What's the weather like in Doug's neighborhood?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kind of slacking on the updates

Honestly not a ton of momentum on the riding front. The weather here has been a bit unpredictable. The new job, church obligations, and family time have all been making riding a bit more of a back burner endeavor than I would like. But life goes on.

I have hooked up with the church's bike shop. So now I have the pleasure of working on huffy, roadmaster, and all other makes of cheap bikes. Gotta keep the less fortunate on 2 wheels right. I spent a couple of hours working in their shop Saturday night. I am still finding cuts on my hands from all of the frayed cables and burred metal on those bikes. It is a neat way to give something back to the community and I am happy to be able to lend a hand.

Thanksgiving was low key for us. We lounged around the house all morning, then went out and caught a movie at a local theater. Surprisingly enough Faith was well mannered and we all enjoyed the show. After the show we took a drive to check some fall colors. We caught dinner at a local buffet, so there was some turkey involved. We think this worked out very well. No dishes, no fuss, everyone enjoyed the day. Happy Turkey Day to us. We did a webcam conference with the family to wish the best to our family in California.

On the webcam front...
If you have webcam and would like to chat, just drop me a line and we can set up something. It is pretty easy, but a bit quirky. Guess you get what you pay for using the free servers of yahoo to host.

Friday and Saturday were dubbed Homers in Huntsville. We had about a dozen riders from around the South and one in from NY who partook in the festivities. Temperatures were cold. It was in the 40's, but with wind chill it felt below freezing. The ice in back of my truck didn't melt all day, so I am going to say it was freezing. Honestly the cold temps weren't too bad for riding. I finally got a ride where my micro-fleece wasn't cooking me alive.

Here is some of the report:
Okay, lots of pictures...

Sean rocking the muffs while hooking up blackagness

blackagness carnage. We were all thinking that he should have brought a turner, didn't even make it out of the parking lot before this minor issue popped up...





Jeff, I forget his UN


Okay, how about some riding and regrouping...

somethingclever behind a shrubery

Jeff sporting some determination

RD on a BLT

Jerry sporting the bhaklava (sp?)

regroup at Warpath

regroup at Warpath

We did some additional photo ops, but the other riders had those well covered on the camera front. Also after we got down to the bottom I started lagging. Not sure what was up, but I was early to tire today and very slow to climb back up the mountain. Something about Monte Sano, 18mi feels like a lot more. I am tired and worthless tonight. Damn glad it is a slacker shuttle tomorrow for me ;) Only thing noteworthy on my ride was a good pedal smack to my shin in the Land Trust. I will live.

Some more ride photos...
Me picking through a rock garden. From the top there is no obvious line.

Me standing at the base of a rock ledge with the group. Mostly pondering how to climb it best. Doesn't look like much, but only 2 of us made it up it.

My rear cleaning the ledge.

A nice view of Monte Sano. Most of the leaves have fallen, but still very nice up this way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Raccoon Mountain, Chattanooga TN

Well, had a descent weekend. Got some work done on the bike, did some shopping, and managed to squeeze in a day trip up to Chattanooga TN.

Trail Details

Steve, Randall, Jeff, RD, and I packed into 2 vehicles and did a caravan from Randall's house to Chattanooga. Drive time is a bit over an hour. Temperatures were in the upper 50s, so it wasn't cold. Trail conditions were good. Gotta watch out for those leaves, they get pretty slick. The trails were a lot of fun, but pretty demanding. Since there is little sustained elevation change there is really no rest. I snapped a few pictures at basically the only rest stop we took as a group. We did stop a few times for 1-2 minute regroup, but not really rest. By the end of the 17mi I was dog tired. Glad I rode this trail system though.

The trail itself can be ridden forward or reverse. We did it oposite of how Steve normally does it. I noticed that a lot of the jumps were going the other direction. Yes, jumps. The trail actually has a lot of jumps and berms carved in for fun factor. Nothing too big, but fun none the less. We stopped and played around on a log ride for a few minutes. Not too narrow or tall, but fun. The trail was fast and flowing in some secitons. Other sections were grueling to keep momentum in. The trail weaves all around in the woods making it quite easy to lose ones self. I looked down for about 30s while about 40 yards back from RD only to lose site of him. After about a half mile of following the direction I thought he took I turned and headed back to where I lost the group and hung for about 5 minutes. I figured from there I could find my way back or at least the group would be able to find me. RD came back around and led me back to the group. I had been on the right trail. Still a bit amazed that the trail weaves enough to lose people that are only a short distance ahead. From there on the trail was much more purposeful and headed in mainly 1 directionback around the mountain and up to the lot.

I found a gnome along the way, so a photo was necessary.

Bottom line...
Fun trails. Would be even more fun if you are conditioned to take advantage of all of the jumps and obstacles.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bogging down

Well, seems like we are settling into things here in Huntsville. Just picked up my first pay check on the new job. That's cool. Good to get on with the pay cycle. Fortunately we really didn't see much of an effect on our finances. It is always a bit sketchy just walking away from a job and getting into another. You kind of end up in a limbo where you don't know for sure when you will see money coming in again. Well, it is a relief. Got paid for a week and got the signing bonus. Bonus is a misnomer since it will likely just cover the expense of COBRA insurance until January 1st when medical through the company kicks on.

