Archive | August, 2011

Trail running?

26 Aug

Nothing too groundbreaking today, just a thought…

Trail running is pretty cool. I did it for the first time yesterday (still working on that 10k program) and thought, “Hey, this doesn’t suck.” That’s a good sign!

The 110*F heat did suck, however.

On Assignment with Jimmy Chin – Yosemite

22 Aug

I feel like i’ve posted a lot of climibng vids. Truth be told I’m not a climber. I did some indoor stuff in college but not having someone I COMPLETELY trusted belaying me made me always have doubts and fears in the back of my mind… to the point that I stopped. Maybe one day I’ll give it another shot.

The reason for the vids isn’t necessarily the climbing aspect though. It’s the beauty. The scenery. Nature.

We go eastward to realize history and study the works of art and literature, retracing the steps of the race; we go westward as into the future, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure.

-Henry David Thoreau

You will run, and you will like it.

16 Aug

I love cycling.

I have never loved running.

I’m embarking on a mission to change that. Cycling brings me happiness, alone time, fitness, etc but it also has equipment and maintenaince. Cycling is not as carefree as lacing up some shoes. Where are my bibs? Do I have a clean jersey or is it a t-shirt day? Lube the chain, check tire pressure, check cables…

I long for the simplicity of running. To be able to lace up a pair of shoes and attain that solitary peace that I get on my bike, but anywhere in the world. Traveling and cycling do not go well together, but shoes will fit in any bag. I long for the day I get the endorphin rush and high that lasts for hours from a run just like I can from a ride.

As an aside to the main goal here, I am also starting with a minimalist approach (shoe of choice: Nike Free Sparq). I’ll admit, Born To Run struck a chord with me. It seems so simple, yet elegant, so I’m going to give it a shot.

My knee problems started in middle school when I was hit with the full force of Osgood–Schlatter disease (more of a temporary affliction; “disease” seems a bit dramatic) and it went downhill from there. Last time I went to an ortho I had one knee scoped for meniscus repair and while they were in there they saw that I had torn half of my ACL (apparently they didn’t catch it on the MRI) but at that point they were in too deep (pardon the pun) to do anything at that time. Since then it’s just been management and hoping that the day it decides to let loose is still far off.

Basically, I don’t want to be like this again for a loooooong time:

I’m hoping that sticking to a plan, re-learning good running form and listneing to my legs will get me to my goal.

So here’s the plan:
I’m starting from the bottom. Seriously. The ‘couch to 10k’ plan.

Day 1 was yesterday. No knee pain (I would hope not! Look at all that walking!). I’ll update this weekly, either on this post or with a new one.

Starting weight: 214 (8-16-11)

Unusual Internal Combustion Engines

15 Aug

Pretty interesting stuff here:

Not much time to write on this one but there are a ton of explanations, cutaway diagrams, animations, etc at the link…



This cam engine has no connection beyond a coincidence of names with The Michell swashplate engineof 1920, which worked on a completely different principle. I have referred to this one throughout as The German Michel Cam Engine to underline the point.

The original documentation and the drawings are unfortunately neither as clear as they might be.

Left: The German Michel Cam Engine: 1921

This engine was produced by the Michel Engine Company of Kiel, in Germany. It was a water-cooled two-stroke Diesel with three radial cylinders 120 degrees apart. The three cylinders shared a commmon central star-shaped combustion chamber, with the cam on the outside of the cylinders. The NACA report says the three cylinders revolved along with the fuel injection pump, while the cams and housing stayed stationary, but a look at the Michel patent shows the cam rotating around the outside.

To quote from the NACA report: “The introduction of fuel, lubricating oil, and cooling water into the revolving cylinders is said to cause no difficulty.” Oh really? Was there a version where the cylinders did rotate? Confusing.

From NACA technical memorandum No 462, translation of Motorwagen Nov 20, 1927
Original source: Zeitschrift Des Vereines Deutscher Ingenieure (The magazine of the Association of German Engineers) p1405, 1925

WWII pics – Spitfire uses wingtip to topple V-1 ‘Buzzbomb’

8 Aug

The MK XIV was also one of the few aircraft able to catch and destroy the V1 flying bomb. The Spitfires could sometimes “tip-up” the wing of a V1 by flying alongside and putting their wing under that of the flying-bomb, causing it to tumble out of control

For the lazy:
The V-1 was a pulse-jet powered guided missile developed by the Germans. After losing the Battle of Britain it was realized that the best way to attack British cities by air was to lob stuff like this at them.

At its peak, over a hundred V-1s a day were fired at southeast England, 9,521 in total, decreasing in number as sites were overrun until October 1944, when the last V-1 site in range of Britain was overrun by Allied forces. This caused the remaining V-1s to be re-targeted on the port of Antwerp and other targets in Belgium, with 2,448 V-1s being launched. The attacks stopped when the last site was overrun on 29 March 1945. In total, the V-1 attacks caused 22,892 casualties (almost entirely civilians).

