Monthly Archives: February 2008

Am I Ready?

Am I Ready?  I keep asking myself that.

After knee surgery,

– I have swam more than 500 laps

– I have ridden more than 600 miles on the trainer

– I have ridden the rowing machine for more than  88,000 meters

– I have done more than 40 workouts in the gym

But, am I ready?  In my head I am.  My equipment is.  I feel like I am physically ready.  But, I have not actually raced since early in Sept.  And, since my physical level was tapered way back after the knee surgery, I have had a really intense 2 months of training since January 1.  But, am I ready?

Tomorrow at 5 am, our adventure begins!  Scott and I will head out at 5am towards Florida.  We will probably make it into Georgia somewhere, sleep and then finish the drive off on Sunday.  Monday is prep day, with the only practice allowed at any GNCC on Monday.  Monday is bike break in day for Scott and I also, as our race bikes have zero hours on them yet.  Monday is also the day to get everything sorted.

-bike ergos

– goggles

– gear

– etc…

Tuesday at 1, the flag will go up for the pro’s.  A few minutes later, it will go up for Scott and a couple of minutes later it will go up for me.  The long long off season is over.

Am I ready?

Joe

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7 days from departure

Today is Saturday.  As always, there is a lot of stuff to do.  But, this Saturday things are even more hectic than normal.  One week from today, we will be heading towards Florida.  We will be looking for warmer weather, and making our way inexorably to the starting line of the first GNCC of the year.  My first GNCC race ever, and the start of Scott and Joe’s excellent adventure.

Along the way, we will be seeing a part of the country that I have neither Scott or I have spent a lot of time in.  We will be staying in the camper, working on motorcycles, flying back and forth around the country, keeping track of all the great things we see along the way like mullet hair styles, confederate flags etc…, we will also be doing the greatest races in the country.  There will be muddy days, there will be dry and dusty days, there will be races that seem to fly by and there will be the races from hell that are just a death march to the finish.  Hopefully there will be some decent results along the way, but even if there are not – this will be the great adventure of my racing career.  This will be as close as I will get to being a professional motorcycle racer.  No real regrets on that, but from time to time I wonder what it would have been like.

Because of all the great sponsorship that we were able to set up, this will feel a lot like being a professional motorcycle racer.  Truth be told, we are sponsored because we are 2 old guys who write our blog and keep up a website and will make a good presence at the race site and only at the end of the list, maybe, just maybe we will have a good race or 2 in there.  And in fact, the real reason for all of the sponsorship is Scott.  Scott will probably win the +40A class.  I suppose I could do the same in the +40B class, but who really cares about that.  Scott is the draw here, and I know it.  But I am ok with that.  Because I am his friend, and I will be there to help with keeping everything going , and driving and setting up camp and working on bikes, I think he is also.  I will also provide good company through it all.  We are going to have a great time.

Today was the 2nd to last prep day for me.  I have to go out of town for work all week.  I will be back on Thursday, and will spend Friday packing and doing the last prep stuff.  But, today was a big day.  I did a lot of shopping, both today and last night.  I went to Farm and Fleet, Gander Mountain, Menards and Walmart.  Ugh.  But, I got it all.  We do not have to buy anything else, other than at the grocery store on the way south.

Tires got mounted on wheels, brake snakes got mounted on brake levers.  The trailer got opened up, cleaned and packed – minus the stuff that I bought today.

In addition, I got in my last hard workout today.  This was a super hard training week.  Mary Daubert had me doing double workouts all week.  Everything from swimming, to gym workouts, to the rowing machine, to the bike trainer.  I don’t know if I will be fast or not (actually I don’t think I will be in Florida), but I know I am really well prepared.

We have a few things still to pick up from Vesrah Suzuki this week, and there is still one more order of stuff to show up from the shop.  But, we are ready.

I know I am rambling here, but I am super excited to be heading south to get this whole adventure going.  The GNCC circus is going to be fun to be part of this year.

Check back here each Monday/Tuesday on race weekends, and then over the weekends on off weeks.  I will be putting up a race report just after the race and then reporting on the state of things on off weekends.

Joe

Calendar pages are flying by!

If you have been following along here, you probably have picked up on the fact that I bounce back and forth between ready to go and panicked that the first race is getting closer and closer.

Today I am definitely a bit freaked that the first race is just over 2 weeks away!

