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The Struggle

Posted by marc v Dec 5, 2007

These days it's hard to find the time to commute on my bike.  Life keeps getting in the way and my bike is not happy about it.  In the carefree days of my youth ie. before Fatherhood (B.F.), my commuting partner and I had a saying "shoot for four (days), three for sure".  Three days of commuting for me equals about 120 miles - pure riding bliss.  Nowadays, the saying is "pray for one, usually none". 


With the lack of riding, I've had to find other ways to stay in shape.  Enter ActiveX training - a functional movement, strength and top-end cardio training.  Led by ActiveArch (Enemy) aka The Big Hurt, a group of aspiring triathletes, fitness models, runners, etc. gather twice a week for 30 minutes of pain.  As for me, I'm just trying to get back to the shape I was in during the B.F. period.  The struggle continues...

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Tour de Poway - Ouch!

Posted by marc v Oct 9, 2007

What happens when you ride 38mph into an unmarked S-turn?  See the attached pictures for the grisly results.  Fortunately, those pics are not of me, but of my cohort, AireyB.  If you think those pics look bad, you should've seen his bike...dented top tube, bent crankarms, bent derailleur hanger, etc.


We rode this past Sunday in the 62 mile Tour de Poway bike ride that takes you through some beautiful back roads here in San Diego.  As usual, AireyB was off the front and hammering when he got to the sharp curve halfway into the ride.  I came into the curve and saw a huge ball of dust and thought to myself "some poor guy must've to be him".  That's when I noticed the Oklahoma jersey and realized I know that poor guy.  After taking stock of the situation, AireyB decided he could keep riding.  He soldiered on as much as he could but had to call it quits at the next rest stop.  There's not much fun in trying to ride your bike with one good hand.


Here's some video i've made while riding.

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After months of buildup, the day of the event, The Marine Corp Bootcamp Challenge, was here.  Team Radioactive - me, Jesse, Kate, Vicky, and Danny - versus Team Inactive (i really don't know their team name but we'll go with this) - Luke, Sean, Michael, Melissa, and Michelle.  The event consists of a three mile obstacle course with drill instructors yelling words of "encouragement" along the way.


The two teams ready for battle



The view Team Inactive had all day long



Finishing strong



The victors


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24 Hours of Adrenalin...HA!  More like 10 minutes of adrenalin and 23 hours and 50 minutes of endorphins.  I wonder why they chose one over the other...probably a good marketing choice to emphasize thrills versus pain.  Anyway, I've been meaning to write this race recap all week but it took me until today to recover and gather my thoughts.  You can see a short video I made of the Le Mans start and first lap.


Here's some running commentary of my laps that I made in my head...yes, I remember what I was thinking on those laps b/c you need anything else to distract yourself from the searing pain in your legs.  Lap start times are approximate.


Lap #1 - 3:40pm

Ok i'm finally off...let's see if all of that crash course in training is going to pay off.  Holy cow, why is my heart beating a hundred miles an hour...must be that adrenalin they spoke of.  Just get into a zone and stay there.  You don't need to try and catch every rider who is in front of you.


Hey, why is there a helicopter touched down in the field next to the course...maybe it's for me?  Do they know something I don't?


Ok why are all of those riders stopped at the top of this last descent?  Oh...a guy is being flown out of here b/c of crash.  I hope it's a good one b/c I was about to set a personal best.  Ouch, stick in the leg..that's good enough, I forgive him.


Lap #2 7:00pm

Feeling good about this one...I got some good rest and food in me.  Maybe I'll do another sub hour lap, which would be fantastic.  We'll see how I feel on this first climb. 


Alright, maybe lower back is seizing up on me and I can't really push my pedals too hard.  I've had this problem before in races but I thought I had licked it when I got this full suspension bike.  Just go as fast as you can but don't kill have 3, possibly 4, more laps to do.


First descent coming up, so I turn on the headlamp.  This is my first night lap and I've got both lights burning (both Niterider HID lights) so I shouldn't have a problem seeing the course.  Ok wait, I can't see a damn thing...try not to crash.  Maybe it's the headlamp...try turning it off... Ok that's not it, turn off the bar light...oh wait, now you're riding in complete darkness, idiot!  It sure is dark out here with no lights....ah it turns out that my glasses are all fogged over...looks like I'll be riding the rest of the laps without glasses.  My eyes will be burning later on with all of the dust.


Lap #3 11:10pm

Just had a spicy Italian sausage that tasted good.  So much better than eating Cliff Shot Blocks and PB&Js all day.  Let's just hope it stays down on this lap! 


Lap #4 3:30am

Wow it's cold....I hope I can warm up during this first climb. 


Nope, still cold...I can't feel my fingers and that's not good for shifting/braking.  Hopefully if I push it through this meadow I'll warm up a bit. 


Nope, still cold...did I mention it's cold?  Ok, maybe if I concentrate on the coldness I won't notice how tired I am.


