Category Archives: off-road

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

Calico 50k Race Report

[Update Fri Jan 21 10:11am: Wanted to link a few other race reports with great stories and photos! Don't Try This At Home at Runner's World | Bourbon Feet (fast dude who wears the Air Jesus sandals!) | Kylie at TriFuel.com | Trail Bum ]

 

In my continued attempt to not gain an unsightly amount of winter weight and lose all of my fitness I signed up for another ultra-run, the Calico Ghost Town 50k. The race is a benefit for Discovery Trails, whose focus is education about the Mojave desert. Their tag-line is Learning From Adventure, which I can get behind!

Speaking of adventure, I’m sure some people drive to a race, race it and then go home. Seems too simple. And boring, really. We make it a huge adventure: camping, stopping at places of interest on the way, eating at great places and generally using the race as an excuse to get away and do rad stuff. First on the list: stopping at a vegetarian restaurant. One World Cafe is in the burbs of the San Gabriel Valley, the part of the ‘Los Angeles Area’ that is the sprawl associated with my city. When I go on a long bike ride I head north, south or west, rarely east into Sprawlville. But when we’re driving out that way, it’s a treat to hit up one of the Supreme Master vegan restaurants.  And yes, they have a Supreme Burrito, but I stuck with the Pan-Asian stuff. I can’t get enough of these spots lately.

Calico ghost town is located half-way between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, in the Mojave desert.  It’s just too far to drive morning of without getting up stupid early. Last weekend Mike and I drove down to South Orange County to ride a PCH Randonneurs 200k that started at 630am. Needless to say, him and I did not start at 630am. At least it made us hustle to get to the first control before it closed. But then luckily we could take the remaining 110 miles at the Swarm! ‘Can Stop Will Stop’ chill pace. Riding in South Orange County is very beautiful, but the only photo I have is of this crazy cockpit:

Back to the run! We rolled up to Calico in time to check in for the race and scope the town. I’ve been to a few and I appreciate the throwback to olden times. We learned that Calico was bought and preserved by Walter Knott, the founder of Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park, who was a far-right wingnut that had racist policies at his amusement park. It has long since been sold to San Bernardino County, but we couldn’t help but notice that the Welcome sign was in English, French, German and Japanese, but not Spanish and that there was no brothel!

The goodie bag was provided by an outlet mall which may have something to do with the pose I’m striking.

Checked in for the race and content with seeing most of the town we headed down to the campground to set up camp and make dinner. As I’ve said before, I love when you can camp at a race start! So Max, Donovan and I got a fire going and whipped up some pancakes and beans in honor of Burro Schmidt, whose tunnel we visited the last time we drove out to an ultra-run.  I was nervous about making pancakes on a camp stove! The first time I ever camped in my life was at an Earth First! forest defense thing in Pennsylvania and I was blown away that you could camp and still eat pancakes. Still, I had never done it. The photo below is proof that it can happen!

Even though we were in bed at a reasonable hour, that 6am alarm felt too early. We sprung up and got water going for coffee, took down on our camp and drank said coffee in time to swing by the bathrooms (to avoid a Have To Poop scenario like my first ultra) and run to the start with a whopping 4 minutes before the gun. Nice. Max had hurt his ankle the day before so he decided not to run. I’ve never run with Donovan before but we decided to stick together as we both had sub-6hr times in mind. Ends up I avoided the dreaded Have To Poop scenario, but he did not! Two times ducking into the desert for him would be the difference in our times. Now I had looked at the course photos from the website, but I was not expecting the course to be so beautiful. It was magnificent! We ran through red canyons, down washes, over tight, rolling hills, through two tiny tunnels (!!); much of it with unbelievable views of or from the desert mountains. There was a technical section that took me ten minutes to slowly climb down using my arms on rocks for balance. SO fun. Not sure I can go back to road running….

