31 December 2008

What next?

It's great to have friends that are down for anything: cycling,
searching out difficult vegan Ital restaurants, not drinking but
hanging out in bars till 3am, long-winded political discussions and
setting xmas trees on fire at a party in Bed-Stuy on nye eve.
Out with 2008!

30 December 2008

Tall-bar bike

I'm not worried about the economy when there are people who make bikes
like this around.

29 December 2008

Baby elephant

I hope Nicolas doesn't mind me posting this. Just wanted to further
the stereotype of single-speed mountain bikers and tattoos. Oh and
also because I think it is awesome.

23 December 2008

Full circle

For the holidays I hope y'all are spending time with friends and fam,
eating great food, seeing new places, exploring new ideas and planning
an unbelievable 2009.
I'm still trying to comprehend 2008 and all that it entailed. I've
been super fortunate and have to thank everyone who made it all
possible. Peace.

21 December 2008

ride eat fly

If Steevo thought $4.50 was a lot for some veg sushi he wouldn't
believe how much this vegan burger cost tonight in Santa Monica. He
could eat for a week.
Rode sullivan cyn, dirt Mulholland, broken arrow and everything in
between. Coming down Sully was packed and FAST. Grabbed some food and
snacks and straight to the airport for a red eye to NYC. Hopefully I
don't smell too bad.
Not a huge adventure, but a good winter solstice nonetheless.

17 December 2008

How to use a bike rack

This has made its rounds, but in case you missed it I post it for your consumption. Public transit, bikes and Hip Hop; if it only had a giant vegan feast at the end this would be fully representative of things I get stoked on. Oh and if the rapping was actually good.

14 December 2008

Strawberry Peak loop

A little scary, a little brutal (big fire road climb to start), a
little technical; a lot of fun. One of my favorite mountain bike
rides. No snow yet!

11 December 2008

Not no whip

I stole this from HTATBL, who apparently got it from this person.
Yes, autoworkers' jobs are important. But how many examples do we need to see that Laissez Faire capitalism is a total fucking farce and that huge top-heavy corporations with extravagant CEO salaries are, and have always been, taking money right out of our pockets?

I'm pissed!

Back to posts about bikes and bike riding soon. Probably. I hope.

06 December 2008

LA urban double start this morning

This should be called the urban-escape double! Why am I not riding it? I went out to the start this morning to help Shaun, who so far is doing a bang up job on organizing this, and that was the thought I had. As you can see a hardy crew set out at 9am (!!) to get in 200 miles almost literally around Los Angeles.

Here is a map of the pit stops. The lines are obviously as the crow flies (no riding in the ocean or on freeways on this ride). I rode out to the first stop in Rosemead and turned around there for a sweet 40 mile ride.

05 December 2008

Pista Barfi

Probably funny to only a very few people.

01 December 2008

17-hours in SF

coffee and donut Ritual

learn Anthropology

Indian food Naan-N-Curry

more coffee Blue Bottle

more learn Ellen Messer

sandwich Love N Haight

snack Rainbow Grocery

hip hop Immortal Technique

28 November 2008

Salmon falls trail- Folsom, Ca

Rolling dolo on some post-feast single track. A chill 16 mile out and
back along the river. Working off all that tofu.

27 November 2008

24 November 2008

SF: How sweet you are

20 November 2008


Depending on your personal inclination, this photo, taken minutes
after my previous post, will either make you appreciate CA more or
reinforce your negative opinion. The guy called it 'ridable art',
which, again, may influence you in either direction.

19 November 2008

California, why are you so crazy?

Spray tanning at the beach?
I'm at a starbucks (waiting for a craigslist ride) that is basically
in a parking lot of a grocery store and has a drive-thru. Is this the
pinacle of human civilization? Is this our culture?

