Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Running the Stairs at Castlewood

 Long ago, maybe 1990 or so, I did a fair bit of running.  I did a few duathlons and even a few running races.  Realizing that running on the pavement was for the birds, I started running the mountain bike trails that we rode and raced on.  Castlewood was unique because it offered THE STAIRS.  I arrived at Castlewood today with a little sun poking through...my morning ride plans had been dashed by rain.
 Before this morning sun poked through, it must have rained hard at the 'wood.  I don't know if you can tell that there is water running down the middle of the trail.
 After running up Lone Wolf and heading right at the top, the trail meanders along until this happens.  No problem for me today and MY ADIDAS.
 The views along the top of the bluff are stuning.  I wish my camera could do them justice.
 More beauty.
 Then....THE STAIRS.  They are awesome.  They start here (or maybe they end here?) and go all the way down to the railroad tracks that run along the Stinging Nettles trail.
 They keep going down.  And down.  They are nicely made wooden stairs.  This is actually not the same set of stairs that I ran in the 90's.  The old set had longer straight sections and may have been harder.  This set stutter steps, sometimes only three steps at a time.  But they do go down...
 At one point you can sight the old stone steps that led up from the bottom.  I'd love to go back in time and see the antics that happened out here when it was a summer getaway.
 After getting to the bottom, it's back up again.  This is perhaps the longest straight section.  It doesn't seem like much at first, but somewhere about a third of the way up, it seems like a bad, bad idea.  It's NO STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN!
Back down to the bottom (I did this four times!), this is the sign to turn around and go back up.  It's the little tunnel under the tracks that leads to the Stinging Nettles.  All told, I was out there about an hour.  Mostly running, some trotting, and finally some walking back to the car once I got back down Lone Wolf.

I'm going to do this again.  And Chubb.  Maybe some of Greensfelder, too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Car Watching - 1966 Ford Mustang Convertible

 I had the opportunity to snap a few shots of this beauty last weekend.  It's a 1966 Mustang Convertible.  Very easy to ID this one!
 This pristine convertible appears to be "Emberglo" in color.  Apparently it's a bit of a rare color.
 The body was great.  He left the top down so you can see that the interior looks pretty darn nice as well.
 With no engine emblems on the front fenders, and the good ol' automatic shifter sticking up out of the tunnel, this gem is probably a pedestrian inline-6.
And that's not a problem.  This is an enjoyable little car, not a hot rod.  Kudos to the owner for keeping such good care of a 50 year old icon!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Car Watching - 1968 Dodge Charger R/T

 I caught this gem on the way to work today.  The light was horrible for taking photos, such bright morning sun, but I took my chances and they came out okay.
 The 1968 Dodge Charger R/T.  One mean looking car.  So mean it even hides it's headlights until it's absolutely necessary to show them.  If this is a real R/T, it's packing a 440 Magnum...or a 426 Hemi.
 Someone cares about this one.  The body is very straight, and the glossy black paint doesn't give away any body imperfections. 
 Long hood.  Long deck.  This is no pony car.  This is the first view of the sexy buttresses that bracket the backlight...and those sexy tail lights.
 The money shot.  The sexy tail lights, a great view of the backlight, the sexy dual exhausts. 
One last shot of the rear, showing the gas filler on the left flank.  This was one awesome catch.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Messing with my phone never gets old, huh?


It's never been a good idea to leave your phone available to Hanna.  Never.  You WILL end up with some funny stuff on there, trust me.  I only chose the two best this time.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

30 Miles on the Ozark Trail

I remembered to bring $3

I had a chance and I took it.  I drove down to Council Bluff so I could put some real mileage in.  I didn't do much of the lake loop.  I had my sights set on the Middlefork split.

My plan was to ride out 15 miles and turn around.  Along the way, most of the creeks were full of water.  Not Raging Rivers sort of water, but plenty enough to make them tricky and get my shoes wet.  The trail surface, however, was unparalleled.  It was in fantastic shape.  A few trees down, a couple of them were huge.  I was feeling pretty good at 14 miles, and I figured I'd go an extra mile or so, maybe to 16.  Then I ran into Doug and Sunny, who had their own crew out on a ride.  They were going the opposite direction. 

I pedaled on and right at 15 miles I had the sense to turn around.  It had taken me exactly 1.5 hours...10mph average speed.  At that pace, I would be finished right at the 3 hour mark.  That's long for me, and I was going pretty good.

The way back started very well.  I was thinking I might go beyond the 10mph average.  I met back up with Doug and Sunny, now going the same direction as me.  Doug was flying so I sped up to stay with him....and THERE was the mistake.  I went into the red zone.  He peeled back to get the rest of his crew and I bade him farewell.

From that point, about 7 or 8 miles to go, I suffered.  I made it back to Council Bluff and could not have been happier to see my car.

