A little distraction

There is so much to do on all these cars and you hardly have time to stop and smell the roses. Well, as we were tinkering the other night we noticed a bit of nature had decided to watch us. This little guy decided to stop by and check in. He was resting peacefully till, of course, I had to get to close. He didn’t run however, he just kept his eye on me as he continued to hold his ground.

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Kern Racing’s Evo build for 2012

With a build of my own this year has been a bit hectic. Trying to manage my time while being committed to building and helping with the Kerns cars has been quite an undertaking. I am sure Dave would love more help, but this year sleep is a consideration…

So last year on the mountain was quite an effort by Kern Racing. They have been pushing it to the limit and as they say, if you aren’t crashing you aren’t getting better. Well, they did crash last year, then they finished 4th. Yes, that is pretty impressive considering they sat on the guardrail for 35 second, then raced 6 miles on a missing tire and a busted shock! At the end of the race last year their car looked like this.

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Race Kern PPIHC Tire

So when they assessed the damage the realization was that the body work needed to be done and that means that there needs to be some thought into the future of the car. The race is all pavement in 2012, so the car will need to be wider, the tires will be bigger and it will need to be ready to accept them. So how about we modify the overall width of the car with a widebody kit? Well, if you are going to do that, then why not lighten the car by removing the rear doors? And if you are going to do that, why not make the entire body out of carbon fiber? Well that is what the plan boiled down too and they are in the midst of making that happen.

Dave got started on the car by ordering up a stock widebody kit and we got crackin on getting that installed. You can check out all the details of the assembly on RaceKern.com

With all the body work in progress I took a day or two to stop down and work out the details. It is a lot of work doing all the bondo work for a job like this but we got it to race car quality and we’re pretty happy.

Once it was all finished up a good waxing went down we made a mold of one side of the car. This is a big panel and we are glad to get through it without any issues.

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With the mold curing still and the polyester resin still stinking up the place we rolled the car on over to the lift and started cranking away on other projects. We switched out the rear suspension, the rear brakes and installed the new front fenders. Then we cranked on the new beefy rear sway bar and looked at the front brakes only to realize we didn’t have the right wheels nearby to fit over the rotors.

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So we worked on a plan for the rear wing mounting, we worked on a plan for the new front splitter and we called it a day. Tomorrow we will meet with John Wanberg. John was my professor at Metro and he is getting a bit giddy to make really cool composite projects happen. Tomorrow we are talking aero elements and primarily the splitter. I am looking forward to see what he comes up with!

Team Rwanda

Last year I had the opportunity to organize (through my work) a ride and a benefit dinner with the Rwanda Cycling Team. It is an incredible story and I am really glad to be able to be able to help out any way that I can. Check out an entry from their visit here

This past year the owner of my company went to Rwanda to experience things first hand. His experience was amazing and at one point I talked to him on the phone and he said “every 10 minutes I see something that I could have never imagined that I would see or imagined that existed.”

The point of todays entry is a story on CNN. CNN did a video story on Team Rwanda and it is a nice glimpse into the world of the team, where they came from and what their goals are. Take a moment and watch!

Project Baja: The story

I have been working hard on my current project, Project Baja. If I haven’t mentioned it too much on here it is because I spend most of my time writing about it on the Project Baja site. I started thinking about this project though: why do you do this stuff? That was the question that crossed my mind. Why? Well. These are the interesting things in life. The adventures that many look at and few do.

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One day, many moons ago I watched the movie “Dust to Glory.” When the movie finished I thought to myself “I could do that.” I have watched that movie repeatedly since then and I always think the same thing. “I could do that.” The real question is why though. Why spend all the time, the money and the effort on something like this? For me I think it comes down to one word: Experience.

In 2008 while sitting around with some friends we decided to make a soapbox car for the RedBull soapbox race. Cars for these events are often cardboard, taped together. Some of them are more complicated but none are taken to the level that we wanted to go. The purpose was not entirely winning. The reason for that is experience. If my team or I choose to do something we do it so we get something awesome of of it and what is more awesome than education? We learned a lot from that car. Little lessons like: “Wow, fiberglass sucks to sand!” or “Body work sure does live up to the ‘WORK’ part.” When we went to the race we had an amazing time, we met a ton of people we answered questions and we basically had an amazing experience.

