31 December 2006

New Zealand 3-day bike trip

Ever think 'This is a really bad idea. We shouldn't do this. There is still time to back out.'? Usually, I would do so. A voice in the back of my head this time (which was slightly mumbled and maybe British) said, 'Come on, it's an adventure. What's the worse that could happen?'. It was boxing day, a strange Kiwi holiday the day after chirstmas, and Matt Pro and I were suppose to leave the next day for a 3-day, 300-mile bike tour from Christchurch to Nelson (a beach town on the northside of the south island). The problem was, we had one road bike, one fixed gear (49x16, mind you) and a broken single-speed mountain bike. No racks. No panniers. Bonnie, one of Matt's friends I had met, was planning the trip, but we did not know the other two guys. Neither had bike toured, one didn't really ride bikes. Yeah. We managed to scrape together four panniers and a rack and Matt bought another rack. We decided to take the fixed instead of my broken bike.

(unfinished post!)

25 December 2006

New Zealand X-mas

Matt Pro has an adoptive family here in Christchurch that has taken him in. They are friends of a friend and they say you can't choose your family, but if he could of chose his adoptive family I don't think he could of done any better. He is there for all the holidays and tends to go over quite a bit just to chill out. Also goes for the Kiwi tradition of getting the barbi (BBQ) going, which seems to happen every day in the summer. The picture on the right is of 13-month old Tahunuiarangi, Dave (grandfather) and Josie(mom).
We spent x-mas eve chilling out and watching a lot of tv including Sione's Wedding and No 2 , both are choice and I'd recommend them, especially the former. Also watched Bro-town, a funny animated show from here in NZ about 5 kids growing up here in Morningside.

When we rolled up X-mas morning to go over to Pat's (grandmother) brother's place they had gifts not only for him, but for myself as well. Josie and her (american) husband regularly get chocolates for the family and they went out of their way to get Matt and I dark chocolate. There are these huge bars of Ghana chocolate that has been imported since 1896. Yum. They were happy that I had mine half-eaten before we even ate lunch.
For the x-mas meal they made us a huge plate of broiled vegetables that included pumpkin, potatoes and kumara. Kumara is sweet potato-esque, but much better. Not as sweet and has an entirely different texture than any potatoes I have eaten. Had some pasta and veggie sausages as well. I didn't cook anything, which was nice, but odd. In the picture below you can see x-mas crackers (not the people), which apparently is a tradition as well. Is this so for anyone else? I've never seen it. I also never had cranberry sauce with Thanksgiving, so what do I know? There are toys and jokes inside which made the meal a bit more lively than otherwise may of been.
Another sort of tradition, since it is summer here over x-mas, is the 'X-mas day water gun fight'. Matt and I stayed inside the best we could to the taunts that the americans are 'weak'. The others managed to soak each other pretty well.
The house we were at for x-mas is in what I considered a normal suburb, but Matt informed me that it is not a regular suburb, but a 'lifestyle bloc'. It is close enough to Christchurch that you can commute there for a regular job, but large enough that you can still have animals and maintain some of traditional rural Kiwi culture. Behind the house were some fenced off sheep (four of the 43 million on the two islands, more than 10 for every person) and some chickens in what I guess would be a coop. I've never seen a chicken coop, but I imagine a place where you keep chickens can be a chicken coop so that's what it is in my mind.

It just dawned on me that I spent Christ's birthday in a town called Christchurch. That is especially funny; this is the most secular country I have ever been in and well, I am obviously not religious. Apparently the city is named after one of the schools at Oxford one of the original settlers went to. Why don't they change it? The place is so non-religious that I don't think anyone cares. I am going to try to post some images of the city in a separate post. For now enjoy the sheep:

24 December 2006

23 December 2006

New Zealand Kepler Track

15 December 2006

New Zealand Christchurch

21 November 2006

Philadelphia Marathon

Team PSU Alliance for Animal Rights 2000

running the half marathon with Brad last year

he made it clear that he wanted to do the full. I knew he was down for the training, but I couldn't make any promises cause of school, the great divide and the 508. When I was in Philly in the Spring I mentioned this idea to Mary and Christian, both of whom go running occasionally, and they were done. That's it. In late Sept I figured out that I could get away to fly to the east coast for the race, which was the wknd before Thanksgiving, and then stay and see family.
I booked my ticket and started training five weeks before the race. Everyone says, ' You've done it before, it'll be fine.' But long distance does not work that way, if you have done the time you'll suffer for it. I ran two or three times a week, got my long run in and just didn't have time to taper (it's recommended to do your longest training run 3 weeks before the race, I did mine 6 days before).

