March 31st to April 1st, 2017
Operation Desert Maniac
The Streets of Willow Springs
Scribbles from the past 11 years, from demented minds breathing indoor exhaust fumes.
It took me almost 8 months to get the energy and motivation to write about the Streets of Willow Springs race that happened back in March of 2017. Getting our old equipment ready to race was an ordeal. Going through all the proper motions to get ready for a big race is very exhausting, especially if you haven't done it in a while. The end result was soul crushing, and only now do I have the ability to talk about it. I guess time heals all wounds? Here's the story:
The next race in our "comeback tour" was at the Streets of Willow Springs. "Comeback tour" is probably not the right words as we were not planning on racing the full ProKart schedule. We figured we would do the Buttonwillow race, which would help force us to start preparing for the Streets of Willow Springs race. For the Pulp Racing crew, this is one of the more thrilling races around, because we can hit 102 miles per hour down the straightaway. In a 125cc shifter kart that is one inch off the ground and 10 inch wheels, this feels like 202 miles per hour. Some people think the Streets of Willow is a boring race because the track is too big. We, on the other hand, believe those people are lifting too much off the throttle going into a turn, and are braking way too early. Because if you don't lift, and if you brake as late as possible, it is the equivalent of being on death's razor edge, and as you racers know, that's where the action is!
We haven't raced at the Streets of Willow Springs in six years, as ProKart took the race off their regular schedule. It is a very expensive track to rent compared to renting a kart track. Last time there I ran pretty good, taking 3rd in qualifying and battling it out with Jimmy McNeil and Robert Marks. Marks and McNeil have elevated their karting skills quite a bit since then, and since Jeff, Wayne and I haven't raced in six years, our skills are definitely on the decline. But we think we can possibly relive our glory days at The Streets of Willow, since it is suited to our driving style....meaning just mash the gas pedal, hold onto the steering wheel for dear life in the high-G turns, and wait until you are screaming in your helmet with fear and THEN hit the brakes. Because at the Streets of Willow, he/she who keeps their foot on the gas the longest, and brakes at the very last millisecond without crashing, will do well at the Streets.
But hey, we have a plan on how to make this happen. At a test day at Cal Speedway, my motor is popping out of gear on some turns. Wayne offers to open it up, checks out bottom end, gears, tranny, etc. He finds a problem with wrong washers installed in the motor which is causing some mis-shifting. DAMN! No wonder I sucked at Buttonwillow last month. After going through the rebuild, I take kart out to test at Calspeed, and it feels great. Motor seems strong, and it shifts properly, and it feels snappy.
About a month before the race, we play what we think is our "ace in the hole" card. We need as much power as possible at the high speed Streets of Willow track, so we decide to spend an entire day putting the karts on our secret Cheating Bastard kart dyno that we bought back in 2006 or so from Nick Halen and his dad. When we heard that Nick was selling his dyno, we immediately thought, "No wonder he's kicking our ass?". We bought the dyno, tuned our karts....but Nick was still kicking our ass.
The Secret Cheating Bastard Dynojet Kart Dyno
I don't think we really talked about the dyno on this website, because that was our Cheating Bastard advantage. We used it religiously from about 2006 - 2011, tuning and testing our motors every month. Prior to the Supernats, we would spend days dynoing/tuning/testing motors and associated parts. We learned all kinds of crazy stuff from it, such as:
1. Not all pipes are alike, some are better than
2. Carburetors "wear out". There appears to be no wear on a 2 to 3 year old carb, but when dynoed back to back to back to back against a new one, the new one will always be perform better on the dyno. I mean, it makes no sense, there doesn't seem to be any parts that really wear out on a carb.
3. Timing plate position matters
4. If something seems "a little off on the dyno", and you can't find it, eventually, you will find it, and it will be at track or during a race, when the problem becomes much bigger. They dyno will tell you, "Some is Fucking Wrong with your Motor, now go figure it out and comeback and re-dyno".
5. If you look closely at the 4 meg picture of the dyno board, you can sorta see the scribblings. Usually an entry starts with the dyno run, a number usually between 100 and 999 before it loops back around. Then you will see numbers that represents the main jet and pilot jet, 178/52 for example. Then good runs are circled so we can kinda remember what happen before (we probably did 4000+ dyno runs over the years). There are scribblings on there indicating which pipe, or which carb, or which needle, or which air filter, which reeds, etc, seemed to be working good. You can see how you can easily go into a rathole, trying to come up with the perfect combo of pieces to make sure your motor is performing like it should. The scribblings are from 2006 to today. We only erase the runs that are irrelevant.
A bunch of fans, we vent it through the ceil vent with a big ass hose
We haven't used the dyno in six years because we haven't been doing any actual racing, just the occasional practice day every 3-4 months or so.
The dyno is an old Dynojet kart/motorcycle drum dyno. Back in the days when we were pushing hard to win a Prokart race or prepping karts for the Supernats, we would use the dyno quite frequently to ensure our motors were in top shape. We run Darcy Decoste 2001 Honda 125 motors, and Darcy has told us that the Dynojet drum dynos aren't that good because they don't increase resistance as you put more power down (since we you are racing down the straightaway you encounter wind resistance that increases), so the Dynojet we have is not good for fine tuning jetting and carb settings. But, in our minds, at least we can test our motors against various baseline data we have for what we consider a "good motor" is. It will help us find any glaring motor problems before the race day. After all, we aren't brain surgeons with this equipment....more like monkeys with loaded AK47 rifles laying around.
