Archive for the ‘riding’ Category

Moto-camping in Appalachians-Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Ride | Adventure Motorcycle Ride

Moto-camping in Appalachians around the Nantahala and Smoky Mountains. Camping off a motorcycle is not as easy when you go off-road.

Moto Fishing | Motorcycle Camping Adventures

A quick afternoon trip up into the Bankhead forest, testing out a cheap Wal-Marx fishing rod. Overall a very successful trip, I failed to bag an edible fish but it was a great day riding.

Camping in Cheaha and the Talladega

Nice weekend on the ridge

Finalizing the new moto setup

The WRONG Bike

I have always been fascinated by the idea of “the wrong bike”. Ever since I started taking the wrong bike to the wrong place, I have enjoyed watching other people do the same thing. It also brings up the idea – what makes the “right” bike? Why can’t you ride a cruiser or sportbike down a dirt road, or a trail? Why do you have special bikes for certain types of riding? What makes one bike better than the other? I think the video below illustrates suspension issues that limit the sportbike dramatically, but the guys is STILL have fun on the wrong bike, and it rarely should limit you from taking the wrong bike down the wrong path too maybe?

Motorcycle Flattrack Racing in Alabama – it’s back

Is it for real?  C’mon, this can’t be for real, unless it is a bunch of old rednecks in a

 

cornfield?  Dirt track racing died out in the 70’s did it not?  I picture the old-timers drifting sideways on the old Harleys and Triumphs, smacking into those old wooden fences and tumbling into the crowd.  So I always assumed it died out because all the riders died out, from crashing or old age.  Sanity prevents newer riders from engaging in this activity – right?

For the last year or so I have been hearing rumors, seeing pictures and even had a few invitations to attend some flat track events in Alabama.  Well the stars aligned Saturday – it was an amazing, cool spring day – prefect for the ride to Toney Al, to attend my FIRST ever dirttrack event at Beaver Creek Speedway.

As I roll into the gate, the kid’s cart racers are coming out, just having finished their events.  I see the bikes are already lined up under ease-ups, and it looks like a smaller version of the Barber Vintage Festival paddock, sans oil-drip-pans.  I feel I am flashing back to an earlier time.  I hear The Stones, and Led Zep playing in my head, a cloud of Turkish drifts in the air.  Then I park the bi ke, and snap back into reality.

The crowd seems very laid back, and after talking to the guy with the microphone, it seems even cooler than ever.  Just a bunch of cool guys that like to race, they are all friends, that miss the days of racing around a banked oval track.  Pat Bedford, President of Tennessee Valley Flattrackers, gave me a short history of the revival of the sport, after a decade or more of absence.  He and some friends just decided to put something back together, and made it happen.

 

The Vintage racers

vintage motorcycle racing in alabama

Lucky for me, we also were treated to the vintage machines with AHRMA racing on the same day.  It was great to see the modified machines, singles, twins, 4 stroke, 2-smoke, all fun to watch.  Talk about a flash back.  Even got to experienc

 

e legendary racer Dave Aldana show everyone how it was and is done in the hard-packed dirt.  Truly a cool experience, and a great way to spend an evening, and I highly recommend to anyone into any kind of racing.  Also a cool event if you just like bikes.

Accessible racing

One thing Pat stressed is how simple and affordable it is to get started in FT racing.  Drop the suspension, cheap road tires, and $20, and you can race too.  Besides the vintage bikes that were there, most others were dirtbike/motards that looked mostly stock – not a single $10k race bike in the mix.  In fact, he also stress

 

ed that it is SO affordable that even kids can race, XR100s with knobbies can run out there.  I really like the idea of accessible racing, and even better racing with your buddies.

 

This might also be the experience that all of our motard-crowd is looking for.  With cheap trackdays typically starting around $150, and don’t even get me started about WERA – this is accessible racing for just about everyone in the family.  Leave the GIXXER at home, pick up a cheap motard/dirtbike and get out there.  Man that looks like fun.

My year of living carefully, dangerously

OK, so it’s been a while since I’ve posted and shared, and I’m sorry about that.  Thought I’d do a little sharing here today, when I can make myself sit still at the computer.

Since December 15, 2013, I’ve done 17 track-days.  This November alone, I did 3 track-days, one of which coincided with a race school (my first of many, I hope).  These numbers should show you what niche I’ve settled in to…although I am by no means giving up the street (as many on the track pipe do)!

