Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday Random Bits, Bytes, Bites, and Beer


I sit in front of my home computer, the drone of multiple hard drives moving my DVD collection to my new Terabyte NAS. 

<Homer>Mmmmm streaming digital media.</Homer> 

If all works well, I should be able to see the NAS from our PS3, and play all my old non HD media through it.  Added bonus, its all in IPod format.. woot!

raven_madSitting next to my computer is a glass of Bridgeport Big Brews "Raven Mad" Imperial Porter which I believe was released this week.  This is another in Bridgeport's line of beers which included HopCzar and my favorite Summer beer this year, Stumptown Tart.  The Raven Mad Imperial is another in a line of beers that was aged in bourbon barrels.  I'm not sure if this is a new trend or not as I have a few different beers in in my stash that are bourbon barrel aged, but I'm definitely digging the subtle vanilla and caramel flavors that mellow out the coffee flavor you often get from a Porter.  I'll probably pick up a few more bottles of this and bring it to PIR or Hillsboro Crusade.  As an added bonus, the label is in 3D featuring a screaming face and a dark raven... just in time for Halloween!

Last weekend at Astoria saw the delivery of the two bottles of Black Butte XX that I had aging since June when it was released.  XX was released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Deschutes Brewery.  The beer was aged in whiskey barrels and had additional coffee and cocoa nibs which gave it a flavor very distinct from the traditional BB Porter.  While I didn't care for it, the team enjoyed it immensely.  Rumor has it Sal hoarded the second bottle while muttering "my precious..." although he could have been saying "my pressure..." and talking about his tire setup.

Speaking of Astoria, I forgot a shout out to the folks over at Tireless Velo.  These cats are always seem to have a hotdog or burger for me when I come by to say hello.  For all I know they could be the ones that fall on the ground, but damn they be tasty.   Huge thanks to their crew and their generosity.

Slotting in at #123043 in the top 1 Billion reasons why my wife kicks Itsa Mario!ass, the following story... We were over at New Seasons after work to pick up a few things for dinner, and I see this pile of onions with a sign sticking out of them.   I point them out to Traci, and her instant reply is "Itsa Mario!" is a perfectly mimicked Nintendo voice.  Not only did she correctly identify the reference I was shooting for (which is cool because she's only be following racing for the past year or so) she tied in her inner gamer geek.  She rides, she races, she's a bad ass, and she's a gamer geek.  WIN.

This was too damn cool the pass up.  I love the irony that the original cast of the Budweiser "Wassap" video's come back and make a pro-Obama spot.  (If you've been in a cave for a while, Cindy McCain's money came from Anheuser Busch.)

You voted yet?  No?  Go do it Slacktard...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Astoria 2 Day Spectacular


What a weekend!  The races for me this week took a backseat to the all out team comradery PV was showing during the weekend.  Highlights of the weekend included:

  • Friday evening get together at the Cannery Cafe for some really good food, and a purple monkey.
  • Stopping by Molly's pad, walking upstairs saying "I think the door is up here" only to walk directly into their living room.
  • Having a horrific race on Saturday, then drinking a lot of beer.
  • Having a great race on Sunday, despite being in full costume.
  • Super long wait for food / drink at Rogue due to how slammed they were. 
  • Britt Millard sacrificing her race to help a fallen racer from Team O, and Team O giving her serious shout-outs for the help.  Class acts all around.
  • Watching the 22oz fridge at Rogue turn into a self service bar.
  • Sal's bread run.
  • Traci's Hash run.. complete with shots of Ouzo.
  • Heidi's bottomless bag of Stone Russian Imperials.
  • Bigwheel ride's with Sal.
  • Couzens getting TOTALLY SCREWED.
  • Two words: "Fishstick Grenade".
  • Kenji's pink foaming giggle juice.
  • Brad Ross actually turning down a free beer I tried to give him at the end of the A race on Sunday.

As Traci and I drove home via route 30, we both had big grins on our faces.  We might not have raced the best races of the season, but I don't think we could have planned a more entertaining weekend.

Barton should be interesting.  :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



I've had a couple days to recoup from Rainer.  Lets just say, I don't climb well to start with, and this course had a ton of vertical in it.  Add too it a bit of under the weather feeling on Saturday and an overall lack of training, and Sunday turns into a 45 minute session in trying not to barf a lung.

Race started out okay.   B-Rat and Jeff Henderson were both in my cat this week again.  The new start gate system worked pretty well and it was refreshing not have to show up the start line 30 minutes early.  My number was mid pack and due to the course layout I was top 30 by the time we started heading downhill.   My hole shots this year have been decent and I caught up to Brian when we got to the team tent.  The two of us worked to pick folks off during the next half of the lap.  Brian unfortunately dumped on the left hand corner entering the woods (the one with the blackberries) and I was lucky enough to get around the carnage. 

