Dec 10, 2010

The Opposite

“If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.” – Jerry to George

Nearly every instinct I’ve had in the last 10 years has been related to mountain bike racing, in one form or another. How I spend my weekends; how I spend my mornings and evenings; what I eat; how much alcohol I do or do not consume; how much sleep I get; where I work; yada, yada, yada. I’ve had a good run at it, especially for someone who started so late in life, but the last couple of years haven’t been much to blog about. While the competition keeps getting younger, I keep getting older, and with age come greater responsibilities outside of elite fitness.

It’s not easy for me to admit, but toward the end of this year I finally realized that I was going to have to change the way I do things, or I was going to go insane trying to continue in the same way I lived in the past. As you get older, you get slower. That’s a fact of life, and a fact that I can no longer believe as fiction. Plus, it’s not easy to get up at the crack of dawn to ride when it’s dark and near freezing outside. It’s equally as challenging to get on the trainer at 6:00am when staying under the covers feels so good. And the thought of messing with a lighting system in order to do night rides seems as laborious as taking out the trash or changing the oil in a car. Who really wants to do those chores?

Basically, that’s what riding has become for me lately; a chore. Basically, I’ve decided it’s time to live a little and start doing the opposite. I’m not saying I’m done. I’m just saying that when race season rolls around next year, I’ll without a doubt be racing myself into fitness rather than being fit to race. I’m sure I’ll probably hate myself when that time comes, but right now, as I’m doing the opposite, I’m actually enjoying myself.

For example, in November, Ryder, Tricia, and I joined my entire family in Vegas to watch the final round of the EnduroCross series. Not counting a Supercross earlier this year, it was the first “off-road” motorcycle race I’ve attended in about six years. I got to see some old friends and co-workers and it even rekindled my love for riding motorcycles. So this weekend, I’m actually going trail riding with my buddy Kelly.

Until now, I’ve spent the last seven years avoiding motorcycles at almost any cost. Like a heroin addict, I was afraid that moto’ing again, just once, would cause a relapse and I’d find myself spiking a vein with a Honda CRF250. Before living, breathing, and sleeping pedal bikes, I lived, breathed, slept, and even made a living off of motorcycles. Both two-wheeled vices are similar in lifestyle, and there’s only room for one at a time if you’re going to do it right. But I’m doing the opposite now so Kelly and I will be twisting throttles on Saturday morning instead of turning over pedals.

Last weekend I played in a soccer tournament. Three years ago, if someone would have asked me to play in a soccer tournament I would have ridden away before they could finish asking. Even talking about playing soccer could result in a torn ACL, but last weekend I threw caution to the wind and played three 30-minute games. I was terrified the entire time, but I survived, and I even had fun. And when I wasn’t playing soccer, I was carrying wheelbarrow loads of dirt for the pump track I’m building Ryder. Okay, technically the pump track is bicycle related, but it’s really for Ryder and his friends to have a safe place to ride their bikes. It has nothing to do with my racing, although shoveling and carrying a dump truck load of dirt from the front yard to the back did serve as good weight training - so much weight training that I couldn’t have done it without the help of Kelly, Joey, and Destry.

So lately the opposite has been working out for me. Check back in March when I’m suffering like a dog trying not to get lapped by the likes of Todd Wells, JHK, and Adam Craig. But right now, the opposite is okay.

We scored on my corner kick. I bent it like Beckham.


Motley Crue.


That's a lot of dirt.

Update: Since I wrote this blog I spent 90 minutes on the trainer and did a two hour night ride with Woody - all in the same day...

Nov 15, 2010

RIP Robert Bender

It seems like far too often I'm writing a blog about a friend who has passed away. Robert Bender succumbed to cancer on Sunday, November 13. I didn't know Bender well, but the things I did know about him are things that he should have been proud of. Bender was a damn fine bike rider. He was talented in all aspects of mountain bike racing; cross country, downhill, and freeride. I seldom ever saw him on a road bike, but when I did, Bender was at the front of the ride. I started calling him Tugboat because if he ever fell off the pace due to an attack by another rider, you could bet that Tugboat would steadily ride himself back to the front. I never moto'd with Bender, but I heard he was talented with the throttle, and I don't doubt it for a moment.

Whenever I'd see Bender, whether it was on a ride, at the races, or just around town, he always seemed happy to see me, and I was happy to see him. We'd share laughs and occasionally a beer. Bender was humble, and that said a lot about his character because I think everyone who knew him, knew just how talented he actually was.

Bender never knew it, but when he'd show up to one of the group road rides, I was his domestique. I guess what I really know about Robert Bender is that I respected him a lot.

I'll miss you Tugboat.

Nov 6, 2010

Speed KIlls. And so does Funny 1440.

It’s been called to my attention that I haven’t written a blog lately. Duh! Like, tell me something I don’t know. Most of my thoughts lately go into 140 character text messages sent to Twitter or, worse yet, into work-related projects. I suppose in order to at least update this hack blog, I should post something, so here it goes. Random thoughts:

I love motors, specifically those found in motorcycles. I even like a little auto racing now & then like Formula 1 or rally racing. But what I don’t love (in fact, I loathe them) are the people driving around on city streets as if they were A.J. Foyt. I see it every day & I’m scared to death to put Ryder out on his bike streetside. I grew up on a somewhat peaceful street with very little traffic. I do recall every now and then someone hauling ass down Oakdale Street, but it didn’t happen often. Today, I can’t step foot outside the house without seeing Michael Schumacher or Danica Patrick out on a qualifying lap. It’s like the City of Redlands International Speedway out there (only the road surface is closer to the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix than it is the tarmac of Daytona).

And while we’re on the topic, how about people who speed in parking lots? I’m going to start carrying supplies with me & when I catch you on my built-in human speed radar drag racing from Target to Barnes & Noble as if it were the Winter Nationals, you get a speeding ticket in the form of a raw egg. I don’t claim to be a perfect driver, but at least I’m conscious of my surroundings & a parking lot & residential streets aren’t my Brickyard 400. Think I’m exaggerating or over reacting? Another cyclist got killed yesterday up in Beaumont because of some dude with a lead foot & no sense of his surroundings. Think about that next time you lazily sit around on the couch for too long & then have to throttle it in your car to get to your destination because you’re running late. Share the road. Children & bikes have been around longer than your fruity little coupe.

On a much lighter note, there’s a new radio station in Southern California called Funny 1440 AM. It plays short excerpts of standup comedy routines 24-7. The only downside is that ever since Aaron Gerth [giving credit where credit is due, or else I’m sure I’ll get a rambling voicemail message about it later] told me about the new station, I’ve found myself getting stupider because I’m not listening to NPR as much. Instead of Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne telling me about how fraudulent Bank of America business practices are, I’ve been listening to the likes of Jim Gaffigan joke about Hot Pockets & Steven Wright say stuff like, “I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn’t park anywhere near the place.”

I got an inside tip from a guy I know that the Tossers are actually going to venture outside of the greater Chicago area in June 2011 to play some shows (or a show) in the Los Angeles area. I know, it’s hard to believe, but this news comes from a reliable source. The only downside (I always have to point out a downside because that’s what I do) is I’m going to have to travel to the armpit that is L.A., but if T. Duggins & the gang are going to come all the way from the Midwest, the least I can do is hop on the 10 freeway for a few hours.

And finally, Trish & I went to see Race Across the Sky 2010 last night, this year’s documentary about the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. We had a fine time dining before the flick with the Baumas & Fulfords, although the movie itself lacked the drama of last year’s version. Still a great story though. Would have been cool to see a mountain biker win it this year instead of an alleged doper. I wish I had time to train for it, but 5, 6, & 7 hour training days on the bike are a thing of the past. Come to think of it, if I did have that kind of time still, I think I’d rather go twist the throttle at the ISDE… or maybe just the Mt. Sac Fat Tire Classic.

Sep 27, 2010

Biking for Bender

Earlier this year fellow pro mountain bike racer, Robert Bender, was diagnosed with cancer. He’s currently in his second round of chemotherapy, and although his spirits are high, so is the stack of medical bills piling up. To help pay them, Bender’s teammate, Al Laframboise hosted a benefit ride last weekend in Big Bear. More people than I could count came out to show their support and to take part in the post ride raffle at La Montana restaurant.

