Track Certified!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to expand my cycling resume by becoming certified to race at one of the most popular track cycling velodromes in southern California. This particular one happens to be in Carson. A bit of a jaunt for me, but nothing of unreasonable distance. Being the single male with a day off work I made a day of it and decided to ride to the track, become track certified, then ride back home (that and I had driven all day prior to this so I thought I would even things out a bit.)

I’ve never been one to arrive right on time for most time based appointments so I usually make an effort to be early for most of my outings. The morning of was no exception. Since the class was at 10:30 am I made sure to give myself plenty of time to get across the city so there would be no pressure and (added) stress heading into the situation. So at around 7:00 am I left my house and on I went.

My current rig

My current rig

There are a number of ways anyone can get from the valley all the way out to the south bay.I kept things simple and went through, Hollywood, Downtown, then proceeded down Avalon through all the cities in between. From downtown, I watched the city go from a nice suburb and hustling entertainment industry to a third world. I don’t want to get too detailed about the things I saw (nothing graphic or vulgar) but sometimes we forget about other people in the city who come from rougher upbringings that may be struggling more than us with things we might take for granted. I couldn’t bring myself to capture some photos of the line of tents that were set up down San Pedro before turning onto Avalon. This is truly a sight worth seeing for yourself.

After my jaunt down the city, I made it with about a half hour to spare (perfect timing in my book.) The track is in a building off the side of this giant sports stadium and college campus. After registering and finding where I needed to go, I met the instructor and the class had begun.

There were seven of us total, five who had taken the four week class, and one other person who (like myself) decided we could knock this out in one class. Our instructor was an older gentleman by the name of Andrew. Andrew is someone who is not afraid to share his opinion with those around him. A real character in his own sense. Someone who isn’t afraid to bust your chops, and humble your ego to prove a point. My wrestling coach in high school was a lot like this (only scarier) so I stuck to yes and no responses, remained respectful, and tried to only speak when spoken to. Before the we hopped on our bikes there was some lecturing involving the mechanics of the track and how the rules translate to other velodromes. It was then that I got a few photos of the scenery.


One of the biggest points that were made was that the format in which all of the riding that took place on this track was internationally fluent. Meaning you could travel to a foreign land where no one speaks your language, hop on their track, and with the knowledge we were taught today, still be able to show to other riders that you knew what you were doing.

Coming from a road bike cycling background, I understand that cycling etiquette is important for many reasons, (mainly for safety and efficiency.) Track cycling is not much different, except a new level of physics is introduced and that to keep from sliding off the forty-five degree banking, you need to maintain a faster speed, and be sure to scan ahead once you enter a turn. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to ride on a track, the rules are similar to that of a highway, you have a designated enter and exit lane, your fast and slow lanes, and passing lanes. All which need to be met with a minimum amount of speed to keep from falling. The banking can be intimidating (especially when riders are traveling the bare minimum speed to keep the tires from slipping off the wooden pavement (there’s a loud, squeaky noise that sounds like the planks of wood are shifting below you.)

Having already had two hours of ride time in me, I was ready to go. After a brief introduction, me and another rider first started towards the bottom of the track, first getting familiar with the feel of riding at such an angle. Once we got up to speed we were told to move up track, where the same principles applied, but a higher speed must be maintained. I didn’t realize the guy behind me was struggling to keep up behind me as we showed we were able to ride half way up the track. I think it was the fear of slipping off that inspired the hurried pace.

After our two-man rotating paceline drill in which we had to pull  off all the way up towards the railing (a tall 3.33 meters ( about 10 feet)) when entering a corner. The trick to this is keeping your speed as you enter the steeper banking. Naturally you will slow down if you maintain your current effort, so more force must be applied to make it up. From here, you wait for the partner (or group) to pass by you, in which you then drop down and hop behind them and the cycle then repeats. Dropping in had to be the most nerve racking. When I was up top waiting to hop back in, I found myself slowing down in anticipation. From there I was never sure if the speed I gained by dropping back in would be enough to grip the track. All in all, nobody fell, and everyone had a good time.

One of the final drills was an eight lap scratch race. This in a nutshell is an eight lap, rolling group start. I wasn’t able to gauge other rider’s experience levels, but I know how to approach an eight lap rack on any track. With two laps to go I was third wheel, and coming out of the first corner, I accelerated and went all out. No one was able to respond to my attack and I ended up finishing on my own with no one attempting to sit on my wheel to contend. At this point, the angle of the track didn’t matter. I have a basic idea of how to approach mass starts like these and feel comfortable enough in my racing experience to get close to other riders. Thankfully, things never got too hairy, but I wouldn’t mind.

