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…