Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mountain Bike Boise - Thursday, June 8

Thursday, June 9
I did not spot any cougars this afternoon during my 2-hour mountain bike ride in Boise's Ridge to River Trail System. Yet my leisurely ride, led by David Gordon and Jody Liby, has been the highlight of my day, the first adventure of my 5-day trip in Idaho.

I arrived at the Boise Airport after a smooth, 90-minute Alaska Air flight from California's San Jose International Airport. I got a brief introduction to the city from Lisa, the driver of the Boise Shuttle Service, while she drove me just 3 miles to downtown Boise's Marriott Hotel. A transplant from Portland, OR, Lisa enthusiastically described the outdoor dining and the weekly farmer's market.

I joined Ron Gardner for lunch at one of Boise's new hotspots, Donnie Mac's Trailer Park Cuisine. Decorated in funky retro style, the restuarant had outoor sitting and a funky old trailer parked in its lot. The menu offers up a tasty variety of burgers, salads and possibly the best vanilla custard I have ever tasted.

After lunch, I joined David and Jody to do a little off-road exploring. I had a great full suspension red Trek mountain bike to use from Idaho Mountain Touring. Fantastic ride!

I worked up a good appetite climbing the hills on the super smooth trails winding through the hillside. We went to Hyde Park, a section of town known for lively outdoor dining and a haven for hungry mountain bikers. At Lucky 13, a casual and very popular eatery, I ordered and gobbled down a big turkey sandwich. Perfect finish to a great day.

Tomorrow: Whitewater rafting and meeting with racers who will compete in the Raid Adventure Race.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Watch Out, Boise! Karen Ventures to Idaho

Boise, Idaho, Beckons

I have heard the siren song of Idaho and am headed Thursday, June 8, for my first visit to the state famous for its potatoes and increasingly known for its recreational adventures. Idaho has the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 sates.

During my 5-day stay, I will explore Boise and embark on mountain bike and whitewater rafting adventures. And a special highlight: I will witness some of the Raid X-Adventure Race, a multi-day, multi-sport adventure,

Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Appeal of 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race Revealed

One Rider's Report on 24 Hours of Adrenalin

I had never been interested in racing or even attending a 24-hour mountain bike race — until this year. In fact, for the past few summers, when friends formed relay teams or planned to compete as solo riders in these events, I was baffled. Why they would be attracted to non-stop cycling, day and night? What was the appeal? I thought only of sleep deprivation and the danger of biking dark trails.

Recently, I discovered the unique appeal of endurance mountain bike racing when I joined a 5-woman relay race at the 24 Hours of Adrenalin, May 13-14, at Laguna Seca in Monterey. I had never intended to race at this event, even though my boyfriend, Norman Field, of Team Santa Cruz, was returning for his third year in a row, this time to compete as a member of a local team called Dirty 5-Way Superstars.

But fate works in strange ways: Two nights before the race, my bicycling friend, Winona Hubbard, of Team Santa Cruz, called and told me that she had a last-minute opening on her team and would I please consider racing with her? When she promised me that the emphasis was on fun and that there was no pressure to try and win, I was tempted. When she added that we would all be wearing fun costumes at the race, I shocked myself by saying YES. That's how I became the fifth member of the Go Go Go Girls Team.

On Saturday morning, an hour before 10 a.m. race start, I found the colorful campsite of Winona and her husband Alex, also of Team Santa Cruz, who was racing in a two-man relay with his brother, David. I met the other Go Go Go Girls: Henrietta from Pacific Grove, Renee from Auburn and Michiko from Berkeley. Amazingly, Team Captain Winona had pulled our group together from online bulletin board postings and from acquaintances she had made at other races. We were meeting each other for the first time to do the race!

By Sunday morning, after riding 40 tough, hilly miles, I was quite tired after only 90 minutes of sleep during the past 24 hours. But I was also happy that I had finished 4 laps - far more than I imagined I could do! I discovered that the real joy of the event was the teamwork. While I won't say I was joyous at 3 a.m. after doing my first night ride ever, I did find that riding in the dark, guided only by moonlight and the light mounted on my handlebars was more fun that I had expected. As our team members handed off the baton to each other, lap after lap, hour after hour, we built a camaraderie and cheered for each other. We rode hard and pushed ourselves to go fast, but we kept it fun by wearing costumes and staying positive no matter what the time was on the official race clock.

