I am well aware that it is already Spring and this is a ‘favorite of 2012’ post, but hey, better late than never, right? I take a lot of photos. Some end up on facebook or instagram but most never make it off of my phone/camera. I was looking through all 1400 of them and thought I’d pick some of the ones I like best from last year.
Thanks for reading (and looking!) and thanks to everyone who was a part of this madness!
Winter is always a tough time for me. Yeah, yeah I live in Southern California, how hard can it be? Hard enough! Even though I basically have a degree in behavior change / healthy behavior, I still struggle sometimes myself. Isn’t that always the case? Anyway, I’ve a few half-written (okay, okay they are only in my head!) posts, but for now, since I’m on a video kick, here are a few I’m excited about. And if this site is about anything, it’s about me sharing exciting things.
This first is a fun video featuring my friend Cache, his partner Erin, their rescued companion Yeti and one of my favorite mountain bike trails in Southern California. Erin works at the super awesome Swvre shop, which is featured. Along with my old housemate Dave! And it’s made by my friends Sean and Ace.
Next is this video shows the Cyclocross World Championships recently held in the United States for the first time ever. If this video doesn’t give you chills, check your pulse.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The best activities are the ones where you are actively involved in the process. Like punk rock, where you see your favorite bands at tiny clubs and chat with the band members, the very best cyclocross racers in the world hang out with the fans. It’s healthier for us as individuals AND builds community. Win-win.
Please excuse this For Sale post, but I really need to sell this great bike!
This is my custom build Niner SIR 9 that’s perfect for endurance racing or as a dependable trail-shredding machine.
Niner S.I.R. 9, Medium, 1×10
Rockshock Reba Race fork with lockout
Full XT- cranks, shifter, derailleur, cassette, hydraulic disc brakes
Custom hand-built wheels- rear XT hub, front Shimano Alfine generator hub on 32-spoke Stan’s ZTR Arch Tubeless rims
Chris King headset
Shimano Pro stem, seatpost
WTB Wolverine 2.2 tubeless tires
Bashguard, single-speed chain guide, Rootbeer color
Has very low miles! This build would retail for over $5000, I’m asking only $2200. It’s someone’s dream bike, just not mine. I want to see it go to a good home where it will get the love and shredding it deserves.
SuperNova E3 Triple light (runs on the generator hub, insanely bright) +$200
Please send any questions or come give it a test ride. Bike currently located in San Diego.
Twenty-four hour mountain bike race on a whim? Why not? I’ve been riding a lot with my good friend Mark (who inspired my Risk is Real, Use It post, which you should read if you haven’t yet) and we’ve been talking about how 24-hour mountain bike races could help his Baja endurance motorcycle racing. We missed the Laguna Seca 24hr and just when I was thinking that there’s a serious lack of endurance mountain bike races within a day’s drive of Southern CA, I found the 24 Hours of the Enchanted Forest near Gallup, New Mexico. What’s a few extra hours in the car to hit some new trails?
These races are like a party in a campground with a bunch of riding happening. The 16-mile course, with the exception of the dirt road through staging, was fun single track. Sixteen miles of single track! Very few steep sections which made it the most single speed friendly course I have ever ridden. Didn’t have to walk a single section, even in the middle of the night and elevation above 8000 feet!
Spontaneity has it’s drawbacks, and one was that Mark had to work till 8pm Friday night. Yeah. Our friend Paul, a recent Super Randonneur, jumped in for the adventure and I invited my friend Timoni so we could drop her off in Sedona to see her partner (and get an extra driver!). If you are doing the math and with the time change, this puts us at the race at 8am- four hours before the start. Needless to say my total sleep time in the 36 hours before the race was 2 hours in the minivan. Adventure, right?
