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I might be old, but I am not left handed!

For the last few periods of hours, I have considered myself to be a descendant of kings. So tall I have been, that I have actually consumed an inordinate amount of #joetmeal. While that probably seems unlikely and surprising to you, I find it curious at best, concerning at worst. After all, what would a man with a yellow shirt say?

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There I am. Old, beard and all. I am looking kinda tired there, but in reality I feel great it is just a crummy photo. But, I did make it all the way through November with the beard thing. Ha.

No, I have always been known to favor the oatmeal (when is that national oatmeal day anyway?), but of late my age has been catching me out, I do not feel old but I mean I have a completely grey beard after all. So fettered with oatmeal dreams have been I that I have engaged the services of not one, but 2 trainers to help me beef up (although, I am not sure how beef would taste in my oatmeal). You see, I a have a goal of being the fastest old guy alive – not dead, but alive. (And yes, dead or alive would be something completely different, do not call me Rosanna) .

I have worked with Mary Grinacker with Up and Over fitness for some time. She helped Scott and I win/dominate/rule the world at the 24hours of Perry Mountain-ness. Back then, we needed to make sure we could go at it for 24hours. And yes I do mean IT. Nod nod, wink wink. It worked, as we surprised the factory teams and won the duo team race outright.

Our season goals are a bit different now, win the local series and get on the podium at the Ironman GNCC. Those local races are about speed. They are just 2hours long and you have to lay it down hard and fast at the beginning of the race. A GNCC race is no different in that respect, just 3 hours of laying it down hard. Either way, speed and strength are what these races are all about.

So with that, Mary said, and I quote.

PREPARATION PHASE – PRE SEASON
November / December /January
Approximately 10 weeks

Emphasis: Get STRONG. Hypertrophy. 3-4 sets of up to 15 reps.
(45-50 seconds)
Actually build some Bulk! Feel PUMPED up!
Dumb bells, Kettle Bells, Free Weights. Or Mary Circuit.
3 days a week.

Build ENORMOUS Aerobic Base. Need to do long rides and
long rows at BELOW anaerobic threshold. If AT = 165,
Need to keep Heart Rate at or below 155. Talking pace!

(Seriously, that is what the plan said that she gave to me)

At the same time, I have been going to Pats Gym once per week for the past year or 2. Pat, is amazing. He has muscles on his muscles. He can do a Turkish Get Up with a person above his head, don’t believe me check it below.

Pat, out of the goodness of his heart (that and that I basically funded the expansion of his gym based on my whole family frequenting his place), detailed the first period even further for me.

Strength Phase Month 1

Monday 12/2
Warm Up
2×5 wall squat 
2×10 squat 
2×5 goblet squat 
5×5 single leg squat @ 18-20” box
Work
Six way bb complex: 
6x deadlift + 6x bent-over row (back parallel to floor) + 6x hang clean + 
6x front squat + 6x push press + 6x back squat + 6x push-up
Do these all in a row without letting go of the bar. Rest 1-2 minutes. Do 3-4 sets. Increase weight on bar with each series, i.e. 75#-85#-95#-105#. Adjust weight accordingly
5×3 deadlift @ 80% 1rm 
Rest 3-4 minutes between sets  
1000m row for time

Tuesday 12/3
Pat’s gym workout

Wednesday 12/4
Mary’s class
Plus 60-90 minute row or bike @ easy pace

Thursday 12/5
Recovery
100x tgu @ 15# db (Yes as absurd as that sounds, 100 turkish get ups is considered a recovery workout)

Friday 12/6
Warm up
2×5 wall squat 
2×10 squat 
2×5 goblet squat @ 25# 

Work
Clean + front squat + hang clean: 
One triplet every 30 seconds for 10 minutes IE. 20 total triplets, use 75# – 135#  
10x pull-up + 20x kb swing @ 53# + 30x box jump @ 24″ box + 40x push-up + 50x sit-up + 60x burpee + 10x pull-ups
4x (30sec work/30sec “rest”) push press @ 2 x 15# db.
“rest” is in oh position. Aim for 25 reps per round. 
3×10 straight leg deadlift @ 95-135# 
5×2 single leg deadlifts @ 95-135# (2 each side)

