Aloha and Welcome to *Liam's Wild Ride* , the Official Website of Liam Shubert. This is the mostly complete chronicle of my travels, adventures, and experiences while I was busy working in MotoGP, with stints in WSBK, WSS, and the World Endurance Championship! Please enjoy the Places, Races, and especially, the Races!
I'm currently living and working in beautiful San Francisco, California. How can I help make your auto/moto dreams into a reality? Email me to discuss your special project today.
Feels like I lost my best friend this weekend. My constant companion, through my walks in Barcelona, my flights around the world, my daily existence, ceased to function after I sent it through the washing machine. Naturally, I completely dismantled the unit and hit it with my room mate's hair dryer, but it was to no avail. Adios, iCarus.
I still have all the same music buried in two different computers and various spare hard drives, but putting together a play list like that one will be difficult, and I just wish I'd had more foresight to back it up regularly.
I managed to get out for several hours this past week on my GT Moto, which was a nice change of pace and definitely easier on my knees than running.
It was nice to ride something with big wheels again, rolling through the city along Diagonal, from Diagonal Mar up into the parks at the northern end of the street, past the university.
After my iPod had died, I decided to get a decent meal in before taking off to Italy. I picked an Italian place (for some reason, don't know why), and can you believe it, they put french fries on my pizza! I can understand an egg, but french fries?!?
Oh well, since we're on odd french subjects, how about this amazing Yamaha Dual-Sport I came across a few weeks ago. It's a 500cc two-stroke . . . . . and I'd love to know more about this vehicle, so if any of you have had some experience with one of these beasts, let me know.
See you guys from the trenches with the wrenches --> And I'm off, two of the biggest races of the year, back-to-back, complete with two days of testing after Catalunya. Here's to VR46 pulling out a record breaking 7th win in a row at Mugello . . . unless my guys can somehow get up there in the mix!
GP08 Le Mans, Race 5 "un temps foncé, mon soleil brille ailleurs"
France. A difficult time for everyone; the teams, the riders, and the people. I could leave it at that, but that's not the whole story, and while my overall and general feeling is one of darkness at this moment, there are always rays of light and hope that beam down from the heavens and part the clouds - I hold fast to this idea, this dream, that things will be better. Life, its evolution so mysterious and beautiful, lifts me up, crashes me down, raises my spirits, constricts my chest until I can't breathe, and then release, the cycle continues. It's the old story. And it's a good one.
Like the bikes that are constantly evolving, three steps forward, two steps back, evolution is not always painless.
Just days before I had to leave for Le Mans, I took in the MotohBCN motorcycle exhibition at the massive complex surrounding Plaza Espana. I had been indoors for much of the previous week, venturing out only twice to go running along Diagonal and sometimes for the occasional meal late at night. My friends from Reus, Nachito and Rafa, picked me up at Starbucks on a Sunday afternoon and once we'd squirreled our way in past the entrance (via a little finagling of some appropriated vendor passes), it was time to check out the latest and greatest from most of the major manufacturers.
There's the National Museum building in the background, where I've spent some time looking at the classic works, but I much prefer the MACBA and MoMa, and heck, I get a charge just staring at old Vespas on the street, haha. For me, life is constantly in motion. These photos capture only the moments, and in this particular moment I am chowing down on a pork and cheese sandwich, which can only mean I'm in Spain.
Seconds after that photo was taken, Ramon Forcada walked in with his young daughter and came over to say hello and talk a little about the races and how things were going with JL48 and the Yamaha (he's Lorenzo's chief mechanic this year). To my surprise, he moved through the crowds without a second glance from everyone, completely normal and at ease. "It's nice to see the new bikes." I have no doubt he would have been mobbed if people really knew who he was and the stories he could tell. Myself? I was hobbling about fighting for space as I was bumped and pushed around by the crush of people, baby strollers finding some kind of magnetic connection to the foot I had sprained while running the previous day.
