The Spoke N Word

Went to dinner with my friend Mckay tonight.  He was in town on business.  Which is weird since he’s the biggest party planner I know, it’s hard to square with his business empire.  The last time we were together was Moab 2016.

His plan: let’s ride the White Rim Trail in a day.  That’s 100 miles of incredible views on 4×4 road.

Before that we did the entire Tour of California.

We did the 24 hours of Moab race on a 4 man team.

We took the families to Moab 20 years ago and walked along dinosaur prints.

We rode a bunch of sweet single track in NorCal where he lives and rented cabins in Tahoe with the families.

Ya need a guy like McKay to be part of your life.  Someone that’s always on the look out for an adventure… a “I wonder if we could ride from here to there in a day”.

He’s always inviting me, and I don’t go nearly enough.

Anytime I come up with an idea, his answer is nearly always the same… “let’s do it!”

On these adventures there’s always time to talk, hash out the ways to approach the current stage in life.

We ended tonight talking about The Life Of Pi.  He’s the only person I’ve met that understood the meaning of the book the same as me.

“If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”
Yann Martel, Life of Pi

The Hills Round Here

Finally got TB out on the MTB!

It’s so green, and alive… and it was quite warm as the sun settled over coastal fog.  Matt and Robot joined me.  Robot forgot he had to pick up plans for an inspection in the morning, he bailed early at Cactus Trail.  Matt forgot his MTB shoes and painfully pedaled with tenni’s, so we got him a RaceDay Bag and he’ll never forget his shoes again.

This time of year I like to ride from the office on Wednesday evenings.  We are two blocks from Whiting Ranch.  It’s easy to get out and do 60-90 minutes of climbing, either on Harding Truck Trail or Santiago Truck Trail.  That makes for a nice 2-21/2 hour ride.

Those types of climbs are important to be doing for my next targeted event: Whisky 50.

We hit Whiting, then crossed over into Cleveland National Forest.  The plan was to roll to Old Camp, but Matt’s feet were on fire due to shoe selection and we shot down The Luge.

Wow!  The Luge is in phenomenal shape.  New berms.  Stutter bumps filled in.  I’d say it’s like the luge of old, but it’s actually better.

Daylight was thinning out, and I didn’t mind cutting the ride short.  Still got in a couple of thousand feet of vertical, not a bad start.  10 ten more weeks to get my body ready.

The gear is mostly all there, ‘cept my shoes.

My shoes are in desperate condition.  3 seasons is 2 seasons too many for race shoes.  They are beaten, torn, and have lost quite a bit of support under the tender, aging balls of my feet.

Shoes are always a tough purchase which is probably why I procrastinate it so much.

Top choices are expensive: $300-400.  Most shops don’t carry a good selection, and even when they do you’re trying on a shoe on a floor vs a shoe attached to a cleat and locked into a pedal.  Then, the color selections can be weird.

Generally, I just go with black:  it’s in stock most of the time and I love the look of black shoes and black socks… just looks like they mean business, the mean kind of business.

As much as I think I’ve mellowed over the years, when I target a race I’m just a different guy that day… it’s kinda a weird, this Hulk-like transformation.  It can be embarrassing if I get too wound up.

Maybe I should buy white shoes this time?  NO WAY!

Once the starter’s gun fires all those days of climbing for hours straight up will come to my mind and I’ll remember exactly why I showed up to race.

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The beautiful view from the top of The Luge

Do You Feel Lucky?

Is it okay to race not too lose?  Saturday I raced not too lose, and had a good result.  Two weeks ago I raced to win and had a better result.  Granted, one course I felt fit my skills and build perfectly… which had a decidedly different mindset than this week.  Saturday, I tucked for eight minutes straight at nearly 50 m.p.h. and caught up to two elite climbers… then I tucked my tail between my legs.

I quit my grit.

These two had just freewheeled down the hill.  I was all risk and made up a minute with my extra ballast.

Who was I kidding?  I was lucky to be here.

