Thursday, March 29, 2007

Damn it I'm an American! No you're not! No YOU'RE not!

Well, you asked for it, and I'm finally delivering. I said if you wanted to buy American in the auto industry, you might as well buy a Toyota. Straight from my favorite source of auto info with factual content, Consumer Reports, here's the skinny.

Ford like to say "Red, White and Bold", but they along with GM are lowering the use of parts made in America and Canada. More and more they are utilizing their factories in India, Mexico, and the Orient. So, while 90% of a Toyota Sienna is made in the US and Canada, only 65% of the all American Mustang is made here. Both are assembled in the US, unlike the Chevy Avalanche and Ford Fusion, which are totally born in Mexico. "American Revolution", my ass, Chevy!!!

Most BMWs are built in South Carolina, and a few Mercedes are built in Alabama. So, what makes an American car? Saab 9-3s are all built in the US. Saab is owned by GM. Is it an American car? Maybe. Or are they immigrant cars? Aston Martin and Jaguar: British built, but Ford owned. Daimler Chrysler, well I don't even think they know who's running the show.

This is just like the immigration debate, isn't it? Makes you wonder.

Heck, then we can move onto auto advertising. "Fully indepenent front suspension". Big deal. Last time a car had a beamfront axle was the 30's, folks. Hell, even the Edsel had independent front suspension. Basically, every car commercial states a car has fuel injection (just using the company specific terms) independent suspension, and an engine. Most people other than those of us who've worked on cars really care or know what the terms mean. If the car starts, runs, gets decent mileage and does what you bought it to do well, that's good enough. Or is it?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Well, I tried

Here are two pics of me finishing Stage 1 of the Fayetteville Stage Race this past weekend. I finished. The first day I was lying in about 60th overall after the road race and time trial. I suffered, but it's mostly from a lack of fitness. Also that pesky crash isn't totally healed.

I'm the guy getting pipped at the line with the red and yellow shoes. Normally I'd win a sprint like this, but since I'm just getting used to standing on the bike, I did a seated sprint. Following this stage we had a time trial where each of us goes one at a time to see who can cover the course the fastest. Again, I did ok, but I have much more work to do.

Sunday I was riding just to survive, but about halfway through I completely fell apart. I'll be looking at my preparation for future races. Plus I hit a really hard bump on the road and my left shoulder (which is a bit wonky since the crash, droops a little) popped out, and I wasn't able to hold onto the top of the handlebars when I had to climb. So I thought of bagging it, but stuck it out to be the last official finisher on the stage. Turns out, I was the last official finisher overall, but of 77 starters, I ended up 49th. So it was a victory just in finishing.

Now I have quite a bit of time to get in shape for my next races in April, so let's hope I actually have something worth writing about in that department next time.

Friday, March 09, 2007


I finally got on my bike today. It was bittersweet. My hip feels better, but is still tender. Oddly enough, it didn't hurt at all riding, in fact it felt the best it has since the crash. It's my chest, especially my left side and peck. I can't stand and pedal easily. I can do it, but it hurts so much I had some tears coming out.

So, what does this mean? Nothing really, except that I'll have to adapt my riding style until my chest stops phoning it in. And I'm getting sick of those bills, by the way, chest. Just so you know. I'm hoping to race in a week.

I was emotional because today I finally fought the crash demons (who are a super secret division of Squirrel Interpol) and won. I was nervous for the first few miles. Last thing I need to be is nervous on the bike, it just invites another crash. Without asking the host (me) if it's ok. So the nerves settled down, and I had a nice ride from Libery Hill through Bertram and Oatmeal back to Liberty Hill.

I rode ok, actually better than I thought I would. I just hope I can get some good miles in my legs and heal some more. But we'll see. I have a history of surprising people and myself on occasion when the odds are long. Next weekend is a stage race. first race of the year was a stage race and I did much better than I thought I would. Let's see if I can improve on that.

Oh, and if you want to buy an american vehicle, buy a Toyota, not GM. Toyota, Honda and a few other "Foreign" brands actually are assembled here and use higher percentages of parts made in the US. It's a forthcoming post with details.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Squirrels and Beavers

Well, since I alluded to some squirrels possibly skulking about in my last post, I guess I ought to come clean. Let me just say that squirrels are the smartest fuzzy ones out there, except beavers in my opinion. Beavers have advanced engineering degrees for water systems. Squirrels are the countermeasures experts.

It all happened in 2004 on my way to a bike race. I ran over a squirrel with my car just inside the MA line. My teammate Scott looked at me we just kind of shrugged our shoulders. Not much we could do. During the race, another squirrel ran out and I happened to be the one who ran him over and finished him off. Again, not much I could do, but I'm sure I was now being watched.

On the way home, I mentioned to Scott that "one more and I'd have a hat trick", and not more than a mile from NY I ran over another squirrel. Hat trick, indeed. At that moment I'm positive the squirrel version of Interpol was tracking my every move. I was definitely a menance to their existence. Later that summer, I had another hat trick, but this time it was a robin into my windshield, a chipmunk during the race (I wasn't the only one to hit him but I did end his misery), and of all things, a squirrel a block from my home. If three in a day weren't enough to get me on the most wanted list, this was.

Since then, I've kept a low profile, tried to be nice to squirrels, and shrugged off when nuts and branches would come down at me from above. But deep in my mind I knew. I knew that the squirrels were on to me. I knew that they were firing warning shots across my bow. I knew the squirrels in white lab coats were in the back room, monitoring my every move, looking for a routine, calculating revenge, justice and retribution. They analyzed my bike, the physics of the whole thing. They knew I have a predisposition to falling up stairs, so that wasn't a good plan. Gravity was their friend, except the time I greased the sheperd's hook one winter in my parent's backyard. (The bird feeder was for the birds, after all.)

It took almost three years. When I moved to Kerhonkson I threw them off, and they had to regroup. Then the move to TX really caught them by surprise. Yet squirrels are resourceful. They came up with another plan. And they knew two things about me.
1) I ride my bike all over the place.
2) I've missed Einstein's Bagels since 99 when I moved from Indianapolis to NY.

With those seemingly incogruous pieces of information they formulated a plan. Near Einstein's were oak trees shedding acorns. By calculating my path, they could arrange the acorns and thus, control my trajectory. Into the parked car. Very clever. They knew from profiling that I'd head down to the end of the lot with the traffic light, since I always ride like I'm on a motorcycle in traffic.

It worked perfectly. I'm not sure if it was severe enough a sentence to absolve me of all the times I let my dog out to chase the squirrels from the bird feeders, or the snowballs I threw at them to keep them away, or the grease, but I sure hope so. Otherwise, the squirrels will be the end of me.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I don't want to be near a 3rd time

I crashed again today. After my morning ride I went to Einstein's to get a bagel for my wife and myself. Riding through the parking lot, my bike went right, brushed a curb, hit the left pedal, gave me hope, then slid sideways out from under me. Next thing I know I'm on the deck and under a parked car. Moaning. Feeling like I was going to throw up.

I sat up, took off my helmet (split in 4 places) and tried to collect my thoughts. They were still spinning past my brain. A few people checked on me, but I called my wife, and she picked me up. After going to work for half the day, I went for x-rays. I may have fractured my hip. It sure feels like it. Plus my entire left side of my torso is killing me. Oh happy day.

So, no racing this weekend. But I'll be home and Lost and I can spend some time together, which is very rare. I'm supposed to stay off the bike for a week. Blah.

I might have been felled by some acorns. Or some squirrels in white lab coats. Squirrels and I have history, and after almost 3 years on the run they may have found me...