Category Archives: race

What are you capable of right now?

What can you do today to work toward your life goals? Do you have life goals?

I struggle with these questions every day every hour of my life. And I know I’m not the only one. Often, I wish I had more answers to these questions. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of working, answering emails, preparing food, paying bills and all of the other must-do’s of today’s society and miss out on how we can build.

Some people say, ‘Choose your goal and work hard every day and you’ll get there.’ But that often doesn’t work for me. I’m not Type-A nor am I super goal-oriented. I never said to myself, ‘I’m going to study nutrition for 7 years and then become a vegan RD’ or ‘I will ride cross-country and do double centuries in order to prepare for the Furnace Creek 508 in X number of years.’ My brain just doesn’t work that way. If yours does, congrats! I’m envious. It’s an exceptional ability to do so.

But I’m fortunate to have had the experiences and end results I’ve had. And the privilege and time to be writing about them for an audience! One of my main reasons for having a site like this is to motivate people. I see so many folks struggling with what they want who are so close. But they are caught up in the mundane day-to-day I mention above and they simply cannot see the steps to get where they want to be. Or don’t have the confidence to take them. And with reason! It’s not an easy task. My advice here may be counter-intuitive, but these have been helpful lessons in my life and maybe you can learn from them?

If you want to do more, do less.

Be unrealistic in your dreams, but realistic in your everyday.

Ask yourself what you truly want. Do you want to ride a mountain bike for 100 miles or do you want to have ridden 100-miles? Do you want to become an MD to help people or for people to think that you’re smart?

What is the feeling you desire and can it be obtained any other way?

This is the tip of the proverbial iceberg but questions worth asking. You can dive a little deeper and follow one of my favorite twitter feeds, Zen and Tao as well.

I’m off for my own adventure right now and cutting this short, but I’ll leave you with two music videos that are as obscure as they are amazing: a Reggae track about what vegans eat and a Hip Hop track about getting back into the gym. Get stoked!

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Filed under race, read, travel

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Filed under bike, off-road, race

‘Veganism is dangerous’ response on Discerning Brute, the Mt Laguna Bicycle Classic and not bike pack racing

Is veganism dangerous for kids? If you read the recent NY Times Op-ed you might think so. Fortunately there are experts who can point to the real science. In my first contribution for my friend Joshua Katcher’s site, The Discerning Brute, I wrote about the response from Registered Dietitians and the vegan community- and how her article isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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Me chillin at the start. One of 500 photos from the day available at http://www.adventurecorps.com/mlbc/2012/2012results.html.

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Last weekend I had the privilege to ride the Mt Laguna Bicycle Classic, a fantastic AdventureCORPS century in East San Diego County. I rode the pre-ride in 2009 and the 2010 event- somehow finishing in just over 6 1/2 hours. How the heck did I do that? I guess the woman at the aid station who said, ‘I thought you were fast?’ when I leisurely rolled up on the far end of the bell curve knew something I didn’t. And this was before I broke a spoke on my rear ksryium wheel and borrowed a friend’s bike to finish…

As always Chris Kostman took a million photos, most of which are available on the results page. Now it’s no secret that AdventureCORPS helps out my bike club Swarm!, as does Swarm! help at most AdventureCORPS events so what I’m going to say may seem bias. There are a few things that separate a great event from a decent event and AdventureCORPS does them all. Here’s an incomplete list off of the top of my head:

-Clear communication before the event- what the course, aid and start/finish will look like and what participants need to know and have.
-Well-stocked aid stations with friendly, knowledgeable volunteers- not just partners of participants who don’t know anything about cycling, the course or the food/supplements being offered.
-Energetic volunteers! It makes such a difference to have people out there who are stoked. Most AdventureCORPS volunteers have done the events- it makes a huge difference.
-Food at the end that isn’t the same as the snacks at aid stations. Home-made Filipino food with vegan options? Hell yeah!
-Lots of high-quality photos, clearly organized and available for free!

It was a great way to spend my day and my first century since my bike tour last summer! Geez…

This morning the Stagecoach 400 Bike Packing Race kicked off in Idylwild, CA. I really wanted to do this race. I started the motions, was mountain biking more but then just didn’t get my stuff organized. What kind of organization? See my post before I attempted the Arizona Trail Race. My DNF there really has had a huge impact on me- a year later and I haven’t even finished writing about what happened. Even though this course is much more rideable, I still had my concerns and was only willing to show up at the start if I had pre-ridden all of it. But I didn’t get it together in time. Maybe next year? Meanwhile follow the brave souls who are riding this year including Jill Homer, who I link to often, on the Track Leaders Map.

Have a great weekend and I hope Spring has sprung wherever you are and that you’re enjoying these longer days. I know I am!