After some bib difficulties, we were chowing down on a great dinner Saturday night. Mary insisted on arguing with me about nutrition, but I let it go because I know that she's an engineer and they think they know
everything (ha ha). I spent the night on Brad's couch, which was the best night sleep I had gotten in days. My flight out was super early on Fri morning and then on Sat I went to NYC real early to see my good friend Tom Hooper before he went back to London.
When running a marathon, I think it helps a lot of people to have a routine. Brad, Mary and Christian all had there little things they did every morning before running or certain things they had to wear. I imagine it helps somewhere in your brain to recognize some commonalities to ease the stress of race day. Brad and I rode bikes down to the famous art museum for the start, but we were early and were trying to stay warm and not stress about not seeing Mary and Christian. Finally they show up, we strip down and lock our extra clothes with our bikes and head towards the corral.
We agreed to stay together the best we could as we were all shooting for around 4.5 hours. Mary was stoked on the Clif bar pace team and we followed them for quite awhile. The picture above was snapped pretty early on, just beyond the museum heading towards City Hall. The pace was a little quicker than I was used to, but it was so fun to be running with some great friends. The route wound through old town, south philly, south st and then into some back parts of Fairmount park before looping back past the art museum before the final out-and-back to Manayunk.

Notice that Brad is not in the picture here, around the half-way point. He took off and sprint finished for a time of 4 hours and 22 minutes. Congrats Brad! Christian took off not long after this photo and then I ran just a bit behind Mary for a couple of miles.
Somewhere in Manayunk, when the out-and-back section was only separated by orange cones, I heard someone yell my name. Who would know me here or know that I was running this? It was my old friend Steph Surch. She was running it and recognized me! I have not seen her in at least 3 years. She used to race pro bmx and her and her family use to take me to races all over the country. Now she is an ultra-runner and has done a 24-hour mountain bike race. How rad!
The last six miles were kind of brutal. Mary's knees were really bothering her and the back end of a marathon is a gritty sight as people struggle along well past their last bit of motivation. Mary kept running though! We were even passing people. She had run this section a bunch in training, but was frustrated with how much longer it took to get any where at our slow pace. So far at this point we had all been diligently eating our gels, but that was the only food we had. I had talked about how much I wanted a soft pretzel; Mary thought that eating a soft pretzel while running was the most revolting thing ever (and told me so whenever I brought it up). But then this guy had some! They were a little old, but hey, I got almost half of one and was elated to munch on it while I ran. Mary didn't look at me once.
Then were at the end. Just like that. Crowds lined the streets, cheered us on, etc and we ran across the finish with a time of 4 hours and 49 minutes. Christian had finished strong about 10 minutes earlier. Nice.
Thank you Mary, Christian and Brad for everything. It was so good to take this on with all of you. Much congratulations are in order. Yeah vegan team!
Brad has a report and some more tiny, blurry pics (cause that's all they'll let you see) on his myspace page.

16 November 2006

Fall Potluck at the A-partment

We had another Fall potluck this year (some call it the Circle of Dead Pilgrims) and our friend Jang Lee took a bunch of pictures. The food was really good, per usual, and it ended up turning into a bit of a party. Here are a couple of pics, but the rest can be found here.


Mike T full

Clyde and J. Lee with Brad's new cookbook (avail from Microcosm)

07 November 2006

Winter in Los Angeles

Maybe us bike kids do spend too much time together.

19 October 2006

Thus Climbed Zarathustra

Stephen Krchmer, the infamous journalist, put on a benefit race that was half alley-cat, half cyclo-cross. After a run-to-the-bike start you had to follow the route slip to a set of stairs, where you would hoist your bike up on your shoulder, run to the top, hop back on your bike and then race to the next set. Ten sets total throughout Echo Park and Silverlake. The race was really well run (thanks Stephen!) and about 30 people started it. There was even a prim and at the top of the last set the route sheet just said, ‘Now find your way back to the start.’ That’s a little tougher than it sounds when you are oxygen deprived and disoriented. Nonetheless, fresh off the 508, Team Bonobo ruled it 1-2-3, all on fixed. Alec came up fourth on the tall bike. Yeah, he carried the tall bike up all those stairs.
Thanks Stephen, all the people/companies that donated prizes and everyone who raced and helped to raise money for Orlando. It is some fucked up irony that someone who was pictured in double-paged ads (as a courier) for an insurance company, can’t afford health insurance.
Wire Donkey covered the race if you scroll down from here you can see it.
Alec: The cap is rad and all, but I bet you thought Jack was going to win, eh? He might be the only person who can pull off a cap with a 1st place ribbon on it. I am seriously stoked on the number of Alec caps I have now!

16 October 2006

Team Bonobo at Furnace Creek 508

In 2005 Megan, Max and myself crewed for Morgan ‘Goat’ Beeby’s solo Furnace Creek 508. Crewing requires feeding the rider and, at night, following behind him in the support vehicle. We kept track of his caloric/water intake and motivated him along the way. He slept little and we barely slept any more (except for Max who earned the Adventure Snore award). Some time during those 41 hours from Santa Clarita to Twenty Palms, via Death Valley, we came up with the idea to ride the 2006 race as a 4-person relay. Fixed-gear. And it really happened. Morgan could not ride because of his car-induced injury in May so Brian Davidson became our fourth rider. The following is my account from the long weekend.

