Monthly Archives: September 2008

Unadilla – The legend that is

The muddiest, wettest, nastiest thing I have ever done. Some way to start this entry, eh? Scott and I are driving along after the race, and my forearms are completely cramping, just trying to type this.

So, let me back up a bit. The morning was foggy, but the sun broke through early and it was glorious out. The kids got a great race course that the dirt was like Velcro. The morning race also got Velcro dirt, but it started to rain at the end of the race. It was sprinkling, and we assumed that a little bit of rain would make the course good. It would have.

By the time we got to our start line, it was pouring down rain at the start. A GNCC race never starts on time – Never. This one was not any different. We sat on the line for about 30 minutes, in the rain. The rain came down like cats and dogs. When the gun went off for my wave to take off, I was completely soaked, through and through.

3hours, starting out soggy.

My bike did not start. It did not start on the second kick either. Nor did it start on the 3rd kick. The flagger gave me a big push, and I kicked 2 more times while rolling and it finally started on the 5th kick. By now, the whole wave was gone. I was dead last in my wave getting out of the start area. 30 riders ahead of me. I had my work cut out for me.

Exactly one mile into the race, we hit the big mud hole. That was a misnomer though, as in fact the whole 10 mile loop was 1 big mud hole and 1 big long rut. Ruts going up the hill, ruts crossing side hill, ruts going down hill, ruts on the Unadilla MX track, ruts everywhere. But, already in that first mud hole, 1 mile into the race my clutch was acting up. I had to turn the clutch barrel out 4 turns to get my clutch to work.

About 1.5 miles into the race, we were supposed to cross a creek bed. The creek bed was steep and muddy. No one was making it up, and by the time our wave got there, the whole race was backed up. People were standing around. Bikes were stuck everywhere. There was no way through the creek. Slowly we got across or found our own way around, one rider at a time. Just as I was getting out of that mess, I saw that they rerouted the pros past that mess. I was only 1.5miles into the race, and I was already a lap down to the pros. They rerouted that section, and we did not have to hit that again – or I might still be out there.

The first lap passed. There were lots of ruts, a lots of logs to cross and lots of rocks everywhere. I did not fall on that lap though. I passed through the start finish at the end of the 1st lap in 25th place – ugh.

The second lap, my goggles were gone so I stopped at our pits and got some new goggles. They lasted about ½ a lap, and I was forced to ride the rest of the race without goggles. My eyes are oozing goop and will be oozing mud all day tomorrow.

At the end of the 2nd lap, I was in 17th place. Making progress, but not much. It was raining even harder.

On the next lap, I did not see where I was when I passed through the start finish. It was still raining – hard.

There were spots on the course that water was running down the hill in the ruts were riding in. I mean gushing water.

How does a motorcycle run through that? I don’t know. In the end, I finished and finished in 13th place. Not bad for where I was at the start. Not quite the top 10 that I was hoping for, but given that I absolutely hate mud races and I struggle with conditions like that – I am ok with it.

Here are some photos to give you a feel for what it was like.

Hanks race never stopped. I think it was a multi day race. He got up this morning and started ripping around again – non stop.

The morning race had 450 riders. Ours had nearly 400. Yow.

That is Carley heading out after pitting in the morning race. As you can see, they had good conditions there.

The dead carcass after the race!

Scary!

Ugh. That was on my head.

My gear was so bad after the race, that I just threw my jersey, my pants, my undershirt and my gloves into the dumpster. Hopefully my boots and helmet are salvageable. I hate to even think about my bike. I suspect it will need chain, sprockets, brake pads, tires, grips, graphics, plastic, clutch – everything. The Saturday before St. Clairsville will be busy.

I am super proud of Scott. He was 2nd in the +30A class. Second to 5 time GNCC champion, Scott Summers. That is the same as winning in my book.

Next stop, St. Clairesville Ohio.

I cannot wait.

Over and out.

Joe

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Unadilla – the day before

I had a pretty good nights sleep last night. Damn, I sleep so well in the trailer. I am not sure why that is. The mattress is really good, the outside air, the earplugs (to keep out the generator sounds), being at the race site…? Not really sure what the mix is, but I just know that I really really love it.

