Category Archives: race

Cyclocross Racing!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Jumping Over/Under at DTLA Cyclocross

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Filed under bike, off-road, race

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

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

Donovan out on the course in the beautiful Sonoran Desert.

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

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

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

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Filed under off-road, race, run

Back on the saddle: Boggs 8hr mountain bike race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under off-road, race, travel

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

By The Time I Get to Arizona- again.

You can’t see anything from a car; you’ve got to get out of the goddamn contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbrush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail, you’ll see something, maybe. -Edward Abbey

 

Here I sit, the day before I leave for a huge adventure, as I have many times, thinking, preparing and balancing stokedness and nervousness. One past trip in particular stands out, and with reason. Ten years ago this month I left for my first bike tour- 3300 miles from Huntington Beach, California to Easton, Pennsylvania. I had finished college in December and spent some time living in Central America with my then girlfriend who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize. I brought my bike and did a weekend out-and-back across Belize, went to Chiapas for the first time and was even arrested in Cancun at the IMF/World Bank protests (spending a night in jail is good training for bike touring – and vice versa).

Arizona played a significant role in that cross country trip.  After flying back to Texas and taking the GRE’s I took a bus to Tucson to see my close friend Boaz and get ready for my ride. We caught a ride from the bus station with a pedicab- the dude was stoked to be hauling a boxed bike. I also bought my first spandex and jersey (which I still have!) at a huge bike swap. For training I’d ride out of town to the biggest pass as fast I could- then cruise back to Boaz’ house. I had to rent a car to get to California but was broke so I had to work two days as a day laborer to pay for the rental.  I spent over a week in Tucson and it was the last friendly comforts I’d have before hitting the California coast, loading up my bike and heading east.

After leaving the pacific ocean and riding the width of California, Arizona would play a role again, but in a less positive way. One day I was leaving Sedona after lunch climbing toward Flagstaff and it started to snow, in mid-April! I was nervous because there was no shoulder and the snow was decreasing visibility. I had lights and the drivers were being cautious so I pushed on toward Flagstaff, just 5 miles away. I had a phone number for a friend of a friend so was thinking about being able to sleep inside that night- which would be the first time of the trip.  That’s when I looked up in time to see an oncoming car sideways, crossing the double yellow. I had enough time to think, ‘Wow, I’m dead’, but not enough to do anything about it. I blacked out on impact, but regained consciousness when I hit the ground, in time to see the car roll off the road.  Amazingly I only had a broken wrist and black and blue thighs. Not bad considering the police estimated the car’s speed at 55 mph.

I spent the next 10 days recovering in Flagstaff with the brother of a woman who stopped after I was hit.  Insurance paid for the ‘replacement value’ of my $100 bike, which was more than 10x what I had paid, so I’d leave Flagstaff with a much more appropriate bike.  I made it all the way to Pennsylvania without another major incident. It gave me confidence like nothing else had. After all of that time alone (with the exception of 800 or so miles my close friend Christian joined me for), depending on only myself to find food, water and shelter I was more prepared for the world. I understood myself better. I had a blissful clarity that people could sense.

It’s an interesting coincidence that almost exactly 10 years later I’m returning to Arizona for a similar, yet different adventure. My life is different-I’ve ten years of experience I didn’t have last time-but also very similar-I’ve still an incredible desire to be out in the world for extended periods of time.  The bike is merely my medium to do it. The Arizona Trail Race 750 is much more challenging than riding cross-country, but it’s probably pushing my ability about as much as riding across the US did 10 years ago. Or at least that is what I’m telling myself as I make my final preparations. Risk is real, I’ve said before.

If time allows, I hope to get one more post up with some of the details for the race. I’ve been getting questions on how I’ll eat and my plans for riding, sleeping, etc. I want to get a good night sleep tonight since Thursday night will definitely be crazy- I’ve got to be at the border by 630am on Friday- but I’ll do my best to get it posted.  Thanks for reading!

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Filed under hike, off-road, race, tour