Once this was all over, we received our certificates and I was on my way.

Race ready!

Race ready!

At this point I was a little low on food and had enough water to make it to the next convenient store when I was back in familiar surroundings. I was beginning to dread the commute back to the valley but instead, made the best of my situation and trekked back home. I took some more photos when I hit the coastal route.

Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach

I hadn’t ridden my track bike in a few weeks. I began to realize that I use more muscle groups on this bike than my road bike (muscle groups that feel pretty beat up as I write this today.) However in times like these and with the increased riding time I’ve been targeting (an average of 16 hours a week) I knew to keep the pace mellow and I would catch a second or third wind.

Black Hlemet

Black Hlemet

The track was a great learning experience for me. Next week they are having resume builder races to which I hope I can get the chance (and the funds) to show up and see what I’ve got. I know I’m not my best right now, but riding with other novice riders and showing that I had the speed to not only keep up but stay away from them had boosted my confidence just enough that I might sign up in my off-seasoned state.

This has been a great opportunity for me and I hope there are many more to follow. Oh!, and BTW I’ll include my route to, and from the track (not counting the laps we did while on said track) below.



Ebb and Flow

Listening to: “On GP” by Death Grips

On today’s ride, as I wrapped up my now 20 hour week on the bike, (legs are still in shock) I had mentioned to a good friend and bike shop owner on how my perspective towards bikes and racing has taken a relaxed approach. Ever since I moved out in April, there has been a significant shift in priorities on all levels. When I was still living with my folks, I was thirsty for all things bike related. This caused me to become hyper-critical, almost neurotic, when it came to the craft of cycling. Everything had to be as close to the best of the best. I needed to be in my best form all the time. I always needed to be as fast as whoever I was adjacent to. I cannot tell you what a relief it has been to no longer feel those feels and think those thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, 20 hours on the bike is no task for your typical recreational weekend warrior. The passion for the craft is still there and it is still strong. I would say the difference between then and now is I have become more aware of the ebb and flow that comes from the athletic lifestyle.

Racing season is beginning to wrap up for road cyclist. Fixed gear racing is hitting its peak for the year, and cyclocross is on the horizon. There was a point in time where I found myself hopping from one type of racing immediately into another, unaware of the peaks and valleys one must accept. Like it or not, there is an off season for every time of sport. You can sure as hell try and be the best at all different disciplines, but that is a self-destructive route I have been on the end of. Most of this anger comes from a misunderstanding of what our bodies are trying to tell us. There is a time to push through the pain, and a time to spend the day on the couch. Both are arguably beneficial in the grand scheme of things and should not be mistaken for weakness. In my personal experience, aging has brought this to light in a humbling and satisfying fashion.

I know when I’m having a good day, and I sure as hell know when I’m not feeling my best (the final climb in our group ride made it very clear I had spent a lot of time on the bike.) No longer does this bother me as much as it used to. There was a time when I would get caught up trying to focus my riding towards that of someone I’ve admired, not realizing that this may sound poetic and plausible in theory, but in reality is far from possible. Most of us hit our highs and lows in fitness at different times. The sooner we are able to realize this the better. That way we don’t keep pushing ourselves past the point of benefiting and into a state of confusion and often times asking, “Why am I not (insert goal in the box provided.)” This mental clarity has been tremendously helpful for my mental and physical well-being. None of us can be superheros every day we ride the bike. The sooner we can come  to terms with this, the sooner we are able to use that to our advantage. This may seem a little vague right now, but there is a flow of fitness our bodies goes through. And once we are in sync, (insert corny motivational, you-can-do-whatever-you-want-to-do phrase.)

My mental has been good these past few months and I can tell from a lot of little things that go on on my weekly routines. I may be overweight and drinking with my buddies more often. However I still enjoy riding and keep up with my weekly fast-paced rides, and continue to try and push myself to a new level that I used to question. There are times I’m deep in a work hangover but still manage to keep moving and realize that I am capable of more than I thought. No longer do I want to be caught up in the distractions of those who are out every other week racing there bikes. I know when I’m ready, and will be there when the time comes. Until next time.


