Tag Archives: Harescrambles

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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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?

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?)

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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.

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.

 

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.

 

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

We are finally racing! – Finally.

After the longest winter known in the history of the universe, we are finally racing.  Seriously, the winter was at least 710 and 1/2 days long.  It is still not exactly warm out, but at least there is no snow on the ground.  Bonus though, no mozzies.  (So we have that going for us.)

100% Nouget

100% Nougat

I have tried to get after some racing by getting in the truck and driving somewhere, but it just was not working.  I went down to NC to maybe do the GNCC race, but decided against it because of the mud.  A long time ago, after many a horrible GNCC mud race, I had said that if I got to the parking lot of a GNCC and it was a gong show – I was going to turn around and go home.  So, I did. I know, what a wuss.  Yep.  I am.  Tired of trashing my gear, so you know.

It was a gong show, so I did not.

It was a gong show, so I did not.

WIXC race – Hillpoint. Ugh.  I have been fighting off a bad head/chest cold.  I kinda felt like I had kicked  it, but when race time came I could not breathe.  Physically I felt ok, trained and prepared, but breathing is pretty necessary.  I was ok for the first lap, but when I tumbled and had to get myself going again I just could not calm my heart rate down and make myself go.  Took me a long long time to be able to focus and breathe and ride hard. On top of that, I was kinda not able to focus on the trail.  I would not say my vision was blurred, but I would say my balance was awkward.  So, Pete got away from me right away in the race and I never really was able to put much of a charge together to try to track him down.  He deserved to win.  He rode well and has battled to come back this fast from some pretty serious health problems.  I am glad he did well.

10015011_615726905186643_553652272664160654_o

I think this was probably in the first lap or 2, before it rained in earnest and when I was still riding decently. (That will end – ha.)

After the race, there was a lot of cleanup.  Although the video doesn’t really do the muck justice.  Trust me, it was pretty bad. Chain is gone.  Tires are gone. Grips are gone.  Graphics are gone.  Brake pads are gone.  Clutch is gone.  Ugh…

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/91879541″>Cleanup after Hillpoint</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user2916719″>joe vadeboncoeur</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p> At least we are racing! Joe Out

What does it all mean?

Nothing like an early morning drive to ride your motorbike.!

Nothing like an early morning drive to ride your motorbike.!

You get up early.  Pack up the trailer or van or pickup.  Drive between 2 and 24 hours.  Pay your money to get in.  Register for the race.  Walk part of the course.  Get nervous talking about how tight that one section is, or how tough that uphill is going to be during the race with traffic, or how bad the mud is going to be in that one section, or how dusty it is going to be…  There will be nervous trips to the porta john.  Then it will be time to go to the line.  Guys from the morning race will be there telling you how bad the dust was.

Then the gun goes off, and it all melts away.  The stress of before now becomes the adrenaline of getting through the mud hole and up the big hill.  There is the guy in front of you to chase.  You know he is there, you can see his dust and catch a glimpse of him entering the trees as you enter the open section.  Sometimes during the race you are the hunter, other times the hunted.  Some races the end cannot come soon enough, others you cannot believe it’s over when you reach the end.

When the end does come, it seems that the duration of the race did not matter.  Exhaustion is always the result.  Sometimes there is pain.  Sometimes there is blood.  There is always sweat and always dirt.  That is good.

Sometimes when the end of the race comes you are not sure about the result.  Other times there is victory or satisfaction.  Sometimes there is disappointment.  Always there is awe and pride.

So you load up afterward.  Dreading the cleanup and the possible damage.  You pile it all in and shove the tailgate closed, much like a suitcase at the end of a long trip.  How did it all get so much larger and so much messier?

On the drive home, there is bench racing with your friends.  The race plays out in little bits in your head and in the air between the 2 of you.  There is shared difficulties and individual struggles.  You start to plan and think of the next race, all the while dreading getting home with the pile of dirty gear and shattered motorcycle in the back.  There will be hours of cleanup and gear washing and repair and prep for the next time on the bike.

