Tag Archives: WIXC

Day 1 at Ironman

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

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

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

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

Out, Joe

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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

IMG_0100

Mid race, putting the pace on.

 

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

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

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

It was dry.

It was dry.

 

WIXC race at Sugar Camp

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

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

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

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

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

New 2015 KTM 250XCF

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









4T or 2T – What is the right number?

Racing makes me feel good.

Racing makes me feel good.

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

–       I love the way it rides.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–       They are kinda heavy feeling in a muddy race.

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

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

Vroom!

Vroom!

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

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

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

–       I LOVE how easy they are to work on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Braaaap!

Braaaap!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– It would make a Braaaap sound.

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

Now that ski season is over…

Me pretty dead after the Birkie ski race this year.

Me pretty dead after the Birkie ski race this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Los

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

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

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

The grand experiment.  A smoker in the mix.

The grand experiment. A smoker in the mix.

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

Here goes the season.

Joe

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

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

The lists seem to go on and on...

The lists seem to go on and on…

On the gas!

On the gas!

 

The new 2 wheeler season is almost here… THANKFULLY!

Yep.  It is off season.

Yep. It is off season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time.  Out.

Joe

2wheelers kinda run my life!

 

I think I'll go skiing.

I think I’ll go skiing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

40. Go to a World Cup DH race.

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

 

Daylight

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

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

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

That right there is some good stuff.

That right there is some good stuff.

 

 

 

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

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

Crawfordsville dirt.  Like no other dirt.

Crawfordsville dirt. Like no other dirt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I am a little bit cold”, namby self.

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

“Are you threatening me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results. 4th out of 24 isn’t so bad.

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

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

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

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

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

Till next year now.

Till next year now.

Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman!

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

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

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

Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman!

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

1902014_4615592964174_7845378033618592714_n

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

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

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

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

So very true.

Well, there is beer after all.

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

Vavavavroom! It is almost a season!

Nothing better than this.

Nothing better than this.

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

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

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

– I have won lots of races.

– Come 2nd in a few races.

– Had my best Moto Enduro finish ever.

– Done my first MTB Enduro.

– Kicked off my Cyclocross season…

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

Goofy little EnduroX section at Cecil race!

Goofy little EnduroX section at Cecil race!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sugar Camp race 2014

Sugar Camp race 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned.

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

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

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

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

Joe

 

Wow, there are leaves on those trees!

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

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

New goggle inserts are here!

New goggle inserts are here!

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

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

This is me chasing Pete early in the race.

Chasing Pete early in the race.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe

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

 

Tinnnn Roof….Rusted!

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

Can I have exactly nothing for $1000?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kewaunee WIXC race

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

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

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

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

I am the egg man.

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

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

Joe

My Racing and a Thermos!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

So Far...

So Far…

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

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

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

IMG_8812

Bring on the races, I got the new thermos.

Out,

Joe

thermos1

 

Some times it is a small thing!

Eyesight. We all take it for granted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am back.  Whew.  It was close.

Joe

IMG_0069

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My new graphics.  Look for me at the races.

My new graphics. Look for me at the races.

See you at the races.

Joe

 

There is really only one way to get faster.

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

Damn it feels good to be riding and practicing!

Damn it feels good to be riding and practicing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out to the races.

Joe

We are finally racing! – Finally.

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

100% Nouget

100% Nougat

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

It was a gong show, so I did not.

It was a gong show, so I did not.

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

10015011_615726905186643_553652272664160654_o

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

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

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

What does it all mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the end, it is always worth it.

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

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

Joe

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

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

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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.

If Only I Had A Bat!

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

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

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

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

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

It is a madhouse out there.  Madhouse.

It is a madhouse out there. Madhouse.

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s do Ironman!

Drowning Quads... Our fate tomorrow!

Drowning Quads… Our fate tomorrow!

Here We Go!

Here We Go!

What is it about Indiana and Confederate flags?

Summer Break – why?

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

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

Hixton – D16 race

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

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

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

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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.

IMG_5960

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

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

Summer break is dumb.

Joe

A tale of 2 races…

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

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

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

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

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

The enduro X section.

The enduro X section.

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

Mud.

Mud.

IMG_7090

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

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

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

Epic dirt!

Epic dirt!

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

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

Again, sometimes I look fast.

Again, sometimes I look fast.

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

Lotsa great hills on a small midwest ski hill.

Lotsa great hills on a small midwest ski hill.

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

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

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

Thank you Thomas Sauder for the photo’s.

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

Joe

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

Mashup Weekend!

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 8.23.16 PM

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

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

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

Dead Flowers

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

Talking to some rich folks that you know.

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

You know I could never be alone.

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

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

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

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

IMG_6201

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

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

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

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

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

Holy cow.  That is an open window while driving.

Holy cow. That is an open window while driving.

Number 303, again...

Number 303, again…

Artsy

Artsy

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

Joe

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

What was I thinking?

Pre-race beauties.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wasted.

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

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

Here are some teasers.

2011

2010 – dust bowl year

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

31235971

Indiana – where racing happens.

Joe

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

I want to go faster!

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

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

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

Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect Group size.

Scott in the morning.

Shane showing us how it is done.

Lunch time. Perfect day.

Day 2 – 8am start

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

out,

Joe

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

The Double Weekend.  Yip.  Gotta love those.

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

Hank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the future! Part – 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this!

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

Something New!

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

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

They are off!

Go man go!

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

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

Hey, you kids keep it down over there!

Out,

Joe

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

Love this time of day

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

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

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

Half eaten “Joetmeal”

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

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

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

Race ready. Looks badass.

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

Doesn’t look as good after the race though.

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

Enjoy, Joe

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!

