Category Archives: hike

The Big Parade Staircase Walk

Hey everyone! First off, thank you for all of the awesome feedback from our Day in the Life episode with Brian Davidson.  We are so excited about episode two, which should be done for tomorrow. Yay! Wait to you see Brian in Death Valley, it is truly amazing.
 
Today’s post is from an event I did in 2009, called The Big Parade Stair Walk. I am posting it now because 2011’s Big Parade is this weekend. If you are in the Los Angeles area I highly recommend you come out to some or all of this. Did you know there over 100 stairways in the City of Los Angeles that are maintained as travelways? This walk explores them over two days and is full of historical and cultural events within the walk. If you think you know LA well, you need to come to this and see an LA you had no idea existed. I’ll be out there one or both days, come say hello! See the schedule and make your plans.
 
 
 
On the Big Parade
Making the city our own
One stair at a time.
(thanks to Lisa for the haikus)

Photo galleries, thanks to Steve Matsuda, Day 1 and Day 2.

 

The Big Parade is a 45-mile, 2-day walk that covers over 100 staircases in multiple Los Angeles neighborhoods. Over 250 people walked varying lengths, while a core group of us walked the entire route and camped in the Music Box Steps Park Saturday night. We started in downtown Saturday morning at 7am and finished after 10pm at the Hollywood sign.
 
When I do an event like this, almost no matter how I describe it, the automatic interpretation is that is a purely physical endeavor. While completing this walk is no easy physical task, that is only a small component. Walking is so humanizing and seeing the sections of this beautiful city that are only accessible by foot was much more of a social and emotional experience.
 
When we got to the Hollywood sign after 10pm (had been walking since 7am), and looked down on the city we had traversed, I looked at my tired, worn-out friends and felt closer to them than I ever have. I’ve always said that times in our lives where you are fatigued, hungry and just plain worn-out is when you see most clearly. I felt such a love for the people I shared this experience with and for the possibilities available to us when we slow down and see what our environment has to offer us.
 
 
 
 
 

Is it political? Is there a campaign? Are we a group? These are some of the questions asked. But really, the whole idea stems from Dan Koeppel’s fascination with these stairs as public access ways. They are technically ‘streets’ and they are there to be used by people. The small budget came from Backpacker magazine, but almost all of the work and effort came from Dan and the people close to him. His love of staircases-and he has many reasons-drew other ambitious, interesting folks to him. No organization or group, board of directors, mission statement, official endorsements, etc, etc…just a love for what traveling by foot means to each of us. There are political, environmental, social and even historical ramifications from our walk, but none are ‘the’ reason we walked.  And that’s the beauty of this!  “Togetherness’ is so cliche and over-used, but this bringing people together- urbanites, explorers, athletes, artists, historians- is what this walk is about in my eyes.

Sunday night we reached the Hollywood sign about 40 hours after the main group had started- the 9 of us who camped out at the Laurel and Hardy park and walked the entire 45-mile route. Literally hundreds of people walked some part of the route, but this core group had been together for the entire 40 hours. But then, as the only person walking home from the Hollywood sign, I had a solitary hour and a half walk. It was nearing midnight, I had pain in my legs, feet and shoulders which made the other pain I was feeling all the more sharp. So many automobiles-closed off metal boxes-hiding people from the joys of feet on the ground exploring and feeling.  It made more angry about our dependence on automobiles not because of the danger they presented to me, but because of what the drivers were missing out on by being trapped in a car so often.

Celebrate, rejoice!
Our feet get us anywhere
Why bother driving?
 

Physical pain is a pathway to the pain one feels inside. Physical pain brings clarity. And this internal pain that you feel makes its way to the surface. Many of us have set up our lives to avoid both of these pains, but pulling it to the surface can be pure motivation and energy for changing what we see is wrong in the world. It is power!  So I encourage you to explore this pain and use your human-power to change the world. And when it is exposed and you feel vulnerable, know that you are not alone.

Thanks to everyone, Dan Koeppel especially, who helped plan and organize the walk and to those who came out and walked part of it. We are changing this city one step at a time.

