Saturday, October 3, 2015

Checking In From SLO!

As I release my thoughts for another blog post and consider what is in the future, it must be known that I am currently situated in San Luis Obispo, for my sophomore year at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Pedaling with Ryan Mostofi, a rad roommate and on-the-go photographer.
As a Journalism student, my academic years tend to be filled with writing, reading, and analysis. Unfortunately, while continuously updating this blog on a monthly basis, it has been placed on the back burner. 

In the near future, I do plan to share my thoughts on Voler, who just produced quality cycling kits for the Cal Poly Wheelmen Cycling Club. However, most posts will be rather sporadic. In the spring of 2016, I will be posting race reports, as I plan to compete with the Cal Poly Wheelmen throughout the collegiate road racing season.

Lastly, I will begin working at Art's Cyclery shortly, which should provide for many outstanding experiences and a neat working environment.

Thank you for reading and please check back soon! In the meantime, get outside and have some fun. The possibilities are endless.
Views from Monatana de Oro State Park, on a recent adventure.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Product Review: Rapha Classic Bib Shorts

Rapha, an elite brand that focuses on the design and production of superior cycling clothing, launched in 2004 and they have been on the rise ever since.

With a focus on road cycling apparel and accessories, Rapha simply began with jerseys, jackets, and caps, but they now offer a plethora of pieces for men and women. Additionally, Rapha has expanded to sponsor Team Sky Pro Cycling, while also supporting its adventurous Rapha Continental groups that focus on exploration and a passion for road cycling.

Rapha Classic Bib Shorts
  • Design: simple and luxurious
  • Comfort: allows for performance in a variety of conditions
  • Chamois: suited for 6+ hour rides
  • Price and Customer Service: well worth the investment
Rapha Classic Bib Shorts
After spending years searching for simple and plain cycling bib shorts, Rapha is able to produce a superior product without the need for flashy, unnecessary distractions. The design of Rapha Classic Bib Shorts is humble and sleek, while providing a prominent aesthetic.

All the while, Rapha Classic Bib Shorts focus on comfort with fewer seams, appropriate stitching, and a leg gripper that locks in a perfect fit. An opening in the back assures ventilation and cooling. Since it is absolutely necessary to maintain comfortable contact points in road cycling, you cannot go wrong with the Rapha Classic Bib Shorts. 
Rapha Classic Bib Shorts Leg Gripper

Rapha Classic Bib Shorts Back Opening
As it relates to comfort and contact points, the chamois is unreal. The Rapha Classic Bib Shorts are what I reach for prior to embarking on a long ride due to the outstanding chamois. Rapha has checked off all boxes for design and comfort.
Rapha Classic Bib Shorts Chamois
Lastly, price is worth discussing. Many are afraid of pricey items. However, Rapha Classic products are available to be tested and returned within 30 days of purchase. Also, Rapha provides a free repairs service for worn and crashed products. In the long term, it may be financially beneficial to invest in Rapha.

Until next time, thank you for reading.

@Rapha / Rapha on Facebook

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bury Your Head In A Book

While summer begins to approach its end and a fresh school year is beginning, texts for work and academics are increasingly important.

However, as of late, my head has been buried in multiple relaxing reads. Unfortunately, my blog has been lacking, but numerous cycling books are worth recommending.

In no particular order, here is a list of recommendations that stray from work, academics, and technology. Sit down, crack open a book, reminisce on the good 'ol days, and read yourself to sleep.

  1. Pro Cycling on $10 a Day, by Phil Gaimon
  2. Rusch to Glory, by Rebecca Rusch with Selene Yeager
  3. My Time, by Bradley Wiggins
  4. The Climb, by Chris Froome
  5. Domestique: The Real-life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro, by Charly Wegelius
  6. The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France, by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle
  7. Team 7-Eleven: How an Unsung Band of American Cyclists Took on the World - and Won, by Geoff Drake
  8. The Belgian Hammer: Forging Young Americans into Professional Cyclists, by Daniel Lee
If you are not interested in a lengthy read, indulge in a brilliant VeloNews article on Lachlan Morton and Thereabouts.

At this point, I do plan on updating my blog more often. Check back soon for POC, Rapha, and Voler product reviews!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Product Review: DeFeet UnDLite Sleeveless Base Layer

DeFeet UnDLite Sleeveless Base Layer (Front). 
DeFeet does things differently and they have been doing so since 1992.

With an initial focus on simple, unique sock designs, DeFeet has now expanded its line of products to include accessories for men and women that participate in cycling, running, and snow sports.

