A special race factory

I paid a visit to Sito Pons workshop last week. It’s a big, impressive place on the outskirts of Barcelona.

1998 and 1999 250cc world championship winners observe from above.

Outside was a wall of used wheels of every kind – From old GP 500cc wheels to 990’s to 125’s. Just collecting rain water. I sigh at what could be done with these.

The wheel graveyard.

Boxes stacked in remote corners were filled with old parts from the team’s bikes throughout the years. There was also an unused dyno jet room out back, with big electronic machines collecting dust. (This is not this first incidence of this I have seen like this in Spain. In the US, a dyno room would be put into use every day!)

Which famous racer used to ride for Pons?

and which said racer had special air intakes on his carbon bodywork?

There may be forgotten parts stacked around the place, but the Pons team is very forward thinking and I suppose doesn’t have time for too much nostalgia. It’s a huge, clean, organized space with around 8 mechanics at work on different projects at any given time. There were at least 5 giant team trucks, (2 of them inside the workshop,that’s how big this place is) ready to go to their various races at any time.

Pons also runs a successful Formula Renault team. The car was spread over three work rooms when I visited.

Formula Renault car guts.
35,000 Euros carbon chassis. I left finger prints on it. (OK not really.) (OK yeah I did.)

Sito himself, while possessing the  stature of a 250cc World Champion, has quite a commanding presence and striking blue eyes that could probably sear a hole through your soul if you held his gaze too long. I didn’t test that out but I think he could probably do it.

For 2010, Pons is running a Moto2 team with German Kalex bikes. I’m attending the test in Valencia and maybe one more before the season starts. People are excited about this class and these bikes – the mechanics, the riders, the bike developers and designers,  riders from other championships, and of course, me. I am sad to see the 250s go and I will miss that sound and the premix smell. But these bikes are pretty cool to see on the track and we have to keep looking forward, just like the Pons team does.

The economy might leave the grids a little sparse right now however.

An open letter to girls in Barcelona

Dear 20 something girls in Barcelona,

Hello there girls, you all don’t know me but I see you every day. In fact I see a little too much of all of you. because, well, it seems you are forgetting to put you skirt on before you leave the house.  Your stylish sweater, fancy leather jacket, scarf, and sometimes even a sassy hat all look great together. And the leggings too, the leggings would be perfect – if you wore them as leggings.

You see, those leggings, they are not pants. They are meant to be worn with something over them. It doesn’t matter if you pair them with a knee or even thigh high pair of boots, we aren’t looking at your legs. See, those leggings, they are slightly sheer.  So when I, and every student in the classroom or stranger on the street you traipse past turns their head to look at you, it isn’t because we all think you are especially cute or fancy. It’s because the glow of your white butt cheek is shining right through those “pants”.  It’s especially disturbing to all of us on the Metro when you are standing and we are seated, so said ass cheek is right at eye level. And sometimes that cheek is less than smooth. It’s disturbing.

Your friends would all be fired, except they are guilty of the same crime.

Also, not sure if you noticed, but even if your leggings are black, we can see all the details (shape, size, pattern, color, lace, bows…) of the underwear you are wearing, or if you are going commando. So,just a friendly word of advice- next time you wear your “pants” with no underwear and a short sweater, you may want to a get a wax first. Just sayin’.

Thanks for not taxing anyone’s imagination,

Short visit to Italy

The irony. I left Italy last August. But beginning this year, I will be spending a lot more time there. however unlike last year, time spent there will be at the track or at workshops or otherwise revolving directly around racing in Italy. I’ll be riding and racing too.

So last week I took my first trip out to Chivasso to check out some workshops, meet some people, and maybe test some bikes.

First stop, workshop of a guy who has been working in or with or for the world championship for 20 years. He now is building electronics for the Moto2 class but has many, many other projects going on, of course.

Hey look, a KTM 125GP bike.

Hand built prototype pipe.

Not your usual pipe collection

I displayed my mechanical prowess on a crank.

Sign says: read all the signs.

Sign says: Chudere sempre, teste di cazzo.

I got to check out another workshop too, this one I am a bit closer to I guess you could say. There were around 20 bikes stored under plastic and blankets. Some of them were very special. And no I won’t be riding any of these.
Of course, the usual stray parts every workshop has were stuck in every nook and cranny, as well as the usual neglect that comes along with living with motorcycles of every caliber every day for decades:
Hand painted gas tanks became doorstops, rare racers became tables for construction materials, and bodywork from bikes that won Italian championships caught fallout from sparrows nests.
Unfortunately, I did no bike testing, because it snowed.  So after a quick tour of the larger city of Torino at night, and I returned to Spain.
I am full of enthusiasm for the riding and racing I will do this year. And blind fear I will be too fat, slow and tired to race.
To help cool the boiling cauldron of terror, I intend to visit the gym every single DAY.  (OK, in truth, I’ll visit every day  just to use the showers, since my shower sucks. There’s nothing like the prospect of a trickle of freezing water to motivate one to head to the gym.)
Hey, and while I’m there, I may even work out.

California Recap

Here is the synopsis of my 3 1/4 week visit to California.

  • Long Beach moto show, where I purchases incredibly cheap offroad boots and goggles and saw a lot of old friends.
  • A weekend in Vegas with the girls, where I found the BEST slot machine ever. Behold, the Kitty Glitter.

  • My father, who understands my aversion to Xmas, made me a tumbleweed Xmas tree. I completed the display with booze.

  • Great two days in the desert, camped in a borrowed Pirate Monkey Cult tent, imbibed in some Chelada and gave myself some nice bruises.

  • Xmas at my mom’s house with my brother, where we presented my mother with a new Xmas ornament to keep in the family for generations to come – An Incredible Hulk snorkle:

And worked in my company’s office. A lot. Like 10 hours a day a lot. But I’ll take it, since this job allows me to work anywhere in the world.

Now I am back in Barcelona, preparing for 2010. I have plans that involve motorcycles – of course!