Todd's Blog


BREAKTHROUGHS

TODD BROWN Bike Life

BREAKTHROUGHS

BREAKTHROUGHS ARE WEIRD.  We work and work and work to get better and seemingly get nowhere.  Then, as if touched by the gods, we are magically better.  The leap in improvement seems overnight.

But, that's not really how it works.  

The effort, the probing, the trying new things, etc... like the straw that broke the camel's back... eventually breaks us through to... better.

Works every time.  Persistence pays.

Just not how we think.

For instance... somehow my chess rating has jumped about 150 points in the last month... this is after a year of playing, and months stuck at the lower rating.  Can't really place my finger on when it happened, but one day I took a different approach and it worked.

Or... my quest to drop 10 lbs.  Been on that for a couple of years.  Trying all kinds of kooky stuff... then last summer I stumbled upon my fruit 'till noon.  Bam, I'm down 10.

Next up... it's not settled 100%, but I'm thinking of going for my PR on Harding.  

____

160.2
0/0
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STANDARDS

TODD BROWN Bike Life

STANDARDS

JUST IN:  WEIGHT OF A KILOGRAM UPDATED IN 2018.  K, it's not just Just In... it happened a month or so ago and you can bore yourself here.  But, let's just consider the ramifications for us racers who cut our bike weight to the legal limit set by the UCI - if you buy an off the shelf superawesome bike it'll be lower than "legal".

I don't really care if you bike is below legal, that's for you to have sleep with each night... but, it is interesting to note the role standards play.

It's almost impossible to believe that all countries didn't have the same kilogram standard, but it was true for many years.  Or that we are adjusting it ever so slightly in the 21st Century.  It's been around since 1889.  All fine and all true.

Will that happen to the Kilometer as well?  Will a HUNKR, no longer be a the same distance?  Ever so slightly longer or shorter?

Without agreed upon standards of measurement, science, reliable science, would proceed much slower... if at all.  It would be chaos and constantly starting over.  With standards, the big-brained can collaborate and quickly build on each other's work.

As the scientists rush to refine their standards... what about ours?

____

161.8
10/35
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WE START TO FINISH

TODD BROWN Bike Life

WE START TO FINISH

I HAD EVERY INTENTION OF STARTING TODAY'S DIRTY 30, and no intention of racing it.  But, then I pulled in and saw the Start banners and the Finish arch.  Well... once you throw your I'm just gonna have fun plan out the window all kinds of things can happen.

For me, the best was meeting Paul from Velofix.  I asked if he planned on working much, he said Racers come prepared, should be a light day. And just like that I remembered how awful my cranks have felt all summer. 

He brought in Adam who said, Dude, that's 200 watts easy.

What?

The drag.

What's causing it?

You're missing a washer which is causing the seal to bind.  This is terrible.

Being that I haven't focused much on mountain bike racing I'm not surprised I neglected my rig's maintenance.  That also goes a long way to explaining my truly disheartening performance on TMWC Gravel this week, and last Saturday's slog to Cocktail Rock.

The best racers are always good mechanics... and boy, have I ever failed at this.

Which brings me back to the title.  We start to finish. 

We start every race/ride to finish it. 

Nobody starts with the intention of quitting.  Quitters never finish. 

But, it's not just finishing. 

I could have finished today, even giving up all those watts.  But, by default it would have been less than my best.  My best would have seen to it that the rocket was ready to shoot skyward vs a sputter and flame out. 

If I'm gonna start something, the goal is to finish as best as possible.  That's it. 

_____

What a beautiful day ahead.

Among the first to set up

Adam, gettin' 'er dialed in

Chris comes through with the Mexican Coke!

Plenty a peeps

Not too shabby... I started with the wrong wave, but Timing said gaps wouldn't have made a difference.  Just happy to be here...

