December 31, 2007

Black Sunshine

OK... I know my blog was set out to be about the trail and sometimes that includes bikes but this takes a new approach... Such is life when you are with Dave Sinatra. Christmas day has just passed and he got "black sunshine" as a gift. Moped...Vespa... fun.

We planned to go home early but with the tempting evening ride with M&M and a stay at the Sinatra's it was too much to say no to. Time at the Sinatra's has always been an encouraging time for picking/eating fruit, fellowship and that family feel to me. Frank always has a new surprise and often it is a motor powered bike! Giving them all a go around the block is a must. Here are just a few pics.

(getting the fleet ready for a spin)

(Dave on the Wizzer - not the Black Sunshine)

(wheelie time on the battery powered mountain bike)

(cute couple - ON BLACK SUNSHINE!)

After a wonderful breakfast and espresso maker display we were off on the peds to tour the beach. Let the craze begin! I think this has to be one of the best ways to see a new city and we have it in our plans for Italy now... We also got some good details from Lindsey for Italy the night before... With our goofy helmets on we were off to brave the cold winds and enjoy the day.

(Monique sports the coolest brain bucket)

(making it to Dana Point harbor with Moni's trick photography)

We finally got to hang out with Mac... Money... Davids new girlfriend and hopefully we will have a repeat of our double date soon. Maybe on human powered bikes next time???

Here is a video too

December 29, 2007

Magic Brownies

With all of the food over the holidays and the joy of my new espresso machine encompassing the majority of my thoughts lately I thought it would be a good time to experiment with some cooking goods. This idea came to me, like most ideas, when I was on the trail and looking for something delicious, nutritious and full of caffeine. I know, I have problems...

The goal behind the brownies (not the other magic brownies) I am preparing is for those long adventure races or times when you need more than just simple carbs for refuel. A new snack when the gu and bars have lost their luster. More and more research has been shown that in longer races, protein plays a vital role in the recovery and endurance aspects of nutrition, so I will be adding some protein power to the mix. Caffeine is also shown to provide some physical/mental benefits but I wont get started on that now. Lets just jump into the mix.

I, like most great chefs (not stating that I am a great chef) start with the best ingredients and what better espresso than pure Regalo 100% organic espresso beans from Starbucks.

These can be added in as is or chopped/grinded to preference. I like the chunks of chocolate and beans so instead of the coffee grinder I used a chopper to leave some big parts for a brownie surprise. This may have not turned out to be the best idea for taste due to the size/temp/mix combo (learning lessons outlined below :-)

Next, should be the easy part. Follow the instructions from the box of brownie mix you just purchased from you neighborhood Trader Joe's. Warm up that oven and grease a pan. Throw in some eggs, a big stick of butta and mix it up.

This is where the "secret" or "magic" ingredients come in that make these trial brownies outperform. I added two scoops of protein power (about 28grams of protein per serving) and the beans. However, with the added powder and beans it was difficult to mix anything... Monique suggested some other "stuff" (I dont remember but cooking terms for making the mix more liquid) and we ended up adding some chunky apple sauce so we could stir it up.

That looked to do the trick and we had some nice even chocolate brownie mix ready to heat up. Licking the bowl and spoon is always my favorite part of any cooking experience!!

About 30min later and out of the oven and they are ready to go.

The result? Well, I have to be honest with myself here and leave room for improvement so I will just say that there will be a rev two for the magic brownies but some good lessons learned fo sho. I decided to attack this from three angles so I can focus on improvements and comparison between recipes. For the purpose of review I will use presentation/packability, taste, and nutritional results supplementation effectiveness.

Presentation/Packability: I would give the presentation (and pictures for that matter) high ranking and it makes me question all of those cook books with pretty pictures. Is the food really as good as it looks? OK... taste is next but I have to get high points somewhere... They look good and they can be packed and smashed into the smallest of packs or pockets and still look good enough to eat if not better.

Taste: Ahh.... they were like brownies except really, really dry and hard to eat with those big chunks of espresso beans. While I have to admit that we only ate about 3 of them total there is major lessons learned and this is what this post is all about.

