Return of the King (Scrambler)

OK, I bought my Jeep Scrambler back in 2002 for the modest sum of $4500, which at the time felt like I was getting a smoking deal for a relatively clean and operable 1985 model.  I began working with my buddy Curt Sadler who was then working for Poison Spyder Customs – and together (his brains and my sweat) we slowly brought the CJ8 up to modern wheeling standards.  By late 2003 it was ready to go, and in early 2004 I took it on its maiden voyage to Holy Cross, CO.  It performed every bit as well as I’d hoped.  For my style of driving (generally light on the gas, and carefully selected lines of approach) it was fantastic.

Then, I took about a 5 year break from driving it.  I can’t really believe it has been that long, but there it is.  FIVE YEARS it has pretty much sat in one garage or another.  I was tempted to sell it, and even posted it on Craigslist a few times with a few nibbles here and there.  But my heart was never really into the sale.  But it wasn’t really into keeping it either… which left me in a quandary.

This summer however, I’ve gotten the bug once again and I’m trying to FINALLY get this pig registered and plated in MO so I can legally drive on the roads.  My assumption being that if I can get myself back into Jeeping and I have fun like I did in the past, I’ll keep her for a little while longer.  I spent the past week working on the rear brakes – and I haven’t gone nuts, so maybe I have a chance!

1985 Jeep Scrambler Coming Soon!

1985 Jeep Scrambler Coming Soon!

Tour of Missouri

I’m tickled to death that Missouri could rise above the politics and money issues to bring back the Tour of Missouri – it surprises me every year that we actually have this caliber of sporting event in our backyard.  I’ve been to the last 2 Tour of Missouri’s, watching both finishes in St. Louis.  My opinion is that the City of St. Louis does a crappy job of promoting itself during these huge events.

1. Location.  The race has ended both years in Memorial Plaza, which is a center of drug use and is frankly a complete dump.  I had the pleasure last year of seeing a) vagrants who looked like they were zoned out of their minds.  b) drug paraphernalia laying around the park – within easy reach of any 3 year old c) there is a city run port-o-let on the corner of Chestnut and 15th that was one of the most disgusting things I’d ever seen.  I can’t even describe the overflowing and explosive mess that covered the entire inside of that thing.  Totally unacceptable.  I never did see a proper bank of port-o-lets other than a pair in the VIP tent.  St. Louis do some clean up!

2. Finish Line.  I’ve sat through both races, watched every lap, and now we are ready to see the big finish.  Oh but wait, you walked more than 20 feet away from the crowd at the finish? Forget about seeing the actual riders cross the finish line!  It is so disappointing that with the entirety of St. Louis, tour organizers try to shoehorn the finish in as narrow a place as possible.  I missed the finish in year 1 because I was crowded out by the official press photographers who stood out on the street just on the far side of the finish line.  I missed the finish in year 2 because I was off about 50 feet in front of the finish line on top of some steps.  Thinking this would help me actually see the riders cross – I was wrong again.  Poor planning.  You have a choice of either standing at the finish line the entire race (this takes care of maybe 100 people) or you can see the backs of the racers as they cross, or you can see the backs of the photographers as the racers cross the finish in front of THEM.  What about the rest of us!

Not to be totally negative, I can’t say enough good things about the volunteers, fans, and actually having a race of this level on our home turf.  The people are friendly all around and it is for the most part a family friendly event.  I just want it to continue and these problems need to be fixed because it makes St. Louis look like a bunch of amateurs.  And why can’t we even get a local crew to televise the race?

Below are what I saw for both finishes.  I realize I could have gotten in real close if I had fought for it, but that is like asking everyone at Busch stadium to huddle around home plate to see someone slide in.

More photos of 2007 race

More photos of 2008 race

Four Generations – No More

This photo from 2007 shows my grandmother, mom, myself and my son – four generations of our family on my mom’s side.  Sadly, this photo is now a part of irreplaceable history as my grandmother passed away this past weekend.  She was a very strong woman who had gone in to a nursing home temporarily and by all indications was about to be cleared to go back to her home (unassisted) when she was felled by either a stroke or seizure of some sort.  It was very quick.

She had several hobbies, one of which was gardening.  As she got on in age she was less and less able to maintain the huge gardens she once did – but she always dabbled.  I think this year we are going to start a garden in our backyard to celebrate her life, and to help us keep her memory as vibrant as this picture.  I’ll post photos once I get it started…

Triple Threat – Triple Monitors

A quick post here, but one that I’d like to share.  I’ve bought a new computer, building it from new components purchased from my favorite online store,  My motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-UD4H.  I wanted to have 3 monitors, so I bought a dual-DVI video card (Powercolor 4870 PCI Express) but I was not sure how to connect the third monitor without buying a second video card.

The motherboard does have onboard video, but the documentation was a bit vague about whether I could run the onboard video in addition to the add-on video card.  This is one area that was pretty sparse with online help too.  It turns out that this motherboard has something called ATI Hybrid CrossfireX, which simply put allows both onboard video and add-on video to work at the same time as a team.  Thus, it was possible to have 3 monitors running at once.

The solution isn’t as nice as having 2 identical high-powered PCI Express cards in true crossfire mode, but it is perfect if you just want to put a spare monitor to work for simple tasks.  Since it isn’t very well documented in the manual I took this opportunity to put it out on the net.