In 2009 we did it all over again. The Mach five wasn’t just another fiberglass car, it was a completely different molding technique. We decided we needed to learn how to do make a female mold on this one. It was a completely new experience and we were able to learn how and be successful making the project all in a very short period of time. When we took that car across country we had so many experiences along the way. Meeting new people, showing our vehicle and well, creating the story of the trip. We have friends that I am glad to say that we would not have developed otherwise.

So when we circled around to the Baja Car I thought to myself. Imagine the places you will go, the people you will meet and not only that but the stories you will have from this project! We jumped in and yes! As usual we flailed a bit but we are going strong.

Already I have met some amazing people. I traveled to California to go to Lisas Wedding and I was able to meet the Desert Dingos. Specifically I met Jim Graham. They showed me around the car as well. Jim has been an amazing resource and has quickly become a friend. It was a great experience walking through their outdoor shop nestled in the redwoods. It was fun to check out their car and learn as much as we could. I only wish I was able to go back! Now that we have made the progress that we have it would be great to see it all again. In addition we have met Yves Braun. Yves is in the desert racing community and just happens to have a shop that is just up the street from us. He has been one of the most generous people and has provided us with a tow when we need it and a free donor car too!

Desert Dingos racing

Built by Bones - Cage take 2

The more we learn about all of this the more the experiences are becoming apparent. I met Paul Massey through all of this as well and his friends at the Fire Guys Racing Team. Paul has told stories, showed pictures and just added fuel to the fire. The other night as we chatted he was telling me how excited he is to go to Mexico for 2012’s race and he also said “there is always a big part of me that is excited and a small part that is pretty nervous.” I think that about sums it up. Everyone that goes to this event knows that there are a lot of question marks. When you are in the middle of the desert with nobody around and you are relying on this vehicle to save the day… Well. It is plenty to make you nervous. Add to that the possibilities that simply exist in Mexico. Unpredictable law enforcement, unpredictable fans, the challenge of getting everything you need into Mexico and the additional challenge of getting everything you own out of Mexico. There is a lot to worry about! But every piece of that is just another chapter in the story that is the Baja 1000!

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With all of these potential experiences laid out just imagine the stories that are going to come out of it. Now consider that we aren’t even there yet. We are working like crazy to find sponsors, money to join our team and help make this happen. We can figure out a lot of stuff, but we can’t just create money. So now we spend a lot of time trying to figure out exactly how we can get money. You know what? Well it turns out that we have been developing relationships, we have been able to be very creative with some marketing ideas, we have just learned a ton about dealing with potential sponsors and it just adds to our experiences. Our marketing plan is always evolving but our webisodes are something that we love to make and people love to see. It has been a lot of fun and a big learning experience figuring out all of this!

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If you have a chance follow along on our build. Sign up for Rally. It will provide you email updates and if you choose to you can help support the build as well. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter or you can head on over to our Project Baja Website.

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Colorado Rally Cross: Season Opener

I was just minding my own business at work on Friday when I get a text message. “Find a truck and Trailer and the BMW is yours to race on Saturday.” I consider myself a fairly honest person, but I’ll steal a truck and trailer for that opportunity! After some quick searches I got another message “truck and trailer are taken care of.” Holy crap, that is even better.

So off we went, we headed out to CORE unloaded and signed up. I realized I hadn’t driven the BMW in about 7 months so I figured it should be quite entertaining to see my tentative first runs.

Once on track we had a pile of fun, it was a very windy day and I was driving with Grant Hughes as a second driver in the car. Dave brought out the EVO aka the Evil (according to voice-to-text) and though we didn’t win any awards (though Grant nearly clinched the Cone Killer award) we had a blast.

