Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pro Cycling Team Type 1 Whups Pro Dumbass TriDiva

What self-respecting amateur athlete would turn down the opportunity to ride from Santa Barbara to Buellton with a pro cycling team? (Even if the bike is her "limiter".) When I was invited to do the approximately 45 mile ride with members from all of Team Type 1's cycling teams (Pro women, men, and RAAM members), I instantly blurted out "I'd love to!"Then I looked down and saw my quads clench themselves in rage at my decision. My brain and body don't always work in unison. Yesterday was no different.

My quads were pissed. So pissed that they cried when I walked up the stairs into the Fess Parker Doubletree in Santa Barbara to meet Team Type 1. They knew, in their little quad world, that the only way out of Santa Barbara would involve a climb. They voted to seceede.

Team Type 1 logo

My quads aren't always so ornery. However, they had just completed the hardest ride they had ever been on in their entire quarter-century of being on Sunday evening--less than 48 hours before the proposed Pro ride.

Adhering to the adage, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," I rode 120 miles on Sunday, with 8700 feet of climbing in the middle 60 miles, time-trialing the first 10-mile climb----all with an 11-21 cassette. (For those of you in SoCal, this ride started at the Hermosa Pier, then did double Latigo, Muholland to Piuma, descending Topanga and back.)

Because I was still alive and it was beautiful outside on Monday, I proceeded to run 1 hour 20 minutes on the beach before throwing the Silver Bullet into Sparky to drive to Santa Barbara. I figured the Bullet (my first and only road bike assembled with community part donations, and very nice Dura Ace shifters that I earned from getting doored in 2006) and I would have a nice recovery ride down the beach after the team took off on their ride.

In the nanosecond before I gushingly agreed to ride with the team, I did a quick inventory that looked something like this: I didn't bring my purple leg warmers, hot pink arm warmers, and neon blue jersey with flowers all over it. Check. I won't look like a massive nerd.

I did, however, bring the jersey in which I got doored, which has a permanent car mark on the shoulder, and cheap knicker shorts whose crotch pad sticks out like a duck bill. And triathlon shoes. And The Bullet, bless him, who is not the right size for me and would stick out like a shiny hunk of tin in a sea of carbon Orbeas. At least he doesn't have aerobars.

And there's nothing I can do now about my decision to only shave for races. Let's just say I haven't raced in a while...a long while...

Quads? SHUT UP!

After lunch and a peek at the sleek, sexy racing machines Team Type 1 will be racing on this year, everyone got ready to roll out.


What could've been a chance to prove triathletes don't suck that bad at road riding turned into a massive battle between my brain and my quads. Almost immediately after starting, we began the climb.

My quads instantly signaled that they had nothing left. We hadn't even gone anywhere.

The women's coach and mechanic were following in the team Audi. Not too far into the climb, I was dropped. He told me to hang onto the car by putting my hand on the pillar just behind the passenger window, then proceeded to drag me up to the team. I had a fleeting vision of the Bullet and me being sucked under the Audi's rear tire.

It was the third most awesome and terrifying thing I had ever done on a bike. (The other two came later in the same ride.) The coach told me the rule was his contract riders couldn't hang onto the car, but the car was free game for everyone else. Which was mostly me.

When the car stopped to help a few riders, I charged on, hoping to gain some ground. 5 minutes farther up, I made a sharp left to be faced with what looked like a wall. Holy crap! I thought, I am actually going to roll backwards.

My quads couldn't turn the 21. I briefly dreamed of a bike with a granny gear. Just as I topped that little chunk of road, up came the car to drag me along--this time with two other people being drug along as well. I thought it'd make a nice ad for Audi.

The team regrouped at the top of the climb and I struggled to find a gu in my pocket. It would be the only thing I'd eat on the entire 3 hour ride; I was too terrified to take my hand off of my handlebar long enough to fish around in my pocket for food.

Then began the descent down a very sketchy and very narrow--but very fun--road.

The bumps destroyed my front water bottle cage, which snapped, making my water bottle ride sideways and whack my right leg. Then a bump popped my back water bottle out, which I miraculously caught between my legs, then popped back in when I had the chance to take my hands off of the handlebars. Later on, I locked up my back wheel. It all wouldn't have bothered me--except I was being watched. By a pro women's coach. Thus, this descent became "Terrifying Part 2" of the ride. He must've been appalled at my New Year's resolution (TBA) which has something to do with becoming a high-class ultra cyclist.

Finally out of the mountains (mostly) we popped out on a larger, rolling road. I'd say it was beautiful, but I wasn't really looking around. I was focused on catching back up to the team and on the argument with quadleft and quadright.

My quads told me they'd never forgive me for what I'd done--and the ride wasn't over.

It was around 4pm and windy. The team slowed down to catch me, as the highway we were on was dangerous, said the team member from Santa Barbara, and cyclists never ride on it. It was important to have the team car behind to keep other cars away from the peloton.

I rode at the back of the pack, worried my un-pro handling skills might cause a team catastrophe. At least if I ate it, the team Audi would survive crashing into me.

Almost immediately, my quads officially resigned from being a part of my body, and I was dropped. I imagined the coach was horrified--that he was the Mama Bear and the peloton was his cub and I was a dumbass human standing between them. As the gap between me and the peloton grew, so did the gap between the Audi and the peloton, effectively making the team leave their coach's protective bubble.Angry Bear

The car drove up beside me. I wanted to ask for directions, to tell him that I'd eventually make it there, he could go on ahead. I ride alone all of the time (obviously). But before I could, the rear window opened, the mechanic stuck himself halfway out of the Audi, and stuck his hand on my ass. And away we went.

Going what I'll guestimate to be 25 or 30 down a highway being pushed by a car will teach you to hold your line in an instant. Either that, or give you a heart attack. I tried for option 1.

When I reached the peloton with 6 miles to go, one of the girls suggested I get right smack in the middle to maximize the draft. I let go of my fear of destroying the team before the season started and wedged myself in there for a lovely 6-mile conversation with Matt Brooks, a 22(?) year old member of TT1's RAAM team.

