Tag Archives: district 16

2wheelers kinda run my life!

 

I think I'll go skiing.

I think I’ll go skiing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

40. Go to a World Cup DH race.

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

 

Daylight

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

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

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

That right there is some good stuff.

That right there is some good stuff.

 

 

 

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Indiana, where racing happens.

This weekend was a dub-tastic race weekend. 2 races, both in Indiana. Next weekend is another Indiana race weekend with the Ironman GNCC. Indiana is the center of the racing universe (Chris Bach will be happy I said that). I have now seen what he has been talking about with the MAXC race series. Very GNCC like. 250 riders on the line, 9 mile course, feels alot like a GNCC. (Ok Chris, you can stop saying I told you so…). After the MAXC race, I joined my friend Noah Mitchel at the National Enduro, in Matthews Indiana. Noah was our mechanic for the PM24 race, and is one of my absolute heroes. And, on top of all of that Liz went down with me along with Stella.

We had to sneak Stella in to 2 Holiday Inn hotels on the weekend. Lol. Poodle in the house. BTW, Stella is way tougher looking than Bach’s little dog Addison. Kinda silly, debating is a 14 pound dog tougher looking than a 4lb dog. In the end, neither of them is tough because Adam Bonneur has a dog named Wolf. (now that is tough).

I find that all dogs deep down inside don’t really like the names that humans give them. Most male dogs want to be called Hank, and female dogs want to be called Luna. (Stella is kinda pissed that Luna Lovegood is getting all the credit for the name.)

Odd that penguin being there.

Saturday-Day1

The MAXC race was a hoot. 250 people on the line, 13 rows on the start line, about 12-25 in a class, 9 mile course, swoopy fun. I will definately be making more of these next year. Below is not the video from our race, but gives you a feel for how the races are. Great.

For our race, it was in Culver In. That is north of Indianapolis, just 4 hours from my house. Perfect. It is alot of sand. I like sand, at least I think I do. It was sprinkling at the start. I should have planned better, but I did not think it would get bad. Little did I know. It started off sprinkling, and the sprinkle turned to rain, which turned to the heavens opening up and prompting a few people to stop and start building the arc. I am talking Unadilla 2008, John Penton 2010 kind of rain. Yowza. Rivers running down the trail, you cannot get out of the rut kinda rain.

I had a good race. Crappy start, but good race. I cannot get off the line. I hit the 1st turn in 9th or 10th. I could see the guy with the ISDE helmet get off the line 1st and could see him pulling away before we even got into the woods. damn. I had work to do. Took me about 1/2 of the first lap to get past the last few guys and go hunting. The ISDE helmet guy was really fast. I think he lost his goggles in the rain earlier than me, and that is the only real reason that I caught him. I did manage to get past him and start the last lap in 1st, but once my goggles went away I turned into an absolute tourist. (I really really suck when my vision goes.) In the end, I finished 2nd, and was really happy with that.

Yuck. That is going to need to be cleaned up.

Chris Bach won, Rory Mead 2nd. At least that is what I think happened. When they came by me late in the race, that was the order they were in. Holy crap they are fast.

Sunday Sunday Sunday!! (I always want to say that.) – Day 2

After the race on Saturday, Liz and I loaded all up and hit the car wash. Had to be done. Bike and boots, and everything else was corked. It was all so bad that it was disgusting. Couple of dollars at the car wash, and ready to go. It was not a full on, make it pretty and I will be proud of it, but clean enough so that I could change the air filter and check to see if the brake pads needed replacing.

On the way to the Enduro, I noticed an ark being built and a bunch of weird animals.

The Indiana National Enduro is held near the Cumberland covered bridge. A pretty cool sight, given that it was built in 1857, but this historical blog entry will have to wait.

Noah has been wanting to do this enduro together for a long time. It sounded like fun, and it was. But, I am not an enduro guy. I kinda like a start line and a finish line and a little more flowy trail in front of me. Enduros tend to be more about hard man conditions and technical difficulty. I guess I am not that guy. Turned out that Noah is that kinda guy. He smoked me. Good on you Noah. I’ll do another with him, because it is just fun to hang with guys and I do not get to see Noah that much, but it is definitely not my kinda race.

The race advertised 70 miles of trail, but that was probably exaggerated as there was certainly 15miles of paved road in there also (sometimes as part of the timed section, but normally just part of the transfers). There were a few sections that were really fun, but most of it was tighter than my liking and alot of it was certainly way wetter than I like. There were a few times I was completely stuck in the mud and more than once that I could not get any traction on an uphill.

In the end, the race took about 5 hours for us. 5 hours on a motorcycle is always a good thing. Sneaking dogs into the Holiday Inn is also a good thing. I guess that makes it an all around good time.

This coming weekend is the biggie, the one that started it all. The Ironman GNCC. The worlds greatest race. It is also another trip to Indiana. Hoping for another great race there.

Indiana, where racing happens.

Out,
Joe

Ouch. That is going to leave a mark. Day 1 night, getting ready for the next day.

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

I want to go faster!

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

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

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

Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect Group size.

Scott in the morning.

Shane showing us how it is done.

Lunch time. Perfect day.

Day 2 – 8am start

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

out,

Joe

Dawn, Oatmeal, Pearl Jam, Burrito’s and Two Wheelers!

Love this time of day

My best days have always had a combination of starting early, Oatmeal for breakfast, Pearl Jam on the stereo, a Burrito of lunch of dinner, and the day is centered around doing something on a two wheeler.  Those are my best days.  They are hard to beat.  They do not happen enough.  Best days…just sayin.

I really like that time when the sun is not up over the horizon yet.  It is a nice cool part of the day in the summer and a brisk part of the day in the winter.  No one else is up yet, sometimes it will be a bit foggy, other times a little bit misty even. The sky gets red a light to the east, there isn’t any traffic to speak of yet on the road…  Ahhh.  Those mornings usually start with an oatmeal breakfast.  My friend Chris Bach calls it “Joetmeal”.  It is about 1200 calories all by itself.

Joetmeal – 3 big scoops of Oatmeal, 3 big scoops of vanilla yogurt, a huge amount of sliced up strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and sliced up peaches, a handful of almonds, a handful of walnuts.

Half eaten “Joetmeal”

Today was the 2nd race day since being back from Europe.  As usual, I spent most of June and July in Europe.  Kinda fun, but it means that I cannot race my motorcycle.  And I NEED to race my motorcycle.

I raced at Hixton last weekend and then at Kewanee today.  1st at Hixton, 2nd at Kewaunee.  Reasonable results, but in fact I actually felt much better at the 2nd place ride.  What if it kept progressing that way?  I mean what if the placing kept getting worse, but the race felt better each time.  Think of it, you could eventually be last place and be ecstatic.  Nah…

The Hixton race was the typical district 16 race.  They are always too tight and do not really flow.  The Kewaunee race was fast in parts, tight and technical at other parts, and it rode a creek bed, had roots and rocks both.  In fact, it was a miniature GNCC race.

Race ready. Looks badass.

Kewaunee may actually be the best race I have done in a long long time.

