AFM Race Two - Infineon

Yesterday was a big day for bike racing. I did successfully complete my first clubman heavyweight race, without crashing, and did not end up in last place. I did all my own safety wiring and race prep which is also empowering. Now clubman is the race bracket for the newest racers... so it's not like this is even the junior varsity here... nothing is televised, no sponsorship money, racers all have other jobs. Spectators do pay an admission fee to enter the race park, makers of tires or parts will give you a discount if you put their sticker on your bike, and top finishers might get a couple hundred dollars which doesn't even come close to offsetting the costs of racing. I did get my first groupie/fan crush gush yesterday though... which is AWESOME. Some guy came up to me after my race and said, "Aw man, I had money on you to win... That's a sick bike I said to my buddy watch that R1 he's going to kill it." My expectations going into the race were actually to finish without crashing and otherwise get pummeled in performance. I had only been at that track on two other occasions so there's plenty of room for simple experience to improve my performance. Actually I did okay though - it's so much fun to be on the track with other guys who are roughly as fast as me. I'm skipping race #3 for a wedding - so by race #4 in June at Thunderhill maybe I can join one of the bigger more varsity level race classes and try to hang at the back of the pack. Official results get posted to - but here are my laptimes:


That Was Interesting

On the heels of my first out of country experience in the Obama administration I am returning home with overwhelming patriotic feelings. This always happens when I travel - and maybe it has something to do with 15 hour flights and sleep deprivation, but wow - how our international image has changed. People I encountered in both Cairo and Dubai wanted to know what I think of Obama, showed genuine optimism in discussing the future of America and our foreign policy, seemed concerned about our domestic economic challenges (albeit this has potentially selfish motivations), and smiled with their eyes and whole face when I reported I'm an American rather than the furrowed and conflicted brows I've historically seen.

This change is drastic and has significant implications. Do you think the overall image of America is reflected in the commercial success abroad of American brands abroad like Ford, Coke, The Gap, McDonalds, etc? Absolutely.

It's also interesting to think about what it means to be an American when you're abroad. I met a couple guys in Dubai who were: raised in Kuwait, educated in the United States, Palestenian by self identification, and living in the UAE, and carrying US passports.

Considering the face value experience in Dubai - this seems like a very progressive society economically and culturally. But you don't have to look very far to find massive economic disparity, cultural tension on a broad scale, sweeping sex inequality, injustice, human rights transgressions, and people everywhere who are conflicted about their experience in the country and considering leaving.

We have such a special thing here in the US. We're certianly not without fault, but today I cherish our freedom and equality and justice and diversity and tolerance.



This place is surreal in so many ways: geographically, culturally, economically... I need to post more commentary but much of what I'm thinking about while in Dubai is detailed here: clickity click Some pictures from 50 stories above the city streets of Dubai from earlier tonight. Man I'm missing my Leica.


Catching A Taxi In Cairo

My travel partner is Indian (like from India) and the Egyptians all assume he's Egyptian so they talk to him in Arabic. And he refuses to tell them he's American. SO I try to get in a cab and tell them where I want to go - and they just look at me blankly and start talking Arabic to my travel partner. Who both refuses to tell them were we want to go (for fear of disclosing his lack of Arabic language skills) and simply repeats everything they say back to him. It's totally hilarious. It probably sounds like this:

Taxi: Where do you want to go? (in Arabic - to me)
Me: Heliopolis
Taxi: blink blink

Taxi: What is he saying? (in Arabic)
Travel Partner: What is he saying (in something resembling Arabic)
Taxi: What? (in Arabic)
Travel Partner: What? (in Arabic)
Taxi: Where do you want to go? (in Arabic)
Travel Partner: Where do you want to go (in Arabic)

Me: Look, can we go to Heliopolis?
Taxi: Get in (in Arabic)

Travel Partner: (to me) where does he think we want to go - let's figure that out before we get in
Me: then tell him you don't speak Arabic!
Travel Parter: no way man
Taxi: Where do you want to go? (in Arabic)

.... repeat at least three times


Cairo Day Four

Visited markets today. Probably my last post from Egypt more next week from Dubai. of the pictures I took walking around Cairo these capture best the sense of the scene. Everything is grey and drab. Likely started that way but the sun beating down on it must mute all color with time anyway. I guess that's why bright colored things when the appear are so visually interesting. The mosques which speckle any view from any place looking in any direction are interesting the towers jutting out where the prayer time used to be announced by singing.


Cairo Day Three - Pyramids

Some pictures from this afternoon.

