Monday, June 27, 2016

Moved to Tucson

If you have never had the great pleasure of driving across most of the country, let me lead in my post with establishing some "heads-up" information for you in the off-chance that you do ever undertake such a journey:

Texas is gigantic.

We loaded up the Jetta (again) on Friday morning and undertook the New Orleans to Tucson portion over the next two days.  Our goal was to make it to Austin, TX and spend the night in a hotel there because we've both heard so many things about Austin as a fun place to be and live. Our arrival in Austin allowed for enough time to cruise downtown a bit before grabbing some dinner on South Congress (it seems as though "THE" streets to be on in Austin are 6th and Congress).  We woke up and banged out an absolutely awesome long run on the river path, which probably slots in at one of the top 3 or 5 running locations I've ever had the privilege of enjoying.

Austin skyline

The long-ish run meant a late start to our drive to Las Cruces, NM but with 9 hours to go we set off into the Texas highway life again.

For the record, I-10 through Texas is ridiculous.  You enter the state on I-10 (after passing through Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Lake Charles) and see an exit sign for "Exit 870."  Knowing our interstate system means that we have 870 miles to go...on I-10. JUST in Texas.  That's a pretty amazing mind f*** when you first breach the state's borders.

Score 1 for Texas.

The main thing I remember from this day (other than being afraid of running out of diesel in between fuel stops, which are relatively few and far between out in the middle of nowhere) is how much better my mileage was (keep in mind, the car is FULLY loaded and has two bikes on top; admittedly two super aero bikes, but still...) compared to the day before.  This was a good thing, obviously, as it meant that if I got super low out in no man's land I could make it longer on fumes...

Our relatively late arrival in NM (although we gained another hour after crossing the border) didn't leave time for anything other than going to sleep, but we woke up in the morning to get in a quick 40 minute run out to a mountain and back.  The day was noticeably hotter, but also much drier.  A foreshadowing of thing to come...

The drive to Tucson itself was quick and easy, but it got hotter and hotter as the trip wore on and we got further west.  By the time we got to Tucson my car's temp reading was saying "110" or thereabouts (at about 1-2pm), which is a real big number (but it's a dry heat, they said).

We showed up at the house (which, keep in mind, neither of us have seen in person or knew anything about it other than the listing) and were very pleasantly pleased to see that it was great and exactly as we hoped.  For the record, online shopping can be very useful and convenient.  Online shopping for a place to live, however, is a slightly riskier business ;)

So far this week it's been a steady process of settling in, straightening up, unloading, receiving packages we shipped here from home (all of my bikes have now made it, which makes me very happy), discovering the surrounding areas (so far we've had three delicious servings of local sonoran cuisine options), meeting people and being outdoors as much as possible (between the hours of 6:00am and 10:00am if at all possible giving the 100 degree plus temperatures...) to enjoy being in such an outdoors focused city!

And for a quick trip across the country, for your viewing pleasure:

Cross Country Time Lapse from James Haycraft on Vimeo.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Random Thoughts

The journey so far has been relatively short (less than 800 miles), taking us from Charlotte to Fort Morgan to New Orleans.  Be that as it may, I have had plenty of time to reflect on a few things:

1) Why do more drivers not use cruise control? It's so useful. All I have to do is press a button and the car maintains a constant speed ALL BY ITSELF! It's truly incredible.

2) As much negative press as diesel has gotten lately with dieselgate, the engines are pretty incredible.  My Jetta is weighed down and packed to the brim (smartly packed to the brim though, I have to say) AND has two bikes on top.  So basically as un-aero and as heavy as a four door sedan can be and I still averaged 39 miles to the gallon from Charlotte to Fort Morgan (600+ miles). That's pretty impressive in my mind.

3) The Southeast is littered with billboards, but especially the Gulf Coast. Personal injury attorneys are near the top of Gulf Coast advertisers.  At least their slogans are somewhat interesting:

"One call, y'all!" - Morris Bart
"One click, that's it!" - Morris Bart

It's pretty sad, however, that the reason the profession as a whole has a slightly negative tint cast on it is because of ambulance chasers like that...

4) Rain-X is incredible.  Can anyone describe to me how it works? All I know is I spray that stuff on and I become mesmerized by the beads of water that scoot up my windshield.

5) I've driven through Atlanta so many times I'm scared to try and count it (en route between NC and LA, VA and LA, etc) but wow does it suck.  Even with "low traffic" the sheer volume of vehicles (pronounced veee-Hickles, not veeecles, now that we're solidly in the South) makes going through the city stressful and eventful.

6) It is SO FLAT once you're south of Montgomery.  Seriously.  It's amazing.

I mean, LOOK AT THE ELEVATION CHANGE! It's literally 0ft.

The lack of elevation change is nice for speed, but the humidity and dew point offset that by quite a bit and turn the overall running experience (in the summer) into a bit of a...well, not a negative.  But definitely something worth thinking slightly negatively about I suppose.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

So I watched a triathlon this weekend

Let me be honest: watching a triathlon is way easier than doing one. That may or may not be news to you, but suffice it to say that the number of triathlons I've done far outweighs the number of triathlons I have spectated. That is a sub-optimal ratio.

I'll open the meat of this post by saying that the logistics of Raleigh 70.3 are a major PITA. Personally, I've done quite a few point to point races (practically every Rev3 or Challenge Race I did was P2P...I think) but none of those were as annoying as Raleigh's P2P system. The main issue with Raleigh was the tiny little swim start location, which is also where athletes need to drop off their bikes the day before. I suppose it depends on what time you went to drop-off on Saturday whether or not your traffic levels were ridiculous or "doable." The organizers tried to ameliorate this a little bit for 2016 by asking participants to choose a "time block" when they picked up their packet. Unfortunately I'd be willing to bet that a not insubstantial portion of the athletes missed this or just didn't pay attention to its parameters.

I also still remain impressed (or maybe surprised is a better description of my feelings) that athletes continue to bring bikes to races that are clearly not ready to race. Just watching people at the expo bringing bikes to get looked at and listening to the issues or problems that they are having as well as seeing and talking to the mechanics (hey, IOS Cary!) was scary in the sense of what people are bringing as "race ready." Someones tube exploded in transition while we were dropping off Christine's bike and apparently the tire was split by the explosion. Imagine being THAT athlete on race morning...! (for the record, I wouldn't worry too much about over-inflating your tubes on hot days if you just stick to reasonable/regular pressures).

Ultimately, the race was a good one to choose if you live on the east coast and you want to do a really hot half distance race with a rolling bike course and hot, exposed run course, with a historically long swim...

Do I sound like I really want to do a half? Because I don't. It looks so hard!!!