What is The Furnace Creek 508?
The 508 is a non-stop bicycle race from Santa Clarita, CA to Twenty Palms, CA (on the northern border of Joshua Tree National Park) via Death Valley put on by Adventure Corps. ‘Non-stop’ means that the clock never stops running. Can you sleep? Yes, but at the expense of your time. For relay teams there is always someone riding. The route is broken down into 8 stages and each team member rides two stages in the pre-determined A-B-C-D-A-B-C-D order. The other three are crewing for the current rider and preparing to ride or resting post-ride. Five different riders have completed the race solo on fixed-gears, but no relay team has ever ridden fixed. Finishing guaranteed us the course record! Lastly, an important part of the race is the ‘totem’. No boring numbers: each person or team gets to choose an animal (loosely defined) and it’s assigned for life. Morgan ‘Goat’ Beeby, and only him, will be ‘Goat’ whenever he races again. The totem must be displayed on all four sides of the support vehicle; looking at people’s creative totems entertained us throughout the race.2006 Furnace Creek 508
The most difficult pre-race aspect was picking a totem. We couldn’t decide between Tofu Antelope (from the Far Side cartoon) or Bonobo (the chimpanzee species famous for it’s egalitarian and sexual promiscuous lifestyle). Which would be funnier? We chose bonobo and then took it a step further and used the race as a fundraiser for bonobo conservation. ‘Los Angeles vegan bike kids race across death valley on fixed-gear bikes to raise money for endangered bonobos’ sounded like an LA Times worthy headline to us.
Did we train much? Well, I rode 2200 miles on the Great Divide trail on a cyclocross bike (see previous posts and Steevo’s blog), Megan became a messenger and road the track at night, Max road his tall bike around a bunch and Brian just did everything he does, which includes running, riding and swimming, at 110%. So, sort of, in our own way.Our rad friends came through: Vmaas made us a logo and did layout for our fundraising postcards, Alec made us cycling caps and a screen for t-shirts, Jen Diamond made us jerseys, Orange 20 sponsored us and numerous others helped us with logistics. Eleven days after getting back from my Great Divide trip we were loading up Max’s mom’s van and heading to Santa Clarita.

Friday October 6th
‘I thought you had the cooler?’ ‘I thought you had it!’…etc, etc. What else would you expect? Finally we are on our way to the check-in hotel. Megan’s friend Sasha and three of her classmates are making a documentary about us and are around all day filming us. Just what we need: A camera in our face egging us on to be more obnoxious. We check in and tell Chris Kostman that we are using a banana as our baton. ‘Yeah, it’ll make it 36 hours in our jersey pockets. Of course.’ Morgan is helping with the webcast and interviews us. Mostly we mumble jibberish that is only funny to us. We get some good points in about our team being vegan. Later we play foot-down in the parking lot. Max and I skip most of the pre-race meeting to get tamales for everyone. We make it back in time to be on stage with all the racers. Amazing! My main thought is: At least I’m not riding solo.

Brian tells us he is not feeling well. Uh-oh. Brian is one of the most resilient, disciplined athletes I know. Sure, I don’t know many athletes, but he would top most people’s list. He’s the type of person you just expect to never get tired or to slow down. Him being sick was scary. We got some water into him and he went straight to bed. While Morgan and our friend Chris Cheung finished editing the sound files for Adventure Corps the rest of us crashed out in their hotel room.

Saturday October 7th
After the alarm goes off at 630am we savor the last couple minutes of comfort. We know that we won’t be sleeping much over the next two days. A few of us head downstairs to watch the solo racers’ start. We wish Emily Archaeopteryx O’Brien, the only woman to do 508 on fixed, a great race. We get back, wake everyone up, get Megan sorted and load the minivan. Brian is feeling better! All of us are nervous as Megan sits on her bike with the other teams’ first riders. The race starts with a huge climb out of the valley; we know that Megan will not be off to a fast start riding fixed. The remaining three of us head to mile 24, the first point where we can assist our rider.

Last year at this point we waited while almost every other team helped their rider and drove off. Where was Morgan? Him and a couple of others made a wrong turn and went 7 miles out of the way. Megan stayed on course and was looking strong as she rode by. We passed her some fresh water bottles. The first leg is a tough 80 miles. We leap frog her a couple of times and before I know it, and before I am ready, we are in California City, the first time station. This is where Megan passes the baton (our banana!) to me.

