Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rough Riding on Mt. Diablo with a Cycling Sage: Grant Petersen

Yours truly, Chris Kostman (left), with Grant Petersen

When I lived in Berkeley and Oakland for about ten years in the 80s and 90s, one of our favorite long rides was to cruise out to Mt. Diablo and then climb high above Walnut Creek on that fabled mountain. It's a spectacular state park with epic 360 degree views, all right next door to metropolis. In 1992 though 1994 I was sponsored by Bridgestone Cycles USA, where I got to know Grant Petersen. He designed and spec'd all the bikes, edited the catalogue (a real keeper), and handled the marketing, advertisements, and sponsorships. I was lucky and honored to be one of just a handful of cyclists who was sponsored by Bridgestone.

When B'stone shut down in 1994 due to a variety of issues in the cycling industry and the world economy (strong Yen vs. weak Dollar, among other things), Grant opened his own small bicycle company, Rivendell Bicycle Works, based literally at the foot of Mt. Diablo in Walnut Creek, his home town. I was pleased and thrilled to have been sponsored by Grant at B'stone, where, among other things, he was able to pay for my trip to France for the Triple Ironman and to West Virginia to compete in the 24 Hours of Canaan mountain bike race. So I immediately plunked down a deposit to be one of Rivendell's first customers. As such, I became the proud owner of the first "All-Rounder" model that Rivendell built and sold. The bike even has "CKAR01" - as in Chris Kostman's All-Rounder #1 - stamped on the bottom bracket shell next to the serial number! (Click here to see a full slideshow of my All-Rounder.)

Anyway, more on all of the above later, but for now I wanted to share some photos from a nice Rough Riders excursion up Mt. Diablo with Grant and some of his friends in May of 2005. It was my second ride ever on 650B wheels. We rode up the mountain on the paved road, then back down on a nice fire road with multiple creek crossings. I rode "Grant style" with sandal shoes and nothing attaching my feet to the pedals, plus a button shirt. I did insist on being the only rider who wore padded lycra shorts, though. It was a beautiful day with great company, wonderful bikes (I rode Grant's personal Saluki model), and perfect Rough Riding on a variety of terrain. Thank you, Grant, and thank you, Mother Nature, for a splendid outing!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Rough Riding in the LA Times

(Above pix: Either on, or en route to, Canyonback Trail, adjacent to Mountaingate above Brentwood.)

From the Health section of the LA Times on January 7, 2008:

I am deeply honored to have been featured in a special Health section of the LA Times right after the New Year. I made a point of riding my Ritchey Break-Away Bicycle (converted to 650B wheel size) road bike on one of my favorite fire roads above Brentwood for the photo shoot, which was on December 13, 2007. BTW, I love my Breakaway: it's seen duty from Ironman Triathlons to dirt road epics and everything in between! (Click here for a full slideshow about my Break-Away, showing how it disassembles and packs in a relatively small suitcase to fly easily and for free.)

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Chris Kostman: Ultra Race Coordinator
By Jeannine Stein, LA Times, January 7, 2008

Special report: Shaping L.A.
Want 24-hour access? Got it. Training with a smile? Check. Cardio striptease? Pick one. A guide to the city's fitness jungle.

WHILE most people can't fathom running a marathon, others can't fathom stopping at 26.2 miles. As the niche of ultra and endurance events grows, increasing numbers of otherwise ordinary men and women are pushing their physical and mental limits to extremes.

Enabling them is Chris Kostman, an ultra athlete himself and founder of AdventureCORPS Inc., which stages the Kiehl's Badwater Ultramarathon (a 135-mile footrace from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney), the Furnace Creek 508 (a 508-mile bicycle race from Santa Clarita to Twentynine Palms) and the Death Valley century and double century rides, high-profile events that have helped bring ultra races into the mainstream world of competitive running and cycling.

As race director of these events, Kostman has worked to dispel the myth that people who compete in them are crazy. More participants are getting involved in ultras, with some races increasing ranks by 10% to 20% every year, and new events are cropping up.

"It's all about the triumph of the human spirit," says Kostman, who caught the ultra bug at age 14, when he biked from his home in Glendora to Mt. Baldy and back, a 50-mile trip.

"I provide forums where people can have life-changing experiences," he says. "They can appreciate their connection to the environment and one another. One of the things I appreciated from my very first 50-mile bike ride was that in a few hours or more you could have a really meaningful experience that's exciting, interesting, engaging and enlightening. I wanted to keep having experiences like that, and I wanted as many people as possible to experience them too."

Although he's been a participant and organizer of racing events since he was a teen, Kostman says, "I feel like I'm barely getting started." He's working on launching his own magazine that will "celebrate the athlete adventurer lifestyle, including a profound connection and respect for the environment."

Above are some of the shots from the photo shoot, courtesy of the photographer, Al Seib. Thanks, Al, and thanks, LA Times!

(Click here for a full slideshow about my Break-Away, showing how it disassembles and packs in a relatively small suitcase to fly easily and for free.)