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COTA pics – Rolex Series GrandAm race this weekend

4 Mar

Woke up at 530am
715am flight to Austin
Head to friend’s hotel to pickup my ticket from the concierge.
At the track by 9am
Get windburned and freeze my ass off all day.
On a plane headed back home at 640pm.

All in all not a bad day

Oh, and this trip reinforced my odd obsession with Aston Martin’s. The Vantages running GS are in my top 3 for best sounding racecar ever. Lots of these on track pics will be of the Vantages.

Main straight – These seats suck.

Turn 1 – Phil Hill

Straight coming out of Turn 2

Turn 3 going into the S section

Turn 4

Turn 12 at the end of the back straight – These are the section 15 seats. IMO the best in the house. You get to see the second half of the straight, turns 12 -15 (and the turn in of 16) and there’s a board right there so we were watching the live SpeedTV coverage at the same time

Turn 15

 

 

Anyway, on to the car pics.

And finally, the Vantage GS class cars

Also, if anyone is buying early Christmas presents I’ll take this Juan Manuel Fangio painting. Please and thank you.

 

How to enjoy the shit out of the world… or: 18 travel resolutions

5 Jan

Awesome piece on how to really get out there and ENJOY the world and all it has to offer.

 

http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/11-12/travel-resolutions-to-keep-this-year.html

 

18 Travel Resolutions to Keep This Year

 

1. Take your travel in any portion you can

At BootsnAll, we believe that the life-changing experience of extended travel is possible for almost anyone. But we also understand that it’s not always the right fit (or the right time) for every traveler. If you can’t get away for longer trips, take your travel in small chunks. Taking weekend trips, booking red-eye flights, and planning your trips around holidays to take advantage of extra free days off can help you get more out of limited time, but remember that not every trip needs to be epic. Pick destinations that seem manageable for the amount of time that you have, don’t worry about “seeing it all,” and expect that you’ll return at some point in the future.

 

2. Earn your experiences

Maybe it’s the endorphins or the adrenaline that kicks in during physical activity, but some of the best travel moments are the ones that are earned with sweat, tears, and a few small bruises. Get active and experience the world on a human-powered adventure. Go hike, kayak, swim, run, climb, ride, row, push, pull, hang, crawl, jump or whatever else gets you moving.

 

3. See less, experience more

You know the traveler type….the one who is running around from monument to museum, pausing for a moment to snap a picture, and then scurrying off to check the next item off a packed itinerary. It’s easy to recognize the most extreme examples of this type of whirlwind traveler; it’s harder to recognize the signs of trying to do to much in your own travel behavior. If you find yourself needing a vacation after your trip, if the only conversations you have with locals involve ordering food or buying museum tickets, and if you come home with more photographs than memories, you may be forsaking the experience of travel for the accomplishment of it. Travel shouldn’t be about getting it done, but about savoring the moment. Slow down, unpack, relax, stay awhile.

 

4. Invest in good gear

We’re always extolling the benefits of packing light; it makes travel easier, cheaper, and more convenient. But without the proper gear, traveling light is much more difficult. Just try going two weeks with three shirts that aren’t quick-drying and after spending all your time waiting for your sink-washed clothes to dry or hanging out in the laundromat, you may give up on packing light altogether. Investing in gear that is designed to help you travel with less can make all the difference.  Compression sacks, quick-drying and lightweight clothes, and the right toiletries are worth the investment.

 

5. Protect yourself

No one wants to think about something going wrong on a trip, but nothing ruins a trip faster than unexpected illness or injury, and the financial strain that can come with them. Most travelers won’t need insurance on their trip; they’ll return home with only happy memories. But for those who do encounter unexpected problems, insurance can be a literal lifesaver. From replacing stolen goods to getting you home in the event of major injury, insurance is one of those things which, when you need it, you really need it.  Protecting yourself, your family, and your financial investment in your trip is worth the minor expense.

