La Vida La Cava: Pack it up and GO!

Paul LaCava | January 22, 2013

I’m shooting from the hip on this one…. New style… let me know what you think. Sometimes it’s gotta be about sharing the joy of just packing it all into a car and hitting the road, the style of travel that I know the best.

La Vida LaCava: Pack it up and just GO:

 Dec 19th, 2012: Last minute planning

Work is tapering down for the year. Holidays are approaching. Nervous energy is pulsing through my veins. Must. Leave. Soon. I don’t want to be stuck at home spending the holidays worrying about doing what normal people do during the holidays…like tossing back egg nog at some party with people you don’t know very well wearing a terrible sweater. Packing begins…

There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

Dec 20th: Will it all fit?

I’m trying to figure out how to pack three surfboards, two bikes, a hoard of warm and cold wet-weather gear into the back of a Subaru for a dubious mid-winter trip to California. I’m leaving from Portland, Oregon, in late December. Apparently, it’s actually winter in other warmer parts of the world. Arrrrrg. There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Solution: pack more clothing. Er, maybe a sweater after all. Gas tank is filled. Lots of surfboard wax has been acquired. Minimal food is packed, it’ll sort itself out somewhere on the way. Chopping wood last minute for a fire… This trip is happening…

 Dec 21st: Last minute packing

Hmm, it seems to be raining heavily. Hoping it won’t be doing this 600 miles south! Departure. Whatever didn’t make it in the car is not needed. This is a road trip. Things will happen on the road that are not expected. It will not all go right. It is because of this that it will be perfect. At least I have good windshield wipers that work along the 12 hours of Interstate 5 that separate me from home and where I need to go: Santa Cruz.

Whatever didn’t make it in the car is not needed. This is a road trip.

 Dec 22nd: Departure

Fresh tunes on the iPod, iPhone, whatever it takes, heck even a CD or two. Sunglasses have been located. I haven’t needed those in a while. It’s time to hit the road. It’s a long haul, fully pinned, with only a slight detour at my favorite coffee joint in Ashland called Noble Coffee. About 8 degrees further south, on the parallel lines of the globe, I hit Santa Cruz in a dismal pissing, shit storm. I’m a seasoned Pacific Northwest life-long resident and have never seen rain like this! Oh well, stormy weather often means big swells… I find a local state park to rest for the evening.

 Dec 23rd: Sorting it out

It turns out that the new temporary tie down surf board rack straps that loop through the car leak water inside. It also rained about 2” last night in this full monsoon. Awesome. Things are wet. No biggie. Far better than doing taxes at home. It’s quite stormy all day, the surf is mess, but I’m by the ocean and sucking it all in. So fresh! Coffee. Beer. Relax. In any order possible. I join friends Abby and Ariel in town and watch the local river at critical flood stages and we count the tennis balls floating down the river. A couple couches float by, some tires, it’s a shit storm of crap. The waiting ensues…

It will not all go right. It is because of this that it will be perfect.

 Dec 24th: Life in motion

Ahhhh, the smell of the ocean. It invites energy into the soul like nothing I know of …I checked the surf. There’s a decent swell coming into town and it’s time to paddle out! I plan to get a good couple of hours in the water and then hole up in my favorite local coffee joint in Capitola: Verve Coffee. I think I’m supposed to be doing something or I’m late for an event, it’s Christmas Eve. I couldn’t care less. I’m starting to leave the worries of life behind.

It’s quite stormy all day, the surf is mess, but I’m by the ocean and sucking it all in.

 Dec 25th: Holidays are for riding

For the holiday, I have chosen to do something obvious: go mountain biking. It’s pretty dodgy weather again, but time to break in a new bike I just built up and it’s been a while since I hit the trails. Long drive out of town and into the back woods of Demonstration Forest, I avoid some minor landslides, what with all the moisture and obscenely wet un-hot California weather, I get to the trailhead. Headed out for a great ride, got super wet, cut some drifting corners in the sloppy muddy conditions, dodged a few trees, and I feel alive! Cruising around in the huge redwoods forests always makes a person smile! Makes you feel so small compared to those giants!

Cruising around in the huge redwoods forests always makes a person smile! Makes you feel so small compared to those giants!

Dec 26th: Now on to the good stuff

Ocean is booming with swell. Waves crashing. I scout out some localized reef breaks and hidden point breaks. Nervous sweats watching the sets roll in. Heavy water today. After much deliberation I take the leap and jump in, and it’s worth the effort. Slightly beaten down and taught a lesson or two by the Pacific, I get a few waves and sit back and relax in some mid 60 degree sun. Feels good when you’re used to 35 degree rainy days lately…I can handle this.

 Dec 27th: Time to get social

Mid-morning surf. Then drive to San Jose to pick up my girlfriend, Suzanne, from the airport. Very happy to see a familiar face! Head back to the beach for some awesome camping by the water, clear skies with a starry night, and a campfire. After five days of getting to know the inner thoughts that unravel in my head and spending time in all isolation, the company is nice!

Dec 28th: Surfs up! 

Wake up. Coffee. Eggs. Listen to the ocean. Jump in the water. Catch a few waves. Repeat as needed. Getting down to the basics here and really starting to settle into the mode. Not a care in the world except for wondering what is for dinner, and even that seems like a triviality not worth giving much thought to. Life ain’t bad!

After five days of getting to know the inner thoughts that unravel in my head and spending time in all isolation, the company is nice!

Big Sur Rainbow, Nepenthe Bar & Grill

Dec 29-30th: Big Sur

We checked out some wildlife at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s awesome how much life there is in the ocean that you just rarely see! Ideally, you aren’t seeing too much when paddling around in the ocean, especially those fascinating pre-historic great white sharks that take a rent check every so often from those who wander into dark water. Sue and I decide stay on a sailboat for a couple nights and head down to Big Sur, one of my favorite places on Earth!

