Ride Log | Mar 20, 2016 | FJR1300AE | Burnt Mountain, GA

March 20, 2016
Start Odo: 5308
End Odo: 5397
Miles Covered: 89 (Inching ever so slowly towards the triple digit ride day!)
Destination: Burnt Mountain, GA
Weather Outlook: High: 54°F, 12°C | Low: 39°F, 4°C | Light clouds and Windy
Ride: Yamaha FJR1300 AE

Unless the ride days are planned and set in stone, I tend to let the weekend mornings slide. I should really Plan the Ride and Ride the Plan, to avoid reducing the riding time available and thus making sure I can put in some longer triple digit rides. The weather forecast called for a cool windy ride. The FJR1300AE was fuelled up and ready to take flight. The plan was to head over to the Burnt Mountain lookout point. One of the stops when I rode with the WeekendRiderz Group on Sept 28, 2015. There would be one stop along the way. At Stancils Store. One of my favorite locations to take pictures of the bike.

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Short Videos using the Splice iOS App

Mobile apps make it so easy to create. Whatever your passion or interests may be. Shooting videos has became so easy. iPhones, well OK – Smartphones – (can’t have the non-iOS folks feel left out, can we?), cameras with video capabilities and the ever popular GoPro. Videos in the droves. However, until recently, editing the videos, enhancing them to tell somewhat of a story meant huge software  programs in the computer. With the advent of the smartphones and tablets and the associated apps, the complete life cycle of a video – raw to finished, published (read as YouTubed) product can be completed entirely on a mobile device. And with that the Splice App.

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Season:2016 | Engage: Prep mode and GoPro Setup

This week here in Metro-Atlanta had been like Spring – almost Summer. Clear blue skies. Warm 78s through the day. This, after a number of weeks of irritating, persistent rain – or ‘precipitation’ as the weathermen would like to call it – seemed like the call proclaiming that the 2016 season is now open for Cage-free riding and for some GoPro videos to boot!

I was looking forward to riding with a group I came to name as the WeekendRiderz on Saturday. But having to visit some friends on a late Friday night, turned in to a late Saturday morning and a subsequent (sadly, sorry Chaps!) scrubbing of me being able to ride with the group. This had me with some free time on my hands during the early afternoon.

I decided to run the FJR around the local neighborhood testing out the various GoPro camera locations and vantage points around the bike, using the suction mount and the Ram clamps. I had an hour or so available for this. I focused on using the Saddlebags or  Panniers. Along the rear the surface on the Panniers afforded decent flat areas for the suction mount, The GoPro3 had the Limefuel battery all hooked up and ready to fly.

Using the GoPro App on the iPhone, I used ‘control’ mode to view the shot angle on the GoPro3 and make any necessary adjustments. This was done while the app is connected to the GoPro, hooked up in turn to the iPhone via the GoPro camera wifi. Once the videos were captured, I used the Apple Lighting to SD Card Adapter to connect the microSD card to iPhone to import the four videos into iPhone. I could have used the GoPro Studio app on the my laptop, but I still find that clunky and a little tedious to use and decided to go the RoadWarrior way and create the video using the iPhone. This time using Splice iOS app, a nice easy to use and quite intuitive app for video editing and production. Far better than the GoPro Studio. Any wonder that GoPro decided to use a substantial amount of the cash reserve to acquire Splice.

Tip: Uploading videos from iPhone to YouTube: Once the video was ready, I used the YouTube iOS app to upload the video to my channel. However, after uploading completed the process hung on ‘finishing the video’ for a couple of hours. Looking up Google Forums, it seems to be an endemic problem with the uploading feature of the iOS app. The alternative was to ‘share’ the video from the Photos app to YouTube. This worked fine and the upload was completed within minutes.

Here’s the video showing the four different locations I tried.

Do you have any suggestions of camera positions I should try on my next ‘camera location’ trial session?

Boots by Royal Enfield, India
Bike by Yamaha
Video by RakeshRao of #PoshGoondas
Camera by GoPro
GoPro battery by LimeFuel
Mounts by Ram Mounts


The Valley Green


Mountain range surrounding Leh, Ladakh; As seen from the Shanti Stupa, Leh

The day after we arrived in Leh, we had the morning to ourselves. #PoshGoondas were free to amble around town; try and get some Indian money out of the ATMs (that’s another story for another day); or do a bit of sightseeing which Jatin, I and Kalpesh decided to do. Nimish was off Snow Leopard spotting.

After visiting the Leh Palace, we went up to the Shanti Stupa. A nice, serene, spiritual location. Although walking barefoot on the sun baked tiled floor was a task. Perched at an elevation, we could look down on various sections that made up Leh, ensconced in the Valley. With it being a dry day, the skies were pristine blue, the clouds snow white and the land saturated in arid browns or lush green. The view of the fertile greens snaking along the valley, appeared to look like a tree lined river finding its course as allowed by the Mountains, as if standing guard. And this scape overseen by the snow capped mountains in the yonder. Such stark terrains, coexisting. Perhaps in co-dependence. Another of Ma Nature’s tapestries.

“Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.”
/Theodore Roethke

Snow capped Sentinals

 Mountain range surrounding Leh, Ladakh.

We rode into Leh the previous evening. The general feeling on reaching the hotel was bittersweet. Glad that we had an amazing experience leading up to arriving into Leh and without any mishap or untoward incident, more importantly. Saddened to a degree since Leh was the ‘end’. A couple of days and we would need to fly back to reality. To the concrete jungle. To the rat race. This was, in my opinion, the measure of the quality of the time we spent, on our own and with each other, over the previous few days. Either when riding, or just gazing in amazement at what Nature can really get up to.

Nimish and I were up early(ish) armed with our cameras. I found Nimish on the terrace of the hotel building. The terrace afforded a clear view of the Leh Skyline on one side. The other side looked towards the town but was shielded by trees and hotel/homes reaching up two maybe three stories. Needless to say our attention was drawn toward and captivated by the ‘Skyline’ side. And what a breathtaking skyline it is. We kept swapping lens, positions, zoom in, zoom out whatever we could to try and capture what we were seeing. I don’t believe the images do justice.

Amazing how Nature can take a handful of colors – just the Browns and Blues and the intermittent White – and create such an indelible painting. It was wonderful to see the wind blowing wispy clouds over the peaks, gently caressing the Snow, as if trying not to smudge the painting. A picture of gradients rising from the dark, arid rock merging into the soft white snow through to the wispy white and finally to the vivid deep uniquely blue skies. The image may not fit into the ‘photography rules’ – rule of thirds, leading the eye etc. But it is striking nonetheless. Hope you like it.

With this image I nominate a determined spirit, a great person, and a wonderful photographer, Siddharth. We spent a day together as we rode, or rather, ‘traveled’ out together from Kaza. Enough for a bond to be created. His images are truly inspiring.

“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing”
/Barry Finlay

The Spiti

Along Spiti River, just before Kaza, Himachal Pradesh. India.

This shot has been a favorite of mine on many fronts. The memory surrounding it primarily. The composition. The colors. Usual suspects that make up an image. But for me, specially so.

We came to this point on our #PoshGoondas ride after a fairly wet, drenching ride from Nako, via Tabo Monastery. As we ate up the kilometers, the skies cleared up to show off the uniquely blue tint, white clouds and some decent but dirt/gravel roads. The arid, yet mesmerizing landscape we passed through practically tore us between enjoying the ride or stopping every minute to capture Nature as we had never seen before. This particular spot was where the Spiti River was at its widest. As we turned a corner, the world opened up. Spirit River in a wide delta area with sand banks and rocks interspersed, dotting the waters and creating mini wakes, as the water flowed around, past and over them. The road along one shore, and mountain along the other, lined with lush green Trees along bottom. Suffice to say, we spent quite some time enjoying the vista, trying to capture as much as we could into our mind’s camera.
It was easy to cross the river on foot at most sections along sand banks and rocks. The elevation still left us breathless on any sort of exertion and we tread slowly but surely towards the middle. Beyond this point the river flow was stronger and deeper. This spot was about the furthest I could go – trying to get close to the middle for a good composition. Taking a picture low over the water and looking out through the valley; I had to get a shot. I had to bend low and compose the shot through the the tilted LCD screen. This pressed on the lungs and added to the breathlessness caused by the elevation. Few quick shots and I was done! That or being prone in water gasping for air.
In my mind this shot really does justice to the expansive mountains, valleys and the enormous skies! Add to that, the smooth – almost machined smooth – rocks on the river bed. The brown dull waters, the shinning smooth colorful rocks, the lush trees leading the eye through the valley with its brown arid mountains and up to the blue skies protected by the white-gray blanket of clouds.

The spot; vivid and memorable.
This image; a favorite for years to come.

“There will always be rocks in the road ahead of us.
They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones;
It all depends on how you use them”
/Freidrich Nietzche


Ride Log | First Ride 2016 | FJR1300 | Dawsonville, GA

January 3, 2016
Start Odo: 5232
End Odo: 5296
Miles Covered: 64 (Something is better than nothing!)
Destination: Dawsonville, GA
Weather Outlook: High: 54°F, 12°C | Low: 24°F, -5°C | Light clouds
Ride: Yamaha FJR1300 AE

Keeping to a tradition of sorts, I had wanted to put in a ride on the first day of year 2016. However, some reason or another, just didn’t allow that to happen. I really wanted put in a decent ride before the 1st full day of 2016 – the dreaded work day. So Jan 2 and Jan 3 were the only options. As things panned out I brought down my choices to the one day – Jan 3. I just had to take the FJR1300 out for a run!

PitStop: Dawsonville

PitStop: Dawsonville

I set up the electronics the previous evening. Firmware updates applied to Sena 20S, Sena GP-10 and the GPS, TomTom Rider. Onboard USB charger hooked up and ready to feed juice on the fly to the iPhone, TomTom and GoPro (if needed). Ran through the checks on the bike too. Being in Atlanta, winterizing and storing it away for the winter is not needed. Just need a clear day to get out and ride. Atlanta has had a more than mild winter so far, increasing the number of Ride days! In that sense, I’m glad we don’t live in the Northern states where the weather practically shuts down any riding for several months!