Doesn’t look as good after the race though.

No Burrito today.  That does make it not as good as it could have been.  But, it was still pretty good day.  Might as well end with a bit of PJ.

Enjoy, Joe

If that was a REAL harescrambles – Holy Crap!

Took us a while to find this parking space. Isn’t it perfect?  Look, the van matches the bike graphics!

This past Sunday was the 1st D16 harescrambles race here in Wisconsin.  It was a doozy…  Pete Laubmeier said “This is the way REAL harescrambles used to be.”  I do not know about that, but he was right that after about 35 log crossings, I was definitely cussing Pete and Bob Kau.  (I suspect that this is what I deserve for calling Bob a crusty old guy with a beer in his hand.)

Scott and I arrived early as we normally do.  We parked up the van, registered, then headed out for a course walk.  All we could do was gush about the course.  A bunch of fresh trail, what looked like good dirt, but – a ton of logs down and buried in the grass.  Hidden, lying in wait and just ready to grab your front wheel and slam you to the ground, where you will lie there wondering what in the hell just happened to me?

Lots of virgin trail cut through the woods.

The course was about 8 miles around.  It had some great dirt in the trees, used a couple of old cranberry bogs which were totally beach sand, then had about 4 miles of virgin trail in the sort of open woods that were part of where a tornado had a few years prior ripped through the woods.  Lots of logs down at a pile of toothpicks crazy angles.  It must have been a hell of a tornado.  Pete and Bob had chopped their way through a bunch of the trees that were down, but left a bunch strategically as well.  A LOT of bunch.

I am on a new plan for this year.  Even though I am 51 years old, I have decided that I am going to try for this year to race with the kids.  I signed up for the Open A class, which pretty much commits me for the season.  I am generally more than twice the age of the rest of the field.  It will be fun.  I probably will not win much, but I hopefully will get faster and faster and closer to the front during the course of the season.

This is going to be a mess once the race starts.

The course was crazy tough.  I did not expect it was going to be that tough.  The log crossings were pretty rough.  On top of that, there were more than 3 really bad muddy spots on the course.  It was pretty dry most places, but I of course managed to get completely stuck in the mud on 3 occasions.

How does that happen?  Stuck in the mud at a dust race.

So I consider myself pretty experienced at this harescrambles racing thing.  I learned a long time ago that you do not get into a rut.  Shit happens though.  You make mistakes as a rider.  I can understand getting stuck once, there is bad luck,  but stuck 3 times is just stupid.  I am not talking just a bit stuck also.  I am talking stuck above the back tire depth.  Stuck so that you have to put the motorcycle up on its back wheel, then push it over sideways – just to get it out of the rut.  3times!!!

So, this was not my best effort.  I have ridden better than that.  It only get’s better from here.

I can hear Pete yelling at me already!  “Get your skirt out of the chain and learn to ride, you pussy”.

Out,

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

 

Go to St.Joe man. Burn some laps on that thing, and smile yourself silly.

So we did! And dang was it fun.

Yep. That is us. Old - offroad - dorks. Handsome bike though.

If your like me, you just cannot be bothered with the whole big reading thing. I mean, get to the point Joe. What is up with the title to this blog entry anyway? Well, we all know that math is hard, (or if your English “maths” is hard – whatever.). Just because you invented the English language, doesn’t mean that you do not do some left handed things with it.  You can skip to the 3rd/4th para and get the gist of this whole blog entry thing.

As I sit here in the post burrito bliss of the glow of a day of riding my motorbike, bookended by 5lbs of burrito before and after (hence the term bookended). Wow, that was a good day.

Scott and I have a new Offroad team. You probably saw the press release, or if you didn’t you are really wishing you had. It’s that whole fulfilled life thing. Yep, it’s new. We aren’t, but our team is.  We are the same crusty inane Offroad riders (slower than most <me>, faster than some, but happier than most every time we get to ride) that we were/are/is.

That is me trying not to look like a pud.

That of course is Scott looking cool.

My bike had a really good time also.

We took the 2 new KTM’s to St. Joe, burned a bunch of gas, took photos, sorted some gear and basically shook down a bunch of shtuff. The greatest thing about St. Joe is that it is huge. It has sand and rocky stuff in the woods. The terrain and ground in the woods is a lot like Loretta’s GNCC. (I won that…but you already knew that…duh!).

Scott is on a 300xc these days. I am on a 250XC-F. The 250F is the bike of bikes. Now Scott is going to tell you over on his section that his 300 is treating him right. It may be. But, the 250XC-F just might be the perfect perfect bike. It has a button, can run for like 17.6 hours on a tank of gas, it’s light, it makes really good noises, it is fuel injected so it never needs jetting advice and it makes me smile more than big. Plus, it is handsome. (maybe that is just because I am on it).

So that’s about it for this update. There are pictures, oh and a video. No parting gifts though, but on your way out could you order me a burrito?

Cheers, Joe

That is like 5lbs of burrito about to be dominated.

How do you spell – Bonehead?

“No matter where you go, there you are.” – Buckaroo Banzai

Random Buckaroo Banzai imagery!

I know that was really random, and has almost nothing to do with how to spell Bonehead, and almost nothing to do with this blog post.  But, it is one of my favorite quotes from one of the best movies of all time, and I am having taco’s tonight.

I raced my motorcycle today.  It was rough.  On my way to the race I checked Weather.com, and the heat index just said “Alabama”.  It was pretty much Alabama hot, minus about 5 degrees.  Just near 100, instead of over 100.  Ouch.  I burned.  At both ends.

You see, I have been in Europe for a month.  Europe = crappy food, too much beer, no exercise and not enough sleep.  Pretty much, I am out of shape.  And I can tell.  I pretty much started out slow, and then got a bit slower.

Seriously.  I got a decent start.  There were more than 25 on the +40A line, and I was about 6 into the woods.  But, it kinda fell apart from there.  The woods were so much just one line, that there was no passing.  I made a few wrong turns and each time I did, I lost at least a place or 2.  I was pretty much going backwards.  I figure I was spending most of my time in about 4th place, but I was working my butt off just to get back there after each time I would mess up.  Wow, that was too much work.

A few really good movies to think about:

  1. Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension.  It pretty much could be the best movie of all time.
  2. Earth Girls Are Easy.    The name pretty much says it all.  Yep, an alien comes down to earth and chases girls around.
  3. Naked Lunch.  You might need to be stoned to watch this.  Lord knows the director was.  wow.

How do you spell Bonehead ?

Answer: JOE…  I got caught late in the race by Pete Laubmaier and John Strangefeld.  They started a minute behind me on the Vintage class row.  But, both of them are AA riders, so it does not surprise me that they caught me.  But, when they did catch me just before the timing tent, they had decided to pull out and stop then.  I was so out of it when they caught me, that when they turned out of the timing tent to go back to their truck, I just followed along like a little puppy.  I got back to the truck, sat down and could not figure out why no one else was done with their race.  Are those guys on the course just warming up for the next race?  huh…

Duh, you idiot… the race was not over. It still had another 20 minutes to run.  I quit the race 20 minutes early.  Holy crap, am I missing some brain cells or what?  Jeez, I am just a knob.  I was pretty much doing my Beavis and Bonehead imitation.  I really cannot figure out which one is smarter, Beavis or Bonehead.

