Category Archives: road

Strongest Hearts going strong!

Our Kickstarter to fund the next phase of Strongest Hearts (previously Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes) is moving along nicely! Thank you to everyone who has donated or shared our campaign page. Every little bit helps and we need your help right now to reach our goal. Can you make a donation so we can continue to make these videos?

And the sooner we reach our goal the less I can stress about it!  In our latest update we shared the graphics for the rad buttons (thanks bummerart and Pinbot) that will come with every donation over $20.

Eatplants.Getstrong

 

We make these videos to show the various ways veganism can work. We don’t preach one style of eating or body shame; we want plant-based eating and fitness to be accessible to the most people. Showing the interesting stories of athletes in a professional way has never been done. We believe activism and education can be positive, fun AND make a difference. It’s a lot of work to make these and both Sasha and I have invested a lot of time, energy and our own money into this project. So we are seriously indebted to the people who believe in us and have supported us financially!

We have great rewards- hoodies, t-shirts, Purist water bottles, signed books, cycling socks….check them all out at our campaign page and please share it widely with your networks. We are relying on our community to get this out there! Thank you so much.

 

StrongestHearts

 

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Filed under bike, Day in the Life, nutrition, race, road, run, travel, triathlon, vegan

Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer update for 2014

Usually by this time of year the hill climb event I put on, Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer, is already scheduled. Or may have already happened! This year I am pushing it to late summer or maybe even early Fall. I apologize for the delay, but a few things have prevented it from happening as normal. Don’t worry though, it will go on.

Also, I’m starting to prepare for 2015, which will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of this event! Hope to do a few extra things next year to really celebrate. Can you believe it has been that long? Long live #BikeLA.

Climbing Los Angeles

Meanwhile, I was very fortunate to have Peloton Magazine cover it as part of their issue on climbing. It includes wonderful photos from my friend Jordan Clark Haggard, some of which you can see at this link, below the excellent photos of my friend Megan Dean of Moth Attack Custom Bicycles. Thanks Jordan and everyone at Peloton!

Also in the issue is my very good friend Steevo. We rode the Great Divide mountain bike route together in 2007 (more famous for the Tour Divide race that uses the route). We’ve been friends for 20 years and bikes have been a part of that equation ever since. He’s the 10x winner of Danny Chew’s Dirty Dozen hill race in Pittsburgh, which my event is based on. More interesting than that are the stories on his blog, which you should definitely check out.

When I schedule this year’s event I will post here on this site and on my twitter, @MattRuscigno.

 

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Filed under city, feelmylegs, road

Screening of 2006 Fixed Gear Furnace Creek 508

Yesterday I turned 35 years old and pointed out to an also-recently-35 friend that we are the same distance in time to 50 as we are from 20.  Wrap your mind around that for a minute. If that doesn’t make you turn off your computer and run off to do something more productive, I’ll continue below.

Turns out that time is rather hard to put into perspective as this insanely helpful and great article with gradually increasing timelines shows. I’m feeling especially nostalgic because the weekend after this one is the Furnace Creek 508 and we are bringing back Team Bonobo: The 2006 four-person fixed gear team.

 

We were fixie famous before fixie famous was a thing. -Megan Dean

There’s even a documentary by Sasha Perry, the smarts behind our Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes series.

 

 

As an excuse to get together, hang out with friends at Golden Saddle Cyclery and eat Pure Luck burritos, we are hosting a screening of Eat! Sleep? Bikes! Thursday Oct 3rd at 630pm. If you are in the LA area I hope you can make it. It’s a free event with great people. I’d also like to point out that 2006 was as far in the past as 2020 is in the future. I imagine by 2020 we’ll be racing hover bikes and that predictive text will be good enough to just read my mind and I won’t have to put words in a certain order in my head or actually have to type them any more.

I’ve taken some time off from the 508 after racing it solo 3 years in a row. Two of those years involved swimming at either the pre-race meeting or the halfway point. Let’s see if we can work that in somewhere this year. If we finish, 3 of us will be in the Furnace Creek 508 Hall of Fame. I’m not sure if there’s a distinction related to swimming.

 

2010 Pre-race meeting. Photo by Lisa Auerbach. http://lisaanneauerbach.com/

2010 Pre-race meeting. Photo by Lisa Auerbach.

 

Thanks for reading! You can follow the race webcast here. Also, don’t forget that the No Meat Athlete book comes out October 1st and there’s a book tour; I’ll be along for some of the dates including this vegan book fair in Los Angeles.