All the while, your product will be produced in the United States of America.

According to DeFeet, "DeFeet is the band, and we will play our own music, thank you."


DeFeet UnDLite Sleeveless Base Layer
Pros: Simplicity, Second Skin, Elongated Tail
Cons: ...

Ba-da-bing! After extensive product testing and use, the DeFeet UnDLite Sleeveless base layer is ideal for the performance cyclist.

Quite simply, the base layer is simple. It will get the job done. The light structure of the UnDLite Sleeveless base layer only comes in two colors, white and black. Pick a white base layer for soaring temperatures and a black base layer for when the weather turns sour. DeFeet recommends this base layer for temperatures between 50 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
DeFeet UnDLite Sleeveless Base Layer (Front). 
For years, I could not stand the thought of wearing obstructive and annoying base layers. I claimed that base layers would restrict my breathing and cause me to overheat. However, two thrilling road cycling accidents left me missing skin on my back and hips. Eventually, I was convinced that base layers were a necessary second skin. Now, I can't ride without one.

Also, for mild weather conditions and rainy rides, base layers are ideal. They manage to take the nip off without providing excessive drag.

Lastly, the UnDLite Sleeveless base layer features an elongated tail that tucks in nicely. While it may seem odd, being hunched over a bicycle requires extra material on your backside. You can thank DeFeet for this one.
DeFeet UnDLite Sleeveless Base Layer Elongated Tail (Front). 
In terms of negative features, this is my second consecutive product review where I have been lacking in this department. However, DeFeet initially caused me to be a loyal customer with their fabulous socks. Now, they have me hooked on their base layers. DeFeet understands top-notch production, at an accessible price point.

Pick out your DeFeet base layer, from a few different options. If you are up for a near impossible task, let me know if you are able to find any negative features.

Thank you for reading! @DeFeet / DeFeet on Facebook

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Race Report: Crusher in the Tushar

Hot damn. The 2015 Crusher in the Tushar gravel race hurt like no other, but it was certainly worthwhile.

Unfortunately, no personal pictures exist from this event, as I was a little busy letting the Beaver, Utah terrain hand me a firm slap across the face. However, plenty of mental images were captured in the Tushar Mountains.

The Tushar Mountains are the third highest mountain range in Utah. On Saturday, July 11th, approximately 500 willing racers completed over 10,000 feet of climbing in this expansive landscape, which proved to be punishing and rewarding.

For me, the event began on Friday, July 10th, with an eight hour road trip. Travel proved to be a breeze, as my pops and Mr. John Saliamonas provided unique and intriguing stories to pass the time.

Saturday morning began with an early morning alarm, plenty of race preparation, and witnessing an insane group of cyclists take over Beaver, a sleepy town between Cedar City and Fillmore. Beaver does have a "B" printed on the surrounding hillsides, which is pretty neat. How's that for some local pride?

As cyclists gathered at the start of the fifth annual Crusher in the Tushar, a mixture of professional badasses and unassuming amateurs prepared to begin a brutal day of pedaling.

The professional men's field was highlighted by Robert Squire (Hincapie Racing), Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh/Clement), Alex Grant (RideBiker/Cannondale/Gear Rush), Neil Shirley (Road Bike Action), Danny Pate (Team Sky), Tim Johnson (Volkswagen/Cannondale), and Jonathan Page (Fuji). Some big names came out to play and the winning time was an absurd 4:10, over 70 miles and 10,000+ feet of climbing on asphalt and dirt.

My race managed to be completed in 5:19, for a respectable seventh place finish in the men's U29 division. I am excited with my time, result, and the fact that I experienced no issues with my nutrition and equipment. GU Energy Labs, as always, kept me fueled and in prime condition!

After the race, a lengthy descent back to the hotel, followed by a parking lot shower, completed a memorable two days in Beaver. What a town, what a race, what an atmosphere.

Overall, the Crusher in the Tushar provided plenty of race highlights and memories, which I am still attempting to fully process. Brutal climbs, screaming descents, bizarre weather, and outstanding support all combined to form an event that I will be looking forward to next year.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fried Rice!

After recent inquires regarding the hype behind cycling and fried rice, I figured that I would share my personal creation of fried rice, along with minimal nutrition concepts.

Dr. Allen Lim and Skratch Labs are largely responsible for cyclists adopting rice, as a staple, instead of pasta. In an attempt to stimulate taste buds and nourish fatigued cyclists, enter fried rice.

