Repsol Honda Team At the Top on Day Two in Sepang

repsol_hondaThe Repsol Honda team continued to put in fast laps around the Sepang track today. The three Repsol Honda riders, Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, and Andrea Dovizioso, held three of the top four spots at the end of the second day of testing for the MotoGP riders in Malaysia.

Casey Stoner led the practice session yesterday, but today it was his teammate Dani Pedrosa who took the top honors. Pedrosa was the first, and for the time being the only rider to set a lap time below 2’01”.

“I think it’s the first time I’ve ridden so fast on this track, but you’re just fresh in the morning and I did four very good first laps,” said Pedrosa. “I was not looking for a time, but I saw that the track conditions were good and I pushed. The closer you get to the limit, the clearer the changes you are doing on the bike become, which lead you in the right direction.

“Today I tried the new engine, which has improved from Valencia, some chassis configurations and rear shocks. Tomorrow the plan is to continue comparing both bikes and it would be great to come away with the chassis and engine decided for the next test.”

Stoner was the next across the line, more than a half second behind his teammate.

“Yesterday we really didn’t expect the best time, today we expected a bigger difference with the soft tyre – but with the chassis we chose we just couldn’t get the best out of the tyre,” said Stoner. “Tomorrow maybe we can focus a little more to compare the chassis again and then see which direction to go from there. We’ve got a few other small things here and there but they can wait until the next test. Now I’m starting to understand the bike a bit better and when I ride it, it feels more like home.”

Ben Spies took the third place spot today in Malaysia, but was followed by another Repsol Honda rider. Andrea Dovizioso claimed the fourth place spot, and was able to do some further work on the RC212V.

“I’m satisfied with the work done today, Dovizioso said. “We have a good base that works well on different tracks. We started comparing the 2010 and 2011 front fork again and decided to stick to the 2011 version because it allows me to brake harder even if a small vibration still remains in the middle of the corner. I’m very happy with the pace I had today, but I am still not happy with my ability to improve my lap time when I try to push harder on the softer tyre.”

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Firstgear Kilimanjaro Glove and Kilimanjaro Air Glove Review

Firstgear and the Kilimanjaro name have been synonymous with touring, sport touring and adventure touring riders for years.  In 2011 First gear re-designed the Kilimanjaro jacket and released two new pairs of gloves to complement this benchmark of the industry jacket.  With the KJ jacket and gloves, any rider can span all four seasons of riding, or extreme riding when combined with the Firstgear Warm-N-Safe heated liners.

Kilimanjaro Gloves

Kilimanjaro 2011 glove:

The 2011 Kilimanjaro glove retails for $89.95 and is an all-new design.  The KJ glove features a Waterproof/Breathable Hipora membrane, and a 330D Cordura gauntlet with an integrated storm cuff to keep out the elements.  The palm is comprised of Pittards WR110X leather which is treated to be both water and wind resistant while remaining breathable.  The Kilimanjaro glove is designed to be flexible and maintains excellent rider feel over the bike’s controls.  Other features include TPU injected knuckle protection, a Velcro wristband closure and a wiper blade on the left thumb.  This wiper is extremely convenient when encountering the elements.  Do not overlook the 40 gram insulation, Bemberg cool lining, reflective safety piping and box construction with tapered fingers for a comfortable fit.

Also new for 2011 on the entire Firstgear glove line is a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty.


Kilimanjaro Air Gloves

Kilimanjaro Air 2011 glove:

Moving on to the little brother of the Kilimanjaro glove, the Kilimanjaro Air retails for $69.95. This glove has most of the same construction features as its big brother, but in a vented, non-waterproof version with a Clarino palm.  This glove is designed for spring and summer riding when you have the liner removed and all the vents open on your Kilimanjaro jacket.

With both of these gloves in your arsenal of touring weapons, you can wear your Kilimanjaro jacket year round and rotate the Kilimanjaro glove and Kilimanjaro Air glove according to weather.

Also shop at Competition Accessories for all your motorcycle gear and motorcycle helmets.

Quick look: IMS 2011

ThruxtonFor three days every January, the International Motorcycle Show transforms the far west edge of Manhattan into its own world of leathers, tattoos, gear heads and a sea of chrome. It’s the fashion week of the motorcycling world; enthusiasts from tri-state area (and beyond) come out to ooh and ahh over the new models on the red carpet, and to rub elbows with the celebrities of the motorcycle world.

