Saturday, September 29, 2012

Closing the loop...

This past weekend Hannah and I made our way back to Maine to "close the loop" on our unfinished mission from the cross country trip, namely to pour the Pacific Ocean water we collected into the same spot that Hannah visited when we embarked on the trip last year.

The only thing that made it difficult was that this time when we got to the very spot, it was high tide, so the rocks she had clambered down to were under about 4-5 feet of water!

After the water was poured we rode into Portland and had a Black Fly Stout at Gritty's Brewpub. That stout is really sensational, and worth a trip from wherever.

A brief stop on the Kancamagus Pass.

Two of these bikes started the XC trip, only one completed it.

Tucked in for the night at Bill's, along with his YZ250 and a couple vintage Yamaha's.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ducati Diavel

Earlier this summer I received an invitation to participate in a Cycle World "Ten Best Riding Experience". I must've said yes, 'cause I got a confirmation that I'd been selected to come down to Danversport Yacht Club just north of Boston with a friend to ride a Ducati Diavel.

Hannah and I rode down on Friday to check this thing out. It was a beautiful day and we had a nice ride down followed by a bite to eat, then we went to the Ducati tent and hung out until it was our turn to ride. We got a quick overview of the design goal from one of the Ducati reps, followed by a brief talk about the bike and why it was chosen as one of the Cycle World ten best for both 2011 and 2012 by Blake Connor, Senior Editor at Cycle World.

After that we walked out to the bikes and got a quick tutorial on how to change between the three different ride modes, "urban" "something or other" and "sport".
Before I knew what was going on, the lead rider was heading out.

The factory rep helping me set up the ride mode.

There were about 8 riders in our group and I let most of 'em go in front so I could follow behind Hannah, and Blake was riding behind me. We had been asked to start out in Urban mode with a measly 100 HP, then switch to whatever we wanted once we got on the highway. I complied with this and was still reasonably impressed with 100 HP.

One of the first things I noticed once we were underway was that this bike is indeed very agile. It was fun dodging manhole covers and pavement cracks, and I noticed that everyone ahead of me thought so too. It looked like a bunch of riders weaving around and gassing the bikes in preparation for a road race.

Once we got a little further into the ride I switched up to full power mode and hit the gas a few times. I remembered from the overview that the Testastretta engine develops 162 HP at around 9,000 rpm. It became clear to me that I'd never see anything close to 9,000 rpm on this ride, since we were on public 2 lane roads for most of the 40 mile loop. I had to content myself with several short acceleration tests, and when I say short, this bike accelerates so quickly that you just can't have enough room in front of you on public roads to really see what it'll do. I was catching up to the group in seconds and at high speed.

The bike is so un-intimidating to ride. If I were perched on a Ducati Superbike with this engine I'd be intimidated as all get out, but the Diavel has such an easy riding position that you feel more in control of the power, leading with your hands. Just dial in how much you want and back off when you want, as opposed to the Superbike position where you're looking through the top of your faceshield and you're leading with your head.

The Cycle World people (Blake and Tonia) and the Ducati folks were great, they thanked us for participating and seemed genuinely pleased that we'd made the trip.

Hannah getting ready to ride.

After the ride.

Hannah got some attention from the rep.

We had a longish ride home since we caught rush hour traffic leaving Mass and into N.H., but it was a great day of riding. I just wish I knew what 162 HP @ 9,000 RPMs feels like...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Stateline Hare Scramble, Hoosick Falls N.Y.

I raced a Hare Scramble on Sunday, in Hoosick Falls, which is once again nestled in the foothills of the Taconic Mountains along the NY/VT border. It makes for a very nice drive on state highways rather than Interstate the whole way.

The track was a 6 mile loop this time, and the idea was to get 5 laps in within 90 minutes. I was only able to complete 4 laps in the timeframe allowed. It was a great track and I did have a good time out there. The weather was just about perfect although it was a bit warm, and very dry which made for very dusty conditions, particularly at the start.

This was a NETRA event, and they usually have a very good turn out. This one was no exception and the hosting club had lots of volunteer staff to assist with parking and sign up. It was a very well run show.
This is only about half the total turnout for the day.

I started in the front wave again, in the "Super Senior C" class. Had a decent start and as I said, the dust was so thick that you really couldn't go too crazy trying to pass even if you wanted to for the first half mile or so. Once we got into the woods the visibility got a little better and we started to separate a little bit. I was feeling pretty good and then had an inexplicable crash on a short hill climb. Nothing serious, but I lost a few places while I was restarting. Then the next wave of riders started catching us and for the rest of the lap I was moving over to let the fast guys through.

On the second lap I was feeling some arm pump and fatigue. I came around one muddy stream crossing and had a nice open straight ahead when I noticed a guy waving both hands at me. I glanced at him while I was pinning the throttle, hit a root in the middle of the trail that I hadn't seen 'cause I was distracted by the guy waving his hands, and got deflected into a bunch of trees on the left side of the trail where a couple other guys had crashed and were lying with their bikes. I added mine to the pile. After a couple seconds of daze and confusion, I picked my bike up, did a quick inventory and determined that by some miracle none of the broken plastic strewn around was off of me or my bike. The only thing I felt was water gushing all over me from my hydration pack, which actually felt pretty good once I figured out it wasn't something worse.

Anyway I got back into the race and started feeling pretty good, had a good race with a dude in front of me for most of the 3rd lap, passed him right before the start of the 4th lap on a tricky steep descent, and then stalled the bike on one of the hill climbs after the staging area and he passed me again, but I think I got him in the woods later.

The unofficial results showed me 7th in class (out of 13), and 73rd overall out of 115. I'd have liked to finish higher but I rode as well as I could, so I can live with it.