The photo in this thread is pulled from this PhotoBucket stream. Once I figure out how to contact the guy I may just have to get this thing printed!

http://s621.photobucket.com/albums/tt291/mrk9182/Colorado%20RX/

Ice Racing 2012

If you know me at all you know that I love playing on the Ice! Last year I raced the season on Georgetown Lake. This year I have missed quite a few days up there but I keep trying to make it up there to race as much as possible. During the last race we had the opportunity to race on the largest track that they have ever put together! This track took up our entire portion of the lake and was simply… FUN. So many corners to figure out and a nice long lap as well.

Of course, if you know me you also know a camera came along on this adventure. Here is a quick edit of one full lap on the lake.

So, what else is there? How about the Steamboat Ice Track? Bridgestone winter driving school is a great place to go play. It isn’t quite as cheap as Ice racing, but you sure do get plenty of track time and it definitely is an amazing track. I headed up there with my old tires and was ready to go play. With a massive lack of confidence I put my car in the snowbanks a couple times. But wow, it is just so fun no matter what!

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We shared the GoPro’s throughout the day and threw together a short little video as well.

By the end of the day Dave pulled out a school car to show off what a Lexus can do on the track as well.

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Oh and yes, I was NOT the only one to get my car stuck in a snowbank!

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What fun a bit of snow can provide! I would 100% recomend heading up and taking a class at Bridgestone Winter Driving School if you have a chance!

The Europe Experience: 2005

I just came across this bit of writing I did along the way in Europe when I was following some mountain bike racing. I thought, Maybe I should throw this up on the site… So here it is. Hope you enjoy. I threw some photos that I could find easily from the events in here as well. I have so many photos from this trip but these are just a quick smattering to go along with things.

Twenty two hours and I am at another counter, this time I am finally getting a rental car, not another plane. I took off from Denver Tuesday and now it is Wednesday in Milan Italy. I flew here a bit spontaneously in order to travel through Europe and go to the World Championships in Livigno Italy. From there I planned to go to the World cup finals that are conveniently the following week in Scotland.
“Would you like insurance” the desk clerk asks, “YES!” I said as I recap all the stories I have read about driving in Italy.
6 crazy hours later and we arrive in Livigno; we descend into this town via a mountain pass. It is beautiful and the venue is visible from all parts of town. We fumble around the town in our Fiat Punto and stumble across our hotel. In our journey to Livigno, we took several wrong turns that worked out well. Even though they cost us about 2 hours of travel time we also drove through some beautiful mountain passes we would not have seen otherwise. We learned that if you ask an Italian for directions they say the equivalent of “It’s just over there” and wave their hand in the direction that you need to go.

The venue was great and the courses were fast. The DH course was fast enough that every rider was in a skin suit, which is not something you typically see! Practices went by and we saw a helicopter over the XC course covering the races. You never see a helicopter at a NORBA event. Not recently anyway! The XC race was broadcast live and highlights were shown again when I got back to my room that night. The crowds were arriving in droves. This town is situated in a bowl of mountains. Mountain passes are about the only way to arrive in this town and the nearest airports are four hours away, but that didn’t stop the spectators. Walking though this small mountain town was amazing, the spectators were everywhere! The streets were all packed and the cars had to slowly creep through. This town was also known for its Tax Free status and the visitors were definitely taking advantage of this! This town was making out because of the popularity of this sport. DH, MTNX and XC all had fans there and most of the fans were at all the events.

The DH race began and the Helicopter was out. The fans were out as well with Horns Bells, whistles and whatever they could use to make noise. The racing was intense as the riders descended at very high speeds. I spoke to a few riders who said they weren’t used to going that fast. As the riders got faster they suddenly stopped. It turns out the top 10 women and top 10 men had their entire run filmed by the camera. This added wait time between runs, but it was incredible. In the end the fastest Man was Fabian Barrell. The fastest Woman was Anne Caroline. Fabian leapt off the stage during the awards and crowd surfed away! The crowd at the stage was packed.

