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Old 02-13-2012, 02:50 PM   #31
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Great video
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Old 02-13-2012, 05:36 PM   #32
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two tips.. First, use a heat gun or good hair dryer to get stickers to lay down and second... STAND UP as much as possible..

good job!
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Old 02-13-2012, 09:32 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrk2surf View Post
two tips.. First, use a heat gun or good hair dryer to get stickers to lay down and second... STAND UP as much as possible..

good job!
I was going to say that!

I will say that I am really enjoying this thread. Your video and editing skills are way above most and you naration is entertaining. I have been racing a long time and your thread reminded me what it was like to be new at this. I had to think long and hard as to what was my first race. 1985, Johnson valley, summer, D-37 race, I don't remember who the host club was though. I finished, I don't know how. Just a skinny 135lb kid on a Husky 500cc 2-stroke.
Keep it up and remember, the #1 goal is to have fun. Life is too short not to.
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Old 02-19-2012, 08:39 PM   #34
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Blather and Blabbing



Good? Meh...

Fun? Hell yeah!

When I originally decided to race this race, it was really just to force me to learn to ride off-road better, in preparation for the APC Rally. I didn't realize that racing was like crack, and as we all know, crack is whack! Racing is whack too, and I have already signed up for USDR Round 2 on March 11th. It's a sickness....

As for the actual race, I wore my heart rate monitor to see how hard I was working. The results:

Duration: 02:41:37
HR Avg: 119
HR Max: 176
Calories: 1425Cal
Training Load: 193

The race was exhausting, but I never blew up. I got tired on the third lap and slowed down a bit, because slow is supposed to be fast, though my results show that slow is actually just slow. For comparison, I also wore my heart rate monitor when I ran the San Dieguito Half Marathon last Sunday. The results:

Duration: 01:59:39
HR Avg: 160
HR Max: 196
Calories: 1803
Training Load: 327


450th out of 1288 runners. 8:33/mile

As I suspected, running is great training for off road riding and racing, and both are hopefully great training for the APC rally. I'll keep doing both, and start ramping up my training, because the rally starts in a mere 160 days.
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:01 PM   #35
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Admirable tenacity, sir and noob to noob: racing is fun, eh?
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:03 PM   #36
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450th out of 1288 runners. 8:33/mile
Of course you came 450th, you've only got short little legs :)
(OK, its probably just the camera angle?)

BTW, can you move one step to the left please..........
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:23 PM   #37
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APC Rally - Meet Dan

Rather than going on and on about more boring running or my awesome 'racing' exploits, I thought I'd take a minute to introduce the reason I've entered the Australian Property Centre rally, my friend Dan.




I met Dan back in 2003 at a stop sign in California. Way back in those days, the days before Facebook and blogs and everything like that, I used to write journals of the rides I took, mostly because the 2003 version of Frenchy must have realized that the 2012 version of Frenchy wouldn't be able to remember breakfast, let alone epic adventures from nearly a decade ago. I dug through the recesses of my hard drive, and finally came up with the journal I wrote of that fateful meeting.

This story is oddly prescient, because it was written long before I'd met Fiona and become an adopted resident of California.

Here it that journal, in all its unedited, yawn-inspiring glory:

June 1, 2003 - I headed out to the WWE show in San Diego, and by some great comedy of errors, the travel department had not booked the flights I requested. I left at noon, which put me into San Diego at 5:30, I usually like to travel out later in the day, so I can have as much time at home (or wherever I am) as possible, But this time it was all right, since the weather at home was crummy, and it was a long flight anyway. I planned to take two days off after the trip, rent a Harley and just ride around, with no real purpose or destination. I begged, bargained and haggled with the WWE travel department to arrange my flight home. They finally ended up getting me a flight that would get me home on Friday morning. Of course it was on the crummiest airline in the world. (ATA for those keeping score) The flight left California at 11:30 PM, 6 hours after the bike was to be returned, but it didn't matter, I was going to RIDE in CALIFORNIA!! Never mind that I had no destination or plans, or reservation for a room for that matter. I was staying out in California with two days and no plans. Perfect! It is kind of unusual for me to do this, and I really don’t know what made me decide to stay, but I knew it would be fun.

