Circle X Ranch

Hey there, would you boys like some ice water?  High above the Malibu coast it was pushing 88 degrees and we were covered in salt.  45 minutes prior, on Mulholland, I’d drained my last bottle… Yes, that would be wonderful.

This was a scouting ride for HUNKR – Malibu, and we were counting on the Circle X Ranch drinking fountain – it’s warm and somewhat unfresh.  When the Camp Host returned we learned her story.

We sold everything.  Everything.  We don’t own anything.

My husband retired and we travel the country staying in National Forests and State Parks as camp hosts..

… and fine hosts they are.

Link to potential course


2 years ago we moved to San Clemente.  The commute has been a grind at times, 60-90 minutes a day.  In the car.  But, you get used to it.  After many years in the same office location.  It becomes familiar, and mysteriously secure.

Packing up the office yesterday I felt a little fear, fear of change.  We have a good thing going on Foothill Ranch.  Would a move throw us off our groove?

Today, after an 8 minute commute, we opened new doors with a beautiful view sure to spawn new ways of looking at what we do.

Change is good.

(Hard to get a good shot, but we’re about 150 yards from the Dog Park trail network.)

The Plate

If you join AAA you get their premium DMV service – nice office, no lines, pleasant workers… who seem to love what they do.  One day I went in to take care of some moto registration issues and asked, Hey can you check on a custom plate for me?

Sure.  What do you want?

PDL IND, I said.

What is that… some kind of alphabet soup?  C’mon what do you really want (it almost sounded like she whispered “in life”)?

Oh, it won’t be available.  Surely someone will have claimed what I want.

If you don’t tell me what it is, I can’t check (but it seemed like she was saying “give it to you”).

Uh, well… PEDAL.

Hang on… you’d be surprised how many people never ask for what they want.

P E D A L?

Yes, that’s it.

Al Ou Mini Um

Alouminium, Bob said.  What?  Al-ou-minium.  Huh?  Al-ou-minium… like the foil.  Oh, aluminum.  He’s English.  I’m ‘Merican.  Ever since then, when I say aluminum I pronounce it in my head alouminium… which is often now that I have an aluminum frame bicycle, again.

Cycling Tips‘ podcast covering frame stiffness is really interesting.  They put forth that the idea that rider’s bikes should ultimately be matched to their weight, power and fitness… that when you get it right it’s like when a boat planes across the water.

In the end, the consensus was that matching frame stiffness was far, far down the list of things to make you go faster.  Aero, comfort, weight, rolling resistance all outweighed stiffness.

Which brings me to the new ride… on paper it’s stiffer than carbon, but it doesn’t bother me.  It’s definitely more aero and faster than my old bike.  I’m not sure if it climbs better, too subjective of a measurement for me.

Any way, check out the podcast.

Wanna Be Starting Something

It’s 530AM.  The speedo says 85.  Michael’s cranked:..

Wanna be starting something, gotta be starting something

At 730AM I’m gonna be racing my first SoCal business park crit in 22 years.  4 turns.  Wide straights.  Thunderous announcing.  I recognize a few of the names from the Race Predictor… which has me predicted to finish last.

So, it’s come to this.

I’m back where it started, and ended.

Bar to bar.  Wheel to wheel.

Fake attacks.  Real attacks.

Breakaways.  Chases.

Teamwork vs. freelancing.

I’ve always preferred freelancing.  Just my nature.  It’s hard to beat an organized team, If you’re gonna freelance…

… You gotta be starting something…

Making you’re own breaks, faking your own attacks, watchin the wheels, listenin to the breathing, feelin the energy of the swarm.

Nothing like it.

Epic Genetic Freak

Mh friend Bart is in town this weekend.  Normally he brings his Pinarello with him, but he’s focusing on overall fitness this year.  The crazy thing about Bart, the thing I love, is he’s all about accelerating the learning process.  Whatever he’s into he finds the best coach and goes all in.

But it’s better than that.

I’m a questioner and he’s a learner.

Bart, why can’t you eat sardines?  I don’t know, he says, coach wants me to eat everything on this list.  That’s how he progresses so fast.  He hires the best… doubt not, just do it!

His body has totally changed.  The gut (what gut he had) is gone.  He’s 43.  He’s much muscle-ier.  Todd, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been and I’ve lost 10 pounds.  (I’m thinking, dam!… me want.)

What’s awesome for me is, he’s done LoToJa 5 times with great results and this year he’s not doing it – not riding enough.  Which means… he’s gonna teach me his secrets AND be my support on race day.  Yep!

Hope I can keep my mouth shut.

Just. Average. Joe.

A million years ago, we had these Avocet computers that were ground breaking.  There were as small as a Garmin, a wire dangled down to a sensor on your fork, reading a magnet attached to your spokes.  Bam!  We had speed, distance and average speed.  What did you average man?!

