Monthly Archives: September 2012

Weekend Update, including Burrito eating hour!

A weekend follows a week.  A week starts with a Monday.  A Monday starts with the alarm going on.  (It is kind of a linear thing).  Mine started early last week with a drive up to Marquette.  A local work outing to put us all on the same page planning for the 2014 model year.  It was a ripping good time, looking for the perfect IPA, talking about future bike stuff, eating burrito’s and riding mountain bikes.  I wrote all about it here.

After working up there all week, I just stayed until Sunday and did the WIXC race at Pine Ridge.  Drove down to Iron Mountain and holed up in a hotel room with my feet up trying to rest up after a week of riding hard.

That is me in my hotel room. Pounding out a story about the week. Feet up, drinking lots of water.

I raced at Pine Ridge years ago, but have not been back to race there in at least 5 years.  A race is like oatmeal, sometimes you get the mix just right other times not.  This race turned out to have a huge MX track and not enough woods for me.  The entire course was fast and rough. Lots of holes and whoops at speed.  It was tiring.

As usual lately, I cannot buy a start for any amount of money.  3 kicks on the line and it finally started.  My bike starts perfectly when I am doing practice starts.  It even starts when I am waiting for the lines ahead to go off.  But, when go time comes it just does not start.  The bad start put me in 11th off the line.  On a fast course that is tough to deal with.  To make matters worse, I crashed trying to make passes twice in the first lap.  I had my work cut out for me.

Rick went through me at the first part of the race, as it turns out he got even a worse start than I did.  I found myself with my arms all pumped up a couple of laps into the race, a sign of how rough it was.  Because of the arm pump, I was not making it as far forward as I wanted to.  Eventually I settled in to a nice pace and caught riders, but wow.

In the end, Rick won and I ended up 2nd.  I was just 30 seconds back, but it felt like I was barely going out there.  It will have been good practice for Dyracuse and for Ironman GNCC, fast and flowing.

Pine Ridge has a slip and slide into a pond that in the summer would be a gas.


Out till next week.



The double weekend will make you 12 feet tall.

The Double Race Weekend will make you tough. HA!  Here I am stressing over goggle tear offs.

Or, it will make you whimper.  Not much in between.  For this one, for me it was a little of both.

Saturday – hero

Saturday was the WIXC race at Valders.  We used to do a district race there years ago.  The course has not changed much, but it has gotten a little bit better with more terrain.  Mostly, the problem was that it was just dry and dusty.  But, Liz went to the race with me and that is pretty unusual.  It was great having her there.  1. She is cute.  2.  It is just fun to have someone there with you.  (Did I also mention that she is cute?)

Here is Liz enjoying the calm before the race at THE trailer. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy having the trailer?

I love Rick’s races.  The courses feel like a mini GNCC (minus the impossible mud hole) and they flow the same.  They start on time (that cannot be said of GNCC races) and have results up really quick after the race.  Thank you Rick.

I got a reasonable start, probably came out of the first corner in 3rd of 14 riders.  But at the 2nd turn, Dan Finnel went down in front of me and i ended up tangled up with him and trying to separate the 2 bikes from an unnatural act.

This is where the problem came in.  It was dusty.  I am talking Oklahoma after the great depression and the dust bowl effect there.  You could not see past your own front fender.  Made it really hard to get past people.  I hate dust.

But, I managed to get through to the front a couple laps in and just put my head down and kept going.  I felt good.  I kept pushing and eventually got a big gap.  When I came through the timing tent a few laps into the race, I asked Rick where I was.  He said way ahead in my class.  I asked him to tell me the next lap where I was in the overall.  So he did, and the answer came back inside the top 15.  I thought that was pretty good from the 4th row, but decided to see if I could get into the top 10.

I put my head down and charged all the way through the race.  In the end I had a huge gap on my class and managed to get to 9th place overall.  I was pleased with that, but was plenty spent.

On the way home, Liz and I stopped to eat a burrito as big as my head.

Sunday – whimper

Sunday was a D16 race at Sugar Maple MX.  I had a great MX track with alot of up and down and a few different woods sections.  The woods were really really rocky.  The fields sections had great single track cut through corn fields.  Really a cool tunnel effect.  Hard to go fast in.

