31 July 2008

It's Summer

Yes, it has been summer for a long while. But for me it is just beginning. I leave in a few hours via train to the Bay area. Saturday is Vineman!
I am not as stoked as I would like to be because I have not been able to run much since I twisted my foot 3 weeks ago on our shuttle adventure. Though I did do 45 minutes this morning and it felt okay. Not great, but okay. We'll see how 26.2 miles go! The aerobars are already on my bike....
I'll do my best to send some updates.

28 July 2008


I've been wanting to hit up a Mountaineerzz (a Midnight Ridazz off-shoot) ride for months and it finally worked out.

There is a car party at our house these days while fellow Swarm!ers travel the world. I picked out one of the motorized contraptions Friday night to hit up Orange 20 for a new cog (20 from 22) for the single-speed 29er and grab Megan and the burritos to head to Max's birthday in the South Bay.

Going to the South Bay is like a vacation. We were suppose to ride road in the am so I could test out the aerobars I am borrowing, but instead we hung out at REI and Whole Foods. After picking up Max we drove up to the second meeting point in Brentwood to meet the crew who rode to the ride. There were eleven of us, four on mountain bikes and the rest on cross bikes.

We started up the now infamous Mandeville Canyon Drive to Mandeville fire road to 'Nike'. From here we hit dirt Mulholland to the Broken arrow single-track back to Mulholland. Then a new to me single track that I don't remember the name of and then fire road up to 'the Hub'. Max, Paul and I split off and took the Backbone single-track back to Brentwood while the more epic ride continued west toward the ocean.

The sun is obscured as the mist from the ocean consumes the mountains

Max and Paul descend toward the city

Backbone as it approaches Will Rogers State Park

This was a good mix of transversing and single track over four hours. Wish I had the cross bike set up to do the entire ride, but overall it was great with the single speed mountain bike (ssmtb?) as I prepare for those 100 mile mountain bike races coming up. And always fun to meet riders who see bicycles as transportation and media for adventure. Thanks everyone.

22 July 2008

yo Los Angeles

yo Los Angeles,
I love you. I never thought I would, but these last five years have been fantastic. Especially the bike riding. I remember when LA Critical Mass was the only ride and it started at 5th and Flower and was mostly messengers. Then came More Than Transportation 1, 2, 3 and 4. By 2005 we had Bike Summer. Then Midnight Ridazz blew up and we have more groups and rides then I can keep track of. Each passing day I am enthralled by the number of people on bikes. The people are here, but where is our city? What are you doing?

Metro Board tonight passed the half cent sales tax proposal for November, but a huge chunk of the money is for highway widening. And they refused to allocate any specific amount (1% was requested) for cyclists and pedestrians.

I don't want LA to be Portland. That's why I live here. But can I have a little Portland in my LA? How about some Copenhagen? I'd even settle for some Oslo.

Here are some articles I've read this week that kept me motivated. Enjoy.

Crimanimalz are taking over

LA Times: Two death-defying transit stunts: biking on freeways and walking across the street

New bike lanes spotted around LA

Councilman Labonge, Europe and Bikes

We're here. We ride. Get used to it.

Highway Funding: The last bastion of socialism in America

21 July 2008

You have to be a jock or a skater. You can't be both.

Those were the words of my best friend, Mike McNamee, the summer before Junior High. He has an older brother and sister so I figured him an expert in the matter. I played sports and was good at them, but my heart was in skateboarding and BMXing. So who am I? Luckily not long after that I discovered hard core music where you could wear running shoes, be fit and still be against the status quo. I was stoked.

Now 15 years later I still cannot very easily define myself through the events I do. When the girlfriend tells people I am triathlete I cringe. No way! I just happened to do them. Besides, I have bike handling skills and hate training. I'm also called a roadie, but I've been dropped in CatV races (explaining to the girlfriend why I am in the beginner category despite spending my life riding a bike is a whole other funny situation). Ultra-endurance cyclist? I've never done any of the RAAM qualifiers solo. Fixed gear freestyler? Yawn.

A photographer from Bicycling magazine was in our house the other day and he asked what kind of riding we do. 'Uhhhhhhh, commuting? And mountain biking. Single speed too. And some racing. And cross a bit. Double centuries? Yeah, we've all done a few. And I ride fixed.'

I am not going through any sort of existential crisis related to my upcoming 30th birthday, but merely going through the curiosity I have about why I do what I do. I have six bikes. Five of them are ridden regularly. I just love bike riding and am easily bored?

Some schedule updates:
HooDoo 500 is not happening. Nicolas is injured, Brian is poor and Jack(the one who's front wheel flies off) is track racing.

8.02 Vineman full-iron (triathlon)

My first two mountain bike races, six days apart:
8.31 Shenandoah 100
9.06 Tahoe-Sierra 100

Should I put a shock on my rigid single-speed? Anyone know someone over at Fox? They have a sweet 29er shock.
And to get stoked: Sick Of It All

14 July 2008

JPL Red Box shuttle ride

I got the idea for this adventure in the Spring when we rode out and back on Gabrielino. Lots of guys 'shuttle ride' this route. They meet at the bottom, pile into one truck, drive to the top, ride down and then drive back to the top for the first truck. Four additional motor vehicle trips on the narrow and windy Angeles Crest highway. Could we do this human powered without being irritatingly self-righteous?