 

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Filed under 508, eat, race, road, vegan

2013 Feel My Legs I’m A Racer

Photo by Donovan Jenkins

The 8th annual Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer is now in the books! And by books I mean completed because unlike Danny Chew I do not keep detailed logs of the event. But fortunately a number of people come out and take great photos and videos so we do have documentation- see the entire history here. We had about 55 cyclists start, which is fewer than the previous couple of years, but on the other hand we had one of the lowest rates of attrition.

As always, thank you to all of the Swarm! volunteers who make this happen, especially Jesse and Jessica who ride up every hill and keep score for me. I couldn’t put this on without you two! And of course thank you to all of the riders who came out, had a great attitude and challenged themselves for no reward. The scenery and accomplishment are reward enough?!

Photo by Donovan Jenkins

Final points:

44 Jon Budinoff
41 Seth Britton
25 Ed McGreevy
16 Joseph Griffith
9 Michael Relth

Congrats Jon for not only winning this two years in a row, but for also winning the Swrve race the day before! And Seth for coming out and making him work for it the day after you won a road race.

Thanks Boyz on the Hoods for making this video:

More coverage and photos:

Errin Vasquez / Frontage Roads

Center Line Rule

Thrasher’s photos

Donovan Jenkin’s photos

Michael Wagner’s photos

Thanks everyone, see you next year!

Top of Mt Washington / Self-Discovery climb.

Top of Mt Washington / Self-Discovery climb.

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Filed under city, feelmylegs, race, road

Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer #8, Sunday April 28th 2013

[Update Tuesday 4-23-12: Strava data!]
[Update Monday 4-22-13: It's official; we're going backwards. Again. Same map as last year, which I also embedded below]

A lot has changed in the Los Angeles bike world since I first held this event in 2006! Urban riders have become racers with regularity, racers have found the benefits of riding in the city and unsanctioned bike races are the norm. What I love is that these were the original goals of my bike club, Swarm!, way back in 2005 when we put a name to what we are doing- blurring the line between being a commuter and a racer and adding DIY ethics to everything. Bikes are more than exercise machines- they are a medium for exploring the world! Putting yourself on a bike in a city is still an act of rebellion. With that said I present to you the 2013 Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer.

ShawnBannonMtWash

Sunday April 28th 745am at 3626 W Sunset Blvd / Sunset Triangle Park in Silver Lake.

Rider meeting at 810am, roll to first hill at 815.  Please be on time!

Yes- fun, rain, shine, any bike, water, snacks, tube, tools, stokedness, riding just to finish, riding for points, waiting at top of each hill
No- bad attitudes, entitlement, car support, jock mentality, entry fee, prizes
See other FAQ on this earlier post and entire event history here. Last year’s info and ride report are fairly comprehensive. It’s a facebook event too.

Send any questions to BikeSwarm [at] gmail. Day-of announcements on twitter: @BikeSwarm
I may need some more day-of volunteers, please let me know if you can help out. Thank you!

Andrew

What exactly is this?

This is a stage ‘race’ on 10 of the hardest hills in Los Angeles that started in 2006. We ride as a group between hills and then each hill is its own event with points awarded for 1st through 5th. We regroup and ride together to the next hill. The rider with the most points after 10 hills wins! It’s based on Danny Chew’s Dirty Dozen. Most riders are out there just to ride all 10 hills in one day, which is no small feat. It’s also a fun tour of hidden roads in Los Angeles.

Red- hills
Blue- route between hills
Green- route back to start from last hill

And strava data is available.

What are the hills?

Micheltorena
Duane
Fargo
Stadium Way/Boylston
Baxter
Marview
Thomas
Commodore
Eldred
Mt Washington

Do I have to race?

Definitely not! Most people on this ride are not racing, but are there just to ride up single every hill, which is a huge endeavor on its own.

Is there an entry fee?

No!

Are there prizes?

No!

Can I ride fixed gear?

You can try! We ride together from hill to hill and any gear that you could get up these hills with will be too low to stay with the group. You are welcome to come out and prove me wrong though. No automobile support to drive your bike around. I don’t care if you are the Messenger World Champion of the World. Using a flip flop hub is okay.

Will I get lost?

Probably not. We ride as a group from hill to hill at a chill pace. At each hill it will be obvious where to go. At any turns or confusing parts I’ll try to have chalk or a volunteer. We regroup at the top only after the last person has made it up. Either way, please familiarize yourself with the hills and the route.

How can I prepare?

Climb. A lot. Also check out all of the hills beforehand and learn the areas we ride through.  A good gauge is Micheltorena off of Sunset Blvd. It’s long with steep sections and if you can make it up that comfortably I think you can hang on this ride. Another test is Fargo St, which is a monster of a hill.  Most people who come out way underestimate how hard this is. Which is why more than half who start don’t finish.