We pulled into Buellton at 4:45pm. I was stoked. I'm sure the women's coach was ready to pass out from the terror of watching someone who has mostly only ridden in a tri-ton wedge herself into his pro peloton. (In my favor, I have raced several crits, and a road race...all in 2006.)
  • tri-ton (n): (a) a group of cyclists consisting of you, yourself, and your thoughts or (b) a group of cyclists consisting of one or two other triathletes, often to whom you are related, and in which at least one person has aerobars.

I drove home bleary-eyed with visions of becoming a pro cyclist someday (I can hear people across the world laughing right now. My first try-out wasn't exactly stellar). And most of all, thankful for the opportunity. I don't think any other pro team would have been so nice to a hairy rider with no quads, pink socks, mountain bike gloves, tri shoes, and a duck bill crotch.

Next time I'm going to hang out with pro athletes, I'll take it easy the few days before...and switch out that 11-21 cassette!

Live and learn.

Keep an eye out for my article on diabetic endurance athletes in May's Competitor SoCal


Has IM Triathlon Lost Its Mind?

IMAZ Community Fund

$1300! Seriously!?

Is Chief of Fitness a Bad Title for Obama?

Below is an article I recently wrote for the kick-ass site, You can read more of my articles here.

Obama BasketballObama is one fit dude. Possibly the fittest president we’ve ever had. With one-third of America’s current population classified as obese, another third classified as overweight, and almost one fifth of all kids under 19 overweight, it’s about time we had a national example of fitness set for all Americans.

Not that Bush didn’t do his part. Maybe we were all too hung up on his unpresidential use of language (misunderestimate?) to realize he actually passed a Physical Fitness Initiative in 2002 that urged Americans to be physically active at least 30 minutes a day.

Bush replaced a running regimen with cycling after tearing the meniscus in his knee, famously going for long rides with none other than cycling great, Lance Armstrong.

But in a collective obsession with deriding everything Bush did, regardless of potential for good, journalists shot Bush’s health streak down. LA Times columnist Jonathan Chait said “Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy…Given the importance of his job, it is astonishing how much time Bush has to exercise.” And asked the question, “Does the leader of the free world need to attain that level of physical achievement?”

These sound like the words of a non-believer. In exercise, that is. Instead of regarding Bush as setting a good example for a nation of rapidly expanding waistlines, journalists wrote Bush’s healthy habits off as somehow making him “unfit” for office.

So will Obama, a noted fitness fanatic (minus the occasional cigarette), fare any better in the eyes of the press? Only 3 days into office, it’s not PC to mock the man whose image alone has inspired an entire nation.

This begs the question: would Obama have risen to such an iconic status so quickly if he had been overweight? Doesn’t it make us feel more comfortable with him as leader of the country knowing that he is first and foremost able to take care of himself?

An story from last December already tried to paint Obama’s fitness and diet regimens as “obsessive”. In a bad way. It makes one wonder if anyone in the one-third of America that is not overweight has a job in journalism.

Obama never misses his daily workout, it was reported. Typically, said Obama, he gets in a 45-minute workout, 6 days a week, switching off between cardio and strength training. The president himself even said he wished he “was getting a 90-minute workout.”Obama on Beach

What follows in the next line of the article? That’s right. The word “obsessive”, accompanied by the fact that one time on the campaign trail, Obama worked out for 188 minutes in gyms in a single day, and played basketball with buddies.

Why wouldn’t we want an obsessive athlete running the country? People who rise to greatness certainly do not do so by being ordinary. Some of the personality perks that habitually come with being a regimented athlete: passion, discipline, confidence, and competitiveness.

While 30-minutes a day of exercise will reportedly lower the risk of heart disease in your average American, it will not put an athlete with a drive for success in the running to be competitive. It takes more than that.

Imagine if Obama decided to become an Ironman triathlete, exercising 15-20 hours per week. Training for an event like that, with a desire to win, must be compulsive, or else the training required will not be completed.

Americans have so quickly forgotten that humans used to walk all over the place all day long in order to find food, to build shelter with their own hands, etc…We’ve abandoned the walk about part of scavenging for the feast part of what we’ve collected, pre-found for us at our local supermarkets.

To’s credit, they did state briefly that, “Obama's focus on exercise may actually bode well for the country.” Obama himself said that exercise “gives you more mental endurance and more energy to think clearly. For a president, that's not a bad thing."

No it is not.

Perhaps these attacks on Obama’s venerable health regimen are actually journalists’ misplaced disappointment with themselves for not playing the life-long fitness game. Or a lack of “angle” for their stories, so they revert to the tried (since Jimmy Carter’s famed 1979 10K collapse), “this guy is an exercise freak” angle. Never mind that the attitude that brought Carter to collapse—“I’ve got to keep trying”—is exactly the attitude we want in a leader.Jimmy Carter Running

Perhaps it’s time Americans and the American media began praising our current and past presidents’ “obsession” with health and fitness, attributing a positive connotation to the word “obsession” itself. Because Obama’s fitness routine is standard in the realm of competitive amateur athletes. And because we wouldn’t want someone without a drive for excellence—in everything he does—running the country.

Maybe it’s time we stepped up to Obama’s game instead of trying to bring him down to ours.

Don't Eat That Clif Bar!

Peanut Butter Salmonella

Telling a peanut butter-crazed triathlete whose entire diet is based around peanut butter, and stuff made with peanut butter, that he can't have his Crunchy Peanut Butter Clif Bar post-run this week is like asking to be kicked in the shin.

But if you can convince your PB loco buddy to back off the PB because you're concerned for his ability to continue training, you'll be doing him a solid. (In the words of Juno.)

Clif Bar has recalled 14 of its products because they were made with the salmonella-contaminated products from the Peanut Corporation of America.

Crunchy Peanut Butter Clif Bar

So if you just stocked up this weekend, like coachubby and I, you may be in need of a mass Cliff Bar execution. It is hard to watch your household Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch bars face extinction, but take it from someone who not too long ago was a victim of tainted food and the resulting pooke: it's for the greater good of your intestines and the intestines of your fellow athletes.

Not sure which bars to axe? Check here.

Want to know all the gory details about the current demise of America's peanut butter? Read about it here. Even your dog's food isn't safe!

Peanut Butter Kid

(Don't let your kid do this right now...or ever!)

