29 March 2006

14 Days and Counting

I just got this email from Hans

There is plenty to do so we will find you a proper job in the team.
I spoke whit a Belgian photograph and he is willing to provide you whit proper pictures .
I am sure you are go to have a great time over here.
We all looking forward to see you .
I all so find you a ride for the days after the races a Suzuki gs 1200 so you can visit Nurburgring and Spa.
The day you arrive is the day we leave for Assen so I pick you op at the airport bring you to my home and we leave .

Sorry i don't have any pictures off my without a helmet ,


I guess I'll be packing all of my riding gear.

FIM & ACO Press Releases

Press Release from the F.I.M. concerning the Assen 500K, Easter Monday.

Press Release from the A.C.O., the organizing body for the Le Mans 24H Moto race.

I was talking to Weeble last night and she made a good point that, among other things, has not sunk in yet: Exactly one month ago, this whole trip to Europe had just come on my radar as a pipe dream. I did not have a passport, I did not know anyone living in Europe and I had no contacts at the FIM or ACO. As of yesterday, I will be attending the first two rounds of the WEC as a mechanic, volunteering for a Belgian concern. I will be fully press credentialed at both races and have access to numerous team managers and riders in the paddock. I have also been contacted by Eurosport for an on-air interview at Le Mans and will likely meet a lot of people from the organizing bodies that I can interview.

One month ago, and up until two weeks ago, I did not have airfare to Europe, let alone a US Passport. Now I am preparing to fly overseas to meet, for the first time, a team of 15 racers and mechanics with whom I shall spend 2.5 weeks on the road racing in The Netherlands and France. My only contact with the team has been a handful of emails and a single phone call. To top it all off, I'm not concerned in the least with the trip and barely have a grasp on what is about to take place.

28 March 2006

Not so Boldering

Rock Gal and I spent the weekend in Austin. I had to go for a business trip and it just made sense for her to join me for some climbing while we were down there. We drove down Friday night and I got to meet some of her friends from the Cactus Cafe, then we found a cheap hotel and sacked out for an early wake-up and trip to Reimer's Ranch.

We did some real fun climbs at Reimer's, none of which I can name or justifieably describe at this point in time. They were fun, I am learning (slowly) how to lead climb and had a great time getting on some 5.8 and 5.9 routes, and I think I did one 5.10 as well. The 5.10 (i think) had a nice roof to manage as well as a lot of backsteps and off balance reaches for unusually shaped bits of rock. It was a nice challenge and we had a great morning of climbing before my shitty business meetings.

Jump forward to Sunday, we split out of Austin around 2:00 PM and headed toward Dallas to stop in Belton for some bouldering. I'm new to ropeless climbing, Bouldering, but Betty has some experience and is quite good at picking routes. We did a few to start that were fun and challenging, then I got stuck.

The climb started out innocently enough, a few jugs and some nice places to put one's feet, but I got to the top (maybe like 10 feet off the ground) and got really fucking scared. No seriously, I was damn scared, and I'm sure it would be funny at any other time except right then and there. Maybe I was tired, maybe I was low, maybe I was just in one of those totally uncomfortable situations... in any event I was at the top of this very short cliff and had nowhere (to me) to go.

So I did the only logical thing possible at that time. I froze. Well, I didn't freeze, but I sure had a lot of trouble moving. I had these visions of jumping down onto the crash pad and breaking my leg, which would suck since I'm leaving the country in 15 days.

Anyway, Rock Gal did what any other wonderful girlfriend would do at the time, and rescued my sorry but off the crag. A few minutes later I felt a little ashamed, embarrassed and somewhat less scared... So, I pretty much figured out that ropes are my friend and when I boulder in the future (I did another route later) I'm just going to do a few moves at the bottom and have my own personal early top out that does not involve scrambling for grip, sweaty palms and peeing my pants.

Europe: Press Access

This is getting even better. If a potential interview opportunity with Eurosport isn't enough, now I have a new set of emails to share...

I wrote another post last night seeking help from a professional photographer at the Assen and Le Mans rounds. Here is a link to the original post.

My first response was in my email this morning:

Hi Greg

Looking forward to meeting you at the Assen 500; I run the championship
website and produce all the English language press releases; I'll put you on
the distribution list for the latter.

