Author Archives: Joe Vadeboncoeur

It’s The Heat That Makes It So Hot!

Sweltering. Hot. Friggin Hot. Not cold. Melting. Burning. Baking. Blistering. Red-hot, Baking hot. Calorifacient. Calorific. Fervid. Fiery. Flaming. Heated. Overheated. Radioactive. Scorching.

Yep, all of those.  It has been so hot lately, that I have given up trying to describe it to others.  The words are just not cutting it, it is so friggin hot.  I was on the phone with someone from Mexico City today.  He asked just how hot was it, like 80 degrees or something.  Ha!  We had 5 days over 90.  For an area of the country that normally has jus ta couple of days over 90, the whole year, this is remarkable weather.  It is a gosh darn heat wave.  It is May, for crying out loud!

Adams County is just such a great location for a race. Thanks to Bob Kau and the other landowners for letting us race there. Thanks to Shawsome Moto Photography and Mike Dean for the photos.

Of course, it was inevitable that the first HS race of the season would fall during the phenominal stretch of heat.  Adams County HS, put on by the Madison Motorcycle Club on Bob Kau’s property.  There probably isn’t another race in Wisconsin that is better than this one.  There are other good races that are close, but Bob is just so gracious in letting us race there. He takes great care to lay out a course that is safe, fun, flowing and challenging.

I was able to help the club put the course together, by helping to clear trail and brush in the weekend before the race.  I haven’t always been able to help do that as I was traveling so much I couldn’t find enough time.  Now that I am working a lot less I can, and it feels good to help out, even if it is just a small amount.

And it was a scorcher.  It was 95 at the start of the race and didn’t get any cooler.  (The dashboard of the truck said 115 degrees when I drove off after the race – but that is in the sun – you get the idea).  I made a decision at the beginning of the race that I wasn’t going to find myself in the hurt locker because of going to fast at the start.  The conditions felt like the first year of doing the Perry Mountain  24hr race.  It was so friggin hot.  Most of the crew ended up with heat conditions.  I ended up having to lay down in the middle of the night and sit out about 6 hours of the race.  My teammate Scott Daubert ended up going to the hospital after the race to take 5 liters of fluid.  Yowza, it was not a good day.  All of that was on my mind as the gun went off.

I holeshotted off the line, and tried to settle in to a relaxed pace.  Unfortunately, Greg Steffes wanted to go faster.  After letting him bang into the back of me for a while, I decided to let him go and I soft throttled it for a bit to give him a chance to go around.  I followed him for a lap or 2 at a distance to stay out of the dust.  Eventually, he bobbled in a turn and I went by.  Once by and the track clear in front of me, I just settled in to a pace that would allow me to stay ahead of Greg, but not overdo it.  It worked.

I was the only guy in the +40 class to get 6 laps in, but I missed the top 10 overall.  Oh well, it was a good day on the motorbike.

Finishing up the race. Looking pretty tired and drained by the way I am sitting on the bike. My camelbak was drained and I was nearing the end of my ability to stay on the bike. Happy to win. Happy for the heat, I kinda like it.

It’s the Heat that makes it so Hot!

Thanks Moose Racing, Kenda tires, Factory Connection, Maxima Oils, Bell Helmets.

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New Graphics are coming!

It is May. Geez this is a slow start to a summer season. In fact, it is only about 50 degrees outside today and it is raining. Getting kind of hard to take. We had spring, but then we slipped back into the end of winter. What ever happened to April showers bring May flowers? It feels like the whole calendar has just shifted back a month. It is now May showers instead of April. Maybe in another part of the world, May is still the beginning of summer, but not in Wisconsin.

We did have one race in April, and it turned out to be a nice day for it. It was a GP race, which is not my favorite type of race and in this case was not even a good GP (way way to fast, to much MX track and not enough woods). Also, a GP race just takes all day to complete. I do not know how the MX riders do that every weekend. But, it was offroad racing, and that is normally not a bad thing at all.

I won the +50 class and was 3rd in the +30 class. I am kinda caught in the middle these days, as I am not young enough nor fast enough to race the straight up A class, but on a good day I can run in the middle or so of the A race.  But, it is not comfortable for me to ride the A class, as those guys are young and just take too many chances.  I do not want to be in their way, and I do not need to go that fast.  Decisions.

There will be lots of new trail that starts out looking like this. Sweet!

Yesterday I joined in with the crew putting together the race up at Adams County. It is Bob Kau’s property, and he is definitely a character. But he is actually one of the nicest guys I know. Bob lays out an amazing course as well, and he is super generous to let us all race on his property. I got to spend the day with my friend Pete as we arrowed and marked the course. It will be a great race with about a 16minute lap for the AA class.

I mentioned at the start of this that there are some new graphics coming my way for this year.  I am only going to show them in this picture, and make you wait to see the finished bike at the Adams race.  They will be sweet!  Until then, see you out there somewhere.

New graphics! Thank you Thomas and thank you Russell. I cannot wait to get them on the bike.

 

Sloooowwww start to the season

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April 18. Madison Wi.

Yep, that is how it looked out the front window of my house on the morning of April 18.  Not exactly the springtime weather that we all hope for.  I mean come on.  When you live in the upper midwest, it means you have been living through winter since some point in early December.  That is a long long time between dirt bike races or MTB rides.  Sure, the ski season was fun this year and we all had a great time being up in Cable a bunch this year, skiing and riding our snow bikes.  But, enough is enough.

You will recall that the last race of the year was such a mud bath, that I am not looking to repeat that in any way.  My bike was a disaster after that race.  My suspension has had to be rebuilt, I had to fix the leaking seal behind the water impeller, my brake pads and drive train were completely toasted, my plastic and graphics need to be tossed.  It was pretty bad.

But all of that is behind me.  Factory Connection sorted me out with rebuilt suspension and all new settings that they are super excited about (I cannot wait until this Sunday when I can also get excited about them).  I fixed the leaking impeller seal.  The bike has been completely rebuilt through and through.

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Thank god we didn’t go to do the National Enduro this past weekend.

We were all set to go to the National Enduro last weekend, but made a last minute decision not to go because it looked to be a complete mudder.  The photo above was what NEPG group posted on their Instagram account.  I am so glad we didn’t go, as I did not need to destroy my motorcycle for that.

But, this has to be the latest start of any season on record.  It is just taking so so long to get here.  This weekend there has to be some riding somewhere that we can do.

The season will eventually get here


The season will EVENTUALLY arrive. (at least I hope).

We are all ready MOM, bring on the season dammit.

Out.

The water pump is suck a silly little thing.

In reality, pushing water around an engine to keep it cool, is pretty simple and prehistoric feeling.  I know it does it’s job and I know that my motor and complete motorcycle and the designers at KTM, take its job very seriously.  But, how complicated can it be?  Spin around in circles, pressurize the fluid, shove it around the motor in passageways, send it back up to the radiators where it can transfer the heat to little fins, then air passing over those fins can whisk it away so that it cannot harm things with keeping too much heat inside the blessed powerbox.

I guess when you say it that way, it is more complicated than I first admitted.  Even though I called it barbaric at first, I guess it really is pretty sophisticated.  It generally works pretty well, until it doesn’t.  When you cake the entire motor with 20 pounds of mud, trapping in even more heat.  When you follow that up by packing the radiators full of another 10 pounds of mud so that no air can pass through the radiators dispersing the heat that the fluid is trying to transfer away from the motor.  When you then spend an hour or more just sort of idling because the race course has broken down so badly, and you suck so much at riding in really muddy conditions…  Lot’s of bad things happen.

Turns out, the weak link is the little seal behind the impeller pump.  That seal has a tough job.  It is meant to let the impeller shaft turn freely, so that the impeller can send all that hot fluid blitzing around the motor transferring heat to the air.  In addition to that, it has sort of a one way feature that keeps the pressurized fluid from getting past the seal and contaminating the oil on the other side of the seal.  Kind of a tough job for a little blue piece of rubber and metal.  In fact, the seal is the weak link.

I guess when that fluid gets hot enough, and the oil on the other side is also getting fricking hot, it just kind of gives up eventually and lets all of that fluid kinda mix together.  It results in a situation a little bit like this scene and Bill Murray’s final proclamation in the movie Ghostbusters (the real one).

 

I do not think I can be talked into doing another race like last years Leaf River at the end of the year.  It was snowing at the start, that turned to rain during the event and ended up in a shortened absolute mud slog that I do not think anyone other that Patrick Malarkey enjoyed.  The other races that I can remember like that (2008 Big Buck GNCC, 2008 Unadilla GNCC, 2015 Adams Harescramble) also kinda sucked.  But only Big Buck and Leaf River did actual damage to the motorcycle.

But, in the end, a new impeller seal, a new impeller, flushed the radiator fluid, flushed 5 quarts of oil through the motor to get all the radiator fluid out of every nook and cranny and it appears that it is good to go.  Not smoking any more from burning radiator fluid and the oil is coming out after running for just a few minutes looking like…oil.  Magic.

And just like that, the bike has been completely rebuilt (new clutch, new bearings on all wheels, swingarm and linkages, new rings, valves adjusted, cleaned out everywhere, suspension updated, new drive parts, new brake pads, new bars and grips, new plastic…)  Just waiting for graphics, and then bring on the season.

out.

Joe

 

It is a Fat Bike, and it is a Birkie!

I did the Fat Bike Birkie, or FBB – it is really your choice.  I know I said 816 times that I would never do that, but I did it anyway.  I borrowed me up a hardtail Farley and pinned on a number, then got in a pace line.  It is a FatBike race that has drafting after all.

47km, 2900ft of climbing.  Ugh…  Painful.  But, I am not going to die at other sports this year, hopefully all the training will pay off.

It is not my video, but you get the idea.

 

Art and I were noting that even though we have been friends for 30 years, and we have the same basic passions, we have never done a bike race together.  I say together, in that we were both on the course at the same time, but we were definitely not racing each other as he is WAAAY faster than me.

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Art was 2nd in our 50+ old guy class, I was 17th. He is WAAAAY faster than me.

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The borrowed hardtail. Thanks John Riley.

Birkie Withdrawals

The days after the Birkie are always kind of empty, kind of a let down.  It is good to be at the end of winter, but when you spend so much time thinking about the Birkie and preparing and waxing and stressing and just plain living for… It feels like it will be forever until it happens again.

In the mean time, lets see the official recap video from this years race!

 

Can You Say Birkebeiner?

start wave 2

The chaos of the Birkie start! Who doesn’t love that?

So another year goes by.  Some people mark the year by a birthday, or a calendar page turning over, or their kids growing.  Increasingly, I have been marking the year by the start gun and the banner going up on the start of another Birkie.  The Birkie has become bigger than big in my life.  Beyond just another event or another ski race.  Sure, it is a ski race but it is so much bigger than that, it is one of the greatest events you can find.  If you do not know what I am talking about, take a look at the video below.  But the event itself is just the tip of the iceberg.

The town of Hayward and the town of Cable truly come alive with the Birkie time.  They are both quiet little places of just a few thousand people total.  Normally just a bunch of skiers, mountain bikers, outdoor lovers, fishermen, snowmobilers and just a bunch of great people that love living in a quiet little town in northern Wisconsin.  They like having deer or wolf tracks their front yard in the morning, or seeing a bear on their mountain bike ride.  They like seeing the same group of friends on the weekends at a restaurant or in town.  They are some of the greatest people that I know anywhere (and some of the most fit people I have ever met).

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Main street the night before the big race!

But, their quiet little town takes on a completely different feel when the Birkie comes to town.  35,000 people make a place entirely different.  This great little town just opens up its heart and soul to the guests.  Seriously, it isn’t like any other place in the world.  I mean there is a ski trail up main street for crying out loud.  No one complains, no one is worried about it.  In fact, every person in town is on main street at race time ringing cowbells, having a beer and shouting out at the racers finishing.

There is a Skijoring race (dog and skier tied together), there is a kid ski race, elite racer sprints, a big ski 6 persons attached to it all at once race, a 29km race and a 50km race.  They all take part on the same trail, ending on the same temporary ski trail on main street in Hayward.

This year was my 7th time to do the big race.  I did my first one way back in the late 80’s, then moved away and didn’t get to do the race again for many years.  I did a few in the 90’s, then my family and job distracted me and I didn’t really make the time for the dedication to XC skiing that it requires.  Finally in 2015 I was able to get back to doing the race on a regular basis.  I love it.  Cannot get enough of it.  I wish it was happening again next weekend.  Unfortunately, it will be another 12 months before we get to ski up main street again.  (But there will be a ton of fat biking, skiing, mountain bike riding, gravel road riding and about 15 other things to do in the northwoods before then.)

So how did it go this year?

Hanna – Korteloppet. 3rd in her age group in difficult conditions.
Liz – 1st Birkie. 3:31. awesome finish. She is tougher than she admits.
Adam – 2nd Birkie. 2:50. Amazing for a guy that only just started XC skiing.
Me – 7th Birkie. 3:13. Not my fastest Birkie ever, but pretty close.

lotsa bags

Have you seen my bag? It is red and black.

The logistics of the Birkie never cease to amaze me.

13,000 skiers. point to point race. moving the people, expo for all the people, picking up race packets, getting them all to the start on time, feed zones every 5km, feeding everyone after the race, creating parking lots for all those cars, 35,000 people flowing into a couple of towns that normally hold 3000 people.  And it all comes off without a hitch.  Amazing.  I am so proud to be part of the community here and to have such an amazing event in the town that I live in.

Here is to the whole Birkie crew and all the volunteers, thank you so much from the whole race and town.  I cannot wait until next year.

Out, Joe.

courderoy

Enjoy the Corduroy!

Beer tent

Yes there is a beer tent.

(I did not take these photos, most came from the Birkie site)

Goals…Everybody should have them!

I suspect that you know by now that I am kind of obsessed with putting together a list of goals at the beginning of the year.  I have always been a list maker.  My mother used to kid me about it when I was little, my wife and kids think I am a little silly about it, my employees over the years have all dreaded my lists.  But it is kind of fun and helps me level set for what should be important going into the year.  Of course we all want to be successful, or at least get ice cream for desert. I have missed the ice cream of late, so I am planning to go a little more minimal and down to earth with my list this year.

My strategy in the past was to put down a lot of goals.  I had an arbitrary number of 100 in the past.  I kind of felt that if there was a lot of them and some of them were really simple, then you would have a better chance of getting to success with some sort of ratio on the list.  I learned that from my boss, and it seemed to work for him.  Unfortunately, it didn’t really work for me.  I found that a ton of goals had me lacking focus and not working on what was really important.

So, for this year we have a new strategy.  Just a few focussed goals that I want to make good on.  Not 100, not 50 but just 12.  These are all big.

Can we please go and do something fun?

1. Live life like my dog would.  My friend Art posted on Instagram a nice little promise to Lucy, his lab that passed away this past year.  That promise had some of these same themes and really struck a chord with me.  I am stealing those as I really like them.

My dog Marti just cannot wait for the evening when I can take him for a walk or throw a toy with him.  He lives for dog parks and chasing a ball.  I think it is a great way to think of your life overall.  Dog’s do not get stressed about what isn’t going right, they just make sure they focus on what is going well and what they can control (except squirrels, they obsess over those but cannot control them).

I did have a tendency this past year to focus too much on what I couldn’t really control.  So this year I am going with this attitude every day:

  • Every day is a new adventure.
  • Play time is not wasted time.
  • Sleep when you need to, as you will want to be ready for the next adventure.
  • Go fast, because you can.
  • Go to the bathroom outside (not every day, but sometimes)

A Utah visit gets more of this from my family. (And Ice Cream!  Ice Cream is good.)

2. Visit Hanna + Adam in Utah.  We managed to do that this past year, and it was one of the big highlights of the year.  Life is just too short to wish that you had seen your family more.  No one will talk about the great days at work on their death bed, but you will talk about the family trips that you took.

3.  Help Ali + Thomas be ready for the baby.  The grandbaby is coming. I remember how nervous and excited that made me feel when they were my kids on the way.  I also know that there is a ton of stuff to be done on their house before baby time.  Kitchen that needs to be enhanced, baby room that needs to be finished, bathroom work that needs to be finished etc…  I am not the greatest at all of that stuff, but I can learn and I can hand Thomas tools.  I think I will get started at that next weekend.

BTW. I am going with Grandpa Joe!

4.  Visit my family. Brother, Sister, Father, Mother.  The years go by and sometimes it is hard to find the time to get to visit everyone.  I have time now, so I am going to make use of it and make sure that I see all of my family this year.

