Archive for category cycling

Danny Macaskill Cycles Through Spectacular Scotland

His trick biking moves are always a delight to watch and admire. But the video above is truly extra-ordinary–for the danger and the scenery. Over 45 million youtube views.

I am especially appreciative having recently borrowed a 3-speed bike in Nantucket and struggled unhappily against the slight inclines and the brisk 17-mph winds. My puny 13-mile, 3-hour trip was a major effort that took all my fortitude NOT to hitch a ride back from friends in a car who offered. And I was really shamed by a buddy who received my whining texts and wrote back unsympathetically, “Gosh Ira, you just rode a bike, not trek to the North Pole.”

Here is another, more recent Macaskill video. I have more of them on this site.

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Cyclist Almost Dies But Laughs About His Near Miss

This cyclist doing stunts at Gooseberry Mesa in St. George, Utah, fell while trying to jump a crevice. He landed right at the edge of a sheer drop, one wheel of his bike hanging precariously over the edge. What amazes me about this video is that the rider has nearly killed himself, but he is laughing and seems not to be aware of any danger. There is definitely a side of me that is jealous of such fearlessness. Or maybe I am a bit smarter.

I have written about a number of cyclists who ride along cliff edges and ridge tops. Still can’t understand how they all do it so casually…

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Fearless Spirits Inspire And Humble Us

What kind of humans take these risks? Check out this unicyclist (around 45 seconds in) riding inches from certain death. For what? Is it even a thrill to this kind of person? He can’t be too scared from the danger…or he wouldn’t do it. Does he simply think he is invincible? A superman who would never be in an accident?

This website has lots of other dare devils in action. Here is one of a parkour guy walking around the high parts of a building he managed to sneak into. No fear of heights or a slip to his death.

It certainly motivates me to test my limits…a little bit. But never to this extent. Is it purely genetic? These kids are alone…not trying to show off to buddies who are goading them. It really is insane!!! They definitely must love doing it…

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Cycle for Survival Raises $30 Million

starting the ride with grandchildren(my right and behind) and friends

starting the ride with grandchildren (my right and behind) and friends

On March 13th, I was spinning for the 6th time in the annual Cycle for Survival fundraiser. Another $30 million was raised for Memorial Sloan Kettering to study rare cancers and hopefully cure them…or at least make the illness less painful for patients. This year’s total was up from $25 million last year…bringing the total to $105 million, since these events started in 2007. This year over 27,000 riders in maybe 15 cities rode to raise funds.

I was again really tired after my 50-minute ride. I barely trained before the big day. And then I played tennis four days in the following week. I was exhausted…only playing tennis so much, because groups needed subs two of those days.

But I realized later that I was also mentally and emotionally drained this year. Too painful to be reminded so intensely that my son-in-law Evan was not there as in previous years to cheer on his friends and family like last year or to actually ride for four hours as he did almost all of the previous years. I really missed him. I again couldn’t help getting into the loud music and following the trainer’s “orders” to climb up the hill out of the saddle. I had practiced that technique 2-3 times an hour when I trained at home. We must have done it 15-20 times at the event for real. It hurt.

But knowing that Evan was gone since last July was just too upsetting. My enthusiasm was false.

I love to tell the story of how last year Evan couldn’t ride, because he had just had back surgery. So he stood and clapped and cheered for four hours to keep the rest of us riding eagerly and ignoring our weariness. I know that I couldn’t have been that strong. After the Event, there was no family snack in a nearby restaurant. I assumed Evan was just too tired and went home to recover. Later I learned he had gone right home…but only to pick up his suitcase and escort his University of Pennsylvania city-planning students from JFK to Brasilia, where they spent a couple of weeks working on an actual design project for the government. What a guy!

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Danny MacAskill On Spanish Rooftops

I love Danny’s amazing cycling talent. A friend suggested I should take up this startling sport. Not yet…maybe later.

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Insane City Cycling Race In Chile

Positively insane, terrifying, admirable! You cannot believe that people do this kind of downhill street cycling.

This happens on the streets of Valparaiso, Chile. The Valparaiso Cerro Abajo Race is a legendary urban bike race and is more extreme than skydiving out of an exploding F-18 piloted by Charlie Sheen. The rider must brave jumps, stray dogs, and flights of stairs along the steep downhill path. The first person perspective provided by the excellent helmet cam lets us take in every glorious and frightening detail. Do yourself a favor and watch this one in full screen mode.

