Playing Ketchup

Yesterday was Memorial Day, which is a day to remember those in the armed forces who died in service to our fantastic country, the USofA. Most people it seems call it The 4th of July Comes Early and celebrate BBQs and cookouts. I appreciate both sides of that coin and later yesterday I too had a tasty cookout complete with all the condiments, ketchup included.

I’m a huge fan of ketchup. In my experienced opinion, Heinz is a tried and true brand of worldwide excellence in the pickled squashed tomato department. The Belgians do a fine curry ketchup which I highly recommend, with just the right dash of heat, curious spicing, and burst of sweetness. Then I was thinking last night about what defines a condiment. It occurs to me that if a condiment is something you put onto other foods to enhance taste, a la salt and ketchup, then guacamole is a condiment, in which case guacamole is my new favorite condiment, trumping even ketchup. However, condiments nearly always are found in a jar and canned/glassed guacamole just sounds awful. I like my guacamole fresh and presumably so do you.

I digress, but only sort of. The purpose of today’s entry is to play catch-up on what’s the latest and greatest and get ready for the coming adventures. In further related news, just yesterday I was in Calabasas and two days prior to that I was in Santa Barbara, the latter of which is home to some spectacular avocado plants. If you’ve never been, picture this: you’re riding along focused on the road ahead, your position in the bike lane, chatting with friends, glancing down at your powermeter, whatever it is, and then you’ll see an enormous oil slick on the otherwise super arid rolling road beneath you. Curiosity piques, and then higher on your focal point horizon, you see the trees hanging over the road are avocado trees with rich, ripe fruit fresh for the picking. Except there are signs that adamantly forbid such behavior at the risk of the local avocado farmer firing a weapon to ward you off. I don’t actually know if there are weapons, but I’m wise enough to not find out and just buy my avocados on roadside farm stands and the grocery store. Just make sure they’re local.

Let’s backtrack further. Life is short and boredom is not fun, so in an effort to never be bored, I got back from a spectacular week in Italy and with a few brief hours of sleep, immediately drove across the state of California to do some work with the Amgen Tour of California.


If half the entire globe isn’t big enough to travel across, a quick drive across California will ice the cake of long distance travel. Given that just two days ago the Giro d’Italia wrapped up in dramatic fashion, racing in tandem with the AToCA, I thought I would provide a little clarity on these two races contrasting duality here.

California, the race not just the state, was dramatic as well, although rather than just under the umbrella of racing, I spent a lot of my time that week with the excellent people of SRAM as part of their Open The Road Tour which allows the end consumer to come out and try the latest and greatest in SRAM’s lineup. The most notable products in their current repertoire are of course eTap and Hydro disc brakes which elicits the comment, If only there was a way to combine the two of them, then it might just look something like this…


Or better yet, just watch this video featuring yours truly, which debuts the leader of the pack, SRAM’s eTap HydroHC.

I took that handsome steed, above, which we’ll call the Cannondale SuperSix EVO Disc, all over southern California yet again, as I mentioned Santa Barbara and Calabasas. Traveling with the beautiful Laura, we tackled lots of what SB has to offer, which includes Handlebar Coffee, riding with good local friends who put on their convincing hat to move to their neck of the woods, a cruise through Ojai, recovery beverages at Figueroa Mountain brewery, and a trip up Sulphur Springs Road. All of which come highly recommended, or just do this:



This is actually the day before, high high atop Eastern Camino Cielo where the pavement meets the sky meets the dirt:


And Sulphur Springs which features about six different “Geeze Louise, this has GOT to be the top now!” moments before you actually reach the summit and then are provided a screaming descent towards Ojai.




Truth be told, it’s not all fun and prizes. There are also super authentic tacos (Beef head, cheek, lip, and tripe are all on the menu. I went with three out of four of those just for the full variety) plus Italian style, single served pizzas.




And then one big five hour day was sandwiched between trips to Pedalers Fork, where I chased Laura around and called it training for Dirty Kanza.     IMG_8274


Yes, you heard it here, I’m racing Dirty Kanza which I actually depart for tomorrow. DK200, as it’s referred, has always been on my radar, but never a true bucket list item. Then somewhere over the past year, it gained further notoriety, last year’s ride was particularly muddy and memorable, next I heard Tim Johnson was doing it who has done a few 200 miles rides with me. Then I moved out to San Francisco and everyone asked me, “Oh well you must know Yuri” or “Surely you know Yuri given how much you’re riding around the Bay area?” Turns out, no, I hadn’t met Yuri. He and I swam in similar circles, rode similar rides, know similar people, but never overlapped right up until we finally did. Yuri is a very nice guy and an endurance monster. He also carries the esteemed title of being the current DK champion and will be headed back for more. So in that list of what made me want to do Dirty Kanza, the icing on the cake was this video. I was hooked.

And with that, I’m off to Kansas bright and early tomorrow! But first I need one last tasty meal on the west cost with my favorite condiment, guacamole.


  1. Felix Riesenberg

    I’ll look forward to reading about your DK experience! Have a great ride!

  2. Julie

    You’re becoming a true Californian loving avacados and authentic tacos. Loved the ketchup.


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