Along with the standard production bikes were a series of custom machines showcasing Spanish builders from around the country. This is a pretty clean little GSXR, but why is there no rear brake?
There was a nice Motocard booth, which would be similar to a Cycle Gear stores in the states. Motocard is one of our sponsors this season, and they had a display D16/999 hybrid so I took a photo with it. Actually, it's an iPhone photo from Nacho because my camera was running low on batteries at this point.
Thankfully, I had charge for one last shot! Gorgeous 70's Ironhead with exterior oilers and copper finish. This looks like a blast to ride, but I'd probably have to change the foot controls, and dangit, why haven't more people come up with a way to add a kickstart to XL engines! Gotta love the mini-brakes on this one, with a 3" drum up front and that kooky set-up for the rear brake out back. Lack of brakes . . . which may point to why the spaniards are currently kicking so much butt in GP's this year, hahahaha.
Just before we left the show in the evening, I managed to jump on the new KTM LC8 roadbike. *MAN*, all I can say is that this here is one trick machine, and while I was goofing off and moving around all over it I really got the impression that body transitions on this bike have got to be some of the easiest I've ever seen. The way my legs locked into the tank and how planted my calves were against the sides was great. I simply cannot wait to try one out, because I think this bike is going to be spectacular on the street, especially with an "ass-off" style of riding.
And then I was in France. I waited in the wrong line at the airport in BCN, wasting about a half hour, before someone told me that my Air Europa flight was some kind of combo affair with Air France (fucking great!), so I rushed across the terminal to get in the right line. Then I was forcefully told by some check-in assistant that I had to get out of said line and get into another one to print out a boarding card before coming back to check in my luggage. Hahaha, it was a comedy of disasters, as I hopped from one line to the next, and eventually when I checked in through the business line (thanks to Felix' gold travel card), I got chewed out by that same check-in lady. Seriously, I was about ready to say something extremely rude, but one of the tricks you learn when traveling so much is to let the stupid things go, because I've got somewhere to be and I need to get there. Besides, it was just a taste of what things are like in France, and I expected the worst. The early forecast predicted three days of heavy rain at the circuit, so I wasn't really looking forward to that aspect despite Guintoli's preference for riding in the wet. We touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport in the early afternoon, but were held up by some rentacar snafu that had us waiting for over an hour before we got our little transporter. After standing around for 20 minutes, the desk agent told us our "van" would be arriving in 5 minutes. 35 minutes later when we inquired again about the car, she told us, "cinco minutos frances". Greeeeaaaaaattttt. We loaded up and headed out, trusting in our GPS to find our way through the hellish rush hour traffic surrounding Paris. Two hours later, we passed ORLY (oh really?) airport, wishing we had flown into that one instead, as it's much closer to Le Mans than CDG. I suspect the cost of staying at Hotel Mister Bed City is pretty affordable.
Ahhhhhh, the roadways around Paris are thick and congested. It boggles my mind how guys like the Ghost Rider can ride these streets, even in the middle of the night.
We pulled into our hotel just after 8PM, making for a full day of travel. This isn't the best photo, but it's here for comparison's sake and you'll see why later. France is full of lush greenery (it's a different green than the other European countries I've visited), and the skies are full of clouds. I think this is related to the amount of rainfall this place gets, and why the people can be so drippy, haha.
This is the last sunset we would see, because starting on Wednesday we were at the track until late every night.
We ate at a strange "American-style" restaurant called Buffalo Grill. It was something like a TGI Friday's, but emphasis was placed on the bison burger, so I had one. The service was unbelievably slow, and I had to send my burger back because it had been sitting under the heat lamp for so long the bun had turned into a solid block of wood (this is something I NEVER do). All this with virtually no customers in the store. We'd give them another chance to wow us on Sunday night after the race, because by then our hospitality unit would be closed up.
Our special chef from Napoli, Vincenzo, has a fine collection of watches, one of which is pictured here on the Buffalo Grill's menu. Speaking of buffalo's, Vincenzo and his crew brought one of my favorite foods to the track for this race, Mozzarella di Buffala (buffalo cheese). It's served wet, and the taste and texture always make me happy.