The hotel in San Diego was right on the ocean, and there were seals in the harbor. I got to see a few and hear even more of them. (for most of the night in fact…) It was a good day, and a good start to what would end up being a GREAT trip.

I had recently decided I wanted to buy a bicycle to keep on the tour bus. Since we don't have to be at work until 10:30 on Tuesday, I can get up at 7 and have three hours to ride and explore. It just so happened that there was a Performance Bicycle store next door to the arena. By a further stroke of luck, this was their last day in business, and the prices were slashed. 30% off all bicycles and 50% off all accessories! I ended up with over $700 worth of bicycle and gear for $480. A good deal.


My Bike!

I mixed the RAW show, and it went well. There were more live segments than usual that night. I actually enjoyed mixing the show. It was a short hour bus trip from San Diego to Anaheim, and I stayed up for the ride instead of hitting my bunk. I love shows on Pacific Time, because RAW finishes at 8 PM, and I don't have to be at work on Tuesday until 10:30 AM.

I was so excited about riding my new bicycle that I got up at 5:30 in the morning on Tuesday in Anaheim, and set out. I used to ride a bicycle every day when I was younger. In fact I used to race both street and mountain bikes a long time ago. However, I hadn't ridden a bicycle in years. The concierge told me of a path that followed a river, and I headed out to it. I had so much fun riding that I put over 20 miles on that first day, and I wasn't nearly as sore as I had thought I might be the next day. I think I am really going to enjoy having this bike on the road.


My Rented Bike

June 2, 2003 – This was the morning I went to pick up my Harley. I originally wanted a Heritage Softail, similar to the bike I own, but when I called to reserve one, I was told there weren’t any available. Wonder of wonders, when I showed up to pick up the bike, there was one waiting for me! A beautiful black 2003 model! Things were looking up!At Eaglerider, I asked for directions for a scenic route. They told me how to get to the Pacific Coast highway, and I proceeded to take a wrong turn and end up in a VERY seedy part of Los Angeles, South Central... I think this is where the riots were, and I can understand why. Desolate, depressing, with garbage strewn all over the place, and sad and desperate people everywhere. I stopped for directions at a gas station, and the attendant told me to "get on Highway 5 and get the hell out of here!"

I found my way out of this hell, and got on California Route 1, and ended up at the "Motorcycle Mile" where I stopped in at Bartel's Harley Davidson dealership. With a new Bartel’s T shirt and some directions for a "great" ride, I was on my way.

I finally turned on the PCH 1 and took Topanga Creek Blvd to Mulholland Highway. The name is deceptive, because this "highway" is actually a twisty two lane road that few people live on and even fewer travel on. I did something that I have never managed to do before… on one of the tighter turns I “ground” a footboard, that is one of the footboards scraped against the road. I must have leaned WAY over for that to happen, because even though the Harley doesn’t have the best ground clearance, I have never managed to have a footboard hit the road before. It was surprising.



Once I realized what had happened, I started laughing out loud. It sounds dangerous, but it really is just startling more than anything. I rode this excellent road to the end, got back on PCH 1 and stopped at Neptune's Net, which was described to me as a sort of biker/surfer hangout. I had a great lunch of salmon steak and fried calamari, then headed further north on PCH 1. It was cloudy, and not exactly warm, but I was out there and had a great day.



I stopped in a town called Oxnard and had a coffee at Starbucks, then decided to turn around. At this time, I didn't have a room reservation anywhere. I was a little concerned because in my travels on PCH 1, I saw a lot of RV parking, but not one single hotel.