As some of you may remember, I started riding a motorcycle in late June/early July of 2013.  That’s a year and a half ago.  A few things I’ve learned about myself:  damn, am I a determined, overthinking stubborn ass!  Thanks to a wonderful crew of guys (one of whom is on Bama Rides too: Lostinbama), we’ve all helped each other help each other, on our path toward becoming racers and better sportbike riders.  We each have varying years of experience and different natures when attacking this extremely challenging sport, but we are all highly motivated and very determined to get there.

Anyways, more about me   I’m sure some of you know that I’m eager to learn, but I am no risk taker; I take things slow, always taking care not to push my mental and physical limits.  At the same time, my head is the one thing holding me back.

I have good mental days and bad mental days at the track, and more often, I have a day with good and bad sessions back to back.  Now what does that say about how much influence your head has on your riding??!!    More recently, I’ve had more good days than bad, or more good sessions than bad sessions, and at this last trackday, I learned that I can have a bad mental session and still do well lap time-wise, which means I’m getting faster.

Earlier in the year, I would write down a few tangible goals before each trackday, of things to work on to improve.  For example, I’d say “1. Get my head lower,” or “2. let off the throttle and brake later,” etc.  That stuff should be easy; just follow the instructions, right?  No.  Until I get my head straight, until I let most of the fears go, my mind will only let me go so fast.  I must work on my head first, and then I can work on those other things.  Since the realization of this (the crew may have had something to do with that epiphany), my goals have since changed before a trackday.  They are now to relax, have fun and trust my bike/tires.  Some of you naturals or those who’ve been riding since before you left the womb may think those goals are silly or too easy, but that is not the case for everyone.

The bump up

I got my bump from Novice to Intermediate after an evaluation by SportBike Track Time (“STT,” the track-day organizer) at Little Tally in July.  At that point, I had already purchased a Novice slot at Road Atlanta in August, but decided to stay in Novice because I had never been to that track…and thank God that I did!  I intimidated myself about the unfamiliar track.  People joke that it’s a few drag strips with some turns in between them, making for a fast track.  It has an extremely long back straight, (in which you can literally top out your bike), that ends in a 90* left turn.  The turns are mostly 90* and tight chicanes, unlike the sweeping curves of Barber.  In the first few sessions, I didn’t like it, and it showed in my pace.  Finally, the rain came!     Why was I so happy about this?  Well, me and one of the guys went out in this pouring rain (we were the only two to brave the track while it was raining) and cruised around the track at a no-pressure speed (as you can imagine).  I was finally able to see the track, instead of trying to fly through it.  It calmed my mind and my perceived “this is too fast!” diminished.  After that session, the track had mostly dried (love the South!) and I had two decent sessions: I felt good, looked good, and did well.  I’ll be forever grateful to the rain for salvaging my day at a track that I was ready to write-off.

I did my first track-day in Intermediate at Barber in late September, and damn was it 180* to the end of the Road Atlanta day in August.  I overwhelmed myself with the idea of now being the slow person in the faster group.  I was tense, and it showed.  I don’t like thinking about this day much…

Next up, Intermediate at Little Tally.  I don’t remember much from this day, so it wasn’t a standout, but I think I did OK, meaning I had some good and some bad sessions.

Then, Barber on October 19th.  I redeemed myself from the awful day back in September!  I was more relaxed, mentally and physically.  My times were more on par.  I had more good sessions than I had been having at previous track-days.

Three Track-days, one month

Now, November:  the month where I did three track-days at three different tracks, and one of them was a race school.
November 2nd:  Little Tally.  And it was a good day!  I had several good sessions, and my times were consistent, which is a good sign.

Then, November 9th.  I did the Jason DiSalvo Speed Academy (JDSA) at Road Atlanta.  When JDSA does a single-day school that coincides with a STT day, you have to have earned your Intermediate or Advanced bump.  As you can imagine, I was a little nervous about riding Intermediate there as my first and last day at Road Atlanta was in Novice, and I didn’t do well for much of it.  For the first session of the day, we did a lead-follow, where one or two of us at a time follow one of the JDSA control riders.  It was brisk that morning, and JDSA students were the only ones braving the cold track initially in that first session, so that forced us to take it slow and ease our tires up to temp.  I followed AMA Daytona Sportbike racer #21, Elena Meyers, and she is tough lol.  There were a couple times when I unknowningly deviated from her line, and she waved me back behind her.  She eased us around the track, and although it was pretty fast for me, it seemed too easy for her (well, it was, let’s be honest), and I guess I felt the lack of pressure, so I rode calmly and felt great.  That was the start I needed to the day!  It sealed my attitude for the remainder of the day, as I questioned my ability to comfortably ride in Intermediate at such a new track at the beginning of the day.  In the county that Road Atlanta is in, they have a 2-hour quiet time on Sundays from 10am-12pm, so after that initial session, we had an almost 2-hour classroom session, taught by none other than AMA Daytona Sportbike racer #40 and co-founder of the school, Jason DiSalvo.  His biggest thing is body position (Google a picture of him, and you’ll understand why), and although I knew that body position is important in safely going faster, I didn’t realize that it could make me mentally and physically relaxed!  He tweaked some things about my body position throughout the day, and well, the rest is glorified fun history!

