Category Archives: off-road

You went all the way to Idyllwild for only 28 miles?

I’m an endurance athlete through and through. I don’t know if it’s my bike touring background or just my mental state, but something keeps me in zone 3! I’ve tried recently to expand my racing, mostly through cyclocross, and this inevitably leads to shorter races in general, and the Idyllwild Spring Challenge this past Saturday, specifically.

Before this my only mountain bike races shorter than 100 miles were Vision Quest, which is ‘only’ 56 miles, but has something insane like 11,000 ft of climbing (there was snow in Orange County that year), 12 Hours of Temecula, where I rode 94 miles and the Boggs 8hr last year. Ha! I just love the long stuff…

I scheduled this race because Nicolas signed up, but then he couldn’t go. I emailed the race organizer and she was exceptionally cool about the registration stuff and before I knew it Marissa, Smokey the dog and I were in her car early Saturday morning heading to the mountain town of Idyllwild for my first ever cross-country mountain bike race.

 

The first climb was technical single track and I had to pick my way through…
Photo by Kathy Burcham

 

Endurance racers get a lot of credit. ‘You rode how far?’ But racers like Steevo turn themselves inside out weekend after weekend and that’s something I can’t wrap my mind around. I was thinking ‘this is a short race’ but I went out like it was a 2.8 mile race and not 28 miles. At the top of the first climb I was seeing stars and gasping for air! Was it the heat? Am I that out of shape? Oh yeah, we’re at 5000 feet! That helped calm me down. As soon I caught my breath I went balls out. Again. I don’t know if it’s because of where I started in the Open Class pack, but I just didn’t see many people. That makes ‘racing’ harder. Where am I? Where are the other single speeders?

The course was superbly marked, there were volunteers at every potentially confusing turn and after the third big climb, about half-way through, the rest was rolling, mostly downhill technical single track. This is why I’m here! SO fun. Dustier and looser than I thought Idyllwild would be, but still super fun. I started to finally catch people and for a long-ish downhill doubletrack section I used the single-speed skill of tucking behind a geared bike that was tearing it up! She pulled me along until we hit a flatter section and I could pedal again. Suddenly we were passing people left and right. In my blurry-visioned, dehydrated state I was using my last bit of focus beyond trying to stay upright to see if anyone we passed was on single speed.

We finished by returning down the climb pictured above. When I crossed the line I had no idea where I had placed. I just knew that every muscle in my body was sore. I even had crashed in a soft section and the sting of scrapes and bruises was now apparent.

I hydrated, washed off in a sink and then we hung out for the raffle. I love raffles! Legalized gambling. When results were posted I was surprised to see that I got 3rd out of 4 people in the Open Single Speed Class…..and I’m pretty sure the guy I beat was on a fat bike!  The results page hasn’t been updated yet to see where I placed against others in the Open Class. Overall though I’m stoked for the experience and Idyllwild Cycling put on a great race. They even had dog-sitting and proceeds went to the local Living Free Animal Sanctuary. Get out there if you get the chance!

We headed into town for eats, stopped at the health food store (somethings never change) and then got falafel at a super friendly Greek spot before heading out of the mountains and back toward the coast. My post-race fatigue is somehow different. More intense and less of a generalized tiredness? I guess that would make sense considering that is the difference between this race and what I usually do.  So for all of you endurance racers, get out there to do a shorter race and turn yourself inside out!

 

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Filed under bike, off-road, race

Day in the Life 6; Cyclocross Racer Catherine Johnson

The main goal of our Day in the Life series is to show the world that vegan athletes exist and thrive on their diet and lifestyle. But as we make more episodes a second goal is developing: what crazy situations can we can put Matt in?! Today we spend the day cyclocross training in the snow and cold with bad-ass cyclist Cat Johnson in Boulder, Colorado.