With help from his wife, Bender’s family, and a few locals, Al had long and short ride loops planned with a common feed station that was stocked with fresh fruit, cookies, and liquids. I did the long loop and was pleased to be led over all kinds of Big Bear trails that I never knew existed. After the feed station, Mt. Everest summiteer, and all-around nice guy, Paul Romero, led a couple of us on an extended ride that consisted of pure sweet singletrack. Most of it has been right under my nose the entire 15 years I’ve been riding Big Bear and I never even knew it. I’m not sure I could find it on my own, but getting to ride it just once was a pleasure.

The entire experience that day made me realize a few things: I really miss racing and riding in Big Bear on a regular basis; and I miss seeing Bender at all the races here in the southwest. On more than one occasion Bender has turned the screws to me while I was trying to stick to his wheel. I hope the day comes again where we’re racing in Big Bear, and that Bender is there turning over the pedals at a rate which causes us all discomfort.



We stumbled upon this beauty on the downside of a huge mountain. How it got there in the first place, I'll never figure out. And we forgot to check it for bodies. Dang.


We all nearly lost a lung getting to the top of this summit.


Biking for Bender had a great turnout.



Sep 21, 2010

I'm a paper hugger

I spend most of my day staring at dual flat screen monitors. The one to my left displays either Microsoft Outlook or Word, depending whether or not I’m on email. Sometimes when I’m lucky, I’m using MS Word to write something that could eventually make its way into actual print, in the form of a magazine, newsletter, brochure or advertisement. A paradox of sorts, the printed pieces are about technology - computer technology, to be exact. Meanwhile, to my right is always a web site of some sort. Right now it’s the San Bernardino National Forest web site because that’s where I wish I was at the moment – amongst the trees instead of the dual flat screens. Regardless how cheap, small, portable, and fast a PC, or a Kindle, or an iPad, or the next big thing gets; I prefer that my media began life as a tree. I’ll take paper pages over web pages any day.

As a kid I honed what little writing skills I now posses by reading mostly motorcycle magazines and Rolling Stone. I could even argue that in my junior high and high school years, I had two writing styles. One was that of a late ‘80s moto rag, with wit, humor, and passion, while the other was more of a long-winded rock ‘n roll inspired rant like you used to find in the pages of Rolling Stone. In college I began to branch out, but before I could get too far I found myself as a contributing writer for Cycle News and Dirt Rider. I thought I had hit the big time. I was, to quote Rolling Stone writer Cameron Crowe, almost famous.

But even before seeing my name in a by-line, or my picture as a test rider, when the thought of writing for a motorcycle magazine seemed like a pipedream, I took my magazine reading serious, like an education. There was no internet. It was just paper and ink and I loved it. My mom was forced to hide whatever magazine came in the mail on a given day because my dad and I would fight over first reading rights. Her method for preventing these quarrels was simple. Whoever asked about the day’s mail first got the first read. Nearly every day I’d come home and before she could ask me how school was, I’d ask her if the Dirt Rider came. Once we started getting Cycle News on a weekly basis, I knew that every Wednesday, sometimes Thursday, there’d be one waiting at home.

No matter which of the magazines it was, there was always great anticipation over who was going to be on the cover, and what stories would be inside. And because it wasn’t like the web where stuff changes hour-by-hour, sometimes that anticipation lasted for weeks.

As the internet continues to change the way writers write, readers read, photographers shoot, and unfortunately how magazines and newspapers layout, plan, and print their publications, I hope that the print media finds a respectable balance that will keep them afloat. Obviously, some of the damage has already been done. Many magazines have revised their style to more of a Web-like format. It’s not often you open up a magazine and see a page with words, a photo, and a caption anymore. Your average page now is cut up into little pieces – each piece a different “story” or a sidebar to the main story, which in itself is a fraction of what a good magazine article used to be. It’s no wonder so many people suffer from A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. Where does one begin when you open up a magazine and the layout looks like the graphic designer played 52 Card Pickup all over the page? Ever wonder why National Geographic doesn’t look that way? Probably because they’ve done an extensive story on how the human brain isn’t made to process unrelated tidbits of information that way. When I sit down to read a magazine I don’t want to feel like I’m an air traffic controller. That gives me a headache. I want the full story, not the Cliffs Notes.

I can go on and on about this topic until you are blue in the face. The irony is this: I went to school and worked hard so I can write things that get printed on paper, yet in order to do that, I have to spend all day in front of a computer.

Within the last two years more than 500 magazines have ceased publication. Doomed from the start if you think about it, PC Magazine and Computer Shopper were two that folded. Go figure.


Good old fashion paper.

Sep 17, 2010

I feel a road trip coming on

There’s this Conor Oberst song called, “There’s nothing that the road cannot heal.” I can’t agree more. I don’t even remember the lyrics to the song, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the title itself. For me, a good road trip can fix a lot of things. Writer’s block? Go on a road trip. Cabin fever? Go on a road trip. Need a change of scenery? Go on a road trip. Emotional distress because Bank of America is making your life miserable? Go on a road trip. All of these problems can be healed by a good old fashion road trip to… wherever. Just away.



When I was younger and traveled more, there was no shortage of things in my travels that inspired me to write. Now that I spend my week days cooped up in an office and most of my weekends racing locally or taking care of life’s chores, inspiration is infrequent. This year I’ve driven and ridden the same roads, descended the same singletrack, looked at the same trees, gotten fuel at the same gas stations, eaten at the same restaurants, and bought ice cream at the same grocery stores with only a couple exceptions. One of those exceptions was a trip to Colorado, but I don’t really count that because I flew instead of drove. Flying is cheating. Flying doesn’t count unless - when you reach your destination - you spend plenty of time exploring. We explored some in Colorado this summer, but not enough.

There’s just something about traveling the country and seeing it from behind a windshield that excites me. You can stop whenever you want to get a closer look at something. If you’re lucky, you get to sleep in a different place each night. You get to eat different foods from unfamiliar restaurants. Basically, you get to experience life as it was meant to be experienced. Mankind was not meant to be so sedentary. It’s bad for the body and equally as bad for the mind. Whoever first said, “familiarity breeds contempt” must have appreciated a good road trip.



When I think about the past, my best memories did not take place at home or at other familiar places. My best memories come from places I visited on vacations, trips, and weekends. The memories are of the outdoors and of not knowing what’s around the next corner. They are memories of experiencing things that I didn’t already experience day after day. They are memories attached with photos and some of them can be found in the archives of this blog. And if you haven’t noticed, lately this blog is seriously suffering in the road trip department. It needs healing.

Sep 15, 2010

Did I mention I hate Bank of America?

When your back is messed up, your life is messed up. I've gone about 3 weeks now with some sort of aliment in my upper back and it's pretty much made me worthless. I'm uncomfortable at work, I'm uncomfortable at home, I'm uncomfortable everywhere except for in bed, and ironically, riding my bicycles. Something about the position I ride in gives my back some relief, but the moment I step off the bike, I'm in pain again. Well, let me rephrase that, I'm comfortable on all of my bikes except for my singlespeed. Unfortunately I didn't figure that out until I was on the second lap of the California State XC Championships at Bonelli Park last Sunday. The days prior to the race, my back was starting to feel better, but on Sunday as I wrestled my way up one of Bonelli's steep climbs, my back became pissed at me once more. Not long after that, I figured I was doing more harm than good and I called it a day. I felt bad for my pit crew, Ryder and Trish, who made the trip out with me, yet Trish insisted it was just nice to be out of the house for the day. And Ryder, well, he got to do a race of his own and spend a lot of time on one of Bonelli's many playgrounds, so he was a happy camper. The only looser was me and my injured back.

I've been to see a chiropractor three times since injuring it and I've even toyed around with going back to Pass PT, yet again. I'm a regular there now.  The reality is, I just need to take some time off from any physical activity until it gets better. No hard rides, no yard work, no heavy lifting, no nothing, pretty much. No nothing is difficult for me. I get antsy just lying around. I can't imagine how Trish must feel. She's been lying around with a snapped femur for almost two months now. I'd go bloody mad if I were here. My only saving grace is that it's football season. That'll keep me occupied Saturday through Monday at least.

