Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Stag de Joss pics

Ahh, just a few weeks back on the skinny tires feels long long ago after a weekend of riding single track and actual skinnies.

Post Hotel parking lot, ready to roll.

Icefield Parkway - hard to beat!

Matt A living the dream - beauty snowfields yet warm enough for shorts and jersey is a great combo.

Moraine Lake chit chatting.

Moraine Lake - side note, while we were standing around, 5 guys came across the lake who had just skiied that chute in the top right of the photo - 3.5 hour climb up.  Nice!


I’d say it’s about time to finish a few things off my desk in the next two weeks and show up in September again given how things are going… yuck.  My “shorts” list is sitting at the side of my desk, right when I started thinking hard about it I got busy on a few projects and let it sit… too bad.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Singletrack all long weekend

Craig and I rode both Sunday and Monday as well, Sunday with Dylan and Monday with Keith.  TransCanada trail and more Canmore action respectively... funny thing was, I was cooked by Monday and rode like junk, both uphill and downhill, whereas Sunday I actually felt pretty decent.  3 days of nothing but technical riding felt great, I need to do that more frequently for sure.  Perhaps the hitch racks on the cars will help along with the downtown parking pass... can get out some Fridays after work.

Shawn and Claire hosted a get together Saturday night, good to see everyone out from the roadies to the families, always plenty of stories to laugh at.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Long weekend kickoff, with snow and rain

We had a few flurries and some rain to go with the cool temps, but I was just happy to be out.  Finished office at 9:30 last night, will be in at 6am on Tuesday, so in between I need to get some outdoor value time.

Bunch of 'goats rode Canmore, highline and orange loop generally.  I started slow then discovered by the end that I didn't feel totally like dog shit, even with work and training via margaritas.  Getting some quality technical in, with technical trails and a few built ins is always fun, I've rarely met a skinny I didn't like.  The drops off what I thought was a teeter aren't exactly what the Scalpel is made for, and even though it wasn't too big, I should probably limit the number of those.

Craig, Dylan and I chased each other through the Nordic Center on a hot lap at the end, fun stuff.

BBQ on Saturday night with a bunch of friends growing up.  This is the first time I've seen a 7 year old and a 5 year old play with an iPad, man that kind of technology is so seamless and effective.  The 4 year old got her hands on mom's iPod touch a year ago and just started listening to music and playing games sans instruction, which is obvious, but interesting nevertheless.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Stag de Joss

18 of Matt's buddies (and dad) were rounded up this weekend for some riding, eating, drinking, and a good 'ol roast of Mr. Joss himself at the Post Hotel in Louise.  The drive out was lovely, especially some twisty turny on the 1A from Banff out to Lake Louise.

We kicked it off with a hundred kilometer out and back on the Icefield Parkway, beautiful weather day with snow still everywhere that made it an incomparable day of cycling.  Lot's of good engines out there, including Mr. Getting Married and the ever potent at aerobic activities Niclas Kristofferson.

Beers in some Adriondack chairs on the lawn after in the sunshine and tranquility of the Rockies was not a bad way to end the ride.

Dinners at the Post are uniformly awesome in my experience, and a table full of people with stories to tell provided the entertainment.  Only side note is listening to a group of people where the forgone topic is a guy about to get married to the Tori equivalent (similar age, same athleticism, level of aspiration and intellect, etc.) was interesting on many levels.

Sunday was a more sedate right around the Lake Louise area given Saturday's curfew being blown, but a good day riding even if it was a bit shorter.

Ps.  The M Coupe on the highway is a crime... it feels like driving through one big school zone having to hold off the throttle.  All I can say is the Saris rack holds bikes on well at "any" speed.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Baja backtracking

After the first night in Cabo, our buddy flew us to Loreto.  Actually I'm glad he wasn't really the guy with the reigns.

Apparently others found the flight more relaxing than I did.  Our two planes were constantly visible to each other, although we didn't do any dog fighting manouevers. 

Little planes land funny, not the goose like "nose up" settle in like a big aircraft, more the "nose down straight at the runway" thing, or so it felt.  The metropolis of Loreto awaits.

Right now there's 8" of snow in northwest Calgary.

I can't wait to get my paws on the wheel... love these things.

Orientation. Note with people there for scale, those are some big tires, and that's a lotta squishy travel.

Westboud up into the mountains from Loreto.  These cars meander on the road, it's unsettling.  Then you get on dirt, and 85mph feels like they're tracking a razor line.

Little Mexican church town.

This is what happens when your co-driver takes you to the cactus.  This individual had a LOT of needles in him, took a good 20 mins of picking them out by several people, then he kept a tweezers handy for the rest of the trip. 

Sometimes bits fly in and stick.  This times a hundred is what happened above.

Polite drivers hit non pokey vegetation. 