I suggest you contact Vittorio Gargiulo to see if you can get press
accreditation for the championship, his email address is ...

We supply some hi-res images for press use on the website, but (wearing my
freelance photographers hat) I also take pictures for a number of the UK
magazines. You'll either find me in the press office or walking up and down
pitlane; make sure you say hello.


Martin Gelder

So I replied and thanked him for contacting me, and then wrote to Mr. Gargiulo to explain my situation and ask for a little extra access. Here's his reply:

Dear Greg,
please contact me in Assen (EWC office will be in the Circuit Direction Building) : I will give you the "media card" to get you able to have access to the "Media Center" at every event.


Vittorio Gargiulo
Endurance World Champioship

As it stands I now have full press access at both races, although I will be spending the majority of my time wrenching for Primo Racing, because that is my first and foremost function at and between both races. Still, this helps when I'm not wrenching on the bike or building a space in the pit/paddock/garages for the team and I should have some extra access to Wi-Fi and things of that nature as well.

Once again, the plot has thickened.

27 March 2006

Business Cards Re-revisited

Well, I'm really liking this design. The font is easy to read, the purpose seems more clear cut and the imagery is perfect. I'm super pleased with the work Jon has done on the card, he seemed to know exactly what I was seeking as soon as we started talking about it, and things came together pretty quickly.

For most people I think they only consider this a business card. For me, however, this is branding and establishing my image so I need to be sure that I'm getting a creative product that will be memorable and make an impression. If I hand this card to someone in the paddock and ask to speak with them in the future, I'm sure they will remember me. Same goes for magazine editors or anyone I might contact via post, or of course other people/photographers/writers at races.

Europe: New Developments

Last week I wrote to Miles Hutchins of the Diablo/Bolliger endurance racing team seeking an interview while I was at Assen and Le Mans. He runs a team (Diablo) that has been in the series for at least a few years and has ties to a sister team (Bolliger) that might be closer to a works operation, but I'm not sure.

No problem... be pleased to meet you and introduce you to the team and
our sister team Bolliger. Terry Rymer will be with us and as you know he is an ex world champion motorcycle racer and also world champion endurance rider. He coaches and looks after our team riders

Come and see us. Assen is an odd race as its very hectic on the Saturday and then we have a rest day on the Easter Sunday before the race day Easter Monday. So Sunday will be very leisurely!


That is excellent news and will certainly make it easier for me to get on the inside of a few more teams. The best time is obviously Sunday when I can sit down with him and the team for a pint. I also had an email this morning, unsolicited, from another gentlemen in Europe...


I just read your message about coming to Le Mans on the World Endurance website. I'm a former rider now doing English Language co-commentary for Eurosport, the main free-to-air satellite and cable sports channel in Europe.

We'll be at Le Mans doing several hours of broadcast (to be finalised, but latest schedule shows 10.75 hours). I tend to sort out getting guests ( I speak French & some German) and adding technical info to the main commentators dialogue, and if you'd be up for coming on the shows that would be good.

I'd be interested to know what turned you on to the World Endurance Series, your own experiences in the USA, and of course, on the shows from Le Mans, talk about your experiences there, what you think of the whole thing, and by Sunday morning, what you feel like then!!!

Please email me here rather than via the W.E.C site, you can read more about me & my recent history on my website RogerBennettRacing.com and I've attached a pic of me on a Ducati at the 2004 Macau Grand Prix.

I did race at Daytona a couple of times in the 200 (94 & 95), and rode in the supporting 2-hour Superteams race in 95 with Californian Jeff Stern. We finished second behind Fritz Kling & Nick Ienatsch on their Yamaha 1000.

Anyway, enough for now. Look forward to hearing from you if you're interested.

Cheers, Roger.

Now, rather than being the one attempting to do all the interviewing, I'll be welcomed into the radio booth for an interview! This is getting really interesting and, yes, that makes it all seem just a bit more surreal. Amazing how this whole trip is beginning to morph into a little bit more and a little bit more...

24 March 2006

Business Cards Revisited

Broom has been gracious enough to work on some busines card ideas for me. Here's the first version, that I really like, but I think we're going to tinker with the font. I wasn't keen on the filigree, though he did tell me that its the "in thing for the hardcore stuff" or something to that degree.

