Last Week’s HPR Video

I’m not the most creative guy when it comes to putting these track videos together. I have three basic types – a lap, a highlights reel, and ‘passing fancy’. This time I opted for the latter – nothing but making passes and getting passed. Every pass from all three sessions.

When I was driving, I never realized I was ever more than fifth car in line. But studying the tape, I see I was 18th in line at one point. That’s a lot of cars on track. I also couldn’t help but notice that every time I make a mistake, it messes me up for three turns. Something to work on.

Obviously, passing cars is more fun than getting passed. I admit to enjoy passing Corvettes and Mustangs, BMWs and Acuras. But for some unknown, irrational reason I really get a kick out of passing Porsches. Boxsters, 911s, 944s, doesn’t matter. I really like passing Porsches.

Eiskhana Images

Got the results of the timed laps. Twelve cars were registered in my class (non-Porsche, non-studded, 2wd). One was a no-show, three ran the course once, and eight ran twice. That’s 19 runs. Mine were 11th and 12th fastest, so mediocre would be an improvement. The video is from the untimed course, my only run with any drama.

I only shot about a dozen pictures on Saturday. Only managed on of Doug, but the lighting was bad. So it’s just white Porsches and an FF.

IMG_1443s IMG_1445s IMG_1450s


HPR Customer Appreciation Day

Sunday was High Plains Raceway’s customer appreciation day for 2014. A free track day and no Broncos on television made it an easy decision. Sign me up!

Normally a track day involves getting up early enough to drive for a bit over an hour and still show up for the drivers meeting at 8am. The free days are a bit more relaxed – the track didn’t even open until 9 with the drivers meeting scheduled for 9:40. I was almost a bit too leisurely and barely made it – I got out of the car in time to hear an announcement that the drivers meeting would start in two minutes.

On the way there, though, I had pretty much decided not to participate. Over the holidays, I picked up a new intake from a fellow LoCo member. Michael and I struggled quite a bit to get it installed. I always say “I’m software, not hardware!” when it comes to things mechanical, so when I say “Michael and I installed it” I really mean Michael did the work and I watched supervised.

It sounds really good. I had little expectations that it would provide any performance improvement, but did I mention it sounds really good? The trip Saturday to the Eiskhana was the shakedown cruise, so to speak. Everything seemed to be working well.

On the way to HPR, however, my check engine light came on. Being not very mechanical, I have no idea why it came on, and I wasn’t inclined to push the car too hard. So I attended the meeting but didn’t register. I figured I’d chat with the guys, watch, and beg a ride or three. After talking to a few of the guys, they assured me there wasn’t any reason for the new intake to throw the CEL. It must be something else.

Jeremy said he had an OBDC reader and could check the code and clear it. So we plugged his device in and he fired up his iPhone app. I forget what the code was, but he said it wasn’t anything serious. So we cleared it. If it came back on, I would stop. That done, I went and registered for the slow group.

Before I signed up, they said they had 113 cars registered. Just prior to the meeting, they said about half hadn’t shown up yet, but I found myself at the end of a still lengthy line. We may not have topped 100 cars, but it was the most cars I’ve seen for a track day yet. We ran two groups – fast and slow, slow group at the top of the hour, fast at 30 after. I sat out the first slow session and watched. For that first hour, there was always at least one string of eight or more cars. Obviously, nobody would be getting much of a chance for an unobstructed lap.

We had a nice turnout of Lotuses. Jeremy and Zach in their Exiges, and Mark and Greg in Elises. Greg was there just to spectate – didn’t even bring a helmet to get a ride. At first, I was the only Lotus in the slow group. Jeremy and Zach dropped down to the slow group after a couple sessions. There were quite a few very fast cars running. And I have to say, it was a bit disheartening watching an old Honda Civic passing the Exiges.