We watch a beautiful sunset with a double rainbow while having drinks on the patio of the Nepenthe Bar and Grill. This place was hard to leave, but all places are temporary when on the road. Enjoy it while you can.

Dec 31st: The City

San Fran. Holy shit! This place has energy! We took a quick cruise up Hwy 101 to Sausalito and found a warm bed to stay in overlooking the bay. Wow. We headed out for an awesome ride in Fairfax in Marin, and joined good friends Mike and Will for a shred session in the hills. Afterwards, we headed down to the Mission in San Francisco to ring in the New Year with a bit of live music, drinks with friends, and getting lost in a city that I could call home if I had a few extra lives to live. Look! I got a great fortune from the evening’s Chinese food.

Jan 1st: New Year’s Day

I made a quick early trip to drop Suzanne off at the airport in Oakland. I was rushing to and from places while everyone was sleeping. The city was quiet, and seems like you could drop a pin and hear it. Oddly assuring. But after two days in the city it’s time to depart, quiet things down a bit. Quick surf check at one of the most notoriously sharky evil heavy water beach breaks on the planet, Ocean Beach, and it’s breaking double overhead 1/3 mile out in the ocean. No thanks. Cruise down to Pacifica for a quick session and had another stop at In-N-Out for some healthy road food, and then on to a 300 mile drive south to warmer pastures.

Jan 2– 4th: Santa Barbara!

I’m gonna need a vacation after this trip. Three early morning dawn patrol surfing in a row in and around Santa Barbara and Ventura, and I’m tired! 5am wakeup calls and 7-11 coffee because nothing else is open so early! I’ll put up with it for some famous surf breaks with names like Rincon and Silver Strand. Heavy water again. Some perfect waves, and some serious currents and I get caught inside on a few sets and it feels like a week of work in about 5 minutes. Ahhh, what would a good trip be without some hardship!

Although things are nice and pleasant in this paradise town, I’m feeling the urge to move om again.

I decide on a quick night stay with a good old friend, Nick, to recharge the batteries. I watch the Lakers lose again and remember what I am missing and thankful for it. Although things are nice and pleasant in this paradise town, I’m feeling the urge to move om again. Recipe: drive somewhere new. It’s time to head all the way down south: San Diego! I hear there is surf there, and in December, maybe 65 degree weather?

San Diego Sea Lions

Jan 5-6th: The Good Life

Lots of wildlife roaming around these parts! The sun feels so good the sea lions are hanging around getting a dose of warmth. A ton of birds in the air. This place is paradise! I got the best wave of my life at Del Mar Reefs. Then I managed to earn the longest hold-down in the water I’ve seen at Black’s Beach while scratching like mad to make it to the outside of a huge set that rolled in. I got sent backwards over the falls and pinned to the ocean floor for what seemed like an eternity…Lessons learned the hard way.

In San Diego we cruise out to a local trailhead and get some great singletrack in the desert. Warm smiles and a few old friends on this day.

Then I stay with good friends, Elise and Jake, in San Diego for a couple nights and we cruise up to check out the cool Stone Brewery, en route to see the first Supercross racing weekend of the year in Anaheim!

It’s all surreal after spending most of two weeks cruising the quiet coastline of California out of the back of a Subaru.

Jan 7th: Time to Leave

Today when I wake up I feel the most alive I can recall. Without much of a plan in place before leaving, it’s been an incredible two weeks on the road travelling nearly 3,500 miles down the California coastline seeing friends, finding new surf breaks, stopping at a few good coffee shops and seeing a heck of a lot of amazing sunsets. I’ve now pieced together nearly every mile of Hwy 101 on this trip combined with a couple previous adventures, and I gotta say it’s one of the most amazing places I’ve seen on this planet. Nearly every mile of it. Every day and night on this trip provided me with something new and unexpected, with little expectation except for the hope of some good surf and a place to rest my head for the night.

A few extra warm showers and hospitality along the way really made it all too easy, almost, but it was great to see some friends, old and new, Life’s best when kept simple, I find, and these last two weeks reminded me that sometimes you just gotta pack it up and go, leave what you think you need behind, and worry about the rest later. Once back, I unpacked the bags and quickly found myself wondering when I would be able to hop in the car and check out the next place on the road…

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La Vida La Cava: The Hardest Hour

Paul LaCava | December 14, 2012

Here you go! I thought I would do a story about the latest ‘cross race season and ramblings about what it means to race ‘cross and the sense of community and culture behind it. Next weekend I’ll head down to San Diego, Santa Cruz and SF for a two week coastal tour road trip!

La Vida LaCava: The Hardest Hour

Each fall, somewhere close to when the leaves begin to turn color, the itch grows. Thoughts of sweet summertime fun and sunny days part ways for the re-emergence of what has become a painful tradition. When the skies open up and winter temperament slowly develops, the act of racing road bikes around in the dirt and mud becomes a solitary focus. Another year of cyclocross racing is upon us! This is a story of this annual addiction…

Cyclocross is described as the hardest hour in cycling, but I would be inclined to call it the hardest hour in life that I can ever recall.

One to three times a week, between September and December in the Pacific Northwest, there is nothing better to do than join over a thousand of your closest friends by putting on a skinsuit and racing between the tape. The sport of cyclocross began as a sport meant to bridge the gap between the end and beginning of road racing season in northern Europe, a way to stay fit during the shadow of winter, and it’s now evolved to become a genre of cycling with a bittersweet identity. It’s known for loads of fun, and full of great anguish. ‘Cross, as they call it, is extremely popular in Oregon where I live, and we are blessed with a fantastic community of enthusiasts. A typical setting for a ‘cross race is seeing how much a person can endure for an hour in a rolling park with a mix of grass and dirt, off camber corners, and barriers that force one to jump off their bike and run up and over a stretch, looping around a 1-2 mile course many times over, with weather patterns that range from sunny to the worst rain, sleet, and snow.