I don't know, it just wasn't speaking to me. Instead, I suggested a slanty font that looks more like the guage cluster on a Gixxer... Of course, he's the designer and knows more about this stuff than I do, so I need to not be telling him what to do.

The image is perfect, beyond perfect... and I want to use "High Velocity Journalism" on there (Nancy came up with that) because it seems cool/appropriate, she's family and I couldn't come up with a better way of saying it.

18 days and counting

This image says it all.

22 March 2006

Business Cards

I'm trying to get some business cards hacked out quickly before my trip, which I can do on the internet through a variety of web-based printing servies. I'm sure the quality won't be stellar, but it would be nice to have something to hand out if the opportunity arises. I'll include my contact info and my other blog/website thing where I post material.

So, I need a clean look and something distinctive. My sister had the idea of using a colored font on black card stock.

I keep thinking of ideas, but they are generally far too complicated. Photos of the red/white curbing on a corner's apex on one side of the card, with contact info on the flipside... but that's complicated and not clean.

I also wanted to try to think of a means of referring to myself. Nancy suggested calling myself a High Velocity Journalist which I thought was pretty cool. I have thought of a few other words, but I have not thought of how to use them:
* Apex
* Track out
* Ragged Edge (magazines are called rags, edgy writing or edge of control)


21 March 2006

This trip of mine...

The more I think about this trip, the more amazed I get about the whole thing. I wrote Hans an email last night asking if I needed to help pay entry fees, food, fuel, etc and he wrote me back today. Simply, I have nothing to worry about, the team is going to house, feed and supply me with team clothing to wear at both tracks. I can do laundry at his place between Assen and Le Mans and I will be well fed... I have an incredible trip to Europe planned and the only thing I'm paying for is my plane ticket. Well, that and two weeks of very hard work in the pit of a motorcycle racing team. Which, as you might guess, is hardly considered work from my perspective.

Le Mans. The place is legendary. The fact that I'll be there as a crew member for a professional racing outfit, as a volunteer, is nuts. Add to that the fact that I don't know any of them, nor do they know me, and it is all becoming very surreal.

I'm going to Europe. I've always wanted to go to Europe. I'm going to Assen and Le Mans for races. I've always wanted to go to Assen and Le Mans. I'm going to Europe, to Assen and Le Mans, and I'm going as a crew member of a motorcycle racing team. Not much of this has yet to sink in, but its getting there day by day.

20 March 2006

Getting to Europe

In the beginning of February I was cruising the web looking at all the racing series doing testing for the 2006 season. I wanted to know who was quick, which teams were testing most and how the season was going to shape up in each championship. One site I visited was for the World Endurance Championship, a motorcycle road racing series that encompasses a schedule of long distance events in Europe.

Within the site I found a news item about how many teams are privateer and do not have the funds to pay for a pit crew at all of the races. Seeing as how events are anywhere from 6 to 24 hours in length, this made perfect sense. The news bit specifically mentioned how many of the teams welcome outside volunteer help during the 24 Hours of Le Mans Moto race, and how it is such a great way to get involved with the series. I thought this was pretty interesting and made a mental note to pursue such a thing in 2007, but wrote the idea off this year because at that point the race was only a little over two months in the future.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I'm talking with Rock Gal about racing and what's going on in the different championships. I mentioned the news bit and how cool it would be to go, but how there was not time. She didn't buy it. Immediately she was encouraging me to get in touch with a team and try to go to Europe for a round of the series. I agreed to try and went back to the site that evening where I located a BBS for the series. There, I posted this message and figured I would not get any replies.

Monday morning I had a post from Eileen at PhaseOne, a British team in the championship and one of the most successful teams in England:

Dear Greg,

You SO need to come racing with us at Phase One. First of all, we'll be one of only two or three English speaking teams there (World Endurance is VERY French); secondly, all of the crew are volunteers, so you'll be in good, if impecunious, company. Thirdly, you cite Jason Pridmore's school on your blog, and Jason used to ride with us.

I've responded to your email 'cos the rest of the team are away testing this weekend and I wanted to get your attention before you get seduced by the works teams. Check out our website www.PhaseOne.co.uk and contact Russell Benney when he gets back (probably Tuesday)

Drop me an email if you've got any questions.