5.  Get better connected to my friends.  Last year I worked so damn much, that I really did not connect well enough with my friends.  My friends in Wisconsin, my friends in other parts of the country/world, my friends at work etc…  Friends and family are all that really matter, and it is easy to forget that when you are flying around the world multiple times every year and working 75 hours per week.  My near and far away motorcycle friends, bicycle friends, coffee friends etc… can all expect I will be trying to interact with them a ton more this year.

6.  Get involved with a good local cause.  My old boss used to say to those given a lot, there is a responsibility to give a lot back.  I had a great first career (nearly 30 years), but between that and my family there were a lot of things that did not get the attention that I should have been giving.  I am a little bit embarrassed by that.  No excuses, just looking forward to getting involved in something worthwhile that helps others.

I am taking my time about this one, because I really hope to find the thing that I am most passionate about.  Something in Madison, as I want to be part of the community.

7.  Start my business, cultivate a client base.  I had an awesome first career helping to build the best bicycle company in the world.  I am proud of the work that I did there and the brand that we built.  In my 2nd career, I want to figure out how to help others build a great company and brand.

I will start up a little professional assistance company and cultivate a few clients that hopefully I can help them further their brands and companies.  I am not done creating and being an asset to someones business.  Much more to come on this later.

8.  Get rid of a bunch of stuff. Sell it, donate it, throw it away.  One of the things that I really think we all do too much of is consume stuff.  Your existence can all become so much about stuff, the stuff you have the stuff you need etc…  Life really should be about experience.  I plan to reduce the amount of stuff that I have during this next year, and focus on experiences.  My closet is full of clothes, my garage is full of bikes and motorcycles, my house has plenty of furniture.  There is so much stuff in my life, I need to get rid of some, and I certainly do not need more.

When I moved to Colorado in the early 1980’s, I could fit everything I owned into a small Uhaul trailer and my car.  I do not know if I can get it all back to that, but I know I can live with a lot less stuff.  My rule going forward is if I acquire something, more than one something has to leave my life.

I want the bike to look like this a lot more next season.

9. Ride my motorcycle more than 40 hours.  When you are riding your motorcycle, you are not doing something else.  You are only there doing that.  You are truly there.  No part of you, including your mind, can be somewhere else.  I have had a problem for the past couple of years with not really being there (If you cannot tell, that is a statement about issues way bigger than just my motorcycle).  I plan to ride my motorcycle more, and be in the moment more at whatever I am doing.  Live in the now!

Wherever you are, there you are.  (Oh but seriously though, I am not kidding, that motorcycle needs a lot more hours on it.)

I hope to see a lot more of this in 2108 than I did in 2017. (Anything more than zero will be better than 2017)

10.  See PJ and at least 2 other live music events.  I had to act like an adult this past winter.  Pearl Jam announced a 14 city tour in Europe, and I made the adult decision that I could not spend the money to go to a few shows.  That is a really big decision for me, as I do not want to miss what could always be the end of their era now.  I missed seeing Chris Cornell a couple of years ago, and he is gone now.  I will not let that happen again with other artists.  I am banking on a NA PJ tour with a few dates in the fall, and I will definitely be booking a few nights worth of tickets.

I will fill out the other shows with Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield or something in Madison or who knows maybe something bigger.

I am so very excited to get out on this in some new locations.

11.  Ride my MTB in 3 states that I did not last year.  Last year, I only rode in Wi, Mn, Mi, Ut, NC.  I am happy to ride in all of those states again, but I want to add some other places as well.  We are considering a trip to UT/AZ in the spring.  I figure we will get to Texas and Arkansas in the spring as well.  There should be a trip at some point to NC and although riding there doesn’t solve the 3 different states point, we do have to drive through other places to get there and I WILL find other places to ride.  Lastly, if we can make a few PJ shows happen (are you listening guys?), then we will put some bikes on the back of the car to add some riding.

Do you think maybe she is ready for a trip that isn’t about MTB riding?

12. Take Liz on a trip that isn’t about MTB riding.  I have been saying this for a few years, so it is time.  NYC, Boston, California, Seattle…  something needs to happen this year.

13. Bonus goal.  Lastly, I am going to learn to ride a wheelie (Dammit).  I have had this on the list for a while now, and I keep failing.  I was going to let this drop off the list this year, but then I saw this video.  I am going to start building this apparatus next week.  Looks like you just need a few pieces of wood, and some time.  I got this.

Using the manual machine –

Building the manual machine –

That is it.  Goals.

  1. Live life like my dog would.
  2. Visit Hanna + Adam in Utah.
  3. Help Ali + Thomas be ready for the baby.
  4. Visit my family. Brother, Sister, Father, Mother.
  5. Get better connected to my friends.
  6. Get involved with a local cause.
  7. Start my business. Cultivate the first clients.
  8. Get rid of a bunch of stuff. Sell it, donate it, throw it away.
  9. Ride my motorcycle more than 40 hours.
  10. See PJ and at least 2 other live music events.
  11. Ride my MTB in 3 states that I did not last year.
  12. Take Liz on a trip that isn’t about MTB riding.
  13. Learn to ride a wheelie on my MTB (because god knows it will not be happening on the motorcycle)

Best and Worst of 2017

When my kids were little, we played a game at dinner every night.

Because kids tend to not want to talk with their families (at least when they become teenagers) at the dinner table, we looked for ways to get everyone to engage in the evening.  We started with a no electronics at dinner rule.  That worked to some extent, but we still got a lot of shrugged shoulders or “I don’t know” answers to the normal questions of “how was your day, or what happened at school today?”  Eventually, we came upon a game that we played every night for years and years at the dinner table.  It turned out to be one of the highlights of our family time together.  We called the game Best and Worst, and over the years the game has developed a life of it’s own.  The kids friends participated in the game as well when they were young, and now when they are at our house someone trots out the game to this day.

The rules of the game were simple.  It was a game that the rules could be made up by the person who called the game that night.  Whoever called the game, not before all butts had sat down at the table – as that was outside the overall rules, got to make up the rules for that night.  Of course, since I invented the game, I often times changed even that rule if someone beat me to the game.  Just this past Christmas dinner with the kids and their significant others, we played the game.  It was a fun version.

As I take a look back on 2017, I think the format of the game is my ticket into a 2017 review.  I am calling the game “Best and Worst”, so sit yourself down and take a look.

January 1 snow as far as you can see!

Pre-Birkie race 2 weeks before the Birkie.

On January 1, it looked like we were going to have a normal snow year.  Even 2 weeks before the Birkie at the Pre-Birkie, there was good snow.  Unfortunately, it rained and all went away just before the Birkie.  We found ourselves with an historic 2nd canceling of the race and unseasonably warm conditions across all of the upper midwest.  I guess this all qualifies as a Worst entrant into 2017.

Liz and I enjoying an outside dinner in Madison in February. The Birkie didn’t have a chance.

Springtime brought a trip to Flanders for the race, Vienna for work and a couple of days there for Liz and I.

Flanders on the Koppenberg.  Some years you can ride it, others…!

One more time with Shriver and Freddie at the RVV citizen ride. Maybe the last time I will get to, but it was sure fun. (This is post ride and post plates of frites in Oudenaarde.)

Vienna

We went to the Giro for the first time.  Got to see the future with Tom Dumolin as he dominated the race.  The mountains are just incredible in northern Italy.  The race is way better than the TDF as far as an event to go to. After the race, we traveled up to Amsterdam where we saw Eddie play solo, then home.

First time to the Giro for us. Mountains there are beautiful.

We made it to Amsterdam to see Eddie play solo.

So far, those are all pretty good things.  There were a few bad things that happened in 2017.  I ended up in the hospital with a bad infection that I could not seem to kick.  It all worked out in the end on that point, but it wasn’t fun.  Unfortunately, the bad events with cars and bicycles keep happening, and the world lost Nicky Hayden to a bike and car crash.

Infections and Hospitals kinda suck.

We will all miss Nicky Hayden.

The world lost so many great people in 2017. Chris Cornell has to be up near the top of the list.

Summer came along and was overall pretty great.  Lots of family visits and bike riding and a bunch of other great things.

I finally made good on a motorcycle enduro. It has been years of trying, and I usually screw it up somewhere in the middle of the race.

We have been wanting to go and visit the big musky in Hayward for a while. It didn’t disappoint.

2nd ride with my brother this summer. This time in Hayward, and the bonus is also with my friend Todd Johnson for the first time we have ridden together in 20 years.

Fall always rocks in Wisconsin.  We had plenty of great fun this year by adding a MTB trip out to Utah.  We saw Hanna and Adam, and had an announcement that we will be grandparents from Ali.

After a lot of years, I finally got the Whole Enchilada in. The ride does not disappoint.

Unfortunately, Thomas crashed the day before and could not do the ride with us. But, Hanna, Adam, Liz and I made the best of it.

I also got to ride with one of my great friends in Utah. This is the whole family (minus Ali) with Art at the top of Guardsman Pass in Utah, about to head down the Crest trail.

Liz and I on a MTB date to Duluth to do a day of lift served riding. She is ignoring me.

I only did a couple of Cyclocross races this fall. But did manage to get the podium on 2 of them.

The Marquette Enduro does not disappoint.

A great fall trail ride with the gang in the northwoods.

Last day of my favorite taco place in Madison. El Grito taco truck. Yes, that is a line.

Rolling into Winter and 2018.

My newly unemployed status allows me to experience Madison a lot more. It is a great place.

Birkie training is in full swing.

Christmas in Madison with the whole family. Ali (4 months pregnant, which means I am soon to be Grandpa Joe), Thomas, Hanna, Adam, Liz and I. The zoo is closed folks, the moose out front should have told you.

Birkie training is tough in this weather.

All in all, 2017 was an awesome year with just a few things that did not provide a great experience.  Feel pretty blessed to live where I do, with the people I do and have the opportunities I have had.

Looking forward to 2018.  It is going to be a big year.

Joe

 

Local can be beyond cool!

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Welcome to 1 OAK bicycles. Downtown Paoli, above the brewery. You can follow them on Instagram @1oakbicycles.

I prefer the local coffee shop to Starbucks.  I prefer a local taco shop to Qdoba.  I prefer a local beer to Sam Adams.  The list goes on and on.  If you are like me or like most people I know, you like supporting a local business.  I enjoy speaking with the owner who is employing local people and supporting the local community.  I make it a policy that I get to know the shop, their personality and learn if they can be a match for my hopes.

But, I wouldn’t support a local business that doesn’t offer a better product that I will like better.  In the end, if I am going to spend my hard earned $, I am going to make sure I am getting exactly what I want to get.  I would rather have something offering a great experience, customized for me vs. just getting a new something or another.  I do not need stuff that badly.

This all brings me to my friend Eric Maves and his new little boutique in Paoli Wi.  Eric opened a new little bike shop above the brewery in Paoli.  Paoli is a small little town filled with not much of anything but there are a couple of restaurants, art studios and a brewery.

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Every bike sold at 1 OAK, is One Of A Kind.  Get it?

Every bike that Eric sells is bespoke.  There is nothing standard or straight out of a catalog.  It is the epitome of expression around individual experience.  Eric will sell you one of the bikes that he has already built or he will build the bike that you have always wanted.  You will not find a catalog of what he offers, beyond the unique vehicles that he has in stock today.

One OAK bicycles environs are exquisite.  Eric has curated an experience that just drips with the love of cycling and how a bicycle can be something more than just a vehicle that can get you down the road.  When you are there, you will feel the passion that Eric has for everything that makes cycling such a great experience.

I did not take any of photos of the bikes that Eric is selling today.  This post isn’t really about his current inventory.  When you visit Eric, he will offer you an espresso in an Italian cup.  He will invite you to sit down and talk about bikes, bike racing, the history of cycling, all of the great things that we all love about cycling, and of course what your dreams are around a unique bicycle.  Chances are that he can get something together for you that embodies those dreams.

Give him a call at One OAK bicycles in Paoli.  Pick up a t-shirt while you are there from one of the coolest boutiques I know of.

Joe

Dec 12

I do not think that Dec 12 is a day that will live into infamy.  But, it is a significant day here at the Vadeboncoeur cabin.  I am just a week into unemployment and the 5th day into Birkebeiner training.  Today is the first rest day in that plan.  I chose this as the first rest day because it is only going to be a high of 12 degrees here (it is currently -1).  I will do some core body work today, wax skis for the next 3 days of skiing, prep snow bikes for finally being able to get out and ride etc…  (There is the pesky need to work on home budgeting, get to the hardware store, groceries etc…)  I am kind of enjoying this “retired” unemployed life.

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Hill repeats on day 4.  This IS how they make you feel. #birkietraining

Here is what my days have been.

The first day was about 1 hour of finding my feet and poles and hands and where my body is supposed to be, and then stepping around debris on the trail.  I was pretty bad and really out of shape.  My hips and feet where killing me.  My heart rate would sky rocket up any incline.

The 2nd day was REALLY tough.  In the morning I had gone out on the snow bike with the dogs, our usual loop around the neighborhood, and I had noticed that someone had tried to skate up the Birkie Ridge trail.  We had about 2 inches of fresh snow on top of the 8 inches that had been deposited earlier in the week.  It was not groomed.  I decided to ski up the 3k Birkie Ridge trail to the main Birkie trail and go north from there.  About 1k into the climb up to the Birkie trail, whoever had skied before me must have turned around, as their tracks went away.  I was breaking trail through more than 8 inches of snow, all the way up to the Birkie trail.  I eventually made it, and skied north for about an hour then returned.  15ish k roundtrip.  But, the 3k of getting through all that snow killed my hip flexors.  Ouch.

Day 3 was a 2hr over distance steady ski.  Parked at Boedecker road, skied south to OO, then north to high point and back to Boedecker.  I guess that it was about 20k.  This day worked much better, but my timing still needs work, and my fitness has a loooong way to go.

Day 4 was an attempt to kill myself.  I parked at Boedecker again then skied to the top of the Birkie Ridge trail.  I found a roughly 1/2k uphill, and did hill repeats up that hill.  At the top of the hill, I felt that my heart was about to explode and my lungs were going to collapse.  On the 4-5k back to the car, I skied twice up every hill – just for good measure and a few more nails.

Yowza.  Sitting in seat 13A for all that time with my job has taken a toll on my fitness and my overall athleticism.  But, I am going to change that between now and the Birkie.  I cannot promise that I will be in my best shape ever in just 3 months.  Not sure that 3 months can erase 2 years of stress and travel and lack of time to chase any fitness, but it will be a start.  It will get me to the point of being able to prep for the cycling season and the moto season.  It will get me to the point that I can ride all day and race hard for a GNCC, local HS race, National Enduro, MTB Endure etc…

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My tools of choice to get my fitness back. An old pair of race skis and ski poles.

 

Let’s Birkebeiner!

IMG_4371I know that this blog is meant to be mostly about 2 wheeler exploits.  I know that not everyone out there enjoys XC skiing, but hey, this is my blog.

For a few years, I have wanted to have the time to focus on being fit enough to do more than just survive the Birkie (that is what we call it as Birkebeiner is just to long to say, plus no one knows how to say it or spell it).  It is a hard ass event.  It takes about 3 hours, is 52km long (I know those are shorter than miles, so don’t send me that note), it is probably going to be about 15 degrees F for the race and there will be 7000 other crazies out there trying to do it – ski poles flying everywhere.  Given that there is marginal snow in the Madison area ever, it would require being north of there to have reliable snow to get enough real training time in.  I have always finished the race and wished that I could have enough time to be really practiced on skis.

Well, now that I have caught the unemployed virus, I really do not have an excuse to not be prepared for the Birkie.  Yes, after nearly 30 years at Trek, I have moved on.  It was actually just 28 years, but I told someone that and they stopped me and gave me license to round up.  I still do not feel good about calling it 30, so I am going to call it 3 decades.  3 decades sounds like a long time, it was.  3 decades is a career.

So what will I do?  Well first and foremost, I am going to ski the Birkie.  I am going to be up north enough to be comfortable on skis and hopefully have the best Birkie I have ever had.  I started this week with some strength and flexibility work, ran some hills on Tuesday, rode the trainer, skied an hour yesterday, skied 20k today.  No more “I wish I could ski more” as an excuse.  After that, I am not sure. Maybe sell one of the houses and buy a Sprinter Van and just travel to the best mountain bike trails in every state, and do all the National Enduro’s.  You know me, so you know that whatever comes next will involve a motorcycle, a MTB, my girl and dogs, a few burrito’s, too many cortado’s and a Pearl Jam concert (or 7).

As for real work, I am not really sure.  I know that I have a passion for helping someone get something started.  That is what I did mostly in my career at Trek.  I am not done working yet, so I will find something to be passionate about.