You reach in and grab one of them, then cut it up into large chunks to pass around to your team mates.
This is probably the my most Euro of diets, haha, salad and cheese. It was great!
As this was an Alice sponsored race, "The Alice Gran Prix de France", lunches and dinners were tasty and there was a lot of different dishes to choose from. We spent our nights working on the alternate colors we'd be running on Sunday's race, the flag of Guintoli carrying him in his home race. One thing about the paddock in Le Mans . . . there aren't built in air compressors hardwired into the infrastructure, so we had to run our onboard compressors from the race trucks. One of our pumps broke in the middle of the day, so being the crafty and innovative mechanics that we are, we quickly tore it down to the piston and repaired it onsite.
The secret . . . . is in the flap valve system, which while not being desmodromic or pneumatic, is designed to work at high RPM and consume a minimum of oil. Bwahahahaha, yeah right! Stuck piston!
Martin got it all back together in record time, which was unfortunate for me because the compressor is mounted underneath my office area and throughout the week the constant noise from the generator and pump buzzing and rattling drove me crazy. What's that? You noticed our new shoes?
BOOOOOYYYAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!! Puma stepped up this year to supply us with shoes, and just like the Factories use the races to prove their technologies, we spent the early part of this season testing the black shoes shown on the right. Ultimately, they proved more durable than I expected, but because we're working so much this year, it seemed like we needed more than all-day comfort. We needed all-day and all-night comfort! Enter the red racers on the left. Huge thank you goes out to Alex from Puma, for helping us to work in a better way, and I'm extremely proud to show these babies off! My first pair of really custom shoes!
Taking cues from the Marlboro Ducati team's gear, we modified the design a bit to match with our Alice Team colors . . . creating a beautiful "Satellite Ducati Puma"! Shown here is my counterpart's sneaker from the factory team, and my new bling. Instead of the grey foam, we're running tight and white, with matching black race stripes and custom logos throughout. My feet feel great, and when your feet feel great, you feel great! I'll probably spin up a special post about my small but select shoe collection at some point, but it'll have to wait until I can get some decent lighting and my big camera out. About the only thing I feel bad about is that these shoes are for work usage only . . . or are they?!?Stay tuned to see if I manage to wear them out to some big shindig :) Honestly, these shoes were one of the three highlights of my week. THANK YOU ALEX!
Just thought this photo deserved some attention, because I think it's like 9 something at night and the grandstands are still full of French fans! These guys are hardcore and committed to seeing as much as they can. They sit through pouring rain, through the night, it's like they never stop. Like we will never stop. We'd just finished changing engines after Qualifying, and were making some small changes to the bike in preparation for Sunday's warm-up (which is something of an additional practice to get ready for the race!).
Raceday! We started extra early from the hotel, leaving at 7AM, to beat out the traffic that was sure to snarl up the inroads to the circuit. Heavy fog covered everything with a thick layer of water. Almost as ominous as it gets.
The circuit waited patiently, but everyone was thinking about the race and wondering nervously if it was going to rain, or if we'd have another "switch" race, with both wet and dry conditions. It's the same anticipation everyone in the paddock gets before a race, there's such a build-up of tension and excitement before the main event. It's funny, but even in my first races, I'd be so pumped for the start of the race but then I'd notice myself drifting off and falling asleep while watching the opening laps of the race, even while standing! I haven't figured out why this is, but it's probably related to the adrenaline before the start, and the relief of knowing my rider's made it through the first corner. I always have to walk around a little bit and get some fresh air outside of the box before I can go back in and watch the race unfold.
Warm-up was the first showing of the "French" bike, and it was still overcast.