When we were all running in the same group, we decided to try to run together and compare each others lines. I volunteered to lead, expecting to be the slowest of the three. They could watch me for a couple laps, then I’d let them by and see if I could get them on camera. Unfortunately, there were so many cars out this just didn’t work. I’d catch traffic and make a pass, but they couldn’t get around until a few turns later. I’d wait, but by the time they caught up, I’d have caught another slower car. After a couple laps of this, I started pushing through traffic.

Open lapping days are different than club days. On club days, there are only two or three places we’re allowed to pass – the two straights and the short chute between turns 6 and 7. And you need a point-by. On open lapping days, it’s open season. The idea is, the slower car sticks to his line and the faster car figures out where it’s safe to pass. This was the case for the most part, but a few of the really slow guys were always getting off the line. That can make things a bit dicey.

I ran two sessions in the morning, then took an hour off. The food truck wasn’t open, so I ate the fruit I brought and wandered around looking at the cars. Then I ran one session in the afternoon. I didn’t bring any extra fuel, and the pumps at the track weren’t operational. I’ve already run out of gas twice there and didn’t want to do it again, so I only ran three.

The track was dry all morning but by my third session, some of the snow close to the track was melting and water ran across the track in a couple places – a small river that crossed the track just after turn 8 and a puddle on the outside of 10. These made for an entertaining time. I found I couldn’t push very hard in that sector. There’s a slight right turn after the first one, and clearly my tires were still wet as the car would slide a bit. The second wet spot wasn’t as bad, as I could generally avoid most of the water. But to take that turn at speed, I’d hit the puddle and the car would go sideways.

About half way through that session, one of the many race cars was coming up behind me on the pit straight. I was paying more attention to my entry to turn 1 than to my mirror at that point, but I did see a silver flash in my mirrors as he went sideways off the track. He got stuck in the mud – they had to get the tow truck out to get him moving again. He wasn’t the only one who had an off – several cars had mud splattered all over them. I got sideways a few times, but managed to keep it on the track.

It was a very nice day, sunny and warm, in the low 60’s. I met some new friends, got to run a few sessions, and all it cost me was a tank of gas. Tough to beat a day like that.

I’ll post a video soon.

Eiskhana again

Last year I said I’d skip Eiskhana for a year. I changed my mind. I figured I didn’t have anything better to do on a Saturday in January than deal with ski traffic to stand around on a frozen lake for five or six hours so I could drive around on ice with bald tires.

I picked up Jerry at the park and ride at I-70 and Morrison road at 6:30. From there to Georgetown Lake in normal traffic it’s about a forty minute drive. It took us an hour and a half. That was about the same as last year, except this time there was actually some snow and ice on the road adding to the degree of difficulty. As we went farther west, the cloud cover increased, and when we arrived the wind was gusting fiercely, throwing a brilliant white cloud of snow off the lake and over the highway.

Unlike last year, we anticipated the traffic and managed to arrive on time. We were followed in by a Ferrari FF. Ferrari of Denver had a trailer there, with two more FF’s and a 458 parked next to it. They also had a Bentley, but I didn’t see that until later.

With the Ferrari trailer in the parking lot, they had to park the registration trailer on the ice. They had a big space heater running and were setting out pastries and doughnuts on tables. I registered, grabbed a tasty treat and we retreated to the car to get out of the wind. They had the drivers meeting at nine. We’d be broken into two groups. One would start with two runs on the timed course and the other would be on a second, untimed course. After the meeting, we all lined up and drove the course slowly. First time they’ve done that.

They put us on the timed course first. I managed both runs without spinning, but I wasn’t particularly fast. The course wasn’t very interesting. The one two years ago was best, but they used the entire area. This way, people got more time on the ice, so I guess it’s a fair trade-off. I ran the untimed course twice. We could do it as often as we liked, but two was enough for me.

Getting off the lake was entertaining. I was a bit concerned when driving on to the lake, which is downhill. There was quite a bit of snow there, deep enough I plowed it with the nose of my car. When driving it out, I couldn’t get enough space to make a run at it. About half way up, I was beached. How hard is it to push a car out of a snowbank when everybody is standing on a frozen lake? It must not have been too bad, it only took three or four guys.