When you do get home, your body is cramped and feels broken.  Sometimes you can barely move from the 3 crashes during the race.  If it is 2-10 hours to get home the difference to your cramped body can be a lot.  You drink and drink and never have to pee.  Your whole body can begin to set up like concrete.  Finally you do get out of the truck in the driveway and move toward the house, it sometimes hurts to walk that far.  Sometimes there is hardware, and other times just a bit of a twinge.

Imagine how tired Chris Bach probably looks.  I hope alot worse than I do there, but probably not.

Sometimes it is all you can do to get your gear off after the race.

In the end, it is always worth it.

What does it all mean?…. Who Cares!  It is the most fun thing you can ever do with a Sunday.  (Well, except that other thing.)  Any day racing a motorcycle is better than any day not.

Spring is here.  Racing starts soon.  I cannot wait.

Joe

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

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

20131207-225851.jpg

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

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

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

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

So with that, Mary said, and I quote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strength Phase Month 1

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

Tuesday 12/3
Pat’s gym workout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surrender Dorothy.

Joe

How rough can it be?

The aftermath.  As usual, after a GNCC.  Bike is pretty roached.  But, I have seen them alot worse than this before.

The aftermath. As usual, after a GNCC. Bike is pretty roached. But, I have seen them alot worse than this before.

It is rough.  How rough you ask?  Check this photo, that is Scott’s rear sprocket which is supposed to be attached to the rear hub.  It is not.  That is how rough it is.  Check here for Scott’s complete story.

Arriving.  Look into the distance, and you can see the hoopla building.

Arriving. Look into the distance, and you can see the hoopla building.

Well, it is a little bit like running a jack hammer for 3 hours, but stopping and throwing yourself on the ground onto your kidneys 8-10 times during that 3 hours.  Oh, do not forget to smash parts of your body while doing the jack hammering also.  And for grins peg your heart rate at about 130 for the 3 hours.  Lots of people say to me “aren’t you just sitting there and turning the throttle?”

So, how did my race come down?  Well… not great.  In fact, I rode like shit. This year, my schedule conspired against me, and I was crazy busy for the month before the race.  2 weeks in Europe, a couple of USA trips, bad weather on the weekends that I was home, trying Cyclcoross racing had me focused on other things… blah, blah, blah.  Not much of an excuse, I admit.  But, somehow it all conspired against my fitness.  Lack of preparation for Ironman does not really work.  You cannot hide from Ironman GNCC.

Check the crowd at the morning race.  It is big.

Check the crowd at the morning race. It is big.

Before the race, I told my friends from Wisconsin, who were doing their first 3 hour GNCC race.   “Have a safe calm 1st lap. Ride within yourself. Choose your lines carefully on the big hills and mud holes. Then race once you understand the flow. You cannot win the race in the first lap, but you can kill your race…” Then I promptly went out and rode like an idiot for the first lap.

That is deep cold water that we have to go through about 5 times during the race.

That is deep cold water that we have to go through about 5 times during the race.

I got a mediocre start, but then did not ride aggressively enough in the first part of the lap and lost a couple of places. I realized quickly that I was being a pud and started to push really hard.  That led me to 5 crashes on 1st lap. Including tumbling back down steep hill before Moto track, flying over a log and landing right on another bike, getting stuck trying to get through 1 of the 3 river crossings… I was trying way too hard and was completely out of sync with bike due to no time on it the prior month.  Meanwhile, of course the front of the race is going away from me.

I settled down in middle of the race, then made my way to 4th on track and was pretty comfortable there. But, in the last lap I made more errors.  I love my bike, and one of the things that I love about it is that it doesn’t consume alot of fuel.  But, the fuel light came on early in last lap before Ironman hill (which is less than halfway around the lap). I babied it for that lap and tried not to rev the bike too high, that resulted in loosing 4th and battling with the 5th place guy.

