Thursday, December 24, 2020

...But Why....?

 According to the gossip from social media single track vehicle dynamics authorities, I'm doing everything wrong! They don't know what I'm doing, so clearly I must not know what I'm doing! Right...

Roadracing motorcycle design has evolved itself into a dead end - they can't accelerate or decelerate any harder without flipping, or corner any harder without running out of clearance. Any changes to one or more areas to improve one aspect will result in an overall loss of performance. Tires are optimized to accelerate or brake, not both, leading to cooling events. Suspension has to be optimized for load transfer extremes. All the above leads to both slow roll response and high polar inertia about the roll axis. And that results in terrible aerodynamics. ALL of the above problems can be successfully addressed IF you discard the old configuration and derive a functionally superior new configuration. 

Here are those problems (And causes):

  1. Stoppies (High CG, short WB) 
  2. Wheelies (High CG, short WB) 
  3. Lean angle limitations (Oversized rear tires)
  4. Roll rate limitations (High roll axis, high polar moment)
  5. Suspension sub-optimization (High CG, short WB) 
  6. Tire sub-optimization (High CG, short WB)
  7. Aerodynamic sub-optimization (High CG, short WB)

And here are the solutions:
  1. Long WB, low CG, linked brakes
  2. Long WB, low CG, 2WD
  3. 2WS, appropriate tire selection
  4. 2WS, low roll axis, low CG
  5. Long WB, low CG
  6. 2WD, 2WS, linked brakes, long WB
  7. Long WB, low CG 
And here's how, why, and all that:

1. Pretty obvious, really. If load transfer under braking can't flip the bike, then there must still be some load on both tires. The lower the CG, the less load transfer, and the more both wheels will do the work. It also means that trail braking will be a lot more effective as the tire's loads transfer from braking to cornering.

2. Also pretty obvious. Same as the above, but from the opposite direction - just a lot more difficult to implement. Doing it beats complaining about it. The ultimate solution to that problem is addressed near the end of this post.

3. Not obvious, at least with the 2WS part. The tire part ought to be obvious: With 2WD and linked brakes, a big fat rear tire is no longer necessary or even desirable. A narrow tire at both ends provides enough footprint area - more about that in #6, below.

With 2WS, cornering force deviates from perpendicular to the roll axis, thus reducing lean angle (Simple trigonometry, if you must). If 2WS is taken to an extreme, a single track vehicle dynamically transforms into a purely 2-tracked vehicle known as a "Di-cycle": NO lean angle required at all for cornering. That isn't practical for obvious reasons, but steering the rear wheel in the same direction of the turn at any proportion much over 25% (Ideally over 33%) contributes to the same effect, thus significantly reducing lean angle. 

Both the narrower rear tire and 2WS effects greatly offset the negative effects of lower CG on lean angle. No, this isn't in any of the books. Yet. 

4. Not as obvious as it ought to be, sort of: Obviously, the reduced polar moment makes changing lean angle easier and also importantly, makes stopping changes to the lean angle easier. Less obviously, the lower the roll axis, the greater the lean angle changes with displacement of the contact patch relative to the roll axis when countersteering. 2WS normally wouldn't help at all with a high roll axis in that regard, since most of the effort in countersteering is exerted in overcoming wheel inertia - but with the lower roll axis and that increased displacement effect, countersteering becomes a LOT faster with the same effort.

5. Extreme load transfer is no longer happening, which means that a suspension range and rate to accommodate those extremes is no longer required. And with less suspension travel comes less sag under cornering, thus improving ground clearance and increasing potential lean angle even more. Lower CG and long WB, and less travel also means drastically reduced chassis pitching to bump response, acceleration, and braking, resulting in far greater chassis stability. Steering geometry can be optimized full time. And greater chassis stability reduces the appeal of conjuring pro/anti(Fill in the blank) magic geometry, thus making that pursuit irrelevant.

6. With 2WD, linked brakes, 2WS, low CG, and long WB, both tires are working all the time. There are no "Break times" for cooling down that then require warming back up to optimum temperature. And since extreme load transfer isn't happening anymore, much lower tire pressures (With the obvious benefit of a larger footprint) are both possible and desirable without developing stability and control issues. Having interchangeable front and rear wheels and tires is a welcome benefit. I doubt that existing tires are close to optimized for such implementation, but the choice of racing slick tires with different compounds and carcass stiffness is a huge help.