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#picnictableselfie  There will be many more of these!

I will leave you with 2 things to think about:
There was a movie called Buckeroo Banzai, that for some reason made an impression on me in my youth.  In that movie, the lead character who was named Buckeroo Banzai – oddly enough – said,
Wherever you go, there you are!”  I have always liked that as a statement on life and your condition.
(at least I am not quoting something from William S. Burroughs “Naked Lunch”, which… if you ever want to sit through a movie and not know exactly what it was that you just watched for the last 90 minutes, give that a try. wow)
If that is just too weird or deep, one of my all time favorite authors was Douglas Adams.  If you just want some entertainment, in between the business books, give him a try.  I do not think you will find it a waste of time.  His last book was called,
So long, and thanks for all the fish!  (I don’t really know what that means either, but it feels like a pretty good way to say Adios after 3 decades)
b000217
Joe

 

PS – and now back to the regularly scheduled programing of skiing, riding 2 wheelers, burritos and snobby coffee.

It’s winter – Again!

Last weekends Enduro at the start. I get older, but the winter transition never gets easier!

So another season has gone by. Not my best season, but it was still a season. I rode some fun races, both MTB and Moto.  I didn’t get to race as much as I wanted to, the job kinda has me gassed every week and day. But, I am alive and I am healthy, so I have that going for me.  

I am sitting in my house watching it snow outside on this November morning, thinking about where I would like to be next year at this time. But, before we ho there, let’s take a look back at the year. 

Things kinda started out ominous with a cancelled Birkie ski race in February. There was great snow, albeit a little thin, just 2 weeks before the Birkie.  But then it warmed up and then it rained and then we waited. 

That’s the Birkie trail n the morning of the race. Not good.


I helped my friend Pete (that’s not him)at the Bucky Dual Sport ride earlier this fall. It was great fun. I hope to get to do it again next year.

Awesome big trail ride day with Pete Caron up in Hayward area this fall.

Really only got to do 3 CX races this year. My CX season was a casualty of my work schedule.

Hanna, Adam, Liz and I on the Whole Enchilada in Moab. OMG. That is pretty much all I can say.

I was able to get out for a ride with Art, my friend from years ago. We hadn’t ridden together in many years, but it was like we had just ridden together last month. Time flies, but your good friends are still your good friends. Liz, me, Thomas, Art, Hanna, Adam

I got to ride with my brother twice this year. This was in Cable area. With Todd, an old friend as well.

Had at least one decent Harescrambles. Muddy , of course.

That is me squaring up a tree during the Duluth Enduro. That didn’t work out to well.

I got to do this a few times this year.

Finally had a good race in an Enduro. Problem is that I now have to do the A class event there, which is much harder. Suck it up Joe.

There were a few MTB trips this year. This is from a summer trip to Marquette.


I did manage to get a few races in this year. This is from the Adams Harescrambles, the most fun race of the year.

The citizen Flanders ride was fun this year with a whole crew.


7

Wanting!

May 21. 52 degrees. It was 45 and rained all day yesterday. Literally all day. Started raining at about 9am, and never stopped. Earlier this week it rained for a few days in a row. The average high temp this past week was about 52.

The 2nd race of the year was supposed to be today. It was cancelled due to about 4inches of rain on Thursday.

All the local mountain bike trails are closed.

I brought my mountain bike to work with me this past week.  I never was able to ride it. The trails were closed all week.

Bauke Mollema fell out of the top 3 at the Giro yesterday. The landscape job at the house is way behind because of the weather. With all the rain we have had this past 2 weeks, it has shown us that the gutters on the house are completely inadequate. They are clogged due to leaves and sticks, and they are undersized. Of course that can be fixed with some new gutters and some new gutter guards.  But $.

In spite of all of that, I am buoyed today. My garage is completely sorted now with cabinets and nothing on the ground. My motorbike kicks but. My mountain bike is ace. My dogs are cool (although they smell like dogs). We do not live in Colorado, which appears to be dealing with snow today. It is only a matter of a week or 2 and we will be completely past all this.

Remembering John Buechner!

I miss John Buechner. John passed away suddenly a couple of years ago, working out at the gym.  We called him “Hulk”. He was super fit, and looked like the Hulk. His number was 22. He was a great guy. We had some epic battles, he and I early in his race career. Later, he was faster than I. I like to think I’m faster now than I was then, and could be racing again with him. Reality is that he was still probably faster. But, I  would be happy to just chase him if that meant he was still here. I do get to race with him though every time I race now, as I carry him with me.  I hope that pleases him. Miss you John.

This week Chris Cornell left us. I am sad to hear that he took his own life. You just do not know what can be just below the skin with people.  Nicky Haden was run over by a car while riding his bicycle this week.  I have read he is in a coma.  I don’t know what to think about that, other than to be sad.

As I said, I am floating pretty well this week, in spite of all the tough things, mostly dry, happy and healthy. Not able to ride my 2 wheelers this weekend, but comparatively, I am pretty pleased and thankful.  Heading to Italy this weekend for the end of the Giro, then to Amsterdam to see Eddie Vedder live.

A couple of MTB Enduros planned this summer, a few HS races and Moto Enduros.  We are going to Moab in Sept., where I will definitely be riding the Whole Enchilada trail.

There is no Monday. For me, everyday is a great day to be alive. I will ride a 2 wheeler this week, somewhere.  I will say hey to John while doing it.

Cheers.

Joe

 

Thankful I didn’t go to the GNCC race this weekend.

The world is still spinning!

Sometimes in the middle of it, you just are not sure if the thing is still spinning.  I mean, when a top is spinning you get it.  You can see it.  It spins.  It makes noise, but it might fall over.  Then, like a kermufleckt the sun smashes down on it and it stops, then goes then stops again.  Totally complete lying trainspotting that a penguin would be there.  In spite of it being Saturday here in Japan.

Sorry about that.  What I wanted to say was that I cannot believe we made it out the other side again.  It frozed, then it came back alive.  Makes you want to scream that the new phone books here, like Maven Johnson.

But.  The spring comes around, and finally.  We cannot wait here in Wisco.  Dirt, trees with leaves, sunshine.  No more gravel.  Car isn’t splattered with white dust.  But the bestest of all is that there is motorbike.  Dang.  It is beyond fun.  Makes me jump for joy.

So, the annual Adams race opened us all up here – again.  Our great friend crusty Bob Kau – who isnt really crusty at all, it is just an act that he puts on because he wants people to think he is crusty, but is actually one of the nicest guys on the planet – puts the race on.  He owns one of the most amazing pieces of property anywhere.  A bunch of old cranberry bogs, small hills, lots of woods, sand as far as the eye can see sometimes.  Holds up to water well, and OMG it has single-track.

Got an ok start in the sand, got to 2nd late in the 1st lap.  Unfortunately, Travis Held had already checked out by then, so once again, I did not get to see if I could hang with him and try to ride his pace.  He put a bunch of time on me right away and then kept chipping away at getting one more lap than I.   He did.

Thanks Bob for putting on a great race.  Thanks Pete Laubmeier for keeping me in Moose clothing.  Thanks Southeast Sales for the great bike.  Factory Connection for making the boingers work in the woods.  Bell helmets, Kenda tires, my friend Russel for the great graphics etc…

More to come.

Pulling a tear off, because like a knob I followed someone right into a mud area – dork. At least I am on the gas while pulling it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trying to get to the front, but already been left behind after putz start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at that trail!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch that.  make it full screen.  turn it way way up.  You will see why I cannot wait until the next show I can get to.

3X180!!!

I do not know if you have seen this or not, but if you have not, I would like you to contemplate this.

First, you have to do an experiment.
– Go to the local football stadium or just a really big tall hill.
– Run up the stairs all the way to the top or to the top of the hill.
– Take your heart rate at the top. You can do the simple thing of counting the beats by putting your fingers to your neck. Count for 10 seconds, then multiply that by six (6x).
– I suspect you were at about 150 or so – right?
– Do it again. This time, I suspect you were at about 160 or so.

That is pretty good stuff right there. It is how you get fitter, by taxing yourself and then doing again. Over time, you can probably improve that.

Now, I want you to imagine going for a sustained period of say 30 minutes at that high rate that you hit. Maybe you could even try that on a bicycle or while running… It is pretty friggin hard, eh?

Now I want you to contemplate this point.
At last weekends GNCC race, which is a 3 hour race, Kailub Russel averaged 180 beats per minute for the entire 3 hours.

Holy Cow, is all I can say to that. I have not missed thinking about that every day in the last week. I almost cannot even think about how he did that.

3hrs X 180bpm!!!

Wow!  There are no words.

That is a max of 193bpm. But more astoundingly, an average of 18bpm for 3 frickin hours straight! 3X180!!!

I will just leave that there.

Joe

The New Phone Books are Here!

That is exactly how I feel.

After months and months of, scraping windows, wearing puffy jackets, snow boots, shoveling snow, seeing your breath, waiting in the cold by the back door for the dogs to go out and poop and then demand to be let back in the house because their paws are too cold on the ground, glasses getting fogged up when you come in from the outside, eyelashes frozen together so that you almost cannot get your eyes open, paying massive heat bills, driving with the windows up – always, dreaming of flip flops, riding the trainer only, spending to much time thinking about ski wax, driving home in the dark from work…  It is finally here.

Exactly like Steve Martin in the Jerk – Things are going to start happening to me now!

After about 10,972,800 seconds of the winter thing, with the short days and all… magically, it all comes to an end when the clocks move forward in March.   Somehow, we all forget about winter and start to talk and think about how great it is to live here.  How great it is to ride your MTB and race your motorcycle, and be outside in flip flops, and to do all the other great summer things.

It is a new year!  Time to get revved up.

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Preview of new graphics for the bike this year!  My friend Russel at Rock Hill did these for me.  The thing is going to look fast!!!!

Stay tuned for more.

I am all about March 12.  The day the sun stays up later in the evening.  Today it got too dark to be in the woods at about 6pm.  On Sunday the 12th, that will be 7pm.  If we add about 1 minute per day to that, it will be almost 7:30 by the end of the month.

It is on!

Joe

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All good now!

 

It is the heat that makes it so hot!!!

Last weekend I did a ski “Tour” on the Birkie trail.  What the hell is that anyway?  Ok, it was almost a race – not really but yet.  We skied pretty much at a certain time, we skied over the start line.  There was a timer.  There was a finish line…  So not a race, but pretty much the same thing.  I am going to call it a tour though, because that is what the sign up said.

I will skip right to the punch line though – I got trounced.  Liz completely destroyed me.  I crumbled so bad at about 35k.  Liz just skied away from me for the last 10km.  KaPow! She had fast skis, and I did not somehow…  She was gliding away from me on the downhills.  But, I will not make excuses.  I was way way off where I wanted to be.  I can confirm that seat 13A is not a great place to prepare for ski racing.  I have spent way way too much time in that space of late.

But, to get back to the title of this entry.  It was pretty cold on race day, about 5d Fahrenheit at the start, and cold again the next day when I was dropped at the airport in Duluth.  I took about 16 flights and about 53 hours later I arrived in Sydney.  When I stepped out of the airport, I was hit in the face with a wall of heat.  It was 100d Fahrenheit.  Yow, a swing of almost 100 degrees is hard to take in one short period of time.

Before and after. Dead feeling.

Before and after. Dead feeling.

I was in Oz for almost 10 days.  It was hot, but glorious.  Sydney, Manly Beach, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Noosa.  A tour, for sure.  Adelaide was to go to the Tour Down Under bike race.  (It was won by an Australian).  Sydney, Manly, Melbourne and Brisbane was all work visiting each of our retail stores in those towns.  Noosa (which I am told is where everyone in Australia wants to retire to) was to visit my friend Simon Thompson and to do an awesome MTB ride with the guys from Venture Cycles.

I had an awesome trip.  It was so good, I decided I needed to dance.  So, here it is.

Here are some of the things I learned while in OZ.

  • I didn’t see any snakes.  They are there.  Waiting for the person who is not paying attention, I am sure.
  • They are no longer making UTE’s.  What the hell?  That was just about the coolest thing in Australia.
  • Saw lots of signs warning about drop bears, but did not see any.
  • Mountain bikes are fun.
  • It is clearly the heat that makes things hot.
  • There are 19.6m coffee shops in Australia.  Which actually is not fair, because there are 20 something million people in OZ, which means some people do not have their own.
  • The Australian english language actually has a lot less words in it than regular english.  They are forced to use a word like “Casual” to mean everything from not formal to part time worker to temporary code…

That is all.

Joe

I guess you will not see these sweet rides in Australia any longer. RIP!

I guess you will not see these sweet rides in Australia any longer. RIP!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trucks in Australia have these awesome snorkels, in case you need to drive through a river to get away from the crocodiles. Everything Australians do is so extreme!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manly Beach!

Manly Beach!

 

Don’t go in the water in Oz!

 

How many things could kill you in Oz?

Haven’t we all heard about just how many things could kill you in Australia?  Is it really true?  Do a google search, seriously, you will get a back a huge list of things that will kill you – including Russel Crowe.  But, geeze – spiders, snakes, rock fish, crocodiles, hoop snakes, drop bears etc…  I will just leave that there for you to think about.

Anyway, I am going to Australia for work next week.  There are bikes and bike stores there, so I will go there.  It is pretty simple actually.  If you have bikes, and you have bike stores, I want to go there to learn something and paint it Trek – somehow.  That is kind of who I am.  It is a burden, I know.

Ok.  My friend Simon lives in Australia, and suggested that while I was down there I should come for a visit.  Awesome idea, I thought.  We could catch up, go for a bike ride, get a beer together, do something Australian (as we have traveled all over the world together but never Australia).  I got after getting my plan together, packing up my gear etc…  I am all ready to go.  The anticipation is building.

Then tonight, he and I are having an email exchange about the trip and other things going on in our lives.  Everything is going swimmingly, towards the plan.  Then out of the blue, he says “Hey, take a look at what was on my deck last night!”, with a photo attached.

 

WTF?

WTF?  So do I cancel?

I mean, Simon has lived there most of his whole life and he is terrified of snakes.  So seriously, do I cancel?

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2013/03/australias-dangerous-animals-the-top-30/

 

2017 Event Schedule – It is real now.

Along with the goals that I threw up onto the site last week… Thought I would go out on a limb and lay down a schedule of events that I want to do this spring/summer/fall. There are a lot, but I would love to do a bunch of 2 wheeled events.

HS racing
Enduro racing
MTB Enduro racing
Cyclocross

So, without any further delay or no disclaimers, here it is.

screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-7-18-41-am

Of course it will change, but here it is as I am thinking of it now.

A person has to have some goals in life!

Every year the calendar starts over.  It is an amazing phenomenon.  January happens again, as does July, as does Halloween, as does my birthday, as does the 3rd wed in August.  So, if you have a favorite day, say the 14th of May, don’t fret it will come around again.  If you have a bad day on June 11th, you will get a do over the following year.  It is a wonderful thing.

It also means that every day that goes by after Jan 20, is one less day that we will have to hide our embarrassment that we elected an orange buffoon into the highest office in the country.  (But I digress.)   This post is about a much better topic, in how I hope to make sure that 2017 is a great year.  The things I hope to get done this year from a lighthearted perspective, and from a serious perspective.  The ways I hope to be a better partner, to enjoy my personal life more and to be a positive influence, and of course to ride a 2wheeler a bunch.

2017 goals

1.  Plan with Liz an adventure to Kilimanjaro or Machu Picchu or… not sure if we will take the trip in 2017, but it is time to get it planned at least.

2.  If Pearl Jam announces a show anywhere in the world, I will be getting tickets.  Yes I have seen a lot of Pearl Jam shows over the years, and yes this one is perpetually on my goals, but holy crap guys there is still no shows announced for 2017 anywhere.  I am getting a little bit nervous.

Need this somewhere in my life this year.

Need this somewhere in my life this year.

3.  Attend Flanders and Roubaix pro races and ride Flanders & Roubaix citizen races.  New team, new riders makes my favorite pro bike races even more exciting to attend.

4.  Take the whole extended family on a vacation to Ride Whistler and Squamish.  I offered skiing this winter or MTB and they chose MTB.

5.  Do a MTB trip with Lloyd in the Alps.  This, like seeing Pearl Jam is always on my goals.  But, it is particularly important given that I completely failed last year and had to bail on the trip plan.

Ben exercising my bike this week in Chatel. This is why I need to get there. DUST!

Ben exercising my bike this week in Chatel. This is why I need to get there. DUST!

