(Last) Weekly Roundup: Chinese Discount Democracy Edition

Today on TTAC a reader responded to my “hit piece” on the Chinese-made Volvo S90 by saying that I had “solidified his decision” to take advantage of a lease offer on the Chinese-made Volvo S90, thus enjoying his Chinese-made S90 for at least three years to come. When I heard that there was a great lease offer on the Chinese-made Volvo S90, I decided to go see if there was also a great lease offer on the Swedish-built Volvo V90.

Turns out that the Chinese metal is already being discounted. We’re about 60 days into the 2018 model year, mind you. If you want a real deal on a Chinese-made Volvo S90, you should wait until later in the year. The market will continue to adjust. Trust me on this.

Alright, let’s get the wheels of the time machine spinning and see what I wrote last week.

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Weekly Roundup: The Chicken Edition

Brother Bark and I have our birthdays just a couple of weeks apart. I don’t know what to say other than the known fact that our father is a fellow who sticks to a routine.

Happy forty-sixth to me. Here’s Jaco on his 30th birthday, playing a concert for his friends and family. It seems unfair that I’ve outlived Jaco by a decade. The less you accomplish in life, the longer it takes for you to do it.

Anyway, here’s Wonderwall.

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Weekly Roundup: Ladies’ Night Edition

“Why are all these women riding around here?” John asked. “Just because they call it Ladies’ Night and then women come out for some reason?”

“It’s more than that, John,” I replied, as another trio of Millennial girls in yoga pants wobbled past us on rented Trek dirt-jumper bikes. “It’s only fourteen dollars to ride tonight if you’re a girl. Normally it’s thirty bucks on Saturday nights.”

“Why would anybody ever do anything just to save fourteen dollars?” He was legitimately puzzled.

“Let’s hope that’s never a problem you have,” I laughed. It made me think about a couple of weekends in the winter of 1987 where I didn’t have the eight bucks I would have needed to go race — or my bike needed parts that I couldn’t quite afford in order to be ready. They say that sort of thing builds character but I don’t recall feeling characterful sitting in the house while my friends were racing. There was no character-building involved in sitting in the school cafeteria on Monday morning listening to the other kids brag about running both races on a weekend. Sixteen dollars!

For our Saturday trip to Ladies’ Night, I built a new-school Haro Master reissue more or less from scratch. Just to amuse myself, and because I can afford it, and because I have enough character to last a lifetime when it comes to self-denial stuff like that. Fuck character. Let’s stack the living room with bikes. Let’s buy a 6.2-liter truck with ventilated seats and use it just to drive to the indoor MTB park. Let’s have handmade English shoes and Brioni suits and let’s put the dinner tab for eighteen people on the Platinum Amex. And let’s hope that my son always remains slightly mystified as to why you’d change anything in your life to save fourteen dollars.

(Oh, and let’s hope he grows up to run down the yoga-pants college girls just like he does in the video.)

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Weekly Roundup: The Winter Of Our Discontent Edition

The racing’s over / the tracks are closing / they’re waving people / out of the ocean. I was caught a bit unprepared by the first frost, but luckily for me silver is softer than glass so there you go. This past week was all about recovering from our race weekend and getting the Island Of Misfit Wheeled Devices squared away for winter. Why does my son own a total of nine motorcycles and bicycles? How did I let this happen? Some of this is going on Craiglist pronto.

Anyway, here’s Wonderwall…

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Plural Of Winner Is Winners Edition

Overheating. A radiator cap that committed suicide at 120MPH. Brake pads that went from 65 percent to 5 percent in the same time it took them to go from 100 to 90. Protests. Complaints. Custom T-shirts made at the track to gripe about our team and its ability to drive from 13th place to 3rd. This past weekend at Mid-Ohio had it all. But in the end, we were the overall weekend champions for AER Class 2.

So much of the credit has to go to the crew from Motorsports in Action. Fresh from a Continental Tire series win in their McLaren 570GT4, the team of Jesse Lazare, Carl Hermez, and Eric Kerub arrived to help us beat the odds and win the whole enchilada. Jesse proved that he could drive worn-out tires to the absolute limit, Eric displayed a cool hand under pressure, and Carl combined with my SCCA race wrench Jon Shevel to complete a front brake job in… wait for it… three minutes and forty-eight seconds. That’s how you win races.

The photo above is very special to me. It shows our final driver, Ms. Charley Baruth, taking the checkered flag on Sunday to clinch the win. After twelve surgeries and more effort than most people can even imagine, Danger Girl is winning races under her own steam. Now let’s see what I accomplished under my own steam. (Hint: not as much.)

