Category Archives: off-road

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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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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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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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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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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