Wednesday, April 30, 2008


A man of God was robbed of his money, what he had of it, and afterwards was reflecting on the experience. He was thankful of four things:

- That while all the money was stolen, he had little to lose.

- That it was him that was robbed, not someone else.

- That only his money was taken, not his life.

- That he was the one being robbed, rather than the one doing the robbing.

Food for thought on being thankful in trying times.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mt Wilson Bicycling Association Pancake Breakfast

It had been, what...20 years since I had been to a MWBA benefit pancake thing. You used to have to ride up the Mt Wilson Toll Rd to Henniger flats to get the flapjacks and try to win some schwag in the awesome raffle. Now, it is a little closer to the city, but there was a ride beforehand to get ya ready to eat.

The MWBA has credentials, being one of, if not THE first mtn bike advocacy/trail building group in the LA area. If you have ridden a trail in the front range of the San Gabriels, especially in the Altadena, Pasadena area, you have them to thank. The Pasadena Mountain Bike Club has stepped in and helped organize things.

If you are in the LA area, check out what they are doing for continued access to public lands.

And now, a few pics.

Gary Fisher was there and was riding a very large Superfly 29er.

The guy (Murphy, I think) sittin' next to Gary owned this beaut.

Then there were all kinds of things to see. Even unicycles made the event.

There were some games like a frame toss for prizes, bike limbo, etc. My son hucks the huffy.

The raffle was huge and I won nothing. Rats! I could have used those King hubs or headset. Next year for sure.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday ride report: 04/26/08

Ahh. One of my all time favorite rides in the Saugus backcountry of the Angeles National Forest. The Maxwell Mtwy up to Sawmill Mtn.

Needed a bit of saddle time climbing. 10 miles of up and 3100 feet of elevation gain. 20 miles. Not bad.

Pretty, too. I was experimenting with my wife's camera so I played around with the macro and panorama settings. Lot's o' flowers, great views.

I found a nice, shady spot for lunch at the top. Huge nap-time potential here. Still some Miners' Lettuce under the shade of some biiig pines. Check out the acorn stash in this one grandpa tree. Some critters have been real busy. It was like this from top to bottom.

Good day on the bike. Beautiful to be alive and pedaling. God is good.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Racing Cycle

I remember when an MTB race was so grassroots, they did not even hand out race numbers, have EMS standing by, or have the attorneys of everyone involved on speed dial. Reseda to the Sea comes to mind.

Those were the days.

Then it got big. Money, sponsors, Pros, sanctioning bodies, huge venues. I remember the first Yeti box van. THAT was amazing at the time. Eventually it seemed to get too costly, too serious, too market driven, too, well, just too. XC racing never really interested me much. I liked big, exploration rides the best. 4 loops around the ski resort at Big Bear for 50 bucks? No way. How about a 30 mile loop in the backcountry? Race ya there. Cuz even if I lose, I will have a great time.

Eventually, XC racing (classic NORBA stuff, I mean) all seemed to bust in a balloon of self importance, drama, budget issues, and dis-interest, or that is the way I saw it.

SO now it is endurance racing that has me interested. I am no threat to the leaders, I assure you. I like the idea of the challenge of covering a lot of ground, being pretty self sufficient, etc. And, it seems to be pretty grassroots.

A recent thread in a popular MTB site has me wondering, though. I hope that the endurance racing scene does not follow the path of the XC races. The 12 and 24 hour stuff, the 50s and 100s, the festival atmosphere, the family involvement, all harkens to the roots of the bike VS. the mountain. It is great if guys and gals can make a living at what they are good at, hate to take that away, but I hope it stays kinda fun and innocent with fewer box vans full of parts and factory mechanics and more Honda Elements full of spouses and kids cheering dad on (or mom, as the case may be).

Heck, I will never be the focus of controversy cuz I will never win anything and no one will notice me or protest me and what happens behind the scenes at the podium matters not to my ride.


