Monday, January 21, 2019

Rivet Raid

Rivet Raid in the bag.

Not a race but a ride to raise money for the Santa Monica Mountains Restoration Trust. There would be one timed segment and what a doozy it was; Puerco Canyon from PCH, 2.95miles 1500' gain average grade 10%! But I am getting ahead of myself. The original ride was cut short due to all the rain this week so we were all riding the shorter 50 mile loop, which would have approx. 5000’ of gain.

The day prior I had felt a sore throat coming on, it’s my Achilles Heel, and with one of the kids in the house sick during the week the odds were pretty good I could catch something. I stopped on at a Pharmacy on drive to the race and picked up some DayQuil and Ricola. A good swig on the former and a pocket full of the latter saw me through the day.

80 or so riders left Peddlers Fork restaurant in Calabasas Sunday morning. The roll out was easy enough and there was plenty of chatting, Unfortunately the group got split by traffic lights very early on and I was at the front of the second half. As the lights turned green a few hardy souls tried to bridge and I was happy to let them go. An uneventful 4 miles brought us to the bottom of Dirt Mulholland and we started the climb up. Recent rains had left the fire road soft in parts and there were the remains of some flooding but if you choose your line carefully you could miss all the standing water and keep a clean pair of heels. The route steadily climbed up and I found myself chatting to a couple of riders, one a local and another from a San Diego team. I recognized the kit and know a couple of BWR peeps who are on it. “You must know, Joe Schmoe” is always a good ice breaker and the conversation was easy from that point on. The local rider pulled away and then suddenly pulled over and dismounted. His rear derailleur had exploded and was wrapped around his cassette. I asked if he needed assistance and he declined saying he would limp back home without issue. I saw him later at the finish and he had indeed made his way back to the start/finish and was having his bike fixed by the VeloFix Van that was providing support.

The trail topped out and we had the easy roll down on Sullivan Ridge Trail towards Santa Monica. I had last ridden these trails over 18 years ago on a hardtail 26” mountain bike shortly after moving to the US. To top half of the trail is gravel and the second half is concrete.

Memories kicked in, mostly, and a safe roll down the broken concrete road that was littered with potholes and hikers was the prudent choice, Another rider I know, Chris, caught me and we rode into Santa Monica together keeping one eye on the route on my Garmin and another on the traffic. The course wound its way through the blocks of Santa Monica. Some how we managed to miss the first Aid Station, I wasn’t worried as I had plenty on me but Chris turned back to find his original starting buddy. Other than multiple stops at crossing, junction, traffic lights and my expressed disappointment at one lady who rolled through a stop sign as I was mid-junction crossing, this section was uneventful.

The course dropped us onto Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). As you would expect there is plenty of traffic, but it ebbs and flows as the traffic lights catch and hold cars. There is no real bike lane but enough of a shoulder to make it ok.

Shortly past Pepperdine University was the right hand turn onto Puerco Canyon. The first half mile or so is road, then a gate and then the trail. This was the second Aid Station. I stopped to fill my bottles and asked had they seen any riders, as I, surprisingly hadn’t. I was told I was in the Top 20???

But then looking over my shoulder I saw the lead group, who had stopped at the first Aid Station had caught me, I went from Top 20 to top 50 in 2 minutes as they all caught and passed me!

This was the timed section. I had never ridden this trail, but I had run, well, walked it. It’s a long steep slog. The recent fires had taken its toll and the landscape was stark. That said the recent rain and sunshine was already making a difference with new green growth showing everywhere. I sat in and pedaled up. As I was waving my camera around someone asked me for it and took some great photos of me! Yay!

The first section of the climb was a series of ridable switchbacks, the higher you climbed the better the view. Until these ended and you got a reminder of what was to come…

I’ll spare you nitty gritty. The climb took 44 minutes, there was some walking, some cursing, a few downs and plenty of camaraderie from others suffering. Oh and the sun had come out too…temperatures rose to 80f!

Still at the top we were treated to a nice view for all our hard work!

The roll down the back side was no cake walk either, again I had run this fireroad as part of 50km runs from previous life as a runner which gave me an insight into what to expect….I am not sure this was a good or bad thing?! As before there was some washout and the channels made it somewhat challenging, as on the climb there were a few sections walked but mostly my Lynskey took everything in its stride. The third and final Aid Station was at the bottom and I stopped again to fill up my bottles and fill up from the cheese board that was on offer! Salty cheese and meat….yes please!

