Sea Otter Classic 2012 or, Return of the Mandem+

Well well well, if it isn’t the two wankers who previously raced their beater steel Univega tandem at Sea Otter. Twice. The first time finishing 6th out of 12, the second time destroying the rear hub and pushing the bike 2 miles back to the finish. “This year would be different!” they thought. The tandem is still exactly the same as its always been; Al’s 90’s vintage $200 Craigslist score with 26″ wheels, a rigid fork and v-brakes. But the riders were different! Better if you will, from newly found miles of smiles on road bikes. The keyword “mandem” was bounced around via text messages and email. Pulses raced, daydreams began… 2012 would see the return of the Mandem on the 20 mile off-road cross country race course at Laguna Seca, CA. Hot damn!

This tank of a tandem was loaded into the belly of a friend’s RV and headed to points north. The forecast was sunny and 70s for the weekend, a welcome change to cold and rain of previous years.

The next day the Captain and Stoker of the bike, that would be Al and I respectively, set out at high-noon to pre-ride some of the course and prepare for the inevitable “Why are we doing this again?” to creep into our consciences. Commands were barked – “Coast!”, “Bump!”, “SLOW DOWN!!!” (me) and “WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP/BACK THERE???” Ah yes, we were back.

click images to enlarge

Then we flatted. Then another. Then we crashed on a sketchy rutted downhill, sending my face into Al’s back and my knee into the ground. Cue: hissy fit. I walked down the rest of the descent, cursing like a Tourettic sailor and let Al descend the bike by himself.


We returned to the venue, had a beer, and reflected on our decision. I left Al and took a lap around the Sea Otter Expo, checking out all of the various bike manufacturers, clothing designers and performance food and drink vendors who’s products would just about ensure a podium finish if I used them frequently enough (as-directed, of course).

I stopped at the Calfee booth when I saw owner Craig Calfee sitting on one of his bamboo creations, and next to him the most heart-stoppingly beautiful carbon fiber mountain tandem I’ve ever seen. 29er! Di2 drivetrain! Zipp wheels! I remarked a “damn” or “wow” or something equally eloquent to Craig as I admired the complete 180 degree difference between his bike and ours. As a hilarious joke I mentioned to him that he should let us race his bike in Sunday’s tandem race. I waited a beat or two for the follow-up rolling of the eyes, but instead was returned a curious series of questions. “What time’s the race?” “When could you pick it up?”.

The Pitch-

“Are you f-ing kidding me?” I replied. Again with the eloquence.

Craig came back with “Nope. I’ve kinda been wanting someone to race this. Its never been ridden off-road and if you guys are already doing the race I don’t see why you couldn’t just take this one.”

Well poke me in the eye and call me Carlos. That really just happened. Oh by the way, the price tag hanging from his spare-no-expense wonder-bike was a cool $19,000. Nineteen grand. And he was giving it to us now, to hold overnight at our campsite and race the next morning. Because he had to leave. I tried to keep a poker-face while wrapping up the details and come across as a normal human being, while inside I was reduced to that of a teenage girl who just got chosen to go backstage and meet (insert current dreamy boy-band here). My hands started shaking a little while fumbling for my phone to text Al with the update. The first few texts he received from me were a series of “OMG” and “WTF”s.

The Upgrade:

Al and I returned to Calfee with our pedals, got the seat heights adjusted, clipped in to the pedals and took off into the expo without so much as leaving a drivers license or phone number behind.

The bike was locked to the RV with a beefy chain and padlock and we parted for the night, hoping to find it intact early the next morning. We arrived at 6:30am Sunday, happy to see that it was indeed still there. A couple tweaks and fine-tunes later and we were stripping down to our race-day kits and heading to the start line with the rest of the tandem teams.

I counted approximately a dozen teams on the starting line, ranging from full-pro looking teams with matching jerseys, to a father with his very young son on a tandem Cyclocross bike. The countdown started and we were off! We mashed around the Laguna Seca racetrack and into the fog, trying to stay towards the front and keep an eye out for the turnoff on to dirt.