 

How great is Cat?? I love her comment, ‘I went vegan for the cause!’ Veganism and bike racing: There are many ways to do it and you have to look around and see what fits your personality. Don’t rely on any one way to do either. Cyclocross is the most inclusive form of competitive cycling and in my opinion the most fun!

Here are Cat’s tips and some links to get you started

 

-No one in cyclocross cares how well you are doing as long as you are having fun. Like when she says, ‘No one cares if you are last’ and there I am, in last place in our training ride!

-There are beginner categories that are truly are beginner and inclusive.

-The courses are loops which makes it very spectator friendly. Bring your friends and fam to cheer you on!

-It’s a mix of skills- speed, bike handling, running, jumping- and this evens out the field.

-You can use almost any type of bike that can run fat tires. And many races rent cyclocross bikes!

-There are single-speed categories and even Single Speed World Championships!

-Some resources: Cycling Dirt Cyclocross Magazine, the super fun SoCal Prestige Series in Southern California, and a Beginner’s Guide to Cyclocross on Active.com.

-Like Cat says about veganism, you can look to different people for different motivation and figure out which type of riding is best for you.

 

Cat’s Recovery Smoothie

Your post-workout meal should be easily digestible, high in carbohydrate with some protein and be consumed shortly after your workout. This not only replaces the glycogen you expended, but helps to increase your glycogen storage- giving you more energy for your next workout. And even though protein builds strong muscles, those muscles are fueled by carbohydrate.

1.5 cups non-dairy milk like almond, rice or hemp (Hemp milk is higher in protein than other non-dairy, non-soy milk)

1/2 cup of frozen blueberries

1/2 cup frozen peaches

1 scoop Vega Performance Protein powder

1 T Antioxidant Oil Blend

What’s great about smoothies is how flexible they are! Remember our meal-replacing, peanut butter and banana smoothie with Brian from episode one? Cat’s smoothie is similar in that you can easily adjust the calorie ratios. The protein content can be adjusted by switching non-dairy milks and how much protein powder you add, or don’t add! For example I use a higher protein milk and don’t use protein powders. And for Omega-3 I use straight flax oil.

Cat would like to thank her coach Colby Pearce, who took us out on the training ride, her current sponsor Panache Cyclewear and her previous sponsors The Service Course and World Bicycle Relief.  And thank you Cat for spending your day with us!

What’s your favorite recovery meal or smoothie? And if you have any cyclocross resources that I didn’t mention please leave them in the comments!

 

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Filed under Day in the Life, off-road, recipe, vegan

Is this the definition of irony?

The other day I was riding my cyclocross bike on some great canyon trails here in the city. Nothing is better than riding to the trails, riding dirt, then riding home. It’s great when cities have undeveloped areas to explore.
I was riding along enjoying some fast sections, with perfect conditions. Then the trail was blocked by a 4-lane road. I know building bridges and tunnels costs a lot of money and I don’t mind having to pop onto a road for a minute, but then I came across this fence between the lanes restricting non-crosswalk crossing.
And then to rub it in they put images of cyclists and runners on the fence blocking the access of those very people in favor of automobiles.
The fence forces you to ride against traffic to a stoplight, where you ‘safely’ cross and then ride against traffic on the other side.
All the while those images of cyclists and runners stare at you mockingly.

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Filed under bike, city, off-road, political

Day in the Life 5; Ultrarunner Donovan Jenkins Attempts a 100-mile Run

First off, a big thank you to those who supported our successful Kickstarter. Because of you we are able to continue making these Day in the Life episodes with vegan athletes!

The Javalina Jundred course is 6 15-mile laps run 'washing machine style': each lap in the opposite direction. The 7th lap is a modified 10-mile loop.

Are you ready for this? You’ve had a preview of today’s episode because I posted about my experience filming with Donovan as soon as we got back from the Javalina Jundred. I mean, can you imagine running 100 miles? ONE HUNDRED MILES ON FOOT! And while 100% vegan. Donovan’s story is a truly remarkable one and it is a pleasure to share this with you. Enjoy!