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Filed under bike, race, road, vegan

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

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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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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Day in the Life 2; Endurance Athlete Brian Davidson, Part Two: Death Valley Double Century

How fun was our first Day in the Life episode with Brian Davidson? Even as a vegan and an athlete myself, I learned a lot. Which is why we are doing this series- veganism works in different ways for different people and seeing this makes it more accessible. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback; there’s a desire out there to know more about vegans and how they do what they do!

Last week we caught a glimpse of how Brian eats and trains as he prepared for the Death Valley Double Century- a 200-mile time cycling event. Today’s show goes into Death Valley and follows the race. And have we got a treat for you!  When we approached Brian about this project he was worried that his training and competing was too unstructured. We assured him that his style is just one of many and we want people to see that. He expressed that he wanted to do well in the 200-mile event because veganism is so important to him. He didn’t want to let us down. I’ll let the video speak for him and just say that he definitely didn’t let us down!

There you have it! Brian with his dates and liquid food was the first across the line after 200 miles, with the next racer more than 30 minutes behind! Check out the unbelievable results. So how does Brian do it? Here are his recommendations for riding or racing your first ultra-cycling, 100+ mile event.

Brian Davidson’s Tips for Your First 100+ Mile Bike Event

-Have a plan, but know it is okay to deviate from it. If we learned one thing from Brian it is this: Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s not going to make or break your success.

-Start slow and build a base! Not only with slower speeds, but less frequency. Brian thinks cyclists start too fast and get burned out before they build a good base.

-Build up to longer, unsupported rides. Brian suggests you be comfortable with 100 miles on your own before doing a supported 200-mile event.

-Make mistakes.  Brian has very little ego and was not scared to admit he had failed numerous times. More than once he was out on an all-day ride and hadn’t planned appropriately for the heat and needed to not only quit for the day, but find a ride home!

-Learn from your mistakes. Understanding yourself and what you need to do is a huge part of success in ultra-distance events.

-Aim for about 250 calories an hour. Many cyclists can go with very little food for the first few hours and may be unfamiliar with having to eat while riding. Aim for 250 calories an hour and adjust for heat and experience.

-Cross train. As we saw in part one with Brian, he does sit ups and push-ups and runs to cross train for cycling. With over 10 hours on the bike, non-cycling muscles get fatigued, so doing more than cycling in preparation makes you stronger and better suited for endurance.

-Do speed work only after spending many hours at a time on the bike. Brian said he only worked on getting faster after he was comfortable going for a long time. Then he does intervals and hill repeats to build strength and speed.

-Mentally prepare. In my own experience with ultra events, the brain wants to quit before the body needs to! Train your brain, while you train your body. Know that lows will come and be ready to work through them.

-Lastly, Brian uses some liquid foods in order to more easily process the thousands of calories he needs on a really long cycling day. There are commercially-available vegan options, but what Brian was using is a homemade version. More on that in an upcoming post.

And that concludes our time with Brian. Thank you Brian for being such a bad ass and letting us peek into your life. And for showing that you can be vegan and a damn fast cyclist! Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed this please share it with others!

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Filed under Day in the Life, double, race, road, vegan

2011 Feel My Legs I’m a Racer report

The leaders making their way up hill number two, Eldred St.

Photos from Omar’s Flickr page

This year’s Feel My Legs, I’m A Racer will be memorable for two reasons: I put the least amount of work into it I ever have because I was swamped with other stuff and the most people ever showed up!

The morning started off at Golden Saddle Cyclery where part-owner and previous year’s winner Ty invited us over for some pre-race coffee. Hell yeah! Ty passed up defending his title in order to be the first person to race on a single-speed, which he did. Dope.

At 745am I rolled over to the park to a huge pack of cyclists. I love it. It makes me so happy to bring all these cyclists together. Even though apparently I may slightly offended everyone there when in my pre-race talk I said, ‘Wow, so many people here this year. I guess the roadies are less scared to come into the city and the city kids are less scared to race.’  No harm meant! Ha. Back when this race and Swarm! were being conceptualized the idea for both, honestly, was to get more city kids to race and more racers to ride bikes outside of proper racing. This was before Wolfpack Hustle, TRFKAS, BicyKillers, or Cyclones! I guess it’s happening, eh? 82 people rolling out of Silver Lake to ride 10 super hard hills is proof of that.

E-Rock Colton, one of the few veterans of the race out in 2011

Riding to the first hill a roadie who knows famous vegan track racer Jack Lindquist (2006, 2007 2008, 2009 winner) asked, ‘How many people here have raced this before? I can’t seem to find anyone.’ At the first hill while we waited for the scorers to get to the top I asked everyone who had raced previously to race their hand. Only 8 people! 90% first-timers! What does that say?

