Friday, May 30, 2008

Movie Reviews...

I just realized I haven't been keeping up with my movie reviews! For shame!

Just got off a plane where I watched Untraceable. It's a little bit Silence of the Lambs without such a scary villain. I thought it was really good, but you need to be okay with a little bit of gore. I was thankful to be watching on the iPod small screen since I'm generally not quite okay with that kind of gore.

I watched Juno a few months ago. Very good movie. It's very witty and fun, even though it's about a very serious topic. Doesn't matter if you're Pro Life or Pro Choice, you will laugh at the abortion clinic protester.

Another good movie is Charlie Wilson's War. It's a great American movie about a truly interesting part of the cold war that few probably knew about. Highly recommended. No gore, either. Some T&A, though.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Share the Road?

The law says we have to share the road with bicycles. And in this age of high gas prices, perhaps we'll have to share the road with more of them at some point. But when that point gets here I'll be fine with it, because the bikes we're sharing the road with are going somewhere. Going somewhere? What could I mean by that? Aren't all bikes on the road going somewhere?

No. Most are really just exercising. How do I know? They are out on the road riding bikes that cost more than a lot of cars on the road. They're wearing skin tight clothes and aerodynamic helmets to reduce drag. They're riding in small trains and taking turns leading for the draft effect. The bikes are on half inch wide tires that would puncture if they hit a single pothole at speed. Worst of all, many folks are doing this exercising on two lane, 55 mile per hour, country roads that are narrow, have no shoulder suitable for a bike of this nature, and have many blind curves.

I know why they seek out those roads...they aren't that busy. They can pedal at full speed for long stretches without interruption from traffic lights and stop signs. Oh, not that most of them stop for traffic lights and stop signs anyway if the coast is clear...oh no. Heaven forbid they should unclip from those pedals and sit there like the rest of the traffic. Or, should I say, like the law says they should do. Nope, most look both ways and roll on through if the coast is clear. I've even seen them do it with a police officer looking on, and the officer did nothing about it. Talking about steaming me. If I hadn't been in a hurry I would have reported the officer. There's a chance he wasn't even on duty, I suppose, but it still seemed unlikely.

So, what's my real fear or beef with having to share the road? Simple. I fear that someone I love will be driving that country road at the posted speed limit and come around a curve and get hit head on by someone who is illegally passing a bicyclist. Is that the fault of the bicyclist? Not entirely, no. Maybe not even at all, really. But the reality is that people will continue to pass these folks in an unsafe manner. The cyclists see it happen all the time. Many even know someone who was hit by a car or were hit themselves. Yet a lot of them continue to do it, and they do it on the roads near my house even though the town of Carrboro has a lot of roads with bike lanes. I know, can't get the same amount of exercise in. But at least they should be safer than mixing with dump trucks and other high speed traffic on tiny roads.

The other reality is that you can get a lot of good exercise on a bike by heading off road if you get a mountain bike. There are great trails in this particular area and in many areas of the country. There's nobody to hurt but yourself that way (and don't I know that!).

Now, I can somewhat sympathize with triathletes who actually need to train at least some on the road. Somewhat. But that's still a choice you're making, especially since there are now more off-road triathlons you could participate in.

No, I'm not one of those folks that intentionally passes closely when passing a cyclist somewhere I don't think they should be, and I certainly don't condone that kind of dangerous behavior. I wouldn't ever even get in someone's face when stopped about it. I do believe courteous dialog on this topic is a good thing, and I do think cyclists should strongly consider alternatives to riding on 55 mile per hour roads. Please. Before more people get hurt.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In my effort to post every day...

I like it! Long neck cold bottles, please.

It's Memorial Day weekend, we're at the lake, and we have Bud Light. Sweet.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

So, it's Memorial Day weekend. I'd like to ask that everyone reading this remember what that means and take some time out of your busy weekend and salute our troops, both past and present. Doesn't matter how, just find some way.

Afraid of walking outside at night?

Are you afraid of nocturnal animals? Do you live in fear or walking face first into a spider web? Do you let stories from TV and books scare you that the boogieman might be waiting in the woods to get you? If so, I've got a solution for you! It's a walking stick with integrated flashlight!

Or you can also try this folding cane with flashlight! Makes a great gift for the scaredycat in your life!

Use these devices to light your way, knock those gargantuan spider webs down, and even fight off evil hockey-mask-wearing villains! Note: None of these devices are intended to fight off any villain larger than 6'4". If you live in sasquatch-infested areas, please consult your local police department for recommendations.

(Yes, this post is a little joke in response to Alisa's recent blog entry. I couldn't help it. cough).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Idol versus Dancing

Okay, it's the biggest TV week of the year with the final episodes of both American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. Which is better, though?

