Category Archives: Joe’s blog

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.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 7.54.11 PM

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

IMG_3177

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.

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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.

Aside

A hammer is a heavy sharp, blunt tool.  It has a big flat end, and a claw end (or some combination there of).  You can swing it, you can throw it, you can do a lot of damage or a … Continue reading

Vavavavroom! It is almost a season!

Nothing better than this.

Nothing better than this.

It seems like just yesterday.  Just yesterday, Liz and I were coming out of a long winters nap and loading up the truck/trailer to head to North Carolina.  Trying to find some mountain biking, some road bike riding and to hit the Steele Creek GNCC.  Wow, time flies.  I suppose it is because I am getting old or something along those lines.  But, wow.

(My friend Noah at this point is saying, of course you are old Joe.  Have you looked in the mirror? Quiet!)

I am not going to do a full season retrospective just yet.  There is one more local race and about 6-8 Cyclocross races yet to do before we can call it a season.  But, things have turned out pretty well this year.

– I have won lots of races.

– Come 2nd in a few races.

– Had my best Moto Enduro finish ever.

– Done my first MTB Enduro.

– Kicked off my Cyclocross season…

All in all it has been pretty good.  The last month has been really good.

Goofy little EnduroX section at Cecil race!

Goofy little EnduroX section at Cecil race!

Just after the big Trekworld show in early August, I got myself cranked up to hit the 2nd half of the season.  The 2nd half is always a question for me, as I usually have to miss a couple of races in July, work a ton during that time, travel around the world a bunch, and basically do a lot of things that do not add up to holding onto fitness very well.  This year was no different, but I did manage to stay sharp by riding my bicycle a bunch and getting some big Alpine MTB time in and ride my motorcycle a few times at Dyracuse or at Aztalan.  Not a lot, but enough.

In July, I had one gap and with no riding or training or anything bumped over to Cecil and got that WIXC race in.  Didn’t get the greatest start, but worked my way up to Pete by the end of the first lap and sat on him for a couple of laps.  He made a bobble and fell over in the sand and I took off from there.  I wouldn’t say I got a huge gap on him, but got enough that I did not have to stay at the ragged edge.  He had some additional trouble and that one ended up being not too bad.  That was good, because if he would have had a good race, it would have been tough to stay with him the whole time.

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.

Next race for me was all the way at the end of August, at Sugar Camp.  Sugar Camp is the best race of the year.  I really wanted to do well, but did not trust my fitness.  I took in my beet juice at the start and a Honey Stinger Gel and found myself completely amped up and ready to go when the gate went down.  Pete always gets a good start and I seldom do, and of course this was one more time that it turned out to be true.  It took me to about halfway into the lap to catch him.  He followed me for some of the 2nd lap, but then I put my head down with a 2nd wind and took off.  I felt really good, and I think Pete did not.  He posted afterward that I was on it and he was not.  But, I have to say there really isn’t that much difference between us this year.

I went to Cecil and won a complete mudder there (completely trashed my bike) and put the WIXC season away at that point.  To be fair, Pete was not there so it was not really a dual for us there.

Sugar Camp race 2014

Sugar Camp race 2014

The next weekend I did the Adams County D16 Enduro and came away with a 2nd place in my class.  That is the best I have ever done in an Enduro.  I rode well, but I never really do that well with the stop and start sprint thing that is an enduro.  Oh well, maybe I do have a future there.  We all get old at some point, so I figure eventually I better figure out Enduro’s.

Yep, that is me doing an Enduro.  My friend Noah says there is a National Enduro row with our names on it for next year.  I do not know about that.

Yep, that is me doing an Enduro. My friend Noah says there is a National Enduro row with our names on it for next year. I do not know about that.

This past weekend was the D16 Harescrambles at Dyracuse.  I won that race, after following Pete for the 1st lap.  I was disappointed that we got caught so quickly by the sandbagger Joe Barr behind (he has raced XC2 pro class at GNCC races and lined up on the B row) on that first lap.  I pushed my way past Pete and chased after Joe on that 2nd lap.  I put about 1 minute per lap on my group for the rest of the race and stayed relatively close to Joe for a while, but fell over and lost the plot somewhere in the middle there.  I picked it back up then, but after that Joe was gone.  (Nice work – sand man)

There is one more race in the local series this sunday.  After that, I will be going to Dyracuse each weekend for the month of October to bang out laps in the sand whoops – prepping for the Ironman GNCC at the end of the month.  There are still a bunch of Cyclocross races to be done yet this year, so the year of 2 wheel competition is not yet over.  But, it is winding down.  I am going to race the A class this weekend and then contemplate lining up on the A class line for next year.  I will see just how far off the pace I am this weekend.  I find it a pretty interesting proposition to be on the A class line at 54 years old next year.  We will see.