We woke up to a pretty nice morning. No rain, but it was raining by the time we were done with breakfast and getting started on the bikes. Remember, our bikes we just barely washed and jammed back in the van. The van spent the past 2 weeks in PA, and the bikes needed a complete workover before they can be raced. On top of that, you may recall that I had a terrible time of it in Snowshoe. My bike overheated numerous times, and had to be refilled with water twice during the race.

I have never shown up to a race with a dirty and not prepped bike. It was stressful.

I checked the top end, the Orings were in place and the rings and piston looked good. But, as I was taking things apart, I noticed that the hoses from the head to the radiator were not tight. In fact, they were completely loose and the hose clamps were dangling around the hose. Ugg. OMG. I am the reason my bike would not run at Snowshoe. I did not tighten the hose clamps down on the radiator hoses. Jeeze. I did not finish the race, because of my own stupidity. I could have kicked myself in the head.

At least there was not more wrong with the bike. I felt relieved.

So,

new gaskets and Orings on the top end.

new clutch plates and springs

fresh Zipty waterless radiator fluid

changed the oil

new spark plug

clean air filter.

Wheel bearings cleaned and repacked

Stock jetting

5 hours later, the bike was cleaned of the caked on much and mud in spots that it should not be, and ready to go. We gassed up and rode over to registration and tech inspection.

We watched the afternoon Quad race form a few different spots around the course. Here are a few shots.

Quad course before the afternoon race got there.

Balance at speed.

McGill on the gas.

Random quad after the morning race

Word is there may be as many as 1600 bikes here to race this weekend. If the bike sign up lane is any indicator, it will be a huge rae..

Even up in NY, you can still find a guy in a confederate flag.. This one is pretty posh.

Back at the campsite, things were going really big. Mat and Carley and Ben, showed up tonight. The are camping in a tent just outside our place. It si always fun to have them at a race.

This is a big race, and there are a lot of people partying around the property. It is 9pm, and I can hear bikes being ridden all over. Tomorrow is going to be great. I will leave you with a few more photos.

Unadilla MX track! Wow. All you need now is RC or Villipoto or Stewart scrubbing jumps and whipping the bike all around. Or, better yet Bob Hannah. I can tell you now, that gravity cavity is scary.


Trees are turning colors already here.

I called this kid Hank. Even darkness did not stop him from tearing around the camp on his bike.

Clown-man was a fixture around the pits.

Just a guy in a clown suit, ripping around the pits.

Biggest race yet, tomorrow. I cannot wait.

Out

Joe

Unadilla – it’s a thrilla

Scott rode his bike to my house early this morning, and we hoped into the truck and spun the wheels down to the Madison airport. MSN. No Milwaukee for us any more this year. Yeeha! Not that Milwaukee is a bad airport, its just that there is something better about coming home to the Madison airport instead of the Milwaukee airport. There is something sort of cool about being “from” Madison. Sort of makes you feel like a hippee. Ya.

Anyway, when we arrived at Madison airport, there was just one screening machine working and the line was pretty long. Not quite missing your plane long, but not the normal breeze to get through like Madison airport can be. Oh well. Nothing to do in the airport anyway. The TSA people have new uniees and I think it has made them happier. Blue is a better color than white, apparently for a security uniform. I think they look dapper.

Since we were flying on Northwest, and I fly about a bazillion miles per year on Northwest – I got boosted up to the premiere class. Joe is in the house and ordering lots of service up in the front of the bus. Hey, how about some more pretzels here. Bring me a few of those bananas and a few of those little bags of nuts. They love me in 1st class.

But seriously, using your cell phone in 1st class while waiting for the door to be closed is just about mandatory. I mean, I always feel like some sort of interloper up there anyway. Flip flops, carharts, a tshirt, a motorcycle or bicycle magazine, an ipod with loud rock and roll etc… they love me in 1st class. I usually call my voicemail or something just to feel important up there also.

