Tag Archives: Fun Mart Cycles

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.

Advertisements

The extreme awesomeness that creates the Awesomenicity that is Ironman GNCC

Lots of people like to mark time based on an event.  You know, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation dates, first day of school, first date, Monday etc…  Some days are more memorable than others, such as your first Pearl Jam concert or when your dog did not pee in the house etc…  Even Facebook realizes that people want to remember things, so it will show you the stupid things you did 3 years ago on this date as well as the great things you did.  (Of course some people take that too far and have to share that silliness, but that is another rant.)

I tend to mark time with the Ironman GNCC calendar date.  It is a significant event in my life.  It is kinda the race that really got me into this in the first place, It is the race that made me say I wanted to do all the GNCC series, it is the only GNCC race that Liz has ever been to, (we one time went from the GNCC race there directly to Charlottesville Virginia to a Pearl Jam concert, but that also is another story.) The Ironman GNCC has been such an amazing thing for me, it tends to be the one thing that I always start my calendar with.

Sometimes, getting the whole first turn to yourself isn’t a good thing.

It has everything going for it.

Location.  It is in Indiana, and as you have heard from me in the past, all good things with dirt biking tend to happen in Indiana.  National Enduro’s, an Enduro through a nudist colony, GNCC races, Full Gas Enduro’s, Chris Bach is from there, the IXCR race series, Brown County Mountain Bike trails, Burrito (I just added that, because there is Burrito.)

Dirt.  The dirt at the Ironman is just incredible.  It has a consistency that is like peanut butter or even better like Nutella.  I think you could actually think of it as Nutella, you might as well as you are going to eat plenty of it and smash plenty of it into everything.

My buddy Pete Emme, making his way through the epic dirt at the Ironman this year.

My buddy Pete Emme, making his way through the epic dirt at the Ironman this year.

Hills.  I know you think Indiana is completely flat, but you would be wrong.  The hills are incredibly steep and huge.  They are hard to get up, and when there is a crowd just waiting for you to fail, it is damn intimidating.  This year, I just said I was not going to be intimidated and rode the difficult fast lines up every time.  Unfortunately, it was a hill that I was not expecting that was so difficult.  The rocky gully after Ironman hill, was slick and really difficult to get up.  I ended up upside down in that ravine twice.  It completely killed my lap times on 2 laps.  I have gone up that ravine many other years and it is never that hard – this year, it was really really tough.

The pros are pros, and that is why they make something like Ironman hill look so easy.

The pros are pros, and that is why they make something like Ironman hill look so easy.

Long.  I mean it is obviously long, it is a 3 hours as hard as you can race.  The loop is long as well, at approximately 13 miles.  Somewhere along the way, even though it is the most amazing event, everyone is just ready for it to be done.  You can only experience that awesomestest for so long.

Name another sporting event, that gives you this kind of access next to the course.

Name another sporting event, that gives you this kind of access next to the course.

Epic.  If ever there was an event that was going to give you epic face, it is the Ironman GNCC.  It is just really hard to explain the grandeur of the race.  I mean holy, crap it is enormous.  You will think about it all year, and all the way home afterward.  You finish the race just knowing it was the most epic thing you have done all year, and slowly on the drive home or the next days you will start to wonder why you just could not hold your shit together long enough to have a better result.  That is the definition of epicness.

Awesome. Aweseomeness, awesomenester, awesomenestest, awesomely, awesomelier, awesomenicity, epic awseomnicity, awesomer, awesomenable, awesomeur, awesometier.

My race this year wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I was hoping for.  I feel like I have so much more speed than I show at this race.  I had a horrible start, dead last in the first turn, and then made my way all the way up to 3rd at one point in the race.  I showed the kind of speed that I know I have for the first hour of the race, but then showed the same tourist mentality for the last hour of the race that I always seem to have.  Ugh.  The podium still eludes me at the Ironman.

Another top 5 at the Ironman, but I still cannot seem to get onto the podium. Oh well, there is another race next year.

Another top 5 at the Ironman, but I still cannot seem to get onto the podium. Oh well, there is another race next year.

I mark my year in terms of building to Ironman, and after Ironman.  I often wish there was more than 1 Ironman.  I always wish that every other race I am at, I was at the Ironman.  I sometimes have a hard time sleeping, as I am thinking about the Ironman.  I sometimes think that maybe I should broaden my horizons, but then I realize – nah.

It is only 363 days till the 2016 Ironman GNCC. (There is really only 1)

The Ironman cleanup, is not the most fun part of the event. This is 5am this morning at the carwash. Gong show.

The Ironman cleanup, is not the most fun part of the event. This is 5am this morning at the carwash. Gong show.

Day 1 at Ironman

There was Chaos today, for sure.  I mean, after all it is quad day!  Quad day is pretty special.  It has become a tradition for me.  I come down in time to see the quadners try to destroy themselves in the mud trying to get across the rivers etc…  I mean, this isn’t just your average I am out for a ride on my quad around the farm type events.  No snow plows in site.  I mean, these people actually think they are going to go fast on them.  Oh, my.

This is the Chaos of the first stream crossing in quad land.  Amazing.

This is the Chaos of the first stream crossing in quad land. Amazing.

I am ready for the most awesome day on a motorcycle ever tomorrow.  Stay tuned, and I will have stories.  Oh yes.

Out, Joe

Full Gas!

“Hey, you left something off your calendar.  What about Full Gas Sprint Enduro?”  It was from Jason Hooper.

You see, I had published my racing calendar for the year, on this blog site.  Some people commented on it, some just ignored it (that is probably the prudent thing to do with any entry on this site.)  I planned to do a bunch of interesting races this season, instead of following just one series.  Hooper called me out on it right away.  “They are interesting, and you have never done one…?”  He was right about that.  I had never done one, and after doing one, he is also write that they are really fun.

“They are all pretty far away”, I replied.  “Indiana is not that far”, Jason prodded.   “Ok! I’ll be there.”  And that was that.  I jumped on the website and signed up early.  That was another of Jason suggestions.  So I did.  (I am pretty easily pushed around when it comes to traveling to do a good race.  It is really funny, that going somewhere to do a race is such a big thing with me.)

I will let you in on a little secret.  I suck at Enduro.  I am more of a harescrambles and GNCC guy.  I know what you are thinking, isn’t it all just a trail in the woods and a dirt bike?  Well, it is but….  it is just so different.  Harescrambles is just all go.  Enduro has that go and then stop and then go again thing.  I think it is all just too complicated for me.  I am just kind of a go person.  But, maybe I just need to go do more of them.  As I found out, nope… I pretty much am what I am. Woods go, stop when I am done kinda guy.

Day 1.

The chaos of the start area.  Not the most fun part, but you can tell we are all anticipating.

The chaos of the start area. Not the most fun part, but you can tell we are all anticipating.

So, the Sprint Enduro thing is something they do in Europe.  It is basically a “special test”, which is just the Euro fancy way of saying it is a trail that you are timed on, followed by a rest then another “special test”.  It is go as fast as you friggin can for 9 minutes then stop and do it all again after 30 mins stoppage.  The “tests” are sometimes tight and sometimes fast, sometimes grass track sections and sometimes straight up motocross trail.  The first loop in the Indiana track was a motocross track mixed with 2 different grass track sections.  The second loop was a more enduro type loop with some tighter stuff and a GP type rolling track, with an endurocross section at the end.