Officially, the first race is now just 17 days away. Man, it seems that it was just yesterday that it was still over 50 days away. Yow! Ok, so today I am a little bit freaked out about there just being 17 days till I have to dive into that first turn – hopefully near the front. Today I spent a bunch of time on our open issues list and to do list for heading south.

– Will I be ok diving into the first turn, with a horde of riders on my tail also trying to get into the first turn?

– Will my gas and goggle strategy work?

– How blistered will my hands be after the first race, and will they repair themselves in time for the 2nd race, just 5 days later?

– Will my knee be good enough to go hard for a full 3 hours?  Will it recover well enough in just 5 days to be able to go hard for 3 hours again?

– Just how hard will 3 hours be?  Will I have fitness for that?

– What if it is 80 degrees, with me used to just 10 degrees?

– What if it is muddy?  I am teaching myself to embrace mud.

– How will the transition day after the race actually work? Will it be enough time to prep the bikes and trailer for the next race? What if the bikes need a bunch of work, how will that be?

– Just how fast will David Knight be when he passes me?

This week I was in Taiwan all week. It was a fast week. I flew to Taiwan on Monday, which means that I arrived there on Tuesday. Worked all day Wed, Thur, Fri and then flew home on Saturday.

I managed to get in a decent amount of training while I was there. I stay in a hotel that has a great exercise room. It even has a lap pool, but I did not bring my swim suit. I only had enough time for an hour a day, but it paid out each day.

Taiwan is a strange place. The traffic is horrendous. The pollution can be horrible. There are more scooters than there are people. Asian culture is so different than western culture. But, the people are great. Super friendly and willing to embrace strangers.

Scott had to get a damper mounted on my bike this week, and to get both of our bikes to our main sponsor Vesrah, for them to take the bikes to the Indy show to use in their booth. Apparently the bikes are bringing a lot of excitement to their booth in Indianapolis.

We will have a big push later this week to pick up our bikes and our last supplies. To get the van ready. To pick up our bikes from Vesrah. To prep and pack the camper. To to load spare part, repair parts and all of our gear in the van.

Joe

And they wonder why they get their nickname – 6.5 hours of riding

After a white knuckled drive, we got home from St. Joe riding area late last night.  There was a fierce side wind the whole drive.  A wind that had whoever was driving, fatigued in an hour or so from fighting the wheel.  Our race van is, after all, a big white box just waiting for the wind to push it around.  When we finally got into Wisconsin, that wind turned into blowing and drifting snow across the road.  It also made the entire driving surface glare ice.  Fun!

People from Illinois, just don’t get it.  When the conditions turn into that, it is just best to slow it down.  Arrive vs. not arrive is always my theory.  Of course there was some car with Illinois plates in the ditch every mile or so along the highway, being attended to by a tow truck and a police car (those guys probably had a really long night).  And they wonder why they get the nickname that they have (Illinois drivers, not the tow truck drivers and police.)

St. Joe is about 50 miles from St. Louis.   It is part of a huge park, called amazingly St. Joe state park, that greats you with a sign saying you are always welcome.  There are campgrounds, mountain bike trails, equestrian areas and about 2000 acres of offroad riding area.  The park is all reclaimed land from some sort of huge mine.  About 800 acres of that is sand.  Probably sand that was pulled from the mines and is laced with lead or something like that.  The rest of it is really hilly, rocky and black dirt.  Killer.  On the morning of day 2, we rode the entire perimeter of the property and that took about 1 hour.  Wow.

On Saturday afternoon, there were at least 100 cars in the parking lot of the ORV area.  But, in spite of that we did not see many bikes or quads out on the trail.  The place is that huge.  Probably another reason we did not see many people in the woods, is that all the quads and half the bikes just stayed out in the sand area and did high speed runs and donuts.  Goofy.

We ended up making our own really cool 6 minute or so loop.  Mostly singletrack, but with a couple of fast sections as well.  A super technical hill and some great big downhills.  A lot like a GNCC course, only shorter.  Big hills are one of the things that most GNCC races seem to have in common, but something that we struggle to find here in Wisconsin.

