Category Archives: travel

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

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

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

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

With my friend Catra in the tattooed division…

 

Pre-Race = Awesome

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

 

At our Wagon Wheel campsite.

 

Race morning

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

 

Team Los Angeles Cyclists!

 

Race!

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

 

Mandatory Couch Hang

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

What I learned

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

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

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

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

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

 

What’s Next

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

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

 

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

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Rainy Day Stokedness

There’s nothing better to do on a rainy day than to read about events you’ve done and that you want to do. Especially this time of year! It’s so important to reflect on the past in order to prepare for the future, no matter what your goals are. A post came through my Reader about the Norseman Triathlon in Norway and I was reminded of the race adventure in 2007 when I had the privilege of being in what they call the world’s hardest full-iron triathlon. I wrote about it here and here.

Norway = One of the most beautiful places in the world
Norwegians = Some of the friendliest people in the world

Doing like most people with some spare time on a rainy day (well, after I went on a 2.5hr run…), I perused youtube for videos of this kick-ass race and found some really great ones (keep in mind I think most race/adventure videos do a poor job of capturing the reality of this stuff, but these are actually really good!). The first is like an intro and the second is like a mini-doc….

 

 

I wish I could get out there again!! Plenty of closer adventures to be had…

What’s getting you stoked for 2011?

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Nutrition and transitioning

I spent last weekend and early this week at the American Dietetic Association’s annual conference in Boston where I facilitated a workshop on vegetarian nutrition. I usually don’t talk about my professional world here, but I’m in the process of transitioning to a new blog that combines both. Links for that coming soon, but I’ve already started using this: twitter.com/truelovehealth. One of my tweets included this photo of dietitians in line for free soda at the expo:

Yes, you read that correctly. Dietitians getting free soda at a nutrition conference. This is the world I work in. We have a long way to go. Fortunately my ‘Corporate influence = huge problem” post was picked up and re-tweeted by a number of people who feel similarly. The photo has been viewed nearly 600 times.
This is the sort of topic that makes me nervous professionally. Will this affect my work with the ADA? At the end of the conference they posted a thank you to all of the twitter users at the conference and my name was not listed….
Anyway. If you don’t stay true to your own ethics what are you left with?
Start following me on twitter for more.

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Eat. Sleep. Read.

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(first) 24 hours in Cambridge MA

4-mile run along charles river
free yoga
sudo vegan shoe store
clover food lab chickpea fritter sandwich
family hang
cold late-night track bike ride search for famous whole foods vegan carrot cake (unsuccessful)

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Bicycling to Los Angeles Airport (LAX)

Ever try to park your bicycle at LAX? The LA World Airports site has no info and an online search gives you this LAist article which does not say much.

Rolling along 104th st toward the airport. Tower in distance!

I had a long weekend flight and work not far from the airport before and after so I decided to ride my $100 Craigslist bike and leave it. The best advice I got was ‘lock it up with the motorcycles’. So I rode into the airport and followed signs for departing flights and then to parking garage 1. Was it sketchy? Honestly, inside the airport felt safer than the sprawl-land madness that surrounds it.

I wanted a better place than this bike I came across.

There are a few concerns when locking your bicycle in an odd place. One is the usual re theft and vandalism. The other is that some overzealous pseudo-authority figure will notice your out of place transportation choice and make it his or her mission to teach you a lesson. I’ve had my bike locked by security guards, friends have had locks cut by them. It seems to be their business when you leave, but never when you ask them where to park. Anyway, I wouldn’t leave my bike locked like the above one out of fear of security guards messing with it.


I circled through the garage and found the motorcycle parking on the first floor- where arriving flights let out. There is no rack here, but there are locks on this ledge railing, so I assumed it was safe. I was also able to double lock it and include both wheels.


The morning I was leaving I had the realization that I couldn’t bring my tools on board and I hadn’t planned to check anything. What to do with the tools in my seatbag? I didn’t want to just leave it because it’s too easy to undo the velcro and walk away with $50 worth of tools (half the value of the bike!). My solution? Cover the seat with a plastic bag a la it’s raining out style therefore covering the seatbag and hiding it from view (and less sketchy than hiding the tools in a planter- which I’ve done successfully!). Foolproof? No, but I felt pretty confident that most people leaving an airport have little interest in multi-tools and tire levers.