Basically, you do the moto loop first, then you wait until everyone has finished that loop, then you do the enduro loop, wait until everyone has finished, then you do the moto loop.  and on and on.  You do each of the loops 3 times.  Add up all of your times, and that is where you are for the day.  Not too complicated, but hard to stay focused and go hard for just 9ish minutes during an hour.

In spite of going to the track early, I somehow ran out of time to look at the track before hand.  It meant that I was going into the first day without any idea of what the track was.  It made the first runs not really very good for me.   That combined with the first time on my motorcycle in 4 weeks, and I suuuuuccckkked – Day 1.  I think I ended up 3rd in my class, but that was only because I got lucky.

Ride along with overall winner Daniel Milner.  It is only about 7 minutes so you can handle that.  Unfortunately, I was not just 7 minutes for me to do a lap.

The first day was hot as hell.  It was Alabama, Perry Mountain 24hour race hot.  Like 100 degrees and high high humidity, made for it being a sauna.  It was hard to get away from the heat, or impossible actually.  We were all a sweaty mess by the end of the day.  Dirty, sweaty, dehydrated but smiling.  It is really hard to have a bad day while racing your dirt bike.

Day 2

Lots of fun to be had.

Lots of fun to be had.

We woke up in the morning to Ryan Gutpile suggesting that we should just go home.  That is not his real name, but that was the name he acquired through the weekend.  You see, my buddy Pete Laubmeier thinks that everyone needs a nickname.  Speedy, Twinkle toes, smoothy, Vanderbopper etc…  Ryan woke up looking at his radar on his dot com device and felt that his bike was going to get all dirty and he had a run in his stockings.  Eventually, we convinced him to plug up his man-gina and just ride, and sure enough the rain did not happen and he had a good time.

This day was not nearly as hot as the 1st day.  It was cloudy and threatening to rain, but it never did.  We ran the moto loop in the opposite direction, but the enduro loop in the same direction.  This all helped me.  I am so much better at riding when I know the loop.  It made it so my loops were fast and consistent.  When I look at the lap times, I had a decent battle with Robert Kirchner.  But, since this is a time trial against the clock, you just do not know that.  Our lap times were pretty much right on top of each other, then he had a mishap on his last test that allowed me to slip by him into 2nd for the day.

All in all, it was a great time.  6 of us went down to do the race.  Mat Herrington, Jay Mittelstaedt, Scott Rohlfing, Pete Laubmeier, Ryan Grotegut and Joe Barr.  Joe did not have the best race, as he pile drove himself early in the first day, then was just spectating for the rest of the time.  Speedy recovery to him.  But, we all had a grand time.  We will be back.

Joe – Out.

Finally, you get Cole Kirkpatrick’s brilliant 60 second video of the event.

The season t’is upon us.

I am not talking about the stupid Christmas season either, because that would mean we have skipped right past the summer into winter again.  I am not anti winter, but I am definitely pro summer. After all, summer is where the not snow time of the year happens.   I am talking about racing season.  It is truly the most glorious time of the year. (If Santa was wise, he would move to the beach where he could ride MTB and motorcycles, and then deliver in the summer.)  When the flag goes up, the next couple of hours is truly the best time that can be had.  The mad dash to the first turn, the chase through the woods, the high speed sections, the flow through the grass GP fields etc…  Yep, it is pretty much the best.

We are now a few races into the new season.  A few races in a new class for me. I am learning a lot.  Things go faster for sure, but I am also learning that I cannot go slow on the last lap.  2 A class races in, and I have been super fast in the middle of the race, but not as fast as at the end.  That was how I needed to race in the old guy class, the race was pretty much set at the end of the race and even though I was not doing it on purpose – I was slowing down at the end.  I have lost a place or even 2 places on the last lap – being a tourist at the end.  The kids in the A class go hard all the way to the flag.

Adams County

IMG_0100

Mid race, putting the pace on.

 

This is the race that is on Bob Kau’s property.  Bob is a crotchety koot, that we all love.  Rough on the outside, but soft inside.  He owns a fabulous piece of property with a bunch of fun woods sandy woods, and a vast area of former cranberry bogs that are now just football field size areas filled with 6 inches of beach sand.

We started this year in one of the sand bogs and had to drag race all the way down the sand area, to the turn out of the bog and into the woods.  My little 250F is easy for me to ride, but I admit is not the fasted bike on the line.  Combine that with button only start and a long sandy stretch and that equals entering the woods very near the back of the 22 rider A class line.  I had my work cut out for me.

In the first 30 minutes of the race, the pace was super high and I thought – uh oh, did I make a big mistake this year?  In the middle hour of the race I was riding hard and catching people every lap.  I found myself all the way up to 4th place at one point.  But, in the last 30 mins I kinda crumbled apart and 2 people that I had passed earlier got back by me.  I ended up 6th.  Not bad for my first A class race, but I still had a ways to go forward.

It was dry.

It was dry.

 

WIXC race at Sugar Camp

Sugar Camp has always been one of the best races around.  I am having fun this year, and only planning to race the best courses in the area.  That means I will jump between series and even just sit out a weekend if the courses are at the bottom of those lists.  I will not spend a lot of time explaining why I do not like a course or why I feel a course is at the bottom.  But, the courses at the top of the list are all exceptional.

Longer laps, different kinds of terrain, tight with open and fast, good flow feel, not with a death mud hole included, no place that will become bottle necked or clogged with dead bikes, good dirt, and a good field of riders.  Sugar Camp is in the running for being the best.  It can be really sandy in the middle of the summer, but unless it is raining during the race it will have good dirt.

In the WIXC series, the A and AA class usually start on the same line.  But this time we enough riders that we could separate them.  That is good for me, as I do not need to be on the line with the AA riders.  (I barely belong on the A line.)

I got a much better start at this race and rode in the top 5 for most of the race.  But, as is now my MO I am afraid, I ended up falling back to 5th on the last lap.  5th is not bad, I just would really like to be under 5th if I could.

This was my last race on the old bike.  I will need to clean it all up, and make it ready to sell.  If you are interested, give me a call.

New 2015 KTM 250XCF

I am definitely a creature of habit.  I like this bike so much, that I may not ever ride anything different.  I would love to have the simple maintenance of a 2stroke, but I do not want to give up the sewing machine like power of the 250F.









4T or 2T – What is the right number?

Racing makes me feel good.

Racing makes me feel good.

I have been on a 4stroke for a while now.  It feels like home, friendly, cozy.  In reality, there are about 314 things that I really love about them, but here are a few:

–       I love the way it rides.

–       I love the way the power goes to the ground.

–       I love the way I can ride a 250F like I stole it, even when I am completely fried at the end of a GNCC I am not afraid to cane the thing.

–       I love the way it starts with the button with a tiny little Lithium battery – I do not even miss the kickstarter.

–       I love the way it goes through the air (even though I do not like going through the air very much these days).

–       I love  the way they go through whoops at speed – very straight and very easy to keep the front end from dropping into the valley of the whoop.

–       I love the fuel injection, as the “jetting” is always perfect for the weather or temperature or no matter how clogged up the air filter is.

–       I love the way you can overrev one when you come up behind someone to let them know you want to get by.

But, as good as the 4 stroke is in so many other ways, there are a few things that are not good about them.

–       The maintenance is complicated.  (I can do a top end in a 2 stroke in about 45 mins with a clean motorcycle, while eating a sandwich.)  4 stroke, not so much.

–       The maintenance is expensive – if you have one you know what I am saying.