The remanents of my foliage excursion.  The tracks we drive, as seen here, are only nominally wider than the cars.  Right before this stop, this was an 85mph (140km/h) straightaway, on that width.  140km/h is fast when passing on the TransCanada highway, now picture that with no windshied.  And with no space beyond the vehicle - no shoulder, no double lanes.  Also no pavement - this stop area is smooth, but back on the trail it's whoops with over a foot of relief.  For the most part in the whoops, there's two choices: slow down to a speed where the frequencies match, so the car just comfortably oscilates up and down... or pin it, get through the violence of the transition period, where the power is still coming on so the car "squats" at the back, letting the front end sit higher and float, which lets you get up to speed and just clip the top of all the whoops.  Sounds easy.  Trust me, from the first time I drove, to riding with others on their first outings, it is not the most natural feeling thing to do.  Anyway, sometimes you need a little more width to the road, so you "take the width" from the vegetation.  The road is like a normal distribution profile - spend most of your time on it, but little tails off to the side are gonna happen.  By the way, this stuff smelled great, like an Italian kitchen.

Oops.  Hitting softer vegetation is better.  The did a low speed flip actually.

I'm now co-pilot, and my driver decided to "get even" with me on the vegtation front.  I think it was this incident (and the pictured stick) that provided my left bicep with a manly looking Rambo scratch.  We didn't even slow down, I just had to start chucking stuff out.

This older tire flatted, don't recall hitting anything in particular.  Note the sidewall hole is big enough to put a foot through... so the air loss was pretty quick.

Baja has wild life.  We go fast.  The trails are narrow, so we don't see them/they don't see us.  This little birdie didn't make it.

Air intake for the positive pressure venting of fresh air to helmet, now with a certain mixture of feather, blood and guts.  Think about that for a second... all I know is everyone says you do not want to hit vultures.

Fresh burrito lunch by el Pacifico, in a wind that probably never dies down.

Died of cancer.  Rebuilt transmissions all his life.  Loved racing.  "The Waterfall" feature right outside La Paz.

This isn't the actual Hotel California, but it's a stone's throw away.  Todos Santos is the town.

Dead dolphin.

The group photo, I think only one guy missing.

Long story here, but this is the exit of a big sweeping S turn.  You can rally slide both of them.  I got a little high on the berm to the left in this pic, and a boulder rolled down.  The two cars after me hit the boulder, second impact with it resulted in a flip.  This blew through the deductible...

I don't usuary to sit that weird, but when I sat for the pic, something poked me.  I "skimmed" this cactus.

When the above mentioned rock and rear wheel came together, it was a bit of a jolt, resulting in a cracked weld and a flat.

Umm, that's gonna be a problem.

I've now purchased a new suspension linkage arm, maybe the old one can go as a towel rack in one of the bathrooms.

I was driving the first car they made.  It was recently rebuilt, the steering linkages were so nice and tight.

These guys can fix anything, fast.  A full engine swap in the dust takes 45 minutes.

Rim damage from the impact.

Mexican economics - Wide Open was worth it!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

La Paz to Cabo San Lucas (to Cabo Wabo)

After depating the highway on our commute out of town and ramping it up to 80mph in the first mile, we were greeting with the true wake up call, a massive kicker that let out stomach's go weightless for a surprisingly long time.  Wow.

After some high speed drifting turns at 60-70mph that'd make Bo and Luke Duke drool with envy, all hell broke loose.

I was linking two turns, a big sweeping right followed by a downhill entry into a tight right.  The double drifter went like magic, save for a little extra momentum that carried us wide on the second corner.  We got up on the berm, hit a rock (and apparently dislodged it) and side swiped a cactus.  Not a problem, a little jarring but rolled along.  Pull up to a scheduled regroup just a few hundred meters up the road, then heard car behind us flipped. 

Turns out the rock we clipped rolled into the road, call it about 2' in diameter.  Our tire was flat too, and upon closer examination, the rear "a" arm was broken - that's the "flap" the wheel attaches to - the weld to the bearing that attached it to the frame snapped.  I'll just leave one bathroom in the house without a sink or counter and install the greasy broken weld a-arm as a towel rack to make budget this year... Tori won't mind.

The flipped car had no sore passengers, which was good.  A little frame damage and a lot of fibreglass damage.

After an hour of field mechanics that would have taken a week at a shop in Calgary we were back on the way, with arguably the best driving of the trip.  Windy mountain roads on gravel, steep up and steep down.  On the way up, second gear was 15 mins of linking drifting turns on a mountain road with a hundred feet of downslope on the side.  Life was so good...

After sadly handing back they keys (figurative: these have a button for ignition but no keys), it was back to Cabo for tourist poolside stuff and night life.  Good for the people who come here, but seriously, if I'm not eating the local sand by some form of accelerated transportation, I'm just not having as good a time.  I don't get the whole pool side thing... seems so god damned boring.

