Tag Archives: D16

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.

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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.









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?

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!

 

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?)

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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.

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.

 

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.

 

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

What does it all mean?

Nothing like an early morning drive to ride your motorbike.!

Nothing like an early morning drive to ride your motorbike.!

You get up early.  Pack up the trailer or van or pickup.  Drive between 2 and 24 hours.  Pay your money to get in.  Register for the race.  Walk part of the course.  Get nervous talking about how tight that one section is, or how tough that uphill is going to be during the race with traffic, or how bad the mud is going to be in that one section, or how dusty it is going to be…  There will be nervous trips to the porta john.  Then it will be time to go to the line.  Guys from the morning race will be there telling you how bad the dust was.

Then the gun goes off, and it all melts away.  The stress of before now becomes the adrenaline of getting through the mud hole and up the big hill.  There is the guy in front of you to chase.  You know he is there, you can see his dust and catch a glimpse of him entering the trees as you enter the open section.  Sometimes during the race you are the hunter, other times the hunted.  Some races the end cannot come soon enough, others you cannot believe it’s over when you reach the end.

When the end does come, it seems that the duration of the race did not matter.  Exhaustion is always the result.  Sometimes there is pain.  Sometimes there is blood.  There is always sweat and always dirt.  That is good.

Sometimes when the end of the race comes you are not sure about the result.  Other times there is victory or satisfaction.  Sometimes there is disappointment.  Always there is awe and pride.

So you load up afterward.  Dreading the cleanup and the possible damage.  You pile it all in and shove the tailgate closed, much like a suitcase at the end of a long trip.  How did it all get so much larger and so much messier?

On the drive home, there is bench racing with your friends.  The race plays out in little bits in your head and in the air between the 2 of you.  There is shared difficulties and individual struggles.  You start to plan and think of the next race, all the while dreading getting home with the pile of dirty gear and shattered motorcycle in the back.  There will be hours of cleanup and gear washing and repair and prep for the next time on the bike.

When you do get home, your body is cramped and feels broken.  Sometimes you can barely move from the 3 crashes during the race.  If it is 2-10 hours to get home the difference to your cramped body can be a lot.  You drink and drink and never have to pee.  Your whole body can begin to set up like concrete.  Finally you do get out of the truck in the driveway and move toward the house, it sometimes hurts to walk that far.  Sometimes there is hardware, and other times just a bit of a twinge.

Imagine how tired Chris Bach probably looks.  I hope alot worse than I do there, but probably not.

Sometimes it is all you can do to get your gear off after the race.

In the end, it is always worth it.

What does it all mean?…. Who Cares!  It is the most fun thing you can ever do with a Sunday.  (Well, except that other thing.)  Any day racing a motorcycle is better than any day not.

Spring is here.  Racing starts soon.  I cannot wait.

Joe

How rough can it be?

The aftermath.  As usual, after a GNCC.  Bike is pretty roached.  But, I have seen them alot worse than this before.

The aftermath. As usual, after a GNCC. Bike is pretty roached. But, I have seen them alot worse than this before.

It is rough.  How rough you ask?  Check this photo, that is Scott’s rear sprocket which is supposed to be attached to the rear hub.  It is not.  That is how rough it is.  Check here for Scott’s complete story.

Arriving.  Look into the distance, and you can see the hoopla building.

Arriving. Look into the distance, and you can see the hoopla building.

Well, it is a little bit like running a jack hammer for 3 hours, but stopping and throwing yourself on the ground onto your kidneys 8-10 times during that 3 hours.  Oh, do not forget to smash parts of your body while doing the jack hammering also.  And for grins peg your heart rate at about 130 for the 3 hours.  Lots of people say to me “aren’t you just sitting there and turning the throttle?”

So, how did my race come down?  Well… not great.  In fact, I rode like shit. This year, my schedule conspired against me, and I was crazy busy for the month before the race.  2 weeks in Europe, a couple of USA trips, bad weather on the weekends that I was home, trying Cyclcoross racing had me focused on other things… blah, blah, blah.  Not much of an excuse, I admit.  But, somehow it all conspired against my fitness.  Lack of preparation for Ironman does not really work.  You cannot hide from Ironman GNCC.

Check the crowd at the morning race.  It is big.

Check the crowd at the morning race. It is big.

Before the race, I told my friends from Wisconsin, who were doing their first 3 hour GNCC race.   “Have a safe calm 1st lap. Ride within yourself. Choose your lines carefully on the big hills and mud holes. Then race once you understand the flow. You cannot win the race in the first lap, but you can kill your race…” Then I promptly went out and rode like an idiot for the first lap.

That is deep cold water that we have to go through about 5 times during the race.

That is deep cold water that we have to go through about 5 times during the race.

I got a mediocre start, but then did not ride aggressively enough in the first part of the lap and lost a couple of places. I realized quickly that I was being a pud and started to push really hard.  That led me to 5 crashes on 1st lap. Including tumbling back down steep hill before Moto track, flying over a log and landing right on another bike, getting stuck trying to get through 1 of the 3 river crossings… I was trying way too hard and was completely out of sync with bike due to no time on it the prior month.  Meanwhile, of course the front of the race is going away from me.

I settled down in middle of the race, then made my way to 4th on track and was pretty comfortable there. But, in the last lap I made more errors.  I love my bike, and one of the things that I love about it is that it doesn’t consume alot of fuel.  But, the fuel light came on early in last lap before Ironman hill (which is less than halfway around the lap). I babied it for that lap and tried not to rev the bike too high, that resulted in loosing 4th and battling with the 5th place guy.

The kids always have to race in the cold early in the morning.  Check the long shadows and jackets on the kids.

The kids always have to race in the cold early in the morning. Check the long shadows and jackets on the kids.

We were pitted in the XC2 pits, which were quite a ways before the XC1 pits.  In my head, I thought we had to do a bunch of the lap after the XC2 pits and then go through the XC1 pits before the finish.  Stopped at my pits to get splash of fuel, fell back to 6th.  I made that decision because I thought I could get them both back with 1/2 lap, but stupidly only had 2 turns to finish.

So summary is.
– out of shape
– out of sync with my bike after no riding for a month
– no pit crew to help advise me during race
– boneheaded decisions early in the race and at the end of the race.

When I won Loretta, I raced all the way up to it, had a pit crew to help me, and didn’t make boneheaded mistakes.

One of the many steep hills that I struggled to get up during the race.  What is up with that?

One of the many steep hills that I struggled to get up during the race. What is up with that?

Congratulations to Pete Emme, James Voeks, Karl Lueschow.  They all had great races.  Pete finished 4th overall, Karl in 8th, James in 10th.  Proud of all of those guys, love racing with them all year long.

I’m a dumbass. I hate ending the season that way. I wish there was more racing. I have the speed to do well in that race, but I got way ahead of myself. That will not happen again. Next year I will show up prepared and with help in pits.

After the race, even things like your hands just hurt.

After the race, even things like your hands just hurt.

Once again the podium eludes me at the Ironman.  I LOVE to race my motorcycle, and I just cannot wait until next year.  I am making the Ironman a major goal for me for next year.  Once our local season is over, I will go on the road and race every weekend before Ironman.

Probably the last race in these colors.  Stay tuned for a future look.

Probably the last race in these colors. Stay tuned for a future look.

A clue to the future look in this.

A clue to the future look in this.

Summer Break – why?

I had to take a forced break the past few weeks.  Lotsa work and lotsa travel.  I was in July for the Tour de France, and that is always a black hole of time.  The month just sort of slips away, while you are in the grips of the time capsule of the TDF.

But, before the month got really going, I did do a couple of races at the end of June/begining of July that were pretty good.

Hixton – D16 race

CMJ has been holding races forever.  It has a storied past, not always great.  Over the years, there have been so many races there that it has trails just crisscrossing all over.  There have been years where the course was not marked well and the lines were really hard to find.  But this time it was superbly marked and it was the best Hixton race we have ever had.

As it has been all summer, the week leading up to the race was filled with moisture, but it left the dirt just perfect.  Again, the best we have ever had there.  The course was soft, so it ended up rutted and full of holes by the end.  Perfect, just the way I like it.

On my line there were about 15 bikes, a really good field.  I took the holeshot, but gave up the lead to Paul somewhere during the 1st lap.  In the 2nd lap, I passed him back and did not see him again.  I ended up having just a spectacular race.  I have had a few of those this year.

1017260_10151745447806563_37502224_n

Tearing through a section at Hixton. Sometimes I look like all right.

This is a video from someone in the last row.  He gets a horrible start, tears through the group, then crashes and cannot get his bike started, then tears through the group again.  Kinda humorous.  Gives you an idea of the course though.

Stone Lake – D16 race

This has never been my favorite course, and also because it is normally a shared race with D23 Minnesota.  This one was no different.  Bone dry, dusty, lotsa huge rocks (It is called Stone Lake after all), combined with D23…  But, the field was huge.  20+ riders on my line.

The race is a really long lap.  It includes a fun outdoor style MX track, some rocky stuff in the woods and a bunch of field sections.  The lap was really long, probably 20 minutes.

I got a decent start, maybe 5th at the 1st turn.  But, I moved to 2nd by the time we entered the woods.  I followed the leader for the 1st lap, at a super comfortable pace.  On the 2nd lap, I squeezed by on the inside of a turn in a field and put my head down to push for a bit.  After a half a lap, I had put quite a gap and was able to ride my own race from there.

My suspension completely was absolute magic for the 1st part of the race, and then went away completely by the end of the race.  Ouch.  It was hard to ride by the end and I was getting ping ponged all over the course towards the end.  I found myself on my head a bunch on the last lap.

In the end, I had a great race and notched another win.  I probably cannot win the overall in either the WIXC or the D16 series, as there are just too many races I will miss.  But, it is fun to race for wins this year and not worry about the overall.  So far I have notched 6 or 7 wins – more than I have in any other year.

Here is a video someone posted from a row or so ahead of me.  Shows the course really well.

IMG_5960

I was going fast at Stone Lake, but sometimes I look like such a dweeb.

I spent the day today in the garage.  Got my bike ready to go for next weekend, cleaned, polished, got all the bikes working well, sorted gear, washed air filters etc…  I know you have to do these days, but geez I want to race now.  Thank god there is a WIXC race next weekend.

Summer break is dumb.

Joe

A tale of 2 races…

It was the best of races, it was the worst of races, I thought I had lotsa wisdom about what races to do and what not to do – yet I did it anyway, although I knew I believed in epoxy for all the seasons of light instead of darkness, I was thinking that that I do not want to live through another winter of despair as that would not be heaven it would be the other direction…

This is the tale of 2 races, one with a head and one with a tail.

There is something about racing in Illinois. I never have a medium race there. It is either checkers or wreckers – sort of.

I have not done many district races this year, they started late due to the late winter and they have not worked too well into my schedule. The WIXC race that weekend was way way up in the U.P. and I just could not get up there. So,,, there was a D16 race just in northern Il. I should have known better.