This was one of the largest fields I’ve ever raced- over 20 solo single speed and more than 70 total solo racers! I hadn’t raced a 24 hour in almost two years and I hadn’t trained for this, but that didn’t stop me from going out fast on the first lap. So dumb! Ha. The backside of the course had a 20 MPH section with berms and little jumps- I couldn’t help but go fast! A few laps later, and keep in mind that 3 laps is 48 miles of single track mountain biking, which tires out much more than your legs, and I see Mark at our camp spot. Oh no, the elevation and dryness has totally messed up his breathing! When I come around again they tell me my place and suddenly it turns into a race. “Here are your bottles and a bar, get out of here!” I try to reason that it’s too early to talk about placing but they don’t want to hear it and next thing I know I’m out for another lap.
These races are ‘slow’ enough that you can chat with others- which I did to no end. A woman on a 4-female team and I chatted for a good half a lap. She told me how great I was doing and I told her that any idiot can ride fast for 6 hours- the next 18 are what matters. And when I hear myself say, ‘the next 18’ I get a little nervous. What am I doing?
Night comes. I’m still enjoying the course and am loving the cooler temperatures. Fewer riders are out there and suddenly everyone asks about lap number and place. Turns out I’m back and forth for second place in single speed with a 24-hour rookie named Brian. Uh oh. First place was a lap up but Brian and I rode together for a little. He kept talking about how he needed to sleep. Those laps between midnight and 5am are an experience I cannot begin to describe. Everything is slow. And quiet. The forest consumes you. Your brain plays tricks on you. Am I lost? Am I riding in circles? Where is everyone? It didn’t help that the race organizers put skeletons and other enchanted beings along the course!
My new endurance cycling quote, ‘The first 40% is legs, the second 40% is mind. The last 20% is heart.”
Paul had cooked me up some veggie broth just before midnight and then headed to sleep- he needed to be alert enough to drive back right after the race. I roll through around 130am and the party has dissipated. I pound a yerba mate, eat a little, put on warmer clothes and head into the darkness. Two laps till daylight I tell myself. My legs have given their all for 40% and now my mind is suppose to take over, but it doesn’t want to.
At 3am the only person awake at the entire start/finish is the person who recorded my number. Dead quiet. I make the mistake of sitting down to eat. I feel sick and get super cold. Oh no! I wrap myself in my sleeping bag ‘just to warm up.’ Ugh. I sleep on the ground for about an hour and a half. At the first signs of daylight I groggily head out for another lap. My eyes are closing while I ride. I’m spaced out. I wonder what my equivalent Blood Alcohol Level would be. I focus on the beauty of the forest at dawn. What a privilege to be here! A team rider blasts past me and I imagine how pathetic I probably look barely moving forward.
At camp the smell of coffee is strong. People say good morning and congratulate me on riding still. I’m filthy and wearing the same kit I started with. Paul had made some hot food and coffee, but him and Mark don’t let me relax. My sleep put me back at 4th place. “Let’s go, I’m riding this lap with you.” Mark and I head out and I’m pretty stoked. Him and I first rode BMX bikes together almost 20 years ago! Then Brian rolls up to me. He’s full of energy. Wtf? For a moment we think we’re on the same lap. Are we tied in 2nd place with 3 hours left? Do we really have to duel it out? I’m not sure I want to say ‘fortunately’ or ‘unfortunately’ but he’s a lap up. No need to race. He rode all night.
Mark and I bomb the fast section. It’s dangerous, but oh so fun. I keep looking over my shoulder for that dreaded 1-99 number of a solo single speed racer. That last climb is like a mountain. Elevation still bothering me. And just to state the obvious, my ass hurts like you wouldn’t believe. Finally the start/finish tent is in sight. Lisa, the super human race director, shows me the stats. I’m in third securely. Unless fourth place finishes goes out for an hour an a half last lap I’m good. I’m thankful. But I don’t change out of my kit just yet- if we see him go by and attempt a last lap I have to give chase to hold onto that coveted podium place. Funny the way that works.
I don’t have to go out for another lap! I eat hot food and I lay in the dirt. Relaxation! Getting changed is the hardest thing I can imagine. I almost fell asleep part way through changing. Ha! We roll down to the tent, they count down to noon and the awards start immediately. They say their thank you’s and announce prizes for traveling the farthest to the race and Mark and I got 2nd place! Free giant container of electrolyte drink- what a super awesome thing to do. Thank you! Then podium stuff, then we pack up to head back to California.
