Tag Archives: Factory Connection

Ahhh… All is right with the world!

There comes a day, living in Wisconsin, each year. The day can sneak up on you, but it is the most anticipated day of the year. Normally, you watch out the window, you look for signs of spring… You drive south to find it, you squirm around on frozen dirt, looking for just the right sunny side hill exposure. Sometimes you find it, sometimes you do not. It is elusive for sure. You generally wait and wait for much of the year. It just cannot get here soon enough. Normally it is some point in April, but it can be in May. It is a day to write home about. (I do normally, and it drives my friends and family crazy.)

I am specifically talking about the first local race of the year.

This year it happened the first weekend in May. And OMG, was it ever great.

Bob’s place in Adams county. It just might be the greatest piece of property anywhere. Bob might be on the outside the crustiest guy you have ever met. But, if you know him and get beyond the exterior, he probably is just about the softest guy ever on the inside. When you get to know him, you love him. Try it, get past the exterior and I promise you will not regret it.

Bob. Crusty on the outside, all soft on the inside! Thank you Bob, for the great place for the race!

Bob. Crusty on the outside, all soft on the inside! Thank you Bob, for the great place for the race!

This year I cannot do very many races.  I am super bummed about that, but it is because of all the other things I have going on in my life.  Oldest daughter with a new house, that I want to help more on.  Youngest daughter moved to Boulder, so takes time to go and see her.  Major travel requirements for work this year.  Our place up north equals time away from racing (but it does equal time on my MTB and time on the motorcycle up there…).  Etc…  I am not really complaining, but damn do I love racing.

Because of that schedule, I am racing the +40A class wherever I can.  It is more fun, because I am more comfortable at that speed (than I am the straight up A class) and I really like racing with guys my age.

Look at that dirt! Holy crap, it was good. Wow. (I know that I should have my elbows up more, and the balls of my feet on the pegs, but hey, that is why I am racing the old guy class)

Look at that dirt! Holy crap, it was good. Wow. (I know that I should have my elbows up more, and the balls of my feet on the pegs, but hey, that is why I am racing the old guy class)

Bob and the Madison Motorcycle Club laid out the most amazing fun flowing 20 minute loop that we have ever had there.  They spent weeks working on it, so huge thanks out to those guys.  As far as I can tell, everyone really enjoyed it.

There really is something about the first race.  Everyone is just so jonesed to get out and race.  Huge smiles all around, lots of warm greetings for everyone that you have not seen all winter.  Wisconsin is a tough place to live all winter, as there are huge stretches that you just do not even go outside. (although not as long as Canada… sheesh, that place is the deep freeze.)

I mean, there were something like 130 bikes there, and there were 21 guys on the +40 row.  21!!!  For us, that is a crazy good turnout.  The reputation of Bob’s race, along with the first race of the spring.

I got a horrible start.  I should be better at this by now.  But, I really had to work just to get myself up to 5th by the end of the first lap.  On the 2nd lap, I passed into 2nd and was chasing the leader down, and whop.  Right into a rut that swallowed my bike up.  I mean, what kind of an amateur falls right into a rut in the 2nd of the 2 muddy areas on the whole 20 minute loop.  What a pud.

In fact, Bob and I were joking about “do not follow the rut…”, just before the race.  Idiot.  In fact, Bob said to me after the race, “why didn’t you win, you loser?  That is it Joe, you cannot come back.”  I do not think he was serious about that, at least I hope so.

I had to put the bike on it’s side, get my gloves soaking wet and completely muddy to get the bike out of the rut.  Put it up on it’s back wheel, push it on to it’s side and then wrestle it out of the rut.  I swear that at least 20 people went by me as I was fighting that thing out of the mud.  Then of course I am completely wrecked after that, and I putz along on that lap at complete tourist pace forever.  That lap was my slowest lap, by over 1 minute slower than my next slowest lap, I was stuck a looooong time.

Sometimes I can be fast, and even look fast.  Doesn't happen much though, and really didn't happen much for this first race.  New  Moose gear (thank you Pete and Moose), borrowed helmet (thank you Pete), bike all dialed and great.

Sometimes I can be fast, and even look fast. Doesn’t happen much though, and really didn’t happen much for this first race. New Moose gear (thank you Pete and Moose), borrowed helmet (thank you Pete), bike all dialed and great.