 

____

160.8
9/36
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ONE OF THESE DAYS

TODD BROWN Bike Life

ONE OF THESE DAYS

JUST AS I WAS CERTAIN I COULD SELL HVY MTL (my accidentally wrong "gravel" bike that's a touring bike)... along comes Haruto.  I could see him from 200 meters away.  Bright green vest swinging easily from side to side, kinda doing a wind dance.

I pulled up.

Hey, where did you stay last night?

A friend.  Couchsurfing.com.  Too much rain.  All this bubbles out of this kid with a smile to brighten any day and a constant giggle.  Not so much talking as singing his song.

Where did you start?

Canada.

Where are you going? ... I'm thinking TJ...

Argentina.

What?  Really?

Yes.  Buenos Aires.  Then Europe.

How long will that take?

I hope 6 months.  Some say a year.  

Are you going down Baja?

Oh yes!  It's very pretty. ... and dangerous, I keep to myself ...

Tijuana not so good.

Yes, be careful.

Do you speak Spanish?

No... yo soy Japon.  (I'm Japan).

Yo so Japones...

Yes, yes... yo so Japones!

The entire exchange is just smiles and laughing. It makes me happy, just riding along side him for a few minutes made all the difference in my day.

I think he'll be fine.
But, wouldn't hurt to pray for him.
And us...
That we'd have the guts to do any of it...
Yo so gringo!

____
159.8
10/37
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PROTEIN

TODD BROWN Bike Life

PROTEIN

PRETTY SURE I LOST A LOT OF MUSCLE FRUIT TILL NOON.  Not enough protein.  The Ask A Cycling Coach podcast covered protein a bit last week.  Just in time for The Old Diesel to get some guidelines.

Quick takeaways:

1.  Protein aids recovery.
2.  High intensity, LSD, weightlifting all demand protein right after.
3.  Master athletes need even more protein.
4.  Per FDA 1 gram protein/kg of body weight.  Endurance and Masters athlete 2 grams/kg of bw.
5.  Types of protein:  Whey and Casein both milk proteins.  Whey is most absorbable.  Casein longer to absorb.  Both have Lucine. If you're lactose intolerant  there are options with whey and plant based.
6.  Chocolate milk is great.  Protein, and sugar.  Available at gas stations after a ride.
7.  Masters should take protein just prior to bed.  Helps with recovery and helps with sounder sleep.

The biggest is weight loss while neglecting protein is a fail.  I think that's where I am right now.  Wonder how long it will take to get back... had a protein shake in the morning, carne asada for lunch, taco soup for dinner.

Here's the podcast... protein talk starts Min 36:38.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/nose-breathing-recovery-drinks-double-days-more-ask/id1035433041?i=1000424759191&mt=2

... remember, you get what you pay for and this cost you exactly zero... : )

 ____

160.6
9/36
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HANDY DANDY VANDY

TODD BROWN Bike Life

HANDY DANDY VANDY

MOST OF MY WRENCHING IS SELF-TAUGHT.  My tools, a mishmash collection in what looks like an old school doctor's bag.  When bikes were less awesome I did a lot my own work for the simple sake of I was faster and usually better than the shop.

But, now the bikes are so much better... and so much more complicated.

What does break or need adjustin' usually requires special tools I might only use once... assuming I even know what to do.  So I don't buy the tools and a let a pro do what I can't.

Lack of practice = skills lost.

I put what's left of the ol' skills and tools to use today.

Not on the bike.  The car.

Battree was dead.  Alternator good.  AAA wanted $125 + installation and tax.

Hmmmmm, me thought.  Costco.com.  72 bones.

Busted out the 10mm socket wrench, which you would only have if you worked on fancy international bike parts... well, that's my excuse.  Hauled the old battree over and picked up the new one.

Plopped it in.  Cinched 'er down.  Fired up real dandy.  Like a champ.

Time to sell it.

Even though this car has carried me to numerous podiums and excellent rides, I don't expect you to want it.  I'm mean who'd want mojo like that?