Stealth mode: activated

5 Aug

It was time for a change. Completely stock is boring and I’ve always loved the look of the PPV (police pursuit vehicle) Tahoes so I figured I’d give it a shot. I also do a lot of highway driving and I’ve read that the police tahoes ride great; smooth but firm with a much tighter feel.

Here’s how it started.

The police wheels are basically the same as the basemodel steel wheels from the pickups, except the trucks have a chrome face on them. Rather than bust my ass trying to find a set of the police wheels (authenticity is not the chief concern) I started at the next best place. It should also be noted that the centercaps are slightly different. The trucks have a greyish color cap that attaches to the lugnuts while the police caps are chrome and held directly to the wheel with three 13mm bolts. For now, I’m enjoying the less blingy look of the plain ol’ truck caps, but who knows… I might change my mind.

Anyway, $100 on Craigslist and a trip to the parts store got me ready to tackle the first step. I cleaned all the wheels with water then the alcohol, hit them w/ 400 grit cleaned them again and then laid a light coat of self etching primer. After that, a few coats (starting light and getting thicker) of semi-gloss high temp engine enamel were all it took.

The PPV Tahoes are lower than stock. I can’t find a definitive answer but somehwere between 30mm (1.18″) and 2″ and they also run 265-60-17 tires. Since I’m staying stock height for now I also stayed with the stock tire size (265-70-17).

After getting the wheels done the next step was to remove the roof rack. While it has a purpose I don’t use it and the lines are much cleaner without it. Next on the list is a set of beefier swaybars to kill the body roll (one of my only complaints about the whole car). Then… possibly a low-key pushbar and lower it a bit. Maybe a 2-4 kit?

Here it is after the wheels, tires and roof rack removal.

A week in Cabo San Lucas, BCS, MX

3 Aug

It’s becoming a yearly thing…

We got back two weeks ago and I just haven’t had time to get pics up. Not much story, just pics. 2900 sq ft penthouse at the Grand Solmar (opened 5 months ago), master shower as big as a king size bed, pools, fishing, beer, snorkeling, pirate ships, fine dining, amazing scenery, local dive dining, tequila, books, more beer… it never gets old.

Trek 100 ride report

1 Aug

It’s a bit (like a full year) late but I don’t think I ever completely documented this experience, which has been one of my favorite bike weekends ever. In a way this might be more of a bike weekend report, but there are bikes all the same.

Last winter a friend called me and asked if I wanted to do a bike ride with him and some friends. “Sure, sounds great… what’s the catch?”
“Well, it’s in Wisconsin (where his sister lives) and its 100 miles… but it’s put on by Trek and there’s always free goodies.”
“Well, I’ve been wanting to do my first century for a while now. What the hell, I’m in.”
“Ok, it starts at the Trek headquarters in Waterloo and heads out and back across the rolling Wisconsin countryside. Oh and bring your appetite, because the aid stations are out of this world and there’s free beer!”

About that time I finished up my new bike build (Masi 3VC Carbon, SRAM Rival, etc). Fast forward to June and it’s time to head out.

Broken down and ready to ship:

I packed up my gear and sent it up to Revolution Cycles in Madison, WI. Great shop, great people and they held on to all of my stuff for me until I got in town. By the way, would you believe that on American Airlines, when a flight attendant asks you to take the bike helmet that’s attached to your backpack via carabiner and put it in the overhead bin they will NOT allow you to just put it on your head. Apparently in this context the helmet is just too unsafe. Anyway, here’s a cool shot of Revolution:

We had 5 or 6 people meet up from around the country for this so we used the day before the ride as a prep. Madison is a big on cycling. Bike lanes on all the streets, big wide bike paths, bike racks everywhere, including bars. It’s great. One friend was just getting back from clavicle / scapula breaks thanks to a car turning in front of him while on a training ride in Pittsburgh. As a little shake-down for him we did 20 miles around the lake in Madison then popped into some local joints for a cold beer. The dinner of choice on the night before the monumental journey was pizza and more beer. Yup, this was shaping up to be a great weekend.

Oh, and we also took this opportunity to make a slight upgrade to my bike. I was planning to wear a Lone Star Beer jersey for the ride. Gotta represent the Republic of Texas, right? Well, We couldn’t find Lone Star cans in Madison so I went with the next best thing:

Fast forward to Saturday morning, pre-sunrise. The smell of bacon fills the air. Yeah, we like to really clean up the diet leading up to long rides. Bike prep, gear prep and a little drive out of the way, we finally get to the starting line for the ride. We were next to the stage where a band would be playing after the ride, but for now there were the usual ceremonies going on. National Anthem, thank yous to the sponsors, and the calling out of the one guy in the group wearing a Lone Star Beer jersey.

*On the PA system*
“Lone Star?! Where are you from”
“From the great state of Texas, sir.”
“Texas, huh… $5 says you travelled the farthest of everyone here. That means you lead us out. Make way for the Texan! Get up to the front… we’re leaving when you do!”
And with that my first century was underway.

