30 May 2006

Ropeless Jump Rope

What kind of gutless pussy does it take to invent two handles and call it a ropeless jump rope. As if the kids of this country were not pansied enough and convinced they could do no wrong, now we have a way for them to jump rope without actually jumping over anything. So much for coordination, competition, games and singing to the beat of a rope slapping the gound...

Tell you what, from now on no one can fail at anything because it might hurt their feelings to find out that they are a complete fuck up. No one gets anything but an A in school. No one gets fire from work for not being capable of performing their duties. No one gets dumped in a relationship for being a loser or a cheat.

Thanks Shithead inventor dude, thanks a whole lot.


I'm tired.
Tired tired. Enchanted Rock was a great experience and we had an absolute blast out on the granite. I learned some of the basics of crack climbing and was able to climb Sweat (5.7), Eat (5.9) and Little Feet (5.9+) though it took some additional instruction, patience and takes from Rock Gal. Each of the climbs had its own set of challenges and certainly provided me with quite a bit of opportunity for cussing, frustration and falling. Still, it was a great experience and I look forward to going back and trying again.

Off or On?
During our weekend experience we learned that free, Herbal Insect Reppellant works much more effectively as insect attractant. In fact, it works very well on flys, gnats and bees. They seem to smell the stuff and decide that if the mosquitos won't have any of it, they might as well dive in and enjoy. Gnats also seem to have an accute ability to fly into one's ears and nose in the middle of a difficult move, and this made for some rather interesting flailing.

Primitive Camping
However cool, is easily foregone for a shower and gnat-less sleeping experience, which can be found at the Lady Bird Park in Fredericksburg, a short drive from Enchanted Rock. It provides a nice pallette of grass, a bug free environ and a bathroom that flushes. I still love camping, but when you are exhausted from climbing, sore and sunburned, sometimes you have to just give in and go for the comfy place.

"So, you just stick your hand in thumb down and find a good spot to set the jam. Then, turn your elbow down until it locks in place and you can move on it."

Right. Wedge my hand into the crack, then twist my body unnaturally until the rock imprints on my skin and my hand is securely stuck in the crack. Then standup, find another jam with the other hand and try to figure out ho to get my first hand free of the jam.

Jamming hurts. Foot jams involve turning your foot sideways before sticking them into the crack as far as possible... crank your knee & ankle up to lock your foot into the crack and then stand up. Toes crushed? Good. Painful? Excellent. Hands are still worse though. But in the end, after all the cussing, sweating, bitching and general "I can't believe this is how you do this" comments, it is incredibly rewarding.

And, of all the beautiful scenery we saw, all the incredible cracks we climbed and places we hiked to... I don't have a single picture.

26 May 2006

Long Weekend

Enchanted Rock
Rock Gal and I are heading to Enchanted Rock this weekend for a shit load of crack climbing. The granite should offer plenty of traction, grip and finger shredding for the weekend.

I'm not a fan of war, but I am a fan of Memorial Day. If nothing else, we need to take a moment for ourselves to remember all of the Americans that have fallen in combat for our country. They may have not agreed with what they were doing, and we may not agree with what is happening now, but you cannot ignore the sacrifice.

I've been getting contacted by odd old friends recently on MySpace, but once they are in touch for the Friend list they seem to disappear. Two old friends from college and another from last year, plus the ex-girlfriend... it is a little wierd in some respects and welcome in others.

I'm not going to be picky, its nice that people are looking for me on there somehow, but I don't quite understand why it ends there. I think there's a general theme of flakey-ness to my friendships in the last few years, but the gems I've been able to hang on to are worth the other wasted effort.

I don't try to figure anyone out, I just write them off.

25 May 2006

Lead Test: Passed

So I passed my lead test last night despite being completely worn out from a long round of Medicine Ball Soccer between climbs. Proton, the daughter of a friend from work, went with us to climb last night. She's 12, full of unlimited energy and made it all very fun. Watching her use slopers and crimpers like bomber jugs was fascinating, especially because she could find purchase on the smallest, most oddly shaped holds that I hate!