Thats when disaster struck. The fancy $700 electronic rear derailleur stopped shifting before we even had a chance to hit the dirt. We pulled over to fix it and watched the rest of our field disappear into the fog. Shit. We managed to get the drivetrain back in order (chain was off the pulleys) and got back in the race. A little further down the dirt trails the drivetrain acted up again, resulting in another stop. The classes of racers that started behind us were now catching and passing us, but not without a “nice bike!” comment thrown our way. “Thanks”. Just as soon as we’d get going, trouble would pop up somewhere else on the bike. Next up was a broken chain. We reduced ourselves to bypassing the rear derailleur entirely and converting the tandem to a singlespeed. “At least we’ll finish” we assured ourselves. A mile or so later we broke one of the front chainrings in half on a climb and our race, now 10 miles in out of 20, was over. We limped back the way we had come to a Race Marshall checkpoint, requested a ride back to the venue via walkie-talkie and waited our turn. Bummer.

It took a while for the disappointment to wear off. We returned the bike to Calfee, dirty and broken. They couldn’t have been nicer, apologizing and offering to give us another chance on the bike at future races of our choosing. So we have that. Worst-case we wait a year until Sea Otter 2013 and shoot for podium.

If you’ve never tried riding a tandem bike, on or off-road, I recommend it. You’ll know very quickly whether its for you or not. If you have control issues, no sense of humor or adventure then the rear stoker position is definitely NOT for you. If you enjoy taking someone else’s life into your hands and toying with it, then maybe the captain spot up front is where you belong.

Full Photo Gallery here


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Coaster Brake Challenge #4 or, “Losing our Marbles.”

Today being the fourth Sunday in January meant it was the final race in the winter Coaster Brake Challenge series.  Bummer, I was just getting the hang of it.  And by that I mean “I’m kidding myself that I have the hang of it when I obviously have no clue”.  An early meet-up in the west San Fernando Valley with the usual suspects, some coffee, some bike talk and we were all on our way to the trailhead for “special” instructions on the day’s race. The special part being the inclusion of wrist-rocket slingshots and a bucket of glass marbles.*

*not NORBA sanctioned.

Anyway, so you think you’re fast?  Fancy yourself a ringer?  Hope you can aim a slingshot, because after each lap you’ll have to dismount your bike, grab a slingshot and nail an aluminum can from 6 meters with a small marble.  Good luck.

Dirtbags invade Starbucks.

Friend or Foe?

We arrived at the trailhead, embrocated our shorn legs, spun for 12 minutes on the trainers to some Kanye then got PUMPED  for some slingshot action.  Actually no, we just dumped out bikes on the ground and listened to Atomic’s Paul give us the day’s rundown: 10 laps, 10 kills.

"breathe between your heartbeats."

"Special Victims Unit"

I’m always torn at these events between participant or documenter-arian.  Race or report? Sprint or shoot?  Fortunately I don’t take my bike racing career too seriously, which allows me to attempt the best of both worlds here: I can place horribly in the standings, AND take mediocre photos with my smartphone while I’m supposed to be racing.

Starting line queueing up


All out, stay left.

Stop, drop, and draw...

Full release. (photo: Paul)

Grabbing the slingshot on the first lap was a harbinger of doom.  It became evident very quickly that I must have skipped the slingshot period of my youth and replaced it with taking pictures of the other neighborhood kids shooting slingshots. Five marbles in and no kill.  Now 6.  Then 7.  The shooting range became filled with random “BITCH!” or other colorful expletives, or with the sound of the successful riders shouting their racer number out and continuing on, post-plink.  But then I quickly discovered a secret!  Shouting random movie quotes before releasing the shot turned much better results.  “Yippee ki yay. motherfucker.” BAM! Next lap!  “I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself.” POW!

