Monthly Archives: June 2008

Bicycling July

We have had a break planned in our racing for July and August from the start of this adventure. Scott was anticipating that time to devote to his new family, and I was planning to use the time to do some cycling pieces that I have been looking forward to.

On Monday, Liz and I are leaving for a 9 day long cycling adventure in France. Monday we are flying to Paris. In Paris, we do not have anything really planned. I was there when I lived in Europe as a kid, Liz has never been there. We are going to do the usual tourist things – Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Champs Elysees, La Louvre, etc… But, our plan is to get around the city and be tourists by bicycle. Paris has the Velib bike sharing program. That program allows you to check out one of 20,000 bicycles from one of the thousands of bike stations around the city, and then check it back in at another bike station. And, it only costs 1 euro per hour of use. It is a pretty cool way to get around the city. We will be taking lots of photo’s.

After Paris, we are taking the train down to Biarritz. In Biarritz, we will join up with a bicycle touring company (Trek Travel) and take part in a 6 day ride in the mountains. The 5th riding day takes on the L’Etape du Tour (citizens ride during the Tour de France). That goes from Pau to Hautecam and goes over the famous Tourmalet climb along the way. Many a race has been won and lost during the Tour on the Tourmalet. I have never been to it, so we are really looking forward to is. So, in spite of my knee, we are going to give it a try.

We return from France on the 9th. The weekend after we return, Scott and I both are planning to do the double D16HS race at Hixton. I really like double race weekends, and I have always loved Hixton. We will take a break from our July pursuits and do a local weekend of HS racing. Seems kind of weird to say that, as this blog and this summer were meant to be about racing. But, it is July.

On the 21st of July, we are taking our annual family vacation to Whistler BC. to do some mountain biking. We have been going there for a few years now, and my whole gang loves to ride there. It is just like going to a downhill ski area (funny that is, since it is the largest downhill ski area in the world). You get off the lift, and there are ability marked DH trails in all directions – just like downhill skiing. It is a ripping good time. I plan to post up a helmet cam montage from the trip. Here is a nice little helmet cam piece of 2 of my favorite trails there, I found on Youtube.

We return from Whistler on the 29th, and then on August 1st Liz and I are teaming up to do a 12 hour mountain bike race together. The 24 hours of 9 mile, in Wausau Wi., is the 24hour national championships. But, there is a 12 hour race that runs from 10 to 10. We are going to do that, for fun, then sleep in the camper and get up in the morning to watch the finish at 10 of the national racers.

So, it is a Bicycling July.

My friends Mat Herrington and Carley Whitehorse went down and did Yadkinville. Matt got 5 laps in the 200A class. Carley got 4 laps in during the women’s race. You can check them out at http://414racing.wordpress.com/

My knee looks to be pretty bad. It does not seem to be getting any better. I had an MRI, and that showed some questionable results. I have another exam when I get back on the 10th. I suspect they are going to want to cut into it, and I will have to try to schedule that around my other things I want to get done during this summer and fall. I also will need to do some skiing this summer with my family. Ugh – I don’t know if I am cut out for another winter of knee rehab. But, I guess that is the cost of doing all this stuff.

Wishing a big GOOD LUCK to our sponsors at Vesrah Suzuki WERA team. They are in Las Vegas this weekend for a round of the WERA endurance race. They had a big call out on the WERA website. quote “Will Vesrah Suzuki continue to dominate or will they have a challenge this coming weekend in Las Vegas…..it is after all the gambling capital of the US.” check them out at http://vesrahsuzuki.com/Default.aspx

Go Mark!

Later.

Joe

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6/21

I think that 6/21 is the summer solstice.  That would be the day that our part of the planet, in the northern hemisphere, is tilted closest to the sun.  That would make it the longest daylight day of the year.