…the intense clamor of hundreds of fans yelling the worst insults and odd words of encouragement imaginable to get one to just try that little bit harder.

Cyclocross is described as the hardest hour in cycling, but I would be inclined to call it the hardest hour in life that I can ever recall. Why we do it, I cannot fully say. Somewhere between turning your lungs inside out, plowing through inches of slow mud on the ground, elbow to elbow with your best friends and worst enemies, with rain likely falling from the sky, is where life lessons are learned out here.

…when you were slogging over a calf deep puddle of water and mud nearly freezing your digits off, you snap back into it. You pull it together and you do what it takes to stay in the race. This is all part of the fun. This is ‘cross.

When it’s all said and done, what happens on the course stays out there. If all goes right, you’ve left it all out there, on the ground, with nothing left! Some may celebrate with a beer or bacon hand-up during the race, if they can stomach it. You always celebrate with friends and a beer at the finish.  There is mad cheering, the ringing of cowbells, the intense clamor of hundreds of fans yelling the worst insults and odd words of encouragement imaginable to get one to just try that little bit harder. Sometimes you can’t even hear the words of anguish in your head over the white noise outside the course. When it’s over, you forget how bad it hurts, and instead remember that feeling of great accomplishment from a hard day’s work, the smile of competition, and the camaraderie you share with others suffering the same fate.

If you lose this focus, which happens often- what with the myriad of factors that can force one to come unraveled- then it’s back to survival.

So the next week you line up at the start line, same time, different day, different place, but same goal. You race like there is no tomorrow. You forget the worries of life, the laundry you forgot to do at home (don’t worry, there will be more to do after this mud bath), and you forget the trivial hurdles of one’s career or the daily commute. There is no time for any of this. It’s just pure focus; a brutal simplicity that rarely seems to happen outside of nature. If you lose this focus, which happens often- what with the myriad of factors that can force one to come unraveled- then it’s back to survival. The mud got you. Your legs didn’t feel good. You rolled a tire off your wheel. You slid head first into the course tape that is now coming apart at the seams even faster than your mind is falling to pieces…Somewhere between this and when you were slogging over a calf deep puddle of water and mud nearly freezing your digits off, you snap back into it. You pull it together and you do what it takes to stay in the race. This is all part of the fun. This is ‘cross.

The middle of the week is spent doing brutal sets of intervals, fall rides in the transition period with leaves on the ground, gluing on new tires, checking pressure, cleaning and washing until the drain in front of the garage gets clogged with the remnants of what happened on Sunday. You kind of dread what is ahead, but also look forward to the next race with a sudden urgency, to get back out there and try to put together the perfect day. The day when everything goes right, you make no mistakes, you feel good, and it all comes together.

This season all came together for me on the second day on the seventh lap of a nine lap race.

Last weekend we wrapped up the Oregon ‘cross season with a fantastic day at the US Grand Prix of ‘Cross in Bend, Oregon. Two days of back to back racing with the nation’s top racers, some of whom are among the world’s best athletes. Bend is a beer drinking town with a major bike problem, and they have an even bigger ‘cross problem! The crowds were awesome, the heckling daunting. And the pace was fast. This season all came together for me on the second day on the seventh lap of a nine lap race. Go too slow and the fastest racers will catch you and you are pulled from the course. On my third day of racing in the Elite class with all of the heavy hitters, I found an extra gear and rode like it was my last day to ride a bike in my life. Lap seven came and went and I was still racing. Lap eight was even worse. And then we passed onto lap nine and at that point I found myself on the lead lap, finishing with all of the top racers, admittedly a few minutes back, but still up there! A great feeling!

It’s December and time to hang up another set of race #s. They are tattered and a bit worse for wear. The damage is done. Only the warmth of the holidays and a long winter can heal the mind and soul from the effort over the last few months, but I’m already looking forward to next year. The sense of excitement and passion that cyclocross brings to me and the rest of the scene leaves a tear in my eye every time the year is done. But there is always next year.

Paul LaCava is an avid cyclist who lives in the Pacific Northwest. He will ride virtually any type of bicycle, preferably on dirt, and often. Paul enjoys most forms of substance abuse: air, water, dirt, ocean, mountains, rock. He believes the best experience is the one you haven’t done yet. Each day on this planet, get out there and find a way to get younger and have more fun!


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La Vida LaCava

Paul LaCava | November 16, 2012

La Vida LaCava: Beginnings

 Hello! My name is Paul LaCava. This entry starts, like so many things, somewhere in the middle. It seems like life is full of beginnings and endings, all connected by an odd assortment of ways to get there. And it’s rarely at the start or the finish. The main point is to just leave, start the journey, and then figure out how to get where you are going at some point along the way. This is a perfect introduction to my next journey in life.

A year ago I embarked on a rather large undertaking. I am a cyclist and a general fool for getting into trouble of many sorts. I have a short attention span, so am always looking for new ways to find adventure. I’d like to be able to say I’ve gotten the true feel of many things in life when I die, but definitely a master of none. Within the world of cycling there are many distractions. Between huge mountain bike rides deep in the forest and across mountain ranges, in the middle of the air somewhere between the lip and landing of a jump, or between the tape of a race course travelling at high speed, there are many ways I feel alive on two wheels. But last November I decided to try an entirely different thing…

There is a bicycle race, -er, more of an event, held on an endless supply of rural gravel roads in the vast farmlands of southern Iowa that has happened for eight consecutive years each April. It is called Trans-Iowa. I stumbled upon this race somewhere over a beer and the rumblings from a friend who is from the area nearly two years ago. I quickly dismissed this idea as a horseshit idea worthy of nothing, dumb as anything I’d heard of. And boring, too! Gravel roads? Iowa? You’ve got to be kidding me! My home is the Pacific Northwest in Portland, Oregon and we are surrounded by beautiful mountains, rivers, lakes, and an expansive coastline.

