RIDING ALONE, WITH NO AGENDA, I DROPPED IN ON AN UNKNOWN SINGLE TRACK. Traversing along a steep slope the trail gently twisted downward.
Each turn revealed a slightly steeper section. Nearing the bottom things got so steep I disgracefully dismounted from a controlled skid.
A 50' walk of shame followed... one I'll ride next time.
The trail never taken
might never be forsaken.
RACERS WOULD BE NOTHING WITHOUT RACE PROMOTERS. Race promoters would be nothing without racers AND sponsors. Sponsors hold the key to a promoter's long-term success.
Want your sport to grow? Meet and thank your sponsors. Meet your promoter and thank her for making it happen. Meet your fellow racers... sponsors want and need a vibrant community.
LITTLE KIDS REMIND US THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO RIDE YOUR BIKE. You can have faith all will end well. Or, you can fear all will end badly. Most of the time you'll be right.
Just listen to the way people talk, the things they dwell on, the words their loved ones use as they head out for a ride.
Don't believe me?
MORE THAN ONE COMMENTED ON MY SVELTNESS THIS MORNING. I'm trying another kooky diet, slight inspired by MikeyG and a Tim Ferriss podcast: only fruit till Noon every day... I add a few handfuls of nuts if I'm not satiated.
That's in addition to my other whacky breakthrough for lunch: El Pollo Loco Leg Lovers - 3 legs, salad and broccoli... this takes a while to eat, and leaves me feeling full for about 30 minutes. Weird. So I supplement that largely with carrots and celery with peanut butter.
Then there's dinner: lots of vegetables.
Oh, and sardines are in there 3-5 days a week for added protein.
You might think the same as my brother when I told him of my latest adventures in food:
Bro, sounds like you're just hungry all the time...
... and that's partly true, but I've found it easy to do now that I'm about a month into it.
You do get what you pay for... I pay for a lot of fruits and vegetables at Costco. As empty nesters this was previous folly, but now I can mow through most of the food before it goes bad. (I know #firstworldproblems).
Is nothing compared to the joy of a scrappy day with the crew.
MY KNEE HAS BEEN BUGGING ME. Coach looks at me and my feet and says Todd I've been telling you for years to get orthotics. What are you waiting for?...
Heck if I know... to be crippled? So dumb.
Who should I see?
Dr Chin, in Irvine.
Skipping past the issue of seeing a "Dr Chin" for my foot I hop on over to see him.
Instantly, I get why she recommends him. His demeanor, intellect and experience are what we all hope for any time we need medical attention. Even better, HE'S A BIKE RIDER TOO!
He gets me, totally.
We talk about how feet work, the intelligent design of the human body. It's no accident Todd.
I ask how he got into the foot business and he tells me he started out as an engineer for a defense contractor... got involved in a side hustle helping deaf kids hear... realized he'd be happier healing people than killing them.
All the while he makes casts of my feet from plaster. He explains why plaster is so much better than standing on pressure points or laser scanning for the impressions. He shows me what the finished product will look like in 10 days.
There's a story of man who became a World Champion simply by taking care of any injury right away.
Over time, his competitors all trained themselves through pain and out of the sport.
Eventually his long-term plan paid off.
I hope I'm not too late...
to ride in his shoes.
EVERY NOW AND THEN I GET A CHANCE BEHIND THE COUNTER AT THE LOCAL BIKE SHOP. I don't try and get there, but in the course of conversation I'll hear Come over and take a look... such a sweet sound.
The reason for the invitation is I've asked a million questions and it just becomes easier to show me what they're looking at on their computer screen. I'm not trying to wear the person down, I'm just curious as heck as to what's available to me and my conservative budget.
I really should resist the invitation because it nearly always ends up with me wanting something either they can't get or I don't want to spring for.
Tonight it was a beautiful aluminum "gravel" frameset.
He said, Sold out.
I said, Only on the West Coast.
He said, with a hesitant hiss, I'll call in the morning.
To be nice, he made that offer knowing that it's most likely sold out on the East Coast too but they just haven't updated the internal inventory.
Though I know the outcome is almost always the same, It's still a sweet feeling to be on that side of the counter. Every now and then we find a gem. So I'll keep asking, they'll keep inviting, I'll keep going.
