Saturday, May 31, 2008

More Pictures From Miller

The pictures from Munch Photos arrived in the mail today. Thought I'd share a few. (Particularly since some people had challenged my knee-dragger credentials.)

This one is from Tuesday afternoon. (One of the last sessions of the trip.) The wind was start to gust on the track so I decided I'd take the Daytona out instead of the Duc.

I like this pic a lot. I haven't seen many other head-on shots. (Although it does make me look like a giant riding a little mini-bike.)

Friday, May 30, 2008

If You Have the Means, I Highly Recommend Picking One Up

Did you see this? Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of market-forces, and people spending their money how they choose. A 1961 Ferrari California is certainly a remarkable car. But $10.9million?!

Let's hope Cameron's dad now keeps the garage door locked.

Speaking of which, does anyone else have to look away during the "Ferrari killer" scene? I know it's not a real one, but it still gives me the willies. It's just wrong.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Back From Vegas

We just got back from a short trip to Las Vegas.

I'm not a big fan of Las Vegas shows. Nor theme hotels. I don't like to walk 20 minutes to get to the casino next door. So when we go to Vegas we generally stay downtown instead of on the strip. Our usual destination is The Golden Nugget.

The pretense for the trip was a chance for Anandi to see Nightwish in concert. And since I'm not into Scandinavian metal bands I decided it would be a good opportunity to play a little poker and maybe see a little sunshine for a change. (And have some time in Vegas without adult supervision. ... But, shhhh!, don't tell Anandi that.)

While she was at her concert I played a No-Limit Texas Hold'em tournament at Binions. I didn't expect to do well since I don't play much live poker. The game started at 8pm and I went bust just after midnight, finishing 6th in a field of 25. Not good enough to get paid but I was happy with my performance anyway.

I usually start my gambling at 3am when the casinos are the emptiest. At that hour the only people to talk to are
a) The college kid who wants to "Spend a weekend in Vegas without a hotel room! Hell yeah!" He's been up 2 days and is too drunk to remember where he was supposed to meet his buddies who have given up the dream and rented a room.
2) The guy in his late 50's who used to be the first guy or, more likely, one of his room-renting buddies. He's wearing a black shirt with flames and motorcycles or martini glasses on it. His attempt at an all-nighter (for old-times sake) has hit the wall.
iii) The degenerate gambler who was the first guy and got hooked on the rush. The people at the check-cashing place know him on sight. So do all the casino workers and the beat cops.

So I talk to the dealers. (If they're good dealers.) It's interesting to hear an insiders view of the casino. I found out that downtown hotel properties are relatively cheap. Binions was just bought for $32 million. ... Six or eight lucky spins on the Roulette table and maybe I could really break-the-bank. ... Do you think anyone would want to come to TJs-House-of-Gambling-Fun? :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

So Much for Peanut and the Thunderdome

We're having yard work done. We're not yard work people so we've pretty much just ignored the backyard for 4 years. In Seattle, that's not a good idea. (Note to self: weeds in Seattle grow faster than rocks in Tucson.) We have dogs so we make sure the dogs are inside when the people are working outside. It's mostly a dog-safety thing, not a people-safety thing. Our beagle, Spike, has a tendency to bolt if the gate is open. Plus power-tools and curious dogs don't mix.

Our other dog, Peanut, is a Rottweiler-mix. He's well socialized and friendly. He's also 115lbs with an opinion about how things are supposed to be and the confidence to stand behind that opinion. We've never asked him to be a guard-dog. We've never allowed people in the house without first introducing them to Peanut. So we honestly didn't know how he might respond to an intruder.

Until yesterday.

The landscapers came over without telling us. We were at work. The dogs had the run of the yard. And the guys decided to climb over the locked gate.

Peanuts response: none.

I'm happy that he isn't likely to hurt someone even when left unattended but a small part of me wishes he would have convinced the "intruders" to stay out of the yard.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Why the Empire Fell

It's Sunday and like alot of Sundays I wanted bagels. And this Sunday I had an excuse to get them: I needed to move the car out of the garage. So if the car is moving 20' out of the garage it might as well go 4 miles to get bagels, right? Perfectly reasonable.

But, fear not, this story isn't about bagels. (And, you'll be happy to know, it's also mercifully short.)

On the way to get bagels an odd car turned left across traffic in front of me. It was big and green and vaguely 70's-ish. At first I thought it was an old Volvo station wagon. ... No, Volvo did boxy but not that kind of boxy. Plus the green was all wrong. ... It makes its turn and I get a good look head on. ... Holy crap! It's a Rolls Royce Station wagon!

Rolls Royce
Right-hand drive
British Racing Green
Station wagon

Never knew such a thing existed. (And I kind of wish I still didn't.) It looked something like this:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Track Trip: Pictures

From Saturday. Taken by FotoMotion.