It was, however, still awesome.  30 miles, 10mph average.  Lots and lots of calories burned.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Car Watching - 1970-72 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

 What did my wandering eyes find today?  A beautiful yellow Corvette.  This car, known as the C3, is my favorite...but only the 70-72's.  Why?  Well....Corvette, that's why.  Actually, the body lines of the C3 are cartoonish, something out of drawing class in high school.  It screams FAST! COOL! AWESOME!  But the 70-72 for a couple of reasons.  One, the bumpers are so dainty.  Small, elegant chrome bumpers, not the plastic ones found on later cars.  Two, the bulging fenders not found on the 68 and 69.
 These cooling ducts on the side, just below the "Stingray" script get me every time.
 The body on this one was pretty darn nice.  Not many flaws here.
 To my eye, the best view of any C3 is the rear.  The tail lights, the bumpers, the square exhaust tips, the concave tail light panel...just perfect.
 I've always been a fan of the trim rings and center caps of the Corvette.  Actually, the 60's and early 70's had quite a few cars that used the same idea.  Not cool mag wheels, but a great way to show off no-nonsense wheels in style.
 The front fenders.  Perhaps the greatest fender in automotive history.  If you've ever sat in one of these, the fenders rise from either side of your view from the windshield.  You never forget your driving a Corvette as long as you can see those fenders.
And what's under the hood?  Mostly, there were a variety of 350 V8's, ranging from 270hp to 370hp.  There were also some fire-breathing 454's, although this is not one of those cars.  Although I couldn't snap a good shot of the interior, let me assure you this this one has the M22 4-speed manual.  Not a fun transmission to shift but a righteous Corvette should have a manual.  And before I left the scene, I found out that this car has had a transplant.  It sports a 383 stroker with fuel injection.  This owner is NOT missing that 454 at all.

Monday, April 04, 2016

April 4, 2015 - Twenty Five Years Later

I've thought about this off and on today.  I haven't given it the time I should have, I'm really distracted this April 4.  But this is an important one.  Twenty five years ago today my dad died.

How strange that I came to the place that I arrived yesterday, the day before the big twenty five.  My dad handed me my future when he drove me to the track in 1979.  He watched almost every moto, every semi, every main over the next four or five years, until he was too sick to go anymore.  I will admit to never giving it much thought, but I was constantly being told by other adults around me how proud my dad was of me.  Did he really say that?  He didn't talk much.  It was hard to imagine him saying that.  Today I like to think that if he only said 50 words a day, how graced I should feel if some of those precious words were about me.

We traveled to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Kansas in his old jalopy, the 74 Torino.  Once, when I was 14, we had traveled to Indiana and he fell ill.  He would do this from time to time, but this was worse than usual and I had to drive from somewhere in northern Indiana to some other city overnight while he laid down in the back seat.  I had never driven a car before then.  We usually didn't tell my mom about these things.

Something that I always think about: I was born when he was 49 years old, the same age I am now.  That's a pretty advanced age to have kids, made even worse with failing health.  That also means he was 61 when he took me to my first BMX race.

He would be 98 years old this year.  Hard to comprehend.  1918 seems so far, far away.


Sunday, April 03, 2016

Pedal. Brake. Pedal.

I decided that I would stop racing bikes.  It's been decided for me, by the universe.  Maybe those around me, those that know me, those that care, aren't really raising an eyebrow.  I think I might be the only one that didn't know it was over.  Or maybe I couldn't admit that it was over.  While I was making excuses for not racing, it was apparent that I don't want it anymore.

I guess it's the "brake" part of pedal-brake-pedal.  It does mean something to me.  It's not just a goofy name for a played-out blog.  It's a somewhat childish metaphor for life.

Pedal.  That's go time.  Things are happening when it's time to Pedal.  Make it count.

Brake.  Things end.  Things change.  Evolution or even revolution has to happen when it's time to Brake.

Pedal.  Again.  Always Pedal again.

There are the physical reasons.  I can't explain them away.  The shoulders.  The knees.  The elbow. The hip.  The ankle. The neck.  The back.  The eyes.  The breathing.  It mounts.  It mounts.  Always mounting.  To ride is a triumph.  To ride fast and well is a fairy tale.

There are personal reasons.  Family.  Kids.  Job.  Jobs.  Money.  Pressure.  More pressure.  There have always been questions about my loyalty to all of the things aside from the bike.  I can't live with those questions anymore.

There are philosophical reasons.  Unacceptable performances.  Feelings of obligation.  Searching for reasons to race.  Searching for reasons not to race.  Worry.  Fear.  More fear.

When I was 12, there was no way to tell how long I would race.  Or how many times I would race.  What I would race. If I would ever be any good.  No concept of how it would shape my life.  That it would become my life.  I downplayed that it was my life.  I don't do that anymore.  It was my life.

That life and I have diverged.  I can't pinpoint when.  That's my blindness.  It did diverge, and it's gone.  It's glad to be rid of me.

I started life as a physical mutt.  No talent.  No natural ability.  No muscle.  No strength.  I was timid.  Bookworm.  Comic books.  I wanted to be a comic book hero.  At a very early age I questioned my own worth. Bike riding opened a door that was never there.  It's been 37 years.  Maybe it should have been 20.  Or 25.  It's been 37.