How stoked are you right now? Don’t you want to turn off your computer and run to the farthest place you can imagine? Donovan really came through on this and I can’t thank him enough for the stokedtivity that he’s giving the world. Wow, just wow. If you truly are ready to take the next steps toward running an ultra, see his personal tips below.

Donovan’s tips on running your first ultra

Make it public—Enlist friends to run with you and tell people about it. When others know what you are doing it can give you a little extra motivation to get out the door and train on those tough days.

Follow a plan—Pick a training schedule appropriate for your race distance/terrain and stick to it as much as possible. Being consistent and gradually building up to your goal are essential for staying injury-free and having a successful race.

Keep records—You can’t follow a training schedule without paying attention to the numbers. Keeping records provides you with valuable information that can help you maximize the efficiency of your training and avoid over-training injuries.

But be flexible and keep it fun—Don’t be too obsessed with those numbers. Listen to your body, take time off, and cross-train as needed. Don’t let the numbers ruin your race or your life.

Spend extra time on your feet—In addition to the training miles and racing, one of the best ways to prepare your legs for a race that can take 24 hours is to spend extra time on your feet every day. If you walk/run a couple miles to and from work, spend all day on your feet, walk to the store, etc., you can easily spend 10-12 hours on your feet a day. Every little bit helps!

Race!—The best way to train for a race is to run shorter races. The more you race the better you will be able to pace and run your own race and know how hard you can push yourself. You also gain valuable and often overlooked knowledge about when to stop and what to eat at aid stations, how much water you need, what you should put in your drop bag, what clothes to wear, etc. There are fewer unknowns as you gain experience. Shorter races are great; learn from them and consider them hard training runs.

Eat the right foods—Reduce high fiber foods for a few days leading up to the race and during the race. Too much fiber may upset your stomach and cause extra bathroom breaks during the run. Also, for a more constant and steady energy source, stay away from the candy and refined sugar. I have better luck and bonk less often when I stick with fruits, potatoes and other real foods, like burritos.

Slow down—Most new runners run their easy runs too fast. Weekly long runs are for conditioning your legs to run long and if you push the pace it’s essentially racing, which is counterproductive if you don’t have the time to properly recover. If you are doing speed work and faster, shorter runs you will be better off keeping your long training runs slower than you feel like you need. Save the long, hard runs for races.

Run your own race—Don’t get carried away trying to keep up with a competitor. The person you are chasing up that hill may be running their first ultra and not know how to pace themselves, or it may be Scott Jurek! Whichever the case, if you stick to your plan and run within your abilities your race will come together as it should. My worst races have been those where I ran too fast at the beginning trying to keep up with someone when I shouldn’t have. If I had slowed down and let them go, there’s a good chance I would have caught them and passed them later in the race. Don’t let those around you determine your actions. It’s your race, run it as you have prepared to run it!

You may be asking, ‘where’s Donovan’s recipe?’ I requested one and what I gathered from his response is that his daily life is a lot like a 100-mile race: he snacks on fruit, nuts, coffee and burritos all day long. He did send me this photo of his work locker:

donovanslocker.jpg

Maybe if we pester him enough we can get an actual recipe-leave your requests in the comments! You can also harass him on twitter: @Donorun

Lastly, a huge thank you to Donovan for spending the day weekend with us, Aravaipa Running Race Director Jamil Coury (who is also vegan!) for letting us film, all the runners on the course and again our Kickstarter donors who made this possible. See you next time!

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Filed under Day in the Life, off-road, race, run, vegan

The Los Angeles I Love

9-mile trail run in Griffith Park, a short walk from my friend’s place. I love winter in Southern California not just because it’s not cold, but also because it’s so green and clear. At a party the night before a guy who had hike Mt Luekens that day said he had 100-mile visibility! Epic.

I won’t say much about the run except that I need to run more! These two dropped me on every hill…

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Filed under off-road, run

Colorado!

