08 December 2005

6th/Valencia pre-Budge to island


30 October 2005

Joshua Ploeg dinner

Our friend Joshua is a traveling vegan chef and makes the best food I have ever had, anywhere, anytime. Super gourmet creations from all over the world with attention to detail and culture. Norwegian soup? Icelandic appetizers? He is on it and we love having him come down to LA and spend time with us.

A-house bike parking


Vegan girl lawyer club, nuff said


10 October 2005

Morgan at Furnace Creek 508

Morgan 'Goat' Beeby finished the Furnace Creek 508, a non-stop bicycle race through Death Valley, in 41 hours, only 7 months after his first double century (also in Death Valley). Morgan you rule!

Rider and crew morning of start (Satan not pictured)

All riders get pre-race mug shots

Devil horns

Finish in 29 Palms, Sunday night

Max, Megan, Morgan, Myself and Chris Kostman (race organizer)

07 October 2005

Morgan is racing Furnace Creek 508!

So we leave for Santa Clarita tonight for car/bike inspection and the race starts tomorrow at 630am.




Webcast to follow time splits through the weekend!

30 September 2005

Philadelphia half marathon

After all the years of talking smack on running I go ahead and run a half marathon. At least it was as unconventional as expected. I had put a little time into running in prep for my first triathlon, but not much as far as distance. My twice a year running partner on the east coast told me about the Philly half and that I should run it with him. ‘No, no, I couldn’t do that distance. Too far. I am not ready.” He laughed and told me to shut up and run it. It seems most people are more overconfident about my abilities than myself.
A week and a half before the race I decide I want to give it a go. Ride over to Fairmount Park (staying in Philly at this time) on the new extended bike/jog path. I do eight miles on Tuesday and nine miles on Thursday. For the second run I managed to talk Brad, a good friend of mine who had done the Broad St. Ten Miler, to run with me. He decides to run the half as well! So at this point the race is in less than ten days and between us we have run three times for a total of twenty-six miles in the three weeks leading up to it. At least I was in good company.
Friday night. We buy some running gear at the expo where you pick up your number (ed note: Suckers!). Then I am off to West Philly for a giant feast of vegan pizza, meatballs and whole-wheat pasta with Brad and some of his friends from his office. Great time chillin and eating with people almost as unprepared as I am. Afterwards I roll over to a party but only stay for an hour or so in order to be in bed by 1am.
Wake up and fumble around for my ‘gear’. New running shorts are SHORT. Yikes. Put on a cycling cap in order to represent and not be mistaken for a runner. The night before everyone was talking about putting ‘Bodyglide’ on sensitive areas to avoid chaffing. I use KY cause that’s all I can find. Eat some soy yogurt and I am out the house riding over to the start on part of the course. Meet up with the crew and we find our appropriate corral (When you sign up you give an estimated finish time and they corral you based on this). I never find Farnz, the kid who got me to do this, cause he is in a corral closer to the front and we never catch him. Actually, for most of the race we remain on the other side of the passing. It is three of us running together and we take it slow for the first 5 miles through the city.
Public urination is a funny thing. In most places (outside the US) it is acceptable when alternatives do not exist. It was funny to see guys who probably drive BMW SUV’s sneak off to the bushes to take a piss (when otherwise they probably scoff at it). Having to pee did not come up for us cause the sports drink they were giving out was not vegan! What the hell is that about? Putting whey in a Gatorade-like drink. Bullshit! I drink water at every stop though, utilizing the speed walk method in order to actually get the water into my mouth.
By mile seven or eight we had picked up the pace and are now running each mile slightly faster than the previous. We get some Clif shots around mile nine and talk about picking up the pace further at mile ten. Is this a good idea? We hit ten and Brad’s friend steps on it. I keep up. She slows slightly but I am stoked on the new pace and keep it up. Mile eleven hits and I am still going strong. I slow for water and when I speed up the effects of the faster pace are evident in my breathing. The weather (low 90’s) becomes more of a factor when I exit the shade around mile twelve. I am passing people like crazy and imagine them all thinking, ‘That kid is going to blow up. What a dumb-ass!’ The gradient increases and mile thirteen is around the corner or it should be……this is the longest mile of the whole race…..I hit thirteen and people are lined along the course for the last tenth of a mile cheering us on. I really wasn’t sure if I could hold the pace I was at till I saw the end. What was I thinking? I cross the line and have to keep moving. My legs are slightly unhappy. I drink a quart of water immediately and collect my medal.
Meeting up with the others we make our way to the food. Philly soft pretzels! Easily I consumed 10,000 calories of these in a month in Philly and gladly consume a couple hundred more (calories, not pretzels). We sit in the grass and talk about our runs. Good times.

30 August 2005

Naylor's Beach Olympic triathlon

August 28th, 2005

Olympic Distance= 1.5K (0.93 miles) Swim, 40K (24.8 M) Bike, 10K (6.2 M) Run

Doing a triathlon has been on my mind for many years. The stigma associated with ‘athletic’ events and my general disinterest in competition has always kept me away. Also, working out training (a pool to swim in regularly) and having a decent bike for the ride has only recently been possible.

Holy shit this was hard! After a short side trip to Maryland and DC we were checking in at the start near Warsaw, Virginia on Saturday afternoon for the Naylor’s Beach Triathlon. A nice kid from DC introduces himself to me cause he said I look like a (punk) rocker. Ha! After the bike and helmet check I did a short swim in the river before we headed off to find a hotel (thanks to a last minute donation/sponsorship we could afford to!) and eat Chinese food.

Up at 5am and nervous. So much to think about between all 3 events and the transitions, etc. We get there and I put my bike and running stuff in the transition area and get my swim cap and goggles ready for the swim. The crowd has a lot of the type-A dudes with shaved eye-brows whom I am generally averse to, but overall it is not that big of a deal. I’m swimming in bike shorts, which seems to be the norm. At the pre-race meeting, held at the entrance to the river, they point out the swim course. My stomach turns at the realization of just how far a mile in open water is. Seriously, staying afloat that long may be problematic. Bam! And we are off. I stay in the back so that I don’t get in any of the real competitors’ way. Immediately I have trouble with the navigation. Whenever I try to get into a groove of swimming I vear slightly off course. This happened numerous times. I look up and no one is around and I’ve swum partly out of the way. You can’t see shit in the middle of the river! Well, I can see all the different colored swim caps from the other waves (I was in the first wave) as they pass me! At one point I am starting to get achy and the exit beach seems ungodly far away.