Once off the lake, we parked and then ogled the Ferraris. “Want a ride? You guys are next, back in a few minutes.”

To me, the FF looks a lot like the BMW M Coupe. Sort of like a shoe. A “stupid money” car, made of unobtanium. They weigh about two tons, crank out 650 or so horses, and have steering wheels worthy of an F1 car. The one we were in could be yours, for a bit over 300 large but you can have one made for 230 or so. Evidently, you now get an unlimited mileage seven year service plan in the bargain. A very nice car, certainly. And fast. Even where it was slippery. On dry pavement he had us up to 107 in a heartbeat.

Then we sat and had lunch and watched the cars going sideways and backwards and spinning round. Jerry’s mom made the sandwiches. Made me feel like a little kid for a minute. The weather had cleared up nicely. The sky was a deep cloudless blue unmarred by jetliner vapor trails – the trails disappeared only a short distance behind the planes. The wind had died down and it was quite pleasant sitting on a rock in the sun.

It was a fun time.

I took a few pictures with the long lens, haven’t looked at them yet. I’ll see if any are worth sharing and post them when I get the video done.

Twin Lakes and Sandbeach Lake

Sunday, October 26

A couple weeks ago I met Gale on the trail to Lawn Lake and we exchanged emails. This week, she asked if she could tag along, if I was planning on a hike on Sunday. Well, I had no plans when she asked but that was easy to remedy.

A couple years ago I followed Foster’s directions in an attempt to find Twin Lakes in Wild Basin. She says “finding these lakes is a bit of an orienteering challenge”. I fell short of that challenge and figured it was about time I made a second attempt. I studied the map for a while, finally suggesting that Gale accompany me on my second assault. Over three or four days, my plan evolved a few times with my final idea being after we visit Twin Lakes, we cross the ridge, bushwhack up to Sandbeach Lake and hike out on that trail.

We met at the Sandbeach Lake trailhead shortly after eight. I left my car there and she drove us to the Thunder Lake trailhead. We put boots on the trail before eight thirty. It was sunny and mostly clear; the only clouds were hanging over the Divide. It was also windy. I think I used the phrase “a bit breezy.” What I really meant was more like “it was savagely windy.” But the hike would be through forest the whole way; the only time I expected to deal with the wind was when we were hanging out at the lakes.

Rather than follow Foster’s directions this time, my plan was to hike up the Thunder Lake trail until we reached about 9800′ elevation, then contour east along the slope to the lakes. I’m generally low tech when I’m hiking. I don’t carry a GPS unit with me. I do carry a smart phone, though. I use a speedometer app when I’m in the car because the car can’t be trusted to tell me how fast I’m going. This app also shows the elevation, which can be handy in cases like this.

Shortly after regaining the main trail after the campground shortcut, we arrived at a couple of switchbacks. The eastern end of one of these was conveniently close to our target elevation so we headed off trail there. As is usual when off trail, we couldn’t go in a straight line. I kept thinking we were going downhill, but every time I checked our elevation we were still on target. It was in here I saw the only wildlife on the hike: I spooked a very large rabbit who made very good speed in spite of his girth.

We weren’t making great time, what with finding the best route past rock outcrops or through dense pockets of trees. But it didn’t take too long to arrive at the larger of the Twin Lakes. This is the westernmost, larger one. These lakes are snow fed, neither has an inlet or outlet stream. They’re pretty shallow and, again, I’ve been to larger unnamed ponds in the park. But the view to the west from this lake was very nice. As expected, the wind was quite strong here. At times the wind gusts were so strong they kicked spray up ten or fifteen feet above the water.