Best of luck

Tuesday, the 28th, I had another post on the BBS from Hans Westra of Primo Racing. Primo is a Belgian team and, given the post, they didn't speak a lot of English. I wrote Hans an email explaining my stance as a Freelance writer and once again, hoped for the best.

Earlier this week I posted a message on the World Endurance Championship website seeking a team for which I could volunteer at the 24H of Le Mans. Thank you for your prompt reply and offer to assist me in my plan to attend the race as a volunteer crew member and writer. Based on your email address I believe your team originates in Belgium. I am not bilingual and have only a minor grasp of German. I am, however, quite good at understanding hand signals and shouting.

Essentially, I am coming over as more than just a volunteer. I am a freelance writer flying in from the United States with a desire to cover the race from inside a team. The benefits to your team are numerous, as I am an able mechanic and willing to pull my weight within the team. On top of this I can provide you with content for your website (live updates perhaps?), press coverage for your team and another reason for a sponsor to take notice of your operation. Personally, I'll gain the ability to crew for an outstanding team at a legendary event, and I'll also have some great material I can work up into publishable material that I can turn around and sell to magazines.

I have been in touch with a team from England but I want to keep my options open and at the very least I would like to meet with you and your team at the race. If you are interested in my services as a crew member and writer, please contact me so that I can sort out some of the details of my trip. At the moment I am trying to decide where I should fly into and how best to get transport to the track. If any part of my trip can be made with the team or other volunteers on the team I would be most grateful. And, it could make for another great story! Also, I have a wonderful photographer with which I have worked. If you have room, might he be allowed to join me on the trip? If not, I'll find another means of locating photographs to go with my work.

To give you a better idea of who I am and what I can offer, here's a link to my current website. It is a collection of work that should give you a good idea of my writing style, sense of humor and general demeanor. http://gresam.blogspot.com/ Thank you for your time,

I am anxious to hear from you,
Greg Sampson

The next day I had a reply from Hans:


First off all sorry fore my pore English speak it better.
We are a amateur team that is based on Belgium near Antwerp.
We ride whit Suzuki gsxr K6 and aiming fore points in the championship.
We are whit a round 16 team members ,all friends. can pick you op at the airport and you can stay whit us fore the rest off the week .
maybe it is a good idea to spent two weeks whit us so you can see the assen round to.
My dream is to ride the Belgium round whit two US riders Dave estok and mike barnes who are good friends off my.
Whit your help it is maybe possible to find some American sponsors to bring them over.
I think we can work something out fore your photographer to.
You fly in to Brussels that's 30 min drive from my place.
We all speak some English so that wand by a problem.
We take care off food and a place to sleep .

Kind regards,

Hans Westra

In the meantime, and much haste, I had ordered an official copy of my birth certificate from the State of New York ($70) and then spoke with my Dad about having a copy FedEx'd to me in Dallas from home ($free). The birth cert would arrive a week later and the passport acquisition process began in earnest. Expediting the passport cost me just under $200 and I was slated to receive it in two weeks, so I decided to move forward and get in touch with both teams again.

Thank you for your kind offer of hospitality in Belgium. I am still working on some details for my travel and I am very interested in joining your team. I am currently considering joining you for Assen and Le Mans, hopefully my plans for travel will become more solidified in the next two weeks. As soon as I know more I will be in contact with you.

Also, I would like to talk to you on the telephone, perhaps this week or next. I am still talking with several teams, but I am very interested in your offer. Please tell me if there is a best time of day for me to call you by telephone.

Thank you,
Greg Sampson

I spoke with Russell from PhaseOne a week later on the telephone. He was happy to have me come over and join the team, but only as an observer. They required nine days of shop work prior to being in the pit and this would make it impossible for me to join them as a working crew member, which is what I wanted most... I completely understand their position as a professional team that can easily win Le Mans, but I wanted to do more than observe.

The next day, Wednesday, I called Hans. His spoken English far exceeds his written English and we had a good rapport on the telephone. I told him I was really interested in joining him, in fact that I was sure I would, and that I'd be in further touch as we progressed and I'd gotten my airfare. He told me they'd save a spot for me on the big team bus and that they had three cooks on the team that would be making meals and feeding the team. So, basically, I just needed to get myself to Europe and they'd take care of me as one of their own for two weeks.

