Tag Archives: Mark Junge

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.

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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

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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.









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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

So with that, Mary said, and I quote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strength Phase Month 1

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

Tuesday 12/3
Pat’s gym workout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surrender Dorothy.

Joe

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.

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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

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

Short Perry Mountain Challenge Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liz Vadeboncoeur – chef. She stayed up all night, she kept food coming for the crew and riders. She kept the camelbaks full of cold beverage. She made dinner at breakfast time, breakfast 4 different times during the night etc…

Matt Pickersgill – logistics. He ran the big white board that kept track of all the riders lap times, how many laps done, when the rider was due back in, when the next rider had to be back to the pits, ran the sign board for the rider etc…

Chris Garrison – crew chief. She did everything. A little mechanic work, handled keeping the riders cool, handled my dirty snotty sweaty helmet and goggles, disgusting slobbered on chest protector, Scott throwing up etc… She was a saint through it all.

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

We could not have done it without them – all.

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

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

Out.
Joe

5 days to go!

Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

@vesrahoffroad

@joev3

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

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

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

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

Thanks for following along,
Joe + Scott

Light testing – 7 days to go

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

– L&M Seca 700 on my handlebar

– L&M Seca 1400 on my helmet

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

enjoy.

Joe

Whistler Bike Park – I’m Not There!

Whistler Bike Park Is Open!!!!

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

Enjoy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artsy

Thanks a ton to all of our sponsors.

Vesrah

Suzuki

Bell helmets

Moose racing

Factory Connection

Kenda tires

Zipty racing

The whole post – #Sandlapper #Nationalenduro

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

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

Randy wishing us best of luck after being at his place

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

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

For me there were 5 sections in this enduro.

before the start.

Me and my minute mates for the day

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

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

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

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

Section 5, laying it down.

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

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

Other stuff

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

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

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

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

– The Wisconsin crew represented well.

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

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

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

Good morning race fans

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

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

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

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

Out.
Joe

Go to South Carolina, and ride yourself crazy boy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, on to Salley SC for the National Enduro.

Vesrah Suzuki Offroad team has a new tire sponsor!

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

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

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

Joe

March 13 is coming!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe V.

13 days until 1st National Enduro!

Are you excited? I know that I am.

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

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

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

Time to kickstart the season and get going. Woohoo!

Endless Summer

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

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

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

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

Red Bull: Gee Atherton vs. David Knight

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

Gee Atherton, DH world cup champion

vs.

David Knight, World Enduro and GNCC champion

 

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

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

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

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

 

Joe

 

 

Kick butt weekend

Sunday evening.  Wow, what a weekend.

1.  Big MTB trail event at work on Friday, dedicated a trail to the memory of Chris Funk, huge bonfire and night time MTB ride.

2.  Saturday, was all about trying to get my bike working after my FAIL at the GNCC race.

3.  Sunday morning, I put together about 15 sponsor packets for the Vesrah Suzuki Offroad team.

4.  Sunday, rode the RMZ 250 at some killer trails, that are just 30 miles from my house.  Yippeee!!!

5.  Sunday evening, washed motorcycles and bicycles.  Yep.

So that pretty much sums up the weekend.  Yes, it is pretty lame that in my book that constitutes a good weekend.  But, alas it does.

On Friday we dedicated a trail at work to Chris Funk.  Chris died last year, after battling brain cancer for years.  We all still miss him.  So, we took the most popular trail at the Trek Trails (Trad) and put up a monument on a rock to Chris and renamed the trail Funk.  We installed the monument and had Chris’s wife Brandi out to show it to her.  Chris’s parents were in town and they came out as well.

It is really apropos as he was one of the most popular people at Trek and that is the most popular trail out there.  Now, every time I blitz down that trail – I can say hello to Chris as I terrorize his trail.

Glad I knew you Chris, we all still miss you.

After that memorial event, we did a fun TT, drank a bunch of beer, burned a bunch of things in a huge bonfire and then did some night riding and then drank some more beer.  It was huge fun.

We even burned a crappy old Schwinn bike after we ghost rode it and tossed it as far as we could.

Burning Bike!

Liz and I were going to camp out at the trails, but we failed that.  No real excuse, other than it was cold.  Oh well, next year.

On Saturday, I worked on my motorcycle and found out that the slide was bad and all gonked up.  I did figure it out, but I am embarrassed that it was so nasty inside that carb.  That will not happen again.

On Sunday, I went riding at some trails on Bob Kau’s land.  In a nutshell.  HOLY SHIT THOSE TRAILS KICK ASS!!!  Me, Brian Terry, John Buechner.  Brian got a new Bike!  He bought a LARGE full size bike.  He says 250’s are for pussys, so he got a 450.  Dang, he is fast on it.

Brian and the new bike! Big, but fun to ride. I think he will be fast on that.

Stack of team updates going to sponsors. Thanks guys.

So, a few more rides, maybe another race or 2 and then old man winter will be here.  It will be just training in the gym and counting the days till the first race.  Ugh…

Oh well, here goes

Out,

Joe

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

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

My bike looked sweet, ready for the race.

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

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

Josh had the coolest gripper seat I have ever seen

Josh loves his Trek

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

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

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

Imagine following that dust cloud into the woods.

The trail

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

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

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

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

Proud Boy. He should be.

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

Out

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

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

World Championship of Wisconsin HS racing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out for now.

Joe

Friday Video post

I have just a small stash today. This was meant to go up on Friday, but it did not make it.  Nonetheless, enjoy.

Here is what the Trek race department does.

Here is another one that shows just how bad it was at the Ohio GNCC.

This is a pretty good Whistler video.  It isn’t  a professional thing, but it does a pretty good job of showing what my week in Whistler next week will look like.  (I am not sure that it is the best Whistler video ever, but the guys that made it think so.)

Hope that makes your “Friday” better.

off to the races.

Joe