Quotes aside, I still got my ass handed to me over the mostly flat, one mile loop.  A couple of quick climbs, some dicey rock gardens and some spun-out asphalt sections made up the quick course. “John” has been crushing the series so far, winning every race up until today, with most everyone hoping that the slingshot variable would throw a pump in his works and level the playing field.  Apparently “John” was a Navy SEAL sniper, as his Drop, Shoot, Kill routine destroyed the field once again, bringing him a 4 for 4 sweep. Unbelievable.

Post-race carnage & sights


Yours truly, bringing the spicy.

The CBC returns in July. See you then –

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2012 Coaster Brake Challenge or, “There Will Be Blood”

Another event that I’ve known about for years but have yet to participate in is the Coaster Brake Challenge mountain bike race. Held every January and July and sponsored by the San Fernando Valley’s Atomic Cycles, the races attract a “certain individual.”  The kind of person who wants to have a great time on as simple of a bicycle as possible, in the scariest conditions as possible.  Having everyone on rigid singlespeeds with only one rear coaster brake may appear to level the playing field, but as with most singlespeed mountain bike races I’ve been in, looks can be deceiving.  There are some scary-fast dudes hanging around the start with unassuming clothing and bike gear.

I finally got my ass in gear and built up my old 26″ Curtlo mountain bike, one that had been my primary singlespeed MTB in the early 2000’s before I got the 29er bug.  Most recently the Curtlo had been assigned to cargo-bike duty with an Xtracycle kit attached for grocery runs. A stop or two at Atomic for a complete new rear wheel and some necessary parts and I was in business.

6am Sunday morning is usually reserved for a pee-run to the bathroom then right back to bed.  Today it was a pee-run followed by turning lights on and getting dressed for the race.  At the start by 7, coffee’d up and ready to go I discreetly sized up my fellow racers.  Someone pointed to a fit looking guy, commenting “he won it last week.”  I paid the $20 for the 4-race season which covered my entry, a t-shirt and souvenir patch.  Such a deal!

The bikes at the start were all over the place, varying from complete pieces of shit, to amazing vintage cruisers with a few nicer custom builds thrown in.  But the majority of the bikes were worth less than the Chris King headset on my bike.  And yet I knew that this would be the last time I’d see most of the riders until the finish. Super.

We all gathered around, got the layout of the course, maps were handed out for those who wanted one and we were off, buzzing about a mile of pavement before seeing the road end and turn to dirt – the official start of the tough stuff.  It wasn’t long after this that my chain decided to drop off the gears, leaving me unable to pedal or brake.  I pulled over to tighten the chain tension and glanced up just in time to see the last of the riders disappearing down the trail.  I was now dead last with a broken bike.  SHIT!  I fixed the chain, rode a bit further and it dropped again.  I pulled off once more and dug out the tools again.  Fixed it and hopped back on, but now my head was messed with, confidence shot as I couldn’t rely on the chain to save my ass when I needed it: braking on the descents.  I baby’d the bike for a while, occasionally stopping to test the chain tension. Total mind-f*ck. Just a 1/4″ wide piece of chain can mean the difference between a carefree ride, the front of a tree trunk or the back of an ambulance.

I rode for several miles by myself, not seeing any other riders on the trail.  I had given in to a DFL finish (Dead F-ing Last) so I enjoyed the scenery and stopped to take pictures. The course had a ton of climbing and I rode as much of it as I could, but was forced to walk the steeper sections.  I was quickly reminded about the suffering smack-down that a singlespeed bike will give you when there is much climbing to do.  I was a lovely slobbering, snotty-nosed mess for all of the ascending we were put through.

And then It happened – I spotted another rider up ahead.  I dug deep and sped up, knowing that he was the difference between my name on the bottom of the list, and … not.  I caught him then spotted another ahead and repeated the effort.  I had caught and passed maybe 3 or 4 guys and started to feel much better about the day.  That was about the time I rode right through a switchback turn and down the side of the mountain, clipped into my pedals and completely unable to stop. I target-fixated on the rocks and brush down below and away I went, cartwheeling ass over ass-kettle, coming to a stop on my back with the bike above me, still clipped in to one pedal. I heard someone above me on the trail yelling “You ok man?”.  Fortunately I was ok and was able to laugh the whole thing off.  The concerned racer put his bike down and helped me and bike back up the hill to the trail.  I had a few scrapes and some bloodshed but nothing race-ending.  Back on the bike and back to the sketchy switchbacks, now paying much more attention to my braking.