The following Tuesday, 6 days after talking to Hans, I had purchased a ticket to Brussells, Belgium. Two days later I had a passport in my hand and everything was set. I wrote Hans with my itinerary

Unless something really strange happens between now and April 13th, here is my itinerary. I tried to get what I thought would be a convenient time for my landing in Brussels but transferring airports in London made things a little difficult. Hopefully, this will not be an inconvenience.

Arrival in Brussels
British Airways
Flight Number BA0394
Thursday April 13, 2006

Depart Brussels
British Airways
Flight Number BA4983
Friday April 28, 2006

The departing flight is pretty early in the morning but that was the only time available the whole weekend. I'm not crazy about getting to the airport at 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning but I figure I can get a cab over there or stay at the airport the night before my departure.

I gave myself some extra days in Europe and hope to make it out to Spa and the Nurburgring, perhaps a few other places as well time depending. At this point, I just need to figure out what to bring. What is the weather typically like during this time of the year?

See you soon,
Greg Sampson

and he wrote back:


We will pick you up at he airport and fore your departure we figure something out .
The weather is still pretty cold it can by good whit some luck .
At the arrival i will show a sign primo racing .

Hans westra

This is all just beginning to sink in and I'm getting more excited each day. I need to figure out what to pack and how to pack light. I'm trying to take as little as possible and simply hope that they'll have wash facilities available at the track! Or, I'll end up actually packing two weeks worth of clothing... Hm.

There's more to come, obviously, and I'll be sure to post it here as it happens.

17 March 2006

I'll see London, I'll see France. I'll see...

Belgium, too. Here's the gist of it all...

I received my passport yesterday and had already purchased my ticket earlier in the week so here's my itinerary as well as websites for the locations I'll be visiting either with the team or on my own after both race weekends are completed. I'm going to talk to Cingular about unlocking my cell phone while I'm over there, but I might need to rent a phone instead. One way or the other I'll keep in touch so you know I'm ok. I'll also take my laptop and should have easy net access at all the tracks.

Flying out:
DFW to Gatwick (London)
Take off: April 12th, 4:20PM
Landing: April 13th, 7:20 AM

Heathrow to Brussels
Take off: April 13th, 12:35 (noon:35)
Landing: April 13th, 2:45 PM

The racing series is the FIM World Endurance Championship.

We'll be going to the first two rounds at Assen (Netherlands) and Le Mans (France)
Race weekend #1 is Easter Mnday, race #2 is the following weekend (04/22 & 04/23) but we'll be there days in advance for set-up

The race team I am crewing for is called Primo Racing, but they do not have a website. However, information on the team including contact information can be found in the link.

The gentleman that is picking me up at the airport is a rider for the team and I will be staying at his house when necessary. After the races I'll have 4 days to goof off in Europe and plan on visiting a few places and exploring Northern Europe.
I will also be visiting Spa and the Nurburgring on my own, as well as Brussels, the Gillet factory (that's a car, not a razor) and anything else that looks interesting. Which, sadly, is everything.

Return Flight:
Brussels to Gatwick
Take off: April 28th, 7:00 AM
Landing: April 28th, 7:00 AM (It's magic!)

Gatwick to Dallas
Take Off: 10:35 AM
Landing: 2:30 PM

It all started with this post on February 28th, and it was a done deal on Tuesday 03/14/06. That is another story in itself, that will be told soon enough.

13 March 2006

Back in... the saddle... again...

I'll need to add more later but for the time being... here's how Broom and I spent our weekend in Katy, TX. Things did not go as planned, but everything turned out great. Basically:
* We popped a motor Saturday morning (which is probably my fault for an over-rev)
* Mooched rides on an Aprilia RS50 (Broom) and NSR50 (Me)
* Rebuilt the YSR50 motor in the dark
* Installed a surround sound stereo system for Brian M.
* Broom raced five (5) sprints on Sunday with some suceess
* Broom decided we were down on power to the other Lightweight bikes
* Now we want to install a Honda XR100 motor in the YSR frame

Once again, the search for more power comes down to adding cubic inches...

The red #30 is me on a Honda NSR50.