At mile 22 I decided I was going to run every hill that was left. Felt good to push. Since I train on hills a lot just because of where I live, that came easy, but I’d struggle to keep people I had passed from catching me on the down hills or flats. Still, my descents definitely improved from the Ridgecrest run last month. So I’m rolling along, feeling good, running everything and I get to the last aid station. Now one note about this race is that it is supported by the locals. The folks at the aid stations are not runners. They were SUPER FUN. They loved it. Constant jokes (‘We got some meth in the back if you need a boost!’). So at the last aid, I say, ‘3.1 miles, right?’ Nope, 4.5 miles. Oops. I’m tired, it’s getting hot. I have no idea what time it is. Whatever. I run past some dudes in 4×4 trucks playing on some hills. They say hello. Then I see the campground! Sweet. The course went through it, which is now two out of two times that has happened. Should we make it a ritual to sleep on the course?

A few more ups and downs and then I’m in town and I see Max! He jogs along for awhile and then splits off to meet me at the finish. I pushed on the last hill to pass the triathlete I’d been back and forth with. Holding him off on the descent I cross the line at 5 hours and 47 minutes. Stoked (ended up 31st out of 121).  Donovan crosses 5 minutes later and we head into the saloon for our post-race meal. The young lady working was kind enough to give us french fries instead of pizza….

On the way home we stopped at Viva La Vegan, an all vegan grocery store in the Inland Empire that has a grip of frozen pizzas (good for National Vegan Pizza Day):

But I bought some chocolate hazelnut butter and we finished the drive back to LA for some pizza from a pizza shop.  This race is part of the So Cal Ultra Running Series, which I signed up for, just for fun. I was already to tell you about the next crazy run I’m signed up for, the Twin Peaks 50-miler, but I just found out that it’s postponed until October! Wtf? Look at this elevation profile:

I’ve been gearing up for this and using it for the fear I need to train properly and now it’s not happening! Bummer. It was scheduled for February 12th, what should I do instead?

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Filed under off-road, race, run, vegan

Risk is Real. Use it.

One of the main themes in the college course I teach is risk. What risk means, what actions have more risks and how to weigh the risks of what we do day-to-day. Some are obvious- like running red lights at rush hour on your track bike. Pretty clear risk involved.  Less obvious risk is being sedentary.  My students struggle to understand how being at home on the couch can be risky- because the world around us is so dangerous. Aren’t we avoiding risk and danger by being ‘safe’ at home, in front of the tv?

Goran Kropp bicycled from Sweden To Nepal (roundtrip!) and climbed Everest solo w/o supplemental oxygen. I found his book when I was hit and nearly killed while riding cross-country in 2001. He died while rock climbing in Seattle in 2003. This organization exists in his honor.


The answer is complex, but I stand by mine: no. Being physically inactive is an independent risk factor for every major chronic disease from type-2 diabetes to cancer.  This we know. But I posit that being active runs deeper than that. Evolution has given us phenomenal bodies. We can run. We can bike. We can swim. At (relatively) fast speeds. For incredibly long distances. We can sleep for a night and get up and do it again. Or not sleep for a night and still do it again. This resonates metaphysically and benefits our mental health. I tell my students that we aren’t designed to sit in offices all day. And I mean more than our bodies when I say this because our brains also have (need!) larger ambitions.

So getting out and being active is necessary for our health. Short term and long term. Physical and mental. But how much and to what capacity? At what point do the benefits out weight the risks?

The other night I had a long conversation with my close friend Mark Fillebrown. Mark was something like a mentor when I was a teenager. I met him when I was 14 through BMX bikes back when BMX was all I thought about. Being a few years older than me he had experiences I only dreamed about. He lived in California half the year. He rode with BMXers I only read about in magazines. He dropped out of high school (I wanted to). After riding one day he let me borrow some cassette tapes (!) of his favorite punk bands. He moved to New York City when I was 15 and I use to go and hang out with him in the Pre-Guillani NYC of the 90’s that you can only read about now…

Mark this year at a Pomona Flat Track race. He snuck me into the racers area where I hung out, in awe.