It was hard to see our entire 401Ks get cut in half. But to also take away the peanut butter products in which we've buried our financial sorrows for months? Pure evil. Looks like proponents of strange PB perversions like almond butter or soy nut butter win...for now!

Triathlete with Two Left Feet

Coachubby made a New Year's resolution to not cuss. Not that he cussed much before. Really, about the only thing that could coax a full-out four-letter word from his mouth pre-2009 was bike maintenance.

As with all good resolutions, this one came unhinged this past Sunday---for a completely different reason.

After driving one hour to do a recon run to connect part of the elusive (in parts) Backbone Trail that supposedly runs 70 miles from Point Mugu to Will Rogers State Park along the Santa Monica Mountains, coachubby made a terrible discovery.

He brought two left shoes.

Two Left Feet

This is what happens when you become loyal to one brand (asics) and one color (black) of running shoes. Other friends have said they know which shoes are their new shoes by dirtiness. Coachubby, however, made the discovery that black shoes are not only cheaper (who wants black shoes?) but they never look dirty.

Hence two left shoes.

To coachubby's credit (or demise) he turned the insole around, stuffed the arch with toilet paper, and continued on our recon run--at a pace far faster than I could ever match with perfectly normal shoes.

To coachubby's discredit, this is not the first time we've driven far away from home to do something involving running or biking only to find out he forgot a key element of the activity.

After driving two hours north to Santa Barbara to ride a century last year, coachubby realized he had forgotten his helmet.


After waiting a bit for Target to open, he was soon able to encase his noggin' in a ruby-red skater-like contraption that said "helmet" on the label. As coachubby's dad said, a $30 helmet for a $30 head. That helmet now lives in the car should another such brain fart occur.

Not that I'm without my own forgetful disaster stories. In college, after riding a bus for hours to a championship cross country race, I realized I had brought my super-cute new heels for the banquet the evening following the race, but not my running shoes.

A friend had brought two pairs of shoes and let me borrow hers. They were 3 sizes too small.

Needless to say, I sucked. A result not unlike most of my collegiate XC results, only that time I had something to blame for my slow turnover.

So what have we learned here? Coachubby's new resolution should be "to remember the essential items that will let me swim, bike, and run whenever I get in the car on the weekend."

I certainly hope athletic accessory forgetfulness (AAF) will not be passed down to little coachubby divas. I can only picture our little kids now, stealing someone's helmet out of transition before heading onto the run course with two left feet.

They'll probably still kick my butt on the run. Just like coachubby.

Attention Triathletes! Want to get Really Pissed Off?

Looking for an excuse to raise your blood pressure, throw everything off of your desk, and yell at the next person you see? Unlike your last boss, you probably need something absolutely infuriating to incite a foot-stamping, voice and finger raising cussfest in your office.

And why would you look for an excuse to become a loathsome tantrum-throwing maniac? Well, some pure emotion is good for the soul sometimes. Pure, angry emotion. In regulated doses. And to wear this anger off, you might just go harder at your next workout.

So without further adoo, I introduce this month's edition of PO'd NOW!

To start, read this LA Times Blog article about the 59-year old doctor who's road rage led to the severe injuries of two cyclists, "

Brentwood doctor pleads not guilty to injuring cyclists

Then, if you're not already blowing the top off of your PO'd-ometer, read the comments.

Then be glad you don't have to ride the streets of LA, where car culture, despite the best efforts of bike advocacy groups, still rules, and people with huge egos and cars compensating for small other things use the road to deal with their personal issues.

Share the Road signs are a great start, but even better would be a sharable road--with bike lanes. Because nobody really likes to share, especially in Brentwood where, to make a fabulously sweeping generalization, entitlement is far above understanding on the motive-o-meter.

Now get out there to ride your anger off! Cyclists use the road for their personal issues, too. Just don't pull a CTT (Christopher Thomas Thompson) and speed ahead of an annoying car only to slam on your brakes in front if it moments later. That won't turn out well for anyone.

Running With Diabetes (or How NOT to Kill Your Dad on New Year's Day)

My dad has Type 1 Diabetes. Less commonly referred to as "Spontaneous Diabeticus" (actually, singularly referred to as such, by myself) he became diabetic within a year after completing the Big Sur Marathon at the age of 43.

You can imagine my mother's excitement following my 2006 announcement that I would compete in Ironman Arizona. Does Spontaneous Diabeticus run in the family? Do big athletic accomplishments awaken a dormant gene that otherwise does not affect fit members of my family?

Like it or not, my dad's diabetes has had a profound effect on my life. Mostly for the good. And after a decade of running with my dad, one would think I'd know how to be prepared for a long run.

But no.

Ready to kick off 2009 in style, I suggested we run around the mountain my parents live on. The run should be about 10 miles, I thought, an hour and forty minutes. When my padre and I run, we usually run 1 hour and 20 minutes anyway, so it shouldn't be a big deal, right?

Don't ask me what I was thinking. I wasn't hung over. Maybe the prospect of running through familiar neighborhoods made me forget that a 1h40min run is not a small undertaking.

About an hour into the run, padre started stumbling.

That should've been the first sign. I attributed it to his generally ridiculously tall stature. It takes longer for brain signals to get to his feet than it does for mine to get to my feet.

Then, padre wanted to walk.

That's normal. It's a long run. We can enjoy the scenery.

Then padre said he was just sooo tired.

That's normal, it's New Year's day. Staying up until midnight will do that to you.

Then padre got goofy.


I began frantically scanning homes to see which ones looked the most inviting and most likely to have orange juice in the fridge. I scanned the cars driving by to see if I recognized anyone. I didn't have a cell phone, ID, money, food or anything on me like I usually do for long runs (in the mountains, no less! What's money going to buy me in the mountains?)

The houses at that point were all gated estates, difficult to approach.

The firehouse/police station was a half mile away. It was my best bet. But do I leave padre to sprint over there to get help, or do I make him trudge along with me? He was stumbling badly enough that I didn't want to leave him alone. We slowly made it across the street to police property. Then I left padre in the driveway and bolted inside.

"Do you have any sugar!?"