Do I get a meal or picnic or something out of this?

I wish. In the past we’ve done everything from pancake breakfasts to picnics and from t-shirts to patches, all for a free event! I’m not sure we’ll be doing any of those in 2013, but I’ll see what I can do.

Who puts this on?

My bike club, known as Swarm!. We ride everything from alleycats to international UCI races. Collectively we think that the world would be a better place if people rode bikes and ate vegan food more often.

My friends want to watch, can they drive along the course and stop at the hills?

Absolutely not. We’re going to be on narrow roads in quiet neighborhoods; I don’t want to add to the car traffic. They are welcome to ride bikes along with us and I’ll help navigate the best places to see and how to get around. By the end almost half the people with us are just there to watch and cheer on the other riders! Again, no cars. I will ask you to leave. If multiple people cannot abide by this I will simply cancel this and ride away.

How long is this ride?

Plan to be done around 2pm, hopefully sooner.

Anything I can do to help?

Thanks for asking! I need help getting the word out. Please send this page to your bike club/crew/gang. I also may need some volunteers the day of. Getting up and down the hill may or may not be required. Photography is always appreciated, but again, by bike, not car. Get in touch at bikeswarm [at] gmail.

Thank you for your interest and I hope to see you at Sunset Triangle Park on Sunday the 28th!

GroupThomas

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Filed under city, feelmylegs, road

Day in the Life 10; Badwater Ultramarathoner Michael Arnstein

Our Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes Series has a very special 10th episode today. We travel to the Badwater Ultramarathon, which has been called the most demanding and extreme running race on the planet, and ‘spend the day’ with fruitarian Michael Arnstein.  Mike has a 2.28 marathon PR and sub-10 hour ironman results, which is super impressive, but not nearly as impressive as his positivity! Which is put to test during this 135-mile run in temperatures near 120 degrees. He has so many great things to say and he really captures the spirit of this race and what it’s like to run 135 miles. Without further ado, here’s Michael Arnstein’s attempt at Badwater:

How crazy was that! He endured through the night and just when you thought he might not make it, he finishes top 20! Among many great quotes, here is my favorite,

“When you embrace the struggling, you just learn how to accept it and appreciate it.
Because the good times are only really great when the bad times are pretty tough.”

For more on Mike, his diet and other videos see his site, www.thefruitarian.com. Thanks for watching!

Photo courtesy of AdventureCORPS

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Filed under Day in the Life, nutrition, road, run, vegan

‘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.

;

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 4; Professional Cyclist Cara Gillis, Part Two: Intervals

Last week, in part of one of our episode with pro cyclist Cara Gillis we learned about her background in veganism, philosophy and pro cycling. Today, we ride! And boy do we ride. One thing that immediately impresses you about Cara is her diligence in following a training plan and her intelligent use of intervals. It has shown me the importance of having a good plan and following it closely.
In Part 2 we head to Mt Washington, a famed climb in Northeast Los Angeles as I try to keep up with Cara on 1-minute intervals. One minute, that’s all, but it’s easier said than done!  We also speak with her coach Jeff Lawler about the importance of intervals and the most common mistake new cyclists make.
Enjoy!

How amazing is Cara? I’m almost embarrassed at how quickly she dropped me. Almost. But not, because she is such a bad-ass.  Though I now know that I need to start doing better intervals! To recap Jeff, here are some tips to smartly introduce intervals.

Smart Intervals

-Hold the same pace for the entire length of the interval. A one-minute interval is not a 20 second sprint with 40 seconds of barely holding on…

-Give yourself a proper recovery time. Today we had a 3-minute rest for a 1-minute interval. You need enough time for your cardiovascular system and muscles to recover in order for them to push as hard in the subsequent intervals.

-Do at least four. If you are totally spent after two, you may need to adjust your pace or analyze if you are ready for intervals.

-Include a variety of lengths and intensities of intervals. Cara calls 20-minutes intervals the bread and (vegan) butter workout for fast cyclists. It’s a skill to figure out your pace and hold it for 20 minutes in itself. But learning that skill has huge payoffs.

-Intervals should happen a few times per week, max.

Thank you Cara and Jeff for spending your day with us. Cara would like to thank her team Missing Link Coaching Systems/Specialized, especially the directors who go out of their way to make sure she gets vegan food at races. That’s super cool. Even though she is not sponsored by them,  she wants me to mention Hammer Nutrition products because most of their stuff is vegan. When her team has sponsors that don’t make anything vegan she buys Hammer stuff on her own.