Wedron is an interesting place. It is entirely flat as far as the eye can see, except where the race is. A ravine area with a bunch of trails running through it. Tight twisty trails with one line. There was a little MX track in the valley and they had built a little enduro X section.

The enduro X section.

The enduro X section.

I lined up on the +40A class row. There were about 15 bikes, and I thought it would be good. I was wrong. The course was super tight and I got a horrible start. I got pushed off my line in the first turn and punted back to about 10th place in the turn. I had my work cut out for me. It took me a while to get going, and then when I did there was no place to pass. I am not sure where I ended up, but not much about 5th I would suggest. I do not plan to go back there again.

Mud.

Mud.

IMG_7090

My name is mud, not to be confused with Pete or Jack or Chris or Dennis. I make em shine, well most of the time.

On top of the tight trail it was muddy. I hate mud. I do not ride it well, and I struggle for some reason in the mud. If it is dry, I am always aggressive these days. Mud = me riding like a wuss.

Then last weekend I went to a new WIXC race that I had not ever done. Navarino. A town up by Green Bay. I had not done the race before, but I guess the WIXC gang had been there once before. Short course, but spectacular dirt. When I rode the course on my mountain bike before the race, I was getting pretty psyched by the fantastic looking dirt. A few mud patches, but overall the dirt was just epic.

Epic dirt!

Epic dirt!

This time I was not going to ride like a wuss. The flag went up, and I buttoned it to running and snagged it into 1st and rocketed away. Straight to the front up a super long long uphill arcing straight to the woods . Bam – 1st to the woods. I decided I was going to go hard. I knew the course, afterall I had ridden it on my bike. I went full gas for the first 15 mins, then sat up to see what damage I had done. I did not know it then, but I was already almost a minute ahead of Rob who was struggling in 2nd. (Afterward, I was pretty psyched by that I beat him as he was saying he was going to beat me, but not psyched that he crashed out of the race. I hope he is ok.)

The only problem with the race is that it is a short course. Short is ok, but when you stuff 100+ bikes down the trail it makes for non stop lapped traffic. That part was pretty hard.

Again, sometimes I look fast.

Again, sometimes I look fast.

I ended up 1st in my class and 8th overall.

Lotsa great hills on a small midwest ski hill.

Lotsa great hills on a small midwest ski hill.

Super course.  Epic dirt.  Lotsa fun.  Thank you WIXC.

Super course. Epic dirt. Lotsa fun. Thank you WIXC.

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

Thank you Thomas Sauder for the photo’s.

Out till next week. So long and thanks for all the fish, we apologize for the inconvenience.

Joe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc6aufHz-i0&sns=em

What was I thinking?

Pre-race beauties.

I’ve spent a lot of time dwelling on the GNCC Ironman race I did last Sunday.

It was muddy.  Joe and I rode bicycles around the easily accessible places before the race and could see that everything that we near the rivers and creeks was soggy and rutted. The trail that weaved through the woods had heavy clay-walled troughs.  After our recon I decided that a cautious approach to every trail problem was my best option. Even if I wasted time by stopping to assess options during the race that would be better than digging out or picking myself up after rushing in. The track map is posted here.

The trail is over by the trees but I rode through here during the race. What was I thinking?

I got an average start and entered the woods in 4th place.  I consciously held back and was deliberate with my line selection and tried hard to block out the riders around me in those early minutes. But like an amateur I started up one hill way too tentatively and lost momentum halfway up.  I snapped back to race mode and helplessly watched riders pass me one at a time.  Then the same thing happened on the next big hill.  I was loosing time and confidence by the mile and it was still only the opening lap.

I came around to the scoring tent in 4th still. I didn’t expect that but I tried to keep things in check and returned to thinking and riding conservatively.  I remember feeling fatigued really early on.  The mud was so thick and persuasive.  When I got tired it was hard to keep my balance and I’d simply tip over because my reactions were too slow.  Getting back going again winded me a few times and I’d lose even more time while I pinged my way down the trail getting my breath back.  But I didn’t do anything as dramatic as this on Ironman hill.

It’s always amazing to me how much goes on during a 3-hour race, most of which I’d forgotten about.  There was a guy I passed in my class with no goggles and I thought, “keep it steady and put time on him – he can’t see,” yet he and I passed each other back and forth several times.  And I must have been hit by something during the race because my backside hurts.  My shin has a big scrape on it yet I don’t know what hit it.  My side panel was barely hanging on but I don’t remember it flapping while I raced.

At the end of lap 4 I was shown the the 2 laps to go board.  I remember trying to think positive about that.  The race had felt really long to me so it was difficult to feel good when I told myself, “only 2 to go, you can do it!” Luckily (and embarrassingly) my 5th lap was so slow that I only did one more lap before finishing the race.  I ended up 3rd in the Senior A class and 67th overall.  Those numbers aren’t too bad but when I looked at my lap times I wasn’t too impressed with myself.  I was over 12 minutes down on the winner in my class and losing 12 minutes per lap to the XC1 and XC2 class leaders.  I can’t expect to ride anywhere near as fast as the pros but losing that much time per lap is pathetic.

Ok.  So what to do, if anything.  Am I just too old and worn out to demand more of myself?  Am I sick or burned out and that keeps me from doing better? Did everyone else suddenly find another gear and I’m already topped out? Or, did I simply miss the mark fitness-wise and talk myself out of a decent result by letting early race mistakes bog me down?  I think it’s a little of all this and more.  Time to take some time off.

Another thing that stuck with me again this year was the parking lot chaos.  The wail of V8 engines, plumes of diesel exhaust, and stench of burned-up catalytic converters were abundant because the much and mire filled every parking lot.  With 12,000 spectators on hand there were lots cars and trucks that needed help getting out.

One of the crazy things about our racing is how Joe and I often talk about what we’ll do at next year’s Ironman.  That was on the drive home. We’re demented, I know.

Wasted.

Round and Round we go – Rhinelander 2 – The HS thing.

The Double Weekend.  Yip.  Gotta love those.

Overnight it had rained and the dirt was just primo.  The place is mostly sand, so having some moisture in the ground made it all good.  But, before we talk about my race, let me tell you about Hank.

Hank

Hank was a little guy on his bike.  He rode his 50cc race, then never stopped.  He just kept shredding the parking lot.  He went round and round for about 2 hours after his race.  His mom finally had to come and get him to tell him that he had to stop and eat.  It was beautiful.

We got to the race early.  It was really nice staying just a few miles away and getting there when the grass was still wet and lotsa moisture in the air.  It is always kinda nice to see the air you are breathing.

Love my new trailer. It is really cool to be able to have all my stuff there, inside and able to stand up in the trailer. Woot.

Our race started at 11, so getting Scott’s front end problem sorted was the first order of the day.

Once we were all sorted out, it was quickly time to get signed up and check to see if the course had changed any from the day before.  The WIXC races start at 11 on the nose.  Rick prides himself on starting on time.  I like that about these races.

In warm up my bike was not running well, but I assumed that was just the warm up.  I got myself to the line, and was all ready to go at 5 mins till.  My bike started on the first kick, but I did not get a great jump from the line.  I managed to quickly move into 2nd after leaving the MX track, and then into the lead shortly after that.  But, my bike was running like poop.  It was ok for the 1st lap, and some of the 2nd, but it went quickly downhill for the rest of the race.  Eventually, towards the end of the race I could only use about 1/8 throttle.  Anything more than that, and the bike would bog and not run.  Rick told me at the timing tent that I could slow way down as I had a huge lead after the 2nd lap.

The day became an exercise in corner speed.  I could not use the gas, so I did my best to not use the brakes.  It is amazing how fast you can actually take corners if you just do not have any brakes.  I found that I was actually way faster in the woods riding a bike without any power, than normal.  Follow the arc of the turn, squeeze the brakes, squeeze the throttle, carry momentum.

I still won, but in the end I was just ahead of the 2nd place guy.

Unfortunately, Scott did not have such a great race.  He had a big get off in the woods, and ended up with a broken toe and a badly swollen hip. It ended his day early.

Below is a short video of about 1/2 of the 1st lap.  Enjoy.  Joe

Back to the future! Part – 1

A long long time ago, in a motorcycle galaxy far far away, there was a racer getting started at racing.  He raced a KDX 200, and was not very good at it.  He raced at places like Hixton and Athelstaine and Rhinelander.  That racer was me.  I sucked at all of this.

I only barely do not suck now.  As my bio says, I am faster than some people, but slower than most.  I do love doing it though, more than most things.  Plus, it makes me really taller.

We are back at Rhinelander, and it all feels really good.  It was super hot and dusty today, but the race was really fun.  WIXC courses are really GNCC like.  A bit wider in spots, fast and flowing.  I really love them.

As Scott said, we took my trailer.  It rocks.  I really do appreciate the race van that Scott has, but it is stinky and it is showing it’s age and we have driven it all around the country.  It is a bit on the tight side for all of our stuff.  The trailer is big enough to stand up in and fits all the stuff and it is not in the truck with us.

The truck and trailer in front of the grocery store in Rhinelander. Doesn’t get the gas mileage that I hope to get someday, but it sure is comfortable.

I had a really good start today.  My bike started right away, and I blasted off the line.  But, Rick came around me on the outside on the first turn.  I jumped in behind him, but was quickly dusted out and then Rick dropped me.  He was faster than me for sure.  I could pretty much match his woods speed, but in the open or on the MX track he killed me.

I missed a few turns on the 1st lap, but it only marginally slowed me down.  Lots of holes developed during the race, but it was pretty good trail.

Good looking trail! There was about 7 miles total, and about 40% was singletrack like this.

And this!

I had a pretty good race in the end.  2nd place in +40 class.

Something New!

The whackiest redneck thing I have ever seen was going on while I was there.  Snowmobile drag races on grass.  You read that right.  Why not, right?  It has a motor and should probably be raced.  Apparently it was a really big deal.  All I know is it was about 5 seconds long and loud.  There were modified fast ones, and then old vintage ones.  I think there was a bunch of different classes going on.  Wow.

I mean, we have our own redneck thing going on here.  Down in front!

They are off!

Go man go!

Apparently, there is a world championship for this sort of thing.

On to round 2 tomorrow.  Back to the future – part 2.

Hey, you kids keep it down over there!

Out,

Joe

How hard is #PM24?

Just how hard is that race Joe?  I know you are asking that, so I am going to try to answer it.

Racing is hard.  It always hurts and always has it’s trials and tribulations.  But how do you compare races?  I have decided that the way to measure that difficulty is a combination of just how hard is the race, and just how much preparation do you have to do for the race.  It has been decided that from here forward, that is the official difficulty rating of races.

So, in the scheme of things:  The Tour de France is just about the most difficult race out there.  It is physically really hard and it takes a years worth of individual preparation and team preparation to be competitive.  There are 9 riders to be trained properly, a team to be organized and financed, tactics to be coordinated and staff of 15 at the race and another 15 at home.

But, in our world of motorcycle racing, the following chart is the official difficulty rating of the kind of races we all do.