On the way we stop at Macy’s European Cafe in Flagstaff for some vegan yuminess and I coordinate via text and the internet to realize that Cara Gillis’ Race Across America 2-person team (check out her vegan challenge!) is on the canyon road between Sedona, where we have to go, and Flagstaff. Yay! Driving down we cheer on all of the teams we see.
It was early Monday morning before I saw my own bed again. What an adventure! Thank you everyone at the 24 Hours of the Enchanted Forest for putting on a spectacular event. Next year they host the 24-hour National Championships and I’m sure it’ll be great. Not sure, I’ll be there, but maybe?
Lastly, here’s an unbelievable skate video. This is how I feel when I mountain bike on fun trails. Have a great weekend! Stay stoked!
I was tossing and turning in bed- I hadn’t been sleeping well recently. I had that familiar feeling where you know you’re alarm is going off soon- and you want nothing more than to return to deep sleep. It didn’t come and I looked at my phone- 315am. Early, but only 30 minutes earlier than my alarm was set for. I got out of bed and faced the reality of my day: The Dirty Double Century. I said hi to my housemate who was just getting in (good morning? good night?), loaded up my borrowed car (thanks Paul!), popped open a yerba mate and set off for Alpine, CA.
I love 200-mile events; I’ve ridden over 20 of them: see my double category. We’re spoiled here in California with the California Triple Crown, 22 doubles a year and counting. You get to be on your bike all day, see obscure places you wouldn’t otherwise see, and they can vary from 11-hour ‘races’ to 18-hour long hauls (see below!). I haven’t ridden many in the last few years, but I could not pass up a new double with 35 miles of dirt. Yes, 35 miles on dirt!
My fitness is in a strange place. I have the Idyllwild race behind me and the running miles from the Zion 100, but I’m definitely not as fit as I usually am this time of year. But I knew this going in and was out there to have some fun. Read: I let everyone go on the first climb. There were only four of us and one guy started late. Plus the first climb of the day always sucks! I settled in and rode smartly. I’m confident on the dirt and even with my 39-28 low gear I was comfortable- for now.
Somewhere on the second climb I started to have some concerns. How many more miles? Oh no, it’s too early to start thinking about this. Dirt slows you down, which makes it mentally hard. I’ve only gone how far? My average speed was about 12 miles per hour. I settled down and focused on why I like these rides so much- their meditative nature. Being out in the world, emptying your mind and intensely feeling the most basic desires- hunger, thirst, compassion, pain. It’s a beautiful experience.
“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.” -Buddha
Double centuries teach you patience. I started riding them in late 2004 and any events I’ve done since- from 24 hour mountain bike races to iron-distance triathlons– are easier because of what I have learned on these rides. Each double is different and has its own unique features from insane amounts of climbing to having over 500 people- pacelines all day long! The Dirty Double is special because of the dirt climbs and I think this kept a number of people away. My word to those who skipped this great double- riding on dirt is a skill that can be learned like riding at night, riding in the rain or making the jump from 100 to 200 miles. If you’ve mastered those skills then this is the perfect ride to challenge yourself!
At the top of the third dirt climb, mile 77, the aid station was run by the race organizer, Rob. Here the ultra-century riders riders turn right and head back toward Alpine while we did the 56-mile Palomar loop. As someone who organizes events I could see his concern. How was I doing? Okay? He was very helpful in getting me fueled and on my way. He had a better idea of what I was in for on Palomar than I did. I thanked him and headed off toward Nate Harrison Grade. I tagged along with some random roadies for awhile and here we had the first fast descent of the day!
