Monday, October 11, 2010

Let's Talk About Quitting

I have done a lot of things that I really wish that I hadn't. I've taken on a lot of commitments that I really shouldn't have followed through on. I have NEVER actually not followed through on one of these though..... until now.

Sunday I was supposed to run the Portland Marathon. I paid for the privilege, I kind of trained for it, I made the commitment, but I did not follow through. I made up a bunch of excuses at the last minute and bailed on my commitment. "Soy un perdedor" I'm a loser baby, why don't ya' kill me.

I probably shouldn't be beating myself up over this. I know I can finish a marathon and this was going to turn into a "no time goal" marathon. I was under trained and had no chance of a Boston qualification or "personal best". I could have driven down to Portland, hauled my ass out of bed at an ungodly hour, made the trek to the start in a pouring rain, froze my ass off waiting for the start, and then trudged along at something close to a sub-4 hour time (which would have been my slowest marathon of all times), crossed the finish line, and got my medal and finishers shirt. I could have then limped my shivering, cold, glycogen depleted, cramping muscled, barely alive body back to the hotel room to get showered so I could limp my way to the nearest bar to drown the pain in a heavy internal alcohol rub.

Yeah, I really shouldn't be beating myself up. But damn, I'm not a quitter and I am having a lot of trouble dealing with this whole quitting thing. I'm going to sign up for the Seattle Marathon, to be run in late November, and see if I can't redeem my sorry ass.

A little guilt? Maybe?

Until next time.

Cap'n Ron

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Climbing the Volcano.

Mount Baker 10,778', in the North Cascades, is the most shoreward mountain in the cascade range. Because of that it gets the most snowfall and holds the record for the highest annual snowfall (95 feet) of any mountain in the contiguous US. Another interesting fact is that Mount Baker is the second most active volcano and the most heavily crevassed mountain in the contiguous US.

This is an interesting mountain and this past weekend I led a small, but dedicated, team to the summit.

Originally I had planned on driving up to the trailhead and meeting my 2 climbing partners on Thursday evening, sleeping in the vehicle, and then hitting the trail around 7AM. Busy schedule and unanticipated commitments caused me to have to leave out on Friday morning. This meant that I had to get out of bed at 3:30AM to get ready and drive up to the trailhead for our meet. I did a good job of getting things ready the night before and made my schedules, meeting my team at roughly 6:30AM.

The trailhead elevation is at about 3,100', the hike in was relatively uneventful and the trail was quite easy. We even had a couple of beautiful waterfalls to distract us from the effort of carrying our over loaded backpacks up the hill.
The crossing of Kulshan Creek was a little tricky but it looked worse than it actually was and we barely got our feet wet.

We worked our way up and onto the glacier, finding a nice camping area at the Black Buttes. Camping was on the glacier at an elevation of approximately 7,200' with wonderful weather and good visibility of the route to the summit.

Some cloudiness did come in overnight but the temps were quite mild and the clouds were high so I wasn't worried about conditions being poor for our summit attempt. As is the tradition, we arose at around 2:00AM to prepare for an early start for the summit. This is generally done in order to do most of your climb under favorable cold conditions while the snow is much more solid. I really think this was unnecessary on this climb because of the warm conditions even at this early hour. Besides, this is what a climbing camp looks like at 2:00AM:

We left our glacier camp at around 3:00AM. As the weather had been quite nice for the past week and many climbers had summitted over the preceding days, the route up the glacier was quite easy to follow. The glacier was in prime condition with the crevasses all well covered and having very solid snow bridges. The lower portion of the glacier has a fairly low angle slope and the early evidence of the sun made for a spectacular horizon.

There is a steep step of about 100' to gain the Pumice Ridge which is snow covered. The climbers that I was leading to the summit did a great job of not complaining and holding a nice steady pace up and onto the ridge.

