Sunday, June 27, 2010

Red Zone

The Toyota 3VZE V-6 of 1990 doesn't compare to a more contemporary powerplant. Its 3 liters promise a little over 140 horsepower, more comparable to a 2010 econobox than a pickup truck. That means on any sort of incline, the 3VZE has to spin fast to develop enough power to pull the Sunrader up hill. Climbing the Grapevine on Interstate 5 a few weeks ago, we were down into second gear to maintain 45-50 mph.

And I was watching the temperature gauge. High revs, heavy loads and slow speeds are all ingredients for overheating -- something that almost never happens anymore in modern automobiles. The little Toyota didn't disappoint, and while the needle moved substantially higher on the scale it never once approached the red zone. This after more than 100k miles of service. Chalk it up to reasonable care and maintenance by previous owners, and fresh coolant.

Today I took a bike ride in the mid-day heat. That is something I typically avoid, but after a late start and a tire change on the Serotta, it was after 11am when I set out. What had been predicted to be a day in the high 80s turned into more than 100 degrees F indicated on our back patio.

Last summer, on a similarly hot day, I got about 30 miles into a 40 mile ride. In spite of carrying extra water and being diligent about drinking, I hit the red zone and had to stop. Completely. It was the first and only time I've ever called home for a ride. And it took a few hours back at the house to actually recover.

Today, I used some human coolant called EFS, similar to Gatorade but with a better electrolyte content, at least for me. I had good legs, which is surprising considering my lack of training this season, but remembering last summer I was cautious through the entire ride. In spite of my legs feeling good, any time I upped my effort on a climb or a strong acceleration I almost immediately overheated.

And the signs were obvious.

Normal human response to heat is, obviously, to sweat. And for body hair to lay flat -- at least according to the small amount of research I did online after my ride. Today on the road as my core temperature climbed, so did the hairs on my arms. Straight up. Kinda like that temperature gauge going into the red zone. And I got the chills.

Now apparently that little signal is the beginning of the skin's evaporative cooling system starting to shut down. The human equivalent of steam slipping out from under the hood.

This year I knew enough to pull over and find some shade, drink, and add coolant. It was definitely a day in the red zone. But I made it, so I have that going for me which is nice. Now to work on the horsepower. Or at least the power to weight ratio.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers' Day

Few plans, but good ones, for today. This morning, Duncan took me for a bike ride up to the Peet's coffee shop in Danville, Ca. It is as close to an East Bay cycling Mecca as you can get, and by the time we arrived mid-morning the entire patio was filled with riders (and bikes) basking in the sun. At 10, Duncan is really coming into his own on the bike, riding on the side of relatively busy roads and keeping a confident, straight line over almost 15 miles of riding. And he actually admitted to me AFTER the ride that he enjoyed it... hmmmm. We may have to keep this going for the summer.

I needed a replacement as the 'treadwear indicator' on my back tire (i.e. the beltweave) had started to show. Whoops. Pegasus in Danville doesn't carry the Specialized Armadillos I have come to love (3,000 miles without a flat) so they talked me into a similar Continental tire that they swear rides better and provides good protection. Armadillo or Ultra Gator. We shall see.

I may regret the convenience later!

I just read an interesting article via Yahoo news (yes, not the bastion of high-quality information but this was a re-post of a U.S. News and World Report piece) that listed some of the top places in the world you could retire and live well on just your U.S. Social Security check. Assuming those checks will still be coming by the time I'm eligible (Gartner 0.5 probability for my enterprise software friends).

I think I'd pick Cuenca, Ecuador. Mild climate, high mountains, rivers and multiple universities...the feel of a European city with a history that goes back 10,000 years.


The big question is whether the roads are decent for bicycles...worth thinking about. I wonder how long it takes to get to the coast...

This afternoon the kids are taking me to go see Toy Story 3 on the IMAX. It is our first movie at the theater together in a LONG time. And then a burger afterwards.

Yep, it is Fathers' day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ToC 2010

Just wanted to share a few pictures from the Tour of California 2010.