So what do I use 3 monitors for?

Primary (center 22″ widescreen) monitor : Graphics and HTML editing, email management, movies

Right Flank (17″) : web browsing

Left Flank (17″) : IM windows, status indicators, Winamp, low-fi movies while doing other work on the big screen

Talking point:

Does this hybrid mode in any way tie the onboard video with the performance of the primary card?  I’d say no, because Crysis plays just fine with high video settings before and after I went to 3 monitors.  I can’t be certain there isn’t a downside somewhere though.

Fruita Mountain Bike Trip 2009?

Ever since the Tour of Missouri came through town I’ve been re-energized to ride more this fall. The weather was unusually nice up through Thanksgiving, allowing me to ride several times into the “cold” part of the year. Despite not getting a lot of riding in for most of the year I feel I ramped up very quickly and by the last ride I felt really strong. A positive thing to carry into the new year! I am a real wuss though in that I typically can’t stand riding when it gets below 45-50 degrees so any exercise I get will have to be indoors. I’ve never been very good at going to the gym or even riding the recumbent bike I have sitting in my basement.

However, one motivation to keep in shape over the winter is a possible trip to Fruita next spring with my friends in Denver. If I can keep that in mind I should be able to either get to a gym from time to time and spin, or else dust off my exercise bike here and give it a go now and then.

The act of publicly stating my intention to go riding next year should help keep my motivation going through the dark months of winter ahead. Of course if I don’t revisit my blog for weeks or months…

No, that won’t happen!

Mountain Biking in Missouri – Chubb Trail

This past weekend I finally got out on some dirt this year, after doing some training laps for 4 or 5 weeks around my neighborhood. It was good to be back in the saddle and off cement, but it was a short but interesting ride…

The technical section of the trail isn’t too bad when you are in top form, but I clearly was lacking my normal balance and drive, which made the descents harrowing and the ascents brutal. The large rocky “ramp” section up was too much to even try. However, I didn’t crash, I had a lot of fun, and I eventually hit my stride on the flats down by the river. After dodging poison ivy for several miles, trying to say out of the mud bogs -this section was recently flooded- and even finding a bridge out, I had to turn around because I knew I wouldn’t make it back to the car before it got dark.

And then something happened that I couldn’t have prepared for; I got stung by a wasp! As I was happily pedaling along, minding my own business, a wasp flew into my half-open mouth – causing me to instinctively close it. This apparently made it very angry and it stung the inside of my lip. Fortunately I am not allergic to bug stings, but I was fairly alarmed as the inside of my lip swelled to the size of a small super ball. The ice in my camel back had long ago melted and I had nothing but water to apply to keep down the swelling…all my sting ointments in my first aid kit were for external use only!

So I did the only thing I could do, which was pedal. I was about 5 miles from the car, but I was able to catch some pavement for most of the return trip. I felt like a goof with a big swollen lip, but there were no spectators out in this part of the world – so I made it back with my pride. A stop at Quick Trip for some ice really helped the swelling and by the time I got home my wife didn’t even notice it until I said something.

If I learned one lesson it was the need for some sort of cold technology in my first aid kit to use to reduce swelling in emergencies such as this. You just never know what is going to happen around the next corner!

Sadly -or maybe fortunately- I didn’t have my camera with me to document the event.

Kids of Today – Odd Thoughts While Biking

Earlier this week I was pushing the pedals up a big hill near my house and just thinking of random thoughts to pass the time. I wasn’t going very fast as I wasn’t in any hurry. I begin hearing a strange sound and look back over my shoulder to see a golf cart loaded with pre-teens chugging up the hill behind me. There were probably five of them, with a pair standing on the back like they were guarding the president or something. I’ve seen this cartload of kids driving all over our neighborhood and just have to wonder if these kids ever get any exercise.

Then, as if on cue, another little girl comes in off a side street riding a motorized razor scooter. For a minute we were all on the same street heading up this hill – and I couldn’t help but wonder if I was a kid today if I would also opt for the easy route of those fun rides or if I would have suffered up the hill riding a bike. “When I was a kid” we didn’t have anything but our muscles to get around town…

Looking at my watch I noted that I am officially “old” in the cosmic sense of the word. Our triad broke up, each to our destinations.

Sports Tourism – Tour of Missouri Bike Race

This was the second year of going to this race here in St. Louis, and where last year was well hyped and well attended – this year we had to contend with Hurricane Ike going through the morning of the race. Thus, attendance was much lower, part of the race course was truncated due to flooding, and it rained a bit in the first part of the day. Despite all that, my dad and I still had a nice time seeing this race.

One of the biggest side effects of seeing all this enthusiastic bike riding was that it reignited my passion for biking.  Over the last few weeks since this race I have been riding locally to try to get back into good enough shape to hit the trails again.  In fact this weekend I have plans to actually find some dirt!  Thank you Tour of Missouri!

The race itself is a great experience for anyone interested in biking.  There is a lot of excitement, booths, and of course the hip bike-friendly people who show up for these things.  We will definitely be coming back next year, and doubly so if Lance Armstrong finds his way here.

Tons of pictures on my photo site.

Tour of Missouri Peloton

Tour of Missouri Peloton