Getting ready to test
So, we clear out the shop, which is a pain in the ass, because we have stuff strewn all over the place. We move out the small trailer, then a bunch of stuff, then move out the big 48 foot trailer to get to the dyno that is at the back of the shop. Then take all the junk that we have been stacking on the dyno the past six years. All this takes a few hours just so we can physically see the dyno. Then we gotta put in new pistons for this race, mount tires, etc etc etc, time is just burning away.
The rear kart wheels turn this big ass steel drum, from which HP and Torque are calculated
We put my kart on the dyno, fire up the old Windows XP computer that runs the dyno.....but the computer doesn't seem to "see" the dyno via the RS232 cables. The air brake doesn't respond on the dyno, and the Dynojet software does not see the dyno. WTF? So we screw around with cables and configurations for quite a few hours. Jeff throws on a new air pressure regulator, as the brake for the dyno works off an aircompressor line, but that doesn't fix it. Sucks because we wasted an entire day of testing.
Get water temp to 120 degrees, do four runs in 5th gear to the redline, take best one, compare against other runs
I call Dynojet, and they said to ship all the cables/interface boxes/circuit boards to them and they will diagnose. They also said that probably after six years of non-use, the master cylinder that the air compressor line connects to is probably seized up and needs to be replaced. Dynojet claims they have a specially modified master brake unit they can sell us for what seems an outrageous price, but Wayne looks at it and says something like it is a generic 1969 Malibu brake master cylinder unit that we can buy for $30 bucks. I Fedex the electronic parts to Dynojet, as the clock is ticking and we need to make sure our motors are good for the Streets of Willow Springs.
Dyno electronic boxes/sensors/circuit boards
About 8 days later, after getting the new master cylinder from O'Reilly Auto Parts, all the cables/wiring/boards back from Dynojet, re-installing all this stuff, we now have a working dyno. We just didn't really want to waste 30 man hours working on fixing the dyno, when we could be out driving the damn karts.
Okay, so now the dyno is working again, I put my kart on the dyno, but now the graph keep breaking up between 10,000 to 12,000 RPMS, and it doesn't show anything on the graph between those ranges. WTF? I lose my mind for a couple of hours on this one. I'm switching RPM sensors, coils, ignition wires, etc, and the graph still won't work. Maybe the dyno isn't working right?
Why is the graph breaking up?
Jeff then looks at the sparkplug, and it appears that the spark plug cap that is on the very tip of the spark plug is loose. Holy shit. The dyno was trying to tell us, "You morons, something is wrong". I wonder if that is why my motor seemed down on power at the last race at Buttonwillow? We do a bunch more dyno runs on my kart, and we are now producing HP/Torque numbers that shows I have a very good motor.
HP = 38, Torque = 17.9. Ready for the Streets of Willow Springs!
We put Jeff's kart on the dyno, and it dynos good, but there is some random sputtering now and then on the graph that we never figured out. He had some intermittant problems at Buttonwillow with his motor, but we couldn't figure it out there either. We put Wayne's kart on the dyno, and his motor is looking good.
We gotta scale the karts to make sure they are aligned and straight, and need to make sure we add weight to get to the minimum of 415 lbs, which to Wayne and I is ridiculous. ProKart has the "45 years old and older" SuperMaster group at the highest minimum weight of 415, because they assume people over the age of 45 are going to be overweight, and they want to make sure the heavy guys don't stop racing just because the light guys weigh 40 lbs less than them. The kart probably weighs about 215 lbs, so a 200 lbs person can feel confident they can race fairly at 415 total lbs. So in reality, "S4 SuperMaster Class", doesn't mean we are super good, it just means super overweight.
Wayne's kart on the scales
So Wayne and I have to add about 40 lbs of lead weight to get our kart and our body weight to weigh in at 415 lbs. All because people don't want to eat salads and get on a bicycle. So now our karts probably weight 250 lbs, which is unbearably heavy to lift on a kart stand. You can also feel the weight driving around the track.
Corner weights are way off, must re-bend kart to get it straight. Hopefully. Needs more weight also.
My plan is to just practice at the Friday practice the day before the race, as I already have lots of Mychron data, video tape, etc of how to drive at the Streets of Willow from six years ago. But then about 9 days before the race, Wayne says that the race is going BACKWARDS ClockWise up the hill, instead of down the hill. This is a disaster for us, as we have no data and no video tape of how to drive in the reverse direction at The Streets of Willow. Which means we need to take yet another day out of the schedule from kid/family activities to practice, as we can't just show up the day before the race and learn the track in one day. What do we look like, cross-dressing autocrossers?
Thursday, one week before the race.