From Tuesday to Friday, I'll likely be on hold with Bank of America trying to get information about my mortgage. I think Bank of Haiti could do a better job than those ding-a-lings over at B of A. I'm not even going to tell you what I think the "A" stands for in B of A. You can figure it out.

Sep 1, 2010

Thanks for All the Memories

I got a text last night about Cycle News going out of business. I didn't really believe it, but I got online and checked anyway. Everything seemed to still be intact so I went to bed and didn't give it another thought. I slept well.

This morning I got up, signed on to Twitter and saw bad news from editor-in-chief, Paul Carruthers. His tweet said, "My blog on the passin of Cycle News..."

It would sound petty if I sat here and wrote about how sad this makes me and how much the magazine's passing is going to impact my life, so I'll try not to, but the truth is, it does make me sad and it will impact my life - if even in the littlest of ways.

I was a contributor to Cycle News from 1994 to late 1998 when I became an assistant editor at the weekly rag with a new office in Costa Mesa. It was my first "real job" out of college and even after I left there in 2001, I still contributed semi-regularly until about 2003. I learned a lot in that time, made a lot of good friends, got to travel to a lot of cool places, got to ride some of the fastest motorcycles of that era, and most of all, got to experience what it was like to work at the World's Best Weekly Motorcycle Newspaper.

Working at CN was one of my childhood dreams come true, and even though I left thinking that I was moving on to greener grass, in reality I wasn't. Until I woke up this morning, even though I only ride pedal bikes now, there was always something in the back of my mind that thought I would end up writing for Cycle News again one day. But I guess that's one dream that won't come true. Thanks for all the memories Cycle News.

Aug 24, 2010

Radford's Inferno

In these parts your will to win mountain bike races is measured by your willingness to ride Clarks-Radford. From 2N10 (aka Skyline Dr) in Big Bear, Clarks Grade is a twisty sandy road that descends to the sleepy settlement of 7 Oaks, which is mostly cabins and campgrounds. From there, you can travel to all kinds of places, but the most popular options on a bike are to head west to Angelus Oaks or east on 7 Oaks Rd or Converse Rd to Glass Rd, Barton Flats, or to the always fun Santa Ana River Trail. For those who like to suffer, there is another option, and that’s Camp Radford. The mostly abandoned and run-down camp located northeast of 7 Oaks is simply put, the entry way to Hell. Radford Camp Rd is a mostly exposed boney 5 mile road that leads back to 2N10 via Sugarloaf Truck Trail. Essentially, if you do the Clarks-Radford combo from Big Bear, you ride the final third of the loop with the Devil. If the relentless climb, oven-like heat, and gardens of loose stones don’t kill you, the army of gnats will drive you to tears. Just in the first couple miles of Radford Camp Rd, many have been found in the fetal position, but more than rocks and insects, Radford Camp Rd is littered with souls.

Last Saturday, me, Woody and Jeff Stanners raised our fists to the Devil and gave it a go anyway. Sorta. Instead of doing the Clarks-Radford combo from Big Bear, we began at the gateway, heading straight up Radford Camp Rd from the start. No warm-up (it was already warm enough); no opening shredding descent; basically, no fun. Our first pedal stroke was headed up, strangely, in the direction of Hell. I can testify that the experience was infinitely worse by the fact that Woody and I were pedaling… singlespeeds (insert menacing music here). Well, I wouldn’t actually call it pedaling. Stomping, is more like it. We stomped over jagged boulders, we stomped through clouds of gnats, we stomped under the searing sun, and we stomped up. Up, up, up. Meanwhile, Stanners spun. Granted, he had to spin over, through, under, and up the same Hell that we did, but let’s face it, on easy days no one ever says, “I’m gonna go for a stomp.” It’s always, “I’m gonna go for a spin.” Anyway, my point here is this: Stanners is smarter than Woody and me. The gears in his brain turn at a significantly faster rate than the gear (singular) in Woody’s or my brain.

It took roughly an hour to summit, and by that time my back felt like it had been trampled by a herd of wild horses. At the top I was swimming in sweat and couldn’t get warm, even in the summer heat. After re-grouping and gathering our composure, we headed straight to the reason for the ride: a singletrack trailhead at Grandview. Word on the web is that an old singletrack was recently fixed up and that it’s a fun descent from Big Bear to the Camp Radford area. Word on the web is only right about half the time. True, it’s fixed up, but I wouldn’t exactly call it fun. More than half of the trail is on loose hillside and only a few inches wide. I spent almost as much time traversing my way on foot as I did actually riding. It should come as no surprise that Woody, who is known to clear and clean most any obstacle, was able to roll significantly more of the trail than Stanners and me. With the way things have been going as of late, I was just happy to make it back to the car alive. The next day, however, my back was really unhappy. Although not on the same level suffering, and in a completely different circle of Hell, I got a little taste of Trish’s world on Sunday. I was confined to the couch mostly, accompanied by the comfort of a heating pad and this question in my mind: “What in the Hell were you thinking climbing Radford on a singlespeed?”

In these parts Radford Rd is a source of folklore and a place of legend. But climbing it on a singlespeed? Now that's just divine comedy.


The sign says "No Horses" because Radford Rd would kill all but the strongest of horses.


Radford Rd is hell on men, animals, and machines.


This is the easy part.


We survived the climb to see this new singletrack that starts near Grandview. It looks sweet. It's not.

Aug 3, 2010

She’s tougher than the average dude. And that means you.

This is the second attempt at writing this blog. I lost the original post because the “Blog This!” app on my Black Berry works like most Black Berry apps do - only half the time. But who am I to complain? My femur is still in one piece. On Thursday night, Tricia’s right femur was in 7 pieces. By Friday afternoon it was repaired with a rod and a bunch of other fasteners. She was released from the hospital yesterday and has started her recovery at home. She’s still in a lot of pain and discomfort, and is for the most part, bedridden until who knows when.

Thanks to everyone who has been there for her since the crash. From the first responders up on Loch Leven/Old Highway 38, to the Search and Rescue army, to all the family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances who have visited, called, emailed, and sent texts. I’d also like to thank my parents a ton for being by our sides and watching Ryder throughout these last few days. Also thanks to Tricia’s parents who have been very supportive, patient, and have entrusted in me to take care of her while they are at home in Michigan.

What exactly happened? Well, if you haven’t already heard, here’s how it went down. On Thursday after work Trish & I decided we’d drive to Loch Leven, ride our mountain bikes up to Angelus Oaks, turn around descend back to the car, and call it a night. We made it to the top, saw for ourselves that the Angelus Oaks store was indeed out of business (again), and then started descending down old Highway 38 a few minutes after 7pm. Almost exactly a mile past the gate, where the pavement ends and the trail begins, I stopped to wait for Trish to catch up. She made it within an earshot of me, then crashed going into a right-hand off-camber corner. I didn’t see it, but I heard a thud, and then I heard that she was in a lot of pain. Luckily, I was by her side within seconds of the crash. The get-off occurred in a fairly wide section of the trail, and as far as I can tell, it looks like she may have just lost the front end in some loose dirt, over-corrected to prevent a low-side crash, and then high-sided instead. Trish and I watch that type of crash happen on MotoGP almost every week. Only this time instead of Valentino Rossi and his Yamaha hitting the gravel trap, it was Trish and her mountain bike hitting Old Highway 38.

She was conscious the entire time, but as soon as she made the first painful roll over to her left side, we could see that something wasn’t right in her right hip and femur area. Her cycling shorts were bulging out like a water balloon. She would not be nursing this one back to the car. It wasn’t a compound fracture, but awfully dang close and I feared if we moved her too much, it might turn into a compound. Neither of our phones had service (thank you Verizon and AT&T) so I rode down the trail about a quarter mile to a clearing to call 911. I made the call at 7:28pm and a good 5 minutes later, I was riding back up to be by her side, although worried that it would be a long time before anyone would reach us.