7. Brutally obvious: Much lower frontal area results in much less drag. Like totally free horsepower, man. Really. No kidding. 

The rationale (And obvious physics) behind all 7 points guided the design of my next racer. All 7 points are necessary, if not convenient, to work. No, I don't expect said social media authorities to comprehend any of those points - nothing depends on the comprehension of those gossipers. 

Yeah, OK, so what else is it good for? Well, electric motorcycles exhibit a LOT of functional shortcomings relative to their internal combustion relatives. Horseless carriages were usually terrible cars - gasless motorbikes are usually terrible motorcycles. But a lightweight streamlined low CG, 2WS, 2WD electric street motorcycle would solve range, speed, cost, packaging, and weight issues while providing uncommonly high comfort, performance and protection - right now. Electric 2WD almost designs itself. Truly effective regenerative braking is only possible with 2WD, low CG, and long WB. With 2WS and 2WD - and smart steering control - it would be possible at a stop to steer both wheels to the side to some degree and balance the bike without human intervention - no dippy outriggers or ludicrous gyroscope system necessary. And park it by lowering it all the way onto an integrated stand. Wind gust response would be counteracted by that smart 2WS. And so on and so forth - the design and dynamic potential is mind-blowing - something far beyond my next two-stroke internal combustion powered racer. None of that is in the motorcycle books, blogs, advertorials, or listicles.  Yet.

In the mean time, work is progressing nicely if not quickly on the next racer. Got questions? You know how to contact me. Got gossip? You know how to contact them.

Oh yes - MRA race video was shot one day only in the abbreviated 2020 racing season. There was no awards banquet, which meant nobody produced an awards banquet video. So I compiled my better video clips - no effects or soundtrack - just racing: 

The video camera was sold soon afterwards - need to focus more on the next racer....

Monday, June 22, 2020

Here we go again...

In addition to design work and parts acquisition, the last two years were spent getting the new shop set up and tooled up. The shop is ready to go now -  work is in progress on the new racer! The first steps were making a face plate fixture for the wheels and boring the wheel hubs. Then the split hub center steering hubs get machined and installed in the wheel bores. After that, all that's left to do is everything else. It is going to be a lot of work and take a lot of time - can't think of anything else better to do. This is also going to be an awful lot of fun...

Monday, December 9, 2019

Hunting and Gathering...

All of this year's track time was spent behind the viewfinder shooting with a new JVC GY-HM620. A lot of my clips made it into this year's MRA Awards Banquet video. Already looking forward to wandering around and shooting at HPR next year!

After the Quail event, Jason Cormier at Odd Bike asked me for an article on the racer project and some of the background - that gave me a good excuse to explain a little how I got to this point and a little more about where I'm going. It's been a fun experience so far, which made it a lot of fun to write. Thanks, Jason!

All of the custom ordered parts have arrived: Connecting rods, crank pin, and hybrid Kawasaki KX500/Ducati 999 primary gear (All from England), Poly Chain GT 8 mm pulley stock (For final drive), and 56 mm Lectron downdraft carburetor (For feeding 706 cc crankcase displacement). And then there's the one and only part I just pulled off the last racer that goes on the next one - it's a part that's getting a lot harder to find.

The engine casting will have to work well with the 2WD final drive arm, so those get designed and built together - after that, the frame and 2WS system pretty much fall into place. The big plan for the bodywork is to have as little as possible, as simple as possible, and as cheap and easy to replace, vinyl wrap, and install as possible - wasting time and money on dysfunctional over-styled plastic that gets vinyl wrapped anyway seems really stupid on a racer, where bodywork is considered a consumable item, like tires, safety wire, cash, collarbones, etc...

So where does a home built supercharged single cylinder 2 stroke 2WS 2WD motorcycle race? Obviously not any of the "Professional" OEM-centric racing organizations. The local club's rulebook is very helpful - since I'm making my own racer, the supercharger isn't aftermarket:

And then there are always those therapeutic track days....

But there's many years of work left to be done in the shop. Thankfully, it now has something every race shop needs: Lots of hot air!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

A Retirement Party....

