captured on camera
To read Part I of this saga click here.
Christopher Kulikowski rides behind me in a fast downhill sprint along 9 Mile Canyon Road into the Owens Valley from Kennedy Meadows. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
THE SOUTHERN REACHES of the Kern River in the Sierra Nevada mountains was the bucolic destination chosen for the 2013 Gay Sport Bike Riders annual run of motorcycle enthusiasts seeking camaraderie, hard and fast motorcycling, challenging terrain and an all-around great time.
This year’s event began Aug. 1 in Los Angeles (and San Francisco).
On Aug. 2, the group of 15 riders stopped at least twice on the way to the 9,200-foot summit at Mt. Sherman Peak to savor the majesty of the environment, to breathe in the fresh Alpine air, to recharge with the energy of nature’s beauty.
WATCH THE MOVIE BELOW THE FOLD
AS THE ELEVATION the effect of less oxygen was noticeable not only on the bikes’ performance, but also the riders’. Harder, deeper breathing is essential; the human body, especially one being worked out by a motorcycle has a fixed need for oxygen – when there is less in the air, we have to work harder to get it.
At the summit we paused – for more than a photo op. The air was clear and we could see Mt. Whitney, some 40 miles distant.
The sky was speckled with spotty clouds, the temperature comfortably in the 80s.
The GSR group stops for a breather while riding Sherman Pass from Kernville to Kennedy Meadows on Aug. 2. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
Below us, was Kennedy Meadows and lunch at Grumpy Bears, an isolated tavern, deserted when we arrived, but soon abuzz with the festive spirit of our group.
There was nothing grumpy at all about this party.
After lunch the fun began with a fast downhill sprint along 9 Mile Canyon Road into the Owens Valley where it meets U.S. Highway 395.
I’d been preparing for this, long before the adventure even began.
On three previous occasions I’ve shot video from the motorcycle rider’s perspective, with cameras aboard the bike, twice with help from a passenger, once without.
Our first such video can be seen at A unique perspective of the Long Beach Gay Pride parade.
The second is at CSW Gay Pride Parade: a motorcycle rider’s perspective
More recently, I tested doing the video without help. With one camera on the handlebars, another on the luggage rack, I shot Angeles Crest Highway: a motorcycle rider’s perspective
The vista of plains and mountains opened before us as we sped downhill along 9 Mile Canyon Road heading towards the Owens Valley. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
I HAD BRIEFED Christopher Kulikowski, who works at a post production house in Hollywood, on my plan, and he enthusiastically agreed to participate.
During lunch I mounted both cameras and wired myself for sound.
As we left the gravel parking lot, the earpiece monitor fell out of my ear; I could not reach into the helmet to re-insert it, and lost valuable minutes trying. The rest of the pack sped away into the distance.
I rode at full throttle to catch a few riders, including Chris, before the summit just a few miles distance.
I had learned that the vibration from the engine made the video so unstable it was useless. Only in neutral was the bike sufficiently smooth to make shooting worthwhile.
It was downhill for nine miles.
Sweeping vistas unfolded before us as the mountains gave way to open plains and then the Owens Valley came into view. I covered most of the distance in neutral.
As any motorcycle rider will attest, this is tricky at best, dangerous at worst. Riders use the torque from the engine to provide stability during turns, and applying only the brakes can easily lead to slipping off the tarmac.
You raconteur is seen on the Honda Shadow VF 750 at the 9,200-foot summit at Sherman Peak in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Photo by Christopher Kulikowski. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
I was more cautious – and slower – than usual.
Chris was a terrific sport. He tolerated my erratic riding, keeping himself in view, first behind, then in front, providing a focal point for the video.
The rear camera, my iPhone4s, inexplicably quit after 13 minutes – the handlebar camera, a Nikon Coolpix, captured the entire ride, but much of it was less-than-adequately stable or sufficiently in focus.
Judge for yourself, and post a comment below.
Michael Fagaone, 40, who has been riding for 20 years, brought his Ducati Multistrada 1200 on the trip.
This was his fifth time on the GSR group’s ride. “I [enjoy] being with a lot of great people and motorcycling together,” he said.
Trained as an accountant, Fagone now works in show business doing forecasting and planning.
“I started riding when I was 20 years old,” Fagone said. “This event is one of my favorite things to do all year.”
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