Perry Mountain graph

How much prep did we do?  Take a look here, and you will get a feeling for it.  Alot.  How physical was it?  It was 24hours, duh. I am still recovering.  Will race the first local race since the 24hr tomorrow.  We will see how that goes.  It is hard to go fast after a 24hour race going at 85-90% pace.

In the end, I am proud of our efforts and achievement.  Would we do it again?  Give it some time, and we will answer.

Joe

Perry Mountain Challenge – weren’t we here before, or why is 13 significant?

Hardware. Good stuff. 1st Duo team. 7th overall.

Yes. We are back again. Only this is not groundhog day. We had no intention of repeating the same day we had there before. You will recall that last time we were 5th, struggled in the night, lost the lead and didn’t ride for various reasons from midnight to 5am, Scott ended up in the hospital with his kidneys failing and needing 7 liters of fluid. No, we didn’t need to repeat any of that. You are probably wondering, “why would you want to go back if there was a risk of repeating that?”

I don’t really have a good answer for that question, other than “it was so close. It was right there in our grasp.” I guess we are both the kind of fools that like that sort of challenge.

So we planned. We organized. We trained. We prepared. Yes, just about any of it could have gone wrong, but it didn’t.

1. We developed year long training plans, to be physically ready.
2. We consulted with a trainer who helped us with weekly workout plans.
3. We raced the 9 hour race in Mississippi in February. (as a duo team, even though it was a three man race).
4. We organized better lights through cyclops lights.
5. We tested the lights and rode for multiple hours at night to test them out.
I dealt with my eyesight problem by consulting enough people that told me I needed lights pointing to the side to help my peripheral vision.
6. We rented an RV to have a way to get out of the heat, and to have a quiet place to sleep before the race.
7. Scott dealt with his hydration plan to minimize the chances of repeating his hospital visit from last year.
8. We took enough time off work to be able to be at the race a full day ahead, so we could set up and then have a full afternoon of sitting around with our feet up -relaxing-, while others were just setting up their camps and pits.
9. We set up our camp close enough to the pits, that it was a short walk between them.
10. We brought with us a 4 person crew to handle all tasks. They handled logistics, cooking, mechanic duties, reporting and tracking lap times, communicating with the rider on course via a sign board, getting the next rider ready on time to go out etc… Having that crew allows the riders to just race.

Morning of the race. Pretty nervous.

In the end, it all worked wonderfully. I wouldn’t say perfectly, it is 24hours after all. Something’s are bound to go wrong. The point of being prepared isn’t so that nothing goes wrong, the point is so that you can deal with the things that will inevitably go wrong.

Yes. You are that trashed at the end of it all.

If I have kept you in suspense long enough, we won. WE WON! 1st place Duo team, 7th place overall. 108 entries, and we were 7th. We beat a bunch of elite 6 man teams. Yep, we are pretty proud of that. looking at the results from past years, it looks like this is the first time that a duo team has been

I cannot say enough about our crew, but here goes.

Noah is the silent, but super honest, genuine and hard working type. The kind we are all proud to have as a friend. He is a fantastic mechanic. Our bikes are perfect every time we go out on a course. He even takes parts off his bike to keep our bikes running.  If I could have him as a full time mechanic I would. Best part about that is that he would be living close to me and I would have him as a full time friend also.

Chris is maybe the best crew chief ever. She keeps track of everything going on with the crew and the riders. She is not afraid to tell a rider or a crew member that things should be done differently. She makes everyone around her laugh as she has a fantastic sense of humor.

Russell is the newest member of our crew. Not sure he knew what he was getting into when he agreed to do it, but he never wilted under the pressure of it. He tirelessly for 24hours ran up and down the hill to the scoring building to monitor lap times and keep the crew and rider informed. I almost never came by the timing area when he wasn’t there to give me some info. All 43 laps.

Liz manages the camp and food. Keeping the riders fed and watered is bad enough, but she also has to do that for the crew. She keeps the RV ready with constantly filling the water tank for showers, filling the gas tank to keep the generator running, etc… She drives to the store to get more supplies and just about everything else in between.

The course was fun.  Rough and dusty, but fun.  Until you have experienced dust at night, with lights – you do not understand dusty.  Wow.

I cannot really describe all the emotions that run through you while doing an event like this.  You cannot predict how you are going to react to everything that will happen to you when you are 18 hours into a race.  You are exhausted, beat up, dirty, tired, sick feeling, you cannot see straight.  Sometimes just the simplest things are hard to manage.  Oh the fun of it all.

Fun and interesting facts:
– I ran over 2 rats on the course, in the same lap. Rats. 2 of them.
– Scott saw an armadillo on the course.
– I was so hydrated that I had to stop every time I was out on course to pee. Big change from last year. I consumed about 9 gallons of fluids. 9 GALLONS! Try that sometime.
– The night before, I saw a guy in prisoner pajamas. (At least I hope they were pajamas)
– I consumed about 8000 calories, between liquid calories and solid calories. Drink mixes. Gels, bars, smoothies that Liz was making, full meals, PBJ sandwiches, snacks, Joe-Oatmeal etc. try that, it is almost impossible. No wonder I set a world record for 13 poops during the race. (13 is now my lucky number)
– We rode 45 laps or 504 miles.
– Scott’s bike (KTM 300xc) burned 14.5 gallons of fuel. My bike (KTM 250xc) burned just 5 gallons of fuel. We rode pretty much the same distance, about 250 miles. Scott is about 15% faster than me, but that 15% equates to WAY more fuel usage (and just how much more efficient an injected 250 four stroke is than a 300 two stroke).
– I rode in 7 different sets of gear. 7 different helmet liners. 9 different goggles.
– We did 3 lap stints during the day, 2 lap stints during the night.
– Perry Mountain is about 940 miles from my house. Old guys will go a long way for a great event.
– Alabama is a super place. Beautiful country side, friendly people. The dirt bike community the country over just loves other dirt bikers.
– I saw a guy on an ATV that had a full outdoor surround system mounted on the fenders. He was riding around with no shirt on, a warm beer and was rocking a sweet country and western soundtrack. Hey ladies!

13 is a lucky number.

I do not now know if we will go back. It is a major commitment, financially and time and mental state. I would love to say that we will defend our title, but… We will see.

Out for now.
Joe

Welcome to paradise.

One Week To Go!

1 week to go!
If you have been living under a rock, then you may not know that in 1 week, Scott and I will take on the biggest race around – again.  Yowza.  Yep, we will be loading it all up and heading down to Alabama.

You will remember that last year, we coined it up as a new phrase describing the worlds worst weather conditions.  It was so hot, that even the heat didn’t like it.  It was roasting.  It was 106 with 90% humidity.  It was beyond hot, it was Alabama hot!  This year it looks to be much more pleasant there.  A week out, the weather is showing just a high in the mid 80’s.  That will make the whole thing about 1462 times more manageable.

We hope to make better on our 5th place showing there last year.  There are a lot of variables in a 24hour race, but we have done our best to prepare for that.  We have done all the training hours, we have built pristine race bikes, we have sorted all the gear, we have a complete support crew, etc…  Not much left now, other than to load it all up and drive to Alabama and get after it.

Will we be able to handle the heat, will we truly have our nightime issues sorted out, can we turn out consistent laps for 24 hours?  All of that will come clear just 7 days from now.
From the start of the drive, you can follow along with us:

–       Minute by minute with our Twitter feeds.  We will post up pictures, and notes and whacky things that we see along the way.
@vesrahoffroad
@joev3

– We will update our blog site more than once, and may have a couple of guest bloggers with us who will be helping crew for us.  You can see it all here.
It is going to be a huge adventure again, and we plan to have more fun than anyone could possibly imagine.

Thanks for following along,
Joe

#PM24 – Just 19 days away now! – Yikes

I get kinda nervous and freaked out just about every time I think about it.

24HourChallenge

I am down to the final real week of training and into the last weeks of prep.  Real effort will have to happen over the next “less than 3 weeks”.   Confirm the RV, Get plane ticket for Liz, confirm arrangements with Noah and Russ, prep the motorcycle, catalog and organize all the supplies, take inventory of extra parts, redo all of that again…  Yikes.  Seems like it is really upon us.

I do not really like the way it handles with the big light on the front, but I cannot argue with the amount of light.

Yesterday, I went up to Dyracuse and rode for like 5 hours, then drove (in my boots) to Bob Kau’s place where I met Scott and did a couple of hours of night riding.  Sounds simple enough, but it never is.

I arrived at Dyracuse and realized that I had committed the most bonehead move of all time.  I drove up to Dyracuse and got completely dressed fueled and ready to ride.  Started up the bike with helmet and Go Pro on, pulled in the clutch and smashed my foot down on the imaginary shifter there.  Unbelievable.  No shifter.  I had forgotten that small reassembly point.

I assumed that my day was done.  But, just on chance I went down the row and asked people if they happened to have a KTM shifter.  Ken Deiss was there and  guess what – he had an extra shifter.  I happily paid him whatever he was asking for it so that I could still go riding.  Unbelievable.  What are the odds of that?  Crazy.

Scott putting lights on his bike.

Not the complete Perry Mountain set up, but you get the picture.

After riding there, we met over at Bob’s and rode in the dark for 2 hours.  I put in about 7 hours of riding time yesterday.  I am pretty sure that physically I am as ready as I will ever be for Perry Mountain.

I have to thank Cyclops lights for the sweet setup on the bikes.  I do not think we will have a problem with not enough light this year.  Now, if we could just get someone to do something about the 100 degrees thing.

Sign up now if you want in on the fun.  24hours, heat, dust…

Joe

Hurry! Hurry! Time is running out! Perry Mountain is just 38 days away!

Yikes!  I just cannot count that fast!  Seems like just yesterday it was only 39 days away.  Don’t worry, if you cannot count that fast, the Perry Mountain website is counting for you.

I feel a little like Janet’s boyfriend Brad here.  My world has been invaded by a bunch of weird acting musical dancers.  I am waking up in a time warp.  We are just 38 days out!  I cannot get fit enough in 38 days! OMG!

There is training to be done.  Long bike rides, gym time, riding at night, getting my lights sorted, amassing gear, plane tickets for crew, the RV, trailer, van etc…  Yikes!

No more time to write.  I need to get after things.

Here is a video of last years lap of the course.

Out,

Joe

 

Georgia (Geow Ja) GNCC – 2012

On the way down

“Pick me up at 7, we will beat it to Nashville, take a look at the van you want to buy, get to Chatanooga for the night then get to the course in the morning on Saturday”.

I didn’t even see the “tennnn seconds” text that Mat sent me when he was in the driveway. I came outside to get the garage open and turn the lights on. Mat was already sitting in the back of the van with the doors open, the ramp out and waiting for me to load up.

At the edge of Nashville, we veered off and wound our way through the neighborhoods of east Nashville. Eventually we found the house with the van parked out front.

Mat's new abductor van. The 414 Motorsports team will be arriving in style this year. I'm jealous.

Another view of the new Mat rig.

I am going to need some big ass black wheels for my truck.

The Day Before
We arrived out at the race course at about noon. When we got there, the first reaction was “Holy crap. That is muddy.”. Since it is a GNCC race and I am there, it is going to be muddy. It was not shaping up to be a John Penton muddy, but nonetheless it was looking to be muddy. Yuck.