Approaching "The Hill" I saw the lead riders just starting to crest the top when I hit the transition at the bottom.  Slower traffic was in the right line so I attempted to move left and had my front tire suddenly go out from under me.  My nemesis loose gravel strikes again!  I hit the deck fairly hard, and take the brunt of the impact on my right knee.  My race for the front ended there.

To add insult to injury,  Murray from Tireless Velo was following my line and attempted to run me over in my moment of vulnerability.  We don't have any video footage, but I'm pretty sure he was cackling gleefully as it happened.  I actually have a distinct tire tread abrasion / bruise on my right hip from the assault.

The crash and collision took the wind out of my sails, and I hoofed it up the hill as there wasn't any way I'd be able to mount and get moving again where I was.  I saw B-Rat and Jeff pass me shortly after I got back on the bike.  Murray was lucky enough to recover from the crash (I think he went down too) and caught back up to me at the end of the first lap.  We caught back up after the finish and had a good laugh over the incident.

The next 4 laps were pretty much hell.  Nicely summed up in this photo by Heidi Swift.  My legs hurt, my lungs hurt, my knee was bleeding and starting to swell.  You know, all the types of things that make cross great. 

I coast across the finish line and hear Candi cheer me on from the OBRA table.  Its awesome to hear people do that even when you are far far out of the placing... especially when you are suffering.

A short stop at the medical tent to clean out the wound, a change of clothes, a waffle, and some coffee round out the morning.

The afternoon I get to spend as a raving lunatic screaming my lungs out for the rest of my friends.  What a way to spend a Sunday. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

File this under "W"


As in "WTF?"  Monday, Traci and I were at Freddy's to do some grocery shopping.  We went through the beer isle to see if they had any of the Blue Moon Pumpkin Harvest Ale she's been wanting to try.   As we walked past the collection of beer's we normally wouldn't bother looking at,  Two types of crap in one can!Traci stopped in horror said something to the extent of "Dear Lord no...."

I'm sorry, but who in their right minds would mix beer and clam infused tomato juice.   I mean, for starters, who decided that clam infused tomato juice would be a great drink to bottle and sell in the first place?  I guess its possible that it tastes good, but there is also the possibility that NASCAR is fun to watch.  

Ironically enough while I was waiting to take a photo of the monstrosity a pair of guys, one of whom had a NASCAR jacket were perusing the beer section.  He walked away with the "Bud Light" version. It has salt AND lime flavor!

I'm fairly bias when it comes to this topic though.  I'm very allergic to shellfish, and I refuse to drink any beer that crappy.  I guess if I had to drink Budweizer though, I'd go for this one.  The anaphylactic shock my system would go into from the shellfish would put me out of my misery pretty quickly.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Reality on the grounds of Insanity, Pain in HD


I'll let you decide which one is more real!

Yesterday was Crusade #2 and a brand new course down in WIllsonville.  The event was held in a subdivision that is being built up on the grounds of the old state mental hospital.

The course seemed more like a short track mountain bike course than a cross course.  A single run up, a trio of barriers, but beyond that the course was 100% rideable once you got out of traffic.  Course was super technical as well.  I'm happy that it didn't rain as the dirt section would have been almost impossible to navigate if wet.

The course was brutal to tires.  I think I saw more people with flats in this race than I saw at Krugers, PotP, and Alpenrose combined. The one-two combination of bumpy terrain and very very hard surfaces complete with broken chunks of concrete and bits of metal everywhere (yes, there were pieces of flashing on the course during warm) beat the tar out of people and equipment alike.

The event was huge just like last week.  My field had 145 people who finished in it this week opposed to 121 last week.  Results for me were not as good this week, although I felt great the first lap and a half.  I need to not go out and do 50miles on my fixie the day before.

Mounts and dismounts felt good, so good I ripped my jeans during warmup.  Bike handling was a bit sketchy with all the loose gravel sections.  I don't like loose gravel.  Loose gravel and I have a bad history.    This race was a serious gut check for a lot of people it seemed.  Anyone who made it to the finish should be complemented on their insanity, and anyone who had to go to the medical tent to pick gravel out of their hip is a stronger person than I.

At the end of the day, a lot of us got a hard as hell workout and a few cuts and bruises to show for it.   Afterwards we ate some great food and drank a lot of beer. 