The black 27 is Broom on an Aprilia RS50.

The black #7 is also Broom on his YSR50 in Sunday's sprint races, which I did not contest.

One last image of me on the NSR about to get spanked by an experienced rider on an XR100 powered YSR... I actually hung with him for several laps after he passed me, which hopefully means I learned something.

08 March 2006

New Racing Developments

I bought a new Scorpion helmet at MotoLiberty yesterday. It is plain white as I intend to either paint it myself or just put a few simple grpahics on it via vinyl lettering. I'm not looking for a spastic paint job, just something real simple.

So, my TaiChi's are fixed, I have a new helmet and Broom and I worked on the YSR last night... things are looking real good. Aside from all my pundits telling me I'm going to get hurt again, I'm feeling really good. I really just wish people would stop telling me I'm going to crash and break more bones... I don't want to hear about it, I think about it enough as it is, and that's bad.

I don't want to speak anything into being, and I certainly don't want to get so paranoid I allow something to happen... I know I'm going to crash and Broom has made it clear that it is perfectly cool to push real hard in practice to low-side the bike and see what happens. I need to get past my mental hang up, but I'm not looking to crash. I just need my brain and body to realize that its ok to low side and that I'm not going to automatically get hurt when I do.

So, we have a three hour race this weekend in Katy. I have another blog link on the right to the mini racing team, updates will be posted there as the season progresses.

Climbing Plateau?

So last week I was frustrated by my inability to climb a pair of blue routes at Stoneworks. At this point in time, I do not find small holds that are caked with chalk and preclude a long reach or tedious footwork very much fun. Getting my fingers to stick on something that does not yiled much grip does not do much for my confidence, and while I'm sure I'll eventually enjoy this sort of labor...

So Sunday morning Rock Gal and I went to Summit for a day of climbing. I was feeling extremely tired that morning and we ended up napping on the couch for awhile before she motivated me to drag my butt off the futon. I'm really glad we went. We ran into Scott and Steve at the gym and Rock Gal jumped on a nice lead for her warm-up. I stretched and started a traverse that I felt good about and was comfortable moving on, certainly more so than my previous climb at Stoneworks.

I stuck to the big stuff at first, then found myself sticking the small bits as well. It was a nice feeling and I was working the forces of physics in my favor, something I have a lot of trouble with at the other gym. I was able to really lean into the hold and keep my fingers weighted, as well as my feet, so that my grip was being aided by my weight instead of suffering from it.

My first climb of the day was an off-width crack in the corner of the gym. It starts as a squeeze chimney before narrowing more and more requiring some interesting moves, chicken wings, jams and other things. I got about 1/3 of the way up and needed to use an external hold to reposition myself, then another 1/3 before I was more or less stuck. The biggest problem was just squeezing in there tight enough that I could move up without totally losing traction every 6 inches.

Following that sweatfest I belayed Rock Gal up a nice 5.10+ that we learned later was "incomplete", but she made it anyway. It had some extra holds and some odd bits but she's very good at problem solving and made her way up the route fluidly.

My next ascent was a 5.10, my toughest grade so far. I don't know that it was a sustained 5.10, what with some juggy type holds, but it was a challenge and had two opportunities for me to heel hook. One was required within the route, the other was completely unnecessary and, therefore, entirely too much fun. I have a thing for getting my heel on stuff and seeing what happens. I don't know why, but I just really enjoy throwing a leg up and hauling myself onto some other impossibly odd position with my leg. Call it an unnatural obsession.

Rock Gal's next route was a 5.11, I think, with plenty of crimpy, high tension moves that make me wonder if she's got duct tape on her shoes and fingers... Another nice climb on her part, as always, and I was motivated to get on another fun 5.10 that included a nice overhang.

This time I got stuck. I went into a sequence a little wrong and had my hands crossed up, but rather than simply back tracking to reset my hands, I stalled. In so doing I wasted a ton of energy, wrecked my momentum and needed to rest. I hung there for a minute looking at what I'd done and what I'd intended to do, drained the pump from my forearms and continued up the route. I started a little lower than where I had fallen from and made sure to have some slack in the rope so I wouldn't hang my body weight on it.

