Go over to their site and say hi. They’re super sweet ladies and they’ll write you back. It’s always a ton of fun opening up a new dialogue between fellow cyclists.
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.
Pat Walker & Bryan Novelo Adventure Time!!! Ride Down The Coast: Hermosa Beach to San Diego.
A few years ago, when I first got the taste of “just maybe we can” in my world of cycling, my friends and I rode from LA to San Diego. We went along the 605 bike path to Seal Beach, turned left and followed a map street after street. We had never done it before and we were way younger. Most of it was totally ego based, a bunch of dudes riding slowly down the coast unwilling to give up because we cared so much, too much really, about what we looked like to the other dudes in the ride. Thinking back, the only really great thing about it was the fact that together we did something that the day before we thought impossible. We suffered together and were brought closer together. The ride? That sucked. We were way out of shape, we brought GU and electrolytes instead of food, on and on, it was all bad. But we did it and from that point on it was no longer an impossibility.
For some reason, I was still driven to push my distances on my track bike. I craved the destruction of what I thought was impossible. Most of the early group I went with didn’t follow in my pursuit so I just rode and rode and rode farther and farther. I eventually started meeting cyclists that followed the same motivation as I. People like Pat Flores and Bryan Novelo. Pat, I could write up a whole book on that dude, he’s the gnarliest dude I know on 2 wheels, hands down. I’ll post about him soon for sure. This one is about Bryan and me.
I met Bryan a few months ago at the SWRVE / Velo Love swap meet. He just moved into town and we decided to start riding together. Eventually he asked me if I had done the LA to SD ride before. I said I had and as I reflected back on how many times I thought I was going to either barf or faint last time, I came up with as many crappy excuses as to why I can’t go. Then I thought, things are different now, I’m in way better shape than I was before, Bryan is strong enough so we would both be close to even, and this time would be different. I had learned my lessons last time and could use that experience to make this ride super rad. So I hit up Bryan, looked at my work schedule, and we said “Fuck yes, let’s do this.”
This birthed a new idea…
We thought it would be super fun to start going on these epic rides, photographing them, and writing about them. We want to share about our experiences and show people that we are not pro cyclists. We have normal jobs, go to school, have a ton of outside responsibilities, basically we are just normal dudes with an unquenchable thirst for 2 wheeled adventures and we want to share this. More importantly, we want to share it in a way that it is approachable to anyone who wants to go on adventures but doesn’t think they can because they think with their full lives there’s no way to do it. To these people, I’m sorry but you are wrong. These adventures are open to anyone and everyone who has a bike and a passion to explore and experience. Go for it! Then let us know how it was, sharing is caring.
The ride started like every great adventure should, with a last minute disaster. One of our wheels stopped working. At 10:30pm. We were going to wake up at 4:30 to make the ride an early one. After going over all the possibilities, we realized we needed to do exactly what we didn’t want to and drive the beefy Cadence Truck from the shop in Hermosa Beach to my house in Pasadena to get one of my wheels. Sometimes you just gotta get out of the idea of what should happen and roll with what is happening. As soon as we got back to the shop, we crashed out dreading the 4:30am wake up. Luckily we started the ride with the less militant idea and more realistic idea of lets chill and sleep in a bit. We ended up leaving the shop at around 7:30. It’s important that we did because the openness to rolling with the punches that are delivered is the vibe that carried us down the coast as we decided to have a general idea of where we were going but more so followed the rule of “keep the ocean to the right, stay on PCH as much as possible, and just go”.
PCH from Hermosa Beach kinda sucks until you hit the Seal Beach-ish area. It’s just business and docks. It’s super industrial and normal city-ish. We took some cool photos of the giant towers of shipping containers as I remembered the last scenes of the movie I, Robot.
After stopping for a photo-op in front of 3 of the most beautiful cars I can imagine, we stopped in Seal Beach at a classic cyclist coffee shop stop point, Bogart’s Coffee House. We refueled and rode basically all the way to Laguna Beach for some epic tacos and delicious re-fueling health food.
