Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Electric Motorcycle for the kid(s)

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

I just took delivery of a Kuberg Start for my son’s 3rd birthday. His birthday is a month away, so it is going to be a long wait for me. I am so tempted to put him on the bike right now…Yes, I am not the most patient person.

We already have a CRF50 for the kids, but at 23″ seat height, it is still a few years off before I see him riding that thing. Never mind some of the other issues that I have had with the bike…especially the fuel delivery. Anyhow, this Kuberg is the second of the “real” electric bikes to come out for little kids. The first is the Oset, and I am actually on a list to get one of those, and in fact I was 90% sure that was the bike I was going to get. I got to reading about the Oset (the 12.5 model) which is basically a miniature trials bike. I saw some videos of 3 year olds learning to ride that bike in grass fields and parks, all without training wheels. They basically did what you do on a balance bike -keep your feet as outriggers and putt around. Something like this is not possible on a gas bike for a number of reasons. First off is that while the CRF50 in particular has a throttle limiter screw, all that really does is take away the ability to open the throttle WFO. Even if you limit throttle to 1/8 turn or even less, all you do is slow down your rate of acceleration. You can still get up to some pretty high speeds, which means they can hit things pretty hard. I totally see this happening with little ones like my son. Tripp is not even 3 years old, and when I let him handle the throttle duties on the CRF50, he goes straight to full turn and does not let off…even with me on the back, we hit more than 10mpg. Second, if he falls on that 50, the thing weighs almost 100lbs. If it traps him, he is stuck until I can get there. If he is not stuck, but the bike is stalled, he is once again stuck until I get there as even most 6 year olds will have trouble starting a 50cc four stroke. Then there is the issue of the pipe…and that thing WILL burn a little one, and it is not a matter of if, but when.
I am sure that there are those thinking that perhaps starting a kid out before he is 3 might be too early, and I agree -unless that kid happens to be hooked on bikes. (I currently have 5 bikes at the house and he is constantly wanting to go for rides, or to work on the bikes with me.) In that case you simply want to make sure that he is as safe as can be, and encourage them. I won’t go into the bonding etc. that takes place, as those who do not ride simply will never understand. Suffice to say that I cannot wait until we go on our first ride together in the trails.

Back to the e-bike. This thing weighs all of 45-50 lbs. I have ridden bicycles that are this heavy. My daughter went with me to collect the bike, and she dropped it in the parking lot (you should have seen the look on her face)!!! I calmly instructed her pick it back up, which was no problem for her (she is only 4 -and a small 4 at that). All afternoon she wanted to take that bike out…she was begging me all afternoon while Tripp was napping. (I was working on the bike, checking nuts and bolts, chain, brakes, etc. Needless to say it is going to be a long month.

Speaking of the kids. I ordered this Kuberg Start 3 weeks ago. A large part of me thought that this would be how I get Tripp, and possibly Madison, to ride a bicycle without training wheels. I had already removed their training wheels, along with the cranks on one of the bikes. This left just one bike with pedals and cranks, the one with the cranks removed to be used as a balance bike, and an actual balance bike that we also happen to have. So last week (Saturday) my kids want to ride bikes, which means my son on the balance bike, and my daughter on her bike without the pedals and cranks. But when we went out, she grabs the only bike with pedals. So we go out, and I hold her while we get to the paved area we will ride on…all the while I cannot help but notice that I am holding her but actually doing nothing. Once we get to the paved street, I basically let go and she is off. 10 minutes later she is trying to skid the rear wheel while braking. We rode that afternoon until dark (about 2 hours).
The next morning sees me getting up and putting her bike back together so that she can pedal around on her own bike -which has the preferred pink paint that is necessary for a 4 year old girl. Once done with her bike, we head back out and this time Tripp (who is over a month away from turning 3) grabs the same bike Madison was on the day before (which is his bike). So I now feel like I am hearding cats, trying to get two kids down the road so that I can try to teach my son how to ride (Madison still cannot start on her own). Long story short, it took all of 30 seconds to get him going without holding him up…he heads down the street and even turns around and comes back!
What does this have to do with the Kuberg? Well I seriously thought that the motorcycle would be the start of one or possibly both riding bicycles without training wheels, and it turns out that now they will already have enough confidence in their balance that the e-bike is likely to actually be “ridden” from day one.