In the movie the Wrath Of Khan, Ricardo Montalban who played Khan, is known to have superior intellect.  (But, there was no Corinthian Leather, and Tatoo was not even there.)  For sure someone needed to laugh at my superior intellect or lack thereof today.  Damn, what a moron.  I am not sure if I was Beavis today or Bonehead.

I hope I do not have to take the Kobayashi Maru test today.

Out.

To infinity and beyond.

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?

Hixton double double!!!

Hixton.

A storied place.  I have had a lot of good races here.  But, the trail has gotten a bit beat.  This year, Mat Herrington (@matty_racer414) and Brian Terry (@Bterry15) took it upon themselves to make a new trail on the CMJ raceway.  It rocked.

Here is a little video of most of the 1st lap of the +40 class.  This is from Saturday.  I did ok on Saturday.

The course was way more up hill and down hill than the video leads on.  But, it was super fun.  I had a good race and finished 2nd.  But, John got away right away in the first lap, while I struggled to get up to that speed.

Scott and I stayed at Black River Falls on Saturday night, and had dinner in Black River Falls at Rozario’s Italian in BRF.  I was ok.  Kinda cool to stay overnight in a small Wisco town.  I love summer here.

Sicily. really?

Here is a shot of Scott doing some bike surgery.  Seems like these things always need this.  This is just before Sunday’s race.

Time to go racing.

As always, there seems to be a hillclimb going on while we are racing there.  It is whacky stuff.  Here is a shot of what I thought the best dedicated hillclimb rig was there.

Nothing.

Out,

Joe

Perry Mountain Challenge video

If you have not seen this short video, give it a viewing.  This is the best Perry Mountain video I have found.  From this you can see the dust etc…  I wish our lights had been that good (or maybe that my eyes would have been as good as this camera showed).

 

 

There is also a second good video I found.  this is Brad Brackens chest cam video.  He was on the #1 pro team.

http://vimeo.com/24780044

 

Enjoy

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

5 days to go!

Hi Everyone,

As you know, the Vesrah Suzuki Offroad team will be taking on the Perry Mountain 24hr Challenge.  We hope to make a good show of it.

At this point, we have done all the training hours, we have built pristine race bikes, we have sorted all the gear etc…  Not much left now, other than to load it all up and drive to Alabama and get after it.

From the start of the drive, you can follow along with us.
– You can follow along with us, minute by minute with our Twitter feeds.  We will post up pictures, and notes and wacky 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.
www.vesrahsuzukioffroad.com
Scott’s blog
Joe’s blog

– We will post up photos in a mobile me gallery site all weekend long.
http://gallery.me.com/joevadeboncoeur#100048

It is going to be a huge adventure, and we plan to have more fun than anyone could possibly imagine.

Thanks for the help from:
– Vesrah + Suzuki
– Victory Circle Graphix
– Factory Connection suspension
– Kenda tires
– Moose Racing
– Bell Helmets/Easton components
– GPR steering dampers
– Rekluse
– Magura
– Zipty

Thanks for following along,
Joe + Scott

Light testing – 7 days to go

Did a little light test the other night.  Here is what it looked like.  This is with

– L&M Seca 700 on my handlebar

– L&M Seca 1400 on my helmet

I will end up running 2 Seca 700’s on the handlebar and the 1400 on my helmet.  But this gives a feel of the night time laps.

enjoy.

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

Go to South Carolina, and ride yourself crazy boy!

The Mat is hearing that he is needing to be arriving on the driveway .  And so he does.

On Wednesday night, Mat came to my house.  He was packed up and ready to go to Sourth Carolina.  Yes, you heard me right, go to South Carolina and ride ourselves crazy and then do the 1st national enduro!  Heck yes, I said, I am will be wanting to do just that.  woo hoo!

If you just want the summary of the 1st 2 days of the trip, we drove a long way, it rained on the way, we arrived and then slept, we got up to nice temps and no more rain, we rode ourselves silly.

We had decided to stay overnight at my house, then leave at like the 3ish of AM.  I explained it away that I was old and needed my beauty sleep.  Yes, JD thinks I am a wuus now.

The drive was, well long.  As usual, we made jokes along the way about the quad class at a GNCC.  Seems like that is what motorcycle guys do, invent new quad classes that they could compete in.  Ours is sponsored by Keystone beer.  It would involve drinking a beer each time through scoring and then doing another lap.  The winner would be the rider who’s last lap time was the closest to their first lap time.  Cannot decide if you need to wear a sleeveless tshirt for this class though.

On Friday, we rode at Randy Hawkins property.  It is an incredible thousands of acres piece of property.  Tons of people out there riding.  All the pros getting ready for the GNCC races and National Enduros etc…  Paul Whibley was there, Jordan Ashburn etc…  They were going fast.

I set up a small loop that was part sand track and part woods loop.  I had arranged to test 2 different tire combination’s.  I tri

ed my base tire just to get a feel for the trail in the morning.  Then went to the Kenda Washougal front and Millville rear.  I did 3 laps with different tire pressures.  Then I changed to the Washougal rear and did that at 3 different tire pressures.  I ran out of time and did not get to try the new Millville front, so that will have to wait for the next testing session.

I can say that I am pretty pleased with the Washougal front and rear combo, at 9.5psi.  I am planning to run that on Sunday.  Hope I do not flat.

At the end of the day, I saw Randy talking to the Factory Connection guys.  I got a few minutes to tell him thanks for allowing us to ride here.  I am sure he hears that all the time, but it was really cool for guys from Wisconsin to be riding their bikes on trails in February.

Today, on to Salley SC for the National Enduro.

Vesrah Suzuki Offroad team has a new tire sponsor!

Did you notice that Scott and I have a new tire sponsor?  We are pretty excited about this.  Kenda has made great tires for a long time for both Bicycles and Motorcycles.  When Scott and I were first starting out, we both used Kenda tires. We had good experiences with them then, and are both excited about getting back on them now.   There is a big stack of them here now, and it is time for us to get after doing some testing and evaluating.

For me, the first time I will be on them is at the National Enduro trip in just 2 weeks.  I will get a chance to do some riding before the event, and have a bunch of wheels mounted up with tires for trying different setups.

Really looking forward to it.  Thanks a ton Frank Stacy and Kenda tires.

Joe

March 13 is coming!

We do a weird thing. “We” would be referring to us humanoids. We futz with our clocks and move them around based on how it makes us feel. We want daylight later in the day, after we are done with work, so we created daylight savings time. I once had a dog, which is no longer with us, but he did not care if it was summer or winter. He was active in the daylight, and sleeping if it was dark out. In the summer he just got less sleep than in the winter, that was how he dealt with it.

You are probably thinking about now, so what. That is a dog, he doesn’t even have opposing thumbs, we change the time because we can. Have you ever seen a dog trying to adjust a clock? I did not think so.

