Tag Archives: Dyracuse

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.

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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

#PM24 – Just 19 days away now! – Yikes

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

24HourChallenge

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

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

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

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

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

Scott putting lights on his bike.

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

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

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

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

Joe

Why Is That Clock Moving So Slowly?

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

in·ter·mi·na·ble

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are going to dominate this trail.

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

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

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

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

I think it is a law there or something.

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

Supercross view from our seats. Pretty cool

There is always a light show.

Ready for a good time

Looking forward to doing it again.

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

Out,
Joe

Ironman GNCC video

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

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

out… till Loretta’s.

Joe

Consumed at Perry Mountain Challenge

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

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

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

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

That is about 420 calories from gels.

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

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

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

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

TOTALS
8.2 gallons/31L of fluids

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

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

The definitive post on my Perry Mountain Challenge – 2011 version

Ready to go.

There is hot, and there is “Alabama Hot”

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

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

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

We are planners.

2 old guys from Wisconsin

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

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

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

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

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

Of course, none of the plans really worked out.

We had a fantastic crew.

Hanna doing her thing.

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

Liz in the middle of battle.

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

Matt is in charge

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

Chris taking over.

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

Noah with his hands in the belly of the beast.

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

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

Alabama was surprising.

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

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

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

The course.

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

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

The Race.

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

Scott getting ready, me the umbrella girl.

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

Scott giving it all in the morning.

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

2nd place getting close to 1st.

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

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

Me, looking a bit awkward already

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

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

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

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

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

pushing it in the morning hours.

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

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

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

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

Into the ambulance

The Trailer ordeal

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

The trailer ordeal

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

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

Closure

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

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

– if we solved the lighting thing for Joe

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

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

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

Other stuff

Photos from the weekend here.

My shorter post here.

Scott’s blog post about the event here.

A few other points to note.

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

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

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

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

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

That's where that old Saturn rocket ended up.

6.  All roads lead to Crawfordsville Indiana for me.

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

Out

Joe

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

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!

The whole post – #Sandlapper #Nationalenduro

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

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

Randy wishing us best of luck after being at his place

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

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

For me there were 5 sections in this enduro.

before the start.

Me and my minute mates for the day

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

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

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

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

Section 5, laying it down.

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

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

Other stuff

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

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

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

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

– The Wisconsin crew represented well.

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

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

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

Good morning race fans

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

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

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

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

Out.
Joe

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!

Endless Summer

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

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

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

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

Red Bull: Gee Atherton vs. David Knight

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

Gee Atherton, DH world cup champion

vs.

David Knight, World Enduro and GNCC champion

 

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

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

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

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

 

Joe

 

 

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

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

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

My bike looked sweet, ready for the race.

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

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

Josh had the coolest gripper seat I have ever seen

Josh loves his Trek

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

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

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

Imagine following that dust cloud into the woods.

The trail

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

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

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

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

Proud Boy. He should be.

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

Out

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

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

World Championship of Wisconsin HS racing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out for now.

Joe

That was the most epic battle yet!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh well.  It was super fun.

On to Dresser.

Joe

Riding with the pros at Dyracuse

This week Scott and I got a chance to participate in a really cool event. The Vesrah Suzuki Offroad team hosted the Trek World Racing Downhillers to a day of offroad motorcycle riding at Dyracuse motorcycle park. Tracey Mosely was not with us, but Andrew Neethling, Justin Leov and Neko Mulally (@andrewneethling, @teamleov, @nekomulally) were all great fun. The great people there at Dyracuse really put out the red carpet effort to make us feel comfortable and at home there. They opened up early for us, groomed up the motorcycle track, sent out a reporter from the local paper etc… Thanks a ton.

Downhilling a bicycle is a lot more like riding a motorcycle than people would think. What that means is that these guys were not slouches. Here is a little video to show what they normally do.

They can ride. We had all of our bikes out there, prepped and ready to go. We also had a camera and video crew with us. Some of the photos are below and eventually there will be a video that I can link to as well.

We rode and rode and rode. Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!

I also taught my friend Matt Pickersgill (@mattpickersgill) to ride a motorbike. He is 34 and never ridden one. I know, hard to believe. But, he is hooked now.

That is Matt, thinking about if he can do this. Nervous.

Out for now.

Joe

Finally another post

It has been a long time since I have posted anything here. I am sorry if you have been faithfully checking back, waiting for a post. I will try to make that up here, I will not be so absent again. I don’t really have a good reason for no posting, but I HAVE been really busy.

It all kinda started with the crash in Whistler. You may recall that I crashed really hard in Whistler in early July, separating my AC in my right shoulder. That really set me back. That was about 6-7 weeks ago, I have been training since then, but it is coming back really slowly.

This is what it looked like before it all went bad.

Byron HS

The Byron HS was a real old school HS. I am talking about really tight 90%woods 4 mile course. It was soft and it became really really rutted. So rutted that of course it was really really tough riding. This one was really hard to ride with my shoulder. I fell over a couple of times and that was quite the ordeal with a shoulder that was only about 50%.

I got a crap start and arrived late to the woods. There was about 18 people on my line and getting to the woods in 15th or so was a challenge. The course was mostly single track and passing was nearly impossible. At the woods I knew it was going to be a long day. I had my work cut out for me.

I managed to pass a few people each lap and ended up 5th. John and I were both in the +40 A class. There are a bunch of really fast guys in Illinois, especially in the A class.

But, I was completely shredded after the race. It is completely amazing what an injury and a few weeks of inactivity can do to your aggression and fitness. I have a long way to go for sure.

It was crazy hot on the line at Byron. I must have sweat out a gallon before the start.

