30 July 2010

pre Vineman 2010

I love to swim.
I love to bike.
I love to run.
I love to do things for a really long time.

This is the answer I give when folks ask me about triathlon. I am most definitely not a triathlete and I'm going to shy away from trying to convince anyone that triathlon is 'cool'. It's like arguing that Korn is a seminal punk band or that Del Taco really has Mexican food down. I'm glad people enjoy these things, but they will always just be what they are. And that's fine! I've been known to deviate outside of the norm (norm, as always, is relative here. It's normal in my world to not know anyone with health insurance or who eats at McDonalds. Or anyone who isn't pro-choice or who hasn't hung out with their favorite band). Like listening to Downset, paying for a mattress and working a job where I have to wear a button-up shirt (occasionally).
That's the long intro to say that tomorrow is the Vineman, full-iron (fuck you Ironman-TM for trademarking both 'ironman' and 'iron-distance' you money-hungry fuckers) triathlon.

2.4 mile swim
112 mile bike
26.2 mile run

I've watched two bloggers I follow each race their first this year- Punk Rock Tri Guy and Vegan Heart Doc. Their rightful sense of accomplishment is very motivating.

Yay! But I'm nervous. More than usual. I've swam 5 times this year. Maybe 2.4 miles total, but probably less! Since reading Total Immersion I'm confident in my theory that swimming is way, way more skill than fitness, but still! I haven't practiced that skill very much in the last two years (the last triathlon I did was Vineman 2008, which is also the last time I've worn my wetsuit).

Whoa. Deep breath. I won't drown. I just don't want it to slow my bike down! Running that half marathon July 4th was awesome, but I haven't run much since. Oops.

You know what is fucking awesome though? Vineman recycles everything-including a special process for energy bar wrappers-and composts fruit scraps. The finish is powered by solar panels. New this year- paper cup-free run! They are using Hydra-pouch refillable cups that each runner carries. So fucking awesome. When we rode through the SF marathon on Sunday on our way to Rough Riders there was litter EVERYWHERE. It was disgusting. So this rules.

Well, goal time....I'd love to beat 12hrs20min from last time, but I'm not sure how the swim will pan out and slow the rest of my day. Also haven't ridden my road bike much at all and I just put my aerobars on and haven't ridden them yet. Is a four-hour marathon possible? I'd love it, but we'll have to see. Holding back on the bike is near impossible for me.

Thanks to everyone who helped get me here and make this happen!

26 July 2010

Mt. Tamalpais

As part of the Rough Riders AdventureCORPS event we rode from the
Mission in SF to Mill Valley and then to the summit of Mt. Tamalpais
on dirt. Well, you have to hike the last 0.3 miles.
Team Swarm! and others made up the late group each day but we still
rode with some great folks. At the Saturday night bike show Megan Dean
of Moth Attack! bikes won second best bike. Rad.

More info with links and photos later in the week, hopefully.

23 July 2010

Boggs 24 hour mountain bike race

"People should learn endurance; they should learn to endure the
discomforts of heat and cold, hunger and thirst: they should learn to
be patient when receiving abuse and scorn; for it is the practice of
endurance that quenches the fire of worldly passion which is burning
up their bodies." -Buddha

I love mountain biking. Most non-cyclists fixate on time and/or
distance with these events, but really, Im just stoked to be out there
jumping off rocks, railing turns and bombing hills. Sure, the
endurance athletic stuff comes into play and I do enjoy that as well,
but man o man riding bikes is fun.

So. It was hot as shit. 100+.
The dude who won single speed (and overall!) lapped me when I was on
my 5th lap. Wtf?
I rested at 130am, changed kits and rubbed my feet. Did a few laps
then chilled at sun up. Some stomach weirdness! Maybe from the old gel
flask I took from the fridge.
I ate bananas, apples, clif bars, lara bars and peanut chews. Plus
MaxoMax, the Swarm! homemade electrolyte drink courtesy of Max.
New bike is nimble, fast and responsive. Rode the whole course, no
pushing, on my last 2 laps.
Lap times and other numbers below.

Now heading to the Bay area for Rough Riders Multi-surface Cycling
Festival. Vineman next weekend! Shit, I've only swam 4 times this
year. Should I be nervous?