I have looked into this. There are a lot of theories about why we have daylight savings time, most of which are not valid. There have been theories that it saves electricity, or that it made people healthier or a bunch of other theories. Almost all of them have been proven to not be true. (If you do not believe me check Wikipedia, after all we all know that is the source of all wisdom.)

I pulled this right from the Wikipedia entry on Daylight Savings Time “DST was first proposed by the New Zealand entemologist George Vernon Hudson, whose shift working job gave him leisure time to collect insects, and made him aware of the value of after-hours daylight.” Mr. Hudson was from New Zealand, and he proposed this to the New Zealand government in 1898. And go back and reread that quote, he proposed this to allow himself more time to collect and study bugs.

Now I do not really care much about bugs. In fact, my favorite times of the year are those times when the bugs are dead and the weather is warm in the middle of the day. But, I can identify with Mr. Hudson and his desire to have daylight to pursue his passions after work. I have also never been to New Zealand, but the fact that Mr. Hudson was from New Zealand reaffirms for me that it must be a great place.

If you haven’t figured out why I living for March 13 these days, that is the day that the clocks will turn over to DST. That means that on March 13, at my home latitude, the sunset will be at approximately 18:56. For all of us that are challenged by clocks counting beyond 12, that is almost 7PM. 7PM! Just think about that. That is 3 hour more daylight than when we were at the very bottom of that pendulum swing! On December 21, the sun was setting here at about 4pm.

That will allow an afterwork two wheeler ride. A road bike ride, or a ride in the woods on a mountain bike or, on my RMZ if the snow is gone.

Hang on everyone, we are just a bit away from paradise. That thought just gives me a glow today. (It’s the little things)

Joe V.

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!

Kick butt weekend

Sunday evening.  Wow, what a weekend.

1.  Big MTB trail event at work on Friday, dedicated a trail to the memory of Chris Funk, huge bonfire and night time MTB ride.

2.  Saturday, was all about trying to get my bike working after my FAIL at the GNCC race.

3.  Sunday morning, I put together about 15 sponsor packets for the Vesrah Suzuki Offroad team.

4.  Sunday, rode the RMZ 250 at some killer trails, that are just 30 miles from my house.  Yippeee!!!

5.  Sunday evening, washed motorcycles and bicycles.  Yep.

So that pretty much sums up the weekend.  Yes, it is pretty lame that in my book that constitutes a good weekend.  But, alas it does.

On Friday we dedicated a trail at work to Chris Funk.  Chris died last year, after battling brain cancer for years.  We all still miss him.  So, we took the most popular trail at the Trek Trails (Trad) and put up a monument on a rock to Chris and renamed the trail Funk.  We installed the monument and had Chris’s wife Brandi out to show it to her.  Chris’s parents were in town and they came out as well.

It is really apropos as he was one of the most popular people at Trek and that is the most popular trail out there.  Now, every time I blitz down that trail – I can say hello to Chris as I terrorize his trail.

Glad I knew you Chris, we all still miss you.

After that memorial event, we did a fun TT, drank a bunch of beer, burned a bunch of things in a huge bonfire and then did some night riding and then drank some more beer.  It was huge fun.

We even burned a crappy old Schwinn bike after we ghost rode it and tossed it as far as we could.

Burning Bike!

Liz and I were going to camp out at the trails, but we failed that.  No real excuse, other than it was cold.  Oh well, next year.

On Saturday, I worked on my motorcycle and found out that the slide was bad and all gonked up.  I did figure it out, but I am embarrassed that it was so nasty inside that carb.  That will not happen again.

On Sunday, I went riding at some trails on Bob Kau’s land.  In a nutshell.  HOLY SHIT THOSE TRAILS KICK ASS!!!  Me, Brian Terry, John Buechner.  Brian got a new Bike!  He bought a LARGE full size bike.  He says 250’s are for pussys, so he got a 450.  Dang, he is fast on it.

Brian and the new bike! Big, but fun to ride. I think he will be fast on that.

Stack of team updates going to sponsors. Thanks guys.

So, a few more rides, maybe another race or 2 and then old man winter will be here.  It will be just training in the gym and counting the days till the first race.  Ugh…

Oh well, here goes

Out,

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 Video post

I have just a small stash today. This was meant to go up on Friday, but it did not make it.  Nonetheless, enjoy.

Here is what the Trek race department does.

Here is another one that shows just how bad it was at the Ohio GNCC.

This is a pretty good Whistler video.  It isn’t  a professional thing, but it does a pretty good job of showing what my week in Whistler next week will look like.  (I am not sure that it is the best Whistler video ever, but the guys that made it think so.)

Hope that makes your “Friday” better.

off to the races.

Joe

Mud or Dust.

We raced in the mud locally this weekend.  So did the GNCC circuit at Loretta’s.  But just 2 weeks ago, the GNCC circuit raced in the dust.  Here is the video from that race.

[Vimeo 11230611]

1st race is in the bag!

Aztalan has left the building.

The first race of the year is always a great thing.  It can be sketchy, because it is April and you just never know what the weather will do.  But, whatever it brings it is always just a great thing to get it going – for crying out loud.

Finally! We get back to racing on this stuff.

It has been super dry around here.  I mean, like mid summer dry.  Last week on Wed, Scott and I went to Dyracuse to ride and it was 75 and almost dusty.  This week, the guys at Aztalan were telling me that it was super dusty out there.  Well of course, a super pile of storms came through and dropped more than an inch of rain.  Aztalan went from being dusty to snotty slimy muddy.

Oh ya. I am going to race this thing! Yep.

That would be me above sporting new Moose Racing gear, and that would be my sweet Vesrah Suzuki hoody that I was warning that I would be wearing.

So the dirt at Aztalan is a mixture of 50% clay, 10% sand and 75% small rocks.  That adds up to more than 100%, because that is what it adds in weight on your bike when you race in the mud there for 2 hours.  There is so much rock jammed into every little nook and cranny of the bike.  I swear my bike weighed 300lbs at the end of the race.  I absolutely could not even lift it up on the stand.

There wasn’t any standing water on the race, but there was everything from pudding mud to snot on glass to the kind of mud that just turns your tires into huge doughnuts of mud.

It really didn’t do much to the mud to have the C class, or the Vintage class or the RGN class, race before us.  Sometimes, that race before us busts up the mud and gets us down to a better racing surface.  Not today.  It was just as mucky for us as it was for the 1st race today.

The RGN class of racing is pretty cool.  They race a bunch of different disciplines of racing during the year.  The key is that they have to do it on the same motorcycle for each discipline.  MX, Supermotard, Road racing, Drag racing, Harescrambles, Enduro, Trials etc…  Most people choose an MX bike, and change the wheels for the other disciplines etc…

There was a guy in the RGN class racing a KTM adventure bike. Seems like a good way to ruin a nice motorcycle.