17 November 2008

If this photo

If the objects in this photo mean anything to you, chances are:
1. You were 'down' in the mid to late 90's
2. You pronounce zine the correct way
3. You own colored limited edition vinyl
4. You think $10 is way too much to see your favorite band play
5. You and I are probably only separated by a few degrees

16 November 2008

Los Angeles: Get your eat on

Los Angeles has a ton of spots to eat; it's obvious every time visitors arrive with lists. But 'LA' to people who don't live here (and unfortunately plenty who do) is anywhere in Southern CA within 50 miles of downtown. I've always treated LA like I would NYC or Philly: Keep it within 5 miles. Work, school, shopping, eating, hanging out. 5 mile radius from home. That's where I live. I found this map over on Militant Angeleno's blog and it works for me. My 5 straddles the Eastside/Center divide and stays mostly east of the 101.

Back to eating. Two new veg spots opened up in Los Angeles and both are definitely worth your time and money. And I don't say that often! Before even talking about food quality, I give a head nod to creative effort, large portions and politeness. These go a long way. Both these places get major points here AND the food is very good.

Doomie's in Chinatown (N. Spring/Ord) is mostly vegan (everything except dairy cheese option) and does sandwiches: philly cheesesteak, pulled pork, spicy breaded chicken, etc that come with your choice of fried: potatoes or onion rings. Also entrees like potroast, country fried steak, chicken parmigiana with sides and soup or salad. All of the dishes I have had are well-seasoned and prepared just right. Unlike the Vegan Express rip-offs (Truly, California Vegan, Green Leaves, Vegan House, etc) it's not just some heated fake meat on a bun you can prepare at home. Imagine! They also have Mac & Cheese that is above average and not too 'nutritional yeast-y'.
The restaurant is upstairs, shares space with a bar (lots of alcohol choices) and has outside seating. Open Tues-Sun, 11am-8pm. Sorry I don't have any photos from here!

Chicken noodle soup, potato salad and chicken salad
at Taste of Life

A Taste of Life is the vegan soul food from the Hollywood Farmers Market. I've been raving about it for five years and now it is available 6 days a week! It's unbelievable. It's only two guys who own and run this spot and they know their food. An entree is $15, but check this out. You get soup (I had chicken noodle), salad (potato is def good), cornbread, greens and your choice of three mains (I did mac & cheese, BBQ tofu and battered loaf). It's so much food and all highly-seasoned and cooked well. Battered and fried roast, wtf? And the mac & cheese is some of the best I have ever had, next to the one I make, of course. They also have a huge selection of ginger drinks and a raw menu. You know a place is good when the menu has both a 'battered' section and a 'raw' section. Yeah.
My meal at Taste of Life
They are on the SW corner of Fountain/Vermont and open 9am-2am (for real!) Tues-Sun. Located upstairs and have outside seating as well. Couple potential negatives I have to mention: Be sure to know what you are ordering and what comes with what. Definite potential for confusion here. Also, the food does not come quick. If you just want to grab some food and bounce, this is not the place for you.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think.

13 November 2008

$4.40 lunch (that's cheap in so cal)

And it was good. Be ready for more food reports than bike reports.
It's get fat time.

08 November 2008

Death Valley (again)

Two weeks ago 5 of us piled into a (borrowed) car to head to Death Valley for the Fall double and century. Morgan, Stacy, Luz and myself were volunteering (my third time!) and Budge was going to ride his first double. Driving separately were Max and Michael who were volunteering and Jack and Megan who were riding the century on the tandem. Below Morgan hops on in Megan's place before the start.

'I hate the desert. This is stupid. I don't know why anyone would want to ride out here.'
-about mile 400 of the 508 last month.

Okay, so I am not a huge fan of the desert, but after years of trips to Death Valley, I do really appreciate it. The mountain ranges are gigantic and they rise from the vast valleys in such immediate contrast. It is like nothing back East. And it helps when you have Dr. Morgan Beeby, walking Encyclopedia, with you to rattle off unknown facts and figures.

Stacy chillin the best way she could

1) I really enjoy being out on the course and helping riders who are on their first century or double or in Death Valley for the first time, finish and feel good about it. 2) I want to give back to AdventureCORPS for making all of these rides possible 3) I don't want to forget the scale of what I have been through and 4) my experiences can help the riders who are out there. 5) I love a free trip.