 The tech numbers for the nerds!

Mileage: 44.90
Time: 26:48:06
Ascent: 24,188 ft
Descent: 23,340 ft
Ave Pace, Day 1/2: 1.6/1.7 mph
 

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Filed under city, hike, political, road, travel

What makes a race a race? – The Arizona Trail 750

You can follow my progress for the Arizona Trail 750 at http://trackleaders.com/azt -I’ll be wearing a SPOT tracking device so you can see exactly where I am on the trail at all times. The forum on bikepacking.net will also have information throughout the race.  My good friend Mike Szerszunowicz has been my partner in planning all of this madness and is racing the 300 mile version, so look out for him too!

 

It’s 2am and I’m still not packed to leave for the race tomorrow, but I’m not too tired yet and am itching to get some of my thoughts about this race on paper. Er, on the internets. There’s so much to this race that I can barely keep track of it myself, so attempting to explain it may be futile, but I’m gonna give it a go.

As I alluded to in my first post about this race, is it is self-supported. What does that mean exactly? I have to carry all of my own stuff. I can get water, food and even bike parts, if needed, along the route. I just cannot have any outside help, ie someone meeting me and handing me clif bars. Why? To level the playing the field. It’s a stark contrast to something like the BC Stage Race where you pay thousands of dollars for support along the course and food and a place to sleep when you are done with each day. Even the famous Leadville 100, which is no doubt a hard race, has support from race staff and personal crews to give you food and water and anything you might need. All you have to do is pedal your bike. In self-supported racing you have to find your own food and your own place to sleep.  It’s only you! If you have a mechanical that is unfixable you have to find your way back to civilization to get it taken care of.

750 miles and almost as many concerns

The Arizona Trail Race differs from other self-supported mountain bike races in a few ways. One is it has way more single-track, which is actually mountain biking. This is more fun, no doubt, but almost always slower. And because it is a multi-use trail there is a lot of hike-a-bike, sections that are unridable. I’ve heard stories of racers bringing extra shoes for the long hiking sections…
Speaking of hiking, the 750 version includes traversing the Grand Canyon on foot. While carrying your bike on your back. 23 miles. Why? National Parks do not allow bikes to be ridden off-road. And the giant hole that is the Grand Canyon is too big to ride around reasonably. Since the official Arizona Trail goes down and up, so does the race. I just got back from Chris’ house where he sewed up a waist band contraption to hold the bike up and against my hydration pack.

GPS- I’ve never used one. I’m nervous about following a red line for a week. I’ve some maps and a general idea of where I’ll be, but the GPS is the key.

Tubeless tires- I’ve some new tubeless tires which are nearly impervious to punctures, as long as they don’t fail. Awesome, right? But if they fail, that’s it. Outside of a bike shop you have to then resort to tubes. And in Arizona that means slime tubes. So, even though I’m running light tubeless tires, I’ve got to carry a pair of slime tubes.

Water!- The most important nutrient. There are waypoints on the gps files with water sources, but I’m still nervous about having enough and getting it when I need it. Having never been out there is a huge disadvantage.

Rack-less bag system- Racks are so 00’s.  Lighter and faster are bags that attach to your seatpost, handlebars and just about anywhere else on your bike you can strap some stuff down.

My set up

I’m riding a steel 29er hard tail with 2.2 tires. The biggest tires I’ve ever ridden! I’ve H-bars and a dynamo hub, and the SuperNova E3 Triple light. With the GPS mounted to the stem the front of my bike looks more like a space ship than a race bike.

Weight- Every extra thing you need to carry adds up. The winners of races like this go insanely light- all gear, tools, etc under 12 pounds or so. Bike touring folks probably have 30 pounds. I’m toward the light end, but not doing anything silly/ultra light.

Food- I’m bringing a tiny Trangia stove and hope to cook to 2 quick meals a day- oatmeal in the morning and ramen noodles with peanut butter for dinner. My cooking setup probably comes in at under a pound- but is still a luxury many racers go without. I will get food at towns on the few occasions I pass through them, but veganism definitely gives me more limitations than other racers.