Out of the water in 53 minutes and I can’t even run to the transition area where my bike is. Have to sit down to put my bike shoes on. Slightly delirious after swimming for almost twice my previous longest swim (time wise; I did this distance in a pool in 30 min). Heart rate is 178 (highest I've recorded is 194?!) when I start on the bike! Can’t even stand to pedal up hill cause upper body is so weak.
Eventually I recover from the swim and start to pass people. As I start to feel strong on the bike the realization of the upcoming run hits me and I chill out a bit. The course is beautiful with lots of trees and low traffic so 25 miles go by extremely fast. Ave speed: 19.9 MPH with no drafting.

Off of the bike and I am feeling more confident. Upper body still aches, but legs feel okay. Take the first 2 miles of the run slow (maybe 10 min miles? I don’t have a watch). I ran my first 10k in May and have only run a handful of times since then. Get some much needed fluids at the aid stations. On the bike part I had two water bottles, both with Sustained Energy (liquid food stuff that supplies about 500 calories), but I might not of drank enough. Pick up the pace a little and am being passed less often. Around mile 4 I catch up with a woman who had talked to me briefly when she passed me earlier. We run together for a while and she is super friendly. She had completed an iron-distance tri (2.4 mile swim, 110 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) earlier this year and was super supportive when I told her this was my first tri. I pick up the pace, mainly cause I just want to get done. Probably running 8-min miles and am passing some people. Main limitation at this point is mental. Legs are hanging on and breathing is heavy. Feels like I have a gallon of river water in my lungs. Around mile 5.2 I pass the transition area before the final out and back.

I am not super delirious at this point or even super ecstatic, mostly I am thinking, ‘That swim was so damn hard!’ Cross the finish line to the announcer letting everyone know I came all the way from LA. I finish the 10k with a time of 56 minutes and an elapsed time of 3 hours and 10 min. Despite the swim, I am only 5 minutes over my goal time. Overall, this was a great experience and lots of fun. Maybe it was because I was in the back of the field, but so many people were very supportive. Even cheering me on when I passed them on the bike! The combination of events is very appealing to me and I am considering doing another Olympic distance tri next month. The main limitations are the costs (registration is usually around $80, plus getting there, sleeping, etc) and having regular access to a pool before the event. So that’s my story. Thanks to all of you who gave support leading up to this, gave me tips on what to expect, and convinced me that I wouldn’t drown. For any of you obsessed with numbers you can see my time splits and rank here. Or click here for a picture of me you can put on a coffee mug.

20 August 2005

SF to LA, 477 miles, 3.5 days

Self-supported ultra-touring. Or fast touring. Whatever. I tried to cover a lot of ground over multiple days fully self supported. Rear rack with small panniers; no tent, no stove; only a tarp, sleeping pad/bag, warm clothes, food and tools. Fun!
I stand by California being one of the most beautiful places in the world. Road down the coast the whole time; except for minor detours inland when no route stayed on the coast. 150 miles on Saturday to Big Sur (road into the night on a cold, drizzly day). 123 miles on Sunday past Pismo beach to a campground in Oceano. 129 miles on Monday past Ventura to a little state campground outside Oxnard. 75 miles on Tuesday into LA by 3pm.

Sleep deprivation killed me. Could not get up earlier enough any of the days; slept till 830/9am when should of been riding by 8am. Probably not recovered from last week's cold. Met some transcontinental riders (one Brit, one Basque countryman) doing Alaska to Argentina. Hung out with a great couple from Montreal one night at a campground. Road hard each day and still enjoyed the scenery. Sorry this is short, but am writing this about a week after while I prepare for the next adventure: Olympic distance triathlon this Sunday. Oh shit!

19 August 2005

Mt Tam double century

Friday Morgan and I caught a Craig's list ride to the start of the Mt. Tam double century. We slept behind the school it starts at and put our stuff in the gym while we rode. I felt a cold coming on early and it hit me mid-day. Was not feeling well. We took it easy and hung out and enjoyed the great scenery up here. Also nice that I did this double last year. Afterwards we were kind of stranded. We called our friend Lauren who had recently moved to Berkeley from LA to be a superstar bike activist. She hopped in her carshare car and drove over and picked us up. Rad. The next day my cold hit me hard and I ended up spending the next couple days sleeping in her apartment. Then I headed off to Davis/Sacramento for work before returning to the Bay on Friday to ride back to LA.

25 June 2005

Grand Tour Triple Century

Where did you go?
The ride started in Malibu (20 miles north of Santa Monica) and headed north on the PCH before turning inland through Ojai. At mile 143 we were back on the coast (Rincon Point) where the double riders headed south for the last 57. The triple riders went north to Gaviota for a 100-mile out and back before the last 57 miles from Rincon Point. Here’s a map.

How many people did the ride?
About 400 people did the 5 different rides; a double metric (126 miles), a lowland double, a highland double, a triple (after either the highland or the lowland doubles), and a quadruple (either triple with an extra 100-mile out and back at the end). It was put on by The LA Wheelman.

How far is 300 miles?
It is the same as riding from Philly to NYC back to Philly and then to NYC again. If you decided to head south from Philly you could make it to South Carolina. From LA you could ride to Mexico and back.

Why didn’t you do the quadruple?
All the rides had a 24-hour time limit. The 400-miler would require 4 back-to-back 6-hour centuries. That’s beyond my speed capabilities.

What did you eat?
Usually I eat a combination of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, fruit, Clif bars, Gatorade, pretzels, and random snack foods available at check points. Leading up to this ride I started using ‘liquid foods’ like Hammer Gel (a syrupy substance made up of various easily digestible carbohydrates) and Sustained Energy (SE). SE is a powder you add to your water bottles and supplies about 250 calories per two scoops. For this ride I ate about 75 f my calories from these two sources. My stomach did fine till about 2 hours before the end. At this point my caloric intake dropped and I think it affected my performance. After doing some research I think someone transferred a stomach virus to me via Ethiopian food Friday night.

How long did it take?
Amazingly I finished the first 100 and 200 miles in my fastest times ever: 5 hrs 45 min and 13 hrs respectively. My total time for the 300 was 20 hrs with a rolling average speed of 17.1 MPH.