That was the question, the mark.

We’d go out for a ride and it was all about the average speed.

Easy ride, keep it under 16.

Hard ride, keep it over 23.

And everything in between.

Michael Marckx reminded me of this a few weeks back.  I asked him how fast Swami’s Wednesday Worlds is on the way back south.  His answer: I try and average 23 miles an hour for my entire ride – warm up, ride, cool down.

That’s fast.

I’d forgotten all about that metric, didn’t even have the data field on my Garmin.  It got me thinkin’, so I looked up my average speed last Saturday (19.9) and my race the previous Saturday (20.2)… that includes the warm up and cool down.

Way under 23, but… I’m just an average Joe.



We Just Have A Lot Of Heart

In the middle of a meeting today, my customer received a large sealed envelope.  Inside was an award from a powerful government organization.  It’s a big deal.  It will mean a lot to their future.  They’re in the middle of a record year.  How do you do it?

See that’s one of the things I love about what we do.  I get out and see all kinds of amazing businesses with incredible stories.

Today, ten days after a dejected Tejay van Garderen expressed major doubt in his ability to deliver an overall win in the Giro De Italia, he dropped all the contenders and scored his first grand tour stage victory.

We have a lot of heart man, that’s how come we are killing our competitors.


There’s A New Shop In Town

Stopped by to see my buddy Dan at Bowl of Heaven.  He’s the healthiest nut I know, and I’m his guinea pig.  “Vitamin K2, will change your life.”  He busts out the research papers, the book on why it’s missing from modern diets, what it does:  higher bone density, larger stroke volume in the heart, etc… then he says, I wanna stay young.

Young means vibrant and healthy to us.

We chat.

He asks, did you see the new bike shop around the corner?

Yep, on the way in.

I popped in to say hi and found a new voice, ready to call out to his people and serve them and keep them loving the sport.

That’s 3 shops within 5 miles.

That’s healthy.




What A Crappy Way To Lose!

It’s racing right?  Your competitor has a mishap and you capitalize… all’s fair in love and war and racing… where is the line that gets crossed when the race is on?  The pros do all kinds of respectful waiting and gentlemanly things we’d never, ever see at a local race.  Maybe it’s the TV cameras that brings out the best in the pros?  Whatever… something was definitely coming out of Tom Dumoulin at just the wrong moment during Stage 16 of the Giro D’Italia today.

While he was dumping, the race leaders did some dumping of their own… leaving poor Tom behind to clean up his own mess.

He lost of 2 minutes of his overall lead, and just “clings” to the pink jersey.

Should the top guys have waited?

I dunno.

They certainly didn’t wait for Geraint Thomas when a moto took him and his teammate out during the first week.

I thought it was cool when Tom waited up for Quintana a few race days back.  I’ve always thought it was cool that the pros would want to win with honor.

Probably because I’ll take a win any way I can.

Don’t you?


Lunch Ride

Spider-sense told me it’s time to change up the routine.  “Get your buns in to the office early, then go for lunch ride”.  Typically I ride early Monday… heck, early everyday.  A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out, so I took heed to Spidey.

Up at 6, did some reading and cranked out some push ups and pull ups before eggs, avocado, Cuties and a banana.

The commute sucked more at that hour, but the office was silent.

Got a bunch done.

Spun for an hour at Noon… there’s something to be said for daylight and heat.

Great day.


My Favorite Summer Ride

The sun peaks in around 530AM.  No wind.  No fog.  I’m definitely riding today, no more doubt in the whether.  I pull up YouTube and drift off to Spanish Giro dreams for another hour.

It had been a busy week, and I didn’t want any pressure of meeting up.  I just wanted to roll out and follow the inspirations of the day.

Now I have 5 minutes to ride 2 miles to catch the Mach 5 group heading up the coast.  It feels so balmy and thick and warm.  Expansive blue is everywhere.  Down Pico, hard right on PCH and they’re they are… I spin up and say howdy boys.

We take turns on the front of a short double echelon and catch up on our lives.  Life’s good.  Wonderful.

At Main Beach they go up the canyon and I press on northward.

Just past Chrystal Cove a group of riders clogs the bike lane waiting on a red light.  Green.  My momentum moves me through.  It’s the Irvine crew, laying down the miles for LoToJa.  “I heard you got in Todd.”  I did, and I haven’t paid… too scared to commit to a 204 miles bike race.

They’re committed.

Some started at 5am.  Family men.  Getting it done before the kids are up.  Committed.

They keep rolling north, I turn up Newport Coast.

Riding up Newport Coast on a day like today is heavenly.  The electric blue sea grows, it’s 17 minutes to the very top.  Not hard.  Not easy.  Invigorating.  The view up top is forever:  to the east are the mountains the pros racing Tour of California will play in today, north down town LA, south San Diego.  I’m king of my mountain for a few moments.