Also, check out this still-photo roundup from the 2011 race, which was won by Filip Polc

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Another Cycle For Survival

Well I did it! Rode in this year’s Cycle for Survival event and helped raise $24,750,000. My Team Evan raised $54,000+ with the addition of our new California group. That’s $76 million since 2007, all for rare cancer research. And from 230 riders the first year to 20,000 in 2015.

riding next to my granddaughter Avery

riding next to my granddaughter Avery

The first 10 minutes were surprisingly hard for me, and I panicked that I wouldn’t be able to cycle for an hour. But then it gradually became easier and demanded less effort. Especially after the half hour mark. I got into the zone, spurred on by the loud music, cheerleaders, instructors’ urgings, and some younger riders around me who were pedaling at twice my speed. I was even howling passionately with the crowd

After the race with Evan and my grandson, Dylan

After the race with Evan and my grandson, Dylan

The hardest part is standing up out of the saddle to climb an imaginary hill. I’d practiced that for a minute here and there at home. But the boot camp, drill instructors had us going up and down every 20 seconds at times. It was exhausting at first…and painful. I could have just stayed seated and pedaled gently the whole time. But I didn’t want to cycle like that. I was determined. I survived my own mini-challenge.

crazy mad cheerleaders keep the riders pumped

crazy mad cheerleaders keep the riders pumped

Thank you all for your contributions and words of encouragement. They really helped motivate me. Now I can put away the bike for another year…

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Unicycling In Caves

Once again I am awed by what people do to have fun. These guys go underground with head lights and their unicycles to make the adventure more difficult. Here are some sound bites:

There IS a level of challenge and risk. If you fall down and break your leg, there’s no way out. It’s an adrenaline rush…the achievements are that much more special, monumental…It’s very rhythmic, meditative…a way to express myself…easier than walking…

And when he is old, one cyclist wants to attach a self-balancing unicycle to himself and be a cyborg who can still ride…

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Bike Trip Robbery Video

My daughter once went on a bike trip in England, and I have been to Buenos Aires a couple of times. But this innocent bike-trip vacationer had an experience no one in my family had: he was (almost?) robbed and recorded it all on his helmet GoPro. This may not be an athletic achievement, but it is certainly a rare video of an athletic incident.

Here is the Daily Beast story:

If you travel a fair bit, you’ve probably been there. You’re cycling through an exotic locale, laughing and talking with friends when suddenly a guy on a motorbike cuts you off and starts yelling at you in the native tongue. You can’t understand him but you’re sure he’s not inviting you over for dinner.

It was a bit of a special case here for Canadian tourist Alexander Hennessey. Riding through Buenos Aires, Argentina with some travel companions, he was cut off by a local who quickly pulled a revolver out of his jeans.

Luckily for us, Mr. Hennessey had been attempting to document his bike trip with a helmet-fastened GoPro camera. The first-person perspective is chilling.

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Super Achievements!

Anne and Perry--super duo

Anne and Perry–super duo

I wrote in 2012 about Anne Zimmerman’s eight-hour, extreme ride at the Cycle for Survival event. This year I learned that of 16,000 riders, around 50 did it for four straight hours (with breaks at hourly changeovers), and only 3-5 rode for eight hours.

Just reconnected with Anne and learned that she did four hours on Saturday and then another eight hours on Sunday!!! This has to be a record achievement. I know she spins a lot during the year, but still…

Way to go Anne! Her many-cities teams raised $530,000, the most in the country. And best of all, her 12-year-old daughter Perry has apparently beaten all three of her cancers. Great news. They are both tremendously inspirational…

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This Year I Survived The Cycle For Survival Event

cycling away

cycling away

For the fourth year I—and 16,000 other cyclists—made it through the Cycle for Survival annual fund raising event. Over $19.6 million was raised this year, up from $14 million last year. Over $50 million has been raised since 2009. And these funds go 100% for rare-cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Thanks to all of you for your cheers and caring and generous contributions to my particular ride. It was a bit difficult for me, because I couldn’t adjust the bike properly…and then I am never in shape for this challenge, given that I don’t cycle other times. My wind was fine, but my quads and butt and palms were hurting.

There is lots of cheering, people waving arms and towels and pom poms to pounding and eardrum-breaking music, the instructor urging cyclists to stand up to climb a pretend hill or sprint. It’s impossible to not respond enthusiastically. So you push and exert and make some pain. I really love it, but am welcoming some rest.