From the ridge you work your way up and onto the Roman Wall, the steepest portion of the climb. The snow conditions were poor, to say the least, with knee deep postholing on the way up the Wall. As hard as this was for travel, it was probably good for my inexperienced climbers because it feels much more secure than icy conditions through this very steep portion of the climb.

We made our way up over the top of the Roman Wall where the slope becomes less steep and less of an effort.

And a little above this you reach the broad summit plateau. A short hike across the Plateau brings you to a summit cone. We reached the top of the Summit Cone 10,778', at around 7:30AM, not bad considering the experience of the couple I was leading. We met up with another group up there and spent a few minutes talking, getting some pics;

and then promptly headed down. What you can't gather from this summit photo was that the wind was blowing at around 35 knots and freezing sleet started moments after the shot.

The trip down the mountain was quite uneventful other than even worse conditions on the Roman Wall where, if you got off the packed snow, you would sink to your crotch. We were able to get off the wall, down the ridge, and off the step without incident though and made it back to our camp right at noon. We broke camp, loading all of our stuff in our packs, and headed down the trail, making it out to our vehicles by 3:00PM.

Overall, this was a great climb and I considered it a huge success simply because the couple I was guiding thoroughly enjoyed themselves and didn't seem to have any moments where they were wishing they weren't on the mountain. Best of all, Bruce had a nice cold Mike's Hard Lemonade for me at the truck!

Great climb and a great time with some great friends!


Cap'n Ron

Friday, July 2, 2010

Some S'plainin' To Do

This whole motorcycle swapping, buying, selling, trading, acquiring.... thing has really started to make my head spin. I think it's time to try to get things typed up and documented so I don't get confused and ride the wrong motorcycle home from the next gathering.


Two main bikes at this moment are the:

2009 R1200RT

And the F800GS
And both of these are excellent motorcycles, but.....

Let's start with the R1200RT -
The R1200RT is arguably the best sport touring motorcycle on the market. It is absolutely amazing as a 2-up touring motorcycle that still has plenty of performance. This baby has heated seats, heated grips, electronic cruise control, electronic suspension adjustments, adjustable windscreen, traction control, and the list goes on. It cruises beautifully at 80mph and, with the windscreen raised, is almost as quiet as riding in the cage. To ride this gal in the rain is something one has to do to understand the environmental protection this bike provides. Amazing!
But..... it just doesn't light my fire. It's great 2-up but it's doesn't fit my riding style when I'm alone. And I'm alone a lot. I have always been the kind of guy who likes to look on a map and pick the tiniest squiggly line on it and head for it. Therein lies the problem. Lots of those little squiggly lines turn out to be dirt roads, and sometimes really rough dirt roads. The RT isn't really an appropriate bike for that kind of riding.

Next up, the F800GS
The F800GS is another amazing bike but completely on the other end of the spectrum from the R1200RT. This has been a fun bike, to say the least. This is the kind of place this bike feels most at home.
This bike will take you places that just beg for adventure! I originally purchased this for my solo touring bike to complement the R1200RT. Didn't work.
The F800GS excels in the dirt road environment but not so much when you are on the big freeway slab. It has gotten better and I think it could be made even better with the addition of a larger windscreen. I do really like this bike and would keep it under different conditions.... still might.

Bikes recently purged (last 6mos):
Buell 1125R - Sport bike extraordinair
BMW G650 X-Challenge - hard core dirt bike

Now try to keep up here, this is where things begin to get complicated.

Casey bought my X-Challenge to compliment his R1200GS Adventure (the same one that I totaled in a confrontation with a guardrail) and for more serious dirt riding. Well, the X-Challenge didn't work out to his liking and some of his priorities got changed up for him so he started really lusting for his dream bike, the BMW HP2 Super Enduro.

About this same time BMW introduced the 30th Anniversary Edition of the R1200GS Adventure. The 2008 GS Adventure is what I traded for the RT and have regretted it ever since.

