I’ve postulated that the same reasons I love being car-free: the openness, interactions, realness, risk and adventure; are the same reasons most people don’t want to bike or ride public transit. If it’s hot, I sweat. If the road sucks, I feel every bump. It’s freeing, but also a reality that you can’t easily hide from by rolling up your windows, blasting music or turning on the AC, etc. Probably why people feel so damn safe in their car that they can’t imagine that they nearly killed you (and also why they get bent out of shape when you bang on their car!). This sense of safety may also partially explain why more than 25% of automobiles drivers take off after hitting a cyclist…
Anyway, I’ve got a little story about being car-free and adventure. It started Wednesday night with a super awesome gesture from Jack. Remember the $100 Craigslist Benotto I bought last year? The one I broke the cranks on. I lost a few chainring bolts so I swung by for some new ones. He went up to his elevated workspace and I noticed an exact replica of the Bianchi steel frame I rode for years as a fixed gear, raced 508 with on Team Bonobo and then broke shortly thereafter. He said it was a friend’s and was working on it quickly before he replaced my bolts. I was hanging out with his housemates, we’re all shooting the shit and he’s plucking away on this bike. Then I see him working on the Benotto. Finally. I was getting hungry.
Then he passes down my old, broken Bianchi and I reminisce. Ah, Go Vegan! and Converge stickers. Then he comes down with the other Bianchi that has all the Benotto parts on it! ‘Dude, that bike was sketchy, I couldn’t let you ride it. I thought you’d be stoked on the same bike you had before.’ So stoked!
We went and ate at Pure Luck and then I rode it the mile back to my house. Sweet, no more untightenable headset or sketchy, loose cranks! Is this bike now too nice to be my junker commuter?
Thursday- Work, Work, Ride to Airport
I’ve no qualm with packing my days tight. Thursday morning I woke up early to pack for my weekend in SF and was out the door by 830am to teach my 935am class. I ride to the Rapid bus on the new Bianchi. After class I have lunch and then a teacher training for my other job from 1230-330pm. Flight at 530pm, so just under an hour to go the 6 miles to the airport. I’ve ridden to LAX before and had just gotten done telling my co-workers how easy it is. Earlier I had felt the cog slipping a little, but I thought it was just settling. It looked okay. Then less than a mile away it’s slipping again. A lot. I look closely at the cog and it’s totally stripping the hub! Shit. I was 5 miles from the airport, on the side of the road with a stripped cog. Basically I couldn’t propel the bike forward.
But wait, I have a flip-flop hub! I could just thread it onto the other side and hand tighten it and hope for the best? I give it a go but the locknut won’t fit. There’s nothing to hold the cog tight.
40 minutes to get 5 miles with a broken bike.
My phone says over an hour to walk and do public transit. I call Brian and Jenny, who live 3 miles from the airport, whose house I’ve used to drop my bike off when I’ve flown with the break-away bike and had to go straight to work. Neither are home. So I tighten the cog down on the non-stripped side the best I can. With no lock nut. Basically I can pedal but can’t apply back pressure to slow down or the cog unthreads. It’s too sketchy to ride all the way to the airport, since I can’t stop. If I leave my bike at the Greenline station for the weekend any part not locked would be stolen. I aim for Brian and Jenny’s house. The plan is to hop their fence, leave the bike in the backyard and run to public transit.
25 minutes to get 3 miles
I pull up and knock to see if their houseguest is there. No luck. Then out of nowhere Jenny’s brother Alec rides up! Hey man! As I’m explaining my predicament I get a txt that my flight is delayed 30 minutes. Sweet! We open the garage and weigh my options. Try to fix it? Leave it and go on foot? Then he points to a beaten up beach cruiser. Dude, just take that. Score.
40 minutes to get 3 miles- on a beach cruiser!
Within minutes I’m riding the madness of Century Blvd toward LAX. When I ride I take the lane, comfortably. On a beach cruiser on a sketchy, fast westside road is something else. I actually had people slow down and look at me, not with anger, but perplexity. I am pedaling frantically while wearing a white button-up, nice jeans and dress shoes with these socks:
As I get close to the airport traffic slows, I wave to the security folks and cruise into Terminal One. I hop the curb and ride straight to the bike rack. Boom. Early. Possibly would have made the original flight time!
