Doing, not saying . . .

Kicked off the build of http://www.bikecrave.com today. Official site launch is June 15. 

BikeCrave is an idea that has been in my brain for over a year now. It’s become a labor of love and shared project (with cyclists around the world) as a place to celebrate all things cycling, and the cycling lifestyle. I’m providing blog updates here (and DMs and emails) as a way to share the “process” and demystify the “social media” thing. Too many buzzwords and not enough reality. Let’s strip it down to the pure essence. 

BikeCrave? It’s real. URL secured. Host secured. Design direction and architecture complete. Brand guidelines done. WP template for customization complete. Plug-ins chosen. Designer and coder hired. Chief content producer (me) hired.

One thing I enjoy about cycling is the near-zero tolerance for fakery. You either climb the mountain, or you go back and reach a fitness level that will power you up the mountain. Or you pick a smaller mountain, also known as a “hill.” The point is, you’ve got to start somewhere. It doesn’t really matter where as long as you reach the goal, and you enjoy the journey. You may only want to ride flats in Tuscany and sip wine. Or work on your glove tan lines along Highway 101. Way cool, each.   

But no faking. 

We can’t talk ourselves up the mountain or down the coast in a 20 mph headwind. We can’t slog through a cold rainstorm without something deep inside. I’ve been there, digging about in an empty suitcase of courage, harkening back to times when the legs were stronger and the heart more capable of carrying red blood cells to hungry muscles. 

Doing, not saying.

That’s top of mind this afternoon before I kit up and do my ride.

A tad cliche? Yep.

The best route? Always.

Hope you’re having a great weekend and doing what you love, which may even include two wheels.

Advertisements

Breathing and Agonizing…

Let me start with just two words: Great ride.

If that’s all you need to know, you can stop reading now. If you want texture, a bit of flavor, and some weird commentary, then plow onward.

Breathless Agony, which sells out very fast in advance, is a fabulous ride. It’s got some beautiful roads, plenty of climbing (12,000 feet officially), and a personable host in Chuck Bramwell (love the guy).  

Onyx Summit — the ride’s highest point — is at 8,443, according to the sign on the side of the road. You’ll smile when you reach it. Take a photo with the grim reaper, who seems even more grim because he’s at least 6-feet-8-inches, no kidding. Party with friends made along the way after you plop your bike down on special mats.

The timer turns off the second you get there.

My total pedal time per Garmin was right on 6:05 (it was beyond 7:00 counting for rest stations, but more on that later).

So, Onyx Summit is above the snow line? A grim reaper nearly the height of SHAQ? Breathless and Agony together?

What the h#&%!

It’s not as bad as you think.

I swear to you on my white Fizik Arione saddle and a stack of freshly laundered and folded DeFeet Levitator socks.

Here’s the deal: Yes, there is 12,000 total feet of climbing, and nearly 98% of it you’ll tackle in fewer than 80 miles. But the majority of the climbing is on managable grades. You will not encounter sustained 10%+ stretches that turn your legs to dead stone and your back to shattered glass. You will be in the saddle for long stretches as you make your way upward, but you won’t be blowing chunks on the side of the road (a la Mullholland Challenge in 2008 and 100-degree heat, according to hardcore locals).

Just climb.

Oh, and be sure to stay topped off with fluids and your food of choice. Very important.

Warning: There was no Hammer Nutrition at feed stations for this ride.

I focused so much on preparations for rain (that never materialized), I didn’t take a few Ziplock bags of my own stash of Perpetuem (prefer not to eat on hefty climbs; it disagrees with my stomach).

Combine that blunder with a meager dinner of a low-cal veggie burrito the night before, and less than 3 hours of sleep (worrying about the no-show rain), and you get less ride enjoyment, more work and a few leg cramps to boot.

Huh?

What a damn minute here. I had more than 2,700 miles and 225,000 feet of climbing in my legs for calendar year 2009 before Breathless Agony. I was out of breath and in agony on Palomar Mountain many times already to ensure the ride would be a smooth, uneventful cruise.

