Though you wouldn’t know it here in chilly, rainy Los Angeles, Spring has arrived. This is very exciting but also makes me a little anxious! I’ve a pretty even split in my lifestyle between working hard in the winter- working as in someone giving me money in exchange for my time and energy- and working on fun in the summer. Fall and Spring make me anxious because I’m still doing one while fretting about the other! Can you say #firstworldproblems? When I was 16 and had the brilliant idea to quit my Subway job and pay an even younger kid in the neighborhood to do my paper route for the summer while I traveled the country to ride BMX. Unbeknownst that 16 years later I’d have the same philosophy.
So. I’ve been working a lot. Still traveling a lot when I can. And most importantly getting ready for some big adventures. One is sooner than I’d like it to be, but such is life. What is it? A long post on that very soon. Let’s just say that I’ve had to purchase a GPS device, new lighting systems and lightweight camp gear. For now, here’s some links that I’ve come across while working. Enjoy. Have an awesome first full weekend of Spring!
–Praise the Lard? Recent research shows that going to church events increases one’s risk of obesity.
It’s official! This race will be held on Sunday April 10th. It’s the same day as CicLAvia, which we’ll enjoy when we’re done.
Meet at Sunset Blvd and Griffith Park Blvd, where the Farmers Market is on Saturdays at 745am.
If you are unfamiliar, this is a stage ‘race’ on 10 of the hardest hills in Los Angeles. We ride as a group between hills and then each hill is its own race with points awarded for 1st through 5th. We re-group and ride together to the next hill. It’s based on Danny Chew’s Dirty Dozen. Most riders are out there just to accomplish all 10 hills in one day, which is no small feat. The write-up from 2010 has lots of info and links as does the Feel My Legs tab on my site. Please familiarize yourself with the event’s history to get an idea of how fun and challenging it is. I’ll be posting more info in the upcoming weeks!
Previous year’s route, which will likely stay the same:
It had been dark a few hours, after I had suffered in the dry heat of Temecula (with no sun block! argh!), and I was riding along the Santa Ana River Trail heading toward the ocean from Corona. I heard my phone beeping with a txt message and knew I was nearing a spot Mike and I had stopped on back on the 300k. I only wanted to stop somewhere I could pee and get water at the same time (literally). The txt was from Sasha, asking me how I was doing and what mile I was at. The answer: Great and 205. I was surprised. I felt really, really good. Then I realized, that outside of the Furnace Creek 508, I didn’t ride a single double century last year. Or even a really long ride outside of 2 solo 24-hour mountain bike races. I only rode one double in 2009 (the Alta Alpina Challenge which is SO great).
Was that a break from really long distance? Is it new again? My only thought at the time: I just really do love to ride my bike. It’s that simple sometimes. I can’t explain it any more. It’s just like I felt when I was six and tooling around on my BMX. The joy is beyond words.
The route for the 400k had coast, desert, mountains, lakes, repeat. I rolled with a fast group for too long, got a flat, went to a bike shop off route (thanks to my friend Steve and the folks at Redlands Cyclery! I was like a rockstar rolling in at mile 150 with over a hundred to go. They totally took care of me and my squeaky bike!). Rode through Loma Linda (my alma mater!) and the new-ish north-of-Corona Santa Ana River Trail. Also got lost twice and carried my bike though a construction site and over a hill to get back on route.
Finished about midnight. 19 hours. I was a bit silly as I was on only 3 hours sleep to begin with. Willie, the organizer, and I rode together a fair bit of the last 30 miles. My friend Shaun, who was on fixed gear, and I carpooled so I napped in Willie’s living room while I waited. He didn’t get in till 6am (25 hours!) mostly because he stayed with some slower folks to help them through the night. Sleeping in the organizer’s living room, how many events offer that?
We drove back to LA around 7am, drank some coffee and Shaun headed home. When my housemates woke up an hour later we went mountain biking in Cheeseboro Canyon. Good training, right? Finished off the day with some Vinh Loi Tofu.
Maybe too epic too soon? It’s not even Spring yet and I’m counting down the days to summer.
