Monthly Archives: March 2008

Steele Creek…+ one

Ouch!  Oh… Ouch.

That is pretty much what I  sound like today.  My knee hurts, my back hurts, my hands hurt, my arms hurt.  I cannot believe how much I hurt.  My knee is really bad.  It is stiff and sore.  Actually, both of me knees hurt.

We got all both of the bikes cleaned up and nearly ready for Big Buck, packed up the van and parked it safely and now we are at the airport.   Somehow, I doubt that David Knight did all of that.  Sure he goes faster than me, but if he had to prep all his stuff and work on his bike and make all the arrangements, and set up camp… Naw, he would still be faster than me.  But, I sure do love racing my motorcycle.

My bike is starting to look a little bit haggered, after 3 races and just minimal maintenance.  It has 2 more to go before it returns home and can truly be stripped down to the frame and built back up.  I think it will make it.  I hope it will make it.

So, now it is back to the snow zone again.  The winter that will never end.  I hear that Dyracuse will be open next weekend.  If it is, I will be up there riding.  I need ride time.

I think that my knee thing has really set me back.  I feel like I was a lot faster and more confident on my bike last year.  I am struggling this year with feeling comfortable.  I think that things will come around.  At least I want them to.

I want some ride time.

Joe

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Steele Creek…wow!

As I sit here in my hotel, after the race, all showered and hurting, it is almost surreal feeling. I have never seen or done anything like what I did today. I have never seen hills that big, I have never seen downhills that treacherous, I have never seen that much mud, and I have never hurt this bad before. If all GNCC races are like this, then I will have a completely new perspective on all of this.

It is not as if our racing at home is not hard, it is. But, it is only 2 hours. Something about that 3rd hour makes it not just another 50% harder, but it feels like it is twice as hard.

At this point, if you want, you can jump right to the punch line

– David Knight won.

– Scott was 8th in his class.

– I was 15th out of 35 in my class.

But if you stop there, the whole story really isn’t told.

So last night, it rained. It did not just rain a little bit, but it rained all night. It was cold, so we had the heater running and the generator. In addition to all the other generators in the pits. So, I sleep with earplugs in to help take the edge off all that noise. In spite of that, I could hear the rain on the top of the camper all night.

Yesterday, I posted pictures of the huge hills on the course. I could not sleep much last night at all, because I was laying there thinking about the rain and thinking about how difficult all those hills were going to be, and thinking about how bad the ruts were going to be. I was working myself into a tizzy over it all. I was honestly scared.

At 7am, we got up out of bed. It is still dark at 7am in this part of the world. After a trip to the bathroom, we made breakfast and watched the rain out the camper window. It looked like it was going to be as muddy as possible.

As usual, we worked on race morning prep while the kids race. The order of the day, is kids race at 8 – 9:30, morning adult race from 10:30 – 12:30, and then our race 1:30 – 4:30. Our routine is to work on race prep during the kids race. You know, prepping goggles, mixing gas, last minute bike stuff, tire pressure on the Pirelli tires etc… The kids race a different course than us so it doesn’t pay to spend a lot of time watching them – although it is fun to watch the kids race. Then, we watch the start of the morning race and then take a look at how they are dealing with the course.

The morning race, confirmed my worse fears. They were not dealing with the course well at all. There were bottlenecks stopped all over the course.

Here are a couple of photos of the morning race trying to deal with the hill that I showed yesterday.

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See those riders halfway up the hill? They are all stuck. Completely clogging the hill. Yes, those are riders coming back down the hill as they could not get up it. Many people, ended their race right here on this hill – on the first lap.

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This the kind of bottleneck I am talking about. This one is just getting started, about halfway up the hill. In about 15 minutes, it stretched all the way to the bottom of the hill.

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Of course all the bottlenecks led to this scene. That is someones bike completely overheating, loosing all of its coolant and about to detonate. In this case, this rider was completely oblivious about what to do about it.

Eventually, the bottleneck on our hill stretched all the way down the hill. It had to be 100 riders thick. Most of them just sitting there with their motors off. Many of the riders were overheating and burning up clutches. I talked to a few riders who ended their day because of a burned up clutch.

Eventually a spectator started sending the riders down the hill, and once one rider did it they all did it. The riders found their way around the mountain that they were supposed to go over, and onto the course. That group of 100 riders cut the course by at least 10 minutes. But, it was probably half the field. I asked the spectator that started sending the riders down the hill if he had been told by a GNCC official to do that. He looked at me like I had 2 heads or was from Wisconsin or something like that. Yow!

I think they cut the morning race short, but I cannot be certain, as the next part of our routine is lunch at 11:30. I am partial to the day before leftovers. Since we always make pasta with Paul Newman sauce with grilled chicken and a salad the night before a race, I usually have the leftovers of that for lunch. Sometimes I add a peanut butter and Jam sandwich. Scott always has “dog food”, which is what he calls it, refried beans and rice.