Preparation

  • Before beginning to cook, leftovers are ideal for stir fry recipes. Therefore, keep a well-stocked refrigerator.
  • While heating a pan, with a small amount of olive oil, begin to assemble all of your stir fry ingredients. With a pan warming on medium/high heat, the process will move quickly. A hot pan is necessary for stir fry creations. 
A little olive oil goes a long way. 
The starters. 
Cooking
  • With a warm pan, spread the olive oil.
  • Next, add a generous amount of rice. For this creation, I utilized brown jasmine rice. 
  • After adding the rice, include soy sauce and hot sauce for taste. With rice, soy sauce, and hot sauce mixed in a warm pan, shuffle the solution to one side of the pan. 
  • With one side of the pan free, scramble eggs.  
Half and half. 
  • With scrambled eggs, consider adding crushed pepper or seasoning salt. 
  • After the eggs are well-cooked and no longer runny, mix the rice and eggs together. 

  • Briefly join the rice and eggs, before moving contents to an eating bowl. 
Final Touches
  • Afterwards, consider adding soft vegetables. Harder vegetables can be mixed and warmed, while the pan is still hot. 
Boom. 
  • On this occasion, fresh salsa and avocado provided the final touches. 
What's in a meal?
  • With a hefty stir fry meal, consider that a plethora of calories are included. However, personal customization allows for the inclusion of many food groups. 
  • Brown jasmine rice = carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, or long lasting fuel. 
  • Soy sauce and hot sauce = sodium, to replenish stores lost while riding. 
  • Egg = protein. 
  • Salsa = anti-inflammatory agents, to aid in recovery. 
  • Avocado = healthy fats.
Now, go on an adventure and munch on your personal fried rice creation afterwards! Enjoy. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thereabouts #2 or Thereabouts Reprise

After much anticipation, Thereabouts #2 is beginning to take shape with additional publicity.

While Thereabouts #1 managed to gather massive interest, a second journey, from Boulder, Colo. to Moab, Utah, appears to have raised the bar.

Initial images were posted to the CyclingTips Instagram account in late May. Now, CyclingTips has released a recap of the five-day Thereabouts Reprise in the words of Gus Morton, Lachlan Morton, Cameron Wurf, and Taylor Phinney.

After encountering a bumpy beginning that was focused on media, publicity, and style, the second Thereabouts journey evolved to including harsh terrain, brutal storms, and the true essence of Thereabouts.

For more information, start from the beginning with Thereabouts #1 on Vimeo. Then, absorb the imagery and words of Thereabouts #2. Let's hope for a second documentary soon.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Race Report: Kenda Cup West, Big Bear

This past weekend of endurance mountain bike racing in Big Bear, Calif. marked a completion of the 2015 Kenda Cup West series.

For me, the endurance mountain bike series consisted of three races, out of a possible four competitions. However, from start to finish, the racing was no easy task. 

The Big Bear location posed a unique challenge, as competition occurred between 7,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation. Course totals included 42 miles, with plenty of challenging singletrack, and 5,500 feet of climbing.

During the Big Bear event and throughout the Kenda Cup West series, a common theme continued to haunt me. After starting well and feeling fresh, I managed to fall apart around the three hour mark. More insight and details are located in my Kenda Cup West, Los Olivos race report.

Overall, due to my difficulties, which were caused by a lack of time spent training on the mountain bike, the entire Kenda Cup West series managed to be a roller coaster ride.

Determination and a plethora of support continued to inspire my performance. After three Kenda Cup West races, I managed to escape with two victories and one second place finish. My results and consistency secured the series overall and the Endurance State Championship title, for the 19-29 age category. I am beyond ecstatic to have conquered my goal of securing a top-three overall finish.

Kenda Cup West series podium presentation. 
Not a bad podium location. 
As a member of Team Rokform, numerous individuals, sponsors, and brands were instrumental in my success. A big thank you goes out to GU Energy Labs, for their nutritional support and positive backing. 

Last but not least, it is absolutely necessary to publicly thank my close family and friends, especially my father, mother, and brother. It was a joy to spend a full day in Big Bear with plenty of support and motivation. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Wheelmen Report: May Strava Champions Crowned

At its most recent Wednesday evening meeting, the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Wheelmen cycling team crowned its May Strava Champions

Julia Mace and Sean Bird were the official champions, for the female and male categories.

Madison Giger, with her WD-40 award. 
From left to right: Sean Bird, Jonathan Schmidt, and Liam McDonnell. 
Cal Poly Wheelmen sponsor WD-40 generously provided awards, from its cycling specific line, which includes cleaning agents and lubricants. 

During the month of May, participating Wheelmen members tallied over 23 days of collective ride time!