My love for bikes started really young. I was riding without training wheels at 3 and racing BMX by 4. I was in the 5 and Under category at my local track where an adult helped you push your bike up the starting hill and then held your rear wheel so you could balance against the gate. You got to ride the same track and jumps as the older kids! I thought it was best thing ever and it didn’t take long before I was finding or building jumps in the woods and trying to ride skateboard ramps. I had two concussions before I was 7, but that didn’t stop me from riding all over my neighborhood and beyond. Once my neighbor found me 3 miles from home riding off some curbs. She was so exasperated that she put me and my bike in her car and drove me home!
I wasn’t that interested in traditional sports or being told when and how to do something. BMX was an outcast thing to do, like being punk or vegan, and even at 7 years old you have an idea of this. Then in 1986 the movie RAD came out. BMX on the big screen! Sure, there was BMX Bandits (with Nicole Kidman!) before that, but BMX was an aside, it wasn’t about BMX. RAD is. And it’s as cheesy as it is amazing to a 7 year old BMXer. My friends and I studied that movie. We looked up the stunt doubles in BMX magazines. We learned the names of any of the tricks we didn’t know. We built bigger jumps. We felt like bad-asses tearing around on our bikes doing tricks. Hell yeah I’d skip the SAT’s to ride Hell Track!
So my good friend Lisa Auerbach, who crewed 508 last year and took all of those great photos, organizes Bike Night at the Hammer museum every year. She picks a bike film to show in the theater and has drinks and vegan food beforehand. In 2009 it was Breaking Away and last year it was PeeWee’s Big Adventure with Paul Reuben there to introduce it! So fun. This year she chose the movie RAD. It also happens to be the 25th anniversary! The Hammer searched high and low to find possibly the last remaining 35mm print, the Director will likely be introducing it and the original BMX bikes will be there on display. Seriously, does it get any more rad than that?
Thursday, April 14th at 7pm. Details on the Hammer website. Also check out RAD: The Movie. Please pass this on and help promote this super rad (okay, last time) event. Trailer below.
Yo! First off, you know Spring is creeping around the corner by the number of packages on my doorstep today. I need a word that = stokedx10. Since Rapha ruined ‘epic’ I’m running low on descriptors. Back to the goods: stuff from Mountain Hardwear,Princeton Tec, Carousel Designs, and lastly, Niner (via Cranky’s bike shop!!). Word! Hard to imagine I’m only in the 4th week of the semester for teaching. Come on spring break!
Okay, beyond material possessions, I want to report that my friend Aidan Harding is in the Alaskan wilderness right now doing the 1100-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational. He raced the 350-mile version two years ago, the year it was extra gnarly. He’s the dude who got 4th overall and 1st single-speed at the 2010 Tour Divide. Only 10 hours off of the single-speed record! Fortunately I got to ride with him last summer before he headed back across the pond. So If you are one of the few people in the world who thinks an 1100-mile mountain bike race in the Alaskan winter is interesting, you can follow his progress online. Go Aidan! His partner, who is an ultra-distance swimmer, is also regularly updating his website with what she knows. 1100 miles. In the Alaska Wilderness. Sit on that for a minute.
Back in Los Angeles, the City Bicycle Plan passed unanimously at City Hall, despite the complaints of well-to-do horse-people, and was signed by the Mayor today. On twitter the #LAbikeplan hashcode actually trended in Los Angeles. Yes, it’s only a plan and implementation will be a challenge, but the Plan has come a really long way. Originally it was a crappy, nearly non-sensical document that used terms like ‘infeasible’ to describe city streets in relation to bicycling. Then activists stepped up and had their own meetings. And made their own plans. Their volunteer work changed the half-million dollar city plan to something useful and, imagine this, even exciting! Props to all of you who put in work (I wrote about their meetings, but never made it to any). The best coverage round-up is actually at the LA DOT Bike Blog and LA Streetsblog’s photo blog.
Back to work for me. It’s winter, when I’m suppose to be working a lot to save money to play a lot in the summer. You know, the same life plan I’ve had since I was 15 and delivered newspapers through the East Coast winter in order to spend the summer traveling and riding BMX. The jobs and bikes have changed, but not much else. Thanks for reading!
This ride was one of those times where if I wasn’t signed up there’s no way I would have ridden. Mike Sz and I drove down to SD Fri afternoon to my friends Stu and Liz’s house in Ocean Beach. I love this neighborhood! People’s Co-op, Liticker’s Liquor vegan burritos (for real!), the beach, hippies….so fun to hang out there. Except when it’s pouring rain. And windy. And cold. We went to sleep with the wind blowing and the rain pounding on the windows not feeling excited about riding 187 miles on Saturday.
