Thursday, April 27, 2006

Trying to find an easy way to update my Blog links

By using all the links I setup in Bloglines!

Let me see what this does:

Monday, April 17, 2006

Okie Vegas

Gary C’s Okie Vegas

Crunching some numbers to see the most economical way to get to and from the upcoming blogger get together and had some interesting results. I have several options, driving, riding, flying and hitching.

Since hitching is inherently dangerous, I can rule that out…but it is technically an option I guess. I tried that once while in the Army stationed in California. I was trying to get back to Barstow, CA after letting my boys take my car home from the Cowboy bar were I was successful in scoring a cowgirl. I ended up doing a lot of walking and ended up going Greyhound after a disastrous first and only attempt at hitching. The first car that stopped offered to take me to the next town if we could play the Vito and the Security Guard game. (If you missed the Sopranos last night, you missed a good episode) I would have been playing the role of Security Guard in this gentleman’s offer. Ironically, when he first explained what was required to get me to the next town, I thought he was offering me a lollipop filled with a bubble gum center.

For the record: I declined. I know DNasty would be asking. I found the bus station in the town and waited for the next bus. Was it worth it? Not really, but it made for an interesting life experience. I think SteelerSteph may have heard this story, or at least some form of it… but I am glad she does not read this blog!

That leaves me my two 4 wheeled options, my two wheeled option, and finally a plane. I had initially ruled out the plane because the ticket prices seemed too high. Min $250, but upon further reflection, I think that price will be hard to beat.

It is about 1,059 miles from my house to Oklahoma City. 1,059/46 mpg = 23.02 gallons of gas for my ST1100. Gas is about 2.90 a gallon right now and I expect it to go up this summer, but I will stick with 2.90 for the calculations. 23.02*2.90*2(round trip) = $133.51 in gas. I was toying with the idea of doing an IronButt ride down (1,000 miles in 24 hours) but would need to get a hotel room on the way back, and possibly on the way there if I am getting too tired to ride safely. $80 hotel room with the possibility of needing one for two nights. I would estimate that I would be 85% successful on making the full distance so lets say hotel costs would be $92. Motorcycle cost would be $225 plus one hell of a sore ass and two extra days off of work. That $250 flight is looking a lot more attractive.

For grins, if I were to drive my Honda Pilot down there (my choice because it has XM radio) I would be looking at 50.43 gallons of gas setting me back $292.50 in fuel costs alone.

The more I cogitated about this trip, the more obvious the right choice became. I could take less days off from work (I get plenty, but it is always nice to have a cushion), have an easier time sitting down to play poker, and spend less time traveling if I flew.

So, Gary, what time can you pick me up at Will Rogers World Airport?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I had some disturbing news this week. I was checking my e-mail on Monday and caught a quick line in one of the messages that Larry Grodsky had been in a motorcycle accident in Texas and been killed. I did not know him personally, but I enjoyed his articles in Rider magazine each month and he was a well known rider coach. I imagined that I would take one of his courses in the future and he seemed like he would be a cool guy to hang it with. He was a Pittsburgher - so we probably had two passions in common.

I wanted to corroborate this news but could find nothing on Google besides a death notice for a Lawrence Grodsky, 55 of Squirrel Hill on April 8th. Hmm, that seems to fit but I wanted to know more about what happened. This was Mr. Safety, what possibly could have happened?

I finally found some posts on the BMW Georgia board and they seemed to be in the same position as me. Saddened, shocked, and curious.

I finally had a chance to follow up on this some more today and found the Rider magazine write up on Larry.

I would imagine that there will be more info coming out on the exact circumstances. I have discovered that most riders have a slightly morbid curiosity of how accidents happen and the results. I think it is a combination of innate curiosity, a desire to learn from other's mistakes, and to try train ourselves by going over how we would react in a certain situation. There are inherent increased risks in choosing to ride a motorcycle, but we all try to minimize these. We also rationalize them to a degree since you could die doing a million other "safe" things. The joy and pleasure that riding brings seems to outweigh the potential risks.