Finally, it was time for our race. The start of a GNCC race takes forever. I mean, our local races at home just start up. You line up 10 minutes before the start, and they start on time like clockwork. A GNCC race, has to go over a routine of warnings and announcements, then there is the national anthem, then there is the course description, then there is the prayer and patriotism passage, then there is the introduction of the pros, then finally things get started. But, even after the pros get started it is 12 more waves – one minute apart – before my row starts. This whole thing takes about 30 minutes, and I just sit there with a horrible case of butterflies.

Finally, we got started. We tore into the woods, and just as I suspected – we got into a huge bottleneck at the first hill. There had to be 40 riders stopped in front of me. One by one, we took our turn up the hill. It really wasn’t that hard of a hill, but all it takes is one rider to clog it all up and then a bottleneck happens.

That was it though, no other bottlenecks that I ran into. But, the course was completely chewed up. It had stopped raining that morning, and had really dried up fast. There was still plenty of mud, but it really was pretty fast. Man was it gnarly though. I have never ridden anything as chewed up as this course was. Lots of roots exposed, lots of rocks and lots and lots of square edged holes. I almost never sat down for the entire 3 hours.

The hills were huge. I am talking switchback climbs and minutes of climbing at a whack. And that was nothing compared to the down hills. Some of the down hills went straight down the side of the face of the mountains. They were super slick, and had lines going everywhere. I suck at downhills. They scare me.

I have to admit that my knee is killing me. Paddling through the ruts is really really hard on it. I was ready to stop when I was finished. After sitting in the van and now sitting here on the hotel bed, my knee is completely swollen and is tough to move. It is just not really strong enough to stand up on a motorcycle all day and fight that kind of terrain.

But, in the end I had a good race. Sure, I would have liked to have been in the top 10, but I was happy to finish and not to make mistakes. I will work my way into the top 10 eventually. I am still not riding as well as I was last year. Knee surgery has really slowed me up and made me tentative.

Oh, I forgot to mention the 2 really great mullets I saw in the pits today. They were classic.

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Above is the one that I was able to get on camera. Wow. That is a mullet.

So, now we clean up bikes, organize for the next race in 2 weeks and fly home with a list. But first, some sleep.

Joe

March 29. The race at Steele Creek. Or, should I say Mud Creek?

We are at Steele Creek.  The weather report for this area for the last month has been dry.  The forecast had no rain in it, as late as 2 days ago.  Then, on the way here the forecast was changed to rain all weekend.  Can you believe it?  I mean, this area of the country is actually in a severe draught.

Of course, since there is a GNCC race here this weekend, what does the weather do?  Well, it rains all day Saturday.  It turns everything into a mud pit.  The temperature has dropped to a high of 43.  It is going to rain all weekend.  Ugh.  Mud.  Not just a little bit of it either.

At about 6:30 this morning, it started to rain.  We got up at about 7am.  There were already quads ripping around.  Quad riders are truly rednecks.  I bet, that if I would have looked out the window, at least one of them would have had  cigarette dangling from their mouth.  I would not have been surprised if they were already drinking beer also.  The standard riding attire for a quad rider is carhart work coveralls, work boots and a nylon jacket.  The standard post ride routine for a quad rider is a cigarette and a Miller Lite beer.

After the quad race, Scott and I were watching 3 guys load their quads into the trailer.  Each one of them took a big swig of their post ride beverage, and with a cigarette dangling out of their mouths they wheelied up the ramp and into their trailer.  Once inside the trailer, they each did a burnout, inside the trailer while hooting and hollering.  Amazing.

We had a full day of working on bikes planned.  I had to put a new clutch in my bike, and Scott had to fill his with oil.  We both started to it at about 9am.  I pulled the clutch plates out of my bike, and could not believe what I found.  The frictions were completely gone and the steel plates were completely blued.  Smoked.

I put all new plates in, and started up the bike, to find that the clutch really did not work.  The bike would just die with the clutch lever pulled completely in.  Not good.  I pulled it apart, again and tried it again.  No luck.  I pulled it apart again – still no luck.  After working at it for most of the day, I gave in and went and talked to the Suzuki guys.  They guessed at what it was, helped me out with a few parts that we did not have.

I replaced the springs – they were shot – still no luck.  I turned the rod that pushes through the motor to the clutch.  Still no luck.  I have now taken the motor apart and put it all back together at least 10 times.  I am really struggling.  Finally, Shane Nalley from Suzuki comes over and helps me out with the last possible piece.  The clutch clevis.  It is completely worn out and needs to be replaced.  Once we do that, and button it all up again for about the 10th time, it works like a charm.  Shane and Suzuki are absolutely the best.  No one else would have gone to those lengths to help me out.  Thanks guys, you are absolutely the best!

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That is me, working on the clutch for about the 10th time.

After going through registration and tech, etc… I went for a walk on the course.  OMG!  This course is un-ride-able!

I have never seen anything this hard, in my entire life.

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You cannot even believe how steep that is.  And, there is no where to go if there is a bottleneck.  The sides are pretty much straight up.

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This is the top of the hill.  Those “sticks” on the ground are super slimy roots going all directions.  You also cannot tell in the picture that between the roots the trail is littered with sharp pointy rocks.

