It turns out that even a small rally requires quite a bit of work to put on, and I certainly didn't do it alone. Special thanks to everyone who contributed to a successful event.
Monday, November 3, 2008
The results of the 2008 2 WHeeL 12 Rally are as follows:
Posted by Scott at 8:13 AM
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Sorry for the delay in posting, but it was a busy weekend as we wrapped up the 2 WHeeL 12 rally.
Posted by Scott at 10:50 AM
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Just seconds after DB3 departed the Volcano checkpoint I got a text message from rider #4. Joe was leaving the San Bernardino area and heading into the mountains near Crestline, Skyforest, and Lake Arrowhead. He said "Gonna get rained on!"
Posted by Scott at 3:00 PM
When I rolled up to the Volcano Checkpoint just minutes before the 1:30pm opening time, DB(Rider #2) was kicked back on a picnic table shooting the BS w/ GZ (GZ arrived just before I did). DB3 had made better time than he expected and took the opportunity to fuel up in nearby Amboy and take a few minutes to look over his remaining bonii. I signed his checkpoint paperwork right at 1:30pm and he headed off for the Mojave National Preserve and Wee Thump checkpoints.
Posted by Scott at 2:57 PM
The window for the call-in checkpoint has closed.
Posted by Scott at 12:01 PM
DB2 and Dee (collectively known as Rider #1) just dropped me a text message letting me know that they had already bagged the bonii at Iron Mountain Pump Plant, Vidal Junction, and Parker Dam. They were on schedule and fueling in Parker AZ at the time of the text.
Posted by Scott at 8:20 AM
Turns out that I was wrong about Ape Hanger and Chrome traveling north on Adobe Rd. shortly after the start of the rally. How do I know this? Shortly after my previous post we wrapped up everything at the start and the four of us traveled caravan style over to a local greasy spoon cafe for some gravy covered omelettes. Well, on the way to the cafe I noticed two Milwaukee types at a local gas station. Guess who? Yep, it was Ape Hanger and Chrome. At just after 6:30 they were prepping to leave their first gas stop...nearly 1/4 mile from the start of the rally. Good luck fellas.
The next interaction that I am likely to have is during the one hour call in checkpoint between 11am and Noon (PDT). Of the two available checkpoints most riders have chosen the call-in option. Then, at noon Tasha, GZ, and I will be heading to the physical checkpoint near Amboy, CA.
The weather is perfect (a bit of a chill in the air now that the sun is up) and it should be a great day to rally.
Posted by Scott at 7:31 AM
I'm posting from the parking lot of Desert Cycle Works. Most of the riders have left the start. The last two (nicknames "Ape Hanger" and "Chrome") are revving up their noise makers right now. I can barely type due to the fumes and noise.
One rider has chosen Utah, a few are opting for a route that includes points in Arizona, and yet another is heading for both Arizona and Carlsbad, CA. Joe has built a cool route that includes the Rim Of The World Highway which includes points in Big Bear, Skyforest, and Silverwood.
Everyone was here on time, everyone showed up and they're all fired up.
Funny note. As the staff and I sit here (Me, Tasha, GZ, and Tony), we can still hear the last two riders to depart motoring around town. We think they just left the gas station and now they're heading north past the start/finish. This should be fun.
Minimum finishing points are 32,088.
Posted by Scott at 6:15 AM
Friday, October 31, 2008
The participants are all rookies. There are nine participants on eight bikes. The list of bikes isn't typical of the average LD rally.
1 Suzuki V-Strom 650
1 Kawasaki Vulcan
1 HD with $9500 worth of aftermarket chrome
1 HD with giant ape-hangers
1 HD Sportster 1200
1 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6
1 2006 FJR (2 up)
1 2005 FJR
The participants got their t-shirts, bonus lists, checkpoint info, and other required documents last night. It was actually quite entertaining to see the reactions.
DB3 (2005 FJR) had been very soft spoken about the upcoming rally until the bonus pack was handed to him. One he saw the bonus list he hit the map like a man possessed. He seemed to step into a bubble of planning and plotting, shutting off all input from the outside world.
PJ (ZX-6) didn't say much, other than to comment about how sore he was going to be after spending 12 hours on a sport bike.
John (Ape Hangers) was the most vocally enthusiastic in the weeks leading up to the rally. Once he opened the 23 page bonus list he fell silent, appearing to be overwhelmed by the choices before him.