Cairo Day Three - Smart City

I love juxtapositions. Today saw one of the most stark and flagrant ones I've encountered. This is akin to Bellevue, Washington or more closely Tech City in Hyderabad, India - Cairo's version is "Smart City." So all of the downtown and area in Cairo near the Nile (95% of Egypt's 80 million people live within a few miles of the Nile) it's mostly 15 to 20 story buildings which look like they've been beaten down by the sun for ages. The colors are drab and they look like maybe they were state developed. Not sure how new construction is handled here but would not surprise me to learn it's government involved. It's all quite homogonous looking, and the skyline is speckled here and there with grandiose mosques. The population is 95% Sunni muslim - the balance mostly Coptic and small pockets of others. The mosques are quite beautiful really. But outside Cairo a 45 minute drive is an enclave of state of the art glass and concerete and very modern looking buildings called Smart City. Getting there it's like you're driving through the desert on the road to Alexandria, then you come on this outcrop like an oasis planted in the middle of a sheet of sand housing all the big tech: Mobinil, Microsoft, Vodaphone, the Ministry of Telecommunications, a couple Universities, Etisalat, etc. Then the other half of Smart City (funny name) is the big finanical center housing the Egypt headquarters for all the big finance. It's quite a development and with literacy rates around 45% (that's less than half who are able to read in any language) and GDP around $2000 USD and this magnificent outcrop of buildings in the middle of nowhere just hanging out doing business in as Western of a fashion as one could imagine.


Cairo Day Two

Busy with meetings for MBA project, not enough time for pictures or much tourism today. It is interesting to see a holistic side of Cairo though - both the inside of conference rooms and the business community, the students of American University we've connected with, the retail outlets we're formally studying, the business ecosystem including laws/ regulations/ consumer appetite/ economic and socio-political factors through a mobile market lens, and the tourist things we stumble into. We will have time for a Nile tour and probably visiting pyramids tomorrow. We might take a day trip to a neighboring country or possibly Alexandria Thursday.


Cairo Day One

Just got here and combating jet lag, but did get out to a open air market last night which is an entire street of cell phone "stores." I think this is where most cell phones go to die - you can buy second hand phones, buy pre-paid SIM cards, get someone to soldier things inside your phone, get your phone unlocked (for roughly $5 USD in EGP), buy noodles, or check out this guy's pimped out motorbike.


Thunderhill Eats My Tires

I got out to Thunderhill a few times in the past week, there is a certain upside to having no job. I am somehow eating tires like they are going out of style, this is from two days at the track. And most of the damage was done by three or four sessions on the first day. My times keep coming down, I got a couple laps at 2:06 which was pretty good since I was not pushing all the way - it's pretty scary when your at 120 MPH around a corner and you feel the back end sliding six inches and losing grip! It's fun having this bike at the track, 30 more horsepower than the Ducati just makes all the difference. I really want to get my other bike ready to race and take that to AFM race number four - but I don't have the time to prep it before the race (since I'm off to Egypt and Dubai next week). Starting to look like a real racebike though with plastics and number plates and real wheels and rotors on there! I was so proud of myself to finally wear through a knee puck for the first time the other day to the point it needs replaced. Ha, ha.

Going Fast in 2009

I'm updating Twitter these days more often - and finding gaping holes in my blog. Here's some catch up. The rate of change this year is proving to be nearly limitless. Life is moving so quick these days. I started the year moving from San Francisco to Redwood City. This move was motivated by (a) obtaining a garage, (b) averaging 50% of my time in hotels in the last three years, and (c) making money by renting out my loft. In February my father passed away. He was diagnosed with lung cancer late last year, and fought a surprisingly well for surprisingly long but in the end he went quick. I had never been very close to him, but was able to spend time toward the end, flying from Alaska to Ohio. It's bittersweet to see relatives in Ohio for funerals, but it is still good to see them. If you travel to Alaska, remember to leave your Ulu at home. If you don't - the nice people at the airport will remind you. After five years working at Qualys, my last day was March 31. I am close to finalizing where I'll next go, and am very excited about what I think the next thing is likely to be... In the meantime I'm trying to take most of April away from work. So far I've been to three track days, have travel planned to Egypt and Dubai, and have AFM race number 2 at Infineon scheduled for April 25. The final quarter of my MBA program at UCLA started this weekend - Strategy and my master thesis project - a trip to China in June - then I will graduate. SO, I'll make a separate post with some track pictures from last week now. Stay tuned starting next week I hope to send some posts from Egypt.

AFM Race One - Buttonwillow

One of my friends called me on failing to show up in the race results of the AFM Buttonwillow round, so I guess someone does actually read this blog and I owe and update! Ha, ha. I got there successfully and got my bike race prepped including the swap to aluminum wheels and getting the bike safety wired correctly. I did successfully complete a rearset swap in the Motel 6 parking lot at midnight the evening before by the light of headlamp (yes, track are in the middle of nowhere and nice hotels are nonexistant). I passed tech and got my gear checked out. I got the required AMB timer. I got through two practice sessions with success then did some practice race starts. That's where the plan went awry. See 1000cc bikes are probably a little too much for the OEM clutch to handle - but I didn't really know this. I was zipping up and down the hot pit lane practicing starts from 10,000 RPM and dropping the clutch to wheelie - then lifting the rear tire off the asphalt at the other end jamming on the front brake in a stoppie. I think I did this about five times before my clutch decided it was done. So, sadly with no clutch I was not able to line up on the grid and even start the race. I was assigned my grid position (in the back) and came so close! Oh well, guess I'll have to make Infineon race number two my first official outing. Meanwhile here's a picture of my dead clutch and me trying to replace it in my garage (I'm way over my head here).