Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Garden Beginnings

We're on year two of our gardening adventures. I know some people spend all winter long planning which seeds to purchase and start and more. I didn't. I spent one day. I brushed up my notes from last year's garden and figured out a plan. 

The next day I headed to a local greenhouse to pick up the plant starts I needed and that evening the boys and I put them in.
Notice Luke balancing on the edge. I said they could do that as long as they didn't fall into the beds. So far so good.
Ben is helping me put in chicken wire for trellising the peas. We learned last year that even though the pea seed packet says they are bush peas they still need support.

Luke and I putting in lettuce and spinach seeds.

That's round one of this year's garden. Round two is me vs the rabbits. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Jason Raines Riding Class

Bill and Ben had a full weekend of riding. First was the Woods Crossing races. Then on Sunday, there was free riding on the same grounds. They camped overnight so they could ride from dawn 'til dusk. There was also bike demos by Yamaha and both of the boys got to try out different sized bikes. Of course they went bigger- Ben tried an 85, which he could handle and Bill tried something also, but he said he liked his bike better for now. phew! Oh, that big John Wayne hill? Ben went up that!!

They were going to spend another night but a couple of things brought them back home- modern plumbing and the threat of big storms. (They were tent camping.) They were up early the next morning to go back down for a riding class.

If you're keeping track, the next morning really is Monday morning. A school day. So Ben missed school. I looked up the definition of hooky and it says an unexcused absence. Technically this isn't an unexcused absence as Ben was at school- riding school.

I can't give you all the details about who Jason Raines is. Bill's the expert and he's not here. What I can tell you is that he goes around the country giving riding classes that are usually two days, instead of one. He sponsored by Yamaha. His wife and kid (kids?) come with him. (I didn't get to see them and that's ok but I would have loved to, you know, just to talk rider's wife to rider's wife. Plus, I have laundry questions.) Bill has been following his online stuff for a while and when this opportunity came, he didn't want to miss it. 

I pulled Luke from school early that day and we went down to watch them for a while. This is what I think happened all day long. Jason would talk and explain some certain aspect of riding, then demonstrate it, and then the riders would have a chance to practice it while Jason watched and gave feedback.

Among the 10 or so riders, Ben was the only little guy there. I guess he has ultra cool parents. It didn't matter really as there were all levels of ability. Ben hung right in there with them the whole time.  

Jason giving Ben feedback.

Depending on how well you were doing with the skill, Jason would give you thumbs up, down or a so-so.

Can you spot my little guy?

Jason demonstrating turning several corners (elbows up, forward in the seat, leaning and probably some braking- perhaps rear brake?)

After a while, they took off and climbed up the hill that winds behind the house I showed you yesterday. Luke and I followed after them on our feet. It was so gorgeous out and the view so spectacular that even Luke said, "Mom, take a picture." This is straight out of the camera- no tweaking!! I could have a day like that every single day. (Ben could ride every single day.)

Luke found some shade while we watched the riders. 

This is rut turning. Don't know much except you should put your inside leg out straight and that Bill said Ben showed him up here. 

Jason: "Bill, your son showed you up in that last skill."

Bill: "Awesome!"

Just kidding. I have no idea what Jason said to them. 

Luke took the next four pictures.

Here I am learning how to ride through a straight rut.  #1 rule- look at the end of the rut. 

Then Luke and I headed back to the van. We took a different route which was shorter, i.e. steeper, and had a little bit of a mud slide. Luke wanted to show you what my shoes looked like. Then I spent the next fifteen minutes scraping both pairs of our shoes.

They finished off the day by timing a couple of laps to see if they had improved from the morning's laps with the day's instructions. Every rider had improved. Good job, guys!

Class dismissed!! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Woods Crossing

Isn't that a nice name for a hare scramble? The riders might not care but I like it. This is one of my favorite races mostly because of it's location. It's just a short drive on gravel a few miles south of Winterset and the farmhouse is tucked in just below the hills. The house itself is wonderful. At least from the outside it is. I love how it is symmetrical, has a sheltering roof, an inviting porch...ahh.

What's that? You want to hear about Ben and Bill's races? Fine, have it your way.

The 65 class waiting. Ben is second from the left.

Ben rips it off the line. I don't really know if that's something racers say but I do know he was fast on his start.

They made the course for the 65/85's tough. It was good riding for all of them. We asked Ben how it went and he said he crashed a million times. (possibly a slight exaggeration there)

Ben ended up 5th overall. He got the same prizes/swag that Luke got. 

Today's race turned out to be all about the starts. Bill got a great start as well. They are definitely improving, even if it doesn't show in the final results yet. They are pushing themselves harder and faster because they feel more confident in their ability. WooHoo! (Finally- I mean, after all that laundry I've been doing, there had better be something to show for it.) (just kidding) (sort of)

Bill is second- orange bike, green side plate, gray pants, all black helmet...

...and stays that way through the start.

