Friday, November 30

My Very First Conspiracy Theory

(I hate conspiracy theories. I hate them because I am jealous of them. This time of year, I have to defend the GNCC Series against the conspiracy theory, as we’re hashing up the new rules and classes for the 2008 series. Six years ago we basically played hunches and did what we thought made sense. Today, we rely on feedback from the internet, as even woods racers are handy with computers, user names and passwords. This puts us under pressure, then, to not only come up with good ideas and ways to implement them, but to also prove we are listening to everyone. Everyone knows the internet puts power in the hands of the vocal minority, and I’m in the majority because I realize this along with thousands of people at thousands of other companies. And for know most of our world is still just on message boards. Once blogs become big, I won’t be able to get rich from Blogandt, because I will be reading feedback from so many blogs that I won’t have time to update mine. (And LOL to the “So what’s your excuse now?” joke you’re all surely making at this moment)

Anyway, we get accused of conspiracy theories just like any other company would. In the little world of woods racing, Racer Productions is the big corporate giant, and while most people love what we do, someone can always think hard and come up with something sinister against a big corporate giant.

My defense against these conspiracy theories? I don’t use character witnesses to tell everyone how honest we are, or take lie detector tests, or show transcripts of backdoor meetings. Nope, my best defense is this: even if we WANTED to put some kind of evil plan together, we wouldn’t even have time to do it. Because that takes planning, and I don’t do that sort of thing.

My whole life, I’ve been working from behind, never able to come plan things out far enough in advance to do them as well as I like. I get by with improvisational skills, a good memory, or plain old BSing. I often defend my lack of planning with the line “I do my best work under pressure.” This, for example, is BS. I ONLY do work under pressure is more like it, which means I only define “my best” as just doing something at all.

My point is that when we get accused of the conspiracy theory, it burns me out because it really just reminds me of how I’m not organized enough to even have time to create a conspiracy. I’m just trying to get the darned rules done and posted on the internet so the phone will stop ringing. I’m probably already behind because I showed up late for work that day. By then, I’m so late that I can’t even wait for the payola check to show up in the mail.

And honestly, the conspiracy theories aren’t that good, and really aren’t that frequent. After all, this is just woods racing, we’re not really changing lives here. So there’s no reason for us to even conspire on anything, since none of this is that important anyway.

That was a pretty good BS excuse, wasn’t it?)

Anyway, this pains me because for once I have come with a conspiracy theory of my own. This is akin to a Palestinian saying “you know, I kinda’ see their perspective” about Israelis. I hate conspiracy theories that much. But this one, I believe, is beyond dispute.

WVU is now in position for the NCAA National Football Championship. They are ranked near the top of a pile of teams that never played against each other and all have one loss. The difference is that WVU lost their game earlier than others. The fact that the team they lost to, South Florida University, was ultimately proven to be that good is somehow forgotten. Obviously, this BCS Ranking system is flawed. And as an added kick in the nuts, the December 1 WVU v. Pitt game will determine if WVU plays for the National Championship on JANUARY 7. So gee, there’s even a handy MONTH in which to play a few playoff games. This one is just too dumb, to shallow and too obvious for someone to NOT believe there isn’t something shady going on.

So here it is, my first-ever conspiracy theory:

The BCS ranking system is a plan created by the sports talk radio hosts and sports writers around the country to make sure they have something to talk and write about. That’s it. That is why it does not get fixed. Just like public transportation systems in LA getting buried by payola from car tire companies. If public transport took off, people would buy fewer tires, right? Well, if the BCS system was fixed, what would there be for sports talk radio guys to talk about? Slow news day? Need to show how “ballsy” you are by shouting out a pointed opinion on something that you know everyone will agree with you on?

Bingo—the BCS ranking system. The perfect target.

Don’t expect to see a playoff system anytime soon as long as the BCS system is controlled by the media. Oh sure, it might not seem like the media controls it since they’re constantly railing against it, but that is merely more proof of the theory. The more railing, the better. And the sports talk types can rail on the BCS system like they are, well, on rails.

And the ranks keep getting stronger. Now the blogger and message board worlds are on the bandwagon, unwittingly playing along by complaining, giving the suckiness of the BCS more buzz, and fueling more talk radio rants.

Go and look up “BCS Ranking System Sucks” on Google and you will find plenty of entries that match this wording, including

And what’s more, I don’t even care about college football. And that’s the rub, for me. I try to read sports news and listen to sports shows on the radio and watch them on TV, but for as long as the time has to be filled with endless rants on how much the BCS sucks, I will also think the BCS sucks. And now it’s made me come up with my very first Conspiracy Theory. Now I really hate this whole deal.


My blog is now official since I'm sure every other one ever made has once made a post on a Friday titled TGIF.

Hey the rest of the Man Friend story is coming but here are a few other topics to feast on:

As evidenced by the Racer X interview with Josh Hansen, Mr. Over It is now focused down in North Carolina. Not to worry though because Jason Lawrence and the rest of the hard core SoCal club have a new recruit --Josh Hill. Check out the Transworld site for a hilarious interview with Hill and his neighbor Lawrence. The boys are throwing it down and it's fun. I bet Keith McCarty at Yamaha is just thrilled to hear about the J Hill J Law connection.

By the way, seeing these two team up reminds me of when the Philadelphia Eagles signed Terrell Owens, and he said he and Donovan McNab had already started working on their touchdown celebration dances. My favorite sports writer, Bill Simmons from, wrote "Name me one Super Bowl championship team that started the season talking about touchdown dances."

Evil Knieval is dead at 69. When we heard the news at the office today, everyone reacted the same way "That's it?" Do you see what kind of legacy this guy has left? It's like the fact that he has passed without doing it in a fiery wreck is a disapointment. "That's it." That's how everyone reacted. The guy lived such a spectacular life that everyone is disapointed that he died so anti-climacticly, I guess.

Here's some more "motocross is everyone in the world" info. Here's a story on the races in Uganda

and also a story on Sean "Hawaii Five-0" Lipanovich racing in Guam.

Have a good weekend folks. On Saturday night, WVU is playing against their arch, arch rival Pitt in a battle for a birth in the NCAA National Title game. I'm buying a few extra fire extinguishers.

Wednesday, November 28

The Man Friend - Part 2

Most riders that have Man Friends use them for mental guidance, strength and back up. I'm sure someday if Blogandt takes off, Man Friends will come on here to make sure I didn't make fun of their rider, and maybe shoot me some dirty looks at the races if I do, and make sure I never get an interview with their guy again.

My Man Friend duties were much the opposite. I had already resigned myself to the fact that I suck at fixing stuff that guy's fix, so bringing someone in to help would only further back that up. Each day with the Man Friend would only bruise my ego more, take me down a few notches and hurt my confidence. But on the other hand, I wouldn't have to mow the lawn anymore.

