KIDS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN

It’s 12:40 and I’m hopping on my MTB for my lunch ride.  I shoot down the pavement and up the dirt embankment to the Dog Park trail network.  What do I see, some of my friends that know about popcorn popping on the apricot tree… yep, they’re a little younger, but we hang out on Sundays.  Weird thing is… I had no idea they were into mountain biking, and they had no idea I can even ride a bike.

Hey fellas, what’s going on out here?

Fixing the trails up.

Where are the bikes?

Gotta fix the trails first.  This is day 2.

You guys are awesome.

Will you hit the jumps with us?

Uhhh… well, ya see I’m on a hard tail otherwise…

Michelins

Rushing around, getting through the day’s work so I can wrap up in time for the Market Ride…  ‘wound up with another sidewall tear, on the car this time.  70 miles from home, what a bummer!

What a bummer to call AAA and get a truck to pick me up in 20 minutes.

What a bummer to be towed 2 miles to Costco.

What a bummer to have my exact tire in stock and on sale.

What a bummer to kill time watching Transformers.

What a bummer to have zero traffic on the late drive home.

What a bummer to treat myself to a giant Yogurtland when I got back in town.

What a bummer to live in a capitalist country.

The tow truck driver escaped Cuba 3 years ago, left his family behind.  He loves to dive.  In Cuba there are no tanks, only snorkeling.  In Cuba, there is no internet… except one “wifi park” where the per minute charges are outrageous.  He’d picked me up at JensonUSA, noticed my license plate, asked if I rode bikes… I’d like to get a bike again, I’d like to see you on a bike again.

Don’t Fear The Reaper

Mountain biking.  Road riding. Surfing.  These are a few of my favorite things.

Cougars.  Cars.  Sharks.  I never think about.

Single-track.  Carving curves.  Salty thrills.  I live for.

Any mountain biker can tell you that if you focus on not hitting the rock you’re sure to crash into it.

You can’t not do something.

Focus on what you want.

Greetings

Let me just make a challenge right now… meet someone new the next time you ride.  People are so awesome.  We all working hard to provide for ourselves and our loved ones.  We carve out a little personal time to recharge and regenerate.  Part of that time can be friendship… the pace line is it’s own social club.  Get involved.

Open your mouth, and introduce yourself… it’s weird, I know, but it’s awesome too.

Soon, you’re right into the nitty gritty of bonding and gems like this pop out:

“Daddy, at summer camp the girls told me if I look in a mirror and say Lady MacBeth 3 times she’ll appear with her bloody hands.”  Hahahaha… so Charlie laid down with his little princess.

Priceless, and worth the price of feeling uncomfortable.

“Hi, I’m __________.”

If you’re a real social ninja, you can get really crazy…

“Hey, Paul… do you know Mike?  Mike, meet Paul.”

173.6

Just Pedal.

I’m groggy and it’s foggy… I just want to lay in bed.  But, I get up.  Get dressed. Grab a bottle. Throw my leg over, and coast down my street.

A crow picks at a squashed rabbit.

Just me, my thoughts… well, my brain bucket.

Mr. Bluebird is busy… all the birds are. Sounds like a jungle this morning.

I pedal some.  Starting to wake up.

Lordy, it’s good to be living, while everyone else sleeps.

A few commuters and construction guys buzz by… pretty sure they’re not awake yet.  Too close.

The legs sing, the lungs expand, the shadows shrink.

Get your buns outta bed, it’s much better to…

just pedal.

(use code JP20 for 20% off this tshirt, this week – click the image)

175.6

He’s Not Perfect

He’s not perfect.

When I was 9, we built a giant glider out of balsa wood.  It was tedious, and messy.  I got glue everywhere.  After a few weekends, the glider was ready to launch.  It seemed huge – probably a 3′ wing span.  We hooked it to these giant rubber bands and pulled way back.  I released the catch.  The wings blew off instantly and the glider’s body was moon-bound never to be seen again.  I’ve never seen him laugh harder… and that’s all I could do when I forgot to put oil back into Shane’s motorcycle as it seized up in the middle of the desert.

He worked so hard keeping us warm and fed I have few early memories of him.  It cost him his first marriage.  He remarried and worked harder, on the marriage.  On his 10th anniversary to Karen he giggled “it’s amazing they put up with us”.  I think of that moment every time I am a boneheaded husband.