DB2 and Dee (2006 FJR) seemed to be all business...Focused...Detail oriented...Correcting my spelling errors (thanks Dee).
Rob (Sportster) was off like a flash once the meeting was done. Having just had a new battery installed in his HD earlier in the day, he found himself calling for a ride home after the negative battery terminal decided that it no longer wished to be attached to the new battery. His only comment was that he was quite happy that it happened on the shake-down cruise rather than mid-rally. Rob seemed rather disappointed that there were no Hooters locations on the bonus list. Sorry Rob, maybe next time.
Joe (Vulcan) seemed excited, yet apprehensive. He borrowed a tank bag from me and went about figuring out how best to secure it to his cruiser.
Before everyone departed, GZ took a few hot laps around my neighborhood on John's ape-hanger HD. Don't worry, I got plenty of photos. I'll post 'em up after the rally is over this weekend. Good times.
After the participants departed, GZ and I busted out the maps. Having not previously seen the bonus list, GZ was keen to plot a route (or three) that he would consider successful if he were riding in the rally. We had fun looking over the possibilities while sipping a couple of quality Stone Brewing selections (Smoked Porter and 12th Anniv Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (that one is SOOOO good)).
For those of you that would like to take a peek at the bonus list, I've created a map in Google Maps that shows the locations and their requirements. This isn't the official bonus list, so I didn't spend a ton of time proofreading it, but you'll get the overall picture. In addition to the bonii listed on the map, each rider will be required to complete one of two available checkpoints (they get to decide which one).
I'll post up more info after the event. Wish me luck.
2 WHeeL 12 Bonus Map
Posted by Scott at 8:35 AM
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Click HERE to read a very informative article about the plight of the Salton Sea in the desert of Southern California. I would really like to see this lake restored. I think having a great lake like this would be a great thing for the economy of the area. Oh, and it would be tons-o-fun.
Posted by Scott at 5:21 AM
Friday, August 8, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
It's that time of year again when my son and I are heading out for a road trip on the FJR. And just like they always do, Desert Cycle Works has taken the time and effort to ensure that we have a perfect motorcycle to ride while we're traveling. Dawn and Roy made sure that all of my preferred maintenance / service parts were on hand this week and then Dawn worked his magic on the blue beast. Oil change, final drive oil change, new NGK Iridium spark plugs, new front brake pads, throttle body sync, and new tires front and rear. This time I chose the new Dunlop RoadSmart tires. Time will tell how they feel and how they hold up.
The Little Dude and I can now hit the road with no worries whatsoever. We're also being tracked. You can check that out by going to my SPOT shared page.
Thanks again to Dawn, Sandra, Roy, Brian, and Tony at Desert Cycle Works for keeping me on the road and running strong.
Posted by Scott at 6:45 PM
Sunday, July 6, 2008
I've been playing around with some new software from Adobe. The newest member of the Photoshop Family is called Lightroom. I've been experimenting with Lightroom's tools for creating web slide shows. Take a look at some of my experiments at the links below and let me know what you think.
This last one is a little different. Here I've attempted to place the Lightroom slide show into my Visual Studio Master Page in order to get the look and feel of the rest of my website. (A work in progress.)
Posted by Scott at 3:07 PM
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I recently had the pleasure of attending a weekend of motorcycle road racing in Tooele, Utah at Miller Motorsports Park. The weekend was a special occasion for those of us that enjoy the sport as it was the first FIM World Superbike round held in the United States in four years. The weekend also included AMA Superbike and Supersport as well as other AMA classes. The folks at Miller Motorsports Park really put on a great event and they should be proud of their efforts. As if putting on a superb weekend of racing wasn't enough, they have continuously sought feedback from those in attendance in order to make next year's event even better. They sent a request out to all attendees to complete a survey just days after the race weekend. Today I received another email, this one from CEO and GM Alan Wilson, providing details of what actions are being taken to correct any shortcomings that were identified in the survey responses. This place really impressed me that early June weekend and they continue to do so. If Wilson and the staff at Miller are trying to get repeat business from me, they're doing a great job. Here is the email I most recently received.
A response from Miller Motorsports Park to feedback received from the public after our first World Superbike weekend.
The HANNSpree World Superbike weekend held at Miller Motorsports Park (May 28 – June 1) has been widely praised as a great first-time event at a well-managed facility, a response that has made us extremely proud. The event, which drew some 50,000 attendees over the four days of WSBK and AMA action, surpassed our expectations and set the stage for future growth.