Today, there was some moron behind me using his cell phone on speaker phone. That way the whole of 1st class got to hear what he and his assistant had to say to each other. What a putz. Then, they closed the door and he just kept talking. I had heard enough about how the memo that he was reading just did not have proper grammar and how he was just a stickler for that sort of thing. I wanted to brain the dork with my shoe. If I am ever that much of a fleeb, just shoot me. Pleeze.

So we landed in Harrsburg, PA. I have not been to PA since I was a little kid and we took that trip to Gettysburg battlefield. I remember the battlefield being sort of a somber place. Everyone kind of whispers and talks softly. I just wanted to run across the field, jump the little fences with an imaginary bayonet screeming at the top of my lungs, and acting as if I was going to save the south or the north all by myself. Oh my.

Harrisburg PA, has the distinction of being right next to 3 mile island. That’s right, THE 3 mile island. I don’t know if it is encased in concrete and leeching into the watersupply or what. But, it was kind of eerie.

You can tell you are in Pennsylvania. Look closely and you can see we are at the intersection of Allentown and Hershey!

Scott had dropped the van and trailer at a bike shop in Harrisburg a few weeks earlier, after Snowshoe. There it was, all hunkered down and tough looking, ready to go. We told the nice people at the shop thanks, and hoped in the van – eager to get to upstate NY and sleep and start working on the bikes.

On the way, we went in and out of rain storms. We stopped in Wilkes-Barre PA, where Candi found us a Quiznos and a super Wally World. Wally World (Wal-Mart) is the anti christ, as far as Scott and I are concerned, but when traveling it is just about the easiest thing there is. Stop in, get batteries, groceries, talk to the greeter, show the cashier how to ring stuff up, grab some ice, use the rest room and the ATM machine and head out. Only I forgot to use the ATM machine there. I already mentioned that Quiznos is the top sandwhich shop on Candi’s search list now. I think she has decided that Quiznos sucks less than any other sandwich shop. And, they have that oven thing right there on the counter.

The guy making sandwiches at Quiznos was a sandwich artist. I have never seen anyone put the toppings on the sandwich that carefully. One more nail in the Subway coffin.

We are both starting to get into our sleeping bags here at the Unadilla facility. There is an unbelievable number of people here. There are a ton of generators, lots of quad people drinking beer and being stupid. But, hey they chose to ride something with 4 wheels, so… It is 11pm, and the people behind us have started their quads more than once. I guess they just want to make sure they will start tomorrow on the start line.

Lots of work on the bike tomorrow. It should be fun. In the rain.

Out for tonight.

Joe

Back home after snowshoe

If you have been reading along, you know that I stayed in Snowshoe after Scott left with the van and trailer, to do a week of meetings there with the product development group from work, and to ride mountain bikes.  That all came off really well, and we had a bunch of great meetings.  But more important than that, I had 6 days of riding 2 wheelers.  Including, 2 days of long XC riding and 2 days of DH riding on the lift served.

It was great!  I had a great time, and Snowshoe is a great place for mountain bike riding.  The same terrain that made the GNCC race so tough, makes for really fun MTB terrain.  Tough, but really really fun.

I have gathered up a bunch of parts to make my bike ready for the next GNCC.  I have to ship all those out to  meet up with the van, to make it up to Unadilla.  Saturday before the race will be a lot of hours of working on the bike.

– chain + sprockets

– brake pads

– tires

– jetting

– clutch plates + springs + clutch rod + and clevis arm

– piston + rings

lots of day before work.

In the mean time, I found this little video from the Snowshoe GNCC race.  enjoy!

Snowshoe GNCC video

Out!

Joe

Snowhoe – plus one

Things clear out really fast at a GNCC race.  I have never been at the site the next day.  I am staying here at Snowshoe for the week, as we are having a 2010 product planning meeting for the company I work for, Trek Bicycle.  A bunch of people from the company are meeting me here today, for a week of meetings.  A GNCC race seems like such a huge production, that it would almost be impossible to tear it down in a day.  Lots of equipement, trucks, a trail that has to be repaired etc… 

 

 

That parking lot WAS the pro pits from the race yesterday.  It had huge semi trucks, and you looped through that on every lap.  This photo is from 8am.  Look closely, and you can see the truck picking up the hay bales.

