Tags: ice

I'd like to share a little taste of the 2013 Hangover National ice ride in Michigan with some friends. Every year on New Years Day we get together and ride. Some years are bigger than others. This year, because of the climate change, we were forced to drive north to Houghton Lake. Only a fraction of some years riders drove up, but for those who did, it was big fun. Click the link to see what some the best motorcycle riders in the nation did for fun the first day of 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAnyTXZ3Dp4
Drama- a real-life event or situation that is particularly exciting or emotionally involving The 2012 Ice Race Grand Championship had plenty of Drama; A four hour drive from Davison to Cadillac locked in 4-wheel drive. Savoring the Cadillac night life and the “M Bar”. Alex Allen’s bike shutting off down the front straight while leading by ½ a straight. Calob Blain winning two National Championships. Jared Mees and Bryan Smith elbow to elbow in the Kold Kutter Shootouts. These are just a few examples of the drama that unfolded. Winter came back for the weekend of the event that couldn’t be killed. I was honored to call out the names and present some of the awards to some pretty dramatic competitors. It was emotional for me to interview some of the youngest riders with their 2012 National Championship trophies. Imagine being eight years old and already having two titles under your belt. I bench raced with some of the fast guys and laughed while they tore up the dance floor like nobody was watching. I had to ration my voice for Sunday’s round as the racing only got better. I mentioned to Patrick that I would like to give an award each day on behalf of Johnny Panther Quests for the most dramatic story. He said; “Go for it bro, whatever you think.” That’s like giving “LBL” a blank check, pretty dangerous. As it turned out, I wasn’t able to do it on race days; I was too absorbed in all the drama. Following is my recollection and homage to some of the best riders in the world. There’s not enough room to expound on it all, and I can only hope yer smiling as much as I did taking it all in! Alex Allen has been a friend for years. It seems he and Steve Heinzelman have been trading championships when it comes to the modern vintage class. I called their race last year. It was a great battle, with Steve coming out on top. This year Alex was out for redemption and it showed. He was winning the main by half a straight when his bike shut off down the front stretch! He coasted into the snow bank and attempted to get her relit as he watched Steve win another one. I feel guilty now talking about how old their bikes are and all those moving parts whirling around. When I found Alex in the pits late that afternoon, he was all smiles. A true champion enjoying a beautiful day at the races rubbing elbows with his buddies. He has taught me many lessons, and his grace in the shadow of a championship losing DNF is one of the best! On Sunday a young sprite (and I mean that in the most positive way) named Calob Blain reappeared. He smoked them on Saturday earning two championships. He won the 250B class looking like a flea on an elephant’s back. But what the 12 year old lacked in size, he made up for in ability and courage. Yup, Saturday was dramatic for him, but Sunday his luck changed as he stalled his bike on the start of the 250 Modified 4-stroke class. Barely able to push his bike off the line, let alone refire it, his day was over just like that. He won his heat race, starting from the second row; it was his to lose- drama. The Kold Kutter Shootouts did not disappoint. Nichole Cheza won a heat race. Bryan Smith and Jared Mees put on a clinic. Bryan Bigelow was in there, but unable to make a run on Mees and Smith. I asked Jared if he was going to do anything different with the money on the line; he looked at me and smirked. B. Smith replied that it wouldn’t be any different; Mees knocked him down while riding on the local ponds too! There was a bump in the middle of turns 1 & 2 and Smith did it the hard way every lap trying to shorten the track up and get an inside line on Mees. Watching him almost flying “W” every lap and never back off was truly dramatic. I saw an image on www.speedpunksimages.com of Nichole with both wheels off the ground in the same turn. The inside story was Jared trying to make his bike run. It started running rough in the first practice, and quit running while in staging for the second. He brought his Daytona bike for parts if needed, and he and “The Professor” (Craig Pickett) tried in vain to find the intermittent electrical gremlin. When it was all said and done, they swapped all of his ice parts (suspension, wheels, and eventually subframe) and he rode his Daytona bike. He barely made the call for his heat race. They tuned and tweaked the rest of the afternoon, and Jared went out and won the bulk of the Kold Kutter Kash! Drama? You bet! Honorable mention goes to the Myers brothers out of Midland, they were competitive all day. Craig “the Professor” Pickett was cool and calculating all day and dominated the 40+ class and easily won another ice championship to add to his resume. With age comes wisdom and he was quick to thank his wife Gina for standing beside him. Kyle Johnson won 2012 Ice Racer of the Year for the second year in a row and Nathan Gross won 2012 AMA Youth Ice Racer of the year. As for me, well, I finished on the lead lap this year and didn’t embarrass myself too bad (on the track). It was a brutal, white knuckle ride up to William Mitchell State Park. But for me the drama really started as I rolled my bike into the “M” Bar team trailer and Craig asked; “Hey Lenny, where’s your rear fender?” DOH! It was a logistically challenging event which was postponed and relocated due to less than favorable conditions (drama). Many thanks go to those who helped promote, support, and facilitate the 2012 Ice Race Grand Championships! Please try to support those who support us including: Kold Kutter Yamaha Michigan Department of Natural Resources Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau Martin Power Sports McGuire’s Resort Baja Acres and North American Action Sports The 2012 Johnny Panther Quest Adventure Trips Drama Awards go to Alex “Iceman” Allen for Saturday’s rise to the top and coast to a stop. Sunday’s award goes to Calob “Too Tall” Blain for his coming from behind win in his heat and tragic stall on the line of his main. Both of these guys displayed outstanding sportsmanship and didn’t get lost in all the drama. Hopefully they will be able to join me for a little more drama Johnny Panthering this year out in the Flats!
