My ear plugs aren’t working. Can I push them farther in my ear? Will they get stuck? They’ll send me to the ER. I don’t want to ride in an ambulance. Why can’t I fall asleep. I’m tired. I wish they’d turn the music off. Oh no, already! My tent shake wake up call. It’s my turn to ride. Why am I here? I love racing. I can’t believe I signed up for this again. I’m so excited to be here. I’m cold. I am alive. My light isn’t fully charged and it’s my turn to ride a lap. What if it runs out? Can I conserve during the climbs? I can ride in the dark. I really hope I don’t have a flat tire. Should I lube my chain? Eat? Wait, what did I do with my water bottle? Should I wear my jacket? Vest? Both? I run to the transition tent to await my teammate. Gosh it’s crowded in here for 3am. I can’t see. Ooh an empty chair, I think I’ll sit. Where is he? How long has it been? Am I hungry? Should I take off my down jacket? Where is he? Boom! Transition done and quickly. I didn’t even say hi or ask how it went. I’m the worst teammate. Run. Pedal. Breathe. I feel great! I was born to ride a mountain bike. The stars, the sound of my tires on desert sand. The stream of lights ahead of me. I am in heaven. This is why I am here. The energy pushes me forward. Cowbells in the night. What is a 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race? Back in the early 1990s, a man named Laird Knight started Granny Gear, an endurance mountain bike racing production company. The first 24 hour races mimicked the 24 Hours of LeMans car race. The bike races started in the same way– with a run to your bike before going full bore into the first lap. After the LeMans style start, racers ride on a designated course in laps for 24 hours. Teams switch riders each lap inside of a transition tent. Some riders race solo, and others on teams of 2 up to 10 people. Most 24 Hour races begin Saturday noon and end at noon on Sunday. During the 24 hours, racers must ride in the dark, sleep in suboptimal conditions, and despite their exhaustion– perhaps an upset stomach, potential dehydration and minor injuries such as scratches and cactus spines– continue to the finish. The team with the most laps in 24 hours wins. Why Race a 24 Hour Race? You may wonder why anyone would wish to race for 24 hours. I often ask myself this question, and hard, as I am driving to the venue. It’s fun in a twisted way. But it is fun. You make new friends, build camaraderie with not only your team but other riders, you get to see amazing scenery and you can say you raced a mountain bike for 24 hours. It’s a fantastic outdoor experience. While some take the race seriously, the rest are simply out to have a good time mountain biking. There are 24 Hour National Championships, but these are sparsely attended compared to the unsanctioned 24 Hour races– because most people who go to 24 Hour Races do it for the experience. A 24 Hour Race is an event you will never forget. The 10 Steps to Becoming Addicted to 24 Hour Mountain Bike Racing 1. Find a race. I recommend 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo in Arizona, produced by Epic Rides. However, there are 24 Hour Races all over the World. 2. Choose a category. Will you ride solo? Duo? 4 person or 5? Solo means you and only you will ride for 24 hours. Duo is 2 person. Duo is the most competitive class. 4 person teams can be casual, but the most casual team is the 5 person. While the top teams are gunning for the win, most 5 person teams are relaxed and fun. 3. Set the tone for your team. If you want to win, make that clear. If you want to have a beer between laps, make that clear (if you are age, of course). 4. Pick your team. With mission statement in hand, choose the team that will help you reach your goal of winning or drinking more beer. Your team will also run more smoothly if you have a few extra hands on hand. A chef, a soigneur, a mechanic, your own rock band playing your theme song. 5. Train. Train as you would for a cross country race. You need to have speed. The laps are typically fairly short, and at times around one hour. You need to train for that one hour effort (check lap times of the chosen race to determine how long you will be on the bike for a lap). In order to get the repeatability, I like to do a week or two of two-a-days. If you have questions or need a plan, I am a coach and I can help. 6. Dial in your lighting. Find a good light. Then have a secondary light. Then have a back up light. As well you will need an emergency light. I’ve been racing 24 Hour Races for over 10 years, and I have almost always had a light failure, or at least had to help someone else who had a light failure. I’ve been using NiteRider since I’ve had my first light. I like to run dual lights. One on the handlebar and one on my helmet. My back up and emergency lights stay in my back pockets. 