Domo!Speaking of beer, the homebrews were a big hit.  Sal said the Purple Haze was like "drinking cake".  Kenji was the recipient of the other bottle of Purple Haze and went giggling off into the women's field with his bottle spewing pink foam everywhere.  When next I saw him he was channeling his inner Mr. Roboto in a killer Super Relax kit.   Heidi went from the running machine to chilling in the tub after taking on pretty much an entire bottle of my Russian Imperial.

Before Beer After Beer






Last update on PotP until next year most likely. 

Burk Webb from Portland Velo came out to Pain on the Peak last month and filmed this masterpiece.  The video below just doesn't do justice to Burk's creation and filming ability.  I get goose bumps every time I watch this in HD.

Huge thanks to Burk for the surprise.  Beer for you!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Something's wrong. Something's amiss.


A silly line from one of my all time favorite movies.  Kudos to those of you who correctly identify it (shouldn't be too hard to find out if you are any good with a search engine.)  Anyway.. the tag line for this blog is "Bikes, Beer, Bedlam"...  I've been pretty heavy on the bikes and bedlam portion since my first post back in May, but really light on the beer (but not lite/light beer).  With the Cross season underway, its time to talk about what I feel is one of the four corners of Cross.  (The others being Mud, Cowbells, and Insanity.)  That's right... its time to talk beer!

This time of year is truly a boon for beer lovers in the PacNW.  Many of the local micro breweries in the area are putting out "Oktoberfest" or fall seasonal beers in addition to some extra special Fresh Hop beers that came out about 3 to 4 weeks ago.

For me, this is the time of year where my personal tastes shift away from lighter summer beers like IPA's and Hefs and more towards the monster dark beers that were released earlier in the year and have had the opportunity to bottle age for the past 4-6 months.  But that doesn't mean the only beers I'm drinking are porters and stouts!

The first homebrew I took possession of this year was a co-creation Purple Haze in the wort chiller.  Check out that color!between myself and my co-worker James.  This beer was based off of the McMenamin's "Ruby" recipe, however instead of the traditional raspberries, we went with Oregon Marion Berries!   We made a 5 gallon batch and used a whopping 10lbs of berries for the flavor.   My hands were stained for 2 days after making this beer!Purple Haze

The beer sat in the ferment for 2 weeks then went to the bottles on 8/11/08.  No pectin or additional sugars were added, and we didn't filter the beer.  The result was a very tart, hazy beer that tasted remarkably like Bridgeport Big Brew's "Stumptown Tart".   OG was 1.055 with a final of 1.020, giving us a ABV of 4.67%.  Definitely less potent than Stumptown Tart which weighed in at around 8.5%, but still nice to drink.  Very limited supplies will be found at the PV tent during the upcoming Cross races for sample for friends of the Aggregate Cyclist.  Membership has its privileges.

Unnamed RussianThe second homebrew I took possession of was actually the first beer I worked on this year.  I made reference to it back in June, although it was brewed on Memorial Day weekend.  This beer was a co-creation between myself a good friend of mine Todd.  Todd is the biggest reason I've gotten into some really good beers over the year and where my budding interest in homebrew comes from.  We made two 5 gallon batches in one day, both taking about 2.5 hours to complete.  Much beer was drank to create this beer.  Thus the circle of beer.  Here is the skinny on this fat beer.

Russian #1
Brewed: May 25 2008
Bottled: Oct 5th 2008
Original Gravity: 1.112
Final Gravity: 1.034
Grains: Roasted Barley Chocolate Malt, Carafa
Hops: Chinook, Northern Brewer, Golding
Yeast: White Labs WPL001 - California Ale
ABV: 10.6%
IBU: 33
Cal per serving (22oz): 702

Russian #2
Brewed: May 25 2008
Bottled: Oct 5th 2008
Original Gravity: 1.116
Final Gravity: 1.036
Grains: Roasted Barley Chocolate Malt, Carafa
Hops: Chinook, Northern Brewer, Golding
Yeast: White Labs WPL001 - California Ale
ABV: 10.9%
IBU: 31
Cal per serving (22oz): 728

At 728 Calories per bottle, its the perfect recovery drink for that hard Cross effort!

I haven't had enough side by side to distinguish any difference between the two batches.  I assume that if there is, it will be fairly subtle and quickly crushed by the ABV.  What I did notice that its a very, very complex beer, with good grain, coffee and chocolate flavors.  But unlike many other stouts that I've had in the past, this one has a bit of bitterness to it from the hops still.  It should be interesting to see if this mellows out over the upcoming weeks.  This beer will make its debut this weekend at the PV tent and will be put up against old faithful, AKA Stone's Russian Imperial...

Stone's Russian ImperialAt the tail end of Cross season last year, I happened to find out that Heidipants over at The Everyday Athlete is totally in love with this stuff.  I gladly shared the last few bottles I thought I had with at the following races. 