The taco spot we stopped at was Taco Loco. It was so amazing. It turns out I had been there years ago and totally forgot about it. I wasn’t into healthy food back then so I couldn’t appreciate it. That just made me extra grateful that we stopped there this time. Food as fuel, the healthier the better. After the meal we did some exploring and ended up walking along a path to a beautiful beach called Sleepy Hollow.
We then rode along PCH stopping when we saw something amazing for a quick pic, like the dirt bicycle path along the beach and that raised to a walking bridge above the train tracks. This was the theme of the ride, as I was explaining before. Ride, relax, go fast, stop to shoot pics, and above all just have a whole lot of fun.
After a few more stops along the way we got to Camp Pendleton and the old 101. This was my favorite part. The old 101 is the highway that everyone used to travel south to San Diego before the I5 was built. The highway is still there but only as a bike path. It’s not well maintained, but it’s not too wrecked. There are super tall weeds and shrubs growing up out of what was the center divider and along the sides. As we were riding along, I realized that it was exactly what all our freeways would look like were the zombie apocalypse to come. Duh, right? It’s an abandoned highway, I should have expected that, but for some reason when I was on it, that idea was more real than if I were in chilling at home thinking about it. Super creepy to think about it like that.
Along the old 101 we stopped at a set of out houses to refuel and empty ourselves for the ride through the base because remembering the last time I did this ride, I know it’s just boring and shitty for 15 or so miles. We noticed that there was an open road west off of the main drag that lead to a giant concrete slab. I mean GIANT. I’m assuming it was for some military thing, like helicopter landing practices or something like that. This being a ride of fun and explorations we both thought we had a great photo-op / exploration potential there.
What we found other than a crazy giant spance of concrete in the middle of basically nowhere, were some of the most beautiful cliff formations I have ever seen. The cliffs led all the way down to the water. We sat, recollected, refocused and carried on. That break, that beauty, that surprise, was exactly what we needed. Focus, recollection, onward.
We continued riding along the coast mile after mile and I though about how much easier it was this time that last. I don’t ride every day, I have a car and I love my car. I ride when I can and try to push myself when I do it. That’s about the extent of my training. I was worried about the possibility that riding as little as I do wasn’t enough for a ride like this but apparently I was wrong. It wasn’t that big of a deal rally. Yah, my gooch hurt but after 120 miles on a track bike I don’t know how it wouldn’t.
The ride was epic, relaxing, and beautiful, until the end. This is the problem with this ride. Once you get in to SD you are faced with the Torry Pines climb. Fuck that climb. All day fuck that climb. Not only is it that climb, it the fact that after that, all though most of SD the route we were on was just huge down hill followed by a bigger uphill, then flat, wait, no, jus kidding, here another downhill and why not an uphill too! BLAH! The last 12 or 15 miles was the most exhausting part. It was unreal. At least at that point our bodies were so primed with adrenaline from the prior 100 or so miles that it was easier that just riding them. And hell yes I walked up a few. I was so tired at that point.
We finally got to Bryan’s friend’s house. We ate like fat-asses, as most cyclists are fat-asses on the inside, we relaxed a bit, and passed the hell out. In the morning we were woken by the daughter and high ruler of the household, Penelope. We played with her, ate some breakfast, hung out for a bit then departed to ride around down town San Diego before we got to the train, passed out, and arrived in LA.
The ride was exactly what I needed. I am so grateful for cycling because it brings people together like Bryan and I as we chase the pursuit of what we once though was impossible. I don’t know where I would be with out it but I do know that that place would be filled with far more insecurities and fears all based on the fact that I had not yet tried to face things that scare me. Now that I face them, now that I ride toward them, and now that I don’t do it alone, all I can think about is where are we going next. I know, Bryan knows, and you? Well you need to just wait and find out.
Until next time.
I know It’s been over a week since this happened but I’ve been on other planets so now that I have returned, here is the article I wrote up about the opening of the Cadence Store in Hermosa Beach….