Lap #5 7:30am

Ahhh, a new day and it feels good to be in the sun.  I was planning to take this one nice and easy but I made the mistake of asking what place we were in before the lap.  I totally expected to be in the middle of the pack but was told we were in third.  The next placed team had done the same amount of laps but was only 17 minutes behind us.  With my laps times going south as they are, that's not a big enough margin...better ride fast.  My back is feeling fine all of a sudden...let's try to push it a little.  Passing people instead of being passed does feel good.  Maybe I won't be the reason we're not on the podium!




As you can see, my thoughts in the middle of the race became few and far between.  Basically it turned into left, right, left right...keep's not that bad..kind of thing.  In the end, my team completed 23 laps, and remained in third place.  Our first time on the podium and I have to admit, it was a rush.  Ok so maybe it's 20 minutes of adrenalin and 23 hours 40 minutes of endorphins.



724 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: mountain_biking, 24_hours_of_adrenalin


Posted by marc v Sep 19, 2007

With my 24 hour race coming up, I thought it would be prescient of me to know the weather forecast for the weekend.  Much to my surprise, it looks like we're going to have rain AND cold weather.  Isn't this southern California?  It's not supposed to be like this!

Saturday: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm before 11am, then a slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 63. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Saturday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32.


Rain, sand, and dirt do wonders for a mountain bike's drivetrain.  I can't wait until my derailleurs refuse to shift and i'm riding a singlespeed full suspension mountain bike at 2am in 30 degree weather.  Now don't you want to join in on the fun? 24 hour mountain bike racing is a blast.

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Hope It Helps

Posted by marc v Sep 17, 2007

Every year, my friends and I ( ) enter the 24 Hours of Adrenalin Mountain Bike Race held at Hurkey Creek State Park in Idyllwild, CA (see short video here).  Every year, I tell myself that I'm gonna get in the best shape of my life for the race and kick my teammates collective behinds.  Every year, about three weeks before the race, I remember my pledge and realize I haven't trained at all for it.  D'oh!  This year, being no different than the last four, I find myself out of shape and the start of the race staring me in the face (noon on September 22nd to be exact).


I realized my dilemma about two weeks ago when I agreed to go for a night ride with my teammates during Labor Day weekend.  I struggled mightily to keep up and almost had a heart attack on the first climb.  For the last two weeks and continuing until race day, I've been at work in the gym, pool, on the bike, spin class, etc trying desperately to get into race shape.  The past two weekends I jumped on the mountain bike, headed out to Mission Trails, and climbed up North Fortuna (the two towers in the picture) four or five times to get some climbing in.  Probably not the best "training" plan, but I'm going with it.  With the race less than a week away, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll survive.


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My Commute

Posted by marc v Aug 21, 2007

This is the route i usually take for my commute.  Luckily for me, I live equidistant between the two major North-South routes in San Diego.  I can take the eastern route in the morning and then the more western route on the way home.  Make sure you change up your routes when you commute to avoid your ride getting stale.  Plus you get to see more of your locale this way.  Some of the highlights of my ride are:


1) Riding down Texas Street.  Nothing wakes you up in the morning like hitting 50mph while riding in traffic.

2) Qualcomm Stadium.  Home of the Chargers...and mega used cars sales.

3) Kearny Villa Road/Miramar Air Station.  It's pretty cool to see the fighter planes fly overheard.

4) Interstate 5.  You get to pass cars standing still on the highway.

5) Mission Bay Park.  Nice scenery and even nicer place to ride.


Morning Commute<br/>Find more Bike Rides in San Diego, California</iframe>

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Safety First

Posted by marc v Aug 17, 2007

The most common reason for people not to bike commute is fear of traffic.  Riding on the streets with cars is inherently dangerous but it shouldn't keep you from doing it.  If you follow some basic guidelines, riding to work will be no more dangerous than other activities you may participate in.  On a personal note, I've been commuting for over six years and I still ride with a little bit of that fear.  I think it's healthy to still have it - it keeps you alert and on the constant lookout for danger spots.


1)  Wear a helmet - it may just save your head .  There have been many arguments for and against but I've never run into someone who has been in an accident and said "I wish I hadn't been wearing my helmet." 


2)  Ride like you are invisible.  Assume that cars can't see you when you ride and make your moves accordingly.  More often than not, they actually can't see you b/c they aren't really looking for cyclists.  I'm sure motorcyclists run into the same problem.


3)  Make no unexpected moves and always signal your intentions.  Make sure you up on all of the international hand signals for turning.  This lets the motorists around you know where you are going.  I've avoided many accidents by letting the motorists around me know my intended path.  They seem to appreciate it so they can adjust their speed accordingly.


4)  Obey all traffic laws.  If you can't do it in a car, don't do it on your bike.  That means stop for all stop signs, traffic lights, etc.  There have been too many accidents where a cyclist blows a stoplight and is either hit by a car or causes an accident.  Remember, you are a vehicle just like a car.  You can get a traffic ticket and it ain't cheap.


5) Be on the lookout for opening doors when riding past parked cars.  This is one of the most dangerous spots for a cyclist.  Motorists aren't looking for us when exiting their car.  I always scan the parked cars for people sitting in the driver's seat. 