And here I’m going to have to cut this post short! I’m running out of time and have a few other things to do- like file for an extension for my taxes and find my sunglasses in the explosion that is my room. But I have to address one thing, albeit inadequately: the why. Why do this? Here’s the simple answer: Being out in the world, moving forward, on your own is one of the most pure experiences one could have. Without getting too hippy or John Zarzan on you, it really shows you what being human is about. Emotionally and physically. And why race? Not just go out and ride? The pressure/eustress of a race lights a fire in me that pushes me more than I would otherwise. I love it! Which also explains only sleeping 2.5 hours two nights out. Owell!

I’ll try to post a photo of my bike set-up before I roll out. And updates to my twitter the few time I’m in cell reception, and I’ll ask my crew here who is receiving my SPOT updates to post to the Swarm! twitter, but that is not guaranteed. You can always follow the race in real-time at http://trackleaders.com/azt. And lastly, thank you to all of my GREAT friends who have come through and helped me in some way. HUGE efforts with my bike, my gear and well, me. It’s so appreciated and I’ll be thinking about each and everyone of you while I’m riding over the next 7-10 days!

 

 

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Filed under hike, off-road, race, tour, travel

By The Time I Get to Arizona- again.

You can’t see anything from a car; you’ve got to get out of the goddamn contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbrush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail, you’ll see something, maybe. -Edward Abbey

 

Here I sit, the day before I leave for a huge adventure, as I have many times, thinking, preparing and balancing stokedness and nervousness. One past trip in particular stands out, and with reason. Ten years ago this month I left for my first bike tour- 3300 miles from Huntington Beach, California to Easton, Pennsylvania. I had finished college in December and spent some time living in Central America with my then girlfriend who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize. I brought my bike and did a weekend out-and-back across Belize, went to Chiapas for the first time and was even arrested in Cancun at the IMF/World Bank protests (spending a night in jail is good training for bike touring – and vice versa).

Arizona played a significant role in that cross country trip.  After flying back to Texas and taking the GRE’s I took a bus to Tucson to see my close friend Boaz and get ready for my ride. We caught a ride from the bus station with a pedicab- the dude was stoked to be hauling a boxed bike. I also bought my first spandex and jersey (which I still have!) at a huge bike swap. For training I’d ride out of town to the biggest pass as fast I could- then cruise back to Boaz’ house. I had to rent a car to get to California but was broke so I had to work two days as a day laborer to pay for the rental.  I spent over a week in Tucson and it was the last friendly comforts I’d have before hitting the California coast, loading up my bike and heading east.

After leaving the pacific ocean and riding the width of California, Arizona would play a role again, but in a less positive way. One day I was leaving Sedona after lunch climbing toward Flagstaff and it started to snow, in mid-April! I was nervous because there was no shoulder and the snow was decreasing visibility. I had lights and the drivers were being cautious so I pushed on toward Flagstaff, just 5 miles away. I had a phone number for a friend of a friend so was thinking about being able to sleep inside that night- which would be the first time of the trip.  That’s when I looked up in time to see an oncoming car sideways, crossing the double yellow. I had enough time to think, ‘Wow, I’m dead’, but not enough to do anything about it. I blacked out on impact, but regained consciousness when I hit the ground, in time to see the car roll off the road.  Amazingly I only had a broken wrist and black and blue thighs. Not bad considering the police estimated the car’s speed at 55 mph.

I spent the next 10 days recovering in Flagstaff with the brother of a woman who stopped after I was hit.  Insurance paid for the ‘replacement value’ of my $100 bike, which was more than 10x what I had paid, so I’d leave Flagstaff with a much more appropriate bike.  I made it all the way to Pennsylvania without another major incident. It gave me confidence like nothing else had. After all of that time alone (with the exception of 800 or so miles my close friend Christian joined me for), depending on only myself to find food, water and shelter I was more prepared for the world. I understood myself better. I had a blissful clarity that people could sense.