BNIB & Patrick Walker go to the Cadence Store Opening
Cadence Clothing is a company I have been interested in since I first started riding bikes. I think I first heard about them when I saw the MASH video. Remember that video? That was the best. I wanted so bad to be those dudes or at least ride like those dudes. What I did instead was exactly what I did with the old Plan B videos when I was skateboarding; I paid obsessive attention to what the athletes did and what they wore. This is how I found Cadence.
The more I researched Cadence, I learned that they do more than print shirts. They make super strong clothing made for work, dates, life in general and that you can ride all day long day after day. Super tough pants with seam protection in the crotch, clean collared shirts cut for life on and off the bike with hidden key pockets, and if you keep your eye on the web site, they experiment with different materials. 2 of the best shirts I have ever worn on and off the bike are both models of their bamboo shirts.
Maybe a year back or so, could be longer I’m a terrible judge of time, I was so stoked on the little extra hand written thank you notes that came with the products that I emailed them telling them how impressed I was with their customer service and Dustin, the owner, actually wrote back! Since then we have traded emails back and forth because a company as intimate and friendly as Cadence has been to me is one I need to support and follow. When I saw that they were opening a storefront in Hermosa Beach, I had to come see what kind of rad artistic magic was going to happen.
I was totally blown away! The hallway from the back lot to the front of the store was lined with bikes hanging on the right with posters and art all along the left. This continued to three massive canvases Dustin painted within that week leading up to the openings. What stuck out most to me was how colorful and artistic the storefront was. Most of the art works in the storefront were done by Dustin and done in the week or so that he was in town to set it all up. That is INSANE. You really need to come to the store to see it in person. It’s a must for sure. My photos don’t do it justice. He also has a web site http://www.dustinklein.com where he is showing way more of his art so please go there, it’s a really cool site.
I’ve been in so many storefronts that are way too clean and formal for me to be comfortable in. Yah, maybe I’m a wee bit dirt-baggish but whatever. I just don’t like being in a place where I need to constantly worry about getting things dirty. I don’t want to be in a fracking museum! I want to be in a clothing store. The Cadence store is that perfect blend of informally artistic and respectfully formal so that you know that the products are super high quality. Standing in the storefront feels like I am standing in the middle of an art studio. Everywhere I looked there were little artistic details, colors, designs, and canvases. On one of the walls holds a display of all the main steps they took in the developments of their amazing cycling denim. Up above the register they have a presentation of a bunch of the cycling jackets and shirts they had designed over the years. They are basically presentations of the different paths they had taken to get to where they were at that exact moment, the store front. I thought that was really cool to see.
I don’t want to give it all away in either this article or in the pics so I’m only going to show you some good detail shots and say that all the people there are so nice and welcoming that you need to go meet them in person. Go see the art, buy the products and ride the hell out of them, that’s what they’re made for. Support the arts, support a rad dude, and a rad company as he supports you with good cycling gear.
Support Cadence either at the store or by clicking HERE
Support artist Dustin Klein HERE
Here’s where I found it…
Yesterday was a big one. I rode all over LA. From Pasadena to La Brea and Beverly for the trunk show of my sister’s sustainable jewelry company Kora Designs. The trunk show was at Croft House, if you are not familiar with that spot you need need need to go. It’s so amazing. It’s not even my kind of stuff and I was totally blown away by what I saw. There are pics below of chandeliers build from bike wheels, cogs, and chains. Genius. I unfortunately forgot to ask who made those so I could link it here but you can call Croft House or check the site, it’s probably there.
After the show I rode to meet Alex at BNIB, totally mislead my google maps…again. I made it to him eventually then we got ready and rode out to the Santa Monica Pier do muck around, eat some crepes, shoot some pics, and ride home. Super great night as I prepare for some real big distances I’m planning in the near future.
Enjoy the photos!
VFTS 5/23/12 + KORA, a set on Flickr.