The only person inside was the 911 operator. "Um, we have Splenda," she said. That was not going to work. She called EMTs while I ran outside for padre, who had continued stumbling in the direction of home, which also happened to be the direction of the fire station. He was hell bent on making it home without anyone's help--he certainly didn't want mom to come pick him up. He had 2 miles to go.

I ran up to the fire station and told them to come quickly, while padre sat down under a tree on the side of the road. His blood sugar was 35. (80-120 is normal.) EMTs told padre they usually treat anything below 60 with an iv. Padre opted for a couple of packages of gooey glucose.

Mom and coachubby came to pick us up.

We had run for 1h 17 minutes. Our usual run. But that didn't include walking time. By the time we reached help, I figure we were out there for a grand total of 1 hour and 40 minutes--hardly too long for padre to exercise. We'd gone mountain biking longer than that earlier in the week.

So what gives? What can a diabetic and his athletic accomplices do so nobody ends up trying to steal citrus from stranger's trees in an attempt to squeeze the juice into the diabetic's mouth?

  1. Run with sugar. This seems simple enough, but if you're like my dad (smart but stubborn), you may convince yourself that your blood sugar elevates when you're exercising. This is true--the liver's natural response to exercise is to break down readily available fuel to keep you going. However, if you go too long, or miscalculate the insulin you take before exercise, you may be in for hypoglycemia. Take a GU, or two, or three with you--each of you--or some sugar tablets. Padre's blood sugar was high before we went running, which was not the norm, so he took insulin before we ran, which was not the norm, so he got super hypoglycemic while running, which is not the norm.

  2. Overplan your run. (This is wise even if no diabetes is involved.) Think you're only going for an hour in your immediate community? You never know what might happen out there, even if surrounded by neighbors. Bring fuel for an extra unplanned hour of exercise, just in case.

  3. Learn to recognize the signs of hypoglycemia. Trembling, weakness, and tiredness are all beginning signs of hypoglycemia. When it gets worse, the diabetic may stumble, slur speech, become confused--or basically seem drunk, for lack of a better explanation. (These symptoms are then followed by what could become a deadly coma.) By the time he reaches this state, sugar must be digested immediately, hence your readiness with the GU and sugar tablets, right? Don't make my mistake and run without them--ever. Even if you're not going far from home.

Team Type 1 in Bicycling Magazine

Other tools can help diabetic athletes keep their blood sugar ranges normal during strenuous activity. Not too long ago, Team Type 1, a professional cycling team comprised of mostly Type 1 diabetics, was featured in Bicycling Magazine, along with a new monitor that displays blood glucose information collected by a sensor inserted in the jersey pocket. It appeared this new monitor collected data from sweat, unlike other monitors that require a subcutaneous sensors.

Remember, bonking doesn't just suck. If a diabetic bonks, he dies. While it's his responsibility to monitor his own blood sugar, attempting new athletic feats may leave your diabetic athlete friend in new monitoring territory he wasn't quite prepared for. That's where you come in--to help should he ever not be able to make coherent decisions himself.

Now you know why $5 from each of my superawesome Triathlete Diva jerseys goes to Team Triabetes.

Revelation at Telluride's New Revelation Bowl: I Have Food Poisoning

After four straight days of skiing 9-4, a time restriction placed on skiiers by Telluride's more recently wussified hours of lift operation (I seem to remember having the option of submitting oneself to frostbite by riding up lift 9 at 7:30 am) something terrible happened.

Feeling as fabulous as a girl could after riding a mountain bike nonstop for one week, then skiing for 4 days, I went for my favorite winter run back into Telluride's box canyon, mine-side, then sat in a hot tub. It was the high life. Aside from throbbing toes caused by boot banging, everything was peachy keen.

Then, at 2 in the morning on Thursday, January 8th, I was attacked by something coachubby and I can only describe as pooke. Let's just say it was not only a space-saving design to have the bathtub right next to the toilet, but a lifesaving one as well.

I was aiming for a 6.5 day skiing streak, but was aggressively savaged by, from what investigators (mom) could tell after close inspection and clean-up, a darth "Insalata di Pollo e Spinaci" from Rustico on Telluride's main drag.

Rustico Telluride

I figured it was the Big Guy's way of punishing me for accidentally ordering the most expensive thing on the menu from a restaurant down the street a few days earlier. Who knew a "Pasta Special" could cost more than $20? Now I do.

And I paid for it.

By not getting to eat or ski or be in any way vertical for 2 straight days, and not getting to eat anything with flavor or much protein through this very moment. All those muscles I packed on in the "off season"? Gone. Eaten by the darth Italian salad.


I still managed to pull off one more "epic run", skiing 3,130 vertical feet of pure moguls rather unaggressively, before jumping in the car and lying down for the 8-hour drive back to Phoenix on Saturday, soothed by the "r"-challenged voice of Tuba City's 91.3 Native public radio---the only station for hundreds of miles in Northern AZ, which treated coachubby, my parents and I to hours of the hits...from 1950 and decendingly beyond.

But before the bug, there was the pure awesomeness that can only come from a 60-inch base in December, and a fresh dumping the first two days upon arrival in my (and apparently Tom Cruise's) happy place, Telluride. An awesomeness that also came from knowing that there'd be something new in this year's pilgrimage to the canyon--Revelation Bowl.

Revelation Bowl

Skiiers, myself included, had longingly looked into the beautiful, vast, pure openness on the East and opposite side of Gold Hill. They can't help it. The lift drops you off in a way that you practically start down that silky slope if you don't hang left down the road to the double black of your choice under Gold Hill. (Don't get me started on how you used to have to hike before 2pm to get to do a single Gold Hill run!)

According to the Telluride Daily Planet, Revelation Bowl was so named for all of the people who followed that longing in their heart to make fresh tracks down the virgin bowl, only to have the revelation a short time later that there was no way out...unless you like jumping off of cliffs.

And so helicopters worked round the clock to install Lift 15 so that those of us who dream of backcountry skiing, but who secretly like the idea that Ski Patrol will rescue us if we screw up in bounds, could ski that area. Coachubby loved it. I loved it. The snow was thick and abundant. The terrain is steep, but fun.

And when you get enough of all that openness and sunshine, you can hit up Buzz's Glade from the new lift.