Here are images of the bike without the seat in “trials bike” format along with images of it with a seat mounted for more standard trail bike ergonomics and taller riders…
Seat comparison
With the seat…
With Seat
I included these two images for a couple of reasons. The main reason being that I had a heck of a time finding images of the Start without the seat. All the good pictures show the bike with the optional seat on it, so these are for anyone who might be wondering the same things that I was.
Where the CRF50 has a throttle limiter to control acceleration, as mentioned previously, the bike can still get going a pretty good clip. The e-bike is so much different in that you can adjust the electronics to control the top speed. This bike has basically 5 different speeds, with the lowest being around 2-3mph. This means that even if he happens to target fixate early on, I know that he is not going to hit something at high speed like I fear on the CRF50. Big plus. And it makes NO NOISE. Now I happen to be one of those that likes the sound of a finely tuned motor, and I have bikes to prove it, but I do like the idea of being able to go into stealth mode so that neighbors are not offended, and even the kid is not distracted or intimidated by a motor revving out.

I will update more after the first shakedown, and after I make some adjustments to the driveline to my liking. But so far, I like the value proposition that this bike offers.

US Open Azarenka-Sharapova (two battles going on)

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Let me start off by saying that “These girls can play tennis…”
Now that I got that out of the way, I think you have a safer chance of watching porn at work with the volume on high without anyone taking notice, than watching these two screechers play tennis, with the volume at ANY audible volume. If you even attempt to listen to the commentary, the business complex across the road will surely file a noise complaint against you. And this is on the tiny laptop speakers. I always thought that watching either was bad enough that I had to forego commentary, but both, playing each other? This is simply unacceptable no matter how you look at it. I say this with all sincerity, if I was offered tickets to see these two play each other, or even just play, I would decline. No matter how good the seats. They have taken screaming, which used to be just grunting, to an all new level, and the new rules have not come fast enough…even more concerning is that the ruling only affects new players, so fails to address the real problem which is these two distractions to ladies tennis. I use the term lady as I am not being sexist when I say that when these two are playing, it is no longer ladies tennis, nor even women’s tennis for that matter. No wonder the stands are not filled during their match…I suspect that earplugs are running low, hence many would be spectators find that they must stay away from Arthur Ashe stadium for fear of permanent damage to their hearing, or recurring nightmares, or both. (I swear I can hear the screeching even with the volume on 0).
If I had never seen these women before, I would call them attractive…however, I find them both repulsive, which only speaks to how bad that screaming really is. New York City must be in turmoil right now, and there must be a many noise ordinance that is being violated right now…At the end of this match, we will know who won the tennis battle, but we will not know who won the second battle…as I have yet to see a sound meter on the screaming…

The Tennis Pro and XOG

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

At our Gym, (In-Shape Tracy) we have a really nice tennis facility. I have made a lot of friends there, and if I am not at work, or at home, I am at the club hitting balls.
I have also had some reasonable success with XOG underwear at the club as well. I have no issues with giving a way a free pair if someone will at least try them. One person in particular is the tennis pro, AG. AG has become someone that I would call a good friend, and I have never even taken a lesson with him. NOT that I wouldn’t mind you. After playing Tennis for 16 months, it sounds silly to say that I just cannot seem to find the time to schedule a lesson. The wife thinks that I spend far too much time there…and she may have a point. Prior to the baby, I was out there 4-5 times a week. Open nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Saturday mornings having the same format. I hated missing even one of these “social” events. And once I began to meet people, or I guess the right way to word it would be, once my skills advanced enough, I found that I was able to play on other evenings and Sunday mornings. There area few folks that are as caught up with Tennis as I am, and fortunately for me, they are all better than I am. This means that my game started improving even faster.
Anyway, back to AG…I gave him a pair, and I kid you not if AG did not call me that same evening asking for 10 more pair! Since then I pretty much pay him in product for my racket stringing -which he does a great job. (to be continued)

AG has left our club, and with his leaving, so has our contact ended. I cannot seem to get hold of him and I wish he and his family the best.