For the academic year, which includes October, November, and January through May, Cal Poly Wheelmen members completed over 140 days of ride time. Super!

Cal Poly Wheelmen ride statistics. 
The Wheelmen Strava challenge was a new concept for the 2014-15 academic school year. It encouraged cycling, both on a social and competitive basis.

Riders were awarded points for ride time, group riding, and racing. Both group riding and racing provided extra points.

Thank you to Wheelmen President Hank Mandsager for tallying ride statistics, throughout the entire school year. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

GU Energy Labs: More Than A Company, More Than A Product...

After having time to reflect on the 2015 Amgen Tour of California and my experience with GU Energy Labs, it is time to make an attempt at putting thought and emotion into indescribable experiences.

Also, Yuri Hauswald, the Cycling: Marketing Manager for GU Energy Labs, recently noted an impressive sequence of memories.

Phase One: Stage 4 - Pismo Beach to Avila Beach.
For me, it all began in my new backyard, as a current student at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

While I surely possess a prominent sense of bias, I do believe it is fair to claim that this particular stage route was one of the more impressive, beautiful, and interesting. With a rolling start on the Pismo Beach Pier and an extended southern loop, Stage 4 marked a combination of flatlands, canopied climbs, sketchy highway pedaling, and beachside sprint finishes.
Pismo Beach Pier. Photo credit: Yuri Hauswald. 
Headed south. Sean Bird (left) and my pops, Lee Bird (right). 
However, Stage 4 was more than a cycling adventure. It was a time for me to engage in thorough, meaningful discussion with new counterparts. It was a privilege to spend time with members of the GU "Core Six" who were partaking in an eight day endurance adventure, while including product analysis and testing.

Also, the GU support team were amazing. Three individuals who managed to always produce a smile, while selflessly supporting physically exhausted and needy cyclists.
The sun was out at the end of Stage 4. Lee Bird (left) and Sean Bird (right). 
Unfortunately, I was not able to skip class for Stage 5, as suggested, so I was left to imagine a fun-filled weekend, before returning to class.

Phase Two: Stage 7 - Ontario to Mt. Baldy.
Boom. Boom. Boom.

#MoreKidsOnBikes was a weekly theme and I was fortunate to cruise with the GU "Core Six" and a host of Team Rokform junior cyclists.

Stage 7 was no easy day, as it included three significant climbs near my hometown in Southern California.

It was amazing to spend the day surrounded by a host of gangly and eager juniors, while climbing with GU Co-Founder and CEO Brian Vaughan. He kept me honest, we shared some good tales, and I was able to view a glimpse of significant product and performance testing.
Sean Bird (left) and Brian Vaughan (right). Photo credit: L'Etape. 
I did not make it to Mt. Baldy on Stage 7. After hearing a rumor of snow at the peak, my pops and I decided to pedal a limited amount, before viewing the professional cyclists at work.

The running engine of a police cruiser kept us warm, before a chilly descent. At the base, we were able to shed cold weather clothing that had been used throughout a day of heated climbing and crisp descents.

We lived to fight another day.

Phase 3: Stage 8 - L.A. Live to Pasadena.
Preparing to roll...
Stage 8 was the final push for the GU "Core Six" squad. It was a pleasure to roll into Pasadena and the Rose Bowl with my father and a group of friends.

Cycling has provided me with a plethora of opportunities. After essentially learning to ride a road bike at the Rose Bowl and completing countless three-mile circuits, the Rose Bowl had a renewed energy.
Pedaling through Downtown L.A. with a road closure. 
After entering the Rose Bowl and speaking with the GU "Core Six," about one hour remained before the professional finishing circuits. My father and I, alongside Brian Vaughan, rode some of the local hills in La Canada and Pasadena, before witnessing a thrilling finish. The 2015 Amgen Tour of California was complete and it proved to be a thriller.

... A Group of Friends and Memories. 
After having the privilege of completing multiple stages with a focused group from GU Energy Labs, it is fair to say that GU is more than a company and more than a product. For me, GU represents a group of friends and positive memories.

While reaching for an energy gel, drinking from a GU branded water bottle, or wearing a GU branded piece of clothing, I partially consider the performance benefit, before indulging in positive thoughts, memories, and outrageous experiences.

Overall, the 2015 Amgen Tour of California was the experience of a lifetime. I am stoked to have done it alongside the GU "Core Six," the GU support team, and my fantastic parents. I cannot thank GU and my family enough for their outstanding generosity and assistance. I will forever be indebted.