These days Mark is a flat-track and endurance off-road motorcycle racer. He is one of those people who puts absolutely everything into what he loves. In that same college course I use him as an example of Obsessive-Compulsiveness. He told me once that he got home from his job as a motorcycle mechanic, ate dinner and went to work on one of his bikes in the garage. Next thing he knew the sun was coming up. ‘I had to shower and eat breakfast and get to work! Didn’t realize I had worked all night.’ He’s that dude. If his thing was business he’d own a Fortune 500 Company. If it was law he’d have appeared in front of the Supreme Court by now. But it’s motorcycle racing that he loves and obsesses over. Which brings us back to risk.

Six weeks ago Mark was in a crash that nearly killed him. He had just raced the insane Baja 1000, a 1000-mile off-road race through the Baja Peninsula. The day after, someone was lost and he was out looking for him with a group. After locating the missing racer, Mark was riding his motorcycle up the road to tell the other group he had found him and to slow down. But the group had just stopped and in doing so created a dust storm. Mark never had time to react and went off the road into a rock-filled canyon. He wasn’t going very fast, he wasn’t racing or doing tricks or anything risky. Just riding.

The fall nearly killed him. Mark doesn’t have many sponsors, but does have a helmet one. His top-of-the-line helmet was completely smashed. He had all of his protective racing gear on from the day before, normally he would not. Still, he broke ribs, his arm, punctured a lung and got a severe concussion. When the first person got to him he wasn’t breathing. Luckily that person has emergency training and got him breathing again. The group sent out an emergency call and a helicopter was there within minutes. If it was not for the race infrastructure still being in place, there’s no question he’d be dead right now (or ‘on the wrong side of the dirt’ as he put it).

He doesn’t remember the two weeks after the race. Six weeks on and he is still mostly bed-ridden. His memory goes in and out. His brain is playing tricks on him. But he is expected to make a full recovery.  Upon reading this many people would think, ‘that’s it, no more motorcycle racing.’ That didn’t even come up. He just said it’d be awhile before he can race again. We both know he will.

Jure Robic won Race Across America 5 times. He was killed this year while cycling near his home in Slovenia (photo and more here).

It reminds me of a tragic BMX crash when I was a teenager. A local rider named Jeff Crawn (video) broke his fork on a routine box jump at a skatepark. He hit the ground hard enough to paralyze him. He remains paralyzed today. My friend Taj Mihelich witnessed it and later wrote how he didn’t know what to do. His friend was taken away in an ambulance and would never walk again from riding BMX. Yet the only thing he knew to do was to keep riding, which he did. What would you do?

Everything has risk. Driving in a car. Living in a city. Being a political activist. Being an environmental activist.  We can be killed (or injured or jailed…) at any time and there’s only so much that we can do. After I spoke with Mark and when I think about Jeff it makes me want to hide in my bed. The world is dangerous and the risk of death is very real, every day. Then after awhile that fear turns to motivation. Because death is so real it makes me want to live more. It takes a lot of courage to be honest about the risks we face every day and to still take them. Most people are frozen by these very real fears. The people who do amazing things are not without fear, but understand it and use it as motivation. I have some crazy ideas for 2011, some with real risk. For my physical and mental health I have to understand these risks AND take them. It’s the only way to truly live and I’d be miserable if I didn’t do them. The death and injuries I know about force me to be as careful as possible, to always appreciate my health, and appreciate having the ability to do what I do.

I wish you the best in doing the same. Thanks for reading and happy 2011.

Ps. You can donate to Mark’s medical bills here.

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Filed under bmx, off-road

The New World of Ultra-Running: The Ridgecrest 50k

Do not wait until all the conditions are perfect for you to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect. -Some Inspirational/Spiritual Dude

My close friend Morgan decided at the turn-off to run the 50k instead of the 30k! Kick-ass attitude.Who needs training? Photos credit here.

