Thursday, December 21, 2006

One Less Car

The short phrase above is a common phrase among cyclists the world over. It's our own (sometimes arrogant sounding) way of saying how much better bikes can be compared to cars. Well, I don't always agree with that notion, but in many cases, the bike will get you around faster and more efficiently than a car would. Those that live in large, dense cities know this much better than the rest of us!

For me at the particular time, "One Less Car" literally means one less car, i.e. we sold the Audi and now have "one less car" than we did before. We are now down to a grand total of 1 automobile in our household and even with winter storms and long distances traveled (I work 40 miles from home) we haven't had any major problems with only having one car. On top of that, the one car that we do have is a VW TDI so it gets near 50 MPG regularly and costs under $50/month for insurance. AND it's more fun to drive than the Audi was! Because of the longevity and reliability of the diesel engine, I don't plan on having to fix it near as much as a gasoline car either!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Winter Commuting

We finally had the first storm and really cold weather hit us this year. Temperatures haven't gotten above freezing for the past 3 or 4 days. The mornings have been roughly -11°C (12°F) but right now (10:00 am) it's a balmy -3°C (26°F) so the ride to school this morning should be nice, cough.

Due to the snow and cold, I decided it was time to put away the slick tires for the winter and switch over to the cyclocross knobbies. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

They've been working great and the commute has been good on them so far. I also couldn't live without the fenders, they keep me dry and also keep the salt off me. Now for some pics of the dirty yet efficient rig.

Monday, October 30, 2006

UTA Frontrunner - Commuter Rail

After way too long, Salt Lake City and the adjoining areas of the Wasatch Front are finally getting a commuter rail line. When all is said and done, it will run from Davis County (up North) to Provo (and maybe even further South). After Salt Lake City killed the two amazing train stations that it had to it's name, it was time for another one to take the place of the other two (Rio Grande and Union Pacific).
The new inter-modal hub is just the ticket and is pretty cool although if somebody was thinking straight they would have converted one of the existing train stations in all their glory and turned it into the inter-modal hub. Oh well, I can always dream that someone might think in the long-term, right?

Anyway, I was riding out to eat lunch with Gina out at Franklin-Covey and as I was riding over the 400 railway overpass, I looked to my right towards the inter-modal hub and saw a gathering of people around a new Frontrunner train car! They weren't supposed to have those cars for another year! I quickly turned around (dodging traffic of course) and headed over to "investimagate" with the trusty point and shoot camera in tow.

Once I got there I saw that it was a small press conference for the Proposition #3 "Rails and Roads." It was exciting to see and I got to go inside and take a look around the two story rail car. It was quite comfortable and will even be equipped with Wi-Fi capability! It's planned that it will travel at about 85 MPH, so that will help lure people to it because it will be faster than driving. The section from Davis County should be done sometime next year from what I hear with the SLC to Provo section being completed by 2010 or so. Proposition #3 will help speed this along.

Finally, I gotta throw in a couple of pics of the bike and the ride.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Finally got a VW TDI!!

Gina and I finally got a Volkswagen TDI. To be more specific, we got a black Jetta GLS 1.9L TDI. We have been looking for one that we could afford for quite some time now. The problem is the TDI engined cars are hard to find around here, so I mostly looked on ebay, autotrader, and some automotive forums. Finally I decided to just look around on a few of the Craigslist sites for the larger cities. When I checked Dallas I found one that had just been posted only minutes earlier. We quickly called on it and the guy couldn't believe we were so fast! We took the necessary precautions and finally sent him the money, then we had to figure out how to get it home. Shipping it would have cost quite a bit, and after we looked into plane tickets, we found that they were about the same price as shipping it. Gina and I needed a good excuse for a getaway for our 3rd year anniversary too, so that's what we did. We flew to Dallas, picked up the car and drove it 1266 miles home to Salt Lake City. When we got there, I checked the car out with my VAG-COM and laptop and everything checked out. The seller split the cost on a timing belt change with me, so that saved us a bunch in repair costs because it hadn't been done until I told him to do it. I checked the timing with the computer and it was perfect and there were no fault codes. We got in the car and drove away after the final inspection. Filled up at the nearest station and we were on our way.

