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Mudfoot Dirty Hundo

3 Apr

The Mudfoot Dirty Hundo must be one of the most well documented rides I’ve participated in (indeed, at times it seemed almost like a weird back-woods commercial with so many bike shops, bike manufacturers, and other taste-makers in attendance), so you don’t really need my ride report, but really I should keep writing, so…

Preserving this here so it will live on beyond a secret Facebook post or at least beyond my fleeting memory:

A very rough re-cap, sorry no photos (well, not from me, but here are a few from others):

mudfoot1 mudfoot2 mudfoot3

After leaving the shop, we watched the sun rise over a steaming avenue of freshly layed tar Caltrans was spreading in our path. They tried to turn us back, but all 110+ cyclists took to the sidewalks and went through the construction zone, much to the confusion and dismay of the laborers.

We rolled together (more or less) to Duarte, coasting along at 25mph, our giant motley group absorbing various packs of roadies, feeders to Montrose who failed to break away. Much urine was spilled at Encanto Park, where Al handed out rice/apple cakes and Leo passed around a flask of Whistle Pig. Al had a broken link and didn’t thread his repaired chain through the rear mech properly, so he quickly performed some surgery, removing the pulleys to get the chain back on without having to take out another pin – I was impressed.

We ogled other rider’s bikes while discussing “strategy,” which from my memory consisted of “bacon tastes good,” “hemorrhoids are lame,” “when are we going to smoke that doob,” and “hold on, wait up, I need to adjust my seatpost/headset/tire pressure/etc.”

Those who thought this was a race left right away, but we stuck around for a good 30 minutes.

We rode together up the 39 for a while, but when a roadie passed us and said something condescending, like “don’t worry, you’ll catch up on the dirt maybe” or something like that – I guess I took that as a challenge so I zipped past his team, and then the next team, and so on up until the turn off for the OHV area. Illy got there pretty shortly but after topping off our bottles and chatting with everybody that came up behind us, we didn’t see the other guys for about 30 minutes. We got worried that they missed the turn or something so we went back down to find them (“sheep-dogging” – a term Al taught me for that thing Troy is forever doing, scooping up riders who haven’t finished a climb yet). We found the team contending for DFL and they said they had seen some Bicykillers…maybe…back there, somewhere, flat tire…I dunno man. Then the rest of the crew turned a corner, and we saw them racing up a switchback, pursued by a giant orange snow-plough, which in his impatience, I imagined for a moment was Illy turned into a machine.

After topping off our water and just before the “mop up crew” started, we took to the dirt. It started off steep, loose, and exposed – and we stopped a couple times to take clothes off or put clothes on and so on. Illy and I rode together for a while, watching a girl come to a stand-still on a double-digit grade, then fall straight over like a felled tree. She was OK, I guess, so we kept riding.

Illy fell back a little bit, and I kept passing people, at first the slower guys, then big clusters of teams, then people with mechanicals and flats, then the faster teams taking a break, then fast guys/girls fighting cramps, or a bonk, or the terrain itself. Water crossings, 20% grades, big vistas, long forested canopies, sticky descents, rock gardens, sand, mud, bear scat, a hiker or two, a workman’s truck. Some guy handed me some endurolytes as I creeped past him, two of which I took and two of which I put in my pocket where they melted. Lots of downhill – enough that you could barely enjoy it ’cause you knew it meant you were either lost or that you would pay dearly for it on your way back up the Rincon. At the campground, 5 miles from Redbox, the climbing started again in earnest – a long relentless stretch, the last mile of which I had to walk parts of I was so shot – the sound of traffic on the 2 was both exciting and madenning.

I got to Redbox a little before 2PM (the fast well organized riders from Vive La Tarte and Cadence were there by 12:35PM), arriving shell-shocked, but to applause and high-fives. I recovered quickly thanks to the amazing spread of fried chicken, beer, Coca-Cola, donuts, bananas, water, potato chips, pretzels, PB&J, etc. all dished up by friendly attractive hipsters, what more could you want?

Illy showed up about 25 minutes later – we waited for Al for I think an hour longer? I think he was riding on pure anger by the end of the climb, making it to the top just so he could beat us up for leaving him to his own devices for so long. We ate, talked shit and stumbled around, waiting for the rest of the kooks to arrive – which they all did eventually, and around 4:45(!), having added Maceda, we started down Mt. Lowe. We hurtled down the mountain, trying to beat the sunset while staying upright (super rocky descent). Leo flatted. Matt flatted. I took a wrong turn briefly before catching back up.

City streets back to the shop where beer awaited. Good times. Dirty times.

Metric Meltdown

4 Aug

On Sunday I headed over to the North Hollywood station to meet up with the Bicykillers who were doing a tough metric century in the middle of the day. Ten riders showed up at the start (let’s see how well I can remember names): Lee, Illy, Jeff, Ron, Leo, Lindsay, Alfredo, Vic, Craig, and myself. Rolling out a little before noon, we kept a pretty civilized pace to wake up the legs along Chandler before cutting down to Ventura Blvd.

Along Ventura into Encino we began to ride a little closer together, though not as a tight pace-line because of the pot-holes and traffic. Four or five of us made it up and over the first hill of the day and then pulled off on Topanga to wait for the rest of the group to catch up. And we waited…and waited…and waited…

After a few minutes, there was no sign of the rest of the group. After a few brief exchanges via iPhone, we learned that there had been a crash, so we turned around the way we had came, and discovered a scene of minor carnage outside of Fatburger. Jeff and Lindsay had tangled up in traffic – thankfully neither was badly hurt – and I didn’t know what was more cringe-inducing: Jeff’s gleaming new SRAM Red rear derailleur bent out at a bizarre angle from the twisted hanger, or Lindsey’s fileted shin. We all stood around grimly, discussing the details of the crash. By the time we finally started out again, Jeff was catching a bus, and Alfredo was too shook up to continue (he was right behind the pair when they went down, and blamed himself because he shouted when a car seemed to be merging into the group).