Ugh…

I cannot even imagine how 300 riders are going to get through that section.  Someone will be on their side in the trail, and the rest of us will be stopped at the bottom of the hill.

I walked for about a mile of the trail, and saw evidence of at least 2 more uphills like this.  And, remember that whatever goes up, also comes back down.  The down hills are probably even harder than the uphills!  I saw that in just a mile.  The whole loop is 10+ miles around!  There might be 15 hills like that.

It is going to be fun.

 

Joe

March 28, Finally….We go racing again!

This has been about the longest 3 weeks, ever. I mean, do you think that maybe the calendar pages actually turned slower than normal the past 3 weeks? It seemed like there was more than one Wednesday per week, this past 3 weeks. I am sure I can count at least 5 Wednesdays since the last time I was racing.

Combine that with a really horrible race the last GNCC race for me, and it feels like I am starting over. I told Scott that my goals for this race are just like starting the season over. I want to have a clean race. I hope to only stall my motorcycle a few times, maybe only 1 crash and I just want to finish. If I can be in the top 10 in my class at the end, that will be good. It truly feels like the first race of the year again.

The last 3 weeks at home have brought more winter and cold weather. It snowed at least 12 inches in the last 2 weeks. Although it has warmed up in the last few days, the snow has finally gone off the yard, but not from the woods yet. Ugh. The winter that would not stop. I be that the guys that live down south were able to ride a ton in the past 3 weeks. Not us. I have my practice bike all built and ready to ride at home, but no way. Oh well. More time on the trainer and more time in the gym the last few weeks.

So I picked Scott up this morning, and we went into the office for a bit before catching our flight to Charlotte. When I picked him up at his house, the first words out of his mouth were a big YES!!!!, we are going racing today! All right!

We had a target of getting out of the office at 12:30, Scott was running a bit late so we were on a rush to get to the airport. On the way there, Liz called me with a flat tire in town. I walked her and Ali through changing that and then we busted through the airport to catch our plane. It was a whirlwind, but then a magazine and a few songs later on the ipod, and here we are in Charlotte.

The van and trailer were just where we left them and all in perfect shape. That was a big high five between Scott and I. We both harbored a fear of arriving to a trailer and van that had been ransacked with huge chunks of our gear missing and a bike that had been vandalized. But, alas it all was fine. I like to think that is because people are basically good inside.

We needed to stop at a grocery store, and a gas station and somewhere to buy oil etc… for the bikes and the van. We ended up at Walmart. Scott calls it Wally World. I have come to the realization, that Walmart is a necessary evil for guys like us. We need food, we need van parts, we need a sleeping bag, we need a tire, we need oil for the van etc… There is no other place that has all of that stuff. I wish that I could say that I was not going to give in, but when you are here and need that stuff… there just isn’t a choice. I draw the line at sleeping in the parking lot though.

Not 2 hours on the ground, and we have seen our first confederate states flag. Front license plate of a 1989 pick up truck, right there in the Wally World parking lot. Fly it high, fly it proud. Makes you think that Lynyrd Skynyrd is going to ride again. Oh wait, they do still play, at thing like the Republican National Convention. I bet that is a happening event. A bunch of Bush cronies, with confederate flags listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd playing. I wonder if the Skynyrd guys need walkers to get on and off the stage?

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So the GNCC pits is a happening place!

This is how lit up it is at 10pm. There are kids all over the place on bikes, quads all over the place, radios playing etc… It is quite a zoo.

It is warm here. When we left 3 weeks ago, there were no green leaves on the trees or green grass. Now, it is all green. Leaves on trees, grass that needs to be cut already. Wow! Spring will come!

Ok. Enough till tomorrow. Photos from the Quad race, and around the pits.

Welcome back to the south. Accents and all.

 

Joe

1 week to go till Steele Creek

It is March 21, and we are in the middle of a blizzard.  OMG!  This winter just will not stop.  We got about a foot of snow today.  If you would have told me at the beginning of the winter that we would get over 100 inches of snow in Madison this winter, I would have told you that you were whacked.  I mean, I think we got about 20 inches of snow all of last year.

When I look at my log from last year, I had ridden locally at least 6 times by this point in March.  But, there still is not a riding area in the state or in northern Illinois that is open.  There is a MXC race in Prophetstown Illinois tomorrow, but I have done those races when they are 30 degrees and snow on the trail.  They really are not much fun, and certainly not much like riding a GNCC race.

So, I am going to go Steele Creek with no riding time since Georgia.  My practice bike is rebuilt and ready to be ridden, but there isn’t anywhere to ride it.  I don’t really want to go down and ride at Waterman.  That place is so frustrating.  20 minutes of riding is just frustrating to me.  Plus, I am not a fast MX rider, so I don’t really care about that – I just want to put in more time.

It all means that I am just riding the trainer again this weekend.  I have not put this much time in on a trainer since I was racing bicycles 20 years ago.  I don’t really like it too much.  Come to think of it, I didn’t really like it then and that is what ultimately made me retire from bicycle racing.  I mean, there is only so many hours you can spend drowning in your own sweat on a trainer in your garage or your basement.  Yow!

