Monday, December 29, 2008
Today was, and IS a Monday, a totally useless and beautiful work week day stranded between two big time holidays that generally have people totally distracted and oh-so-off their usual modes and intentions. Just my kind of a time.
So obviously it was time to explore.
First off we went to some newish Irish Pub called "The Boxing Donkey". WTF? OK I get the whole Irish pub kind of deal but what's with the bizarre name. Oh wait..that's right...I kinda like bizarre names so hey...ya I'm in.
Well... we went in and all I really see to order is a black and tan. (OK ya I pondered an Irish Car Bomb naturally) They have Guinness and Harp and little else that tells me it's an Irish Pub. I was really hoping for maybe some BelHaven or Beamish.
Bud Light, Newcastle and PBR do not a Irish Pub make.
So on to the next stop...the recently remodeled and seemingly improved Trocadero.....we walked in the door and I saw only two taps...Miller light and Budweiser. As I turned on my heel to flee in utter disgust I noticed on the wall next to the exit two Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale posters. I tentatively turned back and asked the bartender "Do you actually have some Celebration?" He assured me that he did and so we grabbed a nearby stool and ordered one. Turns out he had an entire 6-pack in stock!
The giant Bar keep tried to pour our beers for us but Terri literally ripped the bottle out of his hands when she realized he had tipped the glass and intended to present her with a perfect headless urine sample pour. Gotta love that girl. She made sure we enjoyed some head...er I mean crown.
Next we made our way to the always lovely and hop friendly Corner Bar, Main Street Brewery, Dirty Place ...I don't know what the hell to call it.
The owner/Barkeep informed us it was happy hour until we departed so we helped ourselves to $3 pints of Dale's Pale Ale, Celebration Ale and Racer 5. Sorta in that order. The Dale's from Oskar Blues in Lyon's Colorado is a rare find in these parts and was well received.
Well...I guess that was it....The previous week we stopped in to the new trendy 'BASIC' bar and had several pints of Lagunita IPA and a semi -strange paper thin East coast wanna-be pizza that was just weird enough to be interesting.
Apparently the only old town bar we haven't hit lately is the biggest kid on the block THE ONYX CLUB. But we've been thrown out of there before so it was no big deal omitting it. I go there when I need a boilermaker...which strangely I haven't really been craving lately..... maybe next year. That's next week right?
Sunday, December 28, 2008
21st Amendment - San Francisco CA - Hop Crisis
Alpine Brewing - Alpine CA - Nelson IPA
Auburn Ale House - Auburn CA - Isotope, Weapons Grade Double IPA
Bear Republic - Healdsburg CA - Apex IPA
Big Dog Brewing - Las Vegas NV - Dirty Dog IPA
Blackfoot Brewing - Helena MT - Single Malt IPA
Firestone Walker - Paso Robles CA - Union Jack IPA
Flat Head Lake Brewing - Woods Bay MT - Roy's Imperial India Pale Ale
Kettlehouse Brewing - Missoula MT - Double Haul IPA
Rubicon Brewing - Sacramento CA - Hop Sauce
Sacramento Brewing - Sacramento CA - Independence IPA
Schooners Grill - Antioch CA - Alpha Avalanche
Sierra Nevada - Chico CA - Torpedo
Valley Brewing - Stockton CA - Uber Hoppiness
I should also do an honorable mention to Sierra Nevada for their wet and fresh hop Harvest series that start in the spring with the Southern Harvest. In late summer they came out with the Estate Harvest and finally ended with the traditional 12th release. Great beers all.
OK, so maybe lasagna isn't really a traditional holiday dish but since when was The Hop Hunter ever accused of being very traditional. An American Barbarian perhaps...but rarely traditional in any sense of the word.
I'm going to list the ingredients here in the opposite order that I layered them into my official sized non-stick 11"x14" lasagna pan.
The Chili I used was my own recipe but you could use whatever chili you happen to like. The fact that I had a large bowl of chili left over in my freezer from last month weighed heavy on my decision to create this new dish. New to me anyway. That and my continuing love of green Chile's, cilantro and all things cheesy.
