SCRC Loudoun VA Featured Member - September, 2007

Name:   Kevin Merrill

Nickname:   Mongo

Marital Status:  Quite happily married to my beautiful wife, Christine (AKA SpeedBraker)

Location:  Centreville, VA

Hometown:  Half of my childhood in Placerville, CA. Then spent my teen years in Berlin PA (talk about culture shock coming from California !!)

Children:  Two of them. Lauren (21) is a Senior at the College of William & Mary, and Alex (17) is a Senior at Westfields High School.

Age:  40 something.

Occupation:  Sr. Systems Engineer with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Just finished my 14th year with SAIC.

Current motorcycle(s):  '03 BMW R1200CLC, '07 Suzuki M109R

How did you hear about the SCRC and when did you join?
I found my way to this club via my dear friend, FieryRedhead - which is ironic given that she credits me (or maybe blames me) for her becoming a motorcyclist a few years back. I joined the club in the summer of 2006 when she pointed me in this direction.

How long have you been riding?
20 years and counting.

Have you ever taken a motorcycle safety course?
I did, in Pennsylvania a long, long time ago. I am a huge supporter of the MSF program and believe that everyone who wants to take up this lifestyle should complete one of these courses.

What was your first bike?
A 1980 Suzuki GS550L with a big 'ole Vetter fairing on the front that I bought from my wife's boss in 1987. It wasn't the prettiest bike in the world - but it's where I began.

How many bikes have you owned?
Seven in the following order: '80 Suzuki GS550L, '86 Yamaha Fazer, '85 Yamaha FJ1100, '00 Honda CBR600F4, '03 BMW R1200CLC, '01 Honda Shadow VLX (though technically that is Chris's bike), and my newest Monster, the '07 Suzuki M109R.

Why do you ride?
There are so many reasons, but I guess primarily because there is no better (legal) way to cleanse the soul that to climb on a bike, kick it into gear and get on down the road. The worries and stresses of life are left behind you.

Have you ridden with an organized group before?
Have been riding in for 13 years, and for the last few years a co-organizer of a 600+ motorcycle charity ride every fall in the local area called the Baltimore/Washington Ride for Kids, does that count?

What modifications have you done to your bike?
Not a lot really, both of my current bikes came well equipped for the kind of riding that I do with them. I did add a ChatterBox radio for rider-to-passenger and bike-to-bike communication when I ride with Chris, Tank and the Fiery one.

What accessories do you want to add to your bike?
Will probably end up putting some ISO grips on the Monster (M019R).

What is your dream bike?
All I can say is that when I ride the M109R, it ROCKS MY WORLD, BABY !!!

What kind of riding do you like to do — straight-aways or twisties?
Depends on the mood, when I feel the need for speed nothing beats a nice straight-away, but the sport biker in me LOVES to carve up the twisties.

If you have a nickname, how did you get it? Tell the truth!
Was dubbed Mongo by a co-worker number of years back. Wish there was a racy story behind it to share with everyone, but it was simply a byproduct of the number of computer boxes I was able to move in a day.*shrug*

What is your favorite riding route?
I'm a sucker for sweeping, curvy mountain roads with little to no traffic and lots of scenery. Would ride roads like that every day if I could figure out how to get paid to do it.

Do you ride your bike to work?
Sometimes, but not often. I work very close to where I live and it's such a disappointment to pull into the parking lot after just 5 minutes in the saddle

What is the fastest you’ve ridden?
120+mph (on a Yamaha VMax I borrowed from a friend). I don't advocate that kind of riding on public streets, but DAMN was it a rush!!!

What is your favorite time of year to ride?
Hands down, Fall. I love the crispness of the air and the colors of the foliage on the trees. There simply is no better time to ride in my opinion.

Have you ever been down? If so, how were you hurt and what did you learn from the incident?
I have been down twice. The first time (on my second bike) I learned to be more careful of sand on the road when making a left-hand turn across traffic. The second time (on my FJ1100) I learned that no matter how sure you are that you can keep pace with an R6 and an RC51 through tight corners, KNOW THE LIMITS of the bike that you are attempting high-speed cornering on. I low-sided in a tight left corner, and miraculously walked away with only some mud and blades of grass sticking out of my headlight housing - and a bruised ego.

Have you ever done an "Iron Butt" ride?
Nope. My arse doesn't think it can take that sort of abuse.

If not, what is the furthest you’ve ridden?
300-400 miles a day maybe?

What was the worst weather in which you’ve ridden?
Torrential, monsoon-like rain and wind coming home from Thunder in the Valley in Johnstown PA in June of 2006. Wow, I would have been better off in a ark that day.

Do you know how to work on your bike?
I'm fine with simple mechanical and electrical work, but would never want to tear into an engine without a real mechanic looking over my shoulder!

What is your favorite road song?
Hmmmm, there are so many. Lets go with 'Ride the Wind' by Poison.

What was your most adventurous ride?
Probably a trip we made this year into the mountainous region of western VA. Must say that area in and around Highland County has some of the most beautiful, and the most technical roads I have ever seen in on place. Simply amazing riding.

What rallies or events do you like to attend?
Have been to a few (Delmarva Bike Week, Thunder in the Valley, etc.). I've enjoy all of the rallies I have been to, and look forward to some day going to Daytona, and maybe even Sturgis. Also enjoy motorcycle shows for the 'people watching' and gadget shopping!

Is there someone who rides "two-up" with you?
My beautiful wife, Chris. Nothing beats a shoulder massage on the open road from the hot mama sitting behind you!

Off the cuff from...Mongo
Riding a motorcycle from point A to point B is not simply an alternative form of transportation, it is an alternative state of consciousness. It is this state that brings us all together into one united group that wave to one another, even when we don't know the person on the other end. We ride because of how it feels, because of what it does for our sanity and for our souls. Male, female, young, old, skinny or fat, we are all the same out there when we ride, and will always be there to support one another when and if we fall. Enough said.