17 laps, 2nd/4 in SS, 6th/22 overall.

20 July 2010

Oliver's market

I've come to look fwd to this place as much as the races I go to
Sonoma County for! This bin was empty; hopefully next week they've
some. They also have a taqueria and I ate possibly the largest burrito
in my life. And I've eaten thousands of large burritos! Next time I'll
weigh it and take photos. It may approach two pounds.

The 24hr race went well! Fell short of the 200 mile mark, did 17 laps
on a tough, hour-long-ish 9.3-mile course. Second in single-speed, but
there were only four of us. This fireman dude from Santa Rosa has won
every race I've been to up there and this one he won overall! Beat
pros on geared bikes. I'll have to check my overall. Bike is DOPE. And
now I have 100 packets of Hammer Espresso gel.

17 July 2010

Idleness and dissipation breed apathy

24 hours of Boggs today! 11am to 11am. With new bike, awesome. Without
any crew or friends racing, less awesome. It was a great course last
year and suuposedly there's even more single track. As my first 24hr
race last year I got 4th out of 8 single speed, but something like 9th
out of 45 overall. I like the time and the looped course rarely feels
repetitive, but it's hard mentally to push when there's no 'end'. It
got me at Cool 24 this year when I stopped cause I was cold (haha) and
fell asleep...

Maybe I'll shoot for a distance to keep me going? 200 miles? A double
century on my mountain bike would be a first.

I'll try to update the Swarm! Twitter occasionally. Also, a prize if
you can name the album the title of this post is from. Hint: I had the
t-shirt in high school.

16 July 2010

14 July 2010


Yes, I'm posting more often! Very stoked too. Now that it's summer I'm still busy, but in ways that are more interesting to post. After I finish up here with Badwater, I'm home for 36 hours or so before heading up to 24 hours of Boggs. Can I get a road ride and mountain bike ride in before? Then back to LA for a few days of work before the Rough Riders Multisurface Cycling Festival in Marin County. The week after? Vineman (The People's Ironman!) in Sonoma County. Getting nervous! I really need to swim a few times. What a month.
See you out there on the trail, on the road, in the water or on foot.

13 July 2010

Badwater Ultra-marathon

I'm here helping with the Badwater 135-mile Ultra-marathon and the top runners are finishing- just over 24 hours after they started. I'm updating regularly on the Swarm! twittersphere and there's always the AdventureCORPS webcast (run from where I'm sitting right now).

The distances these runners cover and the landscape they cross...there really are few words to describe it. Driving the course at 4am and seeing folks running up hill, so touching! I get all choked up seeing people look confident and smiling after running 100 plus miles. In Death Valley. In the summer.

Yep, a pink tutu. He rules. Pennsylvania native and past finisher!

Los Angeles native and past champion Jorge Pacheco running up Townes Pass

Last years champion Farinazzo getting the full pit crew treatment on Townes Pass

Jorge descending Townes pass

A top five racer gets an ice bath before taking on the last 13 miles to Whitney Portal

10 July 2010

Sauvie Island half marathon

I can't remember the last time I did a running event! At least two years. When I was mapping out my training for Vineman I thought it'd be a good idea to run a half marathon in late June or early July. And what better place than near Portland, Oregon? The Foot Traffic Flat takes place on Sauvie Island (Sauvie means delicious berries) 15 miles north of Portland.

So we, as in famous artist Lacy J. Davis and I, decided to ride our bikes there, duh. Yes, I love to ride bikes and I'm an environmentalist blah blah blah...but there's only one bridge onto the island. Lots of cars. It just made sense to ride! The last 3 miles we rolled past bumper to bumper traffic. AND it was a great ride and a good way to warm up. I suggested this to the race organizer but he didn't think it likely anyone else would ride...

The blue behind us is part of the un-ironic background but the blue behind that is real sky blue.

After locking our bikes to a barn and eating some fruit, the half was ready to start. I started with my friend Eben, who works at the 7th Friendliest Store in Portland, who just ran a fast half the weekend before. Needless to say I let him go after the first mile. By mile two I realized that the majority of my running races have been the LA marathon and this race is the exact opposite, in a good way! Since I don't have a watch and only recently began pacing at a track I was nervous about my time. Was I going too fast? Too slow? I set the timer on my iPhone and checked it at mile 3 and mile 6. Turns out I was running just about 7.5 minute miles, as I hoped.

