Sunday, 28 February 2010
Thursday, 25 February 2010
I watched this game, err, thorough pounding yesterday at a downtown “establishment” jam packed with Canadian hockey superfans who were going ballistic. Not to take away from the remainder of Canada’s Olympic successes yesterday (there were many), but if there was ever a time to feel Canada’s national cohesion on a minute by minute basis, yesterday was it. AWESOME!
Monday, 22 February 2010
Saturday, 20 February 2010
BMW sets out to, and makes, drivers cars. Cars created for people who care about the driving experience and dynamics prioritized above the rudiments of pure transportation in economical form.
Their M editions further push those drivers cars by transforming them to Motosport focused drivers cars... in essentially what's grown to become a commercial aspect of what was once a racing focused skunkworks.
A pristine M Coupe through chance found its way to my attention, seems like every now and then such opportunities present themselves. On first glance, I thought "neato, I've always thought those little M Coupe's were cool", maybe I 'm onto something, but I need to ask around and gather some data, since this is out of my scope of knowledge.
I converse with a long term friend of mine who's a certifiable Bimmer head/car guy, and he says "that is THE model with the most raw motor sport appeal of the last 15 years put out by BMW" for whatever an opinion is worth. I do a little google reading, and hear things like "best handling BMW ever" (as of 2002 of course), and that its been referred to as "the blackest sheep" of the M family for all the right reasons. Miniscule. Overpowered. Glued to the road. Indeed, I'm onto something... keep digging.
Scanning over the M lineage in another filter through the BMW stable, there's yet an odd duck (or black sheep?) that sticks out even amongst the M's - the M Coupe. It was created, skunkworks fashion, by a part of the Z3 engineering team who just didn't feel satisfied with the handling and performance (rigidity) that could be achieved with the convertible body style. They took it upon themselves to address this issue, which eventually led to a Coupe hardtop that was multipes stiffer than the convertible could ever be... and a 690 unit production run of M Coupes.
I'm don't have a well cultivated automotive vocabulary, so I'll reference Jalopnik "obsessed with the cult of cars" guys add the editorial flourish:
BMW M Coupe 10 best cars of the decade blurb from Jalopnik (italicized is the model I have)
Years Produced: 1999 - 2002
Base Price When New: $45,990 (2002)
Engine: 3.2-liter I-6, 315 hp but with aftermarket modifications adding a little extra
Curb Weight: 3230 lb (2002)
Power-To-Weight Ratio: 10.25 lb/hp (2002)
This is it, propellerheads — this is the last of the nuthouse BMWs, the last car Munich built where the loonies were in charge of the asylum. Step one: Take a Z3. Step two: Graft a steel roof onto it, increasing structural rigidity threefold. Step three: Add a version of either the E36 or E46 M3's in-line six. The Z3 M Coupe is as unhinged as BMWs come, a rolling testament to the fact that the company once gave a shit about the die-hard enthusiast. Every BMW since has been too ordinary, too dull, and too fat by comparison.
M Coupes made in 1999 and 2000 featured a version of the E36 M3's 240-hp S52 six-cylinder. These are nice cars — and they're far cheaper than 2001-2002 models — but something is missing. We prefer to think of that something as "batshit crazy."
Other entirely recommended editorial here which rounds out the flavour nicely.
As if stock wasn't enough, this particular car has had an aftermarket air intake and exhaust added, and been chipped to utilize these mods, and as well has been lowered and equipped with 20" rims and additional fairings. The end result is the capability to destroy petrol in an absolute fury of violence, yet with beauty sound and beauty sheet metal gracing the package. What isn't there is also alluring. No more week's worth of camping gear, 2 bikes and room to spare... we're talking 2 seats plus room for a cell phone and possibly a prospectus/pitchbook briefcase, as long as it's a slim one. No excess of living room consumer electronics - GPS navigation systems and all that jazz. Lights are electronic, right? And the car has an electronic starter, no more winding under the hood. That's enough. The technicalities aside, and Calgary being small, I don't have much challenge using downtown channels to identify, locate and discuss with the prior owners, the importer, and broker of the last transactions... and interesting history, and one that removes concern often associated with used vehicles rather than adding to it.
Therein starts the journey of my exposure to the German version of "batshit crazy"... I'm glad it has two seats just for Tori and I. Track time here I come (maybe??)!
Obligatory car pictures:
Friday, 19 February 2010
Take Tori and I's choice of transportation for example (or any of the prior vehicles we've owned). The fact that I refer to it by function (transportation) over the experience of driving foreshadows the rest. A 1999 Mercedes Benz ML320. For its 10 year life, rain, shine or snow, it drives approximately the same. Stable, reliable, goes any speed from 0-200kph (although it's working fairly hard above 100mph), but doesn't change speed particularly rapidly as it's equipped with a small engine given its bulk (which has the side benefit of keeping fuel consumption somewhat inline). It has lots of space for stuff, yet isn't so "new off the lot" that I feel tentative about using it to haul said stuff. Hauling stuff is good, I enjoy driving with friends to bike races, and it does that job adequately. Even the terms under which I purchased it were (in my view) quite practical - split 50/50 with Tori, so I only own half (usually the drivers side, as she prefers being a passenger). We bought it used, with about 30,000 km on it - partially inspired by a friend's dad who owns one approaching 250,000 km and had not relayed many ill reports thus far despite a decade of pretty thorough/intense use. The price paid was humble. It's an awesome vehicle, has treated us well. When lifestyle dictates that mental energy is best spent elsewhere, it consumes very little energy to keep it happy doing its task.