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.

Friday Video post

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

Here is what the Trek race department does.

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

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

Hope that makes your “Friday” better.

off to the races.

Joe

The Van has logos!

This past Wed, Scott and I went up to Dyracuse to ride.  It has been raining a ton here, and we knew the dirt would be fantastic!

It was!

Holy cow.  There was plenty of water sitting around, but man when that place has moist dirt it can be just phenomenal.  It is completely hero stuff.  Scott rode his new 450, with the special tune on the electronic box from our friend Shane Nalley at the Suzuki Offroad team.  I admit that the motor was fun.  But, the bike is just BIG feeling.  I think that I am not strong enough to muscle that thing around for 2 hours.

I know that when I am on my RMZ250, I feel like a hero.  I can whip it around, the power never scares me and although it does get loaded up with mud and weighs too much – it is a lot less than a 450 is when it is loaded up with mud.

Anyway, we got the van logo’ed.  And does it look sweet.  AJ at Victory Circle Graphix did it for us.  He matched our bikes and put all our sponsors on it, our website URL – damn does it look cool.  I feel almost factory.  We do have to keep the road shenanigans down because of the logos after all.

Here it is.  Enjoy.  I am sure there are more pictures over at Scott’s blog by now.  You will see us on the road somewhere.

Out,

Joe

GNCC day before

It has been a while since I did a GNCC race, other than Crawfordsville.  Last year, that was the only one that I did.  Weird.  In 2008, GNCC is all that Scott and I did.  We did all the GNCC races, and not many local races.  Last year, the opposite – we did mostly local races and just the Ironman in Crawordsville.  This year, I am trying to do a few GNCC races, a few National Enduro’s and as many of the local races as I can.

So, Mat Herrington (414 Racing) and I loaded up his van and headed to Ohio for the John Penton GNCC race. Mat has been having a fantastic season.  He is on a roll of finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd at local Harescrambles in the AA class.  So, it is time for me to shoot for my best GNCC result and for Mat to take his early season form and try it against the GNCC crew.

Mat has a Ford panel van, much like Scott’s.  But, it has a couple of things that Scott’s does not.

Scott’s

–        Diesel

–        arm rests on the seats

–        Sirrius/XM radio

–        history

Mat’s

–        Cruise Control

–         really comfortable back seat that you can lay flat on to take a nap

Me, luxuriating on "the couch" in the van.

It’s amazing how much difference something like Cruise Control can make.  I really had forgotten how much of a difference it makes to drive with Cruise control.  It is so much more relaxed.

We did not leave until 9pm on Friday, with the intention of driving all night.  It was a LONG night.  Mat drove until 1:15am, then I drove till 4:30am.  Mat slept while I drove, but I still had not slept at all until when Mat got back behind the wheel at 4:30.  I slept then till really when we arrived at the track.  Felt good, and I can tell you that the couch does sleep well.

Found a radio station in Indianapolis that really rocks.  Rock 95 (although it showed up at 94.7).

We arrived at the track at about 8am, in time to see the morning quad race.  The morning race had nearly perfect conditions.  Just after the morning race, all hell broke loose.  We started into a pattern that rained just about every hour for the rest of the day.  The afternoon race was an absolute mud pit.

This is what everyone looked like in the afternoon race

Now we are in the hotel, and looking to get to sleep very soon here.  Tomorrow is going to be an absolute mudbath.  My bike, my gear and everything else I expect to be ruined.

Here is a video from the last super mudbath GNCC at the John Penton.  This is my day tomorrow.

That is it for me.  Another post will come after the race.

Joe

GNCC races rule

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

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

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

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

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

TENNNN SECCONNNNNDDSSS!

Out

Joe

Perfect dirt – big crowds – 4 hours!

Yow! If you are a rider, and live in Wisconsin, you were at Dyracuse riding Saturday.

The first day of the local riding season is always a beautiful thing. People come out of the woodwork. I mean it has been a long dormant season. So the first days that Dyracuse is open brings everybody out. The quad riders the freestyle pant cigarette smokers, the serious mxers, the one or two lap blitzers and the serious woods riders.

The parking lot was full yesterday. If you were a rider in Wisconsin, you were riding yesterday.

Some years, the trails are completely dry already.  Some years, the motocross track is perfect and the trails are underwater.  Some years, the trails are partially covered in snow.  Some years, it is a balmy 29 degrees for the high.  Yesterday, the dirt was absolutely perfect.  Perfect moisture to have loads of traction, yet zero mud.  The temperature was a high of 65.  It just does not get any better than that.

It is no secret, that I have been struggling with my bike of late.  I have been trying different things.  I guess it is the season for that.  But, with just a few weeks till the race season, I was starting to get impatient.  So, yesterday I rode with the bike all the way back to where it was last year.

– stock exhaust.

– bars and grips from last year.

– tires I was familiar with

– suspension set up from last year.

– brake levers at the foot

etc…

Everything fell back into place yesterday.  I went from very out of sorts on the bike, to very comfortable again.  It was great.  The bike turned where I wanted it to, it did what I expected it would do on bumps, it had the throttle response I was expecting etc…  My bike was spectacular yesterday.

I put in about 4 hours of riding time.  An hour to get started with, then about 2 hours in the middle and then a break to make some adjustments and then another hour or so.  Felt really great.  The photos below show that even after 4 hours of riding, my bike was in good shape.

Out,

Joe

It’s Friday – video time!

Friday.  I am in Asia for work.  But, I still managed to find a couple of video’s.  I get home on Sunday, and the riding season is full on.  2 wheels everyday.

Found that trailer for a good looking movie.  Here is a link to the entire movie on line.