The kids always have to race in the cold early in the morning.  Check the long shadows and jackets on the kids.

The kids always have to race in the cold early in the morning. Check the long shadows and jackets on the kids.

We were pitted in the XC2 pits, which were quite a ways before the XC1 pits.  In my head, I thought we had to do a bunch of the lap after the XC2 pits and then go through the XC1 pits before the finish.  Stopped at my pits to get splash of fuel, fell back to 6th.  I made that decision because I thought I could get them both back with 1/2 lap, but stupidly only had 2 turns to finish.

So summary is.
– out of shape
– out of sync with my bike after no riding for a month
– no pit crew to help advise me during race
– boneheaded decisions early in the race and at the end of the race.

When I won Loretta, I raced all the way up to it, had a pit crew to help me, and didn’t make boneheaded mistakes.

One of the many steep hills that I struggled to get up during the race.  What is up with that?

One of the many steep hills that I struggled to get up during the race. What is up with that?

Congratulations to Pete Emme, James Voeks, Karl Lueschow.  They all had great races.  Pete finished 4th overall, Karl in 8th, James in 10th.  Proud of all of those guys, love racing with them all year long.

I’m a dumbass. I hate ending the season that way. I wish there was more racing. I have the speed to do well in that race, but I got way ahead of myself. That will not happen again. Next year I will show up prepared and with help in pits.

After the race, even things like your hands just hurt.

After the race, even things like your hands just hurt.

Once again the podium eludes me at the Ironman.  I LOVE to race my motorcycle, and I just cannot wait until next year.  I am making the Ironman a major goal for me for next year.  Once our local season is over, I will go on the road and race every weekend before Ironman.

Probably the last race in these colors.  Stay tuned for a future look.

Probably the last race in these colors. Stay tuned for a future look.

A clue to the future look in this.

A clue to the future look in this.

If Only I Had A Bat!

Wait... Off in the distance...  I think it is coming.  It is really huge... It is IRONMAN!!!!

Wait… Off in the distance… I think it is coming. I think it is really really huge!  Really huge… It is IRONMAN!!!!

Has he lost his mind?
Can he see or is he blind?
Can he walk at all,
Or if he moves will he fall?
Is he alive or dead?
Has he thoughts within his head?
We’ll just pass him there
why should we even care?

He was turned to steel
in the great magnetic field
When he travelled time
for the future of mankind

Nobody wants him
He just stares at the world
Planning his vengeance
that he will soon unfurl

It is a madhouse out there.  Madhouse.

It is a madhouse out there. Madhouse.

Now the time is here
for Iron Man to spread fear
Vengeance from the grave
Kills the people he once saved

Nobody wants him
They just turn their heads
Nobody helps him
Now he has his revenge

Heavy boots of lead
fills his victims full of dread
Running as fast as they can
Iron Man lives again!

Kinda makes you want to bite a bats head off.  Actually, it really just pisses you off.  To the point that you need to shred a dirt bike.  I know that I have felt like I have boots of lead after the race.  I trust I will again tomorrow.  God this is great stuff.

In the end, it comes around every year.  Just cannot get enough of it.

Let’s do Ironman!

Drowning Quads... Our fate tomorrow!

Drowning Quads… Our fate tomorrow!

Here We Go!

Here We Go!

What is it about Indiana and Confederate flags?

Summer Break – why?

I had to take a forced break the past few weeks.  Lotsa work and lotsa travel.  I was in July for the Tour de France, and that is always a black hole of time.  The month just sort of slips away, while you are in the grips of the time capsule of the TDF.

But, before the month got really going, I did do a couple of races at the end of June/begining of July that were pretty good.

Hixton – D16 race

CMJ has been holding races forever.  It has a storied past, not always great.  Over the years, there have been so many races there that it has trails just crisscrossing all over.  There have been years where the course was not marked well and the lines were really hard to find.  But this time it was superbly marked and it was the best Hixton race we have ever had.