By twisting my hips into the roof I was able to decrease the workload on my arms and relieve some of the strain on my fingers. WIth my feet doing the work I powered up to the next juggy, grippy hold and then on up the route from there. It was a good feeling, and despite being completely pumped I made it clear to the top without another fall.

The rest of the day went very well and Rock Gal completed several more great routes both on top rope and on lead. I rested and attempted the 5.10 roof again, but had worn myself out on another route and was getting close to being done. I did manage one more 5.9, and in the end am really pleased with my climbing.

What I'm finding is that while Stoneworks is a neat place to climb and an interesting place to hangout, it does not do much for me in regard to learning to be a better climber. There are plenty of great routes there but as it stands I am climbing better at Summit. It can problably be chalked up to comfort level on the small stuff, since I can actually sense some amount of grip under my finger pads.

06 March 2006

A rider down, a life lost.

Yesterday Rock Gal and I were just getting home from climbing at Summit when I called Lee. I was looking for a place to watch the World Superbike races from Phillip Island and figured he and Sean would have it on Tivo. Neither of us renewed our membership in the TSBA, for different reasons, but he was still lurking there on the site. He found a thread about that morning's SMR. They'd had a rider down, and he was killed in the accident.

Darren Lund, Lun on the board, ran wide coming through a tight left hander on 51 in Glen Rose. He and the bike ran into a culvert and he was killed on impact. I didn't know him well, but I knew him from the board and form social gatherings like Lunch runs and perhaps Starbuck's on Tuesday.

I called John. As the ride leader he prides himself on never having a rider down on the south side SMRs and prides himself on leading a clean and fun ride. They have a good safe pace but the roads can be tricky. The corner in question was a decreasing radius left and Darren must have overcooked it and run out of road. PErhaps there was mechanical failure, we'll never know.

Rock Gal and I cleaned up and headed for John's place to give him some company. He's taking it hard. It isn't his fault, but he still thinks of ways to make it his fault. The route he chose, his pace, changes to one thing or another. Ultimately Darren was on his own, no one cane ride for him.

Cathy was the first person to reach him, and I know she is taking it hard as well. She, JohnW, Virge and someone else performed CPR for 28 minutes before paramedics arrived... John said as soon as he saw him he knew it was too late. At least he went quick.

Godspeed Darren.

03 March 2006

St. Valentine's Massacre Revisited

Burkett Saunters into St. Valentine’s Final
Office New Boy Begins to Earn Respect
March 03, 2006
Irving, TX

In another strange twist of fate the St. Valentine’s Massacre sees its first entrant to the final match-up, while one side of the bracket remains mired in the sloth-like apathy of its participants. Derek Burkett, having disposed of Haley Fernau 20-26, unseated Mart manager Dwight Wilhelm with a tournament best of only 18 putts on the 9-hole course.

Burkett, gloating slightly following his victory was quick to point out, “Maybe now everyone will treat me with a little respect around here. I’d been getting real tired of all the whispered comments so it was time to speak my piece. Rather than raise a big stink in the office, I figured I’d just assert myself on the green.”

Through a stream of tears, “I just don’t know what went wrong, I was close. So… close…,” choked out Wilhelm. Despite shooting a 21 and putting forth a valiant effort, he was unable to compete with the intensity and pressure of Burkett’s two-putt per-hole doctrine.

“I was feeling good and the green was working in my favor,” stated Burkett Friday morning, “I knew Kaiser [Wilhelm] was going to be tough to beat, but I went into it with purpose. It was mine to lose.”

Sentiment in the office was mixed, but most seemed to realize that no matter how well you shoot, an 18 is nearly impossible to beat. Given this result however, many players may have a difficult time competing again in future tournaments.

“A career best 21 wasn’t good enough, and Dwight is going to have a lot of trouble handling that in the coming days. I don’t think he’ll be able to play again for at least a week, and even then it’ll be pathetic,” said fellow manager Paul Macchia.
Seated in the same office, Bryan Buchovecky shrugged his shoulders and added, “I might let him win a few rounds on me just to build up his confidence. After the round I told him, ‘Dwight, you didn’t lose; you just weren’t good enough to win.’” With a laugh he added, “Maybe that will make him feel better!”

After his own resounding loss in the first round of play, many feel that Mike Hankinson may have played a role in Burkett’s sudden rise in the office tournament’s ranks.