I had been half-heartedly attempting to find someone to trade my RT for a GS adventure for several months without any luck so I had been thinking selling the RT outright and just purchasing a USED GS Adventure. BMW did introduce a new motor for the GS this year and it really is "all that" so I was beginning to wonder if maybe I could rationalize the 2010 model somehow and then..... BMW introduced that damn 30th Anniversary Edition.

Casey put the X-Challenge up for sell and began looking in ernest for an HP2. He didn't have much luck selling the X-Challenge but he did find his HP2, set up perfectly, and close by.

He makes himself a deal on this HP2, picks it up and brings it home, and promptly finds a guy that wants to trade a wrecked HP2 for the X-Challenge. Hmmmm...... the X-Challenge cost me $5K as a brand new 07, the HP2 was selling at $20K in 2006. Damage looked pretty minor so, what the heck, let's make this trade deal.

Yeah, the beak is a little busted up, the head guards are a little scraped, and the handlebars are a bit buggered, but nothing a little elbow grease and a little BMW cash can't fix! :-)

Same time all of this is going on I'm down talking to the fine salesmen at Ride West BMW about this new 2010 Anniversary GS Adventure. Yeah, we're talking about how there are only supposed to around 38 of these guys coming to the states with each dealer only allocated one. I'm telling him how lucky I am that I couldn't get one even if I wanted because, surely the one they had coming in was already spoken for. "Oh no" Mr. salesman says, "we just got the word that ours is on the way so, no one has had a chance to put their name on it yet." Damn, these BMW guys are tricky!

OK, I give Mr. salesman $500 to hold the bike for me so I can get a gander at it before giving it up to someone else. About 2 weeks later I go down to look this new bike in the eye and see if she's for me. Wow, she was pretty!

But, it didn't have a couple of safety options I was looking for so, as hard as it was, I turned my back on her. I look to the salesman and say "as much as I am enamored by her looks, she is lacking some key features, sorry." He says that isn't a problem, he has several other interested buyers and my $500 deposit will be refunded. So how about a non-Anniversary model? Well, that could work if we can find one set up the way I want. We get on his computer and start doing some searching. Nothing in his inventory. Hmmmm..... nothing in the western US. Oh well, just wasn't meant to be. I'll wait for the 2011's coming this fall. "But wait!" says Mr. salesman. "I think someone said we had made a trade deal with another dealer to allow us another Anniversary model". Cool, let's see what it's equipped with. Darn, still missing my key safety features. "But wait!" "It hasn't gone into production yet so WE can add whatever options we want." Oh, really!? "Let's get these changes made and get 'er ordered up!"

Born on my lovely wife's birthday:

And scheduled to arrive at the dealer during the first week of August and it has all of the options that I wanted. :-)

This is the motorcycle that I wanted to replace the RT with so the RT goes up for sale in ernest. The dealer has offered me a really good trade deal (might be because of all the money they have already made off of me over the years) so if it doesn't sell I'll just trade her in when the new GS comes in. I do have a very interested party from down in So Cal that is scheming on coming up to pick up the RT though, but I don't consider it sold until I have the money in my hands.

Now the new dilemma, the F800GS. The HP2 is a far superior off-road bike to the 800 and will probably be superior on-road too. I'm thinking the 800 will have to go. I will wait until the HP2 is fully repaired before making the decision but, my guess is that it will end up being a rarely ridden bike and it is just too fine a machine to relegate to garage art duty.

So, this is where we stand..... I think.

R1200RT - To be sold, gone.

F800GS - To be sold, gone (maybe)

R1200GS Adventure 30th Anniversary Edition - coming to a garage near you soon.

R1200 HP2 Super Enduro - Broken but fixable, hopefully in my garage within a week.

I still have some time to let all of this shake out and, who knows? I may end up turning down the GS Adventure (I still can), keeping the RT and 800, and fixing up the HP2 and selling it...... Yeah - right!!!! hahaha!