The temperature down the mountain was probably in the 80s still, but in Angelus Oaks, it was getting cold and Trish was beginning to shiver, causing her to leg to move and adding to the pain. I didn’t want to do it, but fearing she might go into shock, I time trialed it back up the hill to get a blanket from one of the houses in Angelus Oaks proper. On my way back down to Trish I dropped the blanket and as I stopped to pick it up, a fire truck pulled up. I was relieved to see them even though I knew as soon as they ran out of pavement, it was going to be slow-going getting down to where Trish lay because they‘d have to do it on foot. I gave them detailed directions of where to find us, then rode down to cover her up.

When I got back to her, she was in the same position that I had left her - with her head facing down the mountain, on her left side, and still shivering. I covered her up and then we just waited. And waited. We waited a long time. So long in fact, that just before nightfall, I decided to take one last sprint up the hill to make sure that her rescuers hadn’t taken the one and only wrong turn that they could have. I reluctantly left her laying there a third time, but knew if I didn’t make sure she was going to be saved soon, things would go from very bad to worse. About a half mile uphill from the crash site, I found three fire fighters with a backboard trying to radio the other half of their crew who was dealing with some guy who had flipped his car on Highway 38 just moments before Trish’s crash. It was a busy night for emergency medical services in Angelus Oaks.

I hate to sound ungrateful, but when the three finally did reach us, they weren’t overly prepared. Their presence was a relief, but they had only a backboard, and a somewhat simple first aid bag. They weren’t certified to give her pain killers and they couldn’t get coordinates on their GPS in order to get a helicopter in to pick her up. While I was fumbling around in the dark trying to get my Garmin to show some coordinates, we got bad news. The car crash victim up on the highway was going to get the one and only helicopter ride and due to out difficult to reach location, we were in fact going to have to carry Trish out.

It hurt Trish like I can’t imagine, but we eventually got her on to the backboard and then waited for the medics to hike down so they could get some morphine in her. Only then could we carry her out. When they finally arrived, they had the drugs, however a communication breakdown between them and the first responders saw us with morphine, but no needle. Trish was again forced to wait as the sheriff rode down on an ATV to deliver a syringe. Once the medic got the morphine into her system, the pain was dulled to a degree, and the now group of a half dozen or so rescuers could start lifting.

The process proved to be painfully slow going on foot and physically painful for Trish so after only two-tenths of a mile we put her down, shot some more morphine into her and lifted the backboard onto the back of the sheriff’s ATV. By that time there were several members of the San G. Search and Rescue squad now on site and everyone helped to slowly guide her and the ATV the rest of the way up Old Highway 38 to where the ambulance was waiting. In her horrible state, laying on the backboard, Trish looked up and recognized Phil Naman, a friend and one of the San G. Search and Rescue volunteers and said, “Hey, I know you.” It spurred my one and only laugh of the night.

When we finally arrived to where the pavement began, it looked like a scene out of the evening news; emergency vehicles with their lights flashing parked all over the side of the road and in the middle of the road too. More than 3 hours after her crash, the medics put Trish in the back of the ambulance, shot her up with more morphine, and started driving her down the mountain to Loma Linda. Even though I was there, I still have a hard time believing what she went through, and keep thinking I’m going to wake up from a bad dream. I’ve been around bad stuff on the trail before, but none as bad as this, yet she dealt with it and endured the pain as well as anyone would have or could have. I’m not sure I could have mimicked her bravery, and I know a lot of other people, whom put in the same situation would have crumbled.

Unfortunately, getting off the mountain was only the beginning. As I write this, Trish is 4 days post-op with 8 more weeks of non-weight bearing recovery ahead. I’m proud of her, yet somewhat perplexed by the fact that at least once a day since this all happened, she looks up at me from whatever bed she’s laying in at the moment, and says, “Why don’t you go ride for a couple hours.” And for all kinds of reasons, mostly amazement, I just don’t know how to respond. Then I remember how damn tough she is and think I better just do what I’m told.

Jul 27, 2010

My Orange County Crime Spree



National Championships left me feeling tired and flat so I sat out both Rim Nordic and San Marcos Grand Prix, one of my favorites. Instead, Trish and I drove out toward the coast to do some mountain bike riding in Orange County. That’s Orange County, California, of course. I wouldn’t be caught dead in Orange County, Florida. Actually, if I were in Orange County, Florida, I probably would be caught dead since the Sunshine State is crime-ridden. Just watch Dateline or 20/20. Nine our of 10 stories are about some murder or kidnapping in Florida. But, I digress. And, I probably shouldn’t be complaining about the miserable state of Florida right now. Especially since this blog is about the Golden State. Yesterday we discovered that it now costs 15 bucks to get into a California State Park. When did this happen? Not such a golden idea.

Our day started out with a ride at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Trabuco Canyon. Although Whiting is not a state park, we still avoided the small parking fee by parking next to the Outback Steakhouse instead of the designated parking area. Sure, you run the risk of your car getting broken into by one of the Outback bus boys, but if you saw my car, you’d realize it’s not much of a risk. The ride itself was fairly successful, although some of the new trails that have been cut aren’t as good as the old ones I used to ride in ’98-2000. It did bring back good memories of riding with the Cycle News staffers, at the turn of the century. (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever referred to myself as being alive at the turn of a century. That makes me feel so sophisticated and worldly). Anyway, after doing a short loop, we hopped in our illegally parked car and headed to El Moro Canyon, which is in Crystal Cove State Park. It should be noted here that we traveled toll roads and actually paid the tolls on our way to our second stop.

Upon our arrival is when we realized the horror. It costs three Abe Lincolns for a day use pass and $125 for an annual pass to park in a California State Park! Further investigation on Trish’s smart phone (I refuse to name the brand) revealed that an annual pass for the National Parks will only cost you $80. That pass will get you into, oh , wonders of world such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and a little placed called the Grand Canyon. Meanwhile, the hundred and a quarter California State Park annual pass will get you into places such as Patrick’s Point State Park, Lake Perris State Recreation Area, and Malibu Creek State Park. Where? No offense to Patrick, whoever he was and wherever his park is, but isn’t Malibu Creek State Park the same place that is contaminated with sewage every other week? And don’t get me started on Lake Perris. It may not be contaminated with sewage, but its waters and shores are laced with the trash of SoCal (and I mean that literally and figuratively).

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. That’s what I always say. Using her smart phone, Trish discovered that one can enter Crystal Cover State Park from its northern border where there is a small community park near the 73 Toll Road. So we did. And we rode El Moro Canyon. For free. Well, not free. It’s gonna cost us a set of Avid Juicy brake pads, but that’s an entirely different story altogether.

Our day of dodging California State Park entrance fees didn’t stop there. Oh no. We were like Bonnie and Clyde on this day. After wiping the free El Moro Canyon dirt off of our legs, arms, and faces, we drove south to Doheny State Beach where my mom and the Lanzas were “camping.” Instead of forking out the current amount of my Aetna health insurance co-pay (also a rip-off, if you ask me), we found bargain one-dollar-per-hour parking at the nearby Dana Point Harbor. A short bike ride into the state campground and we were feasting on dinner with a free ocean breeze blowing through our hair.

I’m no mathematician, accountant, or economist, but I figured that by not racing and by dodging inflated parking fees yesterday, I saved enough money to buy a National Parks Pass.

Jul 21, 2010

Hindsight is 20-20, or I should have ran a 21

Ryder (my 5-year old, not Hesjedal) and I were met at Denver International Airport on Thursday afternoon by my parents. They already had the motorhome parked up at Sol Vista in Granby, the site of the 2010 U.S. Mountain Bike Championships. I was eager to get to race venue and do a lap of the race course since I had just come off of a one week of work conference of sitting idle in the San Diego Convention Center. By the time we got to Sol Vista I had just enough time to go hammer out a lap of the 9-mile course. The first thing I noticed was the thin air.

Riding the singlespeed with a 19 tooth cog proved pretty darn hard so I decided I do another couple of laps on Friday with an easier gear. I woke up Friday morning, threw on a 20 tooth and did another lap. It felt good and because there were a few sections of flat dirt road in the race course, I decided a 20 was the way to go. I didn’t want to be spinning around aimlessly while my competitors rode away from me. I thought about doing another lap, but thought I better save my legs for Saturday morning’s race. That’s probably where I made the fatalist of all my weekend’s fatal mistake. Had I done a second lap with the 20, I might have realized that it was just too much for this little 145 lb frame to push at over 9,000 feet of elevation. And so I rested up, ate dinner, and went to bed.