“They had a freaky sort of Yoda-Skywalker thing going on at this end of the building.”

Ross Johnson, previously defeated by Hankinson, was eager to share his experiences, “I kept seeing them talking and carrying on about the way to putt a certain hole, or the idiosyncrasies of how the green rises around some of the cups.” He shook his head and continued, “I think the low point was when Hankinson started talking like Yoda.”

Yoda, the famous green alien responsible for teaching Luke Skywalker his Jedi powers in the original Star Wars trilogy, was easily mimicked by Johnson, “the ball shall you putt, into the hole it must go. Fewer strokes you must have.”
When sought for further comment it was revealed that Johnson had left the company, apparently having been asked to clear out his desk after his comments were overheard by coworkers.

“I cannot confirm… or deny that statement,” stated Andy Johnson director of the Global Classified Center.

While much is still unclear concerning the tournament, it must be noted that Burkett has rocketed into the betting pool. This could however, prove to work against him when the final match is played.

“Whether he is able to continue his form and claim a second tournament for the CareerJournal.com team, or plummet in a meteoric decline of failure and ridicule, is yet to be seen”, states office bookie Kylie Garman.

Motorcycle Racing

So I've been helping Broom prepare the YSR50 we'll be racing in endurance this year. The bike is old, in decent condition, but aging. It is easy to work on though and should be a valiant steed for endurance racing. Its a little bigger than I remember, but at the same time I'm reminded of how small the thing is and how much my body is going to hate me after races. It is, however, going to be a lot of fun.

I'm aching to get back on the Pinarello and had planned to do so Saturday morning until I found out the weather was going to tank. Its been 80 degrees all week, sunny and beautiful... and the weekend is supposed to be wet and cold. Fucking weather.


Last night I was dreaming. I was dreaming that I was watching the news or maybe just listening to some news and they said, "This is going to be the loudest thunder clap you've ever heard." and WHAM! I wake up to a full blown window rattling, picture frame bouncing, cat scaring thunder clap that sounds like a freighter has just parked in my head. I'm talking LOUD.

Needless to say I and the kitties were a little freaked out by the experience, especially since it tied right into my dream. Mercury went to the window to investigate and several more massive rolls of thunder shook my apartment before it started to rain. The storm was moving pretty fast because no sooner had it snapped me awake, it was already rolling into the distance. The bass was still enough to shake my walls, and then the rains came down. Huge drops pinging the carports and leaving silver dollar spots on the ground before it all turned into a little river.


Climbing at Stoneworks last night was a bit frustrating. Met some new people, Chuck in partucliar, that I may climb with in the future. Actually, I was passed off to a new belayer, which is not always the most confidence inspiring, but that didn't effect my climbing last night. I'm frustrated because I know what I need to do, and I can picture in my mind exactly how to do it, but I can't get my body to go there.

As I hang on to the small stuff, the oddly shaped bits layered in chalk and sweat, I lack the confidence to trust my grip and make a throw for another questionable, though often positive, hold. I'm getting more confident in my footwork, its just the fingers that need more encouragement.

Timing is off a bit for me as well and that plays a large part in whether I am able to make it past many difficult spots. I tend to stop to think, which is not a great thing while climbing. Waiting wastes energy and I just need to be more committed to making a move. Of course, having only started doing this 3 months ago, I probably shouldn't expect so much of myself so soon. Or, I don't know, maybe I should?

At any rate, I did manage to finally beat my nemesis, the bulgy route upstairs, but now I have two new protagonists at the gym in the form of routes 24 and 33.

Also saw Rock Model at the gym last night... she knows who she is, and its always nice to see a friendly face. Sadly, I get agitated and whiney when I get stuck on routes so I wasn't the most pleasant person to be around last night. Its more a thing of me voicing my frustration, but I'm sure it comes across as being whiney... fucking rocks.

01 March 2006

Fat Tuesday Renamed

Fat Tuesday Renamed in Light of Political Correctness

I wanted to write a press release about how Fat Tuesday was renamed: Disproportionate Tuesday or Healthy Tuesday, perhaps even Height Challenged Tuesday but I never got the chance. Now I'm sitting here wanting to write about it but I'm trying to force the humor and it just isn't going to happen. Damnit.