The Man Friend's name is Tim, but we call him Tom. We also call him by an incorrect pronunciation of his last name, Borich. Tom Borich is a life long motocross racer and fan who got a computer degree back in the day, all the while breaking hearts of ladies all over the East. Alas, he found it impossible to mend hearts, but his repeated attempts at doing so made him an amazing mechanic. He went vintage racing and won a championship that awarded what must be the largest number-one plate in the history of motocross--I have it hanging proudly in my living room.

Tom Borich slaved away as a computer programmer for years while racing on weekends. Then one day he was reading a copy of Racer X and saw a 5 Minutes With .... Interview with John Daines. Daines is the mastermind computer guy behind Trackside, the computer program almost every track in the country uses to score races. Tom read the interview and saw John's job as the ultimate cross between computer programmer and racer. He called Daines and asked if he needed help, and Daines dispatched him to the 2003 Hurricane GNCC in Palatka, Florida. That was the muddiest GNCC ever (hands down, people, no arguing) so the computer scoring system took a beating. Tom liked it though and he showed up for the next race in Georgia, and the next race and the next and then eventually one day he rolled his '62 restored Chevy Panel truck up to our office in Morgantown to speak with Rita about a job. She said yes, and Tom became my road trip partner for the rest of the season. And the season after, the season after and the season after.

You learn a lot about a guy when you travel with him that much, and I soon learned that Tom was one of the strangest, most normal, most selfish, and least selfish people in the world. He is that unique. At first Tom appears to be a friend who suggests great ideas that can really help you. You have a problem and Tom can solve it. But six months later you realize the true motivation behind his ideas, and they are always, 100 percent of the time, absolutely designed to only help himself. Tom also seems like the most serious person on earth, until you realize he is never being serious and is actually the funniest guy in the world. No one puts more effort into preparing a joke like Tom--no amount of time spent is too much if it allows you to make fun of someone.

That made Tom the perfect buddy for Rita, who also appears to be the most serious person on earth until you get to know her. It was Rita who actually started misusing Tom's last name and saying it "Borich." See, Rita butchers names worst than anyone. If any part of your name matches a name that's already in her memory banks, you will be given the same name as the previous person. Tom's last name is Boryk, but she already knew an ATV racer named Borich, so Tom's last name became Borich, too. Tom's first name is also Tim. But Rita must have already known a Tom so he became Tom Borich.

Rita and Tim have the greatest love hate relationship in business today, and they both love it. Back when that battle started, though, most of us around here were still scared of Rita so we assumed Tim was the dumbest person here for trying to argue. Eventually we learned the friction between them was simply the result of two dry senses of humor being dragged together like sand paper.

Rita learned, like I did and eventually the rest of the office, that Tim's way was actually pretty good--he might seem selfess at first, but you'll realize he's selfish later, only to re-realize that's he's a good guy deep down.

Here's your guide: Tim is Jerry Seinfeld. Now I know many people enjoyed the Seinfeld show, and many have watched it and memorized it. But Tim is the only person I know who truly became Jerry Seinfeld, right down to hair and clothing style, voice pitch and dating habits. Jerry is always upset but never really upset. Jerry never shows that he cares for his friends but he does care for his friends. Jerry is never serious but he doesn't get goofy. Jerry is the only person who puts more effort into jokes than Tim, but that's his job. Jerry was also known for being a neat freak. Tim is also. That's what made him the perfect candidate for a man friend.

Tuesday, November 27

The Man Friend- Part 1

I’m not a handy man. I’m not a DIYer. I don’t care about appliances, home electronics home theaters, lighting patterns, paint, fabrics or d├ęcor. A nice looking house doesn’t make me smarter or more successful in life, but it does make me poorer. I can cope without making myself comfortable—if the house has enough heat to survive, a bed and appliances that work, what more do I really need? Honestly, I’m such a non-house guy that I probably shouldn’t have bought one. But they make a good investment, so here I am on Buxton Lane in Morgantown.

I bought the house two years ago strictly as an investment. I didn’t want to have to fix stuff when it broke, but my hope was that a house would fit my travel schedule: as long as I didn’t spend any actual time in the house and didn’t use anything in it, nothing would break. Then somewhere down the line I would sell the place in "as new" condition and make a mint. Plus by then Morgantown would finally become as big and popular a town as all the locals lead you to believe it will be, especially once that new Super Duper “Extreme” Full Throttle Wal-Mart opened up near by. Add the Mountaineers winning the National Championship this year in NCAA football and I would be a rich man.

Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. First some guy made a movie proclaiming that Wal-Mart actually hurts the value of property around it. Then stuff started breaking at the house even when I wasn't there-- the gutters that wore out because, apparently they had to keep on guttering even when I was out in California at a supercross. I trashed the carpet one time when the hose that carries water from the washer broke and flooded the place, all just a few hours before I had to catch a flight to Paris, leaving me without enough time to actually dry anything. Later, I trashed the carpet again when I tried fixing a plumbing leak without turning off the water first. It became clear that my troubles weren’t just limited to not having the time to fix stuff—apparently I sucked at fixing stuff ever when I did have the time to do it. The life of a nomad meant weekend projects were history, and without any practice the very handy few skills I had were now completely diminished. It was like Shaq sucking at foul shots even when he used to practice them, and then just sucking even worse when he decided he had better things to do.

The 2007 travel schedule was going to be worse than ever, and now all of the house projects were about to be two years overdue. What's a man to do when he can't be the man of his own house?

He hires a man friend.

Yup. That's what I did. Got myself a man friend for the last six months, and it has worked out brilliantly. Stay tuned for the story.

Thursday, November 22

It didn't stay in Vegas (Part 17 in a Series)

Friday’s Vegas banquet was as good as we could make it. After the writer’s strike, I did my best as a scab/scumbag to put together a script that could entertain even though we were honoring about 356,782,928 champions—and all in different sports. You think the amateur road race guys care that much about the Enduro guys? Trials and ice racing? So you’re working an uphill battle here and it took 10,000 words and 48 pages to get it done. Easily the longest paper I’ve ever written since the Graduate School PR Thesis I never finished. Luckily, AMA Racing Vice President Doug Neubeaur is a great guy to work with and work for. Doug used to be in charge of just the AMA amateur, but now that the AMA is purging and merging racing staff, he’s in charge of everything, and it’s the kind of positive move the AMA needs. Doug is one of the sharpest, funniest and most down-to-earth guys I know in this business. The new AMA, whatever it turns out to be, will be better at the very least because he’s in charge.