I rode through Malibu and ended up in Santa Monica. I stopped in Santa Monica, mostly because it had some hotels. (Not to mention this is where Neil Peart currently lives… you never know when you might run into the “Ghost Rider”!) There was a roller coaster and Ferris wheel on a pier, and it just looked like the place to stop. I was cold and getting tired, even though I had only ridden 211 miles.

I found a room in the Holiday Inn, for the ridiculous price of $149! Whatever. It was better than sleeping on the beach. There was a great looking sushi restaurant and a British pub nearby, so I figured it couldn't be all bad. I had some expensive sushi then some reasonably priced Guinness, then headed to bed. I still didn't have a plan for the next day, and was debating whether to take the bike back early and try to get and earlier flight out, or ride some more. The weather was not promising…

June 3, 2003 - I woke up this Thursday to a misty and gray day. I walked over to Jink's Cafe and had breakfast, then got back on the bike. It was not exactly raining, but it was close enough. Heavy mist stuck to my goggles and skin. Oh well, it's just water...
I decided that the Mulholland highway was so much fun, with such amazing scenery and turns that I would ride it one more time and then probably head back to Los Angeles to return the bike early.

As I got back on Topanga Canyon road, there was a small traffic jam. Someone had decided to drive their car off the road and down the embankment… It was a good way down too. There was an enormous tow truck there trying to pull the car back up to the road. I later found out that not one but two cars had followed each other down there. Never heard how the occupants made out.

The day was still gray, it was still heavily misting, and I was still debating turning around and returning the bike early. I was stopped at an intersection, with my headphones blaring and not really paying attention, when another bike, a white BMW RS 1100 pulled up next to me. The rider looked over at me and said “So much for sunny weather!” I nodded and said “Could be worse.” We waved and he went on his way.


Dan!

I saw the same guy further down the road at another intersection, this time he was off his bike and had his cell phone in his hand. I pulled up to ask if he was all right, and he shrugged and simply said, “Work found me.” I introduced myself, and found out his name was Dan. He said he was heading to Neptune’s Net for coffee. I told him I would meet him there and continued on my way.

Dan pulled into Neptune’s Net in a few minutes after I did, and we got a table. I got a cookie and coffee, he had clam chowder. We talked for a while, and he told me that he was going to go to Route 33, because it might be sunnier there. He asked if I wanted to come along, and I said “Sure, as long as I can have this bike back by 5 in LA, why not?” He said he had to be back home by 3:30 so that wouldn’t be a problem. Having agreed on this, we set off on an impromptu adventure.

We rode about a half hour up the PCH, and it started to actually rain, but I didn’t care. I was happy to know that there was someone else that was as big of a motorcycle nut as me to ride in weather like this. We got to Route 33, and it was an even better mountain/canyon/valley road that the one I was on before, with huge bright yellow flowers lining both sides of the road. It was incredible! Dan rode much faster than I did, stopping to wait for me several times. His BMW was much better suited to this type of riding, which is exactly why he bought it he told me. But I also had to slow down often to just look at the amazing scenery all around me. (I ended up grinding another footboard on these winding roads!) Dan would later comment that it was “like riding through a Dr. Seuss book!” It definitely was, and this day had already turned out better than I thought it would.

We kept climbing higher on these great and very twisty roads, and soon we were in the clouds. I could see the fog rolling up the mountain, and over the road. It was cool to ride through the mist, it would sometimes be suddenly cooler then quickly get warmer. When we crossed over the top of the mountain however, the sun came out and suddenly it was WARM! WOO HOO! It went from about 60 to well over 80 degrees in a matter of minutes.


Clouds roll across the road

We stopped at 2 PM at a little grocery store that had a deli in it. I had a roast beef sandwich, and Dan opted for the healthier salad. An grumpy older man walked in and asked if they had “gotten his cigarettes”, and was disappointed to find out that they had. The grouch seemed angry now because he had nothing to complain about. He also gruffly asked when the milk man was going to deliver next. Strange little town, but cool too.