St. John's bridge, looking south.

There's no coasting in running! I'd find myself lost in my thoughts and my pace slowing...and I'd have to catch myself and see where I was. Runners may be worse than cyclists in avoiding hills, but the monotony of the flat course was getting to me. I like hills! I felt good at mile 10 so I picked it up and finished in the punk rock time of 1hr 38min. Eben finished about 4 minutes ahead for 107th place overall. If he knew, he probably would of let that one person pass so his time could be punk and 108. Lacy finished the 5k, her first running race, in 28min30sec, not to mention the 30+ miles of riding. Awesome!

After some lounging and watching the fast marathoners come in we headed back toward Portland, but took a detour over the St. John's bridge to eat at Proper Eats, which is basically a restaurant in a health food store. The service and smell are like you'd expect from a restaurant inside a health food store, but the food was terrific. Tempeh breakfast scramble!

09 July 2010

French fry salad

Inagural ride on the new mountain bike! Shocks. Something else. Also amazing? Four pounds lighter. A smooth, fast bike that fits. Wow!

Aidan is still in town post-Tour Divide, all 4th place finish, 1st single-speed (10 hours off the course record?!), 1st rookie. Took him for a spin in the Verdugos. June gloom (still) in effect on this side, but the climb up from La Tuna was HOT. The opposite of his next adventure, which is the 1100-mile Alaska Iditarod Invitational early next year. Nothing like perspective on what is possible.

Post-ride Indian buffet. Duh. A spot I had heard about in Pasadena near Lake and Colorado. The food was good, weren't a ton of vegan options, but there was this:

We thought maybe it was compost. Delicious compost. Beans, curried broccoli and.....french fry....salad? Whaaa? We asked what was up with it and our server just told us it was a mixed-vegetable salad. Okay. I'm down no matter what you call it.

08 July 2010


Recently I was in Powell's 'City of Books' in Portland and while perusing the Food/Sustainability section I finally got to see in person, my good friend Temra Costa's book about women in the sustainable food movement. Temra rules. We met, obviously enough, at a conference on food justice. She lived in Davis at the time I was traveling for work to Sacramento every few months or so and we'd hang out. She's a super hard worker and very busy, so that often meant I was tagging along in what she was already doing- like scavengering the city for figs. Have you ever ate a fresh fig straight from the tree? She'd climb the tree, pick one and eat it, pass one down, which I would eat and then every third one would actually make it into the bike basket.

Also in this section was my friend Erik Knutzen's book that he co-wrote with his wife, The Urban Homestead.

I ran into him last at the Echo Park Farmers Market (duh, right?) and they are working on a new book right now. I've been on a tour of his house during the 2009 Big Parade Staircase Walk and it is super amazing. A small farm right in the city!

Now any of you vegans out there know that the sustainable food movement not only includes animal products, but actively promotes them and are often anti-vegetarian. It's very frustrating. Sustainability aside, it is still an ethical issue. As if eating local makes a difference to the animals raised and killed! I don't want to be the militant vegan that no doubt has fueled the fire for localvores, in fact, I want to do the opposite. Vegans need to be more in touch with these folks and understand this movement, because it is a very important part of the puzzle.

The book I was looking for was On A Dollar A Day. I knew about the blog and hadn't realized it was a book until a friend in Portland recommended it. Turns out that the authors are not only vegan, but old hardcore kids! (Out of context 'hardcore' kids sounds funny, it's a sub-genre of punk rock that was very influential to me as a youth, and today).

Can someone eat on a dollar a day? What about on Food Stamp allocations? I love books where the authors are actively figuring something out as they write. You feel their struggle in trying to not only create meals from the resources they are limited to, but also to vegan-ize them. I'm most of the way through it and I highly recommend it.

The next day I was in the Powell's that's in the airport (Portland, I love you!) and what do I see? My friend Kalee Thompson's book Deadliest Sea. Full circle, as she's the partner of the guy who organizes the Big Parade Staircase Walk! On last year's walk I had just started the book I am working on and I bugged her with a million questions about the process. I haven't read this yet, but she's a former editor of National Geographic Adventure (RIP!) and an awesome person so I know it'll be good.