 

Last night at dinner, in the only restaurant open at 8pm after we were done cleaning bikes, we sat down at a table next to Rita Coombs and another GNCC Racer productions exec named Donna.  The Coombs family started the GNCC series and still does an absolutely fantastic job with the whole series. 

 

Rita overheard Scott and I talking about the race and the course.  After a few minutes of that, Rita asked us how long we would bench race this race.  Clearly she has been around racing forever and already thought she knew the answer.  I replied with, all the way up to the next race at Unadilla in 2 weeks.  She busted out laughing, and that started a conversation with her and Donna that went on for about 20 minutes.

 

She asked us where we were from, she told us the story of 2 guys that drove down from Allentown, Pa.  But, their truck broke down 40 miles away.  So, being guys that did not want to miss the race, they put on their gear and unloaded the bikes and rode them for 40 miles to the village.  40 miles on pavement, on highways on DIRT BIKES! 

 

Unbeknown to Rita, we had our own experience with those same guys.  During the morning race, we were sitting at our camp next to the course when a guy rides up and asks “Do you guys have any water?”  Scott handed over a 1 gallon jug, and the guy drank about half of it.  While he was drinking his buddy pulls, up and he drank most of the rest of it. 

 

They thank us profusely, and then proceed to tell us that they were on the way to the race that morning, and their truck broke down 40 miles away so they rode to the race.  Of course we thought the story was made up.  We laughed and sent them on their way.

They were having the time of their life, you could tell.  They left our pits together, and were just hooting and hollering at each other. 

 

So when Rita told us the story, we both burst out “Oh my god!  We saw those guys!  We gave them water from our pits on the side of the course!” 

 

Rita and Donna went on to tell us that one of them was Dr. James McGee, the head doctor for Loretta Lynn’s national championships.  He was down doing only his 1stGNCC race with his nephew Ryan Higgins who was turning 18 that day, that was the other guy he was with.  Rita had talked to Dr. James after the race, and he had told her about getting water from some guys on the side of the course.

 

Wow.  We all could not believe that.  What were the odds that Rita would tell us that story in the restaurant, out of all the stories that she must have had from the day?  What are the odds that she would pick that story, and happen to be telling it to the same guys that were involved in the story? 

 

In fact, we all felt the odds were so astronomical, that we had to get Dr. James on the phone.  We did and on speaker phone, we all had a great laugh. 

 

Hopefully Dr. James and Ryan will look us up at Unadilla.

 

Joe

Snowshoe GNCC

9/14

Snowshoe GNCC

 

Last night was the wettest, dewiest night I have ever seen.  Not rain, but just dew.  It was so wet that even the inside of the camper was wet.  We were getting dripped on from the ceiling all night long.  It felt you were sleeping out in the rain. 

 

But, the sun came up bright in the morning.  You could tell it was going to be a fabulous day.  We did our usual morning of the race day routine.  Breakfast, pooping, working on bikes, more pooping, preparing gear and camelbaks, more pooping, making some lunch, packing up the trailer, taking photos, watching the morning races and of course more pooping.  Or, maybe that is just me in the morning.  I think I am known as the most active pooper of my generation.  I don’t really know what people are talking about when they say they have a hard time with it, or that they really think about it when they get old.  I don’t think I will have that problem.

 

We went and watched the morning races at the top of the mountain.  It was pretty cool.  There really isn’t a cooler spot in the world to have a motorcycle race.  I do have some photos from the morning race. 

 

The course is was super super technical, and that made all lap times slower than anticipated and made all the races late to start as they had to wait for the previous race to get off the course.  Our race was not going to start until 2pm.  Damn.  If there is one thing I would fault the GNCC races for, is that they never start on time. 

 

The start is on the pavement, GP race style.  You line up in waves of 5 riders, and waves go off every 10 seconds.  It is a great format.  It spreads the riders out much better as you go into the woods and reduces the bottlenecks dramatically.  I wish that all GNCC races were done the same way.  I was nervous about it in advance, but after doing it I really like it. 