So there you have it: Revelation Bowl was a worthy investment by Telluride developers. Now if only there'd be a lift (and enough snow) up Palmyra Peak, Mt. Baldy, and the higher-up Gold Hill chutes, Telluride would become the country's most enabling ski resort for self-punishing quad abusers. In fact, it might just be there already.

And that's how we like it!

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Economy Hits Triathlon--Xterra's Exodus from Southern California

Xterra logo

Coachubby is an Xterra lover.

So am I.

But he's good at it, and I'm good at getting injured at Xterra events, so he usually plans the Xterra schedule for the year, while I follow along, hoping to catch a glimpse of the bike course before each race so I don't mangle myself on race day. (Then I usually mangle myself on the run, instead!)

Therefore, you can imagine type-A, I-like-to-plan-in-advance coachubby's shock when he looked at the '09 Xterra schedule. There is not a single race within 5 hours of Los Angeles. Even farther for super SoCalers in places like San Diego.

Xterra's Andrew Marsh responded to the email from frantic Xterra fanatic coachubby, explaining a few race decisions for next year. As far as Southern California Xterra racing goes:

  • Castaic was not on the Xterra schedule in 2008 and will not be in 2009.

  • The Race Directors for Xterra Snow Valley are facing sponsorship/financial issues and will make a decision about the race by January 15th (according to their website.)

  • Economically Temecula (formerly a National and Worlds qualifier) was too expensive to produce, and will not return in 2009.

Xterra events are produced by independent companies in the US, many of whom are feeling the effects of the poor economy. Trail access and excessive venue fees, notes Marsh, make it extremely difficult to put on events in Southern California.

So what's a Californian Xterra fanatic to do? Unfortunately, a search on Xterra's website for 2009 point series races in California turns up completely blank, but there's still a little hope.

For those willing to travel far north for a non-championship race (Northern Californians are in luck!), Xterra REAL will be held at Folsom lake on March 29th. East of San Francisco near Livermore, Xterra Del Valle will be held May 10th. It also looks like there will be a few races in the Tahoe area, though the National Championships will be held in Ogden this year.

That leaves a trip to AZ (or far, far beyond) the weekend of May 30th as your only chance to take a bite out of that craving for Xterra racing. Should you make the trek to Show Low for the widely venerated Deuces Wild Triathlon Festival, word from coachubby and several other racers is you won't be disappointed.

So there you have it. Economy be damned, Xterra will still forge ahead. Just not in Southern California for right now. (And believe me, they are just as unhappy about it as you are. If you have any suggestions for Xterra as to how they can keep Xterra from flat lining in CA, contact the Xterra guys. Seriously. They welcome your help!)

Maybe 2009 should be a practice year for SoCalers--a time to prepare to massacre the field of competitors, hopefully coming to a town near you, in 2010. Or you can make a road trip out of a non-championship Xterra event, sign up now for one of the above races, and pray gas prices stay as low as they are right now.

Good luck, and in the words of the Xterra gods, LIVE MORE!

A New Triathlon Club for Los Angeles?

Rumor has it triathletes in Los Angeles are going to have a choice in tri clubs soon after the New Year.

For the better part of the 2000s, the Santa Monica based LA Tri Club, which boasts over 1500 members, has been the only club choice in the Los Angeles area. Word on the street is local athletes have grown tired of the LA Tri Club being used as a breeding ground for Triathletix coaching services, and of the ubiquitous presence of "Hollywood type" members. Other companies would like in on the triathlete pie, too, but apparently only want triathletes without over sized egos. (The existence of such triathletes is still under investigation.)


Looks like the LA Tri Club has some competition coming, also out of the Santa Monica area.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Will LA Tri Club loyalty stifle the emerging club's membership? Will people have dual memberships?

One thing is certain. Choice is always a good thing.

Let the games begin!

Is Triathlon Leaving Young Triathletes in the Dust?

"Triathletes Leave Slowing Economy in the Dust." So states Don Norcross of in an article published on the 12th. It seems coaching companies, tri producers, bike shops et al. are not hurting at all this year.

Why is that? Because triathletes, Triathlete publisher John Duke believes, aren't "the people getting laid off. They're the people laying off.” To use the readers of Triathlete as representatives of the triathlon community as a whole, he points out that the average household income of Triathlete subscribers is $177,000.

The average reader of Triathlete is a 41 year-old male. The average Triathlete reader also owns an average of 2.6 bikes. Fair enough. A bike without its wheels on could be called 0.6 of a bike.

In all the industry's glee at getting bigger and making big bucks, even during the recession, it seems they're doing so at the cost of a very important audience: young triathletes. You know, the ones who will grow up to be the future of the sport. Even pros, most of whom don't make much money at all competing in the sport, seem to be getting the short end of the stick.

Many of these young triathletes and young pros work in jobs that do not require the full use of their cerebral talent so they may have enough time to train, and hopefully make enough money for the large amounts of food they need to keep training.

Unless they work in a booming tri shop, apparently, they are getting laid off.

Tri Funny

Perhaps a more plausible reason for the ability of triathlon to weather the current economic climate: it's an addiction. Not a bad addiction, in all cases, but certainly one for which every addict--regardless of reported house hold income --will find a way to get the cash to compete.

And NAmerica Sports (who puts on US Ironman races), among other companies, is cashing in. It's $525 for an Ironman entry right now, up front, a year before the race. And if you want to get in, you practically have to go to the race site--a huge expense if you're not from the area. Why? Because sometimes, as in the case of IM USA this year, the race sells out on site and never goes online.

Triathlon, in an effort to keep itself very well in the black, is catering now more than ever to it's cherished demographic of the people who are doing the laying off-- 41-year old males with 2.6 bikes who make a great living.


In a way, the sport can't be blamed for the desire to milk this demographic for everything they've got. They pay the bills. It's good business--for now. Why would anyone lower race costs when the demand is there?


It is a shame that all this catering to wealth is at the expense of the sport's youth. Eager to compete--addicted--they try to press on, in spite of the incredible tri-hierarchy that has been created in recent years, where coaching services prey on the uninitiated, bike shops don't have affordable bikes, and the price to compete is going up exponentially.