Neither. It's all personal opinion. But I'll point out why I watch Dancing and don't watch Idol. It's about the fact that Idol is more about a performing talent and Dancing is more about learning to perform. Idol is a bit more pure in that each contestant has to learn their thing completely on their own and then just bring it to the competition. Dancing is less pure since the contestants are more or less just chosen by producers and then paired somehow with a professional dancer to instruct them. But to me Dancing is a more interesting competition because each competitor must then go learn and perform something they've never really done.

You could say "oh, but there are going to be contestants who are going to come in with more talent and have a much better shot at it." There has been no better example of that than this past season when Kristi Yamaguchi won. And while that did cause this season to be a bit anti-climactic, in general the competition is not dominated and has been won by folks not necessarily considered predisposed to being good at dancing. Helio Castroneves was a good example of a winner who was somewhat unlikely.

This past season also showed you never know about how well people are going to dance simply based on their past. One might have assumed that a female tennis star would likely be better than an NFL defensive player, but that was far from the case.

Anyway, I'm not giving Idol a hard time. I've never really given it a shot, and probably won't. But watching Dancing has become important to me, and it's about way more than the beautiful dancers. Okay, so they help. But watching an NFL defensive player go from an awkward and scared mediocre dancer to a really good dancer was fun. Watching Helio do the same was fun. And hopefully next year's cast is as good as previous years.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Last day of the trip...

...and I'm kicking back again while everyone else enjoys one last quick ride. I had a blast on my two rides, but that was all my body had in it for a four day period. My knees are creaky, and the rest of me just aches. Hopefully they get their ride in before the rain gets here...seems they might just luck out. We'll see.

I should mention some more about yesterday...we had to cross streams about ten times. Creeks? No, streams. And one river, I believe. Most all were mid-shin deep with one being just above knee deep. A few rides were attempted across, but in general everyone just carried their bikes. The streambeds were mostly pretty large rocks, so riding it wasn't terribly possible since you couldn't always see thanks to shadows and small whitecaps.

We did see some very cool waterfalls (none huge, but still cool) and the best part was a giant overlook with a huge rock face we could stand on to take it in. We could see for miles and miles and not see anything man-made. Unfortunately I didn't take a camera, but other guys did so hopefully I can get the pictures from them and post them at some point.

The trip has been really great...everyone on it is really great to be around. Hopefully I can get in better shape and do it again next year!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I WANTED to nap today, but...

The guys talked me into riding instead. I'm glad I did as it wasn't nearly as brutal as the Thursday ride, but the data says otherwise...we did 30.2 miles with a max speed of 24.9MPH. The moving time was 5:52 and we were stopped 2:56. The total ascent was 3900 feet! I will definitely not be riding tomorrow! I'm not hurting, but I am completely and totally spent. I did keep up pretty well and I walked a lot less than I did on Thursday, even though we went twice as far. Here's the pic of all three rides (today is the one in the middle...and I missed a little bit of the track at the start, but you get the idea).

Pardon me while I pass out and die.

For the Lonegan kids...

A little bit of the cabin and some of the guys...

Friday, May 16, 2008

While I was napping...

The left side is what we rode yesterday (almost 15 miles). The right side is what everyone else rode today (27 miles). Glad I stayed here.

Napping in Brevard

So the cabin we rented is in Brevard, NC. Well, just outside of town. Pisgah is a huge national forest that spans across a large part of western North Carolina. I believe at one time almost all of it (and a lot of land that isn't Pisgah) was owned by George Vanderbilt, the man who built the Biltmore House.

So, today was as expected for me. The guys are off on a 6-8 hour ride. They plan to take an easier pace and stop more (they packed sandwiches and such for lunch), but there was still no way my body was up for it. I'm still wasted. Completely. But this cabin is awesome and it's simply perfect for just kicking back and letting my body recover. My mind is doing pretty well, too (which is pretty rare!).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Riding in Pisgah

In a word, wow. The trails are amazing. Unfortunately, I'm having a tough time keeping up with the folks that drug me out here! I'm showing that we went 14.7 miles with a max speed of 18.1MPH and we were moving 3 hours and stopped for 52 minutes. Total ascent? 2600 feet! The max elevation we saw was just over 4000 feet.

No wonder I'm wiped. Here's a Google Earth image of our route...

Not sure I'll make it out of the cabin tomorrow. They definitely will, but my legs might need a day. Or two.

Let's go mountain biking!

I know how much everyone loves the video blogging, so here's more...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I love this.

I'm still looking for something to turn into a "kill" sticker to put on the car. Anyone seen a good picture of a deer with a tire track across his neck? Or something similar?

I love Balance Bare nutrition bars!

If you're in to health food and want a nutritious snack, I highly recommend these. They're probably not great for folks who don't exercise as they're going to have a pretty hefty amount of calories, but they also have a ton of protein and taste good.