Evan with son Ryder (wearing headphones) held by my daughter Josslyn

Evan with son Ryder (wearing headphones) held by my daughter Josslyn

Evan was one of just 50 who rode four hours. A real inspiration, and Team Evan raised over $43,000, up from $26,000 last year. We were the #1 team at our gym in the morning and #3 in dollars/bike for the entire day.

One woman in her 40’s did two hours just before me, and I was so impressed at her stamina. After my hour was done—and I had been watching the clock this year, hoping the time was passing swiftly—she informed me that she has been spinning 2-3 times a week for the last year! No wonder she floated through her two hours so enviably.

You gotta practice these things. But I made it. I had to. One friend said he would only donate if I completed the ride. And of course I felt responsible to everyone who gave to the cause without any conditions.

Thank you all for your faith in me and your willingness to help Evan survive, as well as the many other rare-cancer patients like him. You did a good deed…

BTW Evan wore his San Francisco Giants shirt, because he is such a devoted fan who lived there for years. I wore a Miami Dolphins cap, because my high school classmate Steve Ross owns the team and also the 17 Equinox gyms that host the Cycle for Survival event. Ahhh these little connective touches to make the cycling a tiny bit easier.

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Building Up Stamina For The Big Cycling Event

Getting in shape for a sport you haven’t done in a while can be a real challenge sometimes. Especially when there is lots of pressure to do things faster and harder.

On Monday the 17th in 10-degree weather, I went to the garage and brought my bike inside the house to start training in-place for the annual Cycle for Survival event (see February 18 post). It’s the only time I ride a bike all year. Knowing that the snow was going to soften from predicted warm weather, I went cross country skiing in the afternoon, my second time this season. We had 18-24 inches of snow. Tuesday I spent an hour shoveling snow off the roof. Wednesday morning I played tennis for two hours and then that afternoon had my first cycling session: two 13-minute rides separated by a five minute rest.

Uh oh…I could feel some strain just walking up the stairs afterward. The legs were rubbery. Next morning was tennis again, but I made it through all sets without a fall, and my game wasn’t that bad. The legs still worked ok.

Friday I biked 27 minutes nonstop, and Sunday was a 50-minute ride. So I am almost there.

How do people cycle for 4-8 hours with minimal breaks?

But this Sunday March 2nd, I will be pedaling beside them, trying to keep up. The hard part is when the spinning instructor yells that “We are going up a hill now, so out of the saddle and pump those legs ’til they burn,” as if that’s a desirable condition. I get so competitive that I do my best, in spite of the relatives who worry that I am going to pass out from exhaustion. However in the midst of all the young people around me, I can’t imagine staying seated and simply poking along as if I were on a quiet and level country road.

As my 23-year-old daughter chided me, “it’s only an hour Dad, so I don’t need to train for this.” And a friend who made a sizable donation wrote that she now “expected” me to do two hours. I hope she was joking, because that seems pretty daunting right now. Let’s see if I can cycle an hour without much more effort…and still be able to play tennis 8+ hours a week, ski and shovel snow without aching.

Mice Are Helping Save My Son-in-law’s Life

On March 2nd, I will again be riding with hundreds of others on stationary bicycles for one to four hours near Grand Central in Manhattan. All to help raise funds for rare cancer research that is poorly supported by major charities. Over the last seven years, the annual Cycle for Survival events have raised $43 million, and all of it goes for experiments and loving care at Sloan Kettering in New York.

You may know that I cycle to help keep my son-in-law Evan alive, because he has a cancer so rare that there are only 100 cases like his in all the literature. The great news is that the research and hospital support have been working. Evan’s total laryngectomy in 2012 was followed by a special prosthesis that allows him to talk softly, and just recently with no hands! And when his neck tumor was removed, some of it was grafted onto mice that were then given different medical cocktails to see what worked best. Amazingly one combination of meds has affected some of his current tumors positively, so that he is still able to work, ride, and enjoy raising his three-year-old son. All very good news. But the fight is not over.

Evan gives me a good luck kiss before I start my ride last year, while daughter Josslyn laughs at my nervousness

Evan gives me a good luck kiss before I start my ride last year, while daughter Josslyn laughs at my nervousness

This year there will be 16,000 of us riding on eight days on 3950 bikes in 13 cities. We will all be cycling away to music, speed and terrain cues from the spinning instructor and the encouraging shouts of hundreds of friends and family members. It’s a very thrilling ride. Evan has again signed up for four hours, while I struggle to make it through for one hour.