But, I feel like I am ready to race.  My head is on pretty well.  I feel like I can ride the pace of the leaders in my class, if the course is a woods course.  I just need to be patient and let the race happen.  I don’t need to push it.  It is 3 hours, after-all.

So, we head to Charlotte on Friday the 28th, drive up to the Steele Creek race and get settled in.  We will have to get to a grocery store etc… along the way.  But, we can deal with all of that.  On Saturday, I will have to put new clutch plates in the bike and fill it with oil etc…  But, the bike is ready to go otherwise.

I hope to provide a great story for that race.

Tomorrow I am going to spend some time fitting up the helmet camera, and I hope to make that work for the race.  If all goes well, I will be posting a video on Youtube, and a link from the site.

I am rambling, I know.  You can tell that I am bored and ready to race.  IT IS SNOWING OUTSIDE!!!!  JEEZ!

See you in North Carolina!

Joe

Strange to be home and not riding

This winter continues to be really tough here in Wisconsin.  It is still cold, and there is still snow on the ground.  It is starting to melt, but the ground is only thawed in the sunny areas and the snow is only clear where it was thin.  Hopefully in another week it will all be gone.  It is in the 40’s for highs, so it melts, but slowly.

This morning, I got up and went to a week 8 cycling class.  Indoor still.  I rode to work on my bike this week.  It was cold.  Really cold, like 18 -25 in the morning when I left for work.  But those were just steady commuting miles.  Good for base fitness, but not pushing it much to help in the next GNCC races.  So, I went to indoor group cycling class on Thursday morning, and again this morning.  Both of those classes were really hard efforts, but it is getting hard to get motivated for more of that training.  Particularly after already doing 2 races down in Florida and then in Georgia.

My hands are getting soft, my body is feeling like it is recovering from those races.  It was a slow recovery this week.  I have been tired all week.  I need to ride, to get my hands tougher and to keep building on my fitness.

So, I spent some time looking for somewhere to ride.  Dyracuse riding area up in Wisconsin Rapids will not be open until the first weekend of April, weather permiting.  The MX track here in town is not open until April 5.  The sandy little MX track in Janesville is not ready to ride yet, maybe next weekend.   The offroad riding area down in Byron Illinois is not open yet.  Ugh…  I know all those guys down south are riding.

Tomorrow I will work on my practice bike to make sure it is ready to ride next weekend.  Change the rear tire, change the oil, clean airfilter…  Man do I want to ride.

The day after Georgia

After the race, Scott and I drove to Charlotte NC. Our intention was to get a hotel room, shower, sleep. We managed that, in that order without too much fuss. Along the way, we continued our counting of Confederate flags, mullet hair doo’s and other things that we find unique to being in the south.

 

We arrived in Rock Hill (suburb of Charlotte) at about 9:30. Found a cheap hotel with internet access, and piled into bed. It was lights out at 10:30 – old guys.

 

In the morning, we headed over to the Waffle House for some breakfast. I don’t get it. Those places are horrible. Yet they appear really successful, and there is one at EVERY exit in this part of the world. The food is crummy, there are people smoking…

 

One thing that I find really interesting about the south is the accents. Wow. Some peoples accents are so heavy that I do not understand anything they are saying. I am sure that my Wisconsin accent is the same to them. But, wow.

 

It was really cold in the morning, so we found a Laundromat first to wash street clothes and race gear. That was an experience also. I don’t think we were in the door of the Laundromat more than 1 minute, and we had both been called “darling” and “honey”, more than once. The woman working there was huddled over a overflowing ashtray of cigarette butts, just below a huge sign that said NO SMOKING! I guess that if you put the sign up, you do not have to follow it. She and her friend both had those 50 year old woman smoker voices.

 

Next we got to the car wash. A perfect space with parking lot to drop the trailer and then to work on bikes afterward.

 

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Here is a picture of what a bike looks like after a muddy race in Georgia. I can tell you that it takes about $10 worth of quarters to get a bike clean after this.

 

There was an old guy who takes care of the car wash there. His name was Beau “not the bad smelling kind” was his quote about himself. Beau is 78 years old and has lived his whole life in Rock Hill SC. Beau was there at the car wash that day, sweeping up, emptying trash etc… He was so happy to have someone there for a period of time. He just wanted to talk. In fact, he wanted to talk so bad that he did not really care or even notice if anyone was listening. He started telling stories as soon as we got there, and I don’t think he stopped telling stories until about 2 hours later. His stories had no context either. He told us about JW owing a motorcycle and his brother, but he didn’t tell us his name. JW was the only piece of information that he gave about the guy who owned a motorcycle. Beau went on to tell us about him jumping a creek and getting into the bushes. And then Beau laughed. It is actually amazing that I can write any of this down, because I really only understood about every 4th word that Beau said. Beau’s accent was so thick that it was nearly impossible for me to make out.

 

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We set up a huge shop area in the parking lot and worked on bikes. That is Beau with my bike a little bit more cleaned up.

 

Anyway, we mounted up new tires, fixed my clutch changed oil etc… all to get them ready for the next race in NC in 3 weeks.