We drove immediately to the other side (West) of the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and got a hotel. At 5am the next morning we were off to visit Polly (Gina's Aunt) who lives in Lubbock, TX. After the roughly 300 miles to Lubbock, we still had half a tank left, but I was just dying to see what kind of gas mileage we were getting. First half tank was 44MPG. After lunch and a visit with Polly and JoAnn, we were off to Santa Fe. We got to Santa Fe with just a little daylight left so we went into the old town and ate and window shopped a bit, then it was off to our B&B outside the city. It was called Hacienda las Barrancas and it was absolutely beautiful. The stars were amazing as it was a clear night so we sat outside for a bit, then built a fire in our room and went to bed. The next morning we weren't to eager to leave after the wonderful breakfast and great hospitality. We hung out on the property for a while which has amazing views at the end of some short walks. Then it was back in the car to go home. We didn't need to fill up again until Cortez, Colorado. Checking the MPG there, it turns out we averaged about 47 MPG for that tank (mostly 80-85mph).

We hit some crazy hailstorm in Moab but after that it was smooth sailing. The car drove great and feels really solid. It should cut our fuel bill in half, so we are pretty excited. Ahh, the beauty and engineering of a diesel engine! Oh yeah, and it's more fun to drive than the Audi!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Audi Stars and Cars Event

The other night was the Audi Stars and Cars event at Strong Audi here in Salt Lake. They had the new Audi R10 TDI Le Mans racecar there with two of the drivers that won the actual 24 Hours of Le Mans race this past month. My dad and I went to it and it was pretty amazing to see that car up close and personal. It sure is a technological marvel! I won a book signed by Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela as well as got two free tickets to the practice sessions on Thursday night. It was awesome to hear that car in person. Here's a link to a video of the R10 at the Grand Prix of Utah

and here are some pictures.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Landy Update

The other night since Gina has been in Chicago, I came down to my dad's to work some more on the Landy (1994 Land Rover Defender 90). I got the transmission off and the clutch replaced and surprisingly it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It is nice to have it out of the way though. I also got the shock towers modified enough to fit the external reservoir shocks that I got. Here's some pics of what I did. I just have to put the transmission back on and then focus on the fuel and electrical lines, eek! I can't wait until I get this thing done though, it's about time!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Bicycle Commuting

Today when I was riding to Sandy to pick up my car and finish the commute to work it was a beautiful morning and as I was riding along watching the gorgeous sunrise I thought how great bicycle commuting is. I saw quite a few other bicycle commuters making the trek into work, school, etc. and as each passed, we exchanged friendly waves of understanding and comraderie. It was a nice feeling. Yesterday when I was sitting waiting for the train at the TRAX station I saw quite a few people cruising around on bikes in Downtown. This may seem like a normal thing in other cities, but Salt Lake still needs to grow up and seeing a handful of cyclists in a 10 minute time span is pretty good. It's nice to see more now than I used to.

Most trips that people make are under a mile or two long which means that at just 14mph you could travel 2 miles in just 8.5 minutes and you get to ride straight to the front at traffic lights. Now think about how long it takes you to pull your car out of the garage, drive through traffic (sometimes the worst part), and then you still have to find a parking space. While the parking space issue might be quickly resolved just outside the city, it can get much more difficult (not to mention expensive) in and around Downtown. The bicycle is the perfect solution for most of these short trips. If you haven't started using a bike for transportation, you should try it, you just might remember those early days of freedom that came from learning how to ride.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Three Foot Law

This post is for all those who drive a car in Utah. Today as I was riding down Wasatch Drive near the University of Utah Campus, coming up to Foothill Drive a lady driving a car started creeping up on me on the left as I coasted down the hill. I noticed that she was pretty close to me, but I have gotten used to that. She continued to pass me and as she got about half way past me she pulled over even closer to me pushing me off into the gutter. I recovered and she had to stop for the line of cars that were also in the left-hand turn lane but I don't even think she saw me and she was the one that passed me!

So, for all those drivers out there, here's what Utah law says about passing someone on a bicycle.