What do you think about while you are riding?
Often boring stuff like my speed, how I am feeling, if I am eating enough, concentrating on staying smooth in the pace line, following the route, how much climbing is left and what I am going to eat when I am done. Beyond this tends to be very personal. When I am riding strong positivity and positive experiences fill my mind. With headwinds or on a particular difficult spot my emotions tend to dip and negative thoughts fill my head. I’ve experienced similar situations when touring alone. There have been times when I had to fight tears.

What’s next?
Morgan and I have been talking seriously for the last two months about The Furnace Creek 508. It is a non-stop, non-drafting 508-mile race through Death Valley. This is an overwhelming decision for me to make and the possibility of me training hard enough to complete it is questionable. It is constantly on my mind and I hope to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.

The Story Part:
Writing about these rides is becoming increasingly difficult. There is an obvious pattern: Go to sleep late in some sketchy place, start late, get dropped by fast riders, constantly pass slower riders, finish with a mediocre time.

This time one year ago I was contemplating the feasibility of riding a bicycle for 200 miles in one day. I had mentally committed to the Mt. Tam double century in August and started preparing for it. Nervously, I went out every weekend and rode a 100 plus miles. I finished that ride within 20 minutes of the cut-off, but was psyched on completing something that had previously been a far-off goal.

Riding the Grand Tour Triple Century has been on my calendar all year, but it did not hit me till about two weeks before when I told people what I was signed up for. It is a logical step to take after completing 8 doubles this year, but an increase in mileage of 50 s a lot of miles and a lot of time. Is this really something I want to do?

Friday night shaved my legs cramped into Morgan’s bathroom with 3 other people; one with a digital camera and one with a video camera. Rode over to Century city to crash at our friend Alex’s house. He’s a runner and the GT is his first double century. We set-up on the couch and are asleep by midnight or so. Up at 355am and we pile into Alex’s roommate’s car. 4 people and 3 bikes with no bike rack. Did our best to avoid cops on the way over. The church start point is bustling! We get our grab bags, hide our stuff, Morgan signs up to volunteer (his knee is bothering him), and Alex and I sign out by 545am. Many riders started around 430am and most had gone before us.

Next thing we know we are flying up the PCH in a paceline dominated by 5 racers. Within 20 miles we would pick up another 10 or so people trying to catch the draft. Alex, taking Morgan’s place as the person with the heaviest/shittiest bike, even held is own pulling for a while. First checkpoint and we are quick and head out with the racers. Petrero Rd. The same one from the Mulholland DC and the one we came down (and then went up for fun!) on the Different Spokes ride. First climb is moderate and I hang with the racers as we blow by people. At the steep climb I am blowing up. Heart monitor is showing some of the highest numbers I have ever seen. Legs are burning. At steep sections I have trouble turning the pedals as I pass people pushing their bikes. The racers edge over the top about 2 minutes ahead of me. I push over the top and change gears rapidly to catch them. Luckily checkpoint two appears and with them stopped I can regroup. We are quick and as we leave Alex rolls up. He swears about the insanity of the hills and we wish each other luck. I bounce with the five racers.

Morgan called Central Coast my first official roadie ride, but I think this one takes that claim. Pacing with the racers is incredible for my time, but is working my legs as I do my part in the front. First 80 miles with an average speed of 20.1 MPH. Occasionally they’d drop me on the hills and then I’d catch them again. At one point we catch a group and roll on with them to lunch. One guy is Eric Ostrich; we met him at the Fargo hill climb and have read his stories about The 508 (which he has won). I say what’s up to him and he asks me which ride I am doing. When I tell him the triple he asks if I am training for the 508. WTF? I mutter some response about how we don’t talk about that. He says, ‘Great I’ll see you there. Have you picked you totem yet?’ Fuck. Sometimes things are so obvious to other people that keeping it a secret is a joke.

I eat lunch in 20 minutes. Ready to head off on my own when the racers ask if I am ready. Acceptance? At mile 141 we turn south towards Rincon Point checkpoint two miles away. Some riders on the triple pass by heading North and someone asks, ‘Where the fuck are they going?’ This was their first double and the guy who suggested they do it explains that there is a triple option. One guy flips out about how he can’t believe people are doing that when he had been thinking how bad-ass he was for doing 200 miles. At the checkpoint I say bye and explain I am heading north. I feel more dumb-ass than bad-ass, but am thankful I was able to ride with them.

Headwinds and hills slowly destroy my positive mood. Two flat tires (one patch fail and one puncture) worsen the situation. Riding through Santa Barbara is beautiful and rather surreal in that I have been there three times now this year. I think about the kids we hung out with at Critical Mass and I imagine how odd it would be if I ran into one of them. Finally at mile 193 I exit the 101 and hit the checkpoint that is the turnaround point. They wish me well and I leave before two riders who had gotten there before me. Heading south I pick it up a bit to hit two hundred miles at 645pm.

Around dusk I get a little lost heading back through Santa Barbara. Read Carrillo St as Cabrillo St. I recognize that my mental status is slightly reduced. I love riding at dusk so I hammer on and end up passing another person. Back at Rincon Pt in the dark. I check my cell phone messages and have a conversation that does not quite make sense to me (sorry Carolanne! Happy Birthday!). My desire to eat is just about gone; even my intake of Sustained Energy has dipped. I eat a chocolate bar and feel sick to my stomach. The roads are surprisingly desolate and I am holding a pace strong enough to pass a couple of more people. At some point I end up with a guy I had passed early and we decide to ride together. He had started at 330am and did the lowland double, but at this point we are riding a similar pace. His wife is SAG-ing for him and is constantly leap frogging us.

At the mile 274 checkpoint I am a little delirious. I barely eat anything even though I know better. We leave together and I focus on our conversing to distract me from the slow pace. My heart rate, AVE speed, etc barely make any sense to me. When I hit a hill I go into my easiest gear and just spin. Legs are feeling the racer pace from the first 143. We stop so he can get a new battery for his light (I am already on my second which was already strapped to my top tube). Instantly I am freezing. Putting on my vest helps, but I am still seriously cold. This is when I question my sanity. Also a time when I must really focus on my safety. There is low traffic, but it is DARK. I stare out into the ocean and, of all the times I have looked at, it looks new to me. This image is forever frozen in my brain. The miles slowly tick away. Every hill feels like it should be the last one. Finally Pepperdine University appears on the mountainside and we see the stoplight where we turn towards the church. AS we turn someone calls out from a van wanting to know where the finish is. It’s Max! He’s there to pick me up and he follows up the hill to the end. My computer rolls over to 300. I check in and they give me my time. Morgan finds us and expects a full report. I tell him ‘hard’.