'12 Acura TSX Wagon - comes with bike rack, surf rack and PEDALindustries stickers.  100k miles - just turned over.  $12k

I'm living the life a van man now... finally got that van I've been threatening for so long.

 ____

159.6
9/35
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A RIDER'S LIFE AIN'T NO GOOD LIFE

TODD BROWN Bike Life

A RIDER'S LIFE AIN'T NO GOOD LIFE

The sky light cracks at dawn
I'm out the door long gone
Listen to them wheels
That chain
I'm gone riding
Again

Lunch time comes sneaking past Noon
I'm promisin' 'be back soon
Listen to them wheels
That chain
I'm gone riding
Again

Shadows stretchin' and yellin' end of day
I'm changin' and gettin' on my way
Listen to them wheels
That chain
I'm gone riding
Again

A RIDER'S LIFE AIN'T NO GOOD LIFE, but it's my life... 

 ____

161.2
8/34
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TOO LITE?

TODD BROWN Bike Life

TOO LITE?

MIGHTA OVER DONE IT... my fruit-till-noon body hack might be too successful.  I've dropped about 13 pounds since August.  Just eating fruit till Noon.

Too much.  Too fast?

I dunno.

I do know that I don't feel awesome and powerful.

There was a cross over about a month ago where I PR'd The Wall - local 4-5 minute power climb.  It's been down scale and down hill since.

Could also be I'm just burned after a month of heavy weekend races.

Time to bring it back up to the original goal of 160-162.  Still 10 lbs. lighter.

Why does the fruit-till-noon work?  Well, I'm not scientist but I can tell you this.  If you start off your day eating pure, good food that's all you want to eat the rest of the day.  The cravings for crap disappear.  Then, all of the sudden you're just eating good stuff and poof you drop 13lbs.

____
161.8
8/33 (pull ups/push ups to failure before I jump in shower)
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THE FIRST CUT

TODD BROWN Bike Life

THE FIRST CUT

I HEARD A BOXER SAY HE NEEDS TO GET HIT A FEW TIMES TO GET INTO IT.  Then, again Mike Tyson said everybody has a plan until they get punched in the nose.  I'm a lover not a fighter... but, I can tell you this...

On the way up San Juan Trail this morning, I was a little out of it.  Just wasn't on my A game.  Especially on the rocky, rooty downhill section past Cocktail Rock.  Was riding like a baby.  Coulda been the cold.  Coulda been the moisture and sliminess.  Whatever it was, I was riding terrible.

Then, I got that first cut.
Followed by a sweet crank to the shin.
Just like that,
I snapped out of it,
cranked up Foo Fighters in my mind,
and started haulin' @$$.  
The rest of the ride was ace.
Hero dirt.
Carving turns.
Wheeling up and jumping off rocks.
Soaking in that amazing view.
Soaring like a diesel.
That shin.
that shin
New bike day for Chris
new bike day for Chris
Steven's first time to Cocktail Rock
Steven's first time to Cocktail Rock
Join us next time.
Join us!

 

____
159
7/4 - 30/10
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THIS TIME IT WON'T HURT

TODD BROWN Bike Life

THIS TIME IT WON'T HURT

LAST TIME I TOOK THE CREW UP ON SAN JUAN TRAIL, we shed a lot of blood.  It was summer.  And so dry. The DG (decomposed granite) was like ice.  The sides of the trail like a Makita grinder.  The thick brush wasn't much better.  But, that's how a I like it.

Everybody returned with scrapes and gashes.

I warned 'em the first time that they'd come back with a tale to tell, with proof they're alive, lingering memories.  The trail delivered.

Shocking few wanted to go tomorrow.

This time I promised it wouldn't hurt.  Not because we've improved orr skills, not because we've seen the trail before... because it actually rained in California!

Rain on most trails means things are gonna be worse.
Rain on SJT means hero dirt,
lots of gripping and ripping,
... like a powder day,
or glassy 6' surf...
Oh well,
I tried.

____

If you repent... 8am at the trail head!