So stoked on my friends! And I can't write a post about books and not mention Born To Run. I could not put this book down, except to go running. It's about more than running and ultra-running, it's anthropological in his look at the Tarahumara, but also about us, Western Culture. The author looks at the shoe industry and is not afraid to name names. It all comes together when a mysterious desert dweller organizes an ultra-run in Copper Canyon. So rad.

This book takes running out of the athletic realm. I see it now like back-packing or bike touring. We are born to run and to move, so get out and do it. I can't wait to run an ultra-marathon, which I guess is obvious to anyone who knows me...

07 July 2010

Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic

In April I rode the Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic in East SD County. Back in January I was part of the pre-ride so I was really looking forward to this! It just so happened that the Rosarita-Ensenada party ride was happening the same weekend and my good friend Matthew was heading down there from LA on his fancy Rivendell.
I had to work till 5pm and then I loaded up my two-shoulder messenger bag with my bivy sac, sleeping bag and pad and everything I'd need for the weekend. Made my way to coastal Orange County in time to watch the sun set and was near the SD border by 10pm.

The awesome bike path before the military base or freeway dilemma

Our Swarm! jerseys say 'Can't Stop Won't Stop' which I took straight from Hip Hop slang as applied to long-distance cycling. Matthew likes to say, 'Can stop, will stop!' when riding. I had hustled to do the first 77 miles miles in 5 hours, which is fun in my own way, but the next day we were leisurely. To say the least. I asked if we should stop and get some bars or bananas and he replied, 'If we get hungry we'll just find a taco truck.' Awesome.


We chilled all through SD County, taking the beach options whenever possible. We arrived at a friend's house in Ocean Beach, which is the exact stereotype of everything you think about Southern California- in the good way. We had been texting and when I asked about food he said, 'There's a liquor store near me that has great vegan food.' Whaaaaa? Ends up Liticker's Liquor has a full-on vegan menu with carne asada and seitan burritos. One of each, please.

We ate our tacos on his roof and watched the sun set. California, bro.

My friend Jeff had driven down after work and met up with us and after some dessert from the local co-op we set our alarm for 4am to head out to Pine Valley (Matthew and Craig were riding to the border a few hours later to meet the start of their ride). We had some disagreement over what time to leave. I wanted to sleep as late as possible and get there right as the last wave was ready to go, but Jeff, being older and wiser, suggested we not do that. Okay, okay.
Ends up I was right! We flew out there with no traffic and then sat in the car, in the dark, waiting for it to warm up. Went with the last wave...

Jeff killing it. Fourth fastest time of the day.

We rode in a good pack till the first climb picked up and then Jeff and some Cat-1 guy were off. I settled in with a triathlete who I spent most of the time trying to convince that iron-distance is the only way to go (you get your money's worth!). Paced with a quiet guy from Arizona for awhile who really pushed me on the climbs. the course is three loops, all with the same aid station at the top of Mt Laguna and the same fast, awesome descent. Ran into a friend I had met at the AdventureCORPS Shasta cycling/yoga camp last summer. We rode together for awhile on the insanely steep last climb discussing art, girls, work and making it all fit. He said something that really stood out: 'Work expands to fit the time allotted.' That aids my procrastination tendency and I love it.

I pushed on the steep stuff just to keep the pedals turning and passed about a half dozen folks walking. It was that steep! Keep in mind I'm still near the front third...

Post-ride meal included Filipino food again and vegan pizza!

Results and photos are up and worth perusing. Please note the 11 and 13 year old girls that did the same ride. For real. I also met Errin Vasquez, who I had chatted with on the internet previously. Also awesome.

We drove back to Ocean Beach in time for another Organic Athlete vegan potluck and decided to spend the night so I could go to the co-op for the 100th time on this trip. Breakfast!

When I was searching for something funny to link from Rivendell, I searched 'Cult Bikes' and it ends up that Robbie Morales, an old BMX friend, has a new company with this name. Here's a great sampler video!
(maybe I should end all posts with a BMX or Hip Hop video?)