Jeff and I pay 2Wild to take our karts to the track and for some race support. Wayne can't make it, too much kid stuff going on at school. I blast up Thursday night and stay at the wonderful Devonshire Inn. Where they still have solid metal keys to get into your room. But before I get there, I stop at Diamond Jim's poker casino for a little $1/$2 No Limit poker. On a Thursday night at 11 p.m., there is only one table being used, and these guys are playing really loose. So I join them playing really loose, and I hit a couple of full houses and win about $300 from the locals. It would been $600, but one of my full houses loses to four of a kind. Jeff and I run some practice sessions, my kart is feeling pretty good. There are a lot of people at this practice day, and we seem to be matching up good against the competition.
Friday Practice Day, One week before the race.
We are under the 2WildKarting tent along with a few other people. My kart is running good. I welded a Loser Cam bracket, so I have GoPro cameras front and back on the kart. ProKart tech inspectors are picky about camera mounting, they want to have the rear camera mounted to a welded bar on the kart. So screw it, I'll get Dave the Welder to weld me up a new bar. Because if we are going to kick some ass, we might as well document it. My kart is running pretty damn good. Ryon suggests a couple of camber/caster changes that helps immensely. Track is very bumpy, but exciting. Not as exciting as going counter clockwise, but still very thrilling. Coming out of NASCAR bowl turn, you can be flat out through the backstraight, and through the quick right-left-right jog before you have to slam on the brakes at 95 mph and downshift 3 gears. It also feels like you get a little bit of air coming through the right-left-jog. Jeff got one of those new GoPro Hero5 cameras, and he and I did not realize that since it has GPS on it, you can easily superimposed MPH/G-force/Trackmaps onto your GoPro video. Holy shit, that's awesome! Much easier and faster than trying to align Mychron data on top of your video via some other dashcam app.
We are running out of gear on the back straight with the tailwind, but checking Wunderground.com, next week the wind is supposedly going to be blowing the opposite way, thus lowering our top speed on the back straight, which means our gearing is probably pretty close to what we need on race day. We don't want to spend the practice day before the race thrashing and changing out gears all day long to find the right combo that will give us some punch out of the slower medium corners, and have enough length to propel us to whatever top speed the wind will push us to on race day.
Ugly bracket welded in middle of kart is for the rear facing Losercam.
The test day seems to be productive. We give the karts back to 2Wild for transportation, and I blast home with my goggles on in the S2000. My goggles are the old "tie up" goggles with yellowish-green tint. When you are driving with the goggles at dusk or dawn, other car headlights look like the oncoming Zombie Apocalypse, as everything is gray except for yellow headlights coming at you. I am belted in a four point harness wearing a Rocky and Bullwinkle hat flapping in the 40 degree wind, and the S2000 screaming at 9000 RPMS around turns with an uncorked straight pipe, with gypsy punk music blaring from the stereo. I feel like I am starring in Mad Max movie. People in their Prius/Hybrids/SUVs look at me like I am a moron. Well, those dorks in their sterile, quiet cars, monitoring their fuel consumption, listening to top 40 music from the 1970's, just don't know how to live their life like a wanton 16 year teenager with raging hormones....
Mad Max style in the S2000
I tell 2Wild to install a new seat on my kart, as the existing seat is getting trashed on the bottom by the bumps at Willow Springs, and I don't want road rash on my butt on race day because I burned through the seat.
Two days before the race, 2Wild says due to the infamous Italian supply chain, the Tony Kart seat they ordered didn't come in yet, and they are packing tonight to leave for the track. I dig around in the legendary Pulp Racing spare parts bin (aka the 48 foot trailer) and I find a new size two Tony Kart seat from 2011 in the trailer. I call an Uber, and some SUV mom ends up taking the seat to 2Wild to me in 4p.m. rush hour traffic on the 405/5 freeway. No way am I going to do that drive 20 mile drive that will take 90 minutes round trip. I'm burning up too much time getting ready for this race as it is.
Friday practice day, one day before the race.
Karts are unloaded from the 2Wild trailer, and crap, my rear facing loser cam bracket snapped off in transit. DAMN! No time to re-weld it. I wanted to film all the losers I plan on blowing by.
Turns out that ProKart is going to consolidate groups dramatically for this race, since the lap times are almost double what the normal track is. So the plan is to run ALL the shifters together, meaning S5, S4 Masters, S4 Super Masters, S3 beginner, S2 semi-pro,and S1 pro. That's 67+ karts on the track at the same time! This is going to be wild.....except that our class, the S4 Super Masters has the highest minimum weight of 415 lbs vs other people at 405, 395, and 385. Which means we will qualify at the back of the field due to us carrying extra weight. Oh well.....at least there are about 20 people in our S4/S4SM class, with S4SM the biggest one.
I'm killing it in practice, probably 3rd fastest in my S4SM group. Wayne forget to tighten a motor mount bolt, thus screwing up the mount. Which means we have to remove the motor completely from the mount and replace the motor mount with a spare. That kills another 90 minutes. We are able borrow a crucial bolt from Ken Schilling to put it back together. After a few sessions, I just park the kart, because it won't go any faster, and I don't think anyone else is getting faster as track conditions deteriorate. This is the perfect practice day for me, as all the upfront prep work means I'm not thrashing until 5p.m. trying to get the chassis, proper gear, and motor working good. I feel pretty confident about the race. Perhaps all the prep work the previous two months is holding off Raceaflais, the Greek God of Racing Chaos, from wreaking havoc upon me and my kart.