Well rested, I woke up at 6am, ate a good breakfast, got a good warm-up, and then rode over to the starting line. I started on the front row right next to Captain Ned Overend. I was also paying close attention to Cameron Brenneman because he has just won the Singlespeed Nat’l Marathon Championship a few weeks prior in Colorado, and he was always fast when he lived in California. I didn’t notice the other Cameron, Cameron Chambers, lined up somewhere else in our field, but in the end it didn’t really matter. The gun went off, I did the opening climb with the front group and entered the singletrack still attached, but as we climbed closer to the 9500 foot level, I started coming apart. It was all downhill from there, and not literally. It went from bad to worse as the race continued, and once I knew I was not going to recover and work my way back toward the front, I decided to just enjoy the ride. And so I did, not worrying about where I finished. I just would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had a tooth or two extra on my rear cog. Congrats to the Captain and the two Camerons for their podium performances.

The rest of the weekend was spent watching the Elite races (which I secretly wished I would have done instead of the singlespeed race). I think I’d be back of the pack Elite rather than mid or even front pack singlespeed. Oh well, maybe next year. On Sunday we broke camp and my parents and Ryder drove to a campground on Granby Lake. I did a lap of the Elite race course and then spun over to our new camp. Then we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park and did some site seeing. Monday’s wakeup call was an early one as we did the 2 hour drive back to DIA for a morning flight back home. Ryder was an excellent travel partner. I can’t wait until I’m driving to the big races to support him. Let him suffer for a change.


Boats in Lake Granby


Ryder in Lake Granby


Good roads in the Nat'l Park.


Now go home.

Jul 14, 2010

Man in a Suitcase

Lately I feel like I’ve been living out of a suitcase, backpack, or car. I’ve spent four of the last five days in San Diego at a conference and tomorrow morning Ryder and I will board a plane headed for Denver. Our ultimate destination is Granby, CO for the National Mountain Bike Championships. I’m making a bid for the Singlespeed championship, again. My bike is already at the race venue, thanks to my parents. They began driving the motorhome northeast earlier this week and they’ll pick us up at the airport when we touchdown.

Planning the logistics of the trip made me feel like a bike racer again, although as I’ve sat inside the San Diego Convention Center for eight hours a day, four days a week, I’ve felt nothing like a bike racer. My legs are all locked up, my diet is all screwed up, and my hours of sleep are down.

Whatever my results may be in the race, I’m looking forward to taking Ryder on the plane and spending a week with him and my parents. At five years old, Ryder has is own suitcase and he has already flown a couple of times, yet never with me as his co-pilot. He’s eagerly anticipating a window seat, and so am I. We’ll have to settle that dispute somehow; flip a coin, rock-paper-scissors, or inka binka bottle of ink. If I don’t win those, I’ll just have to use brute force. Are parents still allowed to use brute force with their kids? I better Google that before we get on the plane.

I’d much rather drive you know, but there’s just not time right now. With the right amount of time and the right people I love a good road trip. There’s so much to see on the road, so much to do on the way, and so much of an overall learning experience to travel the tarmac instead of the airways. Rather than a bag on little skateboard wheels, your automobile is your suitcase, and unlike a plane ticket, the value of a good road trip is priceless.


My co-pilot in the feed zone.

Jul 10, 2010

There oughta be a law

Let me start right off the bat by saying that if you’re one of those people who think I shouldn’t complain about work because I should feel lucky to have a job, then read no further. Click your back button or read someone else’s hack blog. I’m making no excuses. This is a blog about my disdain for having to work this weekend, July 10-11, 2010.

Why, you ask? Because I’m stuck inside the San Diego Convention Center on a weekend when there is a whole lot of other cool stuff going on. For example, and in no particular order:

  • My nephew, Destry Lanza is celebrating his 4th birthday on Saturday with a bike-themed birthday party and because I have to work this weekend my parents had to take Ryder to the party.
  • The Tour de France travels to the Alps starting Saturday and my hotel lacks the Versus channel.
  • The World Cup Final is on Sunday.
  • Trish is on a lake in Michigan – a lake I was invited to.
  • There is a California State XC race in Big Bear on Sunday.
  • There is a US Cup Stage Race in Colorado Springs this weekend.

And I’m missing all of it.

There oughta be a law against working on the weekends unless that work is retail or racing.

Jul 1, 2010

My Best Seth Godin

There seems to be two schools of thought today in the way business is done. There is the somewhat traditional (I won’t say old school because the term makes me cringe) method, which is 8am to 5pm holed up in a cubical, or if you’re lucky an office. Then there is the new mobile way of doing business where business is done around the clock from where ever and at a moment’s notice, sometimes for just moments at a time.

Granted, some businesses, such as retail and customer service requires someone to be “on the clock” and “on post” during hours of operation, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about marketing, advertising, writing, project management, graphic design - stuff like that. Why in today’s world people still require that type of business to be done holed up in an office or cubical, I will never understand. And especially when creativity is considered a job skill. I’ve been a product (or should I say victim) of both schools of doing business and I’ll tell you from firsthand experience, the fruits of the traditional method are few and of far less quality.

It's hard to think outside the box when all day long you're stuck in a box.

Rim Nordic



I’ve never raced in an actual World Cup, but I’ve ridden a couple of World Cup race courses. The race course at Rim Nordic in Running Springs, CA are indeed World Cup quality. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Rim Nordic because it can be blazing hot there and the climbs are very steep, but the bottom line is, if the facilities around Rim Nordic were better, I bet it would be on the US Cup, and maybe even the World Cup short list.

All of that said, I raced at Rim Nordic last weekend. It was a shorter-than-usual race and I got a shorter-than-usual warm up, so I got a worse-than-usual placing. I’m taking it all in stride though as my sights are set on the National Championships in Granby, CO in a couple weeks. My never-ending quest for a Singlespeed Nat’l Championship continues…

Jun 23, 2010

My roommate, we’ll call him Joe, has this annoyingly bad habit of scheduling his arrival flights for late in evening. For example, last month when Joe flew home to Washington for his dad’s retirement party, he scheduled his return flight into Ontario for 11:30 PM. And he expects me or Josh, or another one of his unfortunate friends to be curbside no matter the time. This wouldn’t bother me as much if Joe was flying in from another part of the country, but he’s coming in from the same time zone. There’s no reason why I, or anyone other than an airport shuttle, should have to pick him up at that hour. Tonight he wants me to pick him up at 10:45. Usually at 10:45 I’m halfway through a second episode of Seinfeld or I’m already asleep. I’m thinking about leaving him hanging.

The more and more I think about it, the more it annoys me. Not only does one of us have to pick him up late time and time again, that means that someone on the other end in Washington is repeatedly taking him to airport during primetime hours. I’m thinking I should rent a van tonight and fill it with everyone that has ever had to take or pick Joe up from the airport. When we pull up to the curb to pick him up tonight, we’ll let him in the van but instead of driving him home, we’ll have an intervention. This has to stop.

Jun 12, 2010

U.S. Cup Santa Barbara

After the Big Bear round of the U.S. Cup West Series was canceled due to too much snow on the ground, the Santa Barbara Bike Festival at Elings Park was scheduled to take the place of the high altitude event. I’d much rather race in the mountain town of Big Bear, but Santa Barbara isn’t such a bad place. Of all the “urban” cross country race courses in Southern Californian, I think the one at Elings Park is the best. It’s got a few good climbs and a lot of descent singletrack. Come to think of it, it’s probably got more singletrack per 5-mile lap than the Big Bear course does.

The Santa Barbara race marked my first on the new Superfly and the bike did not disappoint. It’s a rocket ship – that’s for sure. The only things that kept me from making the podium was my lack of fitness, my poor fork tuning abilities, and the few guys that finished in front of me. I can’t claim to have won the “Old Pro Class” or “Daddy Division” this time either because Tinker came out and torched us all from the moment Larry Long said “Go” on the Team Big Bear P.A. system. But, I made the top 10 and considering I haven’t raced a mountain bike since March, I’m cool with that. The next couple of months are packed with good races, so it’s time to do some catching up.