Next time I would start with a better brownie mix box (passing a bit of the blame). This was more of a "cake" type of brownie mix and I would personally prefer more of a fudge/gooey type. I would also grind the crap out of the beans because they turned into a soft chunk of wood tasting mess. I thought at first that they would get crunch for some reason but now I think that grinding them up to a fine power would still provide the "espresso" taste (and kick) but not take away from the brownie delight. I would also keep the protein powder but research some other options to keep the moisture way up.

Supplementation Effectiveness: This has to do with the "magic brownie" being more than just a "brownie". Did the espresso and protein work? I really don't have anyway for knowing for sure but assuming that the powder was not somehow destroyed by the heat of cooking I have to imagine that it would help out and be absorbed by the various systems to aid recovery but I will have to get past the taste to try them on the trail first.

Now, its time for some milk...

December 27, 2007

Ride all day . . . Ride all night

Christmas is over and it was another wonderful time with the family and traditions that have real meaning behind them. No, not Santa… Jesus is the reason for the season and is in every part of Christmas from the tree to the gifts that we don’t deserve!

I have been slowing down with my sore ribs and due to my recent influx of flats, I have had my rides cut short lately. However, this break from work has me catching up fast on some much needed training for the VQ and build for this season. Ride, ride, ride…

Last night Monique and I stayed with Dez and Jason so we decided to head out with Jay on his local “fix gear” bike loop around the hood. Hard. . . Hills and fast pace we were off and hammering after 10pm through the streets of Lake Forest. Such a fun and scenic loop . . . Jason’s got quite a bit of power behind that one gear and we had a hard time keeping up.

(in between rides and the spandex)

The next day Monique was going shopping with the girls in the morning so I pulled myself out of bed to do some much needed climbing out by Black Star… Corby picked the place and it was so perfect for what I needed. I have not had a long steady climb in months . . . Corby got a new GPS for Christmas and a new route to show me at that. We were going for an out and back that would climb up to Beek's Place and then drop down the other side to Corona. The fires still have many of the roads closed off and even the soccer ball is off limits.

Trail time set in on the climb and it was nice to catch up with Corby. He has packed in the miles this year and should get to 2000+ miles logged on Geoladders. Nice! All of those miles have definitely made him faster and wiser on the trail too which lead to even bigger goals in the future. Goals!! Maybe Corby will be out at VQ 2009???

(Corby and Corona...the other side of BlackStar)

Riding down the Corona side I realized that I had come full circle. . . So strange how you can remember a trail that you have been on even if it was years ago. Long before (well, more like 3 years) I ever had any bike I used Joe Westa’s trek to go on a ride with Anthony and some friends. His friend lived at the base of this trail and little did I know how much that morning would change the amount of time I would be sitting on a bike seat. Is that good or bad?? Shortly after that ride I purchased a trek of my own and I have been loving the trail every free minute since. I totally forgot about that trail and ride until today.

(the girls with Salt Creek setting in the background)

By the night time we met up w/ Dave and M&M for a secret tour on forbidden bike(horse?) trails around Dana Point. SO FUN! Riding with the sun fading, conversation flowing and plans for a big dinner is my kind of way to end the day. After the climb with Corby I was pretty beat but the pace was perfect and the views were too good for words. No GPS of this trail network but hopefully we will be back on it again very soon.

Happy Holidays and happy trails!!

December 22, 2007


 You would think that I would be faced with a super sale at the closing of the shopping fest for Christmas but it just happened to be my front tire today. We were home cleaning all day and I think I set some sort of new record by not leaving the house before 2pm. Even on a Saturday that has got to be a record for us but now that we have our own espresso machine there is no need to rush out early to Starbucks. I know…I have problems.

Heading out to our local hills we started a slow 15min warm-up when I hit a nice little bump and got a little flight time. Hmmm.. That was fun. I thought I would try it again. This time a little higher up the hill to start… a little more speed… a little more air? I got more air but most of it came from my front tire when it was turned inside out.