Such is the cruel and unusual nature of cycling and the beauty of learning.

This time, I got a lesson in humility. Maybe this blog post was a precursor.

A sharp cramp in my left inside quad greeted me at mile 50. That put a giant kabosh on plans to rip the ride in the saddle the entire way up. I alternated saddle time with odd standing intervals to the top. On less than severe grades, standing just doesn’t feel right unless you’re putting it down in the big ring and trying to drill it.

Instead, I was the one being drilled — by the moutain. 

Regardless, an experienced cyclist should know better than to:

(a) Show up without his own Perpetuem

(b) Try to expect something special on less than 3 hours sleep

(c) Eat a low-calorie veggie burrito the night before as “fuel” a serious effort

Despite my goofs, the ride remains a great one. I harbor no ill will toward it, the veggie burrito that I ate or the friendly people at the feed stations. I powered a few PB&J sandwiches before the top and turned on my low-RPM diesel engine. A fellow rider gave me his stash of Perpetuem, and two others handed me Endurolyte tablets from elaborate plastic cases pulled from their jersey pockets. These nice folks saved me from my own stupidity. And to them, I am indebted.

Here are my ratings for the 2009 Breathless Agony ride:

Overall: 9/10 

Scenery: 8/10 (don’t miss the snowcaps in front of you between miles 80 and 90)

People: 9/10 (very nice long-distance riding type crowd; no attitudes)

Pros: Climb from Angeles Oaks to Onyx Summit is quality; Jack Rabbit Trail just rough enough to give you fantasies of Paris-Roubaix (without the Belgian flags and frites).

Cons: A 2-mile piece on Highway 60 with semi-trucks; the last 10 miles backdoor Redlands after a glorious descent.

Pics below at mile 45, mile 74 and mile 82 (approx).

Note: elevation profile is missing 4 miles where I failed to turn on Garmin after stuffing face with said PB&J sandwiches.

Mile 45

Mile 45

At the top

At the top

Mile 82 (approx) on descent

Mile 82 (approx) on descent

Profile minus 4 miles after Angeles Oaks Feed Station

Profile minus 4 miles after Angeles Oaks Feed Station

Fresh air and friends…

It’s been awhile since I ventured up above 6,000+ feet on two wheels. On Saturday, I go where the air is thinner. Onyx Summit is a bit over 8,000 feet in Southern California, and part of a century ride called Breathless Agony.

Climbing is as pure as it gets. 

You, your bike, and the mountains.

It’s where you go deep inside yourself and learn about commitment. It’s where you see if your training measures up. Drafting is pointless. Explosive attacks are only for the 10% who can pull them off. “Dancing on the pedals”? Sure, if you weigh 140 pounds or less and race professionally.

Real mountains and elevation help you make real friends. Suffering equalizes everything from socio-economics to education. No one cares if you have a custom-built bike when they can barely remember their own beneath them as they trundle upward. Lack of oxygen and 190 beats per minute forces all but the fundamental instincts out of the brain.

Cadence, power, and measured effort. We try to get comfortable. We we try to dose the wattage. We try not to bonk.

When we are digging deep, dangling off the back, and secretly begging for help, we are humbled.

No words need to be said. The sounds alone of breathing tell us everything: We are alive, we are outside and we are among friends.

Mulholland Century…

Easter is April 12.

The Mulholland Century (and Double for you mileage maniacs) is April 11.

Family is heading to Idyllwild and Palm Springs for an Italian throw-down of epic proportions. New York-style. A can’t miss.

So the question haunting me this morning: Should I blaze a trail to L.A. early under the cover of darkness, log 100 hilly ones for sport, then rest my legs inland? I didn’t have this ride on the calendar, but I’m wholly intrigued with something new, a la Solvang. There’s something great about change that invigorates training.

If you have an opinion on the Mullholland Century and can share, please post a comment here or send email to marketing.bean(at)gmail.com.

The kind people at Planet Ultra say the ride is quite scenic. I’m so very tempted to include it in the build-up to Climb to Kaiser.

There’s a first time for everything.