Cheers all!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Of Marathon Training, Automobiles, and Dogs

Today I went out for my 'Long Run' and noted a couple of things worthy of discussion. First, Long Runs are stupid, especially when 'long' is over 20 miles. Who the hell decided that marathon training should include ridiculously long runs in the first place? Anyway, I digress, the topics I was speaking of are autos and dogs.

Why is it that right turners never look right? I know the AUTO traffic is coming from the left but what if??? Say there was a construction zone to your right that was funneling traffic into your lane? Or maybe, just maybe, a pedestrian or runner was coming from your right? Wouldn't it be good to know these things before pulling into the oncoming traffic's lane (don't laugh, I saw it happen) or running over the poor pedestrian or runner who may be coming from your right? Are we so 'anti alternative transportation' that we don't care? "Nothing could be coming from the right besides a stupid pedestrian or even more stupid runner after all", cars are way more important.

Another thing, there are no sidewalks, or even wide shoulders, on any of the rural roads. Don't people in the suburbs walk? Well no, of course they don't walk! There is no damn place for them to walk! My run today involved running on a lot of 'fog lines' through these areas and autos were honking and folks in their F150's were leaning out yelling at me to "get the hell off the road".... WTF? I pay as much, or more, road taxes as anyone, why shouldn't my needs be just as important as anyone else's?

From the United States Department of Transportation:
"It is the policy of the USDOT to consider walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes: The primary goal of a transportation system is to safely and efficiently move people and goods. Walking and bicycling are efficient transportation modes for most short trips and, where convenient intermodal systems exist, these nonmotorized trips can easily be linked with transit to significantly increase trip distance. Because of the benefits they provide, transportation agencies should give the same priority to walking and bicycling as is given to other transportation modes. Walking and bicycling should not be an afterthought in roadway design."
My feelings? It's about damn time! This means that new transportation projects that receive federal funding will have to put just as much emphasis on foot and bicycle traffic as the automobiles. Thank you USDOT. Maybe this could be catalyst for change that we need to encourage folks to get out of those cars and do a little walking or maybe get on a bike.

OK, I love dogs, I even have 3 of them myself, but why is it that people can't understand that dogs treat runners different than walkers? A walker comes by and maybe the dog sniffs his/her leg but a runner comes by and as soon as the runner passes the dog bolts for the runner, attempting to immobilize the runner with a quick bite to the hamstring. Come on people! This is a natural instinct of dogs to catch prey. They haven't always been fed "Wagon Train", these critters were once very effective hunters. I really don't appreciate that rush of adrenaline that I get every time I pass you and your dog and he, unconsciously, decides to go for my hamstring. Not his fault but it's still going to hurt mightily if he ever actually connects. Hold that leash tightly please.

Thank you for your time and please look right before turning right and hold that leash tightly as I pass. ;-)


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Random Musings:

  • Homes and Financing

Over the past year we completed the construction of our beautiful Edmonds home. It is absolutely amazing with a view to die for and a price tag that I almost died because of.

Immediately after completing construction on the new home, we had the comps done on the old Lynnwood home and, based on those comps, did a near complete remodel. Well, in that short time span of construction, the value of the Lynnwood home has fallen about $60K due to short sells and foreclosures in the area.

All of this was done in a struggling economy with a business that definitely suffered from the effects of the poor economy. Try getting financing for a jumbo loan with all of this hanging over your head! Yep, very challenging indeed. I am really looking forward to things actually getting back to normal.

  • Business

PGS has actually done quite well over the past 8 months, considering. Profits are challenging but we are eking out small ones. We had gotten so far behind financially that it will take years to fully recover but we are, at least, in recovery mode. This has been a very difficult time and our good fortune is no indicator of the state of economy for our industry.

We are doing well because of extremely hard work combined with the fact that we are the best at mapping in our niche market. We can’t relax though….. we are just the loss of a job or 2 away from another collapse and we don’t have the reserves to survive another so soon.

  • Leisure

What I miss most right now is leisure time.