Maybe the future is the way it used to be way back when. A few phone calls, a start time, a map, a finish line somewhere and cheers/beers for the participants.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In the groove.

Being one with the bike.

In sync.


Makin' it look easy.

As a state of being, this is where you want to be at any given moment on the bike. I was there tonite. It had been awhile since I had visited. It takes time in the saddle to be there consistently. Oh sure, you can slip in and out of that state of relaxed, accurate, effortless riding on any given outing, but the trick is to hang there, live there, remain.

I have seen some riders who could do it. Guys who rode better than I walk, who made it look natural, easy, like the bike was a familiar body appendage, just part of the genes. I have had seasons in my life where time on the bike, hours and hours in the saddle, had honed it pretty good. Mr. Smooth.

Lately, with the passing years and less riding time, it has been, well not always a struggle, but a bit of an effort to find that place. In fact, I had forgotten what it even felt like.

Till tonite. I touched it again and it came upon me like a long forgotten smell or taste or memory. The pedaling was smooth, and standing and pedaling I was a paperboy on an early route. The downhill was all planted tires, clean lines, and quick, concise decisions. Man that felt good.

I bet I can't do that again right away. I think it was a gift for tonite only, but I sure enjoyed the visit. I need to keep at it though, cuz as nice as the visit was, I want to live there.

Pic stolen from EdE's blog, who takes better pics than I ever could. Linky here and in side bar to more good bloggage.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

GPS's are cool

Now, a while ago I bought a handheld GPS for Geocaching and general purpose use. Very nifty, but I never used it for anything bike related. So, recently I became aware of a lot of atheletes using GPS units and mapping software to overlay their runs/rides onto maps from online sources like Google Earth or Terraserver.

It showed a neat 2D/3D profile of the ride, elevation gain, ride miles, all kinds of stuff. So, not only could you keep track of your own rides, you could share the files with others and download files from them as well.

A bit of poking around seemed to make one think that a Garmin brand GPS is the only one that will work for this, but not so. I had bought a Magellan eXplorist 400.

It turns out that the other brands will work fine most likely, but the Garmin 205/305 is the holy grail of bike mounted data gathering GPS units. It will give you time over distance, maybe even heart rate, etc.

Mine does not do this, but with the software from downloaded to my PC, it allowed my Magellan unit to send in the saved tracks and generate some cool maps and data.

A recent ride produced this:

Soooo very cool, eh? 20 miles, 2600' of climbing. I can swap to all kinds of map views, track my mileage and elevation gain over the year, share rides with others, etc.

I like.

I also had to make my own bracket to hold the GPS unit. The Garmin brackets are small and allow the GPS to be mounted on the bars or the stem. The Magellan brackets are big and ugly and only are bar mounted. Bar mounted is bad. Too close to the knees.

So, I dug out an old taillight strap/clamp and cut up a steel bracket, added some padding and GPS bracket.

To hold it in place, I tried velcro. No go. Too slippery. Then I saw someone using rubber bands from inner tubes. Perfect.

Notice I added a small split ring onto the GPS and I attached a lanyard from the unit to the h-bars just in case it gets knocked loose. So far it has been absolutely rock solid.

I am hooked. Give me data. How high, how far, how fun! Man, I wish I would have had this on the Julian race.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A New Member of the Family

....a bouncing, baby Lev, 20.5" tall at birth, just over 5 lbs, 3" of leg extension, blue eyes. Needed assembly.

Julian Death March

Well named, I say. I will get to that.

It all began quite well. We camped at a nice, clean CG called Pinezanita. Gave us a good place to base out of being 5 minutes from downtown Julian. The drive up from home was easy enough, but it sure was going to be a hot weekend. It looked like I would not need the long sleeve stuff for this event. We set up camp, had a nice grilled salmon dinner and hit the sleeping bags looking to an early morning start.