MtnX was also incredibly fast. 4x Phil built this course just as had most courses this season. The course followed long stretches of fall line and the racing was stepped up because of the speed. Incredibly the police (who obviously don’t do much traffic control in Italy) decided they needed to control something. They held up the race as they tried to arrest some top notch photographers for being to close to the course. But matters were soon straightened out and the racing began. There were a few big crashes including Procomp’s horrible crash which resulted in a compound fracture. The crowds here were amazing. I have seen a course lined with people before, but I have never seen it packed on both sides top to bottom. The spectators were about 10-15 deep in areas. The cheering, the applause, the OOhhs and Ahhhs. It doesn’t seem like much but it is so alien when you are used to a typical NORBA crowd, which usually consists of all the riders mom’s and dads and a some friends as well. I was distracted from the racing a few times just looking at all the spectators and their energy level.
In the end the fastest riders were Americans, Lopes and Kintner, both seemed unstoppable in each of their runs and both proved they were the best in the world!

On the way back to Milan the next day, my navigator sleeping in the passenger seat, I began to think about Ft William. They told me that Livigno was the smaller of the two events, what should I expect in Scotland?
We hop off the plane and walk across the runway in Glasgow with only 2 more hours of travel until we arrive in Ft William. Again it is a rental desk that we are standing in front of but this time they don’t seem as welcoming. Turns out they “don’t seem to have our reservation.” Luckily one of the five other rental companies happened to have a car and it turned out to be cheaper than our quote anyhow. When we walk out of the terminal and begin to walk across the street and there is a note on the ground. “Look Right” Well this is a good time to remember that the cars drive on the wrong side of the road here. When we get to the rental car it is even more apparent since the steering wheel is also on the wrong side. Our traveling Duo, Fraser from Transcendmagazine.com and I turned to a trio with the addition of Brady from Hcor.net. This was great, until we began loading our travel gear, camera gear and laptops into this poor little Ford Fiesta. We figured it all out however and moved on to the driving. It takes a lot of thought to stay on the left side of the road but we managed.
The Drive to Ft William was narrow, winding and scenic. It was a great drive with rolling green hills and clouds that touched the top of most of them. We arrived in Ft William and the town was packed, we found our bed and breakfasts and prepared for the week.

When we arrived at the venue it was apparent from the pits that something big was going to happen here. Trucks kept arriving as big screens, timing equipment and displays, and a redbull DJ Pinzgauer arrived with more companies filling the pit area. This was going to be big. The terrain was a lot different here. The land was soft and grassy the woods were lush and tough to negotiate and there are bugs…and they are not normal bugs. These are called Midges and they made us leave early the first day to find some sort of protection from them.
The course was all perfect, too perfect. It seemed strange that the course could be so perfect with perfect dirt, perfectly arranged rock gardens and berms and then only one foot to either side there is 3 inches of mud that covered the rest of the mountain. However this course was designed by the worlds best and built using rocks and dirt from outside of the area that could stand up to the conditions and still stay ride-able. This is a great course. It has speed, technical sections, muddy sections, jumps berms…it has it all! When I go to races I typically hike a course the first day and decide on a few places that I wanted to shoot, but this course had dozens! It also had rain, and clouds. In fact they had a helicopter at Ft William that never left the ground because of the clouds. The practices went by and the riders loved the course. However I didn’t hear much from Peaty during the practice, he would look at things, and ride by but didn’t say much. He really wanted to win this year and everyone knew it. On Friday the spectators started to arrive, the crowds were getting thick and the hillside was alive with spectators. People of all shapes and sizes were traipsing up and down this mountain and it was great! I got talking to different people, some didn’t ride at all, but all of them knew about the riders. It was like asking a Football fan about his favorite player, these fans could tell you all about the riders. I had no idea fans like this existed. In the US we have Superfan, he is devoted to the sport and goes out of his way to know the riders and cheer them on, but in the UK this was normal. Everyone was superfan! The fans were from all over Europe as well. People traveled hundreds, some even thousands of miles to come to this event. The town was packed, every sign said “No Vacancy.” There was live music downtown and huge crowds everywhere. This was much bigger than a US race, even the Angelfire world cup!
When the race arrived the crowds brought their horns, they had bells and whistles some just had beer cans filled with rocks, but they were crowding the course like you see on television when you see clips from the tour. Everyone was close; the riders could feel the energy and pushed their limits. In the end Peaty took the title and Minnar took second.