We made it safely down the mountain and returned to the paved streets of upscale Calabasas, a bunch of dirty out of place cyclists contrasting nicely with the gated McMansions and country club guard shacks. Power-skidding to a stop at the finish, I realized that I had made up 7 or so spots to put me safely out of DFL range and I couldn’t be happier!  As I had suspected though, there were beater Huffys laying about that had long since finished.  After lots of post-race chatter and tales from the trail, my buddy Frank and I were on our way back home, in search of much needed food and beer, ultimately toasting each other for a great day out in the mountains with a great group of psychopaths on bicycles.

If you find yourself in L.A. in January or July, I highly recommend getting in touch with Atomic and trying out a race.  They also have several loaner bikes that they will provide if you don’t have one of your own.

For a photo slideshow of all the photos from the race, click here for my Flickr images.


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“Photo By:”

What started as a gag at the NAHBS event in Portland 2008 has blossomed into a regular feature of my life.  While at the bike show we spotted Robin Williams admiring all of the beautiful frames made by the very person sitting in their respective booth.

Instead of just asking the tired request for an autograph or photo, we turned things around a bit by asking for a “group photo”.  Robin said ‘sure’ so I handed him my camera, showed him the button to push and I walked back to line up with my friends.

And at that moment, “Photo By:” was born.  Photo By: Robin Williams.

(pardon my mustache, I was in Portland so I was required to have it.)

We didn’t ask for a photo with Robin.  That was the end of it and we all walked on.  Which brings us to some of the rules of Photo By:

1. Never acknowledge their celebrity.  You are simply asking for a favor by having your photo taken.

2. No autographs or photos with or of your subject.  No “I loved you in Look Who’s Talking 6.”

3. Get in, get the shot, say ‘thanks’, and get out.

There was an extremely long hiatus in the Photo By: series for various mostly unknown reasons. Maybe I put it on the back burner, maybe I didn’t encounter too many celebs.  Regardless, its back now and I’ll keep updating my gallery as opportunity allows. And as far as my therapist and I have been able to determine, this isn’t an exercise in narcissism, more just an unorthodox way of interacting with people who get bugged for photos and autographs on a daily basis. With my technique they don’t have to be concerned with how they look, if they’re having a bad hair day, if they feel fat, or if they have that “fresh out of rehab” face.

Things don’t always work out, however.  I’ve ben flat-out denied (William Shatner) or just encountered someone when the timing really wasn’t right (Meg Ryan, Ben Affleck).  If they are sitting in a restaurant having a conversation with a friend, of course I’m not going to ask “Hey will you stop what you’re doing and take my picture? Here-“.

Now fast-forward to May of 2010 in Malibu, CA at a Starbucks stop along our 100+ mile ride up the coast to Santa Barbara.  We spotted Kevin Dillon aka Johnny Drama from Entourage sitting outside with some friends.  I asked him the scripted “Would you mind a group photo?”  and he jumped up and agreed.  However, before I could stop him he lined up with my riding buddies and posed for the photo he thought I was about to take.  “Sorry man” I told him, “I need you over here behind the camera.”

His friends hit the floor with laughter and I got a bunch of shit from Kevin, asking why I couldn’t have just asked anyone closer to us.  In the end he was a good sport and gave us what we wanted, and we got back on our bikes and continued onward, mission accomplished.

Malibu, CA. Photo By: Kevin Dillon

Shrine Auditorium in L.A. for an Arcade Fire show.  Photo By: Zach Galifianakis.

House party with actress Linda Gray from ‘Dallas’.