Tight turn at Byron. The whole thing was tight, so calling out a single turn as tight seems silly.

Scott

Stone Lake HS

This was the next race on the agenda.  The series had been to this venue before, but I had not personally.  The first time around was when I was in Whistler with the family in early July.

Stone Lake is near Rice Lake Wi.  I know, I know…the Wisconsin lake thing.  It does get confusing.  Anyway, Stone Lake is up in northern Wi.  I love coming up here.  The northern part of Wisconsin is a special place.  The forest is great, and there are not many people.  But, the terrain can be challenging.

Stone Lake was a long loop.  8 miles around.  There was not a huge crowd there, only about 9 people on my line.  The course started out on a really really great MX track.  Great dirt, groomed to perfection, huge uphill jumps, really nice bermed turns.  Yow.  Then it went through some GNCC width trails.  They were fast and furious.  Then a great grassy field section and then 3 miles of the toughest roughest rock infested trail I have ever raced on.

Of course it rained the night before the race.  It is ME at the race after all, so it has to rain.  The rain didn’t hurt the MX track or the fast trails.  But, the rocky 3mile section was murder with mud.   I am talking standing up 100% of the time, trials type riding over wet slippery rocks that are flipping your bike right and left.  It was a workout.

I got another crap start (seems like my shoulder injury has turned me into a week starter).  I fell trying to get off the MX track, but pushed anyway and got up to 2nd before we got off the fast GNCC type trails.  I was passed by a guy I did not know going into the rock infested part of the race.  For 2 laps after that, I could still see John and that 2nd place guy on the MX track when we would get back to that, but then my fitness fell apart and I went backwards.

Oh well.  Those are not too bad of efforts for a guy with a bad shoulder.  I am starting to feel closer to 90% now, so I think I should get back to the front after this.

JD ripping

My Girl Gang

Me, but not going anywhere near JD's pace

Yep, that is about how well it went for me.

Out,

Joe

Friday Videos – some great ones here

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

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

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

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

That is my favorite bed intruder cover.

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

Whistler DH this week.  Wish I was there.

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

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

Joe

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

OMG, that was hard!

The Suzuki compound at the race

Still cannot get over how pro the van looks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

out,

Joe

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

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

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

The Van has logos!

This past Wed, Scott and I went up to Dyracuse to ride.  It has been raining a ton here, and we knew the dirt would be fantastic!

It was!

Holy cow.  There was plenty of water sitting around, but man when that place has moist dirt it can be just phenomenal.  It is completely hero stuff.  Scott rode his new 450, with the special tune on the electronic box from our friend Shane Nalley at the Suzuki Offroad team.  I admit that the motor was fun.  But, the bike is just BIG feeling.  I think that I am not strong enough to muscle that thing around for 2 hours.

I know that when I am on my RMZ250, I feel like a hero.  I can whip it around, the power never scares me and although it does get loaded up with mud and weighs too much – it is a lot less than a 450 is when it is loaded up with mud.

Anyway, we got the van logo’ed.  And does it look sweet.  AJ at Victory Circle Graphix did it for us.  He matched our bikes and put all our sponsors on it, our website URL – damn does it look cool.  I feel almost factory.  We do have to keep the road shenanigans down because of the logos after all.

Here it is.  Enjoy.  I am sure there are more pictures over at Scott’s blog by now.  You will see us on the road somewhere.

Out,

Joe

GNCC day before

It has been a while since I did a GNCC race, other than Crawfordsville.  Last year, that was the only one that I did.  Weird.  In 2008, GNCC is all that Scott and I did.  We did all the GNCC races, and not many local races.  Last year, the opposite – we did mostly local races and just the Ironman in Crawordsville.  This year, I am trying to do a few GNCC races, a few National Enduro’s and as many of the local races as I can.

So, Mat Herrington (414 Racing) and I loaded up his van and headed to Ohio for the John Penton GNCC race. Mat has been having a fantastic season.  He is on a roll of finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd at local Harescrambles in the AA class.  So, it is time for me to shoot for my best GNCC result and for Mat to take his early season form and try it against the GNCC crew.

Mat has a Ford panel van, much like Scott’s.  But, it has a couple of things that Scott’s does not.

Scott’s

–        Diesel

–        arm rests on the seats

–        Sirrius/XM radio

–        history

Mat’s

–        Cruise Control

–         really comfortable back seat that you can lay flat on to take a nap

Me, luxuriating on "the couch" in the van.

It’s amazing how much difference something like Cruise Control can make.  I really had forgotten how much of a difference it makes to drive with Cruise control.  It is so much more relaxed.

We did not leave until 9pm on Friday, with the intention of driving all night.  It was a LONG night.  Mat drove until 1:15am, then I drove till 4:30am.  Mat slept while I drove, but I still had not slept at all until when Mat got back behind the wheel at 4:30.  I slept then till really when we arrived at the track.  Felt good, and I can tell you that the couch does sleep well.

Found a radio station in Indianapolis that really rocks.  Rock 95 (although it showed up at 94.7).

We arrived at the track at about 8am, in time to see the morning quad race.  The morning race had nearly perfect conditions.  Just after the morning race, all hell broke loose.  We started into a pattern that rained just about every hour for the rest of the day.  The afternoon race was an absolute mud pit.

This is what everyone looked like in the afternoon race

Now we are in the hotel, and looking to get to sleep very soon here.  Tomorrow is going to be an absolute mudbath.  My bike, my gear and everything else I expect to be ruined.

Here is a video from the last super mudbath GNCC at the John Penton.  This is my day tomorrow.

That is it for me.  Another post will come after the race.