We were very proud to ride to a third place finish in the 5-Woman Relay Division! It was also a special treat to share the awards ceremony stage on Sunday with other talented Santa Cruz athletes including Norman's Team of Dirty 5-Way Superstars, (Cory and John Caletti, Dan O'Connor and James Borgman) who placed second in the 5-person co-ed relay team, after John Brown's Family Cycling Center team captured first place in that division. I certainly enjoyed our moment on the podium at the awards ceremony, but the real prize was making new cycling friends and the profound satisfaction of taking a risk to say yes to a new bicycling adventure!

For photos visit:

For race results:

Friday, May 12, 2006

Ready, Set, Race! 24 hours on a Mountain Bike

9:30 p.m. Friday, May 12
This time tomorrow, I will be biking the trails by moonlight.
My 24 Hour Mountain Bike race begins at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Tonight, I am cozy at home still in Santa Cruz. At 6 a.m. tomorrow, I will drive south to Monterey to meet my 5-woman team, Go, Go, Go Girl who have set up camp tonight. We will race as a relay team, one after another, night and day for 24 hours this weekend. My teammates told me they have made me a nametag with gold glitter on it - that's a good sign, for sure.

Countdown: 24 Hours until my first 24-Hour Race

The countdown is on until my first 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race starts tomorrow! So far, I have three duffel bags packed. More to go ...

Karen Tests Legs & Lungs in 24-Hour Mt. Bike Relay Race

I must be nuts! Late last night, I accepted a last-minute invitation to join a 5-woman team, Go Go Go Girl! to become part of a relay at the 24 Hours of Adrenalin Mountain bike race, held this weekend in Laguna Seca, in Monterey, just an hour south of Santa Cruz. The race begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 13, and ends Sunday, May 14. Here is my BIG CHANCE to find out, first-hand, about the joy of mountain biking night and day!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Why Race a 24-Hour Mountain Bike Event?

Karen's Question to 24-Hour Mountain Bike Racers: Why?
Honestly, I am still baffled about the appeal of these 24-hour moutnain bike races. However, the Coolest 24 Hour Mt. Bike Race was a superb event - Jim, the race director went all out in organizing a great experience for the racers and making it a successful fundraiser for cancer. In fact, it was so well run and so much fun (great food, prizes, band, and most of all good vibe) that Norman is eager to return to Cool next year.

I am in awe of Norman and other solo racers, since I am unsure that I could remain motiviated to ride around and around the same course as many times as possible. Norman said he enjoyed pushing himself mentally and physically and felt that he was only competing against himself. My quest to understand this continues - I just may have to race one myself sometime to figure it out. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Report on New Cycling Event: Cool, CA Mountain Bike Race

The Coolest Mountain Bike Race!
Norman Field is amongst nearly 200 racers who competed in new event near Sacramento, May 6-7, 2006

By Karen Kefauver
Race photos:

Santa Cruz —
As 24-hour mountain bike races are growing more popular across the U.S. and my bicycling friends flock to sign up for relays or solo divisions of these events, I have been curious about what compels them to race nearly nonstop, night and day, lap after lap, on a looping, off-road course. I decided to accompany Norman at his first solo 24-hour mountain bike event, this past weekend, May 6-7, in Cool, CA, east of Sacramento. That way, I could investigate the appeal of this event without the pain of racing myself.

As it turned out, being a support person in one of these events is also a challenge in and of itself. Happily, I had superb help: Norman's sister and brother-in-law, Rachanee and Dan, arrived early Saturday morning and stayed til the end. They were essential to Norman's success. We also had fantastic aid from Hank, who arrived Saturday evening for a few hours with crucial resupplies and good cheer. Plus, our friend Melanie, a veteran 24-hour mountain bike racer, had provided great tips over dinner before we left and had generously loaned us camping gear. During the race weekend, she called often to cheer Norman and boost our energy.

We departed on Friday at noon, the Jeep packed to the gills. We missed Melanie, who was recovering from recent foot surgery and unable to join us as originally planned. But we wondered how we could have managed another passenger! After a four-hour drive northeast, we rolled into Cool, CA, ready to set up camp. We were grateful to our hometown Santa Cruz County Cycling Club Race Team for the loan of the pop-up tent which was our central hub where Norman stopped to refuel each lap. That blue tent became home for the next two days, in addition to our 2 individual tents.

On Friday evening, we went for a leisurely 2-hour dusk ride and were impressed by the beauty of the area — lush green hills, red clay paths. We scouted out the race course - some climbs so steep that they required walking! Ouch! Some downhills so strewn with rocks that they required my walking (Norman had the skills to ride them.) The highlight of our ride together was Norman spotting a lone bear ambling into the woods. He was a safe distance away, but I wondered if that fellow would visit our camp later for dinner. We turned in by 11 p.m. (No bears visited).