That day, I had a f’ing great session every time I went out, and I never pitted in from being tired because I was so relaxed (and not tense from my fingertips to my toes like I often am) and because his body position is so efficient (this last weekend at Barber, I learned that you can still get tired, as Barber’s long-ass sweepers take a toll on you no matter how efficient your body position is).  I was smiling every time I rode in from a session, and couldn’t stop grinning even after the day was over.  That was a fucking great day!!!!!   I’m grinning just thinking about it…

Jason DiSalvo to the left (I’m taller than him btw, even if by just a little bit) and Brian Stokes to the right (the other co-founder of JDSA):

 

 

Lap Times

Road Atlanta is 2.54 miles long, and Barber is 2.38 miles long, but because Road Atlanta is much faster, mph-wise, the lap times are actually very similar.  I pulled times off my video, and I did a consistent lap time, andit was faster than my fastest recorded time at Barber.  Remember, this was my second day at this track, and I had ridden Barber 5 times previous to this day, so it goes to show the improvement that I made in Jason’s school.  The improvements I experienced, speed-wise and mentally, made it worth every penny!

This last weekend at Barber, I was a little tense throughout much of the day, yet I still managed to knock over 5 seconds off of my fastest recorded time!

Got all my important stickers on my new plastics:

 

 

I have improved a lot since I first started doing track-days, and even more since I first started riding period.  What’s more hopeful is that I am just getting started:  I see huge improvements still in my future.  I am nowhere near my highest ability, and I can’t wait to experience it when I get there.  I do have plans to race a little next year, so I’ve got lots to work on and many monies to save lol.

My last track visit of the year will be where it a

 

ll started:  Jennings GP in Jennings, FL, next weekend, December 6-7.  It’s going to be a great finish to my first 365 days of track riding, where I’ll get to see my improvement from Day 1 to Day 357 (8 days to the one-year anniversary of my first trackday).

I have improved a lot since I first started doing trackdays, and even more since I first started riding period.  What’s more hopeful is that I am just getting started:  I see huge improvements still in my future.  I am nowhere near my highest ability, and I can’t wait to experience it when I get there.  I do have plans to race a little next year, so I’ve got lots to work on and many monies to save lol.

Want to hear a sad story without anyone dying?

Very soon after I got out of high school, I joined the USAF. I was only 17, so my mommy had to sign consent for me :). The next training class for the job I chose did not start until the following year so I was on delayed enlistment and had about 9 months to have some fun. I knew just how I wanted to do it. I had my eye on the prettiest candy-apple red, white, and blue 1984 VF750 Interceptor I had ever seen.
But I was poor as dirt and had no money. At the same time, I was going on 5 years without a bike. So, I got me a job in a medical supply company warehouse in Decatur and borrowed the money for the bike from the only person in the family that had money….good ole uncle Joe. Desperate times / Desperate measures….and so forth.

Score!:

 

FZRatneedles_zpsdb11f9d6I rode as much as I could until the day I had to leave for basic training. Then it was off to tech school…..looonng training program. And by the time I finished the program, I had already been reading the cycle mags about Yamaha’s new attempt to compete in the “Big” sport bike market. I had already made up my mind by the time I got to Ellsworth AFB…Ima’ get me a FZR(1000….Genesis..oooh….Pure Sports….oooh oooh). The timing could not have worked out better. Uncle Sam was picking up and delivering my Interceptor. The local Yamaha dealer was due to get the FZR any day. And, before my Interceptor made it to the base, I had it sold to my best good buddy JT. I was living large on my $750.00/month and had saved up some money. And with the money from the Interceptor, plus what I had saved, I walked in the day they assembled it and laid down a whoppin’ $5400.00 cash and rode out on my brand new red, white, and blue 1987 FZR 1000.

 

My other buddies on base had already been talking smack about their Ninjas and GSXRs. And, while JT was putting around town and the base on his new (to him) Interceptor, I was out in the Black Hills getting acclimated to my new ride. In just a short time, I was teaching them Ninja and GSXR boys some fine lessons in humility….not that teaching lessons was the goal….it was just the inevitable playing out. The FZR was a superior machine and I was just barely lucky enough a rider to prove it. I gotta’ admit, it was a little fun to stiffle some of them cocky pie-holes. I was a Yamaha fan from 6 years old.