It’s 822AM.

Can I make it Back Bay and up the bike trail in 20 minutes?

I think so.  Down.  Fast.

830AM, MacArthur and San Joaquin.  No way i’ll make it.  Turn right on MacArthur.  Ride. Fast.

Up the bike trail.  Off the bike trail.  Left turn.

848AM Crane my head over the wall peering, hoping the Food Park ride hasn’t left.

They’re gone.

Right on Main.  I see a group.  It’s small, I haul right past them… too small to be Food Park, I think.

Ride. Faster.

I see riders looking for a group.  Slowly it dawns on me, “that was Food Park.”  It’s a small group today because many people are spectating at Tour of California and the rest are resting for The Belgian Waffle Ride.  So I slow, and wait with a local pro triathlete.  He’s young and salivating to slay me and everybody else.

We latch on to Food Park and it’s the usual full-gas parade through Irvine.  At the lights I catch up with Bonifast, Rigo, and say hi to the rest of my pals.  More gasolina through Leisure World – oxymoron of cycling.  And full flame throwers up El Toro.  Down the canyon we steamroll until Big Hoops cuts across yet another wheel and almost takes us all out – selfishness at it’s best, but hey he won “the sprint.”

After about an hour of hitting it pretty hard I peal off and head home.  South.  Beautiful blue to my right and mountains to my left.

Josh and Jeff are riding slow enough for me to catch.  Resting up for BWR fellas? Oh yeah!  We sneak through the alleys of Laguna Beach.  Talk about BWR, and LotoJa.  These guys are tough nuts.  They stay home, I keep heading home.

Zach catches up to me.  Hey man, HUNKR was hard!  You did it?  Yes, it was harder than I planned on… can’t wait to do another.  Awesome.  Stay tuned, we’ll be announcing dates soon.

We chat all the way to Kaylani’s.

He rides south.

I stop.

It’s sunny. Warm.  Big Blue’s breeze is just right.


(It’s no secret… today was awesome!)


The Whether Report

There’s an 83% chance I’ll ride in the morning… could be a late night, could be some sleeping in, rest would do me some good…

…but man the weather looks awesome tomorrow…

whether or not we ride.



My Spanish Ears

Having “cut the cord”, it’s hard to find the Giro d’Italia Live coverage.  The only feed I consistently find each day is in Spanish… the language of favorite Columbian Nairo Quintana.  Apparently nobody cares if the dumb Americans pick it up.

A million years ago I was bilingual.

These days, twooo feeeesh tacos is about it.

However, HOWEVER!, 11 stages into the Giro my Spanish ears are back!

Granted it helps that we are “talking” only about cycling.  Most of the language is straight forward, the names of the racers are easy to pick up, and occasionally I learn a new word like “gregarios”… it’s not the gregarious racers, it means followers or chasers.

It’s sad to lose the gift of a 2nd language, but that happens with neglect.



What I Want From My Bike Shop

I want my bike shop to know more than I know about the latest and greatest.

I want them to be able to understand my goals and help me achieve them.

I want them to suggest the very best product for me.

And, I want them to stand behind their product if/when it fails.

For example, last night I went to buy new tires.  They suggested I go with a new tire.

“It’s the best.  The fastest.  Made by the same guys that developed the tire you love, but now they work for a new company.  And, it’s cheaper.  Plus, I’ve been on it for 1300 miles and loved it.”

How could I resist?

I’m super loyal and it takes a lot to get me to switch brands, but they had me on this one.  So, I followed their suggestion even though my spider-sense was screaming “nooooooooo!”.

10 miles into my ride over to The TMWC I sliced the sidewall.

Now, when you prep the night before for 20 minutes making sure everything is ready to roll for your 5AM wake up call… you get up groggy and foggy… hustle to meet the fellas… and slowly amp up the energy for the weekly ride… and your new tire fails miserably…

… dawgawnit!…

It wasn’t the end of the world, it just sorta sucked in a most sucky way.

Fortunately, I roll prepared with a tube, air, AND a $1 bill… there’s nothing better than a $1 bill to boot a tire.  I hung my head and did the “walk of shame” ride back home.

The shop guys felt bad.  They agreed the sidewall was ridiculously thin and gave me full credit for both new tires towards my old, trusty tires (Continental GP 4000s ll’s).

Did they do me wrong by making the switch?  No.  I’d much prefer the shop to be on the lookout for newbetterfaster product.  And I’d much rather test it on a weekly group ride than on race day.

It’s all good.

A truly pathetic sidewall supported by a $1 bill.

A truly pathetic sidewall supported by a $1 bill.

Shoulda Listened To Spidey

Why don’t we listen to our Spidey-sense – or whatever you call it at your house – more?  Mine was telling me to swap out my rear tire for a week now.  Got lucky at last Saturday’s race, and all week.  Got a slow leak with 20 miles to go today.

