Thursday, January 19, 2012

Elizabeth Lessner And Food By Bike.

**My order of pumpkin pasta from The Jury Room would be a struggle to deliver by bike.**

It's funny how life works. One day you are sitting in a political science class in San Francisco, and the next you are being interviewed in the roll: bike shop in Upper Arlington, Ohio. That's how things work around here. Columbus is a midwestern hub of just about every walk of life, every background, every story you could imagine. Speaking with restuaranteur Elizabeth Lessner today (it was snowing here) was like being a part of some "Seven Degrees To Kevin Bacon" exploratory mission. California link? Got it. Business partner who was a late '80's punk/rock musician..well I have one of those too (Lydia). An intimate link to the Athletic Club Of Columbus? Guilty as charged. Turns out we both love Tater Tots and bikes too. Crazy stuff.

I had first heard about Mrs. Lessner's embracing of bike culture with a simple post about a new bike rack she had installed in front of Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace. Sounds easy enough..except that it took a mountain of work to get the city to green light it. You see, her approach to a better and more green environment actually starts within her business. She's actually been responsible for changing legislation in Columbus to allow composting/recycling for restuarants! Cycling and this type of endeavor go hand in hand..and the city's cyclists FLOCK to her various joints in Columbus thanks to a tasty and creative menu, great drinks, and $1 PBR cans on certain days at the Tip Top for cyclists who ride in.

Thankfully she did not listen to the begging of instructors to stay in school in her early twenties. She followed her love of the bar/restaurant scene and went for it. I heard a rumor (wait..that's a Bananarama song)a

couple of weeks ago regarding her use of a courier service to deliver BY BIKE the amazing vittles from her latest spot The Jury Room, and asked her to meet me for an interview....

Q. You are constantly pushing the boundaries for "green" restaurant stewardship. What have been your biggest successes and highest hurdles?

A. Changing the SWACO laws regarding composting and recycling last year was a huge victory..for everyone really. It took a year of lobbying to finally get the law changed allowing everyone to do it. Up until then, all the waste generated was the property of SWACO. The big hurdle is more of a disappointment thing. A lot of my staff lives in the urban core, and travel by car is just not practical or necessary. It's an infrastructure thing. It's not seeing a more comprehensive public transportation light rail, better bike lanes and access and the like. When we decided to open The Jury Room, we thought "How are we going to get people to stop and eat here..there's no parking at all?" I applaud COTA for mounting the bike racks..but it's been a struggle.

Q. Having lived in San Francisco for six years, how would you describe the differences in the cycling scene there versus here?

A. It's a big reason I look for a complete plan or push here. In San Francisco, all you need is a bus pass and a bike and you can get to any place in the region. Getting to the East Bay to Sausalito to Palo Alto was easy, and you had no need for a car. Once in was 1996 when I moved here...I missed it. I gained a ton of weight when I moved here because all of a sudden I was driving everywhere. Having that daily excercise...which was excercise I didn't even consider..was a big loss. It disappointed me to see how things were going here at that time. I do get a little frustrated sometimes with's 2012 and we just started a recycling program. Things are improving, I guess it's just never as fast as you'd like when you are involved.

Q. What is your favorite pre-ride "carb-load" meal from The Jury Room?

A. I love the chicken parm....that's actually what most of the marathoners and Pelotonia folks who live downtown have been eating the night before a big training run or ride.

Q. Why did you choose bike delivery for the Jury Room?

A. Well we have been asked to deliver for years. It didn't seem like a good idea to put another car on the road...we actually thought about scooters too. Then we were approached by Ian (bike courier) to deliver by bike, and it just made sense.

Q. Will all the fabulous locations in town eventually get bike delivery service? What's the added cost for delivery?

A. Right now the test market is at The Jury Room only, but the delivery area is pretty wide..about five miles. The range goes from 5th Avenue in Grandview, to Franklinton on the West Side, south to Greenlawn and east to Taylor. delivery cost is only an added $2.00, plus tip. Beyond that range you can still get delivery, but you need to have a microwave or oven to heat it up, as it may get a bit colder on a route of that length.

Q. Tater Tots at Dirty Franks are my guilty pleasure, and the Nina West cocktail at The Jury Room would be my wife's. The candy cigarrette is a great touch. What is your guilty pleasure?

A. At my places or somewhere else? I have one at each the Mac & Cheese at Betty's, the True Love Always dog at Dirty Frank's and Frito Pie at Surly Girl. I eat our stuff a ton though, so to get away from my own stuff I will come to Pho Asian Noodles on Lane Avenue (just two blocks east of roll: bikes), or I'll swing by Cup O Joe on The Cap for their grilled cheese and tomato soup. It's kind of spicy and is just perfect on a day like today. My other go-to is Blocks Bagels. I'm from a family that always had great bagels on hand in Chicago, and Blocks Bagels and cream cheese are perfect.

