39 - The Urban Bike Ninja

 Alex Blumenberg - The Bike Ninja

Alex Blumenberg - The Bike Ninja

As ever I love it when a listener reaches out to me to be on the ben and bikes podcast If you’d like to be on the show please email me on ben@benandbikes.com or go to benandbikes.com and click on the contact button on the nav bar.

Today’s guest, who sent me an email, is joining me via Skype all the way from Spain. His real name is Axel Blumenberg, but he also goes by the Bike Ninja. From what I understand Axel was one of those people suffering a soul destroying, life wasting and exhausting commute, in his case about 4 hours every day.

Coming to his rescue was a bicycle and, from what I understand this has not only completely changed his life, but also allows him to view things from the perspective of a martial arts expert.

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38 - Risk & Reward

 Josh Coming Across the Leadville MTB 100 Finish Line

Josh Coming Across the Leadville MTB 100 Finish Line

Nike was founded by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, both keen runners (and waffle fans), Trek was founded by Richard Burke a keen cyclist and GoPro was founded by Nick Woodman so he could take rad movies while he was surfing.

My guest today is Josh Clay (more on that later) Sprague, a competitive endurance athlete, who is the founder of Orange Mud, a manufacturer of some very unique running, biking and lifestyle brands.

From a garage built prototype through to global distribution using his web site orangemud.com and countless retailers the company now has hundreds of happy customers. Sounds like a dream come true, but I suspect this journey has been like an endurance race for Josh, his family and his team, as many ups as there are downs, with nothing but guts, grit and determination to get him there. (note by Leadville 100/Ken Chlouber reference)

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35 - Blood, Sweat & Tears

 Jonathan Card - Crushing it

Jonathan Card - Crushing it

Last week end I had the honour to see the Leadville 100 MTB race from the athletes point of view, talking to as many as would allow me to shove an annoying microphone into their face.

I recorded more than 100 interviews and of course fitting them all into a podcast that lasts a little less than one hour is not possible. But I’ve a created representative selection to give you an insight into what makes people do this, their backgrounds and motivations. I am in awe of you all.

This episode is separated into conversations I had the night before, the morning of, on the course and the finish. 

If you are inspired by what you hear, why not you next year?

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34 - The Deal Part 2

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There are two sides to every story. In the last Episode of Ben and Bikes I spoke with Ian Dille about what happened at the 2001 Road National Championships in Florida and the subsequent article he wrote for this month’s edition of Bicycling Magazine titled “The Deal”.

Long story short: With a few laps to go on a grueling circuit, the race was between Ian Dille and Mike Friedman. Ian who had been in the lead for a while, Mike who had just caught up to him. Ian’s recollection is that Mike said to him “I won’t Sprint” “You Can Win”. 

As they closed in on the finish line, the opposite happened. Mike did sprint, and he did win.

Today my conversation is with Mike, to get his side of the story. Both of the race itself and some thoughts now that he has read the article that Ian wrote. 

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33 - The Deal Part 1

 Ian Dille on the podium in 2001, letting his feelings known

Ian Dille on the podium in 2001, letting his feelings known

All of us can probably remember a time in our lives where we wish we could go back and change a decision we made. The results of that decision probably stick with us today, and probably will for the rest of our lives. For today’s guest, that time was 2001, and his decision was based on 6 words.

 

It was the 2001 U23 National Criterium Championship and Ian Dille was sitting on the starting line with 100 or more other hungry young racers. It was a tough field stacked with pros, previous champions, every person thinking “why not me”. The race starts, Ian feels great, but what happed in the last laps of that race will stay with him forever. This is his story. 

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32 - Charon Smith

 Copyright Richard Lee - All Rights Reserved

Copyright Richard Lee - All Rights Reserved

It was surfing legend and fitness guru Laird Hamilton who once said “Make sure your worst enemy doesn't live between your own two ears” There is meaning in this quote for both the sport he loves and for all aspects of his life. So often sports metaphors make this transitive leap. Others include:

  • Driving for show, putting for dough
  • Set your goals high, and don't stop till you get there
  • It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters
  • If you fail to prepare, you're prepared to fail

And my personal favourite:

If a tie is like kissing your sister, losing is like kissing your grandmother, with her teeth out.    

This is one of the reasons why I have so much belief in the power of sport to teach us how to live our lives and deal with everyday challenges. For kids, sport is an irreplaceable teacher of perseverance, teamwork, training and humility, to name but a few.

Today’s guest is someone who takes these parallels between sport and life very seriously.

6x California State Criterium Champion 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, and 2018.

2x Silver Medalist at Master National Criterium Championships in 2012, and 2014,

So Cal cup overall winner in 2012

To name but a few. By its very definition he is a champion of his sport. But it is his approach that is most inspirational. He once said “you gotta practice your winning pose, because it’s gonna happen” Translation. If you don’t think you are going to win, what’s the point.

