Come hang with me and my friends over at SWRVE ad Velo Love as they throw another bike swap meet. Last time it was super fun, I met some really great people, and got to enjoy the beauty of LA in the sun. This time, however thy are adding a super fun cross race. So, come out, meet some bike people, get some cool stuff, and play in the dirt. I hope to see you there.
It’s a funny concept. One of the definitions from Dictionary.com is “Proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim.” Really? This means that the usage I have usually applied to the word is incorrect. Maybe unconsciously on purpose, maybe not. Who knows. Whenever things have lined up in sequence too perfect to be a mistake or too perfect to be random I have always said “Huh, that was random.”
Years ago when I started noticing patterns in life I began to stop believing in random. This is maybe the only time I have properly used the definition of the word. The act of disbelief in random is the only way I can properly use it.
What the hell am I talking about?
A week or two ago I was thinking I should shut down this blog. I didn’t like how I felt about it. I felt like I was using it as a tool to be known, to be popular, and to be cool. It felt dirty and dishonest and I didn’t like it. I was putting far too much of my identity into it and I stopped posting my writing in it. It went against the purpose of the blog, the unspoken mission statement that I had in mind when I started it.
Originally Demonfeet was started so that I could share the love and total gratitude I have for what cycling and running has done for me and for what other cool sports do for other people. I wanted it to be huge. I wanted people from all over the place to contribute articles, videos, and photos that were all about why they go play outdoors and how that helps them be who they want to be. I wanted all this to happen with the sole purpose of inspiring other people who might feel afraid and held back by fears and insecurities. I wanted this because that is the person I once was, super insecure and afraid to go out and try rad stuff.
The people that know me today wouldn’t believe me if I told them how crippled by fears and insecurities I used to be. It just wouldn’t make sense. I’m simply not that person anymore. This is one of the main reasons I run in the mountains and ride bikes like I do. There was a time when I couldn’t do sleep overs at other kids houses, fear and insecurities would wash over me and I would loose it and need to go home. There was a time later on in life when I couldn’t leave my house for more than a few hours because of the same feelings. Granted these times were long ago, the sleep over thing was when I was an adolescent and the near agoraphobia was some time around 12 or 13 years ago so there has been a lot of time to change between then and now.
I’m not trying to get all woo woo emo one you, please don’t misunderstand me. It’s just a simple fact that I used to be that kid and now I am not and running and cycling has helped the change in me massively. More so the running, I have only been cycling seriously for something around 4 years. The running however has been in my life for a very long time so that was and continues to be life altering.
I still remember when I completed the first goal I had ever set in running. It was something super short, probably not even a mile. I used to live up in Altadena, CA and I decided to run along my street Calaveras, until it stopped at Fair Oaks, and to run back home. I tried and tried and tried. I got closer and closer and closer. One day I did it. I felt like I had succeeded in something that once was impossible, which if you think about it was the truth. Hence the trying and trying and trying. To even try to define how I felt with the word “gratitude” would be an injustice to the feeling consumed me that night.
This is a moment in my life I do my very best to never forget.
What it felt like was as if from that point on I could do absolutely anything I set my mind to and was willing to dedicate my life to. Sense then I have tried very hard to prove that feeling wrong and I have failed terribly. This is a very good thing. I have made lists of outlandish things that I once though impossible and continued to prove those impossibilities to be wrong and only fueled by doubt which is just a feeling, nothing more.
This brings me back to the beginning of this here post and the fact that I almost shut down Demonfeet.
I had stopped running for a while because I really only want to run in dirt or the mountains and it has been nuclear hot here in Pasadena for the last month. I have always tried to keep running and cycling fun so when it is not fun, I stop.
What I didn’t realized was how that would effect my contributions to this blog.