Saturday
Warm up
2×5 wall squat 
2×10 squat 
2×5 goblet squat @ 25# 
Work – Dumbbell complex (standard): 
6x hi-pull + 
6x bent-over row + 
6x hang clean + 
6x front squat push press + 
6x ohs & sots press combo + 
6x push-up & one-arm row
Three sets, completed with 20-25# dumbbells  
Ball slam @ 25# + kb step-up @ 2x 25# kb (in rack position) onto 20” box
30-20-10 reps of each
4x (20sec work/10sec rest) row @ >100m per interval pace
2-3 total blocks, rest 2-3 minutes between each

Sunday
90-120 minute hike (preferably with elevation gain) @ 20-30# pack, or bike for 2 hours

And it goes on…you get the picture. If this does not cure my possible left handed tendencies, I do not know if anything can. Maybe a good strong IPA…hmmm. If nothing else, it should cure the old age piece.  I mean holy shit, that is some hard stuff.

Those youngsters will not even see me coming. Fastest old man alive!

Surrender Dorothy.

Joe

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Let’s do Ironman – Que the Black Sabbath here.

Just so everyone is aware, this weekend is the Ironman GNCC.  It is the race of races.  There is no better, even if there is a reset (Pete).  If your friends are getting married and they get married on Ironman weekend, they are not really friends (Matt).  If you get a new bike and you think you are not ready to race at Ironman, so you race a dorky local Hare Scrambles, it is just that – dorky (Joe).  If you come up with just about any other excuse to not race, you are just making excuses.  Get to the Ironman, if you do you will never not want to go back.

Here are some teasers.

2011

2010 – dust bowl year

My 2011 video (apologies, we were on Suzuki’s then)

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Indiana – where racing happens.

Joe

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

Love this time of day

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

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

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

Half eaten “Joetmeal”

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

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

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

Race ready. Looks badass.

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

Doesn’t look as good after the race though.

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

Enjoy, Joe

How hard is #PM24?

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

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

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

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

Perry Mountain graph

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

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

Joe

One Week To Go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for following along,
Joe

Georgia (Geow Ja) GNCC – 2012

On the way down

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

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

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

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

Another view of the new Mat rig.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Weekend!

What an amazing weekend of racing.

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

It was a really exciting opening classic.

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

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

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

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

In my dreams I can do this.

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

Cheers
Joe

Just sayin.

The Curvy Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace out,
J

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

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

I wish we were racing already!

Out,

Joe

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

So we did! And dang was it fun.

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

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

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

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

That is me trying not to look like a pud.

That of course is Scott looking cool.

My bike had a really good time also.

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

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

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

Cheers, Joe

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

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

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

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

We are going to dominate this trail.

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

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

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

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

I think it is a law there or something.

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

Supercross view from our seats. Pretty cool

There is always a light show.

Ready for a good time

Looking forward to doing it again.

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

Out,
Joe

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My most Awesome day at Loretta Lynn’s GNCC!

I won!  If you want to stop there, you can.  You can figure where this is going from here.  I am just going to go on and on about how much fun I was having and how awesome the whole thing was.  I did win, after all.  Hard to imagine not having fun when you win.  I mean, winning tends to make that course one of the best ones you have ever ridden, and it is hard to say that you didn’t ride very well when you win etc…  It was pretty much awesome.

Like I said, if you want to stop reading now, you should.  But, if you carry on, I hope to bring around at the end and make it worth it for you. Continue reading

How do you spell – Bonehead?

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

Random Buckaroo Banzai imagery!

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

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

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

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

A few really good movies to think about:

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

How do you spell Bonehead ?

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

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

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

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

Out.

To infinity and beyond.

Summer break – :<(

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Out,

Joe

Which line is the +40 class?

Hixton double double!!!

Hixton.

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

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

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

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

Sicily. really?

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

Time to go racing.

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

Nothing.

Out,

Joe

The definitive post on my Perry Mountain Challenge – 2011 version

Ready to go.

There is hot, and there is “Alabama Hot”

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

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

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

We are planners.

2 old guys from Wisconsin

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

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

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

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

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

Of course, none of the plans really worked out.

We had a fantastic crew.

Hanna doing her thing.

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

Liz in the middle of battle.

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

Matt is in charge

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

Chris taking over.

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

Noah with his hands in the belly of the beast.

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

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

Alabama was surprising.