Jun 3, 2010

Sedona

I’ve never had a race season start this late for me, but on the bright side all the free time has given me more time to just ride my bike and not worry about getting from this race to that race. On Memorial Day weekend Trish and I took a trip to Sedona to do a little riding. Neither one of us had ever been, but we’d heard how good the riding was. The place did not disappoint. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a better trail system on the west coast. Most of it singletrack, the trails were as technical and as fun as they come in the southwest.


Miles and miles of ups and downs, rock drop-offs and step-ups, and switchbacks a plenty. I rode the Ferrous 1x9 with 1.75 XDX tires front and rear because I was too lazy before we left to put on wider tires. Once I saw how rocky the trails were I was worried about tearing open a tire, but in three days of riding the tires held up great. I was impressed and it gave me a bit more faith in the skinny and lighter tire setup.


Meanwhile, back at Cyclery USA, Steve and Eddie were building my new Superfly. After a few hiccups the thing finally got put together and should be race ready by the US Cup race this weekend in Santa Barbara. The question is, will I be ready?

May 17, 2010

I wonder if bears have ADHD too?

Where I’m from, there’s a lot of wildlife. Opossums, coons, rabbits, skunks, and coyotes everywhere. And you can’t even swing a dead cat without hitting some dead squirrel road kill. Needless to say, I see my fair share of wild animals, but what I saw yesterday up on the Santa Ana River Trail between Angelus Oaks and Seven Oaks makes those other animals look like a bunch of novices.

I stared death in the face yesterday, and if it wasn’t for one fallen tree across the trail that divided me and a Lazy Boy recliner-sized black bear, I could be dead. Or worse yet, badly disfigured.

I was coming to a stop and trying to decide whether or not I was going to go under or over the dead tree that lay across the trail. I looked below the tree and there was not enough room for even me to squeeze underneath. I gazed over the tree and that’s when I saw him. He was hauling ass down the trail in my direction. I tell ya, he was a quarter ton if he was a pound. I yelled, “Easy big fella!” (or something like that) and it startled the great beast. At that very moment, he planted his big bear paws and made a hard right turn, careening down the mountain side and uprooting the small trees and bushes that lay in his path. The ruckus sounded like someone drove one of those smart cars off a cliff and into the forest. And like that, he was gone..

Kelly arrived on the scene just in time to see the savage killer scramble down the mountain. He has seen bears in the wild before, so he seemed slightly less haunted, but this bear was my first; my virgin bear. If this sighting occurred 20 years sooner, when I was young and impressionable, maybe it would have changed the course of my life. After an encounter like this, maybe I would have dedicated my future to studying bears. Maybe I would have even gone to live among the bears. I wouldn’t mind sleeping all winter.

It’s too late now though. When I actually was young and impressionable, I was more impressed by the wild lives of motorcycle racers, musicians, and beat authors, and less impressed by wildlife. Hey, wildlife reminds me of the Van Morrison song “Wild Night.” Damn, that’s a good song.

He was this big!

May 12, 2010

Tour de East Valley


It’s spring time so everything is in bloom. That’s not good when you’re trying to ride trails that aren’t ridden much and are rarely maintained. Last Saturday, I thought I’d show Trish the Lower Workout ride in the foothills of Mentone Beach. And it’s a good thing she likes flowers so much because the flowers definitely over-powered the trail. Flowers and lizards everywhere you looked. I’ve ridden Lower Workout more times than I can count and I still had trouble following the over-grown route. Nevertheless, we survived and found our way to Mill Creek, where we almost died trying to cross the creek.

Okay, we didn’t almost die, but I nearly fell in and in that instance, my phone and iPod would have drowned. After about a half hour of trying to find somewhere shallow and narrow enough to cross, we finally gave up, flipped it, and headed back toward Green Spot on a boring old dirt road. Then we rode up the levee to the south side of Crafton Hills and I tricked Trish into riding up the singletrack to Zanja Peak. It was her first real singletrack experience and she didn’t “get out of control and go plummeting off a cliff to her death” (as she puts it), so it was a success.

From Zanja Peak I descended to the regional park via the singletrack and she opted to take the dirt road back down to the college. On her own free will, she almost followed me down the singletrack, but decided she wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge. After all, it wasn’t long ago that this mountain bike transform was crit scum. (I’m sure that’s gonna warrant a comment).

After topping off the bottles in the park, we reunited at Chatman Heights and finished off the ride by rolling down in to Redlands and then back up to her house. Not a bad ride considering we were never more than 10 miles away from home. It will probably be one of my last rides on the Ferrous before switching over to my new Superfly, which is almost done being built at Cyclery USA.

It is almost done being built, right Steve?

May 5, 2010

Outtakes from work

At work I started writing a story about Culver City's economic development plan, but then some stuff happened and it ended up on the cutting room floor. Since I don't update this hack blog anymore, none of my writing can go to waste so I'm going to publish the lead to this dead story here. And even though I hate Los Angeles, there's a little place in my heart for Culver City. After all, it's the home of Jeopardy, NPR West, and the filming of Citizen Kane.

As the native home of world famous movie studios, Southern California's Culver City played host to the filming of early screen classics, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and Citizen Kane. Culver City remained a hot spot for movie studios throughout most of the century, with more recent films such as, Grease, Raging Bull, and E.T. As the 20th century came to a close, competing cities coaxed the production of films to other locales. Culver City found itself with a depleting film industry and in turn, a stagnant local economy.

Restaurants and shops of the once bustling main drag, Washington Boulevard, were hit hardest by the decrease in the big-spending of movie-studio moguls. With profits shrinking, businesses could devote less money to structural improvements such as building facades, landscape or exterior lighting, signage, paint, and stucco. Many shop owners called it a wrap, while intrepid storefronts grew dingy. Investors shied away, and the trickle-down effect impacted residential areas of the five-square-mile community.

Culver City officials knew they had to implement some type of redesign and area-improvement plan to encourage new investors and businesses. The plan needed to be carefully developed and outlined before it could be pitched to the city council. Yada, yada, yada…

Sadly, this is the most interesting thing I've written for work in months.

Apr 20, 2010

We need Rails-to-Trails

I've been making an effort to take Ryder bike riding recently; only I've been running into some problems. First of all, he just recently learned how to ride on two wheels so he's not the most stable guy in the peloton. Since he doesn't ride in a straight line very well, I'm limited to where I can take him. The streets and sidewalks are not good yet because he's liable to veer off into traffic. And the parks in Redlands are less than desirable for kids to ride bikes in.

At Caroline Park you need a mountain bike with a granny gear to get from the bottom of the park to the top, or a 5-inch travel mountain bike to get from the top of the park to the bottom. It's less of a park and more of a wildlife preserve for people to walk their dogs and for local kids to go smoke a fatty. Only the sprinklers go on at the most odd times of the day so you're bound to leave there accompanied by the stench of a wet dog or with an extinguished and soggy spliff.

Ford Park won't work either because it mainly consists of an over-watered grassy hillside that runs down into the rest of the park and creates the Florida Everglades. And you all know how I feel about Florida. Plus, the entire park only has about 10 feet of sidewalk. I guess if I wanted Ryder to practice bicycle drag racing, then 10 feet of sidewalk would work out, but drag racing is for Nancy Boys.

Another problem with Ford Park is the Frisbee golfers or frolfers (which I've already covered on this blog in the fall of 2009). I can't decide whether I have less tolerance for frolfers or politicians. The irony is these two classes of people could not be more different. They're from complete different ends of the douche bag spectrum. It's been my experience that frolfers will play through on any kind of activity. A kid's birthday party - they play through. A couple of people lying on a blanket dry humping - they play through. A yoga class - they play through. I once saw them try to play thru on a dog training class, but that didn't work out so well. Anyway, frolfers are so out of touch with reality, I can just imagine them trying to play through on the mayor's ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of another 10 feet of sidewalk, but I of course won't get to see that confrontation because I'm boycotting Ford Park.