Flex League Tennis

Friday, July 30th, 2010

In order to try to improve my tennis game, I joined a men’s singles flex league at the 3.5 level. At the time that I joined, I was a true 3.5, and if I am being honest, I feel that as a singles player I am still at the 3.5 level. However, during the course of the 4.0 men’s league in Tracy that just ended, I had some pretty good results against some solid doubles teams, and I was bumped up. To think that a year ago at this time, I was moving up from a 2.5 rating to 3.0 rating! In November 09, I rated myself up from a 3.0 to a 3.5, and then in July ‘10, the USTA sends me a letter telling me that I am now rated at 4.0. I only wish that my consistency was up to that of a 4.0 player. I digress. So I am playing flex league for the opportunity to improve game in ways that playing doubles cannot. Unfortunately, I am also learning that either I am getting old (fact) or that if you are feeling like you might be on the verge of a physical ailment, playing singles will pretty much ensure that you will have a physical ailment.
Several weeks prior to the start of flex singles, my knee was swelling externally. I would ice it after playing, and even started to wear a neoprene sleeve during play to help press-out or prevent external inflammation. It seemed to be working just fine up until my first singles match. I believe that the cool air combined with my chasing down every shot contributed to my injuring my knee. –I later learned that I have a torn lateral meniscus and will at some point have surgery to fix this.
The doctor that performed my first two knee surgeries suggested that I take some time off from tennis. Of course I didn’t listen, and thought that I would alter my style to sort of meet his request half way. I reduced my play by roughly two nights a week –down to 2-3 times per week. I felt that it was working and even managed to get in a complete singles match the following week, but the week after that I was up 1 set to 0 and leading the second set when my knee told me that it has had enough. I almost could not walk off the court at that point and I offered to concede the match. My opponent said that he did not want the win and that we should finish the match sometime in the future…wow!
So this issue with my knee bummed me out for several reasons. In addition to being damaged goods, the guys on our 4.0 team (well some of them) indicated that they wanted me in the lineup for the playoff match against Escalon. These playoffs determined who would be playing post season, and Escalon was in first place, while Tracy was in second at the end of the season. Escalon is a very solid team, and I would not be surprised if a good portion of their team gets bumped up to 4.5 for next year. They have several guys that are at the level of the Tracy area 4.5s, but I’m not saying this as a complaint, rather as an observation. Anyway, our match was a tight one, and quite contrasting in styles. Our opponents were very steady and consistent, while we were much more dangerous in that we tended to hit more aggressively and powerfully, especially our serves. Their net play was better than ours, and for that the blame falls on me alone. I have been practicing my net play every single chance I get, and while I have made great strides in my net play, I was still the weakest net player on the court that day.
The good news was that I was able to play mostly pain free, and I had actually at one point not played any tennis or hit any balls for as many as 3 weeks leading up to that match. I only started the week prior, and at that, tried to limit my hitting and running. Suffering the most was and is my backhand. That part of the two handed motion where I weight transfer to my right foot and turn (twist) is what is bothering me the most. I have a two handed backhand, and prior to my knee bothering me really felt that my backhand was my more stable shot. That is certainly not the case right now, and I look forward to the day when I can swing out on my backhand without something in the back of my mind playing tricks on me, and causing me to back off. I do not have much power on my backhand, especially compared with my forehand, but I am seriously missing the consistency. –I have even questioned whether or not I should continue to play BH side on the doubles court, but that is my spot, so have been playing there regardless. I have a match this weekend (at home) for the 8.5 combo men’s team, and expect that I will be playing BH again…I only hope that I get the opportunity to hit some balls before then.
I played two flex matches this week, both on Tuesday in order to make up for the 5 weeks that I have pushed off playing singles. My first match was during lunch in Walnut Creek and 15 minutes into the match, I thought I was a goner. My opponent, Chris, is a lefty with decent movement on his serve…just enough movement to keep me from taking the offensive when he was serving, plus my first serve was not on. Playing southpaws is always tough if you do not get to face them on a regular basis. Their spins are always the exact opposite of what you are expecting -or used to seeing, plus if they are smart enough to develop some spin on their serves, it sometimes can take an entire match just to get the hang getting strings to ball on serve receive. In this case, it took me the first set. He cleared me off the court 6-2 in short order. His serves possibly frustrated me into making service errors myself, so I started to back off of my 1st serve, and focused on throwing different spins at him, and it seemed to work. I held all my serves, and he held all his, and I managed to win the tie break at 7-5. Third set was played as a tie break to 10 and I was up 8-2 or 9-2 and managed to win at 11-8. It is scored as a 1-0 third set win, but it was close. And it was not that I felt that I disintegrated when I was up, he just made more shots than me to crawl back into the game. Good match.
Second match of the day was at 6PM in Pleasanton, and I was playing a guy named Danny, and he had me worried. Short court warmup revealed that I did NOT want him coming to the net…he looked so comfortable with volleys, and had great footwork as well. When we backed up for baseline hitting, I was not feeling any better as he had a great swing, on both sides. At that point, I was telling myself to just try to hit smart balls, and run him when possible as I did not see myself beating him in baseline rallies. I also knew that I would need big serves. I managed to win the toss, so I elected to serve and I believe that is what saved me. I was able to throw a lot of different serves at him and possibly spooked him (I don’t know) out of his game. The final score I thought was 6-4, 6-3, but he posted to the website that it was 6-2, 6-2. Regardless, it was NOT a blowout by any means, and I was still trying just as hard when serving for the match -as I did not want him to get on a roll. I could tell that Danny was angry that he lost, and even today, I feel lucky that I came away with two wins that day. We stayed around and hit for another hour, and my initial assessment remains…he is a better player than me. My keys were that I hit short to him, to bring him inside the baseline, and then I would try to hit at his feet to keep him from coming in to the net. He tended to hit deep when hitting from inside the court, which is exactly what I do as well, so I guess that you could say that I played him as if I was playing against myself. It is amazing what the first couple of minutes of a match can do for the outcome. My serve set the rhythm in my favor, and I am glad that he did not try to fight his way to the net. I do not feel that I would have had as much luck if I had to try and pass him…
I will schedule more matches for next week, and will try to catch the Isner-Fish match that I recorded last weekend at some point (meaning the next few nights)…