You Shouldn’t be Ashamed

I’m approaching the halfway mark in a book I’ve waited four months to read. The book discusses shaming and its significance in our specie’s history. At this point I am convinced that the concept of shame is the most powerful socio-emotional weapon we have as a population. Imagine all of your inner most insecurities finally blossoming into the public eye and not only must you have to cope with what people might be thinking, the people have already spoken and have disagreed with your stance on a topic. Public opinion, as subjective as it may seem, has a permanent effect on others if enough people share the same view. An important part of shame is the number of people who cast judgement resulting in the shame of an unfortunate party.

Pop culture has a plethora of examples of celebrities popular and unpopular in a publicly shamed episode once every so often. As devastating as this may seem, the author begins to explore the type of behavior that create negativity in a strong amount. There is something about when groups of people get together, a type of cognitive dissonance takes place and the attitude is no longer the attitude of an individual, but of a group. Two completely separate trains of thought.

It is unfortunate that the internet (certain social media circles) have turned into a metaphorical thunder dome nowadays. With people becoming more and more critical about what is said and sometimes what is simply implied. Here in California the spotlight is on police officers in the mainstream news media. I will not site a particular case or occurrence. I am simply making an observation on what happens when individuals act in a certain way whether it be good or bad, the public eye attempting to make sense of what they have just witnessed (which sometimes isn’t the sole perspective of an entire story) then making rash decisions based on little information that would not hold up among a jury of peers. I’m all in favor of holding a strong opinion about any topic. What gets me is the people who act on those uninformed opinions (often times getting others to join them in that person’s personal outrage)and cause a tremendous amount of suffering towards another.

The book also gives an example of a situation in which shaming does arguably have a place. The justice system may have it’s share of flaws, however, some judges take it among themselves to seek alternatives to incarcerating the masses. Having seen the harm shaming can do to people, I see this act as justified when it comes to legal matters in which there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that someone deserves to be shamed. In the instances that shaming has been delivered as punishment (reducing the financial penalty from 10,000 to 900-ish dollars to be carried out by writing one dollar checks to the family of the victim a drunk driver has hit and killed) the culprits have admitted that the act of shaming invoked the worst feelings imaginable, have shown the be the most beneficial in the long run, and resulted in the least amount of repeat offenders than traditional incarceration.

Social power among groups of people can be a powerful tool. Mostly when dealing with people in similar classes as that of your own. We seem to underestimate the damage it can do. People’s lives have been ruined over something that was said (a constitutional right mind you) out of context. For people to realize this and to continue to do so for whatever types of gains one might be aspiring towards, (insert psychological interpretation mentioning this like “projecting” or “repression”) is sickening and arrogant. We as a population have more power than we are lead to believe. Reading this book has made me more aware of the harm we can cause towards others and to take a step back and realize the consequence an opinion I have gained in a short amount of time can do to another human being such as yourselves.



As years of neurosis and confusion can confirm, my commitment issues have held me back from a number of opportunities. When it comes to cycling, there is a lot of talk of making the best of the little time we are allowed between our work schedules and moral obligations. What is not discussed as much is the path for those of us who are able to dedicate a significant amount of time towards the path of making cycling a profession. I said I would ride twenty-four hours for the week to get a taste of what that type of dedication feels like. I started a little too late in the week and got called into work and having other plans, preventing adequate sleep and recovery. I know I’m able to do it, and there’s part of me that thinks that I don’t know when the next opportunity will come to give this path a genuine shot.

A big lesson to learn when preparing for the next racing categories involves mental training as much as physical. (Insert clever mind over matter phrase.) Mindfulness can be overlooked when dealing with the social pressure of your peers. Since the road bike racing season is slowly coming to an end, I have had time to get my mind back in the right place and continue to strive for success.

In other news, a recent catching up with a good friend has sparked some interest into alternative employment. Ugh, I can’t stand that word. Let’s think of it more as a “project” (much better.) A simple answer as to what would spark someone’s pursuit into a more serious form of writing (this is something I want to do) has lead to some motivating aspirations. I would like to hone my craft of writing into the realm of comedy. All facets of comedy appeal to me, from stand-up to improv, to sketch. Whether I see myself producing all of these mediums is a different story. Right now I would like to begin in a direction towards comedy based writing prompts and seeing where that takes me. That with learning the proper formatting and presenting an appealing product can result in some positive outcomes.

