30 May 2005

Running? DTLA 10k

My first running race! After the 109-mile ride the day before it was easy for me to crash out early and get about 8 hours sleep before the early starting time. In the morning it is basic logistics that almost keep me from going to downtown for the start. Where am I going to put my wallet? What about food? I decided to wear a cycling jersey and use the pockets in the back. Later, when I described to actual runners that I had brought 2 Clif bars and a Clif shot, it dawned on me how I was over-prepared. Topped off my gear with my yellow Campy hat.

Riding through downtown on an early Sunday morning, with roads closed for the race, was an experience in itself! Roll up, lock my bike, and I feel like I am in gym class in high school. Till someone proves different I say that running does not have the subculture feel that cycling has. Pay my money, safety pin on my number and mill about eating the free food. We are called to the start and someone sings that patriotic song that they do before baseball games. WTF? I turn my back. Then we are off!

All the shit in my pockets is bouncing up and down and I am worried something will pop out. For sure it is exhilarating to run through DTLA with a bunch of people on closed roads. Mile one passes and my time is 8 minutes and 6 seconds. Since I started running this year I have not timed myself so this number seems okay. The homeless people are cheering us on. At the first water ‘hand-off’ or whatever I try to drink and choke on the water. No more drinking for me. Mile 2 and I am at 16 min and 15 seconds. The course is a 5K loop that I’ll do twice. Mostly flat, but heading south is a slight decline and then the obvious incline as we turn back to the start point. My 5K time is 25 minutes and something. Feeling confident. Legs are fine and I am keeping my pace at the point where I am still able to breath normally. Oddly I am passing people despite having to stop and tie my shoes. The heat is kicking in under the sun. At mile 4 or so I end up next to some guy and we pace together for awhile.

I had decided that at mile 5 I’d pick up my pace to where I could comfortably push hard. This is about where the slight incline starts and I drop the other guy. Passing people pretty regularly it reminds me of how we always sandbag on double centuries and it gives us the false impression of being fast. About a mile from the end I look down and both my shoes are untied. Fuck it. My chest is feeling the extra speed but legs are holding on. Sweat runs down my face as the sun sneaks between the DTLA skyscrapers. I round a turn, people are cheering us on, and this one woman refuses to let me pass and we cruise across the finish together with a time of 49 minutes and 5 seconds. Sweet. My goal time was 50 minutes. Stretched out my legs, ate as much free food as possible, stuffed Clif bars into my jersey pockets, picked up my free shirt and got on my bike to ride home.

I felt well the rest of the day and am stoked on my first race. Has opened my eyes to the possibilities with running. Hope to sign up for some more runs and take this more seriously. 10K and longer are feasible due to my experience with long distance cycling, it is getting fast, just like with cycling, that will be the difficult part.

Different Spokes Century

The crew is out and about. Morgan and Max spend the night at the A-House in prep for the 730am start time of the Different Spokes Mulholland Century. This ride is a serious marker for Morgan and I; last year it was not only our first organized ride, but it was the ride where I found out about double centuries. This time last year I was searching the CA Triple Crown site in fascination that people regularly rode 200 miles…and then I started to prepare for the next ride on the calendar: The Mt. Tam DC. Here I am 9 completed (and 1 DNF) DC’s later. And a new road bike with matching outfit. How far we have come! On last year’s ride I couldn’t decide if I could even wear spandex.

Off in Max’s biodiesel Benz with two bikes on the roof and two on the back. A-House member and seasoned bike tourist, Allen Bleyle, decided to face the early morning and come along with us. With metal blaring from Metal Brad’s mix tape we roll up the park at 720am. Almost on time! We say hello to the people we know (crazy that we know people) and get our bikes sorted. Okay, an 8am start is pretty close to on time.

We lose Allen pretty early on trying to keep pace with Max. Then on a downhill Max flats. I give him my tube and my pump (in crew fashion he forgot his pump, seat bag and heart rate monitor at my house) and tell him to catch Morgan and I when he gets it fixed up. So for the next 10 or so miles we expect him to come rolling on us, but in the end, he never catches us. I almost feel bad, but I really thought that he’d catch us!

Morgan and I are making great time on a route we are now familiar with. Actually passing people and being quick at the check points (cause they are check points, not rest stops). The other riders are mostly people who are doing, or have done, the SF-LA Aids Life Cycle ride. For some this 107 miles marks the furthest they have ever ridden. We are big fish in a small pond. We have come such a long way and it is kind of consuming me as I ride the 12-mile climb up from the PCH on Mulholland. This climb is so much fun. We push at the top. Some sprint stuff (cause you know, it is only 107 miles). I see a group at the top in the shade and I ask if that is the checkpoint and they tell me, ‘We’re all just tired!’ At least 8 people chillin. Well, not really chillin cause it was sickeningly hot (someone said it hit 100?). Lemonade not far from there. Then the remaining 10 miles, the same 10 that were brutal just one year ago. We finish and are stoked. One of the first groups to come in from the century. My odometer is 2 miles up cause after going down Petrero Rd, a sick climb that we did on the Mulholland DC, and that we will do on the Grand Tour, we decided to go back up!