If you look closely, you can see some strange things in small town America.

Georgia is all clay. Red clay that stains your outfit (yes Scott, I did say outfit). Stains your bike and sticks to everything. It is soft and really ruts up. Really.

Race Day
You can bet that it is going to rain for race day at a GNCC. This day did not disappoint. We woke up to deep puddles everywhere. Ok. It’s mud. Deal with it, don’t be a wuss Joe.

On top of the mud, it was also a humid 85 at the start.

I continued my string of crap starts. Dead frigging last off the start. Dead last! My bike started perfectly on the practice starts, but on the line I flubbed it. I suck. I found myself in 25th first time through scoring. I managed to get myself to 12th at the finish. Not super happy with that.

The course at Georgia gets super rough, rutted, big huge braking bumps, lots of roots, lots of holes. My hands lost patches of skin to blisters. My back is really sore. My arms were cramping at the end of the race. My quads were also cramping. I was quite the tourist at the end. Was having trouble charging.

The Weekend!

What an amazing weekend of racing.

– Great great great Milan San Remo. Fabian was the man, Simon Gerrans rode the perfect race.

It was a really exciting opening classic.

– The MTB XC world cup race. Holy cow, Emily Batty break out race with a 2nd in the womens class.

– The quad race at the General was a nail biter all the way to the end.

– The GNCC bike race. I was in it so it isn’t really fair, of course I think it was bitchin. But it was pretty epic. Our friend Adam Bonneur was 2nd in Open A. Nice work.

– The MTB DH world cup race. Minaar has stepped up to Aaron Gwinn’s pace. They are going to have a bunch of epic races this year. Greg won, Aaron was 2nd. But, they were right on each other.

In my dreams I can do this.

Now for the long drive home. We are in a hotel in Chattanooga for the night. Home on Monday eve.

Cheers
Joe

Just sayin.

Wow, That’s A Bright Light!

Daylight Savings Time is here! This is normally the best day of spring. You wake up late, the day somehow feels different, it’s still light out at almost 7pm… Wow. All of a sudden…

Today, it is already 7:30 as I write this – doesn’t feel like it is but it is. It’s going to be 68degrees out, the first GNCC race for quads is today. I do not really miss being there, it’s Florida after all. Palmetto roots and sand, yuck. But at the same time I do miss being there. It’s racing after all.

But it is spring. Did you catch the First part of that second sentence? It’s going to be 68. 68! I am heading out for a 4 hour ride on the road bike this afternoon. In the mean time, take a look at the video I found from the 9hour race that Scott and I did.

Out,
Joe

Why Is That Clock Moving So Slowly?

It is the 4th day of March.  March is an interminable month.

in·ter·mi·na·ble

Adjective:
1.  Incapable of being terminated; unending                                                                     2.  Monotonously or annoyingly protracted or continued; unceasing; incessant.                                                                                                                              3.  Having no limits.

Origin:
1325–75; Middle English  (That means it is from the Middle Earth in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy – we all know that went on for too long.) 

I particularly like the use of the word “unceasing”.  That pretty much sums it up.  Unceasing.  You wake up and it is still winter.  It has snowed again.  The nice days only come during the week, it rains or snows on the weekend.  You clean the bike and redo the decals – again.  Unceasing.

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The Curvy Line

M – I – Curvy Line – Curvy Line – I – Curvy Line – Curvy Line – I – Hump Back – Hump Back – I, that is pretty much all I know about Mississippi.

But what do any of us really know about Mississippi? I know there are swamps there. I know that people from Alabama go hunting there. I know that New Orleans is nearby, where they almost speak French and have jazz music and have had more than one terrible hurricane. I don’t think there are any professional sports teams (baseball, football, basketball etc… All games that I really do not know anything about anyway, so why would I bring that up?).

I don’t think it snows there, and that gets us to today’s story. It is February. I live in Wi, so that means we are under a blanket of snow normally at his time of the year.

Back in the fall, Scott and I knew we were going to be stir crazy at this time of the year. Normally in February, we are under a blanket of snow here in Wisconsin. So, in the fall, we heard about a 3 man 9 hour Harescrambles race called The Offroad Cup. Immediately, we decided we were in. But, being the gluttons that we are, we decided that we would just do it with 2 people. Fools, some people would call us. (At least that is what I get called at my house.). I mean think about it, it’s February, we haven’t normally ridden since November – much less raced – why wouldn’t we just decide to do it as a duo?

We both thought, new bikes, new sponsors, all new program, it’s winter, let’s just go down and get some seat time while sorting things out. So we did.

Funny thing happened though… We started going fast somewhere in there. Scott’s lap times came down into the 12 min range and mine came down into the 13min range. Not earth shattering, but good enough that about midway we found ourselves in 2nd place in our class. So, we just kept going… And going…and going!

Video is of my 1st lap.  We did not know if we were going fast, I had not seen the course… I got faster, but you get the feel for the course.

We are pretty proud of the effort. We went there out of riding shape, put in a bunch of riding, got ourselves up to about 95% of summer pace, broke in and became intimately familiar with 2 new motorcycles, placed 2nd in our class (+40A) with just 2 riders, and raised a lot of eyebrows. It was super fun.

As usual, Noah Mitchell (@noahmitchell424) helped us out as our mechanic and coach and team manager. We met Noah before last years Perry Mountain Challenge, and we would not take on one of these races without him. Everyone should give a huge shout out to Noah on twitter, but do not try to steal him from us.

In the end, we were super pleased with Mississippi.  Didn’t expect that.

Next up for me is a local HS race in northern Illinois (unless it is too cold), then the Georgia GNCC on March 18. The season has a medium pace start from here, and gets full on when I get back from Belgium in early April.

Peace out,
J

The Offroad Cup!

Scott and I signed up for this race.   It is called the Offroad Cup.  It is a 9 hour 3 person team race in Mississippi.  Even though it is a 3 person race, we are just going to do it the 2 of us.  I know we will not be that fast as a result, but we are going down to get time on the new bikes at what is meant to be closer to a race pace.  We still have a long way to go to truly be prepared for the season, so this will be good.

Liz thinks I am stupid for going all the way to Mississippi to race, but you have to do what we have to do.  Hopefully @noahmitchell424 will join us there and help us through the day.

My bike desperately needs to be raced!

Here is the promo video from the Offroad Cup 9 hour race.

Here is the video from the race last year.

I cannot wait!

I don’t care if it is 106 degrees again…Watch out Perry Mountain

Scott and I have been super focused on this season.  New team, new sponsors, new bikes.  We are doing our best to get ready.  If you want to know what that means, here is a taste of a lunch time workout.  Enjoy.

I wish we were racing already!

Out,

Joe

It’s Not Just Riding, But It’s Awesome!

IT, is being out of Wisco when it is cold there and snowing.

It finally turned to winter at home. I saw it coming, so I got the hell out of there. Cannot really say I have anything good to say about winter these days. Everyone out there should realize that snow and ice are actually water in a few of its various frozen states. I don’t want to go all science on everyone, but in order for water to get into that state the temperature has to be below freezing. WTF?

We are going to dominate this trail.

So Arizona it was. Pretty much certain that it wasn’t going to freezing water and slapping that stuff down on me there. Loaded up the family, mountain bike stuff and supercross watching paraphernalia and headed to the frequent flyer website. Cashed it all in and beat it to AZ.

Before you go all J. Alfred Prufrock on me, just remember…it’s cold in Wisconsin. Damn cold. Freeze your boogers cold. Humans just were not meant for that kind of cold. If we were, we would have a lot more hair. And don’t start with the “where’s your hair dude jokes”. If I could grow a mullet again I would. Dang that was a hairstyle for the ages. In fact, I saw a chick with the most spectacular mullet, maybe ever, just yesterday. Yep, kinda makes you want to go and listen to some Journey or old Metallica right now. (not that newer shaved head Metallica either).

So, Arizona. Sunshine, cactus, girls with less clothes on, MTB riding, burritos, more riding, sunshine and burritos. Yes, I did put up burritos twice. I just put it up twice, because putting it up 5 times would be really redundant.

We really didn’t have a huge plan when we left, but we did have MTB shoes , sunscreen and a credit card along for the ride. So here is the summary.
Wednesday – MTB ride, Mexican food
Thursday- MTB ride, Mexican food
Friday – MTB ride, Mexican food (I think it is a law or something there)
Saturday – MTB ride, Mexican food, Supercross race.
It was nearly the perfect few days. Almost, but there wasn’t any Moto riding.

I think it is a law there or something.

The Supercross race always delivers also. Lots of great people watching, immaculate bikes etc… Saw some old friends there Shane Nalley from Suzuki (@suzukishane) etc… Oh, and Dungey won. He rides a KTM and a Trek, just like I do. Hmmm… a pattern?

Supercross view from our seats. Pretty cool

There is always a light show.

Ready for a good time

Looking forward to doing it again.

Now off to Brussels Belgium for work for the week. Back home for the weekend next Saturday. I pick up my new 250F and have just a few days to prep it to be ready to head to Randy Hawkins to shake it down and race it at the first National Enduro at Sumter. Ugh…, can you say 4 hours of sand whoops? (of course you can, right…you just said it to yourself.)

Out,
Joe

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Basking in afterglow of the GNCC season

Just up this morning thinking that I wish there were more GNCC races to go to yet this year. So, since there aren’t, I’m consoling myself and reliving by watching GNCC race videos online. (it’s amazing how you can waste a lot of time doing that- I mean a lot of time, as in geez it’s like 3 hours later now). Continue reading

Ironman GNCC video

Have you ever wondered what it is like to start the afternoon race from the last wave.  Well, now you will see.

This is my start and a bit of the course for the Ironman GNCC race in Crawfordsville this year.  I got a crap start, but redeemed myself by the end.  It is hard to boil a 3 hour race down to just 15 minutes, but here goes.

out… till Loretta’s.

Joe

Summer break – :<(

I like racing.  I am not always good at it, but occasionally I am and that keeps me coming back.  Unfortunately, so far this year I have not been very good at it.

I am off for a month now though.  Sort of a forced break.  Everyone has to have a job, even me.  I am in Europe while writing this for basically the whole month of July.  On my way to Luxembourg today, for a meeting there on Thursday.  Then off to the Tour de France for a day (LeMans) to see the 2 teams that Trek sponsors.  Then to a citizen race called L’etape du Tour.  (It is a 9000 rider race/ride over one of the big mountain stages that the TDF will do later in the race.  This year it is up over the Telegraph climb, over the Galibier climb and then up to the top of L’Alpe d’Huez – ugh… I live at sea level, so it will be really tough.)  After L’etape, I will be at our European dealer event in Mayrhofen Austria from the 12th – 22nd.  From there, I will go up to Paris over the weekend of the 24-25 and see the end of the TDF.  Finally, I will go and visit my daughter Ali in Madrid, where she has been living for the past year.  A long packed in month.