Which lead to some wicked cramps.

There again, I cramped bad 2 years ago – the last time I raced San Luis Rey.  I shoulda known I needed to address that.  It’s hot, and the attacks are incessant.

Next time.


The New RaceDay Bag Video

We are 100% a referral business.  It works really well for us.  As we expand our reach, I find myself spread thin sharing our message and what we do.  For example, the RaceDay Bag is so rad and everybody that has one loves it.  So, we made this video to ‘splain to more peeps so those peeps can show up to their next ride with ALL their gear.

Buy Now.

black rdb

In The Lungs Of The Beholder

One man’s hard ride, is another’s easy spin.

One man’s beatdown, is another man’s social hour.

One man’s fat, is another man’s skinny.

One man’s clunker, is another man’s racer.

One man’s big week, is another man’s rest week.

One man’s eating good, is another man’s eating crap.

It’s all in the lungs of the beholder.


The Calendar

I haven’t raced road this much since my kids were tiny.  Didn’t have the desire.  My priorities were all about gettin’ ’em the skills to enjoy a great life.  Suddenly no success outside our home compared to giving success inside our home my best efforts.

My riding wandered from road to mountain to epic mountain to super-d, enough to stay in shape and have some fun.  Then overnight my oldest, Trevor, got into road… and here I am…

…on the road again…

Looking to do the few remaining races on the calendar.

(My last road race… Cat 3, my only solo to victory ever.)

cat 3

Time Can’t Change Me, But I May Change Time

It’s 4:45AM.  I’m awake.  Restless.  70 miles of tarmac separate me from Antelope Island – it’s bison, bugs and famous road race.

No less than 3 National Champs will be lining up in my group.  Better early than late.

I make a deposit at the porcelain potty.  Slip on jeans and a t.  Crack open the King Oscar sardines and add an apple a banana and some dried apricot to my buffet.  Chase it all down with 45 ounces of triple strength Chrystal Lite Energy.

Weird, but powerful.

The streets are quite.  Waze routes me north.  80mph all the way.  Bowie is cranked.

To get to the island, you drive across 7 miles of causeway.  A stout wind is blowing from the south.  We’ll be racing on this stretch – out and back.  I figure this is good for me as the wind will hurt the little guys more than me.

Gazillions of bugs pepper the windshield.  Column after column of the bugs line the causeway.  When I stop, the living bugs swarm the car.  I’m not in a hurry to get out and join them.

The race promoter is prepared and the line is short.  Flip flops fly me back to the car.  I grab a towel and kit up in the car.  Bugs everywhere.

Matt and I spin on the road, twenty minutes till race time.  I see Scott – he sprays my number with glue and slaps it on.  Danny says hi and asks about the RaceDay Bag for speed skaters. I meet Don Bowen in person as the race officials give us the low down.

Who’s who?  Where are the champs?  Somebody says Zan.  A top tube says Dirk. Mark is on the move.  We’ve covered the out portion of the causeway pretty steady.  Dirk’s teammate and another guy are off the front about a minute.  Nobody seems worried, me either.   The players are here.

At the U-turn, things get spicy.  Attack.  Rest. Attack.  Rest.  Attack. Rest. A mile from the island it’s all out and 5 of us are away.  My legs scream, we have a huge gap, and I’m all in.  Mark and Zan are here.  Dirk is about a minute back.  I like this.  But, we’re slow.

Dirk and 4 more join.  We are still relatively slow.  Later I would learn the other 20 pulled the plug.  We ride 5 loops of a circuit at tempo.  Not easy, not too hard.

The southern wind blows hard as we exit the circuit and head south about 10 miles.  It’s a slight climb and guys are starting to go for it.  This could be interesting.  The wind is very strong… too strong for my liking.  I chase things down, but don’t make any moves.

We reach the turn around together, 11 of us.

With the wind at our back I pull hard and cause a small fissure.  Nobody helps.  I try again.  Nada.  Dirk takes off.  He gets about 30 seconds on us.  A few miles later he’s back.  Zan goes for a big dig.  I cover.  I’m most worried about him because he smoked all my buddies at MTB Nationals last year.  I don’t know anything about the other two champs.  Attacks are going and coming, we lose one or two guys.

Nothing sticks.

I can see the long hill, the finish line is around the bend on top.

1k to go.

What am I doing leading?

500 to go, I get swarmed.  Not good. A gap opens and I’m leading again, but I don’t care.

Adrenalin is pumping hard.  I hear my breath, but feel nothing.

At 200 Mark takes off.

I launch.

He’s gone.

I’m clear.



The causeway at sunrise


bugs, bugs, bugs


thrilled with this


we’re old… and that’s okay.