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31 - That Time I Went Full Enduro

 Copyright Andrew Archer - All Rights Reserved

Copyright Andrew Archer - All Rights Reserved

I know a thing or two about Enduro racing.  My son, sponsored by the Bank of Dad, races in many U21 events across Colorado and New Mexico.  And the things I know are thus:

  1. Trees are not your friend

  2. Who Dares Wins

  3. Don’t discount the uphill grind required to shred the downhill

  4. Get a full face helmet

  5. Knee pads and elbow pads are your friends but they stink after a while

  6. Chicks dig scars and much as guys dug scars (seriously you should see the ladies shredding Enduro races and biting the dirt just as hard as the guys)

So, when I was connected to today’s guest and she told me that she not only races Enduro in the Northeast and she has written an article for bicycling magazine on the subject, amongst many more, I knew she had to be on the ben and bikes podcast.


Gloria Liu writes in the article titled That Time I Went Full Enduro “It was a fabulous lifestyle. I got over feeling guilty about spending a whole day taking lifts or banging up some steep road to get to the downhills faster. Enduro was mountain biking’s five-pound bag of red Swedish Fish; there were none of the boring flavors, only the best one. Finally, I could eschew all that character-building stuff and maximize the fun.”

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30 - The Places I Pee

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Today’s guests, joining me from St. George, Utah, are Chris Haag and Sophie George.

They will be riding their bikes from Alaska to Argentina, a distance of 20,000 miles; it will take them 2 years to complete. 

You can learn more about their adventure and keep tabs on their progress by visiting www.theplacesipee.com

 

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29 - Oliver Andersen

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There is a saying that sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees.

Translation: In this crazy world, where we spin around the cities and communities where we live at brake neck speeds, we forget to stop and look around and take into account what we take advantage of.

So what better way to do this than on a bike.

Today’s guest, joining us from, Denmark, is Oliver Andersen – the Urban Bicycle Explorer. 

His goal is to inspire people all around the globe to bike and use it as a tool for exploration and pleasure in their life. What a great idea.

 

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28 - Martin Eberlen

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When most people think of a multi-day bike tour they might consider doing it in places like the Napa Valley, Croatia or maybe even The French Alps.  But not today’s guest.

Martin Eberlen decided to ride 1,600 miles from the City of Stanley, North Dakota where the Dakota Access Pipeline begins through to its end in Patoka, Illinois.

This controversial pipeline transports 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day across four states.

The end result of his ride is a book called Our Land and (S)oil.

The book is not only a graphic depiction of the impact the pipeline has had on the people and countryside but also an observation of the culture of America’s Mid-West.

Link to BBC Article

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27 - Tiffany Cromwell

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The Diva from Down Under is how Rapha describes today’s guest. 

Tiffany Cromwell is one of the World’s most accomplished female road riders having lived her stellar career racing in some of the most illustrious events on pro cycling’s calendar.

Currently racing for Team Canyon-SRAM she calls Adelaide Australia her home, but spends a lot of her time racing and training on the roads of Europe.

In the off season, Tiffany likes to relax with running marathons, mountain bike racing, boxercise and rowing.

So, I dare you, tell Tiffany she runs like a girl.  My guess is that she’d take it as a badge of honour and beat you to a pulp in whatever athletic and aerobic challenge you throw her way.

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26 - Zwift

Zwift Image.JPG

There is a place where you can ride your bike that’s a cross between the French Alps and Hawaii. It rarely rains. It never really gets dark. It is never cold. It is never windy. There are no cars. You can always find friends from all over the world to ride with, or you can choose to ride by yourself. There are butterflies and Sloths and Mountain Goats and 1,000 foot waterfalls and you can ride through a volcano. 

Sound too good to be true, or maybe that I’ve been imbibing in too much of Colorado’s finest weed? Well, it’s all true, but I am missing out one really important fact. 

All this happens on a stationary trainer and, in my case, in my basement.

Behold – Zwift. A new Verb added to the Oxford English Dictionary – To Zwift.

Joining me today is Scott Barger, Zwift’s Co founder and Head of Member experience

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25 - Leadville 100

Ken.jpg

This episode of Ben & Bikes is coming to you from Leadville, Colorado.  At 10,152 ft above sea level (a hair over 3,000 M for those smart ones out there that choose to use a base 10 measuring system) Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the United States.   A former gold & silver mining town that lies near the headwaters of the Arkansas River in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and sitting close to the base of the 2 highest mountains above 14,000ft in Colorado, Mounts Elbert and Massive. 

What a great place for a 100 mile mountain bike race!

The Leadville Trail 100 MTB was first run in 1994 and has become one of the best marketed, attended and known marathon events in mountain bike racing.

The Leadville 100 race is legendary, mentioned in the same breath as the Iditarod, the Transalpine and La Ruta.  In 2017 nearly 1,484 started, about 70% of those managed to finish in less than 12 hours

This year the Leadville 100 marks its 25th anniversary.

