Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Puff Baby, and Transcendental Shred

I can check the Cream Puff off my list. Yesterday was a perfect day to
ride the Alpine trail in Oakridge three times.
The weather topped out at eighty degrees and the trail conditions were
It's hard to believe it's over though, after a full spring and summer
of training.

This time around I felt so much more prepared and the race was less
traumatic. Granted the course in '08 was brutal and the weather was 100+
degrees, but there were some key factors that helped improve my experience
this year.

1) Mental preparedness.
The silent ten day meditation I did last year helped me a lot. If I got through that I can
get through anything. It helped me deal with my thoughts that can
either be my friend or enemy. My inclination tends toward the dark side
and ten days with no way to distract myself gave me the opportunity to balance
that out. Endurance racing means finding the light in your own darkness, and fighting
deep down demons that might appear otherwise in different ways.

2) Physical preparedness.
Had some damn good times training and wonderful people to do it with. Part of doing
an endurance event like this is because of the training. It takes a lot of time and energy and after a while spending every weekend on epic mountain bike adventures gets tiring, but hard to complain about doing something so awesome so much. Abby Watson did the race as well and she and I spent so much time exploring Oregon trails and roads in order to train. Plus, she's one of the most adaptable people I know, which is a brilliant quality to learn from. She had a great first epic endurance race.

3) Bad ass and wu-wu Pit krew.
I've had some amazing support from massage therapists, acupuncturists, and my movement therapist. Ira noted that if my pit krew were on the sidelines, rather than wearing baseball caps and hoodies, they would be sporting flowy pants while waving crystals and singing as I went by. Auh....auh...auh.

However, Ira and Matt were so great to have for support. They didn't sing as I went by,
but they are constant sources of inspiration as fellow mountain bikers. They simply shred, nuf said.
Plus, my bike was dialed thanks to Ira. My body felt like an extension of the machine, like a yin yang promoting balanced energy to roll through the woods (om I am very grateful for that mechanic of mine.

4) Calories in the food hole.
My tendency is to eat whole, good, food. As much as possible I try to avoid refined sugar and artificial flavoring. Last time I did CP nutrition was a major issue though, and I definitely didn't get enough calories. Partly it was the heat from that year and partly it was that I tried to stick to my whole food diet. This year I was determined to not have the same problem. I trained with science food like unflavored Perpetuem, but knew I'd need a lot more than that during the race. It's hard to imagine what your body is going to want after so much riding.
The morning of the race I made myself eat huge breakfast portions at 4am when nothing sounded good. Then on the first climb up 1910 I continued to eat because I knew it would be easier earlier than later. Half way up the second round of 1910 my body revolted when I tried to feed it a bar. Okay, sticking to the liquid stuff, I resorted to putting gels, sugary blocks, and Perpetuem continuously in "the food hole" for the remainder of the race. At the aid stations I ate anything salty I could find, and towards the end of the race I was so happy to be done just because I wouldn't have to eat anymore. My stomach is still a little funky from the race. Nutrition is a hard one for events like these especially for someone who doesn't like to detach from the food they're putting in their body, but calories are calories and it seems like science food is the most effiecient way to get them.

My naturopathic pit krew person compared doing a race like this to birthing a baby. The training is like the pregnancy, the actual event is the birth, and she suggested that I give myself time and respect for what I've accomplished after - to avoid post-race depression. Western society has a tendency to just get back to life as usual, and to just keep an eye on what's next. Not me though, my Puff baby and I are recovering fully and going to take some time to enjoy doing nothing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More Core than Core

About a month ago I cracked my ribs on the Whoops trail in Bend.
It was my second run down and that trail is built to make one feel
pro, and though my plan wasn't to get air the jumps contradicted my
intention, pushing me to my gravitational limit. So with my butt almost as far back as my wheel I was indeed
going to land this fluky jump - until I looked up
and realized I was headed for a tree. My better reflexes turned my handlebars
out of the way and I came crashing down on my ribs. The better option, I'm
The rest of the ride was pitiful.
Breathing hurt.
If anyone has injured a rib they know how annoying it can be. The simplest
movements, especially getting up and lying down, are torture. Then you'll
get mystery sneezes that feel like you've pierced the depths of your being.