A few months ago, I read an article on The Quail Motorcycle Gathering show for this year. Well, the old racer was never built for show (And never entered in one, either), but it sure is a great conversation piece. So a show application was submitted - and it was accepted! The 2014 crash damage repairs have been finished and painted. Seven years worth of neglected and ignored cosmetic flaws have been mostly fixed. The battery and some fuel are back in it - it'll get fired up and ridden a little one last time before it gets retired. It sometimes seems like a waste just to park it when it is so much fun to ride, but that would be time and money from the next one, not to mention the possibility of getting too enthusiastic and crashing the old one again.

19 May update:

The racer was loaded in a van and driven about 1400 miles to the show. The weather was perfect, the guests were a lot of fun, and the judges were very enthusiastic. No trophy this time, either, but the experience was priceless - there's no better show in the USA. After the show ended and the field cleared out a bit, the racer was fired up and ridden back to the van. That was a short, slow, yet very satisfying final ride.

The racer also received very enthusiastic media coverage by Julia LaPalme from Motorcyclist Magazine, and Abhi Eswarappa from Bike-urious !

And that's the end of that project - on with the next one.

Last photo: Michael Moore

Sunday, January 13, 2019

What's Next...

The final race of 2018 was the first and only weekend out for the racer. Bad weather resulted in no practice. The racer behaved very well, but that lack of practice resulted in really awful lap times. Many of the other racers ahead of me were battling for season championships - I didn't think that one person's proof of concept development program should interfere with the sporting intentions of the other racers, so I pitted before I got lapped. One racer followed me from the start - after I pulled off, his lap times dropped a lot - I hope he enjoyed the show. Unless someone else needs to test the racer, that's the last time I take it to the track. From now on, I'll get a kick out of looking at it in the shop until it makes it upstairs into my living room/office.

My favorite thrill is pinning the throttle after the apex of T3 at HPR, especially with an untested bike. My second favorite thrill is getting an idea out of my head and turning it into a design before making it real, loading it into the van, and taking it to the track. The next racer is into that "Second favorite" stage. The details are a lot different than the first racer, with a few exceptions. The shocks will end up in the same area, and the upper A-arms and single sided steered upright will return at both ends (With vastly lighter and better looking design and fabrication). I'm really excited about the design of the lower suspension arm - it is VERY exotic and unique (One arm for both wheels) - it solves all of my prior 2WS/2WD design nuisances and headaches.

Another good thrill is having a photo pass for MRA events and shooting video. While nothing beats the view of the race from a race bike, being able to wander around the track and scout out vantage points for capturing the action is about as close as anyone else can get. A lot of my footage made it into the MRA's Award Banquet video - thanks for the credit!

Getting the shop together and tooled up is still in progress. All of the lighting and outlets were removed and replaced. A heater should be installed very soon. Real machine tools have been moved in. As always, good help is necessary for rigging heavy machines!

There's a LOT of work in the shop to be done in 2019. And MRA racing action to shoot at HPR with a new camera this upcoming season well.

T3 awaits...

Top video: Jeremy Alexander

Monday, June 11, 2018

...Now What?

I'm shooting video at MRA's race weekends at HPR.

If all goes well, I'll race at HPR later in the season. Then that bike retires in the living room, and I get rolling in the shop on the next racer...

The next racer is still in the phase before "Connect the Dots" that I like to call "Collect the Dots". While working on some of the design headaches involving a belt drive primary connecting the KX500 engine to the 999 transmission, I wondered if there was a remote chance that a 999 primary drive gear system would fit, since the KX500 primary gearing is terrible for roadracing. The KX500 stroke is a lot higher, so I assumed it wouldn't fit. With the help of a few parts on hand and a few more cheap parts from eBay, the answer became obvious:

The drive side of the crank, 999 primary gear, and KX500 primary gear were promptly boxed up and shipped off to a gear making specialist in England, where a few hybrid 999/KX500 primary gears will be made. Longer connecting rods will also have to be made (The original rod/stroke ratio is not optimal for a higher revving roadracing engine). A longer crank pin will be required for my counterbalancer/inlet valve/supercharger design. Patterns and castings will have to be made for the engine cases.  Then those case castings have to be machined. It'll be a lot of work, but the results should be a lot of fun. 

While there are certainly lots of excellent engines available, none of them fit my next chassis design very well and/or produce an interesting amount of power. Once the engine is "Finished" (Development work on a racer is never finished, it is only interrupted when it goes through tech before the race weekend starts) then work will proceed on the rolling chassis. I'm really excited about the performance potential of the "Finished" combination of the next engine and chassis - lap times will answer the question if it was worth it.  