The Midwest hadn’t exactly been a target destination before. But then somewhere last fall I crossed paths with this idea again and the curiosity started to form. There were so many things foreign to me about the idea that it lured me in fast. The excitement of the unknown was immense, and the legends about how hard this event is kept popping up. I was committed.

Fast forward a few weeks and I’d sent in my entry to gain acceptance into this “free” event. This required sending in a postcard in the mail, yes, US Postal mail, with nothing much aside from one’s name and such. About six months later I’d done more riding and work than I’d care to admit in preparation over a long winter, gone on my first trip to the Midwest, started the race and failed miserably. There were lessons learned, admissions of fault, excuses, and pain. Lots of pain. I won’t go into the details of the past. That was then and this is now. Even with how hard the event was, I knew right afterwards that I’d attempt this again, and soon.

So recently I just sent in a new postcard. It’s always amazing how a simple little act can turn into something of epic proportions.

I don’t care much to think about what has happened so much as what will happen. And like many of us, I have a vision on what I want to try and accomplish, seek out, and make happen. And in April 2013 I plan to find a way to finish this race in the cold wind-struck hills of Iowa in the tail end of winter when the gravel is painfully soft and slow, the corn fields bleak, the skies gray, and the mind clear. Oh, and the race? It’s a 325 mile brutal self-navigated slog across the  endless rolling farmlands near Grinnell, Iowa, with nothing to aid oneself but the power in one’s legs, the spirit, and what goods you can carry with you or find in a convenience store from the many small towns in the middle of this journey. A person has 34 hours to finish this event and of the very few that find their way from start to end each year, it’s rare that it takes much less time than this.

It’s going to be a long road ahead.

Tune in later for the stories that lead up to this day…stories of the adventure into the unknown. Because if I knew what it took to accomplish this feat, I’d have done this and moved onto the next idea already…


SSWC 2012: A South African…what?!?


by Josh Fonner | October 26, 2012

This was 2 years in the making, so the event had some serious build up (at least in my mind).  After first visiting South Africa in 2010, I was looking for any excuse I could get to go back.

World Cup, South Africa, 2010

Sure enough, when Singlespeed World Champs went down in New Zealand in 2010 – I was cheering loudest for Grant Usher and his South African crew.  Alas, the hosting honor went to Ireland for 2011 after many rounds of intense battles.

SSWC 2011 Ireland Crew

Having lost in 2010, Grant and the crew were bound and determined to bring home SSWC at the hosting competition a year later in Ireland.  Luckily, the hosting competition level was lightened when the Icelandic/Moroccan ROAM LIFE team got waylayed by an ill-timed ferry from Wales due to Mike ‘boozy-the-clown” Yarnall having a freakish love affair with old buildings and shit in Wales.

Getting bored at the Caernarfon Castle (and missing our ferry)

Alas, I digress, as that is a story for another time.  Anyways, South Africa won the intense bidding war (justifiably).

South Africa “winning it!” in Ireland (photo courtesy of SSWC 2012)

So I would be heading back to S.A. for a third time, after a particularly memorable trip down for Cape Epic earlier in 2012.

Josh and Jackie crossing the finish at Cape Epic (800 kilometers, 8 days)

Before I get into the story of the trip, I should really try to get ya’ll to understand SS culture.  See the thing is, most people just don’t get it.  Most people have gears on their bikes.  They are content with encountering an obstacle, pushing a button, and taking the easy way out (a metaphor for most people’s lives maybe?).  What’s more than not understanding singlespeeds – people tend to be confused by a race that is not a race – it’s more of a “ride”.  Well there are multiple reasons for Singlespeed Worlds to exist – so let’s make a list!

1)     To explore new parts of the world

2)     To expose ourselves to others (literally with certain costume wear & expose SS culture)

3)     To sample, often in excess, adult beverages from around the globe

4)     To get the singlespeed family together

5)     To take the piss out of other types of two wheeled racing

6)     To remember why the hell we do this sport in the first place – to have a shitload of fun!

7)     And least importantly – to determine the fastest guy/girl on one gear.

While there are plenty of other reasons for SSWC, those are just a few that come to mind on the 17 hour plane trip home.  Speak of, let’s talk a little about the trip itself.

With a busy work schedule, lots of trip, and the fact that Fun Size couldn’t come along, I needed to make this into a short 6 day trip.  Turns out that a flight in the right price range ended up working out so that I could actually come.   Fast forward from the flight booking to the actual trip, and I start by getting a ride to the train station, take a train to JFK, the fly from JFK to London, London to Johannesburg, and finally get picked up by my need friend Matt Karan for our 375km journey down to Winterdon.  Now that really makes for a long day of travel.

Getting picked up in style at the airport

The SSWC organizers had put together a buddy list to arrange for transport for the 40 or so international attendees.  I’d be making my way to Winterdon with Matthew Karan, and would be accompanied by the entertainment of Boozy the Clown(aka:  Mike Yarnall from PA).  Upon arrival into S.A., Matt and Mike were waiting for me at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Jo-burg.  We’d also be picking up another guy from Zimbabwe and then we’d be on our way.  I have to say that it was solely out of the goodness of his heart that Matt was picking us up.  One thing I am continually amazed with is the hospitality of so many good people in South Africa.  It is what keeps me coming back.

After our mate from Zimbabwe arrives on his flight from Harare, we make our way out to Matt rig to get loaded out.  Only issue was that his rig was too long to actually get out of the airport parking area gate.  So after unhooking the trailer with the help of some amused airport security guards, we were finally able to hook back up and get rolling.  On the way out of the airport, we noticed some guards blocking off some exits.  Turns out that shortly after we rolled out of the airport, there was an airport worker strike that closed down the airport.  Arrived just in the nick of time!