Photo By: Larry Hagman

Largo Theater, L.A. Dec. 2010. Photo By: Jeff Goldblum

Christmas 2010. Photo By: Andy Garcia

Comedian Doug Benson Valentine’s Night.

Summer 2011 Photo By: Jennifer Love Hewitt

Pre-ride coffee.  Photo By: Oscar Nunez (“Oscar” on The Office)

Beverly Hills parking lot. Photo By: Gene Simmons.

“Dallas” premiere on TNT.  Photo By: Patrick Duffy

Outside a bar in L.A. Photo (and finger) By: Keifer Sutherland

At the local coffee shop with my barista friend. Photo By: Annette Benning.

Being an avid bike rider and part-time Pro cyclist stalker, I’ve found myself in a few situations that helped fill out the Photo By: gallery.

Photo By: Jens Voigt. 2012 Tour of CA.

Photo By: Mario Cipollini in his booth at Interbike 2012.

Perhaps the first “Making Of” photo with Cipo!

Me and the lady. Photo By: Miguel “Big Mig” Indurain. From his poster signing table at Interbike 2012.Shirt courtesy card-snappers on the Strip.

Photo By: Dave Zabriskie. 2012 Tour of CA.

Photo By: BikeSnob NYC aka Eben Weiss.  2012 book tour.

Photo By: Andy Schleck. Downtown L.A. 2011 Tour of CA

Photo By: Chris Horner, after winning the 2011 Tour of CA

Photo By: Mark Cavendish 2010 Tour of CA

Photo By: George Hincapie. 2010 Interbike, Las Vegas.

Photo By: Jonathan Vaughters. (Vegas. don’t ask.)

More to come – stay tuned!


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2010 AIDS/LifeCycle Ride

The annual ALC Ride travels over 500 miles every year from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  7 days and 6 nights along some of California’s most scenic roads with 2000 of your closest cyclist friends from all over the country.

My friend Joe initiated the enrollment and I followed his lead, neither one of us being quite sure what we were getting ourselves into.  The entry fee runs $50-$75 per person depending on discounts that may be available and each participant is required to raise a minimum of $3000 to show up and ride.

Joe and I commenced fundraising and training for the average 80 mile days that we’d be faced with on the ride.  At some point during the decision-making process, I decided to push myself a little and commit to doing the ride on a fixed gear bicycle.  For the non-cyclist readers, that means there is only one gear on the bike, and it’s “fixed” in place, meaning the bike cannot coast.  So I would be pedaling the entire 545 mile route, including all of the descents.  My friend Mark Kiecker had done the AIDS ride on a fixed gear bike a few years ago, so I used him as my inspiration.

Fundraising had began slowly but surely. I had reached about $500 when things dried up and I had a mild panic attack. “What if that’s all I can raise?”.  I had reached out via mass email to friends & family, Facebook and online cycling forums.  Money was coming in but I still had a long way to go.  Fortunately the networking paid off and the big bucks started rolling in.  By the time the fundraising period had ended I had raised over $6000, twice the required amount.  If you donated to my ride and are reading this – thank you so much once again.

Joe and I traveled north to San Francisco the Friday before the ride departed, along with a few other friends from L.A.  Saturday was spent standing in line, signing waiver after waiver, and watching the mandatory safety video.  Turns out they frown on riding how we’re all used to riding in the city; assertively, taking a lane, etc.  Things were going to slow way down for the upcoming week.

The alarm clock came much too early at 3am Sunday morning.  We got dressed, finished packing our duffels one last time and headed downstairs to stand in line for the coaches that shuttled everyone to the Cow Palace in Daly City for the start.

Here’s a breakdown of the schedule for the week:
Day 1: San Francisco to Santa Cruz. 79 miles
Day 2: Santa Cruz to King City. 107 miles
Day 3: King City to Paso Robles. 67 miles
Day 4: Paso Robles to Santa Maria. 98 miles
Day 5: Santa Maria to Lompoc. 68 miles
Day 6: Lompoc to Ventura. 86 miles
Day 7: Ventura to Los Angeles. 62 miles

I won’t babble on and on with all the minutiae of 7 days on the road, but I will summarize with a few photos:

Weapon of choice – steel Bianchi cyclocross frame converted to fixed gear.  (gearing @ 44×16. 72 gear-inches)

A huge thank you to White Industries for their generous donation towards my ride.