OMG.  I don’t think I can handle the meaning of that.  That means that the daylight period today will be slightly shorter than yesterday, and tomorrow will be shorter still.  It means that we have begun the slow march toward winter, toward the end of the motorcycle season etc…  When you live as far north as we do, it is a hard fact to swallow.  It seems that it was just a few weeks ago, when I was riding my bicycle with full winter gear on and that my motorcycle had winter jetting still installed.

To celebrate the summer solstice, and the fact that my knee appears to not need surgery, Scott and I went to Dyracuse to ride for a couple of hours.  Scott has been really busy with work and his young family lately, so he frankly had not even messed with his motorcycle since the Crandon race.  I had a really busy week with my knee and all, this past week so I did not have any time to even clean my bike up after the enduro.

That is before we rode.  I know, it is filthy!

I don’t think I have ever shown up to ride with my motorcycle  already dirty.  I know that is super anal sounding, but I just really like having it nice a new feeling before the ride.

In the van on the way there, Scott asked me what I was going to be working on that day.  I told him that it was all about seeing how my knee was going.  That was my intention.

Starting the bike up was a bit difficult as my knee has to be completely bent at the top of the kickstart stroke.  My knee is pretty full of fluid, so it just does not want to bend like that.  Out on the trail, the knee did not bother me in regular riding, but it was really hard to use the back brake into a turn.  I have no feel on  the lever, and it is impossible for me to use the brake while slid forward going into a turn.  I was forced to do all my braking before I sat down for the turn, and that made me really slow.

Oh well.  I was riding and my knee does not need surgery.  (At least that is the diagnosis now, until we see the MRI.)

Scott is faster than me.  One – because he has more skill.  Two – because he takes meticulous notes on his set up and how the bike worked for the day.

Dyracuse was running a mud bog while we were there.  They had dug a big long ditch, about as wide as 2 pick up trucks, and filled it with mud and water.  I guess the goal was to try to make it through that slop.  This just isn’t something that makes much sense to a woods motorcycle guy.  Quad riders seem to take a huge amount of satisfaction in that.  Oh well.

Lots of set ups like this one there yesterday.

Over and out for today.

Joe

Video from Loose Moose Enduro

Here is a helmet cam video from the first 5 minutes of the Marquette National Enduro. This is the first section, minute 23.

I have been trying to get the video to show in the blog site. I cannot figure that out. But, here is the link to the video on google video.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7565761118944026832&hl=en

Joe

Good news!

Today I went to the doctor to have my knee looked at.  They did Xrays, manipulated my knee in a lot of different ways.  It turns out, that I probably have a severe tear of one of the many different muscles in your calf.

When I described the injury, lifting my motorcycle up over something and feeling a pop in the back of my knee, along with feeling like someone whacked me in the back of the knee with a stick.  Apparently, that is really common circumstances and feeling for a torn calf muscle.

The pain is in the back of my knee, and spreads down into my calf muscle.

As I mentioned, they did an Xray and a bunch of manipulation.  Basically the Doc said that as far as he can tell without an MRI, I do not have any ACL damage, or any PCL damage, or any meniscus damage etc…  My Doctor is Doctor Glad in Madison.  He is probably the greatest orthopedic there is, at least judging from how good my fixed knee feels.

I still have an MRI scheduled for next Tuesday, just to confirm that there isn’t something going on with the ligaments or the meniscus.

SWEET!

Now the rest of the summer

– cycling trip to Europe

– mountain bike trip to Whistler

– 24 hour mountain bike race at the end of July

– mountain bike trip to Northstar

and the fall GNCC races are still On!!!!

Joe

National Enduro – good news and bad news

Today was the National Enduro up in Marquette. It was pretty sweet. Weather was perfect, and the crowd was just about the right size.

I have good news and I have bad news. Let’s start with the good news.

I woke up this morning, and found it was freezing. It is June, but it probably was only about 45 degrees last night. The heater was on in the camper and both John and I were stuffed down in our sleeping bags trying to stay warm. Damn, there has been nothing but cold weather when we have camped this year.

The day started off great. Oatmeal, coffee and grapefruit juice. The perfect breakfast. No PA and announcements going on, so I knew I was not at a GNCC race. No quads either.