Dan said we could take Highway 5 south back to LA, but then suggested a road that paralleled Route 5 instead. We took the back road. It was another 35 miles of twisted mountain roads. It didn’t exactly meet the definition of “parallel”. I was starting to wonder if Dan might be trying to keep me out in LA for another day of riding… which actually wouldn’t have been so bad.



An American and a German, two new friends at the lake

The sun was still bright and strong, and at 3:30 we stopped by a lake so Dan could make a few calls (cell phones didn’t work in the area we had had lunch in, how cool is that?) I was still wondering about making it back to LA by 5, because LA is famous for its incredibly bad traffic jams. Dan assured me we’d be “fine”. We got on Route 5 south and cranked up the speed. We moved into the HOV lane when we got closer to LA. Motorcycles are allowed to travel in this lane, and I felt sort of relieved that we were making good time until of course ALL traffic came to a complete stop. Even in the HOV lane. Great. Dan looked at me and said “Wanna lane split?”

Lane splitting is legal in California, but I don’t know how smart it is. Basically the thought is that a motorcycle can pass a car either in its lane or on the white lines that divide lanes. I have always thought that motorcyclists doing this were INSANE, but we were up against the clock, so I figured what the hell?

I haven’t had a constant surge of adrenalin like this since the very first time I mixed RAW. It was QUITE a rush! It wasn’t quite as dangerous as I had thought, because once you start splitting the lanes, your focus intensifies, and you can really see the “lane” between the lanes and cars. Not that I will ever do it again, but it definitely WAS very intense riding.
There was a bad looking accident off to the side of the highway causing the traffic jam. A tractor trailer had rear ended a copper colored Ford and crumpled the whole rear end in. I could see that the air bags had deployed. The family was standing around the car in daze. The ambulance was on the scene, but the paramedics were just standing there. I was glad to see that nobody was seriously injured.

We ended up riding 348 miles that day. With our lane splitting, we made it back to the rental place at 15 minutes past five. I was afraid there would be a late fee. The guys at Eaglerider understood though, and didn’t charge me extra. In fact they gave me two days for the price of one… Thanks guys!

Dan asked me what I was going to do, and I told him I was planning on going to the airport and waiting five hours for my flight. He invited me back to his house for a few cold beers. Cold beers always sound like a great idea to me! He gave me directions and I called for a cab. He went on ahead to make sure there was no “dirty underwear” on the floor.We sat on his deck and had a few cold beers and talked about the different riding experiences we have had. He told me about riding with some other friends he had met on the roads and staying in a motel where the clerk told them that the local kids are “hoodlums” and let them park all their bikes inside the lobby of the motel! He also told me that his father had died at the young age of 52, and forced him to seriously rethink his priorities. We shared our experiences and talked about life and many things.

One of the things we talked about was riding to Alaska. This is something that has been rolling around in my brain for a while, ever since I read Neil Peart’s “Ghost Rider” and a few other books that talked about what a great experience it was to ride the 1500 mile Alaskan Highway. Dan mentioned he wanted to ride up there next summer, and I really think that we will end up doing it.

Another thing we talked about is how everything is being developed. It seems that every open space there once was now has a house or strip mall or Applebee’s and Lowe’s on it. I feel that the developers are ruining everything with this greed, but Dan had a different point of view. He feels that the land have been constantly developed, it is just happening at a much faster pace now. He said that it used to take people twenty-four hours to get from downtown LA to the beach by stage coach in the 1900’s. Beverley Hills was a getaway for those that didn’t want to make the trip. Now you can make it to the beach in twenty minutes (if there is no traffic jam…) He thinks that it is just the way of the world. I am not sure who is right.

We went to a Thai restaurant and had dinner, and Dan’s wife Maxine met us there. The first thing she said to me was “Hello, what’s your story?” It seemed she was used to Dan bringing home “strays.” Dan used to commute to Australia to see her before they married. She was definitely an interesting person, and when dinner was over, they made me promise that I would be back again (which I know I will).