He loves boats and taught me how to sail.  Occasionally, I’d hit him with the boom or drop the anchor too hard and he’d let go some startling, salty words… then a hilarious hoot.  I use his knowledge of the wind every time I ride my bike.

He bought us both skateboards when he was 40 and I was 14.  Our first ride down Country Hill Lane was great until he hit an acorn and almost auggered in… laughing and running to a save his life.  That’s when I realized I could be kid-like my entire life.

He took us to the Whiting Reunion regularly where he introduced us to distant cousins and silly songs.  One year he backed the rented motorhome into a hill and clogged the generator exhaust pipe.  We spent all weekend trying to fix it.  On the way out, we pulled forward a few feet and it started working, he looked at me with a giant grin.  I love taking my own family to The reunion.

He put me to work after college.  Nobody else would take me.  I thought I was doing great until he fired me.  We didn’t speak much for a few years.  I got over it, mainly by remembering how much fun we had when times were not perfect.  He’s my top advisor.  I hired my own kids through their college years and love it when they ask for my ear.

He’s given me many gifts, none better than the ability to laugh at myself and try and do a little better every day.

He’s not perfect.

But, he’s perfect for me.

171.8

It’s Tri Time

Mike’s mom’s ’68 Mustang was loaded up with at least 5 teens every Friday night during the summer of ’78, San Clemente bound.  The BMX bike and Schwinn Le Tour and unicycle tires all went flat.  The surf was up, Just What I Needed:  friends, waves and trouble.

We’d ride skateboards down to Trestles.  Boards in one arm, sleeping bags around our necks… someone always wound up sitting on the cooler.

We learned to surf out of love, none of us had a clue just the bug.  Paddling until our arms fell off we lay like sea lions on the morning sand.  Rock, paper, scissors settled who took our few dollars to Carl’s Jr for Happy Stars.

But the surf is like a bad girlfriend.  You never know what you’re going to get… warm lips or cold shoulder, waves or no waves, crowd or no crowd.

Eventually the air got back in those bike tires.  Forlorn, and abandoned, all they needed was care.  Loyal and faithful, ever ready.  The bike is true love.

Which brings me to triathlon season: summertime.

Get up early and ride.

Do the chores.

Afternoon surf.

Today, Surfergirl surprised me.  Basking in the afterglow of an excellent ride, I sipped cooly at Kaylani’s.  Thinking (not doing) I oughta head home and get some things done.  Her text said it all: heading to (surf) trails.

When you do the triathlon out of order, ride then surf, you usually end up with just a duathlon…

… Fathers’s (day) Weekend.

171.6

It Pays To Learn

The best race car drivers are those who understand the mechanics of the car and suspension.  They aren’t the best because they go and wrench on the cars after testing.  They are the best because the give the best feedback to the chief mechanic, and he and his team deliver a winning product, so remember:

You don’t need to be an excellent bike mechanic, but… it sure is fun to work on your own bike, and can save you a lot of time, and give you a lot of confidence…

You don’t need to be an Olympic caliber coach…

Nor do you need a PHD in nutrition…

The more you learn about your bike and body and food, the better you’ll be able to connect with the real pros and get the best results… watch this video for details!

 

The Market Ride

At some point, the Market Ride relocated from a very dumpy market to San Clemente Cyclery.  At some point, The Market Ride moves from a 5pm start to a 530pm start (Tues and Thurs daylight savings only).  At some point, you gotta do it.

Where else can you race a speeding train on your left and Dolly Parton on your right?

There are no cars to speak of as you speed through miles of empty camp ground, through a tank tunnel, down an emergency runway onto Camp Pendleton Marine Base’s 2-lane country roads.

Flat.

Huge views of the ocean and open fields.

The guys are friendly and fast.

The finish is the longest, straightest sprint you’ll ever contest… the perfect place to test your limits.

Bring ID… required to get on the base.

171.6

Persistence

The number 1 quality Google is looking for in new hires is persistence.  Not genius.  Not charisma.  Not who you know, but will you stick to it?  Are you disciplined enough to see it through?

Got an awesome text this morning from my formerly, and terribly, out of shape friend.

5 years ago, at 300+ pounds he started riding.

He started competing.

Getting killed.

Now, he wins races from time to time.  It’s taken 5 years.

I didn’t ask him to text me.  He did because he knows I care and appreciate the battle.