I often express how fortunate I am. I’ve good health and the time and energy to make use of it. But sometimes I feel extra fortunate. Like ‘I can’t believe I get to do the things I do!’ fortunate.  Sasha Perry, my partner for the Day in the Life project, Megan Dean, close friend and builder of Moth Attack! Bikes and I recently went to Colorado to film for Day in the Life and it ruled beyond belief.

Sasha takes some well-earned time off from behind the camera to ride the Dizzy Drome

I knew we’d meet phenomenal vegan athletes. I also knew it would be beautiful, as I’ve been there before. But for this trip Colorado really pulled out all of the stops!  Every where we turned were people stoked to meet us and hang out. We worked full days most days, and then hung out hard with the people we had worked with. Could not have asked for anything better. A few people need to be thanked:

Handlebar Mustache for putting us up and letting us cuddle their five dogs

Ritual Chocolate for giving us a tour of their vegan chocolate factory

Girl Bike Love for the hangouts

Boulder Indoor Velodrome for letting us film and ride every where

Nederland Mountain People’s Co-op for having the biggest AND best vegan blueberry muffins ever

Chris for filming (who also just had a Kickstarter reach full funding!)

Eric at Ground Up Custom Bicycles for building a pump track, a dizzy drome, rad bikes to play on AND being so stoked on me riding them.

And finally we need to thank all of the individual athletes who let us invade their life for a day, or sometimes longer. I promised Sasha I wouldn’t give too much away so I can’t actually thank the athletes by name! You’ll see before too long, I promise.

Meanwhile, enjoy a few videos of me riding during our down time!

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Filed under bike, bmx, off-road, travel

Cyclocross Racing!

I think nothing speaks to my ADHD like my association with cyclocross racing. It’s got obstacles, changes in pace, technical sections and requires some endurance. Right up my alley, no? It’s a very ADHD sport, actually, but I can never seem get my Fall schedule straight enough to have a running cyclocross bike AND make it to some races. My first race didn’t go super well. My second race later that month only went marginally better.  Then two years ago I was in SF and some friends basically did everything but ride the bike for me: They gave me a bike, clothing, shoes and a ride to the race. And it was super fun. That was the last time I raced cross.

This year I came across a brand-new Masi singlespeed cross bike for only $320 (!!) and couldn’t pass it up. Now I have no reason not to race! Dorothy Wong from So Cal Cyclocross had a UCI race weekend scheduled in downtown LA and I couldn’t pass it up.

Why drive rollers to a race when you can warm-up by towing a pug five miles?


I got there 20 minutes before the Mens B race and scrambled (no surprises here, right?) and to make the start. Then I had a mechanical! My wheel moved forward. I didn’t know what to do so I went to the pit, got yelled at for having my number folded, got my tools from my bag, fixed it and then resumed racing. I didn’t catch anyone, but I did hustle and ride hard. Plus it gave me the opportunity to do this every lap:

Jumping the Over/Under, photo courtesy of Errin Vasquez at FrontageRoads.com

An hour later I raced the Singlespeed B race and it was really fun. I still jumped this every lap and it turns out I finished third! I didn’t know what place I was in, I was just trying to stay out of the way. Stoked!

The next day I could only make the Mens B race and I gave it a good go and finished mid-pack. I tried to ride one of the run-ups and crashed and then tried to bunnyhop the double barriers and crashed there too. Some guy from Mudfoot then tried to catch me in the last straight, but I out-sprinted him on my singlespeed to hold on to the coveted 25th place. Oh and my friend Todd Munson, somewhere around lap 3 or 4, when I was nice and tired, said, ‘hey do a big air this time so I can film it.’ And of course I almost crashed there too- see video below. Ha.

Super fun times! I raced a $300 bike 3 times, spending about half of that on entry fees and a license, but definitely worth it. I love Dorothy’s events and can’t wait to get to more of them.

Jumping Over/Under at DTLA Cyclocross

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Filed under bike, off-road, race