7. Ride at night. Riding at night is not difficult, it’s just easier in a race if you’ve practiced. Practice riding with your exact lighting set up, and practice riding on dim settings so you know what it will be like if you need to conserve. Night riding is fun! Beware of freakouts when riding at night alone. It happens. 8. Set up camp. Arrive at race venue early. Fridays are the best days so you can choose the optimal spot for sleeping, close enough to the exchange tent and in a good position to leave on Sunday. In that order. 9. Pre-ride course. For serious racers, you need to ride at race pace so you know the course. For the casual riders, ride the course so you know it. Know where you can pass and will be passed and be aware of alternate lines. Remember, there will be a high volume of riders on the trails, so knowing the trail is the best way to avoid bad situations. 10. Race Day! Relax, focus, have fun! Now you know how to get into 24 Hour Mountain Bike Racing. We’ll have more tips and reports from the 2014 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo over the next few weeks, so stay tuned to mtbchick.com! I will be racing for Skratch Labs Bacon Power team! (See here for the 2013 24 HOP) ~namaste mtbchick
News + Views
“Style is something all of us already has, all we need to do is find it.” Diane von Furstenberg
There is nothing quite like slipping into a DVF dress, but one can’t always wear a designer dress, especially while mountain biking. Instead, one must search like a diamond hunter for the best looking women’s apparel and accessories. Few choices are available, and let’s face it, we don’t want to look like guys when we ride bikes.
I often to refer to the Vermont NORBA Nationals when I was flying down the roots and mud (when I used to be fast!) and I heard a spectator ask if that was a guy or a girl. I was crushed.
So it is with much fervor that I introduce you to the 2014 Giro women’s line of helmets, shoes and gloves. These little hits will spice up your life on the bike, even when dull rules your workday.
Whether you ride dirt or pavement, for fast or for getting to work, you have the style you need to get the job done.
I’ve always loved Giro helmets for their weight (or lack thereof) and their styling, but I can finally say that Giro offers the ladies something better than a swirly baby blue graphic, or a plain pink, or anything that doesn’t scream “I am strong.”
On another note, while this is not necessarily a review for the product, I can say that the Giro women’s gloves last longer than you care to keep them. The Giro gloves are the first gloves I have not found holes or worn out areas, period.
My favorite helmet for serious trail riding is the Giro Feather Women’s Helmet. With myriad choices and ample coverage for the hard core lady rider, this lightweight and stylish helmet is my choice for trail rides. For Cross Country and Road riding and racing, the Amare helmet is the best choice. While it’s not the lightest most expensive helmet Giro offers, it’s truly the best in class. Save yourself a few bucks, look great, and save your brain. The Xara is a great ‘tweener. For dirt, for Rapha Gentlemen’s Races, for commuting, this helmet looks great and provides great protection for every woman.
For gloves, my personal preference is no padding. Padding typically causes me wrist and hotspot issues, so I go with no padding. Therefore, for both road and dirt, I prefer the LA DND. I wear long finger gloves while road riding to protect my fingers and to provide a solid breaking and shifting contact point. I hate sweaty hands on bar tape, grips and shift levers. Alas, this is personal preference. Just check out the options Giro offers, and go crazy!
For shoes: do you Spin? Do you race road? Do you soul ride? Do you ride dirt then grab a beer at the local pub? Giro has the full lineup of shoes, for commuting to road racing. Best of all, everything matches back to the helmets.
Coming from a semi-retired Pro cyclist, this may sound inane. But I’ve always wanted to look good on the bike, and I am happy to announce that Giro gives you the option to look great and hardcore at once. As the mtbchick saying goes, “Soft skin, hardcore.”
Ladies, choose your style, look strong, and ride hard!
Is this what dying of cancer feels like?
You’re under water. Someone is pushing your head down. In the middle of the ocean the waves give way to tiny breaths of air. You cough in water. The ocean– a womb and a tomb at once. You tread water, going nowhere but you know the end. How do you continue on?