Dan took me back to the airport, and he again made me promise that I would come back. A handshake and a hug, and I was on my way. I told Dan, “I will see you again, my friend, we have a lot more riding to do!”

This little trip turned out to be exactly the reason that I ride motorcycles. So much can happen in one day! Amazing scenery and a new friend that I will definitely see and ride with again. To get out of the rut and meet new and interesting people. To experience life not in a metal tube or box… to be in the moment and a part of the scenery instead of safely isolated from it. To get away from the plastic people that merely exist and LIVE.

Yeah, these few days are exactly why I ride.

THE END


But, it wasn't the end, not by a long shot. Ride we still do. That first meeting and talk about riding to Alaska turned into Dan and I riding 7400 miles to Alaska exactly one year later. Dan moved to Australia in 2007, just as I was stalking, err... chasing after... no... I mean... as I was trying to get to know Fiona. Yes, that is what the lawyers told me was the appropriate term.

The timing of Dan's move sucked a little, but in 2009 Fiona and I went Down Under for a visit. Dan and I (with Maxine and Fiona) rode around Australia for a week on the wrong side of the road. And in 2012, I will go Down Under once again. The day after my long flight, Dan and I will line up in Bathhurst to start (and hopefully finish) the APC Rally.

Dan's been training for the APC Rally as well, recently completing his first Warrior Dash, sans Mohawk. He's done some long training rides on the APC rally tracks. By July 28th we'll be as ready as we can be to tackle this ride, and no matter what happens, we'll have a hell of a time doing it.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:42 PM   #38
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A good read Frenchy.
The last dozen or so words are right on the money.
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Old 02-22-2012, 01:12 AM   #39
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Enjoyed reading your yarn about meeting Dan. Tx for posting.
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Old 03-01-2012, 01:02 AM   #40
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US Desert Racing Series - Round One Writeup

It's 8:58 AM on Sunday, February 4th. The day is a bit chilly, but clear and crisp. My heart is pounding much harder than it does after a Starbucks black eye double espresso. In two minutes, my race career as "502S" will officially begin.



I'm lined up in the seventh row, happily continuing the theme of "I have no idea what I am doing." This has been my central theme for the entire race weekend. I line up with hundreds of real racers, surrounded by exquisite racing machines all growling and roaring. I’m not even sure why I am here other than because I said I would do it. I told too many people I was going to race not to race. I have no idea what the starting procedure is, hadn't really given it any though. In fact I really have no idea of much of anything at all, except the course is over six miles long, and I have to complete as many laps as I can in a hour, then do one more lap. I 'practiced' on the course for forty five minutes the day before, trying to learn as much as I could about how everything works.

I watch as the first row gets the green flag. When I see them charge into the first turn, a 180 degree bend that leads to the racetrack proper, I realize my choice to line up on the inside most spot was probably not the best idea I've ever had, because I will have to make the tightest turn of the entire Senior-1 Beginner group. The racing learning curve may be pretty steep, but as an old dog, I'm game to learn some new tricks. I look to my right, taking in the revs of the enormous KTM next to me. I count fourteen people in my line, there may actually be more, I'm not entirely sure. I valiantly decide that I'll let them scrap for the lead instead of battling for it and taking everyone out. I may not know much about racing, but I do know this much. Nobody wins in the first turn.

Hundreds of thoughts scream through my head. Wave after wave get the green flag, and before I can properly process it, my wave is next. This has suddenly gotten very real. The green flag is pointed at me then follows down the rest of the line, then it waves high in the air. With a loud roar, the line is off.

By design, I am behind them all. The course starts on a motocross track, and I am jumping along slightly behind the rest of the S-1 Beginners. Woo! Scary fun! Rather than hitting the gigantic step up, I opt to take the chicken path around the scariest obstacle I have ever seen. I realize that nearly everyone else has opted to skip the jump as well. I start to think that these guys are just like me, probably many of them also racing their first race. That realization forces me to relax, and from that point on I start enjoying myself. Racing is fun!