Our race started at 1:30, as advertised.  It was raining a little bit when we started, and it would keep that up for the whole race.  I got a good start in 3rd at the 1st turn.  But, at the 2nd turn, the 2nd place guy stalled his bike and blocked my line.  I was shuffled back a few spots at that point. Unfortunately, I would not see the front anymore today.

I made my way back up to 2nd place at one point, but as I said I just could not seem to find the front today.  I am not exactly a mud specialist.  Actually, after a year of GNCC racing I really don’t care much for the mud.

I eventually fell back to 3rd, as some local MX’er made good and beat both John and I.

Liz was there and took a bunch of photo’s.  Enjoy.

Scott putting it down

Pretty Muddy

If I was just going a bit faster

I really should open my eyes

Also there was mud

Gratuitous ass shot

Pretty much what everyones bikes looked like after the race.

How I feel about mud racing!

There are a bunch more photos at SpiderwebMX facebook page.  Take a look.

Out.

Joe

Look Ma, no brake pedal!

What the…?

Yep, you see it right.  No rear brake pedal.

The crew at Rekluse make a rear brake lever that replaces the stock clutch lever.  I have been using their magical Rekluse Z-Start Pro auto clutch since last season.  I cannot ride without it.  With my history of MTB racing, and given that I have already moved beyond a clutch lever, it is a natural to move the rear brake up to the handlebars where it is normally on a MTB.  I am psyched to try it.

So, we will see very soon.  In the mean time, here is what it looks like.

No moto riding

My job and life is out of control.

I am looking at at least 3 weeks of no riding in the middle of the season!  Holy Crap!
– I am just finishing a week in Taiwan.
– home this weekend, but hanna’s last dance recital is this weekend.  (That is for sure worth not riding for.)
– Italy next week and weekend. (this is not the end of the world, as it is a riding/work trip and Liz is going with me)
– out to California for the Tour of California and a big dealer intro the following week and weekend. (Taking Ali with me, so this will be fun as well)

But, even though the trips that I have to take are not bad trips, there is a ton of working to do in between there and the combination is keeping me off the moto for 3 solid weeks.

Wow. I don’t think I have ever had 3 consecutive weeks of no riding in the middle of the season. That sucks, considering the complete local riding season is only about 28 weeks long.

This is not going to do great things for my speed. I am managing to get plenty of fitness work in during that time, but nothing keeps you race fit like riding.

New bike coming.
Mark tells me that I should have another 250F showing up in the next weeks. It is another 2009, not a 2010. I am actually ok with that. Yes it would be nice to be on a fuel injected bike, but I am used to the current bike and have all the stuff I need to outfit a race bike.

The cool part about this, is that the current race bike becomes my practice and back up bike in a couple of weeks and the new bike will see just race hours.  That will allow that bike to be my back up bike for next year and hopefully Suzuki will have more fuel injected bikes available then which will become my race bike for next year.

Scott is opting to try a RMZ450 as his back up bike this year.  That is good, because at least we will learn about programing the fuel injection from that bike and plastic, larger tank etc… are now shared between the 450 and the 250, so we can start to collect that for both of us for next season.  But, I am glad it is him on that 450 and not me.  I LOVE my 250 and just do not feel I need anything bigger.

Either way, we will be psyched to be on Suzuki’s and love giving out all of our info so others can see the way on Suzuki’s as well.

out.

Joe

Top reasons I cannot wait for next season!

Next season will be here soon, just a few months away. But, in my book it cannot get here soon enough. My counter says that it is just 31 days till the National Enduro in SC, but a pathetic 114 days till the first local race.  The season of racing signifies so many good things it is almost impossible to list them all, but I will give it a try to list the ones that impress me the most.

Reason #1 that I cannot wait for the season.
The motorcycle season does get started before real summer. But, it is really summer where it gets going in earnest. The other thing summer leads to is people wearing a lot less clothes. Some might say, most importantly summer equals girls in shorts.  But, to me what that really equals is me in flip flops.  Why would someone want to wear shoes when they could wear flip flops.

Let’s examine this closely. Shoes are completely closed in.  Flip flops are wide open.

Reason #2 that I cannot wait for the season.

Leaving early with Scott in the van.  Have you ridden in the van?  If you have not, you do not know what you are missing.  It stinks, it is loud, it requires 2 hands on the wheel to keep it straight on the road, there is no cruise control.  Now all of that sounds like a bad experience, but in fact it is really really fun.  Candy will be on the dash yelling at us to make the right turn, not the left.  Scott will shove an entire sandwich in his mouth while we are driving.  One of us will try to eat a Quiznos sandwich while driving with one knee as both hands are shoving food in the mouth and trying to catch any of the peppers that fall towards the ground before they bounce.

Reason #3 that I cannot wait for the season.

The first turn.  I LOVE the chaos of the first turn.  I love trying to get there first. I love looking for the line through the melee.  I love trying to see where John is if it is a local race.  I love trying to count how many back I am from the front when we hit the woods if it is a national race.  I love the feel of my bike as it roosts away from the line and away from the first turn.  I love the stupid pass that someone will put on me as we go into the woods.

In the end, the race is fun… but the first turn.   Ah…

Reason #4 that I cannot wait for the season.

Skiing is silly, it is snow after all.  I mean, that is frozen water that we are trying to slide over with planks bolted to our feet.  It is damn fun, but much less predictable than dirt is.  Plus, it is cold out there.

Reason #5 that I cannot wait for the season.

I love having Candi on the dash.  She is so boisterous.

Reason #6 that I cannot wait for the season.

Quiznos.  I don’t have much reason to go to Quizno’s at any other time of the year.  Even though they are sandwich artists there.  Plus, have you seen my teammate eat?  He can put it away, and I get to witness it almost every week.  How can a guy that is mostly just lungs on top of legs put that much away?   Jeez!

Reason #7 that I cannot wait for the season.

Race gas.  Who doesn’t love the smell of race gas.  I mean it is not the smell of a pan of brownies being cooked or a burrito.  But, it is way better than dog doo on your shoe.  Now that doesn’t smell good at all.  But race gas, yum.  Maybe it is just that it means I am going racing that weekend.

Reason #8 that I cannot wait for the season.

I have a new pair of boots.  Enuf said, right?  Who doesn’t like that new boot look and feel.  You look like a dweeb with some matching gear and spanky new bright white (I hope I don’t get these dirty) boots.  You cannot feel the shifter or the brake lever, so as you over rev the motor or blow right through that first turn when you cannot find the brake – you look really good.  Girls swoon for new boots.

Reason #9 that I cannot wait for the season.

More riding, and less counting down till the season.

Reason #10 that I cannot wait for the season.

I love that “someone ran over me with a truck feeling” the day after a harescrambles race.  It is like 2 hours of someone hitting you with a hammer.  You pee every 20 minutes on the way there.  You drink 5 bottles of water and cytomax and recovery drink on the way home, and you do not need to pee until the next day.  I am certain that you drop about 5 pounds during a race.  Your bike is usually shredded after a race, but it makes the someone ran over me feeling all worth it.

Bonus reason #11 that I cannot wait for the season.

It has been a few months since we have needed to have someone pull us out of a muddy GNCC parking lot.  God I love that.