That night, I head back to Diamond Jim's for some more poker. Because Gambling! Tonight the place is packed. I can't hit a good hand, I end up losing $125 bucks. Damn.
Saturday Race Day
I am there bright and early waiting for everyone else to show up. I do a little surveying below:
Send up the drone! Also some on the track footage.
Practice 1 - kart running fantastic, things looking pretty good, running a 1:19.47 I'm second fastest in the S4SM class, although some of the faster drivers either decided to sit out practice 1, or didn't put their transponder on yet.
Practice 2 - I sit out this practice, as I don't feel I will learn anything that will make me faster, and I'll save my kart/brakes/motor for qualifying. Fast time for this group is 1:19.328, and the track should be a little warmer and faster this session, so I feel like I am in the mix.
Qualifying - I run a 1:19.355, which puts me at 5th. Not bad, I can deal with that. Unfortunately, Jonathan Allen cranks out a 1:18.091, crushing the rest of the field by a large margin. Wayne is 7th, Jeff is 9th, so we are all lined up behind each other on the grid.
Heat Race 1
Okay, two months of prep work to get ready for this moment. There is mass confusion, because it is very difficult to grid 67 karts when the gridding area has to wind around a bit in a S shaped curve because the grid is so big, you can't make one long line. Some rookie drivers appear to be confused on where they should grid two by two. I always remember the kart numbers of the guy who qualified right in front of me, and the guy that is gridded in back of me in my row. So if I am gridded 47th, I remember that the 46th guy's number is 23c, and the 48th guy number is 59x. But remember, we are gridded with 67 other karts in other classes that are intermingled. Somewhere in this chain someone forgets who is in front of them, and now we are screwed, because if the guy in front of you is gridded wrong and is falling backwards in the grid, then everyone else behind is mixed up. I figured 47th isn't bad, considering I'm in the class that is carrying the most weight by far. But due to gridding problems, I feel like I lost 6-8 spots before the race even begins. They release us to the grid for one warmup lap, and then we are going to have a rolling start. Which sucks, because we practiced our standing starts with the enormous gear you need for Willow Springs, figuring we could jump 10-15 positions into turn 1 because people are not used to a standing start with a huge gear. Usually at most tracks you run between a 1.50 and a 1.60 gear, but at the Streets of Willow, you need a gear that will turn 102+ mph without blowing up your motor by over revving it.
Streets of Willow requires gearing that will do 100+ mph. Around a 1.33 or so, depending on wind and track conditions
It would be like gridding your car for a race, but you have to do a standing start from 3rd gear. It is very easy to let the clutch out too fast and stall, so PKC didn't want to have a dangerous situation where 10 rookies stall their karts on the grid causing a potential massive crash. So now, it is a full on rolling start with 67 adrenalized drivers ready to bomb into turns 1 and 2.
Okay, this huge grid takes a warmup lap, no one in back 3rd of the pack is in their correct grid position, and then we approach the starting line, green flag goes, and everyone is barreling like crazy up the hill into turn 1. Coming down into turn 3 and then going up into turn 4, there is a lot contact and karts are spinning. Apparently PP Mastro has someone crash into him and breaks some bones in his hand. All this happens right in front of me, but I am able to scoot around the carnage and am back in the hunt, quickly picking up positions. After lap 1, I move up about 6 or 7 spots on the entire grid, kart and motor feeling good, my body absorbing the big ass bumps on the track like Ali vs. Frazier. Since a kart has no suspension, when you hit a 1 inch bump at 70-90 mph it feels like you almost get airborne. I get a good run out of the NASCAR bowl, and am blasting down the back straight, no lift throught the kink, I hit the bumps, getting ready to brake as late as possible for the left-hand turn. So far so good, I late brake, I turn left, BUT THE DAMN KART GOES STRAIGHT OFF THE TRACK into the dirt and gravel and rocks. WTF? I get out of my kart, and apparently the frame cracked right where the steering column connects to the frame, so I can no longer steer. I'm a DNF. There is no possible way to re-weld and fix the kart in time for the Heat Race 2 or the Main Race. I get only 1.75 laps of racing. TWO FFING MONTHS OF PREP DOWN THE DRAIN! ARRRGGH!!!!!!!
Jeff isn't happy with how his motor is running, so he takes a really, really close look at it, and he discovers that a coil wire had broken INSIDE the heat shrink, thus causing intermittent power problems. We slap ourselves in the head, as he had this same intermittent problem at Buttonwillow. And then, we were doing the dyno testing, the dyno was showing us on the graph some intermittent problems, it was trying to say "Dude, something is sorta wrong, fix it!", but we couldn't figure it out, and just assume maybe the dyno was giving us bad data.
Complete chassis failure after one lap of racing in Heat 1. I'm a DNF.