Here's the bike that caught fire. It doesn't really capture how complete the destruction was. ... But it's a good image to keep in mind if I ever get the urge to crash. I wouldn't want the Daytona to end up like this.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Track Trip: Chapter7 - Post Mortem

I'm going to try to take a little more scientific approach to my track riding. Not that I have any aspirations of being a professional (or even club) racer but I'm a little tired of feeling like I'm going slower and slower all the time. So, in that vein, here's what I'm taking away from my trip to Miller last week:

Goals going in:
1. Increase lean angles, particularly to the right. I did well with this goal. On Tuesday I was comfortably dragging a knee in almost every corner of the track. (Turn8 was only possible with the Daytona and only because it's suspension is pretty poor.) In many cases I was more comfortable going right than left.
2. Relax and trust the bike. I need a little more work on this. I entered one corner too hot (the corner that ended my Monday) and I didn't have the confidence to lean the bike over, keep my eyes focused on my intended goal, and just ride it out. I stood the bike up a little and got on the brakes hard.
3. Don't sit down. (This might seem odd to a non-track rider but keeping your weight out of the seat can be a big benefit on the track. It makes your weight transfer more fluid and you can control the bike easier if your weight isn't all on the seat.) I was happy with how well I did towards this goal. I wasn't perfect and I need to get in better shape but I was pleased with my ability to support myself with my feet instead of my hands and butt. ... After trying to muscle the Daytona around the track all day Saturday, I was completely beat on Sunday. But, if I had been sitting in the seat I wouldn't have been able to finish Saturday.

Things to work on:
1. Lean angles. Getting a knee down is great. It's a lot of fun too. But it's possible to lean much further. I shouldn't consider touching a knee as the limit.
2. Look further ahead. Target fixation can ruin your day or save it. I need to look where I want to go. It will help me be more consistent with my lines, and help me get out of bad situations. I'd be happy to consistently look 2 seconds ahead of my bike.

As a side note (and please don't tell my wife or my mother about this): I considered crashing on purpose. ... Go ahead, read that again. ... In case you think there was a typo:

I (a seemingly rational person) considered crashing (a seemingly irrational act).

My thought process was "Wouldn't it be better to see what crashing is like when it's my choice? I'm already leaned way over. I'm in the slowest corner. No one is behind me. It's the last session of the last day. I'm on my cheap motorcycle. ... I could force a painless low-side crash just to see what it's like." ... Then I remembered the charcoal bike from Saturday and decided that as old as the Daytona is, I didn't want to light it on fire. ... Was I completely crazy to think about it?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Track Trip: Chapter6 - Getting Home

1:10am - Awake and not very happy about it.

1:20am - Might as well get some miles done.

3:10am to 5:10am - Napping at a rest stop.

6:00am - Windy doesn't just suck for motorcycles. I'm not making very good time and my gas mileage really stinks.

9:30am - Breakfast. Mmmmm..... Egg McMuffin.

9:45am - 11:15am - At a Dodge dealer in Boise. The Nitro feels sluggish but I don't know if that's because of the wind or something more significant. It's due for it's 3000 mile service anyway so I might as well get someone to look at it.

11:15am - Chuckle to myself about my Larry-Miller-centric week. He owns Miller Motorsports Park where I was riding. He owns the Utah Jazz who I spent most of the my time at the hotel watching. And he owns Sundance Dodge which is where I stopped for the check-up. (A thumbs-up to Sundance. They were accommodating, quick, and friendly.)

12:30pm to 1:45pm - Napping at a rest stop.

5:40pm - Last tank of gas. I think I have enough daylight to get over Snoqualmie pass.

7:15pm - Pulling a trailer down a snowy mountain road can be sketchy. The Nitro lost it's footing and started to slide. My attempts to slow down make the slide worse since the trailer is pushing from behind and trying to spin the Nitro. Once I get it into 4WD everything returns to normal, but I'm glad the lane next to me was empty.

8:05pm - Home sweet home. Almost 19 hours beginning to end. 14.5 hours of driving. 850 miles. 11.6 mpg.

Track Trip: Chapter5 - Tuesday with STAR

Another good day at the track. (Is there such a thing as a bad day at the track?) The forecast was for temps in the 80s with wind from 10-20 and gusts over 30. I don’t enjoy riding in gusty wind. It’s particularly unfestive when you’re fully leaned and a gust tries to push you into the pavement. So I considered riding the Daytona. (Not that it’s any better in the wind but I’d be less likely to cry like a little girl if I wrecked it.) Luckily the weather forecasters were wrong. (Surprise! Who would have guessed?!) The wind didn’t pick up until late afternoon.

A moment of silence for the Bimota. … … … … … It low-slided in Turn14. It’s scratched up but it will be back. The rider was absolutely fine. And surprisingly zen bout the whole experience. I suspect his chi will be rattled when he gets the repair bill.

Munch Photos was at the track. I ordered a CD of all of the images. I also ordered a CD from Fotomotion who was at the APEX day on Saturday. At this point I’m probably not getting my moneys worth by buying track pictures. I just can’t resist. I have this delusion that I’ll look at the pictures, have an epiphany about my riding, and suddenly be a world class rider. In reality they’ll show exactly what they always show: I’m slow but I lean a lot. … I’ll post images when I get the CDs.