So, please please bring on the season.

out.

JV

Dyracuse riding and Dresser racing!

I have a lot to talk about.  You could say that I probably always do.  In fact, most people would really like me to shut up.  But I always have a lot to say.  Even on average weeks I have a lot to say.  But, I really have a lot to say today.

Haven’t written much lately, so here goes.

Last weekend I rode for 2.5 hours at Black River Falls with John B.  This week on Wed, I rode with Scott, his brother Pat, Tom Baker and Roger Bird.  We had a whole posse at Dyracuse.

loading a bunch of bikes in the back of the van and going to Dyracuse is always a good thing.

loading a bunch of bikes in the back of the van and going to Dyracuse is always a good thing.

We rode for hours and hours and burned up a bunch of gas.  We traded bikes back and forth and everyone had the opportunity to ride others bikes.  Of course I like mine the best, but Scott’s primary race bike is pretty interesting.  He is faster than I, so he is looking for more power where I am looking for manageable power.  His bike was almost violent feeling.  Mine is friendly.  We both used those terms when we were done riding each others bikes.

I LOVE my bike.  The RMZ250 and I are perfectly suited.  I can ride it agressive all the time.  Last year when the XC2 guys would pass me, I always marveled at how they were always on the gas.  When I was on the 250 2stroke, I was always trying to stay away from the hit.  If there was a small clearing in the trail, you were afraid to give it a bunch of gas, because it was going to go all death-murder-kill on you.  I mean the power was violent on that thing.  So, to avoid that hit of power, I would try to carry lots of momentum all the time.  Good strategy, but not really fast.  Now, I am on the gas also.  And it shows.  I have gone from struggling with my riding to always riding at the pointy end of the group.

Damn, it feels good.

Today was the Dresser D16 race.  It was interesting.

Started out the drive at 5am, it was dark and foggy.  Ugh.  Tough driving.  Candi pulled me through though.

She has me going, but look closely and you can see that I have quite a ways to go.

She has me going, but look closely and you can see that I have quite a ways to go.

I had the radio going and was putting down the miles, and the sun eventually came up and gave up a killer sunrise.

On the road again!

On the road again!

I made it to the race, and it was getting hot and there was no moisture anywhere in sight.  I mean I am talking dust like you have never seen before.  There was 100+ riders on the line and 8 rows.  An 11 mile course, with an Enduro cross section.  Telephone poles at angles, piled up rock section, and a second piled up Telephone pole section on a big downhill.  It was super fun.

The gun went off and I was 5th going into the woods.  20 people on the line, and it was a dust cave.  The woods had this really powdery grey dirt that just made huge clouds.  The whole 11 miles ended up just one big dry rut of powdery dirt.  When the guy in front of you got on the gas on an uphill, you would get a solid face full of dirt.  Blasted.  I am scared to look at my airfilter.

I ran a filter skin, and pulled it at an hour.  The bike did run better for 15 minutes or so – but eventually must have choked and it ran really rich.  bogging.

I worked my way to the front a little bit into the first lap.  I was riding really really really well.  That RMZ just kicks ass.  Suits me like… I don’t know what.

In the end, I had a really great 2’05” race.  I rode nearly perfect for that time.  Unfortunately, the race was 2’20” long.  Dammit.  I was so close.  With about 15 minutes to go, I fell over.  Nothing bad, just a tip over.  Unfortunately when you do something like that, it just creates a cloud of dust that is choking.  Took me too long to get going, and John along with a lapper went by me.  I rode like mad, trying to get around the lapper to get up to John – but in the end I just put myself over the edge and then crashed again.  Got going after that, and then a guy that I had just passed screamed at me.  I let him go by, and he proceeded to get stuck on the next hill, forcing me to go back down to the bottom and find another way up.  It took me forever to get over that hill.

Funny how you can go from on top of your form to so retarded in so little time.  I still was 2nd, but I should have won.

After the race, I had a text exchange with my daughter Hanna.

Me – Dammit.  I led for most of the race, but with 15 minutes to go i fell and mangled my radiator – breaking my shroud (again).

Hanna – I’m sorry

Me.  Don’t be I still had fun and was 2nd.

Hanna. What time will you be home.

Me.  Candi says 9, but she lies.  I usually can beat her time.  Stupid stripper voice GPS unit.

Hanna. Ha sounds good.

Me.  Eating Quiznos, listening to foghat.

Hanna.  Chillin, listening to Celion Dion.

Me. Yuck

Hanna. I’ve lost my tea

Me.  Odd that Penguin being there.

Me.  No point in steering now.

Hanna.  Your brothers drunk?

Hanna.  My super powers are supercharged.

Me.  I totally have a space pen.

Hanna.  Well that is bizarre.

Me.  Left handed driving is he.

Hanna.  Well it’s the wrong side of the body.

Me.  Are there any animals that breathe mud?

Hanna. Frogs should

Me.  Radioactive mud.

Hanna.  Anything’ll do

Me.  What is better, Maroon 5, dehydrated breakfast cereal hour or Cleveland?

Hanna.  Cleveland, Rays.

Me.  Only 1 dog pooping today.

Hanna.  me too.

Me.  Hard to see when you are racing.

Hanna. Strange same here.

Hanna.  Mall too

Me.  I have never raced at the mall.

Hanna.  Weird.

Me.  She is your friend.

Me.  The weather, construction and traffic conspired to slow me down.  Home at 9:25.  I already apologized to Candi.

Hanna.  Haha.  I say you ower her an apology for sure.

There you have it.  Not sure what we meant by all of that.  I do know that I cannot wait to race again next weekend.  Pretty roached right now.

I am getting up early to work on the motorcycle.  Clean it and take the broken shrouds off to look at the radiators.  I need to try to get AJ at Victory Circle Graphix to send some shroud graphics to get me going before next weekend.

Scott texted me on the way home to say that he smelled a podium for me at Crawfordsville.  Not sure about that.  I am faster, but that is a long way faster.  If I was to do that, I would probably want to go back and do them all again next year.

yow.

Oh, even though the heat and dust were bad.  Moose Sahara gear is incredible.

That is is for me.

Joe

Hixton Photo’s

Brian Terry took these photo’s during the Hixton race on May 31.

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Link to Dirt Bike Magazine results for Rhinelander National Harescrambles

http://blogs.dirtrider.com/6544212/industry-buzz/raines-3-peats-in-wisconsin/index.html

Check out Scott in 5th overall!

Race day – it’s finally here!

May 10.  Arkansaw Cycle Park. The first D16 race.

Wow.  It seemed like winter would never end.  But then I went on a long business trip, and when I returned it is spring.  The leaves are coming out on the trees, the grass is green and more importantly – we are racing!

Scott picked me up at an oh so early o’clock – 5 minutes before 5am to be exact.  Scott and I have a thing about, when you say we are leaving at 5am, that means driving off at 5am.  It was dark in the driveway, we both had to be up at about 4am to get going, but we were both giddy.  I mean there is always something special about the first spring race day.  The air is crisp, there was a forecast for rain, it is dark out when you drive out of the driveway… yowza!

