Riding Fixed, Up Mountains, with Pros – Episode II: Malibu pt. 1

Welcome back to RFUMWP! Did you miss us? We missed you so.



In the second episode we travel to Los Angeles, CA to visit the cookie crushing, Strava smashing, king of most mountains, retired pro-cyclist, Phil Gaimon for a relatively exhaustive tour of the Malibu "hills". Along with us this time is our very own Scott Piercefield. We chose Scott for this episode because of his strength and prowess as a criterium fixed gear racer and Rocky Mountain climber in his hometown Littleton, CO. I guess we thought he could keep their legs as warm as his dad jokes...

There's something pleasantly weird about the sunlight here as piercing and bright silvery as it is, even early in the morning. The continental breakfast at the Best Western is slammed, and that's a stressful way to assemble my breakfast. Scott starts his day with a breakfast burrito from Sprouts and is having a mellow enough morning – much better choice. This light makes everything look like a movie set and it must be getting to him. As soon as he starts to put his bike together in the hotel room, Scott's entire demeanor changes and there's an immediate urgency to the day. We're not even done packing the car up, and he's completely shape-shifted into a troll named "Leeroy Jenkins".

Minutes later, we arrive at Pedaler's Fork in Calabasas, which you may or may not know from TV's must-see reality phenomenon Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Directly from their website, and this is no lie, "Pedalers Fork is a local restaurant, a premium stocked bar, in-house roasted 10 Speed Coffee, an extensive whiskey bar, innovatively delicious food, a boutique bike shop in an intimate atmosphere all under one roof. A great place to meet friends and a great place to make friends."

Scott, Leeroy, whoever's possessing that spandex-clad, beautiful body wasn't makin' any friends today.

"Time's up. Let's do this."

We're really hustling to get started and he raises his voice. "TIME'S UP. LET'S DO THIS."

Phil is losing patience. Mehdi, seen above here, is nearly fuming, and Saxon and I are doing our best to capture something useable. Things are not going well, and we have no reference point to anything Leeroy's talking about anymore.

But #atleasttherescoffee and it's pretty good here. There's an all too brief repose from his antics before Scott chimes in again.

"At least I have chicken."

Now this really sets Phil off, and he abruptly finishes his coffee and cookie and walks back outside.

I follow him out there and it looks like he's making some final adjustments, but he's frustrated and mumbling under his breath, something about chicken and Leeroy.

This goes on for too long and I suggest we move on and get going. Phil can't help himself and takes his bike inside for some more decoy adjustment until finally prompting Leeroy in a most desperate attempt for clarity.

The two of them stare at each other for two whole eternities until Scott breaks the unrelenting silence with four words.

"It's not my fault."

Tension peaks, and Phil abrubtly grabs his bike. Scott looks remorseful and seems to finally sober off of his troll trip.

It's too late though and Phil wants out. Already.

In retrospect of these situations you have all the right words, but in the moment it's a silencing shock. This is why we have Team Dad. Mayday, Mehdi!

Jay kay guys.

Don't be mad – I'm sorry and I got carried away with the intoxicating air of Calabasas reality drama. It's addictive from the first hit, and I just thought you might be craving irreparable conflict. What am I supposed to say? The weather was perfect and we got enough sleep and everyone got along and the coffee was good and it all went off without a hitch? Well, actually the mechanicals weren't a decoy, and Phil did need a new chain and that took a while.

And Scott thought that this bike pump lacked in ergonomics.

While we've moved on from reality drama, I'm gonna give you an insider's look into some reel deel Hollywood blockbustin ass production. Much like the civil engineering in a freeway interchange, the audio in film and video is well executed when it goes unnoticed. 

Saxon does an amazing job creatively with our videos, don't you agree? Furthermore, he's a one stop production powerhouse as director, cinematographer, and editor.

Oh yeah, back to audio. And he does that too.

What you see here is not a diaper change. Saxon is setting up what we call a wireless lavalier microphone. In the biz it's called a "lav". You pronounce it like "LAHv" and it kinda rolls off like you know how to speak french. See aren't you glad you're here with us??