Lotsa thanks to all my sponsors for all the help this year.

Stay tuned.

Sometimes my bike looks pretty good.  After the Cecil mudder, it did not look at all good.

Sometimes my bike looks pretty good. After the Cecil mudder, it did not look at all good.

It is just the start of Cyclocross season.  It will get a lot muddier and colder from here.

It is just the start of Cyclocross season. It will get a lot muddier and colder from here.

Joe

 

A new kind of Enduro for me.

We all know what a motorcycle enduro is.  You know, timed sections and transfer sections, you have to arrive before your start time etc…  That same format has been brought over to MTB.  There are transfer sections, which are mostly uphill, and then timed sections which are mostly downhill.  The transfer sections are a chore and the ripping fun DH sections are what the payout is.  Just like the moto format, they are really relaxed.  Not chill-axing easy, because you do have to get up the hill before your start time, but not like an XC puke your guts out up the hill intense either.

To start with, you are probably riding a bike that has more travel and is more laid back than your average XC rig.  I like that, because I am not really an XC head.  I like the more relaxed angle and fun focus of a full suspension bike that is made for going faster.  Gives me big grins per mile.

Enduro time.

Enduro time.

My friend Hansi has been trying to get me to come up to Duluth to ride for some time.  He has been telling me that it is really great.  I knew he wasn’t lying, it was just that there are so many options for riding.  Duluth seemed like it was probably good riding, but I really didn’t see how it could be worth 6 hours of drive time and past so many other riding areas.  How wrong I was.

So I signed up for the enduro at Spirit Mountain.  Spirit Mountain is a ski area just outside of Duluth.  Like a lot of ski areas, they have made their mountain into a summer attraction for MTB riders.  If you want to check it out, you can find a bunch of info about the riding at the area here and here.

I hopped in my truck early from Hayward and headed up for a 8am arrival and a 9am start.  Now, understand I was driving away from about 100 miles of single track riding right out the back door of the cabin.  This had better be good.

Duluth is a former sleepy little town on the edge of the biggest freshwater lake in the world (Lake Superior).  Duluth was a bustling city in the early 19th century that had a huge mining and forestry, shipping and ship building industry.  In the early 19th century it boasted more millionaires per capita than any city in America.  But, that was a long time ago.  It has always felt just a bit rundown to me now.  Boy was that POV outdated.

It is still run down feeling on the west side, and even worse across the border in Wisconsin.  But, the city has recently been voted the best outdoor city in America and there is a ton of money pouring in to the city revitalizing it.  It is boasting 100 miles of single track being built inside the city limits.  It has the lake, ice climbing, kayaking, snow biking in the winter, running the biggest ski areas in the upper midwest, XC ski trails in town.  It is a great place.

But, the enduro is what I was here to experience.  Let me just tell you now, Tracy Mosely is completely right.  Enduro is the most fun you can possibly have on a MTB.  period.

some of the trails had man made feature like this.

some of the trails had man made feature like this.

Hard to describe how steep rocky and multi-lined this was.  It was huge fun.

Hard to describe how steep rocky and multi-lined this was. It was huge fun.

My steed after the race.  I cannot grin enough about my new Slash.

My steed after the race. I cannot grin enough about my new Slash.

lines lines everywhere.

lines lines everywhere.

The little enduro at the Duluth MTB festival was just 3 transfer sections and 3 timed sections.  The first was a flowing trail called Candyland.  Great fun, with small berms and jumps.  The second was called Knowelton Creek and had a lot of rake and ride virgin trail.  The 3rd was something called Smorgasboard, and completely rocked.  It was pouring down rain from the middle of my 2nd run, but the event was the most fun I have ever had on a MTB.

Wow.

Joe – Out.

I just could not stop talking about how much fun I had afterward.  "And then I went rawrrrr."  Hansi Johnson photo.

I just could not stop talking about how much fun I had afterward. “And then I went rawrrrr.” Hansi Johnson photo.

 

 

Wow, there are leaves on those trees!

