Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The never-ending road trip

My Schedule since March 29th:

March 29-Drive 3.5 hours to Squirrel's house in DsM.

March 30-Drive 9 hours from DsM to Pencil Bluff, AR for the Ouachita Challenge.

March 30-April 1 Ridin, laughin, sleepin, awsome time in the Ozarks with like nuts.

April 2-Squirrel drives 9 hours back to DsM, first time I've ever been in the passenger seat of my car, I drive another 3.5 hours back home.

April 3rd-5am Drive 9 hours to Dayton, OH in hopes of picking up the Coslinger speedbike and making it back home for a full nights sleep. Or at least what I consider a full nights sleep(midnight to 5:30am). Get ticket in IL because the when pulling a trailer on I70 in IL you must drive 55mph. IL sucks. Arrive in Dayton OH at 3pm to find a bike needing 24hours of work before being truly prepped for the competition I'm supposed to be at on April 6 that is two days drive away, not counting the drive home from Dayton. Work on the bike with owner Thom Ollinger and gracious friend Rich Meyers for 5 hours in Dayton. Consider myself fortunate to be getting to borrow the speedbike anyways. Start driving home at 8:00pm E. Winds are blowing so hard I can't get the car out of 4th gear. Call friend Dave Ford in Bloomington, IL and crash there at midnight to save myself from certain death. Friends are priceless.

April 4th-Wake up at 5:30am get back on the road. Winds are still blowing, frick. Burn a tank of fuel in an hour on the wide open Interstate. When the turbo is pegged at full boost you are not in fuel economy mode. Drive backcountry two lanes home. Already overrunning my fuel budget for the week. Home at 9am, work on the bike until 5pm, load up. Start drive to Casa Grande Arizona. Drive till midnight, make it to Oklahoma City, then the parents take over driving through the night.

April 5th-Wake up in Texas, take over driving. New Mexico is a wasteland, similar to Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona. People scrape by, the land has little to offer. Gain even more appreciation for dirt, trees, hills, rain, non-arid climates, and Kansas.

Flagstaff is a forest in the middle of the desert, and right before a huge decent into Pheonix, strange.

Arrive at the Fransisco Grande Motel outside of Casa Grande at 9pm April 5th. Our rooms are surrounded by streamliners, cool. I reserved a room with double beds for three adults. It turns out to be a room with two single beds, not cool. No other rooms available, no refund, no complimentary breakfast, smells like the middle of a dairy farm, mocking birds never shut up, bathroom door won't stay shut. Not cool.

April 6th-Drive to the track 8miles. There's a dip in the road so deep cars disappear. Serious dairy farm area, makes the local setups look silly tiny.

The track is huge, 3 lanes, 5.554mile oval, 36 degree banking on the corners on the outside lanes.

A few morning hour attemps are made Friday, but no one finishes due to various reasons. I do a few laps in the warm up area in the Coslinger without the rear canopy to get used to it, and immediately find the funky front brake mount rubbing the tire. Thom said I could remove it if I wanted to, so I get out the hack saw. No more front brake, but the rear drum is adequete for this event. I can ride the Cos at 9mph, but I still wish it had a landing gear.
I take the Cos out for another test ride, this time with the top on, on the track. Vision is not so good throught the nose bubble. The straights are smooth but the corners are bumpy as all get out. My second lap around the secondary chain derails and jams up, I coast from corner 2 halfway through the back straight where I manage to pop the tape loose from the canopy and catch myself before I fall over. Try to put the chain back on and limp in, but the lower chain tensioner pulley disinegrated. Garrie Hill rescues me with the Sprinter van and I set to work with the hacksaw again to install a new idler. Covered in chain grease, I run out of time for another run. Greasy hands are a trend for the weekend. Back at the motel I rig up a camera system so I can see what is in front of my right foot, as the deraillier blocks my view completely on that side.

