I haven’t walked “47 miles of barbed wire”, but I can wail that question with some of the tension George Thorogood explodes in his classic song, Who do you love?.
The people we ride with are often a reflection of how we see the world.
Are all your rides hard core, all business?
Do you ride with some folks because you share more than a need to ride with someone?
Some rides leave the flatted rider behind, others stop. It largely depends on the agenda of the group and our own personal agendas.
There are rides we all love because the terrain is great and the company is better. There are others where the personalities clash and we avoid them. Fortunately, most of us live in places where it’s easy to find a ride and group we connect with on many levels.
Who do you love?
One of awesome customers called me up and said…
“The gear looks great. Thank for the good service.”
I’m sure lots of customers think of doing that, I know I do. He actually did it.
So, I got on the horn and thanked my vendors that helped me deliver on the order.
Short. Sweet. 30 second phone call.
Entertainment… that’s all professional sports are.
Lance was/still is? the greatest entertainer ever in cycling. The only upset people should be those who weren’t entertained. ALL his sponsors got/still get huge bang for the buck.
Now for all the amateurs that dope – Hang ’em high!
Oh, and all those that really care and are really, really, really torn up about the “cheating” among pros… go help someone in need to day, it eases the pain and puts it in check.
When I go for a ride and the average temperature is 37 degrees… in Califorina… well, I am forced to remember how sure my high school teachers were that we’d all freeze in an Ice Age by now and that the food supplies would be exhausted.
It doesn’t mean they were wrong, it could still happen. But, there is tremendous value in reviewing the passionate pleas of our leaders from time to time.
They clearly aren’t always right. What if we could identify who’s got it right and who’s rarely right?
I love cycling, it’s not secret.
And, I’m constantly inviting and encouraging people to ride. Some get it right away, some take years.
But, when my friends do start to ride this is a common response.
Since I’ve been too sick to ride for a week… I thought I’d post this from 12 years ago.
There are events designed for fun, events designed for competition, and then there are events designed for pain. I’m not quite sure why I go for the pain. Maybe it’s that I’m not that fast, or that I hate feeling like I have energy left at the end of a race. Whatever, I do like the pain, I do like to see others suffering and wheezing and whining and crying and quitting and their bodies revolting.
I’m sick. I know it. Pain.
This year has gone great for my racing. I haven’t raced much , but I’ve had great success in the races I have chosen to do. With the team not together for a third go at 24 Hours of Moab, I turned my focus to the 12 Hours At The Summit, in Big Bear. This race featured a solo event called the Titanium class. The format was simple: whoever completed the most laps (8miles, 1300 ‘) in 12 hours was the winner. No categories, just an Open Division.
Typically I don’t sleep to well the night before a race. This night would be among my worst. I was so concerned about hydration the day before, I spent most of the night like the Sparklett’s man (delivering water). By 3:30am, I was exhausted, frustrated and finally got a few hours of sleep in. The pre-crack-of-dawn breakfast at Denny’s was uneventful, I couldn’t eat – nerves – I could barely take my trusty vitamins. Susie, on the other hand, wolfed down a huge skillet special, all the while talking cheerfully and going over all my anal instructions about food and supplies for each lap. I sat paralyzed by the enormity of 12 hours on my mountain bike which played in concert to an uncertain rhythm of just how far would I have to ride to get on the podium.
Open class races always bring an eclectic group together. Our field of 48 was impressive. Lots of skinny dudes with matching jerseys and bikes and helmets, others less well equipped. I was very covetous of the bike with fur glued to the forks. The start was LeMans style, albeit a short run. Do you run to your bike and sprint the first four miles up hill when you have 12 hours of racing and no idea of the required mileage??? I guess so.
We shot out like rockets, like a typical NORBA race. We all wanted to among the first to hit the single-track and avoid the subsequent bottle-neck. I was in great position for a NORBA race. Should I be going this hard??? for 12 hours??? Onward, the adrenaline won’t last forever, might as well use it while I’ve got it.