Despite this success and praise, we are also very aware that not everything went according to our spectator’s expectations and we are working hard to identify areas in which we can improve our operations for the 2009 event. Immediately after the event we sent out a survey to a large number of our ticket buyers and reviewed the responses together with several hundred unsolicited emails and letters we received.
In generalized terms, some 93.7% of the comments that came in reflected exceptional, high or very good experiences with less than 0.5% experiencing real dissatisfaction. This high praise was great to hear but we were also made aware of a number of issues that, while not significantly affecting these people’s overall enjoyment, still indicate that improvement and changes are needed.
By and large, these issues relate to a few common complaints.
The most common complaint of all was the quality of our announce team. Without going into all the different complaints in detail, these noted primarily a lack of knowledge of motorcycle racing, an inability to pronounce riders’ names and a general lack of preparedness. We were also informed of some specific comments that were made on air that were clearly inappropriate.
A secondary issue related to the lack of information provided to the fans by the announce team.
MMP has reviewed the many comments and suggestions and will be making changes both to the announce team personnel and to the way the team is provided with all the information that needs to be disseminated to the public. This involves some engineering changes within our PA office as well as better information collection within our company and it’s formatting for use by the announcers.
We received a few complaints about the sound levels of our PA speakers, almost equally for them being too loud and too soft! We are planning a monitoring program to be run throughout the event in individual grandstand and spectator areas to make sure that sound levels remain consistent – we have a very complicated and expensive sound system that has been very difficult to learn, but we are getting better at operating it to its full capacity. We are also investigating a radio re-broadcast system of our PA for 2009, so that fans will be able to listen in on radio headsets and choose their own sound levels.
Access to the WSBK pits.
We received almost equal praise for the pit lane access to the WSBK garages and complaints that no one could see into the garages from the paddock. The fact is that we provided 10½ hours on Thursday, 5 on Friday, 4¾ on Saturday and 2½ on Sunday during which the public were able to wander along the pit lane in front of the WSBK garages, even during AMA track sessions when their bikes were using the same pit lane. The problem appears to be almost entirely due to a lack of PA announcements publicizing these times and access and insufficient signage at the pit walkabout gate. Some of the fans photographs we have seen of bikes, riders and team personnel in their garages could have been staged for professional photography; such was the access and willingness of the teams to interact with the fans. Sure, there were some hitches (the SBK teams were given a different schedule than the public for one thing – quickly resolved), and some people were upset at having to be hustled out of pit lane at the end of the pit walk periods thanks to our need to run everything on a very tight, minute-by-minute schedule. While some people thought there was an extra charge for this access (over and above paddock access fees), this was not the case.
Perhaps a better understanding of the way the teams laid out their garages would have explained why nothing could be seen from the paddock. Each team subdivided their garages, with the working (show) area facing pit lane, while the rear section was used for tire and equipment storage, computer banks and working offices. Even if the rear doors were open, the public would not have been able to see the bikes being worked on from the paddock.
Access to WSBK Riders, especially compared to the AMA stars.
This is something that really shows the difference between European and World Championship and our own American way of racing. The Europeans are used to fenced paddocks and RV compounds, very little fan interaction and almost complete privacy throughout the weekend; a characteristic that the SBK series felt was needed to be followed in Salt Lake City. We worked very hard to try to soften this requirement and in fact found that most of the riders were very friendly and willing to work with us. Many attended the downtown party on Thursday night, including Troy Bayliss, who was very happy to talk to fans and sign autographs. SBK also introduced their Paddock Show, which brought riders to the fans after each end-of-race podium ceremony. These proved extremely popular and are something that MMP intends to make a regular feature at all our major events.
I can assure our fans that these SBK riders were far more accessible here at Miller than they are at other venues, and that we will continue to find ways to increase interaction.
As for the AMA stars, they are fantastic to work with and seem to really like interacting with their fans. The west pit lane, where the AMA teams operated, has the advantage of having a long fence right behind the teams’ tents, so fans were very close to the action throughout the weekend.
Lack of SBK and Event Merchandizing.
We are very aware of the need to improve this for 2009. Let’s just say that this one fell through the cracks during the hectic planning for the event and was the result of some internal reorganization that could not be completed before the race as well as some communication issues between MMP and SBK’s contracted merchandise supplier. We lost a significant revenue item so, believe me, there will be a major fix in place for next year’s event.
Lack of Event Vendors.