At the turnoff for Nate Harrison Grade we hit another aid station. And by aid station I mean the trunk of a volunteer’s car. He loaded me up with ice cold drinks, snacks and sent me on my way. I was over 100 miles in at the hottest time of the day and I was about to start a 4000 ft western-facing climb with 7 miles of dirt. Deep breath. I won’t lie. This was super hard. I was grinding in my lowest gear trying to keep my rear tire from washing out. It was technical enough that I had to pick my lines well to dodge big rocks and ruts. Standing was near impossible and there was no shade. I passed John on a particularly steep section where he was walking. What am I doing out here? Delirium sets in.
Chatting with the volunteer helped some of the time: I could be distracted by chatting about triathlon splits and mountain bike championship qualifications. But in some ways it was harder: I wanted to suffer alone in silence. Near the ‘top’ he turned back to check on John and descend back to his car. I contemplated my situation. It’s a balance of letting yourself suffer enough so you are present in reality and maintaining enough coherence to keep moving forward. I’d pass shaded spots and want nothing more than to curl up in a ball on the ground. But I pushed on. The dirt turned to broken pavement which then turned into an actual road.
At the top I fumbled my way into the store. I had been out of water for about an hour. I replenished with snacks and cold drinks. Later I’d find out the restaurant next to the store has a number of vegan options? Ha. Next time?
The descent was bumpier than I’d like so I wasn’t able to really kill it. Eventually made my way back to Rob, 56 miles later, at mile 133. With the dirt sections behind me I got my tires back up to 110 psi from 95 and started getting ready for nighttime and colder temperatures. Riding at dusk- one of the most exciting things ever. My stoke is returning at an indirect relation to the dropping temperature.
From here we winded up and around Julian before descending the 79 and passing Sunrise Highway- where I was for the Mt Laguna Bicycle Classic and where I’d be the following weekend to crew the San Diego 100. It took to about here for my brain to return to normal. When I’d see Rob again (he closed the other aid stations and did leapfrog support for John and I) he’d tell me that I wasn’t looking good at mile 133 and that he had been concerned, but was I was looking better now. Phew.
The descent continued and I passed the 8 freeway and rode along Japatul Road- which I had ridden only once before, also at night, when I rode out to the Boulevard Road Race (I don’t think I ever wrote about how I rode out there the night before and then got second to last in Cat 5! Ha.). More descending and then the long way back to Alpine. No straight shots and more climbing! It’s now almost 11pm. The cut-off was suppose to be 10pm, but Rob extended it so we’d finish. I’d end up crossing the line at 1115pm- 18 hours after I started. Longest double century ever. Rob and other volunteers were there, as was Chris Kostman, who had ridden the 144-mile option and also took a bunch of photos- start here. I hung out for a little bit and made my way back to the city where some mushroom sauce pasta (thanks Lis and Marissa!) and a warm shower awaited. Twenty-two hours after waking up I was getting back in bed.
Thank you Rob for the wonderful experience. You asked if you should make it easier- no way. It’s fun, challenging, beautiful; a great day on the bike. I hope to see it on the California Triple Crown schedule next year. There’s no reason for it not to be!
I rode my only road bike, a steel Seven.
My low gear is a 39-28. I pushed it through, but a lower gear would be more comfortable.
I put 700×25 Continental Ultra Gatorskins on and they were great.
I ran my Ksyrium SL’s, which probably wasn’t a good idea as I had just broken a spoke and got it replaced. No problems though.
Skills for riding in the dirt
The hardest thing about riding in the dirt is changing speeds- both slowing and accelerating. People say, ‘this is easy’ before they have to do either. Practice this.
Choosing lines. Can you read the terrain ahead of you and adjust in time? Crucial skill. It becomes second nature once you practice it.
Know when to slow down.
Shift your weight- balance between wheels, pedals and bars. Roadies tend to have trouble with this and bash things with their front or rear wheel. Race cyclocross this fall/winter!
Check the Dirty Double site for additional tips. They even offer dirt riding clinics.
Getting ready to race the 24 Hours of the Enchanted Forest solo this weekend and my food haul so far!
Roasted salted green peas
Corn chips w flaxseeds
European hot cereal aka oats w dates, raisins
Sharkies (they were on sale!)
