Thursday, June 21, 2012

Michigan State Games

The Cannonsburg 8hr enduro was a no go. Having been hit with pneumonia in May there was no chance I was ready to spend 8hrs on the mountain bike. Thankfully, the lungs are on the mend and just in time because this Saturday the Michigan State Games, an olympic type event with around 5000 athletes from throughout Michigan, features a 25 mile mountain bike race. Having spent limited time on the bike in the past 6 weeks I am not anticipating much of a result other than to have fun and be part of a sporting event this size. One final spin tonight, clean and prep the Specialized carbon 29er then hope the temperatures drop from the 35c we have seen the past couple of days.

Scottish NZ visitors

We estimated that it's probably been about 15 years since we went mountain biking together. Neil arrived from New Zealand with Victoria for a weekend in Michigan during their trans US trip. It would have been rude not to go biking.
The only thing missing were the freshly baked rolls and pink cakes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Optimum Result at Magnum Opus

After the stress of last minute preparations for the Sno*Drift rally in January we enlisted the services of Lenger Racing to prepare the Alba Rallysport PGT WRX for Magnum Opus, a single day rally in Michigan’s UP. Typically April in the Upper Peninsula is still snowmobile season so we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted with sunny skies and dry, dusty conditions.

Based in the town of Newberry the locals were welcoming and enthusiastic. Parc Expose was held in the service park followed by two short Super Specials in the Fairgrounds which was certainly a crowd pleaser.
Tammy and I were seeded 4th on the road and not having competed in a gravel rally together since 2008 we planned to take it easy. Well, that’s easier said than done and as soon as the countdown started for SS1 we had our game faces on and put on a show for the spectators around the grassy oval Super Special. Henry and Cindy were instantly the ones to chase and the Sti of Moyle/Immonen wasn’t hanging about either. We had a fight on our hands just to keep up with both crews.
As we headed out to stage 3, Skyline, we put the pressure on and took 7 seconds out of the #377 Sti but a long way off the Krolikowskis. The stage was hard packed and winding with a large number of spectators enjoying the rally as we neared the end of the 5.5mile test. The car was oversteering more than I preferred so at the turn around we dropped the tyre pressures on the DMacks significantly and were fine for the rest of the day. On the way out on stage 4 we pushed a little too hard into a 4th gear corner and just got away with going wide on the exit, the sandy bank shaving a couple of seconds off but keeping us on the road.
We headed north to stages 5 and 6 which were wide, fast and a little loose. Without a doubt the fastest stages I’ve ever driven, all 5s and 6s if we had had stage notes. There were only a couple of corners noted in the tulips! We topped the car out in 5th gear; “I’m giving it all she’s got Captain” was the reply to Tammy who was demanding we go faster. Despite the lack of power, stage 6 was our first Rally America stage win. The top 3 cars were seconds apart so we were all pushing hard. This was a serious battle.

We returned to Newberry for the first service and had to tighten up the bolts in the rear. The allotted 30 minutes flew by and as we lowered the car seconds away from our time out minute the car hung up on the jack and so we just made it to the control. We moved up to 3rd on the road but without lights so we just hoped that the rally stayed on schedule.

We headed north again to loop around the same 4 stages and we continued to put the pressure on through Skyline In/Out even though the stage was much softer than previously what with 50 cars passing along it. That was our second stage win. The car felt great and we were totally in sync with the tulips with Tammy occasionally looking up as a second pair of eyes on the stage calling out corners. This was definitely a ‘drive what you see’ rally so all eyes forward was our strategy. With the sun setting on the west bound stage 8 we dropped several seconds but amazingly the #377 crew set their fastest time in the blinding sun!

With fingers crossed hoping the light wouldn’t fade we headed over to the wide open and fast flowing Pike Lake Rd stage and we set exactly the same time as the first pass through. I like consistency but the #44 car was pulling away so we put the boot down on the following 3 mile stage and took 5 seconds back. Moyle and Immonen had the same idea though and nipped 2 seconds off us on the same stage.

We made it back to service with very little fuel left but glad to back for some lights and a quick wrench check under the car. As we left for the final two stages the wind dropped and so the dust became a challenge.
Regardless, we didn’t back off on stages 11 and 12 and pushed hard to the end only 1 and 2 seconds off Henry and Cindy, just not able to gain any more time. We had run out of stages and we transited back to Newberry for the end of what was simply the best rally we’ve competed in.

