Had a few more lessons since my last posting, but not every week. Normally, every week is preferred but between then and now, I’ve experienced a) an aging mother that was (in my opinion) prematurely released from a physical rehab facility, and b) a series of fairly stout storms in the Bay Area.
As for mom – after spending 6 weeks in a PT facility, they up and decided to send her home, saying she only needed minimal help, which was a shocking lie. She needed assistance with literally everything, so my 2 day stay wound up being 8 days while I worked with MediCal and lined up a caregiver. I’m paying for the caregiver out of pocket until MediCal kicks in, but – as a friend stated – it was like making bail: It was the only way I was going to able to go home. So, expensive, but somewhat worth it. Regardless, that was one week that I missed a lesson.
I think the week I returned, there was a series of heavy storm systems that pummeled California, giving us much needed rain…all at once. So, in addition to real problems like flooding and the Oroville Dam almost failing, I had my flight lessons interrupted.
I got a couple of lessons in, then last week, when there was no storms and beautiful weather, the only available plane that I had reserved was down: It was recently maintained, but some critical paperwork was missing. So, I played around with Aero FS (simulator) on the iPad. Not the same as flying, but a nice distraction.
Now, I don’t know if the simulator actually has any value other than entertainment, or if something sort of clicked in my head, because today’s lesson was different than most. Up to now, I’ve been doing things more or less by rote: Pull back power to 1500 RPM when I’m abeam of the numbers on the runway, 1 notch of flaps, slow to 80 kts, turn base, slow to 75 kts, 2 notches of flaps, turn final, slow to 65-ish, 3rd and final notch of flaps as I’m over the pond before the runway, power to idle as I go over then fence, point the plane at the numbers and then level off and flare at some unknown point, touchdown.
While some variation of that happened today, the thought process was different. It was not so much “I do this now, because I am here” but more “OK, I’m looking to do this, so I’ll try that, and if that doesn’t work, then I’ll try something else, so long as I maintain the right airspeed and altitude for where I am in the pattern.” It was almost like I was actually flying the plane instead of merely following instructions. True, some of the landings were a bit harsher than others, but I did all of the touchdowns (per my instructor).
Of course, there are things I need to work on, such as when I’m going too fast and I pull back on the yoke, I need to not pull back so hard that I climb. I also need to pick a definitive point when I’m going to flare…this is hard because there’s no good visual. Also, I haven’t done any radio work, really, other than taxiing and takeoff. There’s still another world of comms that I need to get in to.
For the next lesson, my instructor set a rule that if I go below 65 kts or over 75 kts, I’m to do a go around. The purpose is twofold: 1) to better stabilize my approach speed (I suspect) and 2) to have experience performing go arounds.
But at 22.4-ish hours, I think I’m approaching solo pretty damn quick.
A friend of mine once told me that it’s easy to find a good bottle of wine for $50, but if you can find a good bottle for $10, then you’ve really found something. Sage words, those.
On round two of my drinking career, I’m venturing out. So instead of simply having my normal standby – Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – I’ll either try a different brand, or different type. Most recently, there’s been more IPA than I’d prefer, as it’s somewhat ubiquitous. But beer makes me bloat, and I’m already bloated enough, so I’m trying to spend more time with wine.
Buying the motorcycle, and getting a free case of Chardonnay thrown in helped break my avoidance of whites, but I still prefer reds. In the old days, I stuck with what I knew: Napa Valley Cabs and Merlot’s and Central Coast Pinot’s. But all of those breached the $10 threshold. Now I’m trying random reds, with varying effect.
If I had to pick one that I could always drink, it would be Menage a Trois, in all variances. I think it’s some sort of Pinot Blend, but to be honest, I can’t really tell and never cared to look. Tastes great at the first pull.
Not being a great note taker, I’ve had a couple of decent bottles in between, but all of those benefitted from some oxidation – either in the glass, or after a day in the bottle. Of course, I’ve since bought a vacuum cork, so not expecting much in-bottle oxidation, now.