What’s Next

Official GNCC Florida video on the GNCC site.

Georgia GNCC race

Fun helmet cam from one of the later waves at the Georgia GNCC – morning race

part 2 of the helmet cam from above – morning race Georgia GNCC

Video from the Steele Creek GNCC race last weekend.

Whacky Whacky China Eastern Flight – wow!

After you read this, you are going to swear that I made this story up.  I admit to a small amount of embellishment,  less than 10%.  This story really happened.  I have not changed the names of anyone to protect the innocent.  I have only added detail to give you the real flavor of how the story truly unfolded.  After you read it the 2nd time, you might be able to pick out the 10% embellishment, but what you will really think after that 2nd time is – “wow!”

My travels can be really interesting, and they can be really mundane.  This trip cannot be categorized in the mundane category.

I know that you probably think that I live a life of glamorous international travel. (I put off that aire I know) Sometimes my job does provide that, such as when I get to go to France a do a big bike ride, or the UK and get rained on for an entire mountain bike ride or…  Sometimes my job provides that I arrive in Shanghai late in the afternoon after 24 hours of travel and have to go directly to a business meeting and then to diner.  Ugh…

This week I had a travel experience that was straight out of a National Lampoon movie.  On Wed, I took a flight from Shanghai direct to Taipei.  It has only been a year or so that you could fly directly from China to Taiwan.  A few years ago, you would have to fly from China to Japan or Hong Kong first and then catch a flight to Taiwan.  The Chinese claim the island of Taiwan is part of China and the Taiwanese feel they are their own sovereign nation.  I am not going to try to clarify that situation, as people way smarter than me do not seem to be able to do that.

You might be wondering what that has to do with my story.  Well not much.  But, it was better to lead off with all of that than it was to claim that I wrote the screenplay to the original Ghostbusters (not the second one because that was a sucky movie).

The end result of all of this procrastination at the beginning of this story, is that I think that the Chinese are becoming more affluent down to many levels and are starting to be interested in International travel.  Although you may not realize that China and Taiwan are very different, I can tell you from first hand experience that they are supremely different.  Give a read to this story as evidence of all of that.

China Eastern flight, Shanghai to Taipei, Wed March 24.

China Eastern is the Chinese airline company with the planes do not habitually fall out of the sky.  China Eastern hires Pilots with actual piloting experience and piloting credentials that are at least very good forgeries.  China Eastern hires Mechanics that at a minimum can tell which end of the hammer to use.  And, as you will see from this story, hires Flight Attendants with chutzpah.

We showed up on time to get our flight at Shanghai Pudong airport, 8am.  We were lucky to have made it there without a snorkel (check my previous blog to know why) Already waiting in line at the checkout counter was a particularly raucous group of Chinese tourists.  As I watched their shenanigans at the check in counter and line, I recall saying to myself, “wow, I hope that they are not on our flight”.  Of course, you can imagine what flight they were on.

Chinese tourist outfit. This is nervous gum chewing man.

Since we booked the flight from the US or Taiwan or whatever, we could not get seating in advance.  That doesn’t really make sense, as in the rest of the world it does not seem to matter where you book a flight from, you normally can get a seat in advance.  Chalk this one up to one more of those “I just cannot figure China out” items.  The counter person asked me what kind of seat I would like – aisle or window or middle.  I was tempted to say middle, but in the end replied with “aisle”.  What luck, we have just one left, on row 40.  Not thinking about where the tour group might be sitting, I took it.  That will prove to be a fortuitous decision, as you will learn.

Must be target practice happening normally. Going for distance?

When I got on the plane, the tour group was already in place.  It was looking like a college dorm party, one that you would see in the movie Animal House.  People were screaming across the plane at their friends.  They were climbing over each other, tossing things back and forth, laughing and jostling – in general it was already mayhem.  I assumed that this will surely settle down once we get situated, and I wedged myself into the only open seat smack in the middle of the 50 or so strong tour group.

We just missed the 2 for 1 sale!

Immediately the woman next to me began to encroach upon my personal space.  I know that we Americans have a larger personal space than the Chinese do so, I was trying to be calm about it all and understanding of that personal space difference.  I am in their country, after all.  I can usually be calm and understanding of this sort of thing, but this was ridiculous.  I have never had personal space invaded like this.  She was reaching across in front of me to hand something to her friend across the aisle and talking across the front of me and her elbow was poking me in the sternum as she dug in her bag.  She leaned across me to do all of that, no matter if I was reading, if I was eating or if I was sleeping.  None of that mattered.  Yes, she was that much in my personal space.

Before we pulled back from the gate, she pulled out a package of gum and began smacking the gum in my ear at about 96db.  Not just a little bit loud, but so loud that I could not even drown it out with my ipod.

As we pulled away from the gate, people were still up and walking around the cabin.   The Flight Attendant was asking nicely “please sit down”.  The Chinese tourists ignored that and began opening the overhead compartments to rummage through their bags.

The Flight Attendants began yelling “SIT DOWN”.  The Chinese tourists leaned over each other and pointed out the windows and began opening more bins and bags.

The plane began to taxi towards the runway.

The Flight Attendants began running up and down the aisles yelling “SIT DOWN – NOW”.  They were pushing people down into their seats and slamming overhead bins closed.

The plane continued to taxi towards the runway.

The Chinese tourists were standing back up and opening the bins again, screaming across the aisles, trying to pass things among their friends and trying to see out of the windows on the other side of the plane.

There were Chinese tourists on one side of the plane who were trying carry on conversations with people 7 seats and 2 aisles over on the other side of the plane.  And I do not mean just one conversation.  There were at least a dozen conversations going on at once like this.

