Me and my dirtbike!

So very true.

So very true.  There is beer to be concerned about.  It is that season now.

So the calendar flips.  It is a little like Flip Wilson.  First it is there, and then… it is not.  There was a band called Mookie Blaylock, but then they decided that there should be a basketball player and then.  Well, you get the picture.  It is a pretty one though.

Winter is harsh, cold and full of snow – normally.  Normally that is a time of reflection and analysis.  From that time of reflection and analysis, normally starts the planning and scheming.  I usually move to a time of working on my bike, working on my fitness etc…  That is usually preceded by a publishing of my goals for next year.  That usually leads me to trying to plan a few early season races and training camps etc…  You can see where this is all leading to by now (a beer and a burrito at least).  But, before we head to that point (It is only November, so that can wait for a month or so), Lets take a look back.

It has been an amazing season for me.  In my moto race season, I won 11 local races along with 2 second place placings.  I think that is my most consistent season.

This is a recap of my season.  There were some struggles getting started early, but then it all got pretty consistent.

This is a recap of my season. There were some struggles getting started early, but then it all got pretty consistent.

January

If we start at the beginning, there isn’t much to report in January.  My old teammate and I had decided to go our separate ways – still not really sure what that was all about, but nonetheless I cranked up a new website, put together new graphics (Thank you AJ at VCGraphix for helping out with that), built a new plan and tried to incorporate my overall 2 wheel antics into my identity.  I tend to spend just about every non working moment that I can on a 2wheeler somewhere.  That love of everything 2 wheel, became the theme of my online residence.  I made a decision early on with the new website that I would not keep my work life and my 2wheel love separate, so I have been talking about anything 2 wheel here and it has been fun.

We got new snow bikes in January, and did a lot of that all winter.  Big fun, and it gets you through off season.

We got new snow bikes in January, and did a lot of that all winter. Big fun, and it gets you through off season.

February

February came and went.  There wasn’t much going on with racing, but I did do just a ton of burpee’s.  Yuck you would say, and you would be right.  But, later in the year I heard people refer to me as tough, that I never get tired and never give up.  I do not know if I am tough, but if I am it is because of February burpee’s.  They are not easy.  Liz and I went to Santa Barbara and rode our road bikes in the mountains there.  I am pretty sure I ruined her for traveling to ride her bike though, as she said that I just take her up and down any damn mountain I can find.  I usually just look at her with my head cocked to the side, kinda like our Portuguese Water Dog Marti when he has a toy he wants you to throw.  He doesn’t understand why you would ever stop that sort of thing, any more than I understand why you wouldn’t want to climb the mountain.  (This is just one more of those tough in August things, no matter how cold it is – if there is a mountain you climb it.)  Whatever, right?

Liz getting her climb on in the mountains outside of San Diego.  It may look cold, but it was a lot warmer than Wisco.

Liz getting her climb on in the mountains outside of San Diego. It may look cold, but it was a lot warmer than Wisco.  Actually, coming down the mountain was beyond cold.  I had to stop and buy a jacket so that I could give mine to Liz and keep some feeling in my body coming down the mountain.  Serves me right, is what I remember Liz saying.

March

I got started on the season truly in March.  We did lots of snow biking, lots of trainer riding, lots of burpee’s still.  The riding and racing in March is not really very important, and I had my share of false starts, not the least of which was driving all the way to Steele Creek GNCC and then not starting because the mud was bad enough that it was going to trash the motorbike.  I vowed that I would never do that again, but I did not think it would ever happen.  When it came right down to it, I stuck by my earlier proclamation and skipped it.  But, damn did it not feel right.  I am not sure what I will do in that situation in the future. (Actually I am – ride the damn thing.)

I did get in a MXC race in Illinois and some mountain biking in Indiana.

My bike early on in the season.  This was the graphics that my old teammate were going to share before that went however it went, but it was an early race and I felt good already.

My bike early on in the season. This was the graphics that my old teammate and I were going to share before that went however it went, but it was an early race and I felt good already.

Did lots of early season freezing cold group rides, building fitness that would serve me later in the year. I'll do that again - please.

Did lots of early season freezing cold group rides, building fitness that would serve me later in the year. I’ll do that again – please.

Indiana March.  The scene of a really good early season MTB weekend.

