Monday, November 24, 2014

High School MTB FTW!

The kids WAY up high on the ridge. 
Friday was a minimum day at school. The days have been getting shorter so this was the perfect opportunity to  ride bikes with some sick HS shredders. Those beasts rode all the way from Tustin HS to Peter's Canyon, and then on to the top of Shoots trail in Santiago Oaks, and back down the Newport singletracks. The ride was a bit on the long side, but the kids kicked booty and I had a blast. 

We love selfies. 

And the sunlight was so pretty!

Glenn is new to the team and shreds like a natural. 
Sorry I missed your close ups Dylan, Mitch and Ryan. Next time I will spread the photag love a little better :) 
Looking forward to seeing these kids race in the spring. I think they are going to have a great time!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cycling is My Drug of Choice (oh and caffeine)

Seriously, am I the only one who finishes every tempo interval/ride feeling high on life? I don't really understand how hard work can make me so giddy/happy/stoked, but this is my life.
Today, 3 15 minute tempo intervals (that's pretty hard, but not race pace for those non-cyclists out there) and I finish the last one belting out the words to whatever song is on Spotify on my phone, beaming ear to ear, feeling like I'm on top of the world.
There is nothing particularly great going on in my life right now, I mean, yeah, Brendan did find some brand new Conti Mountain King tires (my absolute favorites, and the exact size I need to replace the worn out tire on my trail bike) in the secret compartments of my car, and some sick new Enve wheels came in the mail yesterday, but I'm still in the thick of the sponsor hunt, I have house work for days to catch up on, and I'm struggling pretty hard with body image issues right now, so I think it's safe to say this euphoria is completely ignited by riding bikes. Anyway, I may not understand it, but I like it, and I want to keep riding bikes for many, many more years. Despite all the uncertainty about next year's racing season, I am more filled with motivation right now that I have even been. It's exciting to hit the road hard, and train smart, and dream big :) Also, thanks Matt for doing such a kick booty job as my coach, I think his genius training plan may be contributing to my stoked on bikes feeling right now!
View of Catalina Island from Laguna on Wed night's ride. I live in an awesome place :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Nobel Canyon

I think I fell more in love with my bike today. Here are a few highlights of a great ride out in Nobel Canyon.
At the top of this little extra credit loop, you can see to Mexico!
-50 miles, 7,000k ascent on flowy, technical really well maintained singletrack (as well as a little bit of fun punchy fire-road)

-Incredible views of mountains, valleys, golden cottonwood trees, and beautiful rock formations

-Having a blast carving descents with new confidence, riding stuff I wouldn't have imagined riding last year, and hitting as many wall rides as possible at the end to avoid rocks, 'cause why not? 

-Riding all the jumps and most of the log rides on Gatos Ravine, something else I definitely opted out of last year

-Perfect weather, warm with a cool breeze, and almost no people until we got to the dry lake

-Seriously the best nachos of my life afterwards in Alpine at Mananas Mexican Restaurant, complete with greasy chips, about a cup of guac and a cup of sour cream.

If you live in SoCal you NEED to get your butt to Nobel Canyon ASAP because it is amazing out there right now!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Right now I'm All about that Base, You know, 'cause Coach Says So!

Last week I posted a short list of stuff I'm stoked about, that rocks my world and has made me faster/makes me enjoy every ride more. Somehow I left off possibly the one thing that has had the most impact on my cycling, my coach.