The next morning we awoke to the sound of high winds in the tops of the pine trees. Hmmm. Could be interesting after all. Warm though.

Julian is pretty sleepy pre-tourist hours. Not much there besides pie shops and a few arts and antique shops. Nice history, though.

Registration began in a nice, low key way. I did not know what to expect for a turnout. It had a very grass roots feel to it and that was nice. Looks like a pretty varied crowd ranging from old to not so old, gears, SS, even one cross bike belong to the eventual winner, Brent Prenzlow.

I parked right next to one of the Siren team folks, Todd Carpenter. Great guy. I asked him about the Siren softail, the Song, and he is expecting his any day now. Still, his Fifty Five was sweet.

The wind was howling. I expected a warm day eventually, but this added a bit of an unknown. How cold might it be? I ended up dressing a bit too warm for the start and it cost me a bit of time un-layering later. Still, I hate being cold. I was talking to Todd Carpenter about that and he agreed. I could actually see him shivering. All us great atheletes are alike in some ways. I get cold easy and I am slow. Todd gets cold easy and he is fast. Sympatico. Practically brothers.

I had decided early on not to run a granny gear and stay 1x9 with the KM. That would prove to be an error, but at this point I was blissfully ignorant.

Off we went with a mass start, down the street, and out of Julian on some really nice paved roads. Soon enough, we were in the dirt. I also erred in not getting a cyclometer installed, so I was a bit reluctant to go fast and miss a turn. That slowed me down quite a bit in the beginning. Another error.

I also brought too much stuff with me. I am so used to being self supported, that I had everything but a blender with me. Error number three.

I would have liked to have seen this area pre-fires. It must have been beautiful, and even now, the views and the wildflowers were good to go.

Along the way to Cedar Creek I came upon this little guy and shooed him off the trail lest he get trammeled.

The climbing up to Boulder Creek Rd was fairly hard and I did get off and push more than I woud have liked to save energy. Still, I have been getting used to riding bigger gears and I was feeling pretty good.

Topping out at Boulder Creek Road was heinous. The wind, which had been annoying to this point, turned outright ugly. Steady, punishing gusts of wind just made it waaaaay harder than it would have been. Here the decision to have no granny gear really hurt me and standing was like becoming a human sailboard. One time the wind moved me all the way across the road and into the ditch on the other side before I could stop and turn. Amazing. I do not know how the SS guys do this.

I did come across another little reptile who did his best to convince me he was a rattler. Naw, just a friendly gopher snake. Good thing he is low to the ground or the wind would have carried him away.

Somewhere near the top, wherever THAT was, I spied a wild turkey, but she was moving faster than I was (by that time, most anything was) so no pics.

At the check point one of the support workers said that some of the ladies had been blown off their bikes. Good lord. Worse than that, I was beginning to feel my old nemesis, leg cramps, rising up to say hello.

By the 4 hour mark I was totally involved in 4 alarm cramps from my crotch to my knees. Oh joy. I have been there before, so I just alternated from pedaling to pushing and when one activity led to cramping, the other style would help alleviate things a bit. But that wind and the seemingly never ending hills were nasty right about then.

Finally I hit the Kelly Ditch Trail turnoff and I thought, "Oh joy!", now I can get off this open fireroad/paved road stuff and get onto a trail where I can rest my legs and make up some time on the others. I am a so so climber at best, but I descend well. Well, Kelly Ditch Trail was well named. I have seen ditches that were better trails. Full of loose rocks, square edged the size of softballs, uphill, and brushed over, it was worse than the past few miles had been. Funny thing is, the only pic I have of the trail is from one of the 100 foot sections of open area and it looks really nice to ride. Trust me, I would not go across the street to ride this trail.

Actually, it was not that hard/steep of a trail, it just was un-fun, but the leg cramps prevented me from pushing any kind of real gear and I had no little gears to spin. I would cramp during pedaling, get off, begin to push, my right inner thigh would cramp from crotch to inner knee and I would push that way unti I could pedal again and then the inner thigh cramp would go away only to be replaced by the quads. Sigh.