I have a 50-email conversation in my inbox with the subject ‘2011 is to Ultra-Running What 2005 Was to Double Centuries’ and after racing the Ridgecrest 50k it has already begun! Two-hundred mile cycling events (calendar) were my introduction to paying for events and eventually racing. My double century tag has over 25 posts, including the 10 I rode in 2005. These rides were an opportunity for Morgan and I to travel around California, sleep in sketchy places and spend the day on our bikes. We got obsessed and by the end of the year he raced the Furnace Creek 508 solo! Fitting that we ran our first ultra-run together.

With my friend Catra in the tattooed division…

 

Pre-Race = Awesome

I talked our crew, 5 in our car plus a few others, into camping at Wagon Wheel, which is a free BLM campground on both the Furnace Creek 508 course and the Ridgecrest 50k course. Just a 20 minute drive to the race start! After checking in and seeing a few folks we actually knew (mostly from bike events!) we headed back to Wagon Wheel to cook. I love camp cooking. Maybe it’s all the bike touring I’ve done over the past 1o years (!), but there’s something about a meal in the open that rivals what most people, if they’re lucky, make at home. We had 3 stoves and 8 people and collectively and easily together made Spicy Peanut Sauce Ramen with Broccoli and Tofu. YUM. Favorite meal of all-time? We sat around the fire eating, talking and catching up. One of the best things about getting away is the time it opens up. Creates such great memories!

 

At our Wagon Wheel campsite.

 

Race morning

One of the bargains I made in picking the campground was that I’d get up earlier than everyone else and start the coffee. 5am alarm. BUT Maxwell, Mr. AdventureSNORE himself, beat me to it! Before my alarm went off I heard the familiar hum of an MSR stove heating water….score! Thanks Max! We (somehow) got to the start not only before everyone had left, but with enough time to eat and get properly prepared. And even get nervous! We found a few more Los Angeles cyclists also at their first run and got a group photo in.

 

Team Los Angeles Cyclists!

 

Race!

I was less nervous about this than a marathon. How is that possible if the distance is longer? Trail running. Low-key. Like a fast hike. Out in the world, exploring. I ran with Morgan and Jeff’s friend Hoffman for the first 15 miles! We’d jog, run some hills, walk some hills and generally take it easy and enjoying the world around us. More experience, less exercise (maybe this should be my tagline?)

 

Mandatory Couch Hang

I split from Morgan and Hoffman around mile 15 and was feeling really good. Running the hills. Though there’s one detail I just cannot write this report without mentioning. I really had to drop a deuce. The whole time. Yeah. I assumed there’d be porto-poties at the aid stations but I was wrong…Not fun. I thought I could hold it, but then on a long downhill…..I guess it could be worse……I made it off the trail at least! No mess. Phew. You know the Ice Cube verse about feeling ten pounds lighter? That was me.

Refreshed (in a way!) I got my pace back up and was holding ten-minute miles or so. Earlier a runner exuberantly told us that the last 5 miles were downhill. But he was obviously a runner because to a cyclist 5 miles of downhill on foot is not something to celebrate! I was struggling. And for the first time of the race I went awhile without seeing anyone. It was beautiful and I was taking my time descending. Then Catra and her boyfriend caught me! They had been so supportive of me the whole run and immediately said, ‘Stay with us! We’re going to finish under 6 hours!’ So I did. And we did! The last mile was (thankfully!) not downhill but ran around the parking lot before finishing in order for everyone to get a chance to see the condition you are in.

 

Morgan’s boat shoes. Apparently the barefoot-like running shoes that cost $80 are a based on these $15 boat shoes. I’ll just say that as I write this weeks later his feet still hurt…

 

At the finish Sasha (ran the 30k- her first run race!), Max (volunteered), Jen from the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition (ran the 30k) and Jeff (first ultra, finished in just over 5 hours!) cheered me on.  I was tired and sore, but smiling and stoked. It was not a death march.