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]

Perfect dirt – big crowds – 4 hours!

Yow! If you are a rider, and live in Wisconsin, you were at Dyracuse riding Saturday.

The first day of the local riding season is always a beautiful thing. People come out of the woodwork. I mean it has been a long dormant season. So the first days that Dyracuse is open brings everybody out. The quad riders the freestyle pant cigarette smokers, the serious mxers, the one or two lap blitzers and the serious woods riders.

The parking lot was full yesterday. If you were a rider in Wisconsin, you were riding yesterday.

Some years, the trails are completely dry already.  Some years, the motocross track is perfect and the trails are underwater.  Some years, the trails are partially covered in snow.  Some years, it is a balmy 29 degrees for the high.  Yesterday, the dirt was absolutely perfect.  Perfect moisture to have loads of traction, yet zero mud.  The temperature was a high of 65.  It just does not get any better than that.

It is no secret, that I have been struggling with my bike of late.  I have been trying different things.  I guess it is the season for that.  But, with just a few weeks till the race season, I was starting to get impatient.  So, yesterday I rode with the bike all the way back to where it was last year.

– stock exhaust.

– bars and grips from last year.

– tires I was familiar with

– suspension set up from last year.

– brake levers at the foot

etc…

Everything fell back into place yesterday.  I went from very out of sorts on the bike, to very comfortable again.  It was great.  The bike turned where I wanted it to, it did what I expected it would do on bumps, it had the throttle response I was expecting etc…  My bike was spectacular yesterday.

I put in about 4 hours of riding time.  An hour to get started with, then about 2 hours in the middle and then a break to make some adjustments and then another hour or so.  Felt really great.  The photos below show that even after 4 hours of riding, my bike was in good shape.

Out,

Joe

It’s Friday – video time!

Friday.  I am in Asia for work.  But, I still managed to find a couple of video’s.  I get home on Sunday, and the riding season is full on.  2 wheels everyday.

Found that trailer for a good looking movie.  Here is a link to the entire movie on line.

What’s Next

Official GNCC Florida video on the GNCC site.

Georgia GNCC race

Fun helmet cam from one of the later waves at the Georgia GNCC – morning race

part 2 of the helmet cam from above – morning race Georgia GNCC

Video from the Steele Creek GNCC race last weekend.

Whacky Whacky China Eastern Flight – wow!

After you read this, you are going to swear that I made this story up.  I admit to a small amount of embellishment,  less than 10%.  This story really happened.  I have not changed the names of anyone to protect the innocent.  I have only added detail to give you the real flavor of how the story truly unfolded.  After you read it the 2nd time, you might be able to pick out the 10% embellishment, but what you will really think after that 2nd time is – “wow!”

My travels can be really interesting, and they can be really mundane.  This trip cannot be categorized in the mundane category.

I know that you probably think that I live a life of glamorous international travel. (I put off that aire I know) Sometimes my job does provide that, such as when I get to go to France a do a big bike ride, or the UK and get rained on for an entire mountain bike ride or…  Sometimes my job provides that I arrive in Shanghai late in the afternoon after 24 hours of travel and have to go directly to a business meeting and then to diner.  Ugh…

This week I had a travel experience that was straight out of a National Lampoon movie.  On Wed, I took a flight from Shanghai direct to Taipei.  It has only been a year or so that you could fly directly from China to Taiwan.  A few years ago, you would have to fly from China to Japan or Hong Kong first and then catch a flight to Taiwan.  The Chinese claim the island of Taiwan is part of China and the Taiwanese feel they are their own sovereign nation.  I am not going to try to clarify that situation, as people way smarter than me do not seem to be able to do that.

You might be wondering what that has to do with my story.  Well not much.  But, it was better to lead off with all of that than it was to claim that I wrote the screenplay to the original Ghostbusters (not the second one because that was a sucky movie).

The end result of all of this procrastination at the beginning of this story, is that I think that the Chinese are becoming more affluent down to many levels and are starting to be interested in International travel.  Although you may not realize that China and Taiwan are very different, I can tell you from first hand experience that they are supremely different.  Give a read to this story as evidence of all of that.

China Eastern flight, Shanghai to Taipei, Wed March 24.

China Eastern is the Chinese airline company with the planes do not habitually fall out of the sky.  China Eastern hires Pilots with actual piloting experience and piloting credentials that are at least very good forgeries.  China Eastern hires Mechanics that at a minimum can tell which end of the hammer to use.  And, as you will see from this story, hires Flight Attendants with chutzpah.

We showed up on time to get our flight at Shanghai Pudong airport, 8am.  We were lucky to have made it there without a snorkel (check my previous blog to know why) Already waiting in line at the checkout counter was a particularly raucous group of Chinese tourists.  As I watched their shenanigans at the check in counter and line, I recall saying to myself, “wow, I hope that they are not on our flight”.  Of course, you can imagine what flight they were on.

Chinese tourist outfit. This is nervous gum chewing man.

Since we booked the flight from the US or Taiwan or whatever, we could not get seating in advance.  That doesn’t really make sense, as in the rest of the world it does not seem to matter where you book a flight from, you normally can get a seat in advance.  Chalk this one up to one more of those “I just cannot figure China out” items.  The counter person asked me what kind of seat I would like – aisle or window or middle.  I was tempted to say middle, but in the end replied with “aisle”.  What luck, we have just one left, on row 40.  Not thinking about where the tour group might be sitting, I took it.  That will prove to be a fortuitous decision, as you will learn.

Must be target practice happening normally. Going for distance?

