I tried carrots, sticks and begging. I offered repeated hands-on opportunities with thousands of dollars of equipment (that I maintain just for their use), access to the latest industry standard training methods and information, flexible deadlines, and just about everything else imaginable. We’re at semester’s end and I’m exhausted trying to get students to take an active role in their learning. As consumerist thinking gets more deeply embedded in our culture more and more students think I’m some kind of educational store clerk who isn’t doing a good job of serving them. The only relationship they can understand me having with them in the classroom is that of an employee. This isn’t only a student perception. Many of the powers that be would love to see a de-professionalization of the teaching profession (it’s cheaper!). This is a current social trend. Disaffected students looking to control how I assess them fall into two camps: the risk averse academic and an exciting new kind of student: the five-oh (a term coined by seniors at my school for a student who is aiming for a grade in the forties because they know it’ll be rounded up to a pass). You don’t have to do an awful lot to get a mark in the forties. You can miss weeks of class, not hand in major assignments and fail tests but still pull off a forty. You also tend to do a wonderful job of poisoning a classroom when this is your approach. What drove me around the bend this week was several of these poisonous five-oh’s approaching me to complain about their term grade. One seventeen year old who had missed three weeks of class and failed to hand in multiple unit summatives, all while playing games on the class PC and ignoring instruction even when he was there, approached me to demand an explanation for his terrible grade. It was somehow my fault that he categorically refused to do anything useful. I suggested we look at his participation in the current group-study project for the final exam. He hadn’t even signed up for it – he is nothing if not consistent. I told him something that’s as much a survival mechanism for me as it should be a consolation for him:
“look, you don’t care. You seem to be OK with that, and I can live with it too, but not if you’re going to come up here whining about grades you haven’t earned. The grade you have is charity, but you come up here demanding more. If you’d have put in any kind of effort at all I’d be doing back-flips trying to help you, but you didn’t, and you still aren’t. Your grade is reflection of your terrible work ethic. I don’t know what you know, but what I’ve seen suggests it isn’t much. That’s also a result of your work ethic. Are we done here?”
It turns out we were done there. Less bothersome because they don’t actively work to dismantle the entire learning apparatus of education is the risk-averse academic. I’ve run into ‘you don’t teach properly‘ frustrated student thinking before. This is inevitably spouted by a relatively successful student who has been taught to be a passive consumer of learning in an overly structured and systemic classroom. These students tend to be academic kids who have figured out the game, and like the five-oh, they are looking to exploit it while doing as little as possible themselves. You give me pointless, linear, obvious information, I consume it then regurgitate it for you. You think I’m very smart and give me an ‘A’. Marking exams the other day I came across just such a ‘you didn’t teach us anything’, they got this in the response section:
“I didn’t really teach you? I have provided you with gigs and gigs of material and thousands of dollars of hands on equipment in an environment designed to support everyone from experienced to brand new learners. If you think learning is someone putting ideas in your head you’ve misunderstood learning (telling people what to think is indoctrination). You learn when you internalize information, and that happens best when you are the one discovering it. You can’t own knowledge you haven’t earned. Learning isn’t a handout, you’re not a passive consumer of learning, it’s an active endeavour on the part of the student. If you’re waiting for someone else to tell you what to think, you aren’t learning anything at all.”
This is a relatively successful student who refused to make mistakes and sat there passively, waiting for clarity. Clarity means getting concise, linear directions that make clear a pointless exercise (so you can follow the pattern and get an ‘A’). Guess what his parents do for a living? Yep, they’re teachers. Fortunately for him (if not for learning itself), he’ll find many teachers more than happy to play the game with him. I encourage and reward failure and admire brave attempts at understanding stochastic processes that defy easy description. I guess I’m a nightmare of a teacher.
Between the insidious five-ohs and the ever-so-smart risk-aversers, I’m exhausted. I’d day dream (as other high school teachers do) about teaching in post secondary, but this consumerist thinking has infected it too, with helicopter parents demanding to know what they’re paying for when their university child (in their twenties) gets a low grade. I’d prefer to teach high school anyway, you get to help a student find their way from the ground up. When it works it’s very rewarding.
