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Been Riding

Been Riding

Starting a new job is kind of like the first few weeks of a new semester as a student: there's no technical reason that starting classes should vaccuum up all your time, but it happens anyway.

I haven't been riding as much as I'd like, or in as many places as I'd like, but I've been riding enough. There's nothing subtile about the lesson from Aliso: I need to get faster across the board. So the general plan is to do a six-week hypertrophy cycle, then work muscular endurance for another six weeks. Rides will focus on force production when I'm fresh, and skills work when I'm not.

I did my first clean run down Peralta Hills on Wednesday, which feels good. And I've been forcing myself up a gear on the climbs, trading actual speed for some work on force production.

But the real adjustment that needs to happen is to get back in the weight room. So that's what I'm doing. Yesterday was a "back to basics" day:

  • deadlift 3 x 12 @ 135#
  • push-up x 8 @ BW
  • bent row x 12 @ 65#
  • Russian twist x 20 @ 25#
  • leg lift x 20 @ BW

Today, I'm sore, which is testament to how much I need to get back in the weight room regularly. I've let it slide since February, so it's been nearly four months since I did any real lifting. It shows.

Peralta, Goat, Barham

Santiago Oaks

Weir Connector, Oaks Loop

Quick Workout

Deer Loop

Trying to Find the Flow

Perfect Weather

Perfect Weather

I've been making the most of my remaining time working in Agoura, making sure I do all my favorite rides while I still can.

Last Monday, I did my favorite lunchtime dirt loop out through Malibu Creek State Park, and was treated to an up-close bobcat sighting along the Grasslands trail.

Wednesday, I did a section of the Millennium Loop that I've only ridden a few times. I'm really tempted to take some time next Friday to ride the full Millennium Loop.

And yesterday I took another stab at posting a new PR on Bulldog. Unfortunately, I knew about 20 minutes in that I wasn't going to make it. My average speed was 0.1 mph slower than it needed to be, and it was only going to get slower from there. But I decided to fight the good fight, and at least get under 40 minutes. But that got away from me, too. Final time: 41:11, almost exactly the same as my last ride up Bulldog, 41:06.

I have fought battles like this before, and I haven't figured out how to win.

My general strategy for the summer: get my weight under 175 lbs, and get in the gym to build peak power output and muscular endurance.


Millenium & De Anza

Dirt Loop

Non Dot O.C. Classic #2: Aliso & Wood Canyon

Non Dot O.C. Classic #2: Aliso & Wood Canyon

Plan A was to conserve energy on the initial run-up, use the climbs to secure a mid-pack position, and then tear up the final flat back to the finish.

So I was happy to hear the race director ask that the segment from the start to Wood Canyon be a neutral roll-out. Everyone seemed on board with that plan, so I didn't struggle to keep up, but I started to worry when I noticed that my HR was already 170. Either it was adrenaline, or I'd have to back off at some point.

I started sliding back in the pack pretty quickly once we reached the Wood Canyon Trail. The pace picked up substantially, and I ultimately had to accept that if I wanted to have the legs for Cholla and Mathis, I'd have to let them go.

After that, my race was mostly a solo time trial.

But I did everything I came to do. I finished with the pack (Final result: 16th of 18), rode a strong race (for me), and I feel like I used well the skills I've gained in the last few months.

That's a good day in my book.

Aliso Race


Center of Gravity

Center of Gravity

Changes are afoot, and my cycling life will soon be centered around Orange County rather than the inland foothills of the Santa Monicas. In many ways, the trails have been my home just as much as any apartment or house, and I'm not sure when I'll get to ride them again.

So I'm going to do three things.

1. Races around the Santa Monicas

I'm going to make sure I do a mountain bike race or two each year in the Santa Monicas. I'm not even sure if such races exist, but I'm going to find them if they do. Might be a proper MTB race. Might be a Gran Fondo, or CX race.

2. The Bucket List

I'm putting together a "Bucket List" of trails I want to enjoy over the next few weeks before Orange County really becomes the center of my cycling world.

Johnson Fire Rd.

Johnson and I have unfinished business. I want to take one last real shot at climbing Johnson's Fire Rd in under 30 minutes.


I'd really like to make my last run up Bulldog for a while a PR. That means topping my current best of 38:56. I've climbed Bulldog twice in the last few weeks, and I feel like a PR is a possibility.

New Millennium Loop

More unfinished business. I tried this loop on a hot day years ago, and bailed before the last climb. I really want to go back and do the loop properly. It's been on my list for ever, and I don't know when I'll get another chance.

Runkle Cyn

I've never once managed to climb Runkle clean. There's a particular spot that always gets me. It sets you up with burning legs, and once you're climbing at your limit, the whole trailbed turns to loose, baseball-sized gravel. I'd like to get one more run up that climb, set a new PR, and get it clean. No pressure.

3. Welcome to O.C.

I think whatever melancholy I may feel at not riding my home trails much any more, I'm thrilled to be moving to a place where mountain bike racing seems to, well, to exist.

I've enjoyed having Bulldog as my "big climb" benchmark for the last few years. I need something in O.C. to take its place.

Coal Canyon fits the bill nicely. Time to get out there and see what's up.

Blackstar Canyon might also be a great local challenge, and I'm intrigued to try Harding Truck Trail: 9.1 miles at 6% average grade. Could be a huge challenge. The KOM is listed at 53:17, so my time would likely be near 2 hours. That's a long climb.

And I'm having a blast using the OC Classic races as an excuse to explore. I want to start from that, and branch out to explore the trails around Laguna Beach this summer. (I'm told they're the spot to escape summer heat. We'll see!)

And I'm going to make a point of using free weekend mornings to come back and ride a few old favorites from the coastal side of the Santa Monicas. In particular, I really want to return to Corral Canyon, which I did two summers ago, and I really want to do Latigo at some point.

Resting up for Aliso

Resting up for Aliso

Since watching a friend line up for the L.A. Marathon, I've said: This isn't the starting line. The outcome of this race was decided weeks ago. This is the finish line. Everyone's just here to see how their training turned out.

I know lots of people find that thought discouraging. They feel like the day is then out of their control.

I look at it the other way: the preparation is no longer my problem. I've done the work. Nothing left to do but go.

Final Aliso Training Ride

Post-Bulldog Recovery

Once More Up Bulldog

Morning Cheeseboro Loop

older stuff