AFM Round Two - Infineon Raceway

I still need to post more about Peru, but the adventures keep rolling in and I wanted to update you on AFM round two last weekend at Infineon Raceway.  I've apparently been traveling and working too much and not had time to practice my racing.  I'm three seconds off the pace at this track I got to last year.  I have some significant bike upgrades (exhaust, suspension) but also one major downgrade (wheels) to become legal with the production class.  In short, it's much a new bike and I simply need more time in the saddle to get used to what I'm riding.

Had a wonderful birthday weekend at the track (now 34).  Friends new and old came out to watch the races, so much fun to have a team of fans cheering us on.  Big thanks to Trey for taking these photos.  I had hoped for better race results, but in the end I was consistent, safe and had a blast so hard to be very upset.  I placed 12 of 26 in Clubman Heavyweight (dropping me to 6th overall for the year so far); 16th of 18 in Open Production; 38th of 40 in Open Superbike and 34 of 42 in Open Grand Prix.

I didn't hear it, but apparently the quote of the weekend was when the announcer made commentary as me and the other Clubman Heavyweight racers took the grid for our race, "We're in for some excitement folks; coming up we've got a collection of inexperienced riders on VERY POWERFUL BIKES!"  Ha, ha.  This is a picture of me riding Brad's pocket bike around the pits, this would NOT be a "very powerful bike." 

Two of the remaining five rounds this season are fairly accessible to Bay Area spectators - also at Sears Point in Sonoma, California:  May 23rd and August 1st.


Inca Trail - Hiking In The Andes

Tons of great stories and thoughts on a week spent in Peru hiking the Inca Trail and visiting Machu Picchu, I'll have to find time to collect my thoughts and write them out soon before the experience fades in memory.  There are probably interesting posts on: the economics of a Cusco, Peru trip; the experience of hostel culture; and the locals who gain employ as porters for tourists on the hike.  For now here are a couple pictures as I'm still editing and organizing photos.  This one above was taken at 14,000 feet at a spot called Dead Woman's Pass. 

Executive summary:  the Inca empire was prominent for some 150 years in the vicinity of 1500 AD.  Despite a lack of wheel technology, the instrument of currency, particularly effective war capability (ultimately Spanish invasion coupled with small pox was the end of the Inca-rule), the Inca Empire stretched over much of South America.  They were very effective builders with stone, and are probably most well known today for the ruins at Machu Picchu.  Cusco, Peru was the epicenter of Inca activity, and the nearby Sacred Valley.  The Incas built over 1000 km of stone inlaid trails, hiking along one of these paths for four days is the popular tourist alpine hike that ends at the Machu Picchu ruins.

Boarding my flight from Miami on the way home, more later...

Zip Lines In Cusco

Found a fun zip line course over the river which cost 25 sol (S/.25).  Sol to USD conversion rate is roughly 3 Sol/ 1 USD - so the zip line cost about $8 USD.  Things here are generally quite cheap.  Taxi from the airport is 20 minutes and 10 sol (three dollars).  Found a couple pictures that turned out well and were interesting.


Rafting On The Urubamaba

Headed out for a day trip river rafting today.  The Urubamba is a headwater of the Amazon, this time of year is apparently good rafting as glaciers in the Andes melt.  It is not dam controlled like the American River in California (and most commercially rafted rivers in the US) so the river can be very different in April than in September.  For most of the year the Urubamba has class I and II rapids, but we had a couple patches of III and IV which made it a little exciting.  Notable or treacherous stretches of rapids get a name in the rafting world, and the Butterfly is the Urubamba's famous stretch.  Here are some fun pictures from rafting.  Tomorrow is checking in for our hike, wandering around Cusco, and trying to rent a motorcycle if possible and head into the Andes for a relaxed ride if the weather is nice.


Hanging Out In Cusco

Spent the day napping a bit, fueling up with a great dinner, and walking around getting sunblock and sandals and gear for the five day hike coming up and the river rafting tomorrow.  Here's some quick pictures from Cusco.  Cusco is a mountain town - elevation 11,000 feet.  We can feel it, getting short of breath just walking around.  Probably a great idea we came here to acclimate for a couple days before starting our hike.  The illuminated Jesus statue looms in the hills above the town, visible from the town square.

The town here is a frequent launch point for Machu Picchu, typically there's a train leaving to the top of the mountain a couple times a day.  Last couple months however there's been great rains as we are exiting the rainy season - and the train route has been washed out.  SO, when we get to the top at the end of the week, there's unlikely to be the typical swarm of tourists that would be there otherwise.  Exciting for us who are hiking up!

Hiking is regulated by permit on the trail, and was  closed in February and March, but just opened in April.  500 people a day are issued permits, the cost is usually $500 on up - and the permit issuing company is also a guide on the trail and carries cooking supplies and food, tents, most of what you need.  All we are required to carry is sleeping bag, water and clothes.  So we'll be in the first few thousand people to see Maccu Picchu in 2010 - there's also been rumors of Peru closing the hiking trail permanently some day - the impact to the natural state of the trail of having tourism hikes is taking it's toll over the years.

Tomorrow off to river raft.  Might not capture many pictures, don't want to bring my camera and lose or dunk it!  Playing scrabble tonight in my hostel with my travel mates, then turning in early to catch up on sleep from the trip over.

Buenos Dias From Cusco

Got into Cusco Peru today, super excited for a week of relaxing.  I signed up for this trip on a lark, a couple friends were headed down here already and I'm crashing the party.  The plan is to acclimate to altitude for a couple days, then head out Tuesday for a five day hike to Maccu Picchu.  I was debating what summer adventures I would assemble lately, and remiss that river rafting looked to not fit in.  Great news!  I found a one day rafting trip here that I will take tomorrow.  My friends aren't interested in the rafting so I'm going to strike out solo for a day.

I'm staying in a $15 a night hostel.  This is the most expensive room they have (private - me only).   At check-in a bystander fellow backpacker overheard that I had a private room and exclaimed, "wow, nice dude."  I wonder if I'm too old for this hostel thing - my friends are at a mid-range hotel nearby.  Nah.  It's  $15 a night!  $15!  Ha, ha.  A fellow backpacker in the lobby wanted to sell me his (used) towel for $5.  He argued new ones are for sale from the front desk for $6, so he would be saving me $1 and he only used the towel one time.  It's funny how everything is relative.  I bet he gets a taker on the towel sale if he loiters in the lobby another 30 minutes.  Not me though....


Inspirational Motorcycle Quotes

I sent a quick text message to a few motorcycle buddies this afternoon, and was overwhelmed with the ridiculousness of the replies so I had to make mention of it here.  Josh Hayes is a pro racer in AMA's American Superbike class.  He's doing testing today at the track I will race on April 24th, Infineon Raceway.  He turned a 1:36 lap, which is 15 seconds faster than my best ever.  :15 may not sound like much, but in a game of inches it's some 15% faster than me.  This means in a six lap race he would lap me.  Most pro races are 18 or 24 laps, so in fact during one normal race he would lap me three or four times.

So I asked my friends, "How does Hayes do a 1:36 at Infineon?"

Here are the unedited replies:

"I just read that in SOUP crazy right?  And Aquino on a 600 in 39s.  Call on his best day does maybe 39s" - BG  (this particular friend obviously also races)
"Ask not how Gods do" - CD
"Balls, a hell of a lot of cardio, and a factory ride he doesn't have to worry about binning" - BM
"Stay on the throttle until you see God, then brake and turn in" - DK

... anyway some inspirational words to live by across the board.