Monday, April 27, 2015

BMX Racing is Hard - And so is Practice

 After much hemming and hawing, I made my way to St. Peters BMX to make some practice runs.  The track has been around for 15 years or more, and it was the last place that I raced during my 12-year BMX career.

Things have changed a bit since the fall of 1991, the date of my last BMX race.  One is obvious:  my age.  Also, the tracks have become much, much more technical, requiring a level of skill that I just didn't need from 1979 until 1991. In those days, I could just muscle my way out of the gate and around most tracks around the country and things were peachy.  Even if I was still as strong as I was in those days, I would not be very successful using that old tried and true method.

There are jumps EVERYWHERE.  One must time one's efforts precisely, not merely pedal hard.
I arrived at 6:30pm and paid the nice lady $5 for a practice session.  I told her I hadn't been on a BMX track in this century and she laughed.

By 6:35pm, I was on the gate.  It was the most natural thing to balance on the gate.  It was like I never stopped.  When the gate fell, it was a different story.  The jumps came out of nowhere.  I hardly had time to pedal before running into another jump that wanted to smash my bones and crush my skull.  But, no...I didn't let it happen.  I was cautious and I lived to ride another day.  I became happier with my gate starts, but then my sore arms and muscles told me to stop.

By 7:05pm, that was it.  Twelve or thirteen runs around the track is all I have in me. 

I will be sore tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Longing to Play Outside

I caught Rex resting his head on the window sill while he was watching the boys play outside.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Car Watching - Tesla Model S P85D

 The Tesla Model S P85D.  It is at the forefront of electric car technology.  691 horsepower from two electric motors.  3.1 seconds to 60mph.  253 mile range.  I drove it.  I put the pedal to the carpet and I can tell you that it's the single quickest car I have ever experienced.  The acceleration will make you dizzy.  There is no wheelspin.  No drama.  Hardly any noise.  Just WARP SPEED MR SULU AND DAMN THE TORPEDOS acceleration.
 And yet, the most interesting thing about the Model S is not it's speed or performance credentials.  It's a technological wonder.  It is a car designed by tech people, and it shows in every aspect of the car.  It's a car that Tony Stark would have designed for Iron Man if he wasn't so busy messing around with Pepper Potts.  Batman will probably drive one of these in future movies after trading in his Lamborghini.'s a super hero's car.
 The brakes are massive, massively powerful, and you won't use them much because of the regenerative braking that the electric motors automatically utilize while you drive.  It's eerie how the gas pedal works as speed controller, both to go faster and slower.
 This symbol means business.  Not many automobiles can keep up with this car.
 Normally the door handles are flush with the beautiful lines of the Model S.
When in the presence of the key fob, they will elegantly flow outward, and you can get into the chariot of the future.

I have seen the future, and it's not internal combustion engines.  It's battery-powered electric motors, and they are bad ass.

Car Watching - 427 Cobra Replica

 This is the first time I've seen this car since 2009.  My friend John uses this car once in a while to blow out some cobwebs.  This time, we need to clean out the cobwebs from the car.  It has sat for a while.  The battery was completely dead and the gas is a bit old.
 It's an amazingly stark interior.  No radio, no door handles, a few toggle switches, important gauges...but the important stuff is here.
 It's a 427 Cobra replica. 
 The view is so iconic, and it looks completely at home with a little dust on it.  Like every one of these cars, it's hard to live with in every day life.  But it sits and waits for it's owner to fire it up and stretch it's legs.
 It's a 427 replica, but this is no 427.  It's a 351w bored and stroked to 408ci.  The spec sheet is a mile long, with 11:1 compression ratio and a forged crank. There are some top notch go-fast parts in there.
After a bit of wrangling, it spat and bucked for a couple moments and then it loped and gurgled and woke the neighbors through the side pipes.  There are no mufflers, they are completely open.  The sounds that come out of those pipes are glorious.  Bud-ump, bud-ump, b-b-bud-ump...every V-8 should take this class and hear how a race car sounds.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Family Vacation 2015, Part Two - Universal

 Day one at Universal.  This place is massive.  And clean, unlike a certain park with flags in the St. Louis area.
 Eli had to get a shot with the Universal World.
 Everything at Universal is oversize, including the entrance.
 The first thing that caught our eyes was Megatron.  This was a completely automated robot.  He was a mean character.  At this, we ran across the way to ride the Transformers thrill ride.
 Bad Ass Optimus Prime greeted us from the roof.  The Transformers ride was one of many "4D" rides.  Intense!
 We were getting close to Diagon Alley, and caught a glimpse of Grimmauld Place, home of Sirrius Black.
 Once inside Diagon Alley, there were many familiar places that were replicated down to the finest detail.
 Need to send a letter?  Have your owl do it!
 It was a labyrinth of sights and sounds.  And it was crowded.
 There was a goblin inside Gringots money changing store...
 ...and a killer dragon on the roof.  It was massive!
 The buildings were such great Harry Potter replicas.
 .....not yet......
 In Knockturn Alley, it was dark and scary.
 I wonder who the Daily Prophet is digging up dirt on today?
 .....everyone watching.....not yet......
 The famous Leaky Cauldron.
 The Weasley's place was super fun, and looked exactly like the movie.
 Get your Quidditch supplies here.
 Gregorovitch's wand store was small and not very crowded....
 ....because Ollivander's was packed to the walls with people, and it was big.
 ......Finally!  You could feel the heat from this baby, too!
 The Knight Bus was awesome!
 And the bloke driving it was a hoot.  He had his talking head with him, too, which you can see just over Tyson's head.
 Eli found the English telephone booth!
 Back at the condo, there was a bitchin water slide and pool.
 There was a lazy river, too.
 Day two at Universal.  Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.  Wonderful details of the buildings were everywhere.
 The Hogwarts Express was an awesome sight.
 Eli talks to the conductor of the Hogwarts Express.
 More detail in Hogsmeade.
 The amazing Hogwarts Castle.
 The sorting hat entertained us while we waited in line for the Harry Potter "4D" ride.  It was one of the coolest.
 Hagrid's hut, complete with massive pumpkin.
 Buckbeak the Hippogriff.
 Another view of Hogwarts.
 Godrick Gryffindor.
 The points each of the houses of Hogwarts won and lost.
 Salazar Slytherin.
 Awesome details inside the castle.
 The grand bird that stands guard over the entrance to Dumbledore's office.
 The Pensieve, in it's very elaborate setting.
 More outstanding detail inside the Hogwarts castle.
 It was nice to see the Fat Lady portrait waiting to let us in!
 Besides the world of Harry Potter, there was Jurassic Park.  Love the Explorer.
 This dude was pretty menacing.
 Eli and Flannery going down the huge log flume ride.
There were so many good photos to be taken in the world of Marvel.  Unfortunately, none of them were good.  But it was a cool place anyway!

Super fun couple of days at Universal.  The rides were very fun, and most were fun for all ages.  Although, like most theme parks, the food was ultra expensive, the park itself was top notch.  Cleanliness seemed to be top priority, which was a welcome change.