24 April 2008

Bicycle Man is what I am

I just filled out an application for a race and it asked for 'the highest age I would reach in 2008'. The answer for me is: 30. I'm not one of those people who is making a big deal about being 30, but I do recognize it as some sort of marker in my life. When I think about being thirty I get that feeling that you get when you wake up in your tent somewhere far from home and just can't believe that you are where you are. Like getting there and being there is some sort of secret that you discovered. Like you've somehow fooled the world by getting away with what you are doing. Which reminds me, it has been awhile since I've spent some time in a tent or bivy sac.

22 April 2008

I came to spin, battle me that's a sin

Not many ways I can spin (haha) a post about a 3-hour spin class to make it sound cool. Or even that interesting. But come on, my local YMCA organized a cycle-a-thon, how could I not participate? I tried to not, but then was told I didn't have to raise the full $250, but only 'what I could'. So why not? I've only done a couple spin classes cause they are too hard.
They can't all be like Steevo's spin class in Pittsburgh.
The girl next to me asked if I was a 'street rider', which means that, unlike 75% of bike shoe owners, I use bike shoes on a bike outside of the gym. I did almost crash once when I stopped my pedaling abruptly, to go from standing to sitting, and the momentum of the wheel sprung me forward and lifted the rear of the 'bike' off the ground. Oops.
Thanks to everyone who donated money, which was mostly my workout partner Mike T and my co-workers. And Chris and Megan for stopping by.

Chris! (hates exercise)

Cute blonde? Fit? Be a spin instructor!

Sweating so much my sleeves fell off

A band was playing in the front
(not really, but it looks like it, right?)

And it is Earth Day so check out this Humane Society ad.

18 April 2008

2008 Mulholland Challenge and Double

A jersey appropriate in many ways for this ride

Planet Ultra's Mulholland double century and Mulholland Challenge are epic cycling events that take place in the Santa Monica Mountains behind Malibu (and beyond). Last year I rode the Century Challenge which was one of the best days on the bike I've ever had. I just hammered for the entire 100 miles, which I can't say I had ever done. In 2006 I also did the Challenge and in 2005 I rode the double. This year I volunteered, which makes four years in a row I've been involved in this event!

My checkpoint was at the top of Decker Canyon, a brutally steep, long, hot climb into the mountains from PCH; one athlete said the cyclists strung out on it 'resembled a battle ground of despair'. At the top I was most often greeted with elation, 'Is this the top? I did it? Wow!' or slight anger, 'That was so damn miserable! This is ridiculous!' First the fastest riders come through. They are quietly suffering and do not hang out long. Then the 'rush' and the middle group makes it way to the top. Some move on quickly in order to get it over with. Some hang out as shown below.
The search for shade

The last 10% or so of riders tend to look ghostly. Often some food and water will get them on their way, but some are just in over their head. This is one of the hardest centuries in Southern CA (anywhere?)!

Putting water and calories back in the participants

This guy crashed on the infamous Deer Creek descent
(which has claimed many carbon wheels),
but pushed on to finish

I love this photo. It makes me think of how in many parts of the world the search for and acquisition of water (and food) takes up a significant percentage of people's days. In modern-day Southern California we punish ourselves on our bikes to intimately know the need for water and food. This could be in an Anthropology textbook under 'Cycling Culture'.

The SAG wagon was a party van: 25% of century riders DNF'd

I noticed this sticker on the back of another SAG vehicle

This cyclist took it literally.
I am not sure if a requirement of getting into this SAG was actually pedaling to you puke.

A sick bike. Worth a year's rent in Los Angeles.

Soon after the century riders, the double riders started filtering through. They were at mile 162 of a long, difficult ride. The climb took a toll on a significant number of these hearty souls as well. Our cut-off time was 6:30, but many riders had yet to arrive and pick up their lights. It was getting dark. What to do? We packed up the van and I drove down Decker to find them. The first guy was done. Said it was the worst day of his life and he wanted to be SAG'ed back to the start. Later he told me he has ridden over 100 double centuries. Down the road further I came across a guy walking. He didn't want his lights, he wanted to get in the van. No problem. Within five minutes we were pulled over so he could get out and puke. I gave him a bag cause I didn't want to stop again; we were low on gas and I wanted to get off the mountains.

Back at the start/finish hotel around 10pm and double riders were finishing up. Century riders who earlier looked like zombies, were now fed, showered, and changed, giving the impression of normalcy. I was slightly concerned about getting back to El Segundo, I had ridden up from raw Brian's earlier in the day. Ends up that Raoul, the puking in the van guy, lives in Hawthorne, which is right next door to El Segundo. We packed our bikes into his Sentra and on the drive he told me how he got into riding doubles. A great story of widening horizons and dedication. Back at Brian's at 1130 in time to catch the end of Jenny's b-day party and eat some of Kiecker's famous vegan fudge.

14 April 2008

If you stare into the abyss long enough the abyss stares back at you.

Our friend Stephen Krcmar, who obviously has an advanced degree in English or some other field where you read a lot, organized, again, Thus Climbed Zarathustra, the cyclocat alleycross. What a great concept for a race: you ride to staircases, you hoist (Stephen says 'portage') your bike, run to the top, then get back on your bike and fly through the neighborhood to the next set of stairs. There were nine in total throughout Echo Park and Silver Lake. About 20 of us raced; everyone else missed out.
To me, an event like this symbolizes so many of the things I love. Out on my bike on a beautiful day with some friends, exploring areas of the world I've never seen, even though they are in my own backyard. There is also the physical aspect where being somewhat fit increases your enjoyment and your experience: everything is better when you are slightly out of breath and sweating. When the flowers of spring are odiferous and friendly competition keeps you all a little sharper while dodging cars and reading a route slip. But really, everyone just wants to know who won. It was Morgan. I caught him between stair set 7 and 8, we rode together a bit, then I blew up trying to beat him on the last set while he drank the complimentary sangria. He scuttled past me onto the glorious win.

The South Bay crew ran into this guy while they were riding to Silver Lake. He asked where they were going and then he came along to the race! He finished 7th or 8th and won some Patagonia underwear.

09 April 2008

House update

Budge has a great house update post on his blog: 'House update #... something'. I'm going to be lame and just link someone else's blog as my own blog post. I have so many photos in my camera waiting to see the world! In the meantime, I slave away.