6.  Finish my garage.  Yep, new house new garage.  Almost there, just need to be sure to not get distracted with spring this year and get it done.

7.  Drink more water. 125oz per day.  The human body is made mostly of water.  Rinse it and repeat people.

You can check your amount here.  Seriously!

8.  Take Liz to NYC.  I have to get her to stop reminding me that she has never been there.

9.  Ride 6 CX races and State Championship CX race.   Given my new job and how much time I spend in seat 13A, I am not sure that I can put a goal of winning races down any more.  But, this past year I failed and only did 2 races.  Lame.

10.  Landscape the house.  This kinda goes along with the garage.  Need to make the landscaping and yard function for us this spring/summer.

11.  Ride some MTB Enduro races.  There are 3 or so that I can do in the midwest, but it would be cool to ride one somewhere other than the midwest.

12.  Ride a few Moto Enduro events.  The Loose Moose and Roselawn and Leaf River would be awesome.

13.  Ride a bunch of D16 HS races.  Just like my mountain bike season and CX season got stepped on last year due to the new job, my HS season was stepped on last year, and I only got in 2 races.  This year I will not let that happen.  I will ride  a bunch of races so that I can participate in my sport.

14.  Host a big cabin motorcycle trail ride.  With the help of Pete Caron, I have discovered a ton of great riding up in the Cable area.  I hope to host a weekend of trail riding with some guys so that we can explore those trails together.

15.  Ride a race with Russel.   Not sure how if we can do this.  My new job, his new job, he lives in SC…  but I am leaving it on the list until I get it done.

16.  Read more books.  I used to love to read.  Again, the new job has killed this activity for me as well.  I will get back to it this year though.  As a jump start, I am listening to an audiobook already on Jan 2nd and I am partly through a physical book.  It is such a great pastime and makes your brain work.

17.  Volunteer somewhere.  I wanted to do this last year, but again I failed due to a new job that is all consuming.  Given our current political, social and cultural divide in the USA, I think this is my best course of action.  I cannot solve all of that divide, but I can be part of easing it in some small way.

18.  Do more night MTB rides.  Dang these are fun.  With the new house, I think we can even do some at night from the house.

19.  Publish a dance video from traveling.   I have been developing some sweet new dancing skills and I think I need to show them off.  I travel, I dance.  What could be better than combining those 2 things?  (Just a reminder of how cool it is below.)

20.  Help to get a trail in from Nordic Ridge to the Camba trails

21.  Ride my MTB at a trail network that I have never ridden at before.

22.  Visit Hanna and Adam in Seattle

23.  Help Ali and Thomas with their house

24.  Get my eyes checked.  Yes, I think it is that time again.

25.  Social Media a lot less.  Social Media is not the same as human interaction.  I am going to err on the human interaction side this year.  Facebook/Twitter/Instagram are all pretty lame when you think about it.

 

So that is it.  A much smaller list, but I think a list that I can actually get done this year.  If I get that done, it will be an awesome year.

See you out there somewhere.

Joe

There were some goals

It’s that time of the year – again. Funny how the calendar just doesn’t stop. It’s a page turner for sure.  One day leads to another, which leads to the next, and another and so on. You know, kind of like good coffee…  you have one today and then another another day, then some days not, but all days you try. Left right left right kind of thing.

So here we sit, another year in the books. As my last post implied, lots of changes – but I’m not eating the chicken head. So what is this post about – you find yourself asking, “Get to the point, Joe.  We are busy here!”

Every year I pu together some goals. Just a few, as I do have hope. Last year I did, the year before and so on. It is kind of satisfying to take a look back and see how you did. I can tell you now, pathetic.

Here goes. My list from last year, with a dishonest appraisal of my efforts.

2016 goals

1.  Take Liz to a non cycling vacation. You know, something like a beach or hike a mountain, or look at pengiuns or…


– I did take her to Fruita to ride her bike (which is clearly a win in 99.9% of people’s eyes), and to Strada Bianche  and Flanders to ride her bike.  I did take her to Boulder with no cycling gear along and we did go hiking. I also took her with me to Beijing and we saw some touristy things!

WIN!

2.  See Pearl Jam minimum of 3 times. They did announce a tour for 2016, so odds are pretty good that I can make this happen.

Bam! Killed this one. Greenville, Sc. Quebec City. Ottawa. Wrigley night 1.

2.  Ride Strada Bianchi citizen race. Not sure I can plan on the longer one, but the shorter should be fine.

– I got this one. I rode it with Luca. It was a fun weekend

3. Ride Whistler. I think Liz will will do this with me… It was actually my Christmas present from her.

– much to my chagrin, and to my kids and to Candace’s… I failed.

4.  Ride Fruita. This is probably an easy lob over the net, as it is already on the calendar.

It might have been an easy lob, but damn was it fun. I had forgotten how much fun it is to ride somewhere new. So had Liz. This is Liz chasing Hanna down a sweet piece of singletrack.

 

5.  Do a MTB trip with Lloyd in the Alps. I have made it the last years, but I do not want to miss it.

– I clearly failed at this. Had it planned, but the move of house and new job got in the way.  Lloyd, Louise and Ben were gracious about it, but I know what they were thinking… “Loser!”

6. Wave at all cyclists that I see.

– pretty sure I smashed this one.

7. Drink more water. I should be drinking 116oz per day.

– failed. Tried to fill in with beer, but even failed with that.

8. Get rid of all the junk in our basement. We made a good start, but damn there is alot of junk.

– move took care of that. WIN!

9.  Get rid of junk in garage. Same as above, we made a good start, but damn there is alot of junk.

– move. Winning!

10.  Do a Trek Travel trip.

– nope.

11.  Take Liz and girls to NYC  Liz has been all over the world, but not to NYC.

– at this point, Liz is reminding me she still hasn’t been to NYC.

12.  Build 2 sets of sew up wheels for my CX bike.

– oh yeah. I have no shortage of gear.

13.  Ride State Championship CX race

– I do have a shortage of time to use that gear. Failed at this one. I only did 2 CX races all season.

14.  Ride National Championship CX race – maybe.

– nope.

15.  Ride Copper Harbor at least once.

– nope

16.  Ride Marquette

– nope.

17.  Ride Duluth

– I did get to Duluth. But only twice, and nothing more than Spirit

18.  Ride 3 MTB Enduro races (Spirit Mt., CH, and something in Colorado)

– failed. But I did get to Spirit Enduro. As usual, it was an enormous amount of fun.

Spirit Enduro. Geez these things are fun.

19.  Ride 2 GNCC races

– fail

20.  Ride 2 IXCR races

– nope

21.  Ride Loose Moose Enduro

– nope. Man this is a horrible pattern. Starting a new job and moving house in the same summer just kills your fun plan.

22. Go on trail ride trip with Pete Laubmeier

– Pete didn’t go, and I didn’t either. But this still was a fail.

23.  Build loop at cabin for MC training

– got this one done. It was about the only motorbike riding I was able to do.

24.  Ride a race with Russel

– I did see Russel in Greenville, but no races.

25.  Drink only great beer. Life is too short for mediocre beer.

– got this one

26.  Read 5 personal books.

– failed.

27. Read 3 professional books.

– got this one. New job put me way way over this one.

28.  Find a good charity that I can align with.

– we have good charities.

29. Volunteer somewhere.

– I am a broken record. New job and new house. I suck.

30.  Preseason off-road training camp in late March before S. Carolina GNCC

31.  Put together the plan to climb Kilimanjaro with Liz

– I would love for this to be on her list. For sure it goes on next year.

32.  Help Ali n Thomas with their house. Not sure what part they will take on this summer, but I hope to make a better showing this year than last year.

– fail again. Helped a little, but not enough.

33.  Finish Birkibiener ski race, did it last year but so far I am not feeling as ready.

– got it. Did ok.

34.  Do more night rides.

– got this one. But only by exactly 1 more ride than last year. Ugh…

35.  Publish a dance video from traveling.

– fail

36.  Build a 2 stroke. Maybe a 250XC. Hopefully I can give someones a try first.

– tried someone’s. hated it. Decided I am a 4 stroke guy. Oh well.

37.  Go to a World Cup DH race.

– fail

38.  Go to a World Cup XC race.

– fail

39.  Go to a WEC MTB Enduro

– nope.

40.  Go to Flanders and Roubaix pro race

– got Flanders, but not Roubaix.

41.  Ride Flanders citizen race

Our motley crew for the Flanders citizen event. Huge fun.

42.  Ride Roubaix citizen race

– why would I want to do this?  I’ve done it before, and said I would never do it again. I guess I truly have lost my mind.

43.  Go to a World Cup CX race.

You can see the course in the background, but the real proof is the frites and the Mayo.

You can see the course in the background, but the real proof is the frites and the Mayo.

44. Help to get a trail in from Nordic Ridge to the Camba trails

  • This didn’t happen at all.  Not only did I fail, but my whole neighborhood failed.

45. Outfit my truck to camp in the back.

Fully equipped and heading to Fruita!

Fully equipped and heading to Fruita!

46. Ride my MTB at a trail network that I have never ridden at before.

47. Visit Hanna and Adam at least 3 times this year.

48. Visit my father

49. Visit my mother in Arkansas

50. See my sister

51. Visit my brother in Dallas

  • Basically, I failed at all of these last goals.  Some can be blamed on my summer being evaporated with a new house and a new job.  But, it is bigger than that.  I just sucked this year.

There will be another year, and another set of goals.  I am torn, should I have less goals and just ones that I know I can meet?  That seems lame though.  I think I will still have a big list, and I will still hope to get more of them than I did this past year.

Out,

Joe

 

Ch ch ch ch changes….

You know there is the statement that the more things stay the same, the more they change…  Or is it the other way around.  Sort of a Willy Wonka moment there, where up is down and left is right.  Because it really doesn’t matter if it is Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp,  Umpa Lumpas really are orange.  Don’t eat the green ones, they are sour.  But seriously, is it Tuesday or October?

Changing is something that we all do every day.  In fact, the coolest of the XMen, really is that girl that can change into other people.  And I am not talking a Michelle Obama go high or low kinda thing.

Anyway, things have changed…alot.  Lets start with the obvious.

First off, it was time for a new job.  Not away from Trek, but it was time for me to do some new things at Trek.  20 years in product development is a long time.  For a long time I have been saying that bicycle retail could be better, and finally my boss said “then go and do something about it”.  And there you have it.  That is what I am doing.  Retail is a pretty cool thing. Whether it is in a store, or online it is where you get connected with the sport.  It is where we all started out working and it is where a new cyclist gets the bug.  But, it isn’t 1980 and it is time for bicycle retail to evolve into  the 20th century.  So that is what I am trying to do – evolve – both me and the bike shop.  It will be an interesting journey.

That is me doing some bicycle retail type stuff in China.

That is me doing some bicycle retail type stuff in China.

Second big change.  We moved out of Lake Mills and into Madison.  It had been a long time coming.  We raised kids in the house, and had a lot of good times.  But, it was time for us to move to Madison and live in town.  We didn’t need the big house any longer and it was time for a family to make use of the house and the big yard etc…  I miss it, but it is good to move on.

Peace Out Lake Mills, its been fun.

Peace Out Lake Mills, its been fun.

Now we are living in a small little house right downtown Madison.  We get around via bike, we eat at cool little restaurants, we ride bike paths around town, our home MTB trails are Quarry Ridge Park.  Digging it.

The job and the move killed my summer of racing and riding my bicycle or motorcycle.  That is ok, because it isn’t my last summer on the planet.  I have already sold the old motorcycle and have a plan to get a new motorcycle for next year.  I figure I was pretty good on the 2015 250XCF, I’ll be good on a 2017 250XCF (yes, I am kinda in a rut with the same motorcycle).

So long 2015 250F, bring on the 2017.  It's been real.

So long 2015 250F, bring on the 2017. It’s been real.

img_7260

I have managed to get in a couple of CX races.  They are only 30 minutes long, you can do anything for 30 mins…

So, it is time to start working on next year.

  • I need to finish a shop in a new garage.
  • I need to acquire a 2017 motorcycle.
  • I need to spend the month of November drinking beer.  (I do like beer.)
  • I need to build said 2017 into a woods eating machine.
  • I need to get fit, because…damn.
  • I need to line up some support for gear, helmet, tires etc…
  • I need to get fit.
  • I need to learn to not be such a slow slob.
  • I need to get the new job under control, so that I can afford the time to get fit.
  • I need to finish the Birkie ski race, so that I can set up my season.
  • Yowza.

But as David Bowie said, “Time may change me, but I can trace time.”

Out, Joe.

We did a cool trip to Fruita in the fall.

We did a cool trip to Fruita in the fall.

jpeg-image-fd851650dde5-1

Mt. Borah epic was epic.

Beer

Beer

It was a calculated risk.

It was a calculated risk.

a few days at the Tour de France were fun.

a few days at the Tour de France were fun.

Immortalized

Immortalized

Duluth Enduro is always fun.

Duluth Enduro is always fun.

Sucks

Sucks

Mmmmm... Good stuff.

Mmmmm… Good stuff.

You eat some weird stuff in China.

You eat some weird stuff in China.

img_7375

Ok.

Ahhh… All is right with the world!

There comes a day, living in Wisconsin, each year. The day can sneak up on you, but it is the most anticipated day of the year. Normally, you watch out the window, you look for signs of spring… You drive south to find it, you squirm around on frozen dirt, looking for just the right sunny side hill exposure. Sometimes you find it, sometimes you do not. It is elusive for sure. You generally wait and wait for much of the year. It just cannot get here soon enough. Normally it is some point in April, but it can be in May. It is a day to write home about. (I do normally, and it drives my friends and family crazy.)

I am specifically talking about the first local race of the year.

This year it happened the first weekend in May. And OMG, was it ever great.

Bob’s place in Adams county. It just might be the greatest piece of property anywhere. Bob might be on the outside the crustiest guy you have ever met. But, if you know him and get beyond the exterior, he probably is just about the softest guy ever on the inside. When you get to know him, you love him. Try it, get past the exterior and I promise you will not regret it.

Bob. Crusty on the outside, all soft on the inside! Thank you Bob, for the great place for the race!

Bob. Crusty on the outside, all soft on the inside! Thank you Bob, for the great place for the race!

This year I cannot do very many races.  I am super bummed about that, but it is because of all the other things I have going on in my life.  Oldest daughter with a new house, that I want to help more on.  Youngest daughter moved to Boulder, so takes time to go and see her.  Major travel requirements for work this year.  Our place up north equals time away from racing (but it does equal time on my MTB and time on the motorcycle up there…).  Etc…  I am not really complaining, but damn do I love racing.

Because of that schedule, I am racing the +40A class wherever I can.  It is more fun, because I am more comfortable at that speed (than I am the straight up A class) and I really like racing with guys my age.

Look at that dirt! Holy crap, it was good. Wow. (I know that I should have my elbows up more, and the balls of my feet on the pegs, but hey, that is why I am racing the old guy class)

Look at that dirt! Holy crap, it was good. Wow. (I know that I should have my elbows up more, and the balls of my feet on the pegs, but hey, that is why I am racing the old guy class)

Bob and the Madison Motorcycle Club laid out the most amazing fun flowing 20 minute loop that we have ever had there.  They spent weeks working on it, so huge thanks out to those guys.  As far as I can tell, everyone really enjoyed it.

There really is something about the first race.  Everyone is just so jonesed to get out and race.  Huge smiles all around, lots of warm greetings for everyone that you have not seen all winter.  Wisconsin is a tough place to live all winter, as there are huge stretches that you just do not even go outside. (although not as long as Canada… sheesh, that place is the deep freeze.)

I mean, there were something like 130 bikes there, and there were 21 guys on the +40 row.  21!!!  For us, that is a crazy good turnout.  The reputation of Bob’s race, along with the first race of the spring.

I got a horrible start.  I should be better at this by now.  But, I really had to work just to get myself up to 5th by the end of the first lap.  On the 2nd lap, I passed into 2nd and was chasing the leader down, and whop.  Right into a rut that swallowed my bike up.  I mean, what kind of an amateur falls right into a rut in the 2nd of the 2 muddy areas on the whole 20 minute loop.  What a pud.

In fact, Bob and I were joking about “do not follow the rut…”, just before the race.  Idiot.  In fact, Bob said to me after the race, “why didn’t you win, you loser?  That is it Joe, you cannot come back.”  I do not think he was serious about that, at least I hope so.

I had to put the bike on it’s side, get my gloves soaking wet and completely muddy to get the bike out of the rut.  Put it up on it’s back wheel, push it on to it’s side and then wrestle it out of the rut.  I swear that at least 20 people went by me as I was fighting that thing out of the mud.  Then of course I am completely wrecked after that, and I putz along on that lap at complete tourist pace forever.  That lap was my slowest lap, by over 1 minute slower than my next slowest lap, I was stuck a looooong time.