 

We went and walked a few woods sections before the race.  Imagine the Last Man Standing race in Texas, only put it in the trees with moisture.  The mudd, the roots, the downed trees, the steep uphils, downhills and side pitches.  Wow.  I have never seen a trail as technical as this one.  I have also never ever done a race as fun as this one.  The course kicked butt.

 

Everyone kept warning me about how tough it was going to be.  And it was tough, but it was also the most fun I have ever had on a motorcycle.  Wow, the rocks.  The place is just one big jagged rock.  I ran my suspension really soft, and super gnarly tubes in my tires with just 9psi.  My motorcycle was magic.  It handled superb, it turned, it braked, it gobbled up the roots.  There were times when I was stopped at the bottom of the hill, and I would get lined up to get up a super steep technical section, and it would just squirt right up the hill.  I never got stuck in the mud so that I could not get going.  I only had to get off my bike 5 or 6 times the whole race. 

 

But, as good as the motor was on my bike and as good as the suspension was, I did have a problem.  My bike overheated.  I ran the radiators completely dry – twice.  I was powering through a mud hole in the first lap, and my bike started spitting coolant all over the place.  I kept going.  In the next mudhole, it did the same thing.  Finally it stopped doing it and I knew I was completely dry in the radiators.  I stopped at my pitts on the end of the first lap, and filled the radiators.  Yes, it was completely dry.  Four complete waterbottles to fill it.  Off I went and it was running great.  In the same mud holes the 2nd lap, it did the same thing.  Seemed as soon as the motor was really under load, it would belch fluid everywhere.  When I came around the pitts on lap 2, it was completely dry again.  I decided to call it a day, as I did not want to do serious damage.

 

Scott is convinced that I had my jetting too rich, and that caused the problem.  I do not understand how rich jetting could make it overheat.  I will have to do some research on that one.

 

So, I only got 1.5 hours on the coolest course ever.  I may have to come back to this one.

 

Scott had an incredible race.  He also loved the course, and I believe he got 3rd in his class.  His best result yet.  But, I will let him tell you about his race.

 

Mat, Carley and Ben all had great races also.  I do not know their places, but I know they were all smiles after the race.

 

Here are some photos, just to keep John B interested.

 

 

Scott, morning of.  Bike work, as usual. 

 

My bike, I am probably off relieving myself somewhere.

 

Our little Wisconsin redneck compound at the race.

 

Mat and Carly, getting ready for their races.

 

Ben!

 

One of the open areas of the course.

 

Mountain bike skills drop area, with riders in the background.

 

Rode the chairlift up the mountain, this is looking down on the course during the morning race.

 

First turn shenanigans!  Turning a dirt bike in a race on pavement.  Melee.  There were a tone of crashes here in the morning race. 

 

Out till Unadilla

Joe

Arrival – Snowshoe

We woke up this morning to a light rain, in Hebron Ohio.  A KOA campground, although they spell it as Kampground.  Cute, eh?          It was a light rain, almost a soaker, but not bad.  The air was saturated, and the ground was wet.  It was beginning to look like mud.  It kind of makes me skulk around like a Gollum. 

 

Western Ohio was cool.  Very hilly, lots of trees.  The kind of terrain that you know would make good motorcycle riding.  That would explain why there are so many Ohio license plates at GNCC races. 

 

When we got into West Virginia, it got even better.  Mountainous and rocky and trees.  And, still raining.  Ugh.  It is going to be a mudder.  The rain did stop eventually.

 

Snowshoe is a legitimate ski area.  It has lifts, it has condo complexes and it has a village.  The weird thing is that it is at the top of the mountain.  I am used to ski mountains in the Rockies, where the lodge and village are at the bottom of the hill.  It feels weird to park at the top of the hill, and ski down the hill.  We do have upside down ski areas in the Midwest as well, but they don’t feel right either. 

 

We are parked on a cat track road on the hill.  It is flat and we are right along the course.  We are in our tent sided trailer.  Apparently there are Bears in the area here.  We have taken all of the precautions that we can.  All the food and the trash is in the van, instead of in the trailer here with us.  Everything stinky is in the van, except Scott and I.  If the Bear wants to eat one of us, then he will have us, but it will not be because we left garbage in the trailer with us.  If you are reading this, then I lived through the night and was able to post this on the blog site. 