So when it was all said and done, Scott and I rode for 6.5 hours over the 2 days.  I am really excited!  I rode 6.5 hours in tough offroad conditions just 4 months and 1 week after my knee surgery.  Today my knee is stiff and swollen from 2 days of abuse, but it is going to be ok.  I had to get used to putting it on the ground, i fell on it a couple of times, I had to lift my bike up with it  a couple of times etc…  In the end, it still has a ways to go on strength, but it functions.

I will not be fast in Florida, but I will be able to ride and will not DNF.

Out.

Joe

RIDING!!!!


Ya, so here we are down in St. Joe – Missouri.  It is February, and we have escaped the snow to ride.  It happens about every year at this time.  Just when you think you cannot take another day of winter, you load it all up and head somewhere to ride.

When you get there, it all feel wrong.  The gear feels cumbersome, the camelbak doesn’t seem to fit on your back well, your timing is off in the woods…  Somewhere in the beginning of the ride you get knocked off your bike.  Then after a while, it starts to come back.  Your timing, your comfort on the bike, your one true purpose.  Going fast and ripping lines in the woods.  God it feels good to be back on a bike in the woods.

back of the van

Here is the back of the van when we showed up – nice!

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We are both here with our practice bikes.

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This is what someone looks like who lives in Wisconsin, after they get to ride – in February.  Scott.

The dirt was superb, the place is superb.  No training problems, the bike is fabulous.  Cannot wait to put a bunch more hours on the bike tomorrow.

Joe

Huge storm! heading south to ride

Every year there is another “storm of the century” here in Wisconsin.  The news channels will hype up a coming storm for days, and normally that hype builds amongst people and gets them into a frenzy of snow tire buying and snow blower prepping and planning for snow days and and and…  Then of course, because the news channels have been hyping it hard, it normally doesn’t materialize and we get an inch or so of snow. 

The hype for this one started about 3 days ago.  I thought, “here we go again!” 

It has been snowing now since yesterday midday.  Nonstop.  The wind is howling and the snow is drifted everywhere.  There is at least 20 inches in a protected area behind the house.  The snow is drifted as high as the roof of the truck in front of the garage.  There has not been a single car down our road today.  The plow came by once, but has not been back.  Our road is impassable.

The county next to ours has shut down and declared all roads in the county closed.  They gave up on trying to plow and pulled the plows off the road for the safety of the drivers.

The official road website for the state recommends not trying to drive in the southern part of the state.  The interstates all across the southern part of the state are closed.

It is forecast to keep snowing late into the night.

WOW!  Ok, it finally happened.  This might be the storm of the century

It seems odd that Scott and I are heading to Missouri on Friday to ride.  It is 50 down there today.   It was 70 down there yesterday.  Oh well, the guys in Florida are already racing. 

Things are getting tense and nervous here.  We are expecting our last things to show up this week.  Steering dampers, some plastic, number plate graphics etc…   Next weekend, we will pull the camper trailer out of storage and work on that.  Our race bikes will also be back from the Indy show at that point.  It is only a little bit more than 3 weeks away till we head south.

Joe

30 days and counting!

In exactly 30 days, the flag will go up on the 2008 GNCC season! Scott and I will be there on the line, along with a bunch of other racers.

Things are almost together. I pretty much finished up my race bike this weekend. Here it is, without number graphics yet though, those will be here this week.

Joe’s race bike without numbers

Joe’s race bike without numbers

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Here are our official GNCC number plates!

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Since Scott and I race different classes, his number backgrounds are white and mine are yellow. Those number plates will top off our graphics. The GNCC office did us a huge favor by getting us those numbers early. Our bikes are going to the Indianapolis motorcycle dealer show this weekend. One of them should be on display in the Vesrah booth the other in the Pirelli booth.

Jason Weigandt mentioned our website again in the Quickfill story on the GNCC website. That has driven a bunch of visitors to our website. And just like our blog site, will probably put it on a lot of peoples regular routine. That is cool.

As I sit here looking out the window on the biggest winter we have ever had here in Wisconsin, it is hard to imagine that in just 30 days we will be racing. The guys in Florida and the rest of the south, of course, are going to be prepared and ready to race on March 4. We will be mentally ready to race and we are both physically fit ready, but March 4 is really early. It will be about my 3rd actual ride on a motorcycle since fall. Yow! My hands are going to be destroyed.

I made a bunch of updates to our main website this week. If you have not checked it out, you should. http://www.vesrahsuzukignccamateurs.com

Other than that, start crossing off the days on your calendar.

Joe