The GPS guidance was a little funky, but we ended up finding the Winterdon Country Club. This is where the whole debacle would take place.  Turns out, as we learned from Matt, that one of the organizers for this event (Craig Wapnick) also organizes a 9 day MTB stage race in S.A. called the Joburg2C.  His experience, amazing amount of gear, and know-how to be able to put on a top notch event showed – including the stage race classic – tent city.

Tent City, SSWC

With our spots sorted out in tent city, Boozy the Clown and I were pretty keen on finding some riding to help shake the airplane out of our legs.  With our kits on and bikes built, we rolled in the direction of the alleged trails.  But, of course, right as we began to roll, black clouds and thunder also decided to roll.  Not being a fan of being burnt to a crisp, we opted to drink beer instead.  Never a bad option.  Turns out the rain, thunder and lightning never actually came – but the beer sure did.  And it kept flowing too…

Photo courtesy of SSWC 2012

The Winterdon Country Club were some pretty killer hosts for SSWC.  The most key ingredient, as with any SSWC, is the beer.  From Black Label to a bright green cane drink called a “John Deere,” to Klipdrift (also know as “karate juice” – because when you drink it, it makes you want to fight), the booze was cheap and strong.

We met up with some good blokes from S.A., Colin and Richard and the rest of their crew, as well as Mandy, Dejay , Chris, Jake, and Janet from the States.   Boozy was tying one on pretty hard, so it was up to the rest of us to make some decisions for tomorrow.  Our new friend, Max Cluer, who does the announcing for the UCI World Cup and this event as well, suggested to take a spin down to Spioenkop Game Reserve in the AM to check out some game, and then go pre-ride the course in the afternoon.  Sounds choice!

After another amazing breakfast provided by the organizers, I roused Mike from a drunken slumber and Chris, Mandy, Janet, Mike and I were off to check out the Spioenkop Game Reserve in the undersized Honda Jazz.  Ideal for this trip.

Spioenkop Dam Nature Reserve, KwaZulu Natal

Impala, wildebeest, giraffe, and white rhino were all on the menu today (figuratively anyways).  It was pretty unbelievable.

Taking in the beauty of S. Africa

To think that these game were an everyday fact of light for South African citizens was amazing.  I suppose, like anything though, you spend a certain amount of time in a particular environment and just about anything begins to seem normal.

After some power slides through rhino poop in the Jazz (which, it turns out, might have done some tire damage to the old car) we made our way back to camp to get kitted up for the afternoon ride on the course.

SSWC Pre-Ride with Boozy

The course was actually about 20km from the camp, so a shuttle, or long pedal, was necessary.  While there was an alleged shuttle headed out there in the afternoon, we couldn’t get anyone to confirm it was actually coming.  Turns out this was OK, as our friend Graham was able to give us a ride to the trailhead.  Once again, though, the black clouds were chasing us to the trail.  These ones looked decidedly more serious than the ones yesterday.  Screw it – we were in Africa, and it was time to ride.

Josh’s Kudu (species of antelope in S. Africa)

We were only about 2km into the ride when the thunder started, 3km in when the rain started, and 4km in when the lightning started.  Luckily we rode under a bridge about 1km back, so we opted to double back and wait out the storm there.

Getting ready to wait out the storm.

We weren’t the only ones with that idea, as we met a husband and wife team from Jo-burg hiding out under the bridge as well.  After about 20 minutes of shivering and dodging raindrops, we ventured back out into what was now sunshine.

Waiting for the coast to be clear!

The track, however, was sopping wet, and was nothing like it would be the next day.  About 8km into the ride, the inky, black clouds returned, as did the rain, thunder, and wind.  We were trying to make it to the turn off to head up the Spioenkop climb, but we got turned around by some emergency service personnel who said them were 110km/h winds up top, and we couldn’t go up.  All fine by us, so we chatted for a few before the bloke sent us off into the killer bee infested tunnel (allegedly – we made it through fine).

I’ll tell you what didn’t make it through fine though – the river trail on the way back to camp.  Downed trees and branches everywhere!  Mike, Janet, and I did our trail work duty though, and removed about 75% of the downed trees and branches on our way back to camp.  It was the least we could do to pay our admission onto these rad trails.

Photo courtesy of Mountain Flyer Magazine

Just like we had no shuttle to the trails, there was no shuttle back either.  Damn – 20km of pavement was on tap.  Luckily we got picked up by Nikki, the wife of the Farmer Gary, whose land we were riding on about 12km into the ride.  The night ahead was full of Zulu dancers and beer.

South African Zulu Dancers

Not too much beer – as there was some ‘serious’ racing happening the next day.  Luckily Gary was able to give us a race briefing before the night was over, so we would know exactly what was happening  – if only the race briefing wasn’t in Zulu, we might have understood it.   I think we got the gist though – up, up, up – then, beer!

Boozy and Disco Diva heading out to “race”

7am came early.  Bikes were prepped.  Shuttles boarded at 9am.  Scantily clad people were freezing by 9:10.  Luckily I was dressed much better than I was in Ireland.  Phew.   Clear skies, and a hot sun meant it was going to heat up pretty quickly.  Pre race pictures were had, a bottle of J.D. was passed around, bikes were scattered as we went out for the Lemans start run up, and Boozy decided his underwear were too covering and opted to streak the start.  Wise choice Mike, wise choice.  My Disco Diva outfit was not comfortable in the slightest while standing up.  The leaning forward position on the bike was crucial to make that outfit work.

The start signal was given, and the scramble was on!  My bike was about 50 meters away from where I left it, not that it made a difference, as we were then corralled into a riding circle to neutralize the field (not that it actually matters).  Once the field was finally released, it was a super fun track, and was different than the soupy mess we had ridden in the day before.  We also were able to ride the Spioenkop climb today (once was enough), and we needed to make our way to the top to climb our rider’s medal, and not suffer ridicule for not having it at the finish.