Since I'd already planned on doing the 6hrs of Washugal a week later
I went ahead and did it. My ribs hadn't improved a bit, in fact, they felt worse than before.
My support crew consisted of Abby, Sarah, and
a bottle of Advil, and I did the race. It was painful yet awesome and riding home
from Washugal was just what we needed for our hundred mile mountain bike race

Shortly after the race, and about a week and a half after the injury I went
to see a friend of mine who does body/energy/somatic/movement therapy. It's
hard to describe exactly what she does because it's very subtle. I told her
about my ribs and she did some light massage and instantly I felt better.
Not only that but she talked me through some movement therapy and I visualized
myself from the inside out - my whole skeletal system working in one unit. Implementing
that into the way I do everything, which is hard because of stubborn patterns that
already exist. But, Hans Selye observed stress to be a disease of adaptability, so rather than think I'm stuck in a fixed arrangement I am learning the ways in which my
body wants to align itself.

This process is more core than core, and it takes constant mindfulness. It's
retraining the brain and utilizing the body to its fullest potential. The body is
an instrument and anyone who at one time or another has been in the 'flow', which I hope is everyone, knows how supple, efficient, and comfortable this space is.

The mind, body, bike connectedness creates a perfect balance of conscious energy that
pairs wonderfully with my shreditation philosophy on life. This is just the beginning stage of learning a whole lot more about this way of living, but I'm curious and
excited to become more familiar with this insight.

I love theorizing life through mountain biking.

Monday, April 4, 2011


April already and as I seal my Cream Puff registration the rain blows at the window. It has been so wet this year and hard to get into the flow of mountain biking. This past weekend felt like a mini condensed cross season as we rallied to mountain bike regardless of the rain and had three solid days of shred then overhauling bikes to wake up and get muddy again. The lack of sun or dry days is indeed mental training.

However, I really can't complain too much. This year has been full of some new experiences for me. I've tried road racing and loved it( I can't wait to try it on my new road bike!!!), tried my first Super D, and shredded around cactus in Tucson. Plus, Mountain Bike Mondays have returned and we've had some good days in there.

The other day riding down Coyote Gulch, spring flowers peppered the ridge, and I was having such a good ride it felt like I was writing a love letter in cursive on my bike. Just relaxing and accepting things as they came up, and it's not always like that, I know, sometimes things in life won't release my mind and I struggle all the way up or down. Sometimes I over think every obstacle, or show off and get my ego checked around a tree or rock. But shreditation inevitably pulls me in, and even if just for a few moments it reminds me that I am breathing, changing, and completely existing with the environment.

My calendar is filling up and the race in July will come quickly, but this seed of tranquility is sowed by my excitement for adventure. Arriba, arriba!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rosa y primavera

Yesterday after waking up early to watch the Milan San Remo race I
was more than excited to ride my hot new pink bike to work. That
commute, I tell you, broke records. Pedestrians and motorists
alike stood with brief perplexity at the pink blur that flashed
in and out of their space in time.

Arriving early to work and locking up my ride some kid was yelling
out his window "Hey, nice bike!" I said thanks, then he inquired
"What's it's name?" I hadn't thought about that but the name Rosa
came naturally.

Coming from a background of mountain biking and a ton of road riding
on a ten year old cross bike that I'd raced and ridden into a pile of
steal bones, I never put much emphasis on the bike I was riding. The
cross bike offered some fine rides.
My mindset was that simpler was better and if my bike happened
to be heavier I'd just get stronger. So core. Or cheap. Or lazy.

After my first real ride on Rosa today I must say the bike makes a
difference. My dear friends listened to my gushing about the
responsiveness, the caliper breaks, and how I felt like I was climbing
on air, and descending on a pink cloud.

With all the rain we've been having in Portland the sun that's sure to
shine will transform the city into a candyland of cherry blossoms, tulips,
verdant pastures, and Rosa rides through it all.

Bienvenido la primavera.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

V for Cycle Touring!

Coastal Route from Oregon to San Francisco

It's hard to get motivated to start a tour when it's pissing down rain. Out of the two of us I had two waterproof panniers, my other two and all four of Ira's were not. We had to do some garbage bag customizing and concluded that if you're touring anywhere except the desert in the summer waterproof panniers are necessary.
The first day was the shortest millage wise, but perhaps the most exhausting. The excitement, anticipation, and rain drained us. We made it forty-five miles to Newport and though we had planned on camping we ended up at a Best Western where we were able remove our seeping panniers from the trash bags and dry them out.