Obviously I am out of it. Obliterated. Having been up for nearly 24 hours with 20 of them riding my bike. We load the van and I mutter about how damn cold it is. They express concern because neither of them are cold. I fall asleep and wake up in a drive-thru. I ask what city we are in. Eat some burritos and mumble random details about the ride. Finally make it home and Megan had made me a cake! I apologize for not being able to eat it d/t stomach issues. Crawl into bed after a shower and try to make sense of it all. Can’t say I had any huge sense of accomplishment or machismo; just more of a smirk about what bikes can get you in to. Woke up in time on Sunday to ride to The Smell for my More Than Transportation workshop on touring by bike and to help with a checkpoint for the Serial Killer alley-cat style race by being a dead body (bike tube guts and all!) at Union Station. Yeah BikeSummer!

14 June 2005

Eastern Sierra double century staff ride

Friday night was the epic BikeSummer kick-off party at the Santa Monica pier. Over 350 people, many of which came on bikes. Hell yeah. Rode back at 2am and finally got to sleep around 345am. Up at 630am on Saturday for the Wheels of Steel DC training ride I had posted to the BikeSummer calendar. No one showed (surprise), so I did 20 miles alone and came home and went back to sleep. Up at 1pm, then to Tierra for vegan brunch before heading out on the 5 hour drive to Bishop in the Eastern Sierras.

Get to the hotel around 730pm to see the 14-15 hour crew of riders coming in. Exclamations of its difficulty abound. But it is only 10,000 feet of climbing. Most of the day is spent at 7-8000 ft high. Fuck. I don’t do well in high elevations and on Sunday’s ride I’d be feeling the elevation. We chill with the organizers and a guy I met at SF Critical Mass and then we go to eat. Taco Bell is the only thing open. Fuck it. Find a place to sleep in some bushes across the street next to a skate park. Sprinklers? None around. Asleep by 1130pm! Amazing. Almost 5 hours of sleep.

Crawl out of the bushes, go to the car, sort our bikes and roll over to the start. Everyone is ready and staring at us. Oh yeah, this is the staff ride we are doing for volunteering at The Heart Break DC . Only 8 peeps: 4 in the slow group (us) and 4 in the other. They leave cause they don’t want to ‘burn daylight’ (not that you are at risk of finishing in the dark when you do doubles in 12 hours). We leave 10 minutes late and catch the ‘slow’ group in about 15 miles. A big climb to start. Some tall dude takes off and we try to stick with him. It doesn’t happen. Our personal SAG vehicle greets us at the top of the climb and cheer us on. We’re in the front of the slow groups, kind of a weird feeling to be the fastest of the slow.

Scenery is unreal. Rolling right along GIANT snow covered mountains. Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 is in this range. We climb up to Mammoth Lakes. Despite the shitty suburban feel it is beautiful. Big, wonderful trees. Meanwhile I am feeling horrible. Lethargic. My breathing is feeling okay, but my ‘go’ is on pause. Could not get into the rhythm all day long. Morgan is feeling great and later would claim this was his best DC yet. We did a loop around these lakes that was unreal. Huge canyons with people skiing down! Love that shit. It is like a crazy resort town you would see in Colorado. California never ceases to amaze me. We end up back out on the main road (395) that runs between the Eastern Sierras and the Mountains that make up the Western side of Death Valley. Two very distinct regions and one road between them. It helped to distract from the fucking wind we dealt with all day. Got lost once and lost like 20 minutes. Two people DNF’d from our group. More wind after lunch then a left turn (East) into what looks more like a desert. The insane down hills begin! I topped 45 MPH on about half a dozen occasions. Top speed of the day, and in my life: 52.1 MPH. Holy shit. In the open desert it is so easy to pick up speed and not know it. Topped 50 three times. Unbelievable.

One more climb out of that valley and then, seriously, 36 miles of downhill to the end. I’m feeling better. Morgan is stoked and high on Hammer Gel. Finally I make the jump to consuming Sustained Energy (a liquid food that is luckily vegan). We end up with the last person in our group and we fly back to the end at an ave speed of close to 25 MPH. Our elapsed time is a very impressive (considering how I was feeling) 14 hours and 20 minutes. Better than 50%! Arguably we had worse conditions as well.

Change in the car, eat food at Amigos restaurant and chat with the waitress about all the long distance runners in Bishop (Are they training for the Badwater Ultra-marathon? Yep). Cruise around some more being big fish in a little pond then back to the skate park for bed. Not long after that the sprinklers kick on. Fuck it, I think, they can’t be on for that long. My sleeping bag is pretty water resistant. Back to sleep. Woken up with my feet wet. Morgan has already moved onto the concrete in the park (over the fence). I figure that if my feet are wet then they’ve been on for a long time and should go off any minute. Then some starts dripping on my face. I recognize the irony of my stubbornness that lets me finish DC’s but keeps me from moving to a dry spot to sleep….

On the drive back we turn around on the highway cause we see someone pushing a mountain bike up the road, heading north. We pull over and Mr. Jim Smith, age 71, was walking just cause he got tired. His $75 Huffy mountain bike was strapped with backpacks and had gallon water jugs hanging from it. The people you meet via bikes! He’s been traveling for 10 years by bike and has NOT BEEN INSIDE A HOUSE IN TEN YEARS. We swap some stories, give him a Clif Bar and say our good-byes. Whoa. Puts things in perspective as I drive the rental car back to Los Angeles to return to my job and my house (and laptop, cell phone,etc)…

13 June 2005

Central Coast double

Back up the coast for a ride! Central Coast DC is the last of the stage races and a beautiful route on top of that. Paso Robles, the starting point, is an odd town that is a mix of yuppies, rednecks and college kids. Not sure what to make of it. We find a construction site across the street from the park in the center of town starting point to sleep in. Wake up to the sounds of roadies clicking out of their shoes. We hop the fence in the back and carry our sleeping bags to the car discreetly. We have to sign ourselves in to leave on time with the main group. We stick with the ‘main’ lead group all the way to the first check point, after two decent climbs.