But it’s not always great. I just dumped 1/2 bottle of Red Velvet Devil (or something like that…it had a screw off cap. It started out real thin and oxidation helped the first glass a bit…but things just sort of went south after that. That’s the nice thing about $10 bottle – there’s not much invested, so there’s not much reason to keep drinking it. I’m going t have to keep taking better notes, so I can remember the ones I like, while avoiding the ones I don’t.
So, on Monday, I didn’t need to be in until 9am, so I thought I’d ride all the way in from home – about 23 miles, judging by Google Maps.
Not that hard of a distance for me as I’ve done it before, even though I’m not in the greatest shape these days. However, on this particular occasion, I was riding my new/old mountain bike as the Bob Jackson is now in the shop getting a generator hub, headlight, single speed crank and new handlebars.
The mountain bike is what I bought about this time last year. I had the frame powder coated this cool burnt orange color, transferred the good stuff from my old, unused FSR over and added a front rack. Cool looking, not horribly heavy, but…it felt slow.
No matter, I gave myself 2.25 hours to go 23 miles…this should be doable.
In the old days, I used to consult maps and make a cue sheet. With the advent of omnipresent GPS, I’ve come to rely on the iPhone. I like Google Maps app and think it works fine, but the iPhone does not do well in cold weather; it dies at inconvenient times. So, I went back to the old way: Making a cue sheet. Which was convenient for a while, until I could no longer find the road that I was supposed to turn right on. This led to several minutes (longer than I thought, as it turns out) spent backtracking and trying to find my turn. This went on at various parts of the trip between Menlo Park and Sunnyvale. Ultimately, I rolled up to my office. I figured I was maybe 1/2 hour or so late. When I get inside and warmed up the phone to start it, I checked the time: 7 minutes after 10. Holy shit. In a panic, I checked pages and e mails for anyone that was looking for me and happily found none. Showered, changed and at my desk a full 1 1/2 hours after I was supposed to be there. It was not until after lunch did I finally warm up from the ride.
I took the time to map out the route, backtracking and all. The original route was supposed to be 23 miles; I rode 31.
In the post mortem, I learned a couple of things: 1) Don’t ride a new route if you have to be somewhere by a particular time; 2) Wool clothes do a fine job of keeping warm, but a beanie would have helped; 3) Missing one minor side street can derail you’re entire navigation plan; and 4) despite all of the articles now saying you ride just as fast on wider tires, someone as heavy as I still needs to jack up the pressure, somewhat. (this is why the bike felt slow, I reckon).
I was able to get through the day, but it was tough. However, I wasn’t out of the woods, yet; I still had to get back home. As I was rather tired after work, my boss (who is also an old friend that I ride with) took pity on my and gave me a ride to CalTrain. As there was no recent train that would stop at my house, the thought was to ride it north to a particular station, cross over and pick up the southbound train that arrives a few minutes later and get off at my stop. Well, my train arrived late, so I missed the southbound train. There was another train in about 5 minutes that would get me home in 1/2 hour. Wanting to get home sooner, and not wanting to walk the 1.5 miles home, I decided to walk over and see if there were any cabs in the parking lot – there weren’t. 3 minutes until the next train comes, so I turned back…then I heard the horn. The fucker showed up early. Shit…legs too dead to run, I could not get to the crossing before the guards came down, trapping me on the wrong side. While I could have gone under, that’s a $250 fine which I did not want. I hoped against hope that maybe the guards would go up after the train had stopped; they didn’t. So, I got to stand there and watch as everyone loaded up and took off. Pissed, I put on my headphones, cranked up some music and hoofed it out of there, finally making it home about 1/2 hour later.
I’m happy to report that the first shakedown ride went very well, however. Tahn builds a damn fine bike. I still need to tweak some things (still getting numbness in the hands, even with ergo grips and padded gloves), but I like the bike.
But sometimes you get more exercise than you bargained for…
A quick post.