Within a few weeks, JT was ready to hit the Black Hills with the rest of us. We hit the Black Hills on a Saturday and burned up some twisties….waiting at every turn for JT. He was doing real good, we all thought, for his first time out on a fast ride.

Way too soon, it was time to head back home. It was a (mostly) casual ride back….but JT saw it as his chance to keep with the pack. Considering what we’d been doing all day, we didn’t think twice about it. We were so pumped up on adrenaline and young men’s (kids actually) general stupidity, we were out of the Black Hills and half way through Rapid City before we realized JT was missing.

d1427095-3793-45d0-8f40-3d4dde988bef_zpsb419a3c4Dead-gum….my heart went from Cloud 9 to hundred pound brick in about 2 seconds. There was a couple ways to get back into town so we split up. We had no idea, but JT was long on his way to the base hospital, and his beautiful candy-apple red, white, and blue Interceptor was back up in the hills at house where the folks that found him lived:

There were a few slick spots on Sheridan Lake Road and I just knew he must have went outside in one of the slippery curves….that’s where I’m headed!!!
Well, I was zippin’ back out of town, scanning side to side like a Cylon Raider, hoping to see JT in a parking lot or gas station or anything besides flat on the road. Still scanning left and right, feeling worse and worse by the minute. I looked ahead just in time to see two cars racing to the left turn signal (one already in the turn lane and one in my lane) then the loser of the race stop full in the road right in front of me. Holy crap!!! I’ll never stop that quick. I locked the rear and made my way to the ground….as I had done previously on many a dirt bike rides. I slid a short distance and tried to stand up….but I was still sliding and my shoes got good traction….and boy did I do a hard forward faceplant. Had a dang good helmet (even if it was a BMW flip-up). It held together fine and I got right back up…just lightly rattled. The FZR continued to slide on its shiny (realatively) new plastic, all the way underneath the stupid punk car. I was a stupid punk too so I’m not uncomfortable saying it like that.

 

FZR_wrecked2_zps5a3ca078All things considered, it could have easily been a lot worse. Just paint, stickers, and plastic. No frame damage at all…the FZR was just about perfectly parallel with the back end of the car when it impacted.

But what about JT….we still didn’t know. Well, the Po-Po that came to my crash told us he heard about JT and that he was OK and probably back at Ellsworth by now. Busted leg and maybe a crack in the sternum.

We were jubilant with relief. Eventually, the whole gang got caught up again and everyone was OK and happy that JT was not dead. We were no less stupid than when it all started and thought it would be cool to sneak in a get well soon present to our fallen pal.

FZR_wrecked_zps46b9636e

I think JT learned the most that day, although we never called it “Ride Your Own Ride”….we all kinda’ absorbed the spirit of that message and toned it down a little. And the competitiveness evolved more into who could sneak up and hit the other guy’s kill switch more than who could get to the waterfall at the end of Spearfish Canyon first. I used that old Beemer helmet as a teaching aid later on….it was eat up pretty good with road rash. There was no helmet law in SD and whenever a new riding buddy came along that was too cool to wear a helmet, I’d eventually drag it out and show ‘em. Most of the time it worked. –By kdtrull

JTinhospital_zpsdd2bcd57

All bikers are guilty until proven innocent

A few of you might remember I got a ticket July 3rd for “weaving” – No signal, a mile from my house, got it on video, and it was bullshit, I changed lanes 2x in 5 miles, but I wonder what the judge will say?  After talking to a few people, it appeared I had a good case.  The video showed there was a slim chance any video could have even seen my signals, since I could NOT see the Trooper’s signals in MY video.  So I decided to fight.  I put together a compelling case of the entire video, and some scree captures, with annotations and position of the vehicles in question.

 

What I was not really excited for the judge to see was the video of me passing the car in the left lane. It was fast. It was close. It was questionable. A judge might think it was reckless, and add another charge. That was my ONLY fear. But I decided to go for it anyway. I was charged with a crime I did not commit.

I showed for the date on the ticket. I told the judge I have video evidence I would like to present.

He set the date, and told me driving class would not be an option if convicted.
I told him yes sir.

While walking out of the courtroom, I mumbled “I would rather have my eyes gouged out than spend another Saturday listening to a driving professor again”

I hope he did not hear me.

I was in the courtroom for less than 2 minutes – I am looking forward to my day in court.

I like the judge.

