Thursday, October 30, 2008

My definition of a good day!

A couple days ago I had a 25 hour layover in Los Angeles, CA. I usually spend layovers relaxing, reading, working out, and laying by the pool. A long layover in Los Angeles however means one! My good friend Mark and I rented sport-bikes from a company called South Bay Sport Bike Rentals about four years ago and despite a cold ride in the rain, we had fun. The weather this time of the year in Southern California is usually perfect, so I called Mark and asked if he'd be interested in renting bikes again. Mark taught me how to ride motorcycles and it's been a passion of ours for several years, so it didn't take him very long to say yes. We called Jeff, the owner of the motorcycle rental company, and made arrangements to ride all day during my layover.

We arrived in L.A. around midnight, Mark had flown in from Minneapolis and met up with myself and the rest of my crew to ride over to the hotel. Jeff picked us up in the morning and drove us to where the bikes were. Mark elected to ride the Honda 600RR and I rode the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R. Both are great bikes that put plenty of power in between your legs. Our goal was Angeles Crest Highway which is world renowned for motorcycle riding. It's located in Angeles National Forest and is a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy Los Angeles area. After a quick 30 minute ride through the freeways of L.A. we made it to Angeles Crest Highway. After a quick stop to discuss how quickly we could become a hood ornament or end up plunging to our death if we weren't careful, we started the adventure.

I can't think of words that can properly describe what an awesome road we were on. Not only were the views spectacular but the road itself was a perfect blend of curves, straight-aways, and hairpin turns. We rode about half-way down the highway and then made a stop for lunch at Newcombsranch which is a popular restaurant among bikers. While we were there, we talked with a few locals about the road and what to look out for, as well as other good roads to ride. Since we were there to ride and not eat, we finished up lunch quickly and continued toward the end of the highway. We stopped at the end to relax for a little while and talk about what a great day we were having!

Over the next few hours we explored some more of the roads located in the park and ended up riding Angeles Crest Highway a second time. After we left the forest we braved rush hour and headed over to Malibu via "the 101" and Topanga Canyon Road (which is another awesome road for riding). We met up with the Pacific Coast Highway and rode south along the ocean to Manhattan Beach and ate fish taco's at a bar overlooking the ocean. By now it was almost 9:00 PM and time to return the bikes.

After an exhausting day, we returned the bikes and headed back to the hotel (as I was to fly the red-eye from LAX back to Houston, TX). Mark, who is also an airline pilot, accompanied me in the cockpit on the way back to Houston and after arriving, we flew home to Minneapolis. I slept the afternoon away when I got home but let's see, a day riding motorcycles on one of the best roads in the world with your best friend....yeah, that's a good day.

A sign of what was ahead of us! Looks like fun to me!

The bikes, a Honda 600RR (red) and a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R (green).

The only restaurant on Angeles Crest Highway, Newcombsranch.

A staged photo of Mark, taken especially for his wife. Funny, huh?

A picture of me contemplating life.

It doesn't get any better than this!

Me with the bike at the end of Angeles Crest Highway. Yeah, this is a good way to spend a layover.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Football With "The Boys"

Yesterday was a perfect fall day! The leaves are at their peak color, the air is cool and crisp, and I think everyone is trying to squeeze in the last of their outdoor activities before the snow flies. Fall is my favorite time of year and it’s perfect for flag football with “the boys”.

A few friends of mine and I met at a South Minneapolis park yesterday afternoon for a friendly game of flag football. We all showed up with varied skill levels. I hadn’t played football since the 3rd grade and have watched about five football games on TV since then. Most of the guys hadn’t played football in a while, but almost all of them frequently watch it on TV, so they knew the concept. One guy said he brought cleats with him, but I think when he saw another guy show up wearing jeans and sporting a beer in his back pocket, he realized it wasn’t going to be “that” kind of game.

We quickly established the rules and made up the teams. Fortunately for my sake, making the teams didn’t involve me standing there hoping someone would pick me before I was the last guy remaining. We just grabbed a flag and whatever color you grabbed meant you were on that team (although I think when some of the guys saw me grab a red flag, it wasn’t an accident that they “magically” ended up on the yellow team).

The first huddle was when I realized I know absolutely nothing about football. There were plays drawn out on people’s hands and guys covering their mouth while they talked so the other team couldn’t read our lips. I felt like I was listening to a foreign language when I heard terms like running block, sweep, trap, bootleg, and blitz. We’d usually break up the huddle by clapping our hands and yelling something like, “Go Team!”

I have to say, there were some great plays! A few long runs for touchdowns and a lot of great passes were made! At one point, I caught the ball and ran out of bounds as soon as I could to avoid getting tackled. Obviously, I didn’t trust that everyone was going after the flags.

We didn’t keep track of the score very carefully so about 15 minutes before someone had to go pick up their kid at daycare, we decided the next team to score would be the winner. Unfortunately the team I was on wasn’t the team that scored next but it didn’t matter. We all had a great time and came away with a little mud on our clothes and some sore muscles, just what you’d expect from a fall football game with “the boys”.

Pictured Above:
Standing in the back row are; Justin, Paul, Kyle, Me, Mark, Derek, and Brady.
Kneeling in the front row are; Scott, Ed, and Bob.
Not pictured is Clay who took the picture!