This past weekend, was round 9 of 13 race local season.  It was my 8th race of the local season, and it was a pretty good one.  All in, I am a record of 8 wins and 1 second place.  But, the numbers do not tell the whole story.  I will get back to that later, but first…

As you know I have been struggling with my eyesight this year.  I chronicled the beginning of my season and my eyesight struggles earlier here in this early season blog entry.  I solved it thus, or at least made it much better with the old goggle inserts.  What I did not tell in that early entry has been my struggles to get my goggle inserts updated to my new prescription, bear with me through this as it is a story all right.

New goggle inserts are here!

New goggle inserts are here!

So, I was doing really well with my old prescription goggle inserts, but felt that there was still something left on the table.  With my regular glasses, the old prescription was not cutting it anymore – at least in the face of the new prescription.  Wow, I could just see so much better.  So, I ordered up some additional inserts for my new Oakley favorite schweet goggles – they are different don’t you know, at least from my old inserts and the old will not work in the Oakley.  So hey  – I forked over my prescription to Drew @rxgoggles and he pounded out some new lenses for me.  Woot.

When they arrived, I plopped them into my Oakley’s, went out to the MX track to lay down some sweet laps at a pace that I just knew would be better than I have ever done before – I mean I can see you know.  But something went completely wrong.  I could not see a thing.  I was getting a case of vertigo and was having a horrible time seeing.  Things were screaming up on me from the sides and I could not see a thing.  It was way way worse than without any inserts.  I went into a complete funk.  That is it, my offroad racing passion is completely shot – I am a trail rider in the future at best.

This is me chasing Pete early in the race.

Chasing Pete early in the race.

There was a funny little EnduroX section that was trying to slow us all down.  By the end of the race it was just a jump over section.

There was a funny little EnduroX section that was trying to slow us all down. By the end of the race it was just a jump over section.

After I moped around for a while all grumpy, I decided to go and talk to the eye dr.  She measured all my glasses and declared that my base curve on the new inserts were all wrong.  I called up Drew @rxgoggles and relayed the story and he said send them back and we will rework.  (both pair – it is a long story)

So, many hundreds of dollars later I have the coolest most valuable 6.5 base curve corrective goggle inserts ever.  Ever.  You cannot imagine how much I have paid for these.

This past weekend at Cecil, I decided that I was using them and forcing myself to  adapt even if they were not right.  I wore them on my MTB while I did a loop on the course before the race and, wow – they seemed really good.

So, I set them up on the goggles and went to the line.  The gun went off and I dropped the clutch.  Nothing.  I was not running.  I hit the button again and it still did not start.  Finally on the 3rd try it started.  I went into the woods in about 15th place.  On a fast course it was hard to make up time and tough to find lines.  It took me till the 3rd lap to catch Pete (who of course got the holeshot – again.  What is it with his starts vs. mine?  I have not gotten a start ahead of him all year.)

Eventually I figured out how to go fast, but not for the whole race.

Eventually I figured out how to go fast, but not for the whole race.

In general these days, I have a bad case of office hands.

In general these days, I have a bad case of office hands.

Pete stayed in front of me for about 3 more intense laps, then made a mistake and I got around him while he was on the ground.  I think I taunted him went I went by, not nice but we have a fun rivalry going between us.  At that point I put my head down and did a couple of hard laps and got a gap on him.  Unfortunately, at that point I kinda ran out of gas (3 weeks in europe eating crap food, not sleeping well and drinking too much beer, had left me without enough energy).  I cruised from there and managed to finish about 2 minutes ahead of Pete in second.  Pete had banged his knee, as he said trying too hard to go fast.  Felt bad for him.

OMG!  I could see so much during the race!  I could see leaves on the trees even.  I found myself riding along saying to myself “Look at that, a hole.  Oh look, there is a line over there I could take.”  It is really amazing how much more you enjoy the race when you can see the trail.  Cecil was actually way more fun that I thought it was going to be.  It was fast, but felt a lot like a short GNCC course.

So with 4 races left I have a handy 35 point lead over 2nd.  That will get gobbled up a bit as I have to miss one of those races yet this year.  But, I am feeling good about the way I have been riding I hope I will be fine and will finally achieve my goal of winning the overall for a season.

Joe

The video below was taken by Monty Griffin.  He races my class, is a class racer with a big heart that always takes a nice little video of the course.

 

Gravity is a really cool thing.

At the risk of getting all Tom Jones on you, I know that you know that what goes up must come down. That is a gravity thing, and it is pretty cool. It means when you go up a trail you get to come down. It is what MTB Enduro is based on. Ride up some road or trail and then time yourself coming down a section via gravity. I am sure there is some pedaling involved, but it is basically a gravity kinda thing.

