Category Archives: bike

24 Hours of the Enchanted Forest

Twenty-four hour mountain bike race on a whim? Why not? I’ve been riding a lot with my good friend Mark (who inspired my Risk is Real, Use It post, which you should read if you haven’t yet) and we’ve been talking about how 24-hour mountain bike races could help his Baja endurance motorcycle racing. We missed the Laguna Seca 24hr and just when I was thinking that there’s a serious lack of endurance mountain bike races within a day’s drive of Southern CA, I found the 24 Hours of the Enchanted Forest near Gallup, New Mexico. What’s a few extra hours in the car to hit some new trails?

First lap! Luckily the rest of the course was not this dusty.

 

These races are like a party in a campground with a bunch of riding happening. The 16-mile course, with the exception of the dirt road through staging, was fun single track. Sixteen miles of single track! Very few steep sections which made it the most single speed friendly course I have ever ridden. Didn’t have to walk a single section, even in the middle of the night and elevation above 8000 feet!

Spontaneity has it’s drawbacks, and one was that Mark had to work till 8pm Friday night. Yeah. Our friend Paul, a recent Super Randonneur, jumped in for the adventure and I invited my friend Timoni so we could drop her off in Sedona to see her partner (and get an extra driver!). If you are doing the math and with the time change, this puts us at the race at 8am- four hours before the start. Needless to say my total sleep time in the 36 hours before the race was 2 hours in the minivan. Adventure, right?

This was one of the largest fields I’ve ever raced- over 20 solo single speed and more than 70 total solo racers! I hadn’t raced a 24 hour in almost two years and I hadn’t trained for this, but that didn’t stop me from going out fast on the first lap. So dumb! Ha. The backside of the course had a 20 MPH section with berms and little jumps- I couldn’t help but go fast! A few laps later, and keep in mind that 3 laps is 48 miles of single track mountain biking, which tires out much more than your legs, and I see Mark at our camp spot. Oh no, the elevation and dryness has totally messed up his breathing! When I come around again they tell me my place and suddenly it turns into a race. “Here are your bottles and a bar, get out of here!” I try to reason that it’s too early to talk about placing but they don’t want to hear it and next thing I know I’m out for another lap.

These races are ‘slow’ enough that you can chat with others- which I did to no end.  A woman on a 4-female team and I chatted for a good half a lap. She told me how great I was doing and I told her that any idiot can ride fast for 6 hours- the next 18 are what matters. And when I hear myself say, ‘the next 18’ I get a little nervous. What am I doing?

 

My view for many hours through the night..

 

Night comes. I’m still enjoying the course and am loving the cooler temperatures.  Fewer riders are out there and suddenly everyone asks about lap number and place. Turns out I’m back and forth for second place in single speed with a 24-hour rookie named Brian. Uh oh.  First place was a lap up but Brian and I rode together for a little. He kept talking about how he needed to sleep. Those laps between midnight and 5am are an experience I cannot begin to describe. Everything is slow. And quiet. The forest consumes you. Your brain plays tricks on you. Am I lost? Am I riding in circles? Where is everyone? It didn’t help that the race organizers put skeletons and other enchanted beings along the course!

My new endurance cycling quote, ‘The first 40% is legs, the second 40% is mind. The last 20% is heart.”

Paul had cooked me up some veggie broth just before midnight and then headed to sleep- he needed to be alert enough to drive back right after the race.  I roll through around 130am and the party has dissipated. I pound a yerba mate, eat a little, put on warmer clothes and head into the darkness. Two laps till daylight I tell myself.  My legs have given their all for 40% and now my mind is suppose to take over, but it doesn’t want to.

At 3am the only person awake at the entire start/finish is the person who recorded my number. Dead quiet. I make the mistake of sitting down to eat. I feel sick and get super cold. Oh no! I wrap myself in my sleeping bag ‘just to warm up.’ Ugh. I sleep on the ground for about an hour and a half.  At the first signs of daylight I groggily head out for another lap. My eyes are closing while I ride. I’m spaced out. I wonder what my equivalent Blood Alcohol Level would be. I focus on the beauty of the forest at dawn. What a privilege to be here! A team rider blasts past me and I imagine how pathetic I probably look barely moving forward.