The Flight Attendants yelled “SIT DOWN – NOW”.  The Flight Attendants pushed people down into their chairs and forcibly buckled their safety belts for them.  It was as if the Chinese tourists had never seen a seat belt.  They had no idea what they did.  They had no idea how to fasten them.  And most interestingly, some of them did not know how to get out of the seat belts.

The Chinese tourists continued to yell across the plane at each other.

One of the Chinese tourists got up and started showing people how to get out of their safety belts.  Good idea.

I saw a book fly across the plane into another persons hand on the other side.  I guess it was time to trade books.

The plane rumbled down the runway, the nose lifted and it began to take flight.

Half of the Chinese tourists cheered and jumped up out of their seats.

The Flight Attendants yelled “SIT DOWN!”

Since some people had just learned how to get out of their safety belts, they stood up anyway.  One of the guys stood up and did a victory dance.  I think it was because he finally figured out how to get out of his safety belt.

The Flight Attendants yelled “SIT DOWN!”

Finally I could not take it anymore.  I was horse from laughing so hard.  My face hurts from the perpetual smile I have from watching it all go down.  I decide to put my ipod back on trying to drown it out a little bit and read a book on my Kindle.

The loud gum chewer next to me becomes so fascinated with my Kindle that she is beginning to lean in front of me to look closely at it.  She is leaning in between me and the Kindle, yelling at her friend across the aisle to look at the device I am reading.  Her friend starts to stand up to come over and look.

The Flight Attendant yells “SIT DOWN!”

I eventually put my hand on the side of the gum chewers head and pushed her back to her chair so that I could read.  She stayed in her chair for about  5 minutes and then she began to lean over in between me and the Kindle again.  I gave up and just let her stare at it.  She stares for about 2 solid minutes.  There is no movement on the Kindle – just stationary words.  I do not know what is holding her attention.  I am certain she cannot read English, as I am reading a book called “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”.  (It is a parody of the Pride and Prejudice story only the daughters are trained in martial arts so they can fend off the random Zombie attacks thrown in for good measure.)  A zombie attack happened to be happening on that page.  If she could have understood it, she would have reacted.  I do not know what she would have thought of that if she could read English.

The Flight Attendants give up trying to keep the Chinese tourists in their seats during the flight.  It is a complete Animal House scene on the plane.  They are running around, yelling back and forth from one side of the plane to the other gazing out of the windows.  They are grouped up taking Asian pictures of them making peace signs to the camera.  They are trying to take a picture of the scenery out of the window of the plane and get their friends face in the picture at the same time.  So, there is a grinning Chinese tourist in front of the window (making a peace sign) and the plane window in the background with I am sure some great scenery behind it.  That will make a picture worth framing.

The Flight attendants come around with food.  Each of the Chinese tourists dutifully sits down then and when the tray is put in front of them, they devour every edible thing on the tray.  The woman across the aisle licked the plate that contained the entre.  I swear, she licked the plate clean.  The gum smacker next to me even scooped whatever butter was left in the container and ate that.  I got a little bit nervous, as she started to gaze at my tray.  Fortunately, the Flight Attendants had their hands full with this crowd and they were johnny on the spot picking up trays, trying to stay ahead of the mayhem.

After the meal, I realized there is another gum smacker on the other side of the plane that I think is really nervous.  This guy has gone through almost a complete package of gum at this point.  He chews a piece for a few minutes then takes it out of his mouth and sticks it in the map pocket on the back of the chair in front of him.  Then, puts another piece in his mouth and starts the process all over again.  There is a pile of empty gum wrappers at his feet.  By the time we landed the back of the chair was kind of oozing.

The fasten seat belt sign comes on as we are beginning to make our approach to Taipei.  The Flight Attendants start yelling “SIT DOWN!”

The Chinese tourists continue jumping out of their seats and peering out the windows on the other side of the plane and opening the over head bins.

The nervous gum chewer across the way is on to another piece of gum.

The loud gum chewer next to me, reaches across in front of me to collect something from the woman across the aisle. She jams her elbow into my neck while doing it.

The Flight Attendants yell “SIT DOWN!”  One of them runs up the aisle to shut overhead bins that the Chinese tourists have left open.  Stuff is spilling out onto peoples heads.  A woman gets hit in the head with a bag from above.  At least 10 Chinese tourists get out of their seats to help.  The other Flight Attendants get up out of their seats to put the Chinese tourists back into their seats.

The loud gum chewer next to me puts her elbow into my sternum.

The nervous gum chewer across the aisle puts another chewed piece of gum into the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him.

The male Flight Attendant who has come back from the front of the plane is physically putting the Chinese tourists into their seats and buckling them in.

The landing gear comes down, the Flight Attendants barely make it back to their seats before the wheels touch the ground.

As soon as the wheels touch the ground, the Chinese tourists are all up out of their seats and trying to get their bags down.

The Flight Attendants scream over and over “SIT DOWN!”

The nervous gum chewer misses the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him and drops his chewed gum on the floor.  He steps on it and it stretches from his shoe to the floor.  As he moves his foot around, he is really making a sticky mess.

Finally we get to the gate.  All of the Chinese tourists are either already standing or up immediately.  Never mind that there is not really room for everybody to be standing up.  They are like lizards in a bowl, climbing over each other in one great big mass of humanity.  I see one little guy walk across the seats in the middle from one aisle to the other.  The nervous gum chewer is standing on his seat, I am sure getting gum all over it.

The gum smacker next to me is smacking so loud that even over the noise in the cabin on the ground – I can hear her gum smacking.