The race is run on a 50-mile (80 km) out and back course, starting and finishing in downtown Leadville. Major climbs include an over 3,000 feet ascent from miles 40-50 to the Columbine mine, Power Line at mile 80, and St Kevins at mile 86.

Do it in less than 12 hours and you’ll get a small silver belt buckle, do it in less than 9, and you’ll get a monstrous one.  Both will enable you to stand tall with your mates in the bar and to show your Grandchildren before you take them off on their first mountain bike ride.

As is standard for these types of races, there is an ever burning energy source behind an event of this magnitude and that’s certainly true for this race and that energy source is provided by Ken Chlouber and Merilee Maupin, the founders of the Leadville 100 and the leaders behind the Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation.

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24 - Seamus Mullen

Seamus Mullen S.JPG

This episode is coming to you from Brooklyn and my guest is Seamus Mullen, an award winning New York Chef, author, a leading authority on health and wellness, and a cyclist.

Seamus trained in Spain and, as they say, one thing led to another and he now operates two Spanish influenced restaurants, Tertulia (English translation – Social gathering) and a Tapas Bar called El Colmado (English translation – The Grocery Store).

He is the author of Hero Food and Real Food Heals – The latter being described as “125 Paleo-inspired, delicious recipes to revitalize your health every day”.  But there’s a lot more to Seamus’s story that that.

In 2007 Seamus Mullen was diagnosed with early onset Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Some years after this diagnosis Seamus, found himself being described by an integrative doctor as a “hot mess”.  Despite being at the top of the New York chef food chain, he was profoundly unwell, about 50 pounds overweight, in constant pain and taking some serious meds.  He had been in this situation for about 10 years.

As a result of a myopically planned diet, significant lifestyle changes and reconnecting with his love of riding bikes, Seamus’s path back to good health began. This despite almost dying in the OR.  Twice.

“As I got farther and farther away from the light, I regained consciousness….That’s what it took for me to completely change my life, my diet, my fitness.  Shit happens, and you can either get in the way of your body, or you can get out of the way.  I knew something had to change or the next time, I wouldn’t survive.”

 Real Food Heals

Real Food Heals

 The Before & After

The Before & After

 Biking in NYC

Biking in NYC

 Shredding some single track

Shredding some single track

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23 - People for Bikes

22 -Bidit Roy

The Bikes And Podcast's first international episode featuring an interview with Bidit Roy, Indian documentary film maker.  I was introduced to Bidit by Ayleen Crotty of the Filmed by Bike Festival and subject of Episode 11.

I talk with Bidit about his love of making documentaries, how they connect him to people who have a story to tell and his latest film.  There are links to The Bicycle Maker,  which was featured in the Filmed by Bike Festival, On The Church Trail and his newest endeavour The Ride for Better India, below.

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21 - First Descents

I ride bikes, I hike and I fish, to name a few of my favourite outdoor pursuits.  The common denominator is that all of these take place in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.  The great outdoors represents a prescription, a healing place, both mentally and physically, providing me with the ability to escape from the stress and concerns of modern life, such is the power of adventure.

But, what if what ails you was orders of magnitude greater than a bad day at the office, nose to tail traffic or a bounced cheque, what if you were struck down by cancer in the prime of your life, can a prescription for Outdoor Therapy provide you with the same opportunity for healing?  The charity First Descents believes so.  Their research shows that 100% of their participants reported increased ability to cope with cancer and it shitty effects.

First Descents addresses what the National Cancer Institute identifies as a major determinant of long term survivorship; ongoing psycho-social supportive care.  In plain speak, what that really means is while the doctors and medicine may have saved a life, First Descents teaches people how to live again.

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 Ryan at First Descents HQ

Ryan at First Descents HQ

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Spiders Will Eat Your Face
Starring Mike Fallek

20 - Guerrilla Gravity Bikes

This episode comes to you from the Denver Headquarters of Guerrilla Gravity.  Manufacturers of Badass Mountain Bikes.  Made for going fast.  That’s Guerrilla as in Che Guevara and not Gorilla as in King Kong. 

As I am a fan of a) Mountain Bikes and B) going fast I am looking forward to talking to the team about their brand, their story and what makes their awesome bikes, so awesome (y).

Guerrilla Gravity bike frames are designed and built in house in Denver Colorado, no too far from Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos.

The company is led by its President Will Montague, its Chief Engineer Matt Giaraffa and head of Marketing Kristy Anderson.  All 3 come from quite different backgrounds, Mike for example has a background in both racing car and aerospace design, but as you might expect they share a passion for building a mountain bike that you are stoked to ride for a long time.

Joining me today is Matt Giaraffa, Chief Engineer.

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 The GG Team - Matt second from left

The GG Team - Matt second from left

 A GG Bike in Action

A GG Bike in Action