Bike check, one two what is this?

[This is an old post that never made it out of draft status.]

When I was 21, my life pretty much revolved around politics. I was seriously dating a girl at the time and we connected heavily through politics. I was of the anarcho-punk ilk and she was of the ‘graduated at 20 with a double major and speak 3 languages’ ilk. We actually discussed at one point the feasibility of going to Chiapas to fight with the Zapatistas (yeah, yeah, I know how ridiculous that is).

I have this vivid memory of being on the train in NYC with her, coming back from visiting my father in Brooklyn, and I said something about having five bikes. Not that I had them at the time, but that at some point in the future there were five different types of bikes I would like to own. She laid into me about how hypocritical and consumerist that would be of me. And how it went against so much of what I was about. What the hell does anyone need five bikes for?

Her and I did actually go to Chiapas, but we remained unarmed (mostly went to bakeries and bought Marcos dolls). Eventually a bike would come between us; when I rode cross country she broke up with me. What does this have to do with a bike check? Well, even in my over-zealous idealist youth, I was willing to make exceptions for bikes. I really had no idea at the time how much of a medium they would be in exploring and experiencing the world. But here we are.

Cool kid bike.
A one-off custom frame from Trystan Cobbett and Bernard from Seven. It has the Ritchey break-away system. Pretty much the only time other bike kids talk to me is when I’m on this. I’ve long grown tired of that front wheel. My original fondness of it was more of a nostalgia for BMX mags.

Roadie. Custom Seven, sans stickers. Say what you want about those wheels, but they are the lightest, strongest wheels I’ve ever run. Over 10,000 miles logged.
Single-speed 29er. Kona Unit, fully stock minus the seat. $450 plus paint job. Super fun. I run a 32-20.
Bianchi Reparto Corse cyclocross (2002). Bianchi sent me this after I broke an Axis. It’s closer to a road bike than any cross bike I’ve ever seen. Here’s it is set up for off-road.
Terrible One Barcode. Sees very little action, unfortunately. Occasionally I’ll take it out and 180 some boxes.

Chantry Flats

First mtb ride of the year
Long, technical single track
New to me trails
Super friendly hikers
Hanging out
Jack learning the manual trans pop-start

Less than sweet:
Crashing. First in years. Bmx-style wall ride didn't work out
Huge packs of mountain bikers
100's of hikers
Max forgetting his bike shoes and not being able to ride
Dead car battery

Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer 2009

Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer
Sat March 14, 2009
10 hills, 10 stages, 1 morning
A race for some, an epic adventure for others

A tour of the less traveled streets and neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
There is no entry fee and limited support. No cars please, spectators welcome on bikes (you won’t have to ride all the hills).
Just riding up any one of these hills is an accomplishment. Ten in one day is seriously hard. Come prepared.

Sunset Blvd and EdgeCliffe Dr.
(Silver Lake Farmers Market)
Sign-up at 745am, leave at 815

A Swarm! event. Tell others.

(This race is based on Danny Chew’s Dirty Dozen. Thanks to Swarm!, Danny Chew, Steevo, Chris Moeller and Dave Clymer)

Hills? Los Angeles? How hard could it be?
Fargo St, one of the steepest paved roads in the world, is only one of ten. Yearly the LA Wheelmen do a hill climb here with lots of hoopla for just riding up this one hill. For you it will only be hill number five. Are the others equally hard? No, but they will feel like it.

Do I have to race?
No. Only a few of the people out there are racing for points. Most are there just to attempt every hill.

I want to race and am totally going to win. How does it work?

Each place, five deep, is worth points starting with 1st place and five points. Each new hill is treated as a separate stage with a group ride between hills.

What does the winner get?

Recognition and bragging rights.

How should I prepare?

Climbing is a unique cycling skill. You may be fast and strong, but being both on these steep climbs requires a lot of training in the hills. This year I want to have a few training rides leading up to the 14th and will post them at

Why so early?

If you can ride these 10 hills in one morning then you can be out of bed and at the market by 745am. If you show up without having slept I’ll buy you a cup of Coffee Cellar coffee at the market. Most of these hills are in quiet neighborhoods with narrow streets. I want us to be in and out with as little impact as possible. The earlier the better.

What should I bring?

Water, some snacks, a tube, the ability to fix minor mechanicals and rain gear. It’s rained all three years so far.

How long will this take?

Expect to be out well past noon. We only do about 30 miles, but getting to the hills, getting set up, etc takes longer than you would think.

