Todd's Blog

Death by Digital

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We’re so hip, spending most of our wake time in front of a small glass window peering into the moving I/O’s of our counterparts and customers.

Death by digital creeps through our consciousness, slinking in the shadows, slowly stealing away our precious physical seconds.

This is hardly living epic.

Never dangerous.

Rarely rewarding.

What heart pumping increases we do get to experience are mostly non-nonsensical and the result of digital frustration.

Ergo the explosion of the epic events – Leadville, Ragnar, Ironman etc.

The very idea of an epic event sucks at our cerebral center, begging for life, begging you and me to live.  It gives us hope that like Neo we can disconnect, however briefly, and soar like we were designed to.

A massive, ludicrous challenge for a mind desperate to find reality in a physical world that slips away a little more each day.

Like Melville and Shelley we go to work on our own beast, and exactly how we will slay it.

Characters we meet and invent become mentors, nemesis, road kill and occasionally the greatest of friends.

Mishaps pound us at the most inopportune times, turning our rough edges into polished and hardened steel ready slice through all future demons.

Triumph, though allusive, becomes not the end but the process of preparation.

Friendship abounds in the stories of those who have gone before, the landscapes we continually cover, and  experience and encouragement only those who do can share.

Sacrifice of time, pleasure, comfort, ease, diet, money and much more must be kept in balance lest we cross over into a world of self and never return.

Digital dreamers shutter and scoff… yet they are the sleepers, we are living epic.

Join us.

Nice Attitude

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So much of smooth, effortless cycling is about you.

Your attitude determines everything.

It’s about your approach, your confidence, your ability to take a “love tap” from the rider next to you for what it is vs what it might be.

Spotting a poor attitude is a piece of cake, especially off-road.  It’s shaky.  It’s unsure.  It’s a death grip, and petrified arms.  All of it is screaming, I’M GONNA CRASH

My limited education grandfather told me over and over Attitude Determines Altitude.  He rose to become VP of Kellogg’s.

Take it from from Grampa, your attitude will determine whether or not your next ride is awesome or ahhhh-crud.

Let’s Get Lucky

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How is it that new guy gets a zillion flats while the group waits/helps to fix/or just rides on?

It’s called Luck.

How is it that new guy manages to consistently find himself at the worst possible place at the worst possible time in every race or group ride and whabam! broken this and torn that?

It’s called Luck.

What’s with new guy coming home from the mountain bike ride with a thousand thorns in his leg, a busted shifter, and covered in dirt while going slower than the rest of the gang could possibly walk?

It’s called Luck.

**** Practice + Patience + Persistence + Passion = Luck. ****

Let’s get lucky!

Are you insane?

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Boys, are you insane*… really, are you content having Ford drill you into submission each week?

I’m not happy with that… so here’s what I’m doing:

I’ve hired Joe Friel (author of the Cyclist’s Training Bible and to come and speak to us.  And you my friends, committed studs that rip each other’s legs off each Tuesday, have a chance to hang out with Joe, too.

What could be cooler than kicking off the year with a genius?

So, here’s the nitty gritty… Not only do I want you to attend this event and learn a ton about haulin’ #$%, but I really need you to blast this out to all your fellow riders.  (Not just because I’m on the hook for a few grand)

Three reasons:

1.    You’ll get faster and have more fun.
2.    Your friends will be stoked for including them (trust me I had 3 sign up within 30 minutes of my email going out).
3.    We can do more fun stuff like this.

Shops are already kickin’ in gear for a solid raffle, and sponsors are kickin’ in a little product.  The more people we get, the better stuff we get.

If you choose not to join us, not a big deal.  We’ll still be friends… except you’ll be slower and poorer for missing out on a great learning opportunity.

Don’t be insane. Join us:

Positively!, tb

*insane: doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Receiving My Dues

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The funny thing about paying my dues with my time and talents in anything is that I always seem to receive much more than I ever paid.

There are plenty of clubs and subscriptions I’ve paid into over time.  I keep paying if the return is equal or great to the value paid.

But that personal sacrifice, where I give of myself, always over pays.

Certain organizations, clubs and people merit our time.  Many people, have time to give.  Does my organization merit their contribution?  Is my vision grand enough?


If We Don’t Change

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Chinese Proverb –

If we don’t change our direction, we’re likely to end up where we are headed.


Absurd Standard of Readiness

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Before 16 year old Jay can attempt surfing a true killer, Mavericks, he must pass his mentor’s tests.