Spioenkop climb (Photo courtesy of SSWC 2012)

The only two spots I walked were on that climb.  Luckily they were the same two spots that everyone else walked too.  The first beers stop was halfway up the climb, and I caught up to Boozy there.  I couldn’t believe I actually beat him in the beer chugging competition.  This was a first for me.

After climbing some more to collect my rider’s medal, I made my way onto a super rad descent in which I caught and passed several people that were ruining my roost.  The only unfortunate piece of the descent was that I dinged the hell out of my rim on a shadow hidden rock.  Lame sauce.  Fortunately for me, though, I was running the ever reliable Stan’s NoTubes Crest wheelset, which held air and got me through to the finish.  Two more beer stops and the finish line was upon me.  40km never went by so quick.

What a race!

Burry Stander and Amy Beth McDougal claimed the tattoos.  Bunny chow was had.  And sunburns were left untreated.  Now the real competition would start though – the post race party.  Red Bull came out to DJ,  the varying kinds of booze were flowing, and the dance party was on!  Straw was flying in the air, and at every turn, Mike was getting deeper and deeper into the drunken pain cave.  Ultimately, Mike was put to sleep in his tent, covered in glitter, after having many, many pictures posted on the internet.  You would think he might finally learn one day.

Boozy and Josh – before the glitter

The next morning came far too early for everyone, Mike in particular.  With no memory of the night before, he had to rely on the stories and laughter of others to fill in the blanks.  With a long 375km drive back to Joburg, Mike opted to crash in the back seat of Matt’s car.  Good call.  While on the way back, Matt brought us to his family’s cattle feed lot.  With 130K head of cattle, and a full game reserve, we were truly astounded at how big this place was.  What an unbelievable operation.  We were so grateful to Matt for taking the time to show us the place.

Matt dropped us at the hotel, and we said our goodbyes.  We couldn’t thank him enough for how much he had hooked us up.  He wasn’t through yet though.  While Mike was off to a safari, I was chillin’ in Joburg for the majority of Monday.  Matt sent over a driver to take me around to Giant Bicycle retailers in Johannesburg and ultimately to the airport.  All at no cost.  It was unbelievable.  I was super grateful, and I really value his friendship.  As I said in the beginning, I am always astounded by the generosity and nature of South African people.   It is the main thing that keeps me so excited about always coming back to this country.  Hopefully I can do it again for the JoBurg2C.

Note: SSWC 2013 will be hosted by Italy. 

The Two Village Idiots: This Sh*t Just Got Real


So why am I doing this trip? It is a question I often get asked. The real question, though, is why do any trip? I mean, most of us are content with going throughout our days in the creature comforts we have become accustomed to. We get to know the people that have come and gone in our lives, but rarely seek out new people and new experiences that put us out of our comfort zone. Well, I’m not like most people. I recognized that being out of your comfort zone is where real human development happens, and I am constantly seeking new people and experiences to help facilitate adventure and personal development. That’s why I created Roam Life – because we don’t want you to be like most people either. We want you to be the BEST you.

But I guess I should answer the real question, why am I riding my bike from Pittsburgh to DC?

Good question.

Let’s make a list:

  1. It sounds like a bad/dumb idea to nearly everyone we talk to – automatically I’m interested.
  2. It’s close by to my buddy Rich and I – we want to show that you really can have an authentic, legit adventure just out your door. You don’t have to fly to outer Mongolia to have an adventure.
  3. This canal/rail trail is one of the most heavily ridden and most popular bike routes in the country and I have never ridden it. As a bike industry person, this is just a travesty.
  4. I’ve never heard of anyone riding this trail, 325 miles, straight through from end to end without stopping. So we could set a record! A dumb record, but a record none-the-less.
  5. 325 miles is no joke. I’ve ridden an 8 day, 500 mile MTB stage race, the Leadville 100 Mile MTB Trail Race, and a super rocky 50 mile MTB race in Pennsylvania this year. But 325 miles without stopping to sleep, rest, etc., is something different. It was possible to not finish any of these races, but it is very possible that we might not be able to finish this thing. This will be a real test of our equipment, our minds, and our bodies.
  6. Because of this extreme test, it will make for a perfect Roam Life video. We’ll really be able to show how we can expand ourselves through “trying” new experiences.
  7. I want to be part of, and help, my buddy Rich reach his goal of visiting his dad in Arlington. This is a powerful end goal for us, and will help us get through those tough hours on the bike.
  8. By leaving ourselves open to a variety of experiences – we’ll be able to generate future experiences and continue Roam’ing Life.

There are a lot of reasons for me to do this trip. The biggest reason is to change myself, and that change can’t be realized until you are finally on the bike.

– Josh

I was one who smiled much more back then.

I knew my purpose for as long as I could was to show people how amazing life is and could be behind the bars of a bicycle. I could do this, travel, explore, roam places, so many places without worry because my Dad was on point, the man who all looked to for support, the idea, the shoulder all who were in contact or in touch with should anything go wrong or just plain worry about seem removed and far far away. Plain and simple Dad was the rock, and yes my hero.

Dad has since passed. I no longer have that smile I once had. I realize it, I still have much anger. It wasn’t his time.

From the time of Dad’s passing to present, things have changed: ideas, paths, locations, Hell, even responsibility. One of my many “in awe” memories of Dad was how he could connect with so many people; people from one extreme to another. He brought a connection with him people adored, no matter where he was! The stories, the people, amazing people, places he’s been along with Mamasita together. I aspire. The places they’ve visited along their way; Thailand, Philippines, Canada, Colombia, so many places. It finally hit me……..

Three weeks before Dad passed, he said to me that he was very proud of me for doing what I loved. He said I showed so much pride for what I did. I quit. I left, took care of the farm, loose ends, had my family take care of me. Within that time I realized how much I missed this [bicycle] industry, connecting with people through a simple ride on a trail, any trail, anywhere, any adventure-crazy trail.