This was my third ride on my 29er with tubes and two flats. I need to put my tubless kit back on. Tubes suck!! I must be getting old too because my ribs are already killing me. At least I had Nacho to comfort me and kick up dust licking my face while I had the wind knocked out of me. Man's best friend.

That was my ride and I had a slow walk back to the car as Monique and Nacho did hill repeats. The Nach is pretty fast but now that I was walking I realized how much he bottoms out when he hits the gullies. That does not slow him down however… I guess four legs are better than two? He is so cool. Monique was pushing and if she could keep that consistency of training I would have a hard time keeping up. Our Rio Bravo race is just about three weeks away so I am sure she will be ready for it this year. Tonight we are doing some last minute shopping and then it is off to the families down south for Christmas.

December 21, 2007

City Streets

San Fran is starting to feel like home. No need for a map anymore and I know where all the Starbucks and good eats are at... yet there is still so much more to explore there. I got back from some meetings early so I was going to try to do a city run and make it to Marin before dark but I was already cold and it was starting to get dark.

Running through the city is a bit more scary/exciting as a single track sometimes. Even with an Ipod on full blast the city moves to its own rhythm and the energy is felt around every block. A truly unique place to get lost in a run. Monique and I have been so focused into our "goal setting" and "plan mapping" that it was time to let the focus go. The end of a wonderfully FULL year and with so much accomplished and so many "miles" behind us, our vision of what we want for the future is getting clear. What I have really been learning lately is that "goal's" are reached by two main means... A clear understanding/description/vision of the goal itself and the plan/directions/roadmap to get there. With that laid out you just need to keep up with the motivation/inspiration/effort/work to accomplish your goals.

I took my run to Marin much the same way. I really was not tying to stomp out some fast miles but I did have a clear understanding of where I wanted to go (the other side of the Golden Gate and Marin Hills) and started to map out my plans for how to get there. So much for letting go of this thinking on my run!

My goals, big and small usually have the same limiting factors too. Myself and lack of the willingness to put in the work/effort, find the motivation/inspiration or discipline to see the plan through. Training, work or other. What I do find is that I am pretty flexible (or maybe lazy?) to make changes when needed as long as the goal is constant.

The route that I took to the bridge had many side streets and turns up and down other  streets but I kept the bridge in sight. The music helped. Inspiration for me often comes from the ones I love and strength from the Lord when I have given out. Goal setting has a lot to do with setting "obtainable" goals, however, I have found the most rewarding experiences in life when I reach a goal that I never dreamed possible. Beyond my limits. I guess having the confidence of strength and inspiration does push you beyond your limitations. 

By the time I got to the bridge it was dark but the city lights looked so much better at night. A shift in plans but the goal was so close I could smell the fresh trees in the hills. I ran a lot longer that I should have but I had time on my hands and I was ready for a nice everlasting warm shower back in the city. That was my next goal.

December 02, 2007

Psycho-cross Time!

Watching Mandy and the girls was so much fun yesterday. It is easy to see other people suffer when you can take some pictures and scream at them to push it a little more. ;-) We had such a fun time watching and because of the short loop courses it is pretty easy to keep up with all of the action.

What a crazy sport! Where else can you find the competitors looking forward to bad weather… cold, wet and hopefully muddy . . . mix in some all-out puke encouraging efforts on a rigid bike with 1” wide tires going through and over all types of obstacles and you have yourself a merry little cross race. I was so excited to give it a go!!

Yesterday, Monique and I both agreed that we would give the psycho a try today but when we awoke there was no changing Monique's mind about sitting this one out. As fun as it was to watch, her legs were just too far gone. That 20K through the hills yesterday took a lot out of us. Fortunately for me, my mind was stuck on doing the cyclocross even if it was going to be painful. Or was that why I was doing it in the first place?

My race was the first heat of the day so I got to ride a few sections to warm up before we got started. However, staying warm in it's self was a challenge. California . . . and my truck display for outside temp was holding a constant temp of 38 degrees. Cold.