From the street, Prospect Park looks like a good option for taking a kid bike riding, but once you get into the park, the buck stops there. On any given day you have to dodge the high school cross country team, the drama club pipe dreamers, any number of cranky blue hairs who think bikes and walkers can't coexist (and when I say walkers, I mean this kind of walker), and the weirdos who lurk and hang out in the bamboo (actually, they're probably the same as the drama clubbers, but it's hard to tell these days). And then there's the wine, cheese, and blanket picnickers and the never ending maze of park bench memorials. If wanted to take my kid riding in such a freak-filled place, we'd just go riding down State Street during Market Night.

About the only park I'm left with is Brookside Park, but as soon as Ryder spots the playground, he's dropping his bike and making a B-line for the swings.

My options are so bad that I'm considering looking at parks on the north side.

Apr 7, 2010

Citizen Freeman

My mom bought Ryder and Destry each a pinwheel for their Easter baskets. I didn't think much of them at first, but then Ryder took his outside and as soon as the breeze took hold of its blades and the pinwheel began to spin, I was taken back to images of my childhood.

I don't actually ever remember having a pinwheel, but I remember them being around the neighborhood. I'm sure that at any given time, one of the dozen kids on Oakdale Street had a pinwheel. We also had an arsenal of toy guns on our street, but something tells me the site of a plastic M16 or Uzi is never going to provoke the same warm feeling as a pinwheel. When I was a kid, we probably used the pinwheels to slap each other around with, although today as I watch Ryder run through the yard with his spinning, I see innocence and I see a simpler time.

I realize I'm late to the party, but I've recently become a big fan of A Prairie Home Companion and (more specifically) listening to Garrison Keillor report news from Lake Wobegon. Make believe as it may be, listening to stories about Lake Wobegon, the little town that time forgot, gives me a feeling similar to that of seeing a pinwheel spin – a feeling of nostalgia. Obviously, that's what Keillor's radio show aims to do. I'm aware of that. I'm also aware that I yearn for yesteryear and reverie getting back to basics more than the average Joe.

In a way, Oakdale Street was its own little town like Lake Wobegon, although I regret to inform you that time most definitely did not forget the street I grew up on. The phrase, "You can never go home again," applies well. Yet as the pinwheel spins, and Keillor spins a yarn, I forget what time it is and for brief moments no matter where I am on earth, I'm home again.

Could my last dying word actually be pinwheel?

Apr 5, 2010

If I could be like Mike

When you spend 8 hours (or more) of your day reading and writing, the last thing you want to do is come home from work and read or write more. By the time I'm off the clock, all I want to do is hang out with the family, ride my bike, or watch Jeopardy. Writing a blog even seems laborious. My eyes are tired, my brain is fried, and my daily dosage of creativity was spent on a story lead about how Culver City uses GIS software to help its economic development program blah, blah, blah…

This type of thing happened to me when I worked in the motorcycle industry. I spent my entire adolescents through college age, obsessed with motorcycle racing. It was 24-7. But then I turned it into a career and it wasn't long before I was burned out on motorcycles. I think I'm burned out on writing now.

And then there's the fact that - and this is hard to admit - I'm growing out of my angry youth. Thus, I'm not as inspired and influenced as I once was to spew thoughts and ideas all over a page. I'm still pissed off. I'm just too tired to do anything about it now. In recent interviews, even the prophet Bob Dylan has admitted that with age, he's lost some inspiration and ambition to write like he used to. At least I'm in good company.

So, here's the deal. In an effort to keep this hack blog from completely flatlining, I'm just going to throw up random stuff of interest and quotes from music, movies, books, etc. Maybe I'll even put up an occasional photo or painting too. Something, anything, to keep things fresh.

Here's the first one. Anyone who knows me well knows I love the Minutemen, the Stooges, and of course, Mike Watt. Heard this on NPR yesterday. For me, Mike Watt defines punk rock: http://bit.ly/azcju6

Mar 15, 2010

Mar 3, 2010

And had me for dessert

It never fails. Every year it takes me about a month’s worth of racing before I can actually get up to race speed. And this year it’s even worse because I was fighting tendonitis in my left knee until a few weeks ago. Plus, normally by this time of the year I have at least one or two road races in the books. Not so in twenty-ten. The only things I have in the books so far this year are two embarrassing XC results. Let me give you the painful details.

Training race number one took place on February 20 at Fontana’s infamous Southridge race course. It had rained the week leading up to this race so I thought, “What the heck? I’ll go test the waters and see what kind of fitness I have.” WTF was more like it. If that race were the SAT, I’d be headed to community college because I did horrible. I only had enough fitness and will to ride hard for about 30 minutes. After that my pencil was put down and my test was collected. To add insult to injury, as I was riding around after the failed attempt at racing, I was chased by a rabid pit bull [only in Fontana]. Since I was such a pansy in the race and didn’t push myself half as hard as I could have, I still had plenty of energy left to outrun the savage beast. Part of me wishes I hadn’t.

A week and one day later I found myself at round 1 of the Kenda Cup West Series, Sage Brush Safari. The only dog around was Dean Swank’s doxin, and in the past I’ve had somewhat successful results at this race so things were already looking up. But then I got to the starting line and what I saw made me realize that the past just doesn’t matter anymore. It’s the present that really matters and presently Sid Taberlay was lined up in front of me to my right and Jeremiah Bishop was lined up in front of me to my left. It’s not like I was going into Sage Brush expecting anything other than a top ten - I just wasn’t expecting the first climb to be at mach 5.

As it turns out, the first climb wasn’t at mach 5. It was more like mach 4, which makes it that much more sad that I came off the lead group before reaching the summit of the opening climb. I completely exploded within sight of the top and spent the two-track rollers afterward trying to recover while I should have been drilling it. The truth is, I never really did recover. I spent the entire first of two laps red-lined and hating life. I thought about how I may be getting too old to try and race with the big boys. I thought about how much easier road racing can be (I said can be). I thought a lot about quitting, but thought I needed the extra time on the bike so the third race wouldn’t be such a disaster. I thought a lot about that pit bull from Fontana and how I wished it would have caught me and had my bike for lunch.


Behind my bike, I'm dragging an anchor.

Feb 22, 2010

Sarcasm is no longer the lowest form of wit


Yes, it seems I’ve found something that actually annoys me even more than soap operas, crowds, riding behind bow-legged people, the state of Florida, and the nation of Germany. It’s called Vague-booking, and I’m not the only one it annoys. Those vague cries for help and attention on Facebook and Twitter are so widely hated that they’ve been given a name and are listed in Urban Dictionary now. You know the half-wits I’m talking about:

So-in-so is over it.

So-in-so is having a life changing experience.

So-in-so can’t take it anymore.

So-in-so can’t believe some people.

I can’t decide if So-in-so thinks they’re being clever, is trying to coax “friends” or followers into commenting, or is actually so ignorant and uncreative that they can’t type a clear and concise thought or statement. I’m sure at one point, we’ve all been guilty of posting, tweeting, or blogging something ambiguous, but there are some people out there who have made it a hobby. And when I say some people, I think you know the So-in-so types I’m (cryptically) talking about.

Join me next time when I talk about the phonies on Facebook who have like a 1,000 “friends.”

Feb 17, 2010

What To Do When You Receive an ebay Question from Dumbass (or, How to Receive Negative ebay Feedback).

Like Steve Berg, I too am getting cyber-bullied on ebay for not answering buyer questions in a prompt manner. Maybe it has something to do with the demanding and ridiculous nature of some of the questions. For example, “The Gary Fisher website says the effective top tube is 527mm. Does that sound right?” and “You didn’t post the weight of the bike. Please weigh the bike,” and my favorite, “I asked you to weigh the bike and you haven’t gotten back to me yet. Weigh the bike and get back to me ASAP.”

These type of questions are a lose-lose situation for me. If I don’t answer the questions, I risk losing a potential buyer. If I do answer the questions, I still risk losing a potential buyer because I’m likely to answer them like this:

“I checked with Gary Fisher himself and he has no idea whether 527 mm is the correct effective top tube length either. Both Gary and I agree that more than likely, his website is correct, but who knows for sure. I could go out to the garage and measure it myself, but I’m not completely comfortable with my measuring abilities, so who knows for sure if I’d get the measurement right. I suggest that you be the highest bidder and once you’ve paid and I’ve shipped you the bike, you can find out firsthand whether or not it does indeed have a 527mm effective top tube and if Gary's website is right or if he's just pulling your leg.”