The good news was the chasers were out of sight.

We hit the climb again.  Rather than go all in as I had two weeks prior, I let them go.  I dosed my effort and raced not to lose.

Why press my luck?

When I got home I compared my times to last year.  This year’s winner, was also last year’s winner.  But this year’s winning times equaled my times of last year.  In other words, my effort from last year would have had me on pace to ride with the leaders this year.

In fact, I made up time on those two as the race wore on.

The point isn’t that I would have won this year… the point is my mindset was different.  I wasn’t feeling it.

Last year we raced an age group down, and had a much bigger field.  I knew the people between me and the winners weren’t “that” much better, and I dug a lot deeper because I “knew” I was good enough to beat the guys close to me.  Some of these other guys were riding buddies and I was confident that I could hang with them.

There was nobody in between me and the leaders this year… lonely pavement and stoic cacti.

Two weeks ago, I’d told myself if I can make it up the hill I have a chance – it was a flat finish after a long descent.  The closer we got to the finishing line the luckier I felt.

Is there something wrong with racing not too lose?  I don’t know the answer to that.

Just sometimes ya feel luckier.

Can you make your luck?  Kinda, by preparing and caring and doing all you can to be ready… picking the right course.

There’s (sic) other things outside of cycling that make me feel lucky.

They seem to spill into all the empty spaces and buoy me.  A clean office, being in synch with the TW, scoring a big order and having some extra coin in the bank, a call from one of my kids just to say hi, a good night’s sleep, seeing the sun shine at day break, taking time to pray and appreciate life before the day starts, a good comedy movie, a Rocky movie…

…maybe it’s age?…

Young TB used to just crank the metal music and get pissed off to unleash the mighty fury…

…what a punk!

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UCLA Road Race Insights

The winners of at least two of today’s UCLA Road Race categories attacked towards the top of the climb and built a big enough lead to solo to victory.

This is not Westwood, this is Pearblossom, CA a beautiful high-desert location (4700′) many miles NorthEast of LA.  The course is a 12.5 mile loop with about 1400′ of climbing per lap.  A climber’s course for sure, but it’s also a descenders course.

It’s physics.

The main climb will take the pro’s 10 minutes and the not-so-pro’s up to 15+ minutes.

The main descent will take the aero-big-boned about 8 minutes and the not-so-aero-big-boned up to 9+ minutes.

Don’t freak if you get gapped at the top by some little twig by 30 seconds.  Keep your head in the game.  Get low… there is no need to brake for any of the turns (this is my opinion, use good judgement.)

I saw two of today’s winners attack over the top and never look back… finishing with 2+ minutes gaps.

Putting 30-60 seconds on a group of guys means someone(s) in that group will have to ride awfully hard to catch you.  On a course like this, where the downhill is fast (I hit 49 mph), and at the bottom it rolls, it’s likely the group is going to look at each other and pray you fade on the climb – you might…

…or, you might pull off a victory never to be forgotten.

Find a position you're comfortable with... my triceps were on fire each plummet.

Find a position you’re comfortable with… my triceps were on fire each plummet.

Lancaster

In 2012 we came to Lancaster for Tour of California. It was a mancation and we were riding every stage. We woke up grabbed $30-40,000 worth of bikes out of the van and took off for Big Bear.

Shane, my son, got in the van an hour later and the tank said empty.

Dad, didn’t we fill up,last night?

Yes.

Why is the tank empty?

Lancaster.  Someone must have drained the tank. Go fill up and catch us.

Dad, I filled up and gas was going through the filler straight to the ground.

Lancaster.  They cut the lines instead of siphoning the gas.

Shane spent all day at a Ford dealer then chasing the peloton.  We spent all day in the glories of Southern California pines.

7am start tomorrow, so we drove up.

Lancaster.  Bikes inside hotel.

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Green Lights for HUNKR

I was asked today about the light at Ridgeline. “Will we have to stop?”

“Nope.”