Heading north on the PCH is beautiful. Rolling hills, ocean views, all that stuff. The big climb is right off the coast, 8 miles up and over the mountain range to HWY 1. I take off my helmet and decide to push. Start passing people pretty consistently; but that is not as impressive as it sounds because we had taken too long at the checkpoints and were totally sandbagging it. After the downhill is lunch. Morgan shows up later than anticipated: he had flatted. We decide to split up.

Oh yeah I had bonked on the flat about 2 miles before lunch and had to get pulled in by some guy after a group I had passed on the hill overtook me. This was my first experience with truly bonking: just could not muster the energy to go a decent speed. After lunch I was still recovering and was not feeling so strong. I bunny hopped the cattle guard and a group behind me was quite impressed. We hit some headwinds and I was feeling stronger so I pushed on. When I’d pass people they’d jump on and ride in my draft. Pulled for about 5 miles and was a little annoyed that no one else jumped ahead. Even on the 49 MPH downhill people stayed right on my rear tire. Made a turn out of the wind and there is only one person behind me! He thanks me graciously and I am stoked he was appreciative. We chat for awhile as I recover.

Morgan claims this was my first ride at roadie speed. I’m very happy with my time and felt strong at the end of the 211 miles. Morgan gets in after me and I had already changed and found out that the meal did not have one vegetarian dish. Blah. We found a school to sleep at (my experience at the X-games in 1997 taught me not to sleep in the open, but Morgan did not and got caught in the sprinklers) and got a full 8 hours sleep. Stopped in San Luis Obispo at a rad coffee shop, promoted BikeSummer there and then again in Santa Barbara before heading back to LA.

30 May 2005

Running? DTLA 10k

My first running race! After the 109-mile ride the day before it was easy for me to crash out early and get about 8 hours sleep before the early starting time. In the morning it is basic logistics that almost keep me from going to downtown for the start. Where am I going to put my wallet? What about food? I decided to wear a cycling jersey and use the pockets in the back. Later, when I described to actual runners that I had brought 2 Clif bars and a Clif shot, it dawned on me how I was over-prepared. Topped off my gear with my yellow Campy hat.

Riding through downtown on an early Sunday morning, with roads closed for the race, was an experience in itself! Roll up, lock my bike, and I feel like I am in gym class in high school. Till someone proves different I say that running does not have the subculture feel that cycling has. Pay my money, safety pin on my number and mill about eating the free food. We are called to the start and someone sings that patriotic song that they do before baseball games. WTF? I turn my back. Then we are off!

All the shit in my pockets is bouncing up and down and I am worried something will pop out. For sure it is exhilarating to run through DTLA with a bunch of people on closed roads. Mile one passes and my time is 8 minutes and 6 seconds. Since I started running this year I have not timed myself so this number seems okay. The homeless people are cheering us on. At the first water ‘hand-off’ or whatever I try to drink and choke on the water. No more drinking for me. Mile 2 and I am at 16 min and 15 seconds. The course is a 5K loop that I’ll do twice. Mostly flat, but heading south is a slight decline and then the obvious incline as we turn back to the start point. My 5K time is 25 minutes and something. Feeling confident. Legs are fine and I am keeping my pace at the point where I am still able to breath normally. Oddly I am passing people despite having to stop and tie my shoes. The heat is kicking in under the sun. At mile 4 or so I end up next to some guy and we pace together for awhile.

I had decided that at mile 5 I’d pick up my pace to where I could comfortably push hard. This is about where the slight incline starts and I drop the other guy. Passing people pretty regularly it reminds me of how we always sandbag on double centuries and it gives us the false impression of being fast. About a mile from the end I look down and both my shoes are untied. Fuck it. My chest is feeling the extra speed but legs are holding on. Sweat runs down my face as the sun sneaks between the DTLA skyscrapers. I round a turn, people are cheering us on, and this one woman refuses to let me pass and we cruise across the finish together with a time of 49 minutes and 5 seconds. Sweet. My goal time was 50 minutes. Stretched out my legs, ate as much free food as possible, stuffed Clif bars into my jersey pockets, picked up my free shirt and got on my bike to ride home.

I felt well the rest of the day and am stoked on my first race. Has opened my eyes to the possibilities with running. Hope to sign up for some more runs and take this more seriously. 10K and longer are feasible due to my experience with long distance cycling, it is getting fast, just like with cycling, that will be the difficult part.

Different Spokes Century

The crew is out and about. Morgan and Max spend the night at the A-House in prep for the 730am start time of the Different Spokes Mulholland Century. This ride is a serious marker for Morgan and I; last year it was not only our first organized ride, but it was the ride where I found out about double centuries. This time last year I was searching the CA Triple Crown site in fascination that people regularly rode 200 miles…and then I started to prepare for the next ride on the calendar: The Mt. Tam DC. Here I am 9 completed (and 1 DNF) DC’s later. And a new road bike with matching outfit. How far we have come! On last year’s ride I couldn’t decide if I could even wear spandex.

Off in Max’s biodiesel Benz with two bikes on the roof and two on the back. A-House member and seasoned bike tourist, Allen Bleyle, decided to face the early morning and come along with us. With metal blaring from Metal Brad’s mix tape we roll up the park at 720am. Almost on time! We say hello to the people we know (crazy that we know people) and get our bikes sorted. Okay, an 8am start is pretty close to on time.

We lose Allen pretty early on trying to keep pace with Max. Then on a downhill Max flats. I give him my tube and my pump (in crew fashion he forgot his pump, seat bag and heart rate monitor at my house) and tell him to catch Morgan and I when he gets it fixed up. So for the next 10 or so miles we expect him to come rolling on us, but in the end, he never catches us. I almost feel bad, but I really thought that he’d catch us!

