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2007/06/23 Reno Fernley Race Track
π 2007-06-23 23:20 by Merlin in Cars

I had freshly gotten my car back from service that it went in the hands of Samer from Tailored Relocation Services, to be driven in en enclosed truck to the Reno Fernley track. Apparently the drive took 6 to 7 hours due to traffic.
Thankfully I flew there in about 90 minutes due to cooperative winds, and by adding preflight and tiedown, it was probably 3h end to end.









The track takes a while to figure out, it's more than 4 miles long, and a big thanks to Scott for showing me around the track a few times.
First, I was clocking around 3:26 or so, and by the second day, I took it down to 3:16. While I was figuring things out, I waved a fair amount of people by, who I'm sure were delighted to pass my car :)







making sure that all the wheels are still probably attached :)




I likely would have been able to take it a bit further below 3:16 by the end of sunday, but while I was lucky with the brakes working great this time (it looks like most of my problems were due to a front/back bias issue which went away when I replaced the rear pads with non stock ones), but unfortunately, one of my tire's sidewall failed, forcing me to call it a day a bit early.
Yet, I still got 2/3rd of my sessions in, which wasn't too bad considering. I'm just now wondering how long I drove with that bulge, or if I did catch it right after it happened.





Jennifer was able to come this time and got her first laps around a real track, which is the best way to show what a car can really do, and how much leg room I have when I drive on the street (except for not knowing what other drivers not paying attention around you, could do at any time). Thanks to her for the extra pictures she was able to take while I was driving.
And here's a link to the other pictures from the TEAM track day at Reno Fernley
2007/06/22 Flight to Tiger (N58) by Fernley in Nevada
π 2007-06-22 23:32 by Merlin in Flying

Since I had a track day close to Reno, I made plans to fly to the track instead of driving there (thanks to Samer from Tailored Relocation Services for trucking my car there).
The flight to Tiger was uneventful. I climbed a bit high above Tahoe due to winds past 25knots, which means more than 50knots over the mountain ridge, and possible downdrafts on the other side.
Anyway, we were high enough not to have to worry about any of this, and got over 200knots (240mph) of ground speed on the way down.
Landing was a bit tough due to a pretty mighty crosswind, but we got down ok.
Once on a ground, though, I had a hard time finding tiedowns, so I ended up shutting the plane down, and it's only later that the cab driver drove us around the airfield and we found one set of tiedowns.
The funny part comes in then; I was not able to restart the plane due to vapour lock, so we ended up using the cab to toe it to the tiedown spot :)



Lake Tahoe


Heavenly






Tiger Field and the Reno Fernley raceway


The best way to taxi a plane is a taxi tow :)




We got the plane back in the air thanks to a NASCAR 200amp peak charger/booster


Check out the VSI: almost 2000fpm sustained for a while at altitude, thanks to a nice updraft


Northstar ski resort, by truckee airport




On the way back, I was first a bit apprehensive due to the 20knot+ crosswindws that we had been getting the previous day, but in the end, we got lucky: the next day had almost no winds in the valley that the airport was in (at altitude, it was a different matter though).
Just to make things interesting, the plane's battery died when I tried to crank it. Luckily, I was able to get the semi private airport's owner's son over, and he very nicely helded us out with a nascar high amperage charger.
It wasn't meant for airplane use, so it didn't have the ground power receptacle, but after taking a couple of panesl apart in the plane, I was able to hook it up directly to the battery. Turns out that it didn't charge the battery at all, but it had enough amperge to allow for the plane to start and for us to get out of there (thanks Jeremy).
Once in the air, I went towards Reno to pick up some altitude before crossing the pointy bits: I was worrying about the headwinds, probably in combination with some downdrafts that gave us a resulting 90knots of ground speed in level flight instead of the normal 150knots. I was happy to have a powerful plane at that time. Despite the winds, in a few places, we picked up some nice updrafts of 2000ft per minute. This came in pretty handy because climbing was otherwise pretty excruciatingly slow.
And here's a link to see many other pictures of the flight, including Tahoe from the sky
2007/06/19 Marina Run to Golden Gate & Golden Gate Park Rollerblading
π 2007-06-19 21:12 by Merlin in Exercising

After visiting San Francisco, I met Jennifer after her conference and we went for a run of 8.2 miles through the Marina, the Golden Gate, and back to the hotel, in a pretty strong wind.
It turned out to be the longest distance that Jennifer had run so far, and she did great. While we only averaged speeds of 10mn/mile, or a total of about 1h20, we made it from end to end, which is what matters.










The few remainting pictures are here

The next morning, I went rollerblading the Golden Gate Park. Unfortunately, it's not a very good layout, nothing close to a loop, but there are nice things to visit (except for the fact that half of them prohibit rollerblades :( ), and it's reasonably rollerbladable (some pieces have so-so pavement and require riding on the street). I ended up with the path below, totalling 11 miles.


















I took a fair amount of pictures of the Golden Gate Park
2007/06/17 Northern Baylands / Steven's Creek Trail / PAO ride
π 2007-06-17 12:54 by Merlin in Exercising

Jennifer and I did another ride around the Baylands, but this time northwest bound, close to our rollerblading trail, but using nearby trails that were mountain bike only.
It was a good time in the season to see all the little birdies, and we finished the ride by taking the trail around the PAO airport.