 

6. Get past the “once-in-a-lifetime” roadblock

“Going on an African safari is a once-in a-lifetime-experience, so I want to do it right.” “I’ll probably only go to Europe once, so I want to see it all.” “This will be our last trip before we have kids, so it needs to be amazing.” There’s nothing wrong with wanting to splurge on a trip you’ll remember forever, and of course there are some destinations that you will probably only go to once. But the problem with the “once-in-a-lifetime” mentality is that it leads to “all-or-nothing” thinking. Too many travelers think that they don’t have enough time or money to “do the place right” and so they keep waiting until they have more time or more money. Except it never comes, and so they never go.

Snap out of it! One week in Italy is better than none, and going on a budget safari is better than never going at all. Compromise on your dream trips and you’ll find it’s easier to make them a reality.

 

7. Change up your travel style

If you’ve been traveling for any length of time, you probably have a well-defined travel style. You might be a budget-backpacker, a mid-range traveler, or a slow traveler; you might crave adventure,  or prefer the beach, or stick to cities. Change things up a bit!

If you usually go budget, splurge a bit on your next trip – book one night in an ultra-luxe hotel, or bump up to business class, or spend big on a multi-course gourmet feast. If you prefer the finer things in life, seek out some street food or try a night at a hostel.  If you’re an adventure junkie, take a break on the beach for a few days, and if you’re a sun-worshipper, add some active adventures off the beach. Solo traveler? Plan a trip with your parents. In a couple? Go it alone next time. Changing things up can help you discover more to love about travel.

 

8. Save the planet you love to explore

We travel to meet people, to experience things outside our normal life, to eat, to drink, to do. And we travel to explore this big, beautiful planet we call home. Yet, there’s no denying that the very act of travel is effecting the planet’s ecosystem in a negative way. Planes, trains, and buses all add pollution to the atmosphere. The hotels we stay in and restaurants we eat in also require energy to operate. And if we’re not careful, the tours we take and treks we go on can actually harm the local environment and peoples we’re going to visit.

You can’t eliminate the negative impact your travel has on the Earth, but you can reduce or offset it. Travel slowly, go by foot or take mass transit as much as possible. Respect the local culture and environment and only support businesses that do as well. Give back to the local communities you visit, and encourage others to do the same.

 

9. Boldly go solo

Traveling alone for the first time can be scary. You might worry if it’s safe, if you’ll be lonely, who you will talk to. But what you’ll quickly discover is that solo travelers are never really alone unless they want to be and that there is always someone to talk to, eat with, or explore alongside. Many solo travelers also say they meet more people than when they travel in a group, as they are more approachable alone. If you’ve never gone on a trip by yourself, make this the year you do, even if it’s just for a weekend. And if you have taken a few trips alone, go bigger this year, traveling solo longer or farther than you have in the past.

 

10. Learn something

The best trips teach us something, whether that be something about ourselves or the place we’ve gone to explore. Embrace more opportunities to learn on your next trip by taking a class in something that interests you. From one-day cooking or dance classes to week-long lessons in art, culture, language and activities, studying around the world is one more way to make a deeper connection with the local culture.

 

11. Be a traveler at home

Part of travel is about experiencing new places, seeing and doing new things, and meeting new people. So many travelers are open all these things when they’re on a trip to a foreign place, and yet they quickly forget the traveler’s mindset as soon as they return home. Be a traveler no matter where you are. Be a tourist in your own town. Try a new restaurant; head to a side of town you never visit; find a new event, festival, or parade you’ve never attended; go to a museum you’ve never explored. Look at your familiar environment with fresh eyes and try to see it as you would a new destination.

 

12. Eat something that scares you

Chances are, you probably try a few new foods on every trip – spicy curries in Thailand, the local fish in Colombia, a traditional dessert in Italy. It looks good, it smells good and it’s local, so you try it. Why not go beyond that a bit, and try something that you actually don’t think you’ll like? You don’t have to start chomping insects or rotten shark (unless you want to), just sample something you wouldn’t normally expect to enjoy. If offal isn’t your thing, at least try the tripe in Rome, and don’t scoff at lentils without at least tasting them in an Ethiopian berbere sauce. You’re mom was right: you don’t know if you’ll like it until you try, and if you don’t, you may miss out on something delicious.