With 2nd overall this was our best result to date. We were ecstatic and to have done it together as husband and wife was just such a cool moment never to forget. Our competition was top class and words can’t describe the fun we had battling with those two highly respected teams.

There is only one thing I would change, we need more power!

Thanks to Lenger Racing, Tommy Knight, RHD Tire and of course Team Illuminata Motorsport and BRAID USA.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


It's bloody snowing today so bugger cycling up north this week.

With rallying on my mind (1 1/2 weeks until Magnum Opus!) I'd better kick back and watch the "Easier Said Than Done" rally movie trailer by Grand Rapids film maker Matt Johnston.

If you like what you see, go to and support Matt's project.

Monday, April 2, 2012

BC-TC Adventure Ride

Michigan really is a beautiful State. There is an incredible amount of wilderness here and what better way to see it than by bicycle. I am planning to go UltraLight on this 2 day trip but the question is, can I make it the entire 160 miles from BC to TC? Let's hope the weather holds until the end of next week.

Barry Roubaix wrap up

I know this is a week late but the Barry Roubaix race was excellent. It really was a "Killer" race but standing on the start line 12hrs after de-planing from a 26hr trip back from China I couldn't wait to stretch my legs on the 36 mile gravel road course. It was quite something racing with 1500+ cyclists. Certainly the biggest race I've ever been in. I ended up 53rd in our class of 129! I'll take that given a year ago I wasn't able to ride 20 miles without aching let alone race 36. My personal goal was under 2hr 15mins and I made it with 7 minutes to spare so next year I'm gunning for under the 2 hr mark. The leaders were doing the course in 1hr 45mins. Amazing.

The weather had been unseasonably warm in Michigan for March, mid to high 20's Centigrade for two weeks while I was overseas. The day before the race we had torential rain so that changed the game for many who had been pre-riding the course in the two weeks up to the event. Race day was dull and overcast which wasn't a bad thing. Cool air, no sun to blind us. I was fine with that.

Overall, the course was great fun and I certainly had to draw on my mountain biking experience on the slick 2 track sections riding past fallen riders and nudging others who weren't quick moving quick enough. Rubbin' is racing as they say in the US! Wait, that's NASCAR racing. Oh well.

I think I have the bike racing bug again...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Barry Roubaix

It dawned on me this week that the Barry Roubaix gravel road race I signed up for in December is just 2 weeks away. 35 miles of racing on cyclocross bikes through West Michigan. Why? Good bloody question.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Alba Rallysport @ the Subaru Cannonsburg Downhill Ski/Board Rally!

3, 2, 1 Attack!!!

L3! / Cr

120 slippy !! BigCr into kick into dip

R2 Spectators

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I was fired up watching the 2WD cars ahead of us at Sno*Drift piloted by Duplessis, Greenhouse, Van Way, Burmeister and Comrie-Picard and it just got me thinking...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Success @ Sno*Drift