12 noon - Norman started his first 24 Hour Solo Race with a mad dash, literally. Known as a "LeMans start," Norman and the other racers had to run a quarter mile around a field before they got on their bikes and set out to do their first 9-mile lap. Norman aimed to complete 11 laps, or 99 miles, during his 24 hour time period. The winners of these events are the riders who complete the most laps in their division. Norman was not out to win, just to experience the test of endurance. He went strong and steady, stopping after each lap, back at the tent so we could help him get more food and drink, clean his bike and give him a pat on the back. He remained upbeat even as the day wore on. I was in awe and baffled that he did not want to quit and nap, as I imagine I would.

At 7 p.m. he took a 2-hour break to enjoy a steak dinner and feast prepared and served in Rach and Dan's camper trailer. Thanks! Our friend Hank joined us and provided good cheer and supplies for a few hours on Saturday night. Norman was reenergized and after dinner, kept on riding, even after I went to bed at 1 a.m. He promised he would be safe and be vigilant about charging the two lights he had affixed to his bike, one on the helmet, the other on the handlebars.

When I awoke at 6 a.m. Sunday morning, to my amazement, I found that Norman was STILL cycling and had indeed ridden all through the night while I was asleep. At 7 a.m., he declared he would actually exceed his 99-mile goal and do 12 laps, for a total of 108-miles! I was floored. I got to work making breakfast and we all ate and celebrated when Norman rolled in, done racing, at 9 a.m. or so. Way to go, Norman!

We broke down camp and loaded for several hours. Fueled by coffee and chocolate, we hit the highway shortly after the noon conclusion of the event and traded driving duties all the way home. We somehow made it back to Santa Cruz on what felt like an interminable 4.50-hour drive. We collapsed into bed that night, both wiped out. I am very proud of Norman's accomplishments. I felt happy that I had played an important role in helping Norman achieve a goal that was meaningful to him. I had a hard time imagining myself doing this event, though I was inspired by the woman who had set up camp next to ours, Mary, of Folsom, CA. She was the only woman who had signed up to race solo, and on a single speed bike, (only one gear!) no less. It was her first solo event and she did really well.

Norman's body demanded 13 hours of sleep, plus an hour nap, and frequent feeding on this first day of recovery. (He was smart to have taken the day off of work). A massage and sushi dinner were part of the celebration, but mostly, good, solid rest was the top priority. After all, he is planning to do this 24-hour mountain bike racing all again this next weekend. But one major difference: he will be part of a 5-person team at Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sea Otter Classic, Monterey, California, April 6-9, 2006

One Mountain Biker’s Tales of Thrills and Spills at Sea Otter Classic’s Mountain Bike Tour, Saturday, April 8

By Karen Kefauver

Ten minutes into my mountain bike tour at Sea Otter Classic, when my knobby tires sank into a gooey mud puddle and the muck oozed into my shoes, I was glad that I had chosen to ride only 10 miles at this non-competitive event — or so I thought.

At the brutally early hour of 7 a.m., I joined several hundred cyclists who had abandoned their warm beds on a Saturday in order to ride, not race, one of three courses offered for the recreational mountain bike tour. One of the most popular events at the Sea Otter Classic, the 10, 20 and 40-mile mountain bike routes were redesigned this year to include a greater blend of wide fire roads and narrow singletrack paths that loop through the emerald hills of Laguna Seca Recreation Area.

What I quickly discovered Saturday morning was that the recent steady rainfall had helped carve a course unlike any I had ever seen in my decade of cross country mountain bike riding and racing at Sea Otter Classic. One of the first eye-openers was a long, sandy downhill trail that looked perfect for making big sandcastles, but not for riding. On that hazardous descent, I skidded, slipped and nearly tumbled over a toppled fellow rider, who was uninjured.

“The sand is like a pillow,” he declared, springing to his feet. I decided to dismount and walked the rest.
My heart rate calmed down just in time to tackle three hills so steep that most people struggled just to trek up them. I dug deep and managed to cycle up the first two. Catching my breath after hiking to the summit of the third lung-busting hill, I paused to admire the stunning panoramic views stretching for miles. There, I met Kelly Crandall, 42, of Seaside. “It’s hard,” she admitted. “But we are outside, sweating, laughing and having fun.”

Her words gave me just the boost I needed after I had just confirmed that I had missed the 10-mile cut-off and was now committed to finishing the remaining 7 miles of the 20-mile course, which would include more punishing uphills. I gobbled an energy bar, drank some water and realized that I although I had accidentally doubled my mileage, I was still lucky: on Sunday, dozens of Santa Cruz athletes will race that brutal loop while the pro mountain bikers will double it, totaling 40 miles for the conclusion of the mountain bike stage tour.