 

13. Find your quest

The earliest adventurers didn’t travel to “get away” from something, they were searching for something. You don’t have to go in search of a new land or a new trade route in order to follow in their footsteps. Plan your own quest, whether it be an ambitious goal like biking from North America to the bottom of South America or a more personal journey, like tracing you family history. Having a greater purpose to your goal can give you more motivation to achieve it.

 

14. Talk to strangers and make meaningful connections

One of the best parts of travel can be the connections you make with locals and other travelers. If you tend to be on the shy side, focus on making more meaningful connections on the road. Strike up a conversation with a stranger in a cafe, on the bus, or in your hostel common room. Try a home exchange program to get a better look at local life, or Couchsurf for the first time.  And don’t forget the connections you already have; keep up correspondence with people you’ve met on your trips, and plan more visits to family and friends who don’t live locally. Visiting someone you know in another city gives you a built-in local guide and helps you save money.

 

15. Be impulsive

Some of the most memorable experience are the ones we never expected to have. This year, vow to be more spontaneous.  Book a last minute trip or arrive somewhere with no plans and just see where the wind takes you. On a longer trip, leave one day (or week) or one destination up in the air, or plan a mystery day trip where you just get on the next train and see where it takes you in an hour’s time. You can even apply the same idea locally. Pick a nearby city and just drive or hop on public transit and get off at a new stop. With no time to prepare, you can be more open to serendipity.

 

16. Be an inspiration

Think back to the time before your first big trip. You may have wondered if someone like you could actually do this. Could you study abroad, could you go on a trip alone, could you travel for a whole year? Maybe what pushed you over the edge and made you finally just do it was the advice or inspiration of  someone who had shared their own story with you. Pay it forward by inspiring someone else to take a trip, to travel more, or to accomplish their own travel goals.

 

17. Ditch the technology

Smartphones and easy access to the internet have been great for travelers. We can stay connected with home, easily make travel arrangements, and get local information at the touch of a button. But all this technology can also keep us from truly being present; we’re too busy tweeting about the moment to really appreciate it. Take some time to disconnect. Spend at least one day on your trip without tweeting, Facebooking,  or texting. Go a week without checking email. Or really take a tech-break by traveling to a destination where you won’t have any internet or cell service at all.

 

18. Make this the year you do it

How many times have you said that this was the year you would visit that place, or save for a round the world trip, or travel solo? Stop putting it off! It doesn’t get any easier, and you aren’t getting any younger. Don’t let five, or ten, or twenty years go by before you know it. Whatever your travel dream is – to sleep on the Great Wall of China, to dive in the Red Sea, to ride a horse in Mongolia, to stomp grapes in France, to haggle in the markets of Morocco, or to take a round-the-world trip – make this the year you make it happen! Come up with a plan to achieve your goals in small steps and make 2012 the year you realize your travel dreams.

Sunrise at 33,000 ft

30 Sep

As tiring as travelling all the time can be, both mentally and physically, seeing the sunrise from 33,000 ft never gets old.

Bourbon Street

18 Sep

New Orleans is a dirty, dirty place. Seriously. Dirty.

But the food isn’t bad and they love their whiskey so I’ll just say this… I don’t think I’ll go back on my own dime. Have I grown up too much for my own good? Or is it ok that I don’t care to see a whore’s snatch on the front stoop of an otherwise beautiful building?

Mmmmmm swamp…

I think The Absinthe House has been through its share of Mardi Gras parties and floods

Ahhhh YES! Now THIS is what I’m talkin’ about!

Single barrel bourbon flight

Followed by beignets at Cafe du Mond

Hike up Grey Rock (CO)

7 Sep

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
— John Muir

I guess it’s no coincidence that during my last trip to FoCo I happened to be reading a collection of John Muir’s writings… that guy was on to something.

“In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world—the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.”

Grey Rock is about 25 miles NW of Fort Collins. Summit loop up, Meadows loop down, 7.5 miles and 2515 ft total roundtrip elevation gain (1883′ net).

You start down low on the north side of the Poudre river, snake through some valleys and heavy pines before it opens up and then battle some good steep stuff, boulders, etc near the peak. The trip down the other way takes you through the Grey Rock Meadow and eventually back to the river.