I had broadly planned to put in about a three hour ride. However, the lethargy of the Holiday period silently took over the morning and by the time I was ready to set out, it was already early afternoon. We had tickets booked for 20160103_213036000_iOSStar Wars for 4pm. This didn’t leave me much time for decent ride. Earlier, our Riding pals Vir Nakai and Harsh Man Rai, (you will find their awe inspiring Instagram feed included in the Instagram panel at the bottom (footer) of the page) of Helmet Stories, out in India discussed their rides. Any waning of motivation to ride was stopped dead in its tracks and I decided, even for half an hour, a ride shall happen. Traditions will be maintained.

I decided to use this ride to try and put in a short first try vLog using the Sena GP-10 Bluetooth Audio Pack for GoPro connecting to the Sena 20S Headset installed in my Shoei Neotec helmet.01 Neotec
The only downside of this set up is that the Sena GP-10 requires the use of the standard GoPro battery instead of my preferred LimeFuel Extended Battery for the GoPro. The design of the Sena Case for the GoPro does not allow for access to the MicroUSB charging port on the GoPro. I’ll need to look at modifying the case to allow access to charge the GoPro on the fly, while riding, via USB.

I had initially planned to slab it to Talking Rock, GA via Hwy515 and then cutting across the hills on the SR136 to Dawsonville, GA and south on Hwy9. But by the time I was on the road, the riding window narrowed further and I decided to head to Dawsonville instead and then slab it back on the 400. Making the vLog the main focus and purpose of the ride.

By the time I was at a spot to get the vLog going, the GoPro battery was down to the last bar. I had left the camera on, foolishly! The GoPro was mounted on a Ram Suction mount on top of the gas tank for a good POV and perspective. This being the first time and with no format or template of content, I believe the attempt was mediocre. The sound quality needs to be improved considerably. I’ll need to look at various settings, especially on the volume. Once I started recording, I had no way of knowing if the GoPro camera was still working or not. The battery did hold out for my complete (around 4.30mins) recording. I could only check later once I got home later. Recording done, I headed into Dawsonville Town Center. Quick stop for some pictures and a breather and then off again heading home via SR53 and then South on 400. The long straights of the 400 had the FJR threatening to use it like a runway. Who was I to stop that from happening?  😇 Fellow FJR Pilots will relate to this submissive behavior! It was exhilarating to see the needle go three digits and still have so much left!

Till the next ride;
Rubber side down and Ride Safe!

Some images and the video from the ride:
(Note: I forgot to turn of the GPS tracker after I got home and it included the short Cage run to the cinema! *sheepish grin*)

Restrained Alacrity



Restrained Alacrity

“Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can”

This was taken during a short 131 mile ride around the North Georgia Mountains near Dahlonega. This is by the side of the Dahlonega Reservoir / Lake Zwerner. One of my frequent riding route passes right by and I cannot pass by without stopping for a few minutes.

Abode | Heavenly


Abode | Heavenly

Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh, India

Sarchu (also known as Sir Bhum Chun) is a major halt point with tented accommodation in the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway, on the boundary between Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) in India. It is situated between Baralacha La to the south and Lachulung La to the north, at an altitude of 4,290 m (14,070 ft).
The high winter snow fall blocks both the passes during the colder winter month, cutting off access to this valley. The summer ‘season’ months attract a beehive of Tent camps along a stretch of few kilometers on either side of the ‘highway’ – single tar track. Due to the temporary / seasonal business and to safeguard Nature’s beauty, the Tent Camps cannot have any concrete constructions on the campsites. This can create a big stumbling block towards any level of comfort and amenities. Traveling north into Sarchu, this spot is the first real experience of the impact of the High Altitude.




Kaza, Spiti Valley, India

Kaza is the district headquarters of Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh. It is accessible from Manali and Shimla. The road from Shimla (via Rekong Peo) is in theory an all-season one, while the Manali road via Rohtang and Kunzum passes is passable only in summer. There is only one Government bus service from Manali to Kaza but the road is pretty inaccessible with frequent landslides along the way. Due to lack of proper roads in this section of the Himalayas, it is advisable to hire a private MUV (Tata Sumos) from Manali to reach Kaza.

Himachal Road Transport Corporation buses link Kaza with Manali and Rekong Peo. The Rekong Peo connection passes through landslide area at Malling Nullah, with transhipment (crossing on foot and being picked up by a bus on another side) being frequently the only way of passing the landslide.

The route from Manali via Losar crossing Kunzum La and Rohtang La along the Chandrataal river is perhaps the most beautiful. The road surfaces are very poor – the entire stretch has never been metalled/tarred. But on asking a local person about the road quality, he’d say that the road is a “good road”. You will have to cross about a score of streams flowing across this State Highway No. 30 which could be about a couple of feet deep.

(information from: Kaza)