Budge crushed it for his first double and the little training he did. He finished in just over 13 hours! results, photos, write-up here.

Hiking on Sunday

This is obviously awesome

After a great hike on Sunday we drove back via the 395, with great views of Mt Whitney and more stories from Dr. Morgan Beeby, I walked from Mexico to Canada through the mountains, the whole way.

07 November 2008

Lobster mushroom

Is this vegan?

02 November 2008


I may not be happy about setting the clocks back and knowing that
winter is around the corner, but I have to admit being a little
excited about changes in the weather.

24 October 2008

Morgan's view from the crew

Thanks for writing this Morgan and for taking such amazing photos!

Sometimes one feels the pull to burn through the fabric of everyday life into the deeper, visceral reality concealed below. A few days ago, a group of four of us experienced just that.

The Furnace Creek 508, a ultradistance cycle race through the Californian desert, has become somewhat a legend, and more recently a fixture, amongst our group of friends. The route describes an inverted “V”, starting in the south-west just above Los Angeles, wending through the desert to it's most northerly point around Townes Pass into Death Valley, then heading south to Twentynine Palms near Joshua Tree National Park. Prior to this year, two of us had ridden the full 508 miles ride solo, four had ridden it as a relay team together, and one was forced to abandon a solo attempt due to a knee injury.

This year it was long-time friend Matt's turn. This journey through the desert is to be completed over two days and two nights; three of us would be there to travel with him, providing sustenance and support. Setting off just after sunrise, Matt climbed in the midst of a caravan of cyclists through the southern Californian mountains into the clouds. Thick damp fog made it hard for us to see him approaching as we stood waiting to pass off bottles of water, peeled bananas and energy bars.

Gusting winds encouraged us through the desert, past dry salt lakes, disused airplanes, huge wind turbines, endless straight roads and expansive desert planes. Distant glimpses of the high Sierra Nevada in the distance excited.

As the sun set, the climb up the mythical Townes Pass was surrounded by raw blue skies and long shadows. Townes Pass is the gateway to death valley, and it was there that one of the three-strong support crew succumbed to travel sickness and, after almost three hours of nausea and vomiting, was forced to abandon ship for the night. He hitched a ride with race staff at an oasis of light in the depths of the darkness of the valley, Furnace Creek.

The night's journey truly began shortly afterwards. Now there were only three of us. At night, the race rules direct support crews to follow immediately behind their riders, illuminating the way with their car headlights and shielding the rider from any oncoming traffic in the desert. The two of us in the car where in a hypnotic, focused world of admiration and logistics; Matt was meanwhile cycling in a world of suffering, yearning and anticipation. At least that's how it seemed - our worlds only touched occasionally, and briefly.

Those worlds dissipated with the sunrise. We stopped briefly for Matt to sleep for fifteen minutes; I'd slept sporadically throughout the night so stayed awake to watch the sunrise. Fifteen minutes was quickly over. We were back in southern California and heading towards Baker where the route crosses the I-15 between Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

The second day saw Matt trawling through darker times. Endless, horizonless climbs past lava flows and cinder cones with a scorching sun above took it's toll, exacerbated by an injury and an otherworldly, sleep-deprived state. We stopped to cool Matt and to talk to him once, but for the most part Matt pressed on doggedly.

The final climb was shorter than we'd all remembered it and we saw Matt power up the hill. Curiously, this had been a pattern over that second day: renewed energy when confronted with a challenge. Matt maintained this energy through the final near-suburban desert stretch into Twentynine Palms, city of murals and naval hairdressers.

A few days later, thinking back, I recall how the night made my thoughts coherent, and brought to mind the final sentences of Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus. “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart”, writes Camus. “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

13 October 2008

508- some stories by better bloggers than me

I've been scrambling to catch up on work, calories, fun and other non-ride really far aspects of my life. Here are some links to blogs of people I know who raced and already wrote their stories. Enjoy.

Megan (team Bonobo, Swarm!, etc) wrote two entries with some photos.

George Vargas has a ton of data, stories and photos from his version of the suffer fest. Congratulations on three years in a row!