Sometimes I can be fast, and even look fast.  Doesn't happen much though, and really didn't happen much for this first race.  New  Moose gear (thank you Pete and Moose), borrowed helmet (thank you Pete), bike all dialed and great.

Sometimes I can be fast, and even look fast. Doesn’t happen much though, and really didn’t happen much for this first race. New Moose gear (thank you Pete and Moose), borrowed helmet (thank you Pete), bike all dialed and great.

I managed to get myself into riding mode though and worked my way back up to 2nd by the end of the day.  I am sorted with that.

But now we are into spring full on.  Funny how once these days get here, you really do not remember the long winter.  Probably something about self preservation in there or maybe long division – one or the other.

Now that it is here, let’s ride!

Yep. It is all going to be ok.

Yep. It is all going to be ok.

PJ addiction.

About 3 ft away from us. Brush with greatness.

About 3 ft away from us. Brush with greatness.

You didn’t ask, but OMG!!!!

I have to say that the PJ show in Greenville, might just have topped all possible PJ show experiences, and by that you can also take that to mean ALL show experiences possible. It is a bold statement, I know. But, I like bold statements. You could say that I am really good at bold statements, maybe even that I am normally the person that makes more bold statements than any person should. My wife says that is because I am full of hot air and it just needs to come out some way – but what could she possibly know?

Here are some facts!

  • They played 3’40” show. Burned the house completely down. Just how does a band play for 3’40”, night after night?
  • Played the whole album “Vs.” start to finish. Told the story of creating the album, what each song meant to them along the way, the outtakes, the funny things that happened to them while making it etc…
  • They played the most amazing cover of Comfortably Numb ever. Even made the original feel like something less. I know it is sacrilege to say that someone could outplay Pink Floyd on that song, but the whole audience was gobsmacked over it.
  • Our seats were one row off the rail in the first seated section. Ed came and sang a song literally 3 feet from us.
    20,000 people in the audience. Not a single person sat down for the whole 3’40”, the whole audience sang every song out loud, which is normal. But, normally the seats up high, people sit down during the show – not this night.
  • Ed talked during the show about that PJ was the first band to play that arena when it was first built. I think they were really pleased to be back there again and it showed in their performance.
  • I could not sleep afterward, I was so amped.
If you have not been to a PJ show, then you may not know that the setlist is a big deal. They are never the same (never), and they make the show. This time with the album Vs. played front to back in there was really special.

If you have not been to a PJ show, then you may not know that the setlist is a big deal. They are never the same (never), and they make the show. This time with the album Vs. played front to back in there was really special.

The setlist was amazing. If you have not been to a show, you may not know that no 2 shows are the same – ever. The setlist is a big deal.
I meet so many people, from all over the country at concerts. It is really cool to meet people with the same passion. I always find that I am really just a casual fan when I have only been to a small number of shows. I routinely meet people who have been to 50+ shows or 100+ shows. Everyone goes to multiple shows, people take whole months off their lives to follow around and go to 20k people concerts all over the world. I was there at 9am to pick up my tickets for an 8pm show, there were 2000 people in line for the doors to open at 6pm. There is food, music, beer, games etc… beforehand, like an outdoor event.

PJ band members can always be seen around town the day of, riding bikes, taking photos, with their families and friends. They are approachable on the street on at the sites in the city. The band is politically and socially responsible and they are not shy about that. They wear their politics on their sleeve – literally. Ed commonly wears a shirt with an anti gun message, or positive social responsibility message. He railed against the southern states and their stance on “religious freedom”, and he was in a southern state. If you are a PJ fan, you have come to accept that the band is going to be controversial in their stance – it is part of the story. But, they respect their fans and respect that they may have different views.

Going to a PJ show is actually an experience that helps you build some faith in America, because as the band has said, “We are all just people and people are so much alike around the world. We all just want a safe place for our families to live, to have good friends of our own choosing, to get drunk when you want to, to love who you want to…” In the end, I think that faith is what keeps us all coming back.

Joe

See you at another show.

Sprang!

For us in the upper midwest, it is the same every year.  We wait, and wait, and wait.  It reminds me of Heinz ketchup commercial when I was a kid, or maybe catsup as my grandmother used to call it.  Apparently Heinz ketchup was slow to pour and also apparently that was a much revered trait in ketchup.  (Catsup must have poured much much faster.)

(check the little video from Scott Krause.  A lap on the dirt bike this past weekend)

Any way, it comes and it comes and it may never actually get here.  But, this year it has come much faster and much sooner than we expected.  But, let’s recap.

January is the dead of winter.  It is cold, it is dark.  We do get to do a bunch of skiing, up in the cable area.

I mostly just spend the winter trying to get the perfect #picnictableselfie. I am still trying.

I mostly just spend the winter trying to get the perfect #picnictableselfie. I am still trying.

We had a really strange winter this year.  Not much snow at all in the Madison area, but very good reliable snow in the northwoods.  It was actually pretty perfect, at least for us.

I managed to get another Birkie ski race in this year.  I got beaten soundly by Adam though.  Hanna urged him to let me win for just one year, but he decided that wasn’t in the cards.  It was completely out of my hands to determine.  I skied as fast as my old body will allow.  He is like 25 and a pro triathlete.  Duh, he beat me.  He should have.  (It is disappointing that I cannot beat someone who doesn’t really ski that well, but has a huge motor.)  Next year I doubt I will just be able to be within a few minutes of him.

Scott Krause and I got out for a ride in February.  FEBRUARY!  That is unheard of here.  It was muddy, and the ground was still frozen a couple of inches down, but holy cow.  FEBRUARY!

That is a time stamp that you cannot see that says February 27. (Remember, those time stamps are really hard to change.)

That is a time stamp that you cannot see that says February 27. (Remember, those time stamps are really hard to change.)

I then hopped a plane and went to Italy to ride Strada Bianche Granfondo.  It was a crazy amount of fun.  100k of gravel roads and tough steep hills.  That is always the way to get your summer season started.

Luca and I about to take on the Granfondo. Crazy amount of fun.

Luca and I about to take on the Granfondo. Crazy amount of fun.

Then to top off a really great spring that is progressing to summer faster than we could have imagined, we actually got out in perfect dirt in March.  Off to the races this weekend, more ready than I have been in past years.

https://www.facebook.com/krausses?fref=ts

Bring on the Catsup!

It’s just a day after all!

I was born on January 9, 1961. Or even better, one nine sixty-one – as long as you are american (if you are European, this doesn’t really work because they would say 9/1/61. The 9th day of the 1st month of 61′, or just 1/9/61. Which is actually 1961, or January 9, 1961.
1961 is also the same forward and backwards, and upside down and backwards as well.
That makes this birthday, at 55, well beyond a golden birthday. (55 is also the same forwards or backwards, and in fact also upside down.) Probably something like the most important day, for most of of the western world, I dare say. Something akin to PI day March 14, 2105 (3.1415). Again, as long as you are american, as Europeans will never see PI day – unless they are from France where they seem to have more months than other places.

Most people would say that this year and day are well and truly even more significant than that.
There it is, it’s my birthday.
Whoop.

Statistics do not lie!

I kinda figure that if you could ride a 2 wheeler every day of the year it would be a good thing.  Who out there would disagree with that?  Believe it or not, there are people that would not like to be having a burrito right now, but none of them are reading this blog entry.  In fact, statistically speaking 38.7% of you are eating a burrito right now.

73.2% of my favorite Christmas ornaments were purchased in Germany.

81.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot, but prove highly accurate – approximately 91.56% accuracy.

Weird looking cookies will taste weird 28.79% of the time.  It is 84.22% likely that they will be bad.  But, that leaves a reasonable percentage that they will be fine (statistically speaking.)

Burritos are 100.2% better than sandwiches.

Now that we have all of those facts out of the way, we can take a look at some events that occurred for me this past year, that involved 2 wheelers.  Nearly 98.6% of these events involved being on 2 wheels, as we have already established that I cannot wheelie.

January

Early 2015 snow bike ride. Maybe even Jan 1. Looks cold, I think it was.

Early 2015 snow bike ride. Maybe even Jan 1. Looks cold, I think it was.

February

Unfortunately, sometimes February involves alot of this kind of riding.

Unfortunately, sometimes February involves alot of this kind of riding.

It is a month where you get ready. Bikes, motorbikes, training etc...

It is a month where you get ready. Bikes, motorbikes, training etc…

March

46.7% of the time we can figure out somewhere to ride outside in March.

The start of Strada Bianchi citizen race. Great fun.

The start of Strada Bianchi citizen race. Great fun.

Amazingly beautiful scenery punctuated with cold and wind and gravel roads.

Amazingly beautiful scenery punctuated with cold and wind and gravel roads.

I did manage to get a couple of MXC races in during March

I did manage to get a couple of MXC races in during March

April

It is normally 100.8% chance of riding in April.  2 wheels will happen then.

86.2% of all April rides you will be dressed like this.

86.2% of all April rides you will be dressed like this.

92.78% of the time you will come home and feel like this.

92.78% of the time you will come home and feel like this.

Nearly 78.4% of the time when you do, this will happen to you.

Nearly 78.4% of the time when you do, this will happen to you.

I built this little bike (100%) in April. Rode it 4.6 times. Hated it (93.1%) and sold it all in the same month.

I built this little bike (100%) in April. Rode it 4.6 times. Hated it (93.1%) and sold it all in the same month.

There usually is a day like this though. 83.45%

There usually is a day like this though. 83.45%

I did have an amazing day at Levis Trow in April. It was a crazy amount of fun, on trails that I did not really know were that good. 56.5%

I did have an amazing day at Levis Trow in April. It was a crazy amount of fun, on trails that I did not really know were that good. 56.5%

Oh ya, I also rode some cobbles in Belgium.

Oh ya, I also rode some cobbles in Belgium.

May

First Wisconsin race of the year, in early May, it was also my first race in the A class. 50.3% said it was going to be either good or bad.

First Wisconsin race of the year, in early May, it was also my first race in the A class. 50.3% said it was going to be either good or bad.

Wow we actually have 64.3% dust in May.

Wow we actually have 64.3% dust in May.

Whoa, bike rides with skin showing.

Whoa, bike rides with skin showing.

Good fun long MTB ride on local trails in Cable. Even with a Pickersgill.

Good fun long MTB ride on local trails in Cable. Even with a Pickersgill.

22.78% of the time I am not going to get this right.

22.78% of the time I am not going to get this right.

Weekends in May.

116.5% of weekends in May.

June

June 46.7%

June 46.7%

Loose Moose photo. Crazy fun event.

Loose Moose photo. Crazy fun event.

July

99.23% of the time, the TDF occurs in France in July.

Liz and I riding in Holland in July.

Liz and I riding in Holland in July.

My steed in Holland for some great rides at the start of the TDF.

My steed in Holland for some great rides at the start of the TDF.

Some great times riding with Lloyd and Ben in the Alps in July. 77.6%

Some great times riding with Lloyd and Ben in the Alps in July. 77.6%

Full Gas Enduro in July in Indiana. Epicly hot and basic Awesomenicity.

Full Gas Enduro in July in Indiana. Epicly hot and basic Awesomenicity.

Hot sometimes here also.

Hot sometimes here also.

66.89% Dirt bikes.

66.89% Dirt bikes.

August

Have to go faster than the bugs in August.

Have to go faster than the bugs in August.

September

Copper Harbor MTB Enduro.  88.89% fun.

Copper Harbor MTB Enduro. 88.89% fun.

Tools of the trade.

Tools of the trade.

Randomly time to do more of this.

Randomly time to do more of this.

33.67% time to get started doing more of this.

33.67% time to get started doing more of this.

October

48.7% of the time it is dark in October.

48.7% of the time it is dark in October.

I did a great IXCR race in October.  I will do many more of these in 2016.

I did a great IXCR race in October. I will do many more of these in 2016.

61.7% more of this was done in October.

61.7% more of this was done in October.

November

82.1% of November can be summarized in 2 photos.

I still cannot seem to get on the podium at Ironman.  But, my bike gets trashed no matter what.

I still cannot seem to get on the podium at Ironman. But, my bike gets trashed no matter what.

I swear they made Boulder Mountain steeper in the past 30 years.

I swear they made Boulder Mountain steeper in the past 30 years.

It is nearly impossible to save this.

It is nearly impossible to save this.

Winning is better than not winning, even when it is cold.  This is guaranteed to be 77.23% accurate.

Winning is better than not winning, even when it is cold. This is guaranteed to be 77.23% accurate.

December

Pile of team bikes during rides with the Trek-Segafredo team in Spain...

Pile of team bikes during rides with the Trek-Segafredo team in Spain…

To massive snow rides in Northern Wisconsin.

To massive snow rides in Northern Wisconsin.

116.4% guaranteed that I will need to go and ride this thing right now.  Out.  2 wheels and down.

116.4% guaranteed that I will need to go and ride this thing right now. Out. 2 wheels and down.

Gallery

The perfect motorcycle 

This gallery contains 7 photos.

In my job, I have repeated a statement that I suppose I am infamous for. I know that is a bold claim. Hard to imagine that I could be either infamous or for that matter famous for anything. Although I … Continue reading

The extreme awesomeness that creates the Awesomenicity that is Ironman GNCC

Lots of people like to mark time based on an event.  You know, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation dates, first day of school, first date, Monday etc…  Some days are more memorable than others, such as your first Pearl Jam concert or when your dog did not pee in the house etc…  Even Facebook realizes that people want to remember things, so it will show you the stupid things you did 3 years ago on this date as well as the great things you did.  (Of course some people take that too far and have to share that silliness, but that is another rant.)

I tend to mark time with the Ironman GNCC calendar date.  It is a significant event in my life.  It is kinda the race that really got me into this in the first place, It is the race that made me say I wanted to do all the GNCC series, it is the only GNCC race that Liz has ever been to, (we one time went from the GNCC race there directly to Charlottesville Virginia to a Pearl Jam concert, but that also is another story.) The Ironman GNCC has been such an amazing thing for me, it tends to be the one thing that I always start my calendar with.

Sometimes, getting the whole first turn to yourself isn’t a good thing.

It has everything going for it.

Location.  It is in Indiana, and as you have heard from me in the past, all good things with dirt biking tend to happen in Indiana.  National Enduro’s, an Enduro through a nudist colony, GNCC races, Full Gas Enduro’s, Chris Bach is from there, the IXCR race series, Brown County Mountain Bike trails, Burrito (I just added that, because there is Burrito.)

Dirt.  The dirt at the Ironman is just incredible.  It has a consistency that is like peanut butter or even better like Nutella.  I think you could actually think of it as Nutella, you might as well as you are going to eat plenty of it and smash plenty of it into everything.

My buddy Pete Emme, making his way through the epic dirt at the Ironman this year.

My buddy Pete Emme, making his way through the epic dirt at the Ironman this year.

Hills.  I know you think Indiana is completely flat, but you would be wrong.  The hills are incredibly steep and huge.  They are hard to get up, and when there is a crowd just waiting for you to fail, it is damn intimidating.  This year, I just said I was not going to be intimidated and rode the difficult fast lines up every time.  Unfortunately, it was a hill that I was not expecting that was so difficult.  The rocky gully after Ironman hill, was slick and really difficult to get up.  I ended up upside down in that ravine twice.  It completely killed my lap times on 2 laps.  I have gone up that ravine many other years and it is never that hard – this year, it was really really tough.

The pros are pros, and that is why they make something like Ironman hill look so easy.

The pros are pros, and that is why they make something like Ironman hill look so easy.

Long.  I mean it is obviously long, it is a 3 hours as hard as you can race.  The loop is long as well, at approximately 13 miles.  Somewhere along the way, even though it is the most amazing event, everyone is just ready for it to be done.  You can only experience that awesomestest for so long.

Name another sporting event, that gives you this kind of access next to the course.

Name another sporting event, that gives you this kind of access next to the course.

Epic.  If ever there was an event that was going to give you epic face, it is the Ironman GNCC.  It is just really hard to explain the grandeur of the race.  I mean holy, crap it is enormous.  You will think about it all year, and all the way home afterward.  You finish the race just knowing it was the most epic thing you have done all year, and slowly on the drive home or the next days you will start to wonder why you just could not hold your shit together long enough to have a better result.  That is the definition of epicness.

Awesome. Aweseomeness, awesomenester, awesomenestest, awesomely, awesomelier, awesomenicity, epic awseomnicity, awesomer, awesomenable, awesomeur, awesometier.