Downhill is a gravity dominated activity. Unlike MTB Enduro, in DH there normally isn’t any hiding behind your ability to pedal up something. It is not like there isn’t any fitness necessary – oh there is. It is a bit like people’s perception of Motocross. The perception is that the bikes are so technical, that all you do is clamp yourself on to the things and they do the work for you. If you have not ridden a Motocross bike or a DH bike, you have no idea what you are talking about. They might not require the waif thin thing that XC racers or road racers are, they might not require the pure aerobic ability that those disciplines do. But, they require the ability to operate at a high heart rate and a ton more core strength and upper body involvement.

But, the biggest difference is that those sports (DH and Motocross) while dealing with the upper body strength and the core strength issues, while your heart rate is pegged at a near anaerobic level, they also require that you have handling skills that are never required on an XC bike or a road bike.

That handling skill and resulting amazingness is what makes watching those sports so much fun. I mean it is exciting to watch the pure athletic aerobic ability of an XC racer or a road racer. But, it is the death defying handling ability of DH racers or Offroad motorcycle racers or Motocross racers that is so fun to watch.

Take a look at these video’s and you will identify with what I am talking about.  In the end, it is all 2 wheelers so it is all good.

The above video shows the skills required to be a DH racer.  This is a practice run, so there is a lot of effort to be stylish.  In a real race run, there is not really any coasting and certainly another 20% of pace effort.

That video is from the Ironman GNCC from 2013.  A crazy hard 3 hour race up and down the mountain, over and over and over.

There is a bunch of really good slow motion in this video, showing how much body language it takes to make a mountain bike work in that terrain.

Pro Motocrosser’s workout on youtube.

 

 

 

 

 

By the numbers

Two Feet, Ten toes, contemplation.

Two Feet, Ten toes, contemplation.

We are 6 races in to the WIXC series this year.  Not quite halfway on the season as there are 13 races this year.  (How time flies)  The races have been epic so far.  Rain, mud, dust etc…  all the usual suspects.  Basically, all the stuff that I love so much about the sport, and at the same time the things that make it so difficult.

On the season so far, if you glance at the results, I have 5 first place finishes and 1  second place.  Woohoo, you might say.  On the surface, it looks like a dominating performance.  But, in reality most of those are really hard fought.  Basically, Pete is pretty much riding the same pace that I am.  I have been able to best him at times and pull away, but never very far.

Hillpoint – Pete beat me fair and square.  In fact, he put a whole bunch of time into me.  I like to think that my eyesight was really bad without any goggle inserts and correction, and it was, but regardless it was pissing down rain and he put it to me.

Mountain – He holeshot the race and led for the 1st half.  It took a huge effort for me to get past him and then to go hard enough to put time into him.

Sugar Camp – Pete holeshot again and led for almost half the race.  I finally got my act together in the middle and tracked him down for the pass and the win.

Kewaunee – My least favorite course, and the same course that Pete seems to like and beat me on last year.  He led me for half the laps, then I got tired of eating dust and decided to back it down and let him go.  In reality, he should have won. Unfortunately for him, he flatted and I went on for the win.

Lakewood – It was a good straight up race and I beat him by just 20seconds though.  This was a new course for me, and I felt like once I got in the groove I was pretty fast, but obviously not as fast as I thought.

Navarino – this past weekends race is where the tale really comes to a head.  Pete and I battled from the start – I holeshot and led him into the woods, and then we proceeded to trade the lead and bang into each other in turns for 2 solid hours.  We literally were never more than a handful of seconds apart and entered the timing tent together almost ever single lap.  During the race, I figured out where he was fast, and I suspect he figured out where I was fast.  I passed him in one of the spots that I felt I was fast and then worked the rest of the lap to hold him behind me.  We finished just 2 seconds apart at the line.  I had just one drink from my Camelbak the entire race, Pete said he had zero.  I was/am still completely destroyed from the effort.

Last year at Navarino, I was at 91.1% of the pace of Zach Herfindahl – winner of the race.  I was at an average of 29.79mph.  This year, Zach was 2nd to Brandon Houts (who was not there last year), I was an average of 31.33mph or 90.99 of Zach’s pace.  In effect, I was the same ratio as last year to Zach.  But last year Pete was just at an average of 27.58mph last year.

Do I think I could have been faster without the breathing problem I was suffering? Maybe!  But that is not the point.  Pete is way way faster this year than last, and the rest of the season is going to be a battle each race.  Our pace is pretty much the same and we are always right on top of each other.