Then this April, one glorious afternoon I turn the corner at New Seasons and see a freaking stack of cases on the corner.. and they were on sale.  I stole this from Heidi's blog.  I'm sure I can pay her off with some beer.I'm sure New Season's had a run on Russian Imperial over the next few days as Heidi and I probably purchased close to a dozen cases of this beer between the two of us.   At around 10.5% ABV for this year's batch, and a historically high acceptance among people I drink beer with, I have high hopes that my creation stacks up well with Stone's long running brew.

I have a few other special beer's I've been saving.. and I'll make sure to review them when they see the light of day.  In the meantime, I'll let you drool over this lineup...

Ultimate Cross Lineup

I have a lot of beer at my house.

In closing, a beer tip and two quick outs... Tip: if you get a chance to hit a McMenamins soon, their Seasonal Scarecrow ESB is pretty damn good.  Nice flavorful grain mixture with the aftertaste like eating a nice soft pretzel.  mmmm... liquid pretzel.

A huge huge thanks to both James and Todd for their guidance, enthusiasm and equipment space for the two homebrews, in addition to the awesome beers you have shared over the past 2 years.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A kick in the cross


Unless you were locked away someplace, you probably know that Sunday was the first event of the Cross Crusade series taking place up at the Alpenrose Dairy here in Portland.  The turnout was nothing short of epic, with close to 1300 riders doing battle on course condition that changed a huge amount over 24hrs.  I've spent so much time reading the accounts of others that I neglected to post my own!

My weekend started Saturday morning with the maiden voyage of my new Redline 9-2-5 fixie winter bike.  There are a few things I need to tweak on it, like getting a shorter stem with a bit of a drop, and a smaller rear cog, but overall I'm pleased with the new investment.  It should provide good training and reduced wear and tear on my Felt.

After a quick bite to eat, Traci and I loaded up the car with the cross rigs and went to the Dairy to get our numbers and do some pre-course scouting.  We met a few of our teammates there, got our numbers and jumped on the bikes.  The first few laps were a bit chaotic as the course wasn't 100% setup, but after a short bit the course became more and more clear to us.  We did a bit more scouting and felt very comfortable with how things were going to play out the next morning.

We drive home, pack the Mini with most of what we'll need and layout the things that don't get packed for a quick departure the next morning.  I crawl into bed and fall asleep listening to the rain falling on our glass patio table-top outside.

The morning comes earlier than I'd like, and it takes me a while to get moving.  By the time I get food into me, Traci is already dressed and packing the day's needed snacks.  The weather report has completely changed over the last 12 hours and the partly sunny skies that were forecasted turn into periodic rain.  Perfect Cross weather.

Eventually I get geared up, we get the car packed quickly and leave for Alpenrose.  Our timing is divine as 10 PV folks arrive in the space of 5 minutes.  The second 20x10 is erected next to the first giving us the PV Palace.  Trainers drop down under the front tent on the course while chairs, coolers, and gear end up in the back.  Kender and Sal dub this the "Mullet Configuration". Business up front, party in the back.

Once we get settled, I gear up for one last course checkout, mainly to see the section on the north side of the velodrome.  I'm happy for the additional barrier placed before the run-up to the velodrome ring.  It will force everyone off their bike and I won't have to deal with people attempting to ride it in front of me and crashing.  After a quick stop at the Ironclad tent to say hello and get some air for rear tire I make my way back to the tent and start my warm-up.

About 15 minutes into my warm-up I see a familiar face up on the road.  My buddy from HS and college, Josh Hanselman from Team 343 spots me after I yell to him and come to find out we are both riding in the same division today.  Good times!

With about 20mins to go, I test the blood sugar (woo dialed in), eat a ShotBlok, and make my way up to the start gate with Josh, Jeff and B-Rat.  We run into Joel from Team O and the 5 of us park ourselves about 5 rows deep on the left edge of the start chute.  After announcements I take a last swing of water from Traci, hand her my coat and clip in.  

The whistle blows and almost immediately there is a wreck in the first row directly in front of me.  Two Yakima riders tangle up and one goes down, I navigate through the carnage and manage to see a broken steertube in the mix.  I feel for the guy.  After flatting during the 25mph "neutral roll out" in my first race of the season, and flatting during the hole shot of the first Krugers, I know how frustrating it is to pay $25 to race for under a minute.