My friend Catra, whom I met when she was crewing in Badwater, is there crewing for the same woman, Linda McFadden. Yep, Linda ran the 135-mile Badwater ultramarathon and is now attempting the 508. Chris Kostman (Adventure Corps director) and part of our film crew is there as well. That would be fun and all if it weren't for my nervousness. Not sure why I am so nervous. Probably the realization of how little I have trained on my fixed gear. Or the pressure of being on a team. After hanging out about ten minutes we see Megan coming. I trackstand in the street and she rolls up and passes the banana. I take off. Definitely faster than I should be going. Soon Chris rolls up in a car and starts filming me. I continue to push. He shoots some pics and is off.

When the climbing to Randsburg starts I am ready for it. Glad to be out of the saddle and climbing. Since I do not have a cyclocomputer on my fixed I do not know my speed or how far I’ve ridden. Megan and I talked later about how this may have been beneficial. I’m still not sure. Soon I am passing people. Some solo riders and some teams. As the 7-mile climb gets steeper I gain on more riders. I’m not a particularly strong climber, but the gear I chose to run is hard. This means I can go faster on the flats and spin less on the downhills, but have to push harder on the climbs to keep the pedals turning. When I hit my first fast descent I realize I made the right decision. Struggling uphill is absolutely worth the price of a slightly lower RPM coming down. The downhills are real challenging. On some occasions the rider I passed going up would pass me going down. 30 MPH on a fixed for any extended period = not fun.

My goal was to reach Trona, the second time station, before 6pm. ‘Night’ starts officially at 6pm and the support vehicle must follow behind the rider. I came up about 30 minutes short, despite my pace of 17.75 MPH for the 70-mile section (the fastest team rode the section in 3.5 hours, 20 MPH).

Saturday Night
Max hops on his bike and we are off right behind him. This is one of the best sections of the whole course. You ride out of Trona, past the church with no windows, climb out of the Searles Valley and into the Panamint Valley. From here you ride across the valley and can see, way off in the distance, Townes Pass. It is a monster of a climb: 13 miles with 3800 feet of climbing and sections at 10-13% grade. Max’s bike is geared for the climb so his flat speed is limited. Finally we reach the turn and start climbing. Metal is blaring on the roof speakers and Max starts picking up the pace. It’s phenomenal to watch him passing people like they are standing still. Some people see him, step on it, but can’t hold his pace. At some points he can barely turn the pedals, but he pushes on. At the top we dress him in warm clothes for the 17-mile descent. It’s brutal to watch him spinning away for so long. Other, coasting, cyclists pass us. Eventually we hit Stovepipe Wells and then Furnace Creek and the end of his 100-mile stage.

Getting Brian out of the van and on to his bike was a relief. The kid had been in the van, watching us ride, for 17 hours before he got on his bike for the first time at 2am. All that stored energy came gushing out. I’m pretty sure he sprinted the entire 74 miles. On Jubilee and Salsberry Pass (15 miles of combined climbing) he went faster. We counted something like 14 people passed in 3 hours. There was one short period where I was driving and handing him his bottles while Megan and Max napped. The sun started to come up as he descended out of Death Valley into Shoshone.Sunday Morning
Megan is back on the bike and we have to follow behind till 7am. Then we start leap frogging. Her knees are bothering her, but that doesn’t stop her from holding a strong pace on a tough section. The road quality here on out is very poor. We leave her early so I can get to Baker and get ready. Here the time station volunteer tells us how much he admires bonobos. Very quotable stuff like: ‘The christian right wants to keep bonobos from having fun’ and ‘I wish I could live the life of a bonobo for a day’. The bonobo totem has fulfilled our goal of being funny and an opportunity for jokes. It started early on Saturday when we ran into Team Swallow, a team of four female, super friendly, triathletes. ‘Do you think they know their totem is funny?’ They have to!’ When we were both waiting for our first rider I asked them which totem would be the butt of more sexual jokes. They said when they picked up their jerseys and got a look from the guy they said ‘Yeah, it can be a noun and a verb’. The guy’s response: ‘It can be a noun?’ Very funny stuff. Throughout the race they cheered us on and we all made pointed jokes (Props to them for later posting to their triathlon list about our fundraising efforts). Good times.

I’m back on the bike straight into a boring 20-mile gradual climb through the Mojave Desert National Preserve. The reality of having not slept for over 24 hours hits me pretty hard. The team rolls up and I tell them there is something wrong with my bike. ‘It’s not fast!’ The road is empty and I don’t see anyone except the one solo male on fixed. Damn we didn’t pass him till 400 miles in! As I roll towards the Kelso time station I see a line of cars. A train is stopped on the tracks and we can’t get across. I hang out at the van and we eat Molly’s crazy chocolate raspberry blondie bars till the train leaves and I can pass the browning banana to Max.