The course is fast, at least to me. I do my best to stay on course, not take anybody out, and keep the black rubber circles underneath me at all times. I drop the bike when the course turns sandy, slowing up a few other riders. Fortunately, the CRF 450x restarts with a quick stab of the starter button. My clutch lever is bent, my pride is dinged, but I am still smiling, still intact, and still in the race.

The course snakes into some tight technical single track. An ATV has died in that single track, its rider frantically waving to everyone to warn of his newly made obstacle. I make my way around the four wheeled obstruction and continue around to finish lap one.

It feels like the hour should already be up, but sadly it isn't. I am all by myself on the track now; the faster racers all ahead of me, the slower racers are... well, there probably aren't any slower racers than me. In my helmet I tell myself that I am actually in the lead, decimating the field. This lie keeps me motivated until the faster riders catch and pass me, leaving me in a cloud of roost and dust. How they go so fast is a mystery to me. I watch in awe as they make pass after pass. One rider hoots, hollers and revs his bike to let me know he is behind me. I move over, not wanting to ruin anyone's day.

Other than dropping my bike at the same exact sandy spot as before, lap two is mostly uneventful for me. I relax a little more, and realize my back end is sliding though some of the turns. Does this mean I am starting to pick up some speed? Or am I just getting tired and sloppy? I am passed a few more times, but it doesn't bother me. Racing is fun, even when you are the slow guy.

On lap three, I actually catch a rider, but have no idea how to make the pass. Of all the eventualities I was prepared for, passing someone definitely wasn't one of them. Eventually, I hoot, holler and rev my engine. He moves over to let me by. The learning curve may be steep, but this old dog has already learned at least one new trick. Once again I drop the bike in the sand. The result? My clutch lever is now bent like a curly munchkin shoe. Once again I pick the bike up, and once again it starts without too much protest.

Lap four begins like lap three ended, meaning I am still mostly by myself. I eye the flagger, expecting to be waved off the course and given the award for 'Best Comedic Performance on a Motorcycle'. Again it doesn't happen. My biggest problem, other than I am starting to get tired is I haven't figure out a good system to get a drink, and I am very thirsty. My Camelback hose has come alive like a snake, wriggling out of reach, forcing me to slow down every time I want a drink. I manage my way through the sand trap without falling, which to me is a major victory. I pick a new spot to drop the bike instead. A course marshal shouts encouragement as I pick up my battered ride for what seems like the hundredth time.

Finally the white flag waves. I have one more lap to go, and I do my best to make it count. I am surprisingly tired at this point, all the running and Crossfit training and everything else I did to try to get my conditioning up to par have no doubt helped, but I still have a way to go to get fit enough to be competitive. Of course that nasty sand trap claims me once again, but at this point, with then end in sight, I don't care. I break into a huge smile as I cruise to the checkered flag, one hour and sixteen minutes into my racing career. I cross the line 87th out of 107 overall, and 14th out of 16 in the Senior One Beginner group.



I'm exhausted but happy to have finished my first ever US Desert Racing series race intact.

I do know one thing. I'm hooked! I will be back for more, Round Two is only a few weeks away!

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Old 03-26-2012, 01:28 PM   #41
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With two last place finish USDR races under my belt, and only 124 days until the APC Rally kicks off in Australia, one thing is obvious - while my overall fitness level is coming along nicely, I still need work on my dirt riding. I've started another thread for my USDR Races, which can be found here: US Desert Racing - From a Noob's Point of View

My good friend and former band mate Josh valiantly offered to let me ride one of his race bikes and give me some pointers at The Central Cycle Club, his local motocross track in Connecticut.


Josh - Lower Right / Me - Upper Left / Both of Us - More Hair Back Then

Josh had his work cut out for him that day.


Professor Josh Says, "Class Is In Session!"

Josh started out with the basics, watching me ride his insanely light and fast two stroke, working on my body and hand positioning. Professor Josh has a very interesting teaching method, no doubt derived from knuckle cracking nuns.This method of teaching, while probably frowned upon by modern educational establishments is nonetheless a very simple and effective way to learn.