Many fans asked for more vendors and specifically for more motorcycle-related displays and purchasing opportunities. The reality is that we would have liked to have many more, but because MMP is still new and has slowly been building our fan base, as well as our location being so far from other major cities, many vendors chose to take a wait-and-see attitude to our inaugural World Championship event. Now that we have shown that MMP can attract a large crowd, we can expect more interest from these vendors next year. It’s not a question of the price we charge, because we set site fees that are amongst the lowest in the country.
While we do have five permanent high-quality concession buildings, we recognize the need to add more event food and beverage vendors. Again, the large crowd for this event will help us draw more of these independent contractors next year. We did receive several requests to add more healthy food choices to our menus and to increase our concession opening times both of which have already been discussed and will be in place in 2009. And yes, beer was available throughout the weekend!
While we received a lot of positive comments for the fact that we have three very large jumbotrons, we did have some people complain that they could not see them adequately. This is a result of the vast size of Miller which makes it impossible to cover all site lines for all spectators. While we have no plans, at this time, to spend the $1,800,000-plus that would be needed to address all these complaints, we will constantly review these needs as we move into the future.
We have also noted that, when we broadcast the live SPEED TV feed (as stay-at-home fans would watch in their homes), it was not possible to read the tiny text along the top of the big screens that showed track positions. While we cannot reformat the SPEED signal, we have found a way to show track positions in a larger format and will add this to our jumbotron and in-house TV network at our next event.
Our intention is develop an in-house production capability, using our 22 CCTV track cameras and additional sources of content, and to add these to the SPEED feed in a way that will create what will virtually be our own, daylong TV and radio (PA) show.
This was an unexpected complaint. We received many thanks for the shuttles and nearly as many for not having enough! When we analyzed these we found that fans who had never been to any other race venue found the time between shuttles (10–30 minutes, depending on demand and internal traffic) to be too long to wait in line, while those who have been to other venues, where there are no shuttles, were thrilled that we provided these. MMP has a total of six trams and we borrowed another pair from Deer Valley, and these ran continuously from 7:00 am through 6:00 pm each day. There were some times when we had to redirect some to serve other needs, including getting corner workers out to their posts and increasing the paddock service for arriving team personnel in the early morning, which may have resulted in some of the delays.
We will review how we operate these next year and will certainly improve service as much as we can.
We had nearly 10 times more campers and RVs than ever before, so we were a little caught out in how we arranged parking, support services and entertainment for this area. As much as we would like to provide grass for everyone to sleep on, this is just not possible as we live in a desert, have very severe water limitations and use the same area during other parts of the year for car activities that would destroy any grass we might plant!
Nevertheless we are fully committed to improving facilities for RVs and campers even if we do not have yet any specific plans in place, three weeks after the 2008 race.
It is obvious from our survey that we attracted a large number of first-time fans, both first time to Miller and first time to a motorcycle race. While almost 100% of these noted how pleasantly surprised they were at Miller, its facilities, the friendliness of its staff, the ability to view so much of the action and the real excitement of the track competition, many expressed the need for us to provide much more information about the facility, the non-race support activities and the racing.
This is something that we now know we did not do very well. We need to improve signage around the facility; we need to make sure that information is included in the race program (which was very well received, (thanks to Road Racer X for putting this together); we need to provide the motorcycle and local media with advance notice of everything that is happening; we need to ensure that all the information is collected together and made available to our announcers, information stands (we lost our volunteer information stand teams just one week before the event) and staff and make sure that the public is constantly updated.
All in all we have to be very happy with the way our first World Superbike event went.
The complaints that I have identified are by no means all that came in, but they are the ones that were most common. There were some that we simply cannot address (being asked to make sure that dust does not blow in from the surrounding desert – what, does Brands Hatch have to ensure that it does not rain on their track during an event?) and some that we would dearly love to make happen (more grass, anyone?). There are some that reflect sheer stupidity (our stunt rider who crashed through a fence during the post-race SBK public interviews); some that we could not control (our trials rider fell and broke his arm the night before the event), and some that could have been serious, required a response but which received negative comment. (Troy Corser riding his pit bike at speed through the crowd - and yes, 30 mph when there are a lot of people around is too fast - sliding it to a stop right in front of a security guard and having the bike confiscated on the spot. The security guard was absolutely correct in relieving Troy of his ride. Remember, he did not know that Troy was one of the world’s most capable bike riders; he was just looking out for the publics safety. The fact that Troy took this very well, laughing off the incident, says that our security guard handled the incident well, without animosity and certainly not in an over-the-top manner.)