Brian does not have anything new up yet, but I'd like to announce for him that in 2010 he is going to be on a raw-vegan Race Across America 4-person team with Organic Athlete. Wow! I already volunteered to be on his support team for solo in 2011.

Deanna Adams, is vegan, 20 years old and raced without wearing bike shorts. And I was going to brag about only wearing triathlon shorts.

Laters! Stay warm out there in this cold weather.

08 October 2008

Some more

Budge's blog has some excellent photos. Fewer of me and more of the environ. Check them out!

This is my pre-race mugshot and it played a role in my finishing. When I wanted to DNF I thought about it. If you joke around and then DNF, you look like a dumbass who did not take the race seriously. If you joke around and then finish, it is even funnier. Right?

07 October 2008

Hardest thing I have ever done.

It is very difficult to summarize this type of experience without sounding obvious or cliche, but I'll do my best. First I want to be honest and say that this is the most difficult experience I have ever put myself through. I knew it would be hard, but I was blown away (twice almost literally: once in a sandstorm and another on a hairy descent with insane crosswinds- one of the scariest times I've ever had on a bike). But I had a great time. Really. In one waking period I rode through fog, rain, steep canyons, 50+ MPH downhills, dry desert, 10 mountain passes, temperatures in the 40s all the way to 90s, headwinds, tailwinds and even a few miles of normal conditions.
I'm going to break up my thoughts into a number of posts so that Matthew doesn't complain about bike blog posts being way too long. For now here is a photo Race Director Chris Kostman posted. Below is a caption that he wrote, which he rarely does, so I am thankful for that.

AdventureCORPS Presents the 2008 Furnace Creek 508 / _A052716
Photos by Chris Kostman, Oct 5, 2008: Finishers 7:00pm through 9:50pm

The stars of Eat!Sleep?Bike!: the acclaimed film by Sasha Edge about the four rider fixed gear Team Bonobo who completed The 508 in 2006.
From L-R: Pictured are Maxwell Lucas crewed for Brian; Matt Ruscigno competed solo as Desert Locust; Megan Dean, a custom bicycle frame builder, competed with the four woman Team Blue-Footed Booby; Brian Davidson competed solo as Emperor Moth. They are all members of Team Swarm!, an LA-based cycling club, team, and advocacy group. Why the bananas? In 2006, they used a banana as their relay team baton, which they then ate at the finish line. This year, Megan's team also used a banana as their baton, while Matt carried one, too, just for fun. All four riders are vegan. In fact, Brian has now completed the race twice on a purely raw, vegan diet, about which Matt, a dietician, has presented a poster at a science conference. It was on display at Racer Check-In. Click here for the first of several photos of the poster (click the arrows to the right to see the rest of the photos.)

06 October 2008

37hr 20min

Could not of done it without my exceptional crew. Thanks Morgan, Chris
and Budge!
Now to sleep 44 hours after waking up yesterday.

05 October 2008

Amboy cp#6 3.30pm

58 miles to go!

Kelso cp5 12.15pm

Heat is becoming a factor with bad road quality. Matts Achilles is
causing some problems but pushing on. 33 miles to amboy and cp7

30 miles to kelso 125 to go

Burritos outside baker

8.43am check in at mile 383

Outside baker

Sunday morning 20 miles from checkpoint 5 of 8. 15 min power nap. Long
climbs last night but perfect conditions. Hardest times for matt right
now but crushing it. Breakfast burrito! Morgan pooping.

04 October 2008

Trona checkpoint 2

Strong tail winds and fast matt. Morgan attempting double pound
century with second burrito. Three hours till dark entering death valley

Past checkpoint one

Sand storms in cal city!

Start line

03 October 2008

'Twas the night before

At the check-in for 508 for the 3rd year and it's hard to comprehend
that I'm the one racing on my own! Seeing lots of people we know and
joking about per usual.

Since I'm all high tec and posting via my phone, I thought I'd balance
it with my low tec map of what's important in Santa clarita.

508 preparation

Need to know: webcast is here with photos, time splits, etc. Budge is going to be updating my blog when possible.