My pre-race strategy was simple, and in the end, elegant. Don’t get off the bike, have fun where possible.
After 4 miles of climbing I was about 5 back from the lead rocket. How can they keep this up? We crested the top, wait, one more little grunt… there we go. Time to bomb downhill. This was my “have fun where possible” section. I sprinted up the grunt, passed all but the leader and kept my fingers off the brakes. It does pay to have some girth. Unfortunately, half way down I found myself in the middle of a rock strewn rut. Bam! A flat tire. Two minutes later I was flying down again, having lost about 10 places.
In these types of events you have to check-in each lap, have a ticket punched and place your sticker on the leader board. That completed, I rode a few feet to my wonderful wife. “What do you nee?” ” Tube and a cartridge!” As she runs off to get that, I’m thinking I needed other stuff too. She’s gone. I have nothing. Forget it. I jump back on course praying I don’t get another flat… the best laid plans.
The second time through she’s got it all. I’m in about 8th place still. Passing and being passed as the pitch changes up and down the course.
Everyone has a certain area they’re strong and another where they’re weak. My weakness has always been cramping. The projected high of 101 degrees put fear in my soul. With four laps completed in less than 3 hours (by only a minute), we were on track to complete 16 laps. Last years’ winner only needed 12 laps to win. Something was wrong. I’d gone out too fast. And 30 minutes later my Achilles heal punctured through my overconfident ego. Running up the final hike-a-bike section my quads started to cramp. I leaped aboard my faithful steed and look down at my less faithful legs. I could see the defined muscles cramping down even as my leg floated up the pedal stroke. This is not good.
On the way down, I found a new jump to hit. I also noticed how I could go brakeless through another section and bank hard off the side of the trail. Dangerous? Maybe. Time-eating? Possible. Fun? Definitely! I arrived with a smile at the check-in. Waited for my ticket to be punched. My hamstring cramped hard. I pounded it like my mom pounds meat loaf. “What do you need, babe?” You gotta love that kind of support. “Salt. Lots of salt and bananas.” Again, she didn’t have what I needed. She was about to run off. “Stop! Just gimme whatcha got. Get salt next time.” I spent the next mile choking down a bag of Pringle’s and a banana, with a carbo-drink chaser. Yum.
In all my races, I don’t think I ever suffered like this fifth lap. Cramping bad on the three hike-a-bike sections, the ominous distance ahead, and I wasn’t even close to the end of the race. I was nearly done. As fate would have it, one of the jokers I had passed before came by me. He looked great. Real smooth. Tanned skin. “Just go till you drop man, then try and survive.” “Gee, thanks.” I wanted to kill him, no I wanted to lasso him. I wanted to quit. Cresting the top, I came into the most technical section. Huge, sharp rocks studded the middle of the trail. A dust covered racer lay prone on the side, another wearily negotiated the section on foot. I yelled “rider!” and rolled through as swift as a greyhound a the track.
Smiling again, I reached the check-in. Susie is a genius. She confiscated salt packets from the hamburger stand. I poured three down my throat and lubed up my chain while she swapped out my Camelbak bladder. More banana and a protein bar. I cramped just as bad for the next few laps, but I felt like I was taking corrective measures. Besides, I had mysteriously maneuvered into 5th place. I wasn’t the only fast-starting fool after all. Lots of pain to go, but a glimmer of hope.
Somewhere in here the race leader, Matt Ohran, lapped me. It bummed me out quit a bit. Then I found out he had take 4th in the Vail 100 the previous week, he was a pro. Okay, I can deal with that. Still lots of racing to go, lots of pain to suffer.