Although we have highlighted several issues in this letter, we have taken note of all the other complaints and compliments we have received and will consider all of these as we plan the 2009 SBK weekend.
I have taken the opportunity to write this letter to a number of journalists (and to use it to respond to some of the people who sent us their comments) to show that we at Miller Motorsports Park are very aware of the constant need to improve the way we operate our events. We enjoy the praise and congratulations that we received for the event, but know that we have much to learn and to do before we can be truly satisfied.
I would like to thank you, your fellow media members and our fans for supporting our first World Championship event. This was a very important event for MMP, and one which we hope to grow to become the best motorcycle race weekend in America.
We will retain the file of all our responses and invite any media person to review it, if this is what you would like to do.
Best regards and we look forward to seeing you back in June, 2009
Thanks to everyone at Miller Motorsports Park for a great weekend of racing. See you next year.
Posted by Scott at 9:57 PM
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
This week my son is in town for spring break. Since he had to suffer through the pain and hassle of flying all the way across the county to visit me I figured it was my duty to make it a memorable visit. I think I've succeeded.
After arranging to borrow my friend's Yamaha Rhino I arranged for another friend to give us the guided tour of the area in order to find the perfect camping spot. After touring a few of the area's dirt roads and trails from the comfort of the Rhino we settled on a spot just east of Gold Park Rd, not far from the old rock cabin that once belonged to (or was at least occupied by) Willie & Barbara Robb.
Our camp site...
The wind was beginning to discourage me as the sun crept closer to the tops of the mountains to our west. It was getting cold and it wasn't even dark yet. I had visions of Nick and I sitting in the tent to stay warm rather than enjoying conversation around a campfire. But as luck would have it the wind all but disappear just as the sun did. We built a nice fire with wood we hauled in and kicked back for the evening.
A stone structure near one of the mine shafts...
Nick sittin' by the fire.
It wasn't long before we had a visit from Brian and Anthony. Brian is quite the local history enthusiast and was quick to fill us in on the area's rich mining history. We then proceeded to the North Star mine for a quick tour followed by a lesson on the operation of one of the area's arrastras.
This morning we got up, had a bagel for breakfast, disassmbled our camp, and headed south for more exploring. Once we'd had our fill of exploring (not really, but we needed to get back home for lunch) we packed our gear into the Rhino and headed home.
Here are a few more pictures of our adventures...
I'd like to thank Dawn for loaning us his Rhino and Brian for loaning us camping gear and teaching us about the history of the area. Thanks guys, we had a blast.
Posted by Scott at 6:01 PM
Friday, January 18, 2008
So comes to a close another week of learning geek skills. This week I attended a class at Interface Technical Training in Phoenix taught by Dan Wahlin. The class was focused on ASP.NET 2.0. I'm currently using ASP.NET 1.1 at my 'day job' but I've had some limited experience with 2.0 on some personal and side projects. Dan was a great instructor (not uncommon for Interface) and I learned some great things in his class. I commented to Dan that the class should be called 'How to hate your ASP.NET 1.1 Project in 5 Days or Less' since it seemed that every cool thing I learned was limited to version 2 and higher. I guess I needed some additional incentive to buckle down and get into the nuts and bolts of upgrading applications at work anyway. Now I have tons of ideas that I can't wait to implement. Now the crappy part is that I can't take advantage of any of this stuff until we upgrade our database server to SQL Server 2005. We're currently using SQL Server 2000 and that just isn't gonna cut it. Hopefully we can go to SQL '05 and Visual Studio '08, but at a minimum it'll be SQL '05 and VS 2005 (VS 2008 may not be approved for use on our network yet). Anyway, it was a week well spent. I had fun, I learned quite a bit, and my passion for web development has been renewed.
I definitely recommend Interface Technical Training if you're looking for some geek education.
Posted by Scott at 7:08 PM
Thursday, January 10, 2008
This is just too good to be true. The irony here is killin' me! And of course, the California list is topped by none other than the Local here in my little corner of the world. Hey all you dues paying members of AFGE...how do you feel about providing money to your fellow union members who happen to be in need of some spare change for bail?
Only a heavy-handed, intimidating, over-bearing, criminal organization like a labor union would need to set up a system like this.
Unions continue to make my case for me.
Posted by Scott at 5:28 AM