Indianapolis MotoGP: There & Back in 5 Days

Indianapolis MotoGP:  August 07, 08 09

THE GOALa taste of motogp on a road trip with minimal freeway miles and a five day timeline.

TARGET:  Friday, August 07: practice day

Practice day runs from 9am to 3:50pm

August 7, 2015
PRICE: $20.00

Not good for gate admission. Good for August 7, 2015. Limited to one (1) per Reserved Seat.
PRICE: $125.00


Motorcycles Only. One Lap. Controlled Speed. Limited to one (1) per Reserved Seat.
PRICE: $40.00

But the Paddock Pass or track lap don’t seem to be available if you only buy Friday tickets.  I’ll have to dig in further.

In any case, twenty bucks US to get into Friday’s practice is pretty accessible, and we might be able to find our way into paddock passes once we’re there.
Other events (bike shows and many other satellite events going on in Indianapolis that weekend):


Wednesday, August 5:  head toward Michigan and strike south.
Thursday, August 6th:  we’re in the hotel outside of Indianapolis
Friday, August 7th:  a day at Indy, an evening in town at MotoGP related events
Saturday, August 8th: begin the ride home
Sunday, August 9th:  return home

The MAP shows about 850kms and a 10 hour travel time (trying to stay off interstates – it can be much faster but more tedious on them).

Broken into two days each way, the trip should offer plenty of time for stops.

Overnight on the way down somewhere on the southern end of the Detroit/Ann Arbour area.

Find a hotel in the north end of Indianapolis for the overnight on Thursday night and Friday night, then strike back north again Saturday morning.

Hampton Inn Indianapolis Northwest – Park 100

5860 West 73rd Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46278, USA +1-317-290-6000 

~ $300 for two nights – north of the Speedway (better)

This isn’t that hard to arrange – practice and qualifying are super cheap if cost is an issue, and the whole thing happens over the weekend, minimizing time off work.  If you’re in Southern Ontario it’s a straight shot down to Indy to see a legend like Valentino Rossi fight for a championship in his 36th year (!)

You should go.

Stolen November Days

I’m stealing a lot of extra scenes in a November that doesn’t usually encourage riding up here in the frozen north…

Last year the bike was hibernating by the end of October.  This year we’re getting a run of warm weather that has me still out on two wheels more than halfway through November.  We’re supposed to get snow accumulation this weekend, which means sand and salt on the roads.  When that happens I’ll hang up my helmet.  I’d end up spending as much time cleaning the bike as I did riding it once the salt goes down.

This season started in mid-March once the roads were dry and the salt and sand cleaned off by a couple of rains.  The snow as still thick on the shoulders though.  This late finish to the year means only about four months of down time before I can get out there again.

Today I’m down to Guelph for periodontal work.  I figured I’d be stuck in a car, but it’s a dozen degrees and partially sunny out there!  One last ride then!

In the meantime, we’ve been commuting on two wheels every change we get…

Two Wheel’s Mega-Edifice

Two Wheel always had a Bartertown/Beyond the Thunderdome/
post-apocalyptic kind of feel to it, but it’s all gone now!

My son Max and I went for one of those perfect rides today.  We headed down to Guelph in sunny, room temperature air with no wind.  It was glorious.

After a few stops and lunch we headed back north and swung into Two Wheel Motorsport’s new digs.  The building looks impressive from the outside but the insides are something else!  Two Wheel used to have a kind of organic, bigger than where it was situated/post apocalyptic vibe to it, the new place is enormous, modern and shows off their stock like a bike show.

With walls of glass and an open concept, if you’ve never been to Two Wheel before, it’s worth a trip north of Guelph on 6 – you can’t miss riding past this motorcycle Mecca now.

Shock & Awe when you walk in the front door of the new building!
Not only can you actually sit on the bikes now (they used to be piled on top of each other so you couldn’t get a leg over),
but there is so much space the stock on hand feels more like a bike show than a dealer!

They even had examples of modern art on display!

I could happily walk in to Two Wheel Motorsport and drop fifty grand.  My local dealer has gone pro.  I can’t wait to see how they evolve into their new space.

The only downside was having to dual sport my way across the unpaved parking lot on a Concours with a passenger.  Hopefully the drive will be paved soon and then this place will become a beacon for bikers all over the area.  It’s worth a ride over to see what they’ve done.

Professionalism: it’s more than skin deep

Head’s meetings give me a chance to think without constantly having to juggle the needs of dozens of students at once.  Our most recent one had us developing a school mission statement.  The idea was that if staff develop the mission they’ll be more likely to back it.  It was an agonizing process of planning by committee, but we got it done.