Well....at least I should have some great chaos footage from the 1.75 laps that I did get to race. I get back to the tent.....and I must have forgot to turn on the camera in all the confusion on the gridding procedure.......I got no footage, my kart is broken and unfixable due to broken welds and frame failure. ^%$&#@! Raceaflais kicks my ass again, in spectacular fashion.
In Heat Race 2
I can't remember what happened, except that I was sitting on the sidelines watching 66 of my closest competitors duking it out a 95 mph. I did remember that on this huge 1.3 mile track, with 66 drivers or so, somehow, someway, the front of Jeff's kart ends up on the back of Wayne's bumper during the race, screwing up Jeff. All that real estate to play in, and my teammates get tangled up together. Wayne says his kart isn't running great either, but at least he's in the hunt.
The Main Race
Jeff DNFs after a couple laps, when he gets hit from behind. Wayne takes his struggling kart to a 10th place finish, so at least he finishes the race. John Crow wins the S4 SuperMaster race, with Jonathan Allen in 2nd, and Todd Cameron 3rd, Ken Schilling 4th, and Sean Bond 5th. So the Pulp Team's Streets of Willow expectations were uh....crushed.
It kinda reminds me of that Miami Vice episode from Season 2, "Definitely Miami", where Sonny Crockett thinks he is going to walk off into the sunset with this hot chick he met named Callie (Arielle Dombasle). Except he has suspicions that he could be a pawn in a murderous con game, run by the her drug dealing boyfriend. So he plays out his hand to see if there is a chance that she really is a damsel in distress, or is she just the bait used by a master grifter. When you look at this next clip, look at it in terms of Arielle as "The Streets of Willow Springs", cooing in your ear, "C'mon, come out and play, we'll go 100 mph together down the straightaway, you'll make it to the podium, it will be great! All ya gotta do is payoff my ex-boyfriend Raceaflais with a big stack of $100 bills, about 120 hours of labor and training, and we can indeed ride off into the sunset directly from the podium. The music is Godley and Creme's "Cry", and this episode sticks out in my mind whenever heartbreaking things happen.
You'll need a password to access the video below on Vimeo, password is "pulp". Let me know if you have problems accessing it. I think the video is "unique", but then again I crack myself up all the time. Hence, this webpage.....
Pulp Vice from Doug Hayashi on Vimeo.
So now you know why I didn't update the page after the Streets of Willow race. We sorta figure we are done with karting after that experience at the Streets. My kart sat in the shop for a couple months before I had enough energy to take stuff apart, get it ready to be welded by Dave the Welder, hopefully with super-reinforced welds that won't break. Then it sat for another four months before we got out to the track again. I got asked to help out coaching on my daughter's softball team again, so that took up about 25 hours a week for games/practice/video editing and review, etc.
Week of December 11-15, 2017
Wayne and I actually get off our butts and get our karts ready to roll again. Jeff took his kart out last month, so now we got some motivation to get them working again. The kids' softball/baseball teams are getting ready for their Christmas break. Jeff, Wayne, and I take the karts out to Calspeed on Friday, Dec 15th, and they seem to be working pretty good. It was a lot of fun. BREATHE, kinda like that Vegan Cyclist video below. I followed Wayne around the track for about 8 laps, trying to stay between 6 to 36 inches off his bumper, and we were driving pretty good. It's relaxing. It's fun. There is no pressure to race, rushing to get to the grid, etc.
Until Wayne went a little too wide to prepare for blasting down to the apex of a turn, and "nicked his front wheel" (those are his words) on the barrier wall, thus making him spin three times, each spin thunking the front of his kart and the back of his kart against the barrier. So he's got a bent axle and two tie rods he's gonna have to change out. Of course the GoPro camera didn't work on the crash lap. Some things never change. But it was still a fun practice day, and we are getting ready to go out again to the track to practice very soon. Like a week.
The Vegan Cyclist gets it. Now apply it to kart racing. Or car racing. Or any kind of racing!
Late News Flash:
The practice day at Calspeed was fun and relaxing. Karting is fun again! ProKart announces they will be at the Streets of Willow in March, 2018. THEN, you realize that the Vegan Cyclist has you figured out. See video above. You then start thinking, yeah, Calspeed practice day was fun....but I wanna be fast. I wanna be fast at the Streets of Willow in 2018. BREATHE. You do it.....all..... over.... again. That means train, test, re-scale, diet, re-build motor, re-dyno the power, diet, train some more, train some more some more, re-test at Streets of Willow .......BREATHE. I see another HUGE rathole coming up.
December 2016 to December 2017
Operation "Pedal Forest Pedal"
The Cycling Story
A year ago, back in December 2016, I bought a generic Fuji carbon fiber bike over at Performance Bike, with the thinking that it would help get me shape for the Buttonwillow and Streets of Willow races earlier this year. Plus, I was intrigued by that Strava app that compares your riding to other people. I even went out and got my V02/Power tested at ARB Cyclery , just so I have a "beginning baseline". Hey, if you are going to do anything, you need data.
Getting V02/Power tested
Saul said my V02 was very good for someone just getting into cycling. I attribute that to all the karting that I used to do, as well as pitching about 2000 pitches of batting practice a week for my son's baseball team and my daughter's softball team for the past 8 years.