In Chasing Mavericks, the indie surf movie now playing, we are escorted into the world of surfing truly killer waves.  The old wizard gives the boy two simple, measurable, and absurd standards of readiness:

–  Hold his breath for 4 minutes under water

–  Paddle 36 miles across the Monterrey Bay

Every athlete thinks he  or she knows what it takes to reach the highest heights. Every sport has it’s mentors, the experienced wizards who have lived to tell the tell, to truly understand what it takes.

If you had to pick two standards to focus on this year what would they be?

–  __________________?

–  __________________?

The movie is awesome, and it definitely made me want to Live Like Jay.

Why Black?

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When everybody is doing the Black Friday promo, why aren’t we doing Gobble Wednesday?

… some folks just want to gobble up a great deal and could be sporting sweet new gear on the Thursday Turkey ride.

I got lucky today

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I laid in bed at 5:50am.  To ride or not to ride?  Roll over and sleep I told myself.  5:58, trying to sleep rarely works for me.  6:07, still up?  Might as well get your runny nose out there, just take it easy.

Hammering on the bike when sick will generally give you one of two results:  make you sicker or heat your body enough to kill the cold.

I rolled out to the TMWC, tried to keep the pace down. That only works for so long with this crew.  Eventually the groupthink sucks us all in.

I got lucky today, I feel great!

Single & Loving IT

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by Todd Brown   (Previously printed in Competitor Magazine)

After a 35-year span of racing and riding all sorts of two wheelers, I can definitely say that I still can’t get enough of the thrill I get every time I throw my leg over a seat.  During the last 10 months , though, I have found a new passion on two wheels.  This passion is based on a bike that is simple, light, and easy to maintain.  It has one gear of choice, and that limited, narrowly-defined choice has remade the bike into a truly new passion for me.

What could be so engaging about a bicycle whose top claim is humility? And why would this old bike be the new favorite of a vast quiver?  The answer lies in the gear choice – or lack of choice.

Because the bike has only one gear, I as a rider have to develop a wide array of different riding styles and techniques to accommodate changing terrain.  These techniques are not limited to simply powering the bike because it also lacks rear suspension, so railing the trail has become much more than the point-and-plow used with today’s superior suspensions.

The single-speed bicycle has consumed my riding time because it has multiplied my riding styles.  Today we hear so much about the magical car/bike/boat/ski/board with “Jekyll and Hide” characteristics that can do it all, and well.  Refreshingly, my single-speed makes both Jekyll and Hyde out of me… now I’m the one who much do it all well.

Because the bike requires so much, my mind is completely free to explore the capabilities of my body and my body is free to explore the capabilities of the bike.  Gone is that little voice that so often accompanies other less distracting workouts; there’s no time to chitchat with myself about the dilemmas of the day.  I must focus, and the focus required is limitelessly liberating.  It’s the same liberation I find when bombing across the desert floor on  my 450, stepping off a cornice into free fall, or dropping in on a furious wave – and it can last for hours.

The nitty-gritty of riding a single-speed involves so much more of the human body than a traditional bike ride does.

On flat terrain, my leg speed is fast and the effort constantly refines my pedaling technique.  A smooth pedal stroke vastly increases efficiency, so my legs learn to pedal in circles rather than just stabbing down.

As the trail tilts up a little, I settle in to the seated burn so common to riding bicycles.  This seated power allows me to ride endlessly on my motor cycle and forever on my snowboard.  With the lightness of an un-geared, un-sprung ride, I move along much faster than I would on a geared bike.

When the incline increases, I stand to stay on top of the gear.  This next pitch, where I’m standing and my leg speed is still fairly fast, makes me feel like I might be actually be a Euro-Pro attacking the mountains for Europe.  My upper body is engaged, my triceps and shoulders push the bike side to side, my head is high and my vision stretches far up the trail, all conspiring to get me on up and over.  I feel fantastically fast.

The final climbing technique is the point when traction becomes an issue.  I can no longer just pump hard; I must control the output or the rear tire will break loose and I’ll probably jam my knee into the top of the fork – it hurts, and bleeds, so I am definitely motivated to ply my skill.  Still standing out of the saddle, I now pull on the bars rather than push.  My torso is much more involved, working the core muscles.  My biceps and lats combine to pull me on up.  My cadence slows to 40, 30, maybe 20 rpm.  I’m barely moving up very steep, dusty and loose trails.  The total body strength needed is kept in check by the balance required to stay upright.  My lungs fill and empty, sweat weeps from my brown and trickles down the lens of my glasses – it’s an all-out effort to keep from stopping, succumbing and waling.  Honor and pride must be recruited to keep it all together.

Up these extreme pitches, my position vacillates between a squatted power lifter hunched over so close to the bars I could lick the sweat off my Garmin, and an erect deadlifter, with my arms exteneded and locked.  I attribute these alternating techniques with keeping my back strong and trouble free.