So my record stands: I’ve never missed a flight. Sure, I got lucky, but what is luck than just keeping options open and having Faith in Vagueness? Now I just need to figure out how I’m getting to work Tuesday morning…
I like to boast that I don’t really follow a training plan, but that is only partially true. I definitely do not have one of those blogs that list numbers and charts and all sorts of info that only a tiny tiny fraction of the world understands (I’m not a part of that percentage) and won’t turn this into one. Even if I do buy a heart monitor. Or a GPS. But I do (attempt to!) follow the base-build-peak plan popularized by Joe Friel.
If you are one of the people who follow my site only for vegan nutrition stuff, I apologize. But I promise this post won’t be too techy!
Now I have a few complications with the base-build-peak plan. One is that I’m incredibly bad at planning more than a few months in advance. Another is that I tend to do really long events- longer than most people’s longest base-mileage rides. Lastly, and related to the second point, is a little race called the Furnace Creek 508. I’ve raced solo the previous three years and since it’s in October, it really screws with my ‘peak’. Last year I never really peaked at all and I suffered for it. This year I am not racing the 508 and am attempting a more normal schedule.
That means lots of winter miles! One fun way to get these miles is on brevets: self-supported, long-distance rides. There’s no support, only a route sheet, start time and ‘controls’ where you need to get your brevet card signed and/or a receipt to prove you were there. I wrote a little about them and qualifying for Paris-Brest-Paris last month. Since then I rode a 200k with Mike Sz in Orange County where we stopped for coffee and burritos and took 12 hours to finish, the Point Reyes 200k in SF, where I rode hard on a beautiful day and finished in under 8 hours. This past weekend I headed to San Diego to ride their club’s 300k. My next post will be that story: experiencing all four seasons in one ride.
Brevets are randonneuring rides; each club usually does a series: 200k, 300k, 400k and 600k, all of which are approved by the national randonneuring group and are qualifications for the big one: 1200k. Sound insane? It’s not. The routes are great, the time limits are healthy and the riders and organizers are often very inclusive. I highly recommend you get out and ride one: official USA Randonneur calendar here or a California brevets schedule I made: http://tinyurl.com/CAbrevets2011.
My approach for training is that it is much more than cardiovascular and muscular fitness. If that’s all it was, then I’d say stay home and ride your trainer for hours every day. But most people don’t quit events because they don’t have the fitness, they quit because they didn’t prepare mentally or something unexpected happened and they were unprepared. How do you know how much water to drink? You need to get out there and get dehydrated. And bonk. And yes, be miserable. On brevets there’s no aid stations to count down to. Only yourself and your ability to find food and water out in the world. When you become dependent on yourself, you’ll be more prepared for any event you have planned in the future.
That 200k in SF? It was awesome. First off, I met the legendary ultra-runner Ann Trason (<–read this interview!), and was star struck. Yes, she was riding it. And it was a perfect day for cycling: favorable winds, sun all day and sleeves and vest temperatures. Nice to know I could concentrate and comfortably put out 125 miles in under 8 hours. Last weekend’s 300k? The opposite. It’s going to get its own post because it was a wake-up call about all that can happen when on your bike all day…
Note that Spring is only 3.5 weeks away! I hope all of you, no matter what your interests are, are out there getting ready to do what you do. Remember, Demand the Impossible!
What I’m looking at today:
– Banksy is in LA and killing it.
-My friend Dan Koeppel wrote about Andrew Skurka circling Alaska, 4679 miles, by foot, raft and skis in National Geographic.
-I also love quotes and here’s a collection on Vegan Activist.
And since I referenced Public Enemy in the title, I’ll end with them:
Back in December when a crew of us ran the Ridgecrest 50k, Morgan ‘Goat‘ Beeby suggested a Run and Curry Day: a trail run in the San Gabriel mountains and post-run Balti at his place in Pasadena (recipe below!). This past Saturday opened up for a few of us and we decided to go for it. Stoked.
Ends up my friend Maria from Chicago, fresh off her win at the Rocky Raccoon 50-miler, would be in town hanging with the Moeben crew and free to join us. A friend of a friend who just moved here from Pittsburgh via Colorado met her and I at Union Station for the train ride to Pasadena. In true Morgan style and British politeness, he met us at the train on his bike, took our extra stuff and rode it to his house while we took a rapid bus to the base of the mountains. Minutes later he rolled up, locked his bike and we were ready to run.
I love the San Gabriel mountains (I was devastated when the fires hit them hard). So much adventure has been had there, but mostly by mountain or road bike. I’ve hiked there a few times, but, like many cyclists, hiking feels too slow. Could trail running be a ‘slower than riding but faster than walking’ mix of adrenaline and nature? We headed through Alta Dena on streets before hitting Eaton Canyon and heading up steep, exposed, Mt Wilson Toll Road. I hate the first climb of the day! Especially in the heat. I wanted to call the WHAAAmbulance, but I knew I’d settle in and we’d be out of the sun shortly. Poor Matthew had a stomach issue from the start and never recovered, but continued on.