As we are all moving down the aisle of the plane, the 2 guys in front of me are climbing up and looking in each overhead bin.  If they find one with a bag in it, they scream out “Hey, there is a bag up here!” about 4 times each, then they climb up and look in the next bin.  If there is a bag in that bin, they scream out “Hey, there is a bag in here” and then move to the next bin.

When we get out into the airport the Chinese tourists are all grouped up and having a party over every poster every carpet color every lighted sing the color of the seats etc…  I see a group of them in front of the trash can in the terminal making peace signs and mugging for the camera (The trash can is carefully included in the picture).  They are high fiveing each other, as if they actually had some hand in a successful flight.

The loud gum smacker next to me, is down on the carpet on her knees feeling the carpet with tears in her eyes.  I think she is so excited to be out of her own country that she is almost beside herself.

The nervous gum chewer is standing there with his mouth open just gawking at windows and signs and chairs and tile on the floor and…

Travel is a wonderful thing.

Joe

I should have gotten the supersized carton of smokes!

Top 12 reasons I cannot wait for the season to start

In no real order of importance, these are the top 10 reasons that I cannot wait for the season to start.

1. The smell of race gas. There is nothing like it. My wife hates it, and that is ok. Man up, this is motorcycle racing.

2. Blisters that tear open and bleed. This typically happens on a double race weekend.  You race on Saturday, create huge blisters.  Then race again on Sunday.  The result is a blister that gets torn open and becomes a bloody mess.  Hurts, and is not really good for you, but it means you raced your motorcycle 2 days in a row, and that well…

3. The chaos of the first turn.  Imagine that you have 20 or more motorcycles tearing forward around a first turn.  Usually, that turn is in the open so there are lots of lines through it.  You might wonder why a first turn matters in a 2-3 hour race.  The first turn itself is not so important, but usually the second turn is where the track would funnel down to a singletrack in the woods.  Getting there first does matter.  But, it means that everyone hits that first turn hard to set up for the woods.  It makes the first turn just chaos.  I used to get nervous on the start line thinking about it.  Now I just cannot wait.  I love the chaos.

4. Flip flops.  Flip flops equal summer.  I usually wear regular shoes on the way to the race.  You need the regular shoes for unloading the van and for walking the trail etc…  But, after the race there is nothing better than freeing your feet.  Scott thinks I am stupid, but it is worth the risk of toe damage to get that “I am not wearing anything on my feet” feeling after the race.

5. The passenger seat in the van.  The van is not anything great to look at it, but it is the greatest race vehicle to dirt bag motorcycle racers could hope for.  At this point I have spent a lot of time in that seat heading to races all over the country.  That seat equals going to races for me.  There is no one that has spent as much time as I have in that seat.  Scott would be a close 2nd, but it is my place for viewing the world as it leads up to a motorcycle race.  That passenger seat in my mind equals racing.

6. No snow shoveling.  Snow shoveling is the polar opposite of motorcycle racing.  It is not fun, there isn’t really much satisfaction that you get from doing it and, on the days you do it you are not racing your motorcycle.  And even if you do it right, the next snow storm is going to come along and ruin what you did.  I have never snow shoveled one day and then raced my motorcycle the next day – I’m just sayin.  Snowshoveling equals no racing, ergo racing equals no snowshoveling.

7. My wife in a bikini.  Racing happens in the summer, what else happens in the summer? – Duh.

8. Getting the whole race right.  This only happens about once or twice a year.  Sometimes it happens on a day when you win, other times it happens on a day when you get 5th.  But, when it does happen it is really really great.  It is why we all do this and what we are always chasing, and rarely achieve.  I am going to have a few of them this year.

9. Brian-isms.  Brian Terry is the D16 Harescrambles rep, a great guy and a friend of mine.  But, he says whacky things.  I don’t know if he says whacky things when it is not race season.  But, I hear them during race season and therefore it makes me know it is race season.  Read this earlier post and you will see how  Brian-isms = race season.

10. New decals.  They are so shinny.  You know what I am talking about.  Old decals look scuffed and smudged and dirty all the time.  During the offseason, you don’t bother replacing them.  “Ah, they will be fine for going down to Missouri and riding.”  But, I really like to show up to a race with fresh decals.  They are so shinny.

11. Putting fresh tires on my bike.  I usually nick my knuckles.  But, new tires are like decals.  They just make the bike feel so neat.  I don’t bother on a practice day, but for race day I like to show up with fresh meat on there.

12. TENNN..SECCCOONDS!!!!  The starter at a GNCC race yells this out 10 seconds before the race.  It means the melee of the first turn is about the happen, the fresh tires and decals are looking good, I can smell race gas, I have spent time in the passenger seat, I am not going to be shoveling snow that day, there is still the possibility of getting the whole race right, I am looking forward to flip flops after and of course there may be a bikini involved.

TENNNN…SECCONDS!

Helmet Cam video-St. Joe Missouri

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

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

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

I took all this with my Vio Sport helmet cam.

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

Enjoy

Joe

No moto riding

My job and life is out of control.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

out.

Joe

Offseason!

That is a funny word.  I have come to loathe that word.  It means that the leaves are off the trees, and the riding trails are closed and my bike sits apart in the shop for much to much time.  It also means that I find myself working on my shop more and on my bike a lopsided number of hours.

The offseason also means that I get to focus on my fitness and figure out where I went right or wrong last season.   Here is a preliminary list of that.

Right
–    Switching to the 4 stroke.  It  is for sure the right bike for me these days.  Rides better, handles better has better power etc…
–    Riding with Pete Laubmeier.  He has been teaching me how to use my back brake properly.
–    My Moose gear.  It is all really good stuff.
–    The graphics on our bikes.  Everybody says they look dynamite.  Even Mike Webb at Suzuki noted how good they look.  Thanks AJ at Victory Circle.
–    Raced more than last year.  The combination of 2 series here in the state, and GNCC and OMA and…  has made for a lot of racing available to us.
–    I won 3 races outright this year.
–    I was 2nd more times than I can remember.
–    I know how to go really fast for the first half of the race.