Wasn't triathlon founded on the principle that anyone could do it? Anyone can swim, bike, and run, right? Sure. Just not competitively, anymore. Even movie theatres have student discounts. Not so at most big races.


Perhaps, if the sport stays this course, triathlon will leave the slowing economy, young age-groupers and young pros in the dust together.

...Unless we rebel! :)

Is the Recession Making People Evil? Thank Goodness for the Ridgecrest 50K

People in LA are getting meaner.

Either that, or I'm getting more sensitive. But three years in a big city is supposed to toughen a person up, not make her a big ball of emotions, so Theory 1 overrules Theory 2: people in LA are getting meaner.

In an admittedly Pollyanna-ish view of the current recession, I believed people would be nicer to each other, more willing to help one another out, and more respectful of each other. It would be a grand ol' group effort of positivity that would keep everyone afloat, since "we're all in this together", as many a song has said.

LA is notorious for crushing dreams, and accordingly, it swallowed that one whole.

It seems that several people have taken an "every man for himself" outlook on things. It's like Los Angelenos are all actors just rejected from their billionth audition. Dejected, they wallow in their own little bubble, not aware of the people around them--people that could help them thrive.

What better way to leave this festering bag of depression (and evil, cyclist-hating drivers) than by driving three hours north to the high desert of Ridgecrest to run (or in my case, be a roaming cheer squad at) a 50K?

Ridgecrest 50K

For those of you who don't want to do math, that's 31 miles.

On the roster: Robyn (Silverwoman extraordinaire), Eric (RockHardRunners ultra fanatic), coachubby, a frenchman, and a 30K-er. And me--a lone runner determined to run as far as the hambutt would let me, while cheering for everyone else.

I started running the 50K backwards at 9AM, figuring I'd see coachubby an hour out, then turn around and come back.

Not so. In fact, I never saw any of my friends.


But all of the participants I passed while I was running the wrong way wore huge smiles when I cheered.

An incredibly fit Santa whistled people along at the Gracie's Mansion pit stop, 5 miles out from the 50K finish. He was excited to see me running, even if it was the wrong way, and let me huddle by his portable stove while waiting for coachubby.


When coachubby didn't come, and it started to rain, I ran for it. I stopped at the final aid station to cheer again. This one was wo-manned by three cherubic, enthusiastic ladies. They were so excited every time someone came by, it was impossible for racers not to smile at the women through their pain.


I ran the last mile, coming upon a 50K finisher.

"You're doing great!" I said.

"So are you!"

"I haven't run half as far as you have!"

"No matter, you're a runner, too!" says the older man with a rapid-fire turnover I could never hope to match.

And so I remembered why I race. Or why I go to events even if I'm not racing to cheer on friends.

Races like the Ridgecrest 50 and 30K create that perfect world where, if only for a day, everyone around you is positive, encouraging, motivated, and working toward a goal--one that is immediately rewarded upon completion.

Races can be a mini utopia.

The longer and tougher they get, it seems, the more cordial everyone is to one another.

And so the trick is to take this positivity phenomenon and somehow spread it to where I live...Sunday beach long runs, anyone?


(And yes, I finally saw coachubby and my friends. Coachubby walked the last 15 miles swinging his arms like an angry grandpa so he'd finish, in spite of an IT flare up.)

Five Facts About Lance Armstrong's Sweat

Lace Armstrong Sweat

1. One drop of his sweat on your skin will up your cycling cadence by 10 rpm.

2. Two drops of his sweat will up your power output by 100 watts.

3. Lance knows the exact composition of his sweat just by licking his arm, and can adjust electrolyte and fluid consumption accordingly.

4. Your sweat would dissolve upon contact with Lance's sweat.

5. If bottled, Lance's sweat would be the next big thing in the energy drink market, making you 100x more alert, and 1000% better at climbing. DRINKSTRONG.

Tour of California Announces Silly 2009 Route

2009 Tour of California

The 2009 Tour of California route was officially announced yesterday, destroying my chances of breathing in Lance Armstrong's BO.

In 2006, the Tour magically ended steps from my front door, with a 76.5 mile circuit race around Redondo Beach allowing for hours of spectator fun. It was freakin' awesome. But you know what would've been more freakin' awesome? Some Lance Armstrong.

Don't get me wrong, the 2006 Tour had some drool-worthy riders. Landis, Evans, Leipheimer, Julich...

But when the Tour came around my back door in 2006, I had owned my first road bike for all of 12 days. I was still trying to figure out how to shift, and the only reason my friend pointed out Landis to me was because Landis had a "hot wife".


In 2007, the Tour of California ended with a circuit race in Long Beach, a stone's throw away from Redondo Beach. Also freakin' awesome.

Then came 2008. The Tour of California ended with a point-to-point race from Santa Clarita to Pasadena. Super not cool.

And to continue the rotten tradition of 2008, the 2009 finishing stage is even more super not cool.

Says Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, presenter of the race in a press release, "Each year, we continue our commitment to upgrading and enhancing every element of the Amgen Tour of California, not only for the cyclists, but also for the spectators along the route, by creating an even more challenging and exciting race."

Pardon, Monsieur Messick, but ending the Tour with a point-to-point race from Rancho Bernardo to Escondido is not exactly spectator friendly. Ending it at the top of a mountain is downright spectator hostile.


Perhaps Palomar Mountain is gorgeous and virtuously difficult. But it's a mountain. Even Ironman has sacrificed beauty and course difficulty ratings to make courses more spectator friendly (ahem, Tempe Town Lake? Home of three-eyed monster fish?)

So, points against Tour of California race organizers: took race away from me and the rest of So Cal and stuck the finish on top of a mountain.

Points for Tour organizers: Lance, and a women's crit with $15,000 in prizes. I hope that means cash.

Lance Armstrong

(Yes, that's Lance. Don't ask, it's the first photo that came up in a Google search.)

The crit will be very spectator friendly. However, it is in Santa Rosa. Phoenix is closer to me than Santa Rosa.

Oh why, oh why have you made it so hard, Tour of California organizers, for me to get sweat on by Mr. Armstrong? I would've happily camped out on the median of Catalina Avenue for the chance to smell him, or get whacked by one of his dry water bottles!