I didn’t think the next challenge would ever happen. Really. With all the heat, all the sweat, how could I possibly need to pee? My bladder started to kill. I figured I would have to dismount at the hike-a-bike section anyway, so might as well try. Am I’m standing there, a few feet from the trail with stage fright no less, my quads and hammies in both legs lock. This is bad. One task done, I hobble over to my trusty steed, throw a stiff leg over and slowly begin to pedal. At the bottom of this lap, while I’m inhaling salt, Susie is yelling, “you’re not drinking enough, drink more.” Drink more?! Peeing almost left me like the tin man in a rain storm.
Figuring this was the point where weird things could happen in my head, I chose to trust the advice of my wife. I almost cried, realizing I still had 5 hours to go, my wife lovingly supporting me, and hating the fact that I was racing instead of at the beach with the kids. Then creeping into my ears came the final words she had yelled, “you’re in fourth place, third is 5 minutes up the trail.” This was my break through lap. The carbo-drink was chilled to almost a slushy. She’d filled the bladder with enough juice to ge me across the Sahara, and I let her have it the next lap through – “I’m a racer, not a camel! I’ll be back in 50 minutes! Think!” She was thinking, I wasn’t. Just pain.
The heat of the day was diminishing and the cool breeze blew through tall pines. A lone coyote crossed the trail, like me, out for the final hunt of the day. I was feeling better, much better. My cramping was lessening. The decent was getting faster and more furious. Each rock, each rut, each jump and each bank became hard wired from my brain to my twitching fingers.
During the last laps Susie would run next to me as we swapped out wrappers for bars, bananas, liquid and lube. Our transitions were smooth. Each lap I knew she would be there, so dependable, so cheerful. My secret weapon. Each lap I felt better. I began to look forward to the final lap, when i wouldn’t have to “save it” for another, I wanted to put the hammer down for good one last time.
“Babe, your back in 4th. Some guy slipped in, blue shirt, number 244”. I was riding with abondon this last lap. I ran the hike-a-bike. Okay, not really, I hiked it fast. But, the gears I chose were much taller than the previous laps, I was flying – that too is relative, because the four-man team riders were ripping past me. Nevertheless, I soon saw the blue jersey way ahead. It takes a long time to overcome somebody on a steep hill after over 11 hours, one hundred miles and 19,000 feet of climbing. Slowly, I reeled him in just after the last hike-a-bike. As I came up on number 244, the repeated the phrase of the day… “what lap ya on?” Should I tell him 14 just like him? Nah, “uh, 10, you?” 12 dude, I’m hurting.” “Really?! That’s great, good luck!” Did Susie invent the phantom racer to spur me on?
I pushed harder on the pedals in search of second place. In retrospect, I did take the final switchbacks way too fast, I risked crashing, I risked flatting, I risked too much. As I crested the final slope in my big chain ring, defiantly stomping it into history as a previous middle-ring-climb, I could hear my wife and friends yelling. No crying this time, just yelling. I was mobbed. I felt great. But how did I wind up? ‘Todd! The guy in second quit, hi didn’t think you could get another lap in under the time limit. You’re in 2nd man, 2nd!”… with 13 minutes to spare!
There’s a lot to be said for winning and there’s a lot to be said for finishing, but not enough cab be said about suffering and sticking with it no matter what place you finish. As far as I’m concerned, we were all winners that night, especially my wife, she deserved the top of the podium.
Sunday, I got a million calls from friends and family wanting to know how I’d done. I tried to explain. Even I couldn’t believe it. I tried to put it in some perspective for them – open category, pro’s, eco-challenge racers, young studs, furry forks. They all acted impressed, though I think they mainly thought I’m a little off. My dad said it best. “Let’s see, about 20,0000 feet of climbing, about 200 pounds with the bike, that’s… 4,000,000 pounds lifted one foot or one pound lifted 4,000,000 times, or… hey, that’s a lot of pain son.”
Lap Times: 44, 43, 45, 47, 49, 52, 53, 55, 52, 53, 53, 55, 51, 49
Need I say more?
No, but I will.
Matt Ford happens to annihilate me every Tuesday morning on The TMWC. He’s a beast.