If you would like to help support this event, a donation of any amount—no matter how small—would be greatly appreciated and help treat rare cancers (less than 200,000 cases in America), which include cervical, stomach, brain and all pediatric cancers. Most of the money raised through other programs goes for the common cancers, like lung, breast and prostate.

The people I contacted last year were very generous as a group, and my son-in-law and daughter were astonished by how many of you gave and sent good wishes. Evan wouldn’t be alive if he hadn’t had his laryngectomy, and your contributions really helped keep him going. Sloan Kettering is a very supportive community for its patients. Forgive me please for writing about this again, but this is the only non-profit I raise money for…and it’s for a great cause that I can relate to and then see direct results. So thank you with much gratitude.

BTW if you are in New York and want to actually cheer us on and experience the excitement of the event, or if you want to donate yourself, contact me at ira@irasabs.com for more details. We’d love to have you shouting along

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Shamed And Confronted By Matt Hoffman

Looking for Netflix dance movies, I was directed to a documentary about BMX pioneer, Matt Hoffman. At 14 he came out of nowhere Oklahoma and won competitions that earned him magazine covers and stardom. He was 38, when the film was made, and is now 42. He invented many tricks that other pros imitated, took more air than anyone, and even did stunts that impressed Evil Knieval: like being pulled by a motorcycle to 50 mph, so he could fly up a 24-foot half pipe and rise 26 feet higher! The video above shows that record…and also him crashing a few times in the attempt.

Matt invents amazing  tricks

Matt invents amazing tricks

Watching all his crashes is awful. But most poignant for me is his attitude about his body, which a buddy said he viewed as just another bike part: “If I died with a body that wasn’t completely wrecked, then I’d feel like I completely wasted it.” He also said that he wakes up knowing that each day there is a good chance he will die.

23 surgeries. 100 concussions. 300 stitches. 2 comas. 60 broken bones. You see him doing his own suturing to a pedal gash on his leg, so he doesn’t have to waste time going to the hospital. AND WITHOUT ANESTHESIA! Like Rambo.

So here I am trying to be as healthy as possible, to live as long as possible in good shape. Matt is trying to reach some unprecedented level of physical performance and has no fear about death or injury. His father and wife accept that there is no stopping him. In fact the dad built early half-pipes to support Matt’s passion.

Really confronting. Not just food for thought, but a huge feast to digest.

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You Won’t Believe Some Of These

I am almost speechless after watching this People Are Awesome 2013 video. There are athletic stunts and achievements here I have never even heard of, and many are clearly somewhat established “sports.” It also reminds me how nuts some people are to take these risks…like walking a tightrope between two moving trucks about to enter two different tunnels. Still can’t believe that is for real.

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Cycle for Survival 2013 Raises $13 Million


Here I am strong in the beginning of the ride

Well the 2013 Cycle for Survival is over. What an extraordinary time we had. I made it through the hour, but it was really hard this year. My daughter Josslyn did two hours, Evan was able to do one, and over $13,500,000 was raised…bringing the seven-year total to $31 million! All of it for rare cancer research. Thanks again to all of you who supported this event, whether with silent prayers, encouragement or donations.

Evan gives me a good luck kiss at the start of the ride, while Joss looks on

Evan gives me a good luck kiss at the start of the ride, while Joss looks on

Although I am in pretty good shape from tennis and squash, and had stationary-cycled at home for two weeks before the big day, I only did gentle spinning while watching TV and would then stand up out of the saddle for 60 seconds, 2-3 times each session. On the day of my New York ride, the female spinning instructor was like a marine drill sergeant who “loves hills.” Unlike the previous instructor who led seated, easy rides and occasionally had the cyclists stand up for “hills,” my fearless leader had us constantly standing up for FIVE-minute pretend hills, and then seated for only a minute. Then back up again, again and again. I was wiped out.

After 30 minutes, she decided to lead sprints–six of them for 2 minutes each, I think, with a slight break in between. I was pretty numb by then, so I could barely hear or notice anything. Of course I didn’t have to listen to her directions, and some family members told me to just ignore her, sit down and peddle comfortably. But the seat in the gym was hard and painful, and some of the members of my team would come over and make fun of me for pedaling so slowly or sitting down. To my right was a friend of Evan’s who is a very experienced mountain biker. He was churning furiously the whole time, to sort of challenge himself with a heavy workout. Yikes! I was tired just watching him whirring his legs like a robot, non-stop the whole hour. And at the same time, it was all completely exhilarating.