In the process of developing this statement one of the more golden heads suggested that focusing on the dress code would reinvigorate a sense of professionalism in the staff.  I don’t entirely disagree, dressing appropriately does help present a sense of professionalism, but thinking that an enforced dress code will somehow improve professionalism in staff had me thinking about what is involved in a teacher’s sense of professionalism.

Visual cues like dress codes felt like the crust of something much more complicated, so I went to work on an orange.

If you want a sense of a teacher’s professionalism start with their qualifications.  Do they have advanced qualifications (honours, post-graduate, master-technical, etc) in the subject areas that they teach?  

Have they expanded their teacher training from what they graduated teacher’s college with?  Do they demonstrate the kind of life long learning they claim is so important in their students?

Are they attending subject specific PD to improve their ability to teach this material in the most current and comprehensive manner possible?  Do they create curriculum?  Serve on their subject council?  Work to improve learning in their subject area in other ways?

Have they developed a diverse personal learning network (this doesn’t necessarily have to be digital).  Are they known in their school, in their board, in their province, in their country, in their world, as a collaborative and supportive colleague?  Do they encourage growth in learning?  Do they interact with other educators to improve their craft?

Have they taken on school leadership roles?  Are they known in the school as a dependable fixer?  A colleague who puts the needs of the school before their own?   Do they work in other aspects of the school?  Student competitions?  Sports?  Clubs?  School events?  Academic initiatives?

Have they ever supported the organization that protects their profession?  Volunteering for union work says a lot about how much a professional is willing to put themselves out to protect their profession.  It also demonstrates a sense of belonging to that profession.

There is probably much more you could put into the orange, but these many things are what feed the skin of the orange (the appearance of the teacher).  Dress codes and appearance do matter, but professionalism is much more than skin deep.


At its root professionalism is a self driven desire to improve one’s field of work.  Being self driven is the key to professionalism and the major difference between an employee and a professional.  The professional takes their work to heart and self-identifies with how they are doing it, an employee just does what they are paid for and no more.   Employees require direction.  Professionals are self directed. Unfortunately, I know a fair number of teachers who approach teaching as an employee.  If you want to resurrect teacher professionalism it doesn’t mean ties for all, it means getting those disaffected employees to approach their profession with a sense of authorship.

… unless you play for Newcastle

The other morning I was watching Premier League Football and heard about how Newcastle has hired an motivational speaker for its players.  The millionaire players who never had to grow up and get paid more per week to play a game than I make in a year need motivation?  This speaks to professionalism in a big way.  Having been coddled and paid ludicrous sums of money since they were teenagers, many of these players have no idea how good they have it playing a game that the rest of us pay to play for leisure.  Can you be a professional without a profound appreciation of the importance of the work that you do?  This situation does point to a key element of professionalism:  an unwavering commitment to your profession and a willingness to seek constant improvement.  You’re not a professional unless you’re always on the clock, always ready to perform beyond minimal expectations.

A doctor doesn’t get to say she’s on holiday when someone has a heart attack on the beach where they happen to be vacationing.  It is professionalism that drives her to say that she is a doctor and perform her duty.  When you see Mike Holmes losing his mind about poor craftsmanship in a home reno you’re seeing a man railing against a lack of professionalism.  When Newcastle has to hire a motivational speaker to convince its millionaire players to do their job, you’re looking at a deep lack of professionalism.

Professionalism seems to germinate in people where the work they are doing is valued, valuable and challenging.  The professional becomes attached to their profession, self-identifying with it and authoring their approach to it.

Professionalism isn’t conformity, it’s empowerment.  Many workplaces use the word professionalism while offering staff no opportunity to critically assess and improve their process.  In such dictated working environments professionalism is a catch phrase for doing what you’re told promptly and without question (ie: being manageable).  These workplaces have a strange democratic flatness to them – we’re all professionals here at Xmart!  Perhaps this is why professionalism is so confused in the modern mind – we have a misplaced idea of what it is.

Out of high school I became I millwright’s apprentice.  One of my mentors, Leo, was an older Caribbean gentleman who was incapable of sugar coating things, though his honesty was presented with a Jamaican easy-goingness that made it easy to listen to.  One day he told me the story of our department supervisor.  This was the guy who used to take night shifts and then roll himself under a truck and fall asleep for hours.  He had one of the worst work records in the shop and was known for being the guy you shouldn’t go to see if you were having technical problems.  He got promoted off the floor to minimize the damage he was doing there.  Leo looked me in the eye and said, ‘that’s what most management is.  If they were good at something, they’d still be doing it.’  I’ve tended to approach management with a suspect eye ever since.