We have received a permit from the City of Lake Forest to close this intersection during HUNKR – OC. This is one of many permits we’ve had to pull in order to provide an excellent day for the participants.

It’s not magic, it’s hard work and diligence on the part of HUNKR and the public servants who manage the roads trails and parks we’ll be using.

We have a great, big, giant vision of the HUNKR experience that fuels this effort.

Part of that experience and vision is making sure you can travel all 100k without stopping – unless you want to. Barring some sort of public emergency, you’ll be free to go for your personal record.

As we add more HUNKR events we’ll be building a database that will allow you to see how you stack up in your age group and against the fastest of the fast. Because the courses will have different features and be over different terrain – road (like OC), gravel and MTB – we assign differing degrees of difficulty.

You may prefer 100k gravel. You may find your best at 100k MTB. You may stick to road HUNKRs. No matter your preference we intend to provide you scenic open courses to challenge and delight you.

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Good Question

How come you can inflict all kinds of pain on yourself in a bike race and you’re such a baby at the dentist?  It’s weird, right?   I’ve cramped so hard at Tahoe 100 that I fell over and couldn’t get up by myself.  Still finished the race.  But I get in that dentist chair and look out…

I wear black t-shirts to the dentist to hide my sweaty pits.

My brow beads and drips.

A death grip on the handles.

Sure I had some youthful trauma, back in the days of hammer and saw dentistry.  But that was a long time ago, and my current dentist Paul is a college bud, nicest guy ever… he floats me a valium to take the edge off, we joke a lot, ask about each other’s kids, then I lay back… prepared to birth an alien.

I pay him for this, like I did this afternoon.

The day started off with Swami’s Wednesday beat down, which is free.  60 top athletes riding blistering through Camp Pendleton, the lungs burn and the throat is raspy, the group is whittled down to 30 after 30 minutes to cover 15 miles.  Do the math.

I control the pain on the bike, and the hurt is exquisite with an after glow and egg burrito at Ellie’s.

Paul controls the potential pain, and the potential hurt is just as real…

…with a mellow drifting into In-n-Out for a chocolate shake.

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I’ve Been SSAved

When the interwebs say rain tomorrow, I still set my alarm just in case.  5AM today came easy, fell asleep early to Silver Streak.  Horizontal, I checked Weather.com.  Cloudy?  Drops falling heavy banged through my cracked window.  Today I’d need the AssSaver.

Barefoot in PJ’s, the very heavy mist sprayed me and the cold, black asphalt below.

No TMWC today.

I read more Scott Adams, hilariously entertained and inspired.

Daylight came.

Still very wet.

Almost dug out the trainer from under the camping chairs.  Just couldn’t bring myself to ride indoors, gave it a loathing look is all.

Rest or Ride?

Ride.

Geared up with the usual:  kit, arm and knee warmers, wind/water resistant race jacket, new Deflect gloves, and the AssSaver.

Is there anything worse than water spraying up from your rear wheel, onto your rear, seeping into your chamois, and super-soaking your special purpose?  Let me just say, the AssSaver works as advertised.

12 miles and 2000′ of vert later, I rolled into the garage.  Shoes, wet.  Jacket, wet.  Warmers, wet.  Beanie, wet.  Bait and tackle, dry.

I got my AssSaver as part of my winnings at the Santa Barbara road race.  When they said I got an AssSaver I thought it was some sort of chamois cream…

…it’s a racy name to remember.

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Oh The Places You’ll Go!

Oh the places you’ll go on a bicycle will not be the same if you’re on a tourist bus or in a car or even on foot.  It’s just different on a bike.  You’re with the people, the culture.  Not quite a part, definitely not apart.

I’ve ridden the entire Tour of California in 2012.  A week of the Tour de France in 2005.  Park City countless times.  Moab many times.  Sedona a few times.  From the sea to volcano on Maui, and all the way around Oahu – once each.

It’s not much of a list, but it’s my list and I’d like to add to it.