The truth is, I’m not sure the type of writing I can see myself doing. This blog is far from what I would consider comedy-based writing. I find the world of comedy (as well as the world of music) to be a fascinating and ever-changing field that I love to follow. I haven’t been doing much reflecting as to what my needs are further than riding my bike and attempting to enjoy more social interactions with friends. Complacency has been a bit of a dream killer for me and this realization is becoming more and more obvious.

There is a lot of anxiety that comes from making the first few steps into a long-term path. This anxiety is amplified if it leads towards a less formal route (entertainment, professional athleticism, etc….) Now feels like a good point to get the ball rolling and giving these options a heartfelt effort. As mentioned before, I don’t know when the next opportunity will come where I will have this much time to myself to pursue these goals. So what if it’s straying from the beaten path. Deep down I know that I find comfort in this alternative journey.

Projects are now in the works, and while there is tangible tension that comes with every step of the way (insert clever walking a tightrope analogy) the exhilarating risks keep me going.


Amateur Cyclist: First Impressions

Time has gone by since another apprehensive young male has decided to try his hand at marketing the brand that is himself through social media. While first met with negative preconceived notions towards the ideology of self-promoting, our main character continues on this visual and insightful journey. Before we dive into the deep psyche that Instagram instills on it’s users, let us do a recent recap of basic behavioral changes our amateur cyclist has discovered.

While I will shamelessly admit to thinking in 140 character anecdotes, there has been a shift in everyday train of thought. In order to keep up with a constant social longing, my day seems to be catered around how I am able to share my experiences with others (mostly on the bike) without having given away my entire existence and thereby leaving myself exposed and with nothing to share. It is good to find a balance between what you would and would not like to share. Not because the things I choose to share are considered morally inappropriate, but because I would like to save a piece of myself for a face to face setting. I actually get a kick out of pushing the envelope the more chances I get. That in combination of planning my down time with photo opportunities that might come around are two of the most recent changes I find myself adapting to.

As far as the people who are also on this platform, there are many distinct and some subtle intentions that strike you right away. For one, there are people on there who make a big effort to put themselves out there and cater to a wide market of viewers with their hashtag lists longer than their photo captions. Some photos have been edited to such a degree that the authentic, DIY approach to capturing photos is ruined. There are many overproduced, sugar coated, photos with zero imperfections that invalidate my own personal mission statement I’ve presumed with my time spent online. The viewer can easily notice that there was a lot of time taken standing in one place, with many attempts at perfecting a particular moment. There is a time and place for that, and I don’t feel that Instagram is a place for that. At the same time I can see why someone would take so much time and effort for such a result, their have other motives on this application. They are seeking celebrity status through this medium. My initial goal was to explore this realm on a more intimate level. This is the most intimidating route as it goes against my personal character. I will still attempt at exploring this avenue, it is going to take more time for me to market my ego for this type of fame that has potential to be a complete flop and leaving my soul completely empty.

The second type I have seen are those who take a more mellow approach to the sharing aspect. Photos are met with far less hashtagging (a sign that the user is not completely driven to seek an audience bigger than their own personal circle of friends) while still being rich in content without being pretentious. I find myself clinging to this approach more than the first mentioned. There is a presence and a power that comes from all things candid, and improvised. A power that no DSLR, or overproduced photo can capture. If only this was more social sought after, there would be less of a cookie-cutter approach and a more enriching experience for everyone. There is no question that this is universally enjoyable by everyone, however there is a question of motivation for this type of reward. The type A approach is the easier digestible of the two. It is the fast-food equivalent while the type B is an exotic and wholesome meal that changes someone’s outlook on life. Both are sustainable ways of living. It then becomes a matter of preference from the viewer.

My plan of action towards Instagram is the same as all other social mediums I have chosen to join. Which would explain my lack of swag and mass appeal. I am aware that I may not be everyone’s preferred flavor of choice, and it is my fault for expecting everyone’s tastes to change just because I am using service C instead of service A. I need to dive deeper into the approach towards mass appeal in hopes that I will one day figure out just what it is that makes people cling to a certain style, then slowly manipulate those masses to a more enlightened point of view that someone may have never considered and now have a new outlook on. If that can be achieved, than it’s mission accomplished for me. More to come very soon. Summer has just begun and this young male has some celebrating to do in the weeks (and days) to come.

BTW please feel free to follow me to get a better perspective on my new digital journey.