Indiana March. The scene of a really good early season MTB weekend.

April

Finally April came around, and our racing got off to a start in earnest.  But, April did not provide any good feelings for me.  As it turned out, I was battling a bad eye sight situation.  If you missed it, here is that blog entry from back then to refresh, it was in early May – but it was all about April.  I was struggling with eyesight, and did not realize that I was.  I basically could not see what I was doing and I struggled.

To be honest, Pete added a bunch of speed over the winter and I really could not keep up with him that whole month.  He left me standing there at both the first WIXC race and then at the muddy D16 Adams County race.  He had beaten me straight up at the end of the previous season at the Ironman, and it looked like he had found another gear for sure.  Good on him, as he had come back from a really bad health scare over the winter.  As his friend, I was really proud of him for that.  For my own riding, I was concerned.  Had I hit the point in my riding that I just was starting to go slower.  I felt physically good, I was fit and light…hmmm.

I looked like I knew what I was doing in April, but really I was just struggling.

I looked like I knew what I was doing in April, but really I was just struggling.  I do not like mud either though.

I did get a couple of great cycling events in during April.  I got back to Moab, as I had not been there for years.  I only got to ride the lower part of Enchilada, but damn.

I did get a couple of great cycling events in during April. I got back to Moab, as I had not been there for years. I only got to ride the lower part of Enchilada due to snow, but damn was it fun.

I also went to Flanders Pro race in Belgium where I rode this on the Flanders citizen race...

I also went to Flanders Pro race in Belgium where I rode this on the Flanders citizen race the day before…

May

I was happy to get past April and into May, as that was when I solved my eyesight problem.  From there it all came into focus, literally – it is amazing how much easier all this is when you can see.  I did not realize that my eyes had gotten so bad over the winter.  But, I could not see.  I was trying too hard, and that only made it worse.  Finally, some new glasses inserts solved it for me.

I remember being just giddy with my eyesight when I would come through the scoring tent.  “Holy crap!  There are leaves on the trees!  I can see!”

I went on a tear all summer just trying to go faster and faster.  Pete was fast and great competition all summer.  We had some epic battles.

That is me after Kewaunee.  Pete should have beaten me that day, but he flatted.

That is me after Kewaunee. Pete should have beaten me that day, but he flatted.

That is me going around Pete for the holeshot at Mountain.  I was really pumped to ride hard that day, as it was the 1st day I felt I could see what I was doing.

That is me going around Pete for the holeshot at Mountain. I was really pumped to ride hard that day, as it was the 1st day I felt I could see what I was doing.

Sugar Camp was a good race for me.

Sugar Camp was a good race for me.

This is how close Pete and I have been for much of the season.  That is me chasing him early at Cecil.

This is how close Pete and I have been for much of the season. That is me chasing him early at Cecil.

June/July/August

There are actually four races in June.  Cecil, Lakewood, Navarino etc…  I had good races at all of them.  Cecil was fun, Lakewood was rocky.  I did well at both of them and had good races.  Navarino was the scene of the closest battle that Pete and I had all summer.  We went off the front together at the beginning of the race, and we were nose to tail for 2 hours straight.  The lead traded back and forth many times.  In the end, I passed him early in the last lap and just managed to keep him behind me.  I do not think I took a drink that entire race.

Once the summer break came around in July, I was ready to do something else.  This is always a good time for me to ride my bicycle and basically stop thinking so much about racing.  I am really fortunate that my job takes me all over the world and I get to ride that bicycle in some great places.

In July, Liz and I rode for a few days in Yorkshire at the beginning of the TDF.  Later in the summer, late August I went back over to Europe and spent 3 fabulous days riding with my friend Lloyd and Ben and others in the mountains in France/Switzerland.

Somewhere in the shire.

Somewhere in the shire.

That is what a lot of the trails look like there.  Check out my blog post about it here if you missed it.

That is what a lot of the trails look like there. Check out my blog post about it here if you missed it.  This was the most amazing trip ever.  I cannot wait to do it again next year.