I think I'll know the answer the first time it exits Pit Out, rolls into T3, then goes wide open after the apex...

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Going to a better place...

Earlier this year, the rear steering ratio was changed from 20% to 34%. I finally got to test it at the track in early September.  That morning at the track, we also got a visit from some good friends (Jeff and Sally) that I haven't seen since my USAF assignment (1981-1983) at RAF Bentwaters!

The improvement in steering and handling boosted my confidence enough to register for the MRA's final HPR event of the season.Then I got a job offer in Yuma, Colorado. Race registration was then cancelled due to new demands on my attention. Time to sell my Englewood home (And 8' x 8' shed) and move into a much better home (With a 30' x 50' insulated 240V workshop and 27' x 31' garage)! There's a lot of romance and mythology about building bikes in sheds - it was a fun and challenging way to start  - but the Rohorn Industrial Complex has outgrown that.

There is a lot of work to be finished on the workshop (And money to be spent on machine tools) before a lot of work gets started on the next racer. But getting this far is a huge step forward. 

The rest of 2017's involvement with motorcycle racing was from behind video cameras at the MRA's HPR events. Time spent at the track, as close to the action as I could get, with an old JVC GY-HM70U and GC-PX100 was an excellent experience. If you love motorcycle roadracing and want to get involved and up close to the action without actually racing, I highly recommend working as a Corner Marshal for a season, then getting a media pass and shooting photo and/or video. I shot most of the off-bike video content in the 2017 MRA Awards Banquet video:

Monday, May 29, 2017

Final racer project

My first 2WS bike proved to me that the concept worked at low speed, but high speed behavior on the track was unknown. My first 2WS racer proved to me that the concept worked at high speed on the track, but not at a competitive level. A competitive racer will demand more time and money than all the previous bikes combined, but each bike has been preparation for the next one; not making the next one makes all the previous bikes almost a waste of time and money. I really want to see how fast we can go. Parts are accumulating to make this happen:
  • 17 x 3.5" wheels with split hub center steering at both ends. If I can steer the rear wheel, I can drive the front wheel. An overrunning clutch to the front wheel will eliminate the need for a differential. Initially, entirely machined wheels were planned, but previous generation R1 front wheels are ideal - they are very light for a production wheel, and the hub area is big enough to bore out and install a smaller universal joint in the center with a lighter machined hub. A cheap damaged wheel verified that it will work. Two new wheels are now on hand. 
  • 500 single 2-stroke power, with a combination counterbalancer/intake valve (My design), and a 6 speed transmission with a dry clutch. A KX500 engine (On hand) will provide most of the mechanical parts, a Ducati 999 engine (On hand) will provide most of the transmission and clutch parts, and some foundry work will provide the cases necessary to put it all together. That will take a lot of work, but it should make a lot of power for a very small engine, with much less maintenance, tuning work, exhaust fabrication, and cost than a multi-cylinder engine. 
  • Very narrow and light tubular steel chassis and suspension. Exotic materials and construction techniques were studied with a lot of enthusiasm, but none of them had any practical appeal. The ergonomics of the first racer were excellent, as viewed from the side, but the hands, knees, and feet need to move a LOT closer together to improve safety and aerodynamics.
No effort is being taken to build anything remotely national or international racing class friendly. Why design and build a bike to fit rules that would only make it more expensive and/or slower? I want to go as fast as possible for the least amount of money; rulebooks are generally written to produce the opposite result for the business corporations the rulemakers are working with/against. Club racing organisations are far more accommodating to the active racing enthusiast anyway.

When? Not soon enough.

I better use that engine before they get any more ideas...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

2WS With Split Hub Center Steering

"Split Hub Center Steering" is what I call the system used in the racer's steered rear suspension. A wing bearing universal joint connects the left side drive hub to the right side steering hub. Rear steering is 34% of the front, and in the same direction. 

Yes, steering geometry matters at the rear wheel as much as the front. A LOT of work was done to determine which geometry works and which doesn't. Instability from weaves, and speed wobbles with just the rear wheel, is no fun. That hasn't happened to this bike, but has happened with the electric one.

The drum brake rear wheel from the EX500 worked very well for this experiment. It is red because the donor bike came with a parts bike that had red wheels - no clever or creative aesthetics involved. The wheel was sent to Kosman Specialties to have the hub bored out back in 2009. That was the only machine work for this project that I didn't perform, since the wheel didn't fit in my lathe/mill.