Today the course had a bit of a change and we would be racing in the opposite direction with a few new turns and climbs added for fun. My first few attempts at running off and over the barriers and logs were anything but graceful but produced a permasmile that would see me to the starting line. Cyclocross, where have you been all of my life : - )

I told myself I would go slow and just get a feel for what this is all about but I should have known myself better. I even started in the back of the pack on our heat so I would chill a bit since I have been sick. No need to get all worked up and worn out but it would be an interesting race. Navigating the tight turns and trying to keep a balance between sprinting, not blowing up and being graceful on and off the bike, it is so much fun that words just cannot describe. It is like the bike portion of an adventure race on fast forward…. Like Xterra with cool crowds but funny bikes. The familiar pain of running fast enough and getting back on the with bike just enough oxygen to turn your legs with some power… fun.

I thought I should just try to stay near the front pack and hold a good pace but one by one I saw guys either fade or crash until the front pack came to me. It was nice to push out of the pack and get some open turns too. At one turn up and around a wall, a guys pedal went into my front spokes… Luckily, we were not moving very fast. Over a wall and another guy in front of me superman’s on the street. Ouch…

The race was on and the nature of the cross was showing it takes multiple talents to just stay in the race. I actually felt pretty good because I had been sitting around and just working so much lately that it felt good to push. No pain from yesterdays run and I was having so much fun in the dirt. Riding my 29er, even with the front sus locked out was pretty plush on the downhills and I didnt need to hold back at all. Second lap and I am now out front after the leader drops his chain over a barrier. Aghh.. Now I know the end is going to be painful and I cannot slow down.

After leading for about two and a half laps and about 10 minutes left in the race I get a reality slap that I cannot bunny hop up a little curb and blow my back tire. Well, better than blowing up I thought and I started walking back but it was smiles the entire way. Cyclocross is Awesome!!! I think God may have been saving me by that flat too. I need some rest and that last 10 minutes was going to put me over the top for sure. Now I have some saved for later and a hunger for the cross. I need that in more ways than one.

December 01, 2007

Mr. Toads WIld RIde

Talk about wild rides...I have had a long last few weeks at work... I didn't sleep this tuesday and I think last thursday too. Work will always be there and I guess that is a good thing. No sleep and cold temps lead to colds and I was just the suspect with bad food and too much coffee. I canceled out on our planned Adventure Race this weekend in Malibu... I needed sleep but Marius and Georgina will brave the waves and trails for 12hrs without me.

Monique was going to run a 20K and watch Mandy at the cyclocross races this weekend and maybe even give it a go herself. Staying home made it just too easy not to get involved. Maybe I needed a wild ride to get me out of this spell?

8am Sat and we are just heading out to the event staging at Heart Park. Monique drops me off at Starbucks to finish some more work and goes back to get here shoes she left at home. he he... I needed to finish some work anyways so it worked out well. I brought my shoes "just in case" I wanted to run and 30min later we are trotting along last in line and getting warmed up for our half marathon distance through the hills. I should have known.

The run was good and you cant beat a training run when there are people handing out water and good little treats every few miles. I feel like forest gump ...but I was going to say, when we were tired..we walked. when we were hungry...we ate. Good pace and fun trails.

It was the 20th annual Mr Toad Wild ride and we had some build from the Stinson Beach half we did a few weeks ago but I was still not feelin it. Monique, however, was on the move and ended up getting one of the coolest metals. It has all of the trail names on it and models the "E Ticket" theme of the trails. So cool and I am so proud of her!!

After our race we headed just down the street (literally!) to watch Mandy squash the competition. With her big smiles and extroverted personality I thought we were in trouble when we first saw her. . . We walked up in the middle of her race and were screaming to cheer her on. No smile. . . a face I had never seen? The we just realized she had her race face on and she was fo' real! Go girl go!!!

I felt much better after her race when the smile returned . . . We kept warm the rest of the day by cheering on the crossers and it was a new twist to sport for me. Even if we ran for a few hours the day will go down as "the day we saw our first cyclocross race". Really cool people and a unique masochistic grace that lays out over a track a little over a mile in length so you can see all of the action. Here are some clips

I think the guy above is on Mandys team and the girl video taping is the team leader? I dont know but I do know this guy is Smooooth.

What could be better than riding a rigid bike off road? bunny hops!!