Wrong
–    I only did 1 GNCC race
–    I only did 1 Enduro
–    I did not get to do the National Enduro in Marquette, and now it is not on the schedule for next season.
–    I have fitness problems.  I go really really fast for the first hour of the race, but then struggle in the 2nd hour.
–    2 series in the state has split up where riders go, and sometimes we do not get the size field that we should.

That is enough of a list to get me started on the offseason.  It means that as we look forward to next year I will be focusing on
1.    A fitness routine that helps me get through to the end of the race as strong as I can go in the beginning of the race.  I have 3 different trainers that I am working with to help me do that.  Scott’s wife Mary Daubert, Mary Grinaker and Kathy Mock.  They all will help me to build a fitness base that we can make work for the whole race.  I will be doing some XC ski racing this winter to help with that also.
2.    I will be laying out a schedule of racing that will allow me to be at enough races to pursue the overall win in the D16 series or the WIXC series.  After that, I am going to focus on doing the big races that I want to flush my season.  OMA winter nationals, National Enduro’s over the winter.  GNCC races in the spring and late summer.  D16/WIXC during the late spring and summer.
Today is an unheard of 70 degrees here in Wisconsin.  That means I will be putting off getting started on working on my shop and my winter bike work, in favor of a big mountain bike ride today.  Duh.

Off to the races.

Joe

3+ hours at dyracuse.

Absolutely perfect dirt today! Rode with Mat Herrington. Damn he is fast.  We did 3+ hours.  We did the first hour together, and my pace.  Then switched and of course I cannot keep up with Mat. We strung up the loop from the race 2 weeks ago. But, it was really good and I had good form. Too bad that I did not ride this well at the race there.

Stopped at 2 hours and splashed gas, ate 2 gu packs and then headed out for another hour.  In that hour, I really rode well.  Mat did lap me near the end of that 3rd hour, but he was not going that much faster than me then.  I suppose we were both on auto pilot at that point.

Mark did a superb rebuild on my motor, and OMG! Wow is it super.  It has tons of power now, and is really smooth. Temperature was 40 at the start, probably 50 at the finish.  I have only raised the needle one clip.  Otherwise the jetting is stock.  It was pretty perfect.

I cannot wait for Crawfordsville now!  7 days to go!

Woohoo!

Dyracuse World Championships

The Dyracuse World Championship of Wisconsin offroad racing!  That is what Scott and I have been billing it as.

Dyracuse is where both the WIXC series and the D16 AMA series was going to come together and race the last race of the season together.  It was held at Dyracuse riding area, on trails that Scott and I knew pretty well.  And, it was not without it’s share of Drama – mostly in the AA class, so I will let you read about that on Scott’s blog.

Dry, Dry, Dry! That was the order of the day.  We knew it was going to be dusty and we knew it was going to be dry and hard to see.  Sure enough, it was.  Huge clouds of dust.  During the week before, it rained cats and dogs in Madison.  Madison is just an hour and a half drive south of Dyracuse.  We were pretty excited during the week, that there could be perfect dirt at Dyracuse.  But, a check of the actual weather in the days before showed less than .5inch of rain during the week before.  Ugh.

The course is long at Dyracuse, so Scott and I decided to leave at 5am so that we would have time to ride the whole course on our mountain bikes before the race.  Scott had brought with him a Gary Fisher 29’er, but all I had at home was a Trek Jack dirt jumping bike.  Scotts bike worked perfectly in the sand, but mine with indoor tires set up left a lot to be desired.  So, Scott made it all the way around and I made it just a little bit.  Oh well.

turned out there was quite a bit of unused trail that they found for the race.

turned out there was quite a bit of unused trail that they found for the race.

Ahhhhh!

Ahhhhh!

There was also quite a bit of virgin trail, and that will play in Scott's story!

There was also quite a bit of virgin trail, and that will play in Scott's story!

Yep!  We are dorks.

Yep! We are dorks.

Turned out to be a huge crowd on the line.  I think for sure the biggest crowd of the year here in Wisconsin.  I guess that is what it is like when we bring both race series together and kind of proves my point that we have enough racers here in the state for 1 series, but not for 2.

There were 18 guys on the line for the +40 race.  Wow.  This was going to be fun.  The gun went off and I did not get a good start.  I knew that I needed to be near the front at the beginning of the race or the dust was going to be impossible.  I pushed really hard to get by people on the track before we headed into the woods.  On the 4th turn, I chose to go under a rider and when I did I must have been too close as he fell over on top of me.  Literally on top of me.  His bike was on mine, and he was on me.  But, my bike was laying there under his – still running.  Damn that Rekluse clutch is amazing.  I got my bike untangled and got going, and when I came off the track, Brian told me that I was 2nd to last.  So, I had my work cut out for me.

I caught up to Rob really quickly, who was on a new 450.  Yow.  That is too much bike for me, but he claims to love it.  But, I knifed through him pretty fast and kept going.  In the woods, just because you are on a 450, that doesn’t mean that a 250F cannot leave you behind.  When we came through after the first lap, I was in 3rd.  I assumed that Jim and John were ahead of me.  I was right on Jim, but it turned out I was wrong on John.  I caught Jim and another guy and worked my way through them on the 2nd lap.