Unfortunately, TE24 crashed his racebike in the morning session, and even though it didn't look that bad on tv, once we got the bike back inside the garage and stripped down, it was more serious than we had thought. I really have to commend the team and the mechanics for getting as much done as they did between the warm-up and the race, working straight through our normal lunchbreak right up until the wire. More impressive was seeing members of SG50's crew going over to the other side of the garage and lending a hand to make sure everything would be repaired and replaced in time. I was really proud at that time, but still hungry, haha.
All of us were working feverishly on the bike, hardly noticing when the Alice girls came in to take pictures with our special livery. More interesting were the three guys in the background carrying the monitors. They had molded backpacks and shoulder braces, and instead of just showing video footage, the screens were hooked up to Playstations! You could use the wireless controllers to race with a friend, all with the guy carrying the screen staring right in your face, haha. Actually, staring is something of a problem in France, in that it's quite common (and unsettling!) and everyone seems to do it without a thought. They just stare at you. For a long time. Everybody. It's pretty weird.
The race started, the bikes were good, and I was happy to be on the grid with SG50 for his home race. This shot comes as the rain had started to pick up, as the boys wonder whether or not they should drop the tire-warmers and get the second bike fired up in case the rider came in to swap. The worst luck hit the Ducati Factory team, with both their riders experiencing technical problems and each one coming in to change to a rainbike for a race where the rain never really materialized. It was heartbreaking to watch Casey Stoner pushing his bike along pitlane, trying to get to the Marlboro garage (the furthest from the pit lane entrance). You could just see in his face he was giving it everything he had and his #1 mechanic, Gino, ran down the lane to help push him back to the garage. I think the #1 is far heavier than any of you can imagine, and it only reinforces my respect for all the Champions out there, NH69 in particular, but also in the way that Ducati and Casey are working and doing everything they can to get a handle on things and get back into the thick of things. All of us were quite sad and feeling pretty down about Casey's race, and it only helped to color this event in a negative way for me. I know I'm here to support my Team in every way I can, but I hate it whenever any rider is forced out of a race because of a technical or another rider's mistake. It was also quite shitty to see the chain flying off of JH21's Kawasaki, but it is a fact of racing that sometimes pieces will fail.
One last parting shot at the French bike. After the race we began to pack up the garage, and the mood was somber and quieter than normal. I think the Team as a whole was feeling pretty empty, despite watching history being made as VR46 matched Angel Nieto's record of 90 GP wins. These are the times when it's most important to stay united and focused. These are the moments that can make or break a Team, and I think we're good. The boys worked hard, they stayed strong, and I hope our riders can really feel that. We're the ones behind them, every step of the way. Without a strong foundation, there's no point in going for it.
As we were packing, the rain started to really come down. It was cold and dark, and we had a ton of boxes to ship back to Madrid for paint. I was starting to feel a bit depressed about things, when I looked up and saw the Moon shining alongside a huge rainbow. It gave me a little extra kick to get things hammered out into in the evening, and once everything was packed up we said our goodbyes to the team mates who would be driving the trucks out later that night. Four members rolled out towards Italy, and the rest of us crammed into our little rentacars. I stopped to pick up a very, very special souvenir, a gift for California (which will be shown at that time, Laguna, baby!).
The third highlight of my week came later that night, as we once again hit the Buffalo Grill. I dropped some money into one of those hook and claw games just to test my luck and see how I was doing. I think I've only ever tried this kind of machine 2 or 3 times before in my life, but this time I WON! The guys couldn't believe it, and I'm happy to report that while I was in France, I won a Frog! Woot! I'd been kind of sick the entire time I was in France, with a constantly runny nose and something was wrong with my eyes. I chalk it up to hayfever, and I was taking antihistamines, airborne, auline, anything and everything I could get my hands on!
After dinner it was an early night for us. Tired, exhausted, and looking directly ahead into the storm of three double-headers in a row. Check out was early the next morning, and by 7AM we were rolling towards Paris for our afternoon flights (traffic was projected to take us about 5 hours to get through the maze to Charles de Gaulle). It was freezing, and I had a lot on my mind. Flipping through the radio brought nothing but endless talking and talking, not a single station was playing music. And then BAM, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by green fields and flowers, a song struck, straight out of my childhood and absolutely perfect for this moment. My father always used to play the Double Fantasy album by John Lennon, and each song is genetically ingrained in me. Parallels, Apophenia, it's all right here.
