Category: Team Lost Coast Brewery

Maui winter training: Day 6, Mt Haleakala

On the top of Mt Haleakala

Yesterday we took another “rest day” (40 miles, 2000 feet climbing) riding down to the beach to watch some kite boarding, then heading east along the coast to see the infamous big wave break known as “Jaws”. After riding a few miles down a dirt and gravel road we found that Jaws lacked the bite we had hoped for, and only had a flat tire, and an ejected stainless water bottle to show for it.
Today we rode up Mt Haleakalah, a volcano and the highest point on the island at 10,023 feet. The climb is world famous for huge elevation gain in a single paved climb. Traditionally the ride starts in the town of Paia for a 70 mile ride, but our hostel is in Wailuku, adding another 12 miles and 500 feet of climbing. We woke up early to attack the hill so we would make it back in time to pack up and make our flight that later that evening.

The climb for us started about 5 miles in and kept an average gradient of around 5% the entire way up. Adam and I started off at a good warm-up pace, planning to give it more of an effort when the main switchback section of the climb starts on Crater road. We briefly stopped off at the Kula Market at the base of crater road to fill our bottles before starting into it. Crater road is 20 miles with about 7000 feet of continuous even climbing. The road is in very good shape being recently paved, and has long and gentle sweeping switchbacks. We tried to estimate a pace we could hold for the 20 miles, and used our power meters to pace ourselves. My early season legs couldn’t quite live up to my optimistic estimation, and I was yo-yoing off of Adam, and the pace by the time we hit the park entrance at half way (10 miles, 7000 ft). We slowed just long enough to hand money to the ranger for the entrance fee before continuing on. Adam wanted to keep up the pace, and I let him go, while I settled for something that would be more sustainable for my current fitness level. Taking it down a few notches felt great, and I continued up without struggling to breath like I had expected for the high elevation.

Before we ascended into the clouds, the views were pretty spectacular. We could look down upon the steep West Maui Mountains we had ridden several days before, and see out to the other Hawaiian islands. The gain in altitude brought with it a decidedly Mars-like change to the landscape. Trees became bushes and bushes became small scrub, until virtually all vegetation had disappeared. Being on the bike allowed us to also take in the sounds of the mountain. There was virtually no wind, and everything was creepily quiet, save some chirping of birds. It would have been impossible for us to experience that if we had driven to the top.

A few miles later, and well out of site, Adam flatted, and decided to continue on up as opposed to waiting for me and the pump. Despite the flat, he still ended up just beating me to the top, but suffered for it. On the summit he was pretty dizzy and nauseous from the effort and altitude. Fortuitously, we happened to run into some Davis-ites on the summit that Adam knew through personal training he used to do. They offered him a ride part way down the mountain and he happily accepted.

The view from the top was still pretty fantastic despite mostly looking out on an ocean of clouds. We were really too tired and cold to enjoy it though, and quickly made ready to descend. The 10,000 feet in elevation makes for high temperatures in the 50’s, which is quite chilly once one is acclimated to 80 degrees at sea level. As recommended, we brought our warmers, wind vests, and gloves, which were all very much needed for descending through the cold, cloudy sections. As Adam got a  ride down, I decided to see how quickly I could make the descent, mostly just to create enough heat to stay warm. I almost completely overcooked the first corner, and had to remind myself how much less aerodynamic drag there was at altitude to help slow me down. About 30 minutes later and 7000 feet lower I met up with Adam again. We grabbed some soup at the local market to warm up and fuel up before continuing the descent. I must have been cold, as I ended up wearing the warmers all the way back down to sea level.

Strava link
We had been doing some hard rides over the last several days, but something about this one made it much harder. It was probably a combination of the previous day’s rides, the hard effort, and the altitude that put us over the top; the type of fatigue where you’re too drained to eat, and just pick at your food. On the up side, being drained makes it a little easier to leave the paradise we called home for the last 6 days. We packed up our bags, said our goodbyes to our hostel mates, and jumped on the red-eye to take us back to California. 


Maui winter training: Day 4, The Road to Hana

The previous day Adam and I “took off” and ended up doing an 8 mile hike in the Iao valley. I have to remind myself that going on a hike doesn’t necessarily equate to taking it easy.