When I got on the plane, the tour group was already in place.  It was looking like a college dorm party, one that you would see in the movie Animal House.  People were screaming across the plane at their friends.  They were climbing over each other, tossing things back and forth, laughing and jostling – in general it was already mayhem.  I assumed that this will surely settle down once we get situated, and I wedged myself into the only open seat smack in the middle of the 50 or so strong tour group.

We just missed the 2 for 1 sale!

Immediately the woman next to me began to encroach upon my personal space.  I know that we Americans have a larger personal space than the Chinese do so, I was trying to be calm about it all and understanding of that personal space difference.  I am in their country, after all.  I can usually be calm and understanding of this sort of thing, but this was ridiculous.  I have never had personal space invaded like this.  She was reaching across in front of me to hand something to her friend across the aisle and talking across the front of me and her elbow was poking me in the sternum as she dug in her bag.  She leaned across me to do all of that, no matter if I was reading, if I was eating or if I was sleeping.  None of that mattered.  Yes, she was that much in my personal space.

Before we pulled back from the gate, she pulled out a package of gum and began smacking the gum in my ear at about 96db.  Not just a little bit loud, but so loud that I could not even drown it out with my ipod.

As we pulled away from the gate, people were still up and walking around the cabin.   The Flight Attendant was asking nicely “please sit down”.  The Chinese tourists ignored that and began opening the overhead compartments to rummage through their bags.

The Flight Attendants began yelling “SIT DOWN”.  The Chinese tourists leaned over each other and pointed out the windows and began opening more bins and bags.

The plane began to taxi towards the runway.

The Flight Attendants began running up and down the aisles yelling “SIT DOWN – NOW”.  They were pushing people down into their seats and slamming overhead bins closed.

The plane continued to taxi towards the runway.

The Chinese tourists were standing back up and opening the bins again, screaming across the aisles, trying to pass things among their friends and trying to see out of the windows on the other side of the plane.

There were Chinese tourists on one side of the plane who were trying carry on conversations with people 7 seats and 2 aisles over on the other side of the plane.  And I do not mean just one conversation.  There were at least a dozen conversations going on at once like this.

The Flight Attendants yelled “SIT DOWN – NOW”.  The Flight Attendants pushed people down into their chairs and forcibly buckled their safety belts for them.  It was as if the Chinese tourists had never seen a seat belt.  They had no idea what they did.  They had no idea how to fasten them.  And most interestingly, some of them did not know how to get out of the seat belts.

The Chinese tourists continued to yell across the plane at each other.

One of the Chinese tourists got up and started showing people how to get out of their safety belts.  Good idea.

I saw a book fly across the plane into another persons hand on the other side.  I guess it was time to trade books.

The plane rumbled down the runway, the nose lifted and it began to take flight.

Half of the Chinese tourists cheered and jumped up out of their seats.

The Flight Attendants yelled “SIT DOWN!”

Since some people had just learned how to get out of their safety belts, they stood up anyway.  One of the guys stood up and did a victory dance.  I think it was because he finally figured out how to get out of his safety belt.

The Flight Attendants yelled “SIT DOWN!”

Finally I could not take it anymore.  I was horse from laughing so hard.  My face hurts from the perpetual smile I have from watching it all go down.  I decide to put my ipod back on trying to drown it out a little bit and read a book on my Kindle.

The loud gum chewer next to me becomes so fascinated with my Kindle that she is beginning to lean in front of me to look closely at it.  She is leaning in between me and the Kindle, yelling at her friend across the aisle to look at the device I am reading.  Her friend starts to stand up to come over and look.

The Flight Attendant yells “SIT DOWN!”

I eventually put my hand on the side of the gum chewers head and pushed her back to her chair so that I could read.  She stayed in her chair for about  5 minutes and then she began to lean over in between me and the Kindle again.  I gave up and just let her stare at it.  She stares for about 2 solid minutes.  There is no movement on the Kindle – just stationary words.  I do not know what is holding her attention.  I am certain she cannot read English, as I am reading a book called “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”.  (It is a parody of the Pride and Prejudice story only the daughters are trained in martial arts so they can fend off the random Zombie attacks thrown in for good measure.)  A zombie attack happened to be happening on that page.  If she could have understood it, she would have reacted.  I do not know what she would have thought of that if she could read English.

The Flight Attendants give up trying to keep the Chinese tourists in their seats during the flight.  It is a complete Animal House scene on the plane.  They are running around, yelling back and forth from one side of the plane to the other gazing out of the windows.  They are grouped up taking Asian pictures of them making peace signs to the camera.  They are trying to take a picture of the scenery out of the window of the plane and get their friends face in the picture at the same time.  So, there is a grinning Chinese tourist in front of the window (making a peace sign) and the plane window in the background with I am sure some great scenery behind it.  That will make a picture worth framing.

The Flight attendants come around with food.  Each of the Chinese tourists dutifully sits down then and when the tray is put in front of them, they devour every edible thing on the tray.  The woman across the aisle licked the plate that contained the entre.  I swear, she licked the plate clean.  The gum smacker next to me even scooped whatever butter was left in the container and ate that.  I got a little bit nervous, as she started to gaze at my tray.  Fortunately, the Flight Attendants had their hands full with this crowd and they were johnny on the spot picking up trays, trying to stay ahead of the mayhem.

After the meal, I realized there is another gum smacker on the other side of the plane that I think is really nervous.  This guy has gone through almost a complete package of gum at this point.  He chews a piece for a few minutes then takes it out of his mouth and sticks it in the map pocket on the back of the chair in front of him.  Then, puts another piece in his mouth and starts the process all over again.  There is a pile of empty gum wrappers at his feet.  By the time we landed the back of the chair was kind of oozing.