–       They are kinda heavy feeling in a muddy race.

–       They are loud if you want them to produce power.

–       I can make a 2stroke imitation sound, but I cannot make a 4stroke imitation sound.  (BraaaaAAAaaap)

Vroom!

Vroom!

I would like to be a 2 stroke rider.  There are just a lot of really great things about a 2 stroke.

–       They are lighter, and even if they are just a couple of pounds lighter on the scale, they FEEL a ton lighter.  They just ride light.

–       They change directions easier in the woods.  If I do not like where I am riding on the trail at the moment, I feel I can just move myself to another spot on the trail.

–       I LOVE how easy they are to work on.

–       You can stand on the edge of the woods when someone is riding a 2stroke and you can barely hear it.  That helps land access issues.

–       Braaaap is great for a license plate, a shirt, a social media post, a life motto etc…

There are a few things that I do not like about 2 strokes.  What would the world be, if there weren’t a few things that I cannot rant against.

–       I really dislike mixing gas.  It feels like I am being a mad scientist (which is not all that bad, as I could grow a skullet and not feel awkward), mixing up the gas.

–       I really hate jetting.  If it was 1955, being a jetting expert would be part of man code.  It is not 1955.

–       The power hit is not linear.  Sure, you can tune the powervalve a different way, or add a flywheel weight, or modify the pipe, but it will never be the power delivery of a 4stroke.

–       The 2 stroke does not go through the whoops like a 4stroke.  It takes more skill to make it through quickly.

Braaaap!

Braaaap!

So what would the perfect bike be?  Of course I have an opinion about that also.  Beyond a burrito being the perfect food, and if you do not like IPA you are just being stupid.  I have opinions.  Things I need to share.  So here goes.  What would be the perfect bike?

– Same weight as a 2stroke.  Same feel of the weight as a 2 stroke.  Does that make it a 2 stroke?

– Linear powerband like a 4stroke. So it already comes with a flywheel weight or whatever it is that would do that, or tuning or pipe combination or modulated right wrist thingy.  Whatever would do that.

– No valves, so that it is easy to work on. (2 or 3stroke, whatever it takes).  Maybe this is the perfect time to invent the 3 stroke.

– Fuel injected, so that I would never need to think about jetting again.  After all, it is at least 1978 here in Wisconsin.  Lets move on eh?

– No kickstarter and just a button with a starter integrated into the original design like 4strokes do, so that they do not need anything more than a tiny battery.

– I need a button that makes a really loud noise when I come up behind someone so that I do not feel like a jerk yelling out at them.  But, I want the exhaust noise to be quiet like a 2stroke.

– It would make a Braaaap sound.

So there you have it KTM.  I am sure you read my blog, so can you get after it and have one of those next year – OK?

Now that ski season is over…

Me pretty dead after the Birkie ski race this year.

Me pretty dead after the Birkie ski race this year.

I am so ready for a 2 wheeler season to begin. It feels like it has been forever. I am really tired of looking at the world wide interwebs to get my 2wheeled fix. I do not want to watch anymore race videos from last year or youtube go pro’s of National Enduro’s that I could not go to, or great MTB trails or…  I would be happy to have just about any 2wheeler season, Bicycle, motorcycle. GNCC, MTB enduro, road cycling, local HS, local Enduro… I think you get the picture. I know my 2 wheeler friends feel exactly the same way.

This year I decided to go back to XC skiing. It has been a long long time since I was actively doing that. In fact, about 14 years had passed since I had done the Birkie ski race. That’s a long long time to be away from something, in the scheme of things. I pulled out one pair of my old skis, they had a 1998 finisher decal on the tip. Wow. (Those skis ended up being donated to bringing my daughters boyfriend into part of the ski world.  Of course I regretted that, as by the end of the season I could barely ski faster than him.  But that is another story…)

So I took the plunge and signed up for the Birkie this past fall. It had been so long since I had done the race, I would be starting in the last wave. There would be 10,000 skiers ahead of me. OMG! So I reached out to the Birkie people, “can I be in an earlier wave? I mean, I used to be in the 1st or 2nd wave!” They looked it up, and replied “Joe, that was more than 10 years ago”. Good point. In the end, they let me up to the 4th wave, and as it turns out, that is about where I belong. I am a lot slower than I was 15years ago.

I did it, and I had a grand time. Looking forward to next year when I can try to better my time. But, now that ski season is over, I am ready to break out the 2 wheelers.

First race of the year.  In our part of the world, yep - you do still have snow on the ground when that happens.

First race of the year. In our part of the world, yep – you do still have snow on the ground when that happens.

As you may know, I am pretty dedicated to my 250XCF.  I feel good on it, and I really feel the power lends itself to my riding well.  I am reasonably fast, for an old guy.  Not anything like an AA rider, but fast enough.  As I say, faster than some – slower than many.  But, I dig it.

But, in spite of digging the 250XCF, I have been wanting to try a 2 stroke again for some reason.  I do not know, the sound of them when they are running well or the perception of being really light and airy, or the sexy big bulb in the pipe or… I really do not know why.  I guess it also could be that I want the simple maintenance involved.  Don’t really know.

But, I did not want to take the full plunge.  You know, get rid of my 4stroke and buy a bunch of jets and, clutch kits and throttle tubes and …. blah, blah, blah.  You know, of course all the stuff is different.  I have a garage full of stuff that is all to support the 250XCF habit.

So I thought I would try it out by buying a used 200XCW, while keeping my 250XCF.  That way, plastic and wheels and tire sizes and seats and a lot of things are shared between those bikes.

Los

Lots of moments like this on your bench when you have 2 bikes to rebuild.

First thing to note, is that 2 bikes is a lot more maintenance than 1 bike.  I have done this to myself before, and have told myself that I would not do that to myself again.  Since I was doing the experiment this season, I decided not to buy a new 250XCF.  Instead, I would rebuild my bike from last year and race it again this year.  That meant, that last years bike needed everything.  Bearings, top end for the motor, my race wheels were shot, the seat foam was gone, all the plastic needed to be binned, drive parts all needed to be replaced, all fluids needed to be flushed etc…  It was a big project.  But, when it was all done it felt like a completely new bike.  You know that feeling, as I know you have done a bike up like that as well.

The problem is that when you have 2 bikes, you are not ready for the season yet.  You have another bike to go.  One thing I have learned again, is that when you buy a used bike – you are now downstream of someone else’s maintenance habits.  Even though what I was buying was a 1 year old 2014 200XCW, it was in pretty rough shape.  Lots of bad looking stuff inside the motor, oil that was beyond disgusting, piston and head with a ton of carbon, pretty dirty power valve etc…  Those are all pretty much what you expect when you open up a motor after a year of use.  But, I did not expect the state of the rest of the bike to be so beat up.  Missing hardware holding plastic on, bad bearings, headset parts missing, jerry rigged set ups holding the odometer on and other places, leading seals etc…  The 2nd bike needed everything the first bike needed and even more.  But, after a huge refresh – that bike also feels as good as new.

The grand experiment.  A smoker in the mix.

The grand experiment. A smoker in the mix.

So, the grand experiment year starts for me.  I am planning to do a bunch of different race formats this year – GNCC, local HS, WIXC, Enduro etc…  I plan to try the new little 2stroke in each of those formats to see what I think.  I still have the 250XCF to fall back on if things are not working in one of those formats for the 2stroke.  But, I suspect in the end it has way more to do with the owner of the right wrist than it does the steed.