So I took my lead test at Summit at the end of the evening, using my old faithful 5.9 lime green taped route. Even with the added challenge (mental & physical) of purely leading the route without a top rope, I was able to make my moves confidently and get all my clips (fairly) cleanly. I still need to practice clipping quite a bit in my spare time and have so much to learn about technique, but I'm one step closer. Once I get more comfortable with reading routes for optimum clipping, get used to falling and making cleaner moves with the techniques I do know; there's still more to learn about new techniques and awareness of the route.

Cleaning Trad
We're headed to Enchanted Rock this weekend to climb some cracks and do some trad climbing. Rock Gal has all the gear necessary and I won't be trying to do anything but learn how to set anchors and clean routes. It seems pretty straight forward but I know it will be challenging and rewarding. I have never climbed in this fashion so the biggest hurdle is just understanding how it all works (which seems pretty simple) and how the placements are chosen (not so simple) and removed (sounds simple).

Essentially, as Rock Gal climbs upward she'll place protection (nuts & hexes) into the crack. Should she fall these placements will act as my fulcrum for belaying. Once she has either reached the first belay station or the top of the wall, I'll follow her up and clean the route by pulling the gear from the crack and reslinging it on my harness.

The odd part here is that to get the pieces loose from the rock you have to be pretty violent. Yank, jab and stab the placement free from the rock without scoring or damaging the rock (that's important).

I'm rewarding myself for passing my lead test by getting my own set of quickdraws. I don't want to depend on Betty for the gear, especially if we end up climbing on different evenings. Since CenTex passed his lead class as well we'll both be able to lead and belay more climbs at the gym. There's no point in being able to practice if I don't have the equipment to do it, so getting my own set makes sense anyway.

I've been researching the prospect all morning (its a slow day at work) and found several solutions. I can buy a prefab set of draws, or I can buy carabiners and slings seperately to create my own. The things can get a little pricey and most of that comes from saving weight. Much like cycling, a few grams can be worth a lot of money. So can, of course, a brand name that does not necessarily imply more value. Or does it?

Having just spoken with Rock Gal, it looks like my best bet is to spend the extra money on quality gear. Quickdraws are a bit like leathers, one thing you do not want to skimp on when getting gear. It makes sense, too. The draw and your rope are the last line of defense when it comes to climbing. Should you fall, you need all the protection you can get. Having a set of carabiners that break, fracture or get recalled is certainly not a desirable position to be in when taking a screamer, and would not do much to inspire future confidence.

What the brand names offer is lots of expensive testing, research and confidence. These elements alone can certainly lead to better climbing and, most importantly, ensure a safer experience with a greater margin of safety. I should have known this already, of course, but I related it to the wrong hobby.

23 May 2006


This past Sunday I practiced more lead climbing and things went quite well. Better, I should say, than I expected. The preceeding Tuesday I had also been up on the wall leading, and had gotten on a couple of easy routes (5.6 & 5.7) to learn clipping. Things went well. I had no trouble placing the the draws, very little trouble clipping the rope and set anchors at the top chains as well.

The safety in practicing comes from being on the top rope while dragging a second rope and acting as though you are clipping and leading the entire route. Should anything go wrong your fall is arrested by the top rope instead of the lead rope, and this does a lot for confidence. It also serves as a training tool if the climber gets stuck, back clips or tangles in the rope as the belayer can easily tell the climber to make a correction without risking a fall.

Sunday was spent practicing more clipping, which involves planning my moves so that I could properly clip draws from the safest possible position on the wall. It also involves more thorough planning in regard to where I will carry my draws and how I will climb the route. Leading introduces a new set of variables that are not difficult in themselves, but when it is a new process it can seem a little daunting.

Old Faithful
Having climbed up the 5.7 route successfully both Tuesday and Sunday Rock Gal thought it would be a good idea to try a more difficult route, but one I am familiar with and comfortable climbing. To that end I jumped on my old faithful, a mildly overhanging route marked with neon green tape, rated 5.9.

On top rope I can blaze up the climb in a matter of seconds. Each of the moves comes naturally and going from floor to summit typically takes about 30 - 45 seconds. Obviously, I've done this route entirely too many times. I have however, found it to be a lot of fun and it builds my confidence when other routes are troubling me. It has also taught me the importance of flow and continuous movement on the wall.