I had only a couple of hours a couple Saturdays ago to push my way through the crowds and glimpse what we’ll be seeing on the roads in 2011. Not all that caught my eye was brand new, some just got a nice little facelift from last year. Here are a few highlights…

In the Ducati arena, everyone was swooning over the new Diavel, undeniably good-looking but a little thick for my tastes; instead I drifted towards the more minimalistic Hypermotard that’s been in the Ducati line-up since 2007 and comes in both an 1100 and a 796 version. The red trellis framing brought focus to the nice geometry of the bike, and performance-wise Ducati calls the Hypermotard a mix between “manners and madness” – a descriptor perfect for my riding personality.

Over at Honda were a couple of custom collaborations with Cobra Engineering – the Honda-Cobra Tracker and the Honda-Cobra Scrambler – both build-ups of the Shadow RS750 that call back to a bygone era of street racing. The $30K tags set them well out of the range of most budgets, but the more accessible 2011 lineup of Shadows sat just a few feet away, and while nothing was radically different in their design, props to the Honda design team for consistently producing bikes that are clean, classic & pretty.

This show was the first time I’d been on a Triumph Bonneville, which my Brooklyn sensibilities had me set to love – instead I found that for someone who’s 5’9”, it’s very short. I switched to the new Thruxton – a true café racer with attitude. At a full three inches higher, it was a better fit, and the detail in kickback design was consistent down to the white-faced panel instrumentation. Another bystander described the Thruxton as “a brand new vintage bike”. If I were going for a new ride in 2011, this might be the one.

Tucked into the middle were the Russian Urals, the sidecar bikes that are still stopping every passer-by with their timeless and undisputable cool factor. And in 2011, they’re looking to-die-for cool; I had sudden visions of driving off into the sunset with the orange and silver Patrol, geared up in goggles, bomber jacket, scarf flapping behind in the wind. It’s old-timey character must be hitting a strong nostalgic nerve elsewhere too: the company is expecting a roaring 30% increase in sales in 2011.

Finally, the Harley arena. On a quick pass the only real standout design note was the proliferation of matte paint. But another look brought me to the Blackline, Harley’s newest bike that had the whole place buzzing (especially after Thursday’s no-holds-barred opener at Don Hills). And for good reason – it’s stunning, easily the most eye-catching Harley design I’ve seen. The company has lowered the seat and pared down the design (calling it “Lean as wire, hard as iron and dark as a tar road at midnight”) to appeal to a younger audience. When I saw that it’s approaching 700 pounds and being marketed with this video, it’s pretty clear which half of the younger audience this one is targeted towards. We’d love to see one of these in a more sensible size for ladies, Harley. (Just please don’t paint it pink.)

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Dorothy Seabourne and Her Silver Ghost

Dorothy Seabourne's I Did, You Can Too_BookCoverMany people start to slow down as they age; it is a simple fact of life that during the years we are alive, with every breath we take, we are slowly (hopefully) marching towards the grave. Don’t let that depress you, it is just the inescapable result of being alive – a philosopher once said that fearing death makes about as much sense as fearing birth, both are inevitable and unavoidable.

One of the better overall ways to look at this is to see it as the limited time you have to enjoy this world and to use that as motivation to get out and do just that – live. That’s how Dorothy Seabourne seems to understand it; at 70-years-young (yes, I wrote that), and a member of the historic Motor Maids organization, she is out on her own 2005 Honda Gold Wing showing the rest of us what living looks like.

Seabourne decided that her life would be a wonderful inspiration for others who can’t seem to get themselves out of their sedentary and fearful mindset, so she wrote and self-published I Did, You Can Too ($20, Trafford Publishing). In the collection of short stories, Seabourne lets her readers hear some of the amazing stories she has lived through on her many journeys. She has toured all over Canada, the United States and Europe in her 30 years of riding, has amassed over 800,000 kilometers on seven different bikes, and has some incredible experiences to relate.

The idea for the book came to her as she would ride around and get regularly questioned about her choice of transport and the life she has lived while riding it. Most everyone would be startled when she would pull up on her Silver Ghost, pull off her helmet and expose her well-coiffed whiteMotor Maids emblem hair.