Bittersweet February -the bitter

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Now for the bad news…
If you prefer, you can skip the bitter and get to more interesting matters below (under sweet).
Business is non-existent. To further make matters worse, we received an order on January 4th that we completely ignored (actually we failed to notice it). Talk about incompetence! It was only an order for one pair, so I tossed in a second pair for the trouble. I am not please that this happened, ESPECIALLY when I am only seeing about one order per week right now. What makes it so frustrating is that my primary tenants for starting this business is to offer a superior product with superior service –talk about dropping the ball!

The economy, namely the press (in my opinion, it wreaking havoc on the job market. Confidence is at such a low that I believe many jobs are being lost purely due to speculation. If every news outlet is reporting doom and gloom, then it must be true, right! It was the press that managed to nominate McCain as the Republican presidential nominee, it was the press the elevated Obama to superhuman status, and it is the press that has had a big hand in pushing us into the current economic mess that we are in. Granted, the housing bubble was bound to burst –it was unnatural, the magnitude of growth seen over the past decade and a correction was due. Not to mention how easy it was to get loans where the primary qualification was that you were breathing. Anyway, enough of that.

Finally, the really bad news. We lost our dog –Roxy. She was only 15 months old, and she was a huge part of our family. Outgoing and friendly…and full of life and energy, she passed away in surgery on the table while being fixed. To really make matters worse, the wife was having doubts about getting the procedure done, and I talked her into staying with the plan. We really thought that it would be best for her, but when the call came…suffice to say that it was not a good day, or even week. She is now buried out in the country at my folk’s home, and has her own tree planted in her memory…complete with her collar and nametag. We will miss her dearly. We know that we will want another dog, another Shih Tsu at that. But our hearts aren’t really into it, and we wonder if we ever will.