I was feeling pretty in pink by the time we got to the airport.
We spent some time checking in the cars, getting all our stuff to our respective gates, and then it was flight time. We stopped for a coffee (5 Euros!!!!!) and luckily we noticed something wrong with Sergio's new Suunto Core watch (same chassis as their Vector line). One week old and one of the strap screws had come apart and was lost forever. Sergio gives the build quality a big thumbs down. Suunto . . . . it's not a Casio, haha
Check-in wasn't a problem, but the flight turned out to be pretty strange. I boarded the flight like I normally do, flipping open my travel wallet to show my ticket stub with seat number (also revealing my US passport) to the three Air France workers at the door, and as I was walking down the rows to 7C, one of them ran up behind me and was saying something pretty loud. I turned around to find the captain of the flight telling me to stop and listen to him, saying that it's necessary to check everyone's seat number because sometimes people get lost on the plane. I was like WTF?!?!? He was totally irate and over the limit, and my team mate in front of me and my team mate behind me were also like WTF?!?!? Who the fuck is this guy and what is his deal?!? I have no idea what it was all about, but it sure soured my trip. Anyway, Air France - you suck.
I got back into BCN late in the afternoon, and I've been listening to my favorite song non-stop since then. It is amazing to me that the most impactful song in my life comes from a French artist. Here are two different videos, both of them special.
I had a great talk last Friday with Jules (Popmonkey) of Ro2 and MotoGPod, and it's finally up online. We spent over an hour covering bits and pieces of my life, China, the situation, the race, and my girlfriend.
Eric F. (former owner of one Carvin Guitar) wrote in to me after listening, and I thought his response was so good, I'm posting it here:
". . . it was fun hearing the "saga of the Carvin". More importantly, thanks for being so honest and transparent, sharing the human side of the MotoGP circus. I'm as big of a gear head as anyone, but there is obviously more to this story than facts and figures (or motorcycles, for that matter). The fact that you are so observant of people and cultures, and so articulate at communicating your perceptions, makes my own vicarious MotoGP experience that much more rewarding. Thanks again."
Hope you all enjoy it, and while I cover some of the same things you'll see written here, there's a different dimension, tangible, and I think it helps the photos and faces shown here come alive that much more. Sorry the first 11 minutes or so are choppy and difficult to listen to, but that's just one of the constant realities I have to deal with when I'm trying to talk to my girl on Skype, and it's an accurate portrayal of the life. The show only gets better, so a special thanks to Jules for putting up with me and just listening.
Getting back into China was a little more difficult this time around, as increasing restrictions and bureaucracy led to frustration and annoyances, and a whole lotta hassles! It's not just about the long journey to get to the Middle Kingdom, but the country's dynamic is moving and shifting so rapidly in certain directions, and tediously slowly in others, that I never really know what to expect once I leave Pudong Airport in Shanghai. Would it be the same crazy place, filled with colorful lights and distractions of every sort so you don't see the filth in the streets and the people looking to capitalize on every tourist in some way? Would it be more sedate and self-confident as China geared up for the oncoming Olympic Games? You never really know what you're going to get . . . and the sleeping giant never disappoints. I spent my time there, quite possibly my last visit for the foreseeable future as the Chinese GP is likely to be dropped from the calendar next year, quietly reflecting on my previous travels there in 2005 (not to mention last year's incredible trip!), and trying to absorb and understand as much of the people and the culture as I could. I sure as heck didn't get anything from the ruling party except a headache, haha, but overall I was very happy to have spent more time in the Far East, and I truly wish I could have extended my trip this year. There will be time, though, because the world isn't going anywhere right now. I am!