As a result of all of that, I will miss the next race in the D16 series.  That will most certainly kill my chances for the overall in that series.  Although, I would tell you that I was probably in a hole that was already too deep.

This year, John Buechner has really poured it on.  He got a new bike this year, and that seems to have made him faster.  We both got a year older, but his new bike seems to have negated that year for him.  I just got older.  I am on the same bike as last year, with very little changed.  Last year, we were finishing right on top of each other.  Literally, at the end of 2 hours we would be bumping tires into each other at the finish.  This year, I cannot keep up with him.  Not sure what that is all about.

I still love racing though.  It will be a hard month without any racing, and almost not physical activity.  Last year in July, I separated my shoulder in a MTB accident.  I worked out hard at the end of July and through August and came back really strong from late August through the end of the season.  I am hoping for the same thing to happen here.

Regardless, I hope that your next month of racing and riding goes great.  See you in August.

 

Out,

Joe

Which line is the +40 class?

Consumed at Perry Mountain Challenge

I have been thinking about how much fluid, food and calories I consumed at the race. You have already heard me talk about how hot it was (more than once, jeez Joe shut up about it already), and how much fluid it takes to stay ahead of that heat. So, I thought that I would try to add up just how much fluid that was and how many calories I consumed.

FLUIDS
– when I would come off the bike, I would first drink a large bottle of water. Then I would drink a large bottle of SDM Anytime mix while pedaling the bike to the camp. At the camp, I would drink a bottle of recovery drink and a bottle of water. After eating, and changing I would drink another bottle of water on the way to the pits. While riding, I would drink about 35 ounces of SDM exercise or GU brew. That is a total of 175 ounce per ride session. A total of 1050 ounces during the event.
(8.2 gallons of fluid
or
31 liters)

LIQUID CALORIES
– the bottles of water listed above contain zero calories.
The 28 ounces of recovery drink contain 175 calories.
The 28 ounces of SDM anytime contain 40 calories.
The 35 ounces of SDM exercise/GU brew contain 90 calories.
That is 305 calories each riding session from liquid sources,
or
1830 calories from liquid sources for the event.

GEL CALORIES
– I was generally eating a gel while riding my session. Matt would zip ty them to the inside of my chest protector. I could tear one off while racing and suck it down. Those say 90 calories on the outside of the package, but I suspect I only got 70 in as they are tough to eat while riding.

That is about 420 calories from gels.

FOOD CALORIES
– after each session of riding, I would make my way back to the camp, where Liz had food ready for us to eat. During the day, we had sandwiches and fruit and Nutella, and peanut butter, and cookies and M&M’s etc… At dinner time, Liz made a really great couscous meal and grilled chicken. Since a PB&J sandwich is about 300 calories, and the smallest amount of food that I had was a PB&J and some Nutella and fruit, a conservative estimate would be about 600 calories from food each time at camp.

That’s about 3600 calories from food at camp during the race.

I would also normally eat another Honey Stinger bar back at the pits while prepping goggles and helmet. Those are 190 calories.

That’s about 1140 calories from food at the pits.

TOTALS
8.2 gallons/31L of fluids

– 1830 liquid calories
– 420 calories from gels
– 3600 food calories at camp
– 1140 food calories at the pits
6990 calories consumed.

I am pretty sure that I lost weight during the event.

The definitive post on my Perry Mountain Challenge – 2011 version

Ready to go.

There is hot, and there is “Alabama Hot”

If you missed my first shorter post on the race and the effect of the heat there, you can read about it here.  If you do not want to go and read that, just know this.  There is hot, and then there is “Alabama Hot”.  Holy crap.  I do not think that you can get any hotter than what it was there.  In the shade it was 100 degrees, and it was fleeking crazy high humidity.  Like 90% or something like that.

Imagine this, put on your winter clothes – sweatshirt, blue jeans, socks, boots, ski hat, gloves, goggles etc…  then, put on your camelbak and go into the sauna.  Turn the heat up to about 120 (remember it was 100 in the shade, so who knows how hot it was in the sun).  Don’t forget to bring a kettle ball in there with you.  Now, while you are in there – workout with the kettle ball.  Oh, while you are at it, have a friend throw shovels full of powdery dirt and sand at you, covering your whole body in a film of it.  Do that for 1 1/2 hours.  Rest for another 1 1/2 hours, but the rest is done in a 2nd sauna that is only 100.  Then do that all over again for 24 consecutive hours.  You get the picture.  Yep, it was like that and it was harder than anything you can ever imagine doing.

I have done a lot of difficult things in my life,  GNCC races, National Enduro races, 10 hour road rides in the French Alps, 200 mile road bicycle races, 12 hour solo mountain bike races etc…  None of that compares to the Perry Mountain Challenge.

We are planners.

2 old guys from Wisconsin

Yep, that would be Scott and I.  We started planning to do this race almost 1 year ago.  I can remember reading about the Perry Mountain Challenge race last year.  I can remember thinking “Damn, that sounds like fun!”  Boy do I have a warped sense of fun or what?

So we planned.  We started having meetings about the race way back in December.  When the registration for the race first opened up, we were the 2nd duo team to sign up.  We built workout plans all targeted at being prepared for the race.  We organized a crew to go to the race with us and help support us.  We set up our bikes specifically for the race.  We drove our families crazy.

I can remember my wife laughing at me.  “You guys are such dorks.  You are having meetings about the race and it is 6 months away”.  There was a lot to organize.  We had a pit area that had to have lights so that it could function all night, it needed fans as it was going to be hot, it needed a separate generator etc…  We needed a mechanic, so we could focus on the riding and the hydration.  We also had to organize a camp area, away from the pit across the river.  It needed a full kitchen set up, it needed its own generator, it needed to provide an area for us to lie down away from the rest of the crew…  It was complicated.

We also planned our ride schedule.  We had intended to go for 2 hours each, and then do a long 3 hour stint each during the night.  Of course that did not really work out, and we changed the plan before we even got started.  We ended up riding for 1.5 hours each, or 3 laps each.

We planned when the lights would go on, we planned how we would drive down there, we planned what we would eat and how much we would need to hydrate.

Of course, none of the plans really worked out.

We had a fantastic crew.

Hanna doing her thing.

Hanna Vadeboncoeur – documentarian and back up chef. She ran all the cameras and got a ton of great video and photos.

Liz in the middle of battle.

Liz Vadeboncoeur – chef. She stayed up all night, she kept food coming for the crew and riders. She kept the camelbaks full of cold beverage. She made dinner at breakfast time, breakfast 4 different times during the night, peanut butter and jelly when that was all we would eat etc…  Liz and Hanna are family, so they kinda had to do the crew thing.  But, they did not just do it – they really did it up right.

Matt is in charge

Matt Pickersgill – logistics. He ran the big white board that kept track of all the riders lap times, how many laps done, when the rider was due back in, when the next rider had to be back to the pits, ran the sign board for the rider etc…  It was always comforting to see Matt on the side of the trail or at the start finish area, with the sign board and a smile and encouragement.

Chris taking over.

Chris Garrison – crew chief. She did everything. A little mechanic work, handled keeping the riders cool, handled my dirty snotty sweaty helmet and goggles, disgusting slobbered on chest protector, Scott throwing up etc… She was a saint through it all.  Chris has handled the crew chief for a bunch of mountain bike races, and it shows.  Chris and Matt are from the UK, and they actually spent vacation time to come over to the race.  I owe them a lot of fun times somewhere else for all they did for us.

Noah with his hands in the belly of the beast.

Noah Mitchell – mechanic. Noah was the man. He did not sleep, he cleaned bikes, he never missed a beat and our bikes were perfect every time. He cleaned carburetors, mounted and dismounted lights, changed tires, changed oil etc… Scott and I only touched the bikes to ride them. Indispensable.  Noah found our website add looking for a mechanic for the race.  I cannot tell you how glad we were to have him.

We could not have done it without them – all.  If we go back to do it again, I will be bribing them all to be part of our crew again.

Alabama was surprising.

People are really friendly in Alabama.  I guess I really didn’t expect them to be UN-friendly, but they surprised me at just how friendly everyone was.  Sure the accents sound funny to me, and at times are even hard for me to understand.  But, they genuinely wanted to help at all points along the way.

In addition, Alabama is hilly.  I am not talking rolling hills of Wisconsin either.  I am talking HILLY.  Like as in Pennsylvania hilly.  Bordering on mountainous.  I already mentioned it was hot.

It is really interesting how people view Alabama.  Actually, it is really hard to find information about Alabama.  If you watch the national news, and watch the national weather presentation, look closely.  There is never a mention of Alabama.  There is not even a city noted.  If I tell people here that we did a race in Alabama, they usually look at you with their head cocked sort of to the side.  Like, “Hmmmm…  I hear what you said, but I cannot imagine what it is telling me.”

The course.

The course was 10 miles around.  It was much like a GNCC course.  It was ATV wide in places and fast, and had some technical singletrack sections and a super fun outdoor MX course with fun step up jumps and a couple of big table tops.  The biggest problem with the course was the dust.  There were 200 plus bikes on the course, and it had not rained in Alabama in some time.  The dust was so thick that it was hard to see through at times during the day, and hung in the air all the time.  Don’t even ask about how it was at night (more on that one later).

Since it was so hot and dusty, when you finished your riding stint you were just covered in a layer of mud.  The combination of your sweat and the dust equaled being covered in mud.

The Race.

Here is how our race unfolded. We had decided that Scott would ride first.  We knew he would be fast, so we thought that we should see how he could go at the beginning.  The start was a Le Mans style start.  The gun went off, and Scott ran to the bike while I was holding it up.  He then proceeded to kick the bike 6,7,8,9,10 or more times.  It did not start.  He was dead last going into the woods.  At the end of the 1st lap, Matt reported to me that Scott had moved up to 8th place.  Pretty good – 26th to 8th in one lap.

Scott getting ready, me the umbrella girl.

Scott did 4 laps, before he pulled over and let me have the timer.  I went out and did 3 laps after that.  It was 11:30 and it was about 95 degrees.  I could not believe how hot it was.  There was mud flowing inside my goggles.  My arms and skin were completely brown with mud.  After I finished 3, I pulled in for Scott to take over.  Noah and I talked about my back brake feeling bad, but decided that it did not really feel bad and he left it alone.  We were in 3rd place.

Scott giving it all in the morning.

Scott went out at roughly 1:15pm.  It was getting hotter.  He turned 3 laps in about 76 minutes.  He was back at 2:30, and I was not ready.  I did get out at about 2:45, but we were still just in 3rd place.

2nd place getting close to 1st.

I went out at 2:45 and managed to hold onto 3rd place, all the way through my ride.  It was crazy how hot it was, but we were holding up really well.  I am amazed now just how fast things went wrong for us out there when they did go wrong.  Scott went out at about 4:15 and absolutely poured it on.  When he came back in at 5:30 we were leading.

I went out at about 5:45 and I lost the lead.  I fell back to 2nd place during my ride.  I gave it over to Scott at 7:15 and he went out first with lights on the bike.  He did not really need to use the lights, but they were on his bike and running.  It was starting to get dark in the woods when he was finishing though.