Here goes the season.

Joe

My bench has been covered with parts like this all winter.

My bench has been covered with parts like this all winter.

The lists seem to go on and on...

The lists seem to go on and on…

On the gas!

On the gas!

 

The new 2 wheeler season is almost here… THANKFULLY!

Yep.  It is off season.

Yep. It is off season.

This has been a completely different off season for me.  Last season ended pretty consistently.  I was pretty solid all the way through the local season, but as usual I pretty much became a tourist at the Ironman GNCC (I have written plenty that before, so don’t even let me get started at my habitual failure at that race…Grrrrr!) I think that race is a little like child birth for a woman for me.  Somehow that looks like the worst thing in the world and then a chick will sign up to do it again.  I love my family and my kids, but wow that just looks to be a horrible experience.  Maybe we all would forget it and do it again, after all I cannot seem to do very well (podium = very well) at the Ironman GNCC, yet I go back every year.  I have always said that if men and women had to alternate having kids, no family could ever have more than 3 kids – it wouldn’t be possible.  No man would do that twice.

But, you are wondering now what any of this has to do with the coming 2 wheel season.  Not much, but it did make you start to ask questions.

This off season has been filled with skiing and fitness plans.  A little different, in that I have been so focused on getting in my first Birkebeiner in about 10 years.  52km is a long way to ski.  That race will be over at the end of February, then it will be time to really focus on the 2 wheeled season that is coming.  It is close.  I can feel it.

I've been doing lots of skiing this year.  We will see what that does for my race fitness.

I’ve been doing lots of skiing this year. We will see what that does for my race fitness.

Last year, I was really focused on winning the WIXC class.  I trained hard, I lined up at those races if there was one, and I passed up other 2 wheeled events to focus on that season.  Pete Emme and I had a great season long battle with really close finishes more often than not.  But, as I said the focus meant that I did not do all of the 2 wheeled events that I wanted to do.  I skipped some mountain bike races, some MTB Enduro races, some epic MTB rides, some road bike events, some cyclocross events, a couple of motorcycle enduro races, an additional GNCCC race etc…  The 2 wheeled season is short in our part of the world, and you either have to focus or NOT focus.

The WIXC series is a fantastic race series.  Rick is building a great little offroad community.  Unfortunately, Wisconsin is a low population state.  That is one of the things that make it a great place to live.  But, it is also one of the things that keeps the fields smaller than either I or Rick would hope for.  Still, I am proud of winning that series, and proud of the racing that Rick has put together.  But, now it is time to branch out and race some of the other things that I would like to race.  I will still do a fair number of WIXC races, but a bunch of other things have caught my fancy.

So, this year I am going to diversify.  I am only going to do the races that I really like the courses and that fit my calendar, and hopefully that will allow me to do a bunch of different type of races.  I have on my calendar:

  • 3 GNCC races
  • 4 WIXC races
  • 2  MXC races
  • 4 D16 harescrambles races
  • 3 D16 Moto Enduro races
  • 1 Full Gas Sprint Enduro
  • 3 MTB Enduro races
  • 2 MTB XC races
  • 6 Cyclocross races
  • 1 big MTB trip in the Alps

That event schedule is plenty deep, I mean I am planning to line up at start lines 25 or maybe more times.  But on top of that, I have 2 or 3 big epic mountain bike adventures on the calendar.

I have a garage full of items from all my sponsors.  Kenda tires, Bell helmets, Moose racing, Galfer brakes, Fox suspension, VC Graphix, Rekluse, Maxima… all waiting to be employed to make my moto’s ready for next season.  I have some new XTR parts, MTB tires, chains etc… all ready to go as well.

To make all of that happen, I am going to need to be extremely organized.  I have my 250XCF that I am completely rebuilding to get another year out of it.  I have a 200XCW that will be for the D16 events and the motorcycle Enduro’s.  I have a Fuel EX 29’er that I will be prepping for the more XC MTB days.  I have a 27.5 Slash that will be for the MTB Enduro events.  I have a carbon Cyclocross bike that is not new, but will need to be made fresh for the season…  As I said, lots of work.

The 250XCF is what I am working on now.  All the other vehicles need to be prepped and focused for their task, but the 250XCF needs to be completely refreshed from the past season.  Bearings, motor, plastic, handlebars, seat, wheels, suspension, steering damper… pretty much everything needs to be rebuilt.  I stopped short of painting the frame, as I think I am going to run out of time to get that done.  But, everything else on the bike will be fresh or rebuilt.

Apparently, this is what a season of offroad racing does to linkage bearings.  Ugh...

Apparently, this is what a season of offroad racing does to linkage bearings. Ugh…

The 200XCW needs to be focused for Enduro and tight trees work.  Bark busters, suspension tweaking, protective items for delicate parts, lubing of bearings, my preferred grips, a new top end etc… But that is nothing compared to the 250XCF.  1 weekend and I should have that ready to go.

The 29’er Fuel EX will get a new XTR 1×11 kit, and a Boost rear end.  This will get used for my every day riding, and the XC oriented riding/racing for the year.  The XTR kit is ready to be put on, so just need to find a weekend to do that.  But, this is way easier than the moto work, so should not take long.

The Slash really just needs to be freshened up with a set of new tires.  This bike will just be used for a the MTB enduro events and the Alps trip.  May not be able to get through all of that with one set of tires, so probably need to get a back up set for that bike.

The Boone CX bike just needs to be cleaned up, fresh brake pads, new chain etc…  I am going to run a set of CX tubular tires next year so they will need to get stretched and mounted before the season.  But, this bike will just be hanging out in the garage for the summer, so there is no hurry on this.

I love this time of the year, but not as much as the next period where riding and racing actually gets started.

Until next time.  Out.

Joe

2wheelers kinda run my life!

 

I think I'll go skiing.

I think I’ll go skiing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

40. Go to a World Cup DH race.

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

 

Daylight

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

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

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

That right there is some good stuff.

That right there is some good stuff.

 

 

 

Another Ironman has passed – Sigh. God I love that race.

Molding clay.  
Putty.  
Peanut butter.  
Nutella.  
Playdoh.  
Really thick cake batter.
What exactly is that dirt made out of?

Crawfordsville dirt.  Like no other dirt.

Crawfordsville dirt. Like no other dirt.

None of those things truly do the dirt at Ironman justice. They are all sort of like the dirt in some way, but also different. The dirt curls, it pushes up in ridges, it folds, it ruts and climbs and descends and does things that dirt normally just does not do. It is almost like it is alive, sort of moving and being all by itself. It is kinda like the water in that movie called the Abyss. It lives..

I do really know how to describe it in any other way, but the dirt at Ironman. OMG! It is like no other dirt. I have not found dirt like that anywhere else in the world.

Every year I go to the Ironman, and every year the day before while walking around the course I kinda feel like “I am over this place..” The crowds, the dust, the river crossings, the hills, the way you know your motorcycle will just be trashed. It really becomes sort of a ughex this is not going to go well.

Then after the race I find myself grinning ear to ear and just personally oophed over just everything about it. The hills, the dirt the water, the chaos and crowds everywhere. I cannot wait till next year already.

When the tennseconds note came out of Rodney, I was still in my “over it” phase. I was wondering what I was doing there. Why wasn’t I up in Hayward with Liz riding my MTB, throwing the ball with Marty and wrestling with Stella. I could be doing a cyclocross race… hmmm. That is not the way to start a race. When the flag went up, I shot forward, but then quickly got shuffled back to about 10th when we entered the woods. I rode stiff and my legs were cramping and I dropped my pacifier in the spokes and I think I must have lost my blanky or something.