At Henninger Flats we saw some ultra runners on their way down (I imagine they don’t start at 1pm! haha). They may have thought we were making fun of them, but our excitement is genuine! From here we climbed a dirt road for another mile before it turned left across a bridge onto Idlehour trail. Here we met Morgan’s friend Chris and the single track began. I had never been on this trail and it was super fun to run. Almost two miles of technical downhill. Morgan dropped the hammer in his boat shoes and I could barely hang on. Within 15 minutes we hit the beautiful Idlehour campground, located deep in the canyon, almost completely tree-covered. Morgan and I couldn’t resist the draw of the open water and took a very quick, very cold dunk in the stream.
A few miles uphill, doing a mix of running and fast hiking, and we were at Inspiration Point. From here we hit Upper Sam Merrill trail, which I have ridden before. Again Morgan set the down hill pace and it was exhilarating!
Morgan and I separated from the others and we were chatting away, jumping off and over rocks and railing the tight turns, when we heard someone yelling from a canyon deep in the mountains. We stop and notice someone waving their arms. Is someone hurt? Shit. Then we hear, ‘It’s Jeff!’ Crazy! He was going to come on our run, but had decided that morning to ride road to Mt Wilson instead. When he got home and it wasn’t dinner time yet he drove up to Pasadena and tried to run toward us. Ha! He was descending from Inspiration Point on another trail but had heard our voices. I guess being loud and talking a lot has its advantages? We all headed toward Echo Mountain and regrouped before the final 2.5 miles of trail down to the road.
Back at Morgan’s we all helped with the final steps of the Balti. It has been so long this I have eaten this dish! We grubbed hard and reflected on the beautiful 15-mile run. Friends, trail running, cold water, huge mountains, huge views and curry = awesome day.
This Balti is from an old-time LA bike activist named Oisin, who I believe moved from LA in 2006. He raced the very first Feel My Legs (photo here). I really had to dig to find this recipe! I kept the weird UK English for authenticity.
The Balti Sauce
Makes 1L (~1 3/4 pints)
3 Tbsp veg oil (olive preferable)
2cm cube (3/4 inch) grated fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove pressed or minced
5 onions chopped fine
4 tomatoes (plum/roma are best)
2 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp ground cumin seed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 bay leaves
4 brown cardamom pods (slightly broken open by crushing w/ knife blade)
1 1/2 tsp dried methi (the leaves of fenugreek)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1. Heat oil in large saucepan
2. stir in ginger and garlic
3. add onions, saute til translucent
4. add 250 mL water, bring to boil while stirring
5. add tomatoes, all spices
6. cover pan, turn heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes
7. remove bay leaves and cardamom pods
8. cool and liquidise
You can make a still very tasty version with just oil, onions, ginger,
garlic, tomato, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, chili, salt, fresh
coriander (1/4 cup)
Pepper, Potato, Mushroom Balti
1 lb potatoes peeled
1/2 – 3/4 lb mushrooms sliced
4 large green and/or red peppers sliced
8-10 Tbsp veg. oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 onions chopped
4 cm cube fresh ginger grated
6 garlic cloves crushed/pressed
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pt (600 mL) Balti sauce (see above)
1 heaped tsp garam masala
2-4 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1. boil potatoes in salted water until just tender. Drain. Cube.
2. heat 4 Tbsp veg oil add onions and saute until translucent. remove from pan.
3. heat remaining 6 Tbsp oil. add potatoes and lightly brown for circa 8 minutes
4. add garlic and ginger and cumin seeds
5. stir vigourously making sure to coat potatoes for about 30 seconds
6. add chili, salt, stirfry 1 minute
7. add mushrooms, green peppers, stirfry 2 minutes
8. add Balti sauce, stir
9. add garam masala, coriander
10. turn heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes stirring often
Note, the oil content can be reduced to make it healthier, but I figure I’d rather just eat less of it and have it taste good. I use olive oil because I think it makes it taste richer, but you can use any vegetable oil. If using olive oil then bear in mind that it burns at a lower temperature than canola/sunflower. I also add lots more red and green peppers and sometimes okra.
–The Moral Crusade Against Foodies is a fantastic article in the Atlantic. Worth reading in its entirety. A choice quote, “Here too, though, an at least half-serious moral logic is at work, backed up by the subculture’s distinct body of myth, which combines half-understood evolutionary theory with the biblical idea of man as born lord of the world.”