I could do do this! I can share the story. I can video my experiences with anyone who wants to hit an adventure, meet up at a trail, or convo over pizza and bourbon.

End of the day – there are so many people and places and experiences –

Fitting that the birth of my first ride, Pittsburgh, be the start of an amazing journey to visit my Dad at Arlington National Cemetery to say…well I’m not sure what will be said. No better way to embark on this journey than with my buddy Josh with Roam Life. We have very similar journeys, goals, hopes…

News at 11…………….that means more later yo!!!

– Rich

Expedition Date: October 13 – 14

Expedition Location: The Great Allegheny Trail and the C&O Canal

Expedition Start: Allegheny Trail, Pittsburgh, PA

Destination: Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC

To follow Josh and Rich, join our community at or Facebook.

Dirt Rag’s DirtFest 2012 (or, how I broke my foot riding my bike)

By Christine Perigen

At 30 years old, I thought my days of being piggy-backed as a mode of transportation were over. Turns out, I was wrong.

In the last hour of the last day at Dirt Rag’s DirtFest, I found myself hanging on to the back of Richie Rich while he sprinted down the trail on foot. Jarring up and down and trying to keep my mind off the pain shooting up my foot at every step, our team of 4 used laughter to avoid thinking about the 6 miles we still had to go until we hit a main road.

Turns out, running down a dirt trail with 100 pounds of me on your back is an awesome cross-training tool. It also makes you sound bad ass – “What did you do to train today? Oh yea? Well, I ran 3 miles in the woods with a sack of potatoes strapped to my back. NBD.”

yea, the two village idiots…again.

We were riding bikes on some of the funnest trails in the Allegripis system in Rayestown, PA. Everyone had packed up and hauled out and we stuck around for a final ride with a few friends from Giant, Stan’s NoTubes, Niner, and Felt.

Happier times at beer school

The dudes took off fast and I smashed pedals trying to keep up. When you get a bunch of dudes together on  bikes (even more specifically INDUSTRY DUDES on bikes), it’s bound to be a testosterone fest (even if that wasn’t the intention).  It also doesn’t help that I’m slow on climbs so I tried to make up speed on the downs (which I’m not so bad at – or so I thought).

After heading out on Doe and looping around to Ray’s Revenge, we finally got to the fun section. I don’t know if it was 3 days of riding, the new shoes, or trying too hard to keep up (probably a combination of all three), but I felt uneasy from the start of the rhythm section and started to slow down. After hitting a patch of gravel on the edge of the trail, my back tire skidded off the side of the hill with my foot stuck in the pedal.

Gripped with pain, I clenched a bunch of dirt in my hands while trying to find air. After pushing my bike off me, I had to shove my foot out of the pedal, which was excruciating.

I ended up hobbling along for a half mile, Josh found me on the trail with Rich and Brian in tow. It was clear I shouldn’t be walking so I hopped onto the seat of Josh’s bike while he attempted to pedal us down the trail without bucking me face-down back into the dirt. Bad idea.

So, what to do? And this is how I ended up on Rich’s back while he sprinted down the trail. Switching from one sweaty back to another, Josh and Rich took turns while Brian took care of my bike.

Back at DirtFest base camp, the guys set me up in the Sprinter van with a rapidly swelling ankle and some ice.

And then I ended up with this:

I spent the next 4 weeks traveling around to all the races and events I had signed up for…as a spectator. Cast off, boot on, I started back on the bike again and went to a lot of concerts where I got premium seating! :o)

The Two Village Idiots & One Small Adventure

Meet Rich.

This is Rich.

He likes doing dumb things.  Like 100 mile mountain bike races.  And modeling  his goatee-like facial hair while starring in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Rich starring as Jack Sparrow.

Ok, well the first one is true.  The second one might be too. I mean, I saw it on the internet.  But I digress…

What Rich really digs is suffering…with a little sprinkle of adventure thrown in.  See, this is the proper usage of the word sprinkle.  Many people try to use the word sprinkle to describe those thin chocolate or rainbow colored pieces of confectionary goodness that you put on ice cream.  However, those are actually called jimmies.  Don’t argue it.  If you are from New England, you know what I mean.  And don’t argue with New Englanders; we are always right.

Jimmies, people. They’re jimmies.

Sprinkles can be used to describe all other shapes of ice cream paraphenalia, and also how Rich likes his adventure.  Oh yeah, right, Rich…

So, as I mentioned, Rich likes to do what some people would call “idiotic” things.  These idiotic things aren’t at all idiotic to Rich, he enjoys them and enjoys the little bit of suffering that comes along with them.  Unfortunately, Rich can’t do idiotic things all day long; he has a day job, like the rest of us.  So, Rich has to get his idiotic jollies on the weekends or on his vacation, just like everyone else.

He’s more than just a weekend warrior.

Meet Josh.

Ready to conquer the world of adventure.

Josh is dancing around the room flailing his long lanky arms yelling, “Yes! We gotta get the bags. We gotta get the bags. We’re PAAAACKING!!!!” Yes, Josh loves adventure. No, it’s not a special day. It’s any given day for us.

Packing time

Just like Rich, as it turns out, Josh likes doing dumb things too.  Like multi-day mountain bike stage races.  Or 100 mile mountain bike races on a single speed bicycle. Or bushwhacking through the woods when trails end…you get the idea.

Taking a…er….break…on the trail

So one day, six or so years ago, the two idiots meet.  It was like bowling balls colliding. The two idiots worked similar 9-5 jobs at Giant Bicycles, but on different coasts.  Josh on the west coast, Rich on the east.  They’d see each other at company events every few months, and inevitably, some pedals would be pushed, and some pints would be drained.

What? You expect us to provide evidence??