It’s an interesting coincidence that almost exactly 10 years later I’m returning to Arizona for a similar, yet different adventure. My life is different-I’ve ten years of experience I didn’t have last time-but also very similar-I’ve still an incredible desire to be out in the world for extended periods of time.  The bike is merely my medium to do it. The Arizona Trail Race 750 is much more challenging than riding cross-country, but it’s probably pushing my ability about as much as riding across the US did 10 years ago. Or at least that is what I’m telling myself as I make my final preparations. Risk is real, I’ve said before.

If time allows, I hope to get one more post up with some of the details for the race. I’ve been getting questions on how I’ll eat and my plans for riding, sleeping, etc. I want to get a good night sleep tonight since Thursday night will definitely be crazy- I’ve got to be at the border by 630am on Friday- but I’ll do my best to get it posted.  Thanks for reading!

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Filed under hike, off-road, race, tour

Arizona Trail Race 750

I’ve been busier and more unavailable than usual and here is why: I’m racing the Arizona Trail 750 - A self-supported, 750-mile, mostly single-track mountain bike race from Mexico to Utah. It starts next Friday, April 15th.  The story is below!

Chillin in the Great Basin on my 2006 bike tour of the Great Divide mountain bike route.

There are some things about me that are obvious:  It takes me a really long time to make decisions, I’m stubborn as hell, let’s see here, what else, oh I love pancakes and I’m always looking for new adventures. Last year I was convinced my new adventure was 24 hour mountain bike races. My logic was sound:

I love mountain biking.
I love riding for a really long time.

Here’s what I didn’t realize: I hate riding in circles. Last year at the Cool 24 hour I wasn’t that stoked. It got old. It probably didn’t help that it was cold and wet. So easy to get in your sleeping bag when you pass it every hour or so! The motivation to push on and do more laps wanes quickly. Later in 2010 at the Boggs 24 hour race, even though I ended up in 2nd place single-speed, I was having more fun, but still, well, I hate to say this, I was bored. Bored of going in circles.

Setting up my own support station at last year's 24 hours of Boggs. This is 10 minutes before race time!

So what else is there?

Imagine an awesome combination of bike touring and mountain biking. You and only yourself and your survival gear getting from point A to point B- on remote, off-road trails. It’s called Bike Packing: extended off-road travel by bike; like hiking, but faster and more fun.  Exactly what I did in 2006 on the Great Divide Mountain Route with my close friend Steevo (see his photos). That was one of the best trips of my life. We rode cross bikes and even though we weren’t racing, hustled to cover 90-100 miles a day. We camped every night but two: one when we met a girl who invited us over for dinner and once when I was so sick I couldn’t stand up.

Now imagine the same situation, but a race. No entry fee, no support, just getting from A to B as fast as possible. The most famous of this unique style of racing is on the Great Divide route- The Tour Divide race. It’s famous enough to have a film and an estimated 100 people lining up at the start this June. And I may be one of them.

But that is not until June. What I’m preparing for is next week’s Arizona Trail Race- 750 miles of mostly single-track from Mexico to Utah. For years the race was ‘only’ 300 miles because not enough of the Arizona Trail was complete. Last year the organizer offered the full 750-mile version and two people finished, the fastest in 7 days.

Image lifted from the race website!

How is this race different from the Tour Divide? The rules of self-support are nearly identical- see Tour Divide rules and Arizona Trail Race rules- but the Great Divide route has less than 1% single track, about 250 miles. Even though the AZT is a quarter of the distance it has at least twice the single track. That means more technical riding- both up and down. The biggest limitation of this race? Crossing the Grand Canyon. See, National Parks do not allow bikes to be ridden off-road. The Arizona Trail goes in, across, and back up the canyon on the north side. Racers must dismantle their bikes and carry them on their back for the 24-mile hike. Seriously? Yes.