My friends know me as “Laidback Lenny”, but some have seen my “Uptight Wilfrid” side too- unfortunately. I used to have a job supplying electronics to Delphi. It was a good job and I prided myself in providing excellent customer service. Occasionally it would become stressful and I would imagine myself in New Hampshire next to a creek with moss covered rocks. I could hear the sounds of the water splashing and falling into still pools. I worked with younger people and I told them of my relaxation technique. They thought it was funny. I always told them to practice “Dale Carnegie”, if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say it. “Moss covered rocks” became synonymous with “I am getting stressed” as “leaving the Dale Carnegie Zone” was with saying something we probably shouldn’t. An example would be; “I was trying to visualize moss covered rocks when I left the Dale Carnegie zone.”
Sometimes I get real wound up and emotional. I can use that energy or passion to get something accomplished or “leave the Dale Carnegie” zone. As I get older the mortality and stress of life sometimes builds up, maybe I take things too personally. About once a year I’ll get psyched up for a race and ride aggressively- maybe even get a good finish. If I don’t finish well it can make the ride home terrible. So here comes a big race, I finished terrible last year and was starting to get all wadded up about it this year. And then it came to me- “moss covered rocks”. I now have a new attitude towards this weekend and I am hopeful I can see it through to the end. I will enjoy the days, and hopefully they’ll be safe, fun, and fast!
By JPQ Captain • Albums: Michigan EcoTours • Tags: boat, camping, charter, ecotours, hampshire, hiking, ice, mountains, new, race, racing, rides, tours
I know this must happen for all of us. You are doing something you love and everything is perfect. The air is sweet, the grass is green, the sky is blue, or the ice is hard. You feel like you can see molecules. Surrounded by nature, a flowing river, eagles over head, and beaver coming out to play- you are one with your surroundings. I don’t get to see myself like that very often; usually I’m on the other side of the lens pulling the trigger. Yesterday I was blessed with the opportunity to go up and ride with some friends. With the climate change our ice season has seemed fickle the last few years. If we want to ride, sometimes we have to chase it. We left my house in a snow squall and didn’t drive out of it until Bridgeport. By the time we got to Sanford the sky was blue, the track was plowed, and they were going fast. We unloaded, rode a tank of gas, and reveled in how much fun, and how sore we were. It was one of those days for me, I clearly wasn’t the fastest, but I had some fun. I felt like I was one with the bike (see the bike, be the bike nuhnuhnuhnuhnuh…). Wherever I pointed it I went. The track was big and wide, and if I got it set right, it was wide open fourth gear all the way around the corner. Coming out of the turn where this image was taken, contact with the snow bank seemed imminent. Every lap I’d stand on the outside peg and push the handle bars into the ice and around we’d go. Wide opened down the straight until the motor ran out of pull, drag the brake, hammer the throttle and do it again! Yup, it was one of those magical days. My friend was exhausted, but all teeth. It was his first ride of the year, and he was amazed at how tired and sore he was. I have been out a few times and am slowly working my way back into it. I was dizzy from the energy and adrenaline I burned up. I was in the zone, feeling pretty dog gone racy. Luckily for me, someone was standing there who knew how to make good pictures and caught me in the act- the act of believing momentarily that I was the “fastest man on the planet”.
We went riding yesterday on Sanford Lake. There was a LOT of talent there. Here is a link to some poor video and images of some big fun. It was a pretty spectacular afternoon... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2mlVTxXR04
By JPQ Captain • Albums: Michigan EcoTours • Tags: ecotours, ice, laidback, lake, mees, motorcycle, pickett, racing, sanford, smith