I love to ride bikes.  Love to ride hard.  Love to ride fast.  Love the push.  I love to see 180 beats per minute.  47 miles per hour.  5000 feet of elevation gain.  Bike parts.  Cool bikes.  Cool bike riders.  Working with my hands.  Make something work that didn't. 

Pedal.  Brake.  Pedal.  It does mean something.  To me.




Saturday, March 19, 2016

Car Watching - Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

 To continue my fantastic car day, my old friend Chip dropped by to drop a bomb on me...he bought a C7 Corvette.  To those that don't know Corvette nomenclature, C7 means the 7th generation.  It's a culmination of what the Corvette has always been: an amazing sports car.
 There is hardly a review that one can read that doesn't gush over just how good this car is.  6.2 liter V8 with 455 horsepower and 460lb/ft of torque.  3300 pounds.  8 speed transmission.  3.9 seconds to 60mph, 11.9 in the quarter...all while turning almost 30mpg on the highway.  How is that for a 21st century muscle car?  Speaking of muscle cars, those four exhaust tips peaking out of the rear valance sound like 1969 all over again.  Push the kick ass little starter button and WHOOOMP! there it is.
 And I did push the starter button and I did drive this little red she-devil.  The seats, the steering wheel, the glass roof, the custom baseball stitched interior...they all add up to a luxurious experience that doesn't take away from the fact that this car will kick ass when you want it to.
 And it will also stop HARD when you want it to.  The dinner-plate sized rotors and monster red calipers are NOT FOR SHOW, even though they look damn good.
 Stingray still means something.  These little emblems should send some pleasant little chills up your spine if you are a Corvette fan.
 Vents are placed all over the car, and they are functional.  No 1980's fake vents here, people.
 This is the business end of the Stingray.  It's clean, it's tidy.  It's a monster motor packed into a small-block size.  There aren't many super-car engines that are physically this small on the outside while displacing 6.2 liters on the inside.  The magic of 60+ years of small-block development.
Speaking of displacement, the aluminum block lets you know what you've got your hands on.

Some car days are better than others.  Boom.

Car Watching - 1971 Boss 351 Mustang

 I had an extraordinary car day today and it started with my friend Jay Orr and his extraordinary 1971 Boss 351 Mustang.  Many of you know that my favorite Mustangs come from the 1971-1973 model years...the big ones.  Of those, this is the rarest, only 1806 made.
 The Boss models sprung up in 1969 with the Boss 302, which had to be produced to satisfy racing rules.  The Boss 429 had to be produced so that the engine could be used in another racing series.  The Boss 302 and Boss 429 lasted two model years, 1969 and 1970.
 The Boss 351 didn't have a reason except that Ford wanted to keep the Boss name alive and true to the name, it was special.  The Boss engines were never used in any other production Ford.  The Boss 351 engine is probably responsible for the high-performance reputation that the "Cleveland" series of Ford engines still enjoys today.  Solid lifters, 11.3:1 compression ratio, pushrod guide plates, functioning Ram Air...it was special.
 And this particular car shows it.  It's a low-mileage (50,000-ish miles on the odo) survivor and it has led a good life.  The Magnum 500 wheels are beautiful on this body style, as are the silver front splitter and the rear spoiler.
 It's in fantastic shape, not as a show car, but as a driver.
 And we drove it.  I drove it.  I'm forever thankful that Jay handed me the keys and I drove one of my favorite cars of all time.  I expected it to drive like a nearly 50-year-old car and it did not.  It was as easy as any car to drive.  The clutch has a high engagement point, but once used to that I could drive it in traffic like a normal car.  The brakes worked well, the car turned nicely, and it did have that legendary Boss power.  Each Boss 351 came with 3.91 Traction-Lok differential, which means it will rip the treads when you stab the throttle but you can control it at the same time.  Jay did that, I opted not to drive someone else's car like I stole it.
 And the sounds.  V8 roar, solid-lifter clatter.  Oh, the sounds.
 And the interior is awesome.  Gauges that I never remember in the old cars were all present and working well.  The Hurst shifter felt awesome in the hand.  I love the small steering wheel.  The seats and the rest of the interior are in great shape, with only minor blemishes and wear and tear.  The color is very nice contrasted with the 70's green and silver exterior, too.  Funny that we should call this generation the "big" Mustangs.  Looking at the dimensions, the 1971 and the 2010 cars are almost identical in length and width...with the '71 actually being 200lbs lighter.
Under the hood is the business end.  Factory aluminum finned valve covers, engine oil cooler, Ram Air plumbing, even the factory rev limiter were in place. 

The Boss 351 is a truly special car.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bike Projects and Dogs

 The blue Shitbike, which has been my cyclocross bike of choice for several years now, it getting some "enhancements".  I put drop bars on it.  It is pretty cobby right now.  Lord knows how ancient those shifters are.  However, it's in the experimental stages. I think it's going to be pretty cool. I'm going to do some off-roading with it at Cliff Cave and Creve Coeur and see what stem lengths work the best.  Stay tuned.  Oh, and I'm going to paint it again.
 "Hey REX!  Get off of my pillow!"
 "Huh?  Pillow?  You want me off of your pillow??"
"Ok.  How about I lie on this one instead?"