The Team converged under rainy skies in Frankfurt, Germany, meeting from all points across Spain and Italy. The riders would be flying in a day after us, as is the norm, and we were looking to land on Tuesday morning before lunch - perfect timing for an afternoon of traipsing through the ancient city's corridors of completely new and extravagant excesses, old world, traditional vendors peddling fruits and vegetables, and everything and anything the Orient could dream up and sell. I was stoked.
While our Lufthansa jet wasn't one of the newer ones, I still managed to get some rest and watch a kooky asian flick about two magicians and a girl in the middle. I think it was called magic boy, but I wasn't paying much attention and I thought the ending was a total cop out. We didn't have tv's built into the seats, so it was a bit of a strain to watch the movie up on high from my window seat. ARGH! How I loath the window seat (always opting for an aisle when given the option), especially for the "long haul" flights where I'm more likely to need to get up and use the bathroom. In any event, I woke up from one of my naps to find this noodle dish available for breakfast - and on a German flight! I always get a kick out of the Lufthansa Asia flights, because they have they're own branded chopsticks, and I think I still have a pair stashed away from more first year in GP's.
Eventually, the 12 hour jump from Frankfurt to Shanghai came to a close, but not before I'd taken the time to read a nice technical article concerning airflow, carbon fiber gliders, and the benefits of winglets, pictured here. It was great, and it gave me some things to think about.
We did land approximately on time, sometime about 10:30 AM, and I was pumped and ready to go. "Hit the decks running" was the foremost thought on my mind, and also on the rest of the Team's! We all powered through the Customs/Immigration counters, having our official Visa's checked, and then we were through to wait for our luggage. It was something of a fiasco just getting my Visa for China this year, as I'd detailed in an earlier episode of MotoGPod.com , but for those of you that missed it, it goes something like several hours (4.5) spent waiting in crowded lines in and out of the rain at the Chinese Consulate in BCN, then being informed that this year the rules are different for Americans wanting to enter China . . . and I'd need to travel back to the US to apply for and procure the Visa. I eventually prevailed, having found a sympathetic ear with an older lady working there who managed to arrange a Visa for me, although I was to learn later that the Visa cost has increased for Americans this year (presumably to take advantage of everyone headed over there to check out the Olympics). Anyway, Visa charges and hassles aside, we'd barely begun to collect our baggage and some material for the race when we ran into a couple more issues. The money exchange center didn't seem particularly prepared to have actual customers looking to exchange money (also, they enacted a new limit on the amount of hard cash you could convert, which threw quite a few teams for a loop), and they weren't overly concerned with what I would call "customer service". Time wasted and frustration mounting, we pulled all our gear through Customs and ran into a major snag. We managed to get someone curious about the box of team t-shirts we were bringing in to wear at the race, and this boiled over into a full blown Customs inspection and general haranguing. If I had to be completely honest, I would say that we were being "rolled" by the customs officials and they were nickle and dime-ing us for everything they could. It was weird because we were only allowed to deal with an intermediary agent, who then would bargain with Customs. Things went back and forth several times, and I noticed other material from Gresini and Kawasaki, and I would guess most of the teams had some kind of difficulty getting in to China. We paid our dues and were told to return to the airport several hours later in the late afternoon, when the Customs people had returned from their lunchbreak. It was infuriating, because there wasn't any way to deal with these people, and their language capabilities were limited. I just really came away with the feeling like they were robbing us with their system, and later in the paddock I would hear more and more stories of how the officials had selectively targeted certain teams after certain riders had made public comments and delayed or rejected their material. Fiasco.
At this point, we'd wasted several hours dealing with the Chinese officials (who also made us walk a mile just to talk, haha), and the entire team had been waiting for Felix and I. We got back with our group and since everyone had been sitting around starving (the thought of lunch in Shanghai had gone completely out the window), we ended up eating at Burger King for our first meal in China. UGH. I couldn't believe it, hahaha, but I had a burger and a coke and then it was time to get in our busses and roll.
You know you're in China when you see the Police scooters and the biggest cop bike is a 250cc Suzuki clone!
