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.