The ride was farily uneventful when you exclude my brief moments of idiocy. Like the time around mile 20 when we thought it would be a good idea to latch onto a 30mph pace line. Or the time around mile 40 when I thought it would be a good idea to jump out front of our group and catch “the breakaway” (aka. The next pack of riders up, about 1/8 mile ahead on a slight uphill run). I paid for both of those later in the ride, as evidenced by the bruised quad that we noticed at a rest stop. Slight strain, I’d say. You can see some bruising in this pic

And these guys weren’t kidding about the rest stops! Subway sandwiches early on. No big deal.

But then, what is that… is that a snowcone stand?! Yup. Moving on… no… can’t be… hot wings! SCORE!

It was at this time that one friend who has done this ride many times before told me, “Matt, we’re at mile 65. This stand was in the same place last year and I took down 14 wings. I’m goin’ for broke here buddy, keep an eye on me.” 16 wings later, pride fully intact (if not boosted), we were back on the road.

Trucking on through the countryside, the rolling hills were becoming annoying, but every now and then we’d get a nice long fast one to make it feel a little better

Thanks to the long night before I was starting to feel it in my legs, but thankfully I had two doses of the best pain reliever to ever be poured out of Dublin. Mile 70 and mile 85 both got a Guinness chug while on the road and I have to say, it was perfect. Slightly irresponsible, maybe. Great story and the most satisfying beer ever, definitely.

Anyway, we continued on to the finish in a not-very-respectable 5:30. In this case though a slow time was completely worth hitting every stop and having an incredibly fun time doing it.

Here’s a shot of Hot-wing Steve, myself and Dave.

My favorite part of all of it though is the post-ride beer. A few in our group had a rough start and bailed early to do the 100k route. This means that they were waiting for us at the finish. Have you ever had a beer handup? No? Give it a shot sometime. It beats the hell out of Gatorade!

As a post-ride celebration we went back and had yet another night of fun. A couple growlers of some local microbrew and more food (more bacon!) and it would soon be time to head back to TX, but not without some incredible memories and experiences from my first century.

Wilderness medicine – feeling a little less inadequate (and other thoughts)

1 Aug

1, 2, 3, 4, 5… AVPU… A, B, C, D, E… Vitals… SAMPLE… oh, and watch out for that snake over there.

The outdoors appeal to me in a way I can’t really put into words. Whether it’s as simple as getting on the road bike and pedaling until I’m away from everything or doing some destination hiking in Rocky Mtn Ntl Forest, trying my best to not break me or my MTB on any number of trails, or (like last week) watching Pacific Ocean waves crash into rocky Mexican cliffs with a good book in my hands, I am a creature of solitude. Fiancée excluded (she also LOVES traveling and escaping the mayhem ❤ ), I love to get away. People, noise, hustle, deadlines, people, pressure, people…

Getting away from people and noise means just that though. Getting away from a support network should the need arise. For reasons I can't fully explain a couple weeks ago, maybe while reading Fire Season by Phillip Connors (great read, btw), I decided that I should be more prepared, both for my own benefit and for anyone who might be near me. Two weeks later I snagged the last open spot in a wilderness first aid course put on by NOLS and WMI (think of regular first aid but with more improvisation and without the luxury of being able to call 911 and have the problem taken off your hands in less than an hour).


So, 16 hours of class later here I sit. Exponentially better prepared for the shitty part of the search for solitude and peace. In fact, after going through this class I decided that I’d like to go even further. Anyone who really knows me can attest to the fact that I can’t sit still. I always have to be learning, or doing, or teaching, or building or something. I’ve already started thinking about going to the next level and going through the wilderness first responder level stuff.

Another cool part of this weekend is that one of our instructors is an ultrarunner… and I love to blog stalk endurance athletes. After logging who knows how many miles last summer on the roadie (with some amazing century rides) and a couple more on the MTB, I got off the bike for MUCH longer than I should have (work, life, etc). Life is affording me some much needed downtime at the moment, and after reading a couple pages of our instructor’s blog I have to say I’m re-inspired.

It’s never too early to prep and I always work better with an endgame in mind. I think it’s time to put a plan together for the Hotter ‘n Hell Triple Threat next summer. 13 mile MTB race Friday night, 100 mile roadie ride Saturday and a half marathon trail run Sunday. Who know’s maybe this jumbled mess of thoughts in blog form will transform into a training log.

Maybe she’ll check her site traffic and see the click from here and maybe not, but either way, big thanks to Liza Howard (and Ky Harkey) for the great time this weekend. Though unexpected and certainly not part of the lesson plan I also have a bit of a new perspective on things.

And all of this also reminds me that this blog is about more than the day to day nonsense that frantically zigs and zags throughout my brain. I need to do a better job of documenting the experiential side of life. To the three people who might occasionally read what I write: expect more ride reports, trip summaries, beer reviews, etc in the next few weeks to months. Cheers.

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