____
158.8
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THE ART OF TAILORED WHEELS

TODD BROWN Bike Life

THE ART OF TAILORED WHEELS

THAT'S A BOLD STATEMENT UP THERE.  You better believe it you're gonna put that on your website.

Ryan does.

We met at a bike race.  <-- Note: one reason to go to a bike race is to meet some cool people that believe in what they do.

He had his Spark Wheel Works canopy up and his hands ready to help anybody that needed assistance, regardless of what they were running.  

We got to chatting and he confidently explained what a tailored wheel was and what it could do for me.  I told him about a new set fo wheels I'd purchased from ENVE that were giving me problems.  He told me how to get them warranted.  Went out of his way to explain it even though I didn't buy the wheels from him.  

See what I did there... just cut him off and told him about my problem.

See what he did there... listened and solved my problem.

So, what is a tailored wheel?  That's where you find a guy like Ryan who will listen to you, really listen to you.  Then, after he's listened to you, he'll show you exactly the wheelset you need for your next race or ride or new bike or...  wheels tailored just for you.

After I got me wheels back from ENVE, they had a bit of a hop and so I took them to him for an expert retentioning.  

Can't wait to throw 'em back on The Marvel and shred at TMWC.

____
159.8
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FIRST AID

TODD BROWN Bike Life

FIRST AID

MY DAUGHTER ASKED HOW I WAS DOING?  

Great, I think.  Why?

Seems like you've had a rough year.

'Guess I hadn't noticed.

She pointed out a few low lights, like losing my dad.  It's not a massive list, but there are a few sizable changes.  I agreed, then listed off all the wonderful things I'm thankful for... which turned out to be a longer, stronger list.

Life is a lot like racing.
There's the pain of the race.
The setbacks.
Unforeseen challenges and disappointment.
Yet, when it's all done.
When the season is over.
What do we remember?
What stands out?
Why go back?

There's not much a little time and a bike ride can't heal.

____
161
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CONNECTION

TODD BROWN Bike Life

CONNECTION

THE RECENT RAIN TURNED THE MOON DUST INTO HERO DIRT.  

With a larger tire, lower pressure and wider rim the connection to the road is like velcro.

I like tight, tacky gloves when I sprint and climb.

The snap of my cleat assures me I can go all out.

When I pull and push the skewers I'm confident in their ability to hold things together.

Like so many links in a chain, the entire bike should be tightly connected and working as one.

But that's nothing compared to the connections we make with the people we ride with.  


WHEN I'M DONE

TODD BROWN Bike Life

WHEN I'M DONE

If I'm not riding my bike,
I'm thinking about riding.
If I'm not thinking about riding,
I'm asleep and dreaming about riding.
If I'm not sleeping and dreaming about riding,
I'm....
____
159.2
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THE QUICKY

TODD BROWN Bike Life

THE QUICKY

AFTER YESTERDAY'S GIANT BLACK FRIDAY RIDE, I just wanted to sleep in.  I got up early anyway.  Habit.  I didn't want to ride.  Not a habit.

We loaded up the van.  Drooled over at Cars and Coffee.  Hiked along the skyline above town.  Got ice cream at Handel's.  Did Nordstrom rack.  Ate leftovers.

An entire Saturday without a bike ride?... almost.

Finally at 4, the team was tuckered and distracted.

I'll be right back.  Just a quick spin.

38 minutes later, balance had been restored.

____
160.8
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TIMES LIKE THESE

TODD BROWN Bike Life

TIMES LIKE THESE

AFTER YESTERDAY'S GIANT BLACK FRIDAY RIDE, I just wanted to sleep in.  But, I got up early anyway.  I didn't want to ride, yet.

We loaded up the van.  Drooled over at Cars and Coffee.  Hiked along the skyline above town.  Got ice cream at Handel's.  Did Nordstrom rack.  Ate leftovers.

An entire Saturday without a bike ride?... almost.