Parmesan Cheese - covering the entire top, essentially sealing in all the other ingredients.
Chili and Mozzarella cheese
Lasagna noodles - solid across the entire pan, tight together
Chili and Sharp Cheddar Cheese
The white layer - A mixture of ricotta/cream cheese/sour cream seasoned with Chipotle
Chili, Mozzarella Cheese and Cilantro
Green Chile's and Pepper jack Cheese
Chili and Mozzarella Cheese
That's it, five layers of noodles, or go six if they'll fit. Six types of cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or so...until you can see sauce bubbling up
or the top Parmesan cheese is starting to brown.
Let it rest a minimum of 40 minutes. Do NOT cheat on the resting time....have another beer or three and wait........it'll be worth it. You won't burn off the roof of your mouth and the layers will form back together and present properly on the plate. Serve it too soon and you'll have lasagna sliding soup.
As Alton Brown would say "It's just good Eats"
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
So...ya...we showed up ...and got our taco's....sucked down a urine sample pint of Tecate and fielded a few text messages from Rick who was at Manderas.
So ya life was good. Especially good when we downed 4 pints of Racer 5 to clear that god awful stench of a bitch roast that the Tecate left in it's wake.
OK ya..maybe it isn't THAT bad ....but not nearly the beer that I'm swilling at the moment.......
What?......I gotta tell you what it is?....OK OK....2008 Big Foot from...well you know where it's from ..and if you don't you truly have no business reading this lame blog.
Party on Garth........
Monday, December 1, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Oh...OK...ya...tonight Deschutes Hop Trip was the pint night offering at the Owl Club and that just didn't suck at all. Fun times with Terri, Tracy, Dan Rae, The Beer Geek, The Frosts, Porno Brian, Bianca, Megaphone, Hoppy Brewing Terri, The Deschutes dude, the taco tart, Jeff Scammon and all those that shall remain unexposed.
No idea why we didn't end up going to the Toronado.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I have been aware that FW has won several awards the past year or so with this Union Jack IPA but this is really the first time that I've sat down and hammered a few and really got into appreciating just how good this beer is.
For the record this is the beer that took home the gold metal at the 2008 GABF in the IPA category. A category that included no less than 104 bloody entries!
Or should I say the first time WE have fully enjoyed this beer. Terri really prompted this blog entry with her glowing account of this beer. Basically she says that the hop taste is really nice and hoppy and the dryness is exceptional in it's great hoppiness. Did she mention that she liked the hop in this beer?
I have heard vague comparative references to Vinnies Blind Pig with the FW IPA; and although I can relate to the similarities considering the unmistakable presence of my beloved Simco hops, but this is a beer that stands alone in it's greatness. So yes....go buy a case of it....buy it now...and ya ... bring some over...I still need another one.
And Terri?...well I hear her giggling in the living room so I'd say ya......she'd be up for another.
I'm already planning a trip to Paso Robles as we sip. Or in Terri's case...guzzle.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
As you can see from the photo I'm finally figuring out that these boards are just not going to cut themselves. Once I got my mind wrapped around that obvious reality the project took off like a drunk turtle with arthritis. I sighted the treated 2x8's, broke out a few tools, mumbled to no one in particular and checked my cell phone for word of lunch. By the time lunch finally did roll around I'd already consumed so many 'preventative' Advil's that when I shuffled around the ground digging holes for the piers I sounded like a box of Hot Tamales and my liver was silently screaming to be laid to rest with alcohol instead of America's finest cheap pharmaceuticals.
Fortunately I was able to find a flat piece of uncluttered garage floor to layout the 5x5 ramp landing on. Rhino came out in his wheel chair and after I cut a piece of plywood and attached it to his furniture dolly he moved onto that and finished fastening the landing pieces together whilst I wandered around the ramp site looking at my pencil and tape measure pretending that I was putting together my next plan of attack. Is it lunch time yet?
I was just now becoming acutely aware of it. Although my pace was fairly slow and undoubtedly inspired very little confidence he seemed content to stay just out of way....yet offering any help that I might require along the way.