 

I will be ready for a decent result by then. And, hopefully Scott can continue his assault.

 

Joe

The General – ugh.

So, today was the General. I will go right to the end, for those of you that normally cannot handle a book without reading the ending. I have never understood that. I mean, if you are going to read a book, why spoil it and look to the end. I have a friend that reads magazines that way. He finds a review of a product he is interested in, and reads the summary of the review, then goes back and reads the whole story. I do not get it. Why read it that way?

Anyway, I had one of my very rare (at least prior to this year) DNF’s. (did not finish). I got stuck in a few huge mudholes ( I am talking mud up to the top of the back wheel), and destroyed the clutch in the bike. So, the clutch gave out and I was forced to stop. I am super bummed. I cannot believe how stupid that was, after all it was my fault for choosing poor lines.

The race unfolded pretty well for me. I did not get a perfect start, in fact it took 2 kicks to make the bike fire. But I still got to the first turn in the middle of the pack. By the time the first couple of turns passed I had sliced my way through the pack into the top 10. I felt good. The bike ran perfect, and I was on fire. I eventually got into a freight train with about 4 other guys and we were blasting the trail.

So, this was a woods race. No more of the non stop whoops that we saw in Florida. My kind of trail. I felt good at the pace we were going, but wanted to go faster. I began to work different lines through mud holes and around turns etc…, trying to get clear of the group that I was riding in. I made it past 2 guys on Yamahas, and was working on the KTM guy. But he was good. He rode wide lines and did not have a lot of weaknesses. I did feel that I was faster in the technical stuff and that he was holding me back. I began to look for alternate lines around him as well. But, I could not get passed him.

Finally, in desperation, I wheelied accross a mudhole, hoping to blast right through. I ended up getting sucked up by the mud hole, all the way down to the top of the rear wheel. I could not get it out on my own. Finally a spectator gave me a hand, and after 10 minutes of wrestling with it, we finally got it out of the mud and started. As I rode off, I realized how much that takes it out of you to have to deal with that. I was only 1 lap into the race, but I was toasted.

I got back into the game and finished the first lap. At the first big mudhole of the second lap, I got stuck again. This one was a little bit easier to get out of the mud, but it was still really stuck. I had to get help from a spectator again, as my energy level was now pretty low. But, in the end I got going again. Of course by now, I am probably almost a lap down from the leaders in my group. I thought, “well I can finish and salvage something out of this.”

But alas, that was not to be. I got stuck once more and this time the clutch gave up. It was completely gone. I had to get a 4 wheeler to pull me out of the mud. When I got it started, it would not run in gear. The clutch did absolutely nothing. My race was done, and I had only finished 1 lap. Wow.

This should have been my race. I was comfortable at the pace the lead group was going. I loved the dirt and the terrain. I just made one bad line decision, and then another and it was over. Now the clutch on the bike is gone, and I will need to rebuild it before the next race.

I am really proud of my teammate. Scott had a great race and finished 3rd in his class. He is 2nd overall in points in his class.

So, that is racing. On to Steele Creek in North Carolina in 3 weeks.

Forgot to mention just how fast Charlie Mullins, Nathan Kanney and David Knight are. They are badass.

Joe

March 8 night

This is just a quick note about the night of the 8th, here in Washington Georgia.  I guess it snowed a bunch in Atlanta yesterday.  Fortunately, it only spit snow on us here yesterday.  But, last night it got down to 28 degrees.  I can tell you that even with a generator and a heater, it was cold last night in the trailer.

I know for a fact that Liz would not have been able to handle the cold.

Joe

March 8, The General (minus 1 day)

Today we are at the “General” in Georgia. It is cold. I mean really cold. I know cold. After all, I do live in Wisconsin, so I think I do know cold. It is about 40 and windy. It rained all day yesterday, so things are really damp feeling also.

 

But, before I get into all of that, let me tell about yesterday. I mentioned earlier when I was writing that I was waiting for Scott after we had separated for a couple of days. He battled traffic for more than an hour while he was trying to get down to Orlando to pick me up. Ugh. When he arrived, I hoped behind the wheel to get us going and started back towards Daytona. As I am heading out, Scott mentions that the van is running poorly. He thought it was the little bit of 2 stroke premix that we dumped into it to get rid of some fuel. But, we put more gas in and it did not get any better.

 

In fact, we had to pull over at a rest area where it completely died. We got it started again and headed out to get the trailer where Scott had left it in Daytona. When we got onto the road again, the van started running poorly again. So, we found a Ford dealer and had them check it out. They found a recall thing, but that did not fix our problem. We dumped some fuel cleaner in and drove off, hoping that would fix it. It kind of did, at least partially.

 

In the end, after getting groceries etc… we arrived at the race site in Georgia at about 11pm, where we promptly got stuck in the mud. There was an old guy with a 4 wheel drive that was able to pull us into a camp spot, and that is where we slept.  He was nice enough to help us out, but I have no idea what he was saying.  His southern accent was so thick that it was almost impossible for me to understand him.  

 

Today we were able to find a course side spot, and get things organized. I had to finish up my bike, to make it ready after last weeks race.