Leo was proud of his mechanical skills, he was a master of his trade.  He took great pains to perform his job at the highest level and continually looked for challenges to grow his skill and knowledge.  That one of the most impactful mentors I’ve ever had wore coveralls while the clown running the department showed up in shirt and tie every day has meant I’ve always preferred to see what people do rather than what they look like before I start to form an opinion about their sense of professionalism.

Between the smoke and mirrors business-appearance sense of professionalism and the demonstrated excellence of the true professional there is a lot of social static.  Things are further complicated by organizations eager to use the term professionalism as an adjective to encourage compliance and conformity to corporate norms, but for professionalism to germinate the person doing the work has to have control over their approach to the work – and germination is indeed the process.  You can’t force professionalism with a dress code.  What you can do is create a fertile environment where people are engaged in their work.  Where the work is challenging and complex enough that it makes demands on the worker to continuously develop their own approaches to it rather than being managed into a conformed response.  Systematized work environments are the death of professionalism.

In spite of the business blah blah that greets you when you look up professionalism, there isn’t a single, regimented pathway to it unless you’re in business where your can-do attitude and proper attire matters more than any specialized skills you may have.  Professionalism blooms out of expertise and works in service to it.  Some of the best teachers I’ve ever had wore overalls, many of the worst wore suits.  Appearance can be as much a distraction as it can be an indicator of professionalism (unless you’re in business).


True Colours offers some real insights into personality types.  Being a green / blue I’m not beholden to social expectations or image.  The Gold who suggested adhering to dress codes is though.  Where she thinks that professionalism can be generated by dressing nicely, I’ve experienced the opposite.  I try to keep this in mind when I hear someone suggest something that I have an immediate negative reaction to.  What works for them might work for them…

A teacher focused technology initiative

Email intercept: @tk1ng to school admin, 12/9/11

re: tech coaching and tech possies

Dear Administrator,
…I showed an interest in tech coaching, but my real intent lies in empowering the teachers we have in the school who have displayed persistent curiosity and tenacity in developing technology in the classroom.I found that I was able to lob netbooks and other useful tools at tech-keen teachers last year to good effect.  One of the main reasons I considered tech-headship again was to retain that access to tools.
Is there anything board side or within school directions that allow us to create a group around technology use in teaching and try to spread the knowledge to our largely disassociated colleagues?  The tech-coach position seems like it heads in this direction, but it seems  librarian and online research focused exclusively.
With a wee budget and some keen hands we’d be able to show various digital tools at staff meetings, perhaps even during PD days or rotating around PLCs.
We had a tech-council a few years ago, but it never really met or did anything.  I’m thinking of more of a grass-roots, teacher focused support group with this, perhaps with shared PLC time and some access to online tools and hardware in order to develop some intelligent digital pedagogy.
Whatcha think?

Think I can get a tech-posse going?
A teacher based, grass roots group who are into tech and are willing to take some risks to implement it in class and diversify the monoculture of school board computer access?
A group that can get access to non-standard equipment and try out its use in classroom situations?
A group that could expand our almost non-existent digital pedagogy? Perhaps even in a coherent manner?
With no budget we could beg and borrow board equipment that is otherwise relatively unused. With a tiny budget and some freedom to try the incredible variation in technology available beyond the walls of the school, we could experiment hands on with various tools and examine their application in real learning situations.

***Alas, the board doesn’t have any kind of initiative like that, but our VP is keen to get the tech-posse together and see if we can’t begin to organize a little bit of a digital renaissance within our walls.

Why oh why don’t boards and ministries fund micro-initiatives like this, looking to find and develop potential hot groups, and build PD from the ground up instead of top down?

Perhaps this kind of genuine seed change doesn’t earn you enough political points, demonstrate senior management reach or spend enough of the budget in one place.

In the meantime, I’m going to see if I can’t get the grass burning just a little bit where we are.

360° Motorcycle Photography Spring Edition

Taken using a Ricoh Theta V 360° camera attached to a flexible gripper tripod on an extended threaded rod.  The Theta V lets you take a remote 360° photo every 4 seconds, so you’ve got a good chance of catching something good.  When I get back I plug in the camera and look through the shots for something catchy.  Here is a how-to if you want to capture your own 360° on-bike photos.

from Blogger

Sepang Echoes And A Word To My Newly Found Countryman

My lovely wife convinced me to do the DNA test.  Being very British, the results that came back were a bit surprising.  Genetically speaking I’m the result of the fact that Europeans love to get to know each other intimately.