I managed to get myself into riding mode though and worked my way back up to 2nd by the end of the day.  I am sorted with that.

But now we are into spring full on.  Funny how once these days get here, you really do not remember the long winter.  Probably something about self preservation in there or maybe long division – one or the other.

Now that it is here, let’s ride!

Yep. It is all going to be ok.

Yep. It is all going to be ok.

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What was I thinking?

Pre-race beauties.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wasted.

Indiana, where racing happens.

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

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

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

Odd that penguin being there.

Saturday-Day1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indiana, where racing happens.

Out,
Joe

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

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

I want to go faster!

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

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

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

Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect Group size.

Scott in the morning.

Shane showing us how it is done.

Lunch time. Perfect day.

Day 2 – 8am start

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

out,

Joe

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

The Double Weekend.  Yip.  Gotta love those.

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

Hank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the future! Part – 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this!

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

Something New!

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

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

They are off!

Go man go!

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

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

Hey, you kids keep it down over there!

Out,

Joe

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning of the race. Pretty nervous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 is a lucky number.

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

Out for now.
Joe

Welcome to paradise.

#PM24 – Just 19 days away now! – Yikes

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

24HourChallenge

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

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

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

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

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

Scott putting lights on his bike.

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

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

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

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

Joe

If that was a REAL harescrambles – Holy Crap!

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

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

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

Lots of virgin trail cut through the woods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out,

Joe

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out,

Joe

 

Wow, That’s A Bright Light!

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

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

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

Out,
Joe

Why Is That Clock Moving So Slowly?

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

in·ter·mi·na·ble

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

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

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

Continue reading

The Offroad Cup!

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

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

My bike desperately needs to be raced!

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

Here is the video from the race last year.

I cannot wait!

Basking in afterglow of the GNCC season

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

Ironman GNCC video

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

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

out… till Loretta’s.

Joe

Perry Mountain Challenge video

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

 

 

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

http://vimeo.com/24780044

 

Enjoy

Consumed at Perry Mountain Challenge

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

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

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

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

That is about 420 calories from gels.

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

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

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

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

TOTALS
8.2 gallons/31L of fluids

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

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

Short Perry Mountain Challenge Post

This is a quick entry, on the iPad on the way home. I will do a bigger, better entry with pictures etc… Tomorrow.

There is a new term in my vocabulary now – “Alabama Hot”! I used to use the term “Africa Hot”. Africa hot was a definition of the ultimate level of human hot experience. You know what I am saying…”wow, it’s hot. No, last week was hot, this is Africa Hot”. It was meant as a saying to prove that things really cannot get any hotter. I’m here to tell you that, it can get hotter. It can get even hotter than Africa Hot. It can get “Alabama Hot”! Wow, I did not know it could get that hot. Until you have raced an all day Offroad Motorcycle race at 100 degrees with 90% humidity, and a low of 85 at night, you don’t really know what hot is. I know I certainly didn’t.

I also know now, that I am a puss. I used to think that a 2 hour HS race or a 3hour GNCC race was hard. Heck, I even thought a 4+ hour National Enduro was hard. HA! Those are for wimps. I feel like I can do those without even worrying now, after this experience. I have gotten off the motorcycle after those races and said, “wow, that was the hardest thing I have ever done”. What a wimp. I can never say that again, because unless I am doing the Perry Mountain Challenge in even harder conditions, nothing engineered by Offroad racers can be more physically challenging than this was. Wow, is all I have to say.

My hat is off to the people that were ironmaning the race.

The Vesrah Suzuki Offroad team, made a good showing. We planned well, we prepared well, we brought a good crew to help… We spent a fair amount of time at the pointy end of the field at,11:30 at night (13 hours into the race) we were in 1st place of the 26 duo teams. The laps that Scott did put time into everyone else, and I was able to maintain whatever position he left me with for my laps.

Unfortunately, we struggled during the night for a few different reasons and ended up sitting down for much of the rest of the night. (more on all of that on the full post later). I got back on the bike at about 4:45 in the morning. We were in 7th place. Between there and the 10am finish, we managed to work our way back up to 5th place, almost into 4th. We made up laps on all of those teams, but fell 3 minutes short of 4th place.