I cannot wait for the next race together.

The picture does not tell the story.

The picture does not tell the story.

Out.

Video taken by Monty Griffin of the 1st lap at Navarino

 

 

Tinnnn Roof….Rusted!

This is not a story about Lions or Totem Poles, after all – I like a good fist fight as well as the next Fella. This is racin! It is normally the heat that makes you hot, not the lack of cold. Leave me alone, I’m pedaling as fast as I can… What exactly does any of this have to do with the air speed velocity of a unladen swallow?  I do not know, but I know if the last few races I have felt a bit large.

Can I have exactly nothing for $1000?

Meanwhile our hero does not believe that any of this should stop the continued pursuit of the two wheeled nirvana known as riding. A simple word with many meanings all of which actually say the same thing in 37.2 languages. Surrender Dorothy!

First, there was the 6 hour MTB race.  Upon canceling our plan to go to Copper Harbor for 2 days of bigger mountain riding and a MTB Enduro event, we decided (at the last minute I might add) to participate and clip on a number at the local 6 hour MTB race.  I could have done 12, but it was hard to get motivated for a 7am start when knowledge of the event was happening at only 9pm previous.  Oh well, 6 it is, a noon start sounds far more achievable.

The steeds all loaded.  303 Offroad goes MTB XC racing.  Woot!

The steeds all loaded. 303 Offroad goes MTB XC racing. Woot!  A Fuel EX 29 trail bike will do just nicely, thank you.

The Southern Kettle Moraine have some really nice singletrack (I am told not to refer to it any longer as just single).  It is tight and twisty, and quite a blast – but when you stuff a bunch of riders down the trail, it gets really hard to pass.

The race started out with a little jog to spread us out, and not send us all into the singletrack all at once.  As you will see from the video, it really didn’t work.  We bunched all up and you really could not pass but about 4 places the entire lap.  It was frustrating, but it is a 6 hour long race so it really did not matter.  Oh well, it was really fun to see all the different riders and abilities.

We ended up having a really good time and a pretty good race.  Liz was a hero and really enjoyed her loops.  She is always faster and tougher than she lets on.  I think we will go back and do another this fall.

It did not hurt that it was a great spring Wisconsin day.

Kewaunee WIXC race

Any day racing your motorcycle is better than a day not.  I have said that before, and I will always feel that way.  In fact, I spent some time trying to explain that here.  But, some days are definitely better than others.  Last weekend was not my day.  I’ll say right up front, that I ended up winning – but I really did not deserve to win.  My friend Pete was way better than me on the day, but he ended up not able to finish and therefore, I inherited the win.  Sometimes that is the way it goes in racing, I am always happy to win – but I am way happier if I feel like I rode at the level it takes to win.  Let me explain.

Dust.  I used to really dislike mud.  But after a lot of years of racing I have come around to realizing that dust is what I really dislike.  It is scary stuff.  I really do not like going along in 6th gear with 50ft of visibility.  I just have to much of a self preservation gene for that to be something I enjoy.

The start was the typical affaire.  I got a good start, but Pete and his 350 can usually pull me on the line.  Especially on a long start without any twists and turns.  Kewaunee was a crazy long top gear straightaway to the first turn.  Pete came around me in the first little kink and I was forced to eat his dust for next few laps.   For about 45 minutes I toyed with trying to pass him, I was clearly faster in a couple of sections and I kept trying to line myself up to be able to get by him in those sections.  But, I found that I had to try so hard in the really dusty sections to be close enough that I was just scaring myself.  After a while, I decided I was taking too many chances and I backed it down to 9/10 pace.  Pete kept the gas on and a couple of laps later I was told that he had about 20 secs on me.

Normally someone telling me that is enough to make me chase, but today with all the dust, I just said nope not going to do it.  Somewhere along in there, Pete flatted and I must have gone right by him on the track.  I did not see it, so just kept on cruising at about 90% pace.  It wasn’t until I was back at the trailer and Pete came and told me that he had had to pull off.  I am really bummed for him, as he deserved to win – but I guess that is why it is called racing and they run the race all the way to the finish.  I cannot wait until this weekends race.  It is an all singletrack affaire and I am sure I will like that much better.

I am the egg man.

Watch the first minute or 2 of this video and you will see how I had a great off the line start, but Pete pulled past me going down the long straight.  You can watch the rest of the lap, but I think you will find it pretty boring.  I love WIXC races, but Kewaunee is not my favorite course.