After a short stretch on the road the final section was a series of twisty rolling single track nothing too onerous other than a couple of short sharp climbs and some greasy muddy sections.

Of course with 300 yards of trails left I took my eye off the ball and toppled over in an unceremonious pile in the mud! A nice two mile roll back to the Finish generated enough speed to throw most of the acquired mud off of my bike!

A couple of right hand turns, and I was through the Finish Line.

Plenty of food was on offer and folks were milling about swapping war stories from the day. I was feeling pretty crappy and my throat was sore, so I scoffed the brisket burger, grabbed my bike and headed home.

All in all this was a grand day out and a good test of both my fitness and the bike. Both need a few tweaks but nothing major. My fitness is pretty good, there’s definitely room for some improvement but that will come as the season opens up more. The bike is rolling along nicely but there are few creaks that need some attention. Switching out my Eggbeaters for Shimano XT SPDs has removed the annoying squeak and I had no real issues in clipping or unclipping. I am still on the fence about switching out my 3T wheels for my Stan’s Tubeless, I’ve had no real issues to date running self-sealing clinchers…of course this may well turn into famous last words! I need to shake off this stupid cold/sore throat thing before digging back into training.

The event was well run, the Aid Stations well stocked with goodies and volunteers, Both of which I have seen fall short of the mark on other events. The course was challenging and got me, at least, riding new trails. Like many of the events in Southern Californian (BWR, Cobbler, etc.) the Rivet Raid is not a pure “gravel” ride. It’s a far cry from your Mid-West minimum maintenance roads that are wide, rolling, straight and…gravelly! That said, and in fairness. the descent along Sullivan Ridge Trail was gravel. So as long as you have this in mind when signing up you’ll be fine, and the challenges you may encounter along the way will only improve your bike handling skills!

Here is the Strava File if you’re interested.

So onwards, Rock Cobbler in two weeks…shenanigans aplenty await!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Writing & Reading!

So, you may have noticed that the dust was blown away from the blog with a pressure hose. Seven days, seven posts! My goal is to write a post every day. Some short, some long, some good (hopefully) and some bad (inevitably)! Have I set the bar too high…well time will see? I’ve been listening to Seth Godin’s podcast and he’s a great believer in just write. Just start, get going, get on with it. So here I am again, just under 11 years from when I started! It’s certainly had its ups and downs in that time. The internet, social media and interconnectedness of us all is light years away from what it was then! But I do still harbor the hope that when I am gone and dust that my kids will stumble onto this and think that Dad was actually a pretty cool dude!

In addition to writing I have set the goal of reading! I used to a lot and then work and smart phones and blah blah blah so let’s just file that under BS excuses and like the writing get on with the reading!

I have set myself a goal of 12 books in 12 months. It’s not an overly lofty goal. Others I know will inhale a book a week, but I would sooner set myself up for success and exceed the goal than get too far behind and never catch up! I have plenty of reading material and possibly the first 6 books teed up.


All I have to do is don my reading glasses….now where did I put them?!?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Review; Silca Borsa Americano Phone Wallet

I picked up a Silca Borsa Americano last Spring in the ever-ongoing quest for looking for the perfect phone wallet.

I had been using a Waterfield case for a year or so which was great as it allowed me to also carry a Wahoo Dongle on my phone. When TrainerRoad started allowing outdoor rides to sync without capturing it on the App on my phone I started to look for a smaller option, the Waterfield case was a bit bulky.

I was already a fan of Silca products, I picked up their T-Rachet and TI-Torque kit on a Kickstarter in August 2017 and since then have slowly been adding their tools and accessories to my kit arsenal. When they had a sale on their Expo gear I jumped in and grabbed a Borsa Americano Phone Wallet.

Items like this are, in my mind, like golf putters, their design and look either appeals to you or doesn’t. I was attracted by the fact this this is made from upcycled inner tubes, this makes good use of something that is usually destined for the trash and it also makes each Wallet unique. The construction is actually made from three layers, the outer (inner) tube, a middle layer of upcycled neoprene from discarded wetsuits and the inner; a robust cordura liner is sewn in. As with all Silca products they don’t skimp, and the wallet is finished with contrasting stitching and a YKK zipper. You can read more here about the Origin Story of the wallet.


As there has been no improvement in my eyesight I am still using a large phone. Since my earlier review I have upgraded my iPhone 7+ to a XS Max. My phone case is actually a “wallet” and holds two credit cards and my Driver’s License, this fits with no issue. The phone dimensions are almost identical 157.50 x 77.40 x 7.70 for the XS vs 158.20 x 77.90 x 7.30 for the 7+ so as expected, and proved out, there are no issues.