 

I hate motorcycles

September 30 – my final appearance.
I got a nice parking spot. Confirmed bad form by B’ham’s Finest – I turn in and park on the sidewalk after receiving the thumbs up.

 

As I walk towards the courthouse, I notice my nemesis parked beside the building.  He is fiddling with something while he sits in AC comfort.

Maybe I should not have snapped this picture?

 

I walked thru the metal detectors and found myself inside the courtroom.

As I sat down I heard

 “Someone just rode in on a motorcycle……I HATE those things. Get you killed pretty quick.”

The statement roared from the bench. the judge noticed me, and he was NOT happy.

There were only 10 defendants in the courtroom so a giant clothed in moto-gear, carrying a back pack and a helmet stands out a bit. Yes, I guess he was talking to me – or at me.

I knew I was in trouble.

About 3 minutes later, the Trooper walks in. He looks at me, I give a head nod, and a big grin. The game begins.

Then as he walks past, I notice he is carrying a laptop….. A LAPTOP? You mean he actually has video footage?

What can it be? Is it any better than mine? I can’t see HIS signals in my video, how can he have any better evidence than mine?

The Trooper opens the laptop, and pulls up video. From what I can see at the back of the courtroom, the video is not any better than mine. But I am still worried. I did not expect him to have ANY video?

After 3 more minutes the judge says “You…. in the green shirt…..come on up!”

I grab the backpack and laptop, as I walk to the bench, the Trooper moves over towards me. The judge looks to him and says “Begin”

Trooper: Blah, blah blah….Mr Redman this, blah blah that.  He changed lanes and failed to signal.
Me: But I did signal, and I have video evidence.
Judge: Trooper, can you see him not signaling?
Trooper: Judge I zoomed in and out, but I could not see him signaling.
Me: He is 200 yards in front of me when I make the lane change, he can’t even see my bike, as I cannot see his car in my video.
Judge: How do you have video?
Me; I was filming while riding
Judge; What? How were you filming while riding?
Me: I always film while I am riding.
Judge: But HOW do you film while riding?
Me: I have a camera attached to my helmet, and it films automatically while I am riding…always.
Judge: {Confused}

So I pull up the laptop and present it to the judge to illustrate the distance.

Judge: Does your video show you signaling?
Me: No sir, you cannot see the signals from the rear
Judge: {pause}
Judge: {pause}
Judge: {pause}
Judge: {looks me in the eye}

I realize things are not going well………………..

But I also realize the Trooper has not shown HIS video…………..

What to do? Think fast Redman!

The judge looks back at me, then the Trooper……

Uhoh, pull something out – QUICK!!

ME: I do NOT fight tickets. I would not be here if I was guilty. I take my punishment when I am wrong, but I am not guilty your honor, and that is the only reason I am here.
Judge: {Looks at his computers, mouses, as if to look at my driving record}
Judge: Well, today is your lucky day, I am gonna give you the benefit of the doubt
Me: {mumbling something that I do not remember}
DA: You should be quiet now, you WON!
Trooper: I was not even gonna write you till you started arguing with me. {grinning}
Judge: Today you get the benefit of the doubt
Me: Thank you your honor

Then I start talking to the Trooper like we were old pals, and reliving the day, when the DA tells me to be quiet and leave.

JUSTICE SERVED in Birmingham Alabama – 9:15am Sept. 30, 2014
As I walk to the back of the courtroom to collect my gear, the judge roared:

” I hate motorcycles!”

Shelby Springs Alabama – another Alabama Ghost town

A few years back I visited Shelby Springs as part of the Alabama Ghost Town Project, but I never really found much information, or ruins, so I decided to go back and do it right this time.  The Shelby Springs Resort existed in 1839.  By 1855, a two story hotel was built.  During the Civil War, the facilities were used as a training center for the young Confederate soldiers.  Later it was converted to a hospital for wounded soldiers.  Many of the soldiers died at  the hospital, and were buried on the ridge overlooking the Springs.

The training facility was known as Camp Winn.  After being used to train Confederate soldiers, the hotel was turned into a 300 bed hospital.  From an account in Haunted Shelby County, the author describes the Sisters of Mercy having “turned the ballroom into a surgical ward.”  Over 900 soldiers were sent to the hospital at Shelby Springs and few spend eternity on the hilside above.  The next discovery I made was the Shelby Springs Confederate Cemetery.

 

The cemetery, just a few hundred yards above the springs on the hillside is very impressive.  Not as many headstones as you might think, but all are well taken care of an the grounds are manicured.  Most of the headstones I saw were “unknown”, but there were several granite markers that told the story.  In addition, it appears the graveyard may be haunted.  Certainly worth a trip.