Oh jeez, not another end of the year special?! Sure, why not?
Highlights for me of 2012?
Got to ride Europe again, and that's always a treat. Picked up my Versys from the garage of my late riding pal, Colin Barlow. Visited with his wife and friends before heading out to ride the Chunnel to France.
Met up with my good friend, Matthias in Dole, France, and the two of us had a lovely ride through rural France on tiny roads between Dole and Lyon. In some ways it was the best single day of riding for me in Europe this year. Matthias sorted it all through his GPS, and we had a ball zinging up and down tiny lanes.
Once in Lyon we were hosted at the home of a fellow whose videos I'd admired on YouTube, BenDYd. That was enough of an introduction that he invited us to stop by and spend the evening. He and his boys cooked us a delightful French meal enjoyed on a perfect summer evening, and providing us a good night's sleep before launching off into the Alps.
Best new-to-me pass this year? Colle Sampeyre in far northwestern Italy. At least I think it was new to me. It reminds me of a road we ran in the 2006 Centopassi. Not sure. If you like the goaty stuff, try it out.
After the Alps it was time to rendezvous with my lovely wife at her sister's home in North Yorkshire. It turns out that one of Colin's best mates - Stuart, who we rode with in 2010 - lives close by. That meant we got a brilliant guided tour of the Yorkshire moors and a lovely evening out. So fun to watch Stuart's effortless speed on the wild and nadgery lanes and humpback bridges of the rural UK.
Every year the high points have to include the BARF rallies, and thanks must be extended to those adventurous souls who trustingly follow me on all the most treacherous roads I can find en route to our rally destinations. I love you folks for your enthusiastic comradeship!
There's no way to pick a favorite rally. Hawthorne is always its own thing, not really comparable to any other rally. Paso Robles was fun, as always. One little highlight at Hawthorne this year was the opportunity to stop by to see Andy's (tzrider) vacation home and tree house. Not only was the tree house at least as cool as the photos, but Andy had a bigger treat for me. We had the chance to discuss my 2011 crash, and Andy offered a possible diagnosis of the contributing inputs that - in addition to excessive exuberance - put me on the ground. After reflecting on Andy's suggestion, it became clear that he'd nailed it (no wonder he's such a superb coach!), and now I have something to work on to keep me out of trouble.
It's always a treat to get some advanced training in each year, and in 2012 it was provided by the Alameda County Sheriff's training center and their civilian motorcycle training class. It's a bargain in motorcycle training, where they introduce you to the fundamentals of cop bike training (make sure to rent one of cop Kawasakis - they're a blast!)
Looking forward, what does 2013 have in store?
More training for sure. Maybe a return to something I've done before, like Rich Oliver, or CSS, or Lee Parks. Maybe something new. At least go back to the Alameda County Sheriff's training. There is so much opportunity to improve.
Hoping to get a small dual sport some time in 2013 so I can get some more off-road riding in. Partly for skill improvement, partly for the chance to do fun and challenging riding that keeps me away from cars, and where fun happens at lower speeds.
Back to Europe seems likely. The Versys awaits in the garage there. Not sure about the Alps in 2013. Maybe. Maybe Scotland or the IOM instead. Thinking that it would be fun to see the Southern 100 road race there in July.
Obviously, the BARF rallies, but I can't say whether I'll be able to rallymaster in 2013. Life gets busy. Still, the rallies are so much fun that there must be a way to participate even if I may not be able to lead.
Group rides with my friends are always a highpoint, and not to be missed. In that mix of group rides has to include the legendary highways 36, 162, and 25.
If all those things come to pass, 2013 will be at least as wonderful as 2012.
How about you? What was the best part of 2012 for you? What did you learn? What do you treasure? What do you want to make happen in 2013?