Monday, December 28, 2015

High Water at HHR

This entry will only mean something to my friends and family that have been to the ranch.

We are still in Missouri waiting for this massive storm to clear the Midwest. We have measured almost 6 inches of rain here at the ranch. We had one last line of thunderstorms come through this morning and now it is turning colder. It looks like things are winding down.

Kim and I took a ride down to the creek to see how high the water was. I have seen it higher once before when we got hit with the remnants of hurricane Ike, but this is pretty impressive.

The pics are a little fuzzy, but the video is pretty clear.

The crossing at Big Rock:

Looking down on the Lava Area:

This is the end of Lava, looking over the falls:

Here is a short video I made of the creek:

It looks like we are going to be able to depart on Tuesday and get headed south. We are so glad that we stayed through Christmas. It was great to have all of our kids together. That is getting more rare as we get older and they get busier with their own lives.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Anticipation is Growing...

We are getting very excited about the coming days. Yeah, there is that Christmas thing, but what we are really looking forward to is getting back on the road. Don't get me wrong, we really enjoy our time at the ranch, and we love to be around the family, but we really love traveling and seeing new places.

The last few weeks, like elsewhere around the eastern half of the US, has been abnormally warm. Most days have been in the 50's and 60's. We even hit 70 the other day. The nice weather has really inspired me to get out and hike and ride. I have also been busy getting projects done that I have had on the to-do list for some time.

While we were eating the other day, a bird flew into one of our windows. Kim heard it hit the rail on the back of the trailer. I went out to see if it was still alive. It was very stunned, but still alive. I picked it up and held it for a while. Slowly it came back to its senses. I can relate to the feeling the bird had. Here is a picture of my little friend, the tufted titmouse.

After about a half hour he just flew away into one of the large oak trees.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a visit from Michael and Audrey and the two boys. Connor went for his first ride on the 50. It brought back great memories to see Michael running around behind Connor.

Here is a short video of Michael getting his exercise.

We decided to hit a movie and visit the grand kids in Ozark. This is how it is for retired people when you go to the movies at 2:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday:

By the time the movie started there we about 3 other couples in the theater. Later we got some cuddle time in with little Amelia. She is soo sweet. I love it when she falls fast asleep on my chest.

We spent the last few days getting ready to go. We are all packed up and have all of our toys put away. We will spend Christmas day with all of our kids in Ozark and then hit the road. The weather looks ugly this weekend, so we may not be able to go until early next week. We will not travel in bad weather. The DFW area will be our first destination. We are really looking forward to seeing family and warm weather.

It has been a while since I posted a sunset shot. I got this nice one the other night. The big oak trees create an interesting foreground in this shot.

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday season. Hopefully my next entry will be from a campground in who knows where...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Going to the Gym

As we all know, one of the keys to feeling well as you get older is regular exercise. Most people do not enjoy working out. Many go to a gym, some try to run or ride a bicycle. I have tried each of these, but because I don’t enjoy them, I have trouble sustaining that activity over time.
Exercise became more important to me after I had a heart attack in 2010 at age 51. I know that the main factor was stress. I have done a good job of eliminating stress in my life. Getting rid of my job was the perfect answer.

I have found that working out just for the workout is only sustainable if I am working out with a goal in mind. What works better for me is actually doing something that I like to do. I have found very few activities that are both enjoyable and accomplish the goal of getting my heart rate into the target zone and sustaining it for an hour or more. My favorite over the years is riding my dirt bike.
You may think that riding a motorized bike would not be a workout, but you would be wrong. I have worn a heart monitor while riding. My heart rate will settle in at about 140 and will spike to over 160 when I have a problem and am working to get out of trouble. I usually ride for 2 hours or more. Not only do I get a good cardio workout, but the repeated use of all of the muscles in my body provide an excellent muscle building session.

My weapon of choice is a 2007 KTM 400 XCW.

This bike is not the latest technology, but I just love the way it works. One of the reasons I like to hang out at the ranch for a few months each year is to go for rides with other members and hit the 30+ miles of singletrack trails. This past week I got a message from a local rider. He had an afternoon off work and was looking to get some riding in. Corey is just getting over a broken leg ( yes, this sport can be dangerous) and is working on getting his conditioning back. Did I mention that Corey is 21 years old? How cool is that? I am now 56 and I get to go riding with this great young guy.
We rode over 30 miles of wet, tough trails at a good pace. It was a blast and I was totally spent when we were done. My kind of a workout. Here is a little video I put together. I was wearing my GoPro for the ride.  Click on the link below to see the video.

What a great way to get exercise and have fun at the same time. This is what my bike looked like after the ride:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Ozark 100 Miler