Me, looking a bit awkward already

I went out again at about 8:45 and here is where the wheels came off for me.  I did the first set of laps that were completely in the dark.  I needed lights from the get go.  I noticed just how difficult it was to see when I left the pits.  On the very first hill, I was already noting that i could not see anything.  When I really got to racing in the woods, I could not see a thing.  My lights were too white, and they just reflected off the dust.  I got an immediate case of vertigo.  The dust was so bad, that I could not tell if I was going uphill or downhill.  I would find myself speeding up when I did not expect it, I was on a downhill.  I did not know where to put my weight on my bike, I was screwed.  I could not read any of the trail.  I crashed 4 times on one lap.

By the time i had finished 2 laps, the vertigo was bad enough that I was really struggling.  I found the whole thing scary.  I did manage to keep us in the lead, but not by much. I had to get myself back to the pits, and lie down.  I closed my eyes, and Liz was immediately waking me up, although it was an hour later.  I was cooked, and was not sure if I could go back out.

Scott took over from me at about 10pm, but the wheels came off for him as well.  He had been struggling to stay up with his hydration, as he had gotten sick and could not keep things down.  Once you get behind on hydration in an event like this, your really screwed.  Scott managed 3 laps, but he was done after that.  He told Noah, “I cannot do anymore night laps.”

So, while being in the lead and contention for the win, we had to sit down.  It was a shattering realization. We both got a bit of sleep and then I got myself organized to go back out as things were lightening up.

When I went out at 4:45, we were a long way down in 7th place.  I told Matt that we were going to be fast.  I gave it over to Scott at about 6:15 and we were in 5th place, but we were more than a lap down on 4th.  Scott did 3 laps.  I do not know how he managed it, as he was severely dehydrated.

pushing it in the morning hours.

We were 15 minutes down on 4th when he handed it back to me at about 8am.  I did 2 laps and had us to about 5 minutes behind 4th and then handed it back to Scott.  He was spent at that point and could not go nearly as fast as he was the previous day.  But, he still finished the race just 3 minutes down on 4th place.

But, by now the damage was done and Scott was in a bad spot.  As we broke down the pits area, it was crazy how hot it was.  The crew was toast and Scott and I were almost no help.  We tried to help pack the van, but it was just so hot and we were both so toasted there was not much of a sustained effort that we could put out.  We all could tell Scott was in a bad way, so we sat him in the shade in front of the fan and got the van loaded.   When we had it all loaded, we put him in the passenger seat with the AC on high.

Back at the camp, Liz and Hanna had most of the camp broken down.  We sat around the little kiddie pool we had with us with our feet in the water and had lunch.  Scott laid in the shade and was really struggling and that is when we decided he needed an EMT.

The EMT’s loaded him in an ambulance and took him to the local hospital, where they admitted him and kept him overnight.  During the course of the next 24 hours, they pumped 8 liters of fluid into him to kick start his system and get his kidneys functioning again.  Meanwhile, I took the crew to Birmingham and got them on their separate ways home.  Chris and Matt on a plane to London, Liz and Hanna in the truck back to Wisconsin.

Into the ambulance

The Trailer ordeal

At this point you are thinking, “Wow, what else can be added to this adventure?”  Well, the next morning I was on the phone with Scott at the hospital, pulled over to the side of the road.  He was predicting when he would be ready to go.  After the call and a plan was made, I pulled back on the road and looked back to see that the trailer was being drug along behind the van – sideways.  The drivers side leaf spring on the trailer had snapped.

The trailer ordeal

Couple hours later the wrecker truck company picked it up, and to my surprise said “No worries, we can fix that.”  And even more surprising, they said they could fix it that day!  They took the trailer to the shop and told me to come back at the end of the day.  I had my doubts, but after driving back down to Clanton to collect Scott from the hospital we returned at 5:30 to see the trailer sitting level and ready to go.  They were miracle workers.

Off we went to make the 15 hour drive home to Wisconsin.

Closure

Of course that is still the short version of the story.  I am not sure the complete version can ever be told.  It was epic.  Not epic racing, but rather an epic experience.  I can get pretty philosophical about the experience and what you learn about yourself after hours of pushing the limits of your abilities.  I can get pretty philosophical about a 2 old guys and a little offroad racing team.  About all I can tell you that you will almost understand is that putting a big goal down, like this, and then seeing it through is a pretty positive experience – not matter what happens.

I do not know if we have closure on this event though.  I suspect we are both wondering our finish would be if:

– if we solved the lighting thing for Joe

– if we helped to make sure Scott was able to stay ahead of his hydration

Stay tuned, maybe we will go back.  I wonder what our crew would say?

Might have to go back and be here for real next year.

Other stuff

Photos from the weekend here.

My shorter post here.

Scott’s blog post about the event here.

A few other points to note.

1.  I was trying to ride at 80% effort.  I think I was doing that.  I know that there were a few laps that I really pushed and tried to go faster.  If we call those 100% efforts, they only netted a 5% faster lap time.  Interesting how that last 20% is a supreme effort, but in my case it only netted such a small gain.

2.  Guys from Wisconsin, where it is rarely over 85 degrees, really can struggle at 100 degrees and high humidity.

3.  #perrymountainchallenge.  The offroad community is great.  We come from all parts of the country, we talk differently, but we all love the same things.  Challenging ourselves on an extreme offroad condition.

4.  Brave Soldier on the hands – not a single blister.  DZ-nuts chamois creme on the butt – no problems.

5.  They have a rogue saturn rocket along the highway in Alabama.

That's where that old Saturn rocket ended up.

6.  All roads lead to Crawfordsville Indiana for me.

7.  We all drive along the highways, and when we were younger there was a chain of restaurants called Stuckey’s.  They were restaurants in the gaps between cities and towns.  They are long gone, but the buildings are still there.  The natural progression of an old Stuckey’s building is – Stuckey’s to antique mall to fireworks outlet to Adult bookstore.  In most of the south, they have hit the Adult book store phase.

Out

Joe

Whistler Bike Park – I’m Not There!

Whistler Bike Park Is Open!!!!

If this doesn’t make you want yo go ride, nothing will!

Enjoy!

Bam. Just like that it is spring, and the Aztalan race is over.

That is how it goes.  One day it is snowing, and freezing cold, and the next day it feels like spring in Wisconsin.  Last week we had a snowstorm, and then Sunday it was 59, and the leaves started popping out.  Wow.  But, way more important as a sign of Spring was that Sunday was the 1st D16 HS race.

Its that time of the year again. Follow the arrows.

The 1st race is always a glorious thing.  Everyone comes out of hibernation.  People you have not heard from in 5 months are all of a sudden high on your radar again.  What never ceases to amaze me is that it all can seem so normal.  I mean, think about it, we have all been cooped up inside for months dreaming about racing our motorcycles.  We watch Supercross (which is a best a poor substitute for riding in the woods).  We go to the gym.  We ride our bicycles on the trainer.  We load up and go south to do a race (normally you do that and suffer, as it is the 1st time you have ridden a motorcycle in months).  We go out to the garage and watch last years enduro races on DVD while riding the trainer or working on our motorcycles.  All the while, ticking down the days till the 1st local race.  Sometimes it seems like it will never get here.

Bam.  Just like that it is here and we are back at it.

Ready for a new race season. That is Scott's bike with the #3, and mine with the #303 - new numbers this year.

This week we all figured the 1st race was going to be a mudder.  It has been raining forever, it seemed.  Last year, Aztalan was pouring down rain all morning of the race and the race was the most horrible mudder ever.  The dirt there is mostly clay mixed with rocks.  The combination is devastating on a motorcycle.  After last years race, it seemed that the whole motorcycle was throwaway.  Plastic, grips, tires, bearings, chain, sprockets, brake pads… ugh  it all had to be replaced.

As I said, we all figured it was going to be another mudder.  But, it turned up dry.  I am talking dusty dry.  Wow.  What a difference a year makes.

The crowd was huge on the line.   There were about 15 on our line for the +40 class.  A lot of guys who I did not know.   But, as the story unfolds, you will see that as it has seemed the past years – the race comes down to John and I.

On the line, I could not get my bike to start in gear.  I tried on the practice starts, but it would not crankup in gear.  So, I was forced to start the bike in neutral.  A neutral start normally does not mean good things.  With my Rekluse Core EXP auto clutch, I would suggest that the clutch plates need replacing.  I kinda knew that before the race, but opted not to replace them as I did not want to have the 1st ride be in a race.  I also stalled once during the race, so I am certain the plates need to be replaced.  But, in spite of my hampered starting technique, I got an excellent start.  3rd in the 1st turn and 2nd before we left the MX track.  The guy in front of me was clearly a Motocrosser as he was great on the track but not as good in the woods.  I did manage to pass him in the 1st lap and I started to put down my head.  But, he was not giving up and followed me hard for about 4 laps.

Aztalan is not a long lap, so you get to know the lap very very well.  A couple of laps in, John was suddenly with us.  I found out later, that he got a poor start and struggled to get through the rest of the field.  I also learned later, that we had completely gapped the rest of the group.  The race went on that way for about an hour.  The 3 of us together, me leading, but unable to break those guys.

good image of what the conditions were actually like on Sunday. Nearly perfect.

Aztalan is a great little race course.  Rollie always does a great job with the course.  He understands that a HS is not a 2 hour MX race.  Generally we hit the jumps backwards and join and leave the course multiple times.  Great fun.  There was only one little section that was just too tight for a few people to make it up, and had to be removed about 15 minutes into the race.

About an hour in, I made a mistake and gave up both 1st and 2nd.  John put his head down right then and then put a gap into the MX’er and I.

Eventually I got passed the MX’er and put a gap into him, but John was really going fast.  Really fast.  I did not have anything for him this weekend.  My hat is off to him.

In the end, John put about 30-40 seconds on me, and that was it.  The season is young though.  I will have my chances, and it will be a great season for John and I to race each other hard.

My fitness was super.  I have to say that Mary Grinacker has devised a fantastic program for me that has my fitness at a super level.

I did screw up my knee braces and dug bloody cuts into the back of my legs. Fortunately it was only a 2 hour race, if that was to happen in the 24 hour...ouch!

Artsy

Thanks a ton to all of our sponsors.

Vesrah

Suzuki

Bell helmets

Moose racing

Factory Connection

Kenda tires

Zipty racing

The whole post – #Sandlapper #Nationalenduro

This blog post is just going to be a cheap ploy to show off my photos from the race.

If you read my previous 2 blog entries, you know that I just returned from the 1st National Enduro – down in South Carolina.  But, I also went down for a day of riding before hand.  I was lucky enough to be invited to Randy Hawkins place to do that day of riding.  Take a look at the previous blog entry here to see that.  You can find each of our race courses and type of terrain somewhere on Randy’s property.  It was amazing.  Sand track, outdoor MX track, woods, hills, creek jumps…everything.