Post-race delirium. No, I’m fine, this empty water jug is a great pillow.

 

At camp the smell of coffee is strong. People say good morning and congratulate me on riding still. I’m filthy and wearing the same kit I started with. Paul had made some hot food and coffee, but him and Mark don’t let me relax. My sleep put me back at 4th place. “Let’s go, I’m riding this lap with you.” Mark and I head out and I’m pretty stoked. Him and I first rode BMX bikes together almost 20 years ago! Then Brian rolls up to me. He’s full of energy. Wtf? For a moment we think we’re on the same lap. Are we tied in 2nd place with 3 hours left? Do we really have to duel it out? I’m not sure I want to say ‘fortunately’ or ‘unfortunately’ but he’s a lap up. No need to race. He rode all night.

Mark and I bomb the fast section. It’s dangerous, but oh so fun. I keep looking over my shoulder for that dreaded 1-99 number of a solo single speed racer. That last climb is like a mountain. Elevation still bothering me. And just to state the obvious, my ass hurts like you wouldn’t believe. Finally the start/finish tent is in sight. Lisa, the super human race director, shows me the stats. I’m in third securely. Unless fourth place finishes goes out for an hour an a half last lap I’m good. I’m thankful.  But I don’t change out of my kit just yet- if we see him go by and attempt a last lap I have to give chase to hold onto that coveted podium place. Funny the way that works.

The first meal you eat after these races is always the best meal you have ever eaten.

 

I don’t have to go out for another lap! I eat hot food and I lay in the dirt. Relaxation! Getting changed is the hardest thing I can imagine. I almost fell asleep part way through changing. Ha! We roll down to the tent, they count down to noon and the awards start immediately. They say their thank you’s and announce prizes for traveling the farthest to the race and Mark and I got 2nd place! Free giant container of electrolyte drink- what a super awesome thing to do. Thank you! Then podium stuff, then we pack up to head back to California.

 

Can you point out the awkward straight edge guy holding a beer mug? See full results.

 

On the way we stop at Macy’s European Cafe in Flagstaff for some vegan yuminess and I coordinate via text and the internet to realize that Cara Gillis’ Race Across America 2-person team (check out her vegan challenge!) is on the canyon road between Sedona, where we have to go, and Flagstaff. Yay! Driving down we cheer on all of the teams we see.

 

Swarm! riders on the epic Race Across America crew for Cara Gillis’ 2-person team. Their adventure was just starting- over 2500 miles still to go from here.

 

It was early Monday morning before I saw my own bed again. What an adventure! Thank you everyone at the 24 Hours of the Enchanted Forest for putting on a spectacular event. Next year they host the 24-hour National Championships and I’m sure it’ll be great. Not sure, I’ll be there, but maybe?

 

Lastly, here’s an unbelievable skate video. This is how I feel when I mountain bike on fun trails. Have a great weekend! Stay stoked!

 

 

 

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Filed under bike, off-road, race, travel

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under bike, race, road, vegan

Is this the definition of irony?

The other day I was riding my cyclocross bike on some great canyon trails here in the city. Nothing is better than riding to the trails, riding dirt, then riding home. It’s great when cities have undeveloped areas to explore.
I was riding along enjoying some fast sections, with perfect conditions. Then the trail was blocked by a 4-lane road. I know building bridges and tunnels costs a lot of money and I don’t mind having to pop onto a road for a minute, but then I came across this fence between the lanes restricting non-crosswalk crossing.
And then to rub it in they put images of cyclists and runners on the fence blocking the access of those very people in favor of automobiles.
The fence forces you to ride against traffic to a stoplight, where you ‘safely’ cross and then ride against traffic on the other side.
All the while those images of cyclists and runners stare at you mockingly.

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Filed under bike, city, off-road, political

Colorado!

I often express how fortunate I am. I’ve good health and the time and energy to make use of it. But sometimes I feel extra fortunate. Like ‘I can’t believe I get to do the things I do!’ fortunate.  Sasha Perry, my partner for the Day in the Life project, Megan Dean, close friend and builder of Moth Attack! Bikes and I recently went to Colorado to film for Day in the Life and it ruled beyond belief.