 

What I learned

1. Trail running involves serious hills- up and down! This is helpful, in my opinion. You use different muscles and it’s much less monotonous than a road run.

2. Train on hills! Duh. See above.  In ultra-cycling many people make the mistake of only doing super long rides. You have to strength train on hills. For running this means up AND down.

3. Know yourself. I know what my ‘forever’ pace is like and I rarely ran faster than that. The key to finishing your first long runs.

4. Start slow! Relax. It’s a long day. Unless you are trying to win, which in that case you shouldn’t be looking to me for advice.

5. Have fun. How do I get these events done? I know I’m out there because I want to be. Keep smiling.  Enjoy it the highs AND the lows.

 

What’s Next

January 16th Calico 50k . Another desert run. A training run for this:

February 12th Twin Peaks 50-miler. Nervous. 17,000 feet elevation gain in 50 miles. I’ve ridden much of this area when I raced the Vision Quest mountain bike race in 2009 and it turns out I actually ran some of it a few years ago.  The fear of this run is real and it’s been the kick in the butt I need to train a little harder.

 

Well, a 50k was a great last event for 2010. What a year! And 2011 looks to be something special.  Thanks for reading, happy holidays and good health to you!

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Filed under off-road, run, travel

From Ultra to Ultra

After not doing a running race for two years, I was fortunate to ‘PR’ a half marathon (that I rode my bike to!) and even improved on my best marathon time during Vineman this year. Yay! It’s a amazing what a little extra effort and some speed work will do, isn’t it?

In an attempt to keep some momentum from this year through the winter (and not gain a ton of weight!) I’m signed up for my first ultra run the High Desert 50k in Ridgecrest, CA. As of now, our Swarm! crew of cyclists turned runners is heading out there 5 deep. It’s fitting because it is not far from Death Valley and the Furnace Creek 508 course, which is the last event most of us have done.

Ultra-running is appealing for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that it parallels the type of cycling I do. Not just in distance or time, but in the philosophy that the journey is as, or more important, than the destination. Sure, people run in circles in ultra-runs (A 3-mile loop 33 times? No thank you.), but many of them are point to point. Oh, and almost all of them are on trails. In beautiful places. With only hundreds of people. Much, much different than, say, the Los Angeles marathon with its 40,000 people pounding the pavement.

The question is, can I still get away with only running three times a week? I think I can. Will I have to do really long, slow runs that take all day? As of now, I don’t think I will. The idea is to use long races to build up to even longer ones. I’m already eying the Avalon 50 miler that takes place on Catalina island in January. Is the goal to run a 100-miler? Yes, it is. More on that in another post.

If anyone else is with me here, I’ve compiled some resources (with daylight savings time making it dark before 5pm I’m having trouble leaving the house so this is what I do). First is No Meat Athlete’s 63 Ways to Shake Up Your Running Routine. Got to keep it fun. There are a few magazines like Ultrarunning and Trail Running to keep the stokedtivity levels high. Ultrunr.com has the most information for training for longer runs and this NY Times article discusses ‘pushing past the pain’.

Are you ready to sign up for a long run? The best listing of ultras I’ve found is at ultrasignup.com. I especially appreciate that they show the logo for each race. Maybe it’s the punk in me who loves show fliers! It says so much about what the race is like. Also ultrarunning.com has a calendar with a bunch of races.

I’ll be sure to post updates about my training, though it’s getting down to the wire. I had some trouble getting out to run in Boston (rain) and New York (got tattooed), but am still feeling confident. Safe riding and running! See you out there. And don’t forget to sign up for my twitter if you haven’t already done so.

