of stuff! (but on someone else's machine, not mine, hahahaha)
After the swap was made, and everything was reconnected internally, it was a small matter to bolt everything back together. Ahhhh, proof of completion. Actually, it took another ten hours to re-install all the old data into the new hard-drive, and insure that everything was working perfectly. There have been a couple hiccups, but nothing serious since the change was made - thank goodness! While I was in the machine, I also changed the RAM, upgrading from 512 MB to 1 GB. It's that much faster and better now.
Ahhhhh, I'm soooo much more at peace now that my computer is fixed. I named the new Hard-Drive, Silver, so that I can yell, "Hi-yoooo Siiiiilveeerrrr!"
August 11, 2006
Mom Comes to Town, part 2
I had a great time people watching at the Oakland A's blowout earlier in the day, and while watching Baseball may not be one of my favorite activities, it was really good to spend time with loved ones. From the traditional hotdogs and beer, the Cracker Jack (!), and the smiles, it was a really good time. Later that night, we visited my mother's hotel, and were pleasantly surprised to see her staying here:
That's right, baby, Mom was staying in room #501 of the York Hotel, in downtown San Francisco.
What makes #501 special? Why, it was used in the filming of the Alfred Hitchcock movie, Vertigo !
As has been our tradition for more years than I remember, Mom and I went out to share some incredible food, at a trendy place called Brick, on Sutter street. It was a little pricier than I'm used to, but the food was magnificent - delicate flavors and a good wine list, too. I highly recommend the place - but be warned, the service can be a tiny bit slow, which is never a problem when you're in good company!
The plates are small, but pack a punch. All of the duck dishes were great, and just about everything was good.
A proper night out with Mom includes hitting up a nice lounge, or someplace classy, to have a drink and talk. Another of my preferred spots in located on Sutter, just a few blocks West.
As the name implies, everything in the Red Room is reddish. . .
Mom's cooler than Colin Edwards
Love you, Mom!
Can't get away from Motorcycles for too long, though, and right in front of Mom's hotel there was this beat-up old Triumph collecting tickets. Four days without moving . . . just hope it's not the Lucas electrics!
Thanks for everything, Mom, and next time I'll try to come and see you in Hawaii!
What's more American than Baseball?
I managed to catch a ballgame yesterday, and it was great!
I went to McAfee stadium (or as I remember it, Oakland Collesium) to watch the game, and traffic wasn't too bad! Expectations were high because the Oaklands A's are doing so well this season.
Next to the outdoor baseball stadium is the indoor one, where they play basketball - and where I've raced Arenacross before!!
The Atheletics were playing the Texas Rangers.
Hits like this helped the Rangers get to 14 and 0 with Oakland.
It was pretty ugly to watch, and soon my mind started drifting towards motorcycles again. You can see them everywhere if you look hard enough!
August 10, 2006
Checking in with Burton
Burton Gabriel is another mechanic (and former book publisher!) who has made a huge impact on my life and my career. Burt is primarily into European bikes, and we worked together for several years at various shops in the Bay Area. He's definitely helped me to improve, and he always stressed the importance of having the right tool for the right job. On the way to go visit him, I spotted this truck. See why it's cool?
Burt's recovering from some surgeries, but I know he'll be back up and spinning wrenches soon. I'm really glad I had a chance to see him again, and maybe we'll get that place in Nice one day!
August 09, 2006
Monkeying around San Francisco.
What kind of motorcycle really makes a MotoGP mechanic drool? For some, like Wally from Camel Yamaha, and Mark from Marlboro Ducati, old-school Harley Davidsons really fit the bill. These guys ride 1970's shovelheads - one's a chopper, and another is a wicked bobber style. For me? Honda Z50's are just about the coolest motorcycles on the planet, and I happen to own one of the nicer ones in the United States. When I sold everything I owned to move to Europe, the only two things I held on to were my work toolbox (filled with Snap-On) and my Honda Monkey. It's the kind of bike I would never sell, and it lives in Excelsior with my good friend and fellow Monkey fanatic, Brad. After spending the morning with my mom in San Francisco, I made my way to Brad's place to check up on my old bike - and go for a spin!
This is my Honda Z50J, and although it looks fairly stock, there are a host of modifications strewn throughout the bike. I wanted to keep the look and the size relatively "normal", so after building a strong 88cc engine, I concentrated on blinging out the rest of the bike. I chromed the wheels, fenders, controls, engine covers, just about everything I could, and the results are amazing. It is truly a beautiful machine. People are constantly asking me where they can buy one, who makes it, etc, etc. You can't put a price on love, I say, and then I take off! Capable of 71 MPH (confirmed on the 101), it hauls ass, too.