As it has been all summer, the week leading up to the race was filled with moisture, but it left the dirt just perfect.  Again, the best we have ever had there.  The course was soft, so it ended up rutted and full of holes by the end.  Perfect, just the way I like it.

On my line there were about 15 bikes, a really good field.  I took the holeshot, but gave up the lead to Paul somewhere during the 1st lap.  In the 2nd lap, I passed him back and did not see him again.  I ended up having just a spectacular race.  I have had a few of those this year.

1017260_10151745447806563_37502224_n

Tearing through a section at Hixton. Sometimes I look like all right.

This is a video from someone in the last row.  He gets a horrible start, tears through the group, then crashes and cannot get his bike started, then tears through the group again.  Kinda humorous.  Gives you an idea of the course though.

Stone Lake – D16 race

This has never been my favorite course, and also because it is normally a shared race with D23 Minnesota.  This one was no different.  Bone dry, dusty, lotsa huge rocks (It is called Stone Lake after all), combined with D23…  But, the field was huge.  20+ riders on my line.

The race is a really long lap.  It includes a fun outdoor style MX track, some rocky stuff in the woods and a bunch of field sections.  The lap was really long, probably 20 minutes.

I got a decent start, maybe 5th at the 1st turn.  But, I moved to 2nd by the time we entered the woods.  I followed the leader for the 1st lap, at a super comfortable pace.  On the 2nd lap, I squeezed by on the inside of a turn in a field and put my head down to push for a bit.  After a half a lap, I had put quite a gap and was able to ride my own race from there.

My suspension completely was absolute magic for the 1st part of the race, and then went away completely by the end of the race.  Ouch.  It was hard to ride by the end and I was getting ping ponged all over the course towards the end.  I found myself on my head a bunch on the last lap.

In the end, I had a great race and notched another win.  I probably cannot win the overall in either the WIXC or the D16 series, as there are just too many races I will miss.  But, it is fun to race for wins this year and not worry about the overall.  So far I have notched 6 or 7 wins – more than I have in any other year.

Here is a video someone posted from a row or so ahead of me.  Shows the course really well.

IMG_5960

I was going fast at Stone Lake, but sometimes I look like such a dweeb.

I spent the day today in the garage.  Got my bike ready to go for next weekend, cleaned, polished, got all the bikes working well, sorted gear, washed air filters etc…  I know you have to do these days, but geez I want to race now.  Thank god there is a WIXC race next weekend.

Summer break is dumb.

Joe

A tale of 2 races…

It was the best of races, it was the worst of races, I thought I had lotsa wisdom about what races to do and what not to do – yet I did it anyway, although I knew I believed in epoxy for all the seasons of light instead of darkness, I was thinking that that I do not want to live through another winter of despair as that would not be heaven it would be the other direction…

This is the tale of 2 races, one with a head and one with a tail.

There is something about racing in Illinois. I never have a medium race there. It is either checkers or wreckers – sort of.

I have not done many district races this year, they started late due to the late winter and they have not worked too well into my schedule. The WIXC race that weekend was way way up in the U.P. and I just could not get up there. So,,, there was a D16 race just in northern Il. I should have known better.

Wedron is an interesting place. It is entirely flat as far as the eye can see, except where the race is. A ravine area with a bunch of trails running through it. Tight twisty trails with one line. There was a little MX track in the valley and they had built a little enduro X section.

The enduro X section.

The enduro X section.

I lined up on the +40A class row. There were about 15 bikes, and I thought it would be good. I was wrong. The course was super tight and I got a horrible start. I got pushed off my line in the first turn and punted back to about 10th place in the turn. I had my work cut out for me. It took me a while to get going, and then when I did there was no place to pass. I am not sure where I ended up, but not much about 5th I would suggest. I do not plan to go back there again.

Mud.

Mud.

IMG_7090

My name is mud, not to be confused with Pete or Jack or Chris or Dennis. I make em shine, well most of the time.