The way a National Enduro works is you race down a trail 4 people at a time. The groups are spaced 1 minute apart. It works a little bit like a car rally race. There are timed sections and transfer sections that do not count against you, as long as you arrive at the next time section before your minute is supposed to start that section. In other words, there are sections that you race like hell, and then you ride a transfer section to get to the next timed section. The timed sections were almost 70 miles long of trail. When you add the transfer section distances it made the whole ride almost 100miles long. 100 miles of singletrack! SWEET!

Key time was at 9am. That means that the race started at 9am. John and I were on minute 23. With the fast guys. They do not let the pros and AA riders ride on the same minute together. They all get spaced out 1 minute apart. The best minute is minute number 20. That way the trail is beat in a little bit and it allows you to go faster. So, last years national champion is on minute 20, last years number 2 is on minute 21 etc… you get the picture. Our guy on our minute was unbelievably fast. When you watch the video, you will see that he disappears right away. Wow.

It was cool starting just after Mike Lafferty, last years national champion. I am sure that was going to be the last time that I was going to see him though.

The bad news, is that I did in my other knee. Not the knee that was worked on this past fall, but the “good” knee. I was lifting my bike over a rock on a hill. When I did that, I felt it pop and boy did it hurt. I knew right away that it was not good. It felt like someone had hit me with a hammer in the back of the knee. I was done.

Damn, Just 8 minutes into the ride. It was going to be a good one also. Wow was it a great trail.

I did get 5 minutes or so of video of the first part of the ride. I am working to edit that down and will get it posted on Youtube or something and link it hear.

BTW. The little kid Hank was doing his own enduro ride this morning. He was riding around the camping area on his bike when we left for the race and he was still riding around the camping area when I loaded up and went home. He is truly the Ironman.

Loose Moose National Enduro – Marquette – day before

So all week was more rain at home. I mean it rained. It rained and rained and would not stop raining. This was a rain to stop the clocks. Houses floated down rivers, complete roads washed away, bridges were out…it is crazy. Even the interstate was closed due to flooding. As usual, events like that just make me want to ride my motorcycle. I got completely jonesed to race.

There are no GNCC races this weekend, no OMA races, no local harescrambles races… but, there is the national enduro up in the UP of Michigan. I have been dying to do a national enduro, so this seemed like the one. Now that an enduro can just be ridden, a little like a harescrambles race, I am all for it.

Scott is out of town and had to work through the weekend, so I phoned up my friend Brian (www.afabmotorsports.com) and my friend John Buechner and we all planned to head up to the enduro together.

At first I was going to ride with Brian, after all if I can not be in the abductor van with Scott and Candi the stripping navigator, then I should be with someone. But funny thing, as I was packing to go, I decided I could not live without the camper there and all my camping stuff. So, I ended up driving myself up.

My rig is kind of cheesy compared to Scott’s abductor van. But, the important part was getting the camper up there with me. I did not want to sleep on the ground. Brian likes to rough it more than me.

Notice how I have to put the tailgate down to get the bike in, and that makes it a pretty tight squeeze for the camper. If I drive carefully and do not go through any bike dips it does not hit. I also cannot turn real sharp, or the tailgate will hit the propane tank.

Another view of what Liz calls my “girlie” truck. With the worlds greatest motorcycle stuffed into the back. (Have I mentioned how absurd it will be if Suzuki truly decides not to import the RM250 2stroke into the USA any longer?)

I mentioned at the start that most of southern Wisconsin is under water. The funny part is that when you get up to central and northern Wisconsin, it is super dry. This state has the wackiest weather of any place in the world. Today we drove straight up the center of the state, up into the UP of Michigan. We saw water over bridges, we had to ford virtual rivers flowing across the road, we saw turtles all over the road (one of them was a huge snapper, that tried to get his gob around John’s ankle and break it. That was a sight.), we had to detour a few times around roads that were almost washed away. Wow.