A week in Italy with Craig.  Moab with the latest in full suspension vs my XC whips.  Across the US would be epic, but I’m not sure my body would make it.  The Netherlands would be cool – flat and super accommodating.  PViddy says Australia is amazing – I’ve got 30 months to take advantage of that.  Definitely need a crack at LoToJa, with a few days in Jackson Hole.   The Main Divide – at least of week or two of it.  I think it would be nuts to do the Megavalance in Alpe D’Huez.  Jeff is always wanting to do one of those kookie 7 day MTB races.  Then there’s the Cape Epic.

Reading that last paragraph over I can see I still have some races I want to do, they crept in at the end… nothing wrong with that.  At this point in my life, once I feel I’ve given an event my best I like to move on.

Which brings up Whisky 50.

That one still needs a good whack.  4 years ago I rode with Trevor, back when he was just figuring out racing.  2 or 3 years ago was the snow year.  Last year I did the 30 but I was still in the over-training hole.  I signed up for the 50 this year, but that as before I realized Shane and Abbey graduate the day before – and 600 miles away.

For sure, I’ve got my excuse in place for this year’s Whiskey 50… let’s see if I can get the legs ready…

…now back to that list…

oh the places

I Might Like You Better If We Rode Together

Conversational paced bike rides are awesome, if you strike up a conversation.  If you’re shy, or unsure, you are a social sandbagger.  Cut loose, add your story and knowledge to our community.  You have something we need to know.  Here are some basic skills to put in your jersey pocket.

Rule number 1… Everybody is too busy thinking about what you think of them to actually think anything about you.  This is #legit and important to remember because as a cyclist you need to conserve energy.  Thinking people are actually thinking about you is a big, fat, FAKE obstacle for you to do a conversational wheelie over.  Once I realized this it was so freeing… you just have to go for it.

First… Introduce yourself.  “Hi, I’m Todd.” is so vulnerable that most people open up from there (refer to #1 if you’re wimping out).  You’ll get either “I’m _____” or if the don’t know about #1 they might just say nice to meet ya.

Second… “Where are you headed?”  Everybody wants to share their ride plan.  It’s easy.

Third… “Where did you start?” is a great follow up.  You can mix the order on these, and I’m probably mixing them up right now.

With these 3 questions you can usually dive down into the rabbit hole of a stranger’s life and make a new friend.  It’s not nosy because this is of interest to you.  You might be heading the same place, or you might meet a neighbor you never knew.  You might have 10 friends in common.  You might get a flat and need a tube or the reverse.

Fourth is my favorite… “What’s your big event or goal for the year?”  I love this question because here I’m going to find out what my new friend is really passionate about doing on a bike.  This question is a gold mine.  Here I’m bound to learn something new:  a race or ride, a diet, a gizmo, a travel destination, a segment of cycling in which I’m super ignorant, etc.

True passion will pour forth and I’ll (you’ll if you remember #1) be inspired – that’s a guarantee.

Fifth is right behind Fourth (see that pun?)… “What got you into riding bikes?”.  This is less about passion and much more interesting.  I ask this question because I’m always thinking about how to grow the sport.  The answers are so random and broad I’ve given up on a formula and decided it’s better to keep the community vibrant because we all get our friends involved in our own unique way.

Today, I met Dave and he shared that he got into cycling because of MS.

What???

You have MS?

No, he said… My brother has MS and I started doing the MS ride once a year to raise money.  I was 57.  I rode a 26 lb mountain bike to San Diego for the first 2 years.  Then, my friend had trouble with his vision and we rode a tandem – it was so fast I wanted more.  Then another friend loaned me his “old” race bike… I needed a seatbelt to hang onto it. Then I signed up for a double century, and I did pretty good.  Then I did a 400 mile race and qualified for RAAM.  I didn’t know what RAAM was.  I did a 500 mile race and they said I qualified for RAAM.  I decided to do RAAM (Race Across America).  I finished 2nd in my age group the first time, and won it the next 2 times.  It took him 12 days.

How cool is that?

