Kentucky Bound


Hey all,

Sorry for the long delay between updates. I’ve been really caught up working on new video stuff. I got a message today from someone I’d never met who was concerned about me. I’M OKAY! PROMISE. 🙂

I’ve been hanging out at my parents’ place in northern Ohio for the last two weeks. It’s time to head out again. Against my mother’s wishes, I ride south headed for Columbus, then Kentucky, then west to prairie land where Dorothy is just begging to get her picture taken in front of a Kansas sign. I’m still planning on hitting up some national parks in Colorado and Utah, but temperature is going to be of a concern to me as elevations change.

The first video I made was done in iMovie, a free program that ships with every new macbook. My next video will be made in the considerably more sophisticated Final Cut Pro X. Stabilization issues will hopefully be resolved with a new fluid head, and a newly acquired sled. For those not quite in the know, a ‘sled’ is a large heavy stabilization device attached to a camera to allow for smooth flowing movement. Effective use is determined by operator skill demanding a ton of practice. The thing is generally too heavy to hold for any length of time, so the operator wears a vest and mechanical arm. Oh, and no one carries a sled on a cross-country motorcycle tour. It’s heavy, large, awkward, and ridiculous. My plan is to wear the vest underneath my jacket – in a pinch it’ll protect me in a crash, better I expect than any motocross chestplate. The sled, a relatively small model, has found a home amongst the bubble wrap of my pelican top case. The metal mechanical arm folds up and is tied down above the pelican.

But you guys don’t want to hear me talk about video gear, now do you? I know what you want. Finger pictures!


Here’s what it looked like ten days after the snake bite.

My finger is healing up quite nicely. It’s still warm to the touch, and if I run an object down the length, it tingles in a peculiar and distant sort of way. Input in general is vague, and the heel of my foot now has a higher level of sensitivity than my left ring finger.


Here’s how it looks now – sixteen days after bite. It’s possible to close my fist entirely, and pulling in the clutch is easy, but more complex movements are not handled well. My mother has a piano, and I could not hit the keys with my finger. I have a cello waiting for me at home, but I doubt our reunion will be particularly pleasing for the ears. Maybe it’s something that will improve over time. If my new friend Brian can ride a motorcycle sans right arm, surely I can play the cello with one gimped finger.

One of the things I got to do in Ohio was visit an AMA Pro Hillclimb event. I received the hot tip about it from a fellow advrider. I’ve never been to a hillclimb, just seen short clips on youtube. I had pictured it as sort of a technical event, where few riders would make it to the top of the hill. It turns out that it is closer to drag-racing than a trials event. The bikes make it to the top in around eight seconds, and I only two wipe out before they made it to the top. They’re dirtbikes with stretched swingarms and chained paddle tires on the back; the fast classes have inline four sportbike motors. I saw a dirtbike with an R1 motor. I had no idea such things were being done.

The event itself was far more populated than any roadrace event I’ve ever been to. It was quite a casual atmosphere. The grass field that served as a parking lot was covered in Harley-Davidsons with the occasional japanese cruiser. I didn’t see any dual-sports.


I climbed to the top of the hill. I was wheezing by the time I reached it, lugging my monopod and camera gear. I was surprised at being able to shoot right from the side of the hillclimb. My fellow spectators pressed in around me, spilling milk jugs filled with beer; sometimes the bike venturing up would start to go sideways, and the AMA ref would yell, “Back! Back!” I was always the first to run; at one point I accidentally pushed over a ten-year-old kid who was standing by passively.

The noise of the bikes was just astounding, the smell of the nitrous burning in my nose. I moved freely through the blocked-off pits, with no media pass but my camera slung confidently over my shoulder. When I returned to my bike, I found a note on the tankbag. “Hi Crazy Shannon! I’m here at the hillclimb! Call me!” I called the number provided. It was an advrider! Somehow he’d picked out my black v-strom amongst the sea of choppers and cruisers. We shoot hands and he introduced me to a friend who didn’t believe in solo motorcycle riders who battle snakes and hunt snails.

2 thoughts on “Kentucky Bound

  1. Cliff

    Back in the Saddle !! Gud Game Shannon !! We can resume living, vicariously, through your adventures. : ) Cliff… Florida Boys

  2. Irena

    Hi Shannon, so glad you are ok. I am now in the bootcamp and have no time for anything else, as you’d know! Following your adventures when I can! Irena


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