The highlight of the evening? The annual coronation of the AMA Sidecar Motocross champions. This year it’s a husband and wife team doing the winning, the husband rides and the wife hangs on as the “monkey.” In his speech, he said “I’m the only one here allowed to say I spank my monkey every weekend.” Then the wife/monkey challenged me to a race. I’m telling you, that would be epic fun right there.

Congrats out to Walker Fowler, a GNCC prodigy on both bikes and ATVs. Walker’s the next Barry Hawk in both ways. He dominated the Youth ATV ranks for the last three years, and also won his class in Youth bikes year after year, and then won the Overall Youth Bike Title this season. Right now Walker is the fastest 14-year-old in the GNCC Series on both bikes and ATVs, and he’s the first rider to ever win the Youth Rider of the Year Award from the AMA on both bikes and ATVs. Remember Walker, Ohio Ranger!

Also on Friday I got to catch up with guys I haven’t seen in awhile, like AMA Enduro Ace Mike Lafferty, who is one of the coolest dudes ever. Good riding this season, Junior.

After the banquet on Friday, it was on. We headed up to the 51st floor of the Rio to their Voo Doo Club and I busted the Weege dance out. One of the boys in the group was sweet on one of the ladies at the banquet, and she seemed good on him, too. A few of us even put some Vegas odds on his chances. But our man Cernic decided it shall not come to pass, and blocked like Manute Bol. Game over—and unless you’re Special Greg, you don’t mess with Cernic.

Onto the EnduroCross. Too much to explain here, but the Saturday night drama involving the Knighter was a huge bonus. Before the race he told me he was actually really nervous with that $50,000 staring him in the face. For an off-roader, that’s a lot of coin. And remember, he was pretty steamed when he had to fly from EX round 1 in Denver to GNCC in North Carolina in the same weekend. This was supposed to be the pay off—if he could get it.

Well, he didn’t. KTM brought in one of the wildest personalities I’ve ever seen, Polish kid “Taddy” Blazusiak, and he had the stuff on this night. Knight was hoping the KTM peeps would just tell Taddy to lay off, but that’s probably a tough call when you really new to racing, you’re a Polish kid in front of a sold out crowd in Vegas, and you get $10,000 to win the race. He didn’t back off and Knight apparently wasn’t happy. He even ghost rode his bike over a 10-foot section of tires, but Knight told me that’s a traditional “end of the season victory celebration” and not an attempt to take out his frustration.

Anyway, it seemed like the whole industry was bracing themselves for Knight to flip the KTM rig on its side and just Hulk out on little Taddy, but I guess it never happened. Taddy was out front signing autographs and talking to reporters the whole time, and Knight didn’t appear until hours later. And even then they were in the same place and I didn’t see any friction. You know what the funniest part of the whole deal was? Chad Reed was there watching the race, and he came up to Knight and said “Hey, $50,000? I lost $250,000 in the first turn last month!”

Again, Chad is just a dynamo right now and I kind of like it.

It’s Thanksgiving so I gotta’ go. Have a good Holiday. I’m already pumped, because I rolled into small town Ohio with the girlfriend last night, and we immediately got drafted into a turkey calling competition at this local hang out. I just copied her home town grown turkey calling skills and we both made the finals, and got free t-shirts. That’s something to be thankful for!

Tuesday, November 20

Where Assignments Go to Die

And once again Vegas wins--a full 3-0 sweep of the season series against me. This time I had basically tapped out by Sunday morning. I felt so bad after a big night out on Saturday (starring seemingly every member of the off-road racing community) that I was sure I wouldn't be able to recover in time to even go to the AMA Racing banquet on Sunday night. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Sleep, shower, medicine and the gigantic Rio buffet couldn't fix me. So I resorted to one of the biggest mistakes in Vegas lore (easily as bad as say, betting it all on red or hitting on a 19): I started DRINKING AGAIN to feel better. And what's more, IT WORKED. Honestly I would have been miserable at that Sunday night banquet had I not tried chasing the hangover with wine, and somehow it worked. My whole goal on Sunday was to bro down with some of the MX guys who usually only see me as "the guy who does interviews with us and then dissapears." See I wasn't hosting or even working the Sunday banquet, which made it the last race-related event I've been to in which I wasn't working in like 5 years. Luckily, the wine saved me and I was able to function coherently and bro down just a tad.

I've got some great stories from Vegas and as always on this blog, the rules of what happens in Vegas stays there are going to be wiped out. But today I've had to focus on completing the program for the 2007 GNCC banquets coming up this weekend. So more tomorrow.

And if any of you know Steve Matthes, just tell him I died over the weekend or something so he doesn't try to get in touch with me any longer.

Thursday, November 15

Mr. Complainer

The other night I dinner I made a lie and broke a promise. I sold out and I "changed" in that bad way people mean when they say "you've changed."

In college, I worked at the Guest Relations desk at the big Six Flags theme park in New Jersey. It actually should have been called the "complaint" desk because you only related to customers who were pissed, in that classic concept that you only hear from the people who are upset. Would anyone ever bother to stop by just to say they had fun?

Once summer the park declared a "war on lines," as they added 25 new rides to ensure there would be plenty of stuff for everyone to get on. Then they realized that 25 rides require like 100 more employees, and that costs too much money, so by mid season it seemed like most of these rides were constantly closed for "repairs." Yeah.

Enter the complaint desk, which was a nightly battle between customers screaming for a refund and workers trying not to buckle under the pressure. It was scary at first but I grew to like it. It was a real challenge trying to keep your cool when a dad was threatening to either A) kill you if he could ever get you outside of this building B) kill your first born so you could understand what it was like to be a bad parent, as he had already experienced from bringing his kid to a park with no rides C) get a lawyer and sue you, and then use the money to pay someone to kill you.

I actually grew so caloused that I started enjoying this nightly battle, changing my tone of "whose next?" to a more sinister "whose next?" like the wrestler Goldberg used to say. C'mon, give it your best shot, you will not get your money back. Get the kids to cry, sure. Threaten to kill me if you see me in the parking lot tonight. Whatever, you're a complainer and I have no sympathy.

Sadly these people had a point, but once the battle became personal it became a game without rules. Honestly, it was fun to watch these screaming matches, especially when someone would try to reach under the window and grab my company-issue clip on tie. If the park was smart, they would have told people to watch, because it was way more fun to do that than go on any of the crappy rides anyway.

Unfortunately I developed so much mental scar tissue from this that I am unable to complain about anything. If I did, I would be "like them." If I bought a new bike tomorrow and it seized in the parking lot, I would just push it into the trailer and say "No no, no problem." If an airport security worker sexually violated me tonight I would just chalk it up to doing their job. Once time I got a hamburger at Wendy's that featured meat the same color as the tomato. I ate it. No complaining.