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Weekly Roundup: For Whom The Titanium Bicycle Bell Tolls Edition

The last time I bought a grownup-style road bike was in… whoa… way back in 2002, when I picked up a closeout Schwinn Super Sport SL. It served me faithfully for five years of frequent use, including several “centuries” and long-distance tours. Two years ago I refreshed it a bit and put a couple hundred more miles under the tires. There’s nothing wrong with the bike whatsoever.

Still, I’ve enjoyed my Lynskey Pro 29 so much that I thought I’d try switching to a flat-bar titanium road bike just for fun. So This is my Urbano, complete with King Cage Shot Glass bell in titanium to match the frame and bars. True to Lynskey form, it arrived two months late, right before the end of the Ohio outdoor touring season. Oh well. I’ll be able to look forward to some long rides in Spring. I might even try my luck at the TOSRV 205-miler come April.

Not that I’ve been riding any bike whatsoever lately. Between PCOTY testing and a couple of full-length features for another magazine I’ve been cranking flat out in the non-cycling sense…

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: My Patience Was Wearing Thin, Too Edition

It was the best of times, it was… well, it wasn’t the blurst of times, that’s for sure. I spent my weekend at Laguna Seca behind the wheel of Flyin’ Miata’s newest California-legal turbo ND MX-5, part of a five-driver team (me, Danger Girl, IndyCar standout Alex Lloyd, LeMons racer Zandr Milewski, and FM customer Richard “Rick Deckard” Dekker) that drove the car in every single session of the two-day “Miatas At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca” event. I’m pleased to report that the graphite-grey Miata ran flawlessly for fifteen hours at speed. The only problem we encountered was a clunking noise in the swaybar, likely caused by my habit of putting two wheels in the air every time I drive the Corkscrew and easily rectified during Sunday’s lunch break.

In addition to driving thirteen separate twenty-minute sessions in the turbo ND, I also drove a supercharged ND and the “Habu” Miata powered by a 525-horsepower LS3 V8. I’ll have some video up in the near future. As you can see from the above photo, Keith Tanner and the Flyin’ Miata crew planned everything to the last detail including the brake pad swaps — what you see above is what remained of padset #3 after I brought the car in from the last run of the weekend.

The cars were cool, and being in central California always fills me with a sort of wistful longing for the Spielberg-film childhood I’ll never have, but the true pleasure of the trip was having the chat to meet, and speak with, about two dozen of my readers. Every one of them had a unique and important story to tell me about themselves and their interactions with what I’ve written. Arriving as they did at the tail end of a year where I’ve spent far too much time feeling sorry for myself due to various injuries and professional disappointments, these single-serving discussions were both gratifying and inspiring.

Alright, let’s roll the tape from last week.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: You Can Find Me In The (Miata) Club Edition

It’s not perfect. There’s some paint burning on the nose and tail, a couple of dings around the gas filler cap, and for some reason it was delivered with three Club wheels and a Grand Touring wheel, all of which were in lamentable condition. The transmission synchros have all taken a bit of a vacation and first gear is a journey rather than a destination. Still. 2014-model-year NC Clubs are virtually impossible to find and with just 4,600 miles on the odometer this one would have fetched the better part of twenty-three grand had we bought it from a dealer or private party.

We named it “Ava”, after Ava Gardner and in keeping with the same spirit that saw our MX-5 Cup race car named “Marilyn”. Ava spent a total of seventeen half-hour sessions at Summit Point Main this past weekend. Total wear: half a set of Hawk brake pads and maybe one-third of the tread depth on its BFG MX-5 Cup takeoff tires. We also had a lugnut snap, requiring a quick replacement of the left front hub, but that was probably just a consequence of a hasty wheel change while the rotors were still hot. The Blackbird Fabworx rollbar was the envy of every Miata pilot who saw it; like the Anniversary Rolex Submariner, the heavily-braced and perfectly-powdercoated Blackbird product commands a bizarre amount of respect and adulation when you see it for real.

Last week was a busy one, and it gave me the rare opportunity to write an absolutely classic TTAC piece from the old school.

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Weekly Roundup: The League Of Ordinary Gentlemen Edition

I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the readers and friends who contributed to my participation in today’s Distinguished Gentlemen Ride. I appreciate your belief in the DGR’s mission and your personal support. It means a lot to me and it is humbling in ways that are difficult to convey in this format. I’ll be putting up photos from the ride as I get them, but for now you are invited to take a moment to mourn my Zegna Trofeo jacket which suffered serious and possibly terminal damage from being run at 90 miles per hour around Interstate 270 this morning. I’ll keep you posted on Trofeo’s convalescence and recuperation.

Seriously, however, the ride was a blast and it put me back in touch with a local fellow who builds some wicked vintage Triumphs. I’ll be visiting his secret stash and sharing it with you in the near future. For now, check out the contributions that Bark and I managed to get out the door last week.

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