Race organizer Scott Morris carrying his bike the 24 miles through the grand canyon

Unsurprisingly I’m freaking out. I’m not silly/tough enough to ride this single-speed so I’m building a 1×10 29er.  Yep, a new bike. But not just a new bike. All sorts of new gear that is specific to this kind of adventure: rack-less bag system, tubeless tires, GPS, dynamo hub lights. My friend Errin is preparing for the Tour Divide and he’s already riding his fully-loaded bike to work every day. I’m less than a week from starting this race and I’ve got a ways to go! The ever productive and helpful Chris Chueng is making me a few bags.  Famous vegan track racer Jack Lindquist built my wheels, Megan from Moth Attack helped me with the components, Errin Vasquez is helping me with both gear (he showed me this 7 ounce bivy sac, which I bought!) and GPS, Golden Saddle Cyclery is doing some wrenching…I haven’t pedaled a mile of the race and already so many folks have helped me.

I hope to get more details up through next week, before we leave. For now you can read about the route and check out the site for tracking the race (I’ll be wearing a SPOT device).

Meanwhile I’ll be studying maps, gpx files and bikepacking.net to minimize my biggest fears: getting lost and running out of water. And reading more super motivating articles about being outside on mountain trails like this great piece by ultra-runner Anton Krupicka.

Have a great weekend, and maybe I’ll see you at Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer?

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Trail Run Balti

Back in December when a crew of us ran the Ridgecrest 50k, Morgan ‘Goat‘ Beeby suggested a Run and Curry Day: a trail run in the San Gabriel mountains and post-run Balti at his place in Pasadena (recipe below!). This past Saturday opened up for a few of us and we decided to go for it.  Stoked.

Ends up my friend Maria from Chicago, fresh off her win at the Rocky Raccoon 50-miler, would be in town hanging with the Moeben crew and free to join us. A friend of a friend who just moved here from Pittsburgh via Colorado met her and I at Union Station for the train ride to Pasadena. In true Morgan style and British politeness, he met us at the train on his bike, took our extra stuff and rode it to his house while we took a rapid bus to the base of the mountains. Minutes later he rolled up, locked his bike and we were ready to run.

 

They look a band! L to R, Morgan, Chris, Maria, Matthew.

 

I love the San Gabriel mountains (I was devastated when the fires hit them hard). So much adventure has been had there, but mostly by mountain or road bike. I’ve hiked there a few times, but, like many cyclists, hiking feels too slow. Could trail running be a ‘slower than riding but faster than walking’ mix of adrenaline and nature?  We headed through Alta Dena on streets before hitting Eaton Canyon and heading up steep, exposed, Mt Wilson Toll Road.  I hate the first climb of the day! Especially in the heat. I wanted to call the WHAAAmbulance, but I knew I’d settle in and we’d be out of the sun shortly. Poor Matthew had a stomach issue from the start and never recovered, but continued on.

At Henninger Flats we saw some ultra runners on their way down (I imagine they don’t start at 1pm! haha). They may have thought we were making fun of them, but our excitement is genuine! From here we climbed a dirt road for another mile before it turned left across a bridge onto Idlehour trail. Here we met Morgan’s friend Chris and the single track began. I had never been on this trail and it was super fun to run. Almost two miles of technical downhill. Morgan dropped the hammer in his boat shoes and I could barely hang on.  Within 15 minutes we hit the beautiful Idlehour campground, located deep in the canyon, almost completely tree-covered. Morgan and I couldn’t resist the draw of the open water and took a very quick, very cold dunk in the stream.

 

All three photos are on Upper Sam Merrill Trail, above Echo Mountain. This is looking West.

 

A few miles uphill, doing a mix of running and fast hiking, and we were at Inspiration Point.  From here we hit Upper Sam Merrill trail, which I have ridden before.  Again Morgan set the down hill pace and it was exhilarating!