You can see that Candi is having a hard time figuring out where we are going today!

You can see that Candi is having a hard time figuring out where we are going at this hour!

Arkansaw Cycle park is way over on the west side of the state.  The event is a shared event with the D23(Minnesota) crowd.  They have a big district over there and this will promise to be a big event.  Arkansaw Cycle park is a big piece of property with fantastic dirt, lots of rocks in the soil and big hills.  The loop is a great mix of MX track, tight woods, big hills and GP type course on the fields.  The loop is about 8.5 miles around and is about 20 minutes long.

That is what I am talking about.  Loading up the van and going racing!

That is what I am talking about. Loading up the van and going racing!

We had a 3rd person with us in the van today.  Our friend Roger Bird is back racing with us again.  Roger has had a series of injuries, and is now healthy again and looking to finish out a season with us in the van.  It will be fun to have him along.  He races the same class that I do, but we have been friends a long time.  In fact, Roger is the one that got me into all of this in the first place.  Good to have him back with us, too bad he rides the wrong brand of bike.

On the way to Arkansaw, the skies opened up on us.  I was thinking, “ugh… a mud race!”  But, as we got closer the rain stopped and the fields on that side of the state are not underwater like they are on our side of the state.  It was going to be a good race.

We set up our pits, sort of an abbreviated version of what we did at all the GNCC races last year.  We did not have the camper, and we did not need the full set up for just a day race.  But, I think as usual we look to represent.

Flying the colors for one of our sponsors!

Flying the colors for one of our sponsors!

There were at least 140 people on the start.  The +40 wave was 20 people deep.  That is a big field.  Almost the size of the afternoon race at a GNCC.  Pretty much the same size of the+40 line.

The gun went off for the AA line, and Scott actually took the holeshot.  I watched him zoom off up the hill into the woods with JD in hot pursuit.  But, I will let him tell that story elsewhere.

For our start, things were interesting.  JD’s dad had warned me that there was a huge puddle in the 2nd turn.  Stay to the outside.    John Buechner got the start, I came out of the first turn 4th.  Not bad, but in that 2nd turn I went outside as I was advised, but the guy in front of me went right into the lake of water and coated me all across the front with mud.  I pulled a tear off and got my vision back and was pleased to see that I had not lost any places.  We tore off up the hill and into the first woods section in that order.

In that first woods section, the guy in front of me tagged a tree and went down fast in front of me.  Too fast for me to avoid his bike.  I wedged my front wheel between his rear fender and his tire and was stuck there.  At least 5 riders dodged around us before I could get going again.  So, the chase was on.

I chased hard for most of the race, but for the first 2 laps it was basically just follow the leader.  One line in the woods and 150ish riders equals single file and difficulty passing.  Eventually it opened up and I could ride hard.  The middle part of the race I put on a charge.  At one point at about the 1.5 hour point, I was in site of John Buechner, but my body ran out of gas.  I fizzled and did not make it all the way up to John.  I made it back up to 4th, but could not get any higher.  Turned out that I was only 1.5 minutes out of 1st, but I could not get there.  John was actually 2nd on the day.  Don’t know the guy who won, and it turns out there was actually someone in between John and I that I did not see.  Roger was a very credible 6th.  Not bad for his 1st race back in a few years.

Some facts.

– The course turned into one big long rut in the woods.  The dirt was soft, and a lot of the trail was virgin singletrack on a side hill.  That makes for one big long rut.

– That rut killed my clutch. (Actually, the rut is just a trail condition, I killed the clutch because I was dragging it so much while paddling through that rut)  I need new plates, new basket, new clevis arm, new push rod, new springs…  Hopefully our big parts order is in at Vesrah.

– I was jetted a little on the lean side.  It was only 55 degrees, and I was jetted for 65-70.  That was what it was all week, so that is what I assumed we would have for race day. The bike was a bit challenging to ride when I was tired.  I am better with a bit richer jetting, especially when I am knackered.

– The grip in the fields was incredible.  I was pulling 3rd and 4th gear long wheelies out of turns.  The berm around the outside of the turn was crazy fast.  You could just hook into the berm, roll on the throttle and sit back.  The bike would just grab a ton of traction and rocket towards the next turn.  wow.

Looks a little bit like last year.  New graphics for the team on our RM250's, underneath Suzuki tents.

Looks a little bit like last year. New graphics for the team on our RM250's, underneath Suzuki tents.

So now, I move onto next weekend.  The Pearson Harescrambles on Saturday and the Pearson Enduro on Sunday.  A big weekend.

You can only have 1 first race of the year.

Out.

Joe

Back in the saddle again!

Back In The Saddle Again

Back In The Saddle Again

Scott and I went down to Waterman indoor MX track on Friday to ride. Waterman is a really safe little indoor MX track. Not very fast, with only small little jumps. No impossible doubles, and one tough SX style whoops section. It is not my real cup of tea, but it is December with feet of snow on the ground and we are riding. Cannot really complain.

After a year of GNCC racing, it did not feel too bad. As I said, it is pretty slow. But, GNCC racing is pretty fast and has taught me not to be afraid of speed or even medium jumping. Scott and I both talked on our way home about how the jumps seemed more manageable than they did in past trips here.

Getting ready to ride!

Getting ready to ride!

Waterman is a little bit on the dark side and the air can get pretty bad, but as I noted – it is hard for guys from way up north to argue with riding in December with feet of snow on the ground.

The whoop section took it’s toll on me. There really is no way to get through them other than to hit them hard and try to stay up on top. They are too tight to double through them and if you go to slow you do the “bucking horse” thing – not good. The crowds were not too big, so we got a bunch of riding. At about the 2 hour riding point, my arms/shoulders/back gave up the ghost and turned to rubber. (amazing how your fitness goes away when you are not riding)

preview of my HS bike for 2009 season

preview of my HS bike for 2009 season

I did a bunch of geeky calculations about my fuel usage during the ride session at Waterman. You see, I have a goal of racing my HS bike in 2 hour events with a small tank. I think I can. I definitely am faster with the small tank, at least in my head I am. Based on Friday’s ride I am calculating that I can go just over 2 hours with the small tank at race pace outdoors. I will be spending a bunch of time this spring experimenting.

I have found a few articles talking about punching out a stock tank with a heat gun and a few PSI from a bicycle pump. If I can get a quarter to half a gallon more from the stock tank I am pretty sure I will not have a problem.

So, it was almost 2 months since my last ride. I think it will be another 2 months till we are able to ride next. Lot’s of bike work and gear work to be done before then.

Stay tuned.

Joe

All uphill from here!

Ok. Here it is. December 21. The shortest day of the year. The Winter Solstice. And, man from where I am sitting it is still a long steep uphill.

Here in the Upper Midwest, it is the absolute depths of winter. Today the actual outside temperature was a balmy comfy -3 degrees. That alone will make most people tremble. When you walk out into that kind of temperature, your nose hairs freeze and your exposed skin feels it immediately. But, as if that was not enough we had gusting 30-40 mile per hour winds. That put the windchill at minus 35. That is downright rude.