Shortly thereafter they were racing up Mt Washington, which is one of the most beautiful climbs on the route, if not in all of Los Angeles. It’s also misleading because it is the easiest. Every year a few fixed gear riders make it up….and then they see hill number two- Eldred St- and I never see them again! That’s not totally true, because a guy who I had just met at TRAFKAS, showed up on fixed and rode the first few hills competitively until he broke his cleat. A huge effort to do that. Mt Washington, as awesome as it is, seems to bring the drama! It was the site of the finish being in the wrong place in 2009 and this year someone crashed into Lacy, who was riding my brand-new Moth Attack bike, on the descent. Luckily she is alright, but the rear wheel was taco’d. She was able to ride the rest of the day, but the rim needs to be replaced. The worst part? The kid took off after that. Owell. At least she’s okay.

Jeff playing on the Moth Attack Adventure Bike before some dude collided into Lacy on the descent from the first hill

Eldred Street did it’s usual damage, with it’s 30+ percent grade and loose pavement.  Though the harder it is the more people cheer! There’s nothing like watching someone collapse at the top, get up and turn to cheer on the people behind them struggling to get up there. So good!

Thomas Street was it’s usual trickiness with that gate at the top and all the broken glass. Sorry! And by now it was clear that a young buck from Santa Barbara was owning it. He was unstoppable. There was some super fast people there this year (real roadies who do real races!) and he was proving to be the fastest of the fast. The top Swarm! rider, Jeff Lawler, was fighting to make top five and get points.

Group shot at the top of Thomas Street. It's a great view of DTLA

The halfway point, Echo Park Ave and Chango Coffee, comes so late in the day and it was getting hot. People were getting nervous cause they wanted to make Ciclavia.  We ended up with 42 finishing, better than half, which is a record, but I figure more would have finished if they didn’t skip out to ride CicLAvia with their families.

Micheltorena Street, with it’s wide berth is a crowd favorite. It’s also an ‘up and over hill’ which means spectators, if they want to keep going with us, have to go up the hill. It’s in the middle of Silver Lake, but on a clear day you can see the ocean….

It’s around this point in the day that the roads are getting busier, drivers less friendly and I’m getting hot and dehydrated. And I’m not even racing! At Fargo Street, considered by many to be the steepest paved hill west of the Mississippi, I thought I’d give it a go on foot. I went on the gun and even though I nearly popped about 20 feet from the top, was able to beat all the cyclists up! I also did not have 8 hills in my legs. And I did it barefoot, which I didn’t think anything of until I got a blister! Two minutes of running gave me a blister on each foot. Crazy.

I can't remember her name, but this woman gave it an unbelievable effort and rode a bunch of the hills on fixed...

Finally we rolled down to Riverside Ave, which we had taken to the first hill, to now hit the last: Stadium Way.  It’s after 130pm by now, I thought we’d be done by 12 or 1, and everyone just wants to get done. The kid from Santa Barbara had the win in the bag and everyone else is stoked to have Fargo behind them and an ‘easy’ hill the only thing between them and the coveted Feel My Legs I’m A Racer spoke card (courtesy of Creative Thing, for the second year in a row. Thank you!).

Wearing our new Swarm! jerseys, I speak with Mark and Jesse, the scorers for the day

Afterward we met under a tree in Elysian Park, I handed out the spoke cards and we talked plans to get to CicLAvia. I got SO much positive feedback this year. It leaves me smiling for days how people appreciate the work that goes into this. Not to mention the strangeness of being thanked for putting them through serious suffering. But putting this on is not a solo endeavor, it has been years of route finding with the help of numerous folks, not to mention day-of help from a number of Swarm! riders. Jesse and Mark for being such detailed scorers is crucial. Megan, Sasha, Stacy, Molly and other folks who did sweep and marked turns. The photographers, of course and Creative Thing for making the spoke card. You rule! Thank you so much.

Results

1. Andrew Benson – 44 points
2. Jordan Haggard – 24 points
3. Eric Colton – 16 points
4. Adam Masters – 15 points
5. Jeff Lawler – 10 points
6. Nicholas Humphrey – 8 points
7. Fabian Vazquez – 6 points
8. Ty Hathaway – 5 points
9. Eugene Kim – 4 points
9. Jon Budinoff – 4 points
11. Allen Louie – 3 points

Kyle from ‘Tracko’ was awesome enough to mention the ride, which was then picked up by Prolly, which is probably (!) the first time we’ve gotten a mention outside of Los Angeles. More great  photos at Frank M Burton’s Flickr and Tong Sheng’s Picassa. And baby-maker and graphic designer extraordinaire Chris Cheung found the complete S&M Bikes video for which this ride is named after, on the internet, if you’ve got a bunch of time to spend seeing what BMX was like in 1989…

Thanks again to everyone who came out!

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Filed under city, feelmylegs, race

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