Daily motivation:


I was also honoring Collin Marsh on this ride, who lost his battle with Leukemia in May of this year at the age of 2 years young.  Our online cycling community had followed Collin’s ups and downs via his father, and we were all totally devastated at the news of his passing.  RIP Collin.

Day 1: (no camera) Foggy & misty leaving San Francisco.  Lots of nervous energy, getting the feel for riding in a pack of 2000 strangers, all with varying degrees of fitness and cycling skills.  We got introduced to the themed rest stops and realized how well taken care of we would be for the week.  No shortage of food, water, electrolyte drinks, medical needs, etc.  All available within 15-20 mile distances at the most. Santa Cruz was the first introduction to camp life and figuring out the flow of getting your luggage, setting up your tent, showering, eating, and “quiet time” before bed.  No one who’s new to ALC knows what to do first, so there are many people wandering around camp with lost looks on their faces trying to find the shower trucks or dinner. Thanks to Wendy and Eric for dropping by camp to visit!

Day 2: Traffic Jam leaving Santa Cruz.

Day 2: Longest day on the road at 107 miles. Pictured is Lisa, also riding fixed. Tough girl.

And out of nowhere the Cookie Lady appears on the side of the road, having baked thousands of cookies for all the riders, preparing in April for the ride in June.

Day 3: Lunch stop in Bradley.  This one day alone is Bradley High School’s biggest source of revenue for the entire year.  2000 cyclists buying burgers, cookies, and snacks pays for a lot of supplies and equipment!

What would Rest Stop #4 be without a little Price is Right?


Day 4: The daily search for your tent and luggage at the fleet of gear trucks.

Half-way to L.A.!

Fueling up at Old West Cinnamon Rolls in Pismo Beach.  Calories?  You bet!

Back at camp, looks like someone found the coveted AC plug! (yes, some riders travel with power strips just for this reason).


Oh Shit! If its Day 5, it must be Red Dress Day (adopted from “Dress Red Day”)

Joe and I, ready for 68 miles of fabulous.

Yes these were ridden on the bike, and…

…yes they have cleats.


Cher the Road.


Day 6:  Ah yes, sunburnt and cranky setting in.  “Just take the f-ing picture.”

No shortage of snacks. Ever.


Free ice cream party in Santa Barbara.

Back to the grind; 101 Freeway South.




The candlelight vigil in Ventura is something not to be missed.  Thousands of people and thousands of candles on the beach in complete silence.  Very moving.


Day 7: The final day! L.A. was still over 60 miles away, but felt like it was right around the corner.  The last 10 miles into Brentwood were excruciating for me.

My buddy Ron came and met us for lunch at the Malibu rest stop.

And I had mom waiting to greet me at the finish line. Made it!!

I bought a plain white jersey and had it signed by as many of my sponsors as I could, and saved it for the last day in. A great way to wrap up a great ride.

For more info on the ride, or to donate to ALC, see:


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Langtown CX 2010

Leave it to the Langin’s – Bobby Sr. & Jr. and family to throw the mother of all bike events with their annual Langtown Cyclocross race held at their home in Thousand Oaks, CA. The bedroom community with ranch-style homes that would otherwise be just another Southern California neighborhood gets transformed for one day into Bike Racing and Beer Drinking HQ.

I discovered Langtown just last year and am eternally grateful that I managed to stumble upon this.  2010 however finds me on crutches with a bum knee from a roadie wreck, so I am relegated to non-racing status this year. Even still, on pain meds and crutches and the chance that I may twist my knee into even worse shape, I wouldn’t miss it for all the chai in Tina.