Seabourne’s purpose is in putting forth the idea that if you have a dream, or you want to see or do something, you should go out and make it real – don’t sit back and let the world pass you by. Of course, this message is directed squarely at those of the female gender as it is to them that she speaks. But, anyone can see that confidence is the primary idea Seabourne wishes to inspire, and that has no gender.

Maybe many people take the time we have here on Earth for granted, maybe not. But one thing we know for certain, Dorothy Seabourne doesn’t, and she is trying to teach others that they shouldn’t either. At least now the next time you get passed on your favorite backroad by a svelte woman on a pearly white Honda Gold Wing with ‘lots of chrome,’ you won’t be so surprised to see Seabourne dismounting her Silver Ghost at the next gas stop.

Dorothy Seabourne’s I Did, You Can Too is available here.

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Day in Fairbanks: Hot Springs and Gold Nuggets

1156418296_ma2PS-S-1The free day in Fairbanks is not just for the adventure riders. There is plenty to keep you busy without conquering the Arctic Circle. If you want to take it easy in Fairbanks, head down to the Visitors Center located in the old downtown area. There, you can find out about all sorts of activities ranging from gold mine tours to paddle wheel cruises. The Visitors Center is located on the banks of the slow moving Chena River and is a pretty tranquil location in general, even though this is the second largest city in the state.

Golden History of Chatanika, Alaska

Fairbanks started because of gold – big gold. They say the largest deposits of gold of the entire gold rush could be found here. Every direction you take out of town shrouds remnants of this past culture. Rusting dinosaurs of gold rush equipment lie dormant in overgrown thickets here and there, off the main highways.

If you like gold rush history and old machinery, but hate organized tours, get on your bike and go to Chatanika. It’s all paved, all the way. Head north out of town about 7 miles (and don’t worry, since there is only one road out of town, you’ll know you are on it!) until you get to the crossroad gasoline station/town called Fox. You know you are on the right track when you pass a parking lot off to the right where you can walk up and touch the Alaska Pipeline. If you’re interested in this tremendous conduit, stop by and check it out.

At Fox, take a right at the four-way, and you are now on the Steese Highway. Hold on, because here come some of the best paved sweepers in the state of Alaska. When you come back down from the hills, keep your eye out for Chatanika Lodge. Looking at a map, you’ll see the town of Chatanika on some maps in bold block letters. When you pass a lodge with a broad parking lot at road level off to the right side of the road, beware. You are already headed OUT of town!

Visiting Chatanika Lodge

Ronny and Shirley have been running the Chatanika Lodge for years, and when you go in and meet them and see the decorum of the place, you may think that you have gone back in time. And, you may take over an hour just to soak it all in. From a 57 Chevy surrounded by pin-ball machines to an outhouse on skis, this place has it all. The Chatanika Lodge is one of the few places in Alaska that has a stuffed bear on rollers.

Ronny makes a mean omelet, so if you are in the mood, keep some space empty in your gas tank for a generous meal. Across the Steese sits an abandoned dredge – a throw-back from another time. Until 50 years ago, this Goliath dug, washed and dispersed gravel. Three stories high with ability to make its own tools, it was the work horse of the Chatanika River Valley. There are only two dredges of this kind left in the Fairbanks area, and one of them is an official tour.

This one lies completely abandoned, and anyone is welcome to explore around the bowels of it without limit of time or risk. Before you leave Chatanika Lodge, ask Ronnie to play the video about the very dredge that sits across the road. All in all, a pretty fascinating way to spend part of a day.

Chena Hot Springs

There are three natural hot springs that are connected to the highway system in Alaska. If you wake up in Fairbanks, you are 60 miles away from one of them. Chena Hot Springs has been spitting out very hot water from below the earths surface, without a permit, for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. Lately, humans have found a way to build an out door pool, bar, hotel, camp ground, landing strip and ice bar around it.

Quirky almost nails it, but this oasis offers it all including algae. I say algae, because the moose around there just stroll around the grounds, sucking it out of the warm pools on the property. In Chena, after enjoying your Martini in a glass made of ice, don’t be surprised when a moose walks right through your volleyball game. It’s Alaska, after all.

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