Inside there are four pockets of different sizes, perfect for credit card, cash or keys. Silca presents the Wallet on their website with a myriad of contents. While I think technically you can fit these all in I am not sure how “comfortable” it would be? All I see when I look at this photo is a scratched phone! Which somewhat defeats the object. Personally, I tend to keep soft items in the case; phone, cash, cards, SIS tabs, sachets of sunscreen, Chapstick etc. Anything hard and scratchy; tools, levers and C02 lives in my seat bag.


The bag fits snugly into my Pactimo jersey pocket and in addition to keeping this safe it stops the phone from bouncing out, something that has happened in the past. Yes, I have ejected my phone while riding!

In terms of its waterproofness I can’t say I have tested it in the rain. But I have tested in the heat. Having something rubber (butyl) close to your skin for any length of time you would think this would cause a hot spot but that hasn’t happened either. There is some evidence of warmth as you can see I have sweated through to it but it’s not anything I have noticed or has caused issues.

clip_image001[9]A bit sweaty post 4 hour ride under a winter jacket, it was warming up during the day!

So overall the Wallet does exactly what it says on the tin. It looks after your phone and valuables and does so in a stylish and unique way. It’s a bonus that it also keeps stuff out of the landfill!

Available through the Silca website, you can also find it on Amazon and comes with free shipping if you have Prime!

The Borsa Americao was purchased by me. See previous gear reviews in the tab above. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

Friday, January 4, 2019

Become a Pactimo Brand Ambassador!

Pactimo have just opened the application period for the 2019 Brand Ambassadors. I was selected as an Ambassador back in 2014 and since then it’s all I wear on my bike.

In the last four years I have really put their clothing through the ringer using it for Dirty Kanza, Belgian Waffle Ride, Crushar in the Tushar, multiple Everestings and 28 Century Rides…I had to look that last number up and it surprised me! I’ll definitely be putting to good use this year!


Belgian Blue and the (in)famous San Marcos Tan Lines from BWR!

The offer an amazingly wide range of clothing from entry level bibs that don’t skimp on any detail (I actually prefer these) to top of the line ride all day bibs that match and exceed anything that’s in the market. They have a full range of matching kits and understand the need for the classic black look. In addition, there is a broad and deep range of clothing and accessories for all seasons and all conditions. They also have dedicated custom team that looks after many clubs and teams.

Being selected gets you into an exclusive club, as it stands there are currently only 280 Members. In addition to the Pactimo benefits you get hooked up with a bunch of other industry leaders. The real long-term benefit is that once you have completed your year you become an Alumni, I am pretty sure that this is unique benefit? It’s certainly not one I have seen before. With Alumni status you still have access to the Ambassador clothing line and some of the other benefits too so it’s well worth crafting a solid application.

One other thing, don’t feel intimidated, the riding ability is across the board from active beginners all the way up to experts. For reference I would place myself somewhere closer to the expert end, maybe a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Applications are open right now and close on January 22 with the 2019 line up announced on February 8.

If you’re Pactimo curious use the discount code “everyadventure” for a one time 30% off code.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Strava Festive 500; my experience and thoughts on how to be successful

The Festive 500 is a Strava Challenge put on each year, this year is the eighth time it’s been run. The premise is easy 500km (310 and change in miles) in the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The only caveat is that the rides have to be outside, no trainer, no rollers, just hard, cold tarmac (or gravel or dirt or snow). I’ve seen it come around for the last few years and have accumulated the miles in the normal course of training/riding. Most years I would usually total somewhere between 60-70% of the mileage. This year I decided to make a plan and go for it.

There were a couple of other considerations;

  • I had to accommodate a pretty tight work schedule, I only had Christmas and New Year’s Day official off.
  • The weather, winter has arrived in California, yes, I fully understand it’s relative to somewhere like, Wisconsin but it’s relative and this week has been pretty cold!
  • Given that we’re in the depth of winter then day ends abruptly at 5:00pm I was constrained to riding in the morning
  • The good news was that it sunrise around 7:00am and I was working from home. So in theory I would be able to get on the road by 6:45am and get a solid 90-120 minutes before work.

So how did it shake out…

Monday December 24; 2:19 35.1 miles (56km), 2356’ gain, Min temp 39.2f Got out a little later than planned but was on the road by 7:00am. A tour round the local roads, with some climbing. A little longer than planned but nothing too onerous.

