Thursday, September 09, 2010

Change of Pace

It's been an oddly hectic few weeks around here. I had hoped that my leave of absence from work would yield some nice quiet time, some time with the baby, and maybe some garage time. Alas, that hasn't been the case.

At the end of August I took my first (and probably only) trackday trip of 2010. I went to Oregon Raceway Park and rode with STAR. The original plan was to ride 4 consecutive days, 2 with NESBA and 2 with STAR but the economy has apparently overwhelmed NESBA and they cancelled a number of their events in the Northwest. Hopefully they'll be back in 2011.

The days with STAR were fabulous, as always. They run a very controlled event.

I'm definitely going slower than I have in previous years but it's fun anyway. Just to prove to myself that I'm slow I decided to take a ride on the back of Jason Pridmores bike. If you ever have the chance to ride on a bike piloted by a former AMA champion I suggest you take it. It will

a) Show you what a modern sport bike is really capable of.
2) Convince you that there are better riders than you. Period.
iii) Prove that some people have ice-water in their veins.

The ride starts simply enough. You climb on the back of his GSXR1000. (It's completely stock except for an after-market exhaust and a custom tank that has handles built into it for a passenger to hold onto. It even has DOT tires.) He turns and says "Just look over my shoulder as we lean and give me a little room to shift around on the bike. When we get to that sharp left at the end I'll ask if you want to go for another lap." Sounds easy enough.

Then a very odd thing happens. But after a few turns I get used to the fact that all the other bikes on the track must be in reverse.

The "sharp left at the end" is a 1st gear, downhill corner that's been my nemesis ever since I showed up at ORP. I hate it. But I figure he'll go through it, settle the bike in the short straight that follows, then yell something incomprehensible to me at which point I'll give him the "thumbs up" and we'll go around again.

That's not what happened.

Going *into* the corner, carrying more speed, and using more braking force than I ever have, he does the unthinkable. He lets go the bars, flips up his visor, turns his head and asks me "So, you okay for another round?". His voice is so flat you think he might be a waiter asking to refill your coffee.

Since I'm a sane person my response was "No! You idiot! Watch where you're going! Two hands! Two hands! Get me off this machine and away from this crazy man!" But I don't think my pronunciation was right. All I heard was my voice saying "Holy crap! Hell yes!"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting a Second Opinion

I took the bike to the local shop last week. It's had some clutch problems that I wanted to get resolved before my track day. After explaining the symptoms to the dealer I'm told "That's normal for your bike. You can't adjust it, that's just the way it is." Hmmmm... I don't think so.

Yesterday I went to a second dealer and explained things. "Have you tried bleeding the system again?" Uh no... and why didn't I think of that? "We have a BBQ today so grab a burger and we'll have someone take a quick look." 15 minutes later I've gotten my bike fixed, no charge, and a free lunch.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nothing To See Here, Move Along.

Anandi and I were out in Bellevue a couple days ago and saw a Mercedes SL65 AMG. A very nice little toy. But, honestly, not terribly unusual in Bellevue. What was interesting was that it seemed to have a driving-buddy. Another silver Mercedes 2-door. A very sharp looking car but I couldn't quite place it.

Today, after some internet searching, I found it: A Mercedes SLS.

Now I just need two things: six good numbers and $1 for a lottery ticket.

Monday, June 07, 2010

High Mileage

I took the green TR6 out for a spin over Memorial Day weekend. I had to put a tank of gas in it. The log book now looks like:
  • 11/05/2005...59250...Purchase
  • 05/29/2006...59302...Gas, 9.2g
  • 08/01/2007...59485...Gas, 9.3g
  • 05/30/2010...59645...Gas, 8.7g

Yep, in 4.5 years it's covered 400 miles.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Blah

It's Memorial Day weekend. Time for BBQs, flip-flops and frisbee in the park.

Unless you're in Seattle.

Here it's time to get the umbrella, make sure you've got an extra layer of clothes, and watch the rain. <...sigh, the furnace just turned on...>

It feels like it's been a busy time at Chez Creath. But none of the activity is happening in the garage. I've had the Ducati out twice but the Daytona and the Suzuki are both sedentary. I'm considering working on the Green Machine today. It seems that 4-wheeled toys may be a better option that 2-wheeled ones.

The biggest car-related news is the purchase of a portable GPS (Garmin Nuvi 1390T) for the Nitro. I'm not a fan of GPSes but I have to admit it's a nice little widget. Certainly a better choice than paying $1900 for the OEM navigation system.