The ability to take off and do a trip on a whim. Even 3-day weekends are hard to come by these days. The effects of all of my personal projects combined with the challenges of running a business at this time, just doesn’t leave any time for play. Not that I could afford to do much anyhow.

  • Running

Training for the Vancouver Marathon on May 2 in Vancouver, BC.

Training has been going extremely well and I am at least a month ahead of my training schedule right now. This week has been a very short mileage week for me due to my hectic schedule but I’ll up the mileage again next week. I want to take it a little easy for the rest of February anyhow, just to make sure I don’t peak to early. The goal is first, to qualify for Boston, 3:35:59, with a secondary goal of finishing in under 3:30. I’ve been working on speed much more in this program than past and am feeling pretty confident right now. It helps that I have completed 3 runs in excess of 18 miles, with 2 in the 20-mile range, and haven’t bonked yet.

  • Motorcycles

It is really hard to find the right one (ones). In the past 5 years I have gone through no less than 15 motorcycles. Of course 1 of those was due to a catastrophic failure (mine) resulting in the destruction of the motorcycle and a few personal structural features. It’s good to have a dedicated small dirt bike, big dirt bike, sport tourer, performance sport, and adventure tourer. I do believe that I am finally at the point where 3 bikes should be enough and have pretty much decided what those bikes should be:

    1. BMW R1200GS Adventure –

This bike is the Swiss Army Knife of bikes. It will do anything you ask of it and do it well. You can head off cross-country with it and ride in total comfort, carrying enough gear for months of living off of the bike, humbling sport bike riders in the twisties, all while not worrying whether the road is dirt or asphalt.

    1. BMW F800GS –

Great for around town and commuting but also makes an excellent big off-road bike capable of long days of asphalt to get to the dirt exploring. It has just enough of a hooligan tilt to satisfy the non-conforming side in us all.

    1. Performance Sport Bike –

This is probably the only bike that I’m going to have to accept as an ever changing desire depending on the latest/greatest in go-fast technology. Right now my dream bike would be the HP 2 Sport:

This bike is sooooo expensive though that it isn’t even on the list of possibilities.

The BMW S1000RR sure looks amazing:

I have got to get down and test ride this bike!

And the older BMW R1100S Boxer Cup Replica would be really cool garage art:

Any one of these would be a welcome addition to my garage.

You will probably note that all of these bikes are BMW models. Yes, I have drunk from the BMW cool-aid. It’s just that once you have driven the BMW’s everything else just isn’t as inspiring. Kind of like driving a Porsche. If you don’t get it….. you never will.

  • Automobiles

The lease term on the Jeep that I use as a business vehicle ends next month so I will be car-less. I have made the decision, in the interest of finances, to borrow Sue’s Smart Car to use as transportation in the short term. After the business finances improve I will need to come up with a different option, as the Smart will not be great for doing project recon…. Sue will shoot me if I damage that little guy! I’m not sure if I want to go with a pickup or a car right now. I do know that I hate the motor in the new Jeeps and would not go that direction again.

I really want to do a full rally conversion on a classic mini if I could find a project car.

That would make a really cool car to show up at client meetings with. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the year brings.

Enough rambling for now. I wish everyone a happy and prosperous year!


Sunday, January 17, 2010


Seems I have a lot of queries concerning the whys of my life of late so I thought this might be a good blog subject. I’m kind of a dense guy, might be senility, not sure because I wasn’t real bright even back when I had a memory…. What were we discussing? Oh right, brain density. Anyway, since I can’t seem to answer my own questions I thought I would throw it out to both, OK fine, my only follower and see if you can answer these deeply puzzling questions.

1.) Why do I run? Not only, why do I run, but why do I run far?

Here I am, once again, training for one of these blasted marathons. On 1-10 I went out and ran 19.3 miles on the Sammamish Trail (at least it was flat). It felt pretty good so, instead of finishing off feeling all strong and stuff, I decided to push the last 2 miles at race pace. Yeah, that was smart. Heart rate shot through the roof and I ended the run feeling completely spent. Damn!