No l-o-i-t-e-r-i-n-g allowed.
Rusted.

Joe

My Racing and a Thermos!!!

An early start, and a lot of driving.  But in the end, it is worth it.  Oh, and of course there is Pearl Jam.

An early start, and a lot of driving. But in the end, it is worth it. Oh, and of course there is Pearl Jam.

Have you ever contemplated how a thermos works? I mean seriously, it keeps things both hot and cold.   I do not know about you, but I have been both hot and cold. They are not the same. One is painful immediately, and one is painful over time. One works very well for some things (hot chocolate) and not well for others (hot orange juice). One works very well for many things in the other way – Ice cream comes to mind. But, really only Pizza can go both ways and it works out. (This brings up a serious challenge to my Burrito is a better food than Pizza stance. One worth rehashing and reconsidering… Some serious research will be needed.)

That is me chasing Pete in the middle of the race.  As Noah says "I shouldn't follow so closely - gets my number plate dirty."

That is me chasing Pete in the middle of the race. As Noah says “I shouldn’t follow so closely – gets my number plate dirty.”

This gets me back to the Thermos noted in the title (sometimes you may need to do one of those walls that you put pictures up and connect strings from one topic to the other just to follow along, but hey you are the one that chose to read this). Just how does the Thermos know? Are all Thermos’s connected like the dinosaurs were back in that Jurassic Park movie or something? Pour in hot stuff, and it is still hot later. Pour in cold stuff and it is still cold later. That pretty much qualifies as awesome if you are following along at home.

As for how this might relate to my race stories that I post here, you will just have to bear with me, I hope to bring it around at the end.

So, I am 4 races into my season. (3 WIXC races and 1 D16 race). My results don’t really tell the story though. If you look at the results it will show 2 second placings and 2 first placings. Not bad if you just stop there. But, if you dig deeper and reread the previous blog entry you will recognize the thermos that is my racing. It seems to have a mind of it’s own. Hot and cold and I did not seem to have much control over it. It is as if someone had decided what liquid to pour into me before the race has started and it is just my job to maintain that. Oh and maintain I had done for the first 3 races, I started out hot or cold and I just stayed there. But, on the 4th race I decided to do something different (very non thermos like).

 

So Far...

So Far…

This past weekend, I felt like I got past that issue. I got a crap start. Got pushed a few places back in the 1st turn and then even washed my front end out and came to a complete stop with my foot on the ground in the first few hundred meters of the race. Later in the 2nd lap, I smashed my shifter into a stump and it got jammed folded back. That meant I finished that lap stuck in 3rd gear and had to ask someone to help me at the timing tent to pull my shifter out so that I could ride. Meanwhile, Pete had checked out of the front of the bunch and I was about 30 seconds behind him. In the past, I would have resigned myself at that point to 2nd place, reinforcing the point that if I did not get a decent start I was cooked. (or in other words, someone had loaded cold liquid in and I was not capable of changing that.) But this time, I decided that I was not a thermos. I was going to go from cold to hot in the same race. (maybe I should have drawn the comparison to myth of cold fusion instead of a thermos.)

I put my head down and caught Pete after another lap and went to work to try to figure out how to get around him and then to put some space in between us. I am really pleased with my efforts, although that summary is certainly oversimplified. Pete got a great start, but was riding without anyone to chase. It will be good to get a similar start to him at one of these races and then see how we can race together.

Regardless, I think I have kicked the thermos challenge and I can make heat when I need to. I have a special place in my head for the Thermos (much like Steve Martin in The Jerk), but I am not bound by the same physics any more.

IMG_8812

Bring on the races, I got the new thermos.

Out,

Joe

thermos1

 

Some times it is a small thing!

Eyesight. We all take it for granted.

Morning comes… If you are like me, your alarm goes off and you open your eyes. The first thing I usually see is a dog looking at me, wondering if I am going to get him up and take him outside. All of that while the little one sleeps away dreaming of chasing rabbits down holes or something like that. Hunter that she is…  Anyway, we all kinda take for granted whatever it is we see when we first wake up.  It is just the sort of thing that is there, you know it just is.  (Although in my case, I do not really know why that dog is always staring at me when I wake up… kinda creepy.)

I am old. That will surprise you, I know. But in my case I like to think of it as really well “traveled”. Regardless, my eyesight is not as good as it has been in the past.  I know that surprises you,  but basically I can see everything closely around me just fine. I just cannot see very well at a distance anymore – at all. Seriously, do not ask me to read a sign on the road or anything like that when I do not have my glasses on.  You will be surprised at the results if you try.

Of course impaired eyesight is not anything new, and I am not the only person that has suffered from it. But, mine has come on slowly overtime, and has snuck up on me. So here is my story.

Eyesight certainly deteriorates over time for most people. Mine is no different. But that deterioration happens slowly, you don’t really notice it too much for a long time.  I suppose you squint and force yourself to decipher what your brain is only getting partially from your eyes.  It works, for a while. The last time I had to go and get a drivers license, probably 10 years ago, I did not need glasses to see “line 3”. I had glasses, but that was mostly because I was having some trouble seeing road signs at night – night vision I called it. My prescription was really light. I was always able to read “line 3” without the glasses. Then I showed up this past year to get my drivers license renewed, and could not read line 3. “You must be kidding me, no one can read line 3 – that is Chinese characters on line 3.”  She was not kidding, and was not amused. I failed.  (A friend said, you should always/never be sassy with the person working at the DMV.)

So, I got my prescription updated and went back to take the test (passed) but WOW! I could see. I did not realize that there was so much detail off in the distance. It was like I had all of a sudden gained eyesight. I was so excited I ordered new glasses – new glasses for driving, new sunglasses for driving, new glasses for every day, new sunglasses for bike riding. I was completely taken with my new found eyesight. I loved being able to see so much that I am never without them now.  I almost always wear my corrective glasses.

The problem is that, I think you start to rely on having fantastic sight. So much so that when you are without them, you REALLY cannot see. On the motorcycle, I did not have any vision assistance. And, at speed on the motorcycle is when you really want to have sight. Not having good eyesight made it so that everything came upon me really really fast. I could not anticipate, could not pick lines and could not flow through the woods like normal and … It was bad.

Of course, it meant that I tried even harder. I pressed harder on the bike, then would find myself overshooting turns and bouncing off trees. I started fiddling with my bike set up and that started making things worse. As not only could I not see anything, but my bike was not the bike that I was comfortable with and confident in. That made things even worse. I was spiraling down and down. Getting slower and getting worse. Struggling I was.

Then while in the funk of trying to figure out what was going on, I went for a mountain bike ride and sweated out my corrective glasses, so I took them off and finished the ride without glasses. All of a sudden there I was, mid MTB ride and could not ride anymore. Ding Ding Ding! That is when it dawned on me. It is my eyesight, stupid!

So I had had an old goggle insert made to the old prescription years before. I had not used them much, because back in the day when I really did not need the assistance I did not really notice any real difference while using them.  They were just another look through surface that collected dirt and dust and was prone to fogging up.  So they are virtually new and unused in my goggle box.  I cleaned them up, anti-fogged the lenses and I gave them a try this past Sunday.

!HOLY CRAP!  Unbelievable.  All of a sudden I could see.  What I found, looking back is that without the inserts I could not see anything out in the distance so I probably was looking right down in front of the fender.  You cannot ride fast when you cannot look out in front.

With the inserts I could see the holes, I could see the ruts, I could see the turns and lines in and out way in advance.  Fortunately I had documented my original settings that worked so well last year.  I took the motorcycle back to the original set up and BANG – speed.

1st in +40 class, 8th overall. I’ll now be ringing up Drew @RXGoggles to debate him on who is tougher, MX’ers or off-roaders (he is wrong btw), and order up some new anti fog coated inserts with my new prescription.

Feels good to have speed again.  Pete has gained a ton of speed, but I knew deep down inside, there was something basic that I was missing.

Feels good to have speed again. Pete has gained a ton of speed, but I knew deep down inside, there was something basic that I was missing.

I am back.  Whew.  It was close.

Joe

IMG_0069

Good to put the #303 back up on top again.

 

Another try!

20140502-062213.jpg

Really hoping that the WIXC race this weekend is not like this. Ready for the real season to get underway.

Maybe I cannot go fast – but at least I will look good!

As you know, I am not having the best start to my season.  I am not really upset by that, as any day racing is better than not racing.  But, after a couple of bad races and 2 big mudders – I am really searching around.  Time to get after this.

How I am feeling about my riding lately.  Not sure what it is, but I will get it figured out.

How I am feeling about my riding lately. Not sure what it is, but I will get it figured out.

Last weekend was another muddy muddy race.  It was pouring down rain for most of the race and it was an absolute mud pit.  Ugh…  I hate mud, and I think when you are not riding well it is even worse for you.  Not complaining mind you, everyone out there had to ride the same conditions.  I think that maybe I just suck at it extra hard.