We had rented three big vans to transport the Team and our luggage everywhere for the time that we'd be a in China. None of us (foreigners) were legal to drive in China, and this is just another method of control that forces you to either take taxi's or rent a driver for the duration of your stay here. Our driver spoke absolutely zero Engrish, and if he was confused, he'd just pull over without saying anything (like on the Freeway!) and call his "supervisor" for advice, haha. We pulled out with three vans a'loaded and made our way to our hotel in An'ting, which was on the other side of Shanghai, and further out then the circuit. What should have been a 1.5 hour to 2 hour drive was delayed by heavy traffic and a lot of accidents, and we got to our hotel by 4 PM. It was looking more and more grim for us to get into the city that afternoon, since Felix and I had to go back to the airport and get our stuff out of Customs, so we seperated from everyone and headed back to Pudong at 4:30. Just a short break at the hotel to use the bathroom, or in Felix' case, make some calls and send a fax or two.
I won't say how bummed I was that I had wasted an entire day dealing with these jerks, but I will say that I was quite bummed, haha. It's amazing to see how different the level and quality of life is in this country. Massive, monolithic structures, luxury hotels and shopping malls, burnt out industrial remains, houses made of dirt with tarps for roofs, it's simply incredible to see.
Maybe the first bit of light I had that evening was getting all of our gear out of the lock-up, and buying an actual, authentic Boba (Pearl Milk Tea drink) at the airport! The taste was unusual, nothing at all like my favorite place to get them, either on Clement St. in SF, or in Cupertino, San Jose.
The sun was setting as we left the airport, but Felix and I decided that we needed to have a real Chinese dinner so we headed into the city center. The pollution is so bad, you can look directly at the sun.
With the rush hour evening traffic, getting from the airport into the city took about an hour and a half, and by the time we disembarked, it was night proper. Here's a shot from one of the bridges headed into the center showing the skyline of Shanghai, the Tv Tower in the background, in the general direction of the Bund. THe most important thing in this photo are the barges and riverboats. You won't believe how much building material and earth/rocks/gravel is transported via river on these barges. There are streams and waterways criss-crossing the surrounding areas and at all moments of the day and night you can see these barges being loaded and unloaded.
Anyone who's been to People's Square in Shanghai should recognize this spot. Raffles! This is where we jumped out of our van, and since Felix needed to get some shopping done, I thought I'd take us through Xintiandi and Nanjing Road.
Unfortunately, while I was able to take a decent photo while balancing "karate kid" style on a post, I wasn't able to accurately remember exactly which way to go so I accidently took us up Huai Hai road instead. It's a street filled with luxury European boutiques and high end watch stores, and Felix commented that we could buy any of this stuff at any major city in the world. The difference being, the stores here were empty and devoid of customers.
We continued our walk up Huai Hai, with Felix dragging his computer/roller bag behind him, and headed off in search of bargain goods and adventure. I'd managed to contact my old friend, Scott, and unbelievably enough he lived on one of the upper cross streets of Huai Hai! In all of Shanghai! I still can't believe it, but it worked out great and when we continue the tale later this week you'll all see the little adventure that Felix and I had with Scott one night in Shanghai. Not to mention the rest of the week and the race! Lots more to come, so stay tuned!
Happy Mother's Day to everyone out there who has brought life into this world and continues to nourish and encourage that growth! This goes out to the two most incredible women in my life, my Mother, who braved a new world and raised two strong and healthy sons, and my girlfriend, Michelle, who continues to teach me what it means to be a man. A special, appreciative "Happy Mother's Day" to all the mothers out there who visit this website and share their love and enthusiasm for motorcycle racing with their children (Kathy, Terri, you all know who you are!).
I've spent the past week thinking a lot about my feelings concerning China and preparing a huge, double post about the last MotoGP race to take place at Shanghai - but now is the not the time to think about motorcycles and racing - now is the time to give your loved ones a hug and let them know how much they mean to you!