 

At the start of the post, I noted that it is cold here. It is! 40 degrees and windy. So, I am sitting here in the trailer, with the generator running (I picked that up yesterday – but that is another story in itself), the heater on and typing my blog.

 

Tomorrow is going to be muddy and cold. The quad guys were completely mud covered today after their race. It should be warmer than 40 though, probably upper 50’s. I hope so, as I do not want to deal with jetting.

 

Joe

March 7, 3 days after the Triton, 2 days till Georgia

 

Wow.  I am still feeling it.  I just cannot get over how hard that race was. 

 

After the race, Scott and I drove to Cocoa Beach.  We intended to find a campground with a shower and power.  But, that was easier said than done.  Candi failed us 2 times.  She directed us to campground addresses that just were not there.  They may have been there at one point, but no longer.  Ugh.  In the end, we gave up and got a hotel room.  We both wanted a shower and needed to lie down.  It was great.  I don’t think I even moved once I laid down, until the next morning. 

 

We found a car wash and it only took about an hour to clean up the bikes and assorted bike gear.  Then we found a Laundromat and destroyed a few washers with our riding gear and smelly street clothes from 5 days on the road, working on motorcycles, sleeping in the camper and no showers.  That was not pretty.

 

Then, Scott dropped me with my family at the beach and he headed off to Daytona.  I am sure he wrote somewhere here about that experience.  But, I spent the day at the beach on the 5th.  I lied around in the sun (just a few minutes) and then the rest of the day in the shade.  It was great.  While I was doing that, I thought of all the other suffering Wisconsinites at home dealing with ice and a snowstorm.  I have never really wanted to hang around in the sun, but this felt good. 

 

On Thursday the 6th, I loaded up with the rest of the family and spent the day at Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure.  It was cool.  Riding rides, spinning on rollercoasters and watching people.  I am amazed that the gang of teenagers at my house still digs amusement parks.  We did the whole thing also.  Both parks, lunch at Margarita-ville dinner at the worlds largest Hard Rock Café etc…  I must say that I am still thrilled with rollercoasters.  They are hard to get enough of.  Liz and the teenagers all love them also. 

 

Now I am sitting at a Starbucks, waiting for Scott, so that we can head to Georgia.  We have an all day drive.  Need to buy groceries, a generator, radiator fluid etc…  Tomorrow is working on the bikes day, and then Sunday.  Yow. 

 

Joe

Triton is in the books

After months and months of prep and all the agonizing and all the training.  3 hours and it is over.

That 3 hours though is the hardest thing I have ever done.  It was harder than any 12 hour mountain bike race, it was harder than the Logan Utah to Jackson Wyoming road race (210 miles, 3 mountain passes), I have not done an Ironman Triathlon but if it is anything like this – no thanks.

I would describe the Triton as 3 hours of sand whoops spiced with palmetto roots the size of your thigh and then below that just a maze of spaghetti routs going everywhere.  It was a 13 mile loop that was 100% sand whoops mixed with all of that.  You could literally NEVER sit down.  I basically did a 3 hour race where I could not sit down one time.

My wave is at the end of the field (old guys who go slow).  We were 1 mile into the race, blitzing down a completely pro motocross level whooped out straight.  I was about mid pack and got pinched to the side behind someone.  The guy in front of me got out of sorts and almost went down, and came to a stop.  I was blitzing along with the gas wide open on top of the whoops.  There was nothing I could do.  I smashed right into the back of him, smashing my radiator back and tearing it – but I did not loose the fluid.  I picked my self back up and finally got going again.  Dead last.  I had my work cut out.

I rode possessed for a lap, and sliced through about 6 people in that first lap.  The second lap similar.  But, by then we were 1.5 hours into the race (yes the laps were 45 minutes long).  I was toast.  I went on cruise control from there.  I  did make it back up to 12th place, but that was as far as I got.

Scott had a super race.  He was 6th in the 30A class.

Afterward, Mike Webb from the Suzuki team said that Florida is the hardest race of the year.  I believe it.

I cannot imagine doing anything harder.  I am so worked.  My hands are destroyed.  My back hurts and my knee is stiff and swollen.  Ugh.

My bike was great.  The Factory Connection suspension was super, the Cycra plastic was perfect, everything about it was great.  In particular, they look spectacular.  Everywhere we go, people talk about how good our bikes look.  Thank god for my GPR steering damper.

I have to get my radiator fixed before next weekend, but other than that it was great.

Georgia race in 5 days.  Time for some serious stretching icing and hand attention.
Joe

Monday 3/3 – at the triton – practice day

I am actually posting this from the awards platform, at the race site.

Today was practice day. What a concept. It was really nice that they had set up another course for us to all ride on. After all, it is still winter where many of us live. It was pretty good. It was a decent little loop. In actuality, it was not so little. 6 laps took about 1 hour. That is actually on par with a harescrambles course at home. The loop was super super rough. In an hour, I was pretty worked, and decided not to push it. I didn’t know if I could WIN practice after all, so I took it easy and just stopped at an hour. I could not imagine riding more than that helping my race tomorrow.