Sunrise start at the Poudre:

Starting in heavy pine, spruce, etc for the first part of the trip

Sun still trying to force its way down into the valleys

Finally opening up and giving a view of where we were headed

Starting to get a bit rockier

But the views are getting better!

Just below the peak is a damn fine looking pond

Finally getting up on top

And then the trip down through the Grey Rock Meadow and through the aftermath of the ’04 Picnic Rock fire

Another view of where we just were

Making our own trails

And finally back to the Poudre where we started

Maybe next time we’ll do Long’s?

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.

Kentucky Bourbon and Machine Guns – A Man’s Weekend

23 Jul

[Reposting from Oct 10, 2010]

I’ve realized I do a lot of stupid shit just for the story (ie. The day trip to CO two weeks ago to hit 4 breweries and hike to 12,500 and back)

Last week me and a friend were in Indiana for 5 days. Well, Indiana is close to Kentucky and Kentucky is where bourbon comes from.

There are 9 distilleries in the state, 7 of which are open to the public. There is a “Kentucky Bourbon Trail” that consists of 6 of these. Everytime you visit one they stamp your “passport.” Hit em all, get a t-shirt. Well, we got amibitious and decided to do all of them in one weekend, including tours and tastings. Not an easy task since they are spread out.

Pulling into Louisville Friday night

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Early start on Saturday. Up at 8am, and at the Four Roses Distillery by 9am

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Next stop: Wild Turkey

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I wish I could put into words what happens when they open the rickhouse doors. It’s like the angels sing and lights shine down. Due to the natural convection of the air inside the building there is a nice cool breeze that blows out. Thanks to the evaporation that occurs in the aging process, the entire interior smells like bourbon… I thought I was going to start drooling on myself.

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This bridge, behind Wild Turkey, was built by Kentucky soldiers in the 1800’s.

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Back on the road, headed to Buffalo Trace

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Yes, this road is on the Buffalo Trace property. Did I mention how F’ing beautiful the scenery was?

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On to Woodford Reserve:

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Sat here for a while on a giant southern style porch, ate some lunch, then prepped for some mayhem.
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Then… one of the best parts. Hauling ass to get to the Knob Creek Gun Range. We just happened to be in the area the same weekend as their world famous machine gun shoot. I’ll let the videos do the talking.

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Here’s the kick off of the 9pm shoot at Knob Creek.

Oh, and two miniguns thrown in for good measure:

Moving on to Sunday:

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Heaven Hill:

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After the tour we talked our way into a private tasting of some Elijah Craig 18 and Heaven Hill Wheat Whiskey

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Maker’s Mark was number 6

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100+ yr old cypress tanks

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My finger going in. It tastes like bread. Horrible bread.

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Got to dip our own bottles

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Then Jim Beam

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Lastly… It took an hour on Friday night in the hotel room to plan the logistics and map our routes. Due to the times all of the places were open, and the fact that we only had the rental car for 48 hours, we knew it was going to cut it close to get our passports filled up. Well, we rolled into Beam this afternoon with 16 minutes to spare (they close at 4pm)

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And with that, we hit all 7 distilleries open to the public in just 31 hours and were witness to the Knob Creek shoot.

IMS Hall of Fame – an abridged tour

25 May

Some of you have seen these pics before. Revisiting to compile stuff into one place.

Shots from the Dec 2010 visit to the IMS Hall of Fame Museum.

As you can tell I’m huge on the Watson, Kurtis-Kraft, Offy, Meyer-Drake era of Indy history, so forgive me If my pics are a bit heavy in the 1950-1965 era:

This ‘vette is magnesium bodied.

Here you have the first turbine powered car to run at Indy (left) and the first rear-engined car (right)

Some Maserati action

And if anyone happens to remember my ongoing dream project, this is it.
I have a copy of the original blueprints for this exact car. Jim Rathmann’s 1960 Indy 500 winning Watson roadster.

I’m working on a deal to get a chassis table from an old Boeing plant right now, so maybe the project will start… eventually… ?

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