At the apex, I relized the reward of a total-body workout that will transfer over to all the other activities I enjoy.  Oh and of course, what goes up gets to come down.

Heading downhill, my legs speed up, spinning at rates only reached by track racers so fast they must unhitch and blow right through my hips.  My butt remains glued to the saddle.  Each ride I seem to get a little faster, a little silkier.  Finally, I can no longer match the speed of my descent and my legs rest.

I’m heading down and I hear… nothing.  No chain slapping because there is no slack in the chain, no derailleur clanking off the stays, and no long cables to accommodate suspension bouncing on the frame.  Just silence, and the wind.

This is the bliss of a single-speed.

Watching is NOT Doing

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Watching is NOT Doing.

While watching a great cyclist on TV or Live is thrilling and even inspiring it will not actually make me faster or better.

It’s simply the joy of watching someone else do great work. This does not entitle me to reap the rewards of greatness.

For me to do great work, I must get out and train and put in the time.

Eddy Merckx was right: Piles of Miles lead to Greatness.


Is there a connection between a society where parents work so much they don’t have the energy to teach the kids to work, thus creating entertained kids who feel entitled to a lifetime of coddling because they were never taught to what to DO to achieve their own greatness?

“I’m not your friend, I’m your parent.”

Training with the best…

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Train with the best, and lift the rest.

It’s not a mantra, it’s a goal.

To keep myself sharp, I constantly search out the best riders and rides. Training with people who are better, always lifts my game. I push harder to stay with them, and in the process I learn all I can.

Many of the best riders are quite approachable. They typically are very willing to share their wisdom. This typically takes place after they’ve handed my head to me and we are in the cool down portion of the ride.

Riding “on the rivet” can’t be done every day.

My easy days, I do my best to get my pals out to spin and chat and have some fun. At these times, it’s easy for me to download what I’ve learned and help my friends find a little more joy in this wonderful sport.


The only shame in getting annihilated on a ride is in not learning from it.

The only shame in riding with a “Barney” is in not sharing what we know.

“The Force Behind Me”

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“Dad was always the force behind me.”

While eulogizing his father, my cousin shared the story of his first two wheeler.

At age 7, he was ready to go for it. Uncle Raymond took him out into the street and held that bike steady from behind. Mike mounted the new bike and took his first few pedals.

Coaching from behind, the father guided his son down the suburban pavement.

Chasing the dream with Joe Friel

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For years, I’ve dreamt of having the best and brightest in cycling come to Orange County and share the treasures in their minds.

I’m a reader by nature.

But seeing and hearing is believing they say… and seeing and hearing a great speaker LIVE can allow their written message so much further into our minds and hearts.

So, what the heck. I picked up the phone and called Joe Friel, and he answered the line. (Side Note: Joe is the author of the wildly popular Training Bible series).

“Yes, I’d love to come to California in January.”

Mind you, it aint free to get a sought after author to travel out of state so there was a little more incentive than just my charming SoCal surf talk.

Well now, where to have it? Turns out, last 12-31 I put on a ride for my friends called the Endo. Just so happens on that ride I get to meet another childhood hero who happens to have some sort of clout at Oakley. OK, he’s major… and so majorly humble, I’ll keep his name on the downlow. Anyhow, he says

“Yes, we’d love to have Joe Friel speak at our super awesome and amazing building” (my hyperbole).

Well, how do you like that? No really, how DO you like that?

I hope a lot, because I’ve just committed myself big time.

In a perfect world, and this is seeming pretty darn perfect, you’ll all have a great time, learn a bunch, and we’ll have a solid enough turn out to bring in some other wonderful speakers.

Gotta love it –>

Just because it worked for Henry…

Todd Brown Articles Custom Apparel

“People can have the Model T in any color – so long as it’s black.” – Henry Ford.

What percentage of Fords on the road today are black?

Today, in our business, the shops and teams and events that are selling the most apparel are those with options – colors, designs, patterns, fabrics, etc.

To focus merely on the increased sales would be short sighted (bottom line addressed below).

Who buys your brand?

While we all love the hard core racer for the inspiration the rest of us receive, he or she rarely pays more than cost and usually less or not at all.

Why are they willing to pay to advertise you?

The rest, the people who pay, are your fans.  They like you, they like your shop/team/event, they like what you represent and they have said “Count me in”… In other words, they want to show that they belong to your tribe.

Giving them a choice, a variety to choose from, allows your fans to express the membership in their own unique fashion.

Back to the bottom line.  With the fragmentation of advertising today, growing the tribe is the best and cheapest way to increase the bottom line.

Apparel is just one piece part of the strategy and, if done correctly, can be quite profitable at the same time.

Here’s an example of doing it correctly –