But cars aren't all like that - part of me has always stayed tuned to that "other" paradigm. I liked construction trucks as a kid, then came Herbie the Love Bug, the Autobots series of Transformers, the Dukes of Hazard, Smokey and the Bandit... and yes, that scene from the Blues Brothers that can't ever be undone in my mind:
Elwood - It's a 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, a half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out and we're wearing sunglasses.
Jake - Hit it.
There's more an automobile accomplishes than mere transportation. There's driving, as in the artful combination of man and machine. I have learned to appreciate the art through a series of taste tests - the g-force fun of Lotus racing in Nevada, local track days in Calgary in a Shelby Cobra replica that'd pin me to the back of the seat with its beautiful growl, and oh yeah baby, repeat doses of Baja buggy racing in a fury of petrol power, suspension travel, and the general unsupervised nature of Mexico.
I admit I've been looking to making that "other" paradigm a permanent fixture, not an intermittent taste test experience. Tori sent me this the other day, not knowing what was coming:
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Craig and I car pooled down to Glenmore to start a big ride with Ken and Thomas today... I was hoping I'd be up for it. The morning phone call was my alarm after not too many hours of sleep, and from waking to drinking coffee to the first couple of hills, I felt definitely not up for it.
On the third hill in I felt normal and had good legs for the rest of the day, and no fade at the end of the ride which was satisfying. I'll do my fading after dinner when I go lights out - two big rides and a concert in between (not ideal recovery) leaves me craving my pillow.
We did a highlight tour of some of the best gravel roads down south, Ken and Thomas seemed to agree that they'd be worth committing to memory for future visits. We had Alberta Beef Stew at Priddis which left 3 of the 4 of us feeling warm and satisfied, and one not so much on the same level of satisfaction. Mostly a beauty day, and again I'm testing if this Icebreaker clothing is worth its price - so far the answer is yes.
That's about 250km this weekend in chilly feeling conditions - I need to sleep in tomorrow!
The 2010 streak of just plain awesome to the level of fun squared continues... before going to Australia, I was notified the Hilltop Hoods were playing Calgary a week after I got back just one week before I left (if that makes sense)... figured this would be a great way to round out the Australian introduction of 2010. I forgot to pick up the tickets from ticketmaster until a Friday afternoon email reminder from their automailer program. Long story short, switched them from downtown pickup to pickup at the event as their business is crap in terms of service hours (10-2pm downtown). Best part of this is we had our names at the door, in the short line, sans paper tickets.
This little hulabaloo was observed in our open office with great excitement about the concert... and I appreciated the interest to help get the tickets used relatively last minute. As it turns out a coworker and his girlfriend are joining me, plus one of the girls I work with. Since it's "kind of" valentines day, we went out for dinner before. The anonymous waitress' natural pairing assumption aside, we figured it'd just be more simple saying my stand-in valentine for Tori is a Finnish derived, Canuck loving dude named Troy (Tron) rather than the single 23 year old who just started working with us a month or so ago. In another remarkable instance of "small world", she knows (admires!) Tori, and Tori knows her reciprocally... Tori let me know when you've got your guess (side note: when I called to make the reservation, the hostess who answered the phone was Tori). We even looked at your 10:41 PM email from China wishing a happy v-day simultaneously... which in an exercise of peculiar romance, I figured was the second most amazing fact of tonight. The most amazing was that DJ'ing/MC'ing is an actual profession... holy cow is my daily routine massively different - it's hard to grasp.
The concert was an awesome package of sheer fun: 50% activity at lactate threshold, 50% at the bar or lounge. Since I'm using numbers: the attendees were 50% Calgarian, 50% Australian, and by way of mathematical competency, I assert that equates to 100% pure fun. The Gateway at SAIT was a great host. Our lounge chaise mates were 4 Aussie girls who live in Fernie, who bonded with Troy's girlfriend with high-fives after an awkward conversation regarding a liquor shot with an off coulor name inclusive of names of organs I don't posses (a circumstance of "evening making" humor). They asked how old we were... and the rest of the "we" in the group averages to 24, so I mentioned that and said that was a partial average. When I said my age it was met with pause... I haven't yet determined if that was "holy cow you look worn out" or "that ain't bad for your age". I was conscious of being 31 at a college bar concert with amazingly young looking people and an amazingly inexpensive feeling bar... but also realized it's hard to hide it that Tori and I recently started seeing the wrinkles in each others' eyes (things of beauty, if one counts the years of us together as a thing of beauty, which I definitely do), and I'll prefer to live oblivious rather than finding the answer to the above from an outside perspective.
My vertical wasn't what it used to be, but a few Red Bulls and testing my jumping ability "with the people in the front row": all night foreshadows that tomorrow may feel a little sluggish regarding bike ride arrival time and performance on the road.
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Sunday, 7 February 2010
Shake in Mona Vale. Did two 7 hour rides Thursday and Friday, plus about 3.5 hours on Saturday. Good exploring all around, but needs a few calories.
Happy rider in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase national park.
Those are some sweet cycling roads, complete with watch out for kangaroo signs. Too bad I didn't see any.
The big Sydney bridge is surprisingly well set up for power climbing intervals. I'm surprised they were so thoughtful to include that in their urban training grounds.