I was pretty certain that I would not complete the route on lead. In fact, I was pretty sure I knew exactly where I would pump out and need a take. Oddly enough, this didn't happen. I worked the route as swiftly as I had done previously on top rope, but even with the added challenge of clipping the rope on preset draws I was able to complete the route without a single take or fall!

Falling on a top rope involves a brief blip from which a few feet are lost as you scrabble for any last grip left on the wall before you end up 3 feet lower than where you started. Falling on lead involves something entirely different, and requires more muscle memory. Falling is definately something I need to get used to...

We practiced a few times Sunday afternoon and I felt pretty comfortable with the idea of letting go of the wall and dropping. The big problem comes with controlling your body's momentum and not allowing yourself to lean back as you drop. If you do, it stresses your back and is a quick way to get yourself seriously injured when the rope runs out of slack. I was using the rope as a means of centering my body as I fell, and this didn't seem like a bad idea as long as I let go of the rope and catch myself from smacking the wall when it goes taught. I picked up this idea from a single photo in a magazine advertisement, and it seemed like a logical thing to do in my mind.

Grapping the rope does not, of course, mean grabbing it in an effort to stop your fall. instead, I reached down to my knot and held the rope with one hand, then extended a leg to arrest my swing into the wall. My other leg was out to the side but in a position to secondarily slow my inward momentum when the rope caught. This position seemed to work well but there's no telling what position my body will be in when I am climbing, so I need to establish a better sense of balance and sense of awareness about my body as I climb. Reaching for a hold and being off balance is so much more common, and this puts a climber in a position that is ripe for injury should you not fall properly.

Next Step
My next step in leading is to actually lead a climb. There's a certain sense of dread and maladjusted anticipation that goes along with leading your first few climbs and not having the implied safety of a top rope, but I think I'm ready to start leading some easier climbs. I'll start again with the 5.6 and 5.7 routes to be sure I am confident in myself and not getting psyched out of something I already know I can do. After that I'll progress slowly and learn how to manage the climbs, my body and the routes for best efficiency.


I recieved my Acopa Chameleons last week just in time for my weekyl trip to Summit with Rock Gal. From the moment I took them out of the box I could tell they were a quality product.

I slipped them on at home and sat around on the couch for a little while before walking around the apartment a little to get a feel for them and try to start the break-in process. Rock Gal noted the exceptional, hand sanded seams between the rand and the sole as well as the quality of the stitching done on the shoe. To say the least, I was instantly impressed. The shoes are nice, too.

When I sat down and looked at the shoe, it was coated with cat hair and lint. Aside from the initial sense of "Eeew!" I quickly realized (with a little hint from Rock Gal that this was due to the ultra sticky rubber on the sole. In fact, the rubber is so sticky that our fingers actually stick to the sole and make that nice little *tick* sound when you peel them off slowly. I honestly have not felt rubber that sticky since I was at the track handling a freshly annihilated rear tire at Le Mans.

Unlike most climbing shoes I have worn recently the Chameleons fit my D-width foot very nicely. My toes are contained within the entire last and do not protrude off the side as they did in my Phoenix shoes from MadRock. My toes are nicely packed into the shoe and do not leave dead air, but are also not crushed into the shoe.

Normally, when a shoe was wide enough to accommodate my foot, it was too long and allowed my toes to sit flat in the front of the shoe. Or worse, if my toes were properly packed into the shoe, the width was such that my pinkie toes sat well off the last and I was standing on the rand. As you might imagine, this was not a fun situation to be in for back stepping and getting on edges.

This one is still up for some testing but having used them at Summit this past weekend I felt great. I had a renewed confidence in my climbing and was able to concentrate on the task at hand, learning to lead climb. I could stand on what I wanted to but still had reservations about some of the jibs, a bad habit from my old shoes.

This weekend we're headed to Enchanted Rock and my first experience with granite. I'll be following Betty up some trad routes, cleaning gear and learning the fundamentals of crack climbing. I'm really looking forward to the experience and the chance to test my Acopa shoes in another environment.