From end of driving it was a blur of Mexican party scene.  Gringos come here to act stupid and get drunk.  From some 37 year old divorcee woman from Colorado flashing her tits in the restaurant, to pouring the terrible Mexican wine we were served into the sand (wine isn't supposed to have effervescence last we checked), a separate incident of a client pulling off their shirt, which was a wtf mystery until the 5 girls at the table he was cajoling followed suit (note: we ate at a nice restaurant), to 5 hours of Red Bull fueled dancing at Cabo Wabo (I think the value of that brand was recently affirmed by a PE transaction of massive size), it was a riot.  That was by far the biggest workout of the trip, plus my ears are still ringing.  We stopped at Burger King on the way home (I just watched, as the "Champion" special for dinner, consisting of steak, lobster, shrimp, scallop, tuna, chicken and pork was still holding me over) which was across from the Pink Kitten Nightclub.  Name aside, the Pink Kitten wasn't one of "those" places, but watching 18 year old Mexican girls swerving from side to side of a 12' wide sidewalk, holding hands for support with the buddy system in full effect, but still barely succeeding against the forces of 5" stiletto heels, alcohol until 2:30am and mini skirts was pure comedy.  All in from stopping driving to now that's 10 hours of alcohol in a system that isn't trained for that, plus 5 Red Bull.  Would have been a fun night to actually have a girlfriend to chill/dance/party/hang out/socialize with, although the three days of dune buggying isn't likely a highly rated couples activity.

No alarm for the morning later today!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Peurto San Carlos to La Paz

Two places on a map with 200 miles of petrol fueled excitement.  One flat, and one inverted maneuver, and a few bushes that jumped out and entered the car were the incidents of the day, but other than that there were hours upon hours of 70+mph split second degrees of finesse to guide a 3,000lb machine along a 3m wide track, to the anthem of an open air engine revving at 3-6,000 rpm just behind your seat.  Really that's all I can say, this is one of the funnest things going that I've come across (provided you're an aficionado of logging high speed split second judgment time and believe in roll cages).  There's something to be said for peaking out on a rolling gravel road at 85mph where you're getting big air off the rollers... like "Holy shit" possibly...

Francesco (I drive with an evident Italian gene pool) Mele and I were co-drivers today.  We exchanged fibre infusions, I brought a great thyme smelling tree into the car early in the day.  He brought in an oak-ish tree complete with ants about an hour later.  All in, we entertained each other from sunup to sundown, and it's funny how the worst of the impacts always happens on the co-pilot side.  I view the road as a normal distribution curve - you want to spend most sigmas on the road, but a few 6 sigma tails off the side mean you're getting your money's worth.  Frank got to drive the Waterfall, a famous feature just outside La Paz.

Got a few great pictures of what happens when a bird can't fly out of the way fast enough.  The fresh air intake for the cooling (and helmet clean air system!) becomes full of feathers, blood and guts in a hurry.  Gross!

I like to chase.  Seriously.  Possibly I'm not that evolved past hunting instinct; there's something about seeing the dust trail of your 30 second man ahead and closing in on the prey that consumes all focus.  Love it!  We tagged the 30 second guys then braked to let the gap re-open at least a dozen times today.  Gained some experience driving in the dust trail which is what racing involves.

La Paz is the start of some 500 mile race tomorrow.  There's a lot of machinery here that makes our cars look like children's toys.  When you've got a one seater buggy, with over 2' of suspension travel, and a V8 that sets off car alarms in the parking lot when it revs with 500hp of un-catalytic convertered goodness, you know it's here for pretty serious business. I'm not even sure I'd want to get behind the wheel of one of those things.  Ok, that's a lie.  My self preservation instinct is a lower power than fleeting desire.

Dinner consisted of charcoal kissed mamals of many variety, and a few items of what food considers food.  Mexico seems low on vegetation as a food group.  Having said that, with the amount of lime and tequila available here, I don't think I'll ever get scurvy.  Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever gone to bed sober in Mexico.  It's part of a flare for customer service and national economics rolled into one - a gringo without a cervesa or margarita is between $1 and $4 of lost US dollar hard currency acquisition opportunity.  With drug trafficker battles claiming media time, the tourist industry needs to pitch in with those who still come... and those who do are taken care of.  "The Jungle" was our watering hole of choice, and its selection of 80's rock and cheap beer put the Back Alley to shame in the most serious way.  I don't think Mexico has noise rules or happy hour time rules or anything of that nature, which is a competitive advantage for the night scene.  The picture attached is the wall you stare at when entering the washroom for a bit of character feel.

Ps.  Crash helmets, 5 point harnesses and steel roll cages are almost perfectly positively correlated to pure awesome times, even if Martha Stewart doesn't agree.  The dune buggies don't have any armchair doileys. 

Pps.  Did I mention yet that it's like I've died and gone to heaven?