And here are the other pictures of the bike ride
2007/06/15 Unlimited Laps at ThunderHill
π 2007-06-15 21:06 by Merlin in Cars

It was a nice flight to TH and back, except for the weather being pretty freaking hot in Willows and causing some of my checklist plastic covers to half melt :)











Thunderhill itself wasn't great unfortunately, while it was pretty hot there, my car ran fine: no overheating issues, Ferrari definitely did cooling right.
My brakes unfortunately didn't fare as well, in the end I had to pack after three sessions and after having totally cooked my rotors and calipers (and boiled the brake fluid, which means your brakes pretty much stop working, and that's slightly undesirable when you're doing over 120mph and a turn is coming :)
I got some good help at the track, including from a nice coworker called Arnaud,but in the end, there wasn't that much to do, so I ended up flying home early.











After that, my car spent 4 days straight at Silicon Valley Auto Group where they fixed the alignment, changed the tires, cleaned up the abused calipers, tried to get all the brake pads to fit (Cobalt GT) and when it was all set and done and I got the car back, I finally got a callback from a Ferrari track specialist who told me that I should avoid those pads since they damage the rotors and tend to overheat.
Great, I had just spent a lot of time and money to try and get them in. Yet, it was good to know this just before the next track day, and I got an emergency change of the Cobalt GTs with Pagids I had on hand literally 2 hours before my car left for the next track day (and they turned out to make the overheating issues go away)
I also found out that my calipers cooked so much that they melted their dust shields and were supposed to be rebuilt except there no time for that before the next track day. I guess I'll find out then if things work, or not.
All in all, this track day was a bit frustrating, but also a learning experience.
A few more pictures are here
2007/06/15 Passed 300 hours of flight
π 2007-06-15 21:00 by Merlin in Flying

I just updated the latest page of my logbook, and passed 300 hours of flight. This is good as it opens me up to the remaining few planes that I couldn't yet rent (after WV adjusted the minimum hour requirements for some of their higher perf planes)

Flight Hours: 306.7
Landings: 699
Night Landings: 64
High Perf Aircraft Hours: 106.6
Complex Aircraft: 54.2
Night hours: 21.5
Cross Country: 101.3
2007/06/12 Mooney 231, and welcome to class A (FL200)
π 2007-06-12 17:46 by Merlin in Flying

I spent 3 days learning and flying the Mooney 231 with a West Valley CFI who also happens to be a pilot for American Airlines (he gave me a few tips on flying to the midwest in overbooked planes and bad weather).
The mooney is an interesting plane as it uses a reasonably frugal engine but gets high performance out of it by adding a turbo and making the airframe very efficient. The Mooney is a so efficient as a result that you have to plan your descent and speed way early, or you'd come in too fast and too high and miss the airport (it does have speed brakes that help with that though).
It is however a delicate airplane that requires specific handling, and it also requires a fair amount of runway for takeoff and landing (compared to a typical cessna)
On our second day of the checkout, we decided to do a high altitude checkout, and go visit class A for my first time (i.e. more than 18,000ft of pressure altitude for the US). I suggested we fly to Mammoth since I was curious to check out the snow levels and I was hoping to fly back there for an upcoming hiking trip.
Flying up took a while because the POH didn't make it very clear that you could climb for 30mn at full boost (40 inches) and my CFI suggested we stick to the more conservative 33 inches instead. I found out later that 40 inches all the way up is actually ok in that plane (too bad it was a few hours after the flight, and not before :) )
Anyway, it was nice for me to do my first flight in class A (we were both breathing O2 from my backup bottle which ended up being enough for the trip), but it was however uncomfortable for me since we climbed to FL200, the true (GPS) altitude turned out to be 21,000ft, and the density altitude was actually around 25,000ft: I apparently had some gas in my stomach due to some digestion issues, and that gas more than doubled in volume due to the pressure change, causing somewhat painful stomach spasms.
Things got better when we came down towards Mammoth (with a few minutes in IMC through the clouds that were over the mountain, and we picked up traces of ice).
The flight back was VFR and 30mn faster since we got a more direct route and didn't have to climb nearly that high :)



FL200 baby!











Crossing the Mammoth Mountains at 20,000ft makes it much easier to cross without worrying about the pointy bits :)



The trip back was VFR and we only climbed to 12,500ft, and due to the density al
titude, it took us some time to climb high enough to clear the mountain


All in all, I like that plane. While I wish its autopilot had an altitude preselect, and while it's a bit cramped inside, it's a very capable plane which is frugal on fuel at the same time (and here's a link to the rest of the pictures to FL200 to KMMH )
We also scored a top speed of 205knots at altitude, which sure isn't too shabby :) (you can download the GPS track or google earth kml )
2007/06/10 Little ride around the San Francisco Marina
π 2007-06-10 17:03 by Merlin in Exercising

Jennifer and Anna were going to the CA winemakers thank you luncheon (which ended up being fairly poor food and free wines to taste), and since we'd be up there, we took the opportunity to go rollerblading first.
We ended up rollerblading with the SF Marina all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge and back. It was a nice little ride (6 miles)






More picts here
2007/06/09 Nice Takeoff and Landing with minimag
π 2007-06-09 19:58 by Merlin in Flying, Rc

I did a few flights next to work, first in heavy gusts. Let's just say that I had a few bad landings, it was almost unflyable (15-20knots).
I did a later flight around 20:00 when the wind had died down, and things were much better then. One of my coworkers took a video for me, and I actually did a good job for a change :)
2007/06/05 action-marc: Best run times
π 2007-06-05 20:22 by Merlin in Exercising

I ran around the google block twice before boot camp today, and set my best times yet:
3m: 21:45
5k: 22:28
3.2m: 23:00 (that's exactly twice around the block)
avg speed: 7.13mn/mile for 3mile (I can likely do 6:30mn for just a mile, but never tried since I usually run longer than just a mile)
heart rate: 170bpm avg

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with those numbers for a change :)

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