The fasten seat belt sign comes on as we are beginning to make our approach to Taipei.  The Flight Attendants start yelling “SIT DOWN!”

The Chinese tourists continue jumping out of their seats and peering out the windows on the other side of the plane and opening the over head bins.

The nervous gum chewer across the way is on to another piece of gum.

The loud gum chewer next to me, reaches across in front of me to collect something from the woman across the aisle. She jams her elbow into my neck while doing it.

The Flight Attendants yell “SIT DOWN!”  One of them runs up the aisle to shut overhead bins that the Chinese tourists have left open.  Stuff is spilling out onto peoples heads.  A woman gets hit in the head with a bag from above.  At least 10 Chinese tourists get out of their seats to help.  The other Flight Attendants get up out of their seats to put the Chinese tourists back into their seats.

The loud gum chewer next to me puts her elbow into my sternum.

The nervous gum chewer across the aisle puts another chewed piece of gum into the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him.

The male Flight Attendant who has come back from the front of the plane is physically putting the Chinese tourists into their seats and buckling them in.

The landing gear comes down, the Flight Attendants barely make it back to their seats before the wheels touch the ground.

As soon as the wheels touch the ground, the Chinese tourists are all up out of their seats and trying to get their bags down.

The Flight Attendants scream over and over “SIT DOWN!”

The nervous gum chewer misses the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him and drops his chewed gum on the floor.  He steps on it and it stretches from his shoe to the floor.  As he moves his foot around, he is really making a sticky mess.

Finally we get to the gate.  All of the Chinese tourists are either already standing or up immediately.  Never mind that there is not really room for everybody to be standing up.  They are like lizards in a bowl, climbing over each other in one great big mass of humanity.  I see one little guy walk across the seats in the middle from one aisle to the other.  The nervous gum chewer is standing on his seat, I am sure getting gum all over it.

The gum smacker next to me is smacking so loud that even over the noise in the cabin on the ground – I can hear her gum smacking.

As we are all moving down the aisle of the plane, the 2 guys in front of me are climbing up and looking in each overhead bin.  If they find one with a bag in it, they scream out “Hey, there is a bag up here!” about 4 times each, then they climb up and look in the next bin.  If there is a bag in that bin, they scream out “Hey, there is a bag in here” and then move to the next bin.

When we get out into the airport the Chinese tourists are all grouped up and having a party over every poster every carpet color every lighted sing the color of the seats etc…  I see a group of them in front of the trash can in the terminal making peace signs and mugging for the camera (The trash can is carefully included in the picture).  They are high fiveing each other, as if they actually had some hand in a successful flight.

The loud gum smacker next to me, is down on the carpet on her knees feeling the carpet with tears in her eyes.  I think she is so excited to be out of her own country that she is almost beside herself.

The nervous gum chewer is standing there with his mouth open just gawking at windows and signs and chairs and tile on the floor and…

Travel is a wonderful thing.

Joe

I should have gotten the supersized carton of smokes!

Top 12 reasons I cannot wait for the season to start

In no real order of importance, these are the top 10 reasons that I cannot wait for the season to start.

1. The smell of race gas. There is nothing like it. My wife hates it, and that is ok. Man up, this is motorcycle racing.

2. Blisters that tear open and bleed. This typically happens on a double race weekend.  You race on Saturday, create huge blisters.  Then race again on Sunday.  The result is a blister that gets torn open and becomes a bloody mess.  Hurts, and is not really good for you, but it means you raced your motorcycle 2 days in a row, and that well…

3. The chaos of the first turn.  Imagine that you have 20 or more motorcycles tearing forward around a first turn.  Usually, that turn is in the open so there are lots of lines through it.  You might wonder why a first turn matters in a 2-3 hour race.  The first turn itself is not so important, but usually the second turn is where the track would funnel down to a singletrack in the woods.  Getting there first does matter.  But, it means that everyone hits that first turn hard to set up for the woods.  It makes the first turn just chaos.  I used to get nervous on the start line thinking about it.  Now I just cannot wait.  I love the chaos.

4. Flip flops.  Flip flops equal summer.  I usually wear regular shoes on the way to the race.  You need the regular shoes for unloading the van and for walking the trail etc…  But, after the race there is nothing better than freeing your feet.  Scott thinks I am stupid, but it is worth the risk of toe damage to get that “I am not wearing anything on my feet” feeling after the race.

5. The passenger seat in the van.  The van is not anything great to look at it, but it is the greatest race vehicle to dirt bag motorcycle racers could hope for.  At this point I have spent a lot of time in that seat heading to races all over the country.  That seat equals going to races for me.  There is no one that has spent as much time as I have in that seat.  Scott would be a close 2nd, but it is my place for viewing the world as it leads up to a motorcycle race.  That passenger seat in my mind equals racing.

6. No snow shoveling.  Snow shoveling is the polar opposite of motorcycle racing.  It is not fun, there isn’t really much satisfaction that you get from doing it and, on the days you do it you are not racing your motorcycle.  And even if you do it right, the next snow storm is going to come along and ruin what you did.  I have never snow shoveled one day and then raced my motorcycle the next day – I’m just sayin.  Snowshoveling equals no racing, ergo racing equals no snowshoveling.

7. My wife in a bikini.  Racing happens in the summer, what else happens in the summer? – Duh.

8. Getting the whole race right.  This only happens about once or twice a year.  Sometimes it happens on a day when you win, other times it happens on a day when you get 5th.  But, when it does happen it is really really great.  It is why we all do this and what we are always chasing, and rarely achieve.  I am going to have a few of them this year.