If you tried them in the past and didn't like them, try them again. They've recently changed the entire lineup and even the style of the bar. There was only one flavor I really liked before, now I like them all. Give them a try!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

One Lap: The Carnage

Here are some pics of the damage (yeah, I know, "finally!").

The hose in the picture below appears to be a drain for the washer fluid reservoir.

And a short video. (WARNING: Some animals were definitely harmed in the making of this video. Badly harmed. Some would say killed. Dead. Very dead. But no acts of violence happen in the actual video.)

One Lap: Would I do it again?

Yeah, pretty sure I'll try to do it again next year. I'm not entirely sure what I'll do to the Cayman, but it's likely going to get a significant horsepower boost. While Leh and I had a great time, I think he'll likely do something a little different, so I'll be looking out for a codriver. There's a few things I'll change otherwise, but nothing terribly significant.

On the trailer front, I'll likely build version 2.0 of the trailer (well, have it built) and then speed test it at CMP. I'm thinking about putting full data acquisition on it as well as video and perhaps even a crash test dummy. It'll have a full aerodynamic package that's wind tunnel tested, too.

Or perhaps I'll just add some storage and lower the center of gravity some and not go too fast for the trailer around corners. *cough*

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

One Lap: We're done.

Karma. Had to be.

I didn't have to tell a few of my fellow One Lap competitors that I would get a good night of sleep in my own bed between CMP and VIR tonight, but I did. They were probably annoyed at me, and rightfully so...I was throwing my luck in their faces that the route of the race went near my house with perfect timing for a good night of sleep in my own bed.

So I'm driving the last stint in since I know the roads well, but I'm a bit tired and in a little bit of a hurry to hit the hay. It's 10:30pm. I turn what is really the next to the last turn before my house and do it a little fast. The trailer rolls in the road, all but ripping free of the car (strangely, the safety chains that didn't seem well designed from the hitch company kept it attached). The tool box rips off and scatters tools in the road. Now, this time of night isn't busy around here, which was good. We jump out and get everything gathered up and out of the road and agree to leave Leh there with the stuff while I run home in the Cayman to get a truck and trailer, which would have taken a total of 15 minutes, max (yes, we were that close to my house).

That wasn't meant to be, though, as a deer ran out in front of me leaving me no choice but to hit it. I got on the brakes pretty good, but there was just nothing that could have been done short of ditching the car, which wasn't an option. The damage appears to be only body work and a radiator, but it's enough to keep us out of the race.

I suppose the good news in all of this is that if you're going to crash, it's obviously better to do it near home instead of 2,000 miles away, which was certainly possible. Plus nobody was hurt. Well, other than the deer and a little bit of ego.

One Lap: Motor Update

No joy getting our motor situation sorted out. We may dyno the car tonight to see what kind of power we're really making, though. Should be interesting.

One Lap: UGH!

Got roasted at the two CMP events. Ninth in the first, probably about the same in the second. On our way now to the BMW facility, but the real development is we think we have a better clue now as to what's wrong with the motor and even better is we may have the ability to get someone to attempt to fix it. More on that later, but there's hope yet...

Darth Vader rides again:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

One Lap: Didn't go so well today...

We had a seventh and eighth place at No Problem Raceway in Baton Rouge, LA. That wasn't so bad. What was bad was that they decided to do the drag race here since they have a strip. So we did that at the end, even though we also had 800 miles to drive today to get to the next track. Ugh. What's worse with that is that we're down on power for some strange reason and thus placed like 27th in the drag race. The combination of those three events dropped us from second to sixth!

Here's the video blog about it:

Bonus OLOA entry WITH VIDEO!

It's morning, so don't expect much...

Monday, May 5, 2008

One Lap: Events five and six done!

Event seven won't happen...the drag strip was canceled due to weather. We ran both events at Texas World Speedway pretty much in the pouring rain. The first group of the morning session had a wet track, but not much actual rain going on. Their cars had no rooster tails. Leh was in the second group, however, and it started raining pretty good for that group and those cars all had big rooster tails for the entire run. Leh ended up seventh, which was pretty good considering.

In the next session it was pretty much just raining continually for everyone, which was fine since it was equal for everyone. The gaps were much closer and Leh wasn't far out of second, but ended up fourth. Those two strong finishes moved us up to second overall, but third and fourth are gaining on us fast as they are both doing very well. We'll need some luck to stay this far up, but there's still a lot to go.

After a bad start to the event with a poor wet skid pad showing, Ian Stewart has really gotten that GT3 humming. The car looks great and he's driving great. If he would have had some skid pad practice beforehand, he'd probably be leading now. Great job, Ian!