Chocolate covered pretzels
Peanut butter zagnuts
Ritz crackers (so good!)
Pineapple coconut juice
Pink lady apples
(someone remind to get this stuff tomorrow, okay?)
Our Day in the Life series continues with another Boulder-based athlete, Megan Hebbe. Megan takes us cross-country skiing, where I proceed to make a fool of myself! Megan does mega mileage and takes her training very seriously, but still manages to have fun with it. She even put up with me crashing all over the mountain. See for yourself in this fun episode:
Megan’s Tips for High Mileage Running
Wear the right shoes! Very important because you are spending A LOT of time on your feet! Work in recovery weeks. The “graph” should look like a mountain range, not just a straight linear progression. Increase for 2-3 weeks then take a recovery week. Focus on either increasing mileage OR increasing speed, not both at the same time. Ideally, the off-season is spent building up base and then you start adding speed work.
Make time. I am a morning person, so I like waking up at 5am or even 4am to get my run in. Second runs of the day can be done during lunch or after work. Thirty minutes is a great length for recovery, just enough to get circulation going, but not a significant time drain. Mentally it’s nice to do a chilled out pace. “Oh, 75-year-old dude is passing me? Whatevs, I’m on mile 12 of the day!”
Sleep and recover. I have my protein drink right after every run and because I get up early I go to bed early. If my body wants a nap, I work it in. Listening to one’s body is crucial. Rest is the most overlooked, crucial aspects of training. Epsom salt baths and ice baths are also great for recovery.
Speed work. Only really necessary immediately before and during race season. Once race season really gets into swing, most races are your speed work!
Self massage. Tennis ball, plantar fascia ball, softball, foam roller and massage stick all work wonders.
The major thing is loving it enough to be really dedicated! Like many coaches say, social life, career/school and training are a triad. One can either be okay at all three or do really well at two. The third thing suffers, which is often social life. You have to be okay with that.
Megan’s Gluten-Free Lavender Cookies
These gluten-free cookies are a fun way to get those extra calories for those extra miles.
1.5 cups rice flour
0.5 cup coconut oil or margarine
0.5 cups sweetener like coconut palm or other minimally processed sugars
1 tablespoon lavender flowers
Replace one egg with commercial egg replacer, ground flax seeds or chia gel
Optional: 1 tablespoon lavender flowers for decoration
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.
Cream together the margarine and sweetener. Blend egg replacer into the mixture. Stir in the lavender flowers and the rice flour. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls on to cookie sheet.
Bake till golden, about 15 minutes. Remove cookies and decorate with additional lavender flowers, if desired.
Thanks to Megan for getting me on skis for the first time in my life! Lastly, if you want to know more about iron for vegetarians, check out this post I wrote for No Meat Athlete. Thanks for watching and let me know how these cookies turn out!
I’m an endurance athlete through and through. I don’t know if it’s my bike touring background or just my mental state, but something keeps me in zone 3! I’ve tried recently to expand my racing, mostly through cyclocross, and this inevitably leads to shorter races in general, and the Idyllwild Spring Challenge this past Saturday, specifically.
I scheduled this race because Nicolas signed up, but then he couldn’t go. I emailed the race organizer and she was exceptionally cool about the registration stuff and before I knew it Marissa, Smokey the dog and I were in her car early Saturday morning heading to the mountain town of Idyllwild for my first ever cross-country mountain bike race.
Endurance racers get a lot of credit. ‘You rode how far?’ But racers like Steevo turn themselves inside out weekend after weekend and that’s something I can’t wrap my mind around. I was thinking ‘this is a short race’ but I went out like it was a 2.8 mile race and not 28 miles. At the top of the first climb I was seeing stars and gasping for air! Was it the heat? Am I that out of shape? Oh yeah, we’re at 5000 feet! That helped calm me down. As soon I caught my breath I went balls out. Again. I don’t know if it’s because of where I started in the Open Class pack, but I just didn’t see many people. That makes ‘racing’ harder. Where am I? Where are the other single speeders?