To top things off, we had 12 inches of snow fall 2 days ago, and then 4 more inches of snow last night. The plows have been by the house multiple times, but the wind keeps blowing all the snow right back over the road.

But, I am trying to be optimistic. It is the shortest day of daylight of the year, afterall. That means tomorrow will be light just a little bit longer, and the day after that a little bit longer again. If you multiply that out, it means we are on our way back to April 1. April is when you can count on starting to be outside riding your bicycle and even more importantly riding your motorcycle. The ground will be wet and muddy at that point, but we will be riding.

Even before that though, we will be riding.

  • Scott and I are going to Waterman indoor MX track on Dec 26.
  • We will be going up to the Sandbox to ride in January.
  • We will be going down to St. Joe Missouri to ride at the end of February.
  • Then, with any luck we will be racing on March 8 in Bill Gusse’s MXC races in Illinois.

So, it is coming, not quickly – but it will get here. 69 days till our first real outdoor riding time, 77 days till the first practice race, 88 days till the first AMA upper midwest enduro and 99 days till the first Harescrambles race. When it is all written out like that, it does not seem like it is that far off. But, it is.

There is still a ton of work to be done before then.

  • My Harescrambles bike is getting near done. The suspension will be back this week. The motor will be finished being rebuilt in the next couple of weeks. The chasis has been stripped cleaned and all bearing surfaces prepped and properly lubricated etc…
  • My Enduro bike is another matter. I have not even started on that yet. It needs all of the above and more. That bike was my GNCC race bike the past year. It had a hard year, so it is being relegated to back up bike/enduro bike status. It is getting a Baja Designs light kit and Factory Connection will do up the suspension super soft for me.

My gear from Moose will be here after the first of the year. There is a huge stack of Pirelli tires just arriving now. Many more things will still need to be stacked up to make our season complete. Although we are not traveling so much to race this season, I have many more races planned for this year than this past year.

But until then, there is still much more winter to endure. Some skiing here and there, but mostly just counting the days till winter is over.

Ugh… Winter.

Out

Joe

New WIXC series


I am super excited about the new WIXC series we have here for next year.

Rick Anschutz, former D16 AMA Harescrambles rep, has changed his role to race promoter. Rick did a fantastic job as the AMA rep here in the District for a long time. He helped organize races, he kept all of us honest by being the hardnosed rule enforcer, he and his wife Paula and his daughter spent considerable time money and effort for every racing day of each year and he always pushed for more races every year. We all have him to thank for the positive state of racing here in Wisconsin now.

I wrote a post earlier that as I go back and read it now, did not sound like I was very supportive of the new WIXC series. On the contrary, I am really confident that everything will work out for Rick. I am hopeful that my schedule works out so that I can do the majority of the WIXC races this season. I WILL be doing a bunch of the WIXC races to show my support for Rick, acknowledging his efforts in the past and his series for the future!

Rick – sorry that I did not sound supportive of your future series. I know that you were the driving force behind all of our racing here for the past years, and I know if anyone can make another series work here in Wisconsin – you can. I, along with everyone else in the state, really thank you.

You might have read in earlier posts that we have a ton of racing opportunities here in Wisconsin next year. Rick Anschutz will bring his considerable experience to the new WIXC series, Brian Terry (all around good guy) has taken over the AMA district and looks to have a bunch of races on the calendar, there is an AMA Eastern Harescrambles race here (also promoted and organized by Rick Anschutz), there are a couple of National Enduro’s nearby, Ryan Moss’s great MidwestEnduros.com website keeps us informed of a lot of opportunities for Enduro racing, of course there are OMA races and MXC races put on by Bill Gusse and then maybe a couple of GNCC races are not too far away.

Joe

Thanksgiving – Arkansas – Update

As usual, my brother and his family, my sister and her family and my family all descended upon my mother’s house for Thanksgiving. She lives in Hot Springs Arkansas. My brother and sister live in Texas, so it is sort of a central meeting spot for all of us. We have been doing this since my mother moved there about 13 years ago. We ride mountain bikes, burn things in the back yard (she lives in the woods) and drink our share of beer (not the kids, although some of them are getting old enough). Basically, it is mayhem for 5 days. Kids running everywhere, we have built a little piece of singletrack in the woods by her house, we have built a whole bunch of freeride features there also. We all refer to it as our redneck Thanksgiving.

We rode ourselves silly for the week. Every day we did some riding at either the XC race course in town, or at 2 different trail networks. We also found a freeride area at Burns park in Little Rock and a dirt jump park. We only had XC bikes, but we made due.

All I had was my 69'er SS.  Not the best jump park bike, but we made due!

All I had was my 69'er. Not the best jump park bike, bu we made due!

Hanna reaching for the back side.  Her bike is better, but not really the right gear.

Hanna reaching for the back side. Her bike is better, but not really the right gear.

Ali putting it together with the right bike, and pretty much the right gear.

Ali putting it together with the right bike, and pretty much the right gear.

So, the week before we left for Arkansas, Scott and I met with Mark Junge from Vesrah and discussed our season for next year. Scott and I both need a year of focusing on local races after our adventure this past year. Mark is completely into that. Mark is still working out his overall deal for the Vesrah Suzuki endurance road racing team, so how we fit into that is up in the air a bit. But regardless, Scott and I will still be on Suzuki’s for next year and running our little offroad wing of Vesrah Suzuki.

There is a huge season available to us for next year. 12 or so D16 Harescrambles races, 12 or so races in the new Wisconsin XC series, there are 3-4 OMA races that are close to Wisconsin, 2 National Enduro’s that are in the Upper midwest, 1 National Harescrambles in the upper midwest, 6-8 D16 Enduro races and of course Crawfordsville GNCC. Before I even add mountain bike racees, I could cover my schedule with more than 20 motorcycle races next year.

I hope you like the new look of our website. There are a few more new things that will be coming in the next month or so as well. We have combined the 2 websites from last year into 1 site. For the time being, you can still get here from the old sites, but you should update your saved URL to http://www.vesrahsuzukioffroad.com. We wanted to have one site where all of our sponsors would be represented, our individual blogs could be found, our schedule and results can be found and profiles of our bikes. This year we will be campaigning a few different bikes. Scott is going to be running a 144 project bike, an RM 250 and hopefully and RMZ250. I will be running an RM250 dedicated to Harescrambles and and RM250 set up for Enduro racing. It is going to be a fun year.

We have a new sponsor for both Scott and I for next year. Moose clothing has stepped in to provide us with the best gear for our pursuits. I have always loved their stuff. I am pretty excited to be riding in the best gear for next year.

It is time for buckling down on a training program. Scott’s wife Mary, runs a business called Up and Over Fitness. She was a Olympic level mountain bike racer in a previous life, and knows more about fitness than most anyone. I have stacks of programs here from my prep last season that I need to organize into a program for this season. I don’t really look forward to all the time in the gym, but I know it pays off when hour 2 of a Harescrambles race comes along or that last timed section of an Enduro.

Joe