Generic Fuji/Ultegra bike. Yes I need 64 oz of water when I ride.
But, then I got that nasty cold that was going around, and it seemed like I was coughing and hacking for about two months. So I didn't do much with the bike until around May, and then I started getting into it. Suddenly, I realized that Strava made every street, every hill, every downhill, a full on time trial race, where I can compare my segment times to other people that have ridden the same segment over the past 6-7 years and are Strava users. There are segments 2 blocks from my house that 15,000+ people have logged lap times going up and down Pacific Coast Highway. I can see how I rank by all-time, this year, this month, this week, this day. Also by age group, so I can see how fast I am in the 55-65 year old category, or in my weight category for virtually every street (or sets of streets to create a segment). I can race every day, and as soon as I get back to the house, I can analyze data and see how I compare to other people? This is fantastic!
I come across the Vegan Cyclist videos on Youtube (like the video 4 paragraphs above) , and I get inspired even more.
I went out and got a Stages single sided power meter, and now I have a full on crack-pipe video game display on my bike. I can now constantly monitor how much power (watts) I am putting out while pedaling. I can change how I pedal, cadence, gearing, position on the bike seat, standing up on the pedals etc, trying to figure out how to put more power down to the ground. For anyone that races cars or karts and is concerned about lap times and horsepower, it doesn't get better than this. You got lap times, and in terms of horsepower, you are the horse, so figure out what you have to do to put more watts to the ground.
So it starts with a little discovery. There's Edwards Hill, a small hill a couple of miles from my house. I practice bombing down the hill, get my segment time, then go home and analyze and compare it against other people. After a few weeks, I get it down to 24 seconds, which puts me 17th out of 1245 people who have bombed down the hill. I just need one more second faster to get to be tied for 13th fastest, and two seconds faster to get to 6th fastest tall time. But I can't get the time from 24 seconds to 23 seconds no matter what I do. If I standup all the way down, if I sit down all the way down, if I pedal faster, if I try to grind a bigger gear. I picked up some lighter wheels (climbing type wheels, not aero wheels), hoping that would work, but it didn't. Went from 23c tires to 25c tires, and in general, that seemed to SLOW ME DOWN. I was starting to think I should change from a 52/36 front crank to a 53/39, maybe that one extra tooth in the big ring is what I need to pick up one second, but that would be embarrassing if after spending all that money and it didn't work. Plus not sure if I could pull the 39 gear up a 15-20% grade. Maybe a 53/36 matched with a 11/28 rear cog would be perfect, but some people say there could be shifting problems with the weird 53/36 combo. I guess I should be happy with a 24 second run, and not crashing....
So if I can't get move up from 17th, then I just change the criteria. So, for the year (2017, instead of all-time), I am 7th out of 444, which makes me feel better. Or if I switch the criteria to all-time in the 55-to-64 year old age group, there I am tied for 3rd fastest all-time. Or if I switch it to all-time fastest in the 150-164 weight class, then I am tied for 2nd fastest. I guess those other fat bastards can use their weight and muscle and gravity to bomb down the hill faster than us lightweight riders.
I even change my diet a bit. I have now eaten more salads the past two months than I have eaten in my entire life, in an attempt to put more power down, get more watts, and drop a few lbs to get better Strava segment times. I still can't get to 23 seconds. DAMN! Of course after I brag that I am kicking ass pretty good down the hill, my wife astutely says, "So how to you compare going UP THE HILL?" Well.......I kinda suck there, at the time, I wasn't even in the top 200 or so. So then she says, "So you are telling me you basically have more balls going downhill with no sense in your brain, risking life and limb, than you have actual cycling power and skill to go uphill?" Uhh....well yeah....I guess I should train to go up the hill also...
You can also download the Chrome addon Stravistix, which gives you a gazillion more stats you can monitor and compare that works in conjunction with the Strava website that charts just about every street, a bunch of connected streets, and entire long biking routes. So then you start targeting other segments in your neighborhood. Check out these stats that show each segment, shows how fast you are in relationship to everyone else who rode that segment in terms of percentage all time, tells you have far your are off for King of the Mountain for that segment, as well as how far you are off for your personal best for that particular ride.
You start to recognize names in the top 20 leader board that in your mind are now "The Enemies That Must Be Defeated", and you try to at least get on the first page of the segment leader boards in your neighborhood. You never actually see these guys, and you don't even know what they look like....but they are in front of you on the leader board. Yeah yeah, you can say, "Well those riders lower than you on the leader board are probably not doing their absolute best in your neighborhood, they are doing their long slow distance rides, which is why you are so high up." That is true. But so what, they are behind me on the leader boards. I view them as losers! Ha ha!
5th out of 1439 people, and that is going UP the Edwards Hill, + half mile flat sprint. But I had a little help..