You’d think that teaching an optional subject like computer technology would get you out of the five-oh infection, but thanks to guidance dropping kids into a class they have no background in just to fill up their time tables, and the five-ohs themselves seeking out courses that they think will be easy (computer engineering? that’s video games, right?), I’ve had a rough semester. The next one doesn’t look much better since I’ve already found half a dozen students parachuted into senior computer engineering classes without the required requisite (computer engineering? that’s playing video games, right?).
I’ve spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of my own time getting comp-tech certified as a teacher and building a department up. This year is the first time I’m teaching a full schedule of computer-technology courses, but half way through it I find myself wishing I’d never left teaching English. I thought that teaching computer technology (a passion I’ve had since I was a child) would be thrilling, a chance to help other kids like I was develop into capable engineers and technicians, but between risk averse passivity and the rising tide of learning poisonous five-ohs, I’m left gasping for air.
The model was made with the OccipitalStructure Sensor 3d Scanner. I’m trying different editing programs. I used the 3d Builder integrated into Windows 10 to edit out the extra bits captured by the scanner. It’s quite easy to use and has some pretty good editing tools. If you’re trying 3d modelling for the first time it’s not a bad place to start (and it’s included in Windows 10!).
The file is shared on Sketchfab, which I find to be an easy way to do presentation editing and sharing of a 3d model. We’re using Blender in class, so I’ll be cranking out some Blender motorcycle models in the next couple of weeks. The trick is going to be to get them looking life like rather than digitally modelled. I wonder how you model patina…
CBC’s Spark had an interview with Scott Barry Kaufman this week about his theories on creativity. His identifiers for creativity include solitude, introspection, daydreaming and having new and varied experiences. This reads like a laundry list of things education does poorly, or not at all.
The linear and systemic nature of learning in the education system is always on my mind as summatives happen and semesters end. As I watch the system trundle towards final assessment (which means a lot of number generation), I’m always left wondering where the learning went.
Sometimes the internet feels like a meme confluence. In this case related ideas of creativity and play mix together, making me question education’s intent in designing learning environments that stifle both things. From the education system’s perspective, play is what you do when you’re not learning, that’s why they call it recess, yet Kaufman and a number of other thinkers believe that play is an incredibly rich learning opportunity.
A tweet by Mathias Poulsen on the marginalization of play in society got me thinking about the role of play in learning. Play and creativity are inexorably linked in my mind. When I play I create. When I create, I’m playing. I usually learn an awful lot in such a rich environment as well.
There are two aspects of modern society that drive the control paradigm Mathias refers to in his tweet. Both flourish under the watchful eye of neo-liberal value theory. Data collection is one aspect of this economic/social model and it’s happily provided by digital technology which seems designed to produce this sort of data. With everything itemized the next step is to monetize it. With absolute oversight better profits are ensured, but only for the people who can afford the absolute oversight.
Modern economic theory touts data driven metrics as the way toward a more perfect efficiency, and education has been eager to leap on board this very rational (at least that’s how it’s marketed) approach. By quantifying everything we’re able to better manage people and property, not that there is a distinction. The people who manage us are obviously big fans of this data driven approach. It lends the air of mathematical credibility while also offering an automated ease of use. No more worrying about people as people when you’re managing them from data.
It seems like an air-tight trap. You are what you do and we can produce oodles of data that show what you do. But there are aspects of human being that still defy the data driven trajectory of our society. Creativity and the play that causes it to bloom are a pain to try and quantify and manage, even with the latest analytically insightful digital tools. The only way education has managed to make data from a process as complicated as learning is to grossly simplify that learning in order to produce data to feed the machine, but play and creativity defy even this heavy handed approach. You can grossly simplify learning with standardized testing, but all the testing in the world can’t capture creativity.
The best corporate thinking suggests making a fertile space for creativity and the play that can produce it, but keep management out of it! Education isn’t as driven by the need to innovate and tends to model its management practices after classroom management anyway. Education, with its hierarchical thinking and conservative approach, is a much riper environment for data driven absolutism than business ever was.