2009 Photos here

The races are open class; CX, MTB, BMX, gears, singlespeed, fixed… run what ya brung.  Register in the Langin’s garage, sign a waiver, get a number, drink a pre-race beer.

The first race is the “Elite” race, riders taking themselves and their results entirely too seriously with no sight of a beer hand-up.  Eyes on the prize as it were. They may indeed be in full costume on a singlespeed ‘cross bike, but there’s no denying the underlying feeling of competition.  Racers stage on the paved driveway that runs from the street along side the house to the backyard. The backyard that has been meticulously crafted into an amazing sweeping, pumping, jumping, step-upping dirt shortrack. Due to complaints from the neighbors about the shocking amount of mud that was strewn about the streets last year, this year’s event was dry and mud-free, saving most riders from stopping at the DIY carwash on the way home to uncover their bike’s true color from the layers of mud. I have to say honestly – the mud was missed this year.

The second race is where the shit hits the fan.  Four laps with a mandatory beer stop during each lap.  Cute red party cup full of beer, shotgun a can, or grab one of several pre-loaded beer bongs.  Your call. Gladly enabling your intoxication will be one of two beer wenches, serving up beer with a smile.  If you’re (un)lucky enough you may even get a beer handed to you that’s been spiked with tequila by none other than Langin Jr.  That realization will probably hit you just as you’re dismounting your bike to hump it up the steep climb up to the bridge that crosses the track.  Or perhaps you’ve already thrown up by now.

Stage 3: The Beer Mile.  A foot race around the neighborhood and dirt track with nary a bike in sight.  Stage yourself with a full can of beer on your head, drink it down then get to running!  This race is four laps as well, with four mandatory cans of beer being consumed in the duration.  If you’ve somehow managed to race all three races and are still standing, congratulations! You may find yourself on the podium for this year’s Langtown.  And you will probably find yourself in Bobby’s Azalea bush the next morning.

In between races, feel free to recover with your rendition of MJ’s “I Wanna Rock With You” on the karaoke machine, grill some fine meats on the red-hot grill or grab a cold one and chat up some of the many interesting people that are drawn to this event.

The race takes place only once a year. I whole-heartily recommend that you beg, borrow or steal your way to SoCal this time next year to participate.

Some images from 2010 (click to enlarge):

2010 Slideshow here

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Sea Otter Classic 2010

I hadn’t planned on attending Sea Otter this year, just like I hadn’t planned on attending Coachella due to the $300+ single-day tickets on Craigslist.  Although the (2) VIP tickets for $1000 were tempting (kidding). Besides, Al and I weren’t racing the Mandem this year, so what’s the point?

My weekly SmarterTravel email subscription then alerted me to a $95 round-trip special from L.A. to Monterey.  How could I pass that up?  Bought the ticket,  booked a taxi and packed a knapsack.

The rigid singlespeed equivalent of air travel.  You feel every bump, get tossed around and are pretty stoked you made it when its over.

Travel Tip #8: A name tag on your clothing that doesn’t match your ID will result in “interest” from the TSA folks. Twice.

I arrived in Monterey without a lift to the venue, so I asked the only guy I saw carrying a bike helmet if he wanted to share a cab to Sea Otter.  He replied that he already had a ride lined up, but I was welcome to join. Nice!  We waited outside for a minute until a Team GT dually pulled up.  Turns out he rides for GT. Turns out Pro Downhill. Turns out my ride is with Eric Carter.


We pulled right in to the GT booth in the pits and I wished him luck and hit the venue.  The weather was amazing this year; warm temps, no wind, no flash floods.

Then I spread out a map of the venue, got my camera gear in order, prioritized my list of vendors to see and got down to business.  First stop, Bike Mag.

Next stop:

Ran into my friend Cooper aka “flask-hog”.

Porta-Potty Still Life

Oh right – the bike stuff.  File these two under “Things I Can’t Do”:

File these under Neat Bike Stuff:

Titanium Salsa La Cruz CX in the pipeline

Serotta partnering with Catlike helmets to bring them to US by summer.