Morgan and I are making great time on a route we are now familiar with. Actually passing people and being quick at the check points (cause they are check points, not rest stops). The other riders are mostly people who are doing, or have done, the SF-LA Aids Life Cycle ride. For some this 107 miles marks the furthest they have ever ridden. We are big fish in a small pond. We have come such a long way and it is kind of consuming me as I ride the 12-mile climb up from the PCH on Mulholland. This climb is so much fun. We push at the top. Some sprint stuff (cause you know, it is only 107 miles). I see a group at the top in the shade and I ask if that is the checkpoint and they tell me, ‘We’re all just tired!’ At least 8 people chillin. Well, not really chillin cause it was sickeningly hot (someone said it hit 100?). Lemonade not far from there. Then the remaining 10 miles, the same 10 that were brutal just one year ago. We finish and are stoked. One of the first groups to come in from the century. My odometer is 2 miles up cause after going down Petrero Rd, a sick climb that we did on the Mulholland DC, and that we will do on the Grand Tour, we decided to go back up!

A little while later the SAG vehicle shows up and Allen is inside. Oh no! Ends up his knee was really bugging him and his hand was going numb. Then he tells us that he hasn’t ridden more than 40 miles in the last year. Crazy. Then Max comes rolling up all red faced. The heat had hit him hard, but he pushed through and finished strong. Crew is chillin with other riders and the main discussion is in regards to my jersey, the Devil Mt DC, that exclaims, ‘I did it one day!’ I say discussion, but really I mean everyone made fun of it for awhile until we decided we had to get in the car. And then sit in traffic. But good thing I have Vegan Express’s number in my phone cause I called ahead and we got a big order to go. Made it to the BikeSummer meeting almost on time and then got to sleep early in order to get up for the DTLA 10K on Sunday.

18 May 2005

Toughest double century? Devil Mountain

6pm on Wednesday, May 27th and the Death Valley crew is on it’s way to Davis. Well, Morgan had a paper or some shit for Thursday so he flew up to Sacramento that night and Emilio, Megan, and I (and Morgan’s bike) piled in the rental hybrid off to Davis. First stop is Glendale to drop off the disk for BikeSummer newsletter two (which I would spend part of the next couple of days on my cell phone trying to coordinate the details of). Then DelTaco.

We left on Wednesday night cause I had to work in Sacramento on Thursday (so work paid for some of the rental car!). Meanwhile Megan and Emilio chilled in Davis; possibly the most bike friendly city ever. There is a graphic of a bike on the city emblem! That night we met up with Temra, my partner in having a full-time job based on our politics. Thai food, coffee, chillin. Friday morning Morgan and I did a quick 20-mile spin, dropping Temra off at work on the way, while the other kids cooked up a hearty California breakfast. Drove to Oakland, then BART with bikes over to SF for vegan ice cream and Critical Mass. CM was out of control; fist fights and some dude who drove through a group of cyclists and continued on despite one of them being on his hood! SF don’t play around. Permanent image on my brain of a guy on the hood of a car smashing the windshield with his bike as the car sped off.

The Devil Mountain Double Century starts at fucking 5am. Setting an alarm for 345am at 1215am is humorous. We probably would of even started on time if it wasn’t for getting lost. The stupid road had two different road signs! So we missed the group start and didn’t get out till about 540am. This ride was put on by the Quack cyclists, the same group who did the Knoxville ride Matt Pro and I got lost at on my birthday. I joked with them about not getting lost and they handed me a bandana with a map on it! Was getting this printed a direct result of Matt Pro and I getting lost last year at Knoxville? Funny either way.

First climb up Mt Diablo is EPIC. A serious mental challenge. I started to question the feasibility of my completing this ride (did I mention this is the hardest double in CA at 207 miles and 20,000 ft of elevation gain?). The ‘racers’ started at 6am and passed us soon after at a pace that I would consider inhuman. The first person done with this DC finished in under 12 hours, shattering the previous record. Finally make it to the first checkpoint at the summit at roughly 4000 feet. The descent is invigoratingly fast. My new bike takes turns at unbelievable speeds, even with my teeth chattering and my hands shaking from the cold. Next climb is aptly named Morgan Territory and we finally start to catch some people, despite Morgan’s bike and its noises.

As the morning moves on we are enjoying ourselves more. Our pace picks up and my mind drifts from the physical demands of the ride to the scenery. The Mt. Hamilton climb begins as rain starts to drizzle from the sky. The hill winds along the mountain, with the valley continuously on our right as we look up to see other cyclists pushing on. About an hour of climbing before we reach the top. Luckily the rain has stopped, but it is cold enough to need arm warmers for the fast (fast!) descent. Even at the next rest stop I am still shaking from the cold.

Before night falls, around mile150, we hit Sierra Road. Steep, unrelenting, and over three miles long. Afterwords Morgan takes a picture with a goat while giving the international punk/metal sign. After dark we ride with a group, cover some more fucking hills, then start the last 10 miles of the 207. Morgan is seeing trails of light from other riders. I worry we are going to crash the car on the drive home, but then I can’t remember where we hid the keys. We safely roll into the hotel at 1145pm, after 18 hours of cycling. We make jokes about clif bars and warm Gatorade, I pick up the ridiculous jersey (that you only get if you finish!), we find the keys and drive back to Oakland. Crash out on the floor and the next day we drink coffee, eat vegan Chinese food and drive back to LA. Road trips rule and make riding the toughest double century in CA even more fun. Thanks kids.

27 April 2005

Mulholland double century

‘’That was a spiritual odyssey,’ said Morgan after an early afternoon climb that we had just struggled up. People were actually walking their bikes up this monster hill. Just one of many. A great first ride for me and my new Seven! My bike was together a couple of days earlier, and a small problem was fixed the night before at the shop. New shoes and pedal system, new shorts and jersey; I am stoked! Pics posted soon.

We knew this ride was going to be difficult, but it was far from our minds as we grubbed Indian food with the crew the night before. This ride was just outside LA so we slept at home the night before and borrowed a car to get out there. Morgan started off smoothly by forgetting his helmet and then losing the chip you turn in to prove that you started. In his defense we had less than four hours sleep.