Tuesday December 25; 4:21 68.5 miles (90km), 4747’ gain. Min temp 53.6f. Headed out at 11:10am for obvious reasons. A nice big loop which took me out to Newbury Park, into the Santa Monica Mountains to see the burned area and home again.

Wednesday December 26; 2:37 38.6 miles (60km) 2375’ gain. Min temp 39.2f. Headed out to the local farmland. Clear blue skies and a nice cold wind. As you can see where we live is not flat by any stretch. Nearly 10,000’ in the last three days!

Thursday December 27; 1:47 27.0 miles (43km) 1736’ gain. Min Temp 35.6f. Looking for new routes I ventured over the hill into Thousand Oaks. While this should have been rush hour, the traffic was lighter. Managed to re-tweak an old reoccurring knee “thing” while doing nothing special?!

Friday December 28; 1:36 22.2 miles (35km) 1394’ gain. Min Temp 48.2f Wrapped up work early and headed out in the afternoon, given how much it hadn’t warmed up I was happy to leave this to much later in the day!

Saturday December 29; 3:36 51.1miles (82km) 3297’ gain. Min Temp 50.0f Slightly later start even through it wasn’t that warm. Headed out towards the Santa Monica Mountains and saw some more of the burn area. Took it easy babying my knee. Had hoped for a few more miles to get me over the 400km mark but fell just short at 391km.

Sunday December 30; 4:47 72.8 miles (107km) 4662’ gain. Min Temp 41f Longest ride of the event. I had planned to ride with the CVR Team but misread the start time and turned up an hour late! With that said I had the .tcx file on my Garmin so I headed and followed my nose….well my Garmin. I added a couple of twists at the end get the mileage and then I was done!



  • 315 miles / 509km
  • Total Time 21:03
  • Total Elevation 20,567’ / 6269m


As you can see it’s pretty doable. Other than a tweaky knee that, after making the Adult choice, prevented my from going to the Four Days of Fitness I came out unscathed. I made sure to plan out as day as best as possible but I got caught short with my Garmin showing 10% battery life while I was a two hours from home! Fortunately the 1030 has a Battery Save Mode, but it was down to 3% when I got home…that’s a little close for comfort! So with it completed here are some thoughts;

Home Relations; first and foremost get buy in and agreement on this in advance, balance out any family commitments and duties. Pissing off everyone at home while you’ve disappeared on Christmas Day for 5 hours is not an option for everyone. Fortunately being married to an Endurance Athlete means that I get a pass on a lot of things that others would at best get the dinner in the dog and at worst a set of divorce paper left out for you!

Prep; if you’re going out early, get all your gear prepped, laid out, ready the night before. Fumbling in the early hours sucks! Along with this is charge/recharge everything! Having your Garmin die 20 miles from home will be just a tad frustrating…I almost leaned this the hard way!

Route Planning; I wandered around a bit. Having a pre-planned route helped the miles go by. It also allows you to do the math and make sure you are spreading the distance out over the days, so you can finish it. Eight Metric Centuries will work…but so does a Statute Century (plus some loose change) every other day. Make sure you measure twice and cut once!

Keep some company; riding with a group or just another person not only makes the miles role by but gives you a chance to sit in a bit and draft for some (not all) of the ride. Mentally the company was nice too. I was bummed to miss the Team ride on the last day for both reasons.

Clothing/Gear etc.; I only had to fight with the cold. I finally feel like I have a wardrobe for all seasons. It’s taken a few years, but I am finally there, of course being a poster boy for Pactimo helps! I used everything in my arsenal on multiple days!

Fuel; it’s important to keep the fuel and fluid intake up. You’re not fueling for today, you’re recovering today and fueling for tomorrow. Breakfast and Dinner included. Keep drinking, even if you’re not sweating make sure you keep the intake up

Recovery; foam roll, stretch, recovery boots, Epsom salts bath…whatever your recovery regimen make sure you follow it, if you don’t have one find/create one. Google, your club or your mates can help!

Pacing; pace yourself for the event not for the day. Go out too hard on Day, 1, 2 or 3 and you’ll be paying for it down the line!