At the end of the 2nd lap, I was in 1st.  Not bad for the start that I had and getting off the Motocross track.  I do really well in the opening laps, especially when I have a deficit to make up.  I rode the next 4 laps in 1st place, and probably got a little bit complacent.  I think I settled into a mellow trail pace, thinking that I had it in the bag.

Unfortunately, Jim and John had a different idea.  They caught me on lap 6 and had a good freight train going.  They went right through me.  Ugh.  How could I let my early part of the race pace, fall off.  I got mad again, and that is when I ride much better.  I decided this wasn’t going to happen and put my head down again.  On the MX track, I came over a rise only to discover Jim on the ground.  I could not see him until to late, and unfortunately I ran right into his back wheel when he was picking his bike up – knocking his bike back down.  I felt really bad for that and apologized like crazy.  But, I did not want to wait for him as I really wanted to see if I could catch John.

On the 7th lap, I completely fell apart – again!  I have problems.  I threw away another race.  Another time that I should have won, but did not.

So, the District 16 series is over.  John won the overall.  He deserved it  He was the most consistent of us all.  I took a credible 2nd overall, but I have some consistency issues that I need to work on for next year.  Fitness and being able to hold that pace for the 2nd hour as well.

That is it for today.  More observations to come.

out!

Joe

We’re Back!

Summer break is a long time.  A lot has changed, so let’s get started.

During the break, I did some bicycle racing and some decent training, but mostly I just felt like I got fat.  Fat is not good.  Makes you feel fat.  Not like “Hey I am Phat!”, but more like oh god my pants feel tight.  I always have wondered what it was like to wear really tight girl pants, now I know.

Time to get back after it all.

A few things have happened

– I sold one of my RM250’s.

– I have been riding the RMZ, and that thing kicks butt.  I am going to rebuild the other RM250 as the Ricky Carmichael replica that it started life as, and sell it off.  I do not think I will be riding anything but that RMZ – it is that good.  Also means that I will have a bunch of RM parts to get rid of on here and on Ebay.

– I am adicted to FRS.  If you haven’t tried it, do.  OMG!

– I am listening right now to David Lee Roth, minus Van Halen.  I know that is wonked, but I am doing it anyway.

– I finished my garage.  It rocks.  If it is empty later today, I will post up some photo’s.

– The coffee is good this morning.

So, yesterday… Scott and I got off our butts and rode.

Me behind the wheel of the trusty steed.  Getting us there!

Me behind the wheel of the trusty steed. Getting us there!

  • No Candi, as we know the way.  Scott's new Sirrius unit rocked us there.  She was pissed.
  • No Candi, as we know the way. Scott’s new Sirrius unit rocked us there. She was pissed.
  • A beautiful sight, but no premix!

    A beautiful sight, but no premix!

    We slid up to Dyracuse in the rain.  The skies parted as we arrived and it turned out to be the most epic day of dirt ever.  I suppose it has been super dry there all summer, and the sand became the really dense loam that added up to being the most fun you can have.

    I mean, you could not have designed better dirt.  That place is great and all, but sometimes when you show up it is just powdery sand.  This is the time that you dream about.  The dirt that keeps you coming back hoping to find it again.

    2 shots.

    That is the MX track. mmm....

    That is the MX track when we were leaving even.  mmm…

    cock your head sideways, and you will see what I am talking about. Oh ya!

    cock your head sideways, and you will see what I am talking about. Oh ya!

    Suited up like the nervous dorks that we are.  15 minutes after arriving, we were taking a look at the loop.  Dyracuse park has purchased another 300+ acres adjacent to the park.  We added a ton of new singletrack in that new area to our loop.  The loop if now over 20 minutes long.  Holy Cow!  20 minutes!  You still get to know it and it can become redundant.  But, when you say to yourself “Ok, one more.”  You better mean it.

    I felt really good.  I would say that I am ready to roll.  The second half of the season is here.

    – Crystal Falls D16 race.

    – Valders WIXC race.

    – Long Lake D16 race.

    – Dresser D16 race.

    – Rhinelander WIXC race.

    – Dyracuse D16/WIXC race.

    – Crawfordsville GNCC

    – OMA “The Race”

    Not a bad way to kick the season to the curb.  Not ready for this one to be over, but ready to get back to racing.

    I love the chaos of the first turn.

    Joe

    WIXC race at Silver Cliff!

    You may recall that I tried to tell the story of Glaciers one other time. I think in reality, I have discovered a devious Canadian plot. You see, the glaciers did their thing a few years ago. They picked up some rocks, and slowly over time brought them south. I mean it took a while. It isn’t like they loaded up the car and brought the rocks south. The glaciers took their damn time at it.

    So, now we all go to Pearson and say, “oh, how cute. Look at what the glaciers did!” But, in the mean time the Canadians have been loading up their trains and sending all the Canadian rocks to Silver Cliff. I figured it out. I was sitting at a train crossing watching a Canadian Pacific train go by. Then it dawned on me, that the Canadians are sending their rocks to the Harescrambles location of the race that I did today. All the Canadian rocks are there. I mean they are THERE. Stuck in the ground, covered in slime and just waiting to flat your tires, ding your rims and break your ribs.

    Silver Cliff WIXC race story!

    The WIXC race is generally a 2 race weekend. But, because of the State soccer tournament, I could not make the Saturday race. I knew I would be at a disadvantage, because everyone else was there the day before and would know the course. But, I loaded up early and headed out.

    Since I got there very early, I was able to head out and look at the course.  I thought I should do that, as everyone else was getting up and making breakfast and just moving around.  Remember, they had the opportunity to see the course the day before, so did not need to see it today.

    It had rained the night before, so I soon learned that what we were going to see in the race was slippery mud and even slipperier rocks.  Ugh…  It was going to be a day of slow and steady was going to win the day.