Max’s section is a lot like mine. One big up and a big down over 35 miles. We do some math and realize that we could finish before ‘dark’, 6pm, if we held a good pace. Even with the 30-minute train delay this still looks hopeful. Max turns it out and at the final checkpoint he passes the banana to Brian for his last stage. Traffic picks up as we get closer to Twenty Palms. Tons of dickwads pulling trailers of 4-wheelers in their big trucks at 80 MPH. We stay behind Brian and he pushes along as if he’s fully rested.
He passes some more riders, but one in particular does not look happy about it. Team Swamp Rat has 4 bikes for 2 people, each one worth more than all of our bikes put together. The dude is on his aero bars with zipp wheels and, about 5 miles from the end, pushes up and past Brian. It’s on. Then he runs two stop signs! We, by no means, are purists about stopping at stop signs, but it is an official rule of the race. Adventure Corps could lose permits if riders are caught blowing stop signs. The worst part is that he did it to pass Brian. So Brian catches him again. About two miles away Brian rolls up to a red light right behind the guy. So he runs it! What a chump! We ‘boo’ his team and are astonished he wouldn’t sprint finish verse someone on a single speed. So Brian catches him for a third time. We pull ahead so we can be at the finish and, in our rearview, see Brian pull into the wrong hotel! The mileage was just off and he thought he was at the finish. Then he pops back out and catches the guy AGAIN. Amazingly they pull into the finishing hotel together and climactically Brian slides out in some water and the swamp rat pulls ahead and beats him. Brian was alright and we walked him across the finish. Did swamp rat come over and congratulate us or see if Brian was okay? Nope. Total suckas.

Sunday Night
Chris awards our medals and takes our pic at the finish. We are elated on our 32 hour 23 minute time. Hours faster than anticipated. We ceremoniously ate the baton banana. Alec and Jenny (Brian’s wife) are there as are Morgan, Chris and Sasha. We take some more pics and head over to our hotel (thanks Jenny!). Some more antics, food and filming and then back over to the finish to hang out. Watching solo riders finish is a beautiful thing. It goes way beyond physical aptitude; it’s a mental and spiritual adventure that is unimaginable. We start to talk about next year. Who is going to ride solo? Could our crew put together a strong female team? Around 1030pm we call it a night. After 40 hours without sleep I’m ready. Well, after a second dinner (burritos!) of course.

Working on a team and riding 508 miles in less than two days was fantastic. We have such a tight bond. Again and again I say that the bike is merely a medium to experience the world and to enjoy life with your closest friends. That, and a reason to eat a lot. Thank you to everyone who was a part of our adventure. Thanks to Chris Kostman and Jenny Davidson for the pictures.
Fundraiser Update
We have raised over $1200 for the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, but are still thousands short of our goal of $5000. The money is going towards sending bikes to the Congo for a sustainable transportation infrastructure. Please log in and donate! Mention the Furnace Creek 508.

04 October 2006

Yosemite and Half Dome

A crew of us, organized by Morgan, headed up to Yosemite National Park to hike up half dome. It's only four days after getting back from the Great Divide, but we wanted to do it before the weather got too cold up there. We all piled into Brian's old van and drove up Friday night. We camped outside the valley and then did the day hike pretty much all day on Saturday, as it's 17 miles return. Was super packed with people, which I did not mind so much, but bothered some others who were hoping for some the usual solitude that accompanies good hikes.

When we got the section just before the ropes, the image of hordes of people trapped together on the ropes to the very hop was scary. It is beyond me that no one fell off while we were there. If you look closely at the photo on the left, you can see everyone lined up between the waist high cables designed to get you up the steepest section. We heard it took an hour and a half. Some of our group skipped going entirely and some took rockclimber Brian's lead and went on the outside of the ropes, only holding on to one. I think this was safer. The view from the top was great; you can walk right to the edge of the valley side (I'm equally amazed that no one fell off here either. Statistically it was bound to happen).
After chillin a bit outside the restaurant area in valley and eating a free meal, we decided to head back to camp and cook a proper meal.

The next day we tried swimming at Hetch Hetchy, which apparently is not feasible. The guy working gave us directions to Rainbow Falls, located just outside the park and conveniently on the way back to LA. The water was super cold, probably the coldest I've ever swam in, but Morgan said it wasn't shit. The panorama Chris took gives a pretty good idea of the place. If you look closely you can see me jumping off of two cliffs at the same time. Thanks for the pics, Chris. And thanks Brian for driving!

03 October 2006

Team Bonobo benefit in NYC

My friend Michel organized a benefit for Team Bonobo at a raw food restaurant in New York City that is actually called Bonobo’s. I made a bunch of calls, sent out emails, they put flyers up all over NYC, the restaurant helped advertise and almost no one showed up. NYC: What happened? Where were you? I want answers. Some of you told me you didn’t go when you found out that I wasn’t going to be there, but I just got back to LA, how could I be? It really bummed me out that it went so poorly. What could we of done differently?
Thanks a ton though Michel for making this flyer and setting it up.