Fast forward several years and Rich has moved on to work at Stan’s NoTubes, slinging the finest wheels on the planet, while Josh has moved back east and is plotting East coast domination for Giant Bicycles.  These two rekindled their, er, idiocy, when Josh and his teammate Jackie were looking for some support for the gnarly, 8 day, 800 km, mountain bike shred fest known as the Cape Epic in South Africa.

Cape Epic, in which Josh, Jackie, their Giant bikes and Stan’s NoTubes wheels all performed flawlessly, happened to spark the idiot trigger somewhere in the back of Rich’s brain.  Upon Josh’s return from the Realm of Radness known as South Africa, Rich called Josh to say “Hey, so I think I have an idea that might align with where you’re headed with Roam Life”.


“You see”, Rich said, “we both like to do these long mountain bike events and we both are kind of idiots about it. What if we started to film our suffering and making a TV show or something?”

“Suffer fest? I’m in.”

“You had me at suffering,” Josh said, “I’m in.”

So let’s recap: 2 idiots (Josh and Rich).  A couple of bikes, adventure, and dumb things.  They like doing long rides and races.  So where do we go from here?  Wait, let’s look up at the title again, what does it say? “The Two Village Idiots & One Small Adventure.”  Oh right, the small adventure part.

Adventure calls. The idiots respond.

Ok, well the two idiots started bantering about various dumb trips to get lost on.  An 8-10 day epic slog deep into the wilds of Northeastern Canada came up.  How about 5 days at the Pisgah Stage Race in North Carolina?  What about a mixed moto/mtb session?  While these were all very valient ideas and are trips they will very likely do in the future, the two idiots made a smart decision (wait, that CAN’T be right) by agreeing to walk before they run and figure out if they know how to run a camera on a 2 day trip prior to venturing off into unknown lands only to F everything up.  What can go wrong in 2 days?

– Josh

Share Your Story

Your story is unique and inspiring. Roam Life is about creating a community of inspired adventurers around the world. Through sharing our stories with one another, we’re able to provide guidance, advice, experience, and inspiration to people from all around the world.

Help others start THEIR adventures by sharing YOUR adventure story. You may just be highlighted on our front page!

Questions or to email your adventure story, contact

Big Adventure Planning

How do you start planning those big adventure dreams so they become a reality?? Whether you are planning a ’round-the-world trip on your bicycle or looking for a new adventure on a wilderness trail, we all start planning at the same place: the beginning.

Creating a plan of action for an adventure goal can be a daunting task in the beginning. Join others looking to begin their next adventure for discussion, brainstorming, and the initial phases of planning.

Big Adventure Planning is to help YOU start planning that big adventure. Whether it means you want to start hiking more, travel to a new country, take a year off of work, or learn something new, it takes planning and prioritizing to make it happen.


What’s your long-term adventure goal?

Whether it’s a new hike in the Adirondacks or a bicycle trip around the world, one person’s adventure goal can seem incomprehensible to others. The key to turning what others may deem “that crazy dream of yours” into reality is breaking the preparation and adventure itself into manageable steps.

  • Write down a clear goal: what, where, when, duration, and budget

Where do you begin?

To bicycle around the world, you have to start somewhere!

  • Find that pinpoint in your adventure – that starting point where it all begins.
  • Create small adventures to lead up to your big adventure goal.

Presented by Christine Perigen and Josh Fonner of Roam Life, Inc. 2012.


Taking Time Out for Daily Adventures…A How-To Guide

One of the major obstacles of adventure in our daily lives is how to find the time. Sounds silly, when I say it because isn’t this what makes life FUN? Shouldn’t we ALWAYS have time for fun?


The reality, of course, is that fun is the first element of our daily lives to go when we are busy, stressed, working, and have full to-do lists to complete.


Compound this with the fact that it’s now winter and daylight is at a minimum and now we are a bunch of non-fun ninnies all of a sudden.

Several of us are gearing up for a women’s workshop to begin December 15th that  focuses on a weekly adventure and reflection. Several of us may be asking ourselves, “How am I going to take some time out for my adventures?” In response, I have come up with a list that might just help you out:

Wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual. I know, this is a tough request. We’re already sleep-deprived, stressed and have a full day ahead of us. And for people like me, I am a COMPLETE non-morning person. I sleep until the last possible moment and then wake up angry on a regular basis just because I have to get up. Lately, I’ve trained myself to set the alarm 30 minutes early (and honestly I wake up 20 minutes earlier…snooze 1X!!) and I’m now able to enjoy a cup o’ joe with my man. And this makes me happy and I start my work day HAPPIER. Stay with me people…I know this is a post on how to have an ADVENTURE and I have a point that connects to this. See formula below.

While at work, take advantage of your breaks. Tear yourself away from work and actually walk or ride your bike somewhere – most beneficially, outside. If you can, combine your breaks and take one long break (good time to sneak in an adventure, too!) This helps your  blood flow, your brain wake up, and stress to go down amongst a plethora of other positives.

Before you come home, plan for some time to yourself. Hire a babysitter, arrange for chores to get done, do what you have to do to schedule in an hour of time for just YOU.

Make a wish list of activities. What are the things you wish you could do that you never get to? Your adventure doesn’t have to be crazy or exhilarating. It can be calming and relaxing, too. Make your decision. Do you want excitement and movement or calm and relaxing?

Put your wishlist in several places that will remind you to schedule it in. Have daily or weekly goals. What is really important to you to try and do this week? Is it to finish a book in the bath tub? Go for a hike? Sign up for a new class? Put it on your  calendar and schedule it in as a goal.

The biggest and most important aspect of daily adventures is making the adventure a priority. Take the steps and complete the actions to make sure that the adventure isn’t just a possibility – it’s a given. Avoid excuses. Plan for variables. If you scheduled a night hike but it’s too dark and too late – take a head lamp, a flash light and a shoulder bag and go for a hike or walk anyway. If you planned to have coffee with a friend and they cancelled, go have the coffee anyway.

The adventure rests within you. You just have to give it a little space to come out and dance.