WOULD IT MAKE SENSE TO CREATE A SPEC BIKE CATEGORY? A racing category where everybody raced on the same limited spec bikes? Something like this: 18lbs or more: metal frames, handle bars, seat rails, rims; 1 X drive train; a mixed surface bike good for road and gravel... something you could purchase for a couple a grand or less.
What if your bike race wasn't an arms race?
More of a Pinewood Derby race?
THERE'S A LOT OF TALK LATELY ABOUT SOMEBODY TAKING CHARGE OF XYZ GROUP RIDE AND LAYING DOWN THE LAW. It sounds a little harsh, so few people step up to do it. I started having a chat before our weekly Tuesday morning ride, and now I invite someone each week to have the chat for me.
Passing the baton shares the responsibility and keeps us all engaged for the day we might be called upon.
I'm printing this out so I remember what to say, what's important. Who knows, you might read it one day... for that, I thank you in advance.
It was not easy the first time,
it was embarrassing,
it's easy now,
because our ride is a lot better...
for me, and everybody else.
THE COLD, HARD GAZE NEVER CEASES. It's not intimidating anymore, just menacing. Always judging me: frail and weak, knowing I have no interest in our daily duel.
It's of my own doing. I jammed her in the bathroom door so I couldn't get away, couldn't weasel out. Any other place and... outta sight, outta mind.
She stands and waits, and I usually obey by hauling myself up and down 'till exhaustion sets in.
There are rewards. I can do 1-2 more when my body weight is lighter; I feel strong when I sprint; I can still bunny hop when I need to; and I reckon it helps with the surfing.
Most mornings she's evil and cold,
that's why I love her.
THERE ARE THINGS YOU LEARN ALONG THE WAY, MAXIMS TO RIDE BY. Eric quipped this nugget about 60 miles into an 80 mile ride, as the heat of the day peaked:
You can do anything with Dr. Pepper and a Snicker's bar.
I'd been thinking that very thing for at least an hour as I suffered trying to hang on to CV... just a little longer and you'll be to AM/PM in no time...
A blast of cold air hit me as I walked in. Straight to the soda station. 42ounce cup full of ice and smothered in Doctor P. Open wide. Pour it down. Fill it again. Repeat.
The cold and sugar and caffeine
coursing through my limbs and core,
like spinach in PopEye's arms...
I can do anything.
WHAT HAS TO BE THE LONGEST STANDING RACE SERIES IN CALIFORNIA IS RIGHT HERE ON THE OC/LA COUNTY LINE. I could be wrong, but I think it's been going uninterrupted for at lest 30 years, maybe 40. I ventured on out there this week, about 28 years after my last run on the classic 4ish turn layout.
Imagine this: a 2 mile loop, through a beautiful park, set aside just for bike racing on Tuesday nights. No cars, no other park goers. No lights. No stop signs. Just you and your bike and other fellow racers.
It was better than I remembered, because I distinctly recall these surly geese all over the place wandering onto the course just as we'd be winding up for the final sprint. They've either moved on or been lassoed and sequestered.
Rebecca and the rest of the crew start things timely and run a proper race. The road is in good enough shape - a few cracks, but swept clean of any glass or debris.
I'd like to say the packs have grown over the years, but they've shrunk. That might be a good thing. I remember 200-300 per week in the early part of the year as racers jockeyed for series honors. The two lane road was wide enough, barely.
No geese + smaller fields = good place to test out racing
Tuesday we had plenty of room to maneuver. I tried out the 40+ - SuperDave recommended that vs 1-2-3s after our unOFFICIAL TMWC that morning. It was great to see a few familiar faces: Mario, Charon and Kenny.
The USAC official that used to help out at the Great Park series was on hand to make sure it was all legit... these guys are so generous with their time.
Someone had given me a heads up that Monster would get a winning break at the end. About 25 minutes in... did I mention you get to race for an entire hour!... AWESOMESAUCE... Mario and another guy got it going. Right up until 2 laps to go they stayed 20-40 seconds ahead of us. It was so fun to measure the distance, make the calculations, and wonder if they'd ever come back.
Afterwards, as the shadows lengthened and the breezed cooled I took a long easy spin around the course. Mainly I thought of Andy and Marty Schmidt and how much fun we had back then as newlywed knuckleheads.
Who knew ELDO would still be going,
and so would we OLDOs?