My race this year wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I was hoping for.  I feel like I have so much more speed than I show at this race.  I had a horrible start, dead last in the first turn, and then made my way all the way up to 3rd at one point in the race.  I showed the kind of speed that I know I have for the first hour of the race, but then showed the same tourist mentality for the last hour of the race that I always seem to have.  Ugh.  The podium still eludes me at the Ironman.

Another top 5 at the Ironman, but I still cannot seem to get onto the podium. Oh well, there is another race next year.

Another top 5 at the Ironman, but I still cannot seem to get onto the podium. Oh well, there is another race next year.

I mark my year in terms of building to Ironman, and after Ironman.  I often wish there was more than 1 Ironman.  I always wish that every other race I am at, I was at the Ironman.  I sometimes have a hard time sleeping, as I am thinking about the Ironman.  I sometimes think that maybe I should broaden my horizons, but then I realize – nah.

It is only 363 days till the 2016 Ironman GNCC. (There is really only 1)

The Ironman cleanup, is not the most fun part of the event. This is 5am this morning at the carwash. Gong show.

The Ironman cleanup, is not the most fun part of the event. This is 5am this morning at the carwash. Gong show.

Day 1 at Ironman

There was Chaos today, for sure.  I mean, after all it is quad day!  Quad day is pretty special.  It has become a tradition for me.  I come down in time to see the quadners try to destroy themselves in the mud trying to get across the rivers etc…  I mean, this isn’t just your average I am out for a ride on my quad around the farm type events.  No snow plows in site.  I mean, these people actually think they are going to go fast on them.  Oh, my.

This is the Chaos of the first stream crossing in quad land.  Amazing.

This is the Chaos of the first stream crossing in quad land. Amazing.

I am ready for the most awesome day on a motorcycle ever tomorrow.  Stay tuned, and I will have stories.  Oh yes.

Out, Joe

What Is It About Indiana?

What is it about Indiana?  Say that a few times out loud to your non motorcycle racing fans, and they will look at you like the just took a large bite out of a lemon!  As they gaze past you to the television to see Donald Trump dancing it out hard to Fugazi. (It’s a Facebook link, sorry about that.  It’s worth it though)

But seriously. Indiana has the right amount of winter, is still part of the Midwest, has some really good mountain biking (check out Brown County trails some time), has 2 of the great Offroad Motorcycle series, editions of Full Gas Enduro, National Enduros, 2 GNCC races…  It pretty much rocks.

I have found my new favorite Offroad series. The IXCR series, has great courses it appears, big fields, electronic scoring at works, results up on a screen so you can leave as soon as you are packed, results on the website within hours etc…  The races have classes for every ability and the courses handle the traffic, like a GNCC race does brilliant.   Check their website below.

http://www.ixcr.com/joomla2013/

I’ll be back for more.


One week till Ironman

8 shorter or longer than normal days until Ironman. Yep, that is the one. The biggie. Kinda the race that started it all for me. All of this crazy, I want to race my motorbike feeling. It is also what reignited my love for mountain bikes, and galvanized the burrito as the perfect food. (It is you know).  You may feel that all that is unrelated, but the universe is basically just a string or this is dehydrated breakfast cereal hour depending on your vantage point. It just kinda is.  

On top of the day’s feeling both long and short they also feel a bit ovalized. In addition to the bellyaching from Ryan this evening here in Lafayette, there will be more next weekend (it is another day after all).  Beetle juice. 

It is just amazing to me that the season is almost over. As much as I love the ironman race, I also hate it. It is a bitch. It’s harder than it should be, it is crueler than it should be, and it is beautiful all at the same time.  The hills are big, the rivers are deep, the mud is incredible, the dirt is amazing, the field sections are something to write about.  Wow.  Bring it on now.

Because I usually feel like such a tourist for the first hour, Ryan and I are down in Indiana to do a warm up race the week before.  Our local racing is over in Sept, so in the past I would just go and race Cyclocross in between the end of our season and the ironman. I was fit, but was completely out of sorts with the motorcycle. A tourist for an hour or so until I could figure it out again. This year, countermeasures. 

  
I will use this ixcr race to shake out the cobwebs, in hopes that I can hit ironman ready to rip. We will see. In the meantime, I will listen to Gutpile winge about things. Wish us luck.

(Tell me, why is the media so captivated with Donald Trumps love for Fugazi?  He does have a smashing hairpiece though!)

Joe

Late season – not the end, but late for sure!

It has been an awesome season.  I said I was going to race a bunch of different races this year, and it has really been fun to do that.  I have raced WIXC cross country races, D16 Endurox races, National Enduro races, local D16 Harescrambles races, MTB Enduro races (not enough), MTB XC, Full Gas Sprint Enduro, MXC race.

I have not done a GNCC race yet this year (the early season ones were just too muddy – I know, wimpy), I have not done an MAXC race, I have not done an MTB DH race, I have not done an OMA race, I have not done a Cyclocross race. 

I will solve the GNCC race for sure with the Ironman at the end of OCT, I will solve the MAXC race as well.  I have plenty of time to get in a few Cyclocross races before the end of the season. But, I cannot  solve the DH race or the OMA this year.  They will have to be solved next year.  

 

Copper Harbor Enduro, on Downtown!

 

I am sitting here on the couch pretty satisfied after the Dyracuse HS today. I raced “A” class this year in Harescrambles.  At 54, it is probably time that I act my age, but I kinda like racing with the kids. I. Do not know if I will do it again next year.  I cannot race the +50 class, as that is just an hour and I will not do that.  I could race the +40 class again, but kinda feel like I have done that.  We will see.

 

Marquette Enduro this year!

 

I hope to have a really good race at the Ironman GNCC. I have had pretty good races there (couple of 4ths and 5ths, but never in top 3). I am hoping to get there this year. I am going to work really hard between now and then, and find some races to do along the way.  

See you at the races.

Another offroad riding post.

Vacation sign.

Vacation sign.

Today is the last day of vacation.  That is always such a sad statement to write.  Last day.  Funny thing is, you never write something about the first day of vacation, at least I never do.  I suspect that I am always just a little bit too excited to get started with the 2 wheel adventures.  Funny, my life revolves around 2 wheelers everyday, I guess it is only fitting then that my vacation would also.  I do have to listen to Liz bug me all the time, “can’t we go on a non 2 wheeler vacation once?”  Do those even exist?  What would be the point?  Really hard to get hurt sitting on a beach is what I usually say.  Of course there is sunburn, and stepping on a broken shell, but you know those are clearly not the same as falling into a rock garden.  Duh.

What is it with raining on the last day of vacation?  How many times has that happened to me?  Oodles, or at least a number bigger than 6.

I wish I would have thought of this.

This week was Cable MTB week.  I was supposed to also include Spirit Mountain bike park riding, but both days that we could do that we were rained out.  (Sad face).

Regardless, I have ridden 150 miles or so of great trails this week.  Most of which were done right from the front door of our cabin in Cable.  Building the cabin has been a god send for our MTB riding.  Even though we live in a part of the state where there isn’t alot of riding, I have been riding way more MTB than road bikes in the last couple of years.

Who wouldn't want a Zebra car?

Who wouldn’t want a Zebra car?

I skipped the Duluth enduro this year, which was really a stupid move.  I stayed home an extra day so that I could do a local WIXC race.  I want to support Rick and his series, as I want to see the offroad options grow for Wisconsin.  But, I am really done with short horrible courses that are stupid dusty.  I’ll still support all the good races in the area that I can next year.

So, my plan next year is to focus on the events that I want to do, and skip the others no matter what they are.  My 2016 offroad riding and racing calendar will look something like this:

Moto races:
Adams county HS and Enduro
Sugar Camp WIXC
Dyracuse HS
Marquette Enduro
Any National Enduro that comes close to Wisconsin
Any Full Gas Enduro that comes close to Wisconsin
Ironman GNCC
Perry Mountain 24 hr race - if Noah can put together a team for us.
A trail riding weekend with Pete Laubmeier
XC races
Mt. Bora Epic
Chequamegan 100
MTB Enduro's:
Marquette MTB enduro
Copper Harbor MTB enduro
Duluth MTB enduro
5-7 southern Wi. Cyclocross races
At least: 
4 days of epic MTB riding with Lloyd in the Alpes
3 days at Whistler MTB park
3 days at Fruita

Shasba nanu nanu.

Out.

Joe

 

Found some rocks.

Found some rocks.

Found some IPA

Found some IPA

My bike

My bike

Liz and Kathy.  riding buddies.

Liz and Kathy. riding buddies.

Delta Diner.

Delta Diner.

The Mock riding crew.

The Mock riding crew.

Full Gas!

“Hey, you left something off your calendar.  What about Full Gas Sprint Enduro?”  It was from Jason Hooper.

You see, I had published my racing calendar for the year, on this blog site.  Some people commented on it, some just ignored it (that is probably the prudent thing to do with any entry on this site.)  I planned to do a bunch of interesting races this season, instead of following just one series.  Hooper called me out on it right away.  “They are interesting, and you have never done one…?”  He was right about that.  I had never done one, and after doing one, he is also write that they are really fun.

“They are all pretty far away”, I replied.  “Indiana is not that far”, Jason prodded.   “Ok! I’ll be there.”  And that was that.  I jumped on the website and signed up early.  That was another of Jason suggestions.  So I did.  (I am pretty easily pushed around when it comes to traveling to do a good race.  It is really funny, that going somewhere to do a race is such a big thing with me.)

I will let you in on a little secret.  I suck at Enduro.  I am more of a harescrambles and GNCC guy.  I know what you are thinking, isn’t it all just a trail in the woods and a dirt bike?  Well, it is but….  it is just so different.  Harescrambles is just all go.  Enduro has that go and then stop and then go again thing.  I think it is all just too complicated for me.  I am just kind of a go person.  But, maybe I just need to go do more of them.  As I found out, nope… I pretty much am what I am. Woods go, stop when I am done kinda guy.

Day 1.

The chaos of the start area.  Not the most fun part, but you can tell we are all anticipating.

The chaos of the start area. Not the most fun part, but you can tell we are all anticipating.

So, the Sprint Enduro thing is something they do in Europe.  It is basically a “special test”, which is just the Euro fancy way of saying it is a trail that you are timed on, followed by a rest then another “special test”.  It is go as fast as you friggin can for 9 minutes then stop and do it all again after 30 mins stoppage.  The “tests” are sometimes tight and sometimes fast, sometimes grass track sections and sometimes straight up motocross trail.  The first loop in the Indiana track was a motocross track mixed with 2 different grass track sections.  The second loop was a more enduro type loop with some tighter stuff and a GP type rolling track, with an endurocross section at the end.

Basically, you do the moto loop first, then you wait until everyone has finished that loop, then you do the enduro loop, wait until everyone has finished, then you do the moto loop.  and on and on.  You do each of the loops 3 times.  Add up all of your times, and that is where you are for the day.  Not too complicated, but hard to stay focused and go hard for just 9ish minutes during an hour.

In spite of going to the track early, I somehow ran out of time to look at the track before hand.  It meant that I was going into the first day without any idea of what the track was.  It made the first runs not really very good for me.   That combined with the first time on my motorcycle in 4 weeks, and I suuuuuccckkked – Day 1.  I think I ended up 3rd in my class, but that was only because I got lucky.

Ride along with overall winner Daniel Milner.  It is only about 7 minutes so you can handle that.  Unfortunately, I was not just 7 minutes for me to do a lap.

The first day was hot as hell.  It was Alabama, Perry Mountain 24hour race hot.  Like 100 degrees and high high humidity, made for it being a sauna.  It was hard to get away from the heat, or impossible actually.  We were all a sweaty mess by the end of the day.  Dirty, sweaty, dehydrated but smiling.  It is really hard to have a bad day while racing your dirt bike.

Day 2

Lots of fun to be had.

Lots of fun to be had.

We woke up in the morning to Ryan Gutpile suggesting that we should just go home.  That is not his real name, but that was the name he acquired through the weekend.  You see, my buddy Pete Laubmeier thinks that everyone needs a nickname.  Speedy, Twinkle toes, smoothy, Vanderbopper etc…  Ryan woke up looking at his radar on his dot com device and felt that his bike was going to get all dirty and he had a run in his stockings.  Eventually, we convinced him to plug up his man-gina and just ride, and sure enough the rain did not happen and he had a good time.

This day was not nearly as hot as the 1st day.  It was cloudy and threatening to rain, but it never did.  We ran the moto loop in the opposite direction, but the enduro loop in the same direction.  This all helped me.  I am so much better at riding when I know the loop.  It made it so my loops were fast and consistent.  When I look at the lap times, I had a decent battle with Robert Kirchner.  But, since this is a time trial against the clock, you just do not know that.  Our lap times were pretty much right on top of each other, then he had a mishap on his last test that allowed me to slip by him into 2nd for the day.

All in all, it was a great time.  6 of us went down to do the race.  Mat Herrington, Jay Mittelstaedt, Scott Rohlfing, Pete Laubmeier, Ryan Grotegut and Joe Barr.  Joe did not have the best race, as he pile drove himself early in the first day, then was just spectating for the rest of the time.  Speedy recovery to him.  But, we all had a grand time.  We will be back.

Joe – Out.

Finally, you get Cole Kirkpatrick’s brilliant 60 second video of the event.

Enduro

 

Rare moment at the Loose Moose , where I actually look like I am moving!


Why is it that Enduro is so different than harescrambles? 

That is not a trick question, by the way.  I am serious.  Look at the picture, they both involve a trail in the woods – dirt – trees – a boy and his motorcycle… But, one of them I can do and I am kinda fast at it.  The other one, omg am I a tourist.  I am serious about this.  Give me a gun going off and a mass start – please.  

The new motorbike is great, much like the old bike.  Fast and comfortable.  I do not think it has anything to do with my bike. Sure, my suspension is set up for GNCC and HS, but I am not the only person with that.  I just do not do well with this for some reason.  

The Loose Moose is a fantastic place. It is in Marquette, one of the great places in the Midwest.  Sand, lots of space, big moon rock faces, and miles and miles of it.  Great riding.  I had 4 ok sections and then turned into a complete tourist on the 5th section.  I felt like a pud loading up after 5 sections when all the people I ride with were going out to do the 6th section.  

Oh well.  On to the rest of the season.  

We did spend 3 great days in Marquette riding MTB and a day of trail riding before hand. Love that place.  

Out.

   
           

The season t’is upon us.

I am not talking about the stupid Christmas season either, because that would mean we have skipped right past the summer into winter again.  I am not anti winter, but I am definitely pro summer. After all, summer is where the not snow time of the year happens.   I am talking about racing season.  It is truly the most glorious time of the year. (If Santa was wise, he would move to the beach where he could ride MTB and motorcycles, and then deliver in the summer.)  When the flag goes up, the next couple of hours is truly the best time that can be had.  The mad dash to the first turn, the chase through the woods, the high speed sections, the flow through the grass GP fields etc…  Yep, it is pretty much the best.

We are now a few races into the new season.  A few races in a new class for me. I am learning a lot.  Things go faster for sure, but I am also learning that I cannot go slow on the last lap.  2 A class races in, and I have been super fast in the middle of the race, but not as fast as at the end.  That was how I needed to race in the old guy class, the race was pretty much set at the end of the race and even though I was not doing it on purpose – I was slowing down at the end.  I have lost a place or even 2 places on the last lap – being a tourist at the end.  The kids in the A class go hard all the way to the flag.

Adams County

IMG_0100

Mid race, putting the pace on.

 

This is the race that is on Bob Kau’s property.  Bob is a crotchety koot, that we all love.  Rough on the outside, but soft inside.  He owns a fabulous piece of property with a bunch of fun woods sandy woods, and a vast area of former cranberry bogs that are now just football field size areas filled with 6 inches of beach sand.

We started this year in one of the sand bogs and had to drag race all the way down the sand area, to the turn out of the bog and into the woods.  My little 250F is easy for me to ride, but I admit is not the fasted bike on the line.  Combine that with button only start and a long sandy stretch and that equals entering the woods very near the back of the 22 rider A class line.  I had my work cut out for me.

In the first 30 minutes of the race, the pace was super high and I thought – uh oh, did I make a big mistake this year?  In the middle hour of the race I was riding hard and catching people every lap.  I found myself all the way up to 4th place at one point.  But, in the last 30 mins I kinda crumbled apart and 2 people that I had passed earlier got back by me.  I ended up 6th.  Not bad for my first A class race, but I still had a ways to go forward.

It was dry.

It was dry.