We found a place more or less out of the wind and I set up the SLR to do the time lapse. We sat and ate part of our lunches and watched the world go by for about a half hour. Upon retrieving the camera I saw that I neglected to use my usual settings. There are a number of things I have to change from my usual shooting – turn off auto-focus, turn off stability, set it on full manual and set the proper exposure, configure the timer. And change it from storing raw images with large, fine JPG to a smaller image. This is the first time I’ve managed to forget this part. So I filled the memory card pretty quickly. Oops. I’ve been meaning to buy a bigger card; perhaps this error will be the impetus for me to get it done.

Between the two lakes is a small aspen grove. A beaver has been busy here, cutting down several trees.

After getting our gear together, we headed the short distance to the other Twin Lake. It’s just a few yards away, and up a few feet of elevation. We passed through a little aspen grove. This one turned out to be perhaps the most interesting aspen grove I’ve walked through. Some beaver had been busy here, gnawing through dozens of trees. Some had been downed, chewed through completely. Others were still works in progress. The wood chips looked fairly fresh; I doubt this work was abandoned, but what do I know?

I didn’t see anything like a beaver lodge in either lake, and there are no streams here. The beaver must be in one of the lakes, though. These were pretty big trees; there was no other possible body of water this lumber could be taken to, unless that beaver has access to a helicopter or something. Which probably means I wouldn’t recognize a beaver lodge if I was standing on it.

There is almost no view at the smaller of the two lakes, so we didn’t dally there long. From here, we headed almost straight up slope. We only needed to gain about two hundred feet to top the ridge. We passed a couple of cairns and came across what I think is a wildlife trail. After topping the ridge, a small unnamed pond was next, just below us. The pond sits, as is common, surrounded by marshy grass. Being nearly November, it was mostly dried out.

Sandbeach Creek feeds this pond. The map also shows a gully a bit to the west of the creek. We found ourselves ascending this gully rather than the creek. The gully is clearly a flowing stream during spring and summer; now it’s dry but verdant, filled with moss covered rocks, darkly green in the shade of the forest. In places, it looks like there is dried mud covering some of the rocks. It’s not mud, but a dried fibrous sheet a couple millimeters thick.

The gully opened into a clearing where we hopped up a pile of rocks about thirty feet high before returning to another mossy section. Here I decided we needed to head a bit more towards the east. “Just over this next rise we’ll find the lake.” It wasn’t the first time I said it, but I was finally correct. We emerged on the shore of Sandbeach Lake just a few yards to the west of the outlet stream.

It was calm here on the lee shore. It was also mostly devoid of an interesting view, so we circled counter clockwise toward the trail. The wind was quite intense on the east side of the lake. And because this used to be a reservoir like Lawn Lake, there aren’t any trees along the shore to provide shelter. We retreated into the forest, found a nice rock to sit on, and ate more of our lunches. I decided not to set up either camera as I figured neither would be able to sit still in this wind. So it goes. It’s unlikely I have enough footage to bother with a video this time.

There were a few other hikers there. We talked to two guys who spent the night there. They had heard there was an alternate route back to the trailhead. I got my map out and showed them a route I considered for this hike. And, as we no longer needed it, I gave them the map.

The hike out was uneventful. The wind seemed to be dying down a bit, and the skies remained clear overhead. Crossing Hunters Creek, I wondered if there was a bridge there that was washed away last September. There are just sawn logs there now. Perhaps I’m just misremembering. We arrived at my car a few minutes before three, still feeling fresh and in agreement that it was a fun hike. The off trail excursion was pleasant and the beaver activity at the lakes was unusual and quite interesting.

On a final note… I regularly wonder how often my car shows up on Instagram or Facebook. People are always taking pictures when I’m at stop lights or in parking lots. This evening, my son found my car on Facebook. It’s a picture taken today, at the trailhead. Too funny.

Lawn Lake Time Lapse

As I suspected, the SLR was moved around by the wind. But it turns out not to be that big of a loss, as I had it facing too far east. Most of the clouds were dissipated before making it much past the left side of the image. In spite of these difficulties, I included a few seconds of that view anyway.

Having put the Lawn Lake time lapse to bed, I must be ready to take another hike.