I suppose by now the photos of the inspector have clued you into what I was enjoying all day. At one time I'd wished I'd remembered my official looking 3 compartment aluminum clip board to give him to carry around...but then WAIT...I did remember to bring it.......but no way I'm taking all my brewery notes out of it at this point in the journey. After all he was doing a great job of making me check my work over and over and over.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
THURSDAY - My good buddy Ralph decided to accept my invitation to make the short drive up (ya, only 430 miles) from Southern Cal for some good brews, Speedway racing, concert and BBQ.
Things started out on Thursday just an hour or so after Ralph and his sidekick Chris finally survived the greater Sacramento traffic and landed in Roseville. I got off work at about the same time so we met at the house and started the evenings proceedings with a couple of Hoegaarden's before driving the 20 minute trip up to the Auburn Ale House.
Every so often when any of my beer buddies or I have gathered sufficient growlers of beers to share we all like to gather on the VIP deck of Brian Fords Auburn Ale House and make a grand attempt to consume them. Aside from being a truly fine Brewer Brian is, like most of my friends, most happy when pouring, consuming, observing or talking about all things beer. The occasion arose when it was discovered by Brian that I'd been to Idaho, Montana and Oregon and collected several interesting samples along the way. I also had in my fridge growlers of Sacramento Brewing's new 2IPA Independence as well as a jug of Rubicon's 2IPA seasonal 'Hop Sauce'.
Brian threw in a very nice red (Woody's hop head Red Ale) from Elk Grove Brewing, a couple bottle of Rubicon IPA (along with all his fine house brews) and we were off to the races. Thanks for the endless appetiser's Brian...that was impressive.
FRIDAY - Well...Friday wasn't a very long work day for me....Thursday nights ordeal continued after we came home. After sitting in the garage drinking Green Flash 'Imperial', Moylans 'Hopsickle' and some Speakeasy 'Double Daddy' we finally decided to get some sleep at nearly 3am. Nope....I wasn't much good at work and so decided to cut my losses and come home for a nap instead. After all we had tickets to round two of the US National AMA speedway Championship series in Auburn and we didn't want to be anything but at our best for that event.
Naturally we began our night back at the AAH for some Pilsners and IPA's. We also made a stop at old favorite Auburn watering hole Pistol Pete's, for some Anderson Valley double IPA. The Fast Fridays races were all-in-all some pretty good examples of competitive Speedway motorcycle championship format competition. 'Bronco' Billy Janniro, who came home from his usual duties of riding in England for a top professional team, dominated the proceedings and will likely win his first National Championship come September. Unfortunately for us hop hunter types the Sierra Nevada Pale ale was the only drinkable and worthy beer available but after all the IPA's came up a little short.
SATURDAY - Could it be Saturday already? Indeed it was and since we had 8:30pm tickets to see James McMurtry at the Palms Playhouse in Winters California we figured we better get an early start and headed out to Rubicon Brewing on Capitol Avenue in downtown Sacramento. Well....most everyone drove down...Zack and I braved the 106 degree heat and rode the 20 miles down on our bikes. We were planing on riding the full 50 miles to Winters but the heat was playing havoc with my old lard ass Heart rate so we called it good and loaded the bikes on Ralph's Bus-sized hand me down SUV.
The Rube had their usual stellar lineup of Pilsner/Hefewiezen/Pale Ale/IPA and stout along with the 'Hop Sauce' and guest taps of Sierra Nevada's Southern Harvest, Moylans 'Hopsickle' and Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA.
After sampling most all of brewer Scott's' beer varieties the 8 of us (including Ralph, Chris, Terri, Zack, Oralia, Rory, Carlee and myself) decided we really had enough time to make a stop at Sac Brewing prior to making the final 20+ mile push to Winters. Brewer Peter Hoey's IPA is simply marvelous but his new 'Independence' became an instant favorite of Oralia's in particular and she tried to horde all the glasses for herself. Naturally she soon relented to our begging, we finished off glasses and we off to the show.