So I am going to try to get myself somewhere to ride in the next days.  I just need to set up a small 1:30 loop and go round and round.  Get comfortable, change settings get comfortable again, reverse the direction, change settings, get comfortable – rinse and repeat.  I will get it figured out.

In the mean time, I have all new graphics coming for my bike.  They are the sweetest thing that AJ at Victory Circle did up for me.  They will showcase my sponsors, point people to my website and try to put some thoughts around my love of everything 2 wheels.  As I said, even if I cannot go fast I am going to look good trying to.

My new graphics.  Look for me at the races.

My new graphics. Look for me at the races.

See you at the races.

Joe

 

There is really only one way to get faster.

I have been hoping for some magic.  You know, one day you wake up and I Dream of Genie has made you into a great rider.  All of a sudden you can ride yourself right out of ruts and you can clear a triple and tractor right up a muddy hill – hey, it could happen!

Damn it feels good to be riding and practicing!

Damn it feels good to be riding and practicing!

I have a membership now to the local little private MX track at Aztalan.  There is a nice outdoor style track with reasonable jumps and some hills.  There is a small bit of woods and a small bike track.  If I link all that together, I can get about a 6-7 minute lap.  It is not the best, but it is literally 10 minutes from my house.

I have been saying that if I could just ride every week, then I could get better.  So, I finally took the plunge and joined.  I do not know what took me so long to do it.  Sure, I am not really a motocrosser, but who cares.  I can get over a reasonable double and I love turns.  This track has that in abundance.  And since it is really mostly a motocrossers place, they do not go into the woods.  So, I have that all to myself.

Today I rode for 1 hour, then 20 minutes, then another 20 minutes, then 30 minutes.  Small breaks in between and then sprint hard for the riding time.   By the end of the day, I could get over the doubles and felt much more comfortable. I plan to ride there every week from now through the summer.

I have been working with AJ on my graphics to make them reflect my new site more and represent my sponsors as well.  We have some great things coming.  The trailer graphics and the new bike graphics will be more simple and clean (I am into that lately).  Here is how the trailer will look, working on the bike graphics and will post those soon as well.

Here are the new graphics for the trailer.  It is a work in progress, and has a bit more to go.

Here are the new graphics for the trailer. It is a work in progress, and has a bit more to go.  You can see the old graphics below for reference.  

Out to the races.

Joe

We are finally racing! – Finally.

After the longest winter known in the history of the universe, we are finally racing.  Seriously, the winter was at least 710 and 1/2 days long.  It is still not exactly warm out, but at least there is no snow on the ground.  Bonus though, no mozzies.  (So we have that going for us.)

100% Nouget

100% Nougat

I have tried to get after some racing by getting in the truck and driving somewhere, but it just was not working.  I went down to NC to maybe do the GNCC race, but decided against it because of the mud.  A long time ago, after many a horrible GNCC mud race, I had said that if I got to the parking lot of a GNCC and it was a gong show – I was going to turn around and go home.  So, I did. I know, what a wuss.  Yep.  I am.  Tired of trashing my gear, so you know.

It was a gong show, so I did not.

It was a gong show, so I did not.

WIXC race – Hillpoint. Ugh.  I have been fighting off a bad head/chest cold.  I kinda felt like I had kicked  it, but when race time came I could not breathe.  Physically I felt ok, trained and prepared, but breathing is pretty necessary.  I was ok for the first lap, but when I tumbled and had to get myself going again I just could not calm my heart rate down and make myself go.  Took me a long long time to be able to focus and breathe and ride hard. On top of that, I was kinda not able to focus on the trail.  I would not say my vision was blurred, but I would say my balance was awkward.  So, Pete got away from me right away in the race and I never really was able to put much of a charge together to try to track him down.  He deserved to win.  He rode well and has battled to come back this fast from some pretty serious health problems.  I am glad he did well.

10015011_615726905186643_553652272664160654_o

I think this was probably in the first lap or 2, before it rained in earnest and when I was still riding decently. (That will end – ha.)

After the race, there was a lot of cleanup.  Although the video doesn’t really do the muck justice.  Trust me, it was pretty bad. Chain is gone.  Tires are gone. Grips are gone.  Graphics are gone.  Brake pads are gone.  Clutch is gone.  Ugh…

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/91879541″>Cleanup after Hillpoint</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user2916719″>joe vadeboncoeur</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p> At least we are racing! Joe Out