Until next year, keep on moving.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Wheelmen Report: April Strava Champions Crowned

At a recent club sport meeting, the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Wheelmen cycling team crowned its April Strava Champions

Julia Mace and Jonathan Schmidt were the official champions, for the female and male categories.


Julia Mace (left) and Amanda Strand (right). 
Sean Bird. 
During the month of April, 30 Wheelmen members participated in the Strava challenge, while members tallied over 20 days of collective ride time!


The Wheelmen Strava challenge is a new concept for the 2014-15 academic school year. It encourages cycling, both on a social and competitive basis.

Riders were awarded points for ride time, group riding, and racing. Both group riding and racing provided extra points.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wheelmen Rider Spotlight #12: Brooks Kelly

In an attempt to become well acquainted with the 2014-15 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Wheelmen community, Brooks Kelly marks the 12th rider spotlight. The following information was provided as a set list of questions that Kelly entertainingly answered.  With responses ranging from the importance of ride partners to kettle corn, and an interest in eventually writing iOS applications, you do not want to skip this read. All responses are unedited.
Brooks Kelly (center). Photo credit: Brooks Kelly's Facebook profile. 
How long have you been a member of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Wheelmen or Wheelwomen?
I joined the wheelmen during winter quarter. I had been riding bikes for two years but decided competing in races was what I wanted to do.

What does it mean to be a member of the Wheelmen community?
Being a part of the wheelmen community means always having someone to ride with.  Before I joined, I was always doing solo rides which gets boring after a while.  I’ve met tons of great people who are always willing to explore new routes.

What cycling disciplines are you involved with?
I am only involved in road right now, but plan on starting to mountain bike over this summer and competing during the season in the fall.

Please describe your favorite San Luis Obispo ride.
My favorite route so far is Old Santa Rita off of Old Creek Rd.  Lots of dirt roads with very low car traffic and extremely scenic views.  Credit goes to Chris Ha for showing me that one.

What are you studying at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo?
I’m currently in my junior year, studying mechanical engineering.

Spotify or iTunes? Let us know your favorite tracks.
I’ve been using Spotify for the last two or three years.  The student discount is a great deal. I’ve been listening to Always- Classix Remix quite a bit recently.

Vans or Converse?
Converse all the way.

Sweet or savory?
Sweet.  I will destroy a bag of kettle corn if I get my hands on it.

Please provide us with one interesting fact about yourself.
I learned Spanish before I learned English. I had a nanny when I was 5 months old who taught me Spanish.  I’m still fluent and acted as my family’s translator when we travelled to Mexico when I was 10 years old.

Aside from cycling and education, what occupies your time?
I try to hike the surrounding peaks as much as I can. I’m also trying to teach myself some coding to eventually write iOS apps.

Be sure to examine the Cal Poly Wheelmen website and the Cal Poly Wheelmen Facebook page, for our most recent news! Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wheelmen Rider Spotlight #11: Adam Evard

Although it has become a less frequent segment, in an attempt to become well acquainted with the 2014-15 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Wheelmen community, Adam Evard marks the 11th rider spotlight. The following information was provided as a set list of questions that Evard formally answered. All responses are unedited.
Adam Evard. Photo credit: Adam Evard's Facebook profile. 
How long have you been a member of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Wheelmen or Wheelwomen?
This year has been my first on the team and it has been great!

What does it mean to be a member of the Wheelmen community?
Being on the Wheelmen gives me the opportunity to hang out with and meet people, both on and off the bike, who I otherwise wouldn’t know. And there is always someone to ride with!

What cycling disciplines are you involved with?
I’m primarily a roadie. Sometimes I take my mountain bike out, and sometimes I just ride my road bike on dirt.
Adam Evard. Photo credit: Adam Evard's Facebook profile. 
Please describe your favorite San Luis Obispo ride.
I really like riding out to Huasna Valley.

What are you studying at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo?
Finishing up my second year of Mechanical Engineering

Spotify or iTunes? Let us know your favorite tracks.
Spotify. I tend to listen to a variety of stuff but usually lots of folk and Americana. Shakey Graves has been a favorite of mine for several years.

Vans or Converse?
Converse Hi-tops, Vans low tops

Sweet or savory?
Savory

Please provide us with one interesting fact about yourself.
I’m a twin! My sister goes to UC Davis.

Aside from cycling and education, what occupies your time?
I spend way too much time watching TV. Also I build bike frames with the Cal Poly Framebuilding Club.

Be sure to examine the Cal Poly Wheelmen website and the Cal Poly Wheelmen Facebook page, for our most recent news! Thank you for reading.