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Archive for August 11th, 2009

Canadian Rockies

Canadian Rockies

If you’re into snow-capped peaks, breathtaking mountain passes and twisty roads mixed with the occasional waterfall… riding to the northern Rockies by way of Rogers Pass and the Canadian Glacier National Park should be on your short list.

It was a warm morning departure for our 8 day adventure of ~2000miles.  We rushed an obligatory breakfast at Elmer’s and set out leaving the city by way of the Lewis and Clark highway.

Maryville Winery

Maryville Winery

We headed east on Washington State Hwy14 (SR14) and enjoyed the sweeping views of the Columbia River before heading north on Route 97 (US97). US97 is a 322-mile route through Washington state which traverses from the Oregon state line at the northern end of the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge in Maryhill, north to the Canadian border in Okanogan County near Oroville.

Wenatchee By Moonlight

Wenatchee By Moonlight

We tried to stay cool traversing the major cities of Goldendale, Yakima, and Ellensburg through a northwest heat advisory.  Our arrival in Wenatchee was greeted with short gasps to get air as the sweltering heat set an all-time high of 107 degrees!  The day also recorded Seattle’s hottest day (103) in its history.  We’d had enough of the triple digits and elected to cool off before continuing. Note: I had the FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket on all day, but once the temp hit 97 degrees I stripped clothing to a t-shirt.  I’ll provide more on how the jacket faired during this trip in another post.

The next morning our early departure was met with temperatures already in the mid-70s.  We wanted to get some miles under our feet before high temps set in for the day.  We headed north on 97A which runs right along the west side of the Columbia river and then rejoined US97 at Lake Chelan.

VLBA Radio-Telescope

VLBA Radio-Telescope

Between Brewster and Monse, WA I was reminded of the movie Contact starring Jodie Foster.  Remember the scene where she is sitting atop her car hood under the Very Large Array of satellite antenna’s listening to space?   Well on the west side of the river dotted with farm tractors is a Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) station.  It looks like a secret “military” base, but is really part of a ten radio-telescope antenna system, each with a dish 82 feet in diameter and weighing 240 tons.

Canada Border Crossing

Canada Border Crossing

Others are located from Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The VLBA provides astronomers with the sharpest vision of space compared to any telescope via radio waves!  It’s funded by The National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education.  In fiscal year (FY) 2009, the NSF budget is $9.5 billion, which includes $3.0 billion provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  A list of “shovel ready” ARRA funded projects at NSF is located HERE if you’d like more info on how the $$ are being spent.  But I’ve digressed…

FXRG Jacket Testing

FXRG Jacket Testing

By the time we rolled through Oroville the temps were again in the high 90’s and the air was hazy with smoke.  Before heading towards the Alaska Highway at the Yukon border which is known as British Columbia Highway 97 (BC97) we were “processed” by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers.  After a long wait due to a large number of RV’s we were subjected to several difficult questions meant to trip up any unsuspecting armed terrorist… “Where you from?”, “Where you going?”, “How Long you gonna be here?”… you get the drill.  After a hour long process I couldn’t help but think that if the CBSA ran Apple Computer we’d all be running Apple II’s, having to insert an identity card every time we booted up and required to surf at dial-up speed  — yeah, it was that painful!

Kelowna, BC - Bridge

Kelowna, BC - Bridge

After the “land of poutine” passed us through the international border crossing we made our way through Oliver, Penticton and along the western shore of magnificent Okanagan Lake for many kilometers to finally arrive in Kelowna, BC.  A thick haze filled the air as a reminder of the tinder-box conditions of the province and the hundreds of fires.  The local newspaper proclaimed “Wildfires Scorch BC” with thousands of evacuee’s and sad tales. In fact, seeing across the street was a challenge and breathing reminiscent of sitting around a camp fire about to extinguish itself.

After  a couple of days riding we enjoyed refreshments and some Montana Cookhouse baby-back ribs then headed down to the marina to take in some of the local nightlife and Okanagan Lake experience.

The 107 to 47 Journey – Part Two HERE; Part Three HERE; Part Four HERE

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Schuberth_PlantA typical DOT approved motorcycle helmet has only three.  A Formula 1 helmet has 18!

