Sunday, November 22, 2009

What happens after you climb too much.

Today, me and my mt. bike climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and climbed. For three awesome hours. I hit the highest point in the Santa Ana mt. range, and it was stunning.

And now? I'm watching some bad TV show and thinking it would be awesome if I had a servant? or someone to bring me a glass of water, because the kitchen seems VERY far away.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November Mornings and The Big Road Trip.

This morning, I loved Southern California. I woke up at 5:30 to get in an 1 ½ hour ride before work, and you know what? In mid-November, I can totally do something like that. It wasn’t freezing, and I dug seeing that big sun come up. Knee warmers and a light jacket—that’s all I needed. I rode crossy-cross bike to some good dirt climbs, got my elevation gain in, and rode home.
It was not too cold in November to do that.

After living for three years in a place with very distinct seasons, I’m still a little thrown-off around here. It’s November? Really? Because all the leaves are still hanging on the trees, and though the days are shorter, really, the only difference is that the sun is perched at a different angle in the sky.
I can’t say I miss the seasons. Nope. Not at all.

Next week, I’m embarking on The Big Road Trip. My buddy, Tyler, and I are driving up to Oregon with our mt. bikes and skis. Our plan is ambitious: I’ll drive up to SLO on Tuesday night, get Tyler, and we’ll drive up to Santa Cruz that night. Stay with his folks. We’re going to hit the big dirt loveliness of singletrack that Santa Cruz is renowned for on Wednesday morning. Then, we’re going to hop in the car for 12 or so hours until we reach Eugene. We’ll stay with my sister, find some more singletrack, eat some turkey (or, I’m hoping, Indian food or something tasty like that—I’m totally banking on her being unconventional and treating us to some flavor), then we’ll hit the road again. We’ll either stop in Portland for some riding, or go straight to Mt. Hood for some skiing.* Then, we’ll embark for Bend. We have a mutual friend who lives there, so we’re going to crash with her while we explore the singletrack that Bend has to offer. Following that, we’ll be on the road for a solid, I don’t know? Fourteen hours of driving to SLO? It’s going to be a haul, for sures. But I’m hoping we’ll destroy our legs with all of that singletrack and skiing, so that by the time we get back in the car, we’ll be like, yeah.

*Sidenote to my brother: If you’re reading this, we’re crashing at your place while we’re in Hood. Hope that’s okay.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The 25 hr. Mt. Bike Race Report: TNT: Victorious. We won everything.

Well, we won pretty much everything and TNT totally dominated. The race directors were like, I'm not even sure if your team can return next year because you were just that good.

Ha ha.

We won the 5-person mixed-team category, which was actually a really tight race with one of our other SLO teams, Team Severed Head. When we realized we totally had it and were going to emerge victorious, our final rider, John, donned the gorilla suit and rode the final stretch dressed like this:
But I think the most impressive part of our win was not the whole part about winning 1st place and forever going down in the annals of victory for 25 hour mt. bike racing. Internet, we WON THE RACE FOR TEAM THAT DRANK THE MOST. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. That's why I put it in all caps. See, we had our own competition, our 15-person SLO group. Because we were like--who cares if you win a 25 hour bike race? It doesn't mean anything unless you can do it while drinking. Which led to the next thought: We needed to have our own competition, a race within the race, if you will, to determine which team was able to drink the most. But, because most of my teammates have engineering backgrounds, they were like, that won't quite work. Because then one of the teams could just sit around drinking for 25 hours. So we devised this formula.

I myself am not mathematically inclined, so I had one of the guys explain it to me.

Number of beers x number of laps = winner.

It was a really close race in that competition, too. I realized that those 2 beers I threw down with my breakfast pancakes really counted for something! We won the drinking race by exactly 2 beers. All in all, those sturdy boys on my team put down 73 beers, and I put down 7. That's an approximation, actually, though our team total really was 80. But I'm pretty sure that the boys pulled a lot more of the weight than I did in the drinking competition. But I totally offered moral support and made sure they threw their tabs in our team cup so they could be tallied at the end.

So, for the first lap, which began at noon on Saturday, everyone was all gung ho and proudly donned some sort of costume.

But as the race wore on, we pretty much just walked around in whatever.

Chris and John, two of my teammates, are also DJ extraordinares. These two have an amazing collection of reggaeton, cumbia, and electonica-ish type stuff that we blasted the whole time. It did get a bit annoying, at like 3 a.m. when some of us tried to sleep between laps, but all in all, it added to the collective vibe. There was one point, I think it was around 4 a.m., when Fred (really his name), from my team, hooked his iPod up and blasted really awful pop-rap and Eurotrash dance music. But, because the kid also rode really fast laps, entertained us with handless cartwheels, and has such a superstar liver, we totally let it slide.

The race was held in the Santa Ynez valley, on this huge ranch. That valley, in case you've never been, is truly one of the most stunning places on this earth. However, in the Fall, it's also a place of extreme temperature fluctuations. Because doing a 25 hour mt. bike race is not hard enough. It got up to 90 during the day, and it hit the low 30s at night. But no matter! It's not like we planned on sleeping anyway--not with the Europop blaring, the beer competition in a heated race, or teammates coming in to tell us it was our turn to get our freezing asses on the bike. AND MAKE IT A FAST ONE. So basically, we huddled around the fire all night and secretly hoped our teammates would take their sweet time out there.

The 4 a.m. lap was definitely my slowest. My legs actually felt pretty good, but trying to focus on the narrow swath of light my NightRider was throwing out, coupled with the fact that it was 4 a.m., led to this brief moment of my life where I couldn't balance on singletrack.

My last lap, at 8 a.m., was my favorite. With the sun up, brilliantly showcasing the vineyard-bedecked fields around us, it was like a whole new race. I could balance on singletrack again! I had pancakes and beer waiting for me when I got back! I very quickly forgot about that time period between midnight and 6 a.m. where I was seriously questioning the merits of racing in 30 degree weather, in the dark, with no sleep, and a slight hangover.

There are so many other stories I could share with you, but most of them were "you had to be there" type moments. However, I do believe you'll find some of the pictures entertaining.

We had our very own Laker Girl.

The Whole SLO Crew.

Below: Team Tecates Not Trainers. We won. Oh, yes. We did.

And this was our prize for drinking the most. More to drink.

I wasn't sure if there would be water obstacles along the course. You should always pack water wings.

- Joanna, Team TNT, Tecates not Trainers