Q. Were you afraid of losing any weiners in the Great Bomb Squad Incident Of January 6th?

A. *chuckle* oddly enough that was the second time I have seen the bomb squad in front of our places. We had one place shut down for an entire day as the bomb-squad's robot repeatedly grabbed, then shook an igloo cooler for about six hours before they went in and picked it up. The one across from Dirty Frank's was the same scenario.

Q. New bike racks were installed in front of Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace recently. How has that been received?

A. It's been great! It was a long battle, but highly necessary for both the staff and the downtown customers. Prior to the bike rack, people would ride and have to lock up to a meter out of view of the windows. That made people uneasy, and would even result in some not coming at all because they couldn't keep track of their equipment. Now you can see your bike from the bar, and that's a "win-win" for everyone.

Huge thanks to Elizabeth Lessner for taking the time out of juggling five restuarants to swing in and talk with me about cycling, food and the politics of Green in the Capitol City!

Here are some helpful links.. (Bomb Squad pix)

Brant Hatton Tears Up Texas!

Racing the Rock
Up for a challenge? This event takes racers around and through and up Enchanted Rock.
By Kathryn Hunter

I wake up before light to coyotes yipping.

My head’s buried in my sleeping bag, and it’s a struggle to navigate my way out, much less find the alarm on the floor of the tent. I shut it off, but the noise continues, to my bewilderment — oh right, I set two. To the relief of the campers who aren’t signed up for the race (and at this point wouldn’t mind seeing my head on a stake), I locate the second alarm, pack up camp and wheel my bike down to the start.

This is not a typical race morning.

Glow sticks light my way as I shoulder my bike down the last quarter-mile of dirt path to the group pavilion. I’ve got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. The Rock closes in on my left, looming large and dark. The worst part, the absolute worst part, of race day is this calm before the storm.

Oh buddy, I think, this is going to hurt.


Enchanted Rock, rising 425 feet above the surrounding landscape like the smooth, partly submerged shell of a giant turtle, is a place that inspires the imagination. For roughly 11,000 years, people have been drawn to its granite slopes, leaving behind legends of spirits, visions, battles and gold.

Designated a state natural area in 1984, Enchanted Rock remains a magical, wild setting, though today visitors are more likely to arrive in search of a good picnic spot than mystical guidance or mineral wealth. And yet, even in the modern, civilized soul, the Rock awakens a spirit of adventure.

Since 2009, the Enchanted Rock Extreme Duathlon, hosted by San Antonio-based company Redemption Race Productions, has been held in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area the last weekend of March. A run-bike-run event, it consists of a 5-mile run on the Loop Trail, 16-mile bike on FM 965 and 1.2-mile scramble straight up the Summit Trail to the top of the Big Rock.

According to popular lore, Capt. John C. Hays of the Texas Rangers traveled part of this route in 1841. Separated from his scouting party, he ran to the summit to escape a band of Comanches, and from that position was able to defend himself against their attack until rejoined by his men. But try it for yourself — that is, running to the top of the Big Rock — and you’ll be more inclined to call the story a tall tale. Sure, the fabled Capt. Jack could single-handedly fight off a group of hostile Indians, but sprinting up a near-vertical incline? No doubt he would have figured it’d be a better idea to stop and try to reason with them.

Nevertheless, the Erock Du’s 175-participant limit always fills well in advance, and many of the same competitors return, year after year, to do it again.

What Is Multisport?
Although there’s no “typical” distance or course for a duathlon, if you were to describe the average race venue, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area wouldn’t be it. The setting presents a number of challenges — park entry is limited, parts of the course are remote and inaccessible by car, the weather and streams are unpredictable, race-day parking is located half a mile from the race start, and the finish is essentially on top of a mountain, which requires a creative timing solution or hauling up 50 pounds of equipment by hand.

But where multisport events are concerned, a quest for the ideal often takes precedence over logic and reason. Multisport is still growing by leaps and bounds, though even at the highest level there’s little profit in winning. In triathlon, a combination of swimming, biking and running, the most publicized and prestigious event is the Ironman world championship in Kona. The winner receives a payout of $110,000. By comparison, the winner of the U.S. Open takes home $1.44 million, and the top 50 golfers in 2010 each made at least $1 million in prize money. The majority of professional triathletes and “age groupers,” though perhaps some of the best all-around athletes in the world, compete more for the sake of meeting personal goals than for fame or money.