Randy wishing us best of luck after being at his place

It appears to me that South Carolina is mostly sand. At least from the halfway point to the ocean, it is 99% sand. Now I actually really like South Carolina. The weather is great, the people are friendly, and they RACE motorcycles there. All the time. If you lived in South Carolina, you could race the GNCC circuit, the National Enduros, The National Harescrambles series and all the local stuff. There would be racing all the time. On top of that, there is also fantastic road cycling, and in the northern part of the state there would be great mountain biking. Why don’t I live there? That is another topic altogether. (Or is it because I love the view of snow as far as the eye can see into April?)

Enduro’s are very different from harescrambles racing, and for me they are really hard.  I am much better with the Harescrambles methodology of go fast for the whole period of time.  I can deal with a straight 2-3 hours of that better than I can the start stop of enduro’s.  Somehow, I just really struggle to get into the groove in an enduro.

For me there were 5 sections in this enduro.

before the start.

Me and my minute mates for the day

Section 1 was short. Just 8 miles. But, it was completely whooped out and holed out also. Tree roots, sand etc. My arms pumped up like Popeye. I rode like a complete squid. I bet I lost any possibility of a top 10 result in this section. Living in Wisconsin, and not riding since October is not good for your race fitness.

Section 2 was longer, but still only about 8 miles. But, it was rutted and whooped and sand and holes. My arms were still bad, but got better towards the end.

Section 3 was longer at about 15 miles. It was whooped and rutted and super tight trees and holes. Are you sensing a pattern here? I liked this section the least. This is the section that was filled with trees that you had to stop and wiggle your bars through as it was so tight. There were sections that were just a wall of trees that you had to just bash your way through. Tough.

Section 4 was the best section. Long also, but fun slowing trail with some tight stuff thrown in. This was my favorite section. But it still was a lot of sand whoops and standing.

Section 5, laying it down.

Section 5 was good also, but over too soon as it was only about 9 miles. It was only half jammed with and tight trees.  I busted this out, and went like I knew that I could.  If only I could have ridden the first 2 sections the same way I did this one and #4.

Section 6 was just for the pros and A riders. Of course, Mat and JD told me that was the best section. Dang.  Check the video below, it is short but it shows what the conditions were like.

Other stuff

Met the folks from The Atlanta Race shop. They are super. They have posted a bunch of pictures that I will grab and give them credit for in the bigger post. They also sported me a tshirt in a drawing.

They have a killer race van, and they put up a nice little story about the race here.

Mat cracked the top 20 in the pro class. Good on him.

– JD was 9th in 250A
– I came 13th in +50. I am ok with that, as I rode section 1 in 22nd place, section 2 17th, section 3 15th, section 4 12th, section 5 10th. I knew that I was bad in those first 2 sections, and that I got better. For sure I did.  Next time…

– The Wisconsin crew represented well.

– We drove straight home through the night.  I am crushed.

My hands are shredded.  Thats a dime size blister on the palm.

My hands are shredded. Thats a dime size blister on the palm.

Good morning race fans

My bike was great. It ran superb. The new bars were great (thanks Easton). The Washougal tires worked like a champ (thanks a ton Kenda), as always Moose gear is impossible to beat. Me new EVS braces are the bomb.

Before we left, we stopped in Columbia and had a burger. Ate it outside. We're not stupid.

Back to the great white north, and start the countdown to Steele Creek GNCC.  Many thanks to our friends @TheRaceShop for the hospitality and the recognition and for being really cool.  (Thanks for the shirt, btw.)  Most of the “good” pictures here are from them.  Thanks gang.

I believe there are new bikes coming soon!  That is going to be a bonanza of tweets and blog posts. Brace yourself.

Out.
Joe

13 days until 1st National Enduro!

Are you excited? I know that I am.

Local HS rep and Enduro hot shoe, Brian Terry and I are heading down to do the 1st national Enduro. It is called the Sandlapper, in South Carolina. I wonder if there will be any sand?  We are heading down a couple of days early, so that we can try and ride a little before the event.  We will be meeting JD Freibel, and probably Mat Herrington down there.  They are going down to ride for more than just a bit.  I have not even started a motorcycle since last November, as there has been 2 feet of snow on the ground here since then.  Mat says that makes me much more rested than all the guys down south.  We will see.

The forecast for Salley SC. over the next 10 days on Weather.com is for highs between 64 and 71 degrees. OMG, that is going to be like going to the Sahara.  We are talking heat exhaustion, mangled hands and sore back from 5 hours of battling sand whoops.

Oh Well, I guess it is time to kickstart this season into motion.

Time to kickstart the season and get going. Woohoo!

Endless Summer

This little video comes along at a time when we really need it.  It is winter, and we are all DYING to get out and ride in the dirt.  I will be doing that with Brian Terry, JD and Mat at the National Enduro in South Carolina in just 19 days.  Yikes!

I have not even started a motorcycle since November 1.  Oh well, there is no better way to get started!

Regardless, watch this and you will see why Scott and I (along with everyone else) do this sport.

check back in 19 days for the first race results and stories of the year.

Red Bull: Gee Atherton vs. David Knight

Found this video on Red Bull.  This is really cool.

Gee Atherton, DH world cup champion

vs.

David Knight, World Enduro and GNCC champion

 

It is amazing to watch the line selections that the 2 vehicles have to choose.  The motorcycle has more pace in the fast sections, but cannot flow the turns as well as the DH bike.  The DH bike seems to be able to hit the slow technical spots with more pace than the motorcycle.  A DH bike can go better on downhills than a motorcycle.  It is purpose built, and can be pointed down easier.

Still, Gee’s lines through the rock field towards the end is impressive.

I could not get the video to embed in the post, so you will have to link out to it.  It is worth it though.

http://video.mpora.com/ep/pRUvdUU8j/

 

Joe

 

 

I’ve had a lot of good races lately, this wasn’t one

As usual, Scott and I headed down to do the Ironman GNCC race. There have been years when we have done all the GNCC races and years when we have done very few. Even in the years with very few, we never miss the Ironman. It is THE classic GNCC race.

My bike looked sweet, ready for the race.

If you would just like the summary, it was dry. Super dry. Mike bike failed and I DNF’d. Scott won his class. It was a tough way to end my season, but it was not a complete fail, as at least Scott did well.

Josh Strang's bike was dialed and ready to go.

Josh had the coolest gripper seat I have ever seen

Josh loves his Trek

I have been riding super three last months. All of my races lately have just gotten better and better. I guess was due for a crummy one.

It had not rained in Indiana since august. I am serious. It was dust bowl dry. I have never seen s place so dry. The dust was insane.

On Saturday, I left at the butt crack of dawn to pick up Scott at the Chicago airport. He had arrived there early, and I had loaded up the van to collect him there and go straight to the race. We arrived at noon and unpacked the mountain bikes and rode a complete lap on the course. The uphills seer so powdery, we could not even ride up them. It was like riding through soft powder, sometimes up to your calf.

Imagine following that dust cloud into the woods.

The trail

We set up early on Sunday, then did a course walk with the Suzuki guys. It was cool to see the track with Josh Strang. He does not look at the course the same way that us mortals do. The things I was worried about in the trail, he did not even notice.

When my wave started, I got a medium start. Somewhere in the middle. But, as soon as we got into the woods, I begins picking off riders. I got myself to where I could see the front, but then my bike bogged and came to a stop. I kicked and kicked, and it finally started. I took off, and just 50 meters it did it again.

When I got it started for the 2nd time, I made my way to the pits. I thought the throttle was sticking. It was. I lubed up the cable thinking that was the problem, and headed back out. On the very next hill, I gunned it hard and the throttle stuck wide open. The bike launched into a tree, and tweaked the front end. My day was done.

Scott had a great day. He won his class. He is the first of the 2 of us to do that. Yet.

Proud Boy. He should be.

On to next year. I hope to have a new injected bike then. I will not quit going to the Ironman, until I score a top 5 effort there.

Out

Of course there were monster truck rides - why wouldn't there be?

If you do not have a monster truck, you build a monster golf cart I guess. Oh, and equip it with a rocking stereo that you can blast Hair Band music from the 80's.

World Championship of Wisconsin HS racing!

Two Suzuki’s on the top step of the podium today at Dyracuse, the last D16 race of the season.  Scott (@vesrahoffroad on Twitter) won the AA class, I won the +40 class.  This is the first time in 5 years of going to races together that we have both won on the same day.  And, we did it at Dyracuse.  It feels good to win here.  Neither one of us have ever won this race before.

Dyracuse is a great sandy old school MX track, surrounded by about 2000 acres of woods.  The lap did part of the MX track and then into a section of pines that has been replanted in rows.  It is 5 minutes of completely whooped out sandy singletrack through the woods.  Up and down hills, zig zaging around the trees.  It is hard and got really bad by the end of the race.  Really really rough and the whoops got really deep and very squared out.  After that section we went back out onto the MX track to finish the lap, then back into the woods.  This section of woods started out with fantastic black perfect moisture dirt.  Then into a super tough off camber long stretch that was filled with really tough rocks.  Hard.  Then onto a little Supercross track and then finish the loop and back onto the MX track.

Scott got a great start and then holeshot into the woods first, then I got the holeshot and got to the woods first on my line as well.  2 Suzuki RMZ250’s, with both of us in orange Moose Racing gear.  It was beautiful.

I struggled on the first lap in my race in the rocky section.  I got caught behind a slower rider from a wave ahead of me on a steep uphill section.  The guys behind me went immediately around me and the other stuck riders and at least 3 people from my wave went through.  I rode really hard and caught up to Roger Bird who was in 2nd.  I was behind him for about half a lap.  He was going pretty well, but was definitely going slower than i wanted to.  He was pushing hard, too hard, and he bounced off a tree and went down.  I slowed to a stop to see how he was doing, but he was fine, so I took off in pursuit of the leader.

I found him about a lap later and worked to get by him.  Once I did, I tried to put my head down and check out, but he was glued to me.  That is where he stayed for 3 laps.  Then on the 6th lap, he took a smarter line around a rocky section and got by me and he tried to check out.  He was going well, but then on the last lap I came around a turn and there he was stuck off the side of the trail.  I assume that he had crashed there.

I finished out the lap and came across the line in 1st.  Finally.  It has been a long season with a lot of 2nd place finishes.  I started the season by winning and now I have ended the season winning. I ended up 2nd overall again to John Buechner.  He is very strong, and really fun to ride against.  We are about the same speed, but he seems to make better luck for himself at the end of the race more than I.

My Suzuki RMZ worked great, Mark at Vesrah makes sure that the brakes are great on it, my Moose gear worked flawlessly, my Bell helmets are the best fitting ever, AJ at Victory Circle Graphix keeps the bike looking great, my Rekluse Core EXP clutch makes it almost impossible to stall…  Everything worked like a champ.

I cannot say enough about my fitness help.  Mary Daubert gives advice, Kathy Mock has written training programs for me, and Mary Grinaker works out with me once a week to check my progress and keep me on the right track.  For a guy that is going to turn 50 in a few months, I am doing pretty well with all of this.  Thanks everyone.

Now onto one more race for the year.  The Ironman GNCC at the end of the month.  I hate to say it out loud, but this is going to be the year that I crack the top 5 in my class there.  I am fit, my bike is great, I am riding well…  Yep, this is going to be the year.