My start is pretty decent considering the wreck.  I'm in the top 30 going into the first two corners, and have a great line entering the gravel.  I make up a huge chunk of ground on the first decent riding the right line instead of following the herd on the left side.  I see Jeff out in front about 30m from me.  My plan was to work for him as much as possible since he was in contention for an up-cat.  His hole shot put him in a great position so the amount of work I can do is limited right off the get go.  I stick on the tail end of the chasing pack for a good portion of the race, losing ground in the meadow out-and-back, but gaining it in all the technical sections.

I keep track of Jeff ahead of me and yell for him every time our paths cross on the switch backs, making the mental note that he's putting distance in me every lap.  The only person I let past me without a fight is Ron.

My sole wreck of the day comes on lap 4 in the hairpin before the velodrome run up and it was fairly unspectacular.  I entered the corner too early and fall on my left side, even thought I had my left foot out of the pedal. The impact knocked my left brake hood askew making rear breaking fairly difficult for the remainder of the race. 

My race becomes one of survival at this point.  There are some stronger riders behind me and I see Josh moving up in the pack, joyfully taunting me every time we switchback on each other.  He gets within 5m of me a few times on the last lap before he bites it going into a corner and looses ground.  My fight becomes solely to keep those behind me at bay as the traffic in front of me is out of reach. 

A guy in a full Nike kit on a mountain bike and I battle it out the last half lap with the two of us swapping position half a dozen times between the our teams tent and the finish.  I pass him before the rock barrier and dismount and hear him bunny-bash-hop over the rocks.  He passes me as I remount and I chase him into the winding turns before the run-up.  He's more controlled into the corners but I'm faster out of them.  The final pass happens on the run up when I channel my inner mountain goat and sprint past him on the inside.  I ride the corner entering the velodrome cautiously as the wood is slick with mud now.  I get some breathing room on the final set of barriers and ride hard through the finish.  The post race euphoria quickly sets in.

I make it back to the tent, get cleaned off and swap roles with Traci, playing domestique for teammates who earlier helped me out.  Traci puts her game face on, ear buds in, and gets lost in her pre-race thoughts.  The role reversal takes over the tent at one point.  The ladies lined up 5 across on the trainers in their kits, with the men hovering around grabbing water bottles and fixing numbers.

Nervous excitement fills me as I get to watch Traci race her first full blow Cross race.  She starts well and rides strong through the course, finishing mid field and scoring some beer in the process.  I'm hoarse by the time she's finished.  The remainder of the afternoon is a haze of packing, cleaning, and attempting to stay awake past 9pm.  I'm beat, and its just week #1...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My better half...


My wife amazes me.  She surprises me with her resiliency, creativity, and chew iron spit nails toughness while managing to be the most graceful and beautiful person I've ever met.  I've often joked that we were bound to be married after I bested her in unarmed combat.

She's a tough woman... I knew this going into our relationship back in high school.  She had the well earned reputation of beating up the boys who teased her because of her bad temper and red hair.  One of her favorite stories involved her drilling a guy in the solar plexus before an assembly leaving him wheezing quietly in a corner for the next hour.  My favorite memory involved her being on the receiving end of a cheap clothesline tackle in a boys v. girls football game resulting in her getting up with a split lip, spitting out a mouthful of blood, and saying "nice hit" while walking back to the huddle.  Of course, she laid the the guy out on the next play.

This year is her first year racing cross, a sport known for its ability to chew up the strongest of road riders and turn them into mid pack participants.  It takes strength, skill, the willingness to eat it and bike handling skills to avoid doing so in order to be successful and competitive. 

At the tail end of last season we purchased her CX bike, a sleek black Origin8 FoxTrot.  For 8 months it sat in the garage waiting patiently for the air to get crisp and the daylight hours to get shorter.  For the mud and rain and grime and cowbells.  August it finally got its call up.  Krugers and the Alpenrose CX clinics were the time for the two of them to bond with another hidden partner of the cross season... the ground. 

Nothing can really prep you for that first inevitable crash, or the myriad of scrapes, cuts, and colors that your body ends up displaying in the days after training or racing.  It's part of the package to go along with the cowbells, beer, and wool socks.  Try as you might, you inevitably lose some of that new to the sport eagerness and confidence after those nasty tumbles.

I know she's hurting and questioning her abilities, frustrated that it isn't coming naturally.  I remind her that there isn't anything natural about jumping off a bike, hopping over barriers and jumping back on.  I remind her we all crash.  I remind her we all hurt.  It's the competitor in her, and I'd rather her have those doubts and work to conquer them than be someone who has no desire to excel. 

My wife, as have almost all cross riders, has wrecked countless times in the past few weeks.  Sunday she took a tumble into a briar patch that had us picking stickers out of her kit for five minutes and admiring the goose egg that was forming on her hip.  Her comment?  "That's going to be a sweet bruise..."

How can you not love that?