So on Tuesday night the girlfriend and I went to a local restaurant we like. The waiter was the sad, skinny, nerdy, geeky character who you know gets made fun of at school just to come to work and get made fun of some more. Man, I've got emotional scars from that, too. He comes to our table and asks how we're doing, and when I return the question he sighs and says "Ooooohhh it's been such a long day."

I then promised him we would be good. Hey, I'm the easiest guy ever in that sense (just ask the airport security guy.)

Well, I was already to order my massive plate of chicken "fingers" when the girlfriend casually mentioned that the catfish is very good at this restaurant. My clarity became foggy and I could not decided between catfish and chicken "fingers" any longer. I was stuck. I asked the waiter what he thought and he meekly made no suggestion. I went with the catfish. He then asked if I wanted it friend or Cajun style, and I said fried because that would be closest to the giant pile of fried skin fat that they call chicken "fingers."

The catfish showed up. I didn't like it. It was a cheap replacement for the "fingers" and I knew it. I blew it, I wasn't satisfied and now I was paying money just to make myself unhappy.

I saw our poor nerdy waiter walk past. I motioned for him. I told him I didn't like the catfish as much as I thought and asked to try the Cajun style. He took the plate and promptly put in an order for a whole new meal, Cajun style, and what's more he didn't even charge me for it. He apologized over and over and said it was his fault for not suggesting something.

Then I got my second meal for no extra charge. I had complained, and the complaining helped me get something.

This realization makes me feel cold and empty inside, knowing that he who bitches most gets rewarded over he who sucks up the suckiness. This is a sad fact, and although completely lost on my old Six Flags managers, it ends up that way every day.

Last night we were at a local hole in the wall bar and the waitress forgot to charge me for our meal (which consisted of two chilli dogs and a cheese plate that was indeed simply a plate of cheese. Total? $3.50)

When I heard the tab didn't include the food, I mentioned it and paid her the additional $3.50. I feel a little bit better now.

Wednesday, November 14

Mr. Efficiency

There's only one thing that doesn't get me mad when I look at a pile of work that is bigger at the end of the day than at the beginning. At least I can be content knowing I am not ruining the environment. Otherwise, my time wasting is the equivalent of the moms who pick up their three-year-old at preschool in a Suburban. Fuel, like time, is not a renewable resource, but at least all that time I send up in smoke doesn't end up melting the polar ice caps.

Otherwise, I hate this. I find it virtually impossible to get the power to the ground on days like today. The track is slick, and I'm feathering the clutch and taking pressure out of the tires, but we're still slipping and sliding, transfering only tiny fractions of the horsepower created to mother earth.

First inefficient project is this weekend's AMA Sports banquet. Friday's banquet is very fun-it's the amateur side of racing. Sunday's banquet is for the pros. What's the difference? This is one of the confusing aspects of the AMA about 1% of fans actually understand. Let me try here: AMA Racing, formerly known as AMA Pro Racing, covers the very very very top series under the AMA umbrella--AMA Supercross and the AMA Toyota Motocross Series (Stewart/Reed/Langston et al.) , AMA Superbike (Spies/Mladin), AMA Supermoto (Wardy) AMA Dirt Track (Chris Carr) and now AMA ATV Motocross (Joe Byrd). That's it. Those are the series covered by AMA Racing. Everything else is considered amateur, meaning yes, even if you race the "pro class" anywhere else, it's still part of AMA Sports, the amateur side, not AMA Racing, the pro side. GNCC guys, for example, go to AMA Sports, same with the trials guys, hillcimbing and stuff like that.

But that makes the AMA Sports banquet really fun, with a lot less pressure. When you get to the AMA Racing level, everything is way more highly produced, way more scheduled and everyone has all these carefully prepared speeches.

The best way I can illustrate the difference between the two banquets: I wrote the script for the AMA banquet on Friday, and I'm hosting it along with Tim Cotter. For Sunday's banquet, I'm just hoping to score a ticket. That should give you an idea of the level we're talking about.

Unfortunately writing that script was much harder than I expected. When I was done turning the '06 script into the '07 script, it totaled nearly 10,000 words and 47 pages. BY FAR the longest paper I've ever had my name attached to (just ask my Graduate Seminar professor, who has been waiting seven years for me to turn in my thesis so I can finally get that Master's Degree).

That script nearly killed me. I had to learn so much about all of these crazy sports. Did you know the AMA holds a "Loretta's" type event for nearly every sport, from road racing to dirt track to hillclimbing? Did you know they hold a Champions Cup race in amateur road race where three-rider teams vie for wins (imagine having team races between all the rivalries at Loretta's). Did you know they have a 50cc 4-6 dirt track class? Sidecar motocross racing has a national championship?

At 2 am last night my eyes fell out. One landed on the CTRL key and the other on the S. I had saved the document for the last time. 47 pages of updates later, I was done.

But I had to get up early this morning so I could get measured for a tux, and then register for one to be delivered at the Rio Hotel on Friday. Then it was into the back recording studio here at the office where I do GNCC TV Voice Overs (announcing), only today I thought it would be wise to use a real editing program so I can learn how video editing works. I usually just use a very user-friendly audio program, but I wanted to learn, so I used the much-more complex Adobe Premiere and spent 6 hours doing a project that normally lasts less than one. Then we had the kids in the office today (anyone who works here is free to bring their kids in here and plop them in front of the TV) and that means you will get NO work done. Jessica and Timmy's son Cade rolled into my office and started punching keys on the keyboard of my laptop, and ironically enough the F key popped off. By the time I had remounted it, I had cooled off enough to where I didn't use it writing this post.

But the little guy didn't help clean off my desk, which has a pile of work on it much larger than the one that was there this morning.

Tuesday, November 13

Uh Oh, Better Get Maico

So here's a news gem about 1970's German marque Maico attempting to make a comeback. Click here to read.

The article waxes on about how impressive the line will be, but take one look at the photo above and tell me how effective (or even affective) this line will be. that a big two stroke pipe sticking out? Does that body work and chassis bring back memories of Pearl Jam and chatting on America On Line i.e. the 90's?

I would put more faith in BMW's new 450 than this 500 two-stroke. Although, take that with a grain of salt because MXA recently did a test of a CR500 versus a CRF450 and found that if the 500 two-stroke was in a modern chassis it may have been the better bike....

Monday, November 12

low go!

Check out Chad "diez" Johnson's jersey from Arenacross. Can you get any more stickers and logos on there? He looks like someone who has to wear a plan 'ol white back brace for a few months and covers it with as many motocross stickers as possible.

Japan Finale - Thanks, Keith

The peep holes were this low on the doors in Japan.

This is how American luggage fits into a Japanese cab.