19 May 2006


Link goes to a lot of funny ads. Here's one:
Carlton Beer

18 May 2006

New Monopoly Board

... "Monopoly: Here and Now Edition" will use streets, neighborhoods and national monuments from 22 U.S. cities. The cities, picked by Hasbro based on population, popularity as tourist destinations and input from the company's game designers, include Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans."

So I'm left wondering. Are there natural disaster cards, and will New Orleans really be worth anything in the new game?

"Oh shit, I landed on New Orleans! Well, let's see what the card says..."

Hurricane destroys all property, you owe the bank entire contents of your account.

"Damn, not again! That's everyone in the game now!"


Pat Robertson has lost his mind. Apparently, God has told him that storms and possibly a tsunami could hit the United States this year. Hm... Well, seeing as how storms ALWAYS hit the American Coastline, that isn't much of a stretch. This guy is a complete jackass, and I cannot believe he is still on television or even in the newspaper. Link goes to an article about his prediction, which of course was told to him directly by God.

What a fucktard.

16 May 2006

Good ro Bad...

... atleast they're talking about us.

The Da Vinci Code is going to be coming out in theaters very soon, and this seems to have a lot of people, countries, ethnicities, religious leaders and Bible Thumpers in an uproar. We all know the premise of the movie and most of us probably understand why all the hub-bub has been stirred, but here's what gets me most:

Why do we have all this uproar over a movie, based on a book, that SUCKED. The Da Vinci by Dan Brown (wasn't that his name>) is one of the most poorly written examples of American novel writing I have had the horror of expereincing full on. I finished the book, but not because it was a great story that was well told. It was an interesting concept that moved quickly, presented twists and catches and ultimately ended up reading like a very low-budget B-Movie from the infamous Plan 9 director, Ed Wood.

The Da Vinci Code is a New York Times best seller. Lots of people love this book. Lots of people hate this book. Lots more people hate this book because it makes their religion look like a hokie, over-done, politically motivated and ludicrous schlock fest... which I think is funny because its non-fiction! And, it is very poorly writen shit, which amazes me even more...

"Robert quickly explains the concept of symbols as a method of soul transference to Sophia as they leap over a hedge..." and such statements seem to populate every fucking chapter of the book. Robert quickly explains... to Sophia as they careen through traffic..." Over and over and over... Dude, learn a new fucking phrase!

Anyway, the book ends with a twist that makes you realize the writer has been staying up too late and is now in a bind.

"Oh shit... now what the hell am I going t-... YES!" and the book ends with some weird, exceptionally convenient twist that solves everything. And then it gets worse. Yes, worse.

And yet the Catholic Diosese (spelling?) is fighting over this shit? Free fucking advertising...

MotoJournalist Follow-up

Well, here's the announcement of the winning entrant. It wasn't me. While I had not expected to win, I would like to know what he wrote. Of course, I can take solice in the fact that in two months I'll be sitting in the pits at the Suzuka 8 Hr.

15 May 2006

Tourist Trophy

I entered a tournament for the PS2 game Tourist Trophy. I thought it would be fun to see how well I could do against some other racers, and the concept is pretty simple. Each week they post a track and bike displacement limitation. You pick your bike, run your laps and email your best lap time to the host of the competition, PartTimeGamer.com. Once the results have been tallied the times and positions are posted along with the next track to be raced.

Round 1 involved 250cc street bikes on a circuit called Autumn Ring Mini. A tight, short course and low horsepower meant a need for smooth lines and accurate game play. I had some decent times but only spent a few hours Thursday evening (punctuated by a trip to the rock gym) for attaining my lap time, rather than practicing all week. So, how did I do? My handle is NW200.

I wanted to be "in the points" but since there are only 10 competitors and everyone scores points, that went down the drain. So I figured I wanted to be in the top 5 at some point during the five race season, but also knew it would be a tough fight as many people play far more often than I do and have more of the skills needed for nailing some seriously quick lap times.

After running my laps I had what I thought was a reasonable lap time, though I did predict that the fastest guys would be turning laps about two seconds quicker. Luckily, I was wrong. Here are the Results, my handle in the comp is NW200.

Our next track is Laguna Seca, riding 600cc stree bikes. I'll probably be riding a Moriwaki-Honda but also have the Kawasaki 636, Honda 600 and Triumph Daytona at my disposal if I need them for comparison.