I resisted the coaching thing for a long time. I guess I took pride in the idea that I could be fast by just goofing off and not formally training. I didn't want to be that person who can't play because I had intervals, and there is a stigma about having a coach in the group of guys I ride with. Then I started getting more serious about racing. I started doing the US Cup races and XCTs. I found myself rattled by not really knowing what I was doing, in training and right before and during a race. Then, in August 2 years ago, a friend told me about how great his CTS coach was, and the idea was like a seed in my mind.
A picture to break up the words :)
Last year in Feb I took the plunge and signed up for coaching from CTS. They found me an awesome local coach, Matt Freeman, and it was like night an day within a week of working with him. Having someone in your corner who knows what they are doing, who can give advice from race nutrition to how to make the most of commuting, and who is just a text message away is huge. I immediately felt more confident in my training and race prep. I noticed huge gains in my fitness within the first few months, and it made the whole season way more fun because I was seeing improvement and was able to keep my motivation up all the way to August (when the season started in Feb, that's a long time to be invested in racing bikes)!
Coach even rode bikes with me once because I thought I was slow at descending!
I think maybe the most important benefit for me is that I am prone to over train, and Matt has convinced me it's a good idea to take a few days off the bike each month (well, almost convinced me). I've actually really enjoyed adding some structure to my cycling, and even in the off season I feel like coach is making a huge difference in helping me keep my head on straight/still have fun riding and not killing myself (or Carl). So I guess my greatest piece of advice to anyone who wants to be faster/have more fun on bikes, try the coaching thing out! 
Even Brendan is on board with coach's core routine! 
What product/bike/component are you using that the whole world needs to know about?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Coffee, a Muffin, the Ocean and Some Tempo

Veteran's day 2014 was spent riding my road bike to Laguna, eating the most amazing apple muffin, drinking coffee, looking at the ocean, reading Marla Streb's auto-bio, and doing a few tempo intervals. Thanks Vets for fighting for our freedoms! 
I finally understand coffee shop rides! Does that mean I'm turning into an old man?

Dehydration Test Take 2

Every week as Saturday rolls around, Carl and I hash out a route in the Santa Ana's to play bikes. When planning these rides I have one requirement, that we climb more elevation than last week, and hopefully in the process cover more miles. I like the challenge of pushing myself to go further and harder each week, and I'm not really satisfied with a ride if it isn't bigger in some way than last week. This attitude might become a problem at some point, as the days get shorted and as we reach our physical ceiling of what we are capable of doing, but for now its been making for some awesome, painful Saturdays. 
View from Cocktail Rock, the top of our first climb, and one of my favorites in the Santa Ana's.
This week our plan was to ride up San Juan Trail and the Wall, down Yeager Mesa, up West Horsethief, down East Horsethief, up El Cariso and the Wall (again) and down Los Pinos. This ride was 42 miles long with about 13k total ascent. Here is a short synopsis of the ride/sufferfest. 
We started up San Juan at 7 am, it was cool, I took off to do some intervalish things. We felt good at the top, and continued through Bluejay Campground. The first time up the wall I tried to go slow, but its already super dry despite the rain last week. At the top we paused for a second before heading down Yeager. This time Yeager was WAY more fun than last time. It was dry again, I didn't crash into any trees, and my new SRAM Guide brakes work super well, so I could let go and trust they would stop me in an instant if something went wrong. At the bottom we scrambled across the creek bed and headed up West HT.
View back down into Trabuco Canyon from West H.T.
This trail is incredibly steep, has these crazy hard switchbacks, and never really gives you a chance to rest. I was able to ride a lot more than I expected, and despite the terriblness of the trail, it only took about 30 minutes to get back up to Main Divide. We took a sandwich break at the top under some awesome pine trees. 
Still feeling good. Also, I let Carl take a break, wasn't that nice of me :)
Then we cruised down East HT, which really means Carl bombed down the hill jumping across and into and around ruts like a pro while I smashed my left knee into my top tube over and over again while dragging a foot most of the way down. There were some fun sections, and I was very grateful to the group who rode East last week after the rain (Darrin?), because I used their tracks to figure out how to navigate most the ruts (this trail is all ruts, like 100% of the time there is a rut, or 2, or 10 you have to somehow ride in or around). I was pleased to get to the bottom, except it was as hot as summer down there, and I was starting to feel a little tired. We rode right up Cariso without stopping and got to the camp ground about 30 min later. Then we had to ride the wall a second time. This part of the ride sucked, like really really sucked. I was not a happy camper. My butt hurt, my legs were tired, my head was starting to hurt, it wasn't much fun. Fortunately for me I got to Pinos peak some time before Carl and took a nap on a rock. 
Still smiling on the peak, 6 hours into the ride.
Thankfully, the nap revived me and I enjoyed every inch of Pinos, much like last time we rode it. I had a blast surfing the ruts full of chunky rocks, and the new brakes once again proved invaluable. We got from the peak to the bottom in an hour (which is really good for this trail). Carl was quite tired at the end, but I pretended to feel great so he would think I was a freak of nature (in reality I was a little tired, just a tiny bit). How lucky are we to have hundreds of miles of riding in out back yards, and enough options to go big every weekend and not have to ride the same trails every week?!