Currently, duathlon, a term used to describe any run-bike-run event (a swim-bike-swim is called an “aqua­bike”), receives even less recognition than triathlon. Unlike triathlon, there’s no Olympic competition or televised duathlon event. The competitors you’ll see lined up at the Erock Du’s start are there because, believe it or not, this is what they like to do for fun.

The 2011 Race
Capt. Hays would have been 24 when he ran up Enchanted Rock. In 2009, I had just turned 25 when my husband, Jack, and I first raced the Enchanted Rock Extreme Duathlon in its inaugural year. It was my second-ever multisport event, and in hindsight, the place where I really fell in love with duathlon and cycling. Jack and I have been back every year since.

In 2011, race day was the same as it had always been. The transition area and race start are located at the park’s pavilion, down a trail from the main parking lot.

For the competitors, part of race-morning prep is getting body-marked — volunteers write each competitor’s race number on his or her thigh and age on the calf. Since awards are given for male and female age-group winners in addition to the overall winners, this allows participants to determine whether another person is their direct competition during the race.

Robert Harder, the most “mature” participant at 70 years old, doesn’t have a single person in his age group at the 2011 race, but for many competitors, knowing they’re being passed by someone born in 1940 is enough motivation in itself to pick up the pace.

“I love beating the 50- and 60-year-old guys,” Harder says with a grin. Though he began competing in multisport four years ago, he explains that he’s been running half-marathons and marathons for nearly 30 years. “When my kids got older and I was no longer involved in all of their sports, I was able to contribute more time to myself and became more active.”

Harder says he’s beyond trying to set a personal best these days. Like most of the other participants lined up at the start, he’s here for the challenge and the camaraderie. But there’s also a contingent of athletes vying for the first-place finish. Members of the Tri-Sition Area team, ATC Racing, Texas Iron and the Aggie Triathlon Team are in attendance, as well as coach and former professional triathlete Jamie Cleveland, who won first overall at the race in 2009. While Harder is guaranteed to win his age-group trophy, a plaque set into a polished piece of local granite, the rest of us are surveying the competition and wondering how we’ll stack up.

But when the gun goes off at the start of the first run, there’s no more time to think. Within minutes, the race becomes a long, single-file line, the gaps between competitors widening. The 5-mile Loop Trail circles the base of the Little Rock, skirts the Moss Lake primitive campground behind the main dome and then returns just to the east of Freshman Mountain, crossing a series of rolling hills and several dry, rocky streambeds. The scenery is rugged and beautiful throughout, and it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine the sound of soft moccasins and unshod horses in pursuit just behind.

But when the run is finished, the scene goes straight from Western movie to Star Trek. In the transition area, the fastest competitors take off their running shoes, don their aero helmets and mount aerodynamically engineered carbon bikes with race wheels. The 16-mile bike course, which follows the highway just outside of the park for 8 miles east and then returns along the same route, will take most riders 45 to 65 minutes to complete.

Drafting is not allowed, so rather than a Tour de France-style pack, competitors are spread out along the length of the course, each settling into his or her individual pace.

Completing the bike portion is both a blessing and a curse. When competitors reach the transition area and put their bikes back on the racks, there are only 1.2 miles remaining to the finish, but this includes a 425-foot rise in elevation in the last half-mile. Also, where this steep section begins, there’s a timing mat marking the start of the “King of the Hill” competition, a race within the race to see who can make it the fastest up the final slope.

Race director Brian Schmidt’s motto for the Enchanted Rock Extreme Duathlon is “No Whining,” and the climb up the Summit Trail certainly puts this edict to the test. Even walking to the top of Enchanted Rock can be a challenge at the end of the race. Cleveland, who at the 2011 race finished first overall as well as King of the Hill, is one of the few who can run the whole way.

But the challenge of the setting, along with its beauty, is what makes this race so appealing. Given the length and remoteness of the course, Schmidt does not recommend the event for those with no previous race experience, but otherwise, all ages, abilities and genders are welcome, and all seem to enjoy the course equally. Whether you have one multisport event under your belt or a hundred, after 22.2 miles of racing through and around and up this famous Texas landmark, taking in the view from the top is an experience that’s sure to make the legend of Enchanted Rock part of your own story.

Enchanted Rock’s Allure
Enchanted Rock SNA is one of the most visited parks in Texas.