Cycling is where I get my thrill and my adrenaline rush. Running is where I get my peace and calm. In running I have time to let my mind wander as it folds in on itself and then opens into a kind of mental origami over and over again. Running is a very spiritual pursuit for me so it’s where I get a lot of my thinking done. I never realized that when I was writing a lot here on Demonfeet I was getting the ideas of what to write when I was running. The ideas some times would need to be put right down onto this blog or on paper and other times they would stay with me laying dormant until I got on my bike or back in my running shoes. I never noticed this until tonight on my ride when I connected the timing of when I stopped practicing transparency through the writing in my posts here and started to fuel my grandiosity with “look at me and how cool I am.” I’m really bad at that grandiosity so I didn’t really post anything. The few posts I did put up were of amazing rides and I totally did use them to do my best to speak from the heart but between them I just had no words to share.
I got an email a few weeks back. 2 day after I decided to shut down this blog. The email was a comment a reader posted about the ride I did with my friends to the top of Mnt. Wilson in the middle of the night ro see the sun rise. CLICK HERE TO READ IT. The ride was amazing and truly meant the world to me. I posted it. I watched the readers come to it. I saw the stats die away, and I continued to ignore Demonfeet. Then the email came. The comment was from Terry Ellen. It says “As of right now, you’re definitely one of my favorite people and one of the most inspiring. I’m reaching for my pen and making my list. Thank you” This to me…I don’t know what to say. It means the world to me. I was filled with gratitude. That comment is why I started Demonfeet in the first place. To have Terry post that 2 days after I decided to shut down Demonfeet once again showed me, slapped me across the face really, with the fact that I was crazy to shut down Demonfeet. It would have been a very selfish move on my part so to Terry, thank you thank you thank you.
Sense then more people have come up and told me that they love what I post here. More than ever before really which to me is incredible. Even though I haven’t posted anything! I was even told at work, “It’s like following a super hero.” You know who you are (Allison ) thank you! That to me was wonderful to hear and hilarious at the same time, totally blew me away. It’s not that I am feeding off the praise, it’s just…connect the timing of all that with the fact that I was about to shut down Demonfeet and feel free to laugh in the face of “random”.
I don’t feel like a super hero, I don’t really feel special because I ride like I ride and run like I run. It’s just what I do, It’s my reality. I do feel like I am good at it, better than some but not as good as others. I feel this way because as I said before I will never ever forget what it was like to complete that first goal I set for myself. Never. Between that and where I am now I have spilled blood, conquered fears, almost died a few times (not kidding), and connected with some of the most incredible people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
I run and ride in the mountains and in nature because it refills me with gratitude as I feel that I am experiencing the world the way it wants to be experienced. It helps me deal with the crap I can’t help dealing with in the city. I ride in the city because I live in a city meant for cars. I feel like I take part of the control back that is taken from most people because they feel like the don’t have a choice but to drive from point A to point B. I run and ride over and over again because as people with responsibilities, bills, fears, insecurities, jobs, blah, blah, blah, we sometimes find ourselves feeling weak and empty. The not so glamorous parts of the american dream, (I should halt right now and say even though I do love love love my job it does wipe me out sometimes) are the parts that make us feel like we have no control over lives.
This is why I do what I do. I put on my running shoes and go play. Or I get on my bike and go play. What I am doing by taking these actions is taking the control back. I go and it is me and my decisions from the start to the finish. I control what happens as I decide to go left or right and as I jump in a stream and make it to the top. I do what I do because the actions of cycling and running refill my spirit and therefore make me a better me to myself and others around me.
To share my gratitude for this was the original purpose of Demonfeet and still is as I write this.
To the people that were reading my blog and liking what I was writing when I was writing a lot I am truly sorry for my lack of words but I’m back now. I hope to be posting way more than I have and I am going to do my best to post at least once a week. If I fall back again, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me and yell at me. You have my permission.
I know this was a HUGE post but I had a lot to say. It’s been a while and in the process of turning over a new leaf I have experienced a hell of a lot and want to share my gratitude with you all. Thanks for bearing with me as I unload. You are all awesome and I love you all. Except for the ones I don’t.
Hopefully every one of you has, at some point, has taken the time to write some sort of goals list. If not a goals list then maybe a list of things you have always wanted to do no matter how crazy you or the people around you think they are. When we write these lists and reflect back upon them, and if we are open to the idea, they can end up becoming guiding forces in our lives. How does this work? Honestly I have no idea. It just does. I know it sounds kinda cheese-ball Four Agreements type of thing but it’s true. And the Four Agreements is a damn good book so there!