–Fifty Most Powerful Food Folk in America from the Daily Meal.
–Coconut Bliss is now majority owned by a dairy farm. A small, organic, family-run dairy farm, but definitely controversial. Twenty-two year old me would not buy it anymore, but 32 year old me understands the complications of running a business and that we don’t exist in a vegan vacuum. Read the explanation and decide for yourself.
-From the above link is this visual explanation of the corporate nature of the organic industry. Giant corporations are the real problem and it makes buying anything all the more complicated.
–This Huffington Post Guide to Egypt has been in my queue to post since before they were bought by AOL for $315,000,000. See above comment or this article about how journalism and the readers will suffer the biggest blow from this buyout. You can also look at this collection of awesome Egyptian protest signs or this photo collection of women in the protests or just watch what Daily Show has to say.
I’ll leave you with a kick-ass (he-he) Bruce Lee quote:
“There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”￼
Last Tuesday evening, as I sat in a coffee shop in San Luis Obispo (SLO) and wrote about my train ride and upcoming bike ride from SLO to LA, I could feel the sickness I had been fighting for days creeping up. I was in denial, but by the time I met up with Mike at the train station I knew it was upon me. As mentioned, I ate vegan Thai and even though I brought him some, we were still hungry enough for post-dinner burritos. Carb loading? Not that it did any good because at 5am I awoke with a very unhappy stomach. Let’s just say there was no carb loading happening. Yeah. And my throat hurt! When the alarm went off at 6am I didn’t want to go anywhere! Lacy’s sister Taylor awesomely had let us crash on her couches and was up doing work while Mike and I hid under the covers talking about how cold it was out.
Back at my favorite coffee shop by 7am, we discussed Egypt and what to call the pumpkin chocolate chip baked good we were both eating (muffin? cupcake? does it matter?) while time passed. How’s that saying go? A journey of a thousand miles begins with a questionable baked good and procrastination? Cool.
We rolled out of SLO in sub-40 temps, under a clear sky. Mike’s longest ride to date was our 12-hour hangout fest, the OC 200k. He’s signed up for the Death Valley double century at the end of the month and thought a 210-mile ride would be good training. Outside of Oceano (aren’t we at war with them?) we were turned away from the normal route due to construction and instead of back-tracking (I hate back-tracking!!) we cut through a farm, pictured above. Fun. The area is somewhat familiar to me because I rode SF-LA in Sept and also rode the Solvang double century out here six years ago (Matt Provost on fixed and naked mile!!).
We rolled into Guadalupe, a tiny little town that I love. I must really love it because I took 60% of my photos here and only one afterward. Ha. It’s at this point in the trip we are definitely having fun, but getting nervous about the time. See, we had hoped to leave at 7am. We left at 8am. I thought it would take about 14 hours and it took over 16. Three hours is a big deal because it’s the difference between home at 10pm and home at 1am. The latter ended up not being that bad.
Most of the time we spent just chatting away about riding, life and some upcoming events we both have. We set tiny goals. A quick break in Lompoc at the Fresh and Easy (free coffee!) and then a meal in Santa Barbara. In SB we swung by our friend Jim’s new shop, Cranky’s, which may be the first time I have seen FBM bikes next to Colnagos. Then we ate burritos. Then it got colder and we were getting a little worried. It was after 5pm and we were a hundred miles from home. My sickness wasn’t killing me, but it had me feeling colder than usual. Luckily Mike was on it! He took some big pulls and really kept us moving quickly.
The sun set and we rolled south. Ventura, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, familiar, but far-from-home places. I’ve ridden out here plenty, including the LA-SB-LA back-to-back ride I did a few summers ago. How does one ride all day? It’s not much different than existing. You are just on your bike and in someways it is comforting because with every passing minute you are closer to your goal. It’s more tangible than many goals in life! It’s not a secret that 9-5 work in an office is scary to me. When I’m asked, what do you think about on these long rides I respond with the same question about what people think about all week at work.
There’s this part of the PCH in Ventura County where you are back on the coast after some inland riding. It’s so beautiful. By now it’s late at night and the pressure to get home has been replaced with a feeling of privilege to be out where we are. The sky was full of stars, the waves were crashing against the beach and there wasn’t a car on the road to ruin it. Stoked.