McMurtry never ceases to amaze and entertain me and the nights show was no exception. We also met my good Wild West Radio buddy Jeff and his beautiful bride-to-be Dian at the show (Thanks for the ticket securing Jeff) and managed to hold on to some choice 7th row seats.
The ride home? Well of course I don't remember much of it except my bike didn't fall off the back so I was happy.
SUNDAY - Sunday of course was for BBQing and we did it up right. Tri-tip, chipotle chicken and Lemon Pepper Chicken and some awesome baked Salmon. Cody and Breann, the entire Zahn family and everyone from the previous nights McMurtry gig showed up and we had us a time.
Chris showed up on Thursday spouting some crap about not being a beer drinker...but by the time he left he was singing the praises of the hop.
It was actually a good thing that Monday came along when it did.....I needed to get to work so I could rest. Whoa.......because of course at the end of the week we were due in Mammoth for the Bluesapalooza Festival of Beers.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Initially we planned to drive non stop to West Glacier but found ourselves in need of a bed by the time we made Butte. We did just that and continued North in the morning. By mid day we were in need of lunch...and as Todd Snyder would say "pretty thirsty too" so we just happened to find ourselves on the East shore of Flathead Lake on route 35 in the vicinity of Flathead Lake Brewing Company. Coincidence? Perhaps. The tasting room at FLB didn't open till noon and it was barely 11:30 so we quickly moved our stop across the street to The Raven Bar and Grill. The sign out front said it was a brewery but that was old news as explained to us by David the excellent, friendly and knowledgeable local barkeep. The exceedingly inviting interior of the bar sported spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding shoreline. What an awesome place to sit and have a beer; which is exactly what we did of course....along with some lunch as we waited for the FLB tasting room to unlock their doors. The first truly excellent beer of the trip was on tap in the Raven. It was from Blackfoot Brewing in Helena and simply called 'Single Malt IPA'. I noted the Simco hop aroma right off and from my grin Terri knew we were on to something good. If I hadn't known better I would have thought I was in San Diego instead of an outpost in Western Montana. After having one more Blackfoot than I probably should have we ventured across the way to the Brewery.
FLATHEAD LAKE BREWING COMPANY
I was a bit surprised when we walked into the tasting room and found ourselves nearly alone in the place. It was a nice tidy little area with about a dozen bar stools and a really impressive chunk of driftwood serving as the bar top. Our beer server Kayla explained to us that it was pulled out of the lake nearby and fashioned specifically for the purpose it was serving. I must admit that I had done some research on Flathead Brewing and knew going in that their signature big -time go-to beer was a double IPA named 'Roy's Imperial'. It was the only double IPA I could find in the state of Montana on any website and I'm here to tell you it was worth the effort. This my friends is what being the hop hunter is all about. The Roy's was very well balanced, with a pretty hefty aroma and not overly sweet. This is what I'd call a session Imperial. We had an hour or so to kill before rhino returned home from the doctor so naturally we spent it talking with Kayla (pictured), sampling their other fine beers andwatching the place fill up. Naturally we also filled three growlers to take back to California with us. We figured the S.O.B.E.R. Group was never gonna believe what we found unless they had some to sample. Highly recommended stop for those just traveling along North through Western Montana. I had a feeling we were not done with the place before we left town.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
We just wrapped up construction on the Rhino Ramp. Lots of photo's were taken during the building phase as well after completion. Rhino himself was able to get out and helped greatly in securing all the plywood to the joists.
He is doing better now and has a hard case cover for the end of his 'stump' as he calls it. Considering he lost his entire foot and lower calf to a diabetes caused amputation he is in pretty good spirits and is already working with the prosthesis doctors.
Considering it is only early afternoon Terri and I decided we will let Padre, Maude and Rhino take their afternoon naps in peace. We're heading off to check out Tamarack Brewing Company and Moose's Tavern. Several people in the area have clued us into Moose's and it's 24 or so taps. We might even get back to Flat Head Lake Brewing to refill the growler of Roy's Imperial IPA we drained last night.