A national enduro is apparently a big deal in the world of enduro’s. But, compared to a GNCC race it is not much bigger than a local HS race. There are a few more people, but there are no semi trailers, and there is no pits to speak of. I saw Mike Lafferty just walking around the pits and his mechanic working on his bike just down in the dirt like the rest of us.

We did set up a nice campsite though.

From out campsite, we had a view of our next GNCC rig. This was one sweet Suburban. Doesn’t everyone need/want a ratty old Suburban raised and a really loud exhaust?

There was a really cool thing going on around our campsite. There was a little kid riding his little bike, nonstop around our campsite and his families campsite. I was just like that kid. I would ride my mini bike until there was no gas at all left in it. Then collapse into my bed.

We dubbed this kid Hank. Hank never stopped riding. He would not even stop long enough for us to ask him a question. Below is a nice little sequence of him riding.

Look at that concentration!

So evening came, and I fell into my routine. Prepping to camper for sleeping, cooking and eating dinner, cleaning up the dishes and then writing to this blog site. I know, a creature of habit.

Wow. Another, salad, chicken and pasta dinner. I am in a rut.

Last shot below is my prep method of getting enough carbohydrates in while I am racing. Mary Daubert says that I need to get at least a few hundred calories in during a race. Cytomax in the camelback and gu packets affixed inside my chest protector is my answer to that.

Looks goofy, but it works. I can just reach in and pull out a gu packet.

So tomorrow is the big ride. I am trying to ride with a helmet camera tomorrow, so hopefully I will be able to post up a helmet cam video from the event.

Joe

Rain, graduation, more rain!

This has been an eventful week.  Not much in the way of motorcycles, but an eventful week nonetheless.

For those of you out there who are my age, you know what I am talking about with high school graduation.  If you do not have kids, or if your kids are little, let me fill you in.  Your kids going through high school graduation is the thing that will tell you that you are getting old more than any other event in your life.  (At least so far.)

First of all, the event itself is really tough.  There is hardly a dry eye in the house during the event.  As soon as the band started playing, just the warm up songs, my wife was tearing up.  I was not too far behind.  At one point during the ceremony, the senior choir sang a song and it was all that most of us could do to keep from getting choked.  Even the siblings were teary eyed.  For that matter, many of the seniors themselves were teary eyed.

The event itself makes you feel older than anything else.  Not racing the senior class, not getting your first prostrate exam – nothing makes you feel old like your kids graduating from high school and heading off to college.  It seems that Liz and I were just going off to college ourselves last year.  Wow.  Time flies.

Both of my kids are heading off to Europe for much of the summer, so Liz and I will get to see a preview of our lives day in and day out without a pile of teenagers running around the house.  It will be kind of quiet.

While the kids are gone, we are going for a cycling vacation.  Liz is way into cycling and that is what she wanted to do.  Should be fun.  Then, when the kids get back we are all going to Whistler BC for a week of mountain biking in late July.  So, as you saw from the home page, Scott and I started our GNCC summer break 1 race early.  That means a bunch of cycling events (a couple of century’s and a 12 hour mountain bike race) and a few local Harescrambles races until early August when we will begin to focus our training on 3 hour events again.

Liz and I did a century ride yesterday.  It was really hot and humid, but it was a good day.  The route worked out perfectly – into the wind on the first part of the ride and then with a tail wind on the second part of the ride.  Perfect.

It was also perfect, because it started raining really big about 1 hour after we were finished.  It rained and rained.

I think I will do the National Enduro up in Marquette Michigan next weekend.  I have never done a National Enduro, but they sure sound like fun.

When I got up this morning, it rained.  It rained and rained and rained.  I have never seen it rain so much.  I was going to head up to Dyracuse and ride today, but when I saw how hard it was raining and checked the weather to see that it was raining just as hard up at Dyracuse I decided that it was not worth it to drive all the way up there.  So, I went into the garage and worked on an inventory of Suzuki parts and cleaned up gear etc…

There are huge huge puddles in the farmers fields.  Lakes of water actually, in the farmers fields.  Did I mention it was raining this morning?

