SCRC Loudoun VA Featured Member - October, 2010

Name:   Mark Peterson

Nickname:   Sparks

Marital Status:  Just got married 23 years ago. But, we’re confident we can make it for the long haul.

Location:  Purcellville, VA address but we’re really somewhere between Round Hill and Hillsboro. Common theme being … Hills!

Hometown:  I grew up a “Corporate Gypsy”, moving every 2-4 years. I have the deepest roots in Minneapolis, MN and Bloomfield, MI.

Children:  Our son Joey is 21. He’s enough!

Age:  48. (it’s just a number, it’s just a number, it’s just a number….)

Occupation:  Software Engineer, Boeing

Current motorcycle(s):  2004 Honda VTX 1300 Custom

How did you hear about the SCRC and when did you join?
My riding buddy Scott “Diver” Miller bumped into some Loudoun SCRC riders in a Leesburg pub. He was impressed with the people and the goals of the club. He convinced me we should join together. That was August 2009.

How long have you been riding?
About 26 years … with a long stretch of just occasional riding (96 – 04)

Have you ever taken a motorcycle safety course?
Two. I have the weird distinction of taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic course almost 20 years after taking the Experienced Rider course.

What was your first bike?
Technically, my first bike was a 1983 Honda Nighthawk 650. However, my Dad’s 1960-somthing Honda S90 is the bike that really got me hooked on the idea of riding. I was too little to ride it alone so my Dad let me sit on the tank and help steer around the neighborhood. I kind of felt like that bike was partially mine.

How many bikes have you owned?
Two. The Nighthawk and the VTX.

Why do you ride?
“Flying Low”. I used to have a hard time explaining why I ride and stumbled around words like freedom, adventure, nostalgia, etc. Then, a pilot buddy of mine told me I looked like I was flying low when I ride. So, now, that sums it up for me pretty well.

Have you ridden with an organized group before?
SCRC is my first experience with an organized riding group.

What modifications have you done to your bike?
Cobra pipes! Moved the rear turn signals to hollow bolts on the fender strut; Moved the license plate to a curved bracket under the left shock; Replaced the stock seat with an Ultimate Solo seat; Replaced the grips, pegs & mirrors with Kuryakyn stuff.

What accessories do you want to add to your bike?
CB Radio – so I can communicate while riding longer trips.

What is your dream bike?
There are two: 1) An authentic old-school bobber; and 2) A brand new Street Glide.

What kind of riding do you like to do — straight-aways or twisties?
Twisties, Twisties with hills, Twisties through the woods, Twisties through valleys…

If you have a nickname, how did you get it? Tell the truth!
I’m in transition with nicknames. So, I’ll explain them all, starting with the only nickname an SCRC member has ever called me. Sparks: Scott (Diver) Miller started calling me Sparks after following me through the Tail of the Dragon and some cut-backs leading to/from the Blue Ridge Parkway in lower light situations. My pegs apparently put out some nice sparks when I polish them in the turns. Skid: On a single ride I did 60-to-0 three times with my back wheel locked up to avoid herds of deer. So, the Marines I was riding with started calling me Skid. Tango: During military jump school, my helmet was stenciled with “C120T” (pronounced Charlie One Twenty Tango). During a couple mid-air close calls, I heard an excited voice yelling “Is that you Tango?” Pretty soon, they started calling me Tango on the ground too. But, like I said earlier, nobody in SCRC is digging that nickname.

What is your favorite riding route?
I like anything with scenery and twisties. Some of my favorites are the Cherohala Skyway, the roads through the Adirondacks, and the byways on either side of I-81 between Winchester and Bristol.

Do you ride your bike to work?
All the time. It’s gotten to the point that my coworkers assume I’m on vacation if my old silver bike isn’t sitting outside.

What is the fastest you’ve ridden?
107. Twice. Once on the ‘83 Night Hawk and once on the ’04 VTX. For what it’s worth, the VTX is much more stable at that speed than the Night Hawk.

What is your favorite time of year to ride?
Early Fall and Late Spring. The weather is warm and the bugs aren’t too numerous. That’s an important consideration for those of us who put our face in the breeze.

Have you ever been down? If so, how were you hurt and what did you learn from the incident?
Just once … fairly recently. I had a Tibial Plateau Fracture (my right knee was busted) and a Torn Rotator Cuff (my left shoulder was messed up). To be honest, I got a little complacent about taking the kind of turn I’ve taken thousands of times. I got a little wide, hit the dirt on the edge of the road, and went down. So, the lesson is: even with 26 years experience and over 100,000 miles on motorcycles, you need to give every turn your full attention and ride it like your life depends on it.

Have you ever done an "Iron Butt" ride?
Not yet. That’s not the type of riding I prefer. However, I’d like to do it once and get the T-Shirt (Patch? Pin?)

If not, what is the furthest you’ve ridden?
I’ve done 1600+ miles in 4 days several times. Those were all back roads with my “Slab Hater” friends so, the days were long and exciting. They were trips to the Tail of the Dragon, the Adirondacks, and around the great lakes. My longest single day stretch was 620 miles of back roads riding alone

What was the worst weather in which you’ve ridden?
It’s a tie. 1) Pea-sized hail on the way home from Rolling Thunder one year; 2) Snowing and 34 degrees on the Blue Ridge Parkway last Fall.

Do you know how to work on your bike?
I do the easy stuff – change the oil, add a battery tender pigtail, mount a GPS, add a clock to the hadlebars. Everything else is done at Shenandoah Honda.

What is your favorite road song?
Burn by Apocolyptica. Never heard it? You’re not alone.

What was your most adventurous ride?
I’d have to say it was my first trip to the Dragon in May ’09. That was 4 days of roads like the Dragon, the Cherohala Skyway, and dozens of no-name passages through the Smokies that were every bit as challenging as the Dragon only longer, not maintained as well, and with higher speed limits. Fog and light rain for most of the trip. We saw several bikes go down. Fortunately, everyone in my group kept the rubber side down.

What rallies or events do you like to attend?
Rolling Thunder, Rattle the Runway, and any poker run that benefits a good cause. I haven’t been to Sturgis yet but that’s on my some-day list.

Is there someone who rides "two-up" with you?
Nope, not since I was single. My wife won’t touch motorcycles and insisted that I take the back seat off.

Off the cuff from...Sparks
We don’t have much time so let’s close with a short conversation on politics: The opposite of PRO is CON. Therefore the opposite of PROgress must be CONgress. And, that’s all I have to say about that. Have fun riding and keep the rubber side down!!