A little while later the SAG vehicle shows up and Allen is inside. Oh no! Ends up his knee was really bugging him and his hand was going numb. Then he tells us that he hasn’t ridden more than 40 miles in the last year. Crazy. Then Max comes rolling up all red faced. The heat had hit him hard, but he pushed through and finished strong. Crew is chillin with other riders and the main discussion is in regards to my jersey, the Devil Mt DC, that exclaims, ‘I did it one day!’ I say discussion, but really I mean everyone made fun of it for awhile until we decided we had to get in the car. And then sit in traffic. But good thing I have Vegan Express’s number in my phone cause I called ahead and we got a big order to go. Made it to the BikeSummer meeting almost on time and then got to sleep early in order to get up for the DTLA 10K on Sunday.

18 May 2005

Toughest double century? Devil Mountain

6pm on Wednesday, May 27th and the Death Valley crew is on it’s way to Davis. Well, Morgan had a paper or some shit for Thursday so he flew up to Sacramento that night and Emilio, Megan, and I (and Morgan’s bike) piled in the rental hybrid off to Davis. First stop is Glendale to drop off the disk for BikeSummer newsletter two (which I would spend part of the next couple of days on my cell phone trying to coordinate the details of). Then DelTaco.

We left on Wednesday night cause I had to work in Sacramento on Thursday (so work paid for some of the rental car!). Meanwhile Megan and Emilio chilled in Davis; possibly the most bike friendly city ever. There is a graphic of a bike on the city emblem! That night we met up with Temra, my partner in having a full-time job based on our politics. Thai food, coffee, chillin. Friday morning Morgan and I did a quick 20-mile spin, dropping Temra off at work on the way, while the other kids cooked up a hearty California breakfast. Drove to Oakland, then BART with bikes over to SF for vegan ice cream and Critical Mass. CM was out of control; fist fights and some dude who drove through a group of cyclists and continued on despite one of them being on his hood! SF don’t play around. Permanent image on my brain of a guy on the hood of a car smashing the windshield with his bike as the car sped off.

The Devil Mountain Double Century starts at fucking 5am. Setting an alarm for 345am at 1215am is humorous. We probably would of even started on time if it wasn’t for getting lost. The stupid road had two different road signs! So we missed the group start and didn’t get out till about 540am. This ride was put on by the Quack cyclists, the same group who did the Knoxville ride Matt Pro and I got lost at on my birthday. I joked with them about not getting lost and they handed me a bandana with a map on it! Was getting this printed a direct result of Matt Pro and I getting lost last year at Knoxville? Funny either way.

First climb up Mt Diablo is EPIC. A serious mental challenge. I started to question the feasibility of my completing this ride (did I mention this is the hardest double in CA at 207 miles and 20,000 ft of elevation gain?). The ‘racers’ started at 6am and passed us soon after at a pace that I would consider inhuman. The first person done with this DC finished in under 12 hours, shattering the previous record. Finally make it to the first checkpoint at the summit at roughly 4000 feet. The descent is invigoratingly fast. My new bike takes turns at unbelievable speeds, even with my teeth chattering and my hands shaking from the cold. Next climb is aptly named Morgan Territory and we finally start to catch some people, despite Morgan’s bike and its noises.

As the morning moves on we are enjoying ourselves more. Our pace picks up and my mind drifts from the physical demands of the ride to the scenery. The Mt. Hamilton climb begins as rain starts to drizzle from the sky. The hill winds along the mountain, with the valley continuously on our right as we look up to see other cyclists pushing on. About an hour of climbing before we reach the top. Luckily the rain has stopped, but it is cold enough to need arm warmers for the fast (fast!) descent. Even at the next rest stop I am still shaking from the cold.

Before night falls, around mile150, we hit Sierra Road. Steep, unrelenting, and over three miles long. Afterwords Morgan takes a picture with a goat while giving the international punk/metal sign. After dark we ride with a group, cover some more fucking hills, then start the last 10 miles of the 207. Morgan is seeing trails of light from other riders. I worry we are going to crash the car on the drive home, but then I can’t remember where we hid the keys. We safely roll into the hotel at 1145pm, after 18 hours of cycling. We make jokes about clif bars and warm Gatorade, I pick up the ridiculous jersey (that you only get if you finish!), we find the keys and drive back to Oakland. Crash out on the floor and the next day we drink coffee, eat vegan Chinese food and drive back to LA. Road trips rule and make riding the toughest double century in CA even more fun. Thanks kids.