Custom molded road shoes by Riivo

Crank Bros “Candy” pedal cages go alloy. Hot.

More hot from Crank Bros with their solid, clampless stems.

Custom fab’d Di2 shifter on a sub-16 pound Cannondale MTB.

This can’t be good.

Sexy Niner carbon singlespeed.

Continental 2.4″ Trail King, coming soon in 29er.  Beefy.

Amazing leather shoes from Dromarti.  The “Sportivo” model is SPD compatible!

Martin of Dromarti models the new black “Race” model. Look compatible and badass.

Can’t have nice shoes without nice socks.

In closing –

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2010 San Diego Custom Bicycle Show

Brought to you by framebuilders Dave Ybarrola, Chuck Schlesinger and Brian Baylis, the 2nd annual San Diego Custom Bicycle Show took place this weekend.  Approximately 60 vendors set up their creations for the public to stroke, photograph, scrutinize and fingernail-tap.

Five of us piled into the wagon and carpooled south from Los Angeles, saving the planet in the process.

Having attended the now 5 year old NAHBS, the San Diego show is obviously much smaller, but was actually originally only supposed to be the 5 or 6 local San Diego builders taking over an art gallery type of space for a weekend.  The show has become much more than that since the original concept, now with builders such as Stephen Bilenky flying out from Philadelphia, PA to exhibit. The amount of talent in one room was a sight to behold.

With tons of show coverage available online from the pros at sites like, I decided to take a different angle of show coverage.  Below are some pics from Sunday.  Click links to see more on the builders.

Stephen Bilenky

Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster

Custom rear dropout with opener from Santa Cruz’s Caletti Cycles

Bruce Gordon and his handmade ti lugs

Mauricio Rebolledo

Megan Dean of L.A.’s Moth Attack

Fred Cuthbert of Wolfhound

Mike DeSalvo


Sean Walling of Soulcraft

The San Diego show will be back in 2011 and NAHBS will be in Austin, TX. Support your local framebuilder!

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Strange Days Have Found Us

Cool things at work coming from the Mad Scientist mind of metal-master Jeff Tiedeken @ downtown L.A.

Its gonna be a fun one to follow.  Not like anything I’ve seen, he’s seen, you’ve seen before.

1/21/10 Update:

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Bon Iver at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

When I saw the concert info hit the newswire, I couldn’t fumble my credit card out of my wallet fast enough. Bon Iver playing a 6am sunrise show on Sunday, with doors opening the night before at midnight. In a cemetery.

Concert-goers were welcome to come and camp on the cemetery lawn (not on grave sites) with food & drink and stay up with the various media provided; Planet Earth video loops, background DJ music and a screening of the film Bottle Rocket at 2am. All for $25.

I packed the Xtracycle full of pillows, blankets, fleece, a thermos full of hot coffee and a bottle of Kahlua. We claimed our spot in front of the sound techs for a dead-center view and unpacked our take-out dinner at 1:00am.

Planet Earth

The coffee helped as the fog settled in and dew began to coat everything with moisture. About halfway through the film, somewhere around 3am I passed out, surrounded by strangers.

mid-night coffee stand

Bedtime views

At around 5:30am I woke up to an unfamiliar sound.  They had brought in a group of Buddhist monks to chant a prayer for the living (us) and for the non (everyone else).  What a bizarre, fantastic way to enter the day.

Justin aka Bon Iver took the stage at 6 as billed. Still dark out. He eased into his set with a mellow tune or two but the mellowness didn’t last long. He then tore into the rest of his set list at full-amp with his 3 bandmates.  Electric guitars ripping, drums pounded. Wake up neighbors! Awesome.

Kicking things off
Later, Justin on keys

Touring mates Megafaun came and sat in on a little bluegrass number called “Ease your worried mind”

Standing O
Haulin’ bodies

I’ll end with footage of the band doing the first song at dark-thirty – “Flume” (dig the fog!)

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