The route down the PCH past Mulholland Drive, Leo Carillo, Decker Canyon and other familiar, often-ridden spots is usually accompanied by a southerly wind. Not this night. We had a slight headwind most of the time, but it wasn’t a killer. We just couldn’t stop too long because we’d get cold! Before too long we had turned inland and were on the 15-mile home stretch through urban Los Angeles. Sasha had just gotten home from Pure Luck and made us burritos which were quickly devoured. I was too cold and tired to shower and fell asleep shivering. Apparently I was also too tired to realize that the window next to my bed was wide open.
I spent the next few days full-on sick, but am so glad this trip happened. I can’t recommend riding the California coast enough! Do it while you can. Before that California super storm comes and obliterates the whole state.
This past weekend I bailed on riding the Orange County 300k because I was still sick from last week. Riding 210 miles on Wednesday while sick definitely did not help me get better (a post about that ride coming soon!). So I flaked and instead hung out hard. Fifty-five chill miles Saturday with a posse riding some of my favorite climbs near the Rose Bowl. Then dinner at one of my favorite spots in the LA area, Happy Family. It’s all vegan, which is good. It’s an all-you-can-eat menu where each dish is made to order and that’s great. AND it’s some of the best Chinese food I’ve had in California, which is unbelievable. Win-win-win.
Sunday some friends had a vegan brunch unrelated to the sporting event, but I ate cinnamon rolls as if it was a sporting event of its own. Then we rode around the neighborhood and visited friends who have recently moved here. East Hollywood represent!
Lastly I’d like to share what I’ve been listening to over and over. Enjoy.
Today, this deserves its own post.
- Suburbs pollute more than cities on the great Infrastructurist.com
- The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are out and this is a big deal! Marion Nestle gives her kick-ass two cents
- The Exceptional American Beliefs about Mobility and Inequality has a research-based visual on something I’ve tried over and over to explain to people…
- How Cars Won the Early Battle for the Streets discusses how roads were originally for people, until automobile interests started a PR campaign. Not sure I can use the term ‘jaywalking’ any more.
- Alison, who I posted about last week, came to some conclusions about being a vegan strength athlete
- Oprah and her staff go vegan for a week and vegans on the twittersphere go nuts. My view is that ‘vegan-ish’ diets lead to more vegan food, more vegans and more knowledge about the treatment of animals for food. I fully support vegan-ish because 15 years ago the most militant vegans I knew now eat meat and the vegan-ish folks are still vegan-ish. Michael Pollan continually justifying eating animals? Not so much. More about the book that started it.
today I had the wonderful experience of riding the train from Oakland to San Luis Obispo. I’m meeting up with my good friend Mike, who right now is on a train here from LA, and tomorrow morning we tackle the 200-mile ride back home.
Travel in general, and trains specifically, are great for reflecting. Staring off into the beautiful mountain ranges, with the sun in the background, I realized that 10 years ago I was living in Central America and planning for my first ever bike tour. I had just graduated college, was stoked on living life and had places to be. So many new experiences were awaiting and I awoke every morning with an excitement for the future.
A lot of this excitement, in retrospect, comes from going. The simple act of getting from one place to another. One of my best memories of Belize is the first view you have when you exit the airport. BAM! Another country. My first time in Latin America. Ten years ago I also went to Chiapas for the first time and the bus ride through the mountains of Southern Mexico is still one of the most exciting things I have ever done.
I don’t have a philosophy per se, but I did make the conscious effort about 10 years ago that my political focus was going to be food and transportation. Why? Because everyone eats and everyone travels. Both are inherent political acts (denying they are is political!). And you know what? Both can be super fun! When my students complain about not having time to cook I ask them if they have time to spend with family. Or time to learn a valuable skill. If so, you have time to cook. Recognizing that eating and traveling are political acts is one thing, making them fun and awesome is another.
So here I sit in my favorite coffee shop (which I have been to many times, though I often forget the name) 200 miles from home, stoked to ride back. Like my trips across the country, I’ve traveled the California coast by plane, bus, train, car and bike (would love to walk or kayak, get in touch if you’ve got ideas!). Guess which is the most fun?
I get asked often to help people come up with training plans. It’s hard for me because I hate exercise for the sake of exercise. I ran 10 miles last weekend in the Berkeley hills and I was struggling…then I realized I hadn’t run since the Calico 50k. Oops. I had just forgotten to run.
My training advice is this:
Find physical activity you like.
Do it often.
Keep it fun.
Find unorthodox ways and places to do it.
Sign up for events that are over your head.
When it gets boring, find something else.
Now, unsurprisingly, I’m off to the local vegan Thai restaurant. Whatever you are up to tomorrow, enjoy it!