Lindsay is a strong tough rider, and soldiered on undeterred by her road rash. I know she felt pretty bad about running into Jeff, but in true roadie fashion, most everyone consoled her by making inappropriate jokes about her breaking things and taking the “bicykiller” name literally. Some members of this group have elevated trash-talk to an art-form really…

Anyway – up Topanga we went (passing some enthusiastic obese hoola-hoopers in a park on the way, sorry no photos):

The Rapha Sharp team leads-out up Topanga...

…and down, then pausing to re-stock at Topanga General Store (carrot juice, V8, and a granola bar for me), we carried on up Old Topanga. Craig went ahead and was never seen again – we suspect he went back to the valley.

The tree cover offered a nice respite – which I enjoyed without bothering to photograph. Next up we went up a very steep section of Muholland Hwy (I think?) that found me walking a few yards before taking a deep breath and carrying on. We stopped at a gated-community guard tower to re-fill our water bottles. Leo soon called to let us know he was dropping out as he broke his chain on the ascent and couldn’t repair it (I had a chain tool but no master-links).

After a few minutes, Mannuel caught up with us (climbing like a maniac, but then he climbs the 39 regularly) on his Torelli, and joined us for the rest of the ride. We crossed the road and raced down 7-minute hill before re-crossing Mulholland to begin our assault up one of the more famous climbs in the Santa Monica Mountains: Stunt Road. Surrounded by hundreds of acres of chaparral, looming sandstone cliffs, and thick hidden riparian woodlands fed by the Cold Creek watershed streaming down from the heights of Saddle Peak, Stunt Road is an extended (4 miles?) 5 – 6% grade with a few 8%+ sections. A popular challenge among motorcyclists, car clubs, hikers, and of course cyclists – this twisting scar above the transverse range offers an unrelenting climb rewarded by a superior view of the Channel Islands in one direction (except for the marine layer) and this in the other:

We re-grouped at the top before heading down Fernwood back to Topanga (a very fast and twisting descent – technically difficult for me, and while fun, it was also a little scary). The people-watching was surreal in Fernwood – in particular there was a surfer/model couple who seemed like a pair of endangered birds and was dressed in an even more precious/weird manner than our group of lycra-clad road warriors.

After making impressive time pace-lining to PCH, we ran into incredibly dense traffic. I lane-split while commuting routinely, but have never done so on a group ride before – a bit hair-raising! When we were able to, we pulled off to ride through a long beach parking-lot which offered some temporary relief from the crush of cars back on the road:

Relinquishing the ocean breeze, we turned inland in Santa Monica, hammering our way back towards the valley, cutting through the Beverly Hilton property to cross Wilshire and following wide pristine mansion-flanked side roads up to Franklin Canyon, where I picked up the pace knowing the road well as it forms part of my daily commute home.

Descending Coldwater I kept shouting “car back” as a car would approach us from behind, but we were traveling so fast around the curves that the motorists couldn’t catch up to us. Back in the valley, we ended up at Ron’s apartment where we enjoyed good beer, good company, and the largest pizza I’ve ever seen:

Midnight Century

2 Jul

I pulled an “all-nighter” yesterday, riding the BICYKILLERS Century, which rolled out at 9:30PM. With some “bonus miles” when I got myself lost around Camarillo, I did 120.19 miles in a total ride time of 8 hours, 5 minutes. Here’s a map. The other riders of this night-time insanity were soon divided into an “A” and “B” group, with me in no-man’s-land in-between. The group at the front had at least three racers in it (including Rich Bartlett), and the pace they were sustaining was pretty remarkable (I think they finished in well under 6 hours including copious time farting around at re-group points). We had a good pace-line going through the valley along Ventura Blvd and were out-running lots of cars. Many people lining the road were cheering us on, including a homeless guy with a shopping cart – very encouraging! We made it to Westlake in amazing time. Next up we climbed Potrero through Hidden Valley (I was on my own by this point) – the high-speed descent over the mountain was thrilling with no cars on the road. I was very pleased with the brilliant illumination provided by my Supernova E3 headlight: the blazing center-line road reflectors rushing past reminded me of something out of Tron.

After getting quite lost among the strawberry fields of the Oxnard Plain, I finally made my way back to PCH just West of Point Mugu. The marine layer hadn’t moved in yet so there was a surreal clarity along the coastline. The reflections of the moon made the roiling Pacific and even the silent cliffs, spilling black shale and sandstone out of their ancient wounds, seem alive. A coyote darted across my path, probably on its way to pilfer the remnants of a meal in one of the somnolent sea-side campgrounds.

In Malibu I caught up to the “B” group (they didn’t take a wrong turn) who was taking a long break at a Chevron. I ate some salt and vinegar chips and downed another chocolate milk and was ready to move out. I dropped most of the group going over the rollers into Santa Monica, although I traded a few pulls with one guy who was spinning a stupendous cadence (I guessed correctly that he usually rides fixed). Back up through the city I watched the sun rise as I slowly made my way up Sepulveda (the hardest climb of the night, especially after riding well over 100 miles). I enjoyed a final long descent returning to the valley, watching the city wake up (including another coyote, this time at Ventura/Beverly Glen, right in the middle of Sherman Oaks). After finishing I rolled over to Panera and squinting through red bleary eyes, ordered a light breakfast to celebrate my finish:

Chai Latte FTW