The next day as the rain continued we questioned whether we really wanted to do this tour. We did so we continued south. Rolling along the Southern Oregon coast the on and off drizzle became more beautiful. The undulating ocean was a magnificent companion and the rolling hills kept us working, but not unbearably so. The Adventure Cycling maps provided many alternative routes to 101 but sometimes it was the only option. Riding on the highway makes for long days because you can't let your guard down. There are ignorant drivers out there who just don't realize the seriousness of their lack of experience driving a tour bus sized RV while pulling numerous other vehicles. Along with the assholes who just hate cyclists for who knows what reason. We had one get off our bikes and collect our bearings incident where a large truck swiped by pushing us into the shoulder that didn't exist even though he had two open lanes. All this with the graciousness of a redneck middle finger. It's really hard to remain cool when your vulnerable to these kinds of people.
However, there were also some counteractive acts of human encouragement that helped us along. We rode through the town of North Bend and were stopped at a light when we heard a toot-toot. We looked over to see a seventy-something year old grandma with a big grin, giving us a supportive thumbs-up. That was awesome and we rode on for a while wondering what her story was, why she was so thrilled by us cycle tourists.

Everyone has a story. That truck with testicles hanging from the trailer hitch, the motorcyclist taking a self photograph in front of the giant dinosaur just past Arcada Beach, and the bike tourist hauling a Burly trailer across the country all have reasons for being on the road.
One of the best parts of touring is being crammed in a hiker/biker campsite and meeting a medley of folks going different places at various paces for unique and passionate reasons. We met a Swiss couple who'd been traveling for over sixteen months and had covered a great part of Asia, and were headed to Central America, where they then would hit up Africa. Whew, they showed a great deal of knowledge for living out of doors.
There is never a lack of narratives to go around in the touring community. Always tips on routes and set-ups, always food and drink to be shared. It's a beautiful congregation with jubilant members flushed with life. And why not? Think about it you wake up, eat, ride, stop and eat while watching the ocean roll, ride, ride some more, listen, smell, feel, and see the subtle changes in geography and culture as you pedal along, find a place to rest for the evening, set up camp, and repeat. Each night of the tour I laid my head down completely satisfied to have arrived on my own accord. It's a real sense of fulfillment.

As we continued south the days merged and we started to feel the cumulation of our eighty to one hundred plus mile day average. We advanced the golden destination while talking about life and revelations and quieting as the sunlight filtered through the avenue of giant Redwoods and we let everything go. The two-thousand year old trees put our young lives into perspective, and we were awe-struck.
The beginning of the tour I knew my energy budget. After breakfast I could go about twenty-five miles before needing to refuel, but around the fourth day I noticed this wasn't working anymore. The big pot of oatmeal went down with a whistle but didn't hit the bottom. We were in the middle of the woods surrounded by pretty trees, but big deal, I needed fuel and an energy bar wasn't going to cut it. Beef jerky is good but not enough. That morning we had planed on just getting to Arcata to treat ourselves to some unprocessed food and good coffee, but it was at least twenty more miles.
Rolling through Patrick's Point there was a really fancy looking restaurant and a meditation retreat. No good. Finally we came to a diner that looked inexpensive. I had my hopes for some fine organic food, however, and this was not that kind of place. I ate some of the snacks in my handle bar bag and chancing fate we rode on. Within five minutes of riding we were in Trinidad and I spotted Rasta colors on a cafe sign and bam we were there. The chef at the Catch Cafe was kind enough to make us a stick-to-your-bones kind of meal and I instantly felt my body absorb it.

This meal saved my life

When we finally did make it to Arcata we bought provisions but needed to get out of there. It's a kind of vortex that might have you sitting at a cafe sipping coffee and before you know it making jewelery and taking up residency in a tree. We did laundry in Eureka instead, where the three witnessed drug deals in the littered parking lot of the Wash World had us in and out of that town.

Clean laundry and good food are luxuries when touring, and it's surviving on the bare essentials that makes us realize how much excess we live in. We were riding between the walls of an overindulgent society after all, but in our world we had to differentiate between wants and needs. Something had to be needed or very special to bring it along. The weight of stuff adds up.
That said, just outside of Mendocino on day six in a town called Cleone we rolled up to the hiker/biker site at dusk and found a man who stood satisfied after having finished a pint of ice cream. We chatted with him for a bit while he cooked an amazing meal of quinua, kale and veggies. He told us how he had rolled from Vermont to Seattle carrying a Burly trailer full of stuff for what he called "rolling potluck". This was his attempt to educate the greater public about eating local and sustainable food and he was passionate about it enough to lug the supplies around the United States. When we met him he was on his way to San Francisco where he periodically would find farms on which he worked and grounded himself before taking off again.