As a result of this data-driven press, play and creativity are increasingly foreign to the modern classroom. If it can’t be itemized, quantified and easily compared it isn’t really useful as an aspect of learning; it’s not part of the system. This is backed up by serious people with data who talk about how a rigorous, intellectually meaningful curriculum can only happen through the mathematical certainty of data-collection. Less time is given to play and creativity is re-cast as something only geniuses (or the very rich – they’re often the same) have, you can’t learn by practising it. Students are encouraged to get in step with the ‘real world’ and produce quantifiable material by following transparent and unwavering rubrics, lesson plans and standardized tests. The data produced in this fish-bowl of honesty allows the education system to accurately and completely (except for the bits we ignore) evaluate student ability and direct them to the most efficient career pathway. This is handy because career pathways are the only reason schools exist any more.
One of the benefits of a liberal society is the generation of a thriving creative class. If we can’t compete on the cheapness of human labour (because we don’t the produce quantity of people other societies do), then we can compete on creativity. Except our data driven approach to learning (and everything else, really) means we are letting creativity atrophy in our children.
The only people who think creativity is a natural talent you can’t teach are people too lazy to nurture their own. Those kind of people really like data driven thinking because it means they don’t have to do much thinking themselves.
The answer is yes. Sir Ken is a popular educational trope. Teachers are encouraged to watch a video that criticizes education and then they’re told to prepare students for
standardized tests and grade them with numbers.
Like any hard-won skill, creativity demands commitment to change, metacognitive clarity and growth, and it can be frustratingly non-linear. One sure way to spark creativity is to create an empty space, the solitude Kaufman spoke of, in which your mind is encouraged to produce its own outcomes. This can’t happen in an always-on society where your attention is constantly being sought by digital thought merchants who have monetized your attention. The habits you develop in this brave new world are so orchestrated that your mind quickly forgets how to structure itself; it comes to depend on digitally structured environments.
Another way to spark creativity is play, but not the kind of pre-determined outcome play you find in video games. Play in those situations is more like the training of a Pavlovian dog; small rewards for correct behaviour. You win because you’re scripted too. Open ended play means there isn’t a script to follow, there is no right way to do it. It means there isn’t a specific outcome, you’re back to conditioning when you demand specific outcomes. In play-space the outcomes are often unexpected, and can’t be described in win/lose terms (once again, a specific outcome).
Creativity has no required outcomes. The creative process does produce outcomes, but they aren’t handed down from on high by curriculum, nor do they look alike. In a class of thirty students (not much solitude there, but you deal with what you’re given), each creative outcome may look so unlike the others that it is nearly impossible to track them all back to the same starting point. As a standardized test result this is a disaster. How do you rubric that? How do you grade creativity? How do you determine if Billy is 3% more creative than Bob? The system demands numbers, you better give it them.
We’re here to teach people, not have fun… and intelligence has nothing to do with it!
Fortunately, education has found a scripted way to insert play into learning! Gamification connects well with educational thinking because they both are directed toward predetermined, specific outcomes. When educators get all giddy about applying gamification to learning they are harnessing the current digitally driven social trend of attention engagement for their own ends. They might feel that using this rather nasty process for the good of learning makes it alright, but the ends don’t justify the means in learning. How you do it matters.
Gamification isn’t play. You don’t magically produce play by gamifying a lesson plan, though our data driven reflex will happily accept this absurd simplification if it makes us feel like we’re with the times, and producing the same thing that Google and Apple are looking for: engagement. Teachers and multi-nationals all looking for the same thing? That’s got to be a good sign. Our students are trained by financially bottomless digital giants to spend hours connected online. Education should harness that reflex, right?
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, unless you can exactly measure the horse, the distance it has to travel and its circumstances and then manipulate the environment so that drinking becomes the only possible outcome. That’s gamification in education. Data driven thinking would suggest that with enough detail (happily provided by digital multi-nationals intent on not paying taxes while reaping record profits) we can engage a student and invisibly lead them to curriculum required (and usually very specific) learning outcomes.