Let's hope this coming weekend brings a longer ride with more elevation! I can't get enough base training. This might be my favorite time of year!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stuff I Really Like Lately

I've been doing a lot of different types of riding lately, from road commuting, to that road-like 50 mile race to long, technical, epic Santa Ana rides. During all this riding, I have found myself super stoked about a few of the products that either sponsors have hooked me up with, or that Brendan bought for me (because, let's be honest, I just don't buy stuff for myself). I want to share a few of these things because I keep having the thought 'everyone needs this...', and because my riding has honestly gotten better/been more enjoyable since they came into my life.
I've also been riding with these weirdos every Weds!
Love my front tire too, but man is that rear tire amazing!
1. Continental Mountain King 2.2 mountain bike tire (sponsor). This is probably the one thing that changed my riding the most in the past 3 months. I threw this bad boy on my trail bike for Downieville, but didn't really ride that bike much for a bit after that, and forgot about it. Fast forward to dry, dusty, base rides in Laguna and the Santa Ana's with Carl and something magical happened. Suddenly loose, steep, sandy, choppy climbs I couldn't clean before were not a problem! With this tire on my rear wheel I can climb almost anything, it loves the crappiest of crappy loose trails. I am seriously stoked on this tire, and I think anyone who lives in SoCal should try it out!

2. Light & Motion VIS 360+ headlight/tail light (Brendan bought this for me at Interbike). I've been commuting with this teeny tiny headlight tail light combo since Sept, and it has made my life so much easier. First off, it is seriously small, and light, and has a great helmet mount, so I never have to take it off my helmet. Second, it is rechargeable with a smooshed USB, so I can just plug it into the wall a few times a week, and it's ready to go. Lastly it's super easy to adjust the angle of the light, and it's bright enough for my pitch black commute every day!

3. Stan's No Tubes tire sealant (Stan's was my wheel sponsor last year, but we buy the sealant by the boatload with our own dollars). I think almost everyone who rides bikes knows how rad this stuff is, but I am seriously so stoked every weekend when Carl and I finish our 6+ hour rides in the Santa Ana's (full of sharp rocks) or Laguna (full of cactus) and don't have to fix a single flat. We have been doing long rides together for over a year now, and I remember 2 flats, seriously, just 2. Also at some point in that 50 mile race I did last weekend I ran over a nail, but didn't even know until I looked closely at my tire today, because the Stan's stepped right in and sealed that bad boy up. I never even had to put more air in it!
Can you see the nail? I can't believe I never knew it was there. How rad is that?!
4. Oakley Radar Lock Sunnies in the real big lense size (not really a sponsor, but kinda a sponsor, I'm not sure, they are very generous and kind those Oakley peeps). I actually just got hooked up with a new pair of these last night, but holy heck are they good. I took my old Smith Piv-lock's off and put these guys on to instantly feel like a blind person being given the gift of sight. I wore them till well after sundown last night, and never felt like they were inhibiting my sight, and today they made the ride home a ton more enjoyable. 

5. Marin Mt. Vision (sponsor). Well the cat is out of the bag now, that Marin is not sponsoring me next year, but I don't think I want to ride any other bike because I have absolutely and completely fallen head over heals in love with that Mt. Vision. I've spent 6+ hours in the saddle on that bike every Saturday for the past 4 or 5 weeks, and I have never once been unhappy with that rig. It climbs like a beast, descends like a champ and is just all around fun to shred on. I like the super slack front end, even when I'm climbing, and it's light enough to get me QOMs, but heavy duty enough to withstand a good Pinos beating.

There are a ton of other super cool products I use, like that beyond delicious GU Energy Labs Recovery Brew, and the Pearl Izumi X-Project shoes that hike and ride like a second skin, but the above list is stuff that I cannot stop thinking about. I seriously tell random people out on the trail about that rear tire, it's that good. 