That is it for now.  I will have some stories from the Enduro after next weekend.

Joe

Crandon – finally riding closer to my potential!!!!

This past Saturday was a local D16 HS race up in Crandon Wi. Yes, that would be THE Crandon, where the offroad truck race track is. Wow. What a trip.

If you read the previous post, you know that Scott and I did not do the Sparta GNCC race and that we ventured up to northern Wisconsin, 4 hours each way, and did the D16 race in Crandon Wi. It was the best race we have done so far this year.

We arrived at about 9:30, for a 12:30 start. We usually like to get there with enough time to get our bikes and gear sorted and to take a look at the course. We brought our mountain bikes with us to take a look at the course, since we were short of time. The problem was that it was only about 49 degrees. OMG, it was almost June 1!

The loop looked to be a bit short, but after a look around it looked to be really fun. There were some really fast stuff that felt lke GNCC bits. Cut about as wide as a quad in spots and really fun. Then, there were some super super technical only as wide as your bars between the trees kind of stuff. Then, you broke out onto the truck racing course and were wide open in 5th gear. In between all of that there were some big hills, and a huge mud hole. Damn.

The race blasted off as scheduled at 12:30. That would be the whole field, minus me. Me, I sat there and kicked and kicked as if I had never done this before. 4 kicks later and I managed to get the thing started. By that time the whole group was around the first turn and blasting down the straightaway of the truck track. I guess I like making it difficult on myself – jeez.

So I set about working it. There were 14 people in my group. I saw as I came up to the back of the pack that Rob had already started to check out. We went into the woods, and when we came out he was gone. But, I went into the woods with 10 people between him and me. Yow. I sliced and pushed my way forward as fast as I could, but still exited the woods with at least 4 people between Rob and I. I caught Jim Blau at about the 3rd lap. I figure he was in 2nd. I kept pushing forward, and eventually had Rob in site. Unfortunately, I managed to fall over 3 times that next lap. Jim and at least 1 other person got by me. That started a serious of back and forth between Jim and I. I would pass him, then mess up, I would pass him back and then mess up etc… Finally, with 2 laps to go he tried to blast pass me in the mudd hole and went on to his head. That was the last time I saw him.

Rob ended up with a little over a minute on me on the course. But, he managed to get through just under 2 hours for 1 more lap than me. I finished with 15 laps in 2 hours and 12 seconds.

2nd place. But, a 2nd place that I earned. I chased through the whole group and made it up to the front. I battled for 2nd, and nearly won overall.  I do love doing local races, where there is a story afterward.

Some interesting pieces of info:

1. This is the first race that I have felt that I have gotten near my old riding ability, since my knee surgery. I have been tenuous since then.

2. I burned almost 3 gallons in a 2 hour race. I guess when you are on the gas and going hard, you do use more gas. I have been hardly using 3 gallons in a 3 hour GNCC race. I need to twist it harder there.

3. I have had 3 bad starts in my entire race career. 2 of them have been the past 2 races.

4. This is the 2nd time this year that I have lost my camelbak all over my self. I caught the mouthpiece of my camelbak on my bike or chest protector, pulled the end off and spewed all the fluid all over myself. A mess, but the big deal was I did that on lap 3 and then did 12 more laps with no fluid to drink. (Probably explains how worked I felt the next day).

5. My RM 250 with a 170main jet, JD jet needle on the 4th clip and a 48 pilot jet was PERFECT!

6.  I actually really like mud.

7.  I used to think I was better at technical.  Now I think I am much better at fast.

8.  I fell pretty hard on a fast bend in the woods.  My knee was stiff the next day, but not bothered.  Yeeha!

9.  I still don’t like jumping.

10.  I am so glad I am not on a 4stroke.

I am going to do another local race next weekend and then a local enduro the following weekend.

Out.

Joe