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

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

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

The course.

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

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

The Race.

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

Scott getting ready, me the umbrella girl.

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

Scott giving it all in the morning.

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

2nd place getting close to 1st.

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

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

Me, looking a bit awkward already

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

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

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

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

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

pushing it in the morning hours.

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

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

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

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

Into the ambulance

The Trailer ordeal

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

The trailer ordeal

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

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

Closure

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

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

– if we solved the lighting thing for Joe

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

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

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

Other stuff

Photos from the weekend here.

My shorter post here.

Scott’s blog post about the event here.

A few other points to note.

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

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

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

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

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

That's where that old Saturn rocket ended up.

6.  All roads lead to Crawfordsville Indiana for me.

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

Out

Joe

5 days to go!

Hi Everyone,

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

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

From the start of the drive, you can follow along with us.
– You can follow along with us, minute by minute with our Twitter feeds.  We will post up pictures, and notes and wacky things that we see along the way.

@vesrahoffroad

@joev3

– We will update our blog site more than once, and may have a couple of guest bloggers with us who will be helping crew for us.
www.vesrahsuzukioffroad.com
Scott’s blog
Joe’s blog

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

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

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

Thanks for following along,
Joe + Scott

Light testing – 7 days to go

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

– L&M Seca 700 on my handlebar

– L&M Seca 1400 on my helmet

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

enjoy.

Joe

Whistler Bike Park – I’m Not There!

Whistler Bike Park Is Open!!!!

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

Enjoy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artsy

Thanks a ton to all of our sponsors.

Vesrah

Suzuki

Bell helmets

Moose racing

Factory Connection

Kenda tires

Zipty racing

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

Go to South Carolina, and ride yourself crazy boy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, on to Salley SC for the National Enduro.

Vesrah Suzuki Offroad team has a new tire sponsor!

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

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

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

Joe

March 13 is coming!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe V.

13 days until 1st National Enduro!

Are you excited? I know that I am.

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

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

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

Time to kickstart the season and get going. Woohoo!

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

I went to the Dresser.

For the land of the free

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

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

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

– 11.5 miles of sweet up and down hills singletrack

– a super cool little endurocross section at the finish area

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

out,

Joe

That was the most epic battle yet!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh well.  It was super fun.

On to Dresser.

Joe

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doug from Vio sport rocked the Session around the XC trails

Safety store - Marquette.

Room filled with fun.

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

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

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

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

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

The girls. Ready for a night out.

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

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

Out,

Joe

Friday Videos – some great ones here

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

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

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

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

That is my favorite bed intruder cover.

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

Whistler DH this week.  Wish I was there.

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

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

Joe

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

The definitive post on my Ohio #GNCC

That ranked as the hardest and least fun that I have ever had on a motorcycle.

We knew it was going to be hard, yesterday when we watched the quad race.  It was muddy when we first got here, then it rained big while we were watching the quad race.  It rained during the night.  It rained a “gates of hell” cats and dogs kind of rain thunderstorm lightning kind of deal for over an hour before the what should have been the morning race start.  There was water standing everywhere.  There was a complete river across the motocross track.

The view out of the van window in the morning, while it rained cats and dogs at the track

The morning race almost didn’t happen.  We went to a riders meeting, where they discussed running the morning and the afternoon race together at 1pm.  They decided against that, as that would have just been too much in the way for the pro’s.  They ran the morning race for 1 hour at 11:30.  They ran our race at 1:40 for 2 hours.

That is the ground in front of our pits. Saturated.

The start area was on the MX track, and was an almost impossible hill to get up to get to the first turn.  In the morning race, there were riders that never made it to the 1st turn.  I should have put my bike back in the van at that point and gone home.

First turn on the MX track

It was crazy just getting off the MX track in our race.  When we left the MX track, there was a grassy sidehill to get to the woods.  I turned completely around backwards in that grassy sidehill.  That was the first of many times that would happen to me.  The open areas of the course were just as hard as the woods.  They were so sloppy and slippery, that you would just spin out with no advanced warning.  I tried them slow, I tried them fast, I tried clearing the tires out by going a bit fast, then slow – nada.  Nothing worked.  You just had to be prepared to be on the ground at any time.