I’m talking about Carbon fiber layers.  Over the years I’ve noticed more riders abandoning “beanie” helmets in favor of full-face.  I know from experience that “rain riding” with a full-face is more comfortable than a beanie.  And in terms of impact protection, the performance of a full-face carbon fiber helmet remains unsurpassed and can protect a motorcycle rider from serious injury in case of an accident.

Schuberth1Now helmet manufacturer Schuberth, based in Germany released the T-1000 helmet.  Millions of tiny fibers, woven into 18 of these carbon fiber layers, the T-1000 represents the current state-of-the-art in helmet development.  It was designed for Formula 1 and is presently the world’s most impact-resistant carbon fiber helmet and can withstand the heat of a welding flame (approx. 900 degrees C) positioned an inch away for 45 seconds.

The helmets also have a special acoustic collar which limits stress-inducing noise and a titanium chin strap clasp which weighs 6 grams less than the steel clasp to provide neck muscle relief over an extended period of time.  Eye protection consists of a four millimeter-thick, impact-resistant poly-carbon panel capable of stopping an approaching particle travelling at 310 mph!  The visor can be heated if desired for cooler weather conditions.  Schuberth specialists spent about 3,000 hours and had a 6-figure development budget while working on the design of the Formula 1 helmet with the goal to provide the very best in head protection technology.

Cost?  Not including the exemplar generated scans to adapt the helmet to your head – about $14,000.00.  Significantly more than a Shoei Multitec at $490, but talk about “bragging rights” in the Motel 6 parking lot over a good cigar…

Photo courtesy of Schuberth.

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newsI’ve been out an ‘bout riding the past week, but occasionally during my travels I’m pulled into discussions about blogging and the troubles of the newspaper industry.

It goes something like this… the newspapers are doing all the “real” reporting, and your blog as well as many others are merely “rehashing” the news without having done any real research.

I have a viewpoint on the topic and part of the problem is that “real reporting” and “news” are not that easy to define.  For example go to Google News right now and type in “Harley-Davidson layoff,” which indicates there are 262 articles on the same subject. I am sure that there are not 262 reporters out there gathering H-D layoff news firsthand. How many of these represent (and are monetized by) the people who actually did the original news reporting, and how many of them are rewrites, copies, or blog posts about the original news reporting?  If you type in “Michael Jackson drugs” the number jumps to 15,373!

It’s naive to think that news is only stuff like H-D plant closures, Michael Jackson’s death, a UN summit, a car accident; in short, stuff that requires a reporter to do the good old fashion reporting, which includes going there, attending the press briefing, taking a picture, calling people and asking for statements, etc.  Yes, that’s news. But I’ll tell you what’s also news.

  1. A summer Poker Run – bring 2 cans — which benefit the local food bank
  2. A benefit ride to support a fallen veteran
  3. The CoC meeting and motorcycle legislation topics
  4. I upgraded the TC-96 to Synthetic oil and the clicking noise went away

Who writes about these things?   Blogs. This is why blogs are popular, not because they’re rehashing news from big media publications, writing their opinions without contributing any facts. They’re popular because somewhere there’s a person who took great interest in figuring out how to do something and then write about it.  Like that person who determined which airplane seats are the best to be seated in and started a blog writing about it… you can’t find this information in any major newspaper!

new_newsThere’s another common misconception about blogs: the newspaper industry acts as if all the blogs were the same. A blog can be a lot of things.  There are blogs with one writer who write about motorcycles once a week. There are motorcycle blogs with a full staff who write 20 posts per day. Some blogs only do opinions. Some do rumors, some do original reporting, some do reviews, and some mix two, three, or four together.

This is why every attempt by the newspaper industry to define a common “enemy” that’s killing them will fail. They’re dying the death of a thousand cuts, and focusing on splogs (which are, most blog publishers will tell you, pretty much irrelevant in terms of stealing traffic) or aggregators will achieve nothing.

The fact is that blogs are here to stay, that many of them are valuable, that they’re attracting eyeballs and some are even taking a piece of the ad revenue pie from newspapers.

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