Sax and I snuggle up back there, and we have three doors to shoot out of. We like minivans for this reason. #rentalcartips

Bikes dialed, audio synced, camera boys cozy. We are finally off!

Hang on, Phil got a flat, but this is the #perfect time to talk about his retirement. Phil is technically a retired pro cyclist, so it wasn't soon enough that he took the opportunity show off the old guy skills he's been honing in his time off the bike.

There is absolutely no pro-athlete innuendo here. Phil looooves bar soap, like the fancy kinds from Whole Foods... Ladies!

Scott's a really good sport and pretends to learn how to change a flat tire for the first time.

Phil's admittedly still getting the hang of it, so Scott does the gentlemanly thing and gives him a hand. #beginnersluck

And we're movin' again.

I promise you'll get your money's worth of cyclist banter, but it's important to note here that as they're climbing through Calabasas, Phil garnishes the margins of their conversation with his celebrity knowledge.

"Mel Gibson lives here."

"That's Gloria Estefan's house!"


Spoiler alert: in this episode you will learn exactly how the fixie kickstarted Phil's sex life.

What does Phil love about LA? Find out in episode 2!

I won't keep it a secret, and the the photos are pretty clearly indicative of the quality of riding out here. As we sweep through Piuma Canyon Road, at least I'm sold on LA too.

One big issue, and even way out here in the twisty mountain roads, is the #LAtraffic #amirite

And not just for riding. The cars pose quite the hinderance on our #bigbudget production value. With a hand free I possess the clout of a liminal deity, aggressively waving countless cars around us, and they're impatient enough to dance the double yellow and all.

Until I wave this here white pickup around us...

At the risk that this CHiP happens to be a State Bicycle Blog reader, I'll briefly tell the tale, and I'm very sorry I lied to you, officer.

See when I waved the truck around, he drove into opposing traffic up the road enough to almost end said officer's day, or possibly all of them. That did not happen, and nobody was hurt.

So we're coming up on this bike cop that pulled the pickup over, and he flags us down to also pull over. We haven't yet exposed our backside and I quickly close the rear hatch. Mr. officer already got the other guys' story apparently and approaches our passenger side, ruthlessly drilling Mehdi in the driver's seat. He's almost belligerent, and also confused that Mehdi did not indeed wave the truck around. Honest response.

At this point he spots Saxon and I in the cargo hold, not only without seatbelts on, but there is no seating at all back there (holla). #stowandgo #rentalcartips

Saxon didn't wave the truck around either. And then I make the mind-melting executive to deny responsibility as well. It worked out pretty nicely, and someplace between the near-death experience and complete bewilderment, he chilled out and let us off the hook!

So we take a little break from the rear-view nest and rethink.

There isn't much of a game plan other than to wait out our Malibu's most wanted star status. Pictured here are some very producer-like vibes from Mehdi, our executive producer. The cast and crew are hella attentive.

In this episode you will find out about P. Gaimon's aspiring acting career!

Episode 2 is not for the satirically sensitive. Actually, it completely reeks of sarcasm.

Remember the lav mics? In Saxon's defense, I'm going to attempt to explain how shitty it can be to deal with audio on the move. #lavwilltearusapart

The lil' baby mic is connected to a transmitter that Saxon is holding here. Audio is relayed wirelessly over a radio frequency to the receiver, which then is connected to camera audio or a recording device.

Now, where shit gets screwed up is when you're moving through areas using the same radio frequencies, causing interference. When this happens the equipment needs to be rescanned for a free radio channel, and then the transmitter and receiver are re-synced. This happens a LOT, and it's as annoying as Saxon's hip jedi braid.

When you're so anxious you can't clip in #amirite #firstworldcyclistproblems

This looks like the start of another riveting interview topic. Hold up sike ya mind.

"Can we stop again? There's something with the lavs again."

I'm so conflicted and 100% 50/50 on the fence with this hair braid situation. What do you say, cut it or keep it?

Cut it.


"This is for us?"

Check out part 2 of the blog for more behind the scenes and a closer look into the very romantic cookie date.

While you wait on the edge of your seat, please take a moment to comment below, "cut it" or "keep it". See you in a few days!