Societies are societies because they’ve established patterns of thinking that the majority support. To diverge from that pattern is to move towards the edges of social acceptance. If you go too far you’ll have passed beyond social norms and become a pariah. Society is very good at inventing words to describe people who aren’t conforming properly. Creativity produces new thinking and so creatives tend to be outliers. A liberal society accepts these creatives more than a conservative one (it is a distinct advantage of a liberal society).
If there is one social mechanism that enforces social norms it’s the public education system. It has greater social contact with the population than the police or healthcare and focuses on the most pliable citizens (children). This is generally done as benevolently possible, except when society itself has made some poor decisions, then public education quickly changes from an agent of personal empowerment to a means of indoctrination. That education seems unwilling and incapable of fostering creativity through play shouldn’t come as a surprise. That kind of nonsense isn’t conducive to a well organized, radically transparent, data-driven, modern classroom. You’re not going to produce cooperative citizens if you ignore those societal truths.
Perhaps asking the education system to protect and nurture creativity and encourage play is beyond its capabilities. As an agent of social conformity education tends to be the anathema of creatives, the lowest point in their creative lives, but if education doesn’t nurture and protect creativity don’t expect Twenty First Century Canadian society to do it. Our society is becoming more stratified and rigid thanks to increasingly rigorous data driven control. In a world where our attention is monetized and trained to expect digital frameworks, we are increasingly defined and limited by the data collected about us. Play is a quantifiable waste of time and the creativity that arises from it is being cast aside.
Ironically, this is going to cost our society billions.
The Concours is a naked thing at the moment. I’m under the fuel tank for the first time since I bought it. I’m going after the spark plugs, but neither of my imperial spark plug removers would fit. Kawasaki uses an 18mm metric socket. Fortunately, Canadian Tire had that very thing in stock. With the plugs changed it’ll be time to start putting it back together. I’m cleaning electrical terminals and torquing bolts to spec as I go. The wheels are off, stripped and cleaned and ready for reconditioning at Fireball Coatings. I’m hoping to get them over there this week.
What twenty year old Concours rims look like after you’ve had a go at them with SOS pads for an hour.
They’re off to Fireball for a two stage gold/candy coat finish. They look better than they have in years already, I can’t imagine what they’ll look like when I get ’em back!
The stripped bike is letting me get to pretty much everything. I found the two cut-off gas tank ventilation pipes, which will get properly re-attached again.
Last but not least will be calliper rebuilds and braided metal lines for the rear brake and clutch (which have been waiting until some down time to install – I was loath to do it while I could be out riding). It will all go back together on new tires and renewed rims ready for the season to begin as soon as the rain washes all the salt and other winter crap off the road. If I lived somewhere more temperate I’d need two bikes so that I could rotate one out of operation for this kind of work. Canada obliges by making it miserable outside for four months of the year.
I’m getting suspicious as I ride out of Scottsdale into the desert and see signs saying I’m entering Phoenix. My son and I are riding in December, not something we usually achieve in Canada. Our rental is a Kawasaki Concours14 from AZride.com. We pull over into a gas station to pick up some water we needed anyway then turn around and start heading the right way. I’m dataless and gpsless and we’re heading deep into the mountains a couple of days after Christmas. Soon enough we’re out of the urban sprawl of Phoenix and feeling the cool desert breeze as we head north on Highway 87 through scattered saguaro cactus. I have that realization I often get when I haven’t been in the saddle in a while: wow, do I love riding a motorbike! The vulnerability, the sensory overload and the speed conspire to make a rush of adrenaline that opens you up to this overwhelming experience even more. I’ve tried many things, some of them not particularly good for me, but nothing, and I mean nothing, feels better than disappearing down the road on two wheels. Once clear of traffic lights I immediately get lost in the winding corners and elevation changes of the Bush Highway. The bike is leaning left and right, feeling weightless under me and eager to spring forward at the twist of the throttle. My twenty year old Concours at home under a blanket in the garage does a good job with a thousand ccs, this newer fourteen-hundred cc machine is a revelation, even two up.
The Ride: 350+kms through the Superstition Mountains
A couple of weeks after our ride our
route was buried in a foot of snow.