 

WIXC race at Sugar Camp

Sugar Camp has always been one of the best races around.  I am having fun this year, and only planning to race the best courses in the area.  That means I will jump between series and even just sit out a weekend if the courses are at the bottom of those lists.  I will not spend a lot of time explaining why I do not like a course or why I feel a course is at the bottom.  But, the courses at the top of the list are all exceptional.

Longer laps, different kinds of terrain, tight with open and fast, good flow feel, not with a death mud hole included, no place that will become bottle necked or clogged with dead bikes, good dirt, and a good field of riders.  Sugar Camp is in the running for being the best.  It can be really sandy in the middle of the summer, but unless it is raining during the race it will have good dirt.

In the WIXC series, the A and AA class usually start on the same line.  But this time we enough riders that we could separate them.  That is good for me, as I do not need to be on the line with the AA riders.  (I barely belong on the A line.)

I got a much better start at this race and rode in the top 5 for most of the race.  But, as is now my MO I am afraid, I ended up falling back to 5th on the last lap.  5th is not bad, I just would really like to be under 5th if I could.

This was my last race on the old bike.  I will need to clean it all up, and make it ready to sell.  If you are interested, give me a call.

New 2015 KTM 250XCF

I am definitely a creature of habit.  I like this bike so much, that I may not ever ride anything different.  I would love to have the simple maintenance of a 2stroke, but I do not want to give up the sewing machine like power of the 250F.









A class it is!

Early in the race this past weekend. Not a great start, took a long time to get forward.

How fast is fast?  That is the question I have been asking for a long time, of myself mostly.  I mean, speed is relative right?  How fast does a jet airliner go?  How fast does a bullett?  When yo compare a bullet to a snail, it seems pretty fast.  When you compare a bullet to a rocket ship, it doesn’t seem that fast.  See, it’s all relative?

It’s all a bit like the world famous debate about what is better, a pizza or a burrito?  Which is in fact a silly debate. I mean if you really want to debate the merits of one culinary delight to another, one should ar least stay within the same food group and debate a taco vs. a burrito.  Of course a quesadilla is not worth talking about.  After all, if this is Cleveland this must be dehydrated breakfast cereal hour.  

But, what does this all have to do with A class?  Absolutely nothing.  Those first 2 paragraphs were for sure just filler.  Sort of a taste grea/less filling kind of situation.  The real meat of the post is this.  I am old.  Yep, there it is.  It’s official, it’s in print on the Internet.  I am old.  

So, I am old, and I am racing in the kids class.  A class.  I may never win a race here, but I am ok with that.  Hopefully I get faster.

Yesterday was the Adams harescrambles.  I am a fan.  Hard not to be really.  Best course, best layout, best property owner.  Thanks Bob.  I cannot wait for next year.

 

dry dusty, but crazy fun anyway

  
     

KTM 200 for sale!

For Sale. (Senior rider owned)

2014
Less than 40 hours. All upgrades have less than 10 hours on them.
All new bearings – wheels, headset, swingarm.
New Oring chain, new chain sliders and Acerbis chain guide.
New tires (less than 1 hour)
Fork and rear shock freshly rebuilt at Fox.
New top end.

Upgrades
Aluminum radiator braces.
Carbon pipe guard.
Moose closed hand guards.
Enduro Engineering spark arrestor.
Rekluse manual clutch and clutch cover.

Extras
FMF shorty silencer
Kenda tires with approx 3 hours riding time
Extra clutch fractions
Fresh to end kit in box

$5800

IM me if interested. Joe Vadeboncoeur​

4T or 2T – What is the right number?

Racing makes me feel good.

Racing makes me feel good.

I have been on a 4stroke for a while now.  It feels like home, friendly, cozy.  In reality, there are about 314 things that I really love about them, but here are a few:

–       I love the way it rides.

–       I love the way the power goes to the ground.

–       I love the way I can ride a 250F like I stole it, even when I am completely fried at the end of a GNCC I am not afraid to cane the thing.

–       I love the way it starts with the button with a tiny little Lithium battery – I do not even miss the kickstarter.

–       I love the way it goes through the air (even though I do not like going through the air very much these days).

–       I love  the way they go through whoops at speed – very straight and very easy to keep the front end from dropping into the valley of the whoop.

–       I love the fuel injection, as the “jetting” is always perfect for the weather or temperature or no matter how clogged up the air filter is.

–       I love the way you can overrev one when you come up behind someone to let them know you want to get by.

But, as good as the 4 stroke is in so many other ways, there are a few things that are not good about them.

–       The maintenance is complicated.  (I can do a top end in a 2 stroke in about 45 mins with a clean motorcycle, while eating a sandwich.)  4 stroke, not so much.

–       The maintenance is expensive – if you have one you know what I am saying.

–       They are kinda heavy feeling in a muddy race.

–       They are loud if you want them to produce power.

–       I can make a 2stroke imitation sound, but I cannot make a 4stroke imitation sound.  (BraaaaAAAaaap)

Vroom!

Vroom!

I would like to be a 2 stroke rider.  There are just a lot of really great things about a 2 stroke.

–       They are lighter, and even if they are just a couple of pounds lighter on the scale, they FEEL a ton lighter.  They just ride light.

–       They change directions easier in the woods.  If I do not like where I am riding on the trail at the moment, I feel I can just move myself to another spot on the trail.

–       I LOVE how easy they are to work on.

–       You can stand on the edge of the woods when someone is riding a 2stroke and you can barely hear it.  That helps land access issues.

–       Braaaap is great for a license plate, a shirt, a social media post, a life motto etc…

There are a few things that I do not like about 2 strokes.  What would the world be, if there weren’t a few things that I cannot rant against.

–       I really dislike mixing gas.  It feels like I am being a mad scientist (which is not all that bad, as I could grow a skullet and not feel awkward), mixing up the gas.

–       I really hate jetting.  If it was 1955, being a jetting expert would be part of man code.  It is not 1955.

–       The power hit is not linear.  Sure, you can tune the powervalve a different way, or add a flywheel weight, or modify the pipe, but it will never be the power delivery of a 4stroke.

–       The 2 stroke does not go through the whoops like a 4stroke.  It takes more skill to make it through quickly.

Braaaap!

Braaaap!

So what would the perfect bike be?  Of course I have an opinion about that also.  Beyond a burrito being the perfect food, and if you do not like IPA you are just being stupid.  I have opinions.  Things I need to share.  So here goes.  What would be the perfect bike?

– Same weight as a 2stroke.  Same feel of the weight as a 2 stroke.  Does that make it a 2 stroke?

– Linear powerband like a 4stroke. So it already comes with a flywheel weight or whatever it is that would do that, or tuning or pipe combination or modulated right wrist thingy.  Whatever would do that.

– No valves, so that it is easy to work on. (2 or 3stroke, whatever it takes).  Maybe this is the perfect time to invent the 3 stroke.

– Fuel injected, so that I would never need to think about jetting again.  After all, it is at least 1978 here in Wisconsin.  Lets move on eh?

– No kickstarter and just a button with a starter integrated into the original design like 4strokes do, so that they do not need anything more than a tiny battery.

– I need a button that makes a really loud noise when I come up behind someone so that I do not feel like a jerk yelling out at them.  But, I want the exhaust noise to be quiet like a 2stroke.

– It would make a Braaaap sound.

So there you have it KTM.  I am sure you read my blog, so can you get after it and have one of those next year – OK?

Are you ready to go RACING?

Spring seems to drag on and on and on.  Lots of bike prep time, gym training time and then finally we get to start riding outdoors.

But now it is finally time to load up the trailer and drive to a GNCC race.  The season is already started for the lucky people that live where they can race already in Feb/Mar.  But for us, it is not really time to start racing until April.  The first races will be difficult, it has been a long time since we tried to go fast.  But, as I always say – when you want to get fit for racing, you race.  Someday, when I am old I will want to get fit for trail riding and I will trail ride.

The little 200 will be my Enduro and tight condition bike.  Definitely not what I am taking to a GNCC race.

The little 200 will be my Enduro and tight condition bike. Definitely not what I am taking to a GNCC race.

So later this week, Mat and I will load up and head to Union SC, for the Big Buck GNCC.  It is fast and rough.  It will be a rude awakening for my body.  Oh well.

Time to get racing.

Joe

Now that ski season is over…

Me pretty dead after the Birkie ski race this year.

Me pretty dead after the Birkie ski race this year.

I am so ready for a 2 wheeler season to begin. It feels like it has been forever. I am really tired of looking at the world wide interwebs to get my 2wheeled fix. I do not want to watch anymore race videos from last year or youtube go pro’s of National Enduro’s that I could not go to, or great MTB trails or…  I would be happy to have just about any 2wheeler season, Bicycle, motorcycle. GNCC, MTB enduro, road cycling, local HS, local Enduro… I think you get the picture. I know my 2 wheeler friends feel exactly the same way.

This year I decided to go back to XC skiing. It has been a long long time since I was actively doing that. In fact, about 14 years had passed since I had done the Birkie ski race. That’s a long long time to be away from something, in the scheme of things. I pulled out one pair of my old skis, they had a 1998 finisher decal on the tip. Wow. (Those skis ended up being donated to bringing my daughters boyfriend into part of the ski world.  Of course I regretted that, as by the end of the season I could barely ski faster than him.  But that is another story…)

So I took the plunge and signed up for the Birkie this past fall. It had been so long since I had done the race, I would be starting in the last wave. There would be 10,000 skiers ahead of me. OMG! So I reached out to the Birkie people, “can I be in an earlier wave? I mean, I used to be in the 1st or 2nd wave!” They looked it up, and replied “Joe, that was more than 10 years ago”. Good point. In the end, they let me up to the 4th wave, and as it turns out, that is about where I belong. I am a lot slower than I was 15years ago.

I did it, and I had a grand time. Looking forward to next year when I can try to better my time. But, now that ski season is over, I am ready to break out the 2 wheelers.

First race of the year.  In our part of the world, yep - you do still have snow on the ground when that happens.

First race of the year. In our part of the world, yep – you do still have snow on the ground when that happens.

As you may know, I am pretty dedicated to my 250XCF.  I feel good on it, and I really feel the power lends itself to my riding well.  I am reasonably fast, for an old guy.  Not anything like an AA rider, but fast enough.  As I say, faster than some – slower than many.  But, I dig it.

But, in spite of digging the 250XCF, I have been wanting to try a 2 stroke again for some reason.  I do not know, the sound of them when they are running well or the perception of being really light and airy, or the sexy big bulb in the pipe or… I really do not know why.  I guess it also could be that I want the simple maintenance involved.  Don’t really know.

But, I did not want to take the full plunge.  You know, get rid of my 4stroke and buy a bunch of jets and, clutch kits and throttle tubes and …. blah, blah, blah.  You know, of course all the stuff is different.  I have a garage full of stuff that is all to support the 250XCF habit.

So I thought I would try it out by buying a used 200XCW, while keeping my 250XCF.  That way, plastic and wheels and tire sizes and seats and a lot of things are shared between those bikes.

Los

Lots of moments like this on your bench when you have 2 bikes to rebuild.

First thing to note, is that 2 bikes is a lot more maintenance than 1 bike.  I have done this to myself before, and have told myself that I would not do that to myself again.  Since I was doing the experiment this season, I decided not to buy a new 250XCF.  Instead, I would rebuild my bike from last year and race it again this year.  That meant, that last years bike needed everything.  Bearings, top end for the motor, my race wheels were shot, the seat foam was gone, all the plastic needed to be binned, drive parts all needed to be replaced, all fluids needed to be flushed etc…  It was a big project.  But, when it was all done it felt like a completely new bike.  You know that feeling, as I know you have done a bike up like that as well.

The problem is that when you have 2 bikes, you are not ready for the season yet.  You have another bike to go.  One thing I have learned again, is that when you buy a used bike – you are now downstream of someone else’s maintenance habits.  Even though what I was buying was a 1 year old 2014 200XCW, it was in pretty rough shape.  Lots of bad looking stuff inside the motor, oil that was beyond disgusting, piston and head with a ton of carbon, pretty dirty power valve etc…  Those are all pretty much what you expect when you open up a motor after a year of use.  But, I did not expect the state of the rest of the bike to be so beat up.  Missing hardware holding plastic on, bad bearings, headset parts missing, jerry rigged set ups holding the odometer on and other places, leading seals etc…  The 2nd bike needed everything the first bike needed and even more.  But, after a huge refresh – that bike also feels as good as new.

The grand experiment.  A smoker in the mix.

The grand experiment. A smoker in the mix.

So, the grand experiment year starts for me.  I am planning to do a bunch of different race formats this year – GNCC, local HS, WIXC, Enduro etc…  I plan to try the new little 2stroke in each of those formats to see what I think.  I still have the 250XCF to fall back on if things are not working in one of those formats for the 2stroke.  But, I suspect in the end it has way more to do with the owner of the right wrist than it does the steed.

Here goes the season.

Joe

My bench has been covered with parts like this all winter.

My bench has been covered with parts like this all winter.

The lists seem to go on and on...

The lists seem to go on and on…

On the gas!

On the gas!

 

The new 2 wheeler season is almost here… THANKFULLY!

Yep.  It is off season.

Yep. It is off season.

This has been a completely different off season for me.  Last season ended pretty consistently.  I was pretty solid all the way through the local season, but as usual I pretty much became a tourist at the Ironman GNCC (I have written plenty that before, so don’t even let me get started at my habitual failure at that race…Grrrrr!) I think that race is a little like child birth for a woman for me.  Somehow that looks like the worst thing in the world and then a chick will sign up to do it again.  I love my family and my kids, but wow that just looks to be a horrible experience.  Maybe we all would forget it and do it again, after all I cannot seem to do very well (podium = very well) at the Ironman GNCC, yet I go back every year.  I have always said that if men and women had to alternate having kids, no family could ever have more than 3 kids – it wouldn’t be possible.  No man would do that twice.

But, you are wondering now what any of this has to do with the coming 2 wheel season.  Not much, but it did make you start to ask questions.

This off season has been filled with skiing and fitness plans.  A little different, in that I have been so focused on getting in my first Birkebeiner in about 10 years.  52km is a long way to ski.  That race will be over at the end of February, then it will be time to really focus on the 2 wheeled season that is coming.  It is close.  I can feel it.

I've been doing lots of skiing this year.  We will see what that does for my race fitness.

I’ve been doing lots of skiing this year. We will see what that does for my race fitness.

Last year, I was really focused on winning the WIXC class.  I trained hard, I lined up at those races if there was one, and I passed up other 2 wheeled events to focus on that season.  Pete Emme and I had a great season long battle with really close finishes more often than not.  But, as I said the focus meant that I did not do all of the 2 wheeled events that I wanted to do.  I skipped some mountain bike races, some MTB Enduro races, some epic MTB rides, some road bike events, some cyclocross events, a couple of motorcycle enduro races, an additional GNCCC race etc…  The 2 wheeled season is short in our part of the world, and you either have to focus or NOT focus.

The WIXC series is a fantastic race series.  Rick is building a great little offroad community.  Unfortunately, Wisconsin is a low population state.  That is one of the things that make it a great place to live.  But, it is also one of the things that keeps the fields smaller than either I or Rick would hope for.  Still, I am proud of winning that series, and proud of the racing that Rick has put together.  But, now it is time to branch out and race some of the other things that I would like to race.  I will still do a fair number of WIXC races, but a bunch of other things have caught my fancy.

So, this year I am going to diversify.  I am only going to do the races that I really like the courses and that fit my calendar, and hopefully that will allow me to do a bunch of different type of races.  I have on my calendar:

  • 3 GNCC races
  • 4 WIXC races
  • 2  MXC races
  • 4 D16 harescrambles races
  • 3 D16 Moto Enduro races
  • 1 Full Gas Sprint Enduro
  • 3 MTB Enduro races
  • 2 MTB XC races
  • 6 Cyclocross races
  • 1 big MTB trip in the Alps

That event schedule is plenty deep, I mean I am planning to line up at start lines 25 or maybe more times.  But on top of that, I have 2 or 3 big epic mountain bike adventures on the calendar.

I have a garage full of items from all my sponsors.  Kenda tires, Bell helmets, Moose racing, Galfer brakes, Fox suspension, VC Graphix, Rekluse, Maxima… all waiting to be employed to make my moto’s ready for next season.  I have some new XTR parts, MTB tires, chains etc… all ready to go as well.

To make all of that happen, I am going to need to be extremely organized.  I have my 250XCF that I am completely rebuilding to get another year out of it.  I have a 200XCW that will be for the D16 events and the motorcycle Enduro’s.  I have a Fuel EX 29’er that I will be prepping for the more XC MTB days.  I have a 27.5 Slash that will be for the MTB Enduro events.  I have a carbon Cyclocross bike that is not new, but will need to be made fresh for the season…  As I said, lots of work.

