Please take a moment to check out the latest issue of Embrocation Magazine. This publication has great feeling, and we were happy to be part of this issue with a piece focussing on our version of the Tour of California.

This is Jeremy Dunn’s project, and you can really feel what he is into through these pages. Feeling goes a long way. Thanks for letting us into your world!

Garrett wrote some really nice visuals for this piece, and really adds a great deal of depth to what was going on inside one of the minds of this adventure. Please see his words below.




Mike Martin (filmer, photographer, husband, father, impresario), Gabe Morford (filmer, photographer, skateboard-industry lifer), Will Meeker (driver, project coordinator, architecture student, all-around good-guy and good guy to have around), Steve Mac Donald (driver, artist, positive-force), Matt Sharkey (coordinator, driver of the Clifbar bio-diesel van, mover, shaker and prince among men), Riders: Walton Brush (industrial design student, representing Stumptown AND the Dirty South, lover of Mexican soda), Jonathan Burkett (graphic designer, ex-pat, coffee-achiever), Garrett Chow (creative director, bike-industry habituate, fan of mid-century Danish), Andy Petersen (philosphy graduate-student, veterinary-technician, friend not seen enough), Rainier Schaefer (recent cum laude biology-student graduate, morel and mushroom collector, machine), Blake Vonknopka (buildings-manager, possessor of boundless energy and good cheer, awesome), 1 spare Roval 46mm carbon tubular front wheel, 1 spare Zipp 404 carbon clincher rear wheel, 1 Tomity chainwhip/lockring wrench, 1 phil 20 tooth cog, 1 phil 16 tooth cog, 1 Campagnolo 49 tooth chainring, 1 Sugino 44 tooth chainring, 1 Crank Brothers multi-tool, 3 CO2’s, 1 Topeak portable hand-pump, 6 spare tires (3 Clincher: Vittoria Corsa EVO-CX and 3 Tubulars: Vittoria Corsa EVO-CX), 1 tire lever, 1 Campagnolo peanut butter wrench, 1 bottle Pedro’s Bikelust, 1 bottle Pro-link chain oil, 2 spare MASH water bottles, 1 pair Defeet overshoes, 1 pair Specialized winter booties, 1 pair Capo Forma booties, 1 pair Capo Forma full-length leg-warmers, 1 pair Capo Forma knee-warmers, 5 pairs of socks (2 Capo Forma wool and 3 12cm Capo Forma acrylic), 2 jars Assos chamois creme, 2 jars Mad Alchemy cold-weather embrocation, 2 pairs MASH Capo Forma team bibs, 2 MASH Capo Forma team jerseys, 1 MASH Capo Forma team windvest, 1 Rapha wool base-layer, 1 Adidas mesh base-layer, 1 Assos rain cape, 1 North Face rain jacket, 2 pairs Defeet MASH team arm-warmers, 1 pair Capo Forma winter gloves, 1 pair Capo Forma spring gloves, 1 Pair Assos winter gloves, 1 Rapha winter cap, 1 Capo Forma wool winter cap, 1 white Lazer helmet, 1 black Lazer helmet, 2 pairs Specialized riding glasses, 1 Madonna del Ghisallo pendant on sterling necklace, 1 Madonna del Ghisallo prayer card (dipped in holy water from the Chapel in Italy), 1 pair black jeans, 3 t-shirts, 3 pairs underwear, 3 pairs socks, toiletries bag, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 North Face jacket, 1 pair weird North Face/Napoleon Dynamite post-ride booties, 1 bottle L-Glutamine, 1 bottle 500MG Ibuprofen, 1 bottle Host Defense with activated organic mushrooms dietary supplement, 1 bottle Hammer Endurolytes, 1 pound Blue Bottle Chiapas coffee, 1 ceramic dripper and filters, 1 foam roller massager, 1 Go-Lite down sleeping bag, 1 large North Face duffle bag, 1 small North Face Duffle bag…

Key to the ratings-system:

“I.Q.” —Ibuprofen Quotient: literally, the number of 500MG capsules of Ibuprofen that were taken post ride. This number is in direct correlation to the pain and suffering between the hours of 08:30 (a stage’s average start-time) and 16:00 (a stage’s average end-time); and the pain and suffering felt AFTER 16:00.