Anyway, it is called the Cycle for Survival, and I did. Proud once again, because I only use these cycling muscles two weeks a year. Support from friends and family helped push me to stay with it, not be wussy and slow, and as Josslyn said, “fight fight fight.” I broke through lots of barriers thanks to others’ caring, contributions and messages. Hopefully many cancer patients will survive much more than an hour in the gym as the result of everyone’s efforts.


Here is an overview of the gym I was at with hundreds of spinners and enthusiasm and sweat!

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T.J. Stephens Runs Her First NYC Marathon

T.J. before running her first-ever marathon in New York—11/2012

T.J. before running her first-ever marathon in New York—11/4/2012

by T.J. Stephens on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 11:40am

Like many of the residents of New York City, I wasn’t born here. In a move that barely makes sense to me to this day, I came here for college, but really on some level, I came here to run away from something dark that happened to me back home.

Every day since I’ve moved here has made me a better person than I was when I left, and maybe that change would’ve occurred naturally anywhere, but when I look back on the six years I’ve spent here so far and on the people I’ve spent them with… I know that I grew up to be as strong and brave as I am today because of this city and what it’s given me as well as what it’s put me up against.

I’ve always wanted to run a marathon. I have proof, in fact – a list that I made when I was 14 of things that I wanted to do before I died. Four years ago, I entered the lottery for the NYC marathon for the first time. I wasn’t really much of a distance runner back then, but I was hell-bent on becoming one, and I entered the lottery again every year after that for the next three years until I finally got defaulted into the race.

I used to live in Alphabet City, and my very first “long run” was a trek down by the FDR, across Battery Park, up the West Side Highway, and across 12th Street again to my door. It totaled something close to 8 miles, which after training for the last year in the double digits, now feels like a leisurely stroll, but back then, I felt like I’d achieved the impossible.

All of my training runs this year have followed a similar route along the water. I did this on purpose because every time I feel like I can’t possibly run any farther, I come across a landmark that I saw on that first long run – one of a hundred NYC sites that reminds me who I’ve become here, and how far I am from that little girl in Texas who wasn’t brave enough to stick up for herself. I think “I can definitely keep running. I made it here after all, didn’t I?”

The friends I’ve made here are all beautiful people. Some are real New Yorkers who carry the city’s history on their backs; others are immigrants, like me, who shared their part of the world with me as I made Texas a part of theirs. Some are growing into doctors, dentists, filmmakers, playwrights, entrepreneurs… I met my tall, outstanding sisters here. I found a family of Argentinians who brought me in and taught me what it means to work hard. I now work for a company that sent me back to the land of my childhood, introduced me to one of my very best friends, and brought someone I love dearly into my neighborhood. I think about all of these people that I found here every time I’m running down the waterfront and about how eternally grateful I am for this place. When I’m running, I’m not running away from anything anymore; I’m running in homage to New York and to a future where even bigger things that once seemed impossible come easily.

When the marathon was canceled, I completely understood. It’s hard to explain to my friends that are out of town, but there’s a sick feeling on the ground here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Help Cycle For Survival Save My Son-In-Law’s Life

Here we are last year, after my one-hour ride and my daughter, Josslyn, and son-in-law Evan's four-hour rides

Here we are last year, after my one-hour ride and my daughter, Josslyn, and son-in-law Evan’s four-hour rides

On March 3rd, I will again be riding with hundreds of others on stationary bicycles for one to four hours near Grand Central in Manhattan. All to help raise funds for rare cancers that are poorly supported by major charities. Over four weekends, there will be 13,000 of us on 2600 teams (it was 4000 total on 850 teams two years ago, 10,000 and 2000 last year) in 10 cities (New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, etc). We will all be cycling away to music, speed and terrain cues from the spinning instructor and the encouraging shouts of hundreds of friends and family members. It’s a very thrilling ride.

The annual Sloan Kettering “Cycle for Survival” raises money for research of rare cancers, which are those with less than 200,000 total reported cases in America. Most of the money raised through other programs goes for the common cancers, like lung, breast and prostate. Over the last six years, the annual Cycle for Survival events have raised over $17 million for experimental research, and all of it goes for research.