The MtnX course became crowded as the fans packed in. People climbed trees to get a peak. Kids asked the riders for parts of their bike after the race. It was awesome. Riders were signing autographs and putting on a show. Lopes showed up in a Plaid hat/wig that covered his helmet. Streakers ran down the course and there was general good natured mayhem in the crowd. The races went on and as the heats progressed the crowd got louder and louder. The fastest riders took their final run and Live Ove Nordmark and Jill Kintner took the win.


On my way home all I could think is that this is how bike racing should be in the US. The sport is exciting and so impressive to watch, this is the kind of energy and enthusiasm that the riders deserve. I can see the sport is building in the US and I can’t wait to see the spectators line the course tape.

Visiting my Sis

One of, what I would say is becoming tradition is when I head home I typically fly in via DC in order to spend a day or two with my sister. Unfortunately we don’t see each other more than about 2 times a year but it is always fun to explore her turf with her.

I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I have in the past but we had a chance to do a bit of exploring. One of the places that we visited was the Crime and Punishment museum. This place has a lot of memorabilia from famous gangsters, mobsters and of course devices of torture back to the earliest times. Parts of it are fascinating, parts of it are horrifying but it is pretty interesting. Turns out that is also where Americas most wanted is filmed as well so we explored the set a bit as well.

Crime and Punishment Museum, DC

Crime and Punishment Museum, DC (sorry about the quality on this one, that’s what happens when you are ramped up to 6400 ISO, 60×4.0!)

Oh and of course the “CAUGHT!” pic

Crime and Punishment Museum, DC

After leaving we were left to our devices at night in DC. I can’t say that I have explored monuments at night there before but it was pretty interesting to check out. We wanted to check out the brand new MLK memorial and on the way we saw the sights. The WWII memorial is a very beautiful structure at night. I really enjoyed seeing it all lit up.

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WWII Memorial

The Washington Monument is also very impressive and after the earthquake it is apparent that it has some damage. We could see some of the chunks that had fallen out, some cracks that were apparent as well, though you had to get pretty close to see that stuff.

Washington Monument

Onward and upward we arrived at the MLK memorial. I think it is a great monument, the detail is incredible in the carving but more important in my mind is the quotes that line the memorial.

MLK Jr memorial

I quickly became pretty fascinated with the silhouettes of the other people who were reading the quotes. I enjoyed seeing them become part of the memorial as they enjoyed it.

MLK Jr Memorial

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Oh and of course, this little girl was awesome, she kept saying “I want to see Dr King!” I think she found him!

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After a couple days in DC, Meg, Val and I headed up to Pennsylvania to enjoy the holidays. It’s always great to spend a couple days catching up!

Happy New Year

Well another year has passed us by and what a year it has been! 2011 started with a bang. On New Years day in 2011 I spent the day racing on the Ice in Georgetown. Wow what a fun time that is and I wish I could be doing it again this year! Racing at Georgetown has been a very fun experience, but in addition I have met some great people along the way. I am looking forward to some more racing this year as well.

2011 brought new work to my plate as well. Marketing for Excel has been an adventure and a great learning experience for me. I have enjoyed the task and I have enjoyed the challenge. Not every choice is a winner but no success comes without a bit of failure.

The Kerns have been a big part of this year as well. Dave and Allison Kern have become good friends and I have enjoyed helping out with their projects. It is always gratifying to see hard work result in something amazing and nobody puts in more time to accomplish their goals than the Kerns. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of their project and in addition I am glad to be able to help them bring more to their networking. I’m looking forward to what they have in store for 2012

Every year I enjoy heading to Pikes Peak for the race and this year was no different. I have been making a lot of friends up on the mountain and I am glad to be able to work with them and help them show the world what they see. 2011 was a great year for friends like Spencer Steele, Jimmy Olson, Savannah Rickli as well as the Kerns There are a lot of changes coming for 2012 and I can’t wait to see the new cars from Spencer and Savannah, the new setup from the kerns and the success that they will have in 2012

Of course, there is no way that I can forget my amazing friend Lisa getting married this year. In 2011 I was fortunate to head out to California to attend her wedding and what a beautiful wedding it was. Congrats Lisa, I am so happy for you.

