This upcoming Sunday the 31st will be the thirteenth anniversary of my death. And if that isn’t the strangest sentence I have ever written in this blog I don’t know what was, or will be stranger than that.
I’m going to take a little break next Sunday to celebrate, not that I died, but that I didn’t stay dead. Or as someone once said that I am so stubborn and ornery that even Death backed down. I don’t think of it like that, more like I have a job to do and it wasn’t done yet so I can’t leave until it is. I have no idea of what that job is (although all the dreams about building things might have something to do with it) but until I find out what that job is I will do this blog about using the built infrastructure and agitating for improving the infrastructure for riding bicycles safely.
So, moving to more pleasant things we celebrated my grandson’s second birthday yesterday by going to a movie. We saw “How to Train Your Dragon 2”, which I found to be much more adult than the first one, with dragons and people dying, and not just “red shirts” either, but main characters, like the father of the lead character. There was considerable character development since the first movie. And I liked it, which I think is about the biggest thing I can say about the movie. I admit I did not enter the theater with high expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised at the story I saw portrayed on the big screen.
Then we went to a nearby chain “Italian” restaurant for late lunch/early dinner, which is where we discovered the grandson’s limitations on good behavior in public. I mean he was very good during the nearly 2 hours we spent in the theater (15 minutes of ads and previews, 90 minutes more or less of movie) but by the time we got to the restaurant he needed some play time to burn off energy built up from sitting quietly and watching the movie. Outside the restaurant were stairs and high curbs that just demanded to be climbed on from a 2YO perspective, and after dinner he spent at least a half hour going up and down the stairs and curbed planters in front of the restaurant. He was in a much better mood after that, but it was time for him to go home with his mommy, my youngest daughter.
While we were outside the theater in the mall I think I found where I want to have my B-day party. Not too far from the mall where we saw the movie is an indoor go-kart track called Pole Position, that uses electric go-karts that are capable of reaching 45 MPH but usually can’t because of the track configuration. They race on a ¼ mile road course set up on a polished concrete surface so it has lots of grip but slides predictably at the limit. I think that would be the perfect place to celebrate being alive 56 years after dying 13 years ago.
I mentioned earlier in this post about having dreams about building things, well what I was dreaming about was race cars. Not just your garden variety stock car, sprint car, or even radical offset Supermodified, but a radical offset front wheel drive dirttrack racer. I mean seriously I have no idea how to even classify this monstrosity. Nobody has ever made a front wheel drive dirt track car that wasn’t based on an economy car to my knowledge. I know that theoretically such a design would be freaky fast around an oval track and very stable, as long as you only turned one direction, left. The theory goes that a FWD car with 67% front and 67% left weight would have perfect balance at the limit with 50% right front and 34% right rear weight and the driving wheels pointed in the desired direction of travel. The left rear tire would be just floating over the track and the remaining 16% of the car weight would be on the left front. There would be just a trace of understeer. In the dream I built the proof of concept car from a wrecked 4WD pickup truck that had been hit in the back end and pretty much destroyed from the back of the cab on back. The front differential was moved as far over to the left as it would go and the transfer case came off the right side of the transmission leaving the engine sitting just behind and to the right of the left front wheel with the driver sitting behind and just far enough to the right so that the steering shaft could clear the engine. The rear axle was from a trailer kit with a set of small disc brakes kludged on the spindles with the balance of the car adjusted by moving bolt-on ballast weights around the frame. I think there was something like 300 pounds of lead bolted to the front part of the left frame rail. And I think in the dream we never did put a body on the P.O.C. car, just a few pieces of heavy plastic sheeting to keep the dirt mostly off the driver and the air moving through the radiator instead of around it. I remember that in the dream the driver never had to lift and could drive into the corner pretty much at top speed and just turn the wheel like a video game. Of course that was just a dream, what would happen IRL is strictly a matter of speculation.
Another thing that I have been thinking about but not dreaming about has been that 20/20 crank forward bike. As I keep saying the only thing keeping me from building it right now is getting the raw stock for making the seat tube and post. I know what I need to get I just can’t find it locally or come up with a way to pay for it online. Such things are very frustrating. Everything else I can kludge out of salvaged bicycles except the seat tube which has to be done custom to keep it from rotating left or right as the rider pedals.
And the Saturday night race from Bristol was last night, and it was a barn-burner of a race. One of the characteristics of Bristol is you pretty much never wreck alone, someone will be along to join you very shortly, that is just one of the consequences fo running 43 cars on a track that has a 17 second (or less) lap time, and that was true again last night as Junior was caught up in somebody else’s wreck and taken out of the race. Joey Logano won the race in convincing fashion. Not to say he ran away with it, he didn’t. But he was able to drive the car just about anywhere he wanted to put it on the track and made it stick. That’s a combination of a good car and a great driver, and Joey is one of the best. He was brought into the Cup level of competition way too early, just 21 days after his 18th birthday. He was a development driver for the Joe Gibbs team, and was promoted to fill Tony Stewart’s seat in the 20 car when Tony left to form his own team. They called him “Sliced Bread” back then (as in the best thing since…) but to be honest he needed some more time rising before placing him in the oven of the Cup series. Well now that he has moved on from JGR he seems to have matured into the top driver he was meant to be. Yesterday’s win puts him in the group of 3-time winners this year at the top of the standings.
I was thinking about the Sprint-T and the virtual version on GT4 and about the cockpit for the simulator. What I was thinking about was using the actual body for the car as the cockpit of the simulator and mounting a display to the front of the body, using the simulator to work out the ergonomics so that if I ever get a chance to build the real thing the cockpit will be completely sorted out. One of the things I was thinking about was using PVC pipe to simulate the roll cage and work out how I’m going to get in and out of the car without assistance. After all if I can’t get in and out of the car then I can’t build it. And another good thing is I can sort out the steering wheel and pedals so that I have some place to put my left foot when I’m not using the brake pedal and just cruising down the Interstate by using the real pedals I’m going to use connected to the pedals of the controller. That means running the pushrod from the brake pedal to the brake pedal on the controller, and the throttle cable from the pedal around a pulley to the back of the pedal on the controller to pull the pedal back. And I’m thinking of also connecting the real steering column to the controller also to really get the steering ergonomics sorted.
And on the tube right now is the last stage of the US Pro Cycling Challege tour and the last race stage for Jens Voight, he of the famous “Shut up, legs!” Every time they get a pause in the action or lose signal from out on the course they go back to another interview with Jens, or talking about him, or the other racers talking about him…
And now the show shifts to the Indy Car race at Sonoma on one channel, and the Tudor USCS from VIR on the other. Two road course races of two completely different kinds of race cars, open wheel Indy cars at Sonoma, and production based GT cars of two different classes at Virginia International Raceway. The two classes of GT have very different suspension and brake regulations that mainly affect corner speed but the engine regulations result in very similar straight line speeds, meaning setting up a pass between the two different classes is “fun”. As the race continues there are many incidents on corner entry between the two classes. And the race from Sonoma is a bit slam-bang as well. I haven’t been keeping up with that one as well as I was the VIR race but I have already seen people changing out broken front wings and broken rear bumpers at the Indy Car race. And Scott Dixon won the race in Sonoma with a bunch of people running out of Sunoco E-85 on the last lap.
Annnd it’s almost time to leave for evening services so I’m going to wrap it up here.