And now for something you're really gonna dislike:

Day two bonus post

Okay, this is a bonus post. No video on this one. One video per day. I know you're all saying "aw", but that's life. I'm tired and we're getting close enough to the end of our journey for today that I couldn't get a video uploaded anyway.

People seem to want to know more about my car. It's a 2006 Porsche Cayman S that had 295HP stock. I ordered it with all the go fast options including ceramic brakes and such, but it still didn't quite "do it" for me. So I sent it to Farnbacher Loles for their "GTR" conversion. That includes things like the 911 (997) front end for looks, but more importantly the X51 engine and limited slip differential (LSD). It's also got Moton Club Sport shocks, custom spring rates and lots of 997 and Cup Car suspension parts. To save weight we've replaced the rear decklid with a carbon fiber unit with a lexan window. There are lots of other little things I've done, but I won't bore with those details NOW. Maybe later.

Another question is about my codriver. His name is Leh Keen, and he's a professional driver from the Farnbacher Rolex GT Grand Am series team. I actually never met him until the weekend before the One Lap started at a Grand Am race at VIR (where he finished third). We had already arranged the codrive deal before then, which is odd. Yes, I agreed to spend a week in tight quarters with someone I had never met. Crazy, but true. How did we come together? Through Farnbacher. I wanted to do this race for quite a while, but as you might guess from the mod list, I have a lot of money invested in this car (I love the word "invested" in this's so wrong, but yet feels so, err, wrong!). I just didn't want to do it with someone who couldn't afford to pay for any damage they might inflict. When I couldn't find anyone willing and able, Farnbacher offered to provide me someone that THEY would stand behind. And here we are! Don't tell Leh, but I'm glad I did it, too. It's been fun so far, and I don't think I'll kill him before it's over. He might kill me, though!

I want to thank Casey Lewis and all his employees at Beechwood Metalworks for designing and building the trailer we're pulling on this little adventure, too. These folks are talented artists in every sense of the word. I feel bad asking them to make something as uninteresting as a trailer, in fact. But we're great friends and they knocked it out for me and it's working great. I don't know what I'd do without their help (on things other than just this little race, too!). I've come up with some major changes I'd like to make already if I do this again in regards to the trailer, but I'm going to keep those a secret until it's time to build that one. *cough*

The one thing I miss outside of the normal stuff (kids, wife, etc) is EXERCISE. This week is going to be hard on my body, I know it. There's simply no way to work hardly any of that in.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

One Lap: Events three and four in the books!

Well, yesterday was a long day, but we did get in bed just before midnight and got up at 6am to make it to the track on time. Leh went out in the third run group (little demotion!), but set eighth fastest time for the morning event, which moved us back to fourth overall and first in class. We had time to kill before we ran the same thing again at 12:30, so we watched some race video and talked to folks.

In the second event Leh went out and kicked butt pretty good to get fifth overall and keep us in fourth for the event overall. Mid America only has one straight that isn't terribly long, so the big HP cars didn't have a huge advantage on us. We're also helped by the fact that DaVia is having some trouble with his ECU and isn't able to run at near full power (he still has more HP than us even in his detuned state, though he was still handicapped more in the afternoon today because he didn't detune it enough to avoid bigger problems).

We're in pretty great shape right now as we keep hitting the road faster than just about everyone and we just don't stop for anything other than fuel, food, and bathroom and we almost always make each stop entail some combination of those things. We should be in the bed by 1:30am localtime tonight and won't need to be up until 6:30 or so, maybe even a bit later. So we're in great shape in the sleep department. Well, at least compared to most folks. We heard stories today of people mostly not getting in to bed until well after 2am on average with some sleeping in the bathroom at the track and stuff. Sleeping in cars wasn't much of an option last night where we were as it got a little below freezing!

And for more evidence of my natural videography talent:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

One Lap: Second Event Down

Well, this one didn't go as well as the first, but we're still in good shape. We finished 13th in this event, but Road America is a horsepower track and we don't have as much as many of the cars here. So this was somewhat expected. We're still in great shape in fifth place overall. Leh ran Mid America last year in the One Lap, so he's got some experience there. We should be pretty good at CMP at VIR, too, so if we can keep getting decent finishes and keep everything in one piece, we're fine.

And now for what everyone really wants, VIDEO!

One Lap: First Event Done!

Leh went out and kicked some serious butt in the wet skidpad and when we left we were in the lead, which people seemed to think would hold. He was a .921G and second place was a .902.

Video blog:

Friday, May 2, 2008

One Lap about to start...

Well, we made it to South Bend and got registered today. The event officially starts tomorrow. The One Lap folks let you pick a charity to "sponsor" and mine is, of course, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Please take a minute to help find a cure!

Look for upcoming pics with the personalized JDRF license plate!

And now for the first in a LONG video blog series! Aren't you just giddy with anticipation?