At 445am we woke up and looked at each other all, ‘I won’t go if you call it, but no way am I going to be the one to call it.’ So we stubbornly got ready. I mapped coffee on the way to the start, but the exit ramp was closed. Good thing too because we barely were ready in time for the group start. But we were. Stoked. Rolling out with about 20 cyclists ready for a full day of cycling.
Then Mike flats. Damn! We’re chillin, but hustlin, if that’s possible. Pick up another guy, ride that part of the freeway you ride out of Oceanside, then the awesome, mud-filled tunnel under said freeway and the cruise through the beach parks. Two other guys we picked up talked incessantly about finances which was driving Mike wild.
First control: bagels and coffee. We set a time limit for hanging out, but that includes serious amounts of coffee and bagels cause we’ve been without either and awake for over 4 hours. So far the weather is chilly and overcast, but no rain. We’re chatting with some kids about what we’re up to when I notice the van parked in front of the bagel shack is giving out orange juice and gels. Whaaaa? Sweet. Oh wait, they are not for us. Apparently Mr Finances has personal sag. I know this goes against the ‘self-supported’ philosophy of randonneuring, but I thought it was also disallowed. Turns out that I am wrong and Ye Olden Rules for Randonneuring allow personal support at controls. Huh.
From here, the route rolls up the coast to Newport Beach we’re we jump on the Santa Ana River Trail. It’s starting to rain hard enough to require my rain jacket and I’m putting it on while riding when I hear, ‘yo is that Matt Ruscigno?’ It’s my friend Robbie Miranda! He’s a recent roadie and Wolf Pack Hustle rider, but is better known as the legendary BMX racer:
He’s riding with his wife, who is pulling their child in a trailer. So awesome. When I explain what I’m up to he says he wants to come along. Seriously, was about to ride the rest of the 120 miles with us on a whim. I wasn’t surprised at all. He decided he couldn’t do it and we said our good-byes. Not long after that we rode near Sheep Hills, the also legendary BMX trails I dreamed about when I was a kid (though when I first got there in 1996 I was extremely disappointed because they were not nearly as good as my local trails, NAM or Posh).
I’ve ridden the Santa Ana river trail before, but, only once, on the first day of my two month bike tour from California to Belize, have I ridden it in its entirety. The rain came and went and as we winded through the mountain pass along the river our alertness was more similar to mountain climbing than cycling. We ate a quick, late lunch in Corona where we continued south, with the mountains to our right. We were racing the mountain storms! Would they reach us before it got dark?
Rain is tricky. If it’s not too cold, it’s not that big of a deal. But it hit us right as the sun went down, the temperature dropped to about 40 and we were heading into the mountains. What was it that I said about mountaineering? I was wearing my fancy new Mountain Hardware Goretex jacket that felt like it was overkill- until it was cold and pouring. And hailing. Wearing it was a wise decision. Leaving behind my waterproof pants and gloves? Not one. Though my core was dry so I stayed warm. Mike on the other hand did not have a jacket that held up as well and he was suffering. In Escondido, the control was at a fast food joint and here the riders who had been out in front of us were holed up. Nearly the rest of the ride came in behind us.
It looked rough. One guy was sitting, slowly eating chili and was not only wearing his helmet, but his headlamp was still on. Mike could barely function. I mean here we are: 170 miles in, with the last 20 or so being done in cold, hard rain. We were on about 4 hours sleep. We took off our wet socks and squeezed the water out. Mike stared into space. I got us coffee and we joked with the others about how it was surprisingly bad (sarcasm still works with exhaustion). We definitely all felt the camaraderie that randonneuring is about. Well, with everyone except Mr Personal Sag who changed into dry clothing in the restroom.
The last 15 miles included a serious canyon descent. The danger is increased by not only the rain, but the debris that the rain pushes into the road. Our fatigue slows reaction time. Then Mike flatted again. Is shiveringly a word? We shiveringly repaired it in record time. In the last few miles the rain actually let up a bit and we laughed about the 15 hours we had spent riding.
Back at the amtrak station we signed in with the volunteer, ate some apples and suddenly, when it came to putting on dry clothes, we had plenty of energy. We drove back to Ocean Beach and I’ll give you one guess what we had for dinner.
Out riding around the next day I spotted this gem:
Anyone riding the Orange County 400k this weekend?