Morgan and I separated from the others and we were chatting away, jumping off and over rocks and railing the tight turns, when we heard someone yelling from a canyon deep in the mountains. We stop and notice someone waving their arms. Is someone hurt? Shit. Then we hear, ‘It’s Jeff!’ Crazy! He was going to come on our run, but had decided that morning to ride road to Mt Wilson instead. When he got home and it wasn’t dinner time yet he drove up to Pasadena and tried to run toward us. Ha! He was descending from Inspiration Point on another trail but had heard our voices. I guess being loud and talking a lot has its advantages? We all headed toward Echo Mountain and regrouped before the final 2.5 miles of trail down to the road.

 

It's hard to see, but this is looking South-ish toward downtown Los Angeles. You can see the Palos Verdes penninsula and Catalina Island in the distance.

 

Back at Morgan’s we all helped with the final steps of the Balti. It has been so long this I have eaten this dish! We grubbed hard and reflected on the beautiful 15-mile run.  Friends, trail running, cold water, huge mountains, huge views and curry = awesome day.

This Balti is from an old-time LA bike activist named Oisin, who I believe moved from LA in 2006. He raced the very first Feel My Legs (photo here). I really had to dig to find this recipe!  I kept the weird UK English for authenticity.

 

Oisin’s Balti

The Balti Sauce

Makes 1L (~1 3/4 pints)
3 Tbsp veg oil (olive preferable)
2cm cube (3/4 inch) grated fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove pressed or minced
5 onions chopped fine
4 tomatoes (plum/roma are best)
2 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp ground cumin seed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 bay leaves
4 brown cardamom pods (slightly broken open by crushing w/ knife blade)
1 1/2 tsp dried methi (the leaves of fenugreek)
1 1/2 tsp salt

1. Heat oil in large saucepan
2. stir in ginger and garlic
3. add onions, saute til translucent
4. add 250 mL water, bring to boil while stirring
5. add tomatoes, all spices
6. cover pan, turn heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes
7. remove bay leaves and cardamom pods
8. cool and liquidise

You can make a still very tasty version with just oil, onions, ginger,
garlic, tomato, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, chili, salt, fresh
coriander (1/4 cup)
—————————————————————————————–

Pepper, Potato, Mushroom Balti

1 lb potatoes peeled
1/2 – 3/4 lb mushrooms sliced
4 large green and/or red peppers sliced
8-10 Tbsp veg. oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 onions chopped
4 cm cube fresh ginger grated
6 garlic cloves crushed/pressed
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pt (600 mL) Balti sauce (see above)
1 heaped tsp garam masala
2-4 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander

1. boil potatoes in salted water until just tender.  Drain.  Cube.
2. heat 4 Tbsp veg oil add onions and saute until translucent.  remove from pan.
3. heat remaining 6 Tbsp oil. add potatoes and lightly brown for circa 8 minutes
4. add garlic and ginger and cumin seeds
5. stir vigourously making sure to coat potatoes for about 30 seconds
6. add chili, salt, stirfry 1 minute
7. add mushrooms, green peppers, stirfry 2 minutes
8. add Balti sauce, stir
9. add garam masala, coriander
10. turn heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes stirring often

Note, the oil content can be reduced to make it healthier, but I figure I’d rather just eat less of it and have it taste good.  I use olive oil because I think it makes it taste richer, but you can use any vegetable oil.  If using olive oil then bear in mind that it burns at a lower temperature than canola/sunflower.  I also add lots more red and green peppers and sometimes okra.

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Filed under hike, off-road, public trans, recipe, run

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.

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Not enough hours this weekend to do it all

Well, It’s not quite officially summer, but there are a number of summer-like events this weekend. It’s overwhelming, almost. The price of being involved in so much. Let’s see if I can get it covered.

Saturday I was planning on racing the second edition of the 12 hours of Temecula series. I raced the first one back in January and actually got around to writing about it. But, along came tangible proof of the existence of a mystical ride called the Santa Monica 100, a ride linking up 100 miles of mostly single track in the Santa Monica mountains. So drive over an hour, pay $85 and ride in circles or do a free, DIY, local event? Duh. Since there isn’t much info on the site here’s their page on everyone’s favorite vegan-owned social networking site: facebook. I think I’ve ridden most of these independently, linking them up should rule. Anyone else on single-speed? Will Dave Zabriskie be there again? I heard about this ride last year, but missed it and I just kept hearing about Zabriskie riding it on a 29er with drop bars. And since I know very little about professional road racing I used this lone fact to root for him for the Tour of California.