April 7th- Set up for an hour attempt after watching Sam Whittingham set a new world record. Launch goes well. I make it into corner three of my second lap where the main drive chain derails off the front chainring. Coast through corner four and down the front straight to the catch crew. Head back to pits to build a chainguide out of an aluminum tent stake borrowed from Dave Balfour and some parts leftover from the idler that disintegrated yesterday.
Finish that in time to set up for the low altitude 200 meter run. Crash the first launch, and then spend too much energy getting to the first corner, finish the first run at 47mph. Second run goes better at 48-49mph, but that's still not that fast. Sam finishes just shy of his record at 62mph and change. So I did 200 meters at the hour pace, not unexpected from prior experiences.
The camera works ok at best, resolution is too slow to make out which lines are which at speed. Basically have to try to keep the white line in front of the left foot as it goes around, and keep the round speed bumps on the inside of the track in the right window. Doesn't work to well, since the inside lane comes and goes and the lines fade in and out with tar patches.

I try taking the Cuda out for a lap, but I can immediately feel my IT band tighten up in my knee so that's not happening. I've got to figure out what about this bike is askew, something is out of alignment. Definitely easier to handle than the Coslinger.

April 8th-I'm the first one off today, 6:15 am. First launch is not so good, but they catch me before I fall. The tape on the bike is not sticking too well this morning though, so right away after the launch I can feel that the canopy is not secured, and I can hear the tape flapping. O well, there are no second chances today so I just keep going. I can feel that there was no warmup for todays run, laps one and two are the warmup, the muscles are a bit sore from the previous days. Lap three sees speeds coming up over 40mph finally, then the secondary chain derails on the fourth corner. I just manage to reach up to the cassette and flip the chain back on, phew. The next four laps gradually gain speed again, 39-41 on the front streach, 42-45mph on the back streach. I'm all over the track, usually trying to stay near the center white line. There are two other streamliners on the track with me, Dean Peterson in the Coyote, and Steve Delair in the Mach 5. I catch Dean on lap two, and Steve is out with mechanicals in the first few laps. We started before the sun came over the horizon, which was fine, but as the sun came up I lost most all of my forward vision on corners three and four causing me to slow a bit there in worry of running into the other riders. Luckily I never had to make another pass for the rest of the hour. On what ended up being the last lap one of the folks at the timing tent hollered something at me but I couldn't hear it. I spent most of that lap wondering what was up and slowed just a bit, then as I passed the timing tent again the van pulled up beside me and I was still confused. Finally it dawned on me that I should be sprinting, but it was too late. And that was that. I finished my hour at 39.841miles. I felt like I was just getting warmed up, like I did my hour at 6hour pace, great. At least I finished. Weather was perfect for my run, but not many others.

We hung around long enough to watch the rest of the morning runs as the winds increased, temps increased, and the sandstorms blew up. Then we gathered as many of the liners, riders, and crew up as we could and took a couple group photos, which are historic in themselves. Not too often that you find this many streamliners in one location. Prolly a 15% of the total number of streamliners that exist in the world were in attendance here, with 2/3 of the fastest people ever to pilot them. How cool is that?

The rest of April 8th and April 9th were spent driving home, aside from a short stop in Wellington, KS for a meal. Didn't stop for the deer 50miles from home at 3:30am either. Took out the hood, right front fender, grill, headlight, fan, ect on the van but we made it home by 4:30 am. Went to bed. Woke up at 5:00am and went to work.

Thank yous to Thom Ollinger for loaning me the Coslinger speedbike and a huge thank you to my parents for sharing the driving chores, crewing, and making this trip possible.

A complete list of results can be found here

My photo gallery from the trip can be found here



sydney_b said...

I'm exhausted just reading about your trip. What an experience. Why the many chain drops do you think?

Neve_r_est said...

I left out a bunch of other details, but I keep running out of time.

The chain drops were caused by the rough track, lack of chain guides and less than ideal drivetrain on the bike. All problems that could have been dealt with had I a little more time to prep the bike, but thats how it goes. Beggars can't be choosers, and this was still the best option available to me at the time.


MOD said...

Sweet story man, sounds like you had quite the experience.

Jill said...

Wow, what a cool, crazy experience.

Sorry about the deer.

Pete Basso said...

Sydney said exactly what I was going to...I'm tired from reading this post. Glad you made it home alright and everything is intact. That's a lot of driving!!

See you out on the trail soon...or at the Snake!!