Wednesday, June 30, 2010

keyser was right about the stinkenvagon

a couple of years ago, the power steering pump on the freestyle (henceforth known as the stinkenvagon, replacing mike weiss' saturn wagon previously known world-wide as the original stinkenvagon) started whining when the car was really hot.

i didn't think too much of it...most of the ford's i have owned over the years have had cranky power steering pumps. no big deal. last year, it started getting louder and more annoying. i asked the keyser about it, since he is the authority on all things car. he said that there was most likely a filter in the reservoir that was getting clogged and it was an easy fix.

easy fix? cool. so i didn't fix it. this year, it has been announcing itself on every hot day with a groan that would be right at home in the deep sea with whales and giant squid. i decided that i'd better do something while the weather is cool.

i siphoned the reservoir (minimal power steering fluid in my mouth, thanks), disconnected the hoses, and took off the reservoir. the fluid was black and smelled burnt. the filter, which is integrated into the reservoir, was chocked full of gunk. i cleaned it out, reinstalled, refilled, and no noise. after a short drive, the fluid was black-ish again, rather than the clear color it has out of the bottle. so, i siphoned the fluid out again, and poured in more clean stuff. i intend to do this a couple more times over the next few days to get all of the fluid that's circulating in the system to clear out.

ah, the joys of being a hack shade tree mechanic.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

what a difference two weeks can make

two weeks ago i was highly disappointed in my race at the state championship mtb race. i rode like nick novice and i was rewarded properly for it.

i did the tuesday night crit after that to shock myself back to reality and somehow came 2nd.

last sunday, things improved dramatically and i came 3rd in a tough field on a tough day of racing.

today, with a very small field of fast guys, i actually won. not only that, but i got an extra $50 for having the fastest lap time! we did six laps of a very twisty course, which was dry and dusty....exactly what i have been hoping for all year long.

life's constant is change. let's hope i can get in a few more good races this year before things go the other way again.

hot, sticky weekend

the weekend started on friday evening with tyson's baseball game. it was 197 degrees outside and the baseball field was located in some boiling tar pits.

that's a lie.

but it was hot.

on saturday, we made the attempt to attend a little event (sort of a high school reunion type thing) in richmond heights. there was a little league game going on at the location where the event was supposed to be, and no one else in sight. so we ate pizza for lunch and went to see toy story 3. that was a blast and it was nice and cool in the movie theater.

we had nerf gun wars at home saturday night. the key to winning the nerf wars? if your gun actually fires. our guns, and we have plenty, have all seen better days, and nerf guns tend to be sort of balky anyway. just when you think that you've done a killer dirty harry move, your gun misfires and the enemy's gun works just fine. you're toast.

while i went to a mountain bike race in the searing heat, the family enjoyed the upper limits climbing gym. it seems like they really enjoyed that, and none of them fell.

after i got home, we went to the pool. ahhhhhhhh.....and the water was pretty warm. drat. it wasn't as warm as last week, though. then it rained and it cooled off a lot.

and we ate pizza again.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

you can hide in a lot of places when you're a small dog

i couldn't find rosco the other morning. and he wouldn't come when i called. he was cleverly disguised on the brown couch, and was partially hidden by the computer screen and graham cracker package. sneaky dog.

lost valley luau

things certainly went better this weekend on the mountain bike. it was HOT with a capital HOT. i think it was 95-ish degrees at the start. and that doesn't count the heat that the mosquitoes were putting out, either. there was talk that promoter matt james was carried off by a cloud of them, but i can say with certainty that he was at the finish line handing out ice.

the start was all st. and a bit chaotic. this time, it wasn't because of me. i sat back until we dove down the super fun downhill that meets up with the actual course. after that, i was doing a fairly good job of following wheels. that was harder than it sounds, as everyone seemed to have forgotten about the heat and the 2+ hour race we were supposed to be doing.

the usual suspects were making life rough. schottler and chris ploch lead the charge with the incredible john matthews just behind. i struggled a bit in the single track to stay connected, with none other than dave breslin and super youngster devin clark buzzing my tire. i was so pumped at this point. it was incredible to be swapping pulls with these guys on the gravel. schottler and ploch were gone by this time, and the heat took it's toll. dave fell off from the group. that was very surprising. next, matthews fell off. wow. so it was devin and i left to fight for third.

devin was winning the battle. strangely enough, even though he's the crit rouleur extraordinaire, i would make up ground on the gravel and he would put time in me on the single track. curse getting old!! about a 1/3 of the way into the last lap, he had 20 seconds on me. i was trying to calculate how much time i could make back on the last section of gravel when i came around to corner to find him flipping the bike upside down to fix a flat! i'm thinking that while i was calculating catching him, he was calculating my age versus his age and came to the conclusion that i'm old enough to be his daddy. that forced him to acquiesce to the father's day clause.

i suffered like a pig in the heat, but it gave me third overall. i didn't stick around to find out how much i had been pummeled by the winners. the finish line guys gave me my payout and i bugged (like that?) out of there.

i'm still hot, and it's 8:38pm as i write this. that is after a trip to the pool and a father's day dinner at bandanna's.