On top of the tight trail it was muddy. I hate mud. I do not ride it well, and I struggle for some reason in the mud. If it is dry, I am always aggressive these days. Mud = me riding like a wuss.

Then last weekend I went to a new WIXC race that I had not ever done. Navarino. A town up by Green Bay. I had not done the race before, but I guess the WIXC gang had been there once before. Short course, but spectacular dirt. When I rode the course on my mountain bike before the race, I was getting pretty psyched by the fantastic looking dirt. A few mud patches, but overall the dirt was just epic.

Epic dirt!

Epic dirt!

This time I was not going to ride like a wuss. The flag went up, and I buttoned it to running and snagged it into 1st and rocketed away. Straight to the front up a super long long uphill arcing straight to the woods . Bam – 1st to the woods. I decided I was going to go hard. I knew the course, afterall I had ridden it on my bike. I went full gas for the first 15 mins, then sat up to see what damage I had done. I did not know it then, but I was already almost a minute ahead of Rob who was struggling in 2nd. (Afterward, I was pretty psyched by that I beat him as he was saying he was going to beat me, but not psyched that he crashed out of the race. I hope he is ok.)

The only problem with the race is that it is a short course. Short is ok, but when you stuff 100+ bikes down the trail it makes for non stop lapped traffic. That part was pretty hard.

Again, sometimes I look fast.

Again, sometimes I look fast.

I ended up 1st in my class and 8th overall.

Lotsa great hills on a small midwest ski hill.

Lotsa great hills on a small midwest ski hill.

Super course.  Epic dirt.  Lotsa fun.  Thank you WIXC.

Super course. Epic dirt. Lotsa fun. Thank you WIXC.

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

Thank you Thomas Sauder for the photo’s.

Out till next week. So long and thanks for all the fish, we apologize for the inconvenience.

Joe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc6aufHz-i0&sns=em

Mashup Weekend!

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 8.23.16 PM

It is Saturday night when I am starting this post.  That is exactly how I feel about things today.  It is nice for crying out loud.  Makes me want to quote Pearl Jam or something or other.  Afterall, when was the last time you drove with your windows down?  Ok, if you do not live in Wisco, you probably have done it a bunch.  I haven’t, so f’off if you have.  But, it is all good now.  Although it is a weird weekend, with no Liz, no kids around the house, not even Stella. (As she is wrestling with the cat at the pet store for the weekend – that is a weird dog…)

I think that both Ali and Hanna are riding their road bikes somewhere.  I am riding dirt bikes, man.  Dirt bikes.  How long has it been since that was all I did for the weekend?  A long time, I can tell you.

So to celebrate, I am listening to mashups.  Give this one a listen while you are reading the rest of the post.  It is good.

Dead Flowers

When you’re sitting there, in your silk upholstered chair.

Talking to some rich folks that you know.

Well I hope you won’t see me in my ragged company.

You know I could never be alone.

I did not write that, nor did the kid on the corner.  It makes me think that maybe the end is near.

Bob Kau told me that this bike is so Italian.  Over engineered, pretty but will take alot of maintenance.  "Just like Italian cars and woman".   Haha.  Love that guy.

Bob Kau told me that this bike is so Italian. Over engineered, pretty but will take alot of maintenance. “Just like Italian cars and woman”. Haha. Love that guy.

I can tell you this, the race on the 13th at Adams County is going to be incredible.  I saw a bunch of the trail today, wow.  It will be big fun. Lotsa new trail, some great fun in the cranberry bogs and a bunch of tight trees with about 872 logs to cross.  yop.

IMG_6201

Might not mean much to you, but if you are in Wisco this was heaven.

I am so much in love with my new bike.  The boingers are incredible, the motor is special, the seat is good, it goes it turns it stops it is incredible.  Makes me feel like the fastest old guy alive.  (I put that in for Chris Bach)

Ok.  So tomorrow off to do a silly little race down in Illinois.  Gotta do it.