It was 1am Saturday morning, 5 days before our road trip north to Atlanta, Michigan for the opening round of the Rally America Championship, Sno*Drift and we had a gearbox in pieces, not complying with our demands to go back together. Despite Tommy’s best efforts I was already running through alternative scenarios including pulling out of the event. As the crew chief for T.Hanson Motorsport, Tommy knows a thing of two about Subarus but even this had him stumped. Perhaps the week of late nights prepping the car had paid its toll. Perhaps it was all those energy drinks!
Once the rest of the World was awake we made a call to Ryan of Lenger Racing and by Monday we had a functioning gearbox ready to go back in the car. Tuesday night we headed out for a test drive and on Wednesday evening we loaded up the truck and headed north in the morning. We missed recce but at least we were at the event with a reliable car.
John and I hadn’t done a rally since LSPR 2010 and the car had sat in my garage since returning from the U.P. so we were glad to have 4 runs on the 2 mile shakedown stage. Tammy and I never finished Sno*Drift 2010 due to a knee injury after slipping on the ice and it was just my luck that the conditions this year were no different.
With a sellout rally of nearly 70 entries, Parc Expose had quite an international flare; American, English, Bulgarian, Belgian, Irish, Chinese, Canadian, Polish and a token Scotsman. There were kids everywhere asking for autographs and I’m glad we had plenty of postcards of the car to give away. It was a brilliant atmosphere. The sun came out as we left the first MTC, 35th on the road heading for SS1. Our plan was to take it easy for the first half of the day to find our rhythm and groove. We caught 2 cars on that first stage and pulled another off a snow bank on the second. We were having a great time considering the glare ice conditions. The Ranch was a test of patience and skill as usual but those who made it through all of the tight, twisty, icy night stages were treated with wider, flowing stages on day two.
I treated the crew to a heated garage this year and it was well worth it as we gave the car a thorough check then headed to the cabin around 1am. The ice banks weren’t soft but we survived the day without punctures or suspension/steering damage. It’s amazing how much abuse BRAID wheels can withstand.
An early start on day two and we were greeted with a dusting of snow which would make it tough for the front runners as the ice was as slippery as ever underneath. We checked stage scores and found ourselves twenty-something on the road so Friday’s night stages had claimed a few casualties allowing us to move up. The rally seemed to be run flawlessly which gave us little time between stages to take a break. Saturday’s stages were faster with as little grip as we experienced the night before. As if the corners weren’t tricky enough, crowned roads caused the car to crab along at 80-90mph on the straights. This was contrasted by the 1 mile super special stages in a local quarry that offered fantastic grip but no stage notes. John’s destructions were basically, “Turn right. Have fun.”
The 30min and 15min services passed quickly as we checked for damage, tightened bolts and refueled the car and crew. It was a sprint event and totally exhausting both physically and mentally. As darkness fell we headed out to the last 3 stages. The long, nerve racking 15 mile Camp 30 stage was followed by the best stage of the rally, Thunder River which was beautifully prepared with snow (gription at last!) and spectators along the sides tossing gas onto bonfires that exploded 30ft into the air as we flew over crests. We crossed the finish laughing. It was a rally hero stage; unforgettable. We cruised into the final MTC in Hillman relieved but ecstatic about finishing Sno*Drift. A 5th place in the Sno Regional and 4th in the Drift regional was more that I could have dreamt for. On top of that our combined times landed us 17th place overall in the national had we entered! As it turns out we punctured at some point in the last few stages because we discovered a flat on Sunday evening. Lucky? Absolutely. A huge thanks to Tommy and Brian for getting the car to work, Jeff and Henry the first timer for crewing all weekend, John for putting up with my inability to remember what he is reciting through the intercom and of course Paul Eddleston from BRAID USA for all the support.

Next up, Magnum Opus in dah U.P. eh?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Look out for updates from Sno*Drift this weekend on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fingers Crossed

We got the car on the ground tonight and put 20 miles on it. The new Kaaz diff from TIM feels great. The additional grip will be much needed at the Sno*Drift rally this weekend where we are probably going to be faced with plenty of ice after a rainstorm at the weekend and now subzero temperatures.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

T minus 3 days

We leave for Atlanta, MI in 3 days. Less than 3 actually because we need to be up there and registered for recce by Wednesday night. It would be great if we had the car off the stands and running. A test drive after over a year off would be smart. This is the most last minute I've prepared for the rally. It may have something to do with the fact we just decided to enter Sno*Drift in December, then Christmas happened followed by a trip overseas and suddenly we are less than a week away from the event.
The gearbox is the hold up. The rest of the car is ready but what started off as a simple gearbox check and LSD install has turned into a month long affair and it's getting old. After pulling a late night this past Friday Tommy Knight (Travis Hanson's crew guy) had the backlash tuned to spec but it just didnt feel right. We opened, closed the box countless times until we gave up and I dropped the box off to Lenger Racing just down the road on Saturday. Ryan used to crew for Otis Dimiters so is all too familiar with Subarus. Turns out we didn't align the main shaft assembly properly and punched a locator pin through the housing causing the bind. Lesson learnt.
Fingers crossed we get the gearbox back on Monday so we can get it in the car during the night and take it for a test drive. The extra traction better be worth it!

Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

BRAID USA Audi Quattro

Sadly this isn't my car but it looks great with the BRAID rally wheels.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


A Christmas gift from some colleagues...

Gears and Diffs

How many times have you seen a WRX 5sp gearbox that doesn't have a chewed up 2nd gear? well this box has 50k+ miles and 10 events so I'm pretty happy at its condition. For a little more traction this year we are installing a KAAZ front diff from Team Illuminata Motorsport. Stay tuned as we prep for the Sno*Drift rally in Atlanta, Michigan at the end of the month.