Cross over?

In racing Cyclocross I should have some advantages. It is mostly off-road with some (slightly) technical sections, tight turns and running sections. I can ride in packs, throw elbows and my bike is decent. My first cross race went poorly, but I can blame that on the limited clearance on my bike. So for last race of the series I was ready to race.
I hopped on a commuter train out of Union Station that dropped me within a few miles of the Bonelli Park in San Dimas.
Because it was a UCI race, the 2.7 kilometer course had to start and end on pavement that was LONG with a 180-degree turn and a small incline. After that was a long slight downhill on gravel, then double-track before the grass sections and tight turns. On the first lap I stayed with the front group: it was tough, but I wasn’t completely blown-up. My plan was to break after the grass downhill that went off a curb into the pavement section. I wasn’t the only one with this idea and when a few others broke I tried to hang on but totally blew up. Done. Then I couldn’t shift into my big chain ring. I rode the next lap with a second pack, then couldn’t hang on through the soft, pseudo-mud sections.

After the second lap it wasn’t fun anymore. About this time Jack, Kyle, and Jim C. showed up and I could hear them yelling ‘Swarm!’ and other things to me. I have suffered through long races, but the kind of suffering that comes with super high output is so different. It wrecks you like nothing else. Concentrating enough to make the turns was tough. My whole body ached. And this is only a 35-minute race! At one point I got caught by a guy on a single-speed mountain bike. On the pavement. D’oh. 16th out of 23.

Sure, I have not trained at a high output level and it is a different sport, but man I thought I was going to do much better. Very humbling. Overall I am sold that Cyclocross is fun and I know what I have to do differently. Next year?

Jack, Jim C (both from Orange 20 Bikes) raced on fixed gear

Jim, Cole, Kyle and Jack (team beard?)

Jim C. tried to jump the barriers

Kyle on his way to 3rd in Single-speed B

Hook Your Thumbs!

Last night I was riding back from the YMCA over the 1st bridge, which is under construction because of the Gold Line Extension to East LA, and I took my first-ever road spill. I’ve fallen off a bike many (many!) times between bmx, mountain biking, track-bike tricks, etc, but never JRA (Just Riding Along).

I was distracted momentarily when a construction worker I did not see made some noise to my left as I rode up to the apex of the bridge. It was nothing though. I went back to thinking about what I was going to eat for dinner, when a bunch of flashing lights in front of me came into view on the end of the bridge as I was beginning to go downhill. That was enough for me to not see the big rocks in the lane. I flew over the bars so quick I barely had time to react! I’ve almost been thrown over the bars before riding my track bike, so I know how to get out of it, but the combination of leaning forward (looking ahead) and my downhill speed I was sliding along the ground before I knew it.
Reacted quickly enough to make sure I wasn’t in any traffic and to grab my bike before someone drove over it. My bike was fine and I only had a scrap so I hopped back on and rode the last mile home. Jack (thanks!) had just put on a whole new drive train, including a rear wheel he built up for me, but everything was fine.

When I got home I made a giant bowl of popcorn
(Always looking for an excuse to post food pics)

Glendora Mountain Road

On Saturday I did this loop that was way more epic than I had planned for:

East toward Mt. Baldy after crossing the San Gabriel River

The backside of Glendora Mountain Rd

Looking toward LA, 50 miles away
There’s a fire somewhere in E. LA
You can see highway 39 along the river

Next time I want to connect and go over to Mt. Baldy. I heard there are 20% grade sections!

Sunday I rode the OC Rebels 46-mile ride with Nicolas. With my to/from miles I ended up with 75 miles for the day. I only ate a clif bar and a banana all morning so those miles were a little tougher than they should of been.

Cyclocross- First Race

‘Well, it’s kind of like mountain biking, but you are on what looks like a
road bike and you have to hop these barrier things occasionally’

Sunday I raced my first cyclocross race. It was down in Palos Verdes, on the route of a great road ride called the PV loop. Had aspirations of riding there, but the threat of rain crushed them. Check this out though: I found an express bus leaving Union Station (8-min ride from home) that gets to the top of Hawthorne Drive in PV in 1hr and 10min. It’s 45-min in a car. From there I coasted a few miles downhill past the million dollar homes to the start.
There are two cyclocross series here the So Cal Cross Prestige Series and the Urban Cross Series. This was race 5 of 6 of the latter. Real cyclocross conditions in the mud and rain? Maybe for the later groups, but in the Beginner 4 race, which was first, it was pure peanut butter-like mud and mostly impassable. Instead of carrying the bike over a few barriers, I had to carry it over 75% of the course. The narrow clearance I have between my frame/fork and wheels only made it worse. I’d come to a stop pedaling down hill! The guys on mountain bikes were killing it. 25 racers started, 20 finished. I got 19th. New forks and back in two weeks?

Mud Bog

Water support for Cole (riding fixed)
3rd place in single speed ‘B’

Actual racing

Off-road city riding

Obviously I am stoked on my cross bike. Yesterday I rode to Elysian Park (the park that surrounds Dodgers Stadium) with the intent of doing a 1.5 hour trail run. Then I hit some trails on the bike. Then some other trails. I ended up riding for 1.5 hours. It is so much fun to ride a cross bike off-road. It’s not as easy as a mountain bike. You constantly have to focus because it is faster and the lines the bike can handle are limited. When you hit pavement it is not as tedious and sluggish as a mountain bike. The perfect bike?
Steevo recently posted about woods in the city in the winter, so I thought I’d shoot some photos of urban trail riding (in not quite woods in not quite winter).

This is a few miles from downtown LA and my house.
Luckily those clouds didn’t produce rain while I was out.

I still got in a 75-min run and home before the rain. Some interesting points regarding Elysian Park:
It’s 600 acres big and touches Echo Park (the neighborhood), Chinatown and Chavez Ravine.
The Eastside of the park is known as a cruising spot for young gay men.
Lots of people walk dogs here. Most people are walking at least two at a time.
The female to male ratio is at least 4:1. The likelihood of a female walking a dog is probably 75%.

The Golden Arrow

One of the reasons I started a blog was to compile thoughts, projects, groups, adventures, etc that I find interesting, important, entertaining, ridiculous, etc in one place. These ideas, concerns, evaluations, etc may seem unrelated, but to me the beauty of them all is the space between their relation. Like the bicycle. For many it is a component in an athletic endeavor and nothing more. In a way I am slightly envious of some people’s ability to narrow the use of something till it has one specific function. But, obviously, I think the bicycle is way more dynamic. Sure, you consume fewer resources when you bicycle instead of drive a motor vehicle. But people who bicycle, in my subjective, non-researched opinion, live lifestyles that consume less overall. Right?
Check out this Jared Diamond article in the NY Times:
What’s Your Consumption Factor?

Here is my favorite part:
‘Real sacrifice wouldn’t be required, however, because living standards are not tightly coupled to consumption rates. Much American consumption is wasteful and contributes little or nothing to quality of life. For example, per capita oil consumption in Western Europe is about half of ours, yet Western Europe’s standard of living is higher by any reasonable criterion, including life expectancy, health, infant mortality, access to medical care, financial security after retirement, vacation time, quality of public schools and support for the arts. Ask yourself whether Americans’ wasteful use of gasoline contributes positively to any of those measures.’

This chapter of the Story of Stuff fits right in. I love the noise the Golden Arrow makes (but only in the video. I hate the noise it makes in real life).