Finally, we went downhill, over fallen trees, and the trail did open up and become more fun to ride.....finally. The last few miles of pavement were just a head down pedal thing and any thoughts of a second loop were waay out the door. Bummer.

I hit the park at just under the cutoff time. I figure I could have cut quite of bit of time if I had better route finding ability and less reasons to stop and change clothes, etc. A grannygear would have helped take the load off my legs early on and possibly delayed the cramping. I have fought leg cramps my entire cycling life. Still am.

So, I need to:

Train more on longer rides

Pack smarter

Bring lower gears

Find a buffer for the cramps

Then, watch out. I will be awesome, just like my shivering twin brother Todd.

Meanwhile, after a lunch back at camp and a shower, we cruised back into Julian and walked around a bit, stopping for a pie and a talk to the race promoter. The two top finishers were already back in town and loading up their bikes. Unreal. Brent P did ALL THREE LOOPS in 1 hour and 27 minutes longer than I did one. Amazing, How do you do that? I asked him how and he said he had not been racing much lately, just training the last three biggie I guess. Sheese. the dude is like what 40 years old? In fact I dont think any of the top ten finishers were under 30. More than that, I was nearly beaten by a 60 year old guy. I like the endurance racing crowd much better than the NORBA mentality from way back when.

So to all the guys and gals that finished, and most all of you were ahead of me, bully to you. Bully, I say.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lenz Love.

Well, guess I can take the stained glass wrapper off now. Paid for and ready to be shipped. Lenz love, at last.

Meanwhile, as the UPS gnomes do their thing, I am getting ready for the Julian 7500. Taking the KM and heading south for a few miles and a bit of long-time pedalin'. I decide to stay 1x9. No granny....we will see how wise that was. At least my spiffy new Specialized shoes are comfy to walk in!

Will Julian be the last dance of the Karate Monkey? Nah, but by summer I should be riding a dual boingy bike again. I pretty much have the build all figured out. Just need to put some more $$ together and get to building a bike!

Monday, April 7, 2008

"Most people don't see this"

Said by Buddy Steve yesterday during a ride through some burned hills that were carpeted by wildflowers. "Getting out here is just too hard", he added.

He was right. This was no area that anyone would hike to. Can't drive to it. From the entrance of the ride, it looks like an ugly, dry canyon with the shell of an old turkey or pig farm or something scattered on the wide valley floor. The fire did not help much as the distant hilltops are nothing but low grasses with all the chaparral crispied away. If it was not for the bikes, I, or likely anyone else, would hardly give it a second thought.

But there we were, our noses to the toptubes as we pushed up one of the too steep to ride when you are tired climbs. All along the steady climb to this point we had been seeing patches of blue, purple, yellow, orange. Poppies, Lupen, little clover like flowers, and tiny blue ones that were no bigger than a pencil eraser each filled in the bare ground between the rocky soil like little sections of lace doily. As we pushed toward the top, it just got better and, from the summit, looking over the results of the Saugus fire from 2007, the hills looked like a kids watercolor, all smeared in colors with no real plan.

My heart was pounding as I swallowed the last bit of Accelerade from my water bottle, took a long, last, look, and dropped down the singletrack descent, the sides of the trail a blur of colors and scents.

Steve was right. Most people would never see this. Too hard, too far, too something.

And that, when I think about it, is just fine by me.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Stop the presses....!

I may have made a decision. You just may, may, I tell ya, be looking at my 29FS frame!

A beautiful thing, ain't she? I thought it would look nice rendered as a stained glass. Since I have not actually paid for it yet...still working through the transaction details....I will keep it secret, keep it safe, my precious.

More to come on that, and then, the build up and the riding thereafter. Hoo boy. Gonna be a good year, God willing.