Category Archives: off-road

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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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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Javalina Jundred and My First Time Supporting a 100-mile Racer

I’ve spent a lot of time at endurance races, but almost all of them have been bike events. I’ve officiated at the Badwater 135, so I’ve some idea about ultra-running, but what I experienced this past weekend at the Javalina Jundred 100-mile foot race was completely new. I went out with my friend Donovan to film our first Kickstarter funded episode of Day in the Life so I can’t give away too many details….but let’s just say he wasn’t the only one to walk (limp?) away more stoked on ultra running than before the weekend started!

Donovan out on the course in the beautiful Sonoran Desert.

Watching runners come through the start/finish all day and then into the night was really something else. The course is a 15-mile loop with each lap run in the opposite direction. The last lap is only 10 miles to make 100 (101 actually!). We had gotten there earlier enough on Thursday to snag a camping spot right at the start/finish so we were embedded in all of the action.  In true Swarm! fashion we camped each night (many people set up their camp and then stayed in hotels) and cooked all of our meals on camp stoves. And keeping with the Burro Schmidt Running Club tradition started at the Calico 50k earlier this year, we cooked pancakes and beans. How cool is it that the athlete we film is down to camp and to be cheap before his first 100-mile run? I don’t know how we keep finding these people!

Our base camp. Photos courtesy of Donovan's mom who flew in from Montana for the race!

I’m going to have a full post with the Day in the Life episode where you’ll learn more about Donovan, his unbelievable path to veganism and what it was like to run his first 100-mile race.  Meanwhile I just couldn’t wait to mention this race and the awesome time I had out there. If you have the opportunity to do support at an ultra event please do take it. Being a part of an accomplishment like this is really gratifying; you don’t even have to run it! Discovery wrote about this year’s race if you’d like to get more of an idea about it.

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Filed under off-road, race, run

Back on the saddle: Boggs 8hr mountain bike race

I did a bike race! Was a little burned out on racing for awhile there, but we worked a race into a 10-day road trip, which is the best way to do it, in my opinion. Last Thursday I headed up to Boggs for the Global Biorhythm 8hr/24hr race for the third year in a row. Two years ago Max and I did this race on a trip that included the Alta Alpina double century and it was my first ever solo 24hr mountain bike race. Time flies! Last year I went up solo and also raced 24hrs solo, again on single-speed, this time placing second. Stoked! Was not stoked on having to drive back to LA for work on that Monday though…

This year Max was up for the adventure as, was Mike. Since none of us have been racing we all signed up for the 8hr. Timed mountain bike races have a loop course that usually takes about an hour, with the start/finish in a campground. Simply, who ever does the most laps wins! The courese are technical, diverse and fun enough that it never feels like you are riding in circles.

After a fun road ride and vegan donut tour in SF/Marin on Friday, we headed north and got ready to ‘race’. I say ‘race’ because we were all in chill mode. Mostly. I will admit though that at registration I was SUPER tempted to race the 24 hour. Why not, right? I’m already here…but I remembered my coach’s lecture: “You do too hard of events and burn out and then stop running/riding!’ so I stayed in the 8hr race. Oh and by coach I mean my friend Jeff who happens to be a coach who happened to tell me that on a ride once.

Back to the race! At 11am the gun went off and we started the 2-mile climb to space riders out. I was racing a geared mountain bike for the first time in 3 years and spun and chilled. We all rode together till the single track forced us apart. The single track is in great shape there: flow-y, fast and fun. Having gears gave me a rest on the big climbs and let me punch  it a little more on the descents….

After five laps I rolled through our camp and Mike was chillin on the blanket as was our friend Al who also came up from LA for this race for the third year in a row. Max was sleeping in the van! Chill race for sure. An hour later I came through and Mike was getting a massage!  My goal was 8 laps, but I just couldn’t get my lap times fast enough to have time for the 8th. Oh well, hanging out, right? I headed out for a 7th and pushed a bit to get a feeling for where my fitness is. Not as bad as I thought it would be! Definitely didn’t feel strong where I normally do, but not horribly so.

Not racing single-speed was quite different:
-I got fatigued in the same way I do from road riding
-My butt hurt because I wasn’t standing for every hill
-I didn’t get that dread I usually would before a big climb because I knew I could just shift down
-I’d pedal in places I probably should have applied my single-speed coasting skills…

In the end it was a great time. I feel much better about my 1×10 bike, the tubeless tires, etc after spending 8 hours with it. I felt exerted, but not crushed. I don’t know what place I got because I raced Pro/Expert and probably didn’t place in the top half…

We spent the night at the race and woke up early to cheer on the solo 24hr racers. And yes, after a solid 8 hour sleep I was positive I made the right decision to not race the 24hr. We spend the week mountain biking some select spots along the coast and then we’ll be at the Grand Tour double century on Saturday. Yay summer adventures! Hope you are getting your stoke on wherever you are.  Thanks for reading!

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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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Alaska and Los Angeles are both important bike places in this moment

Yo! First off, you know Spring is creeping around the corner by the number of packages on my doorstep today. I need a word that = stokedx10. Since Rapha ruined ‘epic’ I’m running low on descriptors. Back to the goods: stuff from Mountain Hardwear, Princeton Tec, Carousel Designs, and lastly, Niner (via Cranky’s bike shop!!). Word! Hard to imagine I’m only in the 4th week of the semester for teaching. Come on spring break!

Okay, beyond material possessions, I want to report that my friend Aidan Harding is in the Alaskan wilderness right now doing the 1100-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational.  He raced the 350-mile version two years ago, the year it was extra gnarly.  He’s the dude who got 4th overall and 1st single-speed at the 2010 Tour Divide. Only 10 hours off of the single-speed record! Fortunately I got to ride with him last summer before he headed back across the pond. So If you are one of the few people in the world who thinks an 1100-mile mountain bike race in the Alaskan winter is interesting, you can follow his progress online.  Go Aidan! His partner, who is an ultra-distance swimmer, is also regularly updating his website with what she knows.  1100 miles. In the Alaska Wilderness. Sit on that for a minute.

Back in Los Angeles, the City Bicycle Plan passed unanimously at City Hall, despite the complaints of well-to-do horse-people, and was signed by the Mayor today.  On twitter the #LAbikeplan hashcode actually trended in Los Angeles.  Yes, it’s only a plan and implementation will be a challenge, but the Plan has come a really long way. Originally it was a crappy, nearly non-sensical document that used terms like ‘infeasible’ to describe city streets in relation to bicycling. Then activists stepped up and had their own meetings. And made their own plans. Their volunteer work changed the half-million dollar city plan to something useful and, imagine this, even exciting! Props to all of you who put in work (I wrote about their meetings, but never made it to any). The best coverage round-up is actually at the LA DOT Bike Blog and LA Streetsblog’s photo blog.

Back to work for me. It’s winter, when I’m suppose to be working a lot to save money to play a lot in the summer. You know, the same life plan I’ve had since I was 15 and delivered newspapers through the East Coast winter in order to spend the summer traveling and riding BMX. The jobs and bikes have changed, but not much else. Thanks for reading!

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