Bring the Tour back to me! Or else you might find one more rider going up Palomar Mountain on February 22nd. Early. Waiting for Lance to throw a Powerbar wrapper at her or something.

Just kidding.

Not really...

Riding in LA is Not Relaxing: The Most Craptastic Bike Ride Ever

Riding is supposed to reduce stress, right? RIGHT!?

Not in Los Angeles.

I usually try not to cuss. But in the event that someone tries to kill me, a steady flow of very colorful language begins to bubble in my brain, and it's only a matter of time until it comes out of my middle finger, or my mouth.

I cannot describe the bus that came within a quarter of an inch of running me over on a sweeping right uphill turn today. It looked like a purple 1960s VW van on steroids--twice as long and twice as tall with twice as many wheels. I thought the front of the darn thing came too close to me--then the rest of it cut the corner where I happened to be riding.

Purple Bus

(Kinda looked like that, without the fancy paint job.)

I turned to look left, and it's a good thing I didn't swerve in the direction of my head, or I'd ve been flattened. The thing kept coming and coming and getting closer and closer and I was between it, a curb, and a nice tumble down a hill.

The finger emerged. And things I wanted to say to that mother... started brewing in my brain. He turned to park in the Malaga Cove parking lot, and I, a usually non confrontational person, decided he needed to be ripped a new one.

I waited while he wedged his purple beast into a parking spot. Back and forth. Back and forth. Finally he put it into park. Then, slowly, he opened the door on my side, apparently where he exits from the beast, and slowly put a foot onto the step down.

It was at that moment I realized I had every intention of laying it into a 60 year-old man with a cane and Mr. Magoo glasses.

Mr. Magoo

My opening line, "Hey a-hole, was it really that f-ing hard to see the neon yellow vest?" would've been completely lost on the guy. He probably didn't see my acid-pee colored yellow vest. At all. Or have the spatial capacity to know what the 20 feet of bus behind him does when he turns a corner.

I gave up my adrenaline-fueled potential tirade and continued on my ride, later thinking I should've had a cop investigate the validity of the guy's driver's license.

Just when I neared the right turn from PV Drive East onto Crest, the final ascent of the "PV Loop", some guy laid on his horn. He apparently could not wait 2 seconds longer to turn right. My middle finger got antsy. My brain started churning. What I would say to that guy if he hadn't sped away like a sissy...

"Hey, a-hole," (I need a better opener) "I realize you and half of the other people who live here can't afford the houses you live in, and you're probably rushing home in your '90s era Lexus to see if there's a "Bank Owned" sign in front of your property...blah blah blah."

It's probably a good thing I always keep my cycling rage zingers to myself. I only come up with them because I have the time while I'm riding. If forced to come up with something on the spot, I'd probably have to settle with a, "Hey!...Jerk!" Not quite as snappy, but way lower on the "Erin's gonna get her arse whooped-O-Meter".

Being angry got me to the top of the climb in record time.

Finally, one mile from home, completely frazzled from what was supposed to be my "happy time" cycling, I nearly became the victim of a suicide squirreler, as described by Steve Madden in a Bicycling editorial not that long ago.

Commando Squirrel

The little thing darted out at me and I thought for sure he was going to attempt to commit suicide in my wheel, terroristically killing me with him. Or mangling me. He screeched. My breaks screeched. The fuzzball wussed out at the last moment and we both went on our terrified ways.

Oh, Silver Bullet, why do I love you so? Why must I ride you every chance I get, when eating chocolate cake can provide the same endorphin rush without the piss-offifying, near-death experiences that come every time we get together?

Are You Really Supposed to Be a Triathlete?

Olympic Athlete

Boulder-based ATLAS Sports Genetics (ATLAS standing for Athletic Talent Laboratory Analysis System) believes they can determine which sports a person will excel in--even if that person is an infant.

Using genetic testing for the ATCN3 gene, dubbed the "sports gene", the guys over at ATLAS Sports say they can tell you if your kid is going to be better at endurance or power sports--for only $150! If you have two R577X variants in your ATCN3 gene, you're an endurance sports winner!


I'm not the only skeptic who believes this gives controlling, psycho parents one more reason to push their kids into something the kids might not want to do. What ever happened to the good ol' power of the human spirit in making ourselves what we want to be? Or to the character building and sense of accomplishment that comes from figuring out your strengths on your own?


If you're a gearhead questioning your Kona bound probability, however, $150 is a lot less than an Ironman entry.


I, for one, will keep dumping money down the M-Dot drain until I make it on my own will, double R577X variants or not!


Check out this New York Times article, detailing the whole scenario.

To Poocasso Or Not? How to Dispose of Human Waste in the Wilderness

Perhaps I am speaking from past experience as a camp counselor in this article I wrote for

Should you find yourself on a multi-day mountain biking adventure, or in an adventure race, this might come in handy!

How to Crap in the Woods

"It’s natural. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. You gotta do it. In fact, if you don’t do your business when you’re camping in the wilderness, you might get sick from holding it in (and wrongfully blame your stove buddy for your stomach pains!).

But it’s not always clear what you’re supposed to do with you poo. Should you make a “Poocasso”, smearing it on a rock exposed to the sun to kill the bacteria? Or is that just something a prankster camp counselor told you when you were 12 and gullible? Leaving it out doesn’t seem very civil. Packing it out doesn’t seem very fun.

If you’re on a multi-day backpacking trip in the backcountry, responsibly disposing of your waste should become second nature to pitching your tent. Remember the old camping adage: Leave only footprints, take only pictures? (Though some images would be best left to the imagination…) It’s time to practice minimum-impact, green camping!"

Click here to find out what you need to know to enjoy your trip to the fullest without harming the environment—aesthetically or bacterially...

Wear Your Freaking Helmet, Egghead!

Driving up PCH yesterday, I could not believe how many helmetless cyclists I saw.

No helmet cyclist

(Still not cool in '93.)

In the words of Coachubby last night when he was given less than a full "Gotta Have It" cup of ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, "COME ON, SERIOUSLY?!"

Riding without an helmet is the cycling equivalent of public nudity. It's like you're mooning us all with your embarassingly bare head. Or a head you think looks cool because you're wearing a cyclilng cap à la Tour de France riders in the '90s and early 2000s.

