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.

3 Photos- Bay Area

When I was in Philadelphia early this summer I hung out with my college friend, Tara. Tara is a school teacher and I happen to get to her house, which she awesomely opened up to me for the entire weekend, the first night of her summer vacation. We were leaving to go to some fixed/urban/cycling thing and she grabbed her camera on the way out. On the ride over there she told me how she received a picture frame with space for three photos as a gift and her plan was to have it filled with the three photos that best represented her 2010 Summer. She kept saying, ‘Will I get one of those photos tonight?’ as she snapped away. I thought this was a great idea and since I often take photos wherever I am I had the idea of making it a city project. Three photos from my experience when I’m in a city. I go to Portland and SF often, but each set of three will be specific to that time. You can be assured it will include food and bikes! But also other funny/interesting/odd stuff I find along the way.
Here’s the first set, from my first trip to the Bay Area this summer.

Ate dinner at Manzanita which I mentioned previously cause a friend called it ‘Food Not Bombs food for $20.’ It’s one of those stuck in the 70’s vegetarian restaurants that’s super simple: grain, bean, vegetables, salad. It has that weird new-age/hippy/buddhist vibe strong. But I like food like this. When I saw this sign, I thought, “Really? ‘Love’? That’s the best you can do? Of course the ‘mindful word of the day’ is love!!” I wonder how many times it has been. Just seems so obvious.

Cinnaholic peanut butter and jelly cinnamon roll. Nuff said.
Whole Foods vegan pig in a blanket. I only bought it cause I was starved and had already eaten a bunch of donuts, wanted something closer to real food and it was on sale. It was fucking great. Flaky dough, melted daiya cheese, pesto sauce and the Field Roast sausage was grilled before it was wrapped. So good.

Super bike dork status achieved

Last night I was riding home from a friend’s place after purchasing his rollers (the bicycle ones, not to be confused with the bird or the photographer) . I was on my bike, with my bike-specific bag hauling a device made for riding my bike in place. I’m not sure if this is ironic, unnecessary, obvious or some combination of all those, but when I passed a cute girl on Fountain Ave (with new sharrows!) I realized how ridiculous it all is. But, I love ridiculousness!

When is summer over?

That is the question, my friends. When school starts up again? Labor Day? The Solstice? It’s impossible for me to write anything about ‘this past summer’ just yet, so in my mind it continues, yet I know Fall is upon us. How? Well, teaching started up so I’m now required to be somewhere at least twice a week. Also, like five of the previous six Septembers, I’m preparing for the Furnace Creek 508.

In 2005, I was Crew Chief for Morgan ‘Goat’ Beeby as he shattered the What Is Possible glass ceiling and finished what we thought was an impossible race.

In 2006 I was privileged to be on the 4-person fixed gear team- Bonobo with all of 2005’s crew. We raised money for Bonobo Conservation Initiative and even had a little film made about it by our good friend Sasha (who, btw, is racing this year on a 4-person team!).

In 2007 I flaked and didn’t race, but still wrote about it and even went to the finish. I did a little research project on Brian ‘Emperor Moth’ Davidson since he was completely raw vegan at the time that ended up being a poster at a conference.

In 2008 I raced solo for the first time as Desert Locust and the only posts on my blog for the whole month are about it! It was hard. Very hard. That’s the problem with hanging out with exceptional people: you tend to forget how crazy/hard this stuff can be! I learned though. And apparently didn’t have too hard a time because….

In 2009 I raced solo again as Des[s]ert Locust. It was windy. Like 2.5 hours to ride 17 miles windy. Yeah. But I finished and felt good about it. Good enough that….

In 2010 I’m racing solo again. It’s crazy, I know. Why? Not sure. I’m not in as good of shape as last year, so that’s concerning. I’ll write more about my 508 preparation in the next (gulp) 12 days before the race. I have a 100% rookie crew so I may even post some of my prep stuff as I acclimate them and share the info with a few of the rookies that are on the 4-person Swarm! team Wild Burros.

My goal, which is lofty, but do-able, is to write about the forgotten adventures of summer 2010 before the race. I’ve got the other AdventureCORPS event the Rough Riders Rally, my San Francisco to Los Angeles 3-day bike tour, the Shenandoah 100 mountain bike race and probably some others that at the moment I really did forget! I’ve a queue of a half a dozen drafts in blogger as I write this! Also have a potential guest post on a blog that is much more popular than my own and an announcement about how this blog will be changing in the future. Wow! I may be busier now than in summer. I can’t complain though, can I? Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more adventures with you.

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.

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!!