Persistence isn’t easy, it’s not natural… it sure is fun to see, and be.

It’s Still Possible

It’s still possible to get better, faster in bike-speak.  You can improve, but you’re going to have to change.  You might have improved in the past simply by going on vacation.  You can get a PR next week, next ride.

Take today:

Young Kevin is hitting the wall hard, chasing down Jorge.  Then, a new young buck gallops up to him.  A huge gap is opening.  We steadily ramp up the pace.  I’m slobbering all over my top tube… just, barely, making it over the top.

The rotations are fast.  There’s a reason the skinny kids left us behind: we are old, and heavy… and gravity is going to steamroll us over their young fantasy.

This happens almost every week, but I’m here and I am different.  I am fresh off 4 days of altitude and 150 miles of tempo.  Compare that to my usual Saturday leg breaking ride and you’ll see Toddy B. Fresh.

Boom, I PR the 5 miles from Cook’s Corner to the finish (231 Strava recordings)… simply because I’m more rested and still have the legs to skewer one of the kids and half the group.

Not braggin’, just sayin’ … you can do better if you’re willing to change your approach.

Where’s The Finish Line?

A real conversation, only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Horatio A. calls up Todd to chat about his team kit order and as the convo concludes the unOFFICIAL TMWC comes up.  He’s curious about how it’s different from every other TMWC.

Is it faster?

Well, yeah it’s totally nuts… but you’ll be fine.

Do we all do the Varsity Loop?

No, we all do the original course… but there’s no re-group.

Do we race all the way to the end?

Yep, just like every week.

Really?  What about the 2nd re-group and the way we just cruise back down Antonio to the start?

Ahhh… well bro, the finish is not at the start.

It’s not?

Nope… it’s at the end of the Drag Strip, where the 15 m.p.h. sign is right before the right hander.

So that’s the finish.

Yep, there’s an old piece of tape across the road next to the 15 mph sign… and tomorrow I’ll be testing out the new timing system.

We’re timing the ride that day?

Yep, that’s why it’s the unOFFICIAL TMWC.  Plus, we’ll ride back together and mow down some delicious food and honor this year’s champions.

How the heck can you plan to win if you don’t know where the finish is? 

(Are you registered?)

(the best chips money can buy)

(this is what our sign looks like… I’ll get a better pic)

As The Wheel Turns – Leg 10 Vision Relay

Every team on course is struggling.  Dave Zabriski’s loaded team will win and finish 3 hours behind the course record.  We battle ourselves as much as the elements, but even a super challenging day will offer something to keep you going.

Mine comes at the top of Cedar Breaks and will end in Cedar City.

16.7 miles down.

4,000 feet below.

42.7 mph average.

52.3 mph max.

Heaven.

While I get settled, there is mutiny.

Everybody is exhausted, frustrated and tired.  Someone suggests we pull the plug.  Another seconds that emotion.  Soon guys are checking Uber – from UTAH!  Whimper whispers of protest, then surrender.

The sweat swirls the bottom of the soul trough, and then Nate to the rescue!  He plugs the hole.  “I did so much to get here, sacrificed more than I should have and we’ve all ridden our guts out! It’s been 30 hours, we’re seeing this through.”

Problem solved, will resolved… remembering what it takes to get here.

35 hours after we started, our last crew swings across the line.  The time expectations were far faster, and so were every other racers’.

The dinner talk is dominated by what we can do better next year.  Where should we start now?  Does it matter or is a rolling circus in a motorhome, mocking each other… feeding each other… just being kids the better goal?

Champions regroup, the wheels keep turning.

(Nate!)

This Too Is Racing – Leg 6 Vision Relay

The KOM flags pound off the ground, flattened by driving wind under a massive moon.  It’s sub-50 and I’m alone – our team of 4 blown to bits.  My body shakes… how did I get here?

– insert rewind sound here –

The huge battery to power my massive beam for the harrowing decent (sprinkled with black cows!) is fully charged, but I forgot to pack the beam itself. Doh!

Patrick’s beam is charged and ready, but he’s missing the mount to secure it to his bars.

The wind shoves Stan and his deep dish wheels across the road.

Jim’s asthma has drained the oxygen from his soul.

Nice beginning to a 20-mile climb.

At one point the wind blows so hard my bike stops and I’m saved only by my cat-like reflexes… cleats clawing, scratching the asphalt.