The 250XCF is what I am working on now.  All the other vehicles need to be prepped and focused for their task, but the 250XCF needs to be completely refreshed from the past season.  Bearings, motor, plastic, handlebars, seat, wheels, suspension, steering damper… pretty much everything needs to be rebuilt.  I stopped short of painting the frame, as I think I am going to run out of time to get that done.  But, everything else on the bike will be fresh or rebuilt.

Apparently, this is what a season of offroad racing does to linkage bearings.  Ugh...

Apparently, this is what a season of offroad racing does to linkage bearings. Ugh…

The 200XCW needs to be focused for Enduro and tight trees work.  Bark busters, suspension tweaking, protective items for delicate parts, lubing of bearings, my preferred grips, a new top end etc… But that is nothing compared to the 250XCF.  1 weekend and I should have that ready to go.

The 29’er Fuel EX will get a new XTR 1×11 kit, and a Boost rear end.  This will get used for my every day riding, and the XC oriented riding/racing for the year.  The XTR kit is ready to be put on, so just need to find a weekend to do that.  But, this is way easier than the moto work, so should not take long.

The Slash really just needs to be freshened up with a set of new tires.  This bike will just be used for a the MTB enduro events and the Alps trip.  May not be able to get through all of that with one set of tires, so probably need to get a back up set for that bike.

The Boone CX bike just needs to be cleaned up, fresh brake pads, new chain etc…  I am going to run a set of CX tubular tires next year so they will need to get stretched and mounted before the season.  But, this bike will just be hanging out in the garage for the summer, so there is no hurry on this.

I love this time of the year, but not as much as the next period where riding and racing actually gets started.

Until next time.  Out.

Joe

RIP John

image

My friend John passed away last week.  Suddenly,  and with no warning.  Apparently he was working out at the gym and suffered an anuerism.

There was no warning to him or any of us.   We called him the Hulk,  as he was always really fit looking and really tough.   He was not the guy you thought was going to be stricken by something unexpected.   John was going to be the guy that lived to 90+.

I met John about 15 years ago. He would come out and ride with us when he first bought a motorcycle. He was a noobie and was just learning. He eventually figured it out and became quite accomplished on his motorcycle.

More importantly he was a great guy. Always smiling, always happy, always friendly. I loved going to races with him. I loved seeing him at races. I will miss that.

Godspeed John.

2wheelers kinda run my life!

 

I think I'll go skiing.

I think I’ll go skiing.

Today, I am probably going to go skiing.  I know that sentence does not line up very well with the title of this blog entry, but bear with me through this and maybe I can make it make sense.

Winter is a thing here in Wisco.  We have winter, and it is tough to get around that.  There is snow on the ground, and the average high temperature this past week was in the single digits. It is hard to be thinking that you are going to do some sort of 2 wheeler thing in those conditions.  I did ride the trainer yesterday, but that is hard to say that you are actually on a 2 wheeler while doing that.  (You are, but the wheels are not moving so that is more like doing a track stand for an hour.)

Just a stack of tires.  Time to get the season started from Kenda!

Just a stack of tires. Time to get the season started from Kenda!

The goods from Oakley to get started prepping for the season.

The goods from Oakley to get started prepping for the season.

Yesterday I spent the day sorting gear for next season, building up 5 pair of Oakley Airbrake goggles with fresh foam, fresh lenses etc…  I inventoried all my parts and made orders for parts to get me through the season.  I pulled my suspension to send it back to Fox Suspension to have them rebuilt, and I planned the full rebuild for the 250F (frame painted, bearings, motor, new plastic, new wheels, new seat, new bars etc…)  This year I will be running the 250F for WIXC races and GNCC races.  I picked up a 2014 200XCW, and that bike will be for Enduro races and the D16 series which tends to be a bit tighter and more enduro like.  That bike will get the same treatment as the 250F and I will effectively have 2 fresh bikes for this season.

I am a list maker.  I have boards like this in my shop, in my office, cabin shop...  all over the place.

I am a list maker. I have boards like this in my shop, in my office, cabin shop… all over the place.

This is where Cross Country skiing comes in.  It gets me outside, it is an amazing workout, and it makes all the white stuff out the window useable.  But still, I do it because it ticks off the weekends towards the 2 wheeler season.

I always publish a list of 50 goals.  (Actually, that is not really true.  I create a list of 50 goals, but I only publish the non work goals.)  Most of those goals are focused around 2 wheelers.  I published the complete personal list on my other site, here I am just going to revisit the 2 wheeler list.  Here is the parts of the list that were about 2 wheelers, with gaps where the other things were.  As you can see, most involve 2 wheelers.  (Not very dynamic, I know)
3. Ride the Strade Bianche citizen race.
5. Ride Moab or Whistler or Fruita or something iconic
6. Do a MTB trip with Lloyd.
7. Learn to take tight switchback turns on my Slash. This was on my goals last year, and I failed. So…it remains.
8. Wave at all cyclists that I see.
11. Do a road bike trip. I do like riding my road bike, and more importantly it is what Liz really really likes.
12. Master small and medium double jumps on my mountain bike.
13. Learn to wheelie on both my favorite mountain bikes and my motorcycle. I have said before that this is a genetic skill. I am going to take the year and learn to wheelie, or at least just about kill myself trying. By the end of the year, I will either wheelie or it will be a lost cause.
15. Change all my mountain bikes to 1X drive systems. Time to move into 2012.
16. Ride Copper Harbor.
17. Ride at least 3 MTB Enduro races.
18. Ride a race with Noah.
19. Ride a race with Russel.
21. Ride the State Championship CX race in Wisconsin.
25. Preseason off-road training camp in late March before South Carolina GNCC
26. Ride the Loose Moose Enduro.
27. Finish on the podium at Ironman GNCC in my class. In 2011, I was 4th at Ironman GNCC, then 5th at the first Loretta’s and won the 2nd Loretta’s race. In 2012 I notched a 6th at Ironman and then 5th at Loretta’s. In 2013 I came 5th at Ironman. In 2014 I was again 4th at Ironman. Close, but not quite there.
28. Learn to use the rear brake while using the throttle on my 250F. I am still struggling with this skill. I think it is imperative for me to get this skill if I have any hope of winning a GNCC race.
29. Master flat corners on my 250F.

39. Build a little 2-stroke for tight woods races.

40. Go to a World Cup DH race.

41. Go to a World Cup XC race.
42. Go to a WEC MTB Enduro.
43. Go to Flanders and Roubaix pro races.

 

Daylight

Today there will be 9’16” of daylight where I live.  (Lake Mills, Wi.)  That isn’t very much.  Means there are actually 13’44” of darkness.  That is why we are so covered in snow, we are way north and we are tilted away from the sun.  Makes it hard to contemplate a 2 wheeler ride.

But, each day we are gaining about 1.5 mins of daylight, and tilting back towards the sun just a little bit.  By the end of the month of January, we will be gaining 2 minutes plus per day of daylight.  By the end of February, we will have 11’11” of daylight (kinda some magic right there, eh?).  Magically, on March 17, we will hit 12’01” of daylight.  Think about it – the halfway point.  Just as much daylight as darkness for the day.

That has to equal some sort of 2wheeler celebration On March 17.  I think I will go ski now and contemplate that.

That right there is some good stuff.

That right there is some good stuff.

 

 

 

Time to prep for the 2015 season

Normally, it is best to start this effort with a bunch of really good IPA, a few episodes of Brew Dogs, and maybe a corn dog.  Corn dogs really are good and go just so well with a Scottish Accent.  If you do not believe me, then just check it here with kid president, he has it right, “corn dog for you, corn dog for you, corn dog for you…”  It is a corn dog revolution after all.  Plus, all is right with the world when you can have a corn dog on a stick.  It will probably help you outrun the grizzly bear also.

In all seriousness, there is a motorcycle season that is starting to creep up on us.  It will be here sooner than you know  it.  I know this because Dec 21 is almost upon us.  It truly is a great day.  It may seem rather random to you, but it is significant for 2 really great reasons.  The first is kinda personal for me.  It is the date my first daughter was born.  She was kind cool as a kid, but also sort of a nuisance with all that drooling and leaking.  Fortunately, she doesn’t really do that any more.

The lasting reason that is such a significant date, is that it is the official shortest day of the year.  Days get longer each day from there.  I do not want to get caught up on how short that day is, but rather make note of how much the days grow in length from there.  Small amounts at first, but in a month you really do notice the difference.  There is still a bunch of winter to go at that point, a lot of snow and a long time before the ground loosens up for a dirt bike.  But, it is the little things.

If you are not started on a training program yet, you need to get with it.  My theory is that by the 21st of Dec, you should be a few weeks into a plan.  Everybody is a little bit different, but I know what works for me.

Strength training early on for about 6 weeks, then blending that with a little less strength and adding in some bigger endurance.  After about 8 weeks of that, then you pull the strength down by a day or so per week and add more endurance as well as substitute some speed and intensity.  For the last 4 weeks or so before the season of racing starts in earnest, it is all about getting some riding time and working on either endurance or intensity depending on where I feel I am at that point.  If you have any interest, you can take a look at my log from last year where you will get a sense of just how week I am.

2013-2014 Strength Phase

This year I am adding a new wrinkle with doing some Cross Country ski racing.  I have not done that for a long time.  I had a history of it, but it is really aerobic and may not really help me for the strength that I usually feel I need for motorcycle racing.  But, I need to do some other things with myself this year. (XC ski racing, MTB Enduro racing, Motorcycle Enduro racing etc…)

Below is my race schedule for the first part of the year, at least as it stands now.  I am working a lot of different things in, as you can see.  It is time to start getting a little more versatile in my old age.

My 2015 schedule as it stands now.

My 2015 schedule as it stands now.

I will try to get an old body ready for the abuse that schedule entails over the next months.  Stay tuned, and I will let you know how it is going.

Thanks a ton to Pat’s Gym for building out a training plan for me.  Thanks to Mary Grinaker for working out with me to optimize me training.  If you are in the Madison area, they come highly recommended.

Out,

Joe

 

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

Another Ironman has passed – Sigh. God I love that race.

Molding clay.  
Putty.  
Peanut butter.  
Nutella.  
Playdoh.  
Really thick cake batter.
What exactly is that dirt made out of?

Crawfordsville dirt.  Like no other dirt.

Crawfordsville dirt. Like no other dirt.

None of those things truly do the dirt at Ironman justice. They are all sort of like the dirt in some way, but also different. The dirt curls, it pushes up in ridges, it folds, it ruts and climbs and descends and does things that dirt normally just does not do. It is almost like it is alive, sort of moving and being all by itself. It is kinda like the water in that movie called the Abyss. It lives..

I do really know how to describe it in any other way, but the dirt at Ironman. OMG! It is like no other dirt. I have not found dirt like that anywhere else in the world.

Every year I go to the Ironman, and every year the day before while walking around the course I kinda feel like “I am over this place..” The crowds, the dust, the river crossings, the hills, the way you know your motorcycle will just be trashed. It really becomes sort of a ughex this is not going to go well.

Then after the race I find myself grinning ear to ear and just personally oophed over just everything about it. The hills, the dirt the water, the chaos and crowds everywhere. I cannot wait till next year already.

When the tennseconds note came out of Rodney, I was still in my “over it” phase. I was wondering what I was doing there. Why wasn’t I up in Hayward with Liz riding my MTB, throwing the ball with Marty and wrestling with Stella. I could be doing a cyclocross race… hmmm. That is not the way to start a race. When the flag went up, I shot forward, but then quickly got shuffled back to about 10th when we entered the woods. I rode stiff and my legs were cramping and I dropped my pacifier in the spokes and I think I must have lost my blanky or something.

So, I had a little talk with myself. My manly self talked to my currently operating as a bit of a Larry inside a motorcycle racers helmet and I think there was a bit of woodshed discussion. It probably involved some real choice and direct conversation. I kinda imagine it going something like this.

“Are you happy over there with all the covers?”, manly self.

“I am a little bit cold”, namby self.

“Would you like me to get you some Kleenex? Looks like your eyes are watering or you have the sniffles.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“Man up, tuck your skirt in and get after it, would you? Or, do I have to forbid you from racing a dirt bike? If you expect that Liz is going to let you keep racing that thing, or hang out with her on a mountain bike trail, you had better figure it out, and fast!”

I am not sure if I was looking for worms at that moment or what, but it is the only action shot I have.  "Hey, the race is over here buddy!"

I am not sure if I was looking for worms at that moment or what, but it is the only action shot I have. “Hey, the race is over here buddy!”

At that point manly me took over and I stopped being such a wuss. I took a deep breath and headed forward. At the end of the 1st lap, I was in 9th. A lap later, I was in 7th, then 5th, then 4th, then 3rd. Unfortunately, I ran into a tree that really wanted to debate with me about things. It reached out and grabbed me and threw me to the ground. I think it even put its foot on my neck. I was tangled up there for some time, and it took me quite some time to get going again. The right side shroud was flapping in the breeze and my bike felt a little bit crooked. That is the kind of thing that bothers you for a minute, but then you move past it.

I stopped for gas before the last lap, and we were going to try to zipty the shroud back down. After playing around with that, we just grabbed it and ripped it off the bike, leaving the bare tank exposed. I went to blast off then, but then realized that I did not have my goggles back on. Ugh, a very poorly executed pit stop on my part for sure. Through all of this, Ryan was saying “you are only 13 seconds out of 3rd”. Which meant that I knew who the guy was. I had passed him earlier and then he went by me while I was riding like a pud after the tree debate. I thought, “I know who that guy is.”

In the end, he held me off as I never was able to get myself truly back up to the pace I was going before. I am ok with 4th out of 24 in my class at the Ironman. It is a 3hr race, and I am probably the oldest guy in the class by a long shot.

Results.  4th out of 24 isn't so bad.

Results. 4th out of 24 isn’t so bad.

As Chris Bach said to me afterward. “What the hell happened to you? I saw you once and your shroud was flapping out in the breeze and then I saw you later and you had no shroud on – just naked bike.” Yep, I ended up finishing the ride with no shroud on the right side of the bike. That really doesn’t work very well. My knee brace catches on the gas tank and the radiator. Not nice.

My racing is a work in progress for sure. Some days I am physically not there, and then all of a sudden one day it is a mental issue. I guess when I truly have it all figured out, I should stop. Until then, I will keep at it.

It is only 364 days until the Ironman GNCC race 2015. I cannot wait.

The usual post GNCC cleanup.  Missing plastic, bent parts, it all needs to come apart.  I guess there is something good about winter.

The usual post GNCC cleanup. Missing plastic, bent parts, it all needs to come apart. I guess there is something good about winter.

Till next year now.

Till next year now.

Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman!

Pete's photo of the trail.  It is going to be dusty and rough.

Next years GNCC license already purchased.  (Don’t tell Liz.)

So nice you have to say it more than once. In fact you have to say it more than just a couple of times. I do not feel I need to bite the head off any mammals though. Although there are other times…

Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman!

Make you feel like you are in a Beatlejuice movie. (Aren’t they about to make number 7, or is this dehydrated breakfast cereal hour?)

1902014_4615592964174_7845378033618592714_n

Pete’s photo of the trail. It is going to get rough and dusty.

So we are on the way to the place, the place where it all began. All of this madness of GNCC racing really started for me at the Ironman! It is the granddaddy of epic motorcycle races for me. I remember it leading to a conversation between Scott and I about us giving it a try. I had visions of huge crowds and huge mud and huge hills. All of that was based on my experience here in Crawfordsville.

In the end, a knee surgery and a few other things conspired to make that full GNCC season not as successful as I had hoped, but I have gone back every year since trying to hit that elusive successful day at the Ironman. I have had reasonable days there to horrible days. I have never had the breakout success day there that I have been chasing. I have every reason to feel that this will be the year, after a really successful kcal year. But, the mud, the crowds of riders and the hills await to decide my fate. I am kinda philosophical about it now, yet still prepared and hopeful.

I usually say that Ironman weekend is the best and worst of the year. It is the best because it is the absolute best race of the year. It is better than any local race and it is the best of the GNCC races. The dirt is incredible, the loop is more than 14 miles long, it is a huge event, it has more than 500 motorcycles on the course at once etc… But, it also signifies the end of the summer and winter is coming.

So very true.

Well, there is beer after all.

Looks like it is going to be a dusty Ironman.  Wet from the river and through the dust equals a layer of filth at the end.  I cannot wait for tomorrow.