(Cole took this photo. If you look close you can see the shadow from his mustache)

Easy. A group rides road 30 miles up Angeles Crest to Red Box (about 5000 ft elevation) towing mountain bikes. Another group trail runs 15 miles to Red Box. At the top group one passes the mountain bikes to group two who then ride the 15 miles of single track down to JPL.

To start I was up from 3am on 2 hours sleep and Max had stayed up the entire night. Brian rode out from El Segundo on his mountain bike (30 miles) and we met at JPL at 8am. I had posted the ride to Midnight Ridazz so we did not know who would show up. Our original plan was for Jack to ride road pulling the bikes with some sort of Rock Lobster rack, but that didn't work out and Jack flaked on us. Now Max is no slack rider, but he hasn't been riding too much beyond commuting. Could he take 50 pounds of mountain bikes on the Big Dummy? Yes he can. With Michael on as support Max did an epic road ride with 50 pounds of cargo.

Brian and I set off on foot along the Arroyo-Seco to the Gabrielino. It's a beautiful trail with stream crossings, boulders, canyons with full cover and exposed, dry ridges. I love it. Below Brian is picking some wild berries as the mountains we are about to run up loom in the distance. Yes, he is wearing his bike helmet. Said it was the easiest way to carry it.

Some switchbacks that we would soon be descending down.

Brian and I ran together the first 5 or so miles and then inevitably he dropped me. I ran almost all of the first 9 miles to Switzer Falls. There I begged some picnicing folk for water as I had run out about 45 minutes previous. The last 4 miles up were quite difficult, as expected. I hiked most of this section at a good clip and ended up at the top only 30 minutes or so after Brian; about four hours after we set off.

Brutal blister. I also rolled my foot as I was wearing some light weight running shoes. Duh.

Gabrielino is not an easy trail to ride down. For a number of miles the trail is between 1 or 2 feet wide with the mountain to one side and a huge drop to the other. Some sections are a little washed out (I like to bunnyhop them cause it's easier than having to unclip and get off your bike).

We were back and forth with a group of three mountain bikers who were all really cool. They told us about a sweet swimming hole only a 1/4 mile off the main trail.

Brian and I were super tired and it was a tough decision. I think we made the right one. Cold cold water is a great remedy for aching muscles.

After 8 hours in the wilderness (just like a 9-5, only fun) we headed over to Pasadena to take the Gold Line to Chinatown. From here I had a short ride home and Brian, after buying some durian fruit, took the train back to El Segundo.

Max getting his well-deserved AdventureSnore.

Next time: I'd like to film this. It is so gorgeous back there and so accessible from Los Angeles. In my mind Sunday was a beautiful combination of DIY, adventure and wtf? Sure, there is an environmental component, but that is a secondary benefit to some friends getting together and thinking about new ways of exploring an amazing area and what is possible.

03 July 2008

Happy 50th Birthday Grand Tour

Finally an adventure! I've been so caught up in working a lot and these other non-adventure projects that I almost didn't do this one. Phew. I kind of love that feeling when you are getting your stuff ready and the rational part of your brain chimes in and is all, 'Are you sure this is a good idea? Don't you think sleeping in your bed would be nice?'

I rolled out of the house at about 930pm heading for Malibu, 30 miles west and north, to the 50th anniversary of the Grand Tour. It's a city traverse for the first 15 and then 15 up the famous PCH. I was counting the number of Bentleys that I saw and then lost track when I got passed by a Rolls Royce. Oh Southern California why are you so crazy?

Where to sleep? Stupid sprinklers. I climbed over a half broken-down fence (still in spandex, mind you) into a nursery (the kind with trees, not children) and find a little covered area with hay on the ground. Score. I get out my mat and sleeping bag, change into shorts, eat my burritos and am horizontal by 1230am. The plan was to meet up with Brian in the am after he rode up from El Segundo, but my stupid nextel broke the day before and I couldn't see his call nor his number to call him. I roll out of 'bed' around 530 to the sounds of bike shoes clicking in and out, get checked in, hide my bag and am off.

In 2005 I rode the triple century and in 2006 I rode the double with Brian and Jack. It's a classic route, that I enjoyed this time more than any previous. It meanders up the coast, cuts inland back through Westlake and then over to Ojai before hitting the coast again at Carpinteria where the double heads south.

I thought I was leaving on time, but apparently all those riders I saw were doing the double metric (I was wearing my Paris-Brest-Paris jersey, figuring it was appropriate because I slept outside the night before the ride). I didn't really see more than a few double riders till about 80 miles in. Then caught some more at lunch, mile 114. Still, I rode alone, which was nice. A double is long enough where I don't spend much time worrying about all the other stuff I have to do. When I do 20 or 30 miles in the morning during the week, I am always thinking about what I have to do when I get home. Not on a double. It is like a vacation from myself.

I did ride about 10 miles with a 52 year old guy riding a Soma fixed gear. He bike commutes 18 miles each way to work. Total bad ass. The 50 miles down the coast to end the ride were beautiful in the stereotypical sunset coastal breeze California kind of way. After huffing and puffing about there being not a single vegetarian item at the post-ride BBQ (okay, there was plain white bread) I rode the 15 miles into Santa Monica and went to Whole Foods. A good day. I got in 250 miles in 24 hours toward my 1000 miles in 4 weeks goal I set. And I got to sleep outside, which always makes anything you do more fun.