As I would ride by, Josh would correct my form by whacking me with a stick.




WHACK! "Get your ass up on that seat more!"

WHACK! "Keep those elbows up!"

WHACK!

"What was that for?"

"To keep you on your toes!"

I practiced cornering for hours, sliding my ass up on the seat more and more until it felt like I was sitting on the steering stem, keeping my elbows so high it must have looked like I was a puppet on strings. As the day progressed, I got faster, and by the end of the drills I was able to turn that motorcycle faster and with more confidence than ever before.




Anything to stop the whipping!

Class continued. I followed Josh through a series of turns, picking up the pace each time. The speed did come, and while I eventually couldn't keep up with him, I did get the bike cornering faster and better than ever before.



We progressed to small jumps, something I'm still not very good at. I did manage to not stuff the bike into a tree or wad it up in a heap of smouldering metal, so there was some progress on that front as well.



Towards the end of the day Josh and his son Ezra took the bikes out on the big track for some good ol' fashion family fun time.


Ezra Taking It To The Track


The Family That Flies Together Stays Together


Frequent Flier

All too soon, the day ended, and I went home full of new techniques to work on.

As a post script, I ran another half marathon this week, finishing in 1:50:26 averaging 8:25/ mile.



All the Crossfit and running and other fitness routines are definitely paying off; I'm not too worried about being fit enough to finish the APC Rally.

The riding is getting there too.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:09 AM   #42
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Tick Tock !

124 days eh ?
I still haven't done a damn thing.
She'll be right.
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Old 05-25-2012, 07:32 PM   #43
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where did you go ?

Is it me or is there 63 days to go.
Hows the training going?
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Old 06-17-2012, 03:06 PM   #44
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The Good, The Bad, and the Awful

Forty-one days.

That and a giant ocean are all that stand between me and the beginning of the Australian Property Centre Rally. I've been training nonstop since September for this rally, and I have to say at the tender age of 42, I am in the best shape of my life.

According to the Nike+ running app I use, I've run 510 miles since September, and I even started swimming (I like swimming slightly less than running, which I hate.) I've attended hundreds of Crossfit classes, lifted lots of heavy things up over my head, and completed four half marathons and two Warrior Dashes.



I've strained and sprained and bruised and broken body parts, but on the upside, I've dropped 30 pounds, and managed to keep it off. I don't huff and puff going up stairs anymore, I can think much more clearly (that's actually debatable) and overall, I'm in better spirits than I have been in years.

I'm at the point now where if I don't work out, I feel bad, a statement that one year ago I never would have believed I would make. Now I am one of those guys I used to detest... which isn't really a bad thing.

So, the rally may be forty-one days away, but it's already benefited me in more ways than I could've imagined when I started preparing for it.

Part of the reason for the large gap between updates is a personal one. After a six year courtship where I've dragged her all over the planet; on motorcycles, planes, trains, boats and sometimes on foot, I married Fiona - my best friend in the entire world - on May 11th. The month leading up to the wedding was probably the most stressful time in my life; with ridiculous... err, I mean important decisions about flowers, cakes, and a whole host of other details happening on a day-by-day, even minute-by-minute basis.


The Happy Couple



You're Damn Right I Do!!


Me and My Best Men



Newly anointed by the Universal Life Church (dot com) Fiona's brother Conor married us, my two sons Alex and Camden were my best men, my parents and a host of friends and family celebrated the day with us. Without a doubt, for me, May 11th was indeed the Best Day Ever.

After surviving the royal wedding and subsequent honeymoon more or less intact, getting through 4500 miles of dirt riding should be a piece of cake!


Cake!


Every chance I get between now and my departure date (July 25th... because it takes THREE DAYS to fly from Los Angeles to Australia!) will be spent in the desert, riding Mid-Wife Crisis, my trusty Honda 450X.