Late in the saddle the next day, but inspired both by our passionate friend fulfilling his whole-food dream and by the fact that we were so close to San Francisco. The other bike tourists influenced us with their leisurely ways and after sharing four moka pots of coffee we were on our way at about 10:30am opposed to our regular 8am departure. Ah well, already off to a late start we lunched in Mendocino. That day we still ended up clocking in one hundred miles, only getting to our camp destination to find it shower-less. That's no bueno after all day riding. We splashed ourselves clean as best as we could.

With a bit over one hundred miles left we decided to split the last leg into two days, making the final touring day the easiest since our senses would surely be overloaded by the city. That left seventy five miles for the second to last day, but thirty five miles in and I was exhausted. My muscles had gone along with riding this 65lb bike daily for hours at a time long enough, my mind wanted a rest too. The scenery was beautiful but the golden shimmer of the ocean wasn't new anymore. At this point we were able to tell time by where our shadows followed us and if I had one more day of seeing it do a full rotation around me I was going to pop. We tried to make it as easy on ourselves as possible. We even stopped for a laundry break in Bodega Bay and met some interesting folks in the trailer park where we washed, but the day had been hilly and continued that way. Finally after seventy-five miles and after our shadows had given almost a whole revolution we somehow made it to the Samuel Taylor State Park for our last night of camping. San Francisco was a breezy twenty miles away.

Late morning sundial

Early to rise the next morning and full of excitement we saddled up and made for the city. The last leg differed from the rest of the tour because we rolled in through bay area suburbs; San Anselmo, Corte Madera, Sausalito,and one distinguishing factor was the type of cyclist we came upon. They were all kitted out and riding to destination get faster and stronger. It made us think of all our buddies at home preparing for the cyclo-cross season. Fully loaded with anything needed to survive outside of the city we were like gypsies, and the carbon fiber roadies out for their afternoon training rides whipped around us with pomposity. Still we felt good, seven hundred and fifty miles in eight days. The golden gate bridge welcomed us and just as expected our senses were on overload with the chiming of different languages, the multitudes of people and the options for whatever we wanted.

Ain't this America?

Our bud Brian Ellen met us for lunch to witness our re-entry. We ate our food completely entertained by the make-upd, styled, extravagance of the city dwellers buzzing around us. Rather than being concerned about having my pocket-knife and head lamp in my musette bag I suddenly wanted lip gloss and my debit card.
We made it to Ira's uncle's house and he and his partner received us well. We ate like royalty, slept in the softest of beds and had a wonderful behind the scenes tour of SFMOMA. That blew my mind.
The next day we walked around the city, which wrecked my legs more than the whole tour of biking, and ate delicious SF food, and caught the train for our eighteen hour ride back to Portland.

I woke up the first few days of not riding with my body ready to go, but will admit how much I'm now enjoying my light and twitchy bike.
My heart thumps victoriously when I see the distance I covered with my
own two legs on the map that we highlighted. And the explorer in me is brightened to consider the next destinations of cycle adventure.

Friday, August 27, 2010

the anti cross

so it turns out my adventures are
going in the opposite direction of
the majority of
portland cyclists this time of year.
as everyone
starts doing intense, short interval
i'll be putting long time in my
touring saddle, and am so looking forward
to it.
we leave first thing in the morning
for san francisco, and are hoping to
make it in a week or so keeping in mind
the touring mentality "it's the
journey that's the destination".

indeed, i can't wait to just wake up
and ride, and get into the rhythm of
the coast range.
i'll post photos and update stories
when we return.

cross might be in my future this season
but i'm not worked up about it. for now
i'm taking it as it comes. fully loaded!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lalalala Lolo

Today was great! Did Lolo Pass with an exceptional crew from River City. Dave, Ryan, Ward, Amy, Matt, and Yli-Luoma. Efficient, friendly and all around good riders. The highlight though, I have to say, was the sandwich Dave Guettler had for all of us at the top of the Lolo climb. Corn tortilla, with delicious cheese, apple and salami. Yum!

Ward and Amy are two of the ladies who are participating in the Gentleman's Race with me, and I have to say I'm pretty psyched. They're both strong riders with great attitudes spirited by the adventures in cycling. Ward has ridden, or at least knows about, almost any gravel ride that would seem epic to most, and Amy spins up brutal climbs with a smile and talk of sugary, bubbly drinks and salty snacks, and her cat "Meow". I'm not going to mind spending all day in the saddle with them next weekend, in fact, I'm really looking forward to it.