Sunday at 3:30am, Bryan Novelo, Carlos Velazquez, and I went on a hunt for the sunrise at the top of Mount Wilson. In doing so I got to finally complete my list. Now I get to write a whole new one! It’s taken years to do but I finally finished it!
The route we took was from my house in Pasadena up to La Canada, up Angeles Crest Highway to the top of Mount Wislon, and back down. The kicker was that we did it brakeless on fixed gear bikes. Why? Well, honestly because I didn’t know if I could.
I should stop real quick to say this – I’m not trying to get into any debate of track bikes vs road bikes. That is a dumb argument that will never ever be solved so I just stay out of it. If you want to debate it feel free but keep me out of it. To me, if the bike has two wheel it’s rad. End of debate.
Now back to the story. I could imagine myself riding up and down Mount Wilson on a road bike with brakes for sure. Not that it would be easy, I can imagine that ride would be hard no matter how good I get, but it seemed far more manageable on a road bike. I, for some reason, had been dreaming about doing this on my track bike for years. I had asked frame builders if they could build me a custom frame with geometry that would lie somewhere between a touring frame and a track frame. They would ask why and I would tell them I want to ride Wilson brakeless. Most of them would say that’s a terrible idea, and some of them straight out refused. That’s seriously how much I wanted to do this, I was willing to pay for a custom frame just for this. Of course that would mean that I would have an very special frame to ride after the ride, but at one point I was wiling to put in the energy to get the money and then spend all the money to have the frame built just to ride up this damn mountain. It was that important to me. Here’s why…
I have lived here in Pasadena, pretty much all my life. I love it here, I really do. One of the main things I love about Pasadena is that the Angeles National Forest is basically my back yard. As a kid, the mountains in Angeles National Forest were GIANT. They were giant barriers on the north side of Pasadena. What was on the other side? Who cares? That didn’t matter. What mattered was that the mountains were taunting me. I would look up at them as a kid and they would shout back, “You Shal Not Pass!”. I saw that as a challenge and for the past 5 years or so I have seen that challenge as a goal.
I remember a few years years back looking up at the lights on the towers one night thinking to myself, “I want to go there.” I trained and got to a point where I could run up the mountain. So I did. It was awesome, but for some reason, not quite enough. So I took to the bike, I trained and trained and then Bryan Novelo came to LA and said, “Let’s ride to San Diego.” So we did. I realized I found a dude who was as motivated to conquer the world on a track bike as I am. After San Diego we decided it was time for Mount Wilson. I knew that if there’s anyone I would do it with it would be him. We committed and then at the last minute I though that the only thing that would make the ride even more incredible than riding up the mountain was if we did it in the middle of the night and catch the sun rising at the top. And we did that!! I cannot begin to explain how breathtaking that experience was for me.
The hardest part was the descent, but the way up was surreal and super peaceful. There were barely any cars because it was the middle of the night so the 3 of us traded off taking the lead as our paces were pretty much equal on the climb. When we got to Red Box and turned right to go up Mnt Wilson Road the sun was beginning to leak over the mountains and light up the sky. About half way up that road the sun came shining over the top and I had to stop to take the pictures. Bryan charged ahead on that road as we met him at the top. That dude is an absolute beast on a bike. We hung out for a sec, took come photos of the cloud cover below us, and turned back to ride down the mountain. As we were descending we were getting hilarious looks other cyclists climbed the mountain on their early morning ride, watching 3 dudes blast down past them on track bikes. I had to slow back a bit as my foot was cramping up and my shoulders were getting crazy sore but we all met back up at the bottom, high-fived each other, and rode to Lucky Boy to get my favorite breakfast burrito as a reward for a killer ride well done.