Finally at 4, the team was tuckered and distracted.

I'll be right back.  Just a quick spin.

38 minutes later, balance had been restored.

____
160.8
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BIERMAN'S BLACK FRIDAY

TODD BROWN Bike Life

BIERMAN'S BLACK FRIDAY

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  When we hit that first hill I almost turned around.

I kept my mouth shut.

You suckered me into the A group with all your bravado.

 I looked away, didn't want him to see my huge smile.

When did you take off?

Uh, well, ya see it was Andy's fault...

I mean what are friends for?...

Of course I shamed Big Mike into riding with skinny Paul and the rest of the circus freaks that would lead the charge from behind. I planned to join in on the idiocy but Andy showed up on his cross bike and wanted to slow roll for the first bit before turning around and heading to his office.

And roll slow we did.  Until Andy cut off, and I saw that pink Strava Segment Starts Here sign.  At that point, I hit the burners in pursuit of the lead pack of the B group on the most terrible ride...

... Bierman's Black Friday is terrible...
60 miles, 6800' of vert
with many 20+% pitches
TERRIBLE

Terrible to the point I've always pulled out the Sorry man, family in town excuse. 

But, this year I knew I could do it.  The kids were going to be scattered on Thanksgiving day and we'd have our family gathering Friday afternoon with pics and turkey dinner.

So Big Mike, Skinny Paul and I met off Ortega with the promise we'd come home right after.

It took a long time for the A-listers to catch up to the front of the B group.  When they blew by me at the aid station I tried like heck to catch on.  No luck.  Just chasing.

One of the those awful chases where you can make out each person clearly, then fuzzy, then gone.  

Fortunately, I guess, Big and Skinny weren't in this lead group.  So I shut down my meager effort and limped along with George.  We chatted.  Took our time at fuel stops. Finally enjoying the scenery and beautiful day.

The high-desert, California terrain is incredible.  Nary a car to be seen.  Plus, Barry and Eric do a bang up job with fuel stations and exceptional course marking.  You won't get lost, except in thought.  You'll definitely get dropped... or, maybe win some cash like John.

We made it home an hour ahead of schedule which made Surfergirl very happy.

_____

Above the clouds... made us think we could soar with Bierman

My holiday WEND chain wax

Fuel Station #3

Made it just in time

____
159.2
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GRATEFUL FOR THE TEAM

TODD BROWN Bike Life

GRATEFUL FOR THE TEAM

I'M GRATEFUL FOR MY TEAM.  They get me... and I get them.


GRATEFUL FOR MEDICINE AND SHAMING

TODD BROWN Bike Life

GRATEFUL FOR MEDICINE AND SHAMING

THERE ARE 2 KINDS OF MEDICINE ALL CYCLISTS NEED:  Modern Medicine and Shame.  How many of us would still be riding without these two ingredients?  While the modern part is obvious to me, is it to you?  And the shaming, where would you be without it?

Would I dare get on my bike:
Knowing an infection from a scrape could kill me?
A broken bone could permanently maim me?
A deep cut could drain my blood?

What kind of rider would I be if:
Schooler hadn't yelled Hold your line dumbass!?
Jeff hadn't publicly mocked my horrible pedaling technique and plodding cadence?
Nelson hadn't told me my thumb and at least one finger better be wrapped around the bar if I wanted to stay on the ride?

Too often we take the medical profession for granted.  The fact they are there as an incredible safety net gives us freedom to go out and ride our bikes.  Maybe we go too fast, take too many chances, but we can do it for years... for decades... usually they can put us back together.  So, thank a doctor/scientist/nurse/pharmacist/physical therapist/etc.

Too often we (me!) reacts negatively to the shaming.  Could the shaming be done more lovingly?  Probably.  But, would it be as impactful?  I dunno.  Next time I get yelled at, I'll try and see it from her point of view, apologize, and do a little better.