Bittersweet February -the sweet

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

This month has been a bittersweet month. Much more bitter than sweet to be honest.
First the sweet…that way you can just skip over the bitter.
The first week of the month was spent up in North Lake Tahoe. We skied or boarded for 6 days. We hit Boreal on day one (Sunday) for some evening boarding. The next day (Monday) was in Northstar…now I do not like a resort where you cannot even walk to the main lodge mid-week. I mean, come on…Nobody likes lines, or waiting…in this case, you have to wait for the buses to get you back and forth from your car. Fortunately the spring conditions meant that we had lots of fun and sun, and the mountain in general is actually pretty good for skiing and boarding. In fact, it was among the best snow of the week with Friday being the exception. Tuesday we hit Squaw Valley, and this is the day that I cracked some ribs. They still hurt (most intensely in the morning). The morning was spent boarding with the wife, and at lunchtime my brother was arriving for some skiing. The wife was done for the day preferring to hang with the dog, so she took the tram down the hill while I boarded. I took a serious header on the flats moving along at about 20 miles an hour…not to fast, but very flat ground, when I went to turn and the downhill edge caught some slush and over I went. Long story short, I almost passed out from lack of Oxygen, and maybe 10 minutes passed before I could get back up and continue down the hill. Lucky for me, I had both Motrin and Vicodin in the truck and was able to get my boots on to finish the day on my skis. We had a blast skiing together, my brother and me. We found some great snow in the spring conditions on the upper runs everywhere we went. We did not hit KT though, it did not look very nice from below…
Wednesday, the wife decided to skip boarding and just hang out, so my brother and I hit up Alpine Meadows. To start, when I woke up, I was pretty certain that there wasn’t any possible way that I was going to be on the snow that day…I got almost no sleep and I still do not know how I managed to actually get my body out of bed. My ribs hurt so bad that I could not even lift my head. In the middle of the night, I had the wife help me get up so that I could go to the living room to try and sleep sitting up (with an electric blanket) to help keep me warm. When my brother got up, I hurt so bad that I could not even get up to get my Vicodin. About an hour after the Vicodin, I found that I was ready for some coffee and after adding in some Motrin, I was ready to go skiing…We skied everything but Scott’s and some of the double diamonds because of poor coverage and ice in the shadows. It was great once again and the spring conditions made for a good time –not to mention the warmer weather helped to keep me a little looser than had it been cold. Of course, being on skis really made the difference. I am so much more comfortable on skis, and the only thing that I could not really do was pole plant when trying to skate, and breath heavily. I could skate easily enough, but forget pushing with my poles. Oddly enough, we skied bumps (the face) most of the day and pole plants while skiing were a non-issue. Another thing that made the skiing so good this day was there was an equipment demo day for ski shops going on. And man, there were some good skiers out. I have never skied so fast all day without feeling like I was dodging slower skiers or at risk of drawing unwanted attention for Ski Patrol. There simply were not very many slow skiers out that day. My brother was skiing fantastic –actually skiing faster than me. He has clearly improved since I last skied with him, which was probably 15 or more years ago.
Thursday saw my brother heading back home, so the wife and I headed out to Homewood to try out something new. I boarded in order to do what the wife was doing, and Homewood really sucked for us. The snow was OK, but the mountain was not good for a top-down run for a beginner. Since I was with the wife (who is a beginner) we found her having to get out of her bindings to walk far too many sections as the green runs were basically a very narrow fire trail that meandered down the mountain. And to really as insult, this trail ended at a lodge that was closed! –I don’t see us going back there again. On the plus side, there were some great views of the lake to be had, and if you are an Intermediate skier, it looks to be a fun place…plus you can’t beat the price.
Friday, our final day…and it is snowing out! We have passes for Alpine, so that is where we head. Boy, I wish that my brother could see this. The entire mountain was skiable and fun. Only about 6-8 inches fell overnight, but it transformed the hill. I was off-piste (when the wife took breaks) and having a blast in the crud. I decided to ski while the wife boarded. She fell a lot and was getting frustrated. Towards the end of the day I talked her into letting me coach her down one run, and against her better judgment she relented, clearly frustrated that I wasn’t interested in taking NO for an answer. Long story short, she made more turns to toe side on this one run than she did the entire week combined! Not only that, but her big fear of falling and getting hurt never happened. Now, she is still not comfortable with transitioning from heelside to toe side, but at least she now knows that it CAN be done.
As an aside: we now believe that she may have damaged her tailbone early on during the trip, causing her to be extremely cautious –thus making things worse…to this day her tailbone is still hurting pretty badly (3 weeks later).