This Z50 is Brad's, and while the frame and fuel tank are the same as mine (without the signatures of several MotoGP racers, haha), there have been some big changes. . . . .
Check out the larger hydraulic forks, the triple trees, the extra wide 10" wheels and tires, the Ducati Brembo brake caliper (yes, yes, hydraulic brakes), extended mono-shock swingarm, rear-set controls, the list goes on and on. Not to mention the engine collection that Brad has. Currently, there is an obscenely large fourstroke being built up for this bike.
I was sooo happy to be reunited with my treasured motorcycle (yes, it says it's a real motorcycle on the registration, and the manual clutch and four speed transmission help complete the illusion). Anyway, enough about the bikes. There's virtually nothing on either of them that hasn't been modified or changed, and they both show a ton of love, devotion, and time. I remember spending hours hand polishing stainless steel hardware . . . .until I managed to source some titanium!
I also wanted to spend some time checking out Brad's latest modifications, namely the ultra cool 130 x 10" rear tire. That thing is HUGE!
I guess compared to Brad's bike, mine is something of a "low-rider", but I like it and Brad likes his, and we're the founding members of the "Grandmother's Worry" Motorcycle Gang. It's a gang of two, so watch out! We motored out from Excelsior (South, South San Francisco) and headed up through Twin Peaks to see if my bike still ran right. It just would't do for a MotoGP wrench to be riding something that wasn't tuned juuuuuuuuuussssst right.
This city is soooo gorgeous. From the cityscape, the hills, everything adds up to a magnificent place that is one of a kind in this world.
And there's Monkey's in them thar hills!
We started tailing a young thing from the Creatures of the Loin and she led us to Scuderia West, a very cool little shop that has awesome bikes for sale, like the Bimota Tesi!
From there, we headed into downtown San Francisco and had a snack at MotoJava, the multi-purpose bike shop. On one side, a full service and repair shop that sells quality used motorcycles, and on the other, a great coffeeshop with a warm ambience and great homemade food. Check it out - it's on 9th and Harrison!
The Ferry building on the Embarcadero is a landmark!
So naturalll, we dropped by! Brad called his wife on the phone (who works across the street at One Embarcadero) so she could look out her office window and see us waving our arms around. Yeah, we're cool like that :)
The obligatory Golden Gate Bridge shot, from the Marina area.
The obligatory Alcatraz photo, too.
From the Marina, we rolled straight up into the Presidio, to visit with a member of the MotoLiam team.
Evan, Brad, and myself.
At this point, we'd been riding around for hours bombing through the city, and Brad was missing his wife, so we started heading back towards Excelsior.
We stopped in the Golden Gate Park near the conservatory to check it out on the way.
Brad even braved running across a busy street to take a photo or two!
And then we ripped home, safe and sound. Talk about your awesome day in the city, with good friends, good bikes, and great weather. I can't wait to do it again!
Mom comes to Town. . . . SF06
I haven't been updating as much as I'd like to, and that's because every day has been a mad dash to get things done, meet with people, give mini-presentations, and prepare for life in Europe. When I say life in Europe, I mean gathering the things I can't get over there, and also preparing to stay in Europe (extended) for possibly another year without a return to the USA. On the fly, my mother decided this week was the best time to come and see her oldest son, and she flew in yesterday morning at 7AM. We immediately headed to Chinatown for some traditional breakfast.
(these photos are from her camera, mine wasn't with me at the time) I've had sooo many crazy beautiful experiences in the last three weeks I haven't had time to sort through all the photos and write the stories down, but believe me when I say spectacular stuff is headed this way . . . .
My Mom rocks.
Her favorite place to buy strange herbs, roots, and indecipherables. The name may have changed this year, but the stuff inside is still hundreds of years old.
She also likes the Buddha Bar in SF. I like the one in Shanghai a little better.
Not may people's parents are as web-savvy as my mom, and here we are after breakfast checking stocks and emails at a cafe. Word!
August 07, 2006
American Sportbike Night, San Leandro
American Sportbike Night is the longest, continually running Buell Club in the country, and if you think they're only into Buells and American bikes, you'd be wrong!