Have you checked out the new Oakley Airbrake?  Scott had a pair, and they looked so sweet...  I had to go out and get some myself.

Have you checked out the new Oakley Airbrake? Scott had a pair, and they looked so sweet… I had to go out and get some myself.

Holy cow.  That is an open window while driving.

Holy cow. That is an open window while driving.

Number 303, again...

Number 303, again…

Artsy

Artsy

We will see how that whole racing in Illinois thing will go.

Joe

One last thing.  If you are not a Prince fan, you’re wrong.  Watch this video, and pay attention to the last 3 minutes.  Damn.  What a badass.

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.

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

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

Here are some teasers.

2011

2010 – dust bowl year

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

31235971

Indiana – where racing happens.

Joe

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

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

Love this time of day

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

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

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

Half eaten “Joetmeal”

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

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

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

Race ready. Looks badass.

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

Doesn’t look as good after the race though.

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

Enjoy, Joe

How hard is #PM24?

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

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

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

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

Perry Mountain graph

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

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

Joe

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

 

Georgia (Geow Ja) GNCC – 2012

On the way down

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

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

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

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

Another view of the new Mat rig.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Weekend!

What an amazing weekend of racing.

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

It was a really exciting opening classic.

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

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

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

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

In my dreams I can do this.

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

Cheers
Joe

Just sayin.

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 Curvy Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace out,
J

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!

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

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

I wish we were racing already!

Out,

Joe

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

So we did! And dang was it fun.

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

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

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

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

That is me trying not to look like a pud.

That of course is Scott looking cool.

My bike had a really good time also.

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

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

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

Cheers, Joe

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

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

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

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

We are going to dominate this trail.

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

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

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

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

I think it is a law there or something.

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

Supercross view from our seats. Pretty cool

There is always a light show.

Ready for a good time

Looking forward to doing it again.

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

Out,
Joe

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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

My most Awesome day at Loretta Lynn’s GNCC!

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

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

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

How do you spell – Bonehead?

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

Random Buckaroo Banzai imagery!

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

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

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

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

A few really good movies to think about:

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

How do you spell Bonehead ?

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

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

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

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

Out.

To infinity and beyond.

Summer break – :<(

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Out,

Joe

Which line is the +40 class?

Hixton double double!!!

Hixton.

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

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

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

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

Sicily. really?

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

Time to go racing.

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

Nothing.

Out,

Joe

Perry Mountain Challenge video

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

 

 

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

http://vimeo.com/24780044

 

Enjoy

Consumed at Perry Mountain Challenge

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

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

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

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

That is about 420 calories from gels.

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

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

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

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

TOTALS
8.2 gallons/31L of fluids

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

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

The definitive post on my Perry Mountain Challenge – 2011 version

Ready to go.

There is hot, and there is “Alabama Hot”

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

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

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

We are planners.

2 old guys from Wisconsin

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

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

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

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

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

Of course, none of the plans really worked out.

We had a fantastic crew.

Hanna doing her thing.

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

Liz in the middle of battle.

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

Matt is in charge

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

Chris taking over.

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

Noah with his hands in the belly of the beast.

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

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

Alabama was surprising.

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

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

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

The course.

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

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

The Race.

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

Scott getting ready, me the umbrella girl.

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

Scott giving it all in the morning.

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

2nd place getting close to 1st.

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

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

Me, looking a bit awkward already

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

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

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

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

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

pushing it in the morning hours.

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

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

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

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

Into the ambulance

The Trailer ordeal

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

The trailer ordeal

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

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

Closure

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

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

– if we solved the lighting thing for Joe

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

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

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

Other stuff

Photos from the weekend here.

My shorter post here.

Scott’s blog post about the event here.

A few other points to note.

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

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

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

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

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

That's where that old Saturn rocket ended up.

6.  All roads lead to Crawfordsville Indiana for me.

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

Out

Joe

5 days to go!

Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

@vesrahoffroad

@joev3

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

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

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

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

Thanks for following along,
Joe + Scott