So, I had a little talk with myself. My manly self talked to my currently operating as a bit of a Larry inside a motorcycle racers helmet and I think there was a bit of woodshed discussion. It probably involved some real choice and direct conversation. I kinda imagine it going something like this.

“Are you happy over there with all the covers?”, manly self.

“I am a little bit cold”, namby self.

“Would you like me to get you some Kleenex? Looks like your eyes are watering or you have the sniffles.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“Man up, tuck your skirt in and get after it, would you? Or, do I have to forbid you from racing a dirt bike? If you expect that Liz is going to let you keep racing that thing, or hang out with her on a mountain bike trail, you had better figure it out, and fast!”

I am not sure if I was looking for worms at that moment or what, but it is the only action shot I have.  "Hey, the race is over here buddy!"

I am not sure if I was looking for worms at that moment or what, but it is the only action shot I have. “Hey, the race is over here buddy!”

At that point manly me took over and I stopped being such a wuss. I took a deep breath and headed forward. At the end of the 1st lap, I was in 9th. A lap later, I was in 7th, then 5th, then 4th, then 3rd. Unfortunately, I ran into a tree that really wanted to debate with me about things. It reached out and grabbed me and threw me to the ground. I think it even put its foot on my neck. I was tangled up there for some time, and it took me quite some time to get going again. The right side shroud was flapping in the breeze and my bike felt a little bit crooked. That is the kind of thing that bothers you for a minute, but then you move past it.

I stopped for gas before the last lap, and we were going to try to zipty the shroud back down. After playing around with that, we just grabbed it and ripped it off the bike, leaving the bare tank exposed. I went to blast off then, but then realized that I did not have my goggles back on. Ugh, a very poorly executed pit stop on my part for sure. Through all of this, Ryan was saying “you are only 13 seconds out of 3rd”. Which meant that I knew who the guy was. I had passed him earlier and then he went by me while I was riding like a pud after the tree debate. I thought, “I know who that guy is.”

In the end, he held me off as I never was able to get myself truly back up to the pace I was going before. I am ok with 4th out of 24 in my class at the Ironman. It is a 3hr race, and I am probably the oldest guy in the class by a long shot.

Results.  4th out of 24 isn't so bad.

Results. 4th out of 24 isn’t so bad.

As Chris Bach said to me afterward. “What the hell happened to you? I saw you once and your shroud was flapping out in the breeze and then I saw you later and you had no shroud on – just naked bike.” Yep, I ended up finishing the ride with no shroud on the right side of the bike. That really doesn’t work very well. My knee brace catches on the gas tank and the radiator. Not nice.

My racing is a work in progress for sure. Some days I am physically not there, and then all of a sudden one day it is a mental issue. I guess when I truly have it all figured out, I should stop. Until then, I will keep at it.

It is only 364 days until the Ironman GNCC race 2015. I cannot wait.

The usual post GNCC cleanup.  Missing plastic, bent parts, it all needs to come apart.  I guess there is something good about winter.

The usual post GNCC cleanup. Missing plastic, bent parts, it all needs to come apart. I guess there is something good about winter.

Till next year now.

Till next year now.

Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman!

Pete's photo of the trail.  It is going to be dusty and rough.

Next years GNCC license already purchased.  (Don’t tell Liz.)

So nice you have to say it more than once. In fact you have to say it more than just a couple of times. I do not feel I need to bite the head off any mammals though. Although there are other times…

Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman!

Make you feel like you are in a Beatlejuice movie. (Aren’t they about to make number 7, or is this dehydrated breakfast cereal hour?)

1902014_4615592964174_7845378033618592714_n

Pete’s photo of the trail. It is going to get rough and dusty.

So we are on the way to the place, the place where it all began. All of this madness of GNCC racing really started for me at the Ironman! It is the granddaddy of epic motorcycle races for me. I remember it leading to a conversation between Scott and I about us giving it a try. I had visions of huge crowds and huge mud and huge hills. All of that was based on my experience here in Crawfordsville.

In the end, a knee surgery and a few other things conspired to make that full GNCC season not as successful as I had hoped, but I have gone back every year since trying to hit that elusive successful day at the Ironman. I have had reasonable days there to horrible days. I have never had the breakout success day there that I have been chasing. I have every reason to feel that this will be the year, after a really successful kcal year. But, the mud, the crowds of riders and the hills await to decide my fate. I am kinda philosophical about it now, yet still prepared and hopeful.

I usually say that Ironman weekend is the best and worst of the year. It is the best because it is the absolute best race of the year. It is better than any local race and it is the best of the GNCC races. The dirt is incredible, the loop is more than 14 miles long, it is a huge event, it has more than 500 motorcycles on the course at once etc… But, it also signifies the end of the summer and winter is coming.

So very true.

Well, there is beer after all.

Looks like it is going to be a dusty Ironman.  Wet from the river and through the dust equals a layer of filth at the end.  I cannot wait for tomorrow.

Vavavavroom! It is almost a season!

Nothing better than this.

Nothing better than this.

It seems like just yesterday.  Just yesterday, Liz and I were coming out of a long winters nap and loading up the truck/trailer to head to North Carolina.  Trying to find some mountain biking, some road bike riding and to hit the Steele Creek GNCC.  Wow, time flies.  I suppose it is because I am getting old or something along those lines.  But, wow.

(My friend Noah at this point is saying, of course you are old Joe.  Have you looked in the mirror? Quiet!)

I am not going to do a full season retrospective just yet.  There is one more local race and about 6-8 Cyclocross races yet to do before we can call it a season.  But, things have turned out pretty well this year.

– I have won lots of races.

– Come 2nd in a few races.

– Had my best Moto Enduro finish ever.

– Done my first MTB Enduro.

– Kicked off my Cyclocross season…

All in all it has been pretty good.  The last month has been really good.

Goofy little EnduroX section at Cecil race!

Goofy little EnduroX section at Cecil race!

Just after the big Trekworld show in early August, I got myself cranked up to hit the 2nd half of the season.  The 2nd half is always a question for me, as I usually have to miss a couple of races in July, work a ton during that time, travel around the world a bunch, and basically do a lot of things that do not add up to holding onto fitness very well.  This year was no different, but I did manage to stay sharp by riding my bicycle a bunch and getting some big Alpine MTB time in and ride my motorcycle a few times at Dyracuse or at Aztalan.  Not a lot, but enough.

In July, I had one gap and with no riding or training or anything bumped over to Cecil and got that WIXC race in.  Didn’t get the greatest start, but worked my way up to Pete by the end of the first lap and sat on him for a couple of laps.  He made a bobble and fell over in the sand and I took off from there.  I wouldn’t say I got a huge gap on him, but got enough that I did not have to stay at the ragged edge.  He had some additional trouble and that one ended up being not too bad.  That was good, because if he would have had a good race, it would have been tough to stay with him the whole time.

This is how close Pete and I have been for much of the season.  That is me chasing him early at Cecil.

This is how close Pete and I have been for much of the season. That is me chasing him early at Cecil.