For details, visit,

Thursday, March 16, 2006

San Jose Handmade Bicycle Show, March 2006

2nd Annual North American Hand Made Bicycle Show — A Showcase of Builders

Text by Karen Kefauver (

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show ( concluded its three-day run Sunday evening, March 5, in San Jose, California. The second annual event showcased 103 exhibitors, with the spotlight squarely upon the 63 frame builders from around the United States and Canada. Housed in a massive blue tent, the show was well attended and the mood relaxed as visitors wandered from booth to booth to view the builders’ latest innovations. Frames for road, track, touring, mountain, downhill, cruisers, built with steel, aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber and most featuring exquisite attention to detail — there was something for everyone.

“To be able to meet all these builders and actually have a chance to talk with them is awesome. They are very generous with their time, whether they are superstars or novices,” said John Caletti, of Santa Cruz, California, who is launching his own frame building business ( “I think the goal of the show is to grow this segment of the bike industry. Here, I get to see things that I don’t even see in the magazines.”

“Our mission for the show was simple: Showcase the talents of the best builders of handmade bicycle frames in the world,” said the event organizer, Don Walker (www. of Hewitt, Texas. The strategy worked well on the central coast of California: more than 3,000 visitors filled the convention from Friday through Sunday to meet and talk with novice and veteran builders alike and to attend a variety of seminars hosted during the event. “The people are here for the bikes, not the hype,” said Walker, who noted that the event had quadrupled in size since the first show, held in Houston, Texas, in 2005.
Judging by the attendance at the show, perhaps Jan Heine, editor of Vintage Bicycle Quarterly and co-author of "The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles," (Vintage Bicycle Press), who spoke at a seminar on “The Future of Handmade Bicycles in North America” is correct when noted: “The future of the handcrafted bicycle lies in the non-racers, the enthusiast riders who are educated and looking for the best bicycle. Now it is our job to redefine what the best bicycle is.”

In a show packed with talented builders, here is a snapshot of the man behind the bikes: 2 minutes with Three Frame Builders:

Vanilla Bicycles
Sacha White
Portland, Oregon

Sacha White, 29, started building frames six and a half years ago. His original interest was in classic scooter restoration, working on Vespas. But after four years as a bike messenger, his interest shifted to road and cross-country riding and racing.

Favorite bike: “I am a big fan of the rigid 29er,” he says of the larger mountain bike wheel size.”

Specialty: “My passion is cyclocross. I sponsor a ‘cross team.”

Being a bike messenger: “I was the fittest I have ever been in my life. I rode like 60 miles a day.”

Family: “My family is car-free. My wife and two kids walk or bike where we need to go. It is awesome.”

Vicious Cycles
Carl Schlemowitz
New Paltz, NY

Inspired by his dad’s metal sculpture work and his mom’s artistic influence, Carl, 37, started building bikes in 1988. He enjoys the technical challenge of bike building and enjoys making bikes with an artistic flare, like his Kissy Lips frame.

About Kissy Lips: The mountain bike, painted white with a red lipstick imprint pattern, is a labor of love. “It’s very whimsical,” said Carl, who admitted it was not built for any woman in his life in particular.

Why Vicious? “The company’s name is a positive thing,” said Carl, who has been asked about it many times. “On one hand, the bike helps carry you away from the vicious cycle of life’s stress, but it also means you need a bike vicious enough to handle tough terrain.”

First bike building workshop: A barn on a horse farm in rural New York state. “I was nervous about burning it down, so I moved,” said Carl.

Retrotec/Curtis Inglis
Curtis Inglis
Napa, California

“I am a mountain biker at heart,“ said Curtis, 37, of Napa, California. He has been building bicycles since 1993, first for Bob Seals at Retrotec in Chico, CA, and then in 1996 he began building under his own name in San Francisco. After relaunching the Retrotec line in 2001, he now works on two lines - Inglis Cycles and Retrotec.

Passion: 29ers. Two-thirds of my business is mountain bikes, said Inglis. 29ers are a growing niche, with the big tire volume, they ride really nicely and roll over things smoothly.

On “curvy bikes”: The retro look, with the curves “either appeals to you or makes no sense at all. At shows, people either walk right by or are magnetically drawn to them.

First love: For me, the curvy bikes remind me of my first 20-inch Stingray I had as a kid.”

Stay tuned to to see where the 2007 event will be held.