Most of us will never meet the professionals who make a difference.  I'll never meet the professors who taught my brother-in-law, Mike, medicine.  I'll never meet whoever told Nelson Vails to always keep your fingers looped around the bars - which has kept me steady over plenty of unseen potholes.  But, Mike and Nelson have counseled me with knowledge and shame.

Thank you to all the professionals in medicine and shaming!

(Mike... he had me at I ride bikes too... okay, you can marry my sister.)

____
161.2
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GRATEFUL FOR LIGHTS AND NIGHTS

TODD BROWN Bike Life

GRATEFUL FOR LIGHTS AND NIGHTS

MY FIRST NIGHT RIDE INCLUDED ME FLYING UPSIDE DOWN TRAVELING AT 20MPH, my bike crumpled and scarred far behind.  It's one of those things that you wonder if you're friends were inviting you to an adventure or an initiation.  

It was both.

The lighting tech back then was appalling, and good ol' Scud gave me the worst of his best.  Think of a coal minor's light kinda thingy.  With a filament(!!!!) that looked about as sturdy as a two-legged chair.

Greatbiggiantwisdomnugget --> shadows give you depth perception.
No light, no shadows, no sense of depth.
One light mounted just above your eyeballs, practically no shadows, grim reaper is waiting for ya.

Got it?  

It's all good on the first part of the ride. 

We're poaching a trail in what is now Shady Canyon and what was then GetOffaMyIrvineCoLand.  The bikes weighed north of 30lbs, platform pedals, and brakes that only hinted at decelerating.

We were going slowly uphill.  Not using our lights, because the batteries - the D-cells - wouldn't last very long, wasn't going to be a problem I was promised.

It's a full moon Brownie.
More like a new moon Scud.

The later it got, the colder it got, the less my cutoffs seemed like a good idea.

But, we're dudes doing dude stuff so who cares?

We get to the top.  

A super band erupts from Irvine Meadows.

We're getting amped up.

Scud yells Turn on yer light!

A shade of amber whimpers forth.

Scud's 50watt searchlight is drenching the landscape.

Time to rock!

The old hands, on their well-known trail take off.  The newb, me, shivers through their dusty mist.

I'm doing my best.  Mind you, I've got skills in daylight.  And lot's of pride too.  A lovely combination... WHEN THERE"S LIGHT!

You'd think... you'd think...

Well you would.  But, I wasn't.  I was racing for my life.

Their dust is getting lower, and their lights further into the distance.

My cranks are spinning, clipping rocks.  My wheels spinning too... me n the rig are all in.

Why am I am clipping rocks?  Everything looks so flat.

Right then I see an enormous round and flat rock.  If I was a giant I could skip it to Hawaii.  But, I'm not.  And it's not flat!

Remember that link of wisdom about needing shadows to have depth perception?  Well, what happens is that big flat rock a giant could skip is actually a big round rock.  'Bout 2 foot tall, 3 foot around.

I hit it square.
Wind up in the air.
Bike down there.

A bloody, dusty version of myself springs up.  We don't recognize each other.  I had no pride.  But bloody, dusty me did. 

The guys found me.  Broken light.  Flat tire.  Bent rim.

Gee man, you okay?

Totally, just need a few minutes then I'll be ready.

You sure?

Totally.

PRO TIP:  Get a big, wide, powerful light for the bars (2000+ watts - 40x Scud's light).  Put a narrow, less powerful beam on your helmet.  The wide beam will give you lots of shadows and the narrow beam is great for looking around to set up corners or check other action... like lions, tigers and bears.

With the right set up, night riding brings a whole new dimension to riding.  Everything looks, sounds and smells different.

Winter time doesn't have to mean trainer time.

Don't ride alone.  It's not pro... but, I'm not always pro... just don't tell Surfergirl.

____
2 24hrs of Moab
2 12hrs at Vail Lake
Countless night rides
Every pre-dawn Tuesday morning ride for decades.
Heck yeah!
I'm dawgawn grateful for lights,
specially the modern kind!
____
161
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