Surprisingly, most of the moronic riders I saw were men in their '40s and '50s. Having realized a sense of my own mortality in my late teens, I'd think these guys would have realized they are not Superman by now.

Even if you think you have nothing to live for, which I seriously doubt, otherwise you wouldn't be out enjoying a gorgeous ride up PCH (unless you're there for the sole purpose of blaming your death on an errant RV who can't drive between the lines), there are still a lot of people who will be adversely affected by your splattery demise.

Nobody wants to spend their Sunday scraping your brains up off the ground.

Sound gruesome? Well, that's what's going to happen if, I don't know, you accidentally hit a rock while admiring the view (like coachubby did a few years ago--he was wearing a helmet. It cracked, he didn't.), or your aerobars suddenly snap off of your bike, like what happened to David Superlucky as told by Brian Melekian in his blog. This lucky guy only became a helmet convert that morning after enduring constant heckling from his buddies.

Accidents happen. Ones that don't involve cars or other people. And while CHP officers sometimes refer to helmets as "head caskets", they're talking about the helmets of motorcycle riders who crash doing 80mph.

Unless you're going for a land-speed cycling record, a helmet might be the only thing standing in the way between you and the afterlife. And don't think you'll be going to heaven---you were highly inconsiderate in your last waking moments by not wearing a helmet.

No, helmets can't save your life all of the time, but they have consistently been the only thing sitting between cyclists and permanent purgatory as a living vegetable.

Just ask David.

The Silverman Triathlons: The Planet's Toughest Tris Just Got Tougher

Participants in Nevada's Silverman half and full iron-distance triathlons don't get t-shirts that say "World's Toughest Athlete" on them for no reason.

Silverman LogoSilverman

Each grueling race starts off with a plunge into Lake Mead, followed by endless climbs and descents on the bike and run courses. The full-distance participants will have climbed and descended 10,000 feet before starting the marathon.

But the gods didn't seem to think the course was tough enough on its own this year (either that, or they didn't appreciate the race announcer's endless sarcasm) , and threw some lightening, hail, torrential downpours, relentless headwinds, freezing temperatures, and wind gusts into the mix.

The beautiful, clear 75-degree day before the race was just a lure to get last-minute entries.

Coachubby and I were there to cheer on several friends--one of whom was brave enough to go for full-distance glory. That race started at 6:30am sharp. Though the skies looked dark, the water was calm and a comfortable 70 degrees. It all changed at the turn-around.

The wind started a strong current against the returning swimmers. Then came the rain, and the swimmers struggled to breathe with waves crashing into their faces.

Almost two hours after they started, the majority of the full-distance racers exited the water. The half start was postponed from 8am to 9am, but the weather continued to worsen.

Robyn, my full-distance superstar, looked beat up coming out of the lake. She said she was tired. Coachubby and I told her she'd feel better on the bike--hills are her element.

Then we sprinted to the car to get out of the cold and rain and watch Robyn take off in her little spandex outfit while our other friends awaited their race start.

Just as the half participants made it to their swim turn around, two huge bolts of lightening streaked across the sky.

Lake Mead

When they had all finally mounted their bikes for the beautiful, but relentlessly hilly, desert ride, coachubby and I drove the course to find them so we could cheer them on, and I could play race photographer. Ah, the joys of an open course.

By the time we caught Robyn, she was already at mile 40 of the bike. She told us it had hailed on her, but she was feeling ok now--pretty impressive considering I immediately froze upon rolling down the car window to talk to Robyn, and she was wearing a soaking wet spandex outfit. The uphills were good for heating up, but the downhills would chill her to the bone.

Somewhere down the road, coachubby got food poisoning. So after cheering Robyn through the turn-around, he high-tailed it back to the hotel for some face time with the toilet, taking a few minutes to help a peppy guy named Aidan fix a flat.

Silverman bike course

After a pep talk with his gastrointestinal system, coachubby exited the bathroom so we could be there for Robyn for the rest of her epic journey.

At 4:30pm, she came in off the bike--with a new red cycling jacket. In a final act of chivalry, a fellow participant gave it to her when his legs perished at mile 100.

The sun set soon after, and although Robyn thought she might not be able to run when dismounting her bike, she charged out of the change tent and onto the run course just as the race announcer called out the names of several of our half-distance friends as they crossed the finish line.

With only 143 participants, the full-distance race gets pretty spread out by the time the run starts, accentuating coachubby's point that it's a mental race. You're all alone much of the day. There are no m-dot crowds. Just you, your thoughts, and a few close friends if you're lucky.

When Robyn came by on mile 17 of the run, we walked together for a little bit. The run course was amazingly calm. A strange lunar landscape popped up at the top of a hill, and the turn around was just a sign in the middle of a deserted, dark residential street. Descending a large hill, she could see all of the lights of the Las Vegas strip. It was awesome.

Robyn kicked it in the last half mile to ensure she'd beat the two dudes behind her.

Silverman finish line

Unfortunately, I could not find triathlon legend, Dave Scott, to get a picture with Robyn. It seems he pooped out a couple of hours before she finished!

All in all, Silverman is a first-class race. It captures the original spirit of triathlon--about friends coming together to enjoy the outdoors--without giving off the over-commercialized aura from which many other ironman events now suffer.

Silverman has better swag than any other race I have ever been to. Racers and spectators are encouraged to help an athlete in need. The course is tough enough, so it's ok to get out and help someone change a tire. He won't get disqualified. If you want to jog the run course with a friend who's racing and wants your support, you won't get your friend in trouble. If a racer throws her clothes at you in a rare heat wave, she won't get in trouble for "abandonment". And the food at the end of the race is for EVERYONE, not just the racers.

The race is about finishing and the spirit of the triathlon community. Don't be surprised to see a guy or three in basketball shorts, with platform pedals, and down-tube shifters taking on the full iron-distance course.

So if you can make it out to Silverman next year, and believe you have the mental and physical tenacity to brave whatever the gods throw at you then to make the course even more interesting, do it. You bet I will, provided the hambutt heals by then. (And that I learn to not be such a cold-weather wuss.)

Robyn, you are my hero.