Thank God for a man named Keith Krohn. Keith was placed on this earth just to help the girlfriend and I find the real fun in Japan. Keith is from Colorado, but he got an IT job in the city of Yokohama (which doesn’t even make the tires, apparently) two years ago. Now he’s an American living lost in translation. He doesn’t speak Japanese, he’s really tall and he likes racing dirt bikes. That puts him in the minority. He got up the courage to come to the press room on Saturday and introduce himself to me, Charlie and Rodney. At last, he had found Americans and he was pumped.


Keith did exactly what I did years ago whenever I would meet anyone who knew anything about motocross. Bench racing sessions were rare for me back in the college days, so I had a variety of topics and ideas stored up for the few times I could use them. The JNCC was such a time for Keith, so he let me have it with both barrels, asking questions about GNCC, Ricky Carmichael, injuries in motocross and so much more. It was really fun to talk to the guy, and I had a feeling I was making his day by keeping him in the Americana loop.

That's Koikeda's hand-made full-works one-off YZ450F prototype bike with our luggage just stuffed on top of it. Perhaps you have noticed the new swingarm/linkage?

Keith keeps his Americanism boiling. Everyone else in the JNCC Series runs a minivan with a bike in the back, but Keith drives a Toyota Hi-Lux Surf, which is a 4Runner to us. Keith also mentioned how no one runs Dunlop tires in Japan, as it’s all Bridgestones, and the really cool parts come out in Japan before the US. He said he’s been running a ‘Stone 404 tire here but it’s not even out in the U.S. yet.

I gave Keith as much info on American racing as I could. Soon my new ally would have to return the favor. When I introduced him to Alisa on Sunday, she attacked him for information on downtown Tokyo. We had spent Friday and Saturday night trapped in our hotel in the middle of a forest doing absolutely nothing. If we didn’t get to see something cool in Tokyo we were going to the U.S. Embassy and bombing the place.

Keith told us to visit the neighborhood of Roppongi. He also warned us of “snack bars.” Apparently, Nigerian men will be out on the streets offering deals to go into bars in which a man pays to be accompanied by a beautiful Japanese woman. She is not a prostitute but just someone to serve as his hostess for the evening. The “snack bar” girls are “schooled in the art of conversation” and since it is Great Honor To Be Seen With Beautiful Woman in Japan it all makes sense. Since my girlfriend was interrogating Keith, I felt like I should maybe include her in the action so I asked what the Women in Japan do while the men are visiting snack bars.

“A lot of women just don’t go out,” he said.


Snack bar.

Not a snack bar. C'mon guys! Also, note the TV is playing Cool Runnings, one of American favorite movies! About Jamaican men coached by Canadian man to race in Olympics!

We took the bullet train from Sendai to Tokyo on Monday afternoon (we hit 180 mph, which was almost as fast as Dale Jr. can go, only we were in a vehicle that was lighter, and nimbler than his). We cruised around downtown Tokyo for a few hours before meeting Masami Hoshino (JNCC president) for one last dinner at an Italian restaurant (in Tokyo!). Then it was off to the concierge desk to ask about Roppongi. I accidentally slipped back into talking like an American when I asked “We’re looking for a place to drink some beer and hang out.” The concierge coached himself to handle our request, repeating “hang out, hang out, hang out” to himself several times. He gave us a map of Ropongi and a street map to get us to the subway. That’s all we would need.

We could have just hailed a cab to have another non-conversation with a nice driver, but we wanted to experience as much of Tokyo as possible so we went for the subway and guessed our way through since we couldn’t really read anything.

Roppongi looked like our kind of town. After too many nights of nothingness we finally saw neon lights, heard music and felt the vibe that it was okay to stay up late. Everything looked normal, almost like we were back in the U.S. But that whole Lost in Translation thing….

We went to a place called Motown. Actual Motown records hung from the walls and real Motown music played on the speakers. It looked like some bar in anytown USA, but it was completely empty, besides the super-depressed Japanese guy crying in his beer over at one end. The staff consisted of three bar tenders and a host guy who showed us to our seats. Roughly translated, he said “Since every seat is available, you may sit wherever you would like.” Good thing he was there to explain that. Then he stood and waited for the next set of people to come in. It never happened. No one else came. But he still stood there, never leaving his post, never flinching, never deciding talk to his co workers just to pass the time. Behind the bar stood three bar tenders who also didn’t talk to each other, just waiting patiently to serve us if we needed anything. It all looked so American, but it so surely was not. At home, you’re lucky if you can get the bartender’s attention since they’re usually talking to the rest of the staff about who is doing who, how much they hate their job and how mean their girlfriend/boyfriend/dad/mom/boss/teacher/bill collector is.

We roamed the streets and sure enough the Nigerian guys were out hustling the Snack Bars. We decided to try one, and the guy took us up the elevator to the ninth floor—exactly what you’re warned not to do when you’re traveling. We found out that this particular snack bar, at least, was no more than a glorified strip club. No wonder women don’t go out.

Unfortunately there really weren’t any other choices beyond the Snack Bars. They were everywhere and so were the Japanese men in suits checking them out. At one point we saw an Australian guy flying out of a Snack Bar. He had not met Keith Krohn so he didn’t know what he was getting into. “Mate, I went in there and all of these girls were just all over me!” he said.

We decided to try Karaoke next. Again, it’s not even close to Karaoke stateside. Japanese Karaoke isn’t meant for bars. It’s not about having a crowd in front of you or putting on a show. It’s not even about having fun. It’s a real competition in which you go into a booth by yourself, sing to yourself and watch the machine give you a score based on how close you were to the real notes of the real song. It’s no more social than going to the batting cages.

But I couldn’t resist, so I locked myself in a booth and let ‘er rip with Wanted Dead of Alive and Neil Diamond’s B’comin’ to America. The sound system was way off, and even some of the words on the screen didn’t make sense…to me. Can you imagine what the words look like to someone who speaks Japanese? Maybe it is best to do it behind locked doors.

(Scroll to the bottom of this post for exclusive Blogandt video coverage of Kareoke!)

Just when it seemed like all hope was lost, God pulled one more solid for us. A place beckoned us from below street level. A Nigerian guy stood out front but didn’t even harass us, he just let us walk right in. On the inside, this was just a standard bar, but unlike the Motown place, this joint had some action. 90’s dance music jammed through the system and people were dancing. It was lively and it was fun, and soon we were spreading “the Weege dance” to this culture. We stayed there late—past 5 am, because apparently bars never close in Tokyo. By then the subways were open again, so we trudged our way home, tired, hungry and ready to be hungover. We even stopped at McDonald’s on the way back. Hey, we had to get that full Tokyo experience.

Tokyo drift.

The long ride back to hotel.

Karaoke vid: It starts with me singing the Wanted Dead or Alive Guitar Solo, and then it's on to the English.