01 October 2006

Great Divide: Final Thoughts

27 September 2006

Great Divide: Week 4

Great Divide: Week 3

Great Divide: Week 2

Great Divide: Week 1

The first day was hot and dry; we rode through the remains of a big fire that hit here in the not to distant past. The road quality is poor in that there are big holes, washboards (it is like riding on that strip on the side of the road that is suppose to wake you up if you fall asleep while driving) and dusty/soft sections. We don't mind much though. This day is unique in that the temperature topped 90 degrees Fahrenheit and we ended in a town. Columbia Falls has a grocery store with a good bit of 'health food'. We stocked up and headed to a nearby park to eat dinner and scope out camping. Steevo had ridden through Montana on his cross-country trip and had some memory of this town. We relaxed in the park and started to wrap our mind around the next four weeks. Warm weather, grocery stores and parks would not be usual part of this trip.

Riding on the second day we ran into a guy on a mountain bike heading in our direction. He was over 70 and told us stories for a good 45 minutes while we climbed a dirt hill into the Montana wilderness. He carried a 357 magnum and bear spray. 'One is for humans and one is for bears, but it doesn't really matter which is which.' Had lived in Montana for 13 years, but was still a California to everyone here. Claimed he did one of the first iron-distance triathlons in 1979. He turned off at a fork and wished us well with some advice on the upcoming route. Steevo and I would talk about him the rest of the trip.

That night was sketchy. We spotted Peck Lake on the map and thought that would be a good place to camp. Camping on a lake in Montana, sounds great, right? It was creepy in an odd, illogical, difficult-to-explain way. We were in the woods, off of a small dirt trail off of the main dirt trail and it just didn't feel right. We were tired, so we decided to go to the lake to get some water. Unfortunately for us, it was like a lake surrounded by a Marsh. We didn't realize this till we both stepped into and sunk in to our ankles! Fatigue and lack of calories will make you crazy. We both leaped, the best we could, out of the mud as we yelled in our excitement. For the trip Lisa from Sweet Pea Bakery had given me some flip flops for the trip, my first pair. I lost one in the swamp and sent the other to be with his counterpart. Thanks anyway, Lisa.
After Steevo climbed out over the lake on a fallen tree and proceeded to clog up the water filter, we decided it was best to move on. Glad we made that decision easily. We camped at Jim's creek after cooking/eating in the dark (not fun). We also had a ton of trouble trying to hang our food (stupid bears). Steevo even climbed a tree! Eventually, we were off to sleep in our bicy sacs, listening to the sound of running water, to tired to be concerned about bears.

Great Divide: Getting to the Start

I had asked Jack and Megan to help out with getting my stuff packed because I had to give the final to my class and would not be home till 9pm or so and needed to leave for the airport around 4am. Unfortunately, even after years of knowing me, they were unprepared for the lengths I was going to go to save the $75 excess baggage fee. Most of the night was spent with Budge getting drunk, Megan enjoying the alpha-male contest for her attention from two boys and myself cutting and taping three boxes (always under 62 inches, length plus width plus height!) that would fit a complete bicycle, a bob trailer and all of my gear for the entire trip. With some ingenuity, it worked and southwest was none the wiser.

Roll into Portland with no sleep, but Lisa, Vmaas and myself head over to Laurelthyrst for a great breakfast of pancakes, potatoes and other vegan goodness. We need to leave the next day for Montana and I still have a ton of shopping and other things to take care of. We hit Food Fight!, Whole Foods and the Veloshop (a vegan bike shop run by Molly Cameron) to stock up on food and bike parts and of course to check out the stuff I love here in Portland. Lisa, owner of Sweet Pea Baking, a vegan bakery, donated some treats for our trip and some sugar and oatmeal for our camp breakfasts. A good friend from the East Coast happens to be in Portland to do a BMX photo shoot and we all meet up for dinner. Rob Dolecki and I have managed to meet up all over the country since we are both traveling and it is usually over some excellent food.

At night when I am putting my bike together I can't find my pedals. I remember that Jack took them off...and he put them down on a table and they never made it into the box. Also find an extra item that Budge slipped into my bivy sac when I wasn't looking. Very funny.

Off to Montana with Vmaas! It wasn't that long ago that him and I left Pennsylvania on a snowy day in January of 2001. He was moving to Texas and went with and flew to Central America from there to spend two months in Belize. Was that really almost six years ago? The drive to Montana was uneventful, we mostly ate cookies and muffins and listened to the old-school rap station on satellite radio. We roll into Whitefish and it looks if west-LA was transferred to a rural mountain town. Fancy people with fancy cars and dress playing cowboy in Montana. Cell phone-less Steevo was chillin on a bench talking to some dudes when we found him. Fuck yeah! We find a place to camp and call it a night.