 

As usual, we are ending out night on the road the same was that we always do.  Writing the blog.  Scott on his end of the trailer, me on mine.  Both with our ipods on, and both probably writing about the same things.  We are traveling together, after all. 

 

The big race is tomorrow.  Tomorrow I will either live or die.  We looked at the course today for about 1 mile.  It is the roughest, rootiest, rockiest, no doing well, slimiest, slickest, tire and bike eating thing that I have ever seen.  It is really going to be tough. 

 

Friends from Wisconsin are here as well.  Ben Grosse, who I raced to the final race in the A class in D16 2 years ago.  Mat Herrington, a decent AA rider from D16.  Carly Whitehorse who is not only a former D16 women’s champ but also Mat’s girlfriend.  They made the long trip here as well to get in the most famous GNCC race. 

 

We are going to have a ball.  Here are some photos to set you in the mood.  (enjoy John)

 

 

This is what the road looked like for the last 100 miles or so!

 

Great looking roads, not very cycling friendly. 

 

Look closely!  You will see the speedometer was only on 35 or so.  It was slow going!

 

Better view of the speedo hovering at below 40mph.

 

As I said, the scenery was incredible!

 

There were some spectacular buildings in some of the small towns.

 

There were also dogs being serious co-pilots!

 

Apparently Hiwatha was from around here. 

 

 

 

Or Maybe just Crazy Harry!

Maybe this is crazy Harry?  Wheelchair going down the highway at will.

 

One of the few places in the world, outside of Asia, that is still advertising tobacco this aggressively.  I think.

 

The view from our campsite.

 

Cannot believe they will let us race motorcycles here.

 

Kind of muddy for the quad riders.  Glad I am not one. 

 

Out till tomorrow.

 

Joe

The Road to Snowshoe

Back on the road again.  It feels good.  I really like the road thing.  I have to admit that I really missed it, in a sore butt, have to pee, one more town, mind numbing kind of way.  There is something really primal about it.  The scenery goes by and you get to see it all.  When you fly, you miss it all.  You don’t get the feel and the smell of it all.  You don’t see the dingy truck stop, the kids in the back of the mini van watching a movie or the hot soccer mom driving them along.  I like the KOA campgrounds, I like the cars and the thinking time.  I like the snacks in the car.  I like the road.

 

I also admit that I was pretty taxed after 5 races this spring.  It was 10 weeks straight of leaving town every other Friday, arriving at the race site, watching the quad race, working on bikes and taking my mountain bike around the course on Saturday, then it was race morning on Sunday, the race, then packing it all down, driving to where we were taking off from on Monday, Monday morning was cleaning bikes and working on bikes and doing laundry, then it was rush to the airport, home at midnight and then to work the next day at 8 am.  It was tough, and it took its toll. 

 

But, since we made that commitment to do the GNCC thing, it meant we were not doing local races.  Since we had problems with injury and burn out at the end of that we actually started our summer break early.  The long and short of it is that we have not really raced much in quite a while, and I am absolutely jonesed to get on my race bike again.  I cannot wait.

 

So we headed out of Lake Mills at about 11am this morning.  Kind of a leisurely start to the day.   We are at a campground past Columbus.  We figure we have about 5 hours of driving that we will get straight to in the morning.  Plan to arrive at Snowshoe before noon. 

 

Today was a boring drive.  It is Illinois, Indiana and Ohio after all.  Not much different than Wisconsin, so we slept most of the way.  Both of us.  No photo’s as photo’s of a corn field would be silly.  Didn’t really even see much interesting either.  Oh well.

 

Snowshoe.  It is going to be super hard.  The hardest offroad race in America, or something like that.  Our friends Mat Herrington, Carly Whitehorse and Ben Grosse from D16 will be there as well this race.  I just got a text message from them.  They are on their way and planning to drive all night.  We will catch up to them on the road in the morning. 