Do I get a t-shirt and brunch?
In the past we’ve had one or both, but I can’t promise either for 2009. Hopefully we’ll have a ‘Bryan Farhy Commemorative’ vegan brunch somewhere.

Who puts on Feel My Legs?

“A bunch of fucking boring semi-employed geeks” also known as Swarm! Hit us up via bikeswarm at gmail.

Will this be more fun than being stuck in an elevator in Newark?

Definitely. interview part two

I was asked to do this interview after some guys from came across the research poster I had up at registration the day before the Furnace Creek 508. This second part is more about veganism and Brian. Enjoy.

Tell us about the research you did on raw foods.
In 2006 I did the Furnace Creek 508 on a 4-person fixed gear team with some good friends. We chose Bonobo as a totem because they are egalitarian primates who eat a mostly plant-based diet. All four of us are vegan and we used the race to raise money for the Bonobo Conservation Initiative. At the time my friend and teammate, Brian Davidson, was flirting with raw foods. He ate raw for the whole race and not long after he switched to a completely raw vegan diet.

In 2007 he decided to race solo and purely out of personal interest I initiated a research project to see what his diet would look like. I trained his support team in diet record methodology and then a colleague and I ran the numbers after the race. I really did not know what to expect. He averaged 450 calories an hour! Almost as astounding his macronutrient profile was 65% carbohydrate, 25% fat and 10% protein. He ate a large variety of foods including bananas, raisins, lara bars, cashews and other nuts. We presented our poster at the 5th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition at Loma Linda University early this year. The hypothesis was: can you get enough calories for a 508-mile race only eating raw foods? We did not do a micronutrient breakdown (this research was self-funded!), but since most fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense, I would reckon he did fine here as well.

How was his performance compared to a non-raw diet?
He is such a strong athlete and is continuously improving so I only know that eating raw is not inhibiting his progression. I hesitate to argue that veganism or raw food will make you faster or stronger, but will say that paying close attention to what you eat and focusing on whole foods cannot be detrimental. Brian is still raw and raced the 508 this year and finished in 33 hours, a 3 hour improvement from 2006. But he does not train seriously-he’ll be out till 3am on a Friday night doing a Critical Mass ride and then wake up to go on a road ride. He was asked -and accepted- to be on a raw 4-person RAAM team for 2010 with Organic Athlete. Maybe now he’ll start training seriously?

Would you recommend it?
I would recommend that everyone eat more raw fruits and vegetables. The health benefits are huge, not to mention eating lower on the food chain, taste and convenience. I hesitate to recommend eating completely raw because the evidence that this is MORE beneficial than a varied, whole food diet does not exist. There are not enough raw-foodists who have been doing it long enough to get the research done. I do recommend eating plant-based, whole foods, essentially vegan diets for the health, ethical and environmental benefits. I highly recommend Dr. Larson-Meyer’s book, Vegetarian Sports Nutrition and Organic Athlete’s Guide to Sports Nutrition (which I helped to write) as further resources.

Have you tried it?
I have been vegan for over 12 years and I do eat raw foods, but have never been completely raw. I flirt with it and have recently taken to eating raw breakfasts and huge salads for dinner. When you look closer at the produce section of a grocery store and think of fruits and vegetables as more than snacks, you see the endless possibility of combinations.

I covered this in other questions, I believe.

Thanks Jarrett for the opportunity to answer your questions. I have more stories and ramblings on my blog, interview part one

This is part one of an interview I did with If you like it and think others may be stoked please share it with the tool on the upper right.

Recently 30.

I’m trained as a Registered Dietitian, in other words a professional nutritionist. Currently I work under a Food-stamp grant doing nutrition education in low-income areas of Los Angeles. Am also an adjunct instructor with the LA district community colleges.

How long have you been doing ultras?
Since Fall of 2004. More or less.

What was your first one?
My first ultra was the Mt. Tam double century in 2004. I had no idea what I was getting into. I did it on 3 hours sleep, finished in 16 hours, then had to drive an hour back to a friend’s house. It was beautiful.

