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Greetings! Welcome to my new cycling column, appearing irregularly and consistently without notice. A little introduction in order:
I am Sven, semi-devoted cyclist. I ride a lot sometimes, sporadically mostly. I like to climb, particularly when I’m done. I have prolifically hairy legs. Shaved once for a triathlon. Gummed up the razor and took a divot out of my inner thigh. That was the last time I shaved.
Now I just try to keep the rubber side down. Besides, shaved legs only increase expectations and lessen the element of surprise. The former promotes disappointment; the latter satisfaction. And happiness is about 98 percent psychological (the rest is due to beer), according to my in-house analysis. Unless someone’s going to pay me to ride bikes (email below) — or for a masseuse to rub me down after every ride (donations accepted) — why not stack the deck in my favor?
Nothing against shaved legs, mind you. I admire the cut, clean-shaven look. Particularly when I can reel them in and spit them out the back with a smile. And if not, well, it must be the extra drag covering my sticks. You know, in this cut- throat world, it’s always good to have an excuse. Ask Rupert Murdoch.
But really, who cares what you do with your follicles — keep ‘em, wax ‘em, mow ‘em down. To twist the aphorism, “It’s not about the razor.”
It IS about riding. And this column is a grab bag of cycling-related tidbits (all disciplines: road, mountain, cross, and the often-overlooked transit, whether commuting or running errands) and the random thoughts — some deep, most not so — that percolate when oxygen opens up the brain capillaries for some short-lived clarity out on the bike.
Enough background, let’s get cranking.
The Great American Bike Path … We spent billions to build and maintain the Interstate Highway System championed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the ‘50s (Good luck if you had to do that today, Ike). A fine and dandy illustration of a national public works project, most would agree. But how about a little stimulus package to create a cross-continent pathway to promote green, carbon-free transportation and physical fitness (the kind of national belt tightening many American’s really need)? It would be a draw for tens of thousands cyclists to ride cross- country without worry of being flattened
by big rigs, run off the road by aggressive drivers, constantly dodging road detritus and other hazards. States and communities could then build branches to the main artery and a series of interconnected bike lanes that really go somewhere would spread across the country from sea to shining sea. Well, except maybe in Ike’s native Texas, where the climate (actual, political) is less hospitable. … Seeing as the Tea Party and its Fox affiliates have
the country by the balls right now, perhaps we should start right here in California with a trans-state bike path or two, one head to toe and one right across our state’s chest. It would add jobs, help communities, and be an international tourism draw. Many a good thing has started in California and been adopted elsewhere. This would continue the trend. Are you listening Gov. Brown?
Two Legs, Two Eggs … That’s my credo for big-ride days. Usually in the form of a homemade breakfast sandwich with hearty bread, spinach, turkey and grass-fed New Zealand sharp cheddar (TJ’s rocks!). Often minus a yoke. Keeps me going twice as long as a bowl or two of cereal. Mix eggs in a bowl with a splash of milk and stick in the micro for a minute or so and you’ll be out the door and ready to go in no time. Add fresh basil (or cilantro) and a slice of heirloom tomato, when available, for a gourmet McMuffin that’ll save you from reaching for gel packets and energy bars too soon.
Sven’s Most Delicious Recovery Shake … Regardless, sometimes I’m just famished by the time I’m riding home, and food fantasies dominate my consciousness. One hot Saturday recently, an epiphany took hold miles from my door as I mentally took stock of what was in the fridge and pantry. This time, the real thing came out as good as the apparition I concocted out on the bike. It started with two heaping scoops of mint chip ice cream (a brand not colored green) dumped into a pitcher with the morning’s leftover coffee, a banana, a couple dabs of almond butter, a scoop of whey protein powder, and some Udo’s Oil to help it slide down, all blended up. Wow, supercharged! You’d have thought I was stoned. Note: Not recommended for daily consumption.
Butt-errr… It’s been awhile since the Death Ride in July, but I must express my thanks to my friend Ray for saving my ass that day. As we started up Ebbett’s Pass, our third of the day, my under-conditioned tush, which hadn’t spent much time in the saddle leading up to the ride (my sporadic phase), was beginning to complain. Ray gave me a package of chamois butter, which I applied liberally to my shorts and my contact patch. It was just the cooling lubrication the bike doctor ordered. Well, I could have used a lower gear too, but I finished all five passes with adequate rear-end comfort. … It was an especially beautiful ride this year with raging creeks and rivers and plenty of healthy snowfields feeding them. Mark your calendar: Registration for the 2012 Death Ride opens Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. There are 3,000 spots available to the West’s most famous endurance ride, but they go fast. www.deathride.com
Flume on Fumes … I had the honor of setting the mountain bike course for the XTERRA Lake Tahoe, which took place on Aug. 27. What a fantastic and challenging course with 22 miles of incredible scenery and 4,000 feet of climbing. Thankfully, for the racers, it was much cooler the day of the race then it was the day before when I rode with a large pack loaded with 50 wooden stakes, signs and a hammer to mark the course. The climb up sandy Tunnel Creek Road to the Flume Trail was brutal but the views got better with every foot. Heading south on the Flume Trail to Marlette Lake, I had forgotten what a stunning and exhilarating perch the trail provides. From the aspen groves hemming the south end of Marlette Lake, the route headed up North Canyon Road on another tough climb to the Tahoe Rim Trail, where some technical riding over granite rock outcroppings tested fatigued riders and often demanded a dismount, rider willing or not. Views bounced from the brown hues of the Carson Valley and Washoe Lake to the greens and blues of the Tahoe Basin. The ripping descent took riders back down Tunnel Creek Road. Spectacular. Having to get on and off my bike regularly, it took me nearly seven hours to ride the course and I was cooked. The top racers did it in under two hours, and then ran six miles. I just headed to T’s Rotisserie
in Incline Village for a tri-tip burrito and a beer. … If you haven’t ridden the Flume Trail, you must, and the fall is a great time. Start from Spooner Lake if you’d rather not to have to ride an additional 1,300 vertical feet up Tunnel Creek from Lake Tahoe.
Shhh! Outlaw Cross is Here … Like to compete against others and get a great workout in a fun environment without the expense of entry fees? Check in with your local bike club or shop, and discreetly ask if there’s an outlaw cross series in your area. They often occur weekly on a weekday morning or evening at a constantly rotating menu of unofficial courses. Just show and go. Don’t have a cyclocross bike? Put some low-profile knobbies on a mountain bike and you’ll do just fine, maybe even better on some courses.
SF Bike Expo … Having expanded to a two-day event, the fourth-annual SF Bike Expo rolls into the Cow Palace, Nov. 12 and 13. Much more than just a booth bonanza, the expo is structured around various events offering interaction, demonstrations and competition — from a “pedal-savvy fashion show” and big air mountain bike comp to a fixed-gear freestyle comp and a mountain bike crit. www.sfbikexpo.com
Until next time, keep the wheel side down and the hairy side on top. It’s good for your health.
Ed Note: The opinions expressed here are Sven’s, and Sven’s alone, and not necessarily reflective of the views of Adventure Sports Journal, or its associates, unless, of course, you totally agree.