Uncertain Paths

Riding up the PCH coast at 4am. Nothing is ever clear!

I guess it’s obvious, based on my last post and this one, that I’m doing some reminiscing.  It’s too easy to forget about what we’ve done and have experienced in the past, even though this is what has made us who we are. Not only to remember the good times and get re-stoked, but to remember the hard times we have struggled through. Isn’t there some quote about hard people coming out of hard times?

My Great Uncle died last week. And as someone who never knew my grandfathers, he was a grandfather to me. And since he lived here in California I’ve seen him more over the previous 6 years than I have my own father. I stayed with him when I raced my first serious triathlon in 2006 and he came to the finish.  As a stubbornly independent person I never asked him to come- or even considered that he might. But he did. Even though we are blood he didn’t know much about me outside of being a traveler who shunned work and authority. But finishing that race seemed to prove to him that I could work hard at something and do well. I earned his respect. That quality- forcing people to earn your respect- is something I hold very dear. Maybe it’s the New York in me, but I don’t think there is enough of that in the world and it made me proud to earn the respect of someone I look up to.

Even in his last days he was super coherent and intellectually above most people I communicate with. He forced me to think about every word I said as I knew it could be challenged or need to be justified. Another solid trait- not letting people get away with bullshit. He also had a giant TV, the first HD one I had ever seen, and we’d watch nature shows. One time surfing came on and we talked about my cousin’s husband and their surf shop.  He told me that he had never understood ‘extreme’ sports until he saw this (and again, showed admiration and pride in his family members not only surfing but having the know-how to open a successful shop). He articulated in a way I never could how he ‘got it’ and riding a wave through an ocean appeared to be the most beautiful experience in the world.

When someone close to you dies the lesson is obvious: life is short and there’s no guarantee how long it will last. It’s all very cliche, but what would you do knowing you would die soon?  I’m a committed procrastinator so the ‘get out and do it!’ lesson is for me as much as it is for you.

My Uncle Bob’s admiration of surfing touched me.  I’d tell myself, ‘I need to try and surf some more’ but there were always things in the way. Well, those things are what is between me and living life. I’m going surfing Tuesday morning, two days after his memorial. I can’t think of anything that would be more important, or more fun.  Thank you, Uncle Bob.

Uncle Bob and I in 2007

Following Le Tour and Why I Love the Norwegians

The view from a hill in Eidfjord, Norway when I was there in 2007.

Often I am indifferent about the Tour De France and road racing. I’m just not big on watching anything, really. But a giant tv with cable and free time has changed that this year. I wake up each morning and flip on the tv to catch the last hour or so. I’m actually learning racers names and teams! And watching the Norwegians kick ass has been a treat! I had the fantastic opportunity to visit Norway in 2007 when I went to Europe for the Norseman iron-distance race and Paris-Brest-Paris. 2011 is a ‘PBP Year’ as randos like to to say, and I gave serious consideration to getting out there again, but alas couldn’t make it.

Back to Norway and Norwegians. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that the Norwegians are the nicest people I have ever met. I think this comes across in their post-race interviews; they are so stoked and happy without being arrogant (like that green jersey wearing guy). I went out a week early for Norseman and scoped out Oslo a few days on my own and then with my close friend Max who came out to crew the race.  Norwegians have this pride in being friendly that is apparent soon after your first conversation. For example at Norseman I missed the cut-off on the run to finish on the mountaintop and the organizer hugged me! Not like an ‘oh it’ll be okay’ hug, but a serious embrace! I’ll never forget that. They are like the Norwegian terrain, super rugged. But it’s as if that ruggedness has taught them what it is like to suffer so they balance it with softness. Their socialized medicine and anti-lawsuits government is pretty good proof, if you ask me.

As I sit here stoked on bike racing and Norway, I’d like to share some of my photos from that trip. Enjoy!

Norway loves bicycles
Even in 2007 Oslo had a bike-sharing program. We rode them all over the city including to the sculpture museum
Even rode the public bike on a public halfpipe! Community!
Oslo street riding
An exhibit about gay animals at the Natural History Museum. How cool is that?
Action Speaks Louder Than Words! Listen up, California people.
In Oslo there were a few totally vegetarian places including this buffet.
The world is beautiful.
We got to Eidfjord a day before the community center was open for racers to sleep in so we slept in a shed behind a school. This is the view out the window when we woke up. One of my favorite photos ever.

My photos are public if you’d like to see more of the Norseman race or exploring Norway. I don’t think we’re going to see any Norwegians on the podium at the tour (personally I’m pulling for Cadel Evans because of his mountain bike background), but their impression on the 2011 Tour is undeniable.  If you’re watching, who are you pulling for and why?

Day in the Life 4; Professional Cyclist Cara Gillis, Part Two: Intervals

Last week, in part of one of our episode with pro cyclist Cara Gillis we learned about her background in veganism, philosophy and pro cycling. Today, we ride! And boy do we ride. One thing that immediately impresses you about Cara is her diligence in following a training plan and her intelligent use of intervals. It has shown me the importance of having a good plan and following it closely.
In Part 2 we head to Mt Washington, a famed climb in Northeast Los Angeles as I try to keep up with Cara on 1-minute intervals. One minute, that’s all, but it’s easier said than done!  We also speak with her coach Jeff Lawler about the importance of intervals and the most common mistake new cyclists make.

How amazing is Cara? I’m almost embarrassed at how quickly she dropped me. Almost. But not, because she is such a bad-ass.  Though I now know that I need to start doing better intervals! To recap Jeff, here are some tips to smartly introduce intervals.

Smart Intervals

-Hold the same pace for the entire length of the interval. A one-minute interval is not a 20 second sprint with 40 seconds of barely holding on…

-Give yourself a proper recovery time. Today we had a 3-minute rest for a 1-minute interval. You need enough time for your cardiovascular system and muscles to recover in order for them to push as hard in the subsequent intervals.

-Do at least four. If you are totally spent after two, you may need to adjust your pace or analyze if you are ready for intervals.

-Include a variety of lengths and intensities of intervals. Cara calls 20-minutes intervals the bread and (vegan) butter workout for fast cyclists. It’s a skill to figure out your pace and hold it for 20 minutes in itself. But learning that skill has huge payoffs.

-Intervals should happen a few times per week, max.

Thank you Cara and Jeff for spending your day with us. Cara would like to thank her team Missing Link Coaching Systems/Specialized, especially the directors who go out of their way to make sure she gets vegan food at races. That’s super cool. Even though she is not sponsored by them,  she wants me to mention Hammer Nutrition products because most of their stuff is vegan. When her team has sponsors that don’t make anything vegan she buys Hammer stuff on her own.

What did you learn from today’s episode? As always, thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time!

[If you enjoy these episodes please use the share button below. A lot of work goes into making these and we have no money or sponsors and only our friends and readers to spread the message that you can be vegan and an athlete. Help out if you can! Thank you.]

Day in the Life 3; Professional Cyclist Cara Gillis

So excited for today’s post. In the second episode of our Day in the Life Series, I spend the day with pro cyclist Cara Gillis. Cara isn’t just a fast road cyclist she is a P-R-O, PRO cyclist who races all over North American and Europe. She’s also an ethical vegan with a Philosophy PhD. And her coach is her husband, who is also a vegan athlete!  How cool is that? In the first of this two-part episode we meet up with them at the Hollywood Farmers Market and then make a fantastic lunch- with two of my favorite foods- watch the video to see what they are and why everyone should be eating them.

Ready to eat like a Pro? Cara passed on these two fantastic recipes t0 share with you.


Super Easy Kale Chips

Kale is a surprisingly flexible vegetable that can be used for everything from soups to sautés and even chips!

2 cups raw kale
Cooking spray
Salt to taste
Optional: Nutritional yeast

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Separate and wash kale leaves
-Cut the stems about one inch from the bottom of the leaves
-Spray each leaf lightly with cooking spray
-Lightly season with salt
-Place kale leaves directly onto oven racks, leaving small spaces between them
-Bake for 8-10 minutes, until crisp

Nutrition Info (recipe is one serving)
Calories- 66
Calorie breakdown- Carbohydrate 76%, Protein 12%, Fat 12%
Carbohydrate- 13g
Fat- 1g (242mg Omega-3)
Fiber- 2.6g
Iron- 2.2g
Calcium- 181mg

Awesome Sauce Stir-fry over Quinoa
Makes 4 servings

1.5 cups uncooked Quinoa
2 cups broccoli
3 cups snap peas
1 T canola oil or other high heat oil
1 16-ounce can chickpeas
2 T Bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce
4-5 T Sweet chili sauce
Optional: garlic chives

-Cook quinoa according to package directions in rice cooker or on stove top.
-Cut the ends off of the snap peas and the broccoli into bite-sized spears (use the stems too!).
-Heat pan to medium-high and add oil.
-Add broccoli and saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-Add snap peas and chives, if using, and saute for 3 minutes.
-Add chickpeas and sauces, stir, heat for 1 minute and turn off heat.

Nutrition Info (per serving)
Calorie breakdown- Carbohydrate 68%, Protein 15%, Fat 17%
Carbohydrate- 77g
Fat- 9g
Fiber- 13g
Iron- 6.5g
Calcium- 122mg
Zinc- 3.6mg

Join us for the second part of this episode later this week when we go out on a training ride. Cara and Jeff will share their secrets for getting faster without riding a ton of miles.  See you then and thanks for watching!