Friday, September 11, 2009

Indianapolis MotoGP

Over the weekend of August 28 I attended the second annual MotoGP motorcycle race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I left home on Thursday morning on my VFR and had a nice 650-mile ride up to Indy; with the exception of light showers throughout Tennessee, the weather was great. I bumped into some fellow riders at a rest stop in KY who were also en route to the races, and I had a good time chatting with them for a while.

A fellow I know through a motorcycle club lives adjacent to the track and offers camping and parking in his yard, so on Thursday night I camped there, along with a fellow member on the Ninja 250 forum, Ryan; he is from Sacramento and is in the midst of large journey around the U.S. and Canada, and I had met him just a few days prior when he stopped through close to Columbia and we met up for breakfast.

I got up early on Friday morning and walked across the street to the track (how nice is that?), found a vendor selling coffee, and headed to the stage where the rider interviews were to begin at 9:30. By getting there early I claimed a coveted spot along the fence that later during the interviews afforded me the opportunity to get the autographs of all the riders! The interviews were really enlightening; they shared a lot about their personal lives and their approaches to racing. All very cool.

Australian Chris Vermulen and Italian Loris Capirosi

Loris signing autographs

Valentino Rossi, 8-time world champion and considered by many to be the best motorcycle racer ever. Yep, got his autograph, too. :-)

After that was over I met up with Ryan for lunch, and we then spent the afternoon checking out exhibits and watching practice action on the track. The 125cc and 250cc classes enjoyed a dry track, but rain started just as the big 800cc MotoGP machines went out for practice. Fortunately, that was the only rain we'd see all weekend.

Rossi zooming by

Following the day's activities I headed over to the hotel where some of my friends from Michigan and I had rooms reserved. After getting checked in we walked over to a steakhouse for a nice dinner and camaraderie.

I awoke bright and early Saturday morning, showered, went downstairs for a nice breakfast, and then headed back to the rooms, knocking on the doors to make sure my friends were awake, and they opened the doors with one eye barely open, so I told them, "See you at the track!" :-) Enjoyed a beautiful day watching qualifying action and spending more time at the manufacturer and vendor exhibits, and in the afternoon caught up with Ryan and another Ninja 250 forum member, Kevin, from Illinois. Yamaha had one of Rossi's former bikes set up and were taking photos of people sitting on it, so I jumped on that opportunity! I've seen a few MotoGP bikes up close, but sitting on one (especially Rossi's) was a rare treat.

Following the day's action on the track, one of the riders, James Toseland from England, and his band Crash treated the fans to a nearly 2-hour set on a stage adjacent to the track. They played really well and were very entertaining; it was a fun two hours. James is on the right, singing and playing the keyboard.

I met the MI crew back at the hotel, and we walked down to Red Lobster for dinner, where I enjoyed their endless shrimp; I tried the battered, Cajun, and Teriyaki varieties, all very tasty, served with some excellent rice pilaf and a good salad.

Sunday morning we gathered for breakfast in the lobby and headed over to the track to secure a good location for watching the races. On Friday and Saturday I had watched from various vantage points, some pretty close to the track, but for watching racing action, we chose up high in the northeast corner, which afforded a good view of the final several corners leading into the front straight.

Nice view of the Indy skyline

All 3 races were exciting, with several fierce battles going on throughout all of them. In the MotoGP race, my guy Rossi took the lead early on but unfortunately crashed out about midway through. The 2 American racers finished 3rd and 5th, though, so that was good to see.

After saying goodbye to my friends and packing up, I headed west about 90 miles to Turkey Run State Park where I camped for the next two nights. I got my tent pitched and just took it easy for the evening, reading a bit and visiting with some fellow campers. I met a motorcycling couple from St. Louis and an older gentleman from not too far away who'd recently gotten back into riding after a lengthy hiatus.

Monday morning I awoke to 45 degrees (burr!) and got in about an hour of hiking before heading out for my day's adventure. The park was a very extensive network of trails that explore some really neat geologic formations; exploring it as the sun was coming up was the perfect way to start the day.

Following my hike I embarked on a covered bridge mission; western Indiana, and specifically Parke county, is an area rich in covered bridges. I was out for around 8 hours, covered around 200 miles (about 50 of which were on dirt roads), and visited 20 covered bridges! I was able to ride over most of them, though a few are closed to traffic due to declining structural integrity. Western Indiana is a very rural region with lots of farmland, most of which is corn fields.

Though it was certainly way cool seeing 20 covered bridges in one day, I found that they all looked pretty much the same. I guess it's because they were architected and bullt by the same small group of individuals. But, that didn't detract from the appeal of the adventure.

The inner arch was a common design element, though not all the bridges use it.

Heron enjoying the solitude

Western Indiana is an Amish region, so you have to be mindful of carriages in the road; I encountered 3 or 4 in my travels.

I've never been to Illinois, and I was pretty close to the state line, so I made a 20-mile loop into IL so I can add it to the list of states I've visited. :-)

Monday night I enjoyed a nice dinner at a local eatery called The White Horse Cafe and another relaxing evening at the campground. Tuesday was the 725-mile ride home, which, though it was all interstate, was nice nonetheless.

You can find all my photos here. Be warned that there are a lot! :-) But they are grouped by category to aid browsing.


At Sunday, September 20, 2009 12:48:00 AM, Blogger vfr8usa said...

Very cool, Payne! Thanks for sharing - too bad you could not take Rossi's bike for a little spin..or maybe you would want to trade in the VFR!



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