What did you learn from today’s episode? As always, thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time!

[If you enjoy these episodes please use the share button below. A lot of work goes into making these and we have no money or sponsors and only our friends and readers to spread the message that you can be vegan and an athlete. Help out if you can! Thank you.]

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Filed under Day in the Life, road, vegan

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

The Big Parade Staircase Walk

Hey everyone! First off, thank you for all of the awesome feedback from our Day in the Life episode with Brian Davidson.  We are so excited about episode two, which should be done for tomorrow. Yay! Wait to you see Brian in Death Valley, it is truly amazing.
 
Today’s post is from an event I did in 2009, called The Big Parade Stair Walk. I am posting it now because 2011’s Big Parade is this weekend. If you are in the Los Angeles area I highly recommend you come out to some or all of this. Did you know there over 100 stairways in the City of Los Angeles that are maintained as travelways? This walk explores them over two days and is full of historical and cultural events within the walk. If you think you know LA well, you need to come to this and see an LA you had no idea existed. I’ll be out there one or both days, come say hello! See the schedule and make your plans.
 
 
 
On the Big Parade
Making the city our own
One stair at a time.
(thanks to Lisa for the haikus)

Photo galleries, thanks to Steve Matsuda, Day 1 and Day 2.

 

The Big Parade is a 45-mile, 2-day walk that covers over 100 staircases in multiple Los Angeles neighborhoods. Over 250 people walked varying lengths, while a core group of us walked the entire route and camped in the Music Box Steps Park Saturday night. We started in downtown Saturday morning at 7am and finished after 10pm at the Hollywood sign.
 
When I do an event like this, almost no matter how I describe it, the automatic interpretation is that is a purely physical endeavor. While completing this walk is no easy physical task, that is only a small component. Walking is so humanizing and seeing the sections of this beautiful city that are only accessible by foot was much more of a social and emotional experience.
 
When we got to the Hollywood sign after 10pm (had been walking since 7am), and looked down on the city we had traversed, I looked at my tired, worn-out friends and felt closer to them than I ever have. I’ve always said that times in our lives where you are fatigued, hungry and just plain worn-out is when you see most clearly. I felt such a love for the people I shared this experience with and for the possibilities available to us when we slow down and see what our environment has to offer us.
 
 
 
 
 

Is it political? Is there a campaign? Are we a group? These are some of the questions asked. But really, the whole idea stems from Dan Koeppel’s fascination with these stairs as public access ways. They are technically ‘streets’ and they are there to be used by people. The small budget came from Backpacker magazine, but almost all of the work and effort came from Dan and the people close to him. His love of staircases-and he has many reasons-drew other ambitious, interesting folks to him. No organization or group, board of directors, mission statement, official endorsements, etc, etc…just a love for what traveling by foot means to each of us. There are political, environmental, social and even historical ramifications from our walk, but none are ‘the’ reason we walked.  And that’s the beauty of this!  “Togetherness’ is so cliche and over-used, but this bringing people together- urbanites, explorers, athletes, artists, historians- is what this walk is about in my eyes.

Sunday night we reached the Hollywood sign about 40 hours after the main group had started- the 9 of us who camped out at the Laurel and Hardy park and walked the entire 45-mile route. Literally hundreds of people walked some part of the route, but this core group had been together for the entire 40 hours. But then, as the only person walking home from the Hollywood sign, I had a solitary hour and a half walk. It was nearing midnight, I had pain in my legs, feet and shoulders which made the other pain I was feeling all the more sharp. So many automobiles-closed off metal boxes-hiding people from the joys of feet on the ground exploring and feeling.  It made more angry about our dependence on automobiles not because of the danger they presented to me, but because of what the drivers were missing out on by being trapped in a car so often.

Celebrate, rejoice!
Our feet get us anywhere
Why bother driving?
 

Physical pain is a pathway to the pain one feels inside. Physical pain brings clarity. And this internal pain that you feel makes its way to the surface. Many of us have set up our lives to avoid both of these pains, but pulling it to the surface can be pure motivation and energy for changing what we see is wrong in the world. It is power!  So I encourage you to explore this pain and use your human-power to change the world. And when it is exposed and you feel vulnerable, know that you are not alone.

Thanks to everyone, Dan Koeppel especially, who helped plan and organize the walk and to those who came out and walked part of it. We are changing this city one step at a time.

 The tech numbers for the nerds!

Mileage: 44.90
Time: 26:48:06
Ascent: 24,188 ft
Descent: 23,340 ft
Ave Pace, Day 1/2: 1.6/1.7 mph
 

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Filed under city, hike, political, road, travel