September/October

Sept and Oct also proved to be a great time for my race season. I went on to win the rest of the races I entered in my class. For the last race of the year, I raced A class, and boy was that a learning experience for me. Those guys are fast. I ended up 4th in class, but they are way way faster than I am. I originally thought that I would race the A class next year, but after that day – I just do not know.   I am kinda caught in between. I am old, first of all, but on a good day I can get into the top 10 OA (with the AA and A class riders). But, I have to ride really hard. Harder than my 53 year old body really wants to go. Hey, I am racing the +40 class after all, I am already racing down an age group?

October brings the Ironman, and that race has been my nemesis from the start. It is really funny, that is the race that started it all for me. That race is the one that really got me hooked.  I had been racing local stuff for 2 seasons, and I made a trip down to Indiana to ride that race. The first year down, I fell in the first turn and broke my front brake hose. I was done before I even got started. But, I rode around and trail rode the course, and I could not believe how cool it was. The hills, the river, the mud, the quality of the dirt, how fun the fields are. I have been going back ever since.

But, I just cannot seem to put a good race together in Indiana. I mean, I can ride in the top 5, but there is always something that keeps me from getting on the podium. This year – an argument with a tree while running in 3rd. Last year, just could not seem to ride on the slippery dirt, another year my slide stuck in my carburetor… It is always something. But, I keep going back looking for a podium. It eludes me still, but I am not done with that race.

This is why Ironman is so cool.

This is why Ironman is so cool.

This is why it is not always so cool.  Those river crossing by the end of the race turn into quagmire.

This is why it is not always so cool. Those river crossing by the end of the race turn into quagmire.

The other reason it is not so cool, is that it can be an absolute bike wrecker.

The other reason it is not so cool, is that it can be an absolute bike wrecker.  After the tree argument and the work that my bike needed after the race, my season was over.  Time to start rebuilding for next year (maybe it is time for a shinny new one!)

October/November/December

October, November and December means Cyclocross Season here in Wisco.  It is a great sport.  Goofy, but an absolute hoot.  I always look forward to it, as it is a great wind down to a year of 2 wheeled bliss.  30 minute age group races followed by beer and frites.  Another year, and I am still all in once piece, just a few scrapes cuts and bruises, maybe a finger or 2 that does not go straight any more or there might have been a broken bone or something along the way – I really cannot remember.

You know how the saying goes “If women and men had to alternate having kids, no family would have more than 3 kids.  No man would ever go through that twice.”  For me, a 2 wheeled season is sort of the same.  It is hard, it can be difficult, I will probably get hurt along the way… But, by the time I get to about December, I just cannot wait for the next season to get here.  Short memory, I guess.  Damn, I love my 2 wheelers.

Goofy sport.

Goofy sport.

It goes from very fall like - 50f degrees...

It goes from very fall like – 50f degrees…

...to definite winter by the time December gets here.

…to definite winter by the time December gets here.

Now the scheming starts.  New bike, rebuild the old bike???  2 stroke or 4 stroke??? GNCC races, or local??? Add some more Enduro’s in???  Do a couple of OMA races or MAXC???  decisions, decisions.

I do have a dilemma on the local races.  I am trying to decide for next year between the following options:

1. Stick with +40 class – I won the class this year, and could have one it last year if I would have done more races. I know that sounds like I am bragging, it is just that I feel very comfortable at the front of that class. But, I am not planning to try to ride for the overall next year, so I kinda feel that I might just be in the way of a race for the overall.

2. Go down to the +30 class. The winner of that class sometimes beats me in the overall, and sometimes I beat him. It would be more of a race, especially if Pete raced there also, then we would have a good group of 3 of us every weekend at the front. But, again since I am not planning to ride for the overall next year – I wouldn’t want to be in the way of Pete and James racing for the overall.

3. Go and race the B open class. I feel I would be similar to the +30 class. There really only is 1 or 2 guys in there that 50% of the time finish ahead of me. I could go and race with those guys, but they are like 20 year olds. I AM older than their dads. Pete might do this with me, so we would still continue our rivalry, even if it isn’t for the win any more.

4. Race the A class. I would not win a single race all year, and I would struggle every weekend to not be last on the class. But, I would get to ride with the fast guys for the 1st lap and at least I would probably learn something when I could still see their lines. I do not think Pete would go and do this with me, so I would loose the fun of racing with him every weekend.

Hmmmm…..

I’ll keep you posted.

Joe

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