The group start was brilliant as we headed down Las Virgenes through the tunnel and onto the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway for y’all on the East Coast). The group split when we hit Topanga Canyon and started climbing back into the mountains. We held up pretty well and then Morgan and I got separated. Turned on some crazy side road and climbed another 1000 or so feet before descending back down to the coast. This was one of those roads that hugs the mountains and seems to drift over the ocean from above. Stunning. I was laughing as I flew down at 35 MPH…

Climbing, climbing, climbing. Loving my bike. Morgan, still riding the bike he found at a bus stop, ended up bonking hard in mid afternoon (not long after we were pulled over for running stop signs). Got some food in him and we set out from the last check point before Balcolm Canyon at mile 125. A roadie had chatted us up earlier and merely laughed when we mentioned this climb. Someone referred to it as a ‘novelty’ climb. My 39-27 was barely turning as I grinded up it. Back to the coast again before the climb up Mulholland from the PCH. This is the route I once drove over in a convertible…

We just barely finished the big descent before dark. Push push push…to the climb we knew was coming: Stunt road. At least it wasn’t hot! Last check point is at the summit and whenever new riders would appear from the climb everyone would clap! One more significant climb then a cruise back to the hotel. We rolled in with a time of 16 hours and 47 minutes. Not bad for the second hardest DC in California. 32% of the people who started didn’t finish! Morgan, unfortunately got a DNF for missing that turn early on and missing the extra climbing. Stage One of the Triple Crown Stage Race down! Two weeks till Stage Two, the Devil Mountain DC, with its 20,000 feet of climbing.

21 April 2005

Hemet double century

Where the hell is Hemet, CA? Close, but still had to rent a car on Friday to get there for the Hemet DC on Saturday. Found a rental car place close by; no need to go all the way to the airport on Friday evening. Back to the house in time to eat and head downtown for Plex’s alleycat race ‘Traffic’ (based on the movie). Mad heads show up: Local messengers and bike kids plus riders from NYC, Chicago, and SF in town for the messenger velodrome series race the next day. The race had five check points to pick up drugs on the way to Hollywood. I said I would only roll along, but I got caught up in it and was ‘racing’. I was in a pack flying through the city, in tons of traffic, when my chain came off! Fuck! That sucks when you are riding fixed gear. Got it back on and chilled out a bit the rest of the race.

After the award ceremony a gang of us headed over to the Midnight Riders ride at Sunset & Echo. Second Friday of every month and it rules. 200 plus people these days! I was promoting BikeSummer stuff and then some kids were playing on Free Ride Mountain bikes and BMX’s. My boy Chris let me have a go on his BMX and I was stoked. Hopped back into it with some wall rides, manuals and nose bonks on a TV and some 180’s to half-cabs. When the ride left I went home to work on my bike for the Hemet DC.

Up at 345am to make the 1.5 hour drive. New kids from SF had shown up and were still up drinking beer in the living room. They wished me luck and I offered the same for their velodrome race. 85 MPH the whole way to Hemet. Not much out there. I sign in and am off with a medium paced group. First 100 miles in 6 hours elapsed; a personal record. The course is a relatively flat figure-8 with the start point in the middle. Another first: Someone crashed in front of me in a paceline. You know when you see a group of riders and think, ‘What if one of them fell?’ Luckily we were not going too fast and I saw it coming. The lead group dropped those of us that had stopped and then we tried to catch them! I pulled for a while and the guys behind me started making comments about my bike. Basically I am usually one of only a handful of people without a $5000 bike. Mine looks especially crappy as well.

Since I had expected to be in the desert all day I was rather impressed with the scenery. Many miles of the route were along and around these beautiful lakes with green mountains surrounding them. One downer was the wind we had ALL DAY. Even if it was not headwinds, it was annoying. One guy I was with, Bern, is at least 65 and is training to race the 508 solo. He didn’t mind the winds because that ride is well known for having crazy winds. At the end of the day, we had 6 miles straight into the wind. It was a guy with a 508 jersey who pulled us along. I had been fighting the wind for a couple of miles at 15 MPH or so and this guy jumped up and held a pace of 18 MPH. Sick! At the last turn this guy, who had not been pulling, took off and was ‘racing’ to the hotel. I thought this was whack cause we were no where near the front (by hours!). The other guys took off after him and I thought they were down for the racing. Turns out they were pissed that he didn’t pull and was trying to come into the hotel ahead of us! We ended up pulling him back in and all rolled into the hotel together. Best time yet: 13 hours and 20 minutes. Drove back and crashed out for 10 hours of sleep!

27 March 2005

Solvang double century

Morgan, Max and Myself hit Santa Barbara Critical Mass on the way up and then ate dinner with the punks. They thought we were cat-calling a girl, but really we were just excited about a good mustache. Then drove up to Solvang and met Matt Pro who sporting a sweet mustache! Wish I had a picture...
Max, Matt Pro and I slept in the van together. A tad tight. Morgan slept in the bushes. Matt Pro up an hour early to get a start cause he's riding fixed!
Cold cold start. Max and Morgan went on and on about Mole Cows that live in the hills. Fantastic, green scenery. I rode mile 187 naked in what I hope to be a new custom. We all finished near the very end and Deb from Planet Ultra laughed at us. Two of the four wanted a hotel (I won't tell which two) and the other two grudgingly accepted. We ate burritos and crashed out. Stoked on our crew.

25 March 2005

Fargo hill climb

Every year the LA Wheelmen organize a hill climb up Fargo Street, reportedly the steepest hill on the west coast and one of the steepest paved hills in the world (Pittsburgh, PA and Dunedin, New Zealand have steeper). It's free and they give you a patch! Three of us pictured all did it on my cyclo-cross bike and Andrea was one of very few females to do it. Rad.

07 March 2005

Death Valley double century

When imagining a double century in Death Valley (DV) I thought of a long, arduous day in the heat, by myself, struggling against the intense conditions. The March 5th DC was much different; four of us drove out together to camp and Morgan and I were together for nearly the entire rode. And the weather was fantastic for the ride; despite the pouring rain we drove through the night before. DV is a national park that is home to the lowest point in North America (Badwater) at 282 feet below sea level and is within eyesight of the highest point in the US, Mt Whitney. The insane rain that hit Cali this year has put a lake right in the middle of Badwater. Fortunately the same rain led to a HUGE blossoming of bright yellow flowers that contrasted beautifully with the jagged black mountain ranges.