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Filed under off-road, run

Los Angeles stuff this weekend

I’m a little late on this as some it starts in fewer than 12 hours, but hey, that’s how I roll. The first is Saturday morning’s LA premiere of Ride the Divide, a documentary about the Tour Divide mountain bike race 2700 miles, mostly off-road, from Banff, Canada to the Mexican border. Through the Rockies. Unsupported. Awesome. I’ve ridden most of the route as a bike tour from the Canadian border to Silver City, NM. Like the ride, my my blog posts about it are unfinished. Here’s the trailer:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9654326&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Ride The Divide Movie Trailer from Ride The Divide on Vimeo.

Later on Saturday is the Tour De Fat in the Not A Cornfield state park in Chinatown/downtown. I’m not exactly sure what it is. Sort of a ride maybe, but mostly a beer party? Biking In LA does the best job of explaining what happens that I’ve read. Check it out.

There’s also a half-marathon on Sunday right here in LA. I normally wouldn’t promote such a corporate event, but the site says, ‘Take a Running Tour of the Real LA!’, which I appreciate. A lot! It hits the eastside of the city which is near where I live and it starts in Griffith Park, my favorite place to run.

Now if I can get over the Yankees losing and actually leave the house maybe I’ll see you at one of these events. Ride safe this weekend!

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Filed under city, off-road, run

mountain biking in Santa Cruz

My face hurts from smiling so much. That’s the best way I can describe mountain biking in Santa Cruz the other day. I told my friend Paul that ‘I absolutely have to ride cause I’m not racing the Tahoe-Sierra 100‘ and he suggested Santa Cruz. Awesome. I’m glad I had said that because when it came time to put my mountain bike together knowing I had to take it apart again in fewer than 24 hours I kind of didn’t want to. What a mistake that would have been!

After some freeway time south of SF we’re on a tiny ridge road which I thought of as ‘behind the mountains’ because I’ve never actually been in them; only ridden by with them on my left and the ocean on my right. Ends up we wouldn’t even see the town of Santa Cruz.

Paul only had a fuzzy idea of where to go. Something about a dirt road up to the ridge and trails coming back down to the car. We pick one, bomb it, then repeat on a different. There are lots of people out on bikes. Dozens. Mountain bikers everywhere. This is new to me. In the San Gabriels or Santa Monicas you only see a few people here and there.

First trail down comes up. We roll by. ‘That’s not it’, he says. Next trail- Braille- has an odd bunch of riders at the trail-head. Some regular looking mountain bike dudes- baggy clothes, hydration packs, dual suspension bikes, hairy legs, etc. A few younger dudes on jumping style bikes. A woman on a cross-country bike and a dude on a cross bike. They say, ‘you want to do this trail, it’s awesome.’ Here’s the thing though. ‘Awesome’ is very subjective. I’ll be honest and say I don’t trust other people’s idea of awesomeness. I have high expectations for trails and while most riding is pretty good and some of it is very good- not a whole lot qualifies as awesome. Our Mammoth Bromance Slaycation 2009 qualifies as awesome. I’ll never forget this wall-ride!. So I was apprehensive. Stoked, but apprehensive. And then it was possibly the best trail I have ever ridden.

Next thing I know we are flying down smooth, flow-y single track with some drops. And berms. And then jumps. With landings! Then technical built-up ladders and crossings. Man, stuff I don’t even know what it’s called. Imagine if you could build a skatepark out of stuff you find in the woods and instead of it being in one big area it’s laid out along one trail in a redwood forest. That’s this trail. Perfectly called Braille as I was hitting this stuff having never seen it before. I figure that they know where to put the landings and I’ll just be careful…

This page has some photos and a video, but it really doesn’t do it justice. At the bottom of that we had instant new friends. They loved that I was ‘a racer’ and riding a 29er and hitting this stuff. Fist bumps and high fives everywhere. Ends up they are a regular Sunday ride and next thing you know we’re climbing back up the ridge but this time bombing down toward the ocean. They are offered us weed, bbq chicken and to come to their house post-ride to help them finish the beer and food from a party. Oh mountain bike culture how I love thee! And then we were promised 15 miles of single-track and they delivered.