We leave the traffic lights of the city behind and immediately find ourselves amongst ranches and desert aficionados hauling everything from ATVs and Dakar looking off-roaders to boats and bicycles. It’s the end of December but it’s still 16°C on the digital dash and people are making use of their time off after Christmas. The Bush Highway turns back toward the sprawl, so after crossing Usurer’s Pass we drop down to Highway 60 in Apache Junction having bypassed miles of Mesan strip malls. Highway 60 is empty and arrow straight. What would you do on a 160 horsepower bike you’ve never ridden before? I do it. In what feels like moments we’re leaving the desert floor behind us and climbing into the Superstition Mountains. I feel like I’m sitting on a Saturn V in a full stage one burn.
The ride into the Superstition Mountains is elevating.
We’re both wearing fleeces and leathers and it was comfortable on the warm desert floor, however the mountains ahead are looking mighty foreboding. We started our ride in Scottsdale at just over a thousand feet above sea level, but the road to Globe is going to take us up to almost five thousand feet and we can feel the temperature plunging as we climb. I’ve wanted to ride this road to Globe since driving it in a miserly Nissan rental car years before. It’s twenty five miles of being on the side of your tires. You’re only upright as you’re switching sides. The temperature drops and snow begins to appear in shady patches on the side of the road. We surge ever upward in a cocoon of still air. The Concours’ fairing is keeping the worst of it at bay while that mighty engine makes short work of any moving chicanes in front of us. Would I like to ride this road on a sport bike? Sure, but the big Kawi makes it easy to enjoy two up with luggage. As is the way with winding roads I get to the end of them in a trance, and always earlier than I think I should. By this point we’re both cold regardless of what we’re wearing and fairings. The outside temperature in Globe is 4°C. We jump off the bike at the Copper Bistro and stamp some feeling back into our legs. Walking into the restaurant we’re met with the incredulous stares of the locals. “Kinda cold to be out on a bike, ain’t it?” “We’re Canadian.” “Ahh…” The old timer at the bar gives us a look like he understands why we’re out but still pities us for doing it. We can’t help being what we are.
Do not mess with the Globe popo.
We warm up to a damn fine burgers and fries. Max likes the splotches of copper made into art on the wall. Globe is home to one of the biggest copper mines in America and the locals have that toughness that you see in people who don’t sit at a desk for a living. The Globe Police department comes in for lunch, men with no necks who look like they stay in shape by managing the miners on Friday nights. You wouldn’t want to mess with these guys. Warmed up, we’re back on the bike and filling up before ducking out of Globe on the 188 into the Tonto Basin, a two thousand foot drop down from where we had lunch. In warmer weather the 188 is busy with boat haulers heading to the lake behind the Roosevelt dam, but today the road is ours.
We wind down into the Basin and see the big saguaro cactus return. The temperature is back into double digits and we’re at our ease following the twisties on an empty road. We meet the odd bundled up motorcyclist coming the other way and get the universal wave, but otherwise it’s wonderfully quiet.
We pull into Roosevelt Dam for a stretch and a drink of water before following 188 to its end at Highway 87. Our animal sighting luck kicks in at this point. As we’re kitting up to leave the dam a bald eagle flies over it and down the Salt River looking a scene out of a movie.
By this point it’s mid-afternoon and we’re both wind blown, dehydrated and a bit achy from the swings in temperature, and I’ve got the trickiest part of the ride coming up. I’ve driven the 87 in a car and know what’s coming. We pull up to make sure our ATGATT is airtight and for me to get my head on straight for a high speed decent on a fast two lane highway down the side of a mountain range.
Have a stretch and get your head on straight for the ride back
to Phoenix. The locals don’t take this road slowly.
The first time I drove the 87 toward Phoenix from Payson I was astonished to see large trucks towing full sized boats blow past me at better than eighty miles an hour. This road moves and none of it is straight. Some of the corners feel like they last forever and they all generally lead straight into another corner. For a guy from Southern Ontario, home of boring, straight roads, this isn’t business as usual. The Concours surges down the highway and I drop into the flow of traffic. Leaning into corners for up to thirty seconds at a time has me concentrating on perfect arcs and not being happy with the results. How often do you get to describe high speed arcs for an hour at a time? I’m feeling rusty, frustrated and want to find a way to smooth out my mid-corner corrections. Fortunately I’d been reading Total Control by Lee Parks on Kindle and found his advice about one handed steering to be the solution to my broken corners.