The course was superbly marked, there were volunteers at every potentially confusing turn and after the third big climb, about half-way through, the rest was rolling, mostly downhill technical single track. This is why I’m here! SO fun. Dustier and looser than I thought Idyllwild would be, but still super fun. I started to finally catch people and for a long-ish downhill doubletrack section I used the single-speed skill of tucking behind a geared bike that was tearing it up! She pulled me along until we hit a flatter section and I could pedal again. Suddenly we were passing people left and right. In my blurry-visioned, dehydrated state I was using my last bit of focus beyond trying to stay upright to see if anyone we passed was on single speed.
We finished by returning down the climb pictured above. When I crossed the line I had no idea where I had placed. I just knew that every muscle in my body was sore. I even had crashed in a soft section and the sting of scrapes and bruises was now apparent.
I hydrated, washed off in a sink and then we hung out for the raffle. I love raffles! Legalized gambling. When results were posted I was surprised to see that I got 3rd out of 4 people in the Open Single Speed Class…..and I’m pretty sure the guy I beat was on a fat bike! The results page hasn’t been updated yet to see where I placed against others in the Open Class. Overall though I’m stoked for the experience and Idyllwild Cycling put on a great race. They even had dog-sitting and proceeds went to the local Living Free Animal Sanctuary. Get out there if you get the chance!
We headed into town for eats, stopped at the health food store (somethings never change) and then got falafel at a super friendly Greek spot before heading out of the mountains and back toward the coast. My post-race fatigue is somehow different. More intense and less of a generalized tiredness? I guess that would make sense considering that is the difference between this race and what I usually do. So for all of you endurance racers, get out there to do a shorter race and turn yourself inside out!
The main goal of our Day in the Life series is to show the world that vegan athletes exist and thrive on their diet and lifestyle. But as we make more episodes a second goal is developing: what crazy situations can we can put Matt in?! Today we spend the day cyclocross training in the snow and cold with bad-ass cyclist Cat Johnson in Boulder, Colorado.
How great is Cat?? I love her comment, ‘I went vegan for the cause!’ Veganism and bike racing: There are many ways to do it and you have to look around and see what fits your personality. Don’t rely on any one way to do either. Cyclocross is the most inclusive form of competitive cycling and in my opinion the most fun!
Here are Cat’s tips and some links to get you started
-No one in cyclocross cares how well you are doing as long as you are having fun. Like when she says, ‘No one cares if you are last’ and there I am, in last place in our training ride!
-There are beginner categories that are truly are beginner and inclusive.
-The courses are loops which makes it very spectator friendly. Bring your friends and fam to cheer you on!
-It’s a mix of skills- speed, bike handling, running, jumping- and this evens out the field.
-You can use almost any type of bike that can run fat tires. And many races rent cyclocross bikes!
What’s great about smoothies is how flexible they are! Remember our meal-replacing, peanut butter and banana smoothie with Brian from episode one? Cat’s smoothie is similar in that you can easily adjust the calorie ratios. The protein content can be adjusted by switching non-dairy milks and how much protein powder you add, or don’t add! For example I use a higher protein milk and don’t use protein powders. And for Omega-3 I use straight flax oil.
The other day I was riding my cyclocross bike on some great canyon trails here in the city. Nothing is better than riding to the trails, riding dirt, then riding home. It’s great when cities have undeveloped areas to explore.
I was riding along enjoying some fast sections, with perfect conditions. Then the trail was blocked by a 4-lane road. I know building bridges and tunnels costs a lot of money and I don’t mind having to pop onto a road for a minute, but then I came across this fence between the lanes restricting non-crosswalk crossing.
And then to rub it in they put images of cyclists and runners on the fence blocking the access of those very people in favor of automobiles.
The fence forces you to ride against traffic to a stoplight, where you ‘safely’ cross and then ride against traffic on the other side.
All the while those images of cyclists and runners stare at you mockingly.