The next day we went into Glacier National Park, did some hiking, sorted out getting to the start of the ride, and just chilled. I went for a swim at dusk in Lake Mcdonald after, with Steevo and Dave's help, I got my bike running properly. For this trip I got a complete Surly Long Haul Trucker that I've only ridden once. It is a touring bike that can fit the 700x42 tires we are running. Most cyclocross bikes can't run tires that wide. After a camp dinner of canned Indian food, we all get to sleep just after dark.
In the morning we load all of our stuff into the car as Vmaas is kindly driving us up to the Canadian border on mostly unpaved roads. In Lisa's car. Steevo and I are silent. The roads suck. Is Vmaas pissed? He doesn't seem to mind and we thank him profusely when we get there. Since our time is limited we are starting at a point not on the route; it is slightly east of the rec'd starting point, but it is still on the border and it is actually closer to the actual Continental Divide. This border crossing is closed, but there is a landing strip and we are not there long before a border agent appears. He's friendly and he knew about what we were doing. Vmaas hops back into the car and just like that it is only Steevo and I and our bikes. Before he left we did get this photo of Vmaas holding a sign we actually found on the Canadian side of the border.

26 September 2006


Got back from New Mexico and the Great Divide ride on my birthday and we celebrated at Happy Family. Stoked. Thanks y'all. I'd post more photos, but iPhoto seems to of eaten them all.

06 September 2006

Organic Athlete Guide to Sports Nutrition

I am on the education committee for an organization called Organic Athlete that promotes veganism through athletic events. The main person behind it, Bradley Saul is very hard-working and ambitious about what they can achieve. Recently I helped with their Sports Nutrition Guide. While I do not agree with all of it (mostly the raw food, anti-fake meat wingnut stuff), it is still a very good resource. Check it out here:
Organic Athlete Guide to Sports Nutrition

06 August 2006

The Great Divide

I'm not sure how the idea of riding the Great Divide, a 2500-mile, mostly off-road, bike route from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide, came about. Were Steevo and I joking about it in chat? He had mentioned it and I have had it in the back of my mind since I first heard about it years ago. Seemed like a great way to see states like Montana and Wyoming and really appreciate some parts of this huge country that most people will never see. Next thing I know I am ordering the maps........
This route is extremely remote, some people carry satellite phones and the route creators, Adventure Cycling, recommend no fewer than three people. The weather is also extremely variable. These two issues = more gear. More gear = more weight and a tougher time getting up hills. This guy claims 191,000 feet of elevation gain. But there is a race and the winners do it in as few as 14 days. We have about 30 days because I am teaching till the end of August and have to be back in late September for some classes I am taking. Is that enough time? We plan on using cyclo-cross bikes as these will be much faster and the route is not too technical. Steevo is a cat-2 road racer and a cat-1 cyclo-cross racer, which is good, but makes me nervous. Him and I rode cross country the same summer, as our first bike tour, but we rode the opposite way (him with a group east to west, myself alone west to east). We both have touring experience, both have bike handling skills and both are strong riders. This trip is more like a backpacking trip because of the remoteness and all the time in the mountains (read: unpredictable weather), but we both have some experience there to.

28 July 2006

Max and I volunteer at Badwater Ultra

The Kiehl's Badwater Ultramarathon is a 135-mile running race from Badwater, Death Valley, negative 282 feet below sea level, to Whitney Portal, over 8,000 feet above. We took a trip out to help Chris and the webcast team. We did some interviews that you can listen to here. On the right is Scott Jurek (vegan!), current course record holder and second year winner. Max and I had a blast being out there and just being a part of it all. The most surprising thing the whole weekend was the normalcy of the runners. Listen to the pre-race interviews; they could be anyone. It makes this stuff seem so inclusive. So different from that iron-man bullshit, etc. Chris does a great job putting on these events. It was our pleasure to be there. I also hung out with Catra Corbett, a semi-famous trail runner who was there crewing for a runner. Check out her blog.

24 June 2006

Grand Tour double

Today Jack, Brian and I rode the Grand Tour double century. The triple was one year ago? Wow. I thought a lot about why I am interested in ultra-endurance cycling (and running? Or endurance events in general…). Others write about accomplishment and reaching goals, etc as motivation. This, along with language that talks about achievement or ‘hard work’ or ‘for the challenge’, has never appealed to me. It is very similar to the language used by high school guidance counselors to funnel students into college and/or an ‘important career’. And it is often used as a justification for fucking people over in business (‘Starbucks is so successful because they worked hard and achieved their goals of shutting down all other coffee shops. What a great achievement.’).
Then why do I ride these? It may, for good or for bad, be very simple. It is a great way to spend the day. It gets me up in the morning and out to see a lot of the world. Also, I especially enjoy the emotional ups and downs. The lows can be so low, that everything I’ve ever cared about comes into question. Once on a ride I almost convinced myself that I was not going to do another one ever again. When it is going well I think about how with a little more training I could probably win an iron-distance triathlon (ha!) or how much I love my friends and family. I’ve made phone calls immediately after finishing to tell someone I was thinking about them. Maybe for some people their range of emotions is increased by being in difficult environments (this probably relates to my interest in going to places like Chiapas, Palestine, etc).
But where does it end? A solo 508? Race Across America? I don’t know, really. The appeal of things (riding or otherwise) seems to come and go without reason. Right now I am stoked on these rides and even more excited to have friends to ride them with. I’ll take it day by day for now and be sure not to get ahead of myself.