“It seems like everyone who doesn’t go to the beach ends up here at the Rock,” park Superintendent Ray Sierra says. “The name Enchanted Rock has an allure to it. It brings folks out here to see what makes the place so special. And it’s a special place for folks who’ve been out here before, too, people who’ve been here as kids and are back today with their kids.”

Sierra says he welcomed the idea of holding a duathlon at Enchanted Rock because it would introduce the park to a new type of visitor. And he’s not alone in his support of the idea. Multi­sport, cycling and adventure racing have found homes at other state parks, including Huntsville State Park, Bastrop State Park, Palo Duro Canyon State Park and Tyler State Park.

So, while a lot has changed in the 170 years since Hays’ famous ascent of Enchanted Rock, it can also be said that the sense of exploration lives on. Our state and national parks are our last piece of the Texas frontier, so it’s only fitting that in a place like Enchanted Rock, you should find both endurance athletes and day trippers testing themselves against the granite slopes for a glimpse of not only what lies in the distance, but also what lies within the deepest part of themselves.


I slowly inch my way up the Big Rock, wheezing like an asthmatic moose. A woman along the trail takes pity and urges me on. “Only a quarter-mile to go!”

“Only?!” I think. “Are you kidding?!”

The mountain is so steep that I can’t see the finish line. After each rise I think it’s the end, but no, there’s another, and another and another.

By the time I see the flags, I wonder if my vision is failing, but they’re no mirage. The final 50 yards to the finish are, ironically, flat. I can’t muster a spectacular sprint to the line — I’m officially cooked — but I’ve made it. Happily belly-up on the granite, I feel as if I’ve just bested Kilimanjaro.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Randy's Racers and Chasers Report!


Well Saturday was a fun race day with Robert's racers and chasers crew down at Balboa park right next to the Velodrome. I did this race two years ago and it is a blast so even though I am not in top race shape I had to go race.

Race time was changed from 9:00am to 10:00am because there were so many people there so that gave another hour to get ready to go (which I needed) so after warming up I headed up to the start and this is the only thing about how Robert runs the races I kinda don't care for, he runs all the sports together (all class's) which means we had like 80 or so people taking off together but luckily this course can handle it, it's a long long wide straight.

So off the start I am going to just play it safe and cruise so I don't burn up because we are going to run 4.5 laps with each lap running about 4.5 miles with only 300 feet of climbing per lap. I have no idea were I was at position wise at all during the race with that many people and no leg marking for age's so I just wanted to be consistent and finish were I finish.

This course has a half lap which runs threw a very slow chicane were the scorers are so on the fist half lap we get into it with everyone totally bunching up (kinda like the first lap at sea otter) and this f-ing douche nozzle stats passing people in there then nock's this girl off her bike trying to pass so I am thinking ok dude I will find you out on the course! and I did and had a few words with him and told him if he had a problem come find me after the race.

The problem with this is I was around this a-hole the hole race! on the third lap I was kinda gassed and he passed me and I was like no way is this going to happen so I kept him in sight and rested at the same time. On the last lap I pushed it and passed him along with a few other guys and ended up finishing 8th out of 14 guys so it was a good day and a fun one also, the only problem was Kim was in AZ! it's aways nice when she's with me.

I also want to say thanks to all of our sponsors Kenda, Amino Vital, Sigma sport, 661 sunline, Tomac bikes, Ryders eye ware. We have the best sponsors who stay behind this team so a big thank you to all of you.

It's off to Fontucky for round two of the winter series next weekend and then Robert has another race the week after at black mountain. check out racers and chasers web-site for all his races it's cheap and a good time.

Talk to ya next week,


Monday, January 09, 2012

Columbus Winter 2012

It's hard knowing that back home in sunny So Cal it's in the low 80's January. To be fair, the last week here in Columbus has actually been the nicest lead-in to Winter we have had in the past four years. It's slated to be mid 40's again today, and the sun is out. Saturday was actually in the mid fifties, and I had Luka out at the Metro Parks all day playing in what seemed to be early Fall bliss in a week that usually invloves at least an hour of shoveling white stuff every day.

**Luka strolling across the ponds at the Audubon Metro Park in Columbus Saturday.**

My road bike was placed in the trainer a week and a half ago, and amazingly enough it was quite premature. I have been rocking the hardtail with Kenda Kozmik Lite II's for the past two weeks now as a road bike replacement since I refuse to take off that son of a bitch trainer tire.

**Luckily, the mid-40's temps were just enough to melt the ice on the exposed bridges along the Olentangy Trail Thursday.**

People here in the Capitol City have been all atwitter with daylight and walkable sidewalks, and the ability to ride outdoors without seventeen layers of clothes on. The historic North Market(typically a ghost town in January) was jam-packed with humanity Saturday.