Bike Love; we all love our bike, show it some, give it a wash, wipe down, whatever it takes. Lube the chain and check the tire pressure. Just some basics will keep you humming along the road rather than standing on the side of it! If you use anyt of your spares; tubes etc, make sure you replace them for the next day

Have fun; finally enjoy the challenge, you’re not a pro, you’re not being paid to do this, all you’re going to get is a Ralpha Roundel and a Virtual Badge! Those not in the know will look at these and listen with a measure of disbelief and incredulity at what you just did…but hey you just did it!

So, these are the things that I can think of, I am sure I missed some, what thoughts do you have?

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2019 Ambassadorships

For 2018 I stepped back from being an Ambassador and mostly just rode my bike. I had been very fortunate to have been associated with some awesome companies in the past years but last year I thought I would let some other folks carry the flame, it also gave me a chance to spend the year trying new stuff and consider who and what I wanted to apply for 2019. As the year started to wrap up the calls came out and I submitted my applications. So I no particular order I find my myself very fortunate to have been selected by the following companies;

Pactimo; I am actually an Alumni Ambassador, this will be my fifth year working with them. During 2018 I also used their custom services for the Lynskey Group I am a part of online. My wardrobe is full of it and it’s the only thing I wear.


AltRed by SUR; AltRed is a phytonutrient called Betalain which is naturally found in beets. It improves oxygen delivery, mitigates lactic acid and protects muscles from damage during activity. I started using AltRed on the recommendation of a fellow Pactimo BA and found it to be really effective during my workouts and as a recovery aid.


Honey Stinger; simple and effective fuel. Easy to carry, easy on the stomach, tasty and they work. Eating real food is much easier to handle on the bike (vs on the run) and while I do still take gels I actually prefer to eat real food and their waffles fit the bill (and pocket) perfectly . They have a wide variety of flavors, so palette fatigue isn’t a concern. Oh and they go really well with coffee too!


Haute Route; you may have noticed all the Haute Route events on my Schedule. I was very fortunate to have been selected as one of less than one hundred riders to represent them and their international series of events. In addition to riding three of them I’ll be volunteering at a few others!

Image result for haute route cycling

Hawk Racing; technically I am actually sponsored by them. I’ve been a fan of and using their Bottom Brackets and Derailleur Pulley Wheels for several years now. I found them through Friction Facts (now owned by SRAM). They are so effective and based on the research and science you don’t need and probably shouldn’t be using ceramic bearings! Who doesn’t like free speed!


Sound Probiotics; I actually co-opted Becca’s supply that she got through Couer. Let’s be honest our diets are never 100% perfect, probably anything north of 75% and we’re doing well. So using their Sports Probiotics tips the balance in my favor and prevents things from becoming a problem to start with!

I have a couple more irons in the fire but this is the line up for 2019!

Keep following for some exclusive offerings from each of them as the year unfolds.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019; the schedule!

Up until November/December the plan for 2019 had been for a fairly quiet race year with a DK200 as the goal event and if I failed to get in through the lottery (gone are the days of just signing up) I would throw my hat in the ring for the XL 350 mile version. Then things turned on a dime, everything got thrown in the air and landed mostly as follows;

January 20 Rivet Raid; mixed surface ride through the Santa Monica Mountains with proceeds going to restoration efforts post Woolsey Fire

Image result for dirt mulholland

February 9 Rock Cobbler 7.0; as per my last post I missed the 2018 edition. Rumor has it that the 2019 version involves some swimming?!?!

Image result for rock cobbler

May 5 Belgian Waffle Ride; actually, I am 99% this will be the Belgian Wafer Ride, all the fun gravel bits and none of the remorseless Ramona suckfest

Image result for belgian wafer ride

June 22 Haute Route Rockies, CO; seven days, 770km and 20,000m of elevation gain in the front range of the Colorado Rockies. This is my A event for the year

Image result for haute route rockies 2019

August 23 Haute Route Cedar City UT, similar format to the Rockies only this one is 3 days instead of 7 and this time Becca is riding too, we still working out if it’s going to be a team event or if we will ride it as solo riders

Image result for cedar city bike rides

September 27 Haute Route San Francisco CA; detecting a theme yet? 3 days again, this time we head up the coast to San Francisco at hit some of Northern California climbs!

Image result for haute route san francisco

Other events not scheduled;

An Everesting/ High Rouleurs …I have been carrying the High Rouleurs monkey on my back for several years now and with all the climbing I will be putting it could be the year it gets shrugged off!


I’ll also be chasing Becca around as she does her crazy stuff…trust me, she is taking crazy to 11 this coming year!

So, what was going to be a quiet year, isn’t!

Stay tuned adventures to follow!!