Birthday Ride

With the Santa Anas blowing LA is a city of clear skies and warm temperatures.

As cyclists we may measure time a bit more observantly than some. Sure, we follow the course of a year the same as everyone else. But each year is another season spent on the bike. Each year is a self-contained string of high points, misses. It’s the way we mark each year that gives us our perspective.

Thrash settles in for the first climb.

It comes up in the way we talk about our riding with other cyclists. Even for those of us who no longer race (if we ever did) it’s not uncommon to mark previous years in the course of conversation.

On a climb that long a head-start is really only useful for getting into position for pictures.

I’m ahead of where I was this time last year.

It’s been five years since I could climb that in the big ring.

I’m always lousy in January.

How anyone flies over washboard I’ll never know.

The odd feature of this life is that we can get lost in the routines of training. Base miles in the fall and winter, intervals and early races in the spring, riding hard all summer long. We don’t always look up to make sure we’re keeping it fresh.

Jens and StageOne picked me up and stuck me on the fire.

But eventually we mark so many years we hit one of those personal milestones. Thank God for friends. While I let my birthday slip quietly by last month, a friend is celebrating his 50th birthday. As is true with the gift of cycling, he doesn’t look it. To celebrate, we rounded up an 18-strong group to break our routine and do something a little different.

It takes only one mistake to give up a wheel on a dirt road climb.

As is typical of many Sundays, we climbed one of the canyon roads in Malibu but this time dropped into the San Fernando Valley to climb Dirt Mulholland which I mentioned in my recent post when I went for a ride with Spencer from Ritte Racing. From the Valley, Mulholland is a six-mile climb with a few respites, though it’s all work.

Refueling with StageOne (right) and others once the pain was over.

Stepping out of the routine can help reminds us of the bigger picture, celebrating life in the unusual even as we’ve worked celebrate it by establishing routines to make the most of the time we have.

Birthday boy Hockey Stick was all smiles at our regroup at the top of the climb.

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about riding a dirt road, but it’s something we don’t usually do and it was a way to mark the occasion, and a way to entice friends who aren’t local to come up for a ride we’ve promised each other to do annually.

I lose street cred for living in a place this warm in January.

Here’s to marking occasions with a special ride.



  1. Mike

    Sun, shorts, and cycling … can’t beat that! We still have a couple of months before we can enjoy those three together … something to which we can look forward!

  2. Thrash

    What a great day with a great bunch of guys. I loved flying past the mountain bikers in full formation. You would get the proverbial WTH look…..Are those roadies here? Thanks for the photos my man!

  3. Stiffie Driver

    Total blast! I’m still kinda roiled about off-off-roading courtesy of that unbudging mountain biker, but I kept it to myself on the trail since I think he was holding on for dear life as we came whipping by him on our 15 pounders. So fun to hang with all y’all!

  4. Clark

    I decided to treat myself to my own first annual birthday ride this past fall while visiting family in Austin. Lots of climbs, scenic roads, and good legs all the way through made it just about as perfect as it could have been.

  5. noel

    I slept in. Missed you guys but a man needs snuggle time. Building in base miles of a different sort. P.. need to get in some hours with you before you move.

  6. Jody Prummer

    That’s it!! I am taking some time off from work and going to St. George. After those cool pic’s I need some warm weather ASAP.

  7. Jesus from Cancun

    Aaaaahhhh, memories. Sometimes I wish I was still living in Chatsworth so I could join you guys out there….
    Or… I just looked outside my office window. Sunny, 81 degrees F. Clean blue sky, Turquoise blue ocean, people swimming in bikinis and trunks…
    Maybe not.
    Thank you for the post, anyway. And Happy 50, Hockey!

  8. Bob Gade

    We had my 6th annual Birthday ride aka the Soup Ride this past saturday. A 112 mile loop starting in Berkeley, CA that included the legendary Morgan Territory Road, Palomares Road, Redwood Road, and split pea soup and cookies delivered by my wonderful wife at the half way mark. There were 19 of us up to the soup stop, and 5 that completed the entire route. It was a beautiful day, with temps in the 60’s and light winds.
    Long live Birthday Rides!

  9. slappy

    yup just got 17 stomprz together for a fat bike challenge, 20 miles around telluride on big bikes, felt like 100 mi on skinnys, hadn’t snowed in ages and it started when we did and by the time we woke up the next morning it had snowed 20″

  10. Bongo_Bob

    I too celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago by riding with good friends. It was my 63rd so I decided to double my age in miles, wound up doing 130. It was an awesome day with wonderful weather here in Waco (started at 35 degrees ended at 70). I look forward to many more birthday rides in the future.

  11. Jared Eaton

    I had my seventy second b day but did not ride because of tendinitis in my right knee, but I’ll be back at it soon. I saw Lance Armstrong on Saturday, he rode up to Hawi HI. (where I live) I love riding on the big island the roads have wide shoulders and not much traffic with very few cross streets.

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