The ride:
Brian and Jack forgot to eat and drink enough and the near 100 degree heat in the valley made this slightly problematic. I got them through the hot part of the day and then I struggled to hold on for the last 50 miles when they were both back to their normal fast selves. I’m not sure what our time was. Jack or Brian? If you know, post it. This may the oldest double in the world, but I imagine the route was much nicer 40 years ago when there were about one million less cars on the road. A lot of California may be bike friendly, but the other 95% would probably rather see us dead.

23 June 2006

Bicycle Film Fest Art Show

After some Chinese food a grip of us rolled over to the Bicycle Film Fest art show in mid-city. There were lots of people there and I was surprised at how interesting and diverse the art was. Not enough LA bike riding artists for a such-themed show, but entertaining nonetheless. Two pretty amazing things happened. One is that somebody put a sticker up all graffiti style on an advertisement for that Obey clothing company. Pretty funny.

The other, more amazing thing, was the huge stencil print Alec made of LA bike riding legend Tomatoes. We got it up in the front and no one seemed to of noticed. It was a huge stencil of a picture that was taken of him awhile ago. Great job Alec. It's unknown whatever happened to the print or if Tomatoes ever saw it. Does anyone have a picture?

01 June 2006

Good bye A-house

We had a fantastic 27 months. Great people have come through and wonderful things have happened. Will be missed greatly.

29 May 2006

King of the Mountains Century Challenge

This past Saturday we rode the Heartbreak 100, which was stage 3 of the King of the Mountains Century Challenge. Your time is added up from three of the most difficult centuries. The others are the Mulholland Challenge and Breathless Agony.
Unfortunately I don't have any ride reports written! If you check the results from Mulholland, we are top 20, only 35 minutes back from the fastest time. We were pretty stoked.
Breathless had a steep bit early and I was feeling miserable at first, then felt better and got an okay time. Jack did extremely well on this one and on Heartbreak most recently. Max and I chilled out; I was tired from the triathlon the week before and it was fucking cold. Like 42 degrees and windy at the start. WTF? Looking forward to next year.

24 May 2006

Auburn half-iron triathlon

Second triathlon. Good fun. Got a wetsuit for this one (which is a story in itself, please ask in person so I can tell it with proper visuals). The Auburn Triathlon is billed as the world's hardest half iron. To me that means that the bike and run are a lot more interesting. And they were!

At the start I was super nervous. All these people who look like aliens, wearing wetsuits and goggles. Then I look down and see that I look just like them. The swim was in this beautiful lake, you swam out, made a left then did a long out and back and then sort of arc'd back to the start for the 1.2 mile distance. I stayed towards the back in the start and then just found a comfortable pace with a small group. I had done a ton of 'technique work' and had not swam a lot of distance. This was my gamble after my horrible swim performance in my first tri. It was aparent that it paid off: I was taking almost half of the swim strokes as those around (that means much less energy spent). When I saw the dock was close I stepped it up a bit and swam away from the group I was with. When I got out I noticed that the guy in front of me had a half sleeve as I was taking off the top of my wetsuit. The announcer said, 'Here come the first participants in the heavily tattooed division.' Funny. Swim time: 34 minutes

The bike route was through wonderful, hilly back country. I saw a kid with a USC jersey and asked him if he knew my friend Michel and he did! She had mentioned me to and gave me some props for jumping into this one. I told him how Michel is the only person I know who has done a triathlon. When I rode away he said, 'See you on the run". What is that suppose to mean? I was so stoked on the bike. They stopped traffic for you! I passed a ton of people and when I saw an 'LA Tri Club' jersey I'd yell 'Yeah LA represent!', but no one responded.
Bike time: 3 hrs 15 min

The run was a figure-8 almost all trail. I got tripped up twice! Actually hit the ground. It was so hot that they would sponge you with cold water when you passed the check points. The route was SO hilly that lots of people were walking. Only a very few passed me. Had some stomach issues, but I knew I'd struggle a bit on the run from going so hard on the bike. Not too bad though.
Run time: 2 hrs 10 min
Overall: 6 hrs 5 min

This was really really fun. The organizers did an awesome job and the feel of it is actually 'grass roots' as they claim. Thanks to my Uncle Bob who gave me a place to crash in Folsom and took us out for great food pre and post race. And to my father for the x-mas present registration fee.

19 May 2006

Ride of Silence

Colin and I organized a Ride of Silence here in Los Angeles. It became a little too personal when Morgan got hit. A lot of people showed up because Morgan is still in the hospital.

02 May 2006

May Day

Day without an immigrant protest. Call in sick!