An operator of a motor vehicle may not knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly operate a motor vehicle within three feet of a moving bicycle

And here's the link: Utah Three Foot Law

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Commute

So now that I am working full time down in Orem (an hour south of Salt Lake City where I live) I have to be to work by 7:00 am. There are a couple of problems with this, one is I don't like driving a car to commute, I think it's a waste of a great car. Two, I don't want to waste an hour of my day in the car when I could be riding my bike. Three, I go against the flow of rush hour traffic so the buses and mass transit are infrequent and slow. So, to make the most of a bad situation, I use a combination of my bike, the car, the bus, and the train. On Tuesday and Thursday I work in a cardiovascular physiology lab at the U of U campus (in SLC) at 7:30am. Then at 11:00am, I leave there and make a quick sprint down the hill to the train. I hop on the train and take it to the Sandy City at the South end of the valley where my car is parked. I then drive over the Point of the Mountain to Utah Valley. On Tues/Thur, I usually have to drive all the way to work to get there in time.

On Mon/Wed/Fri, I leave my house around 5:30 am and ride either all the way to Sandy where I get in my car to drive over the Point of the Mountain. Then I park in Utah Valley and ride the rest of the way into work by bike. Sometimes I catch the train about halfway to Sandy if I feel tired. Either way, it's a great way to travel and it cuts my gas mileage, car wear and tear, and commuting cost in half. I ride all public trasportation for free because I'm a student. On the way home, I just travel the route backwards. Here are some pics coming home yesterday afternoon. Welcome to the "City," what views, eh?

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Intermountain Cycling

Just thought I would make a post about my website:

It's a site dedicated to the cycling community along the Wasatch Front in Utah. It hosts a database of road cycling routes along the Wasatch Front. It is slowly expanding as new ride routes are submitted by others in the community and also by me. My goal is to expand it to include most of Utah and some neighboring states also. I intend to make it a place of reference for anyone who is looking for ideas of where to ride in the area. I include elevation gain, distance, directions, road grades, as well as some history of each area when I can. If you check it out, be sure to submit a route if you have a favorite that is not listed or if you have a variation on one that is currently listed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Freeheeler's day

Brad Tanner took me up Farmington Canyon to ski near Bountiful Peak. It was a beautiful day with amazingly deep powder on every run. Avalanche danger was a little high, but we treaded lightly and picked our runs well. We also went prepared with beacons, etc. We ended up making three runs on the ridges just below Bountiful peak. They were long hikes, but well worth it! Here are some shots of some runs during the day.

The ridge just below Bountiful peak (the peak
is out of the picture on the left). If you look,
you can see the cornices off the top of the ridge.

Me on the last run of the day, look at that powder!

Brad Tanner leading the way. You can see the
same ridge that's in the picture above.

We unexpectedly came upon a group of cabins,
here's one of them that was about half buried.

A couple more of me

Steep, but not exactly "deep."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

NetDocuments and LexisNexis Alliance

Well, after years of planning and negotiation, the company that I work for (NetDocuments) finally partnered with Lexis Nexis for real!! NetDocuments is a web-based document management system that was started by Ken Duncan, Lee Duncan (my dad), and Alvin Tedjamulia along with other employees from Softsolutions. It's finally a public partnership now and here's the link to the Yahoo Finance article about it. NetDocuments and LexisNexis Partnership

I can't believe it finally happened, we finally got a break :D Below is a snippet of what is said in the article:

Designed and developed as an on-demand document service for the Web, the NetDocuments service is the first Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering for documents. The alliance between LexisNexis and NetDocuments will offer law firms of all sizes a fully-featured document and email management service with built-in extranet capability, disaster recovery, archival and records management services. The NetDocuments' patented and scalable technology provides a centralized repository for documents, emails and records where law firms can have a single-repository "one firm view" across geographically dispersed offices and access information from any Internet-connected device, including Blackberry® and Outlook®.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Orem High vs. Timpview Games (clickable thumbnails)

My little sister, Michelle, plays on the Orem High girls' basketball team and her boyfriend, Craig, plays for on the boys' team. I went to try my hand at basketball photography the other night at their games. Some of the pics turned out alright so I was pretty happy. The boys ended up winning in an intense game and the girls ended up barely losing after a good game. Here are some pictures of Craig and Michelle.

Don't you love high school basketball?