I've known members of this group for three or four years now, and have been an active participant in club activities in the past. Basically, once a month they get together and talk about motorcycles - all aspects and types. Some are into racing, some are into vintage and restoration, but there's a lot of years here and lots of experience doing everything relating to motorcycles. Tonight, it was my pleasure to speak before the group and relate my tale of moving to Europe for MotoGP. I'm not sure what the theme of the evening was (sometimes it's singles, or Italian bikes, stuff like that), but there sure were a ton of great looking bikes parked outside! Here's a great RE-5 Yamaha.
Here's a grand old girl. I have a soft spot for old Beemers. . .
Speaking of old girls, check this out! One of the rarest bikes made in the US. Name that Harley!
Clean little Triumph, too. These guys have all the coolest toys.
These guys meet on the first Monday evening of the month, in San Leandro, at a pizza joint. You can find out more about them and their plans to run (again!) at the Bonneville Salt Flats at
American Sportbike Night
August 05, 2006
Hanging with my Dad and Brother. L.A. part 6
Phew, finally made it back to my Dad's place after a long day with a bunch of seat time in the truck. It was good, because we all had a chance to talk and catch up, and I'd rather be rolling and talking instead of sitting around somewhere and talking. My Brother went out for the evening, which meant I got to spend some quality time with my Dad, and he was thoughtful enough to get ahold of some Poke Salad for us. It was spicy and hit the spot.
The next morning I had to leave to fly back to San Francisco, but not before Dad handed over my old Haro 540 Air BMX! Although my Dad's going to miss riding it around, he knows it's going to a good place - Barcelona!
"This is how to you a no-hander!"
Man, I was stoked to get one of my old bikes back, because I know the BMX is the perfect Urban Assault Vehicle for the city! Thanks Dad! And thanks to my brother, too, who technically is the one who the bike now belongs to. Unfortunately for him, he's too big for it now! Once I was back in SF, I quickly put it together (I took it on the plane broken down in a box), and tested it out. First jump? Popped the rear! ARGH! A quick patch and we were back in business. One day. . . a video will surface of the Midnight Madness that occurred later that night . . .
Cool Stuff, Costa Mesa. L.A. part 5
On our way to Irvine from Downtown L.A., we stopped in Costa Mesa to hang out with a friend from the Dainese Store. Two doors down from the store, I found these!
Costa Mesa (small as it is) has a bunch of cool things going on.
A lot of it is located on Superior Avenue. Check it out. You can find things like:
Chica's Customs, and there's a whole group of cool fabricators who live and work in this area.
While I'm on the subject of cool bikes, check out Zero Engineering, another of my favorite builders.
Checking in with Bob. L.A. part 4
Ahhhh, I'm leaving Los Vegas. . . . err . . . leaving Los Angeles! L.A. is sooo big and spread out, and even when I lived here in 2000, I never really got used to it. It's such a bear to deal with constant traffic and mess of people. And Downtown L.A.? It's almost like a ghost town sometimes. It's also one of the few places with tall buildings.
Typical for L.A., as we were driving out of the city center, we spotted a movie being filmed in this park.
We took the 405 South, headed back to my old neck of the woods, the Torrance/Lomita district. When it started looking like an alien industrial area, I knew we were almost there.
There's only one thing that could bring me back here, and that's to say Hi to my old mentor, Bob Pynn! Bob's responsible for teaching me a lot of what I know about motorcycles, and also about "just getting the job done". Still strong, still riding, and still the head guy at California Harley-Davidson. Bob taught me how to really use a Dynamometer, and how to build engines. If you happen by, I strongly suggest letting only him work on your bike.
Seems like I can't get away from shipping docks. I love being near the water, and I love that so many things come through this port, between Long Beach and San Pedro. One strange thing about this photo is the lack of cars on the road. I couldn't believe it.
To pass from San Pedro to Long Beach, you get to cross two magnificent bridges. The Vincent Thomas is my favorite of the two, and was used in the movie, Gone in Sixty Seconds (the remake), where some guy jumped a 1968 Shelby GT500 over a couple cars. Yeah. . . . right. I have some great memories of this bridge, because in early 2001 I found my dog here, wandering on the side of the freeway. This is where the "King of all dogs" came from.