Friday, June 18, 2010

bike racing is a strange bedfellow

after a crappy mountain bike race on saturday, i decided it was time to get started with the tuesday night crits again. i had been doing more duration on the bike over the last two months, and lacked the intensity of actually racing.

it's no surprise then that the heat and intensity killed me saturday...that and a bit of stupidity.

so i went to the tuesday night worlds fully expecting to smash myself with random attacks and efforts. which i did. but somewhere in there, i got a wild hair to bridge up to a promising break. and i made it. anyone who knows me knows i don't bridge. it's just not in my nature. but there i was, bridging.

i suffered for 20-25 minutes in the break. it was awful. i don't know how i stayed in there. i kept thinking about talking to the other guys in the break, asking them to take it easy on me. maybe play the "i'm old" card. maybe offer them money. maybe offer to cut their lawns next week. i didn't say anything, instead i just moaned and grunted a bit here and there.

finally, the real men in the break pulled and pulled the last two laps, leaving me a bit less knackered for the kick to the line. i won the sprint from the break, which gave me second place because some really fast guy attacked away from us with a lap and a half to go.

all and all, i'd say mission accomplished on the smashing myself thing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

mr. mom

i'm no michael keaton, but i can be an effective homemaker.

this week, we've been graced with the presence of 4 children in the house. hanna brought her cousin shelby along to stay with us. it has been quite challenging.

i like calm, clean, orderly environments. my home is not one of those. it absolutely is not one of those with more kids.

in the defense of the children, they have been much better behaved than i would have thought. i had visions of micheal keaton in the bathroom, holding the baby up to the hand dryer. that really hasn't happened. i HAVE done LOTS of laundry. and dishes. and we have gone to the pool a lot.

220, 221...whatever it takes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

castlewood state mtb race

it's my own damn fault that the state championship mtb race this year happened to be my first mtb race of the year. i blame it on the weather, but i could have raced before now a few times. but, i made my bed, i will lie in it. i wouldn't do it any differently, so there is no use complaining about it. this first photo shows the first climb, which started about 5 seconds after the word "go". i pinned it, trying to stay close to the really fast young guys. i kept them in my sights for a great while, but i was comfortably trading places with dave breslin for the first part of the first lap. it's a bit unusual for me to be rubbing elbows with the really fast guys, but i'm in good shape so i figured i'd throw it all up there and see what stuck.

and it did stick for a bit. i found myself alone, still with the eventual missouri state champion's ass in my sights, and no one immediately on mine. i rode alone until the love downhill. that's when old friends caught me, such as the venerable john matthews, the incredible john rines, and of course breslin came back. it was looking pretty good as we climbed the backside of lone wolf, too, as we caught one of the two leaders. schottler, however, was probably already sizing up his state championship jersey by that time. mr. matthews had taken the point position by this time, and just before we started the gravel downhill of doom, he turned into the caution tape and i followed him. a few guys passed us and i was slow to get moving again. it was painfully hot at race time, about 94 degrees, and i guess i had not been paying attention. i started to get the feeling that things weren't going to go so well. and they didn't. i kept the group at just about 50 yards from me until we entered the roller coaster on the second lap. then i threw in the towel.

i hadn't dropped from an mtb race in a long while. i'm sorry that i did, but my body was telling me that i had gone too hard, too long, on too hot of a day.

my congratulations to the fine riders who took home state jerseys, and hats off to those who were able to control their races and keep the heat at bay.

thanks to the posters at for the photos: rob and dennis fickenger.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

whirlwind weekend

friday night we only had one offspring with us: eli. we were trying to figure out what to do. then, out of the blue, we were offered cardinal tickets. four of them. so the beautiful mrs k called up eli's number one girlfriend, sidney, to accompany us to the stadium. turns out her dad and brother are instrumental in the fireworks at the stadium, and friday happened to be fireworks night!

it was eli's first big baseball game. he really liked the stadium and all of the people. the whole baseball thing was an afterthought. however, by games end, he had everyone around us chiming in on his commentary. after the stunning 8-0 win, we were dazzled by the fireworks.

and both little ones were asleep by the time we hit highway 40.

saturday deanna and i took eli for a long ride in the trailer. it was hot and muggy, and of course eli complained a lot. so i just went as fast as i could and took him over a bunch of bumps, which he really likes. later, we went to a graduation party for one of deanna's relatives. and in the evening, we hit the local carnival. again, very easy to get eli into bed.

sunday morning was a treat for me. my good friend Chris is in town and we were able to get together for a nice long ride in the hills. he's used to riding a lot more than i am, so 62 miles was just a nice warmup for him. i, on the other hand, am still worn out. the weather was superb for riding, and we were done by noon. 5000 feet of climbing was sweet!

in the afternoon we hit the pool for a while. well, eli and deanna did. i sat and watched. it was so nice and cool, with such a great breeze, i didn't want to ruin it with water.

and then there was dairy queen.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

i love this elevation thing

i'm having much more fun with the garmin that i've had with my power meters. maybe fun is not what a power meter is supposed to provide. maybe i'm just a geek for things like this.

anyway, friday before we left on our family camp adventure, i got out for 2 1/2 hours and although i only put in 45 miles, i did some climbing. i took off towards the south west, not quite making it to franks road like i had planned. but, i ended up with nearly 6600 feet of climbing.

today i stayed close to home because of the threat of storms. when i finally looked on the radar, it looked as though they would stay away long enough for me to get in 2 hours. it was not to be. i was poured on for about 30 minutes. i think it's the first time i have ridden in the rain in a couple of years. i was quite unhappy about it, until i realized that i was quite comfortable. the rain had a nice cooling effect, even if it meant i would be squishy for the rest of the ride.

on the plus side, i rode 36 miles and put in 3000 feet of climbing. i worked harder on the last two hills because i was carrying a LOT of water weight.....


for chris: this is what comes to mind whenever someone catches a bass....