Sasha takes some well-earned time off from behind the camera to ride the Dizzy Drome

I knew we’d meet phenomenal vegan athletes. I also knew it would be beautiful, as I’ve been there before. But for this trip Colorado really pulled out all of the stops!  Every where we turned were people stoked to meet us and hang out. We worked full days most days, and then hung out hard with the people we had worked with. Could not have asked for anything better. A few people need to be thanked:

Handlebar Mustache for putting us up and letting us cuddle their five dogs

Ritual Chocolate for giving us a tour of their vegan chocolate factory

Girl Bike Love for the hangouts

Boulder Indoor Velodrome for letting us film and ride every where

Nederland Mountain People’s Co-op for having the biggest AND best vegan blueberry muffins ever

Chris for filming (who also just had a Kickstarter reach full funding!)

Eric at Ground Up Custom Bicycles for building a pump track, a dizzy drome, rad bikes to play on AND being so stoked on me riding them.

And finally we need to thank all of the individual athletes who let us invade their life for a day, or sometimes longer. I promised Sasha I wouldn’t give too much away so I can’t actually thank the athletes by name! You’ll see before too long, I promise.

Meanwhile, enjoy a few videos of me riding during our down time!

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Filed under bike, bmx, off-road, travel

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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The Pull of Habit

The statement, ‘we are creatures of habit’ is an understatement, and as much as I love newness and change, this is still true for me. And a huge part of my profession is teaching behavior change!

I ride a lot. Most of my friends probably figure if I’m not working, eating or interneting, I’m out riding or running. And this is true, sometimes. Only when I’ve created that habit.  It is as true for me, someone who aims to ride 800-1000 miles a month, as it is someone training for their first organized bike event. Same with running.  If you are not in the habit of running, training for a 5k is just as hard as training for a 50k. When I’m out of the habit, I can’t imagine devoting 2 hours or more a day to getting on my bike or strapping on my running shoes. And if you are reading my site, then I know you’ve had the same experience (if not, you are a special human being and I am envious!).

I’m writing about this now because failing at the Arizona Trail Race really knocked me out of the habit of riding. I just didn’t want to. In behavior change psychology we say that the new, healthier behavior must appear more rewarding than the old behavior. When you don’t feel like riding, sitting on the internet just feels better. Why go out and do something you don’t want to do? What’s the benefit to that?

But there is benefit. And I’m not talking about physical benefits, but mental and relational. So many great conversations with friends happen slightly out of breath on the bike saddle or while running up trails in the wilderness. Not to mention the ideas that come with the clarity of movement and being out in the world. This is what I have to convince myself of.

Over the previous week I did 7 rides in 7 days. Nothing spectacular. Nothing super long or super fast. Just riding in order to create the habit of riding. Everyone, no matter what crazy events they have done, need to start anew after not training or riding regularly.  My advice for anyone trying to ride or run more often or at all, which is partly professional, but mostly personal, is to first work to create the habit. Just go. No structure or plan beyond making the time for it. If you are one of those people who signs up for an event, prints out a training schedule and follows it exactly for 8 weeks, this does not pertain to you. But for the rest of us, just getting out there is huge. Our biggest critic is our own brain- we tell ourselves we aren’t running long enough or fast enough and it’s just not worth it. Ignore it! Just get out there.  After a week or two of just doing the activity you are into you are in a much better position to plan and focus. It’ll come, you have to trust that.

So for the first time in a month I’m thinking about what events to sign up for this summer. I’m obviously not racing the Tour Divide, but I know that is for the best. I may do an 8-hour mountain bike race, which will be a nice change from doing only 24-hour or 100-mile events recently. May also do a few double centuries, since I didn’t do any all of last year. And maybe some shorter runs like halfs and marathons? What are you doing this summer? No matter what it is, if you are changing your behavior and pushing yourself to do more than you’ve done in the past, it is awesome. I get as stoked on friends’ first 5k as I do for their 100-mile runs! Just get out there.

Lastly, thanks for all of the AWESOME feedback from the A Day in the Life videos (if you haven’t seem them you should! Part one and part two). We’ve already filmed episode two and should have it up within a few weeks. I’m super stoked on this project!

 

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Filed under bike, run