Today we rode the infamous road to Hana. Driving this road that follows the north coast of the island from the center to the eastern tip is one of the most popular tourist activities on the island. The road snakes though lush rainforest for about 40 miles over 59 mostly one-way bridges, and 620 corners. This is nothing short of heaven on two wheels. Starting in Wailuku it was going to at 110 mile day with 9600 feet of climbing, so we made sure to load up with a ton of GU and Brubars. The first 15 miles were pretty rough going directly into a constant 20 mph headwind across the flattish central agricultural section of Maui. 
The vegetation began to get progressively more tropical, the road narrowed, and the twists began. We had been warned that this road could be very dangerous because it was narrow (in some parts one lane), had blind corners, and was trafficked by rubbernecking tourists. We felt quite the opposite. The traffic was so slow that we were actually faster than the cars in many spots, allowing us to safely take the entire lane for most of the ride. It felt like we were off the front in a big race with our lane closed to traffic.

Picturesque detour to the beach.
It quickly became clear that we would have to inform Jeremy Clarkson (of Top Gear) that we had in fact found “the greatest road….in the world”. Endless hairpin turns over 1 lane bridges, immaculate pavement littered with bright red tropical flowers, and jaw dropping views of cliffs over the ocean and waterfalls. It is really impossible to adequately describe, and the photos fall far short of doing it justice.

Along the ride we met up with a local out for a lunch ride who pointed out a good spot to take a detour down to the beach. It was a good thing as it provided some of the best views of the day, and an excuse to grab some delicious mango bread before the main climb. The 1100 foot climb rewarded us with a gentle, but twisty descent for 10 miles down to Hana. 
Lots of cornering
We took a short break on the beach in Hana and grabbed some snacks at a stand before mounting up and heading back. We were certainly feeling a little fatigued by this point, but the road kept us motivated so we barely noticed it. 
The sun got lower in the sky and shown over the clouds as we rounded one of the many bends. I fortunately was able to capture Adam’s spontaneous celebration in a photo that pretty much sums up our general feelings of this ride. 
This sums up the feeling on the ride

Exiting the forest, we were pleasantly met with a ripping 20+ mph tailwind that allowed us to rip across the flat back to the hostel at 30mph. We immediately headed off to stuff our faces with delicious Thai food to make up for the 4400 calorie day.


Maui winter training: Day 2, West Maui Loop

Initially the weather forecast pointed to this day to be the most optimal for climbing the big volcano on the island, Mt. Haleakala. The Mt. Haleakala climb is world famous for going straight up from sea level to 10,000 feet in 40 miles on gently graded perfectly smooth pavement, a climber’s dream. In the days preceding the trip, I started to come down with a cold, and woke up in the morning knowing that attempting the big day would be a mistake. Instead, we opted to sleep in a little longer and hit the less ambitious West Maui loop. 
Sonoma or Maui?

The first portion of the loop was pretty mellow taking us south through sugarcane fields on the side of a small highway, then west and north right along the coast. The weather was overcast, so we didn’t get a great view of the nearly vertical green mountains we were riding next to that dominate west Maui. The ride was fairly lack-luster for the first 40 miles (at least compared to expectations) as we rounded the west coast of the island.

Once we approached the north side, things got interesting quickly. The highway gave way to a twisty two lane road, not unlike California hwy 1 in parts. In fact, parts of the north west coast were completely indistinguishable from the coastal roads of Marin and Sonoma counties: rolling hills covered with short grass and rocky outcroppings on coastal cliffs with fenced cattle land. The obvious difference was the frequent tropical rain-forest grottos.

Some sections looked straight out of central america

Being from the heart of redwood country, it usually takes a pretty spectacular forest to impress me, and this did not disappoint. The rolling hills quickly added up to 4,000 feet of climbing and that, along with neglecting to bring enough water, left me in bad shape nearing the end of the ride.

Fortunately, there happened to be a great fruit stand selling coconut water (nature’s electrolyte drink). Aside from the drink, the guy there was practically giving tropical fruit away. He was pushing plenty of free samples, and parting with bags full of fruit for only a dollar! I fit all of the passion fruit and apple-bananas (bananas that taste kind of like apples!) and headed back for home.

Fresh coconut water!