I don’t know what it feels like to live through the process of dying of cancer. But I am thinking about it.
It’s 20 minutes in to the 2013 Furnace Creek 508 and I am ready to give up. How am I going ride 106 miles further when I feel like I’m being pummeled by the ocean?
I’m thinking about Milly.
I was a spin instructor at Pedal Spin Studio in South Pasadena when Bryan Yates introduced me to Milly Valdes. Milly was on the tail end of recovering from breast cancer and was ready to get back on the bike. She had her sites set on the Furnace Creek 508, a two day ultra endurance cycling race through the desert of California, and was vetting out a coach. Over coffee, Milly and I interviewed each other. She wanted to race the 508 on a four person team this year with dreams to some day finish the race solo. I was thrilled to have such a special person on my client list. Milly was enthusiastic, realistic and such a genuine and lovely individual. I was blessed. We started working together right away.
Within 4 months of sitting with Milly at the coffee shop, she passed away from a cancer resurgence. (Read more about it here.) It was one of the most profound passings I had witnessed. Here we had beat cancer, and we were going to show the World the unstoppable Milly. A cancer survivor.
The wind is pushing me back.I try to shift to an easier gear– none are available.
As I pedal, I think about what pain she had to endure and her crushed hopes as the Furnace Creek 508 slipped away. She was never going to make it to the start line. Those dreams were but a puff of smoke. I recall my phone ringing off the hook in of January of 2013. Noah Kanter called me and asked if I would ride the 508 in Milly’s honor. I joined. We were riding the FC 508 as a two person mixed team (40+) as a relay. I would take stages 1, 3, 5 and 7; Noah would take 2, 4, 6 and 8.
The Race Starts
At the start line, I happened to be in the right place at the right time and found myself on the front row. Chris Kostman announced we were allowed to draft the race official’s van during the neutral start. With winds of 20-30 miles per hour and gusts up to 50, I was looking forward to hanging out on the bumper. As the race rolled out, no one else was making the jump to the back of the van. I decided to take my chances and bridge up. A few followed and we quickly rolled through town and stop lights. It was a relief to hang out in the draft, knowing what lie ahead.
As we turned out of Valencia and into the canyon, the van pulled away and the race was on. I was in the lead group of around about 10 people. The pace was going to be too difficult for me, so I metered myself and allowed the first group to go away. There is no drafting in this race, so there is no pack, leaving the riders with little choice but to ride their own pace. The second group were closer to my abilities, mostly they were faster on the downhills and I was as fast or faster on the climbs. Much cat and mouse.
This was my core group– my disjointed peloton– for the rest of the Stage.
Santa Ana’s Revenge
Lowest gear. Hardest wind. Slight hills. I’m pushing hard on the pedals to little avail.
“This is going to be a 10 hour Century,” quipped Scott, one of my new riding friends– we just met
on this ride. We were literally averaging 10 miles per hour. The mental blow could have knocked you out cold. Dread. Pain. My knees began to ache after an hour. And I knew at that point I could only concentrate on finishing the race. Don’t go too hard, keep easy gearing and a fast cadence, and survive to the end. When knee pain sets in, your time is finite. You can only ride through so much before you have to get off and give up.
I could not give up on this ride for Milly. But the wind was so hard, and I had to put so much force on even my easiest gear that I was not certain I could make it to the finish line. Even riding, for the first time, a compact crank.
It was somewhere around the 2 or 2 and a half hour mark when we finally reunited with our support crews. I had emptied 2 water bottles and some food, and was happy to see the caravan ahead.
I rode into the first feed zone and the crowd were cheering. I was the first female to come through. I was so happy, I hope Milly was happy. I really wanted to do this for her, to be the fastest and the first, just for Milly. The excitement floored me, and I forgot for that moment what I had just been through.
I saw Noah, then Ron and as they handed up I yelled out “Find KT tape!” With no explanation, the crew were likely scared. I can’t blame them. I forgot to bring my tape, and now they were going to have to ask other support crews for help.