Confident in my locking and tool hiding job I headed to Terminal 1. Guess what I see! Yep, a bike rack.




In all of my years of flying in and out of Terminal 1 (Southwest!) I have never noticed this rack. Is it new? Now I was stuck with the dilemma of moving my bike or not. One, I really didn’t have much time and two, if anyone in all of LAX would steal a seatbag filled with tools it would be someone on a bike….so I left it with the motorcycles.

Four days later I returned and my bike was (seemingly) untouched. Seatbag and all! And serendipitously the plastic bag kept my seat dry from the sprinklers just below. Score.

So when you ride your bike to the airport you have a few choices. I don’t know if there are bike racks at other terminals, but you always have the Terminal 1 option. Be sure to enter the terminal area on the ‘arriving flights’ level to ride right to the rack or to the motorcycle area of Terminal 1 parking, if you choose this option. Riding out of the garage no one looked twiced at me and I made my way to Veggie Grill for an early lunch…

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SF to LA bike tour

I like to do a trip on the last weekend of summer before the semester starts. Last year we slayed Mammoth on mountain bikes. This year logistically it worked out to bike tour from SF to LA. I rode this same trip solo a few years ago. Bike touring goes back to 2001. Love it. I think I’m over 10,000 total miles in these 10 (!!) years.

Obligatory pre-ride photo with Jeff. Notice what’s missing: the sun.

The plan was ride fast and most of the day, camp and eat out. Mileage ended up as:

SF-Big Sur 150 miles
Big Sur-Lompac 170 miles
Lompac-Los Angeles 155 miles
I will try every vegan cinnamon bun thing once, even if it’s whole-wheat and doesn’t have icing. This is at the Co-op in Santa Cruz on the way out of town where Water St hits Soquel. I always stop here.

The seatbag I borrowed had a built-in burrito pocket. Very thoughtful. This was the first night. We did the massive descent into Carmel, picked up burritos then raced darkness to the Big Sur campground.

Packing list (all fit in the seatbag and hydration pack)
Thermarest 3/4 mat
Mountain Hardware 35 degree sleeping bag
Mountain Hardware longsleeve wind-proof shirt thing
1 bib
1 jersey
1 vest
1 pair sleeves
1 pants
1 technical t-shirt
1 button-up short sleeve (I’m obsessed with it- prob should have mailed it)
2 pair socks
1 10-inch mini laptop (oops, should have mailed)
1 pair gloves (they were old as shit and I left them in a garbage can in Pismo beach)
1 toolbag with multi-tool, tube, levers, 2 CO2 cartridges
1 pump
1 hydration pack (to carry laptop)
1 coffee mug
1 spork
1 foldable plastic plate


Food I left with

1 lara bar
1 granola mix with brazil nuts, cranberries added
1 bag chocolate-covered espresso beans aka magic beans
20 scoops Maxodextrin- homemade Sustained Energy type stuff
2 bananas

Bike
I rode my ‘race’ bike which is a steel Seven. Shimano parts. Ksyrium rims. The ones with the red spoke, don’t know what they’re called. I think it weighs in at 18 pounds, which I was told is not light. Borrowed giant seatbag.

What a fun trip! Too many tiny stories to share. Jeff is an awesome touring partner! Who else will hang out drinking coffee till 930am when you have a 170-mile day ahead of you?

I’m aching for a long bike tour….

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3 Photos- Mountain City, Tennesse

After racing the Shenandoah 100-mile mountain bike race this year I headed to Boone, North Carolina to see a close friend. Instead of the highway I opted for the through-the-mountains-and-Tennessee route. In Mountain City my obsession with grocery stores beckoned me to take a short stop.

Tea Party Propaganda, not unexpected. Later while listening to a call-in radio show, expecting the worst of fear-mongering conservative politics, I was pleasantly shocked by not one, but two callers. The first talked about the economy and how the blame is on the rich and the working-class need to learn all the DIY skills we used to know. Also that the economy shouldn’t return to what it was because that was exploitative. The second talked about hunting deer-with a camera! Seriously. Said it’s better cause you don’t have to kill the animal. Think of that next time you want to stereotype rural folks.
Tiny bottles of Chubby soda.
All grocery stores should have recipes from employees.


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mountain biking in Santa Cruz

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the end of ________ and _______ Trail

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

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

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

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

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2010 Shenandoah 100 Sunday

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

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

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

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