And we mustn’t forget the weight weenie, whose question, if I did answer, I would probably answer like this:

“When I received your first message I put ‘weigh the bike’ on my list of things to do today right above 'pay bills' and right underneath ‘measure the effective top tube.’ Then I received your second message demanding that I weigh the bike 'ASAP,' as you put it. At that point I decided that if you’re that concerned with the weight of the Dura Ace, Ultegra, and RaceXLite high-end component-equipped bike, you’re probably not tough enough to race cyclocross in the first place, thus you don’t deserve, or need this bike. Plus, your ebay username contains clues suggesting you’re from Florida, and of all the Confederate States, Florida is by far my least favorite. Doing ebay business with someone in Florida is kind of like doing ebay business with someone outside of the U.S. – it’s most likely a scam. And besides, the cross racing in Florida is probably pretty lame, so consider it a favor that I did not cave to your demands. I saved you a lot of money and a lot of suffering, and myself a trip out to the garage. Furthermore, your Confederate money is no good.”

Contrary to what you may think about this blog, it actually has morals and the moral of this story is that if you send me dumb ebay questions, you’re more than likely to get back a dumber answer.

These aren’t morals, but instead, good-to-know information:

Per my Garmin Edge 500, Raincross is harder than Como. Turner’s Garmin can back me up on that. Garmins don’t lie.

The first two-thirds of the Palm Springs Century (or whatever they call it) are pretty cool. The last third is spent riding from red light to red light to red light, which is not cool at all.

Don’t eat fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn on the cob an hour before riding the Silver Bullet at Knott’s Berry Farm unless you want to feel like hell for the better part of two hours.

The Ghost Rider rollercoaster at Knott’s Berry Farm is wicked fast.

I wonder what Ryder is doing right now?

Feb 7, 2010

Because Cyclocross is too Hard

For Sale:Gary Fisher Presidio CX Bike size 52

Sucking at CX forces sale.


This bike (and its rider) made an appearance (off-the-back) at the 2010 CrossVegas. Only a hand full of bikes can say that in the entire world!

The frame was purchased new in September 2009. I crashed it a couple times but it was no big deal to the buyer (you) because my body took the brunt of the crashes. Iraced this bike half a southern California CX season so the bike never saw any bad weather. It was only raced half a season because I got tired of getting my ass kicked so I quit. I'm over it (it, being CX).

Email me at mattfreemanrace@yahoo.com if you're interested.

Here's the down-low...
Frame: medium True Temper OX Platinum Steel
Fork: Bontrager Satellite Carbon
Headset: Cane Creek S-3
Shifters: Shimano Dura Ace 7800 10-speed (right scuffed from crash)
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura Ace 7800
Rear derailleur: Ultegra
Crank set: Bontrager RaceXLite 50/34
Cassette: SRAM Rival 11/26
Chain: Dura Ace
Wheels: Bontrager RaceXLite Tubular (not carbon)
Tires: Tufo Primus 32c, used for a couple races (perfectly glued)
Handlebar: Bontrager RaceXLite carbon
Stem: Bontrager RaceLite 100mm 7-degree
Seatpost: Bontrager RaceXLite AC (carbon/aluminum mix)
Saddle: Bontrager RaceXLite
Brakes: TRP

So there you have it.

Feb 3, 2010

Did I mention it was in freezing temperatures?

1 million reasons why your community should get behind a national caliber cycling event: http://kohd.com/news/local/161017

And when I say fun, what I actually mean is summer.

I don’t like rodents, especially when they emerge from a tree stump and see their ugly rodent shadows, signaling six more weeks of me freezing my ass off.

If I were in Gobbler’s Knob, PA today, I would have placed a sizzling Weber BBQ over the ceremonial tree stump preventing Punxsutawney Phil from baring his grimy head. That’s what I would have done, and that’s how I would have declared that spring is indeed just around the corner and happy days are here again.

I find it amusing that the time-honored Groundhog Day tradition came to America by way of the early German settlers. It just proves my point – Germans hate fun. They’re where fun goes to die. The exception is the Schmidt family. Not only are they fun, they feed me every tuesday night. Last night we had salmon. Anyway, I digress - winter isn't fun.

Jan 27, 2010

Correction:

Okay, I lied. I can kinda use the extra money, but in today's wintry economic climate, who couldn't use a little extra money?

Jan 24, 2010

Everything Must Go!

First let me start off by saying I'm selling a bunch of stuff. Here's the list. If you're interested let me know. It all goes on eBay within the next week or so.

- 2009 Rock Shox SID World Cup fork (blue), used for one season
- 2009 Rock Shox Reba Team for (black), used for one season
- 2009 Gary Fisher Presidio Cyclocross bike with a Dura Ace/Ultegra Mix, RaceXLite tubular wheels, TRP brakes, Bontrager crankset, email me for the rest of the details. Used for one season.
- 2009 Gary Fisher Big Sur MTB frame size medium, one season used.
- 2007 Bontrager RaceXLite 26" MTB wheels, used for two seasons.

I think that's it, but I'm willing to sell just about anything I own right now, with the exception of my first born son. I'm willing to let a lot of this stuff go for cheap. It's not that I need the money, it's that I have too much stuff and I hate having too much stuff. Having too much stuff will make a man go mad, or weight him down. Travel light, I say.

A guy told me one time, "Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner."

Okay, well a guy never told me that, but Robert De Niro's character said that in Heat, and those, in my opinion, are words to live by. People own and save too much stuff that they don't need or never use. Guess what? We just had consecutive rainy days and I bet you didn't use any of the stuff that you are saving for a rainy day. Sell it all, or give it away.

On another note, http://www.cyclingdirt.org/ is using my image (below) for a story about the 2010 American Mountain Bike Challenge. The photo is from last year's Santa Ynez Kenda Cup and wouldn't you know it, but there's a couple of Bear Valley Bikes guys sucking my wheel. That about sums up my season. Anyway, it's a cool photo. And, coincidentally, I no longer own the bike in that photo. It was part of a pile of stuff that I already sold.

P.S. - If you're fighting tendonitis this winter, like I am, go see Leo at http://www.passpt.com/. He'll fix you up.

P.S.S. - Remember, don't let yourself get attached to anything [stuff] you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.

Jan 12, 2010



About every 3 years I get the itch to become a good swimmer. Right now I’m just a below average swimmer. I haven’t had any lessons or coaching aside from when I was a little kid, and I’ve always just gotten by on general fitness and sheer will not to drown. Plus, it’s always bothered me that I’m such a mediocre swimmer. Some things I don’t mind being mediocre at, like video games or baseball. Video games are for fat kids and baseball is for fat adults, but swimming is just plain badass. When’s the last time anyone had to play a video game or hit a home run to save their own life? Swimming, more specifically, swimming well can save your life and maybe even the life of someone else.

A little over a week ago I started having horrible knee pain while riding. It still hasn’t been professionally diagnosed, but I suspect it’s tendonitis or what’s commonly called runner’s knee. How I got runners knee from not running, I can’t figure out, but my knee hurts like hell. I can’t ride, I certainly can’t run, and even walking is uncomfortable. For a week now I’ve been resting it, icing it, compressing it, and elevating it, but it’s not getting any better. And that’s how I ended up on this swimming kick again. Since I haven’t been able to get any real exercise lately, I opted for swimming at the gym yesterday. I was only slightly successful at it. I definitely got some exercise, but because of my poor form, I can’t swim for long before I’m exhausted, and I’m sure I look like a complete ass doing it.

I’m considering a swim coach, or at the very least someone who can help me not look like an ass when I decide to swim laps. Foist is reported to be a great swimmer, but his attention span is about as solid as backstroke so I don’t think he’d make much of a mentor. Plus, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with him reaching over me to guide my arms and hands into the proper freestyle stroke position. I’m thinking a coach more on the lines of Dara Torres or Amanda Beard.

And if I can get better at swimming, and if I can ever get my knee into working order, maybe I’ll dabble in Xterra or the occasional tri. I hear those are a lot of suffering.