“I Miss My Roadbike” —While it’s debatable the need of Campagnolo’s addition of an eleventh speed, 1 gear can (sometimes) leave a person in want of (just a little) more. A ‘1’ here represents, “The legs, body, mind and soul are in accord; all things are operating perfectly and are in concert with one another, the universe and my bike —the track bike is a marvelous machine and I am its master.” While, a ‘10’ represents, “I swear off all single-digit integers and things containing, made with, representative of, or otherwise related to anything with a singular unit of measure —single speeds, a singular-vision to finish the Tour of California on a track bike, etc.”

By Garrett Chow

In the weeks preceding the Tour of California’s 14 February prologue in Sacramento, there were questions about our project’s success being able to get off the ground, to say nothing of actually completing the grueling 8 stage, 750 mile course on track bikes. The roads traveled merely getting our wheels to the start-line are ones filled with lung-busting, steep uphills and equally vertiginous, punch-drunk descents into the proverbial fog-shrouded valleys below. While MASH has always prided itself in “doing more with less”, an adage that would be put to muster on this, our most logistically and physically-challenging project to date; that we were able to secure sponsors, and to get the photo, film, bike, scooter, personal and riding gear into our two vans and one trailer on that rainy Saturday morning was a victory in-and-of-itself.

If the rigors on body and mind from the hours spent in the saddle with too little rest and recovery, and the general stresses that can bubble to surface when under duress for protracted periods are not enough; we sat slack-jawed at the Tour-organizers’ announcement, having seemingly waited a full four years to unveil a route that would feature the most climbing of any in the race’s existence. And, as if to insure the final nail in the coffin was properly and soundly driven home, the race’s usual luck of relatively good weather ended this year with a forecast predicting, “a possible end to the state’s drought with the rains expected from the storm-fronts arriving this week.” A more lucid death knell could scarcely be imagined.

Mother Nature’s opening salvo on Stage 1 from Davis to Santa Rosa is one none of us will soon forget. To date, it is the single most difficult day any of us has endured on the bike, and could quite possibly follow us to our ends holding that title. Rain and cold were bested only by the climbs in their difficulty and interminable onslaught. Andy’s strength in the mountains is demonstrated when he makes a break mid-stage, soloing to its end. 107 miles later, our leaden-legs are bolstered by Santa Rosa’s cheering masses thronging the closed-course run-in to the finish. We find ourselves mere miles ahead of the peloton and can literally feel the swell of its energy licking our heels as we near the finishing-circuit. It is an incredible end to an equally not-to-be-believed opening day.
I.Q.: 3
I Miss My Roadbike: 8

The coast-hugging second stage is one we have all ridden before. However, the rain (the Santa Cruz mountains received fully 8 inches in the 24 hours preceding and during the stage), sucks both strength and spirit from bodies tired from the previous day’s travails. Blake’s huge engine is best realized on flat-ish sprint sections, and today his strength here is perhaps eclipsed by the unwavering positive-force and resolute enthusiasm for all things cycling that he carries. This latter trait is tested today during the group’s collective ten flat tires brought on by the wet and rain washing all glass and road debris to the shoulder of the road, and into our path. A hail-storm, and the close of darkness 10 miles out from the finish herald the end of another very difficult and long day.
I.Q.: 2
I Miss My Roadbike: 2