West Maui loop (Strava link)


Maui winter training: Day 1

As the new year quickly approaches, it is time to get back into riding shape again. I had been thinking about doing a trip to Maui for some winter training for the last several years. It just so happened that the planets aligned (little Mayan Apocalypse joke there) to let me take that trip this year. California has a pretty temperate winter compared to most other places, but the prospect of December rides sans warmers through the tropical rain-forest was too much to pass up. For this adventure I recruited my former UC Davis Cycling teammate and traveling buddy, Adam Smith. Finding some cheap plane tickets, and crashing at a hostel allowed us to pull off the trip on the cheap.
We departed Davis at 3:30am to make our early flight out of Sacramento international airport and ensure our bikes made it on the little puddle jumper to SFO. Ten and a half travel hours later we arrived in beautiful and sunny Maui. After taking a cab to the hostel and getting set up there we decided to go grab some food out, hit the beach, and do some grocery shopping for the next few days. Cue the first awesome thing about a bike vacation: your bike doubles as your around town transport. No need for rental cars, taxis, or long hikes. We grabbed the giant Kryptonite New York chain I bought for the trip and went exploring.
Beer run with Adam. Always a high first day priority. Very disappointed in the lack of Lost Coast brew at the supermarket

Rockville Skills Clinic

Bekah and I hosted a skills clinic this last Saturday at Rockville hills Regional Park near Fairfield, CA. Living in Davis, can be great for cycling. It has been voted one of the most bike friendly communities in the country, and has a large, competitive contingent of road racers. Unfortunately, being in the middle of the central valley, with a 45 minute drive from the hills, means that few people in town get introduced to riding on dirt. In trying to introduce more people to the sport, Bekah and I decided to host a skills clinic for the cycling team at UC Davis, which, like the rest of the community, is predominantly focused on road riding.

Rockville is almost like it was made to hold skills clinics. The small park has tons of trails crisscrossing each other, so any given section is never far off. Additionally, there is a large diversity of terrain allowing for riders of all skill levels to have a good time. You can find everything there from fireroad, to mellow singletrack, to hecktic tight singletrack, to rockgardens, and big drops. It’s a great little park.

We had a good showing for the clinic drawing 9 riders evenly split in gender of various skill levels, to the three instructors: Bekah, our friend Andy, and I. All of the riders had done some mountain bike riding before, but those who considered themselves mountain bikers were very much in the minority. After a quick survey of what the riders were interested in learning, we decided to go for a more intermediate/advanced lesson and really focus on honing a few techniques.

We first spent a while going over cornering. We had them work on some drills to hit home the idea of how to lean and weight the bike in the corner. After everyone got a good sense of that, and some practice taking some flat corners, we headed up the hill to practice on a fun, windy, singletrack descent. The drills seemed to help, as everyone was able to start to get the proper technique down fairly quickly.

Next up, we headed over to Rockville’s famous rockgarden to practice riding up and over obstacles. We went over the technique of how to lift and shift your weight to get up and over a rock step-up. The lower rockgarden is a great place to practice this as the step-ups become progressively larger. Some had a little more trouble with this than the cornering, and were not quite able to link together the timing. Trying to think about so many things can be overwhelming, so we decided to finish up the lesson portion, and just go for a fun ride for the rest of the time where the skills could be applied. By the end of the fun ride, and with the lesson environment pressure removed, the riders previously having trouble we able to go through the motions to get up and over step-ups.

In all I think it was a pretty successful skills ride. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and I hope that it puts them one step closer to considering themselves mountain bikers