IG: Amateur_cyclist

Summer Came Early

The human social experience is one of the most liberating assurances on the planet. There has been a lot of social interaction between some friends and myself. There has been a significant change in esteem day by day. Between friends visiting and reacquainting with past relationships, my moods have been elevated to a state of elation time and time again. It’s not so much that we are in each other’s presence constantly. A few interactions at the right time is all I need to have a good time. Friendly vibes whether they be male or female have gotten summer vibes going.

I am feeling a strong sense of comfort and the ability to come out of my shell on a more frequent basis. Sometimes I think that if I was able to notice and correct my neurosis at an earlier point in my life, I could have gotten to this sweet spot a lot sooner. In the same respect, perhaps I was not ready to show a vulnerable side of myself and receive it from others. There are countless examples from academia I can recall where I was much too naive and immature to further progress into maturity. Everything seems to be working out nowadays. I can reflect on bad decisions, and let that shape ones in the future.

This is turning into more of a philosophical rant than I expected. I’m just stoked I have good vibes coming in from multiple sources on a near daily basis. I pick up on other people’s confidence and comfort in their own skin and am myself empowered to continue the same behavior. Not so much in a sappy, sugar coated, ultra motivational type way. More in the respects of me being a grown ass man and being able to make the type of decisions I want.

Social interaction is a catalyst for further development. It may have taken some time, but I am realizing that I need more of this in my life. I remember mentioning that all day-to-day tasks feel better when you have someone to talk to about them, or someone to curl up in bed and wake up with. Whether it’s work, school, bikes, or anything else that matters in life, I am a firm believer that we do all of these better when there is someone we are able to connect with on a social level be it intimate or not.

The most challenging part is finding the select few who are on the same side of the spectrum as you in regards to self confidence. I’ve had my share of relationships where the differences were so polarizing, I felt a disconnect and had to distance myself from those people as a result. Some in which I’ve known for a number of years.

That’s been on my mind this past week. Thinking about how tight summer is going to be. How powerful human interaction can be. And opening myself up to more experiences seems right at this point in my life.


Amateur Cyclist: Prologue

Spring is set to begin in a drought-stricken town adjacent to an ocean. Children are approaching the end of another academic semester. The thought of such institutionalization still haunts an emerging adult faced with many social and societal pressures. The changing of times leaves him another year older and being rudely reminded by the current generation’s language and trendsetting. 

After finding solace in a life behind two wheels and shaved legs, our main character is exposed to his fellow human  in all different shapes, sizes, genders and ages. Here lies a duality tough to swallow. 

He seeks pleasure in being able to travel back in time and discover lives lived in a “simpler” time. Picking the brains of the older (only by biological standards) crowd brings him much joy by listening to battle stories of a time spent at an age near his own. Not only in active listening, but having the storyteller show the correlation between their past success and his own emerging success brings about a bliss that is so powerful, our main character is unable to actively cope and realistically comprehend his own potential and shuns the bulk of the possibilities at success through cycling.

On the other hand, he is faced with a new generation of riders who resemble a hunger and a fire he stoked on a more frequent basis. Panic and a hint of envy are constantly lingering in the back of his head. While at the same time he makes an honest attempt at pushing his pride to the side since his flame is at a lull at this transitional point of his life. There is a sense of genuine friendship and solidarity he never got to experience as a youth who grew up primarily an only child, jumping from school to school, and failing to acknowledge his reclusive character in both the intimate and non-intimate setting. All of these factors make him standoffish when opportunities to join new friendship circles come along. Having realized how important human interaction is for his species, he finds connecting with his fellow peers an energy draining experience and reserves these times for when they will benefit him the most. 

Taking all of this into consideration, our main character relizes his generation is no longer under the societal microscope and this scares him in a way. Much like the tides that come and go, he is afraid he will be swept away with yesterday’s waves and be another forgotten memory. Social media is the most prominent method that points this out to him. He has found his own voice in the past years and has used this voice to form his own opinions on life and has shaped his character (many times) to a form that feels most comfortable. This voice has cruel, cynical, and sadistic words towards such photo sharing applications. 

Dealing with the good and bad, the comfortable, and uncomfortable, he is faced with a decision to make. Keep up with the times and remain relevant, or slowly turn into an old, bitter man day by day. Given the most recent spell of loneliness in his life, our main character decides to step out of his cynical comfort zone and remain relevant. Patience will be tested, jokes will be made, enemies may be formed. This is a path he is willing to pedal along and will continue to do so for the sake of curiously and self-discovery….