Thousands of feet higher, it’s just me.

I kill my back up light (I’m not a total idiot!).  The gusts turn and blow from behind.  A moment to live for…

… I’m being followed by a moon shadow…

This too is racing.

 

Racing Is Racing – Leg 2 Vision Relay

Racing is racing.  Yes, I signed on to “race” with my pals in the Non-Competitive division of the Vision Relay… but trust me, it’s competitive.  We’ve already had to Nascar 4 flats.  Now, we’ve got a bloody arm with a deeply scraped and bruised hand hanging off the end.  This is racing.

Things go wrong, when you go fast.

You get tired.

Dehydrated.

Hungry.

The parts you carefully inspected break.

… and the arrow on the stupid meter screams towards red.

It happens to all of us, and we forget it will continue to happen to all of us… That’s why we race, to remind us things go wrong goofing around on the bike and in “real life”.

(fueling up)

A Dam Fine Day

Vegas is hot.  Mike says it’s dry.  At 630, plenty hot.  Hell, it was hot last night when we pulled in at 1230.  We’re on our way to Moab, to race back to St George: The Vision Relay.  Before we get there, Chris insists we do the best ride in Vegas, the Hoover Dam.

It’s awesome, you ride your bike across the top with a handful of cars.  You’ll pass golden doors, stare down a million feet.  Check it out up close.  And, and you’ll see a road sign of unusual shape.

We hit Roberto’s for breakfast burritos and set course for St George, UT.  Get there, grab a motorhome, swing through Walmart, and we are on the road.

Motohoming is the best and Utah is greener than I’ve ever seen it.

In Moab, the rest of our 4 teams of 4 are eating Thai food.  Chad ordered Thai inspired steak fajitas, wish I’d done the same.  We make up for it with huckleberry ice cream in waffle cones.

Time for bed, for tomorrow we race.

 

Robots.

They race like robots, say the old riders.  Head down.  Looking at their numbers.  Robots are taking over, everything.  Big data, big results.

Power meters on the bikes, heart rate monitors on the riders, radios in the ears, electric shifting… delivering a predictably predictable product.

Wouldn’t it be great to toss it all out?

Metering your power based on feel, riding with your heart, grabbing a down tube shifter in a sprint?

Real, human, racing.

 (This robot made beautiful, perfect copies of my new office key with no character… no locksmith needed.)

Speed Is In The Air

For the past 5 weeks The TMWC has been a little bigger, a little snappier.  A few more riders, from a few more miles away pop in to check it out.  Carpetbaggers, come to crush the regulars.

This happens every year, and every year some outsider comes away with the title:  Travis Wilkerson, Fabrizio Von Nacher, Robert Freeman, Kevin Vermaerke (I’m only throwing Kevin here because he races in Europe now).  All Cat 1’s or Pros.

Well, not this year… my money is on the home team.

One of the guys has got capture the title this year.

5 more weeks to find out who it will be.

Registration is open now.

(couldn’t get the group in 1 shot this morning)

Battle Hymns

Music makes me wanna shred the trails.  But… it’s gotta be right.  Right beat.  Right words.  Right angst.  Drench my bones… TWITCH!

No playlists for me.

Give me one song.

Turn it to 10.

Play it over, AGAIN!

… an arrow and bow, let’s go!

GMR – TT For Sure I’ll Beat That Guy

He looks like God, after a full journey on Earth.  Blazing white hair, a smile to warm you.  Yes, he’s pushed the cranks around a few times.  He’s just happy to be here, racing… little did I know behind that smile rests the confidence of a killer.

Herb Johnson is 72, and will rip your legs off.

Sure, I’d scouted a HUNKR course the day before.  Sure, my heart rate monitor decided not to work.  Sure, Carl Neilson started 30 seconds behind me, blew by me in the first 2K, and smoked every other racer on the mountain… racing my 55+ category… sure I hadn’t slept much…

… sure, sure, surely at least I’ll beat that old fossil I saw warming up…

Hahahaha… slayed by Herb!  And he’s so nice and humble you just want to thank him.

There’s nothing like riding your bike and being inspired by your peers and elders and youngers.

(Herb took 2nd in the 55+ and Carl won 55+ beating all ages and putting 8 minutes on me – he beat me at Sea Otter RR too)

There is a King awaiting you at the GMR TT