Also fun in this race is a fairly steep hill they call "John Wayne". (The race is near Winterset, the birthplace of John Wayne.) It can make for an interesting climb, especially if at all wet. This year, though, it was dry and getting up was no problem.

 Doesn't it look like fun? I kind of wanted to run up it.

Unlike last week, Bill had a much better race experience, even if he didn't end up on the podium. He finished with a big smile and was raving about how well he rode. That's enough for me (and those next loads of laundry)!

Monday, May 20, 2013

His First Harescramble

You read that title right. Luke just ran his first hare scramble!!! 

Last week at Council Bluffs he told Bill he wanted to race but it was too late as we didn't bring anything for him to do so. But this week we were prepared.
I missed the start and haven't had a chance to look for any pictures from others but Luke told me he had a terrible start and was last off the line. I don't know if that's true. Bill told me he didn't fall down with the start and that's pretty important right there.

I'll let some pictures do the talking for a while.

Kids on 50s are the cutest! Everything is so little about them but they are tough and wanna ride fast. It's too much.

I asked Luke how his race went besides the start and he said he only crashed three times and he passed a rider when they went off course a little bit. He got stuck going over a log and one of the sweepers had to help him, too.

We had to wait until after the 65/85 race for the awards ceremony. The waiting just about did Luke in. In fact, we didn't even know how Luke did until Bill finally saw the results posted later. Good thing Luke stuck it out because he ended up placing fourth overall!! 

Aren't these two the cutest?! And they were chatting it up!
Besides the plaques, they got a hat, umbrella, grips and some various vouchers for more gear. 

Here, Terry, the race director, is interviewing Luke. Oh my heart was racing and my fingers were crossed. Who knew what he was going to say up there?! As it was, either the questions weren't all that great or Luke just didn't have enough time to get warmed up and going and the little question/answer session was over without any sort of incident.  

He's totally racing again!

Ben and Bill race results will be tomorrow. I thought Luke for his very first race should have his own post.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Riding Safe

This post is for my Aunt Sandy. She expressed great concern over Ben's safety while riding so I thought a riding gear post might perhaps ease her fears a bit. Perhaps.

Ben has on his KTM riding jersey, which is just a lightweight but very durable fabric. His pants are even more durable, with leather clad knees, reinforced back and interior hip pads (removable for washing). His riding gear is so tough, I wish they would make kids jeans out of this stuff.
He also has on a chest/back/shoulder/upper arm protector. In the morning before the race he changes into his riding clothes before we leave, but slips this on once we are at the race.

Now he is putting on a Leatt neck brace. This contraption is perfectly adjusted for him and keeps his head from whipping too far forward or backward. After seeing a kid hit a rock last year and his bike come to a dead stop while he was flung end over end, we ordered one for Ben right away. 
This advice comes from Gena, another experienced motocross mom I met last year in Seattle- Don't get a cheap one. This is one piece of equipment you do not want to skimp on.

In this shot you can see Ben's hydration pack. It's a Camelbak. I found it on clearance at a sporting goods store. 

He's also putting on his riding boots which are a heavy duty material with no give at all. It keeps his legs and feet safe while he turns, bangs through bushes and in case he falls, keeps his toesies from being crushed. He wears a thick longer riding sock under his boots, also. 

 Ben is fastening his helmet under his chin. Helmet- don't ride without one. Ever!

 The goggles strap over his helmet. While they can be hot during really warm days, I would rather he have them than have an eye poked out with a branch or from dirt being roosted at him.
Roost- dirt flung up by another rider in front of you (Ben's exact words)

 Finally Ben pulls on gloves. Gloves help protect and keep blisters from forming.

Now that he's fully geared up, it's time to ride!

Ahem, you may have remembered from yesterday's post something about him hitting a tree. 
I guess one piece of equipment I didn't show you was his helmet cam. It clips on the brim of his helmet. After a year of tinkering with the other helmet cam we got him for Christmas, we bit the bullet and bought a GoPro camera (the one you see all the awesome commercials for). And it's taken us two races to get it figured out so we were really excited to see his race from his perspective. 
We let the fans who came to visit us know which color of bike, number, and helmet color Ben was and pointed out that he had a helmet cam on. Well, Aunt Carol pointed out in the middle of the race that Ben's camera was missing. OHMYWORD!!
Thankfully, someone found it and returned it to us. (He was searching for his kid's camera and found ours instead.) 
After Ben's race we asked him about the missing camera and he said "Oh, that must have been when I hit the tree." What?!!
When we got home, Bill was able to upload the video and it turns out that that GoPro camera is one tough little camera. As it turns out, it kept recording after being knocked off and being run over five times!! Ben watched the whole video and counted. 

Bill uploaded the video to YouTube. It's thirteen minutes long, so if you have time you can watch the whole thing, otherwise if you want to see him hit the tree, jump to the end. 

Well, Aunt Sandy, I hope you feel a little better about Ben being safe. 
Now I'm off to wash everything.

For accuracy, I had assistance in writing this post from Ben.