What got you into ultras?
Bike touring. I spent the majority of teenage years on a BMX bike riding the most difficult trails in the country. Many of my friends went on to be pro. I went to college. Not sure if I made the right decision. Filled the gap with mountain biking and then bought a $50 panasonic road bike my senior year. Rode it 150 miles through Pennsylvania to my mom’s house within a month. First lesson: cut-off shorts and no underwear is not the most comfortable choice for your crotch. The following Spring I rode cross-country from California to Pennsylvania alone (mostly). I was too cheap to pay for camping (hotels weren’t an option) so I found my own places behind trees or rocks or in public parks. Spent $5/day over two months. Would of been faster but I got hit by a car head-on outside of Flagstaff, Arizona in a surprise snow storm. Ten days off the bike mending a broken wrist and a broken bike. Insurance of the driver bought me my first ‘real’ bike: a Bianchi Axis. The next summer a friend and I rode from Los Angeles to Belize City, Belize. We went through Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guatemala, it was a phenomenal experience. With some shorter trips, including Alaska and the Great Divide, I’ve got about 10,000 bike touring miles logged.

Your hardest?
Solo Furnace Creek 508! No doubt. The desert does something to you mentally. If you don’t love it and show it respect, it will chew you up. I struggled the second day quite a bit and would not of finished if it was not for my great crew. After 37 hours I was glad to be done and did enjoy it, even with the misery. That’s partly why I am out there. I love the highs and lows.

Paris-Brest-Paris in 2007 was definitely the longest. Does that count as an ultra? I wasn’t competing, I just thought it would be a fun way to experience France. It’s part Critical Mass, part bike tour, part cultural submersion. I went with the night start and rode with various groups over the next 26 hours. In Carhaix I found a cot in a gym to sleep on. ‘When do you want us to wake you up?’ In 8 hours, I replied to their confusion. I figured it would be more fun and easier if I slept a full night. Did the same the next night. Finished in 77 hours, if I remember correctly. Two weeks previous I had done my first iron-distance triathlon on a course in Norway they call the world’s hardest, the Norseman. I was nervous because it was especially cold. They had to move the swim away from the glacier run-off in the fjord. You actually had to get out of the water half-way through so they could check you for hypothermia. The bike was 126 miles and the marathon ends up a mountain. I finished near the back and the organizers were always tremendously supportive. They let us sleep in the gym (is there a theme here?) in the days leading up to the race and cook in the kitchen of a school to save money.

Recommendations for new athletes?
It is difficult for me to answer this because I struggle to call myself an athlete. I’d say keep it fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously. I like to do athletic events because they are an adventure and the process adds to my life experience. When I lose sight of this it becomes like a job and significantly less fun. To me swimming in a fjord in Norway, riding my bike through traffic in LA, mountain biking fantastic technical single track or running up a mountain near my house are all worthy experiences in their own right regardless of the end goal. Each give me that jolt of excitement that I don’t think enough of us get in our daily lives.

Food and hydration during events?
Even though my expertise is in nutrition, I still have to work very hard to get my food and hydration sorted out. The more I’ve trained and at times when I am most fit I am able to eat less while riding without compromising my performance. It has taken me years of paying close attention to my body to know how far I can push and when I need to eat and drink. I try to average about 200 calories an hour and focus, when possible, on eating fruits and whole foods. On doubles and really tough centuries I do use gels and the liquid foods with definite success.

What’s your training like?
Oh how my training varies. I am definitely on the low-end of hours and miles compared to others. Especially running. It is a struggle for me to run more than twice a week, which is something I need to change if I want to get my marathon time under four hours. I do a lot of core work, including pilates. I also live in Los Angeles without a car, so riding to the grocery store and carrying 20 pounds of groceries home on my fixed gear definitely helps.

Favorite event?
So hard to say! My first mountain bike race ever was this year, the Shenandoah 100. It was freakin awesome. A party the whole time, with a 100 miles of amazing terrain and great single-track in the middle. I raced rigid single-speed and came in just under 11 hours. A great way to spend the day. I also did Vineman, the ‘people’s iron-man’, this year in Sonoma Country. Very well supported, lots of veg food and an emphasis on minimal impact: they washed and reused water bottles and even composted fruit scraps.

Why ultras?
I like the commitment. I don’t want to spend more time traveling to an event than I do participating in it! That space in time after the initial adrenalin wears out is where you learn the most about yourself and the world. I’ve experienced clarity like no other on really long bike events. This is cliche, but it takes you away from mundane, normal life with the hassles of bills to be paid, reports to be filed, calls to answer, etc. In a way it is very primal and aligns us with what our ancestors were forced to do to make it through life. I think we all need to remember this. I do my best to promote ultra events so others can get out of the work-buy stuff-watch tv-sleep-repeat routine and experience what we are capable of experiencing, for good and for bad.

Long term goals in the sport?
Tough one. I take it year by year. I like this mountain biking thing so I want to do a 24-hour race next year. The courses seem so boring though. Maybe race the Great Divide? I am not sure. I hope no one who reads this holds me to that!