Mid-Wife Crisis


I've logged quite a few miles on this bike, not enough to say I am actually the shit at off road riding, but enough to say I'm not shit. I still have a LOT to learn, but at this point, much of that learning will have to be on-the-job training. For the actual Rally I'll be riding a DR650, a machine which is a bit heavier than a CRF 450x and not nearly as dirt bikey. At least with all the time I've put in on Mid-Wife Crisis I will have some idea how to ride in the dirt with getting all dirty.

In February, I became a bona-fide 'racer' joining the US Desert Racing Series as a Senior One Beginner. The first two rounds I finished last and... last, but boy were those two rounds fun. Having never raced a motorcycle before, just being out on the trails pushing my admittedly small limits was a huge blast.

I can honestly say I love racing like a fat kid loves cake.


Cake!

Marred by tragedy, USDR round three was a lot less fun than the first two.

On race day, I showed up to the site early, and was warmly greeted by my new racing family. The USDR racing series is like a family, it's the only way I can describe it. If I have a question, five people answer it, no matter how dumb the question is. If I have a problem, someone will show me how to fix it, without making me feel dumb. For a brand new racer, this series is the perfect place to start.

There was no way to know how tight this day would draw the bonds of the US Desert Racing family.

I lined up in row seven with the other Senior One Beginners, listened to the pre-race rider briefing, shook hands with all my fellow S1B competitors, wished them luck, then waited for the green flag to fly.



When that flag flew, I got off to my customary awful start. I managed to stall the bike, and watched as the entire line charged ahead, leaving behind a huge dust cloud.


AAAnnnd They're Off!! (Except Me Of Course)


Getting Mid-Wife Crisis re-fired, I sped into the cloud of dust to try and catch the tail end of the line.



Angry at stalling the stupid bike, I pushed myself hard, harder than ever before. Within a few minutes, I started closing the gap. I could see two riders, and I felt like if I really tried, pushed as hard as I could, I might be able to catch them. I was on a mission, taking risks I'd never taken before. With two crappy finishes under my belt, I've learned that a bad start equals a bad finish, and I was out for any place but last.

About two miles in, through the red mist of my determination I saw a few bikes stopped on the course. Paying more attention, I noticed there was also a rider down. Race mode off, I pulled over to see if I could help.

He was down, and not moving. This looked pretty bad. After directing race traffic around the downed rider, one rider sped ahead and I decided to head back (parallel to, but not on the course) to find a sweep rider or anyone with a radio to summons help.

When I didn't find anyone and started getting lost, I turned around and rode ahead to the next checkpoint, to at the very least describe as best I could where the downed rider was. After being assured help was on scene, I followed the rest of the race course, silently hoping that the guy, a fellow Senior One Beginner was OK. My heart just wasn't into it anymore.

When I finally made my way to the start/finish line, the yellow flag was being displayed, and everyone was being waved off the course. I hoped for the best but feared the worst.

I soon learned the downed rider had suffered a heart attack on the course and despite heroic efforts by the medical staff, he passed away.

Yeah. That's pretty heavy.


The Entire USDR Family Paying Tribute


If there is a positive lesson to come from all that, it is that part of my APC Rally training has to include at the very least some basic first-aid training and CPR certification. Fiona and I are going to take the NOLS two day Wilderness First Aid class together, hopefully before the Rally (if scheduling allows.) The life she saves could end up being mine...

Of course, I am a little more hesitant than I was in September when I started to tackle this challenge, but I am certain, after some soul searching that I am up for the adventure ahead. And so, with forty-one days until the Rally starts, I'm ready. Plane tickets are purchased, new tent has been tested, GPS is on its way Down Under to get the Rally route loaded.

July 28th can not get here soon enough!
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Old 06-18-2012, 05:11 PM   #45
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Heart attack out on a ride. Sorry to hear about that loss. Perhaps a good way to go though - well, would be for me.

Q. Which start-point are you starting the APC Rally from?
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