I will soon be cycling again for Evan's survival

I will soon be cycling again for Evan’s survival

My son-in-law, Evan, has been fighting a rare cancer since 2007. In fact there are only 100 cases in all the literature of people who have his exclusive, and serious, illness. The experimental drugs and treatments coming out of the Sloan-Kettering research have kept him alive. Unfortunately his fight has intensified, and he had a total laryngectomy last year to remove the tumor in his throat. The electrolarynx he now uses sounds different, and he can still speak understandably. Hopefully Evan will be strong enough to ride with us this year in March. He did four hours last year and the year before. I barely made it through one hour.

If you would like to help support this event, a donation of any amount—no matter how small—would be greatly appreciated and help treat the rare cancers, which include cervical, stomach, brain and all pediatric cancers. Just go to this Cycle for Survival link .

And if you are in New York and want to actually cheer us on and experience the excitement of the event, contact me at ira@irasabs.com for more details. We’d love to have you shouting along…

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Sari Keeps On Changing

Sari Max is a new person

Sari Max is just melting away, and it’s having a huge effect. She wrote earlier in March about how she’d lost over 60 pounds. Now she has dropped another 15! And she has brought fitness and athletics into her life. She is biking for the first time in maybe 15 years, kayaking, which she hadn’t done in at least 20 years, and sometimes adding running spurts to her fast walking.

Sari with son Ben

She is a changed woman, with her new hair style and a bit of color. “I am full of vigor, she tells me proudly.”

I know it takes a lot of discipline to exercise when you haven’t been. But Sari is even doing floor exercises at home, including push ups and 25 sit ups at a time. Way to go, Sari!

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Early Life Of An Extreme Outdoorsman And Speed Junky (Part 1 Of 3)

idyllic cruising in the great outdoors

Met a new friend out West who described his life of total immersion in the outdoors and his love of fast cars and motorcycles. His stories were so astonishing and descriptive that I urged him to write them down. Who could have guessed that his prose would be extraordinary too. I told him he reminded me of Hunter Thompson’s gonzo style or other journalists I imagine writing about speed on speed…or some other hallucinogenic. You are in for a real treat! (I hope he doesn’t mind that I relocated the first paragraph from deep within the story to give you a perspective of what is going on)

For whatever reasons, not the least of which was my father having a triple bypass at 35, I always figured on needing to pack as much experience into one presumably short life as a person could. So I’ve had the pedal down as far back as I can remember. The joke is on me of course, I never developed heart disease, but I did break a few bones, lose a shitload of skin and probably deserve to be dead 30 times over doing various things. Also got a late start building a career, so I’ll probably be working until I am in fact dead—but I design/test outdoor gear. How bad can that be?

OK, a quick bio: I’ve always been bipolar or multi-polar regarding outdoor sports, grew up at the beach but was sneaking onto the Irvine Ranch (before it was developed) behind our house with my .22 to hunt rabbits and quail (yes, quail, you just have to make a head shot, and I don’t mean when they are flying) and started fly fishing in the mountains around LA whenever my mom could drive me or with the Boy Scouts, then Explorer Scouts. Luckily the Explorer group I joined was the mountaineering group in Anaheim, which gave me my first glimpse of the High Sierra’s, and I got as interested in Golden Trout as I did in peak bagging.

As soon as I got my driver’s license, it was good bye to the scouts, and I was off every winter weekend to cross country ski tour/snowcamp in the San Gorgonio or San Jacinto Wilderness areas, often alone, which would drive my mom crazy, then backpack with a fly rod in the summer. Surf, ski, climb, hunt, fish, and of course getting around when younger I got everywhere on a bike, which became a nicer and nicer bike which became another, lifelong passion including a little bit of road racing in high school. I quit that because I kept getting clobbered by motorists who in those days weren’t used to seeing humans on road racing bikes out in traffic. Last crash involved being hit from behind by a car and flung through traffic across three fast lanes of the Pacific Coast Highway. It was like playing Russian Roulette with only one empty chamber and surviving without a scratch. The rear wheel and rear triangle of my bike absorbed most of the impact and I came to a stop on the center divider balancing on my crank set, still clipped in, cars whizzing by in both directions. I did not get religion, I just left the bike laying in the highway and hitched home. No more road bikes for me.

Then one summer I came through Ketchum on a fly fishing trip and saw my first mountain bike—one of Tom Ritchey’s first hand-made bikes at the Elephant’s Perch, and my life was wrecked. I was living in Laguna at the time and the steep coastal hills were crawling with jeep roads, single track and game trails.