Total Control by Lee Parks – it’s exhaustive in its description of motorcycle physics. I wouldn’t call it light reading,
but that one bit on steering input made me a better rider instantly.
Lee’s advice is to only push on the inside handlebar when in a corner. This causes the bike to counter steer deeper into the corner with very little effort and much finer control from the rider. I wouldn’t normally get much of a chance to play with this on Southern Ontario roads but Arizona was made for this sort of thing! That one piece of advice got me down the 87 with significantly fewer sore muscles. By the time I was getting to the bottom of the Superstition Mountains I’d had many long corners to test and refine my technique and my arcs were more precise and less meandering as a result.
The Concours is back in the lot next to this ridiculous thing.
I’d take two wheels over anything else any day.
We roll back into Scottsdale afternoon traffic like two cowboys who have just time travelled back from the Old West. The suddenly onslaught of traffic is a bit overwhelming. After a last fill up (the gas station attendant has a starry eyed look at the bike) we return the Concours to AZrides and get checked out in a matter of seconds. The rush hour drive home in the rental SUV is tedious and slow, but that blast in the mountains cleared out the cobwebs. The ZG1400 made an interesting comparison with my ZG1000. I found the newer bike a comfortable and agile machine, but the whining of electronics didn’t thrill me, and the tightness of the foot controls were awkward. Because this is someone else’s bike they made choices (like ridiculously high risers) that I wouldn’t have. None of these things spoiled the ride, and the biblical power of the ZG1400 motor is something that needs to be felt to be believed. This taste of ZG1400 makes me wonder how I’d fettle my own. Thoughts of a ZG1400 swirl in my mind as I roll along with the commuters into the setting sun.
The tunnel out of Superior – the Concours’ engine was a spine tingling howl!
The road to Globe
The never straight 87 back to Scottsdale – 3300 feet down to the desert floor, none of it straight… at 80mph.
Dropping down into the Tonto Basin
188 into the Roosevelt Dam
The Apache Trail a couple of days later in the rental car…
Back of the Roosevelt Dam before tackling the Apache Trail.
Sunset on the Apache Trail
Maybe on a dual sport or adventure bike? Not on a Concours. Apache Trail is a couple of hours of hair raising corners with no crash barriers, washboard gravel and thousand foot drops. A brilliant road, if you’re brave enough!
Ride Maps The actual trip: The original plan:
A bit less: the Superstition loop with a jaunt up to the interesting bit of Hwy 60 – though mileage wise this is pretty close to the full monty below. it doesn’t include AZride’s Bushy bypass… Getting to the twisty bits (hitting the interesting bit of 60 before coming back): The full monty: what I would have aimed for solo
A not-so-super Saturday morning. After driving through thick fog for almost two hours we’re told to line up to get in the parking lot, then line up to get in the door, then line up again to get into the show – it was over an hour wait to get to the single guy with a ticket scanner.
After a long slog through pea-soup fog we arrived at the International Centre in Mississauga on Saturday morning. This was my third go at the North American International Supershow, and it’s probably my last. My first go was a bit of culture shock with the girls girls girls and men dressed like pirates thing knocking me for a bit of a loop. Our second go impressed upon me the real focus of this show: limited choice but cheap gear if you’re lucky. Our third go was long lineups, dodgy websites, and crowds, though the odd deal was found.
Once again, the only thing we bought was from my local motorcycle shop, Two Wheel Motorsport. Once again I bumped into Steve who ran the course at Conestoga that got me going on two wheels and got a fantastic discount, this time on a Shark Raw helmet. $150 for the lid, taxes in (less than half what it’s retailing for).
The websitethe show put out (when it loaded at all) was insecure. Management & organization is an issue.