The rest of the machined parts came out of my Grizzly G0516 lathe/mill. I got a lot of good parts out of that machine, but it has since been sold. The next racer will need more serious machinery located in a serious shop, rather than my kitchen (Seriously!).

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Race #7, 5, 1, and *

Ran the warm-up lap and gridded for the Formula Colorado class in MRA's Round 7, which was my 5th race ever, 1st race in 2 years, and pulled out at the end of lap 1: DNF. I thought I could quickly work my way back to previous lap times chasing the back of the grid, but it didn't work out that way. The hardware works great; the liveware, not so great. It is one thing to battle with someone else at the back of the grid (That is still racing), but when the entire field disappears in the first half lap and getting lapped within 3 laps is inevitable, then I don't feel like I belong out there. That said, I did get a lot more comfortable on it. Chicken strip reduction rate was ahead of expectation. Riding mistakes were getting easier to identify. Lines around the track were getting more obvious. The 2WS system was never a distraction: It steers far better, making it a lot less work to go faster. Trail braking is far more effective. We're going to have a lot more fun generating better results.

Yes, it is a lot of fun to show up at a racetrack with an exotic motorcycle, but motorcycle racing is ultimately about about the racing rather than the motorcycle. Other than some minor bodywork restoration and steering column modification, there's nothing left to do except race it. And work on a completely new design based on the same configuration and very little else.

Top photo: Tracy Helmhold

Monday, August 29, 2016

Track Time! Again!

This morning's track time at High Plains Raceway went very well. The track was initially opened to first time track riders to familiarize themselves with the track layout. That was a great opportunity to go out slowly and not worry about interfering with other people's idea of fun. And there were other things to worry about. Those first two laps were probably the most terrifying thing I've ever done, not that the racer did anything wrong, but rather, I didn't know what it might do wrong and without warning. There is no prior art available for the category of two wheel steering road racers or any experience to lean on. What I was riding was the culmination of earlier experiments based on a magazine article I read almost 30 years ago that stuck in my head. Will the front/rear coupled steering result in some sort of instability over bumps, or while cornering? Will the rear end wobble and structurally fail? Will the rear steering geometry that behaves while coasting misbehave while under power, braking, and/or hard up/down shifts? What about trail braking with linked brakes and linked steering? Will steering that works well at modest lean angles work under more severe cornering attitudes? Or worst worry of all: Is it merely another way to generate bad lap times with curious hardware, only to be pushed back into the shed and languish as a habitat for spiders?

After those first 2 laps and an hour or so of inspection (No loose or missing hardware! No adjustments needed at all!) and introspection (Do I really want to do this anymore? The turns are where I remember them 2 years ago, but where did my sense of timing go?), the doubt, confusion, and overwhelming sensory input that race tracks can provide somehow evolved into that powerful feeling that gets leathers, boots, helmet, and gloves back on with enthusiasm: Must! Go! Back! Out! That is a really good feeling!

The next 2 laps went a lot better. Even though I haven't ridden it (Or anything else) in 2 years, I still instinctively slid over on the seat to hang off into the corners. That isn't necessary anymore, since the 2WS system reduces lean angle a lot more than hanging off. The linked braking system is a huge improvement over the old system. Hard braking is drama free, as is trail braking into corners. Great brakes and steering systems might not sound too useful when they aren't being used properly, but they do wonders for improving confidence in the bike.

The last 3 laps were just a lot of fun trying to use what I learned earlier in the day. No lap times were recorded, but I'm looking forward to learning a lot more. The last MRA race of the season is at High Plains Raceway, 17-18 September, Formula Colorado class, car port #7.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Done and Running. Again.

The racer was finally assembled enough to fire it up and ride it this afternoon. The test ride was only a 1st gear lap around a nearby parking lot, but it went very well - well enough to look forward to a test & tune day at the track. And if that goes well, we go racing. 

This has taken a lot longer than expected, but it has been worth the time and trouble.

11 August: Just signed up for the 29 August lapping day (Morning session) at High Plains Raceway. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Plans, fun, and loose screws...