Out for now.

Joe

I went to the Dresser.

For the land of the free

And the home of the brave…………vroooom, vrooom…

It was almost like being at a GNCC race.  200 people on the line, announcements that you cannot hear and that do not make much sense, an almost 12 mile loop, a significant amount of spectators.  Oh ya I forgot, this is not just a D16 race, but also a shared race with D23 (Minnesota).  There is a lot more offroad riders there, or maybe it’s because they do not have a competing series in a sparsely populated state.  Regardless, it sure is fun to have 22 people on your line.

The course at Dresser is at a small local ski area, Trollhaugen.  Not sure where it gets its name from, I did not see any Trolls on the property.  What I did see was

– 11.5 miles of sweet up and down hills singletrack

– a super cool little endurocross section at the finish area

– a semi gnarly downhill section with telephone poles down at angles and drop offs etc…

– several woods areas with spaced out trees and multiple lines that was very GNCC like

– no river crossings (so that made it not like a GNCC) – woohoo!

– incredible dirt.  Must have rained in the days prior as the moisture content in the dirt was as perfect as it can be.

John and I had another epic battle.  We trained off the front from our group right away from the start.  We pushed and shoved our way through the groups ahead of us, and finally late in the 1st lap found ourselves able to race hard.  We traded the lead back and forth, but neither one of us could get more than 50 yards away from the other one.  We truly are exactly the same speed now.  Our races are coming down to whoever makes the least costly mistake is going to win.

John fell over on the second lap, and I got by him on a downhill.  I put my head down and went like crazy.  Unfortunately, later in that same lap I fell over and gave up that lead.  I was still ahead of him, but now he could see me and that was all the incentive he needed to make up the gap.  Near the very end, in a sandy section, i pushed the front end over a berm and awkwardly came to a stop, that was all he needed to get by me.  In the end I made 1 more mistake than he did, and that pushed me back to 2nd – although right on his tail.

This makes 6 races this year that we have finished right on top of each other.  It is sure fun.

Next race is Dyracuse, and then we will be on to the Crawfordsville GNCC race.  Wow, where did this season get off to?  I know I have not gotten enough racing in this year.

out,

Joe

That was the most epic battle yet!

Sunday was race number 2 at Crystal Falls.  Some subtle modifications of the course, but basically the same layout as the day before.  Yet, Saturdays deluge was replaced with sunny bright skies and a bit of wind.  Since most of the area is sand, the dirt became fairly epic.  And with the exception of a few areas that are going to be muddy for a long time, the dirt was perfect on the course.

After spending the morning cleaning the motorcycle, and working on the damage from the day before (I am not really sure how it actually ran the day before, as the air filter was completely soaked.), I discovered that I did not have any brake pads left on the front.  I scrounged around at the race, and found a set of used fronts.  Beggars cannot be choosers.  In the end, most of the damage from the day before was superficial.  Ready to race.

When the gun went off, John and I led out and checked out.  He followed me into the woods, today I was not going to let him leave me behind.  But, unfortunately I fell over right away in the woods.  No big deal, just handed the lead right over to him.  Soon after that, he tipped over and I went back around him.  From there, it was on.  The lead changed hands multiple times on each lap.  One of us would get stuck in a slower line, and the other one would go through.  Interestingly, neither one of us could get away when we got to the front.  It seemed pretty easy to make up ground on the other one when you were behind, but once in front – getting away was just not happening.

About halfway through, either John was getting desperate or just tired.  Either way, his attempted passes were becoming more aggressive.  One time he went inside of me to a line that did not exist, and we ended up completely tangled up.  I was almost completely off my motorcycle and onto his with him.  I do not know how we did not go down together on that one.  Another time, I was ahead again, and fell over in a rut going uphill.  He slammed into me and then toppled right onto me.

We laid there in a heap, 2 bikes, 2 riders all tangled up.  If we were not so tired and both so determined to win that day, it would have been comical.

After that, John got through a lapped rider in a tough section that I was forced to follow the lapped rider through.  That put a 5 second gap between us, and that was how we finished.

Oh well.  It was super fun.

On to Dresser.

Joe

Dude! Can you come and get me? I think I need stiches… Again!

Poor Chad! The title above is the last words that I heard from him today.  He was on the phone with one of his friends here in Marquette, Mi.

Chad Landowski went to high school with my oldest daughter Ali.  He now lives in Marquette, and goes to school there.  Marquette has fantastic mountain biking.  Chad is a mountain bike freak.  Chad works at Trek in the summer, helping Dwayne build trails on our property.  His heart belongs in Marquette and on a mountain bike.  Unfortunately, for Chad he rides with more gusto than he sometimes has skill.  He has no shortage of heart…that is for sure.

We have been riding all week here, and Chad joined us today for a ride.  He fell at least 3 times – hard, during a 3 hour ride.  The first was a stiff washout in a turn.  The 2nd time was by clipping a tree with his handlebar and ending up far down the side of the hill.  The 3rd time was the charm though.  He did, who knows what, and rag dolled down the hillside in the rockiest and toughest section on the whole ride today.  Bad luck.

Chad, after the 3rd accident. Getting ready to head to the clinic for some stiches.

Dean also crashed hard today. Yep, those are tire tracks.

Doug from Vio sport rocked the Session around the XC trails

Safety store - Marquette.

Room filled with fun.

Motly crew. Looking over towards Marquette Mountain, which we would love to be riding on.

We spent 3 great riding days at Marquette.  The trails there rock.  The local crew has done an amazing job with them.  Every time I come up here they get better.

To celebrate a great work week, we went out to dinner at what turned out to be the best restaurant in Marquette.  L’attitude is great food with a great atmosphere – right down by the lake.  Then, we went to the beach and built a fire and sat around telling stories.  There was lots of laughter, too much beer drank, a football tossed, people wrestling on the beach (yep, very high school I know), Riley telling masturbation stories (another story in itself).

What was really funny with it was the police showing up at about 10:30, with a complete camera crew in tow, and kicking us out.  I think they thought they were going to be busting up a bunch of underage drinkers, and that was maybe what the film crew was for?…I do not know.  That shuffled us over to Flanigans bar for some Karaoke.

Yep, I rocked the Journey.  Don’t stop believing baby!

The girls. Ready for a night out.

Great restaurant "L'Attitude" in Marquette. Worst chairs in the world though.

Now I am off to Crystal Falls for 2 days of HS racing!  Wish me luck!

Out,

Joe

Friday Videos – some great ones here

It has been a while since I put up much on the blog site.  I have been super busy with work.  2 trips to France in July, our worldwide sales meeting etc…  Wow, time have flown by this summer.

I have not done as  many races as I had wanted to.  But, fall is coming and for the months of Sept and Oct, I will be racing almost every weekend.  Looking forward to that.

Anyway, here are a few gems that I have found on the web.

That first one is a great little video that I found of a kid who can rip on a no pedal bike.  Impressive.  You can see where the next generation of kids that ride flow courses will come from.

That is my favorite bed intruder cover.

If you were wondering where that came from, this is the original made from the  raw footage from the news story.

Whistler DH this week.  Wish I was there.

One last video to show why we all want to go to Whistler.

That is it for me today.  Racing starts again this weekend, so we are psyched to get back to writing about racing.

Joe

Friday Video post (on a Wednesday) -it’s been a while

I have not had much time to swoop for video on the web lately. Lots of travel and lots of other obligations. So, here is what I have collected over the past weeks.

This is great video from Paul Whibley’s winning GNCC season. I only did one of the races this year. Kind of a drag. I went from doing all of them the year before to just the last one on this season.

I found this video showing a preview of the next World Cup Downhill race. Wow, I don’t think I could even pick my way slowly through a lot of this course, much less look at it and figure out how I can blitz it.

That is all for now. More next week.

Good night

That wasn’t a GNCC race, but I felt as shredded as if it were

OMG, that was hard!

The Suzuki compound at the race

Still cannot get over how pro the van looks.

The Hixton D16 Harescrambles was this past weekend.  Hixton is a storied race location for Scott and I.  We have been racing there since we both got into this sport.  I have always had good results there, never outside of the top 3 in whatever class I was riding that year.  So, there was a lot of anticipation building up to the race.

Unfortunately, the weather had different ideas.  The Hixton MX track and grounds were blessed with more than 6 inches of rain in the week leading up to the race weekend.  On the night before the race, they experienced another 1.5 inches of rain.  The ground was completely saturated.  There really wasn’t any big mud holes, but the whole place rutted up and became rutted, rooty and rocky.  It beat the crap out of you.  There were ruts to get stuck in, ruts to pull you down on a sidehill etc…

Our friend Matt Herrington laid out the course.  Matt has been racing on the national level this past 2 years, but has come back to our area for a bunch more races lately.  He is currently leading the D16 AA class overall.  He, my teammate Scott and JD Friebel are having epic races these days.  Matt did a fantastic job laying out an old school tough harescrambles race.  I absolutely loved it.  I do not think that I have been on a tougher and more fun at the same time HS course in a long time.  It had fast sections, slow and tight, big uphills, downhills etc…

There was a decent sized crowd there and about 10 people on the +40 line at the start.  We made a quick turn onto the MX track at the start, and John got the holeshot into the first turn.  I was about 4th.  I pushed my way immediately to John’s back wheel, and he and I blitzed the MX track on the first lap.  As we were leaving the track, he slid out and I boosted past him for 1st going into the woods.  That was not really what I intended, as I had not had a chance to look at the course.

The first lap was tough, with a whole group of guys breathing down my exhaust pipe, and a really tough to follow course.  We made it around the first lap with a bit of drama and course finding, but by the time we came around for the 2nd lap, the course was much easier to follow.  I put my head down and checked out.

On about the 6th lap, I got stuck in one of the developing ruts, and had to get off the bike and push it off onto it’s side to get it out of the rut.  While I was doing all of that, John got by me.  Even though my Rekluse clutch kept the RMZ running through my shenanigans, I had a hard time getting back up to speed.  Eventually I did, and started to put down good laps again.

It was a hot and muddy combined day, a day for Sahara Moose gear.  I was glad I had it.

During the last lap, I began to see John in front of me – so I pushed up to him.  He could hear me coming, and although he admitted later that he was completely fragged at that point, he made himself really wide and I just could not get by him.  We pushed and shoved and fought back and forth, but I could not get him.  There was one last hill on the last part of the lap that had multiple lines and I found a good one.  I poured it on to the top and almost got past him, but I would have had to tbone him to go into the lead.  Not what us old guy racers need to be doing to each other.

We finished out the lap right on top of each other.  This time he held me off, but we are virtually the exact same pace these days.  This is really fun.

My teammate Scott had a similar ride.  An epic battle with JD, and ended up finishing just behind him.

Overall, the Vesrah Suzuki team made a good showing and had a great time.

out,

Joe

Check out the gallery of photos below.  They are courtesy of Dave Hollub at http://www.spiderwebmxpics.com

I am totally sporting the old retro Vesrah Suzuki Offroad bell moto 8 on this day.