This morning 1-17, I decided to drop a little mileage off and limit myself to 18 miles. Seemed like a good idea, right? The route I chose was challenging, lots of big hills, but I thought I could just take it easy and run something in the 9:30 range. Yeah, right….. What I ended up doing was running this hilly route at only 1 second per mile slower than my 19.3 mile run on the really flat trail last weekend. Dense.

2.) Why isn’t it OK for a run to just be fun and not push my limits?

This one seems like it should be a simple question. It eludes me though.

3.) What’s this whole ‘over-achiever vs beach bum’ thing I’ve got going on about?

I don’t believe I have ever come across someone who was as conflicted over these two traits as I am. I tell you, all I want to do is go play but yet I seem to take on more responsibilities than Mother Theresa. If I’m not excelling at something I feel lost but if I’m not lazing around shirking my responsibilities I feel cheated. What’s up?

4.) Why isn’t one motorcycle enough?

OK, easy…. See number 3.

5.) Why don’t I ‘get me’?

Obviously if I did, I wouldn’t be asking these stupid questions…..

‘Till next time,



Friday, January 8, 2010

A New Year, a New Opportunity

Good bye and good riddance to 2009. I don't regret having to endure calendar year 2009 but I am sure glad it is over.

2009 was both challenging and rewarding and, while financially difficult, it has been a year of learning and building for PGS, creating a much more secure business. I still have a lot of learning to do to understand why I was hit so hard by the current recession. It is so easy to just say "we have had a hard time because we are in a recession" but that is only partially true and does nothing to help move us forward. I really believe that a good business plan adapts to conditions rapidly and finds new opportunities in challenging economic times, foregoing the big financial hits. It took longer than it should have for PGS to adapt and find these new opportunities causing me to think that some revisions to the business plan are in order.

Things really have improved considerably over the past 5 to 6 months for the business. We are working with a reduced staff but easily keeping everyone busy and chargeable. Profits are still really meager and I need to do more to reduce operating expenses and to improve revenue generation. At this point I am really optimistic about the upcoming year but very cautious at the same time. That is the great thing about the New Year, it gives us hope and a whole new year of opportunities.

And I'm ready for it!

2009 was such a challenging year on so many levels and it is a wonder I came through mentally as well as I did. I don't even think I developed any new ulcers from all of the stress. Here's a quick recap;

  • The worst financial year since starting the business…. Let's just say that I don't have to worry about an income tax this year.
  • Investment portfolio was a complete disaster…. The losses would make a nice deduction on my income, if I needed it, which I don't.
  • Constructed the mega-home 'El Edmonds Castillo' in the midst of my financial collapse.
  • Did a full remodel of the Lynnwood home to prepare it to sell for far less than it was worth a year ago without the remodel.
  • I am boatless in Seattle because I sold Allegro, my sailboat and refuge from reality, to reduce my monthly expenses.

On the other hand there were many very positive aspects to the past year and, in some ways, it has been one of my most productive years. Here's a little recap of the positives:

  • It is 2010 and I am not bankrupt.
  • PGS has actually been profitable since August, albeit on a very meager basis.
  • PGS has developed relationships with some fantastic new clients.
  • PGS has entered 2010 with the largest backlog of work in the past 2 years.
  • My investment portfolio still has 'some' money in it and it is slowly getting better.
  • I completed the construction of 'El Edmonds Castillo' and now live in an absolutely fabulous home with a view to die for.
  • The bank may even be convinced to convert my construction loan to an actual mortgage on the new home.
  • I got to do some really fun exploring via motorcycle travels.
  • I am married to the love of my life…. And have been for over 30 years…. And she still likes me!
  • It is 2010 and I am not bankrupt!

2010! And I am ready for the voyage. I will not allow this year to be negative and I will not dwell on my past failures. What a wonderful, privileged life I have been afforded. 2010, one more chance to get it right!!!

Happy New Year and cheers to all!