So, I had the most unbelievable night of sleep last night. We got to bed pretty early. I woke up at 4 having to pee. I thought that would be it for me. Normally, when I get up at that time, I would be done. But, I fell back to sleep and slept until 6:45. Wow! I never do that. It was super. I know now what I am missing.

Scott took off this morning to go and get more water. We decided that we did not have enough to make it through the race period. So now, we have 8 gallons. You know, that two old guys drink a lot of water.

I worked on cleaning up after breakfast (oatmeal with fruit, of course), went down and introduced myself to the Pirelli guys. Barney is the guy at Pirelli with the tire levers, and he is cool. He filled me in on what is the right tire for the day and recommended pressure etc… And damn, that MT32 was incredible.

So, when Scott got back it was time to mount tires and work on bikes. We both had a bunch of prep work that we wanted to do. Jetting, brake pads etc…

 

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Here we are working on bikes.

 

We went back later and met one of the bigwigs at Pirelli, named Josh. I missed his last name, sorry Josh. He filled us in on the contingency program they offer, and made sure we were set up. That was really cool.

We stopped by to try to say hi to each of the people that have helped us to get here. Shane Nalley at Suzuki, Gary at G2, the guys at GPR etc… We have met so many great people aready. People are super friendly at the GNCC . It already is starting to feel like family.

The new registration for the race is super cool. It goes fast and it works. Swipe your AMA card, run the bar code for your transponder under a wand and that is it. You are registered. They still put a bar code for back up on the left side of your helmet, but that is just in case something failed in the middle of the race and they had to go back to scanning your helmet. Even tech inspection is done with the transponder. You go to tech inspection to have them make sure your helmet has the bar code and to make sure that you have the correct stickers. But, when you go into the tent, your transponder registers that you passed through. So no more tags on the handlebars or anything. Sweet.

After we finished riding, we watched the pros practicing. That was impressive. Those guys are going at pro motocrosser speeds through the whoops. We each have our favorite for the day. I am going with Knight, Scott is going with Garret Edmiston. They were both very impressive in the whoops.

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This is how we both looked after practice.

 

I think it is going to be a race of attrition tomorrow. It is so hard with the whoops and the palmetto roots. Guys with fitness are going to have the advantage. I think there will be a lot of motocrossers that go really hard and fast for an hour or so. The 3rd hour will tell. Even in practice today, there where a lot of guys sitting on the side of the course halfway through practice.

So this is it. We are on tomorrow. My knee is good. A little stiff after riding today, but it will be fine for tomorrow. 1:30 we start and from there it is all about riding. No more prep and no more talking.

 

I am ready.

 

Joe

At the Triton – Florida GNCC – Sunday 3/2

Today we drove from Tennessee, outside of Chattanooga, to the race site in Florida. We are here now, along with about 200 other RV’s. I suspect that there will be about 400-500 bikes in the race on Tuesday. Tomorrow is practice and bike set up work for both Scott and I. This is the only race of the year that has a provision for practice. All of the other races, there is no provision for practice. I suppose this one has practice because it is the first race of the year and it allows all of us who live up north to get our bikes and gear sorted etc… We are not actually practicing on the course, mind you but on similar terrain to the course. Even though there is practice, the standard for GNCC racing is to not allow any practice on the course. We all see the course for the first time when the green flag goes up and we are racing.

Thankfully, today was a lot less eventful day than yesterday was. Not much happened. But, this did mark the furthest south that I have ever driven. I mean, we are halfway down Florida. There is ocean both to the east and to the west. That is crazy.

I saw a few interesting things on the drive down today. But, I think the best was seeing a guy going down the road on his Harley at about 80mph, with the bike set on cruise control and him riding no handed. Not just for a second either. I watched him ride for more than a minute like that. Seriously! In fact, here is a picture of it all going on.

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Mr. cool no handed Harley dude. 80mph, no hands. For miles.

 

The worst thing that happened today, was when I got in an argument with Candi (the GPS stripper girl). We were in Atlanta, caught in a huge traffic jam. I got finally got tired of sitting there, so we just drove up the side to the exit and started heading in a different direction. Eventually, Candi figure it out and gave us directions about how to meet up with our original road, just about 10 miles further down the road. It all worked out, and we leapfrogged the traffic jam and made good time again. But, Candi was having some stern words with me when I would not listen to her telling me to turn around and get back on the road. She is so touchy.

Speaking of Atlanta, that was interesting. I mean, the highway is routed right through the city. The traffic was bad there, on a Sunday. I guess it must be really bad on a Monday.

I was suitably impressed today with Tennessee. I know that Tennessee is a pretty backwoods place, but it is really really beautiful. Wow. Big hills, lots of trees, cool little towns kind of stuffed into the valleys. Mountains, without snow. Pretty cool.

When we finally got to the race site, the road to the actual race site was about 5 miles long sand and dirt road. The road was completely washboarded. The rough surface made the traveling really slow. I don’t want to beat the trailer up, so it was a 10mph ride. But, here we are. We have a great site, just off the track, just after the start finish. We will be able to pit right out the back of the camp site. Should make it much safer for our stuff to be left on the side of the trail.