I know I was on the ground at least 10 times in that 1st lap.  I was stuck in ruts more times than I can remember.  Sometimes you could get out on your own, other times you needed help from a spectator.  The woods were one big long super slippery rut.  My legs are toasted from paddling through the ruts.  Your legs are just outriggers.

Every rut in the woods was full of water and clay as hard as cement.  I think that Ohio is just one big pile of clay.  It sticks to everything and becomes hard.  I cannot wait to clean my bike!  It is going to be epic.

–       all the plastic is trashed.

–       The decals are all torn and coming off.

–       The brake pads are shot.

–       The tires are almost torn off.

–       The chain and sprockets are completely trashed.

–       The bearings on the wheels and the suspension linkages will be toasted.

–       The grips are worn through

This will have been an expensive endeavor.  2 hours of racing will equal 8+ hours of cleaning and working on the bike.

There is a motorccle under there somewhere

Uck...the cleanup

In spite of everything above, I was having maybe my best GNCC race.  Ya, go figure eh?  Normal GNCC laps will take me between 25 and 35 minutes, depending on the course and conditions.  (The pros are usually about 20-25 minutes).  My first lap was 1+ hour.  The fist lap for the pro’s were 29 minutes.  Cory Buttricks last lap (race winner) was nearly 50 minutes.  The whole course got really really bad as the race went on.  In spite of that, I was in 3rd at the end of the 1st lap – unfortunately I did not finish a 2nd lap.  I could not.  I am completely chuffed.

I do not think I will come back to Ohio to do another race. GNCC regulars hate the place.  I understand it is always raining there, and the whole state seems to be made of clay.  Ohio is just one big pile of clay.

Mat. Saying what we are thinking.

So this was not a fun GNCC race.  But, I was still racing my motorcycle.  That is a better day than not racing a motorcycle.  Now for the long drive home and then tomorrow starting the cleanup.

OMG.

Yep

Hard to imagine that it was that bad, but it was.

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

GNCC races rule

I am off to do the GNCC race this weekend.  It is in Ohio, and I have not done this one.  Here are a few video’s to get you in the mood.

This is not a video from the John Penton GNCC.  But, it is a great video and shows you just what I think of when I think of a GNCC race.

This one is from Florida.  Not my favorite GNCC, but super hard due to the pace, the early season aspect and the sand whoops.

This one gives you an idea of what it is like at the later waves.

I hope we do not have to deal with how much mud there could be.  Ugh…  But, it is GNCC race.

TENNNN SECCONNNNNDDSSS!

Out

Joe

New race – Sugar Maple!

Up early.  Not sleeping well.  Might be an age thing, but also might be food or might be nerves or…  Any way you slice it, I am up and I do not need to be.  I’ve made a couple of PBJ sandwiches, packed waterbottles, bananas and I am ready to go.  I made the biggest pot of oatmeal you have ever seen.  I am eating it now, and starting my blog entry for the week.

We are going racing today.  New spot, close to Madison.  Sugar Maple is what it is called.  I rode there last fall as they we trying to get this place off the ground.  It had an immature, but good outdoor style MX track, but no trails yet to speak of.  Brian Terry and others have been there trying to put down enough trail to hold this Harescrambles race.  Today will be the day that tells that tail.

Brian told me yesterday that he thinks there will be a really good crowd.  He has been getting emails from people all across the midwest saying they were coming.  Could be good.

The Race

So we got there at pretty much 10am on the money, maybe a few minutes before hand.  We were all set up at 10:10 and ready to tour the new course. There was a fantastic MX track with a couple of huge table tops and a couple of nice doubles and 2 really fun step ups.  One section of woods was super technical and difficult.  Lots of embedded rocks and downed trees.  One section of woods was really nice and flowing.  And finally, there was a really fast cornfield section that was wide open 5th gear.

Lots of little log section like these that required doubling across.

Much of the trail in the woods was virgin trail that was just marked on the trees.

I got the start of starts.  1st off the line, first onto the MX track and 1st into the woods.  It was great.  I had a really good 1st 2 laps, but then on the 3rd lap I had trouble on one of the uphills and really struggled.  I stalled the motor and because of where I was sitting had to go back down the hill and try over.  On that lap I went form 1st to 4th.  I then had my work cut out for me.