Man it was fun. The course rocked. The organization of that race was superb. I cannot say enough about all of that. But, our crew was by far the best out there:

Hanna Vadeboncoeur – documentarian and back up chef. She ran all the cameras and got a ton of great video and photos. You will see those this weekend when I put up the next post.

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 etc…

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…

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.

Noah Mitchell – mechanic. Noah was the man. He did not sleep, he cleaned bikes, he never missed a beat and our bikes were perfect ever time. He cleaned carburetors, mounted and dismounted lights, changed tires, changed oil etc… Scott and I only touched the bikes to ride them. Indispensable.

We could not have done it without them – all.

My bike was great. It ran like a champ. The new bars were great (thanks Easton). The Millville Sticky tires worked like a champ (thanks a ton Kenda), as always Moose gear is impossible to beat. My new EVS braces are the bomb. My Factory Connection Suspension is the best, period.

I will put up additional thoughts and pictures soon. There are a ton.

Out.
Joe

1st annual Adams County Harescrambles – yipp!

This past Sunday we got back to racing here locally. Finally, right? It is getting a bit absurd as to why we all live here. I mean, how much non summer can a person take? I suppose an Eskimo would think that our summer was glorious. To me, I am not too keen on living in the icebox. It’s a bit like Monty Python in the holy grail, “I don’t think he would be too keen, as he has already got one!”. I mean, how can a rabbit bite someone’s head off anyway? Bruce Willis would never do that.

So Bob Kau ran the Adams county race on his property up there. I don’t know what Bob does, but he seems to have property everywhere. I guess being a crotchety old guy with a beer in hand equals property baron. Maybe I should try that. I used to think that Bob was just that, a crotchety old guy with a beer in his hand, now that I have gotten to know him better, I know him as a crotchety old guy with a beer in his hand that has a hard and crusty outside but on the inside he is really a nice guy. He always has good things to say, he points out what he likes when you see him and what he doesn’t like. He is quick to point out when you look good on your bike, and when you do not look good. I kinda like him. I guess you do sometimes get what yo see.

My problem is that I have seldom looked good on my bike this year. I just am not riding that well this year. People have been telling me that I look just fine, but I am going backwards. I used to be able to match John’s pace, but this year he seems to be a gear faster than me. I have some work to do.

Here is a video of the 1st lap from my helmet cam this past weekend.

My race was not a disaster. I still ended up 3rd, with a huge margin over 4th. A new guy named Jay got in between John and I.

There was this almost endless sandy section. It was a GP course through an old cranberry farm. It was fun, but amazingly hard. I will put it together, as Pete is going to work with me to try to figure out what I am doing. We will see.

Other stuff
– there were 15 riders on the +40 line, I think 14 on the AA line. That is cool. Big fields are better than not.
– my suspension was set up really well for the sand, but was way too stiff for the tight stuff. That got really rough. I needed to strike a better balance for my settings, Factory Connection does great work, but still requires that the rider do his part choosing settings for the day. My bad.
– thanks a ton to Pete and everyone at the Madison Motorcycle club for putting the race on.

My bike was great. It ran like a champ. The new bars were great (thanks Easton). The Sand Mad rear and Southwick front were perfect in the sand and worked like a champ (thanks a ton Kenda), as always Moose gear is impossible to beat. Me new EVS braces are the bomb.

From here, I am looking forward to the last couple of weeks of preparation for the 24hour race.

Out for now. Working with Pete days come up next week when I return. Thanks Bob!

Joe

Finally another post

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

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

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

Byron HS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott

Stone Lake HS

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

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

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

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

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

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

JD ripping

My Girl Gang

Me, but not going anywhere near JD's pace

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

Out,

Joe

Helmet Cam video-St. Joe Missouri

This is a loop that Scott and I were riding at St. Joe this weekend.  You will see about 1/2 of the loop and then a small turning exercise we were doing in the open.

I crash at the end of it, where severely bruised my thigh.  It was bad enough that it ended my day.  If you listen closely at the end, you can hear me moan and say “shit that hurt”.  Oh well.

Super fun and great to spend 2 days on the bike at the end of Feb.  Going skiing in Utah next week, and hopefully will do the MXC race in Illinois on the 14th.

I took all this with my Vio Sport helmet cam.

(Yes, Scott had to wait for me to stay in the frame)

Enjoy

Joe