Next race for me was all the way at the end of August, at Sugar Camp.  Sugar Camp is the best race of the year.  I really wanted to do well, but did not trust my fitness.  I took in my beet juice at the start and a Honey Stinger Gel and found myself completely amped up and ready to go when the gate went down.  Pete always gets a good start and I seldom do, and of course this was one more time that it turned out to be true.  It took me to about halfway into the lap to catch him.  He followed me for some of the 2nd lap, but then I put my head down with a 2nd wind and took off.  I felt really good, and I think Pete did not.  He posted afterward that I was on it and he was not.  But, I have to say there really isn’t that much difference between us this year.

I went to Cecil and won a complete mudder there (completely trashed my bike) and put the WIXC season away at that point.  To be fair, Pete was not there so it was not really a dual for us there.

Sugar Camp race 2014

Sugar Camp race 2014

The next weekend I did the Adams County D16 Enduro and came away with a 2nd place in my class.  That is the best I have ever done in an Enduro.  I rode well, but I never really do that well with the stop and start sprint thing that is an enduro.  Oh well, maybe I do have a future there.  We all get old at some point, so I figure eventually I better figure out Enduro’s.

Yep, that is me doing an Enduro.  My friend Noah says there is a National Enduro row with our names on it for next year.  I do not know about that.

Yep, that is me doing an Enduro. My friend Noah says there is a National Enduro row with our names on it for next year. I do not know about that.

This past weekend was the D16 Harescrambles at Dyracuse.  I won that race, after following Pete for the 1st lap.  I was disappointed that we got caught so quickly by the sandbagger Joe Barr behind (he has raced XC2 pro class at GNCC races and lined up on the B row) on that first lap.  I pushed my way past Pete and chased after Joe on that 2nd lap.  I put about 1 minute per lap on my group for the rest of the race and stayed relatively close to Joe for a while, but fell over and lost the plot somewhere in the middle there.  I picked it back up then, but after that Joe was gone.  (Nice work – sand man)

There is one more race in the local series this sunday.  After that, I will be going to Dyracuse each weekend for the month of October to bang out laps in the sand whoops – prepping for the Ironman GNCC at the end of the month.  There are still a bunch of Cyclocross races to be done yet this year, so the year of 2 wheel competition is not yet over.  But, it is winding down.  I am going to race the A class this weekend and then contemplate lining up on the A class line for next year.  I will see just how far off the pace I am this weekend.  I find it a pretty interesting proposition to be on the A class line at 54 years old next year.  We will see.

Lotsa thanks to all my sponsors for all the help this year.

Stay tuned.

Sometimes my bike looks pretty good.  After the Cecil mudder, it did not look at all good.

Sometimes my bike looks pretty good. After the Cecil mudder, it did not look at all good.

It is just the start of Cyclocross season.  It will get a lot muddier and colder from here.

It is just the start of Cyclocross season. It will get a lot muddier and colder from here.

Joe

 

Wow, there are leaves on those trees!

This past weekend, was round 9 of 13 race local season.  It was my 8th race of the local season, and it was a pretty good one.  All in, I am a record of 8 wins and 1 second place.  But, the numbers do not tell the whole story.  I will get back to that later, but first…

As you know I have been struggling with my eyesight this year.  I chronicled the beginning of my season and my eyesight struggles earlier here in this early season blog entry.  I solved it thus, or at least made it much better with the old goggle inserts.  What I did not tell in that early entry has been my struggles to get my goggle inserts updated to my new prescription, bear with me through this as it is a story all right.

New goggle inserts are here!

New goggle inserts are here!

So, I was doing really well with my old prescription goggle inserts, but felt that there was still something left on the table.  With my regular glasses, the old prescription was not cutting it anymore – at least in the face of the new prescription.  Wow, I could just see so much better.  So, I ordered up some additional inserts for my new Oakley favorite schweet goggles – they are different don’t you know, at least from my old inserts and the old will not work in the Oakley.  So hey  – I forked over my prescription to Drew @rxgoggles and he pounded out some new lenses for me.  Woot.

When they arrived, I plopped them into my Oakley’s, went out to the MX track to lay down some sweet laps at a pace that I just knew would be better than I have ever done before – I mean I can see you know.  But something went completely wrong.  I could not see a thing.  I was getting a case of vertigo and was having a horrible time seeing.  Things were screaming up on me from the sides and I could not see a thing.  It was way way worse than without any inserts.  I went into a complete funk.  That is it, my offroad racing passion is completely shot – I am a trail rider in the future at best.

This is me chasing Pete early in the race.

Chasing Pete early in the race.

There was a funny little EnduroX section that was trying to slow us all down.  By the end of the race it was just a jump over section.

There was a funny little EnduroX section that was trying to slow us all down. By the end of the race it was just a jump over section.

After I moped around for a while all grumpy, I decided to go and talk to the eye dr.  She measured all my glasses and declared that my base curve on the new inserts were all wrong.  I called up Drew @rxgoggles and relayed the story and he said send them back and we will rework.  (both pair – it is a long story)

So, many hundreds of dollars later I have the coolest most valuable 6.5 base curve corrective goggle inserts ever.  Ever.  You cannot imagine how much I have paid for these.

This past weekend at Cecil, I decided that I was using them and forcing myself to  adapt even if they were not right.  I wore them on my MTB while I did a loop on the course before the race and, wow – they seemed really good.

So, I set them up on the goggles and went to the line.  The gun went off and I dropped the clutch.  Nothing.  I was not running.  I hit the button again and it still did not start.  Finally on the 3rd try it started.  I went into the woods in about 15th place.  On a fast course it was hard to make up time and tough to find lines.  It took me till the 3rd lap to catch Pete (who of course got the holeshot – again.  What is it with his starts vs. mine?  I have not gotten a start ahead of him all year.)

Eventually I figured out how to go fast, but not for the whole race.

Eventually I figured out how to go fast, but not for the whole race.

In general these days, I have a bad case of office hands.

In general these days, I have a bad case of office hands.

Pete stayed in front of me for about 3 more intense laps, then made a mistake and I got around him while he was on the ground.  I think I taunted him went I went by, not nice but we have a fun rivalry going between us.  At that point I put my head down and did a couple of hard laps and got a gap on him.  Unfortunately, at that point I kinda ran out of gas (3 weeks in europe eating crap food, not sleeping well and drinking too much beer, had left me without enough energy).  I cruised from there and managed to finish about 2 minutes ahead of Pete in second.  Pete had banged his knee, as he said trying too hard to go fast.  Felt bad for him.

OMG!  I could see so much during the race!  I could see leaves on the trees even.  I found myself riding along saying to myself “Look at that, a hole.  Oh look, there is a line over there I could take.”  It is really amazing how much more you enjoy the race when you can see the trail.  Cecil was actually way more fun that I thought it was going to be.  It was fast, but felt a lot like a short GNCC course.

So with 4 races left I have a handy 35 point lead over 2nd.  That will get gobbled up a bit as I have to miss one of those races yet this year.  But, I am feeling good about the way I have been riding I hope I will be fine and will finally achieve my goal of winning the overall for a season.

Joe

The video below was taken by Monty Griffin.  He races my class, is a class racer with a big heart that always takes a nice little video of the course.

 

Tinnnn Roof….Rusted!

This is not a story about Lions or Totem Poles, after all – I like a good fist fight as well as the next Fella. This is racin! It is normally the heat that makes you hot, not the lack of cold. Leave me alone, I’m pedaling as fast as I can… What exactly does any of this have to do with the air speed velocity of a unladen swallow?  I do not know, but I know if the last few races I have felt a bit large.

Can I have exactly nothing for $1000?