But somehow, some way, there’s a Strava segment where, for the time being, I own him.
For sure, he’ll go out and smash my time. So for now, I will bask in the warm glory of Strava.
What friends are forRobot: JR says let’s go back to Barnburner and get revenge.
Todd: Barnburner was revenge. It was horrid. Awful. A dust bowl.
JR: I will return to the dust bowl to avenge my finish.
Travis: The RV is ready, and Todd is riding with us this time.
Robot: It might just be worse if we’re lucky.
Todd: Crud… really?
Robot: We can run an ad on Craig’s list for your Twinkies.
As we prepare for the final TMWC of 2012, I wanted to give a shout out to the pioneers.
About 10 years ago I moved out to Coto and told my friends Peter Vidmar and Don Miller, who had moved out there earlier, we should try and get a quality ride going… like we used to have with Coffee Crew.
I plotted the most stoplight free course, which turned out to be very hill heavy.
Every Tuesday at 630 sharp we left from Antonio and Meandering Trail.
Just the three of us.
Dan “Daniel Boone” McAneny (sp?) (Don’s biz partner) was the first to join us from RSM.
Soon Jim “from the gym” Bishop (that was Don’s intro) was riding over from Laguna Niguel… he’s our awesome video man with proof of the attacks, and who pushed Robot over at the light.
Somewhere, I ran into “Crooked” Steve Lind. We’d ridden all those years ago in the early Coffee Crew days and he expertly started showing us what climbing was all about while using his world class running legs. Stevie also started pulling the Ladera boys over.
Matt “TT” Ford hopped in about the same time… he couldn’t climb to save his life and was just getting back to competitive riding – we’d hammer him at will (something the new guys can’t fathom).
With Matt came Bob Kmetz… who throttled us ramping up for cyclocross way, way, way before it was cool.
Bryson Perry, an actual pro, moved to town to work with me. He’d pull a few guys up the road then drift back and tell us we could catch them, then he’d scoot back up to them and tell ’em to get a move on. True talent.
Kevin Hall, Bryson’s father-in-law, laid down roots for a few years. That brought in the era of big trash talking… oh, I miss the rudeness of it all.
I’m sure I’m out of order at this point…
Kevin “Backpack” McKenna was soon working in his morning commute and regularly forcing us to red line on the bike trail.
Phil was now riding over with Jim from the gym, and always pushing it hard over The Wall.
David Frank started coming over with Stevie and dragging a slew of guys over from Ladera – Robert and Robot and Mellow and Kent and Charlie… hammers all.
I tapped in to friends from church, and bam Scott Moncrief (our Physical Therapist) was on the ride and putting us back together when we crashed, Brad Perry and Mark Christopherson and a bunch of guys I can’t name were part of this group.
This year, we’ve seen a ton of growth… 24 guys on a cold and dark December morning is uncharted territory… Baghouse, WinTeam, and more.
Please forgive my old mind if I’ve missed you, we’ve had many wonderful riders share the roads with us.
Over the years we’ve seen our kids grow up and move away, survived cancer, struggled through a tough economy, sold houses, shared all of this from the rolling chatter box at the start of each ride.
Some folks hope there’s golf in heaven, I’ll take the Tuesday Morning World Champions.
Example: Team Un-named just cut a deal to buy directly from Builder-X.
Tribes have the power, more than ever.
If you’re not building one, you’re part of one.
Failing to connect with the tribes is becoming more and more costly.
Winners: Team members get smoking deal. Builder-X gets high margin sale.
Losers: anybody not building or connecting with the tribes is going to feel the pain, real fast.
Shops need to build their own tribes, need to connect with existing tribes.
It’s not enough to open your door any more.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 TrainingPeaks.com) 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)
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: www.gotoddbrown.com/events
*insane: doing the same thing and expecting different results.
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?
Chinese Proverb –
If we don’t change our direction, we’re likely to end up where we are headed.
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.
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 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!
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.