    This is pretty much what all of the course looked like.  Mud, rocks and roots!

    This is pretty much what all of the course looked like. Mud, rocks and roots!

    In addition to rocks and roots, there was also mud and wet trees and branches.  Yum.

    In addition to rocks and roots, there was also mud and wet trees and branches. Yum.

    The start went straight up a big sandy and rocky hill, one line wide, only about 50 yards from the start line.  There was an alternate line around the hill, that I contemplated instead of dealing with the hill.  I watched someone select that alternate line in a wave ahead of mine, but he inspite of a good start and charging up that line, he was still only 2nd into the woods.

    My wave went off, and I kicked, but no forward motion.  Damn, I did not get it lit.  It started on the 2nd try, but I was now last going into the woods.  I had some weird numbing of my hands and a bit of arm pump right away.  I struggled to get past a couple of people in the first lap.  I did finally settle down and start to work on riding smooth, though the course was so rough and rocky that it was hard to settle down.

    By the 3rd or so lap, I did catch Jim who was leading as he was getting up from a fall.  I passed him right away, but he passed me right back.  I was completely comfortable with the pace, so I decided to sit on him for a while to see how he was riding.  We were just 45 or so minutes into the race so I had plenty of time to see it unfold.  I sat on Jim for 2 or so laps and he was just bouncing off of things right and left.  Finally he struggled out of the line on a big hill, and I motored past.  Once past, I put my head down and went hard.

    I had one bobble along the way, and aparantley Jim got sight of me as I was off my bike trying to get up a big hill.  But, I never saw him after I went past him.  I rode pretty well.  Slow and steady was the order of the day.  The rocks reward smooth standing riding style.  I managed to have a few minutes on Jim at the finish and won my class.  I was also 8th overall on the day.

    My RM 250 worked perfectly for that.  My Factory Connection soft tuned suspension was magic.

    Early Start!

    The new WIXC races start at 11am. That is fantastic, as you can race and still be home for dinner. But, when you are trying to get to the race in the morning, it is a bit daunting. Google maps said it was a 5 hour drive to the race. So, I jumped in the truck at 5am, intending to get to the race by 9am.  Candi, who knows me and my driving habits better, knew it was only really going to take 4 hours to get there.  Unfortunately, she chose to keep that from me until we were already inroute to the race.  Sometimes, I think she has a mind of her own.  I’m just sayin!

    It was kind of cool to be out driving already at 4am.  No one is out, and when you go through a town it is completely quiet except the birds.  Neat.  It is also kind of gross though.  The amount of HUGE bugs that were splattering on the windshield was pretty bad.  Large splats of bug.  Yuck.

    On the way home, it rained big on me.  Unfortunately, it was not enough rain to clean off the mud on the bike.  I did see a really cool Volkswagen bus on the road.  Dang they are cool.

    Cool old VW with bikes on the back.  Always like seeing those.

    Cool old VW with bikes on the back. Always like seeing those.

    Hixton Photo’s

    Brian Terry took these photo’s during the Hixton race on May 31.

    556707369_p69nn-O

    Eric Muth’s RM250

    Eric found our website this past winter.  He has become a Suzuki fan as a result and has just built up his own RM 250 and is pretty psyched.

    Scott and I are both super psyched that someone else out there has discovered how good a Suzuki RM250 is. We are happy that we could help out Eric in some way as he was building his bike.  If you have any questions that Scott or Joe can answer about your RM250 and using it as a woods bike, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Joe – joe@vesrahsuzukioffroad.com

    Scott- scott@vesrahsuzukioffroad.com

    Here is a photo of Eric’s bike.

    Eric Muth's RM 250

    Eric Muth's RM 250

    See you in the woods somewhere.

    Joe

    Brave Soldier!

    I have discovered some great stuff, called Brave Soldier Friction Zone. Scott found it before me, but I am an absolute fan.  You goop it on your hands in the spots that would blister up normally, and then stuff your mitts into the glove – all gooped up.

    The potion is magic! I used to finish a race with completely raw hands. Busted open blisters on top of busted open blisters. I sometimes would finish a ride with my hands so bad that it was difficult to drive the car home after the race or ride. I have a history of being able to go through a pair of grips in one race, I still do. I am hard on my hands.

    I can still go through a pair of grips or a pair of gloves in one race. But, the Brave Soldier stuff saves my hands. I finish the race with my hands in perfect shape.

    It makes a huge difference. Try it.

    Brave Soldier Website

    You can buy it through Amazon.com, if you cannot find it locally.

    Rhinelander National bike set up

    Ok. Here is the dealeo. I am trying to decide which bike set up I should ride for the National HS race in Rhinelander this weekend.

    I know I want to ride the 06 motor and frame. That one starts the easiest and the frame seems to feel the best. Don’t ask me why, the 2 bikes are exactly the same.

    1.  I am thinking that I will want to use the softer suspension from the 07. That stuff feels like magic over chop and roots and rocks. It also gives the bike amazing traction.  But, at higher speeds and on an MX track the firmer HS suspension feels better.  But, the race is 3 hours long, so preserving yourself is a big deal.

    2.  I like the feel of the power with the Qmuffler. It tones it all down and makes the bike super easy to ride. Sometimes less power is faster than more power. Plus, it is super quiet. I like that.  the only problem is that it is harder to lift the bike if you get it stuck.  the Q sticks out the back a bit and you loose your grab spot on the fender.

    Need to mount up some new grips, and I think I will just go with the tires and wheels that I have set up already.

    Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.

    See you up there on Sunday.  It is going to be great fun.

    God I love the race season.

    Out.

    Joe