9. Brian-isms.  Brian Terry is the D16 Harescrambles rep, a great guy and a friend of mine.  But, he says whacky things.  I don’t know if he says whacky things when it is not race season.  But, I hear them during race season and therefore it makes me know it is race season.  Read this earlier post and you will see how  Brian-isms = race season.

10. New decals.  They are so shinny.  You know what I am talking about.  Old decals look scuffed and smudged and dirty all the time.  During the offseason, you don’t bother replacing them.  “Ah, they will be fine for going down to Missouri and riding.”  But, I really like to show up to a race with fresh decals.  They are so shinny.

11. Putting fresh tires on my bike.  I usually nick my knuckles.  But, new tires are like decals.  They just make the bike feel so neat.  I don’t bother on a practice day, but for race day I like to show up with fresh meat on there.

12. TENNN..SECCCOONDS!!!!  The starter at a GNCC race yells this out 10 seconds before the race.  It means the melee of the first turn is about the happen, the fresh tires and decals are looking good, I can smell race gas, I have spent time in the passenger seat, I am not going to be shoveling snow that day, there is still the possibility of getting the whole race right, I am looking forward to flip flops after and of course there may be a bikini involved.

TENNNN…SECCONDS!

Those used to be clutch plates!

For the last few rides, I have been hearing a funny ticking sound in my bike.  It has been a few months, because at this time of year it takes a few months to ride your bike a few times.  After Crawfordsville, I heard a funny ticking sound.  I thought it was my valvetrain with slack.

– I adjusted the valves.  Still did it.

– I checked my clutch, seemed to be fine.  With the Rekluse, the gap on the pressure plate to the first friction is particular.  I checked that, it was good.  It did it again at the indoor MX track.

– I adjusted the valves.  And headed to the National Enduro in Sumter South Carolina.  It still did it, but I learned that it went away when the clutch lever was pulled in.

I figured that I would replace the whole clutch, basket and all.  As I was pulling it all apart to do that, this is what I found.

When I put those in the motor, they were complete clutch friction plates.

Like my teammate Scott said “I am no expert, but I am pretty sure that is not how they are supposed to look”.

Guess what, no more funny ticking sound.  Jeez!

So, this should hopefully make my St. Joe riding experience a bit more fun.

Out,

Joe

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

3+ hours at dyracuse.

Absolutely perfect dirt today! Rode with Mat Herrington. Damn he is fast.  We did 3+ hours.  We did the first hour together, and my pace.  Then switched and of course I cannot keep up with Mat. We strung up the loop from the race 2 weeks ago. But, it was really good and I had good form. Too bad that I did not ride this well at the race there.

Stopped at 2 hours and splashed gas, ate 2 gu packs and then headed out for another hour.  In that hour, I really rode well.  Mat did lap me near the end of that 3rd hour, but he was not going that much faster than me then.  I suppose we were both on auto pilot at that point.

Mark did a superb rebuild on my motor, and OMG! Wow is it super.  It has tons of power now, and is really smooth. Temperature was 40 at the start, probably 50 at the finish.  I have only raised the needle one clip.  Otherwise the jetting is stock.  It was pretty perfect.

I cannot wait for Crawfordsville now!  7 days to go!

Woohoo!

Dyracuse World Championships

The Dyracuse World Championship of Wisconsin offroad racing!  That is what Scott and I have been billing it as.

Dyracuse is where both the WIXC series and the D16 AMA series was going to come together and race the last race of the season together.  It was held at Dyracuse riding area, on trails that Scott and I knew pretty well.  And, it was not without it’s share of Drama – mostly in the AA class, so I will let you read about that on Scott’s blog.

Dry, Dry, Dry! That was the order of the day.  We knew it was going to be dusty and we knew it was going to be dry and hard to see.  Sure enough, it was.  Huge clouds of dust.  During the week before, it rained cats and dogs in Madison.  Madison is just an hour and a half drive south of Dyracuse.  We were pretty excited during the week, that there could be perfect dirt at Dyracuse.  But, a check of the actual weather in the days before showed less than .5inch of rain during the week before.  Ugh.

The course is long at Dyracuse, so Scott and I decided to leave at 5am so that we would have time to ride the whole course on our mountain bikes before the race.  Scott had brought with him a Gary Fisher 29’er, but all I had at home was a Trek Jack dirt jumping bike.  Scotts bike worked perfectly in the sand, but mine with indoor tires set up left a lot to be desired.  So, Scott made it all the way around and I made it just a little bit.  Oh well.

turned out there was quite a bit of unused trail that they found for the race.

turned out there was quite a bit of unused trail that they found for the race.

Ahhhhh!

Ahhhhh!

There was also quite a bit of virgin trail, and that will play in Scott's story!

There was also quite a bit of virgin trail, and that will play in Scott's story!

Yep!  We are dorks.

Yep! We are dorks.

Turned out to be a huge crowd on the line.  I think for sure the biggest crowd of the year here in Wisconsin.  I guess that is what it is like when we bring both race series together and kind of proves my point that we have enough racers here in the state for 1 series, but not for 2.

There were 18 guys on the line for the +40 race.  Wow.  This was going to be fun.  The gun went off and I did not get a good start.  I knew that I needed to be near the front at the beginning of the race or the dust was going to be impossible.  I pushed really hard to get by people on the track before we headed into the woods.  On the 4th turn, I chose to go under a rider and when I did I must have been too close as he fell over on top of me.  Literally on top of me.  His bike was on mine, and he was on me.  But, my bike was laying there under his – still running.  Damn that Rekluse clutch is amazing.  I got my bike untangled and got going, and when I came off the track, Brian told me that I was 2nd to last.  So, I had my work cut out for me.

