Sunday, April 14, 2013

Around the World on a Bike

I rolled past an interesting mileage marker today.  I have spent enough time on a bicycle to have ridden around this amazing little blue planet, and all these miles have been covered in little loops that didn't actually take me anywhere at all.  How odd an activity to enjoy now that I think of it like that.

I hadn't had this as a goal or anything, and I personally know people who cover this kind of distance in a matter of a couple of years vs the 10 it took me, so I know it's really not a big deal, but yet I'm spending some time blabbering about it anyway.

It's my blog, pfft...

Back to the point.  Yes, I know I tend to wander into a stream of consciousness type of writing instead of efficiently getting to the point of the post.

You're welcome.

I noticed the number coming up in my workout Excel log that I built to track my mileage over the years.  I'm a geek...I know it, but recording this sort of thing for years on end seems interesting to me, and it certainly has recorded how much I have ridden and how my weight has actually not gone down during the process... Heh heh... Perhaps sitting on my duff for a year because I can't stay upright on snow skis without creating a second joint in one leg had something to do with my current physical shape!

There I go once more...back to the point...again...  *sigh*

I had only 11 miles to ride to reach 24,901 miles since I had started riding bikes regularly.   (The circumference of the planet at the equator, since the Earth is fattest there)

I had planned a magnificent Timewaster Studio video production to mark the moment.  Replete with panning shots of beautiful vistas at dawn, sun glinting through green spring leaves as I climbed the local hills, rocks and trees flashing by as I pedaled along the know cool kind of images that would be fitting to record such a random mileage moment.

Instead, Mother Nature gave me a 50 degree day, overcast with a 30% chance of rain.  Which proved, much to my chagrin, to actually be 100% as I rolled out of the garage, and thereafter became a deluge before the ride was over.

Soooo, instead of beautiful footage of the ride and great photos of yours truly looking knowingly into the distance over mountaintops...I got these.

Yep...30% chance...

Well, I'm here. I guess I'll go anyway...

The ride itself was fun.  I crashed once because of wet roots, but managed to land on my feet.  Too bad I didn't get that on video.  But, by the time I hit the mileage "moment", I was completely soaked and the trails had degraded into puddles of standing water.  Here is my photo of the moment, and it didn't last long because I got cold really quickly.  Without the effort of riding, I was woefully under dressed for the conditions.

Wow...I look old these days.  I guess it's better than not aging anymore though!

Speaking of getting cold (not old), there is a tenuous balance in endurance sports between overheating and getting cold, and people are always trying to find that balance.  If you are working hard, you can be out in riding gear that most people would never wear for the conditions, but you aren't able to vary from that effort level much at all without experiencing some discomfort.

Oh, looky...I've gone off on another tangent.

I'll leave you with a few random tidbits from my time on the bike related to the miles I have covered.

As of today:
  • 24,903 miles
  • 1,570 rides
  • 10 Years
  • 1 collar bone (now augmented by a 5" plate and 7 screws)
  • 4.3 bazillion tire tubes
  • 2,300x my weight in Gatorade and lousy tasting energy gels and Powerbars.
  • 1,100 Chipotle Burritos - (1000 cal/burrito and 700 cal/hour average workout output)   
Seriously, who doesn't do the Burritos burned per hour calculation?  Mmmm...burritos...
  • Approximately 1.9% of my total waking life
  • I'm not going to try to calculate the gallons of sweat...  You're welcome...again.
  • 3 Race Wins, 1 2nd place, 7 top ten, and a whole lot of middle-of-the-pack.
  • Untold amounts of patience from my loving wife...
See you on the trails!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Indy at Barber Motorsports

One of the best things about living in Birmingham, that most people wouldn't think of when talking about the town, is that there is a fantastic motor sports track 20 minutes from my house.  We make a run out to the place a few times a year to take in some howling motors of various types. Last weekend we had the pleasure of the Honda Indycar race coming to town. 

My parents were in town from Tyler, Texas and we all ventured out into a lovely spring day.  The grass wasn't as green this year as in years past.  For some reason, it seems to have been cool and the dormant grass hadn't come alive yet, but the trees certainly had.  There were clouds of yellow blanketing the area...bleh.

Needless to say, we weren't deterred by everyones' cars turning a sickly shade of yellow before our eyes, and we all loaded up on antihistamines and headed out to watch some racing.

Here is a virtual lap around the Barber Motor sports course, and you can see the course as well in some of my motorcycle track day videos here and here.

We watched the race from a grassy hill around turn one but went over to the Paddock to look at the cars and see some of the drivers before the race started.  The kids thought it was pretty neat to be right in among the cars as the teams wheeled them out and onto the track for the warm up lap and flying start.

Bryce's favorite car, the Boy Scout car, just after getting fueled up.  I wish they had started an engine close by to us so we could feel just how loud these things are.  Noting the faring in front and behind the rear wheels on this Indycar makes me wonder why the Formula 1 cars haven't adopted such a thing if it actually reduces drag to a material degree?

The paddock safety officers had to clear a path to get all the cars out to the track.  Here they are towing a car out and they switched the rain tires (note the grooves) to the racing slicks once in the pits.  Also, note the green pollen stuck all over the front wheel as they rolled it the first 10 yards.  Yuk...

We set up camp on a hillside and I shot an iPhone panorama of our springtime "stadium seating".

As the race started we got a chance to see just how fast the cars were.  They were warming the tires by weaving their cars back and forth across the track while the poor little pace car was whining and sliding as it navigated the course as fast as it could go.  When the Safety Car pulled off into the pits and the race began the noise increased tenfold.