It’s super rad.  He told me about his diet and what he’s changed how it’s improved his riding.  We talked about sleep strategies.  I got home and he’d Friended me of FB.  Will we ever ride together again?  Probably, but even if we don’t my friendship cup has been refilled.

Rule #1.

dave

Coldzzz

I like to stay out front.  That’s where the action is, that’s where the winning move will come from, and it’s safer.  Staying out front of cold season is the same thing.  You feel a cold coming on, take action quickly or be prepared to suffer needlessly/endlessly.

My solution is an old family recipe…

nnnnnot! my mom turned me onto this remedy and it works like magic…

… but ONLY if you take it at first hint of a cold.  Wait too long and you might miss the winning move.

It’s available at your local grocer.  Get it.  And start a write-in campaign for these cats to sponsor HUNKR – out of industry sponsors have the big bucks!

PS  Wouldn’t it be rad to find this at the local bike shop?!

coldee

Confident, Doubtful and Scared

The moment before you sign up for anything the confidence is high.  Then you sign up.  A momentary panic.  It’s real.  You’re committed, and you might fail.  In a bike race that could be failure to go fast, or even finish.  What to do?

My dad used to say (he still does), “Todd, you’ll have all the time you want to do all things you want if you’ll… Plan your work and work your plan.”  Bike racers need to have a training plan and follow it.

When PViddy and I were training for Leadville we’d get all panicky the week before, then look at ourselves and say “Trust your training”.  He’s an actual Olympic Gold Medalist, which is a little more weighty than high school varsity tennis.

Having a training partner is ginormous: accountability, sounding board, friendship and confidence.  Going it alone is heroic, but probably increases likelihood of failure 10X.

The event might be a long way off.  You get busy with your plan, and you gain confidence.  Maybe you have a testing day, things go well, you get more confident.

As the date gets closer, I get less confident.  Should I add some new gizmo? Change my diet? What about tire pressure?

The doubts creep in, bloom and scatter more seeds of doubt.

Trust your training… it’s like weed killer for doubts.

Confidence returns.

The morning of of the race, I often think Heck, I don’t even know if I want to do this… I don’t even care… I’ll probably fail.

The gun goes and whadaya know?… The training kicks in.  I feel okay.  A little confidence returns.

Some days, are just magical.  It all comes together.  The doubts are gone.  The confidence is full, and as the finish line approaches the Killer Instinct is on the prowl.

In the ride of your life, what should you be signing up for and seeing through to the finish?  What are you afraid to make happen?  What is calling your soul to do?

Make it happen… we’re counting on you to share your greatness.

no try

Podcasts

Podcasts are awesome.  The selection of topics is much more broad than radio, even satellite radio.  Which means the podcasters can focus on very narrow topics and then go deep.  Find a topic you like, and drown yourself in knowledge and insights.

My top categories are:  cycling, economics, marketing, fitness and “spiritual/wisdom”.

My favorite cycling podcasts are:

SoCal Cyclist – local guy interviewing big time cyclists

Cycling Tips – it’s weird, their website doesn’t showcase the podcast but it’s there.

Cycling Time Trial Podcast – I don’t TT, but you’d be surprised about what can you learn and apply from one discipline to another.

There are many more cycling podcasts.  They all tend to go very deep into an aspect of cycling the host is really into… and you might be too.

Podcast apps are free, just download and search for what you want to listen too.  The app will download new episodes when you are on wifi and delete them once you listen to them.  Love one?  You can save it.

New episodes are always available to teach me and introduce me to new ideas and ways of seeing the world.  For free, with zero data usage.

Turn that car ride into an engaging lecture.

Long slow mountain bike rides are another great place to listen – on the road I prefer to listen for approaching cars.

Download the app, it’s easy.  Search a topic, or one of the podcasts above.  Join the new and deep conversations of podcasters.

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Start and Finish

When does a race start and finish?

When the gun goes off?

When you get out of bed that morning?

When you start your taper?

When you sign up?

When you start your training block?