On the topic of GPSes:
I'm a geek. I'm a motorcycle fan. But I am not a motorcycle geek. I just can't help but shake my head when I talk to riders with blue-tooth, radar, GPS, cell-phone, intercom, and an MP3 player on their bike. It's exactly the opposite of why I like to ride. For me the whole purpose is to get away. Why try to get away from it if you're just going to bring it along anyway?

Well, that's assuming the rain ever stops and I get a chance to get away.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Only in a Jeep

An unpleasant night.

The baby wouldn't sleep. She needed to be upright, moving, and holding onto her mother or I. Since momma is trying to shake off a cold I won the privilege of being a human crib. So there I was: baby in the carrier (of course it's from Jeep), unable to rest, or even really to sit down. 11pm to 2am. What to do?

Surf the internet.

I ended up reading a whole slew of articles on Sports Car Market. Here are some of the ones that caught my eye. (If you don't have an account to SCM get one. It's free and I don't think I've ever gotten a piece of spam from them. Sure 93.2% of the cars the talk about are way out of my league, but so are the Seahawks and I'm a fan of them too.)


Being partial to the roadster style I loved this car when it first came out. Its appeal has faded. The lines aren't distinctive enough. There isn't that love-me-or-hate-me-but-I'm-not-compromising look about it. Which isn't to say I wouldn't like one. I see one occasionally around the office and it's always worth a second glance.

Not Your Typical F40

If you offered me my choice of Ferraris I'd take an F40. Maybe it's because I turned 16 the year these first came out. Posters of a red Ferrari and a white Countach were required in every boys room at the time. I loved the notion a race car that was changed just enough to be street legal. No A/C, no radio, no ABS. I understand some didn't have roll-down windows or even interior door panels. Just horsepower. They were known as unforgiving cars with 470hp, this factory competition car claims 850hp.

Maserati MC12

"The Enzo was designed for high-performance work but not for serious racing" Gee, life must be rough when your $650,000 Ferrari Enzo isn't getting done. Better get one of these.

Mercedes 300SL

Resto-modded by AMG? Hmmm... I like the resto-mod concept and AMG certainly has the ability to do it right. But there are some cars that should be left unmolested. (And those wheels have got to go.)


My image of a leisurely Sunday drive down a wooded country road always includes a golden-era soft-top.

Testa Rossa

Sometimes I imagine that drive being a little less leisurely.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


As usual I have a single New Years Resolution for 2010. Same one I've had for about the last 12 years. "Finish more projects than I start." So far I'm about 2-of-11 on this resolution. It's just not in my blood I guess.

Will this year be different? Yes. But not necessarily because I'll be more focused. More likely it'll be different in the garage for the same reason it will be different everywhere: baby. (No, not "I love my car, she's my baby." I mean "Hey there's a pooping, screaming, yet somehow irresistibly cute baby living in my house.")

There are a few less $$ to go into starting new projects. So that'll help my resolution. And a few of the outstanding projects could bring in some $$. (Namely finishing and selling one of the cars and/or bikes.)

But, in addition to a drop in disposable income, the baby came with a little surprise: parental leave. My employer is quite generous with family leave so I have an opportunity to take alot of time off and maybe use some of that time to address some projects. ... One can always hope.

2010 will almost certainly have fewer trackdays than the last few years. But the schedule does work in my favor in some cases. Here are some of my options for motorcycle events:
  1. MotoFit at Oregon Raceway Park May 29/30 (Memorial Day weekend)
  2. MotoFit at Oregon Raceway Park July 3/4
  3. NESBA at Pacific Raceways July 17/18
  4. 2-Fast at Pacific Raceways July 24
  5. SBNW July 28 - Aug 1
  6. 2-Fast at Oregon Raceway Park July 31/Aug 1
  7. NESBA at Oregon Raceway Park Aug 28/29
  8. STAR at Oregon Raceway Park Aug 30/31
  9. MotoFit at Oregon Raceway Park Sept 4/5 (Labor Day weekend)

Clearly I won't make it to all of those. But everyone of those dates is reasonable. Almost all weekends, and at the two nearest tracks. My main target is the 4 consecutive ORP dates Aug 28-31. (I have credit with NESBA from last year, and I'd love to see STAR on a track like ORP.)

Anyway, we'll have to see how things work out. Right now I'd be happy to get a few decent days just to get back outside.