Meanwhile our hero does not believe that any of this should stop the continued pursuit of the two wheeled nirvana known as riding. A simple word with many meanings all of which actually say the same thing in 37.2 languages. Surrender Dorothy!

First, there was the 6 hour MTB race.  Upon canceling our plan to go to Copper Harbor for 2 days of bigger mountain riding and a MTB Enduro event, we decided (at the last minute I might add) to participate and clip on a number at the local 6 hour MTB race.  I could have done 12, but it was hard to get motivated for a 7am start when knowledge of the event was happening at only 9pm previous.  Oh well, 6 it is, a noon start sounds far more achievable.

The steeds all loaded.  303 Offroad goes MTB XC racing.  Woot!

The steeds all loaded. 303 Offroad goes MTB XC racing. Woot!  A Fuel EX 29 trail bike will do just nicely, thank you.

The Southern Kettle Moraine have some really nice singletrack (I am told not to refer to it any longer as just single).  It is tight and twisty, and quite a blast – but when you stuff a bunch of riders down the trail, it gets really hard to pass.

The race started out with a little jog to spread us out, and not send us all into the singletrack all at once.  As you will see from the video, it really didn’t work.  We bunched all up and you really could not pass but about 4 places the entire lap.  It was frustrating, but it is a 6 hour long race so it really did not matter.  Oh well, it was really fun to see all the different riders and abilities.

We ended up having a really good time and a pretty good race.  Liz was a hero and really enjoyed her loops.  She is always faster and tougher than she lets on.  I think we will go back and do another this fall.

It did not hurt that it was a great spring Wisconsin day.

Kewaunee WIXC race

Any day racing your motorcycle is better than a day not.  I have said that before, and I will always feel that way.  In fact, I spent some time trying to explain that here.  But, some days are definitely better than others.  Last weekend was not my day.  I’ll say right up front, that I ended up winning – but I really did not deserve to win.  My friend Pete was way better than me on the day, but he ended up not able to finish and therefore, I inherited the win.  Sometimes that is the way it goes in racing, I am always happy to win – but I am way happier if I feel like I rode at the level it takes to win.  Let me explain.

Dust.  I used to really dislike mud.  But after a lot of years of racing I have come around to realizing that dust is what I really dislike.  It is scary stuff.  I really do not like going along in 6th gear with 50ft of visibility.  I just have to much of a self preservation gene for that to be something I enjoy.

The start was the typical affaire.  I got a good start, but Pete and his 350 can usually pull me on the line.  Especially on a long start without any twists and turns.  Kewaunee was a crazy long top gear straightaway to the first turn.  Pete came around me in the first little kink and I was forced to eat his dust for next few laps.   For about 45 minutes I toyed with trying to pass him, I was clearly faster in a couple of sections and I kept trying to line myself up to be able to get by him in those sections.  But, I found that I had to try so hard in the really dusty sections to be close enough that I was just scaring myself.  After a while, I decided I was taking too many chances and I backed it down to 9/10 pace.  Pete kept the gas on and a couple of laps later I was told that he had about 20 secs on me.

Normally someone telling me that is enough to make me chase, but today with all the dust, I just said nope not going to do it.  Somewhere along in there, Pete flatted and I must have gone right by him on the track.  I did not see it, so just kept on cruising at about 90% pace.  It wasn’t until I was back at the trailer and Pete came and told me that he had had to pull off.  I am really bummed for him, as he deserved to win – but I guess that is why it is called racing and they run the race all the way to the finish.  I cannot wait until this weekends race.  It is an all singletrack affaire and I am sure I will like that much better.

I am the egg man.

Watch the first minute or 2 of this video and you will see how I had a great off the line start, but Pete pulled past me going down the long straight.  You can watch the rest of the lap, but I think you will find it pretty boring.  I love WIXC races, but Kewaunee is not my favorite course.

No l-o-i-t-e-r-i-n-g allowed.
Rusted.

Joe

My Racing and a Thermos!!!

An early start, and a lot of driving.  But in the end, it is worth it.  Oh, and of course there is Pearl Jam.

An early start, and a lot of driving. But in the end, it is worth it. Oh, and of course there is Pearl Jam.

Have you ever contemplated how a thermos works? I mean seriously, it keeps things both hot and cold.   I do not know about you, but I have been both hot and cold. They are not the same. One is painful immediately, and one is painful over time. One works very well for some things (hot chocolate) and not well for others (hot orange juice). One works very well for many things in the other way – Ice cream comes to mind. But, really only Pizza can go both ways and it works out. (This brings up a serious challenge to my Burrito is a better food than Pizza stance. One worth rehashing and reconsidering… Some serious research will be needed.)

That is me chasing Pete in the middle of the race.  As Noah says "I shouldn't follow so closely - gets my number plate dirty."

That is me chasing Pete in the middle of the race. As Noah says “I shouldn’t follow so closely – gets my number plate dirty.”

This gets me back to the Thermos noted in the title (sometimes you may need to do one of those walls that you put pictures up and connect strings from one topic to the other just to follow along, but hey you are the one that chose to read this). Just how does the Thermos know? Are all Thermos’s connected like the dinosaurs were back in that Jurassic Park movie or something? Pour in hot stuff, and it is still hot later. Pour in cold stuff and it is still cold later. That pretty much qualifies as awesome if you are following along at home.

As for how this might relate to my race stories that I post here, you will just have to bear with me, I hope to bring it around at the end.

So, I am 4 races into my season. (3 WIXC races and 1 D16 race). My results don’t really tell the story though. If you look at the results it will show 2 second placings and 2 first placings. Not bad if you just stop there. But, if you dig deeper and reread the previous blog entry you will recognize the thermos that is my racing. It seems to have a mind of it’s own. Hot and cold and I did not seem to have much control over it. It is as if someone had decided what liquid to pour into me before the race has started and it is just my job to maintain that. Oh and maintain I had done for the first 3 races, I started out hot or cold and I just stayed there. But, on the 4th race I decided to do something different (very non thermos like).

 

So Far...

So Far…

This past weekend, I felt like I got past that issue. I got a crap start. Got pushed a few places back in the 1st turn and then even washed my front end out and came to a complete stop with my foot on the ground in the first few hundred meters of the race. Later in the 2nd lap, I smashed my shifter into a stump and it got jammed folded back. That meant I finished that lap stuck in 3rd gear and had to ask someone to help me at the timing tent to pull my shifter out so that I could ride. Meanwhile, Pete had checked out of the front of the bunch and I was about 30 seconds behind him. In the past, I would have resigned myself at that point to 2nd place, reinforcing the point that if I did not get a decent start I was cooked. (or in other words, someone had loaded cold liquid in and I was not capable of changing that.) But this time, I decided that I was not a thermos. I was going to go from cold to hot in the same race. (maybe I should have drawn the comparison to myth of cold fusion instead of a thermos.)

I put my head down and caught Pete after another lap and went to work to try to figure out how to get around him and then to put some space in between us. I am really pleased with my efforts, although that summary is certainly oversimplified. Pete got a great start, but was riding without anyone to chase. It will be good to get a similar start to him at one of these races and then see how we can race together.

Regardless, I think I have kicked the thermos challenge and I can make heat when I need to. I have a special place in my head for the Thermos (much like Steve Martin in The Jerk), but I am not bound by the same physics any more.

IMG_8812

Bring on the races, I got the new thermos.

Out,

Joe

thermos1

 

Some times it is a small thing!

Eyesight. We all take it for granted.