There wasn't a dog owner in town who wasn't out walking their animal. Seeing Vegas Bob's pics of the Ortega Mountains during his monster ride Saturday was great, but certainly doesn't help my abject grief over the featureless terrain of the
area here. Timari Pruis posted a nice shot from the Backbone Trail looking west out to Catalina Island, and the photos coming in from Dorothy Wong of the So Cal 'Cross Series show little in the area of icy bridges on bike paths.

**Ara rocking "The Stouche" at the So Cal Cross races.**

It's coming...slowly but surely the steely grey gloom of old man Winter is encroaching like a fast moving glacier on me. The thought of turning mindless crank revolutions on the indoor mag trainer in the low ceiling of the basement makes me want to gouge out my eyes.

I am resolving myself to slip into my AmFib tights and shoe covers every chance I get until the roads are too frozen to ride. I'll be out this afternoon again thanks to a day off, then our indoor group BYOT class Wednesday..which is only slightly less disgusting than a basement workout and ONLY because friends come to suffer too. It helps that beers follow at 9p.m.

**Burm #1 after dropping in to the top of Backbone Trail in Sycamore Canyon S.P.**

The trainer sessions typically involve me closing my eyes and dreaming of blasting down that scrabbly-tight section of Backbone Trail inside Sycamore Canyon State Park after ascending Guadalasca Peak Trail. Having the bike wide open, hands nowhere near the brake levers as you plummet down that baby-head strewn sliver of dust is all that keeps me alive at times. I ride it in my dreams, along with other favorites like San Juan Trail, SART, JPL and Thunder Mountain Trail.

Old helmet cam footage from a decade ago doesn't hurt, either. I only wish I had some footage of the Rock Store road loop starting at Malibu Creek State Park and heading out to Leo Carrillo State Beach, or two hours of reels from riding the mind-blowingly scenic singletrack run from Tunnel 1 on Kanan Dume Road in Malibu across the mountain top into Malibu Canyon. Poor Abel Vaca has suffered many a near-fatal crash on the savage descent back into the canyon.

It's those now-twenty-two year old and newer memories of riding and racing with people like the Klawitter brothers back in the old Conejo Bikes days,

**The ol' Conejo AP/5 ready for NORBA's**

and the great group at Checkered Flag Racing (that would eventually become most of Backbone Adventure Cycling) that keep me motivated to ride when the mercury hits the single digits here. Camp-N-Rides in the Big Laguna mountains, races in Brian Head, the team condo in Big Bear..all of it I try to recall as often as possible this time of year.

**Val and Karl Kleinbach arrive with baby Cody to the Camp-N-Ride in ventura County, 2007.**

It helps to have rider-submitted reports from home to keep me going, and Facebook posted pictures of sunny and dry singletrack make me end my indoor workouts with one-leg drills instead of stopping early to watch T.V.

Please keep them coming for the next three psyche will thank you for it.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Winter Pic From Columbus.

Yesterday was a rare nice day for January the 5th. At 43 degrees and sunny, it was almost like summer here in the Cap City. With the mountain bike in "Dual Sport" mode thanks to the road bike being hooked up to the trainer in the basement, I headed out in cold but stark beauty of the afternoon. Rolling up alongside the Olentangy River I couldn't help but notice how great the bike felt. Kenda Kozmik Lite II tires at 80psi were quiet and FAST, and my rotors were NOT dragging thanks to the stupid-light and well designed Formula R-1's. I would enjoy their phenomenal "feel" later in the ride while breaking through icy sections of singletrack off the paved path..hence the name "Dual Sport." My ROX 9.0 Sigma computer works STILL (after four years) flawlessly even in the near zero winter temps here too..which is nice.

Today, we are enjoying the last warm day (50 degrees) before it dips back intop the low 40's and below. Vacant was the bike path and adjacent trail network save for the migratory waterfowl that had been duped by late warm days. In three more nights any goose left on the river will likely have his flippers frozen for good. I took a picture, because from here on out, the basement will not be NEARLY as nice to look at.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Tookie's Inro To Winter.

Hey, Chris
We had a three day break in the weather down here and when I say, a break, I mean three days with out rain or sub 20 degree temps. Friday was great, but muddy Saturday was a little harder with a lot of hiking my ass up hills because of the 12 horses traveling the opposite way mulching the trail up for 10 of the 16 miles. Sunday with my legs numb and a cold front moving quick I was just happy that I was out on the bike for the new year and with a lot of help from double scoops of Amino Vital that I made it through the long weekend ride.
Talk later,