What would be nice would be having access to show specials at my local. I’d happily spend the hundred odd dollars I spend getting to and into this show and apply it to purchases at Two Wheel. If that’s a possibility I’ll save a Saturday next January and avoid the lines, crowds and other nonsense. I’m going to contact Two Wheel and see if show specials might be available for customers on that weekend at their shop. Their new digs are twice as nice as the International Centre and it doesn’t take you an hour of lining up to get in the door. The other reason to attend a show is to touch base with your favourite motorcycle media. I did have a nice chat with Glenn from Motorcycle Mojobut couldn’t find Graeme at Inside Motorcycles, though I can see my favourite motorbike magazines at the Toronto Motorcycle Show in February which feels like a much more professionally organized, industry driven event. I can also take my wife to that one without her rolling her eyes at all the strippers on display.
As far as other people I’d want to chat with, the CoG guys were too busy but I had a good talk with the Widow’s Sons. Even in the cases of these obvious connections I’m a bad joiner. It doesn’t occur to me to contact CoG or the Widow’s Sons to go for a ride, I’d rather just go out on my own. Riding in a group feels like a needless restriction to me.
I’ll stick to complaining about the poor organization both online and at the venue, but the show itself is what it is. I’m an odd-duck in motorcycling. I prefer to ride alone. I go riding to find solitude and in that solitude delve more deeply into the craft of motorcycling. Riding to feel a part of a crowd, ‘show my colours’ or just show off isn’t my bag. I don’t ride to be seen or make a statement, I ride because I love riding. To the dress-alike leather pirates and many other social riders this show must feel like coming home. Next year I think that’s where I’ll be.
Coulda skipped that…
Woulda happily have skipped that (this is the passageway you get funnelled into after getting out of the big passageway)…
almost 1600 miles diagonally across North America.
My motorcycle bucket list includes earning the Ironbutt basics. The first two rides are the Saddlesore (1000 miles in 24 hours) and the Bunburner (1500 miles in 36 hours). The Austin MotoGP race happens to be just over fifteen hundred miles away, making it an ideal target for these badges of long distance endurance riding.
I’m not sure that I’d ever do an Ironbutt again, but it’d be nice to have done it once.
The MotoGP race in Austin is on April 10th this year. Leaving on a Tuesday night would get me there for the event. Even with a (more) relaxed ride back, I’d still only be on the road for seven days – 3 of them at the GP.
I roughed out hotel stops based on ideal distances, but it would probably be significantly cheaper to pick a hotel chain and stay with them throughout. My hotel of choice would be Hampton Inn, so a revision based on where I can stop at those might be in order. After Indy got cancelled this is the only other race on my continent and so my only chance to ride to a race event. It’d be nice to see the circus in action again this year and Austin, while much further away, offers a chance at Ironbutt glory!
Video of MotoGP practice through the esses at Indianapolis.
It’d be nice to go down there with some good camera kit and see what I can capture. I did pretty well with my little Olympus last summer, but another go with more effect gear would net even better results. Many of the images I took had to be photoshopped a bit to hide the poor resolution and light intake of my camera (creating a simplified painted look in Photoshop hides these weaknesses).
I’m also getting frustrated with the lack of lens availability with the Olympus I’ve got. I’m thinking of going back to a superzoom on my next camera. The Nikon P610 has enormous reach (4x what the Olympus telephoto can manage with similar light loss). What would be even better would be a full 1″ sensor superzoom like the Pentax FZ1000, then I’d have a multipurpose camera with excellent low light ability – though they are three times the price of the smaller sensor superzooms. I had a fixed lens superzoom a few years back and loved the flexibility, though it was one of the first electronic view finder cameras and lagged annoyingly. It’s light intake wasn’t great either. The new ones will benefit from much faster electronics and dramatically larger sensors letting more light in. The Olympus PEN is an entry level mini-SLR. I’ve enjoyed the size and convenience but the lenses are expensive and hard to find, and the kit lens has broken. The body itself also broke under warranty when I first got it. A second failure in three years has me thinking about moving on. I’m looking for the simplicity and flexibility of a fixed lens superzoom again. This would be especially handy when travelling on a bike where all the SLR clobber takes up too much space. As a photographer I’ve always enjoyed being able to do more with less. I’ve often seen people with suitcases of gear worth ten times mine take worse pictures. As long as it can keep up with my eye and offer the control I need, a quality fixed lens superzoom will let me do that in spades.