Category Archives: race
From our good friend Stephen, the organizer of this and previous versions:
An urban cyclocross ride/race through the Eastside of Los Angeles where participants pedal to stairways, portage their bike and climb ‘em, before heading to the next one. It’s fun, challenging (but do-able) and eye-opening: you’ll probably see parts of LA you haven’t. And if you don’t want to race, no problem. During the inaugural event a few folks stopped at a garage sale and picked up a messenger bag for cheap!
Fast folks should finish in 60 to 75 minutes and more leisurely riders can complete it in about 90 minutes or so. I think. Haven’t nailed down the course yet.
This is a Swarm! event.
The name? The first event was held on Nietzsche’s b-day.
The flier? Courtesy of Chris. He rules.
On the facebook at bit.ly/thusclimbed
How have I never seen this?
Say what you will about ‘fixed gear culture’ and its obsession with filming itself. I agree. I read Bike Snob NYC too! But the kids behind this film are rather earnest and their intentions are good. I’ve seen parts of it and it’s definitely better than similar ones.
My bias may be that I won. I didn’t get most of the prizes (different kids put it on then made the film) because afterward was our annual Thanksgiving vegan potluck, Circle of Dead Pilgrims and I missed the drunken fixed gear freestyle fest where they were given out. Our dinner was Italian-themed, so it was probably worth it. Anyway, check out the screening if this sort of event interests you.
Looking for any excuse to head back to San Francisco after my super awesome October trip, I found the Supermarket Sweep Alleycat race. Basically you start near the Embarcadero, head to the first, predetermined grocery store and then to four others in any order you choose to pick up the required food on the manifest. It all ends at the SF Food Bank. Since riding a bike around a city and food shopping makes up the majority of my existence, I thought it ‘d be a great race to do.
My good friend Trystan, who built my track bike, now works for Chrome Bags, my Friday afternoon post-flight destination.
Over 200 people raced! First hill was brutal. I should have known, right? Since my SF geographical knowledge is pretty basic so I utilized a few skills to get around: asking people in line if they knew which store on the manifest was closest and how to get there, pulling up a map on my phone, and making friends with a local and jumping on. The last of these was the most effective. Till we bombed some seriously steep hills and I’m the only one on a brakeless track bike. Definitely slightly more danger than I’m usually into to, but hey, that’s part of the experience.
We ended up covering over twenty miles! And people say Los Angeles is spread out…I rode with a number of friendly (and fast!) folks. Ended up 11th or something in the fixed category. Ex-Angeleno Swarm! rider Paul Barclay got 5th in the geared division and current Angeleno (and sxe BMXer) Hern got 4th in fixed. The organizers were unbelievable and hooked up dozens of sponsors and a banging after-party. Thanks!
That night Trystan and his bike racing housemates decided that I was going to do the Cyclocross race the next day in Coyote Point on Dan’s ‘spare’ cross bike that is nicer than any bike I’ve ever owned.
The course had some sweet technical sections, long straights and tight turns on pavement. Seemed my road skills came in most handy as I railed them as fast as I could. Think I ended top third in a field of 60.
Also ate a ton of food, dranks lots of coffee and was often cold; the usual SF happenings. And hung out with this amazing guy:
Even though I live in Los Angeles and ‘cold’ days are only in the 40′s or 50′s, I still have the hibernation genes embedded in my east coast body, i.e., I spend the winter eating, riding less and putting on weight. Often I’m 20 pounds heavier, Jan Ulrich style. But has been important to take a mental break from always being on the go, traveling and being busy with projects. Sleeping more often really helps my mental and physical health!
This winter has been different. I’ve only put on five pounds. After my positive experience at the 508 I was MORE stoked on riding. I took a healthy break, but have gotten in a few long rides already, including a Christmas day century around the Rose Bowl. 25 laps plus to/from = 100 miles of holiday spirit. I hate riding in circles, but ridiculousness = more fun.
Century around the Rose Bowl. Photo from this dude.
Still I wasn’t so sure about racing the 12 hours of Temecula in January. Twelve hours of base miles? I haven’t been on my mountain bike much partly because of the damage from the fires in the San Gabriels and partly because I’ve been riding road so often. And since I broke a cleat I’ve been riding on old BMX platform pedals, which is awesome, but not the best ‘training’.
Jack, Jeff and I headed out together to Temecula the day-of, which means an absurd 430am alarm. Moi met us there and we set up our ‘pit’ which consisted of four piles of stuff, no tent, no chairs and no crew. Jack quickly made some friends with the folks next to us, a dude crewing and his 2009 solo champion wife. They were pro, but still impressed with our style of self-support. This guy Dean, who raced Feel My Legs in 2009, showed up in time for the parade lap, went out for five hard laps and then left, so I never saw him again. Jeff did 11 laps, which put him in the top five in the Expert class (the results page hasn’t been updated). Tinker won the Pro category easily with 12 laps in under 10 hours and stopped there!
Each lap was 9.3 miles and it only took a few before my whole body was sore! Just wasn’t feeling it, which happens. I did a lap with Jack, which was rad, until he crashed hard on the last downhill into the start/finish (he’s okay). Then Moi rolled up and we chilled. I txt messaged a bunch. Jeff rolled up, stared at the three of us not on our bikes, and then pedaled off in full race mode (starting his 8th lap and therefore lapping me). Moi and I went out for a lap together mostly spent playing around, bunny hopping obstacles and finding sections to jump. Then I felt tons better.