6) Turn the other cheek.  You are probably going to get honked at, yelled at, have things chucked at you, cut off, tailgated, and other such nice things from motorists.  As mad as you may get, ignore these taunts and go about your merry way.  You'll never win an argument with an idiot, much less with one behind a 2000lb machine.  If you do feel threatened or are harmed, rip out the cellphone (definitely carry one with you), remember the license plate #, and call 911.  If you have time, take a photo of their car.


7)  Wear sunglasses.  They are not just so you look cool , but also to protect your eyes.  I've been hit many times by insects or dirt while riding down a hill.  It probably would've been ugly had I not been wearing my sunglasses.


8)  Never ever wear headphones.  You need to be alert to all of the things going on around you. 


That's all I can think of for now but I'm sure there are more.  Be safe!

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Getting Started

Posted by marc v Aug 14, 2007

So you've thought about bike commuting and are wondering where to start.  Obviously, you'll need a bike, but which type depends on your distance and comfort level.  I'll do a whole other post about this so stay tuned.  Of course, any bike will do and don't think you need some high zoot carbon fiber Cervelo to make it work.  If you do have one of those bikes, I'm extremely jealous!


Secondly, look for a co-worker who already bike commutes.  Hit them up with all of your questions and what their routine is.  Things you'll need to consider at your workplace:


1) Do I have access to showers?  If not, this isn't a dealbreaker but it sure helps.

2) Do I have a place to safely store my bike?  At my current job, we have nice bike lockers to use.  If you plan to keep yours in your office/cubicle, make sure it's ok with the boss first.

3) Do I have access to a locker?  It's nice to be able to hang your cycling clothes out to dry so you won't have to put those sweaty shorts/jersey back on for the ride home.  I'm sure your co-workers will also appreciate not seeing your laundry strewn all over your office.


Next, plan your route to work.  Get a bike map if you can, and look for a route that has mostly bike lanes.  You may have to go a little out of your way to make your route as safe as possible but I think it's worth the trade-off.  If your bike commuting co-worker lives near you, ask them for bike route suggestions.


Once you have the route planned, drive your route one day to work.  Look for possible danger spots, bike lanes that suddenly stop and turn into right turn only lanes, the width of the shoulders/bike lanes, etc.  Take notice of the number of bike riders you see on your route.  If there a quite a few, then you can assume that you've picked a good route.


Lastly, ride your route one day on the weekend.  It'll give you a feel of just how long your commute is going to take and the traffic will be lighter. 


If everything goes well with the steps above, go for it!  Make sure you have a water bottle with you and fuel up during the day.  That ride home will not be pleasant if you bonk halfway home (speaking from experience).

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Walsh/May - Manhattan Open Final

Posted by marc v Aug 11, 2007

I know this blog is supposed to be about bicycle commuting but I reserve the right to post about random topics every now and then.  Besides, this is and I'm posting about two beach volleyball icons (i should say three since Elaine Youngs was there too). 


We happened to be in Manhattan Beach this weekend for a visit while the Manhattan Open was going on.  As we were walking by the courts we noticed it was time for the women's final and it was a good bet Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor would be there.  I've seen them multiple times on TV but never in person.  I was also lucky to have a nice camera I borrowed from a friend.  Below are some of the pics I got.


Kerri Walsh discusses pregame tactics while Misty May does the worm (weird warmup i know).


Elaine Youngs - an icon in her own right.


Walsh with the kill


Random Warren Moon sighting


Here are some things I learned today. 


1)  Professional athletes, no matter what sport, are freaks of nature.  After watching the games today, you get a newfound appreciation for the athleticism these girls have.  The vertical leap, the power they spike with, the hand-eye coordination needed to dig out a spike, are far and away anything I can imagine myself doing.  And Kerri Walsh is tall.


2)  Telescopic lenses are awesome.  I was quite amazed at how close these shots looked since I was quite a distance away from the court.


3)  Sports photography is hard.  I think out of all the pictures I took, I got one decent action shot.  Those photogs at SI know what they are doing.

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My First Post

Posted by marc v Aug 10, 2007

Welcome to my little blog! My name is Marc and this blog will be about commuting to work by bicycle. I am neither a great writer, nor am I good at this whole grammar thing, so forgive me for all my mistakes! I've been commuting by bike 2-3 times a week for the past six years and hopefully will have some useful information for those thinking about taking the plunge.


I'll start by first telling you how I got started bike commuting. I moved to San Diego in 2001 and was immediately shocked by the traffic one had to endure to get to work. I had moved here from Washington, DC and could walk or easily take public transportation to work. I noticed a co-worker of mine rode his bike to work and seemed to never care about traffic reports or the rising cost of gas. I started asking him questions, bought my first bike, and decided I would go for it. I was lucky to have someone like him to take me under his wing and show me the ropes. Six years later, I'm still doing it and always look forward to passing cars as they stand still on the I-5 on my way home.


That's my story. Tell me yours...i'm always interested in hearing about riding. And if you live in SD, hit me up and maybe we can commute together.

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