Thursday, November 8

Japan 11 - Just, uh, watch this

From the archives of Blogandt about three years ago comes this clip--I'm in a Japanese mood nowadays

Tuesday, November 6

Japan 10 - Techopolis

The Americans.

Japanese seaside town.

Japanese Garden.

The number of apologies I’ve written for not posting on this blog are now rivaling the number of people served at McDonald’s. But this time I have an excuse (also number 1 billion in a series). Once we left the Sugo circuit on Sunday night, I was unable to find the internet anywhere. Not in the rural outskirts of Sendai, not anywhere near the bazillion-dollar bullet-train station, and not anywhere in the metropolitan area of Tokyo, which only happens to hold 35 million people, dwarfing the New York/New Jersey metro count. Last weekend, I did find the internet at three different Panera Bread restaurants on the drive from the GNCC in Crawfordsville, Indiana and Morgantown, West Virginia. As for Japan, I must ask, Where has all the technology gone? Twenty years ago in elementary school, amidst a variety of lessons on how much we as American human children suck at everything—we ate the apple and will now burn in hell for it, we’re dumb, fat, lazy, in dept and play too many video games, etc.—we would hear about this successful utopian experiment called Japan. It was a land that saved billions in military bills since the country wasn’t allowed to have one and instead spent that money on education and technology, and the result was a far superior place to the US. Every few days our teachers would guilt us by explaining that Japanese students go to school for 400 days a year and how our country ranked in the 3000th percentile in math scores (those numbers actually sounded believable to us since we sucked so badly at math).

Meanwhile Japan Inc. was buying everything and soon you would need a passport to travel into the Tokyo suburb called New York City. It was up to us to stop them and it would begin by just doing that science homework.

Since then, the American kids who spent just 180 days a year in school created this dot com/telecom/Apple/Microsoft wonderland that used to be called the information superhighway, and Japan doesn’t even have the iPhone yet and only discovered Red Bull last year. The only new technology I saw over there was the heated toilet seat, (and I will admit that it’s so cool that it probably made the entire country complacent in the tech department). But basically, America is revolutionizing computer products and Japan is locking down more comfortable ways to sit down and take a you-know-what. All hail to the power of the American slacker—and hence I feel no guilt about not posting here for two days.

Rising sun in the land of it.

Madonna and the Oscar the Grouch

Later the Smiths learned to wax on and off.

So without the internet to blog on there, I had to wait until now, on a flight from San Francisco to Washington, DC to write on about the trip. The foreigness is still fresh in my mind since the movie Hairspray is playing on the plane’s TV screen and watching a musical without audio is much stranger to see than anything in a foreign country.

The first few days of the trip were actually tantalizingly disappointing for the HSCIED and I. For the racers with us-Charlie, Jason and Rodney-it was okay because they had an athletic competition to compete in and probably didn’t want to spend Friday and Saturday night loaded on saki at a Japanese house party. But Alisa and I did, and the itinerary served up by Mr. Hoshino didn’t accommodate. We were dropped off at our remote resort hotel at 6 p.m. on both nights, and that was it. These would be the only Friday and Saturday nights we would ever spend in Japan, and a city was 30 minutes away, but we would not spend it exploring the country or meeting strange people. On Friday night the gang ordered pepperoni pizza and it ended up having eel and corn on it. That was the height of our excitement. Cab rides were ridiculously expensive, and we didn’t even know where to ask to go even if we got one, or how to get back. No one at the hotel could explain anything in English and our translator—Nobi—had gotten into a car accident and was nowhere to be found or heard.

They have plenty of mountains and forests in Japan.

Rodney and Charlie scout out one of the more extreme sections of Japanese off-road racing.

The HSCGIED and I would have to rally to salvage the experience. We’ve done it before—cramming in a week’s worth of activities into the final 48 hours of a trip—and we were going to have to do it here.

On Sunday night a bus picked the gang up at the track and took us on a long ride to a seaside town that began with the letter H. Probably had I’s and o’s and an sh in the name, too. Our hotel was amazing, and we all dined on a traditional Japanese meal, with different flavors of soup boiling in front of us and a giant pile of raw meat and fish to dump into them. By then Rachel—Charlie’s girlfriend—had been rendered physically unable to eat due to, ironically, lack of nutrient intake throughout the trip. But Charlie was now fully adjusted and ate about 17 pounds of seafood. Or maybe he was hungry after racing for three hours. Raines and I ordered up some saki and now we were rolling: good Japanese food, strong Japanese drink and even some uncomfortable slippers and a hotel collection of Japanese DVDs at our disposal. Still not completely on Japanese time, the HSCGIED and I woke up at 5 am to watch the sun rise from the Land of the Rising Sun. It was amazing. A few hours later we all headed out for sight seeing, taking a tour of Japanese temples and gardens—amazing stuff rooted deep in tradition instead of tech. We checked out of the hotel and headed to the bullet train. Mr. Hoshino stuffed his Subaru Outback with luggage, Rodney and Lori, while Alisa and I got a ride from Takeshi Koikeda, who had joined us at the hotel along with his wife and adorable three-year-old girl. Takeshi gave me and Alisa a ride to the train station and even piled our luggage right on top of his hand-made, full works prototype Yamaha YZ450F. His daughter played happily with her Rodney Smith collectible beanie bear, and by the way they don’t use car seats there, the three-year-old just sat on mom’s lap in the front seat! Takeshi and Mr. Hoshino dropped us off for the bullet train, and then Mr. Hoshino jumped back in his car to he could drive six hours out of his way to Tokyo—just so he could deliver our luggage, pay for our hotel and take us to dinner. He could have easily dumped us off at the train with our luggage, called the hotel with his credit card number and left us on our own for dinner. Instead, he drove six hours not to. What a guy.

He took us to an Italian restaurant (in Tokyo) and when the staff found out famous American motorcycle Champion Rodney Smith was with us, they flipped out and started taking pictures and getting autographs. Then Mr. Hoshino bowed 17,000 times and thanked us even more than that—saying we had honored his family by coming—and then left for his home five hours away, but not before going back to the Italian restaurant to give the staff some Rodney Smith stickers he had on him. You simply can’t get any nicer than this man and his family.

Koikeda was impressed with my chop stick skills.

Raines inspects what we believe is a grave and tea set.