While the tally of each day’s efforts should have otherwise conspired to cast us into deepest, soundest slumber, visions of what we knew awaited us immediately after Stage 3’s start in San Jose left many in fitful, shallow starts. Sierra Road’s Category 1 climb ramps up quickly leaving us all in want of bigger cogs but, we all manage to grind to the summit. The six riders run flip-flop hubs in the rear. The ‘standard’ gear, ridden roughly 75% of the time is 72 gear-inches, while our ‘climbing’ gear is 58 gear-inches. This combination utilizes our ‘everyday’ gearing —the one most of us are used to, and ride in the street in San Francisco; and adds the benefit of something to, “keep in the back pocket when the going gets “rough” —and it does get rough. Our riders are on Cinelli Vigorelli’s or, Italian-made prototypes of the new Mash/Cinelli frame. Most bikes are built-up with road drop-bars with a front brake and a dummy-lever on the right-hand side. Garrett favors time trial bars fit to the riding position of his road bike, while on the hoods. Rainier rides on track drop-bars, and he and Walton ride the entirety of The Tour brakeless… Yes: No. Brakes. The endlessly flat farmlands at the close of today’s stage are in stark contrast to the red-line inducing start, and atmospheric conditions render magical light as close to any seen outside the North Sea provinces of Wallonia. One need not imagine too hard to believe that he could be en-route to the Arenberg. Garrett chooses to solo the end of the day’s offering and, as grounds crews are dismantling the finish-podium we end the day with a late arrival intoModesto.
I.Q.: 3
I Miss My Roadbike: 4

The dawn of day 4 brings with it a welcome respite from the inclement weather, and the first pangs of the feeling that we were under way to the grand-finish. With 330 of the 750 miles completed, and the difficulties of the previous days having been so daunting, energy-sapping and attention-demanding as to make impossible the ability to see beyond the five feet in front of one’s wheel; it is today that marks our ability to envision success on the horizon, despite the knowledge that so many hurdles still lay before us. Rainier and Jonathan —who literally rode himself onto form, having ridden only a hand-full of times since his and Garrett’s 1000 mile ride through Europe some 4 months prior— both manage incredible efforts in the snow-covered peaks of the stage’s 5 KOM sections. Organizers would do well to finish a future stage atop these peaks. We eat our weights in pasta, officially jump greenhorn, Walton into the gang and sleep well at the close of this night.
I.Q.: 3
I Miss My Roadbike: 8

Many of our members are native Californians and have traveled the entirety of the state’s length and interior by bike and car alike. However, the Golden State never ceases to amaze with its endless beauty and equally inspired sweeps of panorama. Stage 5 reveals treasures in landscape and scenery that leave natives and transplants both in awe. Twenty-five miles from the finish, we pass the marker near the tree that ended James Dean’s life. Walton and Garrett, with Mike and Will in tow on the scooter manage the second run-in through to the finish before the peloton’s arrival shortly thereafter. It’s a real trick to manage riding a stage’s finish ahead of the peloton without being pulled over by the CHP, and overtaken by them. Managing a lead just enough ahead of them is a matter of pure luck, as our riders get strung out along the course and some are pulled over and detained until the peloton passes. Walton’s strength and position on the bike today at mile 134 mirrors his at mile 1. It is a tremendous and graceful thing to behold. Film, both still and moving is shot in larger part by Mike from the scooter. Sometimes he drives with Will on the back filming, and sometimes he rides solo shooting with one hand and driving with the other. One day, a film needs to be shot of him filming. His skills and artistry are a marvel to behold, his deft eyes hawk-like and all-seeing.
I.Q.: 1
I Miss My Roadbike: 1

Stage 6 is our only ‘rest’ day of the race. The 15 mile time trial in Solvang gives us an opportunity to rise later than the usual hour of 5:30 AM; and to tend to washing kits and other necessities. ‘House-keeping’ constitutes a large part of our time off the bike. Water bottles need washing and filling. Riders’ team kits direly need washing, as do the bikes. It’s a great effort trying to keep track of one’s gear as the sudden changes in weather mean one article of kit is thrown into a waiting van and another donned in its place. The backs of the Clifbar bio-diesel van and the rented passenger van resemble a battlefield triage-center at the end of each day. An errant arm-warmer, having long since lost its mate lies knotted and prostrate amongst a detritus of computers, Shot Bloks wrappers, $2,000.00 camera lenses and Walton’s dookie gold chain. At day’s end we meet up with the Slipstream guys with whom we’d shared the spotlight at their team’s presentation at Clifbar HQ a week prior (it feels like 3 months have passed since then). They are psyched, if maybe a little incredulous to see us all here. Many of the team-car drivers, course-marshals and race-officials have become accustomed to seeing us both, on and off the course —we seem to stay in many of the same hotels. One morning, a course-marshal comes over as we are packing up the vans. Our immediate thought is that we are in trouble (some of our tactics in riding the closed-course are admittedly, a little ‘cheeky’), but, he relates how he used to ride track bikes, and has enjoyed seeing us ride each day. He asks us to wait, and then heads back to his van and gives us the official “Amgen Tour of California Race Vehicle” sticker off its hood. “Hopefully this will help you get through things a little easier”, he says, effectively allowing us to pass through ALL would-be obstacles in the subsequent days!
I.Q.: 0
I Miss My Roadbike: 0