In a fitting way I was wrapping up my involvement with motorhead activities. My first car was a red Alfa Romeo Duetto softail Spider which I rescued from ruin and re-built myself. My second car was a raging-fast Lotus Elan which followed the same pattern, find a junker and bring it back to life one turn of the wrench at a time. I’d had a go-kart my Dad built for me when I was about 7, motorcycles, etc. so high performance driving was written into the software by the time I was a teen, and I could really drive. At one point I actually thought about it as a career, maybe an F1 pilot like Dan Gurney, but as I started hanging out at various tracks I realized I couldn’t stand the people who were involved with the sport. They were like golfers on crack.

With some irony I had long been co-evolving into a leftist tree hugging wilderness freak motorhead. I joined David Brower’s F.O.E. (Friends of the Earth) when I was 16, was reading Abbey, getting pangs about joining Dave Foreman’s Earth First gang but didn’t like the idea of prison. Note that both cars I mentioned were small, light, fast, fuel-efficient machines. But showing up to a Sierra Club meeting with my Lotus (even though it got 30 mpg) didn’t go too well. Which I found really disappointing. The leftist tree huggers turned out to be like accountants on crack.

In those years I tried everything that fit my personal ethos of small footprint, treading lightly, loving wild places, and having a fucking great time getting to those places. Think of hand-made (by me), aero cross-country ski racks and skis tucked behind the tiny roof line of a Lotus Elan howling through the desert North of LA at 2 A.M., on the way to Mammoth Tamarack lodge with the headlights off, navigating by the full moon at 120 mph with the Doors playing Riders on the Storm backed up by the sound of a nasty, tweaked-out twin cam motor pushing a low, smooth glass slipper through the void. Fuck the Sierra Club. (Continue to Part 2/3 in post below)

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Addicted To The Duck’s Most Musical Power Plant On Earth (Part 2 Of 3)

the author in his younger days

In this second part of my friend’s exciting story, I really feel the contrast between his life of extreme sports and unfettered risk-taking, compared to how most people live. Just this week I yet once again chose to lease an Audi A4 that will hit 60 in 6.3 seconds and not spend more than double for the RS5 that can soar from 0 to 60 in 4.5. I can’t spend that, so I ask how can an extra $40K justify 1.8 seconds faster takeoff from the light, lower gas mileage, danger when others drive my car, yatta, yatta, yatta. My friend lives his fantasy, while I just keep on dreaming…What about you?

The world was fascinating and crazy. My sister was in a rock band in Hollywood, so now and then I would dip into the dark side, Whiskeys, the Rainbow, Club Lingerie, The Troubador, Wongs; see X, China White, Fear, the Gears, Dead Kennedys, Nina Hagen; stay up till 4 then crash with bizarre creatures in strange motels or sleep in the chaparral on dirt trails above Mulholland, get up and go to work. Over time things happened that sharpened me up. Met an interesting girl. Started to get serious about doing something with my 5 years of university. Realized I could turn my outdoor addictions into a career.

So for the last few years I lived in the Southern Lands, my time was spent riding with the Radz, (including Hans Rey), hitting the mountain bike races all over, going to Fat Tire Bike Week in C.B., paddling/surfing my kayak, training with road wheels on my mountain bike by playing chicken with traffic and drafting trucks on Sunset from Hollywood to Santa Monica . . . and starting my biz…

About the Ducks. I grew up riding dirt bikes from age 8, always wanted a sportbike but, having self-knowledge about my impulse control, swore I wouldn’t buy one until I was 30, you know, Mature. So I waited, and then I did. Always having European cars, I wasn’t interested in rice rockets. I wanted a Ducati. I thought I wanted an older (78) 900ss. I had ridden a couple over the years and to me, besides being narrow and easy to ride fast, the Ducati motor was the most musical power plant on earth. I went into a local dealer looking at a 900ss bevel-head, and while I was haggling with the store owner he casually walked over to a low miles 851 Superbike that was already cammed and chipped and Termignoni-piped and started it up, letting it idle lumpily, the way tuned motors do . . . (Uuhhh, what’s THAT bike?). He blipped the throttle a coupla times. Boy did he have me made. “Why is this guy selling a bike with 800 miles on it?” I asked. “Because it scares the shit of of him”, the shop owner said. We smiled. Ah, Maturity. Ah, hubris.

I’d ridden a bunch a street bikes, from Harleys (ridiculous) to Ninjas and GXR’s, etc. and for the most part even the fast bikes were engineered to be very docile below their powerbands, except for Harleys, which don’t have powerbands because they don’t have any power to band. But nonetheless, all of these bikes could roll around town like two-wheeled sewing machines if you kept the revs down. Leaving the dealer on the 851, on the other hand, was quite an eye-opener. It made so much torque so low in the rev range it was like taking a tiger for a walk on a six-inch leash. On my ride back home I figured if I lived a week, I might make it a month, and if I made the month I was probably going to be OK. Talk about impulse control. Riding that bike was like jogging through the woods with a shotgun taped to your temple. But like with sports cars, the software was installed in my head long before—it just needed to boot back up. (Continue to Part 3/3 in the post below)

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From Couch Potato To Ironman Entrant In Six Months

Guy Adami at work

Pretty impressive story about Guy Adami, a Wall Streeter and Fast Money panelist whose historic exercise routine “consisted mostly of walking from his parking space to the front door of the CNBC studios in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.” But friends challenged him to do the impossible, a trainer gives him advice, and there is a charity involved as well.

Guy completes his first triathalon in New Jersey—5/2012

In May he was able to run a triathalon that had legs one fifth or one tenth of an Ironman—a half mile swim instead of 2.4 miles, a 13 mile bike ride instead of a 112-mile ride, and a 3.2 mile run rather than a marathon of 26.2 miles. And he still has not reached any of these Ironman distances in training.

It’s all a work in progress. But his dedication is intense, he is approaching his goals each day. and the results will be determined on August 11th, when he joins 3000 others in New York’s first-ever Ironman. He has already lost 38 pounds (from 235) and six inches around his waist. You sure have to admire his effort…Can you believe that 140,000 people a year compete in an Ironman? Interesting that 20% of those who sign up miss race day due to an injury or fear the night before the race.

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Will I Ever Be A Killer?

I’m still having trouble killing people on the tennis court. Why is it so hard for me to be tough, show no mercy and clobber my opponents? It’s definitely not my temperament.

I subbed the other day in a doubles game in which I was the third strongest player. Numbers 1 and 4 were across the net, and my side took an early 5-0 lead. Number 4 was telling himself to do better after each missed point, and #1 seemed to be frustrated with his partner’s frequent hits into the net. So I felt sorry for both of them. When the score grew to 5-4, and I had caused many of the errors, I knew that on a subconscious level, I was easing up and making my opponents feel better. Except now my partner was annoyed with ME and had started missing his own shots and making more errors than earlier.

We won the set 6-4, but I noticed how my energy level had gone down, when I saw how upset #1 and #4 were to be losing. Later on I told #1 how much I empathized with his exasperation. I told him it’s only a game, and that I know people who are dying—that’s something to take seriously. But #1 reminded me that when you play a sport, you should play to win. I reassured him that I want nothing more than to win against the stronger players I am now competing against.

The next day I read about Connor Fields, a 19-year-old BMX bike champion, and how in one race, “…He led that, too, at the beginning, but he continued to push harder, harder, harder, because he wanted to obtain the fastest lap time of the weekend. His mentality: “kill everybody” and “destroy the competition.” ” Now that’s what it takes to be a champion. Pushing, pushing pushing and taking no prisoners.

Tonight I played doubles opposite a friend who plays only to win, must win, is much better than I am and easily beat me last week in singles, 6-2, 6-2. I played as hard as I could, and my side took a 4-1 lead that slowly melted away to a tiebreaker. However I remembered the Connor Fields mentality, and this time I played as hard as I could and served for the match that my team won 7-5. I was pretty thrilled to have helped break my friend’s serve. I think he was surprised that I did well at that net, and in the rematch, my team won again, this time by a wide margin of 6-1.

I loved our victory. I felt very satisfied with this achievement. But unfortunately, knowing how important it is for my friend to win, I feel sorry for him now, as I write these words of success. I don’t feel sad that I won. I don’t have regrets that I won. I do feel badly for the guys I defeated, particularly when it seems so much more important to them than it is to me…Dumb!

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An Unusual Way To Cool Off When Exercising

this is a special achievement that I imagine is somewhat painful—5/10/2012

Cops busted 45-year-old Joseph Glynn Farley for cycling naked, saying Farley was a distraction to drivers. He was also creating a hazard by falling off his unicycle and into lanes of traffic. For his part, Farley says he just likes the feeling of riding without his clothes on.

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Mountain Biking Up North In The Winter

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