I caught up to Rob really quickly, who was on a new 450.  Yow.  That is too much bike for me, but he claims to love it.  But, I knifed through him pretty fast and kept going.  In the woods, just because you are on a 450, that doesn’t mean that a 250F cannot leave you behind.  When we came through after the first lap, I was in 3rd.  I assumed that Jim and John were ahead of me.  I was right on Jim, but it turned out I was wrong on John.  I caught Jim and another guy and worked my way through them on the 2nd lap.

At the end of the 2nd lap, I was in 1st.  Not bad for the start that I had and getting off the Motocross track.  I do really well in the opening laps, especially when I have a deficit to make up.  I rode the next 4 laps in 1st place, and probably got a little bit complacent.  I think I settled into a mellow trail pace, thinking that I had it in the bag.

Unfortunately, Jim and John had a different idea.  They caught me on lap 6 and had a good freight train going.  They went right through me.  Ugh.  How could I let my early part of the race pace, fall off.  I got mad again, and that is when I ride much better.  I decided this wasn’t going to happen and put my head down again.  On the MX track, I came over a rise only to discover Jim on the ground.  I could not see him until to late, and unfortunately I ran right into his back wheel when he was picking his bike up – knocking his bike back down.  I felt really bad for that and apologized like crazy.  But, I did not want to wait for him as I really wanted to see if I could catch John.

On the 7th lap, I completely fell apart – again!  I have problems.  I threw away another race.  Another time that I should have won, but did not.

So, the District 16 series is over.  John won the overall.  He deserved it  He was the most consistent of us all.  I took a credible 2nd overall, but I have some consistency issues that I need to work on for next year.  Fitness and being able to hold that pace for the 2nd hour as well.

That is it for today.  More observations to come.

out!

Joe

We’re Back!

Summer break is a long time.  A lot has changed, so let’s get started.

During the break, I did some bicycle racing and some decent training, but mostly I just felt like I got fat.  Fat is not good.  Makes you feel fat.  Not like “Hey I am Phat!”, but more like oh god my pants feel tight.  I always have wondered what it was like to wear really tight girl pants, now I know.

Time to get back after it all.

A few things have happened

– I sold one of my RM250’s.

– I have been riding the RMZ, and that thing kicks butt.  I am going to rebuild the other RM250 as the Ricky Carmichael replica that it started life as, and sell it off.  I do not think I will be riding anything but that RMZ – it is that good.  Also means that I will have a bunch of RM parts to get rid of on here and on Ebay.

– I am adicted to FRS.  If you haven’t tried it, do.  OMG!

– I am listening right now to David Lee Roth, minus Van Halen.  I know that is wonked, but I am doing it anyway.

– I finished my garage.  It rocks.  If it is empty later today, I will post up some photo’s.

– The coffee is good this morning.

So, yesterday… Scott and I got off our butts and rode.

Me behind the wheel of the trusty steed.  Getting us there!

Me behind the wheel of the trusty steed. Getting us there!

  • No Candi, as we know the way.  Scott's new Sirrius unit rocked us there.  She was pissed.
  • No Candi, as we know the way. Scott’s new Sirrius unit rocked us there. She was pissed.
  • A beautiful sight, but no premix!

    A beautiful sight, but no premix!

    We slid up to Dyracuse in the rain.  The skies parted as we arrived and it turned out to be the most epic day of dirt ever.  I suppose it has been super dry there all summer, and the sand became the really dense loam that added up to being the most fun you can have.

    I mean, you could not have designed better dirt.  That place is great and all, but sometimes when you show up it is just powdery sand.  This is the time that you dream about.  The dirt that keeps you coming back hoping to find it again.

    2 shots.

    That is the MX track. mmm....

    That is the MX track when we were leaving even.  mmm…

    cock your head sideways, and you will see what I am talking about. Oh ya!

    cock your head sideways, and you will see what I am talking about. Oh ya!

    Suited up like the nervous dorks that we are.  15 minutes after arriving, we were taking a look at the loop.  Dyracuse park has purchased another 300+ acres adjacent to the park.  We added a ton of new singletrack in that new area to our loop.  The loop if now over 20 minutes long.  Holy Cow!  20 minutes!  You still get to know it and it can become redundant.  But, when you say to yourself “Ok, one more.”  You better mean it.

    I felt really good.  I would say that I am ready to roll.  The second half of the season is here.

    – Crystal Falls D16 race.

    – Valders WIXC race.

    – Long Lake D16 race.

    – Dresser D16 race.

    – Rhinelander WIXC race.

    – Dyracuse D16/WIXC race.

    – Crawfordsville GNCC

    – OMA “The Race”

    Not a bad way to kick the season to the curb.  Not ready for this one to be over, but ready to get back to racing.

    I love the chaos of the first turn.

    Joe

    That new bike smell!

    So you get a new bike.  It is all shinny.  All crisp feeling.

    The fasteners do not have marks on them yet.  There is no duct tape holding on a graphic yet.  There are no zipties holding panels together yet.  There are no dents in the rims.  There are no boot rub marks on the cases or frame yet.  The teeth on the footpegs are not worn.  It is a fantastic time in a dirt bikes life, and in a dirt bikers life.

    You get to change the oil without having to scrape dirt off the drainplug first.  The air box is so shinny inside.  You get to torque all the bolts for the first time, marking them painstakingly with a sharpie to show that they have been done.  You get to lube up all the bearings without having to clean gunk off them first.