So, here I am, writing to you, hopefully inspiring you do make yourself a list of things you have always wanted to do but don’t think you can. I want you to make that list and reflect back upon it every once in a while. I want you to do this because if what happened to us happens to you you will find yourself actually achieving and doing what is on this list. This will hopefully teach you, as it continues to teach me and us that with hard work we can all do so so so much more than we think we can as long as we don’t let our fears and insecurities dictate our lives. We all have them, there’s no getting around that, we just need to not give them all the power they want. I don’t know if that makes sense, but whatever. I just kicked ass with my friends climbing Mount Wilson on a brakeless track bike when 95% of the people I told my idea to told me it was either crazy or impossible and the only bad think that happened was my legs were sore the next day. Lastly, as I said in the post I wrote about riding to San Diego on a track bike…we are not professionals, nor are we “sponsored athletes”, we have full time jobs, full time lives, full time relationships, and yet we find time to go ride hundreds of miles and up mountains. Don’t let life be your excuse to not live.
DO IT! Get a pen. Make a list. Go kick some ass.
Our good friends at SWRVE Clothing are having a velo swap + shop. Come bring your old bike stuff or any rad crafty goods you make and get new stuff too.
CLICK HERE if you are interested in selling, trading, and or just want info. It’s all about community with this one so from what I understand the spaces are going to be free but you need to bring table or blankets to display your goods, otherwise it’s a 6$ rental fee for tables & chairs.
Sunday was HUGE. Step 1 – wake up at 5:30am. Step 2 – Ride to Golden Saddle Cyclery to help set up for the champagne breakfast party to meet some of my cycling heroes and watch the Tour Of California ride by. Step 3 – Ride to Down Town to see the end of the Tour Of California. Step 3 – Ride back to the shop. Step 4 – Ride west to the Sunset Strip tight near Book Soup to meet Alex and Jamie at the BNIB LA Shoe Truck. Step 5 – Get a killer sunburn riding home.
It was a super long but super fun day. I made some new bike friends, which is always great, and I got to meet one of my all time cycling heroes, Garrett form MASH and Rapha. Not only that, I got the opportunity to make his day by telling him how much he and his friends influenced me and my friends. Were it not for those MASH dudes I might not be on my bike at all. It’s like that.
It was great to see Kyle and befriend more of the crew down at Golden Saddle. It was also great to be able to help set up. I drank way too much coffee and unsuccessfully tried to ride off the caffeine jitters.
As I got to my parents house to pick up my car I bumped into their neighbor who had what is going to turn out to be one of the all time great track bikes. I’m not going to tell you anything about it as I plan on doing a photo shoot with him and the bike so keep your eyes here in the next few weeks for that. What I will hint at is that the photo of the wood rim belongs to him and his bike. I’m telling you. It’s incredible. Enjoy the photos.
Big thanks to Golden Saddle for a kick ass Sunday morning
MASH. I don’t really know what to say about that crew. I call them a crew because that’s what they are. Yes they are a team but more than that they are a bunch of friends hanging out and having fun. That to me is far more crew-ish than team-ish.
Whatever you want to call them, they are literally the reason I ride by bicycle. I remember first watching the MASH video years ago with my friends and my reality of what can happen on a bike instantly changing. It reminded me of the early 90′s skate videos, just raw and passionate.
In Feb 2009 the dudes at MASH decided to get on their fixed gear bikes and go ride the Tour De California which is completely insane. They then had a presentation of it at an art gallery in LA which I went to 4 or 5 times. They were showing what they took with them, the jerseys, the bikes, really nothing that was too far beyond what I ride today but for some reason I felt like I was looking at some sort of sacred artifacts. For me, that’s what they were. When people like the dudes involved in that ride push the boundaries of what can be done far past what should be done into the world of “can it be done?” there is something super-inspirational and sacred to that. That’s why I wear their jerseys.
Im getting all sentimental and I need to go ride my bike now so please enjoy….
I’ve been amping up my cycling these past few days. Yesterday was the ride to the west side then this morning after getting dropped off in DTLA I met Alex at Urth Cafe and rode to BNIB then back home. After a hearty day of procrastination I got back on the bike and ride back to BNIB for Alex and my weekly Wednesday night Muck Riders ride. Thanks to Munito for the tunes, I would have had a miserable past few days were it not for the comfort and quality of those headphones.
Here are the Garmin stats, the both days are here, just click on the date.
Also, if you want to see pics from this morning and yesterday go to the earlier “Views From The Saddle” post I put up today. These below are from this evening’s ride.