Most of the repair and modification work is done on the racer. All of the machine work is done. The new rear suspension is structurally finished. The current pile of parts, mostly unpainted, isn't photogenic, yet. The Dunlop GT501 tires I used to run were discontinued, so Pirellis have taken their place. If all goes well, the racer will get some track time for testing and raced this year! While better lap times are expected, it won't come close to breaking any lap records or getting on the podium.

I'm still confident that the next and better racer will get a lot closer to breaking lap records and getting on the podium. The next and better racer will share the same configuration and fundamental dimensions, but little else. A much lighter steel or aluminum ladder frame would be easy to make, but it still wouldn't be light enough. Exotic motorcycle frame design and construction methods really don't transfer to this configuration, but there sure seems to be a lot of potential with advanced aerospace methods. Exotic fabrications using aluminum honeycomb sound amazing, even if those are somewhat obsolete. What could be more intriguing than a motorcycle constructed with supersonic jet era methods instead of barnstormer biplane era methods? 

Well, frame design can be described as a structural connect the dots puzzle. It is fun to imagine really exotic solutions, and even more fun to talk about. Concerns about material expense, tooling feasibility, repairability, maintenance access, skill requirements, and speed of fabrication all reduce the fun quite a bit. The solution that increases the probability of getting to the starting grid on time and finishing the race is the best one.

Having a screw loose has really interfered with getting any work done for a while now. That reduces the fun quite a bit as well. That screw, along with the rest of the hardware, is getting removed soon! Progress on the racer should happen a lot faster afterwards. Faster is always better. 

07 April update: Foot hardware has been removed. By the doctor, in case you were wondering.

See you at High Plains Raceway soon.... 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My idea of fun...

While cornerworking in the 100 degree heat at a recent MRA race, a very radical two stroke concept crossed my mind, man. I can develop it from an existing engine while developing the next race bike. So I got another Kawasaki 500 engine.

More power with potential for a lot more power, a lot less weight (Goal: 265 lbs), a much narrower rider position (Much more aerodynamic and safer as well; the rider's squishable and crunchy parts go inboard the frame's perimeter this time), and a lot more traction with radial racing slicks instead of DOT bias ply tires all sound like my idea of fun. If all goes well, 2016 will see the current racer back on the track and construction started on the next racer. No idea what year it will be finished.  

The KX500 engine weighs 60 lbs, minus the radiator, carburetor, and exhaust. The EX500 engine, in the same configuration, weighs 126 lbs. The engines were weighed on the same calibrated scale. Both engine silhouettes above are the same scale and shown leveled with the output shafts in line. The length of the KX engine will increase when it gets a counterbalancer in front of the crankshaft. Only one pipe is required for the KX, but it sure is a lot larger and more complicated to make than the EX exhaust system! The power increase, as well as the improvement in sound quality, should be enjoyable.

By the way - ever compare a four stroke street bike wiring harness to two stroke race bike wiring harness? Wow! 

Motorcycle roadracing is dangerous. Making roadracing motorcycles from scratch introduces even more hazards! As much as I like titanium, I prefer to use as little as possible internally. Every precaution is being taken; no expense has been spared in the name of safety!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Looking back and running ahead...

There isn't much glory in finishing near the back and getting lapped, but I do learn a lot from the faster racers when that happens. And if you think watching racers from the stands or the return lane (Or better yet, while cornerworking!) is exciting, imagine the view from the track when they're just a few inches away! While I'm still optimistic about lowering my lap times and finishing better, I'll never get on the podium with this bike; that's for the next bike, and most likely, with a much better rider. Design work has started on the next racer.

Much of the design of the next racer depends on work that hasn't been done yet with the current racer. That new rear suspension system still needs finishing and installation. Crash damage still needs to be repaired. I'm still hoping to have it done before the end of the 2015. But my biggest source of enthusiasm and motivation is the next racer; the next racer has given me the confidence to make the current one worth the time, trouble, and expense. In the mean time, the door that leads from my desk to the shed has been upgraded to lower my house exit times by at least .2 seconds. No chatter problems, either.

I'm very happy to report that my foot is healing rapidly. The big goofy post-op boot has been off since early November. The crutches haven't been touched since the Christmas holidays. The cane only gets used on evenings of rougher days and to help make a point while yelling at kids to get off my lawn. I'm just left wondering if my right foot will still need a racing boot that's 3 sizes larger than my left foot. Either way, it would be a shame not to find out this year...

Top photo: Jim Browning, Rocky Mtn Photos