The Start!
You could feel the engines in your chest as the cars raced by.  To see a vehicle go from a tight 60mph turn and accelerate to 150-160 mph in just seconds was astonishing, and viewing that never gets old.

My mom noted that all the cars passing by sounded like angry bees.  That would be one serious swarm of bees...the kind of thing that would be featured in blockbuster disaster movies...or perhaps the final book in the Bible.  The signs of the Blood red moon, the 4 horsemen, and 700 horsepower bees... Yikes.

Turn 1 through a hole in the fence.
After about 20 laps the kids were getting cooked.  Typical, 20 laps of 90 and they are ready to go.  I have found that open wheel racing is good for ADHD people like me since they aren't 3-4 hour long oval track endeavors.  But oh no, not my offspring.  20 laps and that's all that they can handle without getting into fights for entertainment.  I had kind of guessed they would have that reaction even though we were sitting below a Jumbo-tron screen showing the race and just off the track where the cars whipped by.  We hopped a tram and headed over to the kids area for a new view of the track and to let the kids run around while the adults tried to keep up with all the driving exploits.

I got a few pictures, as you can see above in the action shots, but was having less success this time than in past events getting a clear picture.  Who knows why, but I wasn't happy with how they turned out.  I guess I'm glad I don't have to make money taking photographs for a living.  The family would be pretty malnourished.

 Ryan Hunter-Reay had a car that was handling the course beautifully and led for a number of laps early on.  As the race came to the last 10 laps, Ryan ended up in the lead again being chased by Brenna's favorite team - The Target Car...driven by Scott Dixon.  Ryan never gave up the lead after that and he and Scott were pulling away from the 3rd place car rapidly as the final lap came.  A great day and a great race.

Hopefully, now that spring is here, I'll have more writing to do on this blog because the family will have more fun activities going on.  Naturally, removing that 8 inch plate from my leg with the 10 screws lends itself to me feeling good enough to do some entertaining (and blog worthy) things as well.  There's just not much to write about during a year where most of the time I sat in front of an Xbox and a computer at work...

Have a great week everyone, and enjoy The Masters!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Bryce had a birthday. Holy smokes!  He's eleven now!  And now that I think of it, that sparks a troubling thought that probably happens to everyone that realizes that they have a kid that's not a little kid anymore. 

Wait, when I have an older kid, that means that I'm....gasp!

For his birthday, we took everyone out to Busch Gardens in Tampa to ride some roller coasters until we were borderline ill and stumbling into stuff.  For some of us, this took fewer loops than others.  We rode the Cheetah first; which, instead of using a gravity based drop to achieve the speed for the ride, it uses a series of magnets to launch the cars forward in flat sections and then sends you up and over hills producing a nice negative G at the top. 

Bryce's first ride on a big roller coaster and you can see the "What the heck am I getting into" face in the photo.  Eek!

It turns out, that the Cheetah may not have been the best ride to open up the day with, because every major coaster thereafter was met with something like this...

Me:  Cool!  Another coaster to sling my brain out my ear!  Let'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGO!!! 

Ansley: Yeah!  Let'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGO!!!

Bryce:  Nah.  I'm good...

Me:  Seriously lets all go.  It'll be FUN!  Let'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGO!!!

Ansley: has already run into the coaster line without us...

Bryce:  Seriously Dad...  I'm good...

So, out of all this, I discovered my son, who has a cautious side, is not going to be a coaster fanatic, but my say the already one.  Since Aiden wasn't tall enough to ride the big coasters.  Brenna and I would do the kid swap thing where I would ride with Ansley, and Mom would wait with the non-riders and then we would swap.  Ansley would naturally then go and ride it again... with Mom. 

Ansley couldn't get enough of these coasters.  She rode every major coaster in the park and combined to ride them 17 times.  Even the ridiculous diving coaster "Shiekra" that I walked away with bruises from riding.  Ansley rode that thing 4-5 times. 

Who would have thought an 8 year old would be that fearless?  Of course the first time had its moments.  The ride takes you up 200 feet, then inches you over the lip to a straight down drop, and stops for a count of 3 before letting you go.  At that point Ansley looked like she was in over her head and was about to cry.  I told her that I was sorry, but we were in it now and there wasn't any way back.

The anticipation is worth the whole ride.  After that drop, it's a looping fighter jet kind of ride.  As soon as we dropped, Ansley was just fine and giggled/screamed the whole way down. Good stuff.

We also did some other fun stuff like take the safari ride around...which had it gone like this, it might have been more interesting!

The guide did make a note of Bryce's birthday and messed with him a little.  It was pretty funny.

We didn't see any Hippos that I can recall on that ride, and that's just fine with me considering they are the most dangerous animal in all of Africa and nastiest, grossest, poo-flingingest - is that even a word? - nevermind.  I'm not a fan needless to say.

See what I mean about dangerous!

Although, signs with warnings like the one below make me think that ignorant humans are by far and away worse than hippos.  Seriously, if a theme park has to write this down to reminded these idiots not to send their disgustingly ill children into the water to infect everyone elses' children, there is something very very wrong.  I'm a parent, so I understand that kids get ill at the worst times, but seriously, if you know your kid is sick...

Aiden had his share of fun stuff even though he wasn't quite tall enough to ride the big rides.  I'm curious to see if he is as cautious as Bryce or if he is a thrill seeker like Ansley...or if he is something completely different.

I think everyone had a good time, and I know I have a coaster buddy for life now.  I also know exactly what to get Ansley for her Birthday...

Tickets to ride.