    After you are done prepping it for the first time, but before you have really ridden it yet, you go out to the garage just to stare at it and admire it.  You start it just for the heck of it.  You invite your friends over to see it.  Your wife comes out to look at it and says “looks just like the other one.”  (But she doesn’t really count in this, and who asked her anyway?)

    Then the first ride day comes and your almost sad about tarnishing that new bike smell.  Almost.

    You take it out and absolutely thrash it.

    The Victim!

    The Victim!

    Scott and I took shinny new 2009 Suzuki RMZ 250F’s to Dyracuse and rode the crap out of them.

    The dirt was perfect, the trails were completely empty.

    2hours on a new bike.  No steering damper on the bike yet, so it was hard to stay on the trail in the 2nd hour.  But damn a new bike is fun.

    I think that my riding has adapted to a Suzuki.  I get a new Suzuki, and within a few laps on it, I am completely comfortable.  I don’t really think I want to switch brands ever, as I think I would have to learn to ride all over again.

    I love my RM250 2 strokes, but I have to admit that this new bike seemed really good right away.  I am excited, because if it this good right away, it could be REALLY good after I live with it for a while.

    The aftermath!  It was so shinny before!

    The aftermath! It was so shinny before!

    Out.

    Joe

    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!

    Tuesday 4/7

    Still hurting from Saturday’s ride. Damn, this getting old thing sucks. My back, shoulders, arms and legs all still feel it. Riding my bicycle to work this morning, to a meeting in Cottage Grove (15 miles away). That should loosen everything up. But, it is just 29 degrees out so have to bundle up.

    Tonight I will prep my HS bike from the weekend. Needs to have oil changed, tires mounted up, new grips etc… I might end up going to Aztalan MX track to ride on Wed or Thur eve. I just got my new key in the mail, and it is finally going to be up in the 50’s on those days.

    I also need to prep my Enduro bike. I am planning to go back up to Dyracuse to ride this Saturday on that bike, and it needs the sand front tire and a few other things to be ready for that.

    Just 10 days till the Enduro in Indiana.

    Joe

    Dyracuse – opening day

    Perfect!  That is about how I would describe it.  50 degrees, moisture in the soil but no real mud to speak of.  There were a ton of people there.

    Joe Bauer, John Buechner and I arrived at about 9:30.  The gate does not open until 10, but we got changed and all set by the time the gate was open.  “Speedy Pete” Laubemeir and a couple of other arrived at 10:15.  We were ready to ride by the time they were unpacking.

    The 3 of us went out and found a loop.  A combination of the HS race loop from 2 years ago, and some of the HS race loop from last year.  It was great.  We made about a 15 minute loop, that had the trademark terrain of Dyracuse.  Lots of sand, lots of whoops, lots of fast sections and a bunch of log crossings etc…  Damn, Speedy Pete really is speedy.  Wow.

    I was on a plan to see if my bike can run 2 hours with the small tank.  I think I can.  I am going to expand it a bit, just to give me some insurance, but I think I can get a 2 hour race in with the small tank.  I am psyched by that.

    My Suzuki worked flawless today.  This is the 06, that I grenaded last year.  But, Mark Junge completely rebuilt the motor for me, and it is sweeeeet!  I love that bike.  My new Moose XCR gear is really really good stuff.

    On the way home, John and Joe talked me into do the Enduro down in Indiana with them instead of the GNCC race at Loretta’s.  Loretta’s is 9 hours away.  The Enduro down in Indiana is just 4 hours away.  That did it for me.

    This week I will get my enduro bike ready to ride, and I will ride that up at Dyracuse next weekend.

    Damn weather gods!

    Wisconsin can be a wacked place.

    It is March 29, and we woke up today to 6 inches of snow on the ground. March 29! They held a golf tournament here 2 weeks ago, for crying out loud. It is bad enough that it snows like this at stupid times, but to have it be that way on the morning of what was supposed to be the first race of the year for me, really sucks.

    This is what it looked like out the window when I got up!  March 29!

    This is what it looked like out the window when I got up! March 29!

    I know that I am supposed to stop talking about the weather. After all, grousing about it doesn’t do anything.  In fact, it doesn’t even make me feel any better.  I am having a hard time just “dealing with it”. Someone is out to get me, or at least that is the way that I feel some times.  That feeling is what makes me want to “Damn the weather gods!”

    I guess I actually have it pretty good. I have bikes, I have a riding area.  I am pretty fit, and I am ready to go.  Maybe this weekends race was just not to be.  Sure wanted to kick my bike over on a starting line though.

    Oh well.  On to some other rants.

    Can someone tell me what the hell is up with James Stewart? He is by far the fastest man on the planet. I don’t think that even Ricky Carmichal could keep up with him on his best days. Yet, Chad Reed has a good chance of beating him for the overall in the AMA SX series. Chad is fast, and a classy rider. But, come on, this is James Stewart we are talking about. Chad Reed?

    But, I guess the races have been fun to watch.

    What about that GNCC series, eh? We have had so many years with a guest superstar, that we had all forgotten what GNCC racing is really like. The races are tough, and there really is not guarantee from one race to the next.  There really are only a couple of people that can dominate the racing the way that Juha and David Knight did, and they are not here this year. Jeez it has been exciting. 3 winners in 3 races. I am still waiting for Paul Whibley to solidify things at the top, but for now it is damn exciting. I fear that Paul will put it together sometime soon, and we will go back to runaway wins by one rider again.  I am disappointed that my man Nathan Kanney has not put it together yet.  It is a long season, and we will see what happens next.

    Next weekend is the opening weekend of our biggest riding area.  I suspect that we will be fighting our way through the snow.  But, I will not be missing that for anything.  Dyracuse riding area.

    Our for now.

    Joe