When someone who is considered to be one of the bests is killed doing what he does best, it is pause for thought. Several thoughts hit your brain at once: "At least he died doing what he loved." "Wow, if it can happen to Larry, it surely can happen to me." "That sucks." "He will be missed." "What a shame." All this went through my head and more, but I still rode to Columbus from Cleveland on Monday and Tuesday this week. I may have kept a closer eye out for deer, but what can you do if one decides to leap at that exact horrible moment.

Bottom line? This saddening little nugget of information will remain a placeholder in the back of my brain. I will be a little sad this week and in the future when I think of it. I will continue to ride and be the safest rider I can be. Like poker, there is always the challenge of bettering yourself and learning something new. There is risk and reward, choice and consequence. They both also bring me a lot of excitement and pleasure when done well.

Enjoy your play and Ride Safe.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Autocross Report

I pulled off of I-70 and followed the GPS’ directions to Cooper Stadium and immediately saw a bunch of tricked out imports and good old American horsepower parked together. This must be the place, where else would this mix of “Buy American”, Burn some rice, and whatever the hell a Subaru is get along?

The mix of cars was quite eclectic. There were about 25 drivers in cars ranging from a new Corvette (it appeared to come with a blond female passenger seat ornament), to home built racecars and even a handful of go-karts. The go-karts were running when I got there, they apparently get an hour of track time while the rest of the cars are on a lunch break. Those little things can move!

I found Zsolt pretty quickly and snapped a pic of his Civic. He is in the stock class, the only improvement he has made to his car is upgraded Pirelli rubber. The home made race car in the background was in the second group or drivers so I did not get to see that thing go, but Zsolt told me they are very fast.
Since I arrived before the second hour of runs by the real cars, I got to witness the “tuning” before the runs. The more serious racers were busy checking and adjusting air pressure in their tires while the WRX with its hood open below appeared to by dialing in some different suspension settings along with adjusting air pressure. A small sample of the cars is also visible in this picture. The Subaru WRXs seem to be pretty popular, I am guessing the turbo combined with an all wheel drive system makes them pretty competitive.

I watched a few runs by Zsolt before I decided to acquiesce and ride with him on a few. It was quite an experience. He tried to prep me by explaining this would not be a like a video game, but to me it was quite reminiscent of Gran Turismo (Playstation 2 driving/racing simulator). I am not sure how he kept track of which way to go around the cones that defined the course on the parking lot, but that was his job. Mine was to worry about him flipping the car over! The course consisted of a pretty short straightaway with a long slalom and at least 5 very sharp corners. Here is a shot of Zsolt’s car in the last turn. Not sure if he is three wheeling there, but he was definitely sliding and screeching some rubber.

I rode four runs with Zsolt and they were all pretty exciting. He was averaging 37 seconds a run and really attacking the course. I might have left a permanent dent in his passenger seat floor where I was pressing my imaginary brake pedal through the floor as we approached the turn right after the longest straight of the track. He really followed through on the brake late and hard theory. There was an expensive aroma of burning rubber that made its way into the cabin that may have mingled with some burnt clutch.

“I love the smell of burnt Pirelli’s in the afternoon. Smells like… victory”

My hat is off to Zsolt; he is a pretty good driver and is really passionate about his hobby/sport. I can only imagine what he could do if he had his hands on my favorite car that I saw race, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. That thing took off like a scalded cat and you could hear the turbo from across the track. A chirp at all four corners and it was moving into turn one with a quickness. It was sweet.
The ride home was nice, I was able to get off the highway and explore some backroads. I was tempted to stop and take a picture here and there, but it was too much fun to ride! If it does not snow this weekend, I will be riding to Baltimore, MD. I cannot wait for summer.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Motorcycle Goot, Bankroll not so Goot

I got some riding in this weekend which was awesome and some SNGs and ring games that were pretty bad. All in all, a good weekend! (The bike can really compensate! - no wiener jokes please)

I will not bore you with the poker beats (save the first one which was magnificent... my AA vs 73s) but the net result was a buy in at 3/6 LHE and $200 in SNGs. Ouch, a big dent, but not on the canvas yet. The usual, a few amazing river catches by my opponents and my good reads became big losses. I didn't tilt and spread the love around several sites (under the pretense that maybe my variance would be on the plus side on UB if it was on the downside on Full could work!) So, why was the weekend not a complete "bust"? Because it was warm enough to RIDE!