And yes......I do take advantages of a tail wind whenever possible. Ah...just like the above chart when I took 5th out of 1439, going UP Edwards Hill and combining with the half mile flat segment after the hill. I uh....did it when a big ass Santa Ana wind was blowing towards the beach, so you could say I had a bit of a tailwind. Not much of a tailwind...just about 35 mph or so. After all, these bastards on the front of the leader board are probably riding in a peloton, picking up speed via the draft, in an effort to get faster Strava times, and I'm just a solo guy blasting around the neighborhood. I mean, it is not like I am checking mywindsock.com 24 hours a day, or subscribing to uhh...MyWindSock notifications signaling good wind direction, waiting for uh...perfect tailwind conditions. I don't consider a tailwind cheating, that more like a Cheating Bastard technique, which means it isn't really cheating, it is just being "innovative". I have considered having Wayne blast down Edwards Hill in his truck, and me drafting right behind the truck at 45 mph which should pick me up a couple of seconds, but I consider that actual cheating, so I'll avoid that. At least for now........unless I find out that the bastards at the top of the leaderboard are also drafting behind trucks/cars, which means, okay if you want to cheat like that, just wait until you see what I can come up with...I'll have Wayne tow the Kart Trailer down the hill, which will create a huge draft, sucking me down the hill to become "King of the Mountain".
So I started riding a little more in May and June, and I went back to get my V02 tested again. Remember, everything in life is train, test and measure, repeat. Saul said V02 and power are looking really, really good for a person that has only been riding for a couple of months, and what do I want to do with this? The conversation went like this:
Saul: What are you going to now that you got your V02/power checked? 50 mile rides? 75 mile fun ride? Maybe a Century ride?
Doug: Long slow distance rides? No, man, I want to race. I want to race wheel-to-wheel!
Saul: (waving both his hands and shaking his head). No No No! You got a long ways to go before you should enter a race!
Representation of what Saul looked like when he said, "No no no"
Doug: You just said my V02 was excellent? Why shouldn't I race?
Saul: You need months and months and months of training to build up aerobic/anaerobic/capillary capacity. Maybe if you train hard, maybe next year in 2018 you can be ready to race.
Doug: What? Wait until 2018? Six months from now? I just need to pedal a little faster. How hard can that be?
So I go home pouting.
The very next day, Ryon, our Stig at 2WildKarting calls me, and says, "Hey man, want to enter a charity bike race up in the Santiago Canyon area?" Of course I say, "Hell yes, I'm ready to race, screw Saul The V02 guy, let's do it". Ryon is new too cycling also.
It's call the Hunkr, and it is a charity race to support the local school's mountain bike team, or something like that. I figure that will be fun to do. Normally the Hunkr folks race 60 miles, but this one is only 20 miles since it is for charity. How hard can that be? Sounds like a beginner race to me. I tell Jeff about it, and Jeff has been cycling for many years, and rides his bike to work almost every day. He says, "No way, you idiots are going to get your asses kicked". Whatever.
So, the in spirit of Pulp Racing, I have to get some data about this short 20 mile route. I do a solo ride of the route, it was tough, but I thought I did okay, in true Pulp spirit, I videotaped the ride so I can review more data. I went off the route a little bit because I was unfamiliar with the area, but I calculate my time is about one hour, 22 minutes. I lookup a similar Hunkr Strava segment to my ride today, and then realized we got a problem. A big problem. I'm about 27 minutes off the leaders, and that puts me at 261 out of 272 people on the Strava chart, or around the bottom 3%. Oh shit. Damn. I remember Saul shaking his head and laughing at me, "No No No, you aren't ready to race".
Garmin Virb Overlay with GoPro on Santiago Canyon/Live Oak Ride
So, even if I burn up the hills faster and cut 5 minutes off, that puts me at 239 out of 272. Not a pretty picture. Jeff says that if I can stay with the peloton that can add 3-4 mph, that would drop the laptime more, but I'm still going to get destroyed.
I do the practice ride a couple of more times, once with Ryon and Jeff, dropping about 6-7 minutes off, so now around a 1:15, which still sucks. But hey, charity race, maybe there will be some moms and dads and maybe even some kids that ditch school that day, so we can have someone to beat.
Jeff bails out of from the race, saying that would be ridiculous to race in that event. Ryon says he's still in. He's like me, "Bring it on dude". Except he is about 30 years younger than me. Mark, another karter and experienced cyclist, agrees to go with us, seemingly more as a chaperone for me and Ryon, the newbies, so we don't screw this up too badly. I think he can see what is going to happen...he's probably amused at our eagerness.
So I pull up to the check in/registration for the Hunkr on race day, and uhhh....there ain't any housewives or overweight dads or little kids that are entering the event. Everyone looks like they are on a team coming back from the Tour de France or getting ready for the Amgen Tour of California. WTF? I can't find Ryon and Mark, everyone looks the same when you put them in Lycra and a helmet. They start the race, and I of course forget to start the Garmin 520 on time. I remember after a bit to turn it on. Meanwhile, everyone is hauling ass, and before I know it, my heart rate is higher that I have ever had it before on a bike. Oh shit. After about 7 minutes, I realize I am in the back of the pack with two other schlubs....and yes, the two other schlubs are Ryon and Mark! So we proceed to soldier on with our little sucky-loser-mini-peloton group. About a 15% into the ride, we are going up a hill, and a moving truck is parked in the "no parking area", and the sun is just coming over the hill. Apparently a car driver was temporarily blinded by the suddenness of the sunrise sunlight blasting over the hill, could not see the cyclist who was going around the moving van, and hit the cyclist.