My people are from Norfolk on the east coast of the UK, so a strong Scandinavian influence was to be expected (damned vikings!), but the rest is interesting.  I had no idea we were part Irish (evidently everyone is), and the trace bits at the bottom are also cool.  Realizing I’m made up of all these different cultures feels good.

I other news, Marc Marquez just won the MotoGP championship in Motegi, Japan.  I started watching MotoGP during Marc’s first year in the championship and it was thrilling to watch this astonishing talent blossom even as I was getting acclimatized to motorcycle racing.  It was hard not to become a fan.  I remained a fan up until last year when Marc made a young man’s mistake.

If he’s fighting for a championship, Marc parrots words of respect. but only because he’s going to win it.  When he’s out of the running his arrogance comes through and it isn’t pretty.

I find it hard to support a guy who thinks he’s more important than the battle itself.  Motorcycle racing is Hemingway-esque in the demands it places on participants.  If you do it wrong it will kill you.  When doing something that potentially lethal well you need more than quick reflexes and arrogance.  The world is full of fast, dead motorcycle riders.  Motogp, being the very pinnacle of motorcycle riding, should present professionals who respect the dangers of the championship they are chasing.  What Marc did last year in Sepang suggests that he thinks himself superior to others who face the same peril.  A rider who thinks he can dictate the outcome of a championship he can’t win is not only arrogant, but dangerous.

If you’re going to stare death in the face with only your reflexes to save you, you should approach your work with a degree of respect and humility.  I just finished the Australian GP, and watched Marc toss his Honda into the countryside while leading.  He’s far from perfect, though still no doubt a once in a generation talent.  I’d like to be a fan again, but not if he’s going to disrespect the brave thing these riders are attempting.

Now that I’m 2% Spanish and we’re coming up on the anniversary of Sepang, I want to say something to my countryman: 

“Marc, it’s not your place to dictate the outcome of a championship for anyone but yourself, and there’s something to be said for apologizing.  I want to be a fan, but unless you’re going to respect the battle you’ll never be more than an ego with quick reflexes.  

One day, as you get older and slower, you’ll be tempted to apologize for what happened in 2015, but when someone irrelevant tries to apologize in order to remain relevant it’s just another expression of arrogance.  Now that you’ve got another championship, and as MotoGP heads to Sepang again, it’s time to take on another dimension as champion and speak for the championship itself.  Perhaps you can direct other misguided young men away from disrespecting the thing you’re all fighting for.  We’d all thank you for it.”

Commitment to your craft means more than just making time on the track.
I wonder how a championship feels when you’ve just spent a year diminishing it.

Yamaha’s FZ-09: the universal bike?

Since having the dream of a stable of bikes mangled thanks to the cruel calculus of insurance companies, I’ve been thinking about putting my eggs all in one basket.  In looking over this year’s offerings one really stands out for me as a bike I could develop a long term relationship with.

What I’m looking for is a bike that offers a standard riding position so it’ll take to a variety of riding tasks.  I like the look of a naked bike and I’m a fan of efficiency, so light weight is a must.  So, an all-round naked bike that’s light on the scales, fits a big guy well and is dependable so I can make some miles on it.

Fortunately Yamaha has come out with the FZ-09, and it checks a lot of boxes.  At a light-weight 414lbs and with a strong three cylinder engine, it’s a step up in power from the Ninja without heading into litre-bike territory.  It’s standard riding position offers much less lean and deeper pegs for my too-long legs.

While the 650R is a sport-tourer, it sill puts me into
much more of a crouched riding position.  I enjoy
the bike, but creak when I get off after a long ride. If

I’m carving up corners, it’s a beast.  If I’m trying to
make some miles?  Not so much.

An almost 1 inch taller seat, barely any forward lean
(11° less than the Ninja), 4% less bent knees, and
14% less crouch.  An all purpose bike that

fits nicely?  I hope the FZ feels as good as it should.

That 414 lbs means the FZ-09 comes in 26lbs lighter than the Ninja, and it manages to do it while carrying one more cylinder and an additional 200ccs.  The FZ is even 16 lbs lighter than a KLR, which makes me wonder what a scrambler FZ might look like.  With some knobbly tires, wire wheels, longer suspension and guard, there aren’t too many places it couldn’t go.  RTW on an FZ?  Perhaps!

Is there such a thing as a universal bike, maybe the FZ is it…

And it even comes in orange!

There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for an athletic red-head…