Checked the standings, saw I was only a lap behind the Single-Speed leaders and still in the top half, so I put on my lights and warm clothing and went out for a night lap. The conditions were faster and I felt the best I had. Came through the pit, grabbed food and went straight out again. My tactic was to do a fast second-to-last lap and start the last lap before 9pm and take my time. As I finished lap 9, my borrowed Nightrider handlebar light was dead and Jack informed me I had to finish my last lap by 9pm or it didn’t count. It was 750pm and my ‘fast’ night lap was sixty minutes. Shit. I headed to the Nightrider van and the dude gave me a light to borrow. Battery doesn’t work. Switched the battery and that one doesn’t work. Finally we switch the whole system and I’m rolling away at a few minutes before 8pm. The course is empty. I’m three miles in before I see another rider. I run the sections I can’t ride. I have no clock and no idea of my time. It’s so damn tricky to ride fast at night while fatigued and still be careful enough to not flat or crash! I pass a dude and encourage him. I go past the neutral support and they’re packed up and gone. I ride a section I had to walk on my previous laps and keep pushing.
I roll into the start/finish unceremoniously at 854pm. Lap ten and one of my fastest of the day. I don’t know how the hell I’ve ever done a 24hr race solo. I changed, ate some Moroccan carrot-raisin salad (I’ll post the recipe) and checked in with the others. Stoked. Moi top half in Sport, Jeff top five in Expert with 11 laps and Jack, well, stoked he wasn’t too hurt. I think I ended up 5th or 6th out of 15 in Single Speed. I would have won Sport! Haha.
So here’s to the start of 2010, the year I take myself seriously as an athlete?
1st race of the year!
Three Swarm! riders and a few friends, all solo. The entry fee cost
25% of my complete bike, but I'm trying not to complain about money as
much this year.
Follow us at www.twitter.com/bikeswarm
with reports, photos and progress through the weekend.
Well, here we go again. The Furnace Creek 508 starts tomorrow at 7am. A 508-mile race from Santa Clarita through Death Valley and Mojave to near Joshua Tree. I wrote extensively about it here (read this!), I have a 508 tab and National Geographic Adventure covered it when they called it one of the top ten toughest races in the world.
Is it October already? Despite taking part in this race the previous four years, 2005 (crew for Morgan), 2006 (fixed gear team), 2007 (hang out), 2008 (solo), it always excites. Despite a last-minute crew switch from one race veteran to another and finding tiny cracks in my Dura Ace wheels yesterday, preparation is going well. Chris and Morgan are back for another year of crewing and Max is joining us for his 5th(!) time on the course. I couldn’t be more fortunate! I have phenomenal support in these guys and in all of my friends who have helped me out leading into this weekend. Like Jack lending me his ridiculous wheels without any hesitation. Thank you all so much, I couldn’t do this without you.
Take yourself seriously, but not too seriously, right? And yes, those desserts are vegan. Though I still love dessert, I’ve managed to get my weight down 15 pounds from last year. I’m weighing in at 170, a number I haven’t seen since high school. A full 30 pounds lighter than winter Matt!
I’m looking forward to a weekend of adventure, mindfulness, solitude, beauty, struggle, fun, high highs and low lows. The desert nearly defeated me last year somewhere between Baker and Kelso, but after our training ride out there this summer and some Edward Abbey studying, I am more prepared and approaching with an open heart and mind:
He also said this, which nothing to do with bike racing, but is worth passing on:
obedient to the whim of any fool who takes the controls.’
Yo social weekend here in Los Angeles! Friday was Park[ing] Day, a day-long event where communities transform parking spaces into parks. It’s brilliant because of all the problems of automobile dependency, often overlooked is the amount of space it requires to not only move them, but to park them. In Los Angeles the bike community is especially involved, which included a 40-mile bike tour of the parks with the editor from LA Streetsblog. Photos, including the one below, stats and reports here. Dan Koeppel also covered a Dept of DIY Park[ing] Day event.
I spent the day using the ‘parks’ as meeting spots with friends between work and other obligations. In Heliotrope Village the neighborhood council took over 5 spots and had a dj and a swimming pool. That evening I met up with some friends at Echo Park where the Echo Park Film Center was screening Les Triplettes de Belleville.
A 3-lap race in Griffith Park, up and down climbs I’ve done hundreds of times, only 2 miles from my house. How could I not? I rolled over with my housemate and of the 50 people hanging about, I knew two: the organizer and his sister. Is old man status fully achieved?
40+ of us did a rolling start through the parking lot before hitting the top section of the two-mile climb up Fern Dell Dr/Western Canyon. There was some talk re gearing on the message board the week before and kids were talking running 47-16…..which seems way too big for me for the city, let alone a hill race. I palped my city gearing: 44×16 which worked well. Of course, I was totally spun out down Vermont Canyon, but wasn’t everyone?
Anyway, there was this guy way off in front that I just couldn’t catch. Sean did a terrific job organizing this, but in his excitement he (and everyone hanging out at the start/finish apparently) lost count of our laps. So the two of us went out for a fourth lap before they figured out how to count. Hilarious. Ends up the dude who beat me is a Cat-1 roadie. Equally hilarious. At least he rode his bike to the race, unlike a bunch of the racers (only in LA people would drive to an alleycat?).
Sean hooked up an after party and I got so many prizes I couldn’t carry them home. Gave lots of stuff away, but not the front light, which I happened to need. Score! Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen and who braved a tough climb three (or four) times.