So that's a quick report on what's been keeping me rolling, and smiling for the past few months! I hope you get the chance to try one or more of 'em out! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

What, A Race Recap In November?!

Yes, it's true, I raced my bike today. Well, it wasn't really supposed to be a race, but what can you do when a 50 mile dirt fondo starts out with a bunch of dudes tear-assing down some relatively flat, totally tacky dirt roads, besides tear-ass with them?

View of Main Divide from the 'sand lot' above Upper Holy Jim.
This story actually starts on Saturday though, because Saturday's ride was noteworthy in itself (and I actually have pics from Sat!). Carl and I took our chances with the rain and low clouds on Sat morning, and headed out into the Santa Ana's at 8am. We climbed Holy Jim in what was probably the most scenic conditions ever. Red and orange leaves on the ground, bright green shrubs everywhere, wet dirt, and beautiful clouds surrounded us. We did get rained on during the climb up Main Divide to the top of Upper HJ, but the view from the top was well worth it. Huge, scary looking clouds were rolling over the range below us, and we could see sunshine down in Riverside County, where we were headed.
Next we hit Coldwater trail, a CB favorite. The dirt was perfect, the views were out of this world good, and the trail was fun, fast and flowy, just like I remembered it. I did crash pretty hard in a switchback and had a huge bump on my right shin the rest of the day, but it was so worth the pain.
Coldwater, the best, poorly kept secret that no one rides, out there :)
Post a quick snack break at the bottom, we took off up Indian Truck Trail (my fave fire road). I was kinda a jerk, and left Carl behind because I wanted the QOM, I obviously didn't really learn my lesson from last weekend.
We had a quick debate at the top about which way to go, and decided to can our original Joplin plan to avoid getting rained on, and hit Yeager instead. Things got really interesting on the Yeager descent. It was really slippery from the rain, and I crashed into at least 3 trees, and also smashed my saddle into my torso about a dozen times. This led to me singing Get Dirty on the way down Trabuco trail and the wash.  
And there was some bike pushing as well. This is after my abdomen took a thorough beating.
The sum total damage from Sat was 43 miles, 9,500 feet elevation, and I rode two of the big climbs pretty hard despite my better judgment.
Oh, yeah, also Carl got a flat. That doesn't happen every day!
Sunday's ride was 50 miles with 3,500 feet climbing, so much easier from the elevation standpoint, but much much faster. After the super fast start, where I thought I was going to get dropped any second, I settled in at the back of the lead group of about 8. I surprised myself by hanging on to that group for the first 20 miles, a few times I would get gapped off for whatever reason, but I would put my head down and dig for a while, and catch back up. Then a really unfortunate bad line choice caused me to have to to jump off my bike and run for a sec, and I lost contact with the leaders completely. I was alone for the next 7ish miles which really sucked because it was much harder to keep the pace high without a wheel to follow. 
Course map. We went pretty far across San Diego County, from Encinitas to Rancho Santa Fe, and back. 
Near the turn around (mile 27) there was a series of really tight uphill switchbacks and somehow I caught a few guys there (prob all the switchback practice on HJ on Sat!). I used them to leapfrog up to the next few guys and then the next. Every time I would catch up to two more guys I would rotate with them for a little bit, and then, because they were taking slower and slower pulls, I would accidentally drop them and end up riding away. This happened until I was in 3rd place, alone, with 8 miles to go. I had started the ride thinking I was going to blow myself up because the pace was so high, but apparently everyone else had the same problem, so I managed to cross the line 3rd overall, a minute-ish behind the leaders. It was an epic ride, mostly because I haven't ridden race pace in a while, I've never raced 50 miles before, and I was trying to compete with men. I had a blast carving tacky swoopy trails on the CXR29er, what a fun bike for a dirt road race! It was also awesome because some of my favorite people were there, we drank the most amazing coffee/chocolate beer after the finish, and Allie, Brendan and I FINALLY got to start chipping away at this list of life changing burritos (we had #3).

That's the story of the Filthy Fifty. Now I'm on a rest week, wondering what I'm going to do with all the time I wont be riding my bike! JK, time to do all the chores I've neglected for the past 8 weeks!