We are still at the ranch in Missouri. We have been busy with family gatherings and enjoying the fall in the Ozarks.
In 2014, the ranch hosted the 7th annual Ozark 100 Miler extreme motorcycle race. The original 4 were held here and then they moved to another venue. Last year went very well, so the 8th annual was back here at Hardwood Hills Ranch. The race has started to get national attention. We have had a number of national riders come out for the large cash purse and the top industry photographer/reporter from Dirt Rider Magazine, Shan Moore provided some national press.
This year we had a number of top National Riders commit to riding the event and Shan was returning. The purse was also increased to $7500, which is a lot for an off road race. The format of the race is a 50 mile race starting at 9:30 AM, then a 25 mile race in the afternoon. Then after dark, the top 25 riders put lights on their bikes and go take on the toughest the ranch has to offer. Two of the toughest spots are lit up to provide the spectators an awesome view of the action.
Everything was looking good until mother nature decided to intervene and place her stamp on this years event. You have to understand that the riders that choose to ride this event are some of the toughest people I know and they love to get tested. The weather forecast was calling for rain both Friday and Saturday. Not just a little rain, but upwards of 4 inches of the wet stuff. Thankfully no snow, but the temps were expected to be in the 30’s.
The weather was going to take this years event from a very tough event into a true epic test of man and machine.
The event organizers had worked very hard for many months to put this event together. All the preparations were made and contingencies were discussed. The biggest concern is a large creek in the middle of the property. If the creek got too high, we would have to cut the event short.
I was working the gate on Friday evening and was amazed to see the rigs keep on coming in. The only problem is the parking area was looking a little wet.
We parked people everywhere we could find a dry place and everyone got ready for the big race on Saturday.
We checked the creek on Saturday morning and it was decided that we could cross safely. The full race was on!
We had 130+ souls that started the event. They all started in dry clean gear. That lasted about 30 seconds. Here is a shot of the starting grid:
Starting Line
Photo by: Tayler Bonecutter
Then they were off! This is literally 50 yards from the start. Look at the mud on the riders already.
First corner
Photo by: Tayler Bonecutter
The person in the foreground of this shot is my wife Kim. The rider on the far left is local Pro, Zach Neil. Zach went on to finish 4th on the day.
Start Mud
Photo by: Tayler Bonecutter
After about a mile and a half the riders hit the creek for the first time. It was deep, but passable. All of the riders made it without falling down in the cold water. National Pro, Jason Thomas was leading at the creek. He is from England, but races in the US full time.
Jason Thomas and Nick F
Photo by: Linda Fuerst
Some guys took it easy through the creek, others went for a pass. This in 2015 OMA Champ Steward Baylor, closely followed by other pros. He had fallen down in the grass tracks, but went on to win the first 50 mile race by almost 5 minutes.
Steward Baylor
Photo by: Linda Fuerst
I will take a minute here and talk about Steward Baylor. Stew is a great guy. He came to HHR a week before the event to put on a riding school and do some hunting. Bad weather killed the attendance at the school, but instead of cancelling it, he did an almost private 2 days class with 2 of our best up and coming riders. They were both really excited to get the one on one attention and they both did well at this event. The most amazing thing happened on Thanksgiving. He fixed a full Thanksgiving dinner for a large group. It was all awesome. On top of being an incredible rider and I really cool guy, he is an excellent cook. Who knew??
The bad news is that Stew had a bike issue mid way through the second race and did not finish. I would say my biggest disappointment of the weekend was not being able to see Stew take on the obstacles at night. He promised to be back next year.
Here is a shot of Mickey Silger doing his best submarine impression:
Mickey Silger
Photo by: Linda Fuerst
The riders then rode about 20 miles on the other side of the creek. The trails are tight and rocky and today were wet. Then they had to cross the creek again. This looked like an easier crossing, but it was tricky with one deep spot. A few bikes went down and had to be pulled out of the frigid water. Here is a shot of one of my favorite local pros. Ryan Henslee is an awesome young man on top of being an excellent rider. Ryan finished 5th overall.
Ryan Henslee
Photo by: Linda Fuerst
Here is a shot of National Pro, Nick Fahringer. He would go on to finish 2nd on the day.
Photo by: Shan Moore
Here is Nick in another part of the course that has huge rocks we call VW:
Photo by: Shan Moore
After a day of hard riding, the top 25 get invited to take on the most difficult parts of the ranch in the dark of night. All of the spectators find a good place to watch and it gets a bit crazy. I think it is my favorite thing I do each year. Jordan Ashburn made the obstacles look easy and went on to the win and the $2500 first prize. Here are a few shots that were taken of the night race:
This is Caleb Haynes from Rogersville, Missouri. He is a local pro and an awesome young man. He fought hard and finished 3rd for the day.
Caleb Haynes
Photo by: Linda Fuerst
This is an awesome shot of the carnage on an element called “Something Special”.
SS #1
Photo by: Shan Moore
Another shot with the big crowd getting into it. The spectators may not help the riders even if they want to.
Photo by: Shan Moore
We spent much of the rest of the evening helping people get out of the parking area with the Kawasaki Mule and the Tractor. I even spent another round on Sunday morning for the folks that decided to stay another night. We got everybody on their way by 3 in the afternoon.
You may ask, “Why do people do this?” My answer is always the same. If you don’t understand why people do this, you probably don’t understand why people climb mountains or run triathlons or anything else that tests ones capability and endurance to the maximum. It just takes a special kind of person and I am proud to be part of this awesome sport.

I have added a video that I took and edited of the night show at Something Special.

It is always surreal when everyone leaves and we are the only ones left at the ranch. The quiet is nice, but now the work starts to flatten the field and clean up the ruts. The good news is this place heals as well as any land I have ever seen. We should be riding again by the end of the week.
How was your Thanksgiving Weekend? I hope it was as much fun as mine was.

Now that the race is over, our preparations will get pushed into high gear to get moving south for the winter. We are still purging and organizing all of our worldly possessions. We will stick around until Christmas and then head to Texas.