2012 Echo Red to Red XC

March 3rd marked the fourth annual Echo Red to Red XC mountain bike race up in northeastern Oregon in the tiny town of Echo, Oregon. This was the first stop in the Oregon XC series, and the season opening race for most. Matt and I made the drive up to Portland Friday evening to stay at my mother’s house and meet up with our ride to the race in the morning, Clydesdale champion of the universe, Officer Michael Smelser. It was a three hour drive from Portland so we were up and out the door bright and early with egg sandwiches for early breakfast and peanut butter and jellies for race fuel on the go. We arrived at Echo with about two hours until the first group start, enough time to get registered, squeeze into our kits, and get a warm up. Pro/cat1 started together, and with a record setting 650 racers showing up to race the season opener, the group wasn’t very small. They started us with a neutral roll out on the asphalt before we hit the two mile section of gravel road that dumped right in to the single track. As soon as racers hit the gravel the race was one, with everybody fighting for position for the fast approaching single track. This was Matt’s first time racing in Echo, so he stuck to my wheel as we maneuvered our way up the pack in a hope for better position once we hit the single track and passing became difficult. Once we hit the single track there was no more road until the return finish and it was time to settle into a good pace and start picking off as many people as I could, with Matt only a few riders back. The scenery in echo is amazing every year, rolling farm hills without a tree for miles. The downside to this year was the thirty mile per hour winds that seemed to make the few downhill’s there were on the course hard to keep speed on. On many parts of the course you would go around a corner and be looking up at the next twenty minutes of switchbacks, single-track, and string of racers mashing their brains out to stay ahead of you, it was slightly discouraging to say the least. After 22 miles the pro course took an extra detour that led us screaming down a fire road to a set of freshly cut trails that weaved in and out of an island of trees bordering a raging river. After a few off camber ladder bridges that made you pucker as you crossed over rushing water we climbed back out of the river bed trails and traversed across an endlessly bumpy field back to the 2 mile road finish into town. For the last fifteen miles of the race I had been stomping the pedals fighting to stay ahead of another racer I knew was in my category only about fifteen seconds back. I knew if I held him off to the road I had enough gas to make it to the finish ahead of him. Everything was going to plan as I hit the road and did my best to tuck out of the wind and time trial to the finish line. The last half mile of asphalt was a downhill spin fest, and my 1×10 setup I had put on the day before was finally topping out after 30 miles of trails, and I could feel my competition breathing down my neck. I made it maybe 200 yards from the finish spinning an exhausting cadence when my right hamstring cramped up and I had to sit up and finish the race one legged as the fellow racer blew by me. I was 7th on the day for cat1, with 5th and 6th finishing ten seconds in front of me, and about five minutes off the winning cat1 time. Matt rolled in several minutes after, only to find me exhausted and shoving my face full of lunch and whining about my cramp already. Turns out I wasn’t the only one with cramping problems; Matt had been fighting them for half the race and several of our friends at the race put up some big numbers because of cramping issues. Overall the race was a blast with 95% single track and perfect weather I can’t wait to come back next year, let’s just hope they hold the wind off until Sunday next year. Thanks to Marin and Lost Coast for the opportunity to race with you guys, it’s still early so here’s to a successful 2012 season!


We Are Team Lost Coast Brewery!!!

We have the pleasure to officially announce our title sponsor The Lost Coast Brewery! Many of you I’m sure have heard of Great White Beer as well as Downtown Brown. Well Lost Coast is the amazing brewery that produces such masterpieces. The Brewery restaurant is located in Old town Eureka California right off the 101 at 617 4th st. If you are ever in the area, it is a prime lunch or dinner spot. The cafe itself has a great vibe and an awsome decour you won’t find anywhere else! Not to mention they make some of the best beer I’ve ever had. I’m not kidding, Emma and I went after Lost Coast Brewery for a sponsor because we really love the beer. They didn’t seek us out.

The brewery is owned and managed by Barbra Groom who started the business with another woman back in 1986, when I was only 1 year old! 20 years later Barbra still runs her brewery as one of the only and the MOST successful female brew masters in the nation and possibly the world! Barbra’s brews are distributed in 17 U.S. states and in every county in California. Here in the bay area you can find select brews at Berkeley Bowl, Andronicos, Safeway, as well as many smaller markets.

I will bet you Great White is the best tasting light beer you will ever have. Don’t believe me try it for yourself or visit the Lost Coast Brewery website and look at the list of awards Great White and all of the Lost Coast brews have earned over the years ( Currently my favorite beer of all time is the Winterbraun… mmm I love chocolate brown ale! The best thing about Mountain biking is racing hard and being able earn and enjoy that cool tasty recovery beer afterwards. You’ll be surpized how well your legs recover with a little alcohol in the blood stream. I’m not even kidding- my friends and I swear by it, and most of them are Pro Mtn. racers.
Throughout the season we will try to keep some Lost Coast brews on us so if you are still a skeptic or can’t find Lost Coast in your locale, catch us at Sea Otter or one of the NMBS races and we’ll let you know what its all about… if you’re of legal age of course. Buy Lost Coast brews! And look out for our Alleycat Amber vs. Fat Tire Amber taste test! We will be using a third party unbiased tester who has never even had Alleycat. I’m excited to see what they have to say!