I’m down in Fresno this weekend for Thanksgiving. Having a little time this trip, I finally dragged my scanner down so I can get copies of some of the old pictures my mom has stored in a box. While I’ve been planning on doing this for years, my brother’s passing brought it to the forefront.
While picking out pictures to scan (pics of brother, pics of me as a baby and teen to show the GF just who she’s involved in, random posterity pics from the 70’s), I came across this:
That there is my first bike. Now, if you had asked me, I would have said that my first bike was blue, and had orange and yellow pinstripes that our neighbor put on it, and had knobbies that I got one year for my birthday. Of course, I would have been wrong. I had forgotten about this one. What I remember most about this is the non-pneumatic (nonmatic?) tires. I think the rear tire had split by the time I upgraded to the blue bike (of which I found no pictures of).
You’ll also note – for posterity’s sake – the long shag carpeting that had to be raked. Of course, not being Fancy People, we did not have a carpet rake so we used the steel rake that we had for the yard.
Another angle, showing the rest of the living room:
This – it should be noted – was the Living Room, where no mortal entered unless they were Company. You can just imagine what the rest of the house looked like.
Diet and exercise has sort of shit the bed since the summer. Strike that, since about Easter…but I was holding on for a bit, I think, until the summer, then I sort of let go of the controls. Whatever, I’m winding out to around 260 or so and getting through it. That said, I feel a turn coming. As I do, I tend to be good for a while, then I lash out and be bad for a while…then I get good again. I reckon I’ve gained and lost 500 lbs over the years.
But every now and again, something gets me to make the turn. Either some experience or story. A lot of times, it’s simply a visit to a national park: Seeing all of those fit people doing active things is enough to get me to start eating healthy, or at least not eat so much. Some times, it’s a story about someone who set themselves straight. True, I was at Glacier NP during the summer, it was shortly after my brother died, so I wasn’t exactly hitting on all 12 cylinders, so that effort died out. So lately, I’ve been reading Scott Cutshall’s old blog – Large Fella on a Bike.
Scott gained notoriety for losing something like 312 lbs by riding and eating right. While I’m not that far down the road, it’s still good reading to me. While I try to at least cycle commute in once a week (more, preferably, but that doesn’t always work out), I don’t normally get out on the weekend. After a few days of reading his blog, I went out this evening. So that’s a turn in the right direction.
I also remember using the bike to run basic errands, like grocery shopping. For some reason, I had stopped that. Now that I’m at my GF’s place in the flats, its even easier. In fact, tonight I was going to head out to the store to get some powdered sugar (GF’s daughter and neighbor friend are making cupcakes, and they needed it for the frosting). Upon realizing that we didn’t have any powdered sugar on hand, I was ready to ride the 1/2 mile to the local Safeway: “I’ll go,” she said. “Besides, you’ve been drinking.” It’s true that I had 2 Lagunitas Little Sumpin’s but I was not blasted, just a tad buzzed. Besides, I love riding while buzzed. In fact, when I quit drinking 5.5 years ago, one of the things I said that I was going to miss was riding while buzzed.
Now, I’m not going to recommend this. A bike’s natural attitude is on its side, and booze is known to mess with your trim tabs. All you need to do is veer into the path of an oncoming car, and then you get your ticket punched. Also it can be considered somewhat illegal, should the local authorities wish to stop you to chat. But, I must say, it’s fun. There’s a sort of high, fine feeling you get with the breeze passing over you, watching the scenery go by, feeling good, relaxed. Alas, it was not to be…at least tonight: The neighbor’s had powdered sugar.
But, I foresee myself trying to ride more. I figure, with some cooperation, I can ride at least 3 out of five days in to work. On those days I don’t, I figure I can right at night…something I sort of didn’t think about until reading Cutshall’s blog (he made a few references to riding late, so I figure he’s either a night owl or an insomniac). Regardless, he’s given me something new to focus on, in the realm of undoing some of the damage incurred over the summer and fall.
Now, I’m off to order some new lights.