Our co-op workshop has been going strong for 2011 as well. It has been great having a large nice place to work for a reasonable cost. Sharing space, tools and other odds and ends has been pretty spectacular and I have to say thanks to Matt Fisher and Jeremiah Hueske for being partners in that place. Without it I am sure that I wouldn’t be motivated to do many of the projects that I line up and without it our Baja project would be substantially harder to figure out.

2011 also brought my friend John Grimberg a new workshop. If there is anyone in this world that can use a nice place to bring ideas into reality it is John and I am glad that I was able to help him with at least some of the construction of the new place. Congrats John, the shop is amazing and I can’t wait to see what comes out of there!

As the year began the old crew got back together again and we began planning for a new adventure. The new adventure was to step up from Soapbox to another dream of ours. Racing the Baja 1000 in 2012 is a goal and a plan that we have for this year. 2012 is going to be amazing and building, troubleshooting, testing, tuning and more will be a huge part of our year, but spending time with the friends that are putting this together is a major reason for these adventures. I’m glad to be able to be a part of this project and I am glad to have everyone along for the ride.

Finally I always spend Christmas with the family and this year was no different. I have always kept a bit to myself but I know my family knows how I feel about them. It was another great visit to Washington to spend time my sister and a bit of time with her Boyfriend Val, then up to Pennsylvania to visit the family. I really enjoy my time with the family and look forward to seeing them again soon.

Every year I learn more about myself and I learn more about what is important. I have a lot of hopes for 2012 and but most of all I hope you have a great 2012 and amazing adventures this year!

Now for a few resolutions. I want to keep it simple. So this year I resolve to:

  • ride my bike or walk for any trip or errand that I can that is within 2 miles.
  • Complete our Baja car build
  • complete the baja 1000
  • treat others as I’d like to be treated
  • be more fiscally responsible
  • If you’re following along, did you make any resolutions this year?

    Making a Rack

    I built up a Schwinn a week or so ago and I just simply need something to carry my groceries on the back of it. There are lots of racks out there but… well I can’t leave well enough alone. So I had some extra steel at the shop and I also found a 1950’s High explosives box that John Grimberg gave me for this project as well.

    Today I headed down to the shop to get started on this one. I don’t have all the parts that I need just yet but it is a great start. I started off with some 3 inch rings that I bought for this project. I could have bent the material, but it was definitely cheaper to buy rings and make corners out of those than it was to buy an Oxy-Ace torch!

    Cruiser Rack

    With the rings I just cut down some material and sanded it down to get a proper fit to my dimensions.

    Cruiser Rack

    In an effort to make this thing as square as possible I took my time and welded up each side using a template that I made in order to make sure they all end up at the same dimension. There is nothing quite as frustrating as getting some arbitrary pieces that aren’t square or matched in size. So these are all matched up and ready to go.

    Cruiser Rack

    With that done I measured out the dimensions on our welding table and tacked some ends down in order to make sure the dimensions stayed accurate then I cut the ends and tacked those in. I had the bike down there to keep an eye on things as well.

    Cruiser Rack

    Once the first ring was finished I clamped the sides of the second ring directly onto the finished first ring then tacked up the ends on that as well, it left me with two matched rings that will form the bottom and top of the rack.

    Cruiser Rack

    I called it a day after that. I need to get a 3 inch diameter tube soon in order to finish this project or I need to roll some sheet metal to a 3 inch diameter. Then I just need to weld up the top and bottom of the rack, set it up on the bike and fabricate the connections to the bike. I have some ideas for how that is going to work but I think I will cut a cardboard template in order to get it right the first time. Once all of that is done and welded I will then finish the steel and inset some wood on the sides. Hopefully it will finish up nicely and give some good character to the bike!

    Cruiser Rack

    Check back soon for the final product!