 

We did decide that Quizno’s is better than Subway today.  I know that is earth shattering news for most of you.  Prior to this Subway has pretty much dominated all travel restaurants in our book.  I mean how can you go wrong?   Bread choice, they make it for you, you can pick out all the stuff you want to put on the sandwhich and you don’t have to clean anything up.  But, Quizno’s is better.  They do all that same stuff, but then they heat it up for you.  I know you can get a Subway heated up, but they have a huge oven thing there in Quizno’s that they do not have at Subway.  That kicks.  I think we will start a whole new count for the fall.  I intend to beat the Subway count with the Quizno’s count.

 

Oh yeah. Photo’s tomorrow. 

 

Later – Out.

Joe

Final hard week of training before GNCC starts back up!

This past weekend, was the peak of my training for the upcoming finish of the GNCC race season.

As you may recall, we had a huge break in the middle of the year from GNCC racing. I did a couple of local races, did a bunch of cycling events and spent time with my family. Scott did the same. But, a few weeks ago, it came time to start focusing my training on being ready for the rest of the season. There are 6 races to come in Sept. and Oct. That is a pretty tough schedule. There is one last local race here in D16, 4 GNCC races and the Wisconsin round of the AMA National Hare Scrambles championships.

In the spring GNCC races, I was suffering from a few different issues.

The first of which was my knee situation. My knee surgery had me riding really tentatively. I had been through so much with me knee, and it was still sensitive that I know I was just not riding up to my potential.

The second thing was that I was on a new motorcycle that I had not really figured out. I did not have any time to ride in the fall, even when I had new bikes in the garage, again because of my knee situation. Fall last year became 100% about my knee.

GNCC racing is way different than the local stuff that Scott and I had been doing previously. GNCC racing is a lot faster, and the field is way deeper. In the past being on or off your game for the day had made the difference between 1st and 4th in my class. In GNCC racing a good or bad day can be 15 places different in your class.

The fourth reason for my suffering in those early races was my fitness. I just did not have the jam to make it through the whole race. I was turning into a complete tourist for the last hour or more of the race. I had spent so much time on my knee rehab, that I was only up to an hour or so on the trainer during the winter at race time, and that was just not enough depth of fitness.

So, I have spent the 2 months in between the last GNCC race and now trying to solve these deficiencies.

I have gotten way more comfortable with my new knee. I have ridden my motorcycle a lot, I have raced mountain bikes with it and I have ridden downhill mountain bikes in Whistler BC with it. I am so much more confident in my fixed knee now than I was in the spring that it is not the same situation at all. In fact, my fixed knee is way better than my OEM knee. The OEM knee needs to have the meniscus fixed, and that more than the fixed knee has me protecting my knees. But, either way I am way more confident in my knees this fall than I was in the spring.

At this point, I am 100% in sync with my Suzuki RM 250. I love that motorcycle. I know that a lot of the world is switching to 4 strokes, but I have no intention of switching. I have spent enough time on my RM250 that I am extremely comfortable and confident in that motorcycle. I do not think there is a better motorcycle anywhere for offroad racing. I know exactly what it will do and when now.

GNCC racing is still different than local racing, but I now know what to expect. I know they are fast, and I know that I have to pace myself. I know the leaders are going to come around me in my 2nd lap, as I start 15 minutes after them. I know to expect it, and I know that I just need to ride my lines and my pace and they will go around me. I know that I can get through whatever situation the course throws at me, and everyone is dealing with the same mud and difficult hills.

The last thing that I have been focusing on is my fitness. In the past 2 months, I have ridden huge days in the mountains in the Alps, I have done a 12 hour mountain bike race and I have put in lots of time on the motorcycle and lots of miles on the bicycle. I focused the last 3 weeks on building strength and 3 hour endurance. The first of the last weeks were all about core strength and balance. Then in the last 10 days, I have really focused on my endurance. I have done multiple 2 hour motorcycle training sessions, multiple long road rides and multiple long MTB rides. This past 6 days I have done a 2 hour motorcycle effort, a 4 hour road bicycle ride, a 3 hour non stop motorcycle effort and a 3 hour MTB ride.

I am ready to get this GNCC show on the road again. I cannot wait for the 10 second wail from the announcer and the green flag to go up on my wave.

Joe