Morning comes… If you are like me, your alarm goes off and you open your eyes. The first thing I usually see is a dog looking at me, wondering if I am going to get him up and take him outside. All of that while the little one sleeps away dreaming of chasing rabbits down holes or something like that. Hunter that she is…  Anyway, we all kinda take for granted whatever it is we see when we first wake up.  It is just the sort of thing that is there, you know it just is.  (Although in my case, I do not really know why that dog is always staring at me when I wake up… kinda creepy.)

I am old. That will surprise you, I know. But in my case I like to think of it as really well “traveled”. Regardless, my eyesight is not as good as it has been in the past.  I know that surprises you,  but basically I can see everything closely around me just fine. I just cannot see very well at a distance anymore – at all. Seriously, do not ask me to read a sign on the road or anything like that when I do not have my glasses on.  You will be surprised at the results if you try.

Of course impaired eyesight is not anything new, and I am not the only person that has suffered from it. But, mine has come on slowly overtime, and has snuck up on me. So here is my story.

Eyesight certainly deteriorates over time for most people. Mine is no different. But that deterioration happens slowly, you don’t really notice it too much for a long time.  I suppose you squint and force yourself to decipher what your brain is only getting partially from your eyes.  It works, for a while. The last time I had to go and get a drivers license, probably 10 years ago, I did not need glasses to see “line 3”. I had glasses, but that was mostly because I was having some trouble seeing road signs at night – night vision I called it. My prescription was really light. I was always able to read “line 3” without the glasses. Then I showed up this past year to get my drivers license renewed, and could not read line 3. “You must be kidding me, no one can read line 3 – that is Chinese characters on line 3.”  She was not kidding, and was not amused. I failed.  (A friend said, you should always/never be sassy with the person working at the DMV.)

So, I got my prescription updated and went back to take the test (passed) but WOW! I could see. I did not realize that there was so much detail off in the distance. It was like I had all of a sudden gained eyesight. I was so excited I ordered new glasses – new glasses for driving, new sunglasses for driving, new glasses for every day, new sunglasses for bike riding. I was completely taken with my new found eyesight. I loved being able to see so much that I am never without them now.  I almost always wear my corrective glasses.

The problem is that, I think you start to rely on having fantastic sight. So much so that when you are without them, you REALLY cannot see. On the motorcycle, I did not have any vision assistance. And, at speed on the motorcycle is when you really want to have sight. Not having good eyesight made it so that everything came upon me really really fast. I could not anticipate, could not pick lines and could not flow through the woods like normal and … It was bad.

Of course, it meant that I tried even harder. I pressed harder on the bike, then would find myself overshooting turns and bouncing off trees. I started fiddling with my bike set up and that started making things worse. As not only could I not see anything, but my bike was not the bike that I was comfortable with and confident in. That made things even worse. I was spiraling down and down. Getting slower and getting worse. Struggling I was.

Then while in the funk of trying to figure out what was going on, I went for a mountain bike ride and sweated out my corrective glasses, so I took them off and finished the ride without glasses. All of a sudden there I was, mid MTB ride and could not ride anymore. Ding Ding Ding! That is when it dawned on me. It is my eyesight, stupid!

So I had had an old goggle insert made to the old prescription years before. I had not used them much, because back in the day when I really did not need the assistance I did not really notice any real difference while using them.  They were just another look through surface that collected dirt and dust and was prone to fogging up.  So they are virtually new and unused in my goggle box.  I cleaned them up, anti-fogged the lenses and I gave them a try this past Sunday.

!HOLY CRAP!  Unbelievable.  All of a sudden I could see.  What I found, looking back is that without the inserts I could not see anything out in the distance so I probably was looking right down in front of the fender.  You cannot ride fast when you cannot look out in front.

With the inserts I could see the holes, I could see the ruts, I could see the turns and lines in and out way in advance.  Fortunately I had documented my original settings that worked so well last year.  I took the motorcycle back to the original set up and BANG – speed.

1st in +40 class, 8th overall. I’ll now be ringing up Drew @RXGoggles to debate him on who is tougher, MX’ers or off-roaders (he is wrong btw), and order up some new anti fog coated inserts with my new prescription.

Feels good to have speed again.  Pete has gained a ton of speed, but I knew deep down inside, there was something basic that I was missing.

Feels good to have speed again. Pete has gained a ton of speed, but I knew deep down inside, there was something basic that I was missing.

I am back.  Whew.  It was close.

Joe

IMG_0069

Good to put the #303 back up on top again.

 

Maybe I cannot go fast – but at least I will look good!

As you know, I am not having the best start to my season.  I am not really upset by that, as any day racing is better than not racing.  But, after a couple of bad races and 2 big mudders – I am really searching around.  Time to get after this.

How I am feeling about my riding lately.  Not sure what it is, but I will get it figured out.

How I am feeling about my riding lately. Not sure what it is, but I will get it figured out.

Last weekend was another muddy muddy race.  It was pouring down rain for most of the race and it was an absolute mud pit.  Ugh…  I hate mud, and I think when you are not riding well it is even worse for you.  Not complaining mind you, everyone out there had to ride the same conditions.  I think that maybe I just suck at it extra hard.

So I am going to try to get myself somewhere to ride in the next days.  I just need to set up a small 1:30 loop and go round and round.  Get comfortable, change settings get comfortable again, reverse the direction, change settings, get comfortable – rinse and repeat.  I will get it figured out.

In the mean time, I have all new graphics coming for my bike.  They are the sweetest thing that AJ at Victory Circle did up for me.  They will showcase my sponsors, point people to my website and try to put some thoughts around my love of everything 2 wheels.  As I said, even if I cannot go fast I am going to look good trying to.

My new graphics.  Look for me at the races.

My new graphics. Look for me at the races.

See you at the races.

Joe

 

There is really only one way to get faster.

I have been hoping for some magic.  You know, one day you wake up and I Dream of Genie has made you into a great rider.  All of a sudden you can ride yourself right out of ruts and you can clear a triple and tractor right up a muddy hill – hey, it could happen!

Damn it feels good to be riding and practicing!

Damn it feels good to be riding and practicing!

I have a membership now to the local little private MX track at Aztalan.  There is a nice outdoor style track with reasonable jumps and some hills.  There is a small bit of woods and a small bike track.  If I link all that together, I can get about a 6-7 minute lap.  It is not the best, but it is literally 10 minutes from my house.

I have been saying that if I could just ride every week, then I could get better.  So, I finally took the plunge and joined.  I do not know what took me so long to do it.  Sure, I am not really a motocrosser, but who cares.  I can get over a reasonable double and I love turns.  This track has that in abundance.  And since it is really mostly a motocrossers place, they do not go into the woods.  So, I have that all to myself.

Today I rode for 1 hour, then 20 minutes, then another 20 minutes, then 30 minutes.  Small breaks in between and then sprint hard for the riding time.   By the end of the day, I could get over the doubles and felt much more comfortable. I plan to ride there every week from now through the summer.

I have been working with AJ on my graphics to make them reflect my new site more and represent my sponsors as well.  We have some great things coming.  The trailer graphics and the new bike graphics will be more simple and clean (I am into that lately).  Here is how the trailer will look, working on the bike graphics and will post those soon as well.

Here are the new graphics for the trailer.  It is a work in progress, and has a bit more to go.

Here are the new graphics for the trailer. It is a work in progress, and has a bit more to go.  You can see the old graphics below for reference.  

Out to the races.

Joe

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

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