From the first feed zone the support cars were now allowed to leap frog support. That means the car drives ahead, stops, the crew get out and hand up or help out as you ride by. It’s wonderful! If every ride could be so supported you’d just never have to get off your bike.
I teamed up with Scott and we rode side by side, he rode ahead, I rode ahead– of course no drafting so it’s this strange way to ride with others which I am unfamiliar with. He had the directions, and I was going to have to try to keep up with him so I would not get lost. We almost blew by a turn, luckily another support crew were there to point us in the correct direction. I wish I could remember the crew so I could officially say thank you.
It was at this point when I had to stop for a nature break at about mile 50. This is where Scott would ride away and I would find more new friends.
To be continued…
We’re heading to the mountains for Thanksgiving this year– with a Camp Chef stove, boxes of fresh food from the local farmer’s markets, mountain bikes, tents, bouldering gear and friends.
We hope you enjoy your family and friends and have time to reflect on all that is good in your life. Make this a memorable holiday!
We’d like to share a film with you. Worn Wear, from our friends at Patagonia, is a montage of stories about articles of Patagonia clothing worn for 10-20 years or longer and passed from generation to generation. It’s a beautiful story about sharing, using things until they are completely worn out, fixing them, and wearing them more. This is a great time of year to consider sustainability, and be mindful of your shopping and the gifts your buy for others. Give all of your gifts the sustainability check– is this an heirloom piece?
Enjoy your feast, and we’ll see you tomorrow!
At mtbchick.com, we’re about helping others achieve goals and get a leg up in life. As such, we’re offering aspiring photo-journalists the opportunity to write for our site. We’re accepting entries beginning 28 October 2013 through 30 November 2013. Here is what we are looking for:
1. You ride mountain bikes
2. You live in a sustainable way (e.g., you commute by bike; source, cook and eat local foods; minimize your impact on the environment)
1. You have a story to tell– about a race, a ride, a day in your life, your lifestyle, travel. Minimum of 450 words, maximum of 2500 words for a 3 part installation.
2. Correct spelling, usage and grammar. Entries confusing its and it’s, their, they’re and there, affect and effect and so on will not be considered for publishing. Please refer to this web page. Strunk and White’s style guide is also recommended.
3. A minimum of 6 images.
Please send entries in .txt, .doc (not .docx) or in Apple Pages format to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send images in .jpg with a maximum of 600 pixels wide, and preferably less than 100kb in size. Please direct all questions to email@example.com
3 winners will be chosen and their works will be published on mtbchick.com. Prize for first place includes a pair of Oakley sunglasses! You have until 30 November, so get writing!
the mtbchick.com team.
Thanks to DeLorme for hooking us up with an inReach SE so we can stay in touch with all of you!
See you soon!
The 2013 Furnace Creek 508 team Persian Onager is racing for the Bahati Foundation. Each team in the FC 508 must race for the awareness of a charity and Persian Onager, Tonya Bray and Noah Kanter, along with support crew Laura Smart and Ron Matty have chosen the Bahati Foundation. The team, who are racing in memory of Milly Valdes, wanted to choose a charity that focused not on cancer, but on helping youth get in to cycling. Milly was a teacher and she was someone who truly wanted to help those in need, and could see potential in every student. The Bahati Foundation serves the purpose of helping the very kids who need it most.
The Bahati Foundation, founded by Rahsaan Bahati, works to “support inner city youth in under-served communities through inspirational speaking engagements and cycling outreach programs. These are designed to motivate and empower kids toward higher achievement in education, music and sports.” The Foundation achieves this through school visits, skills clinics, and providing financial assistance to young cyclists.
“Bahati Cycle” is a Cycling Outreach program designed to inspire and empower through the sport of cycling. GIVEBack programs are coordinated with Bahati Foundation corporate partners to supply inner-city youth with health and fitness gear, educational supplies and musical instruments, according to the Foundation’s mission.
Rahsaan Bahati is a National Champion cyclist– as a Junior and as an adult– who also happens to be from the inner city. While most cyclists come from privilege, Rahsaan grew up in Compton, California. His parents were concerned about his well-being and introduced Rahsaan to track cycling as a youth. Rahsaan values his cycling lifestyle and decided to share this lifestyle with the kids in his neighborhood as a way to rise above the surroundings.