The course was not that long, about 3.5 miles around.  There was a really good crowd turnout, about 16 people on my line, 12 on the AA, 12 on the A, 20+ on the B, and 20+ on the C line.  That makes for a lot of racers to get by when trying to move through the field.

I rode hard for the whole of the race.  I caught John with about 10 minutes to go in the race and got by.  He got back by me half way through the last lap, then we entered the last woods section with him just in front of me.  But, just as we entered the last flowing woods section, he muscled his way around another rider.  I was forced to do the same on a really sketchy holed out down hill.  Then, at the base of that hill he slid out around the turn and as I was avoiding him, I also fell over.  But, my bike did not stall and his did.  We were like Ryan Dungey and Ryan Villipoto at the end of the St. Louis SX race.  But this time the yellow bike got up first.  I rode away and made good time through the rest of the last woods.  That was my favorite woods section, and I made it stick.  We entered the last of the MX sections, and I railed the last berm and launched all the way over the table top to get into the timing tent 5 seconds ahead of John.  1st place.

There was one creek crossing that became like a GNCC mud section.  The mud got deeper and deeper through the race, and longer and longer.  That was the only mud section of the race, but look at the results.

After the race.

I should tell you now, that we had a guest with us that made the day all that much more fun.  Matt Pickersgill, a friend from the UK was visiting and experiencing his very first Harescrambles race.  “Brilliant”!  I find that English guys say things like “Brilliant” and “Proper” a lot.  Brilliant isn’t just how you would describe a bright light in their version of the english language.  It is how you would describe something that is just really cool.  Proper is not just how you should act at the dinner table, but is a modifier word that would be added to the front of something else.  For example, “You would have to have proper fitness to do this sport” or  “This is proper soft dirt”.  Here is a list of words that I heard from Matt over the weekend, and my attempt at definition.

Brilliant – see above

Proper – see above

Faffing – futzing about, normally it seems to be when someone has to wait for another person whilst they faff around with something.

Chuffed – happy about something

Mate – friend

Knackered – really tired

Get a crack on – get moving, stop dilly dallying

Minging – really smelly and gross

Tar it all with the same brush – stereotype of a group of people being
all the same.

Jogg on – stop messing around and get a move on, not as severe as crack on

Bollox – monkeys nuts (specific spelling with an x on the end)

Bollocks – dammit

Slapper – really loose Doris (women) slap slap slap, a bit of a whore really

Swish swosh – prosperous walk. Walking like you’ve got a lot of money in your pocket, which maybe you do.

giffer – a cap wearing cross between a git and a duffer (specifically spelled with a lower case g)

Giffer – orgy seeking drunk middle age woman

Duffer – a pratt

Pratt – bit of an idiot

Git – a bit of a sod

Sod – (suttly different than git) kind of an idiot

Twat – agressive reference to a bit of a bastard, also female anatomy so be careful with this one

Dog and bone – the phone

Cream crackered – knackered

I don’t Adam and Eve it – I don’t believe it.

of course it goes on and on.  A week with Matt can give you a whole new look at the english language.

Out

Joe

Mud or Dust.

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

[Vimeo 11230611]

1st race is in the bag!

Aztalan has left the building.

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

Finally! We get back to racing on this stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott putting it down

Pretty Muddy

If I was just going a bit faster

I really should open my eyes

Also there was mud

Gratuitous ass shot

Pretty much what everyones bikes looked like after the race.

How I feel about mud racing!

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

Out.

Joe

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

Look Ma, no brake pedal!

What the…?

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

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

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

No moto riding

My job and life is out of control.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

out.

Joe

Riding at Waterman

Scott and I rode at Waterman Indoor MX track last weekend.  It is not the greatest riding, and I am not the greatest MX rider.  But, it is January and we rode our motorcycles.  Good on that, eh?

It was really cold in the building.  Probably around 40 degrees.  40 is not that bad, considering.  But, it is cold to spend all day in.  We rode for about 2.5 hours in 17 minute increments.

This is a video from early in the day.  I got better, but this is the video I can show.

There was one good table top jump for me that I could nail the first landing.  I never got up the nerve to really fling it and go for the 3rd landing.  There was a series of 2 table tops that I could eventually jump from the top of one table top to the top of the next.  There was also a really fun fairly peaky whoop section that I felt fast in.  Oh well.

Out for now.

Joe