What struck us most about Japan wasn’t technology, or crowdedness or any of the stuff I had learned about in elementary school. I was amazed by the politeness of the people. We were greeted by smiles and bows and attempts at broken English everywhere we went. The cities and towns were immaculately clean and free of trash—yet we couldn’t find trash cans anywhere. Instead, people volunteered to take your trash for you. Get off the bullet train and a man greets you with a trash bag. Enter the National Japan Museam of Modern Art and the woman selling tickets takes your trash and deposits it elsewhere. The country is remarkably quiet. Our hotels were dead quiet, you could hear a pin drop in Sendai and downtown Tokyo at rush hour on Monday was about 1 30th as loud as New York. The trucks were quiet, horns non existent, motorcycles muffled and conversations muted—it seemed like everyone kept completely to theirselves and didn’t speak loudly in public. In America, people talk, people make trash and people don’t go nearly this far out of their way to help. If we were really to have taken some cues from the Japanese back in elementary school, it would have been on how to be nice to each other instead of how to get better grades in math—but the teachers were too busy being mean to us and we were too busy being mean to each other. Hey, it was elementary school.

Most helpful was the concierge at our Tokyo Hotel. He told Alisa and I how to get to Rupungi, a great place to, as he managed to get out in his broken English: “hang out.”

Soon our ugly Americaness would take control of this metropolis of 35 million people. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 4

More Photo!!!!!

Racer X in Japan!

30 Second Card Girl.

Charlie on the what we were calling the "EnduroCross" section. They basically took a tractor and dug big trenches into the motcross track. Koikeda tripled through the craters, Charlie found this hot line along the top.
A proud Rodney Smith accepts thanks from the Japanese fans.

Japenese bottlenecks look just like American ones.

Hot Rod grabbed the big check--100,000 Yen (okay, that's only $1000 but some older gentleman came over to me and said "In Japan, 100,000 is big bucks")

Jason escapes a bottle neck.

Takeshi had the home field advantage in so far as he knew which spectators would provide the most traction.

Raines, on the comeback #100, grabs the holeshot.

Japan 8 - Mullins Wins!

The AAGP is history, and Charlie Mullins is the winner. 'Ole Hot Rod completely took control of the race right from the start and checked out. Jason Raines made a mistake early and feel behind Rodney Smith, but he passed Rodney on the motocross track and headed out after Charlie. No dice. In his first race ever on a Suzuki, Mullins was unstoppable, pulling out a lead of over one minute and holding it to the end. Raines eventually came under attack from Takeshi Koikeda, the '05 All-Japan MX Champion, who had driven Jason from the air port to the track. Well, that favor was about to come back to haunt him, because they battled hard through the final laps before Takeshi pulled out the runner-up spot, with Raines third and Rodney fourth.

The biggest question is "how in the hell can they hold a cross country race in Japan? Do they have any room at all?" Well, they really do, at least in this area of the country. The woods out here are beautiful, actually and there was enough room to fit four miles of track. That's 1/3rd of a GNCC course, but it was very GNCC like in the trails.

The fans were very happy to see the American racers--in fact everyone here is so darned happy it makes me wonder if they all go home at 9 pm and slam to door to begin a chorus of cursing and crying. How can they be this up beat all the time? All weekend we've just gotten hi's and thank you's and smiles from every single person here. And not even at the track--the place is very happy. Heck, even the construction workers in Sendai looked clean and happy, and the road blocks they were setting up were aqua and had funny cartoon characters on them.

It makes for a very fun place to come visit and an even more fun place to race--I think Charlie, Rodney and Jason are very happy to have been invited to represent the GNCC Series over here.

Saturday, November 3

Japan 7 - Opening Ceremonies

They're not kidding when they say that the JNCC Series has taken the GNCC format. The announcer cranked the music up at 7 am this morning and welcomed everyone to the AAGP just like GNCC mic man Rodney Tomblin does in the U.S.

There will be a 8 am race dubbed the "Fun Race" which is for beginners and also includes buddy classes, with riders switching off during the event. That will run for 90 minutes. The main AAGP runs at 11 am, and it's a three-hour event just like a GNCC in the U.S. Pros or AA riders start on the front two rows of the Sugo Motocross track start line, but Rodney, Charlie and Jason will start on row three--call it home field advantage for the Japanese riders.

The Fun Race is about to begin so I will run down there and shoot some photos. Stay tuned.

Japan 6 - School's Out

American Ninjas.

Charlie Mullins' first day on a Suzuki.

Rodney Smith!!!! Climb Hill!!! RM250!!!!!

Jason watches a rider and then tries to figure out how to explain how to turn better without being able to explain anything.

The annual AAGP riding school is complete and once again not a single student learned anything--after all the teachers don't speak the language. Basically, the afternoon was spent watching Rodney, Jason and Charlie make stuff look good and easy, and the watch the Japanese riders attack it and crash. Jason tried valiantly to explain things--but no one could come up with the translation for "precise" in Japan, ironic for a country which makes those high quality Toyotas--and then the school just became a "hang out with the stars" program. I don't think the Japanese riders learned much, but they will forever tell their friends they got to spend the afternoon with the "American Top Guns of GNCC." At least, that's what it says on the T-shirts they have here.

Friday, November 2


This is about the coolest race hauler I've ever seen.

On the right is Takeshi Koikeda, the '05 All-Japan MX Champion. He will be racing this weekend.

Japanese Garden: Horsepower Hill, Japanese style.

Needs more cow tongue: The team spread in the Suzuki pits featured sushi.

No prerunning: This is your typical bike carrier in Japan.

Nothing Lost in Translation: The JNCC track markers are very similar to the GNCC markers.

The JNCC Poster, featuring the American boys, made it to this guy's van.

Jason Raines brought his own bars. He needed a taller bend.

Charlie (left) and Rodney scope the Suzuki pits.

The gang at dinner on night one. Clockwise: Lori Smith, Rodney Smith, the HSCGIED, Me, Rachel, Charlie, Mr. Masami Masami Hoshino, President of JNCC.

Japan 4 - Needs More Cow Tongue

After Rodney and Charlie checked out the track yesterday on the DR-Z 125s, we then headed to lunch in downtown Sendai, which is the closest city to the Sugo track. On the way we saw a big billboard for this place, staring Stefan Everts (this is the same track that hosts the World MX GP in Japan each year).

Sendai is a nice town, amazingly clean and organized, feels very safe, but we ran into trouble at lunch when we stopped at a place that serves “only cow tongue.” Needless to say we moved on. Then at night back at the hotel, our crew was looking for relief from the Japanese food, so they ordered pizza. It came delivered to the hotel just like it would in the US, however, it completely sucked. We’ve now come to the conclusion that good Japanese food is better than bad American food. Well, at least that’s the way Rodney and Charlie’s crew sees it. Alisa and I will eat and like anything over here—hey even the cow tongue just looked like any other piece of beef.

Jason Raines finally showed up last night at about midnight. He left a day later so he could take his little girl trick or treating, and then he didn’t have a flight from Tokyo to Sendai. 2005 Japanese National MX Champion Takeshi Koikeda picked him up at the airport and they drove seven hours to Sendai. Takeshi is a cool guy—I met him when we both stayed at Jim Holley’s house a few winters ago. He’s racing this race and Jason may beat him. Who else would drive their comp seven hours to the track? Jason told me that Takeshi’s two-year-old baby also stayed quiet on the entire seven-hour drive. Japanese babies have discipline!