When you eye the event on the calendar?

When you decide you want to race?

When you buy a “real” bike?

When take off the training wheels?

When you are born?

When you cross the finish line?

When you recap it with your pals?

When you upload to Strava?

When you unload the car?

When you get cleaned up?

When you go to bed exhausted?

When your legs finally feel good again?

When your ready to find another race?

When you knew you were born to race the good race,

fight the good fight,

and finish knowing you couldn’t have done any better.

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Scouting out the start finish for HUNKR – Orange County http://hunkr.com/

It’s About Service

Exciting things are happening in bike shops around town.  SERVICE DEPARTMENTS.  Departments are being redesigned.  Work flow is being changed to allow for 24 hour turnaround – instant if it’s just a flat.  “And that’s pretty cool” (shout out to my daughter and our days watching Hanna Montana).

It’s pretty cool because that’s where shops can beat the pants off the interwebs.  The net aint gonna fix your rig, but the net can give shops great scheduling tools and intel to get you and your lovely steed back out riding.

There’s more to it.  This is a signal.  Your local shop is committed to your happiness more than ever.  It’s a signal.  The local shops as a whole are in it to win it.

I’m seeing all these signals as I get out and talk about HUNKR.  There’s an excitement in the air, new energy in many of service departments.

If you haven’t seen it, get out there.

And if you really want to play the game right, slide the mechanic a 5r when nobody’s looking… or bring in a sizzling pizza at lunch time… trust me on this, the very best service you’ve ever had is a fist full of quarters away at your local shop.  Show ’em some love.

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The Most Aero Upgrade Of The Year

The car was idling.  The heater was on.  39 degrees outside.  At 8am, we were two dudes with safety pins and race numbers about to pierce pristine lycra… well, I was.

Not Peter.

Peter had his number turned over and was… taping it?

What is that?

Double-sided tape.

How’s it work?

Like this.  Tape all the edges then put same tape in the middle of the number.  Then peal the back off, and press it onto you jersey… just… like… this!

…and just like that his number was perfectly flat, pressed onto his jersey.  No more number sailing around in the wind while sprinting at 30+ mph  Poof.  Magic…

It was awesome.  Silence vs the sound of holding a piece of paper out the window of a speeding car… during 2 hours of racing.

Not just the sound… being “aero” on a road bike can be the difference between 1st and 10th place.  It matters.  That’s why aero parts and frames and wheels sell for a premium.

To be safe we put two safety pins in.  They weren’t needed.

Thanks Pete!

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My Favorite Bike

My friends are flooding FB with requests that we all share pics of our favorite bike. The motivation is to change the conversation from political vitriol to something lighter, more fun and less emotionally charged.

Thats the bike riding community for ya… kids at heart.

The youthful heart of a kid can always overlook social/racial/economical/political/religious differences and find friendship through a common love.

Go ride your bike!

My favorite bike is the one I'm going to ride or race on during a weekend escape.

My favorite bike is the one I’m going to ride or race on during a weekend escape.

Prize Money and Spectacles

Why have prize money for a bike race?  Two good reasons:  to support the professionals so they can continue to thrill and inspire us; to create a spectacle, a drama and catch the attention of the casual observer.

Nobody really cares if Tiger Woods can sink a 6′ putt until there’s $1,000,000 on the line.

Put up big money, and you bring the general public into your world.  Joe Shmoe instantly has an interest.  He’ll watch.  He might take up the sport as thousands did in the late 90’s.  All of the sudden Grampa’s sport was cool.  Lots of advertisers caught on to this and soon the putts were for much more.

Can we do that with HUNKR?  That’s certainly the grandmasterflash vision we have.

What about the women, how’s the prize money work for them?

Our singular mission is to grow the sport.  Getting female participation from 10% up to 35% like Triathlon is the first step.  Getting female participation equal to male is the quest.  Men and women are racing the same distance, working as hard as they can.

Prize money for men and women is the same

…some day that will be a big money spectacle!

prize