I rode almost everyday to work last week and had to use my Gerbing heated jacket liner and gloves only one day. On Saturday, I had a nice day planned. SteelerSteph was in the 'Burgh with her family so it was me, the dog, the cat, and the bike. I had a breakfast ride planned to Mansfield, OH and told a friend that I would then head on down to Columbus, OH to watch him participate in his Autocross racing. It was the first "Test & Tune" of the season and he was pretty excited. This guy lives for racing... getting up at 1AM to watch Formula One racing in Europe on the Speed channel, reading books like, "The Secrets of Speed: 2"... you get the idea. He is an interesting dude, a computer programmer here on a work visa for the past 6 years. He hails from Hungary and I can always count on him to offer a unique perspective on things. Although I have travelled outside of America a good bit in my life, when talking to Zsolt I have found that I still maintain a solidly Amer-centric point of view on most things. I try to keep up on my current events, it is a habit from my days in military intelligence. When talking about events or policies it is usually an enjoyable mental challenge to understand my friend's point of view. He is quite worldly and has had some pretty interesting life experiences.

The ride down to Mansfield was not an interesting life experience. I had been up late the night before (takes some time to lose half your roll) and even after I shut down the computer, I could not sleep so I cleared some of the list in my TIVO. I probably got to bed around 3 and had to be on the road by 0830. I begrudgingly got out of bed around 7:45 and got ready for the day.
1. Let Copper (the dog) out to pee. He is going to be alone for a good 8 hours today. Sorry buddy, the pavement is calling.
2. Check the weather. Sweet, no rain predicted. In the high thirties right now, migh hit 51 today.
3. Take care of hygene and make sure I get some Steelers gear on. My name is the same on the ST1100 boards, gotta make it easy to recognize STeelerJosh!
4. Lock up and hit the road. I gotta make some time up since I am leaving later than I hoped. No back road fun for me on the way down, gotta "slab" it.

Here is the bike: ready to hit the road.
I packed some shoes (I wear riding boots and they are not comfortable for a lot of standing around or walkingd), a camera, some bottle water, and some extra warm stuff in case the forecast was wrong. I set off at an illegal pace down I-71 that only increased until I finally rolled off the interstate. No cops, no problems!

I got the Cracker Barrel 5 minutes ahead of schedule and over half of the gang was already there (long distance riders like breakfast). The attendees had ridden in from as far South as Tenessee and Kentucky and as far North as Michigan. Ohio was well represented with riders coming in from all over the state. The parking lot looked like this when I got there with eventually 17 bikes cooling their engines while their owners caught up.

While most of the riders were on Honda ST's (1100's and the newer 1300's) there were two Gold Wings, a V-Strom, a BMW, an R-6 (don't know how that guy rode a sport bike all the way up from Kentucky) and a few others. All the guys are good guys. I caught up with many that I had not seen since last summer and met some new faces. It's true, "you meet the nicest people on a Honda..."

Breakfast eventually ended and headed further South with a 4 bike caravan. Uncle Phil was headed back to Tenesee and Jason and his brother Daniel (the R-6 rider) back to Kentucky. While it is neat to be in a pack sometimes, I prefer solo or pair riding to large group riding. The foursome was nice and we took turns leading until I peeled off in Columbus. The GPS took me right to Cooper Stadium and I was not really sure what to expect when I got there.

Getting late so I guess this will have to be a two parter. My first Autocross report is up next. Since I am in a motorcycling mood, here are two pictures from a great ride last year.

This is was on SkyLine Drive in Virgina. A slow but enjoyable ride through a great state park. There are lots of curves and you can get into a nice rythym. The scenery is spectacular

This was my GPS on a quick break on a ride in West Virgina. Damn that is a beautiful sight to behold. I like my women curvy and my roads curvier!