31 May - 31 August 2003

After my trip to Concord in early May I didn't get out of town again until June 21st. I then went to Nevada City, CA for a MINI/Mini car show, swap meet and a "Run" on Sunday the 22nd. It was a chance to show off Cousin MINI and see what everyone else was driving. The comparison between the Classic Mini and the New MINI is amazing. There was a 2000 Mini Cooper (the last year of Classics) at the show so it was very easy to do a comparison. First, the MINI is that (mini) only when compared to the SUVs and other "land yachts" that we have here in the USA. It is at least twice the size of the Classic Mini and I have read many postings on the Internet that say it is a "large" car in most of Europe. Also, as nice as the New MINI is it doesn't hold a candle to the Classic when it comes to the "cute" factor. I just love those little guys with their tiny wheels. The 2000 had 12" wheels on it but there were a couple of others there that had the 8" ones and they looked like go-carts with big bodies attached. There were about 30 MINI and 15 Mini in the show on Saturday with voting for "Best Car" in each class. I was VERY disappointed when Cousin MINI didn't win. (LOL) I was surprised that there weren't more Coopers on display; of the 30 cars I don't think more than 10 were Coopers, the vast majority were Cooper S models. No other Velvet Red, no Silk Green (both to be discontinued colors by 2004) but most surprising was that there were no British Racing Green cars; this is a color that is very popular and available in both the Cooper and Cooper S model. The Run on Sunday was from Nevada City to Downieville, CA on Highway 49, the same road that I drove east to west back in February. I continued on after we reached Downieville to an un-numbered road that turns off 49 (near Bassetts) to Grey Eagle, CA and then Highways 89 and 70 back to the junction with US 395 and home to Reno. The trip over Donner Pass to Nevada City on Saturday then to Auburn for my overnight stay had the OBC showing over 42 MPG. Then even with the climb back over the Sierra on Sunday I was still registering 40.5 MPG per the OBC for the 290 miles I did during the weekend. I really like the mileage numbers that I'm getting and I'm also learning to drive the car better for high MPG. I said earlier on that I didn't think I would ever get the rated 28-MPG for city driving here in Reno but I have learned to drive better and got over 30 MPG for a full tank of all city driving. Also regarding fuel efficiency - I am the Cooper Class winner for the 1st Annual Mileage Challenge that was held on the Forum. I submitted the 42.9 MPG that I recorded for the Austin to Las Vegas leg of my loop trip to Las Vegas and the "organizer" of the Challenge declared me the winner.

The un-numbered road that I drove to Grey Eagle is quite high in the Sierra and is usually blocked during the winter months and is used by snowmobiles. In the summer there are a lot of people camping and fishing at the 2-3 lakes along the road. In addition, the day that I drove it there were 10-15 bicyclists on the road that looked like they were a part of some tour. I have been trying to get back on the bike this year and seeing them out there "on tour" sure brought back the memories and helps with the motivation. I finally got out with the local bike club that I have belonged to for more than a year. The first ride I did with them was a "killer" (maybe 500 feet) climb to the north out of downtown Reno and then a couple of lesser climbs before looping back to the starting point. I lost sight of the pack about mid-way on that first climb and never saw anyone again for the rest of the day. The second time I rode with them it was a flatter route and I was with 2-3 other people for most of the ride. Did the same climb out of Reno on the 3rd ride with them but at least this time the group formed up again at the top of that first tough climb (I also was not last). All of these rides have been in the 25-30 mile range, which isn't a problem for me, but the climbs sure are. The amount of walking that I did when not having a car seems to have helped because I can still do the distance and I manage the climbs, just very slow - all without any real soreness the next day except saddle sore.

I wrote all of the preceding before I joined the club for their Annual Picnic and Ride at Genoa, NV on July 19th. The ride was described as their "classic 42 miler" from Genoa to Woodfords (a wide spot in Highway 88 that goes over Carson Pass to California). Well, once again I lost sight of the main pack rather quickly and had some late starters pass me (also rather quickly). No one explained the route but I thought it was just south on Foothill Rd, Highway 206, to Emigrant Rd then a few miles west on Hwy 88. I never saw a turn off to Emigrant (should have turned on Fredricksberg Rd. which then becomes Emigrant) so I ended up riding west on Hwy 88 from the junction of 206 & 88 to its junction with Emigrant. This included a stiff climb of over 1,000 feet in about 5-6 miles but this was actually less steep than if I had taken Emigrant as planned. I had to stop near the top of the climb and rest for a few minutes - I was "toast" due to the climb and the temperature was in the 100F range. I went through a full large bottle of water on the way up even though it also tasted like it was in the 100F range. I then turned back at Emigrant and had a huge downhill on it until I rejoined Fredricksberg Rd. After I managed to get back to the Picnic and got some cold water in me I asked how much further it was from 88 & Emigrant Rd to the turn around at Woodford. I would have done another 12 miles round trip if I had continued! I sure am glad that I didn't try; I was done when I got in and the "classic 42 miler" is closer to 50 the way I went. I was also told that most of the group went the way I did but did NOT do the climb on Hwy 88. They went by way of another road that turns off and parallels 88 that is not as steep that then rejoins 88 near the junction of 88 & Emigrant. You live and learn - going west on Emigrant is the hardest route, my route the next most difficult and then the way that most of the group went which is 42 miles (?) and about 2,700 feet of climbing. This ride was a bit much for me at this stage of my attempt to get back in shape, the length was not but the combination of length, climb and heat sure was. I also had some chain skipping on the rear cogs in the three lowest gears, which didn't help matters a lot. The equipment set up that I have on this bike has never worked the best and I am now contemplating a change since it is starting to give me trouble again. The other thing that I learned on this ride was that I could get my bike in the back of Cousin MINI. I had always thought that I could but this was my first drive-n-ride and although it is somewhat of a hassle it will go in. I must take off both wheels whereas with my old Celica I could get away with leaving the rear wheel on. Prior to that I had to take off both wheels for the cars that I had from 1984 to 1990 so it is not a new experience. I am considering making some changes to this also - but all my considerations cost money. I will have more to say about both of these things as I decide what I'm going to do.

Also costing money, much more than I had even considered, will be my latest "mod" for Cousin MINI. I like the look of tinted taillights but there currently are none offered for the New MINI. A few owners have covered the light with plastic film that is available for tinting windows but I don't like the look that that gives. In addition, that type of mod may be illegal depending on state law - probably illegal here in Nevada because it reduces the effectiveness of the red reflector that is in the tail light. I contacted a company back in June about modifying the tails to smoked/tinted without the film. It has been a long time in development but I will soon have custom made smoked LED taillights for Cousin MINI that will be not only be unique but to the best of my knowledge the only ones like them in the world. I'll tell you more next time but had to do a little pre-delivery bragging!