I got a crap start and had to battle my way to the front.  i did that in the 1st lap, but the laps were 20 minutes long – nice and long.  When we got to a steep technical uphill, I struggled to get through a bunch of guys that were stuck on the hill.  I tried to go around them, but just ended up getting myself stuck.  When I finally got free, I was back at the back of my row again.  Once more, I had to battle my way through the dust and riders to get back to the front.

I finally did, only to smash my front wheel on a huge sharp rock, tearing the tire casing and flatting me instantly.  I tried to ride it out, but it was impossible.  After getting thrown to the ground 2 different times, I called it in.  Done.  Only my 2nd DNF since I have been racing.

All in all it was a great weekend.  Shane Watts clues about different terrain and different riding techniques is paying off.  Hopefully I can keep them all going, and I am targeting a podium at Ironman.



Brave Soldier. Magic stuff.

I want to go faster! – What’s that saying about Old Dogs?

I want to go faster!

I do. I really do. I am old, but I can still learn to do that. Someone else, not me said that an old dog cannot learn new tricks.  I do not think that is true.  I learned something a few weeks ago when my bike would not run.  I learned a password for a website the other day.  I learned how to use my iphone.  I am convinced that I can learn to go faster still.

Lots of people have pitched in with that effort.  My teammate Scott is always willing to help, but he has his own challenges that he is focusing on.  My friend Pete has been trying to help me, hold your elbows higher, push your outside knee in… Rick Anschutz has been trying to help me with that, use your front brake.  Jim Freibel is always telling me body position, don’t look behind you… I am always reminding myself to look up the trail and up through the turn.  Me is just not listening to all those people.  I need someone to whip me into shape.

So, I decided to give a Dirtwise school by Shane Watts a try.  Pete organized Shane to come out and put on a 2 day riding school on his property.  Actually it is owned by a friend of his, who doesn’t mind a bunch of dirt bikes on his property.  Only and hour from my house, and one of the sweetest pieces of property anywhere.

Day 1

That is me on the warmup laps in the morning, just getting started. That form better be a lot better by the end of this.

I am sitting at my kitchen counter after day one, a bit on the tired and sore side.  Shane strategy is to take everyone back to square one and build on that.  Tear away everyone’s bad habits and build up from there.  I promise you I have lots of bad habits.

You start with a simple drill that Shane calls the slow technique.  It literally is just that.  Creeping across a field, standing up, going as slow as you can.  You cannot sit down, you cannot put your foot down.  You apply the rear brake, you use the throttle, you modulate the clutch.  Go as slow as you can, stopping and balancing, putting the brake and the motor against each other, using the clutch to keep the motor running and creep along.  That one really teaches you to control all of those things.

Shane’s technique is to show you a demonstration.  Then you do the exercise for 10 mins, he stops you and tells you what to try to work on, then you do it 10 more mins, then he stops you and tells you what to try, then you do it for 10 more mins, and on and on.

Then we worked on drag race starts.  Going smoothly through the gears, keeping your weight forward at the start and then back to get traction etc…  Over and over.

Then we worked on stoppies.  Teaching us how to trust the front brake.

Then we worked on going across the field with the front wheel locked.  Then we had to start across the drag race course, brake at the braking point and come to a stop as fast as we could.  Then we worked on going around and around in circles, both directions (a flat turn, around a square on the ground).  We went round and round so much, I got dizzy.  Then we worked on an oval turn track that had flat turns and a straight.  Shane would stand at the turn at the point that you were allowed to sit down after braking.

Brilliant stuff.  It really is amazing what a day of basics and drills over and over can do for you.  We started riding at 8:30 in the morning.  Stopped for 45 mins for lunch, then rode till after 5pm.  Holy crap, more than 8 hours of riding.

Tomorrow is more drills and we will start to work on applying all of this to a trail.  I am really looking forward to it.

Perfect Group size.

Scott in the morning.

Shane showing us how it is done.

Lunch time. Perfect day.

Day 2 – 8am start

It rained overnight.  Unbelievable.  It has hardly rained at all the entire year.  Somehow the gods want me to get all I can out of this class.  Not really a thumping down rain, but just enough that the soil is amazing. Lots of great stuff on tap today.