Shiyena and Rhiyena, L.A. part 3
Less than I day after I'd arrived in Los Angeles, I had already met with some people in Burbank, had dinner and drinks in West Covina with Nancy, and by lunchtime the next day I was joined by one of my oldest friends, Shiyena, and her beautiful daughter, Rhiyena! We met in Pasadena, and in our quest for quality, Asian food, immediately drove to downtown L.A., Japantown, for some good eats. Rhiyena is an absolute joy to be with, and (it was my first time meeting her) a very, very special child. Shiyena is teaching her to speak English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and she Signs, too! Amazing! I had fun bouncing back and forth between the languages, trying to pick up what I could and also add what I could to the mix. Rhiyena, 2.5 years old and, like her mother, ready to rock!
Kids are hard work, but more fun than just about anything out there. It was really something to sit at lunch and play games, making water drawings, and putting together a 3-D puzzle with the youngster. Watching her mind at work is fascinating.
There is nothing on Earth that can compete with the beauty of a mother and child.
After lunch we went for a walk through Japantown. We found a Music store, which also sold comic books, and Uniforms! How strange is that?!?
By mid-afternoon, my Dad and younger brother had driven up from Orange County to pick me up. I was sad to see the girls go, but I'm sure I'll see them again. And who knows how big Rhiyena will be by then!
I don't think Shiyena had seen my brother in seven or eight years, and in that time he's sprouted like a weed. I think he's taller than me - and I'm 13 years older!
See ya Sis'. Great seeing you and meeting Rhiyena. Thanks for everything, and see you soon!
August 04, 2006
L.A. part 2
After my initial meetings in L.A. on Tuesday afternoon, I was free to check out some of the sights and get re-acquainted with some old friends - and meet some new ones, too! While I was waiting for some people to show up in Burbank, I waited at a street corner and used the phone. Looking back at my luggage I was struck by the thought, "Boy comes to Hollywood to become a star.". Yeah, right - Where's the cool motorcycles?!?
I eventually planted myself at Gordon Biersch and had a couple beers and some Bruschetta (trust me, it's better in Europe).
My friend Nancy (B1tesize on BARF) and her roomate, Super-Nike shoe-Collector-Guy, showed up and had dinner with me, and then it was a casual ride back to West Covina to drop off the gear and get to partying!
Nance is responsible for the ultra cool MotoLiam Stickers, and in a couple weeks I'll have something cool lined up for people who manage to stick them in unique places and take photos of them. Email me!
Nancy owns a couple of Yamaha 125 smokers as well as some Honda 600's. Can you name these bikes?
She's also got a Vespa (and two cats, but I won't get into that).
After a good night hanging out and talking motorcycles all night, we finally woke up the next day and immediately set off for sunny Pasedena. I'm eternally grateful to Nancy for helping me out with her College I.D. so that I could get a discount at the Apple Store - where I picked up some new Hardware!!! I knew it was going to be expensive no matter how I did it, so I consciously put the pricetags out of my head and made sure that I was getting the best equipment for the coming years ahead. I'm more familiar with the Mac systems these days, and I like how they work for me (broken HD's aside).
I spent the next week transferring over data from my old machine to the new one, and pictures and trials of that misadventure are coming soon! Actually, it will probably take me months to fully integrate the two machines. Or . . . I may leave them separate, so I can have a more "work" oriented machine, and one just for Music and Movies.
August 03, 2006
MotoLiam on the move - to L.A.?!?
This past Tuesday I embarked on yet another cool and fascinating jaunt - this time to Los Angeles! It's the first time I've really moved around as "MotoLiam", or maybe, the first time I've moved around because of the "MotoLiam Phenomenon", and I was proud to be carrying my fresh gear to the land of Hollywood.
I'm still technically on vacation from the MotoGP circus, and I'm using the time away from Europe to handle most of my U.S. affairs - namely getting my finances and projects back together since the pickpocketing incident two months ago! I had a very special appointment in Burbank Tuesday afternoon, and like everything I do these days, I was multi-tasking to the max. The last time I was at SFO, I was kissing the USA goodbye and headed to Europe with nothing more than a dream of working in the World Championship. This time, I was on a mission to check out some alternative opportunities and cool, new things in lovely L.A.
Checking in at United was fairly routine. Thanks to the Filipina girl who hooked me up and zipped me right through the line and into the automated system that took care of everything lickety-split.
Ahhhhhh. Los Angeles. Flat, expansive, and from the sky, very boring.
What am I doing here???
August 01, 2006
In the Whisper of the Trees
In the Thunder of the Seas. . . . .
Few things are as precious, as fleeting, and as powerful as a kiss.