I am still squatting out at Teledyne. I am getting to tour some cool facilities and meet some of the team that I will be working with. So far everything looks promising. At this point it looks like there is several years worth of work to do on this rocket and there will be others to follow. Kind of cool to be hooked into the next space transport vehicle. Well, probably more cool once I actually start working. I am feeling pretty good though. I have been able to wade my way through a massive amount of paperwork in the time I have been "working". I was able to get my temporary clearance within 2 weeks. The 2 engineers I am working closely with have taken 3 and 4 weeks to get theirs. I guess a bit of pestering and playing dumb really does expedite things. I think I would go nuts if I was sitting around for 4 weeks with nothing to do. One of the engineers actually sat down and read a GD&T book cover to cover. He doesn't even have internet, so I guess it was more entertaining doing that than staring at the wall.

Riding. What's that. Not getting much time on the bike right now. I get a distinct feeling like I am sneaking off when I am working on or riding my bike. So I haven't been doing much. Just collecting some spare parts and maintenance components. Finally got around to swapping the Gravity Dropper back to the 3" drop. I also re-strung my hydraulic lines. So now I have cables and housing all cut to length for the Sultan. I received my 32t chainring today, so I will swap that out tomorrow. The 36t up front worked for the 26in bike, but turned out to be too steep for the 29er. Not much else to show, but I did end up tooling around for more than 2 hours last night between cutting lines and bleeding the brakes. The Goodridge lines are a lot easier the second time around once you know how they work. I decided to keep the pads I have been running (Galfer semi-metalic in the rear, Shimano resin composite up front). Some people have been saying that mixling 1 composite and 1 sintered is the hot ticket for more power, yet still avoiding brake howl. Maybe after I do a bit more getting used to the bike I will play with that. Overall I am very stoked on the Turner Sultan. Very capable bike both climbing and descending. Only problem I have is that I don't have more time to ride it.

Heading to Chattanooga on Monday. Nice thing about government contract work is that you get the govt. holidays. So a few guys in the SORBA club are heading up to Raccoon Mountain for a day trip. It has been on my list of places to check out, so of course I am in. I will post up some pictures and a report after, so check back.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Time flies...

Well Halloween came and went. Austin was a vampire, Faith Little Red Riding Hood, Erin wore a silly hat and glasses, and I wore a keg hat with a camelback bladder in it. The keg hat proved to be a bit top heavy at first, but got easier to work with as the evening went on. We went around to maybe a dozen houses with another family from Austin's school. Good times had by all. Just the right amount of candy to deal with.

I got out weekend before last to the Bankhead Land Trust. It is located about an hour away from Huntsville. The trails were still a bit on the muddy side, but much smoother than those in town. There are three loops there. We did the closest to the parking lot. I was happy to get out and hit trails that were lacking the rocks I have become accustomed to in Huntsville. When these trails are dry I would imagine they are very fast. As it was they were still some of the best flowing sections of trail in AL that I have sampled.
Some pictures:

This weekend was kind of a bust. We sat around on Saturday trying to make connection with Erin's cousins. That didn't happen, so we headed out and did some additional shopping at ToysRUs. Yesterday we did lunch with John, Mary, and Erin's cousins. Ended up getting home around 3pm. I grabbed my stuff and headed off for a short ride. Decided to hit a lap in Monte Sano. The Sultan gobbled up a couple of trails that have had me a bit sketched on the Raleigh. I was carrying enough speed that I managed to pinch flat my front tire. I have yet to pinch flat my raleigh and was beginning to wonder if pinch flats were possible on a 29er. Well, they are. So I am sitting there changing a tire on the Goat Trail as the daylight fades away. Since I am only about 1/3rd of the way along I turn back and head up Keith's Trail instead of slogging up Goat to Mtn Mist. For the first time since I got the Sultan I am noticing some suspension bob and heavy tire activity. Guess Monte Sano really is just a pain in the but when you are out of shape. I had a good ride and got to the truck just as it was getting too dim to see in the woods. I get home to find my tire is again going flat. Turned out to be a thorn. 2 for Monte Sano, 0 for Doug. Sometimes you are the nail.

Work is kind of stagnant. I am just filling out forms and cruising the net. I guess until my temporary security clearance comes in I am kind of dead in the water. Everyone knows it, so I just do what I can to pass the hours. It has been good in some respects as it has given me time to dig into some stuff like past employer info, birth certificates, etc... I have gone on a couple of tours of the NASA facility. There is some amazing equipment out there. It really blew me away at the sheer scale of operations. They have a tensile/compression facility capable of loading/pulling an entire rocket stage at up to 100 million tons of force. Very cool stuff to geek out on. I have another tour tomorrow to see a scale mock up of the stage of the rocket I will be working on.

Faith will be 2 tomorrow. Yippee, no more nursing. Countdown on daipers. It will be cool to be out of the baby phase. She is really a character and a handfull. She has really started to talk in complete sentences and the things that come out of her mouth are quite funny. She has started to declare anything that she wants, "Thats a mine" or something to that effect. Cute, but going to be trouble for a while.

Erin is now down to her pre-child weight goal. My beer diet hasn't been all it was cracked up to be. Guess you can't slack on it and only drink a beer or two. The key is that you have to drink enough to vomit. Guess I wasn't paying close enough attention...
Going on a diet post

That's about all I got for now. Thanks to everyone for getting me updated contact information for my security documents.