First lesson: Alarms on cell phones don’t work when they are not getting reception. After getting to sleep at 1am or so I managed to wake up on my own at 535am, 10 minutes before the ride started. We ate bagels and drank soymilk as we rode from the campground to the starting point. The ride was set-up for two out and backs of 75 and 25 miles, respectively. Before we started I ran into Gerd, the 71 year old from Berkeley (who ended up finishing in under 13 hours!). Just like in OC I jumped in with the fast pack and was streamlining for a while. Some guy asked me if I was at the Butterfield DC cause my bike was still dirty. We were making great time and I assumed Morgan was in the group. I stopped at the first pit stop (the fast group kept going!) and looked for Morgan. Ten minutes later he came rolling in, panting hard. It ends up his number flew off his bike in the first mile and he went back to get it!

People who ride double centuries are, as you could guess, a unique bunch. Much friendlier (and odder!) than the roadies I come across on weekends at home. Morgan and I go for the chill pace for the two climbs through the desert, chatting with people as we go. The temperature started rising and the lack of sleep was evident. Second lesson: read the route slip. I thought lunch was at the turn around point (mile 75), but it was at mile 130. Something as simple as not getting lunch when expected could bum you out when you are tired and hot. The return route was excellent; the vastness of the desert was overwhelming as we descended the passes we had climbed up and over. The layers were outstanding from the bright flowers and the close mountain ranges to the snow topped ranges in the distance.

Morgan was doing great for his first double. At mile 150 we reached the starting point for the final out and back as the sun set behind the mountains. At check-in a bunch of people quit! We turned on our lights and pushed on. I love riding in the dark! We enjoyed the tail winds and hammered past numerous people. At the final checkpoint we chatted with Chris Kostman, the organizer, for a bit. Morgan and I have put this guy on a pedestal recently. His triple iron man races, his excellent writing and his inclusive events have given him near idol status in our minds.

Last 25 miles. Head winds. Morgan was feeling it. We turned off our lights to ride under the billions of bright stars and he almost fell asleep. At 9pm we roll into the finish with a time just under 15 hours. I’m stoked! Had plans to drive back to LA over night in time to do the LA bike tour at 6am, but this shit didn’t pan out and we crashed out in the tent. Next day we had a beautiful drive back to LA, with no rain, in our rented hybrid civic. Rad weekend. Morgan’s comments: ‘Saturday was rad. Lasting images: (a) field of yellow flowers (b) the Sisyphean ordeal of Salisbury pass (never getting closer) (c) no lunch 'til mile 130 (d) pounding up that hill in the dark just after leaving stovepipe (the latter memory sticks in particular, as it was so difficult for me then, but I had some vague sense that it would be over soon...).’

21 February 2005

Butterfield (butterflood?) double century

Last September 25th, on my attempt to ride my third double century of the year to qualify for the California Triple Crown, Matt Pro and I ended up getting lost at mile 150 and not finishing. How frustrating! The details of being stranded in the cold and the dark are not all that exciting, but I decided then that I would do the first three doubles of 2005.

Double centuries (DC) are ranked based on the amount of climbing (called total elevation gain) that is done in the 200 miles. The ones I did last year were actually rather difficult, with Mt. Tam being the most strenuous at 15,000 feet. The Butterfield DC with its 8100 ft of climbing is only moderately difficult and, as the first DC of the year, is a great ride to loosen up your legs. Starting and ending in Orange County, the set route was through some territory I had ridden on. And I wouldn’t have to travel super far to get there.

With a borrowed car from my boss and the day off I headed to my friend's house in the OC around mid-day on Friday in the pouring rain. That night, after searching for my lost keys for about an hour, I found them under the couch (and was then able to tighten my Kryptonite skewer) and was asleep by 1130pm or so. The sound of pouring rain was evident as soon as my alarm went off at 415am. It was also evident when I had to put dollars into an uncovered machine to pay the tolls on the stupid freeway twice! Off of the freeway I notice a pack of blinking lights; the early DC group had left the hotel and were on their way!

I got to the starting point at a hotel (late!), threw my bike and gear together and for a minute considered not even wearing rain gear. Would it really matter after 14 hours in the rain if I had it on or not? I went with it and think I made the right choice. Just caught the twilight (ha!) main start and was off. Later I found out that less than half of the 216 registered riders even left the hotel.

The fast pack took off and I hung with the middle group. A moderate climb separated us further, but I was with about 10 people who were just above my ability. People were chatting; someone said they did 5 doubles last year and then someone else said the person next to them had done 10. He followed that statement with ‘Yeah, and he is 71 years old.’ Gerd, a retired chemistry professor, has been riding about 6 years since his wife bought them mountain bikes when he was 65. Amazing.

From the 615am start till about 1030am it down-poured. That didn’t stop the pack I was with from averaging speeds around 21-22 MPH. Early on the ride I was thinking about what could make riding at 30 MPH more dangerous. I came up with 3 things: 1) In the dark, 2) In the rain, 3) In a pack of people that you do not know. We were doing all of them.

At the lunch check point at mile 95 or so they informed us that there was flooding and wash-outs in Temecula; we had to turn around and return the way we came. By this time the rain had slowed, and then stopped, and the sun was creeping out. Rolling with a pack of four, we were pacelining (riding in an aerodynamic line alternating the front rider) and making great time. Our rain gear had time to air out and the intense head winds we faced earlier in the day now pushed us on from behind. Most of the route was through Southern OC on bike lanes, routes, and paths on, or near, the coast. Despite much of it, there really are beautiful sections of OC.

When we turned inland, around dusk at mile 150 or so, the rain started again. Our pack was holding strong and I played my part in the pace line by pulling us up some of the bigger hills through the never-ending sprawl that is urban OC. At the final check point we were told that as many as 40 people had dropped out! I pushed down my tenth or eleventh PBJ sandwich with two ibuprofen (I had a wisdom tooth pulled earlier in the week and could barely eat even soft food) and we started out on the final twenty-five miles.

Laughing at the rain was the best way for me to deal with it. Really, would sitting around watching TV be any better? Eventually, I adjusted to it and it no longer mattered that is was raining. Most people I talk with about double centuries think it is about the physical challenge, but to me that is only a small component of it. Once you are capable of riding that distance it is no longer as important as other factors. Much of it is mental and, while spending all day on my bike, I have time to draw parallels and symbolism with the rest of my life.

Finishing at the hotel our crew said our good-byes (‘See you in Solvang!) and I met up with Morgan to drive back to Los Angeles. Straight to the BikeSummer party at Basswerks for some chilling before a much anticipated good night of sleep. Two weeks till Death Valley!