11 May 2006

Northwest 200

This week is/has been the Northwest 200 in Northern Ireland. Link goes to the official website featuring live streaming video, photos, audio clips and a wealth of information about the race.

The Northwest is one of, if not the, fastest track on the Irish Roads calendar. The circuit conects three villages in Ireland with three monster straightaways and some chicanes.

Motojournalist Contest

Road Racing World is holding a contest to be a Motojournalist for a Day, this is my entry. Link goes to a description of the contest.

The best motor sport journalism does more than simply tell a story of hard luck, glory or determination.

Given the immediacy of information available on the Internet, a reader cannot experience an event through the publication of simple race reports. Putting the reader in the paddock holding a wrench, or on the bike for a lap of Infineon however, draws them into the story and takes the reader to a time and place about which they have been dreaming.

Engaging journalism puts the reader in the paddock adjusting suspension, on the track approaching a blind crest and inside the helmet of a professional racer as he communicates with his team about what it will take to gain just one more tenth of a second.

Any writer can report results, but few can offer the ability to transport someone from their couch, garage or office cubicle onto the seat of a headshaking, arm thrashing, tire shredding race bike. Conveying the emotion of a race is far more important than simply reporting who was passed when, and which rider crossed the line first.

Coming off of a two week stint in Europe as a volunteer mechanic for a World Endurance Championship team, and preparing for a similar trip to the Suzuka 8-Hour has given me a perspective on racing that most fans and journalists experience only in dreams. Crewing for the team at Assen, flawlessly completing yet another tire change at 3 o’clock in the morning at Le Mans and rejoicing at the glory of simply finishing the 24 Hours has given me a fresh perspective on the joys and agonies of racing.

I would greatly enjoy bringing this perspective to the readers of Road Racing World with a thorough depiction of the Kawasaki AMA Superbike Challenge at Infineon Raceway.

08 May 2006


This is awesome. ImprovEverywhere invades a Best Buy in Manhattan.

No motivation

I should be writing a killer story about my experiences overseas. I should be writing about how the whole team felt like a family and from the moment I got there I was right at home with Hans and everyone I met. How I earned respect from the crew and was able to take on responsibilities like rear tire changes at Le Mans and intricate work on the lighting system of the bike.

But I'm not. I can't get motivated and I don't know why. I don't get it.

TMGP in Denton

We raced the YXR for the first time this weekend in a 6 Hour endurance race at my old haunt, North Texas Kartway. Being out there on a mini motorcycle was quite a bit different from being out there in a kart, and it was a lot of fun learning the track again and figuring out the right lines. Back in the day... I remember whipping into turn 1 and turn 2 flat out, quick lift of the throttle to scoot the tail out and slide through the corner with the inside rear tire 6 inches off the ground. That doesn't work on bikes, but there were people screaming through the first two turns (both banked) with about as much speed as some karts!

The forecast called for thunderstorms and rain, and the clouds were quite ominous all day long. This did not make me a happy camper.

I was slow, real slow, but I had a blast and it is nice to be back on a bike dragging some knee and enjoying riding. John's parents were out to help us again (always nice to see them) and his son Hayden was along as well.

Our third rider was a CMRA regular named David Nolden, the pictures supplied are from his camera since I completely forgot to get mine out for some shots. Go figure. Here, David whips through turn 2 like a demon.

The bike required very little work prior to racing but we did change gearing and tighten some random bolts...

Here I am exiting the chicane. I'm chasing an Aprilia 50cc that I had trouble passing. Mostly because I have not passed anyone on a motorcycle in about a year.

I took some time to set him up before handily low-siding in turn three with a poorly timed outside-inside move that left me at full lean with a chopped throttle. Basically, the other rider was still there when I went to cut inside and I had nothing to do but close the throttle, which tucked the front and put me on my shoulder. I slid about 3 feet, picked up the bike and rode away.

Pictures from Overseas

Here's a link to Snapfish and some pictures that were taken overseas. The track shots were supplied to me by a professional photographer from Belgium, the rest were taken by me, Yves or his girlfriend Susie.

The Photos.

The link may or may not work, someone let me know...