At the end of ________ and _______ Trail

We rode some twisty, curvy technical trails and some good mixed terrain stuff which I enjoyed. Chatting with our new friends and it ends up the main dude had ridden Furnace Creek 508 years ago. Ridiculous.

Not long after we enter yet another trail the dudes on jumping bikes with platform pedals and shin guards stop and pick up their bikes. They ask to follow them into the woods, but not directly behind. ‘Tread lightly, don’t leave any marks.’ We walk about 10 yards and then onto a SECRET TRAIL! [redacted at request of trail builders]. And that’s the last coherent thought I had because the next two miles was so exhilarating and dangerous that I couldn’t think about anything but keeping the rubber side down. There were sections where I thought the trail ended only to look down and see that what was in front of me was a 180 degree berm at such a steep incline that if it wasn’t for tire tracks I wouldn’t think was rideable. I had started near the back and slowly I passed other folks just shaking their head saying, ‘there’s no way this is possible.’ There were jumps I went around, but I rode some berms and drops that truly scared me. You’d pop out from between two giant redwoods and then bam! drop into what better resembles a quarter pipe than a mountain bike trail…

I can’t thank those locals enough! Back in Soquel, a tiny town south of Santa Cruz that I had ridden through just a few weeks ago on my SF-LA 3-day ride, we said our goodbyes and started the two hour climb back over the mountains to our car. The conversation was mostly about the costs of homes in the area and if there are any jobs…

Such a fun day. Wow. Not sure it counts as ‘training’ though.

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2010 Shenandoah 100 Sunday

I raced the Shenandoah 100 in 2008 as my first mountain bike race ever and it was one of the best races I have ever done! Challenging, technical sections, beautiful area, kick-ass racers and volunteers, great vegan food before and after. It was so fun! (2008 write-up!)

I got my new bike (which made the trip in my Ritchey luggage without incident- no fee on Southwest and nothing broken). I’ve ridden off-road a lot more since 2008. Can I get in under 10 hours? There’s a corral start based on when you think you’ll finish and I feel pressure about where to line up! Last year was 10 hours, 55 min. I started in the back cause I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way…

Stoked to be in ‘the south’ visiting with friends and riding all day tomorrow. I won’t let summer end!!

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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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Boggs 24 hour mountain bike race

“People should learn endurance; they should learn to endure the
discomforts of heat and cold, hunger and thirst: they should learn to
be patient when receiving abuse and scorn; for it is the practice of
endurance that quenches the fire of worldly passion which is burning
up their bodies.” -Buddha

I love mountain biking. Most non-cyclists fixate on time and/or
distance with these events, but really, Im just stoked to be out there
jumping off rocks, railing turns and bombing hills. Sure, the
endurance athletic stuff comes into play and I do enjoy that as well,
but man o man riding bikes is fun.

So. It was hot as shit. 100+.
The dude who won single speed (and overall!) lapped me when I was on
my 5th lap. Wtf?
I rested at 130am, changed kits and rubbed my feet. Did a few laps
then chilled at sun up. Some stomach weirdness! Maybe from the old gel
flask I took from the fridge.
I ate bananas, apples, clif bars, lara bars and peanut chews. Plus
MaxoMax, the Swarm! homemade electrolyte drink courtesy of Max.
New bike is nimble, fast and responsive. Rode the whole course, no
pushing, on my last 2 laps.
Lap times and other numbers below.

Now heading to the Bay area for Rough Riders Multi-surface Cycling
Festival. Vineman next weekend! Shit, I’ve only swam 4 times this
year. Should I be nervous?

17 laps, 2nd/4 in SS, 6th/22 overall.
0:54:45
0:58:04
1:04:39
1:06:56
1:04:35
1:04:26
1:13:28
1:02:45
1:08:40
1:28:49
1:09:24
1:26:51
2:01:32
1:37:20
2:26:47
1:31:29
1:21:47

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