Moving van parked in no parking zone, sun rising over the hill....bad situation for bike riders
She was on the ground when we got there, waiting for an ambulance. There were a couple of people there helping her, so after we ascertained we can't do anything more to help her, we proceeded on with the race. After all, this is a timed event. We finish the race, hoping that maybe some people wimped out and dropped out halfway through the race.
Turns out that 88 people that entered the event, we finished 85th, 86th, 87th......we only beat the girl that got hit by a car......and no, the 83rd and 84th persons were never even in our sights.
Okay, so back to the drawing board in terms of doing any cycling races......
So I'm trying to do 80-100 miles a week to get stronger and faster. I cranked out a few 50 mile rides, which seemed pretty easy. The secret for me is I have to wear the Pearl Izumi shorts with the blue Race3D chamois, as then my butt doesn't hurt. If I use an Assos shorts, or Pearl Izumi Shorts that doesn't have the Race3D chamois, it gets uncomfortable. Of course, Pearl Izumi no longer makes the Race3D chamois shorts, so I am scrambling around trying to find them on obscure outlet/ebay stores. I figure get enough to last me the next 10 years.
I can't roll unless I have Pearl Izumi shorts with blue Race3D chamois
I cranked out a 103 mile century solo ride over the Thanksgiving break, because the weather was so good over here. I figured I could leave my house at 9:00 am in biking shorts and my Assos jersey, and be back without having to worry about changing into warmer clothes. The ride went good, I felt like I could have gone another 10 miles, but it was getting dark, and my headlight/tail lights ran out of juice after an elapsed time of 7 hours or so. But, as soon as I got home and took a shower, then but then my butt started hurting. Note to self: if I ever do another century ride, don't stop for lunch or dinner, just blast through using 8 Cliff bars and 8 bottles of water like I did today, as I might not be able to ride again after a long break.
Amazingly, my knee hurts to walk around the block, but I can ride my bike all day with no knee pain. I can stand up on pedals with no pain. I can grind on the pedals with no pain. I get my V02/power checked again in December 2017, and Saul this time says, "Hey, you are like, now ready to race in a beginner Cat5 race, just make sure you don't get hurt." He got quite a chuckle when I told him that I did the Hunker six months ago after he told me not to race. "And Doug, how did that race go". I told him the gory details. He was quite amused.....
Possible Crit Race January 20
I'm thinking about doing my first Criterium race on Sunday, January 20 by Wilmington/Dominguez Hills. They have Beginner Race Program at 6:15 a.m., which I assume is for newbies to racing. Then at 7:00 a.m., there is a short 25 minute Criterium race. Looks like a one mile course in an industrial area, probably four turns. We could be outta there and heading home by 8:15 a.m. Yes, we are going to get our asses kicked, but we have to start somewhere. Get in touch with me if you are interested.
1. Video from the summertime, Junior Guard guards
on their "Floatopia Day", where they pull out everything that floats from the
Junior Guard storage bin. A group of kids grabbed the Raptor, and took it
out with a GoPro. I had the drone above them. Wish I had a Raptor,
that looks like fun!
2. Video of Pier Swim Floatie Day at Junior Guards. Normally the kids "race around the pier" using regular swimming stroke, but today was a fun day off and they got to bring their favorite floatie and go around the pier. Such a tough life for kids these days.......
Floatie Day Around the Pier
3. Gogol Bordello is headed towards the west coast in early 2018 supporting a new album, "Seekers and Finders". It's gonna be a maniacal sweatbox in the mosh pit. Be ready for it! Here's a sample review from the 2015 tour.
4. Lonzo Ball - Yeah, his dad might be crazy, his younger brother is an idiot. But if you CLOSELY watch the entire Laker games, this 20 year old kid will make some plays that I have to rewind in slow motion with my head cocked sideways, saying, "How the hell did he do that? How did he see that?". Lot of crazy hype on this kid, both praise and criticism. I'll tell you what's gonna happen: We'll be in the playoffs next year. If the Laker could shoot their damn free throw like a normal team, they would probably be at .500 right now, and this is with a skinny 20 year old point guard learning the ropes against the best in the business with a bunch of young teammates. His outside shot will come in as soon as he gets rid of the yips, (he made those shots in college). In two years, we'll be in the conference finals. In three years, we'll be in the NBA finals, and it's gonna be glorious, just like the good old days when Magic Johnson was running the break with no look passes. Showtime is being revived! If his brother didn't get popped for stealing in China, I'd be wearing a Lonzo jersey around the house.
5. I think I am going to sell the big 48 foot Pulp Trailer, and then we are going to sell the 16 foot kart trailer, then we are going to buy a 26-28 foot one car trailer. That way anyone call pull the 26-28 foot trailer, instead of just me with the gooseneck connection in the F350. And it will give us an additional 36 feet or so of space in the building to work on karts/cars/etc. If you are interested in buying the 48 foot Wells Cargo trailer, let me know, or if you have a smaller trailer + cash to buy the 48 foot trailer, let me know.