In building this ramp I have re-found several muscle's groups that I obviously don't use much when I cycle. Oh ya, I'm also reminded about how much I miss my Bianchi. Man I hope that smoke clears out of Roseville before we get back.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
We will be up here in the Big Sky country over the weekend completing the construction project and hopefully return home by midweek. Our journey home will be on an alternate route and we will be sure to optimise our growler collecting on that leg of the trip as well..........stay tuned for that report.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Typically, in previous years anyway, I have steered clear of organic beers but this is the best of it's kind that I have ever tasted.
According to the propaganda on the bottle Butte Creek uses New Zealand Hallertau Hops as well as Magnum, Chinook, Amarillo and Simcoe Hops in this brew that celebrates the 11th Anniversary of the Brewery.
I have seen the XI available in a few places around Nor-Cal and if you can get it I highly recommend you pick some up. It's claim to 8.6 abv seems believable, but only because you know it's an Imperial IPA and that goes with the territory.
It isn't overly sweet, just enough to hold it's own against the onslaught of all those high alpha hops it's lugging around. So ya...go get it...the Hop Hunter insists.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
All on one long and hot Saturday in June.
Our day started out at 7am in Roseville when Terri and I wheeled the Crown Vic into Rick and Tracy's cul-de-sac to pick them up. The previous evening I dutifully loaded up my #2 ice chest with 11 empty Russian River Brewing growlers and a little bit of ice to keep them chilly.
After a quick and uneventful ride west on Highway's 80 and 37 the "WHO you know" part of the day began when we arrived at Gate Number One and spotted my dear old friend James Daniels walking towards us carrying 4 very seriously official looking all-access pass packets affixed to Infinion Raceway neck straps.
James, or JD as he is referred to as everywhere in the world besides my house, is in charge of the race day fueling station management and crews for Sunoco and absolutely hooked us up with the aforementioned passes that even included a VIP parking pass.
We spent the morning and early afternoon walking through the garage, watching practice, happy hour and the beginning of the Legends car race (There was an extensive Red flag stoppage for a nasty three car pileup in the front straight). We were also able to spend a bit of time near the Sunoco Fueling area hanging out with old friends James, Butch, John, and Rick, as well as my Son Zack who also works occasional race weekends throughout the NASCAR season.
After leaving the track we made our way to "Ernie's Tin Bar" which is on the way North to the hotel rooms in Rohnert Park.
A favorite yearly hangout of the Sunoco crew, I have personally driven past the little rundown out of the way establishment on no less than 2 dozen occasions but never gave the corner Tin building a second look. Like Rick said...we always thought the name there was 'COLD Beer' and suspected it was likely frequented by local farmers with missing digits and teeth .... swilling Budweiser from dusty long neck bottles. Once again of course we were dead wrong and learned another lesson....... Ernie it turns out is a pleasant chap who is actual the third generation of Ernie's to run the place. He knows his beers too and served us up fresh pints of Speakeasy 'Big Daddy' IPA.
It was difficult to pry ourselves away from Ernie's but the beckoning siren calls of Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder from Santa Rosa were just too strong and we hit the road in search of supreme Hop satisfaction.
Russian River was not quite as busy as I'd expected it to be and we were lucky enough to secure and area near the stage to accommodate all of us including the entire Sonoco Fuel crew of 8.
Vinnie had an interesting new light brew on the board that is based on the Aud Blond but with more hops (imagine that) called Happy Hops. The name is in honor of a beer once produced by the original Sonoma brewery know as New Albion Brewery.
After downing countless pitches of Blind Pig, a beer sampler for the curious out of town Fuel guys and at least 6 pizzas the guys retired to the hotel for a game of cards whilst Rick and I enjoyed the opening tunes of the nights musical guest "Lansville Station".
The card game was still in progress when Rick and I finally arrived and the call went out to us for a growler of Blind Pig which we quickly supplied. Among the card players was the gas can dude for the 28 car... Bobby Grant. Not only did Bobby luck out and take home all the card game money he also managed to fill Rick and I with enough genuine Southern good ole boy Charlotte NC livin, Dale Earnhardt knowin rhetoric to persuade ourselves into offering up not one...but two growlers of Pliny the Elder for him to take back to Dale Juