Saturday, October 24, 2015

Intro to Dirt at Hollister Hills SVRA

In August, I got really interested in learning to dirt bike and decided to enroll in the Into to Dirt class with Garrahan Off Road Training.

The two day class takes place in Hollister, CA and Brian Garrahan provides all of the dirt bikes.

Day 1 - Saturday, October 24

I got up early in the morning, around 6:30am, to get ready for the drive to Hollister. My iPhone was showing fairly cold weather - 48F - so I brought a pullover, but it was never needed.

I arrived at around 8:40am at the Hollister SRV (it was a one hour drive with almost no traffic). Brian was setting up all of the dirt bikes and unloading all of the protective gear.


Being a street rider, I was surprised by the amount of gear being used. I put on knee pads, elbow pads, shoulder pads, body armor, and motorcross boots, in addition to my helmet.

Brian selected a Honda CRF150 for me. It was not too small, not too big, and very light (compared to all of my previous street bikes).


After putting on all of the gear, Brian explained to use the techniques we needed to use on dirt bikes. Unlike street bikes, dirt bikes require a lot more body movement, and he showed us how to move our body forward during acceleration and backward during breaking.

To warm, we rode a few rounds on the nearby Vintage track. I dropped the bike on the first loop (it was very sandy), but I got used to after a while.

We proceeded with more dirt bike drills, learning to smoothly break, accelerate, slide the rear wheel, and turn the bike.

After all of the drills, we did a loop around Adobe trail - a very gently rolling trail in Hollister. We returned to get lunch and drink some water. Inna packed me a delicious soup, and I enjoyed eating it. By this time, the temperature at Hollister became a balmy 84F and I was sweating like a pig.

After lunch, we did a few more drills followed by a ride through a more difficult track. I dropped the bike once (again on a sandy surface, when I lost traction).

I had a fun day, but it was a bit tiring. I am looking forward to the next day.

Day 2 - Sunday, October 24

I arrived at around 8:40am at the Hollister SRV (it was a one hour drive with almost no traffic). Since I had all of my protective gear from Saturday's ride, I dressed fairly quickly.

We got going right around 9:00am and we were off to a warm on the nearby track followed by a short trail ride and more drills.

I felt a lot more confident this second day of dirt biking, but I crashed a lot more often. Maybe I became a bit too confident.

I shot a video of our first morning ride with my GoPro Hero 4 Silver mounted on the handlebars.



I shot another video of riding the "Middle Field", "Tank", and "Adobe" trails.



What I found most challenging for me was riding the bike in the stand up position. It's much harder to shift gears this way, and I had a hard time with the rear brake. I shot another video of my training ride.

I had a lot of fun in this class and hope to do it again, to develop a bit more confidence.





Monday, October 5, 2015

New Amazon Fire TV and the battery compartment from hell

I have been a big fan of Roku3 and Home Theater PCs for a long time. Although it does not support many video formats, it works well with my Plex server running on Synology DS1815+ NAS. Plex can transcode any current movie/tv format to whatever format Roku (or other front end supports).


I was really excited that Amazon released a Fire TV version that supported 4K and voice search - ahead of AppleTV. Today, I eagerly unwrapped the Amazon box and took out all of the components.

The Amazon Fire TV box looked sleek and well made. The remote also looked nicely contoured. I decided to insert the batteries into the remote. But, how the heck does one open the battery compartment. I tried force, using a small screwdriver, with no effect.

I decided to call Amazon and ask. After waiting 8 minutes, someone called me but could not suggest any solution. He hung up after looking for more solutions. I tried Amazon again, and a nice lady answered. However, she also could not suggest anything new to try. She did mention that other people were having the same problem.


I searched on Google for videos of other people opening the compartment, but could not find any that showed this specific remote, which has a peculiar back side. Sometimes, being the first  to receive a new gadget is like being a beta tester and can be quite frustrating.

I decided to return the unit to Amazon and wait for either Roku 4 or Apple TV. I hope Amazon fixes its remote's battery compartment. I am surprised that no one at Amazon tested this.

I can see many people getting hurt trying to open this battery compartment door.

Later on, I checked Amazon's reviews, and saw many similar problems with the battery door. In addition, other people had problems with Dolby Digital 5.1 support and random crashes. It looks like Amazon rushed the product out the door without adequate testing.