We started the day back on the small 40 foot circles again. But this time since the rain, they are slick.  It works out well.  The goal is to go all the way around the circle in a slide.  I cannot do it.  I can get about halfway round in a slide, but cannot really get it go all the way around.  I need to work on that.

Then we set up the cones in rows with the cones about 30 feet apart on the row, and the rows about 60 feet apart.  You zig zag back and forth and slide the back end with the brake around the turn, then rocket back toward the other side.  This one I can do, but not perfectly.  I get it right 75% of the time, but still miss it at others.

Next up was grinding down a log laying down on the ground.  Grinding, meaning one wheel on each side of the log so that you are traveling down the length of the log, but your bike is going sideways.  Great trail skill for when your wheels are not following one another.  Keep the gas on, stand up and balance the bike.  I can do this.

Next up was a corner rut.  Brake into the turn, peg the front wheel down into the bottom of the rut/berm, get your foot out and get on the gas.  I have included a video of Shane doing it first then me doing it both directions.

The last thing we worked on was getting over a big big obstacle.  We used a log that was down, that was at least 3 feet around.  It was like getting over a culvert or something like that.  Wheelie up on, unload the rear suspension to where you were just perched up on top.  Then just slide off the back side. Easy as that. But the number of people laying in a heap on the other side was impressive.

All in all, it was a very worthwhile experience.  Funny how everything always comes back to the fundamentals.  In the case of riding a motorcycle in the woods – balance, throttle brake and clutch control, body position, confidence or commitment.

I learned that I train all wrong.   I should be doing more drills and more sprints.  I tend to just go out and ride at what I hope is race pace for hours.  I should be doing skills drills interspersed with sprint laps.  Still probably spend a bunch of time at a riding area while doing it, but just not banging out laps reinforcing the same bad habits.

Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks. Shane teaching us how to do a rutted out turn.



A guy has to have a trailer for his stuff.

A guy has to have a trailer for his stuff.

I pulled up into the parking lot with my new trailer in tow (I just needed a place to park it for the weekend, as I needed space in my driveway for something temporarily) and Mark said to me, “Hey, nice trailer…Every guy needs a trailer for his stuff.” Well that is it then, I am owning that statement.

There are a few points in life that kind of are turning points. You know, the point where you slap yourself in the forehead and say “Duh, why didn’t I know this before?” Sort of like when you realize that girls are pretty cool, or when you shred a trail on a DH mountain bike or on your moto, or you finally get up enough nerve to jump that double and realize that it really wasn’t that bad or when you get a truck and realize just how useful they are. Well, you haven’t experienced useful yet until you own an enclosed trailer that you can haul all your stuff in to the moto track.

Owning a trailer is the ultimate in utility. Scott talks about the moment that he recognized that he has become utility vehicle person from sporty car person. I thought that I had already become that, but owning a cargo trailer has pushed me over the edge.

You just load all of your stuff inside and drive it to wherever you might need that stuff. When you get there, you walk right into the trailer and you contemplate your stuff. You get dressed inside the trailer. You work on your bike inside the trailer. You work on your gear inside the trailer. When you are done riding your bike, you just drive it right into the trailer and strap it down. When you get home, if it is late you just leave it all in the trailer and unload it the next day instead of at midnight out of the back of the truck. When you are driving to a race you pull up to the motel and make sure it is locked to the truck and locked up and it is all safe from the elements and safe.

I bought for myself a 7×12 v-nose all aluminum Triton trailer. Made right here in Wisconsin. I like that. AJ at VCGraphix made up some decals to match the team look, and Shane from Copperhead Grahics in Marshall put them on for me.

I had to build out the inside. I have not finished, but I have taken a stab at it so far. I put in a floor to keep fluids off the plywood and make it easier to clean up. I build some shelves for the front and mounted a couple of wheel chocks. Still need to figure out how to secure everything inside, better tool storage, cleanup station, place to hang clothing, etc…but it is coming along.


Some photos of the work in progress.

Day 1.

It is better with graphics on it. Not finished with that though. Needs Moose logos.

20120905-200203.jpg I put the checkerboard floor down myself. I know it’s cliche, but it is a race trailer after all. The flooring will allow easy cleanup.

20120905-200608.jpg From the side door, you can see the shelves. One for Scott, one for me. Plus generator and extra wheels etc…below.