This is going to be fun! Though my friend Matthew once said, 'What you consider fun is very different than what most normal people consider fun.'

The proof is in the photo of Budge below. And for most normal people picking up a rental car is a straightforward process. For us it was an entanglement of multiple people showing up at various times via bike and confusing them on who is driving and why so many people need to be on the contract. And then the barrage of questions regarding what exactly the damage waiver covers. We are considering, instead of 'Desert Locust' signs taped to the sides of the van, getting it airbrushed. 'I don't know how it got there. I live in East LA, I just woke up and it was like that. Damage waiver, dude.'

I am feeling well-rested and am excited about the weekend. Looking forward to seeing Brian and Megan and their crews in Santa Clarita today for the check-in and race meeting. It has been a long week of logistical planning, but it is coming together. Now what remains is pedaling my bike 500 miles. Emotionally and physically it will be a journey in every sense of the word.


01 October 2008

No burritos in death valley

Planning meeting with 508 crew, fueled by burritos, of course.

26 September 2008

Furnace Creek 508

'Our 508-mile course serves as a dramatic forum for bicycle racing, personal achievement and self-discovery.'
-from the Furnace Creek 508 press release.

The Furnace Creek 508 is this weekend! I have written about it previously, when Morgan raced solo in 2005 when I was crew chief and when Brian, Megan, Max and I raced as a fixed gear team in 2006.

This year I am racing solo.

It has been a long time coming! I wanted to race solo in 2005, but after riding a triple century I decided I was not ready. In 2007 I was burned out after the world's hardest triathlon and the 760-mile Paris-Brest-Paris.

You pick a totem instead of a number

This race is different in that it is one stage. The clock starts when you roll out in Santa Clarita and does not stop until you reach 29 Palms. Can you sleep? Yes, but the clock is still running! The race offers no support, I am dependent on my crew, Morgan, Budge and Chris, that leap frogs and supplies me with food, water and anything else I may need.

The course (click for larger)

Why would I do something like this? Bicycles have been a part of my life since I was very young. When I was 7 I used to sneak out of my neighborhood and ride as far as I could- and still be able to find my way home. Once my neighbor found me 4 miles away and drove me home to tell my mom what I had been up to.
When I was 14 I started traveling the country to race BMX bikes. That progressed to traveling to ride BMX trails and skateparks. This is how I began to see the world. Within a month of getting my first road bike ($50!) I rode it from college to my mom's house, 150 miles. I wore skate shoes and cut-off camouflage shorts and the idea of wearing a helmet didn't even cross my mind. The following summer I rode 3300 miles cross-country. The 508 seems to be a natural progression.

How far is 508 miles?
San Francisco to San Diego or NYC to Columbus, OH

35,000 feet of elevation gain is greater than going to the top of Everest from sea level (see profile here).

There is a new route reconnaissance with excellent photos (some stolen below) and descriptions. Check it out!

The Trona bump before dropping into Panamint Valley

The mountains you climb into Death Valley- 210 miles into the race

The 13-mile climb up to 5,000 ft Townes Pass

Am I ready? It is hard to say. I have done a number of 'long' races this year from iron-distance triathlon to 100-mile mountain bike races and double century road events. But they have been 'only' 12-15 hours. How will I feel while crossing Death Valley at 2am? After a day of 90 degree heat, will I be freezing when it is 40 degrees and windy? When the sun rises Sunday morning and I still have 150 miles to ride, will I be happy about it? An event like this is about the journey, not the destination. It is not a race that you can go into saying 'I'll be happy when I am done.' It's the experience of the race that I am looking for more than having finished. Really, I look forward to the time I'll have to think and what I will learn about myself.

A number of Swarm! riders will be out there racing and crewing. Brian 'Emperor Moth' is racing solo for the second year in a row and hopes to improve his 36-hour time. Megan is on a bad-ass all-girl fixed gear team-The Blue-footed Boobies.

You can follow the race's webcast where photos, time splits and updates will be posted with surprising regularity. We are going to try to update my blog from the road as well. Please leave comments here and be sure to follow the webcast!