I cannot believe that I am sitting here in the trailer, with a light on, typing this out, listening to my ipod and updating the blog site.

This is much more big time than any other races that I have done before.

Joe

Saturday 3/1

 

Today, the adventure began. Scott picked me up at the house at 5am. It was cold, as usual, probably 18 or so degrees Fahrenheit. It has been colder when we left, but it is March 1 after all. It feels like it should be warmer. It feels like there should not be snow on the ground any more, but there is. There is a lot of snow on the ground still Seems like the snow is never going to go away this year.

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This is what it looked like on the GPS unit when we pulled out of my driveway.  Look closely, you will see that we had 21 hours to go and 1339 miles.  OMG!

 

I think that having all of this snow this year, has made the preparation for the season easier. It has been easy to focus on. There was not really any possibility of a distraction to go and ride somewhere. No clear ground to entice us out on the practice bikes. It means that we have spent a ton of time working on our bikes, working on our set up and working on our fitness. We will see if it pays.

Out side of Paw Paw Illinois, there is a wind farm. It is huge. I counted over 100 windmills. Big huge 3 bladed windmills. I imagine those things must make a lot of noise. There are some farm houses out there, and I imagine that they can hear the blades going through the air during the night. The tip of the blade is going quite fast, after all. I don’t know how fast. I suppose that a smart person could figure out how fast the tip of the windmill blade is going. Some sort of formula that would have to do with the length of the blade and the distance it travels. But, I am not that person. I just know they are going fast, and they must make some noise. I wonder how much electricity a windmill can generate. Is it enough to run a house? A block? A city? A state?

I wonder how much noise the windmills make. Is it loud with the blade going through the wind? Is the generator loud? Do birds die by getting hit by the blades? I imagine a group of young daring birds, shooting through the blades. Sort of a right of passage for young birds moving into manhood. Or sort of a dare. Or maybe, it is just for entertainment. Proving to themselves and to other species that they are much more talented than the rest of us. What do birds really do for entertainment anyway?

We passed a truck from Wisconsin a few times. They were pulling a big trailer, with Fox stickers. We figured they had bikes or quads in the trailer. We pulled in to a Subway restaurant somewhere in Southern Illinois (Candi found it for us. Candi is the voice on the GPS. I have decided that Candi is a stripper from Wyoming. Don’t know why Wyoming, it just sounds right.) They pulled in to the Subway just behind us. Turns out they are going to ride at an MX track in Alabama, and then on to Daytona for bike week. It was a guy and his son from Wausau. They were pretty nice people.

I am writing this now from the campsite in Tennessee. It was an adventure today, for sure. When we were in Kentucky, suddenly the van began to make a vibration, and then Scott said, “we have a flat.” I thought he was kidding at first, and then sure enough I could feel that the right front of the van was lower than before. Ugh. There goes our good time, was all I could think of.

We made it to the side of the road, extricated ourselves from the van and went to work. We are decent mechanics, at least. I took off the bad front wheel, and Scott worked on getting the spare down. We had not done that yet, so that was an exercise to figure out how it dropped. We got it down, got it mounted up and then stood back from it and realized that we had an extremely haggard spare tire. The spare was worn out on the inside edge and cracked and drying on the side wall. As we were working on the side of the road, the Wausau truck pulled up behind us. They got out, and talked us through our repairs. They knew the area, and told us to follow them to a tire shop just down the road. We mounted it up, drove slowly for 25 miles or so and ended up at a Wal-Mart in Clarksville Tennessee.

After 2 hours or so at the Wal-Mart, we were on our way, about $200 lighter. A new tire (to replace the worn and haggard spare), and a repair to the front tire.

We had to get to Nashville before night time. Apparently Scott feels cursed with Nashville. Claims he has been through there many times, but has never seen the city in the day. He feels cursed. We got there at about 5:30pm. Made it through the city in the daylight, and Scott got to see what he was missing. Not sure what that was, as Nashville appeared to me to be just about it. Not much more.

Ok, so that brings me to where we are now. Tennessee Hills Campground, outside of Chattanooga. Actually, outside of Murphfreebouro. Wow, that is a mouthful, eh? Candi found the campsite for us, which makes it questionable, in the first place. After all, what can a Wyoming stripper know about campgrounds in Tennessee? We drove up the side of this mountain, and up on top there is a campground. We take one lap, but cannot find the office. Scott hoped out of the van, and knocked on the door of a camper to ask if they knew where the office is. He hears bunch of scuttling around inside the camper, and then a guy with a wife beater shirt, a mullet and a shotgun whips the door open. And asks what Scott is doing there.

Scott insists that he is just looking for directions. I think there was a tense moment when they both stared at each other, but in the end the mullet guy backs down and then became friendly. He gave us directions on how to get the owner on the phone and set up a campsite. Turned out to be honest and probably legal. He did have a nice mullet though.

That gets us to where I am now. Sitting in the camper, listening to the heater working, trying to make it to 8:30pm before I fall asleep.

It is only 3 days till we are racing our motorcycles.

Joe