It was back to the track this morning so the riders can dial in their bikes and also teach a riding school, which should be a 99 out of 100 on the unintentional comedy scale (they have to teach through an interpretor, except he got into a car accident this morning and won’t get in until later this afternoon. The ridiculousness of this all is already beginning…). Jason had a shiny YZ250F waiting for him, and Charlie and Rodney had to draw straws on which of two Suzukis to ride—an RM 250 or an RM-Z250. Yes, this will be Charlie’s debut race on a yellow bike. Oddly, they decided to flip a coin on it and Charlie ended up with the four-stroke—the same bike Rodney had been racing all year, and yet Charlie will race the two-stroke next year. I think they should have switched it up, especially since Rodney hasn’t ridden an RM 250 in two years, anyway.

Each rider got numbers to put on their bike, and they threw on their handlebars and headed to the motocross track to make sure everything works. In fashion true to their character, Jason is taking things much more seriously, bolting on his own bars, looking for his Yamaha mechanic and shipping over tires and moose tubes for the race. Rodney and Charlie are just gonna’ run what they have—Charlie’s RM-Z 250 doesn’t even have hand guards!

I’ll be back to write about the riding school later. But first, I’ll post some photos here. Stay tuned.

Japan 3 - Showers Expected

At this point we’ll be able to handle anything out here. After last night’s “shower gate” there surely can be no culture shocks left that our system can’t brace itself for. Let me explain now that I have more time (right now we’re in the Media Center at the Sugo Circuit in Japan while Rodney and Charlie scout the course on DR-Z125s). On the wall stood a bunch of mobile shower heads, beneath was a bench and a bucket, and in front of it all was a big dish which held a bottle of shampoo, soap and conditioner. Easy. But next to it all was a giant hot spring—essentially a natural hot tub, I guess—and none of us can figure out what the role of that tub is. Do you get in there naked and hang out (pardon the pun) after taking a shower? Well, Charlie and I took our showers last night (at separate times of course) and decided when in Rome, so I jumped in there and enjoyed the rejuvenating powers of the hot water (I guess) for a few minutes. Seriously, the water was so hot I was afraid I’d be out of commission for a few days, and since I brought my girlfriend here…. Okay, suffice to say it was odd and the one other Japanese guy who was in there with me made sure to immediately cover himself with a towel as soon as he got out of the hot tub. Hey, maybe he was intimidated by the American.

There was also some other room and some other pool, of which I never could figure out what they were for.

At night we all struggled our way through to get some sleep, since we went to bed at what was about 9 am back home. We forced it and eventually got up as late as we possibly could, 6 am, and went on a hike around the facility. We took turns sliding down this massive kids slide down a mountain, and then hiked some trails. At 9 am a taxi showed up to take us to Sugo, and here we are now, with the boys out taking some laps and me nerding out in the Media Center. More in a bit.

Thursday, November 1

Japan 2

We made it! Landed in Tokyo, hopped on a plane to Sendai and checked in at the Montana Resort, which appears to be some big family resort with slides, pools, tennis courts, hiking trails and the like. It is really fun on the outside but very Japanese on the inside. Some in our group tried to stay American and ordered spaghetti for dinner, but Alisa and I went all out: she ordered the rib steak and I ordered shrimp curry. It was really good, actually, and we thought we had it made.

Then they showed us the rooms. Just flat foam on the floor--lots of blankets and pillows but no bed. And the showers are community showers, like going to the gym. You don]t get a shower in your room. Charlie, Rodney and I strategically went at seperate times because we do not need to know each other that well.

We have to go-bus comes to get us at 9 am. Supposedly we will have a translator today so this should start making sense...

Japan Ichban (Number 1)

I gave the Japanese woman at the register a blank stare within my pause. I had gone into sticker shock when the cash register displayed the price of a simple serving of sushi. $17.87 for sushi, a bottle of water and a bottle of tea? However, I was already deep within her trap. I had ordered without checking the prices—the first error a traveler can make—and now, by the time I had learned the actual price, I couldn’t really negotiate because the woman at the register barely spoke English. The Hottest Smartest Coolest Girls I’ve Ever Dated (HSCGIED) was already back at our little table eating noodles and vegetables, so I could have just done without the $17.87 sushi and split that meal with her (hey, I paid for that one, too). But I was trapped. I couldn’t communicate with the woman and decided that since this was a semi-vacation and you only live once, I should just suck it up and enjoy the $17.87 frequent flyer miles I would collect from putting the purchase on my US Airways Visa Card.
We were at the food court at the San Francisco International Air Port. Purchasing sushi in the last American city I will see for a week had thrown me for a loop. This actual trip to Japan, to cover the final round of the Japan National Cross Country Series (Yup, JNCC) could prove much trickier. The race and the trip are guaranteed hits. The fine folks at the JNCC Series are reaching out to the GNCC people (Racer Productions, who I work for) to send three America-based racers to the final round of their series, the AAGP in Sugo. This exchange program has been happening in some form for years. Scott Summers and Randy Hawkins have raced here plenty of times, but now this event is a part of a more formal partnership between JNCC and GNCC (man, you have to see the big poster the Japanese produced last year with one of their guys shaking hands with Rita, with the caption “JNCC and GNCC!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
After that caption, there’s a bunch of Japanese text. And hearin lies the trouble. The races is going to go well. The JNCC has invited Charlie Mullins, Rodney Smith and Jason Raines to race, They have provided bikes and mechanics. The fans are pumped, even super pumped, on seeing the Yanks in action. And it’s my job to cover all of this, to let America know just how internationally recognized the stars of the GNCC Series are (do you know that last month we signed a contract to air the GNCC races on TV in 55 countries? One of them being KAZIKSTAN??) Yes, this series has grown very big, with racers from all over competing in it and fans from around the world wanting to see them.
Originally we wanted to send David Knight over, because a simple photo of him towering over people in downtown Tokyo would have basically sold the whole program, and my job would have been easy. But Knighter had a commitment to race elsewhere already. We now have Hot Rod Mullins, Raines and Rodney, which is awesome, but in order for me to track this week properly, I need to communicate with the world, and I’m not sure if I can.
Can I get the internet over there? Can I plug my computer into a wall outlet? Can I find a place to buy an adaptor if I can’t? Will I even be able to speak to anyone (me without talking is like Samson without hair).
We’ll see. For now I’m just going to study the exchange rate so I can figure out how much I’m paying for sushi. Hopefully it will go smoother than buying it in the U.S..