How to barge an ‘officially’ closed race course with 6 riders, 2 filmers, 3 support-members, 2 vans, 1 trailer and 1 scooter: 1) Embrace the theory that things in the open and in plain sight are those best camoflauged. The ubiquitous, white van or, any van with any company’s livery is the best tool of subterfuge, blending seemlessly with a sea of other ‘official’ white vans. 2) Exude confidence. Course-marshals figure out quickly that the baby-faced, 20 year-old driving the counterfeit van doesn’t “look quite right”, so acting like you’re supposed to be doing what you are doing is more than half the battle. 3) Go with all guns blazing. Or alternately, go with all horns beeping, lights flashing and use a wallet held to mouth in place of a CB to give police and course-marshals the illusion that you are in fact ‘official’. 4) Never slow down. At the many blockades and checkpoints on each day’s stage, hesitation communicates lack of confidence, and so too a projection that one is doing something he shouldn’t be doing. The M.O. of ‘official’ vans is to travel at too fast speeds on the closed course —we adopted the same.

The 88 mile Stage 7 climbs to 5,000 feet. Again, snow covers much of the route giving legs to its epic look and feel. The weekend and the stage’s decent weather has the course overrun with cyclists, a new and welcome feature after so many days of solitude on route. The ups and downs of today’s stage require numerous stops to switch gears. Roadies whom we’d passed on the flats catch up and give derisive laughs as they pass us at the bottom of a stiff climb. Minutes later, when Walton passes them climbing and while doing a one-handed wheelie, they are decidedly silent the next time we see them. The 30 mile downhill run-in to the finish circuit at the Pasadena Rose Bowl is fast and Garrett manages a solo break at its crest and down to the final, 300 meter sprint-line. He is unceremoniously tackled here by a troglodyte who has recognized him from the finish of Stage 5’s punk rock antics. Oakley sunglasses need to consider a Pro Model for course-marshal rent-a-cops —they are the truest athletes and sportsmen of a higher-order within this sport.
I.Q.: 2
I Miss My Roadbike: 4

Palomar mountain, the 5,400 foot-high Hors Categorie behemoth is the centerpiece of Stage 8, and sits fully one-half into the 97 mile route’s length. A sheet-covered dead body is taken off its slopes that day. Walton stops suddenly, mid-stage making a U-turn to pick up a wallet he spotted on the side of the road. As he chases back to the group, he pedals along counting out $531.00 dollars, one quarter and one condom as the contents. The thousands out riding and spectating on Palomar’s snowy shoulders give a carnival-like flavor to things and this underpins the buried, blurred feelings of elation and joy the crew feels at the success of finishing things. For the first time in 9 days, Rainier and Walton let on that they are tired. Rainier gears-up to 84 gear inches for the descent to the finish. We are in awe of the speeds at which he drops to the finish below.
I.Q.: 2
I Miss My Roadbike: “I love it but, I don’t want to see, think about, or hear reference to my track bike for a few day’s time.”

Escondido is packed in anticipation of the grand-finish, and as each of our riders finishes his ride at varying points just outside the city-center, we quietly fold into the midst of the thousands gathered to watch. There is a certain strangeness and comfort in having climbed off one’s bike just minutes prior, then blending easily and facelessly into the screaming wall of fans. And, as we all crane our necks to see the heros of our sport glide to a stop after pedaling their last rotation in the millions that have propelled them the length of California, our ride comes to its close.