Bags we are making for the Series winners and anybody who wants to purchase one.
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT A GOOD PANCAKE. At just the right temperature just the right amount of crispiness, real melted butter and real maple syrup... well, is there anything better?
The pancake flat ride around the Back Bay of Newport Beach was pretty darn awesome this afternoon. While points inland seared, the coast was a moist 77 tempered by an easy breeze.
The route, if ya haven't done it, is a mostly car free, buttery smooth bike trail along a beautiful wildlife refuge my grampa tried to dredge for waterskiing way back when...
On a weekday, things are quite.
Many birds, few people.
A place to glide and think and savor.
Which I did.
I rode by Grampa's place,
thought about our bike rides together,
Facetimed Mom, his little girl...
told her I love her.
ECTOMORPH I'M NOT. Ectomorphs climb with ease. They are skeletons. They haunt my pre- and post-race thoughts. They make it look so easy.
My friend Colin is an ectomorph. He's a bike rider. He's a brilliant artist.
He sent the Trail Goat design to see what we thought. Hell yeah, let's make 'em.
Maybe it will give me some discipline.
You are what you eat,
IS IT BAD OF ME TO ASSUME IT'S ALWAYS THE GUYS? Sexist? Jumping to conclusions? Probably. Definitely. 'Cause I know some girls that definitely play dirty.
thank you for being awesome,
improving the bridge,
cutting new trails,
whacking the weeds.
You make life a lot better.
I hope to meet you in person.
for I have sinned...
I DIDN'T REALLY KNOW WHAT TO THINK WHEN I SAW THE NEW CATEGORY AT OVER THE HUMP: LEGENDS. Matt created it for the guys who are too fast for their own good, and too old to go the distance. I think it's a nice way to say Has Beens.
The problem is that inside each one of these guys is a million miles of tiger. Roaring, angry tiger. Even if they're a little a long in the tooth, every now and then the old diesels and V-8s fire on all cylinders.
You can't predict it, and they can't either.
It's hard to see inside,
to see the heart,
... don't mean it ain't there.
THE A GROUP SLOWLY DISAPPEARED IN THE DISTANCE.
In the B group, there was a silent roar.
Nobody talking out loud.
Just seething on the inside.
We'd all started together.
Thought we had a chance.
One attack at a time,
The A's beat us down.
We had been weighed,
We had been measured.
And our inner voice is screaming
I should have _________.
Then I'd be an A,
On judgement day.
THERE'S A RETAINING WALL NEXT TO ONE OF THE SIDEWALKS ON MY SPIN ROUTE. It has a perfect ramp to ride up. Each week I make it about 10' then I have to pop off of it. Tonight was different. I rode the entire length.
Previously, I'd only look about 2' ahead and spend all my energy trying to stay away from the edges. This is a terrible strategy, and it proves that you get what you focus on. I was focusing on the edges. I had no vision.
What a loser!
I know better.
Tonight, I focused on the end of the wall. I didn't looked down, my vision was 50' ahead. As a result, I rode faster and never really had to adjust the handle bars.
It's kind of weird when you think about it. I could ride that distance with my hands off the bars if I was going fast enough. The faster you go, the more stable the ride. But, there is something about the height of the wall I guess.
I know perfectly well from mountain bike racing that you only focus on the trail and never on the rocks, ledges, branches and other hazards.
The body follows the head,
so look ahead,
THE BOX DOESN'T CLOSE ANY MORE. The last time this happened I chucked the box and everything in it. Kinda regret that. Not as much as I regret not writing notes on the back of the race numbers, like little journal entries.
That would be pretty cool.
Just a sentence or two....
especially on the plates that last a season.
Heck, I'd probably keep all of them. Writing about something seems to drive it a little deeper into the memory. And if I do take a moment to dig them out, the reliving should be a little richer.
Takes no time at all.
What's in your box?
On your number?
I'VE RIDDEN THROUGH ALL KINDS OF CRAZY WEATHER: hail and lightning at Leadville, wildfire chasing me in San Clemente, driving snow at 24 Hours of Moab...
I've ridden through 5+ decades of life and my bike has gone from fun to transportation to sport to social life and friendship.
I've ridden through marriage and kids and marriage of kids.
I've ridden through good times and bad times.
I've ridden through a lot,
and I plan to ride through a lot more.