The Furnace Creek 508 is a road bike race starting in Santa Clarita, California, meandering through Death Valley and ending in Twentynine Palms, California. The 2013 edition, which begins on October 5th, marks the race’s 30th year. Tonya Bray and Noah Kanter are racing as a two person mixed team. For more information about the Furnace Creek 508, visit the web site and read more on mtbchick.com.
Team Persian Onager is supported by Skratch Labs, Oakley, Giro, DeLorme, Goal Zero, Deuter, Salomon, JetBoil, Handsome Coffee Roasters, Adventure Medical Kits, mtbchick.com, Sport Chalet. Follow the race on Twitter at https://twitter.com/modmtbchick Instagram at http://instagram.com/mtbchickdotcom and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mtbchickdotcom
Kale is the ultimate SuperFood, an anti-cancer food packed with vitamins and minerals and cell-coating arsenal.
I fell in love with Kale at a quaint pizza joint called The Luggage Room in Pasadena, California. The Luggage Room, the sidecar of La Grande Orange, serves pizza made with a 19 year old sourdough starter crust. For beer lovers, the Pasadena Stone Brewing tasting room is across the courtyard, and patrons may bring bottles of Stone or Growlers to the Luggage Room to pair with pizza. A popular pastime of the local cycling population.
Alas I digress.
The Kale Salad at Luggage Room was an inspiration to me, and shortly thereafter I was introduced to the term “massaged Kale” at the Market on Holly. I had to ask, “massaged Kale?” The process was easy: cut the Kale, pour olive oil, lemon juice, sprinkle sea salt and rub, or massage, the Kale until it felt soft and looked almost cooked.
I tried the process at once. It’s simple, and the massaged Kale acts as a base for any toppings you’d like to add.
Here are a few ideas:
Basic Massaged Kale
I bunch of Kale for every 2-3 people
1 lemon per bunch of Kale
High Quality Olive Oil
Redmond’s Sea Salt
Rip or cut Kale to your preference. May be shredded or simply torn pieces. The smaller the pieces, the softer the consistency of the Kale. Drizzle enough olive oil to coat the entire Kale, squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon and add more if there is not a puddle in the bottom of your bowl. Sprinkle sea salt. Mix the Kale, oil, juice and salt and let sit for up to 30″ if you have other dished to prepare. (If you are pressed for time, just go to the massage). Proceed to massage the Kale. I use surgical gloves, especially if the Kale if for guests. Massage by grabbing a handful and rubbing the pieces together. Repeat until the entire bowl of Kale has been softened to taste. I recommend tasting as you go so you may find the exact consistency. If you are making this salad for guests, opt for the softest Kale. When your full bowl has been reduced by half, you’re likely finished with the massage. At this point, the salad is ready to eat, or you may add myriad toppings to taste. This is an excellent salad for work lunch as it never becomes soggy or swampy after sitting overnight in the refrigerator.
1/8 – 1/4 cup crushed fresh nuts. I prefer Pecans. Sometimes I use Marcona Almonds.
1/4 cup dried fruit. Cranberries are delicious here.
1 cup of fresh fruit. Fresh figs, diced apples are always a great choice.
1 avocado, diced.
Shredded cheese. A hard sheep’s cheese is nice here, such as Pecorino Romano. Or a Bleu cheese for a richer taste.
When it comes to toppings, the options are endless. A combination of Marcona Almonds, Fresh (or dried) Figs and shredded Pecorino will bring guests back for more (better make extra!).
I hope you enjoy the massaged Kale. Kale is also easy to cultivate at home, it can be grown in pots or in the ground. Be wary of gophers, they truly love it. Add this to your weekly menu and you’ll get a large amount of essential minerals your body needs to function.
A few Kale facts about daily values for a 1 cup serving:
|Vitamin A||133%||Vitamin C||134%|
|Vitamin B-6||10%||Vitamin B-12||0%|