Burritos on a roof in San Diego back in April.

If you aren’t coming mountain biking with me, you should be walking stairs as Saturday and Sunday is the second edition of the Big Parade, a 2-day, 35-mile walk covering over 100 stairways from downtown LA to the Hollywood sign including urban camping. You can do all of it, which I did last year and it was a blast, or pop in and out and do sections that interest you. It’s a slice of LA most people have no idea exists. Get out to this! The website is a wealth of info. You can follow on twitter to catch them.

If deep down you feel that walking and clothing are inhibiting, you can skip out and head over to the World Naked Bike Ride. Seriously. The LA ride leaves around 4pm from Echo Park after a popular sporting event ends. Social network with fellow naked cyclists here.


Los Angeles’ first bicycle cooperative the Bicycle Kitchen is having their closing fundraiser party at a spot on ‘the block’. Check out their blog for the details.

Also Saturday night vegan MMA fighter Mac Danzig has a fight and some friends are organizing a vegan potluck to view it. Why not?

While all this is happening here, I’ll be thinking about my friend Aidan who was on my support crew in Norway when I raced Norseman, possibly the only triathlon that requires a crew, because he’s on a race that explicitly does not allow a crew or any outside help at all- the Tour Divide. Starts today at noon in Banff and ends 2745 miles later at the Mexican border. One stage, no entry fee, no prizes. My kind of race! I wish I was there, actually. I wrote about the race a bit in 2008, including info from when I rode the Canada to (almost) Mexico section in 2006. Aidan is racing single-speed, but I’ve confidence in anyone who has finished the Alaska Iditarod Invitational. Crush it Aidan!

Lastly, I’ve a half dozen unfinished posts from previous events I’d like to get up soon. Too busy doing to write about the past! This is my public commitment to get them up!

From this year:
Cool 24 hour mountain bike race
Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic
LA County Bicycle Coalition LA River century

Last year:
Boggs 24hr mountain bike race
To/from Mt. Whitney Summit from Los Angeles via public transit (seriously!).

Have fun in the world this weekend.

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Filed under city, hike, off-road, political

JPL Red Box shuttle ride

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

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

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

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


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

Some switchbacks that we would soon be descending down.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Max getting his well-deserved AdventureSnore.


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

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2007 Furnace Creek update

Jack DNF’d on Townes Pass, about 200 miles into the race. Brian finished in 36 hours and was elated just to have finished! This is a photo with Jack holding a secret message for the Swarm! racers from Morgan. He just finished hiking the Pacific Crest Trail last week(!!), but when it crossed the 508 course back in July he had left a message under a rock in a strategic location. Amazing!

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Holy Jim Trail from Trabuco Creek Rd

(stolen photo from wikipedia)

This is me not riding to San Diego. The original plan was to leave at 230am on Saturday morning, and ride 80 miles down the coast to meet up with the Organic Athlete San Diego chapter for a run. Good training for night riding and Norseman. But at 1130 the night before- far from having my shit ready- I decided against it. Slept in instead. Then finally got around to looking up info about that peak that sticks out of the Saddleback mountains that is visible from all over south county.
Around 330pm I was out of the house for the 6.5-mile run down a dirt road to the Holy Jim Trailhead. I had some aspirations of summiting, but that would of put my total mileage over 30. I fast hiked up to the fire road, probably only 500 feet or so below the top (and 2.5 hiking miles) and turned around. I read that on a clear day you can see into five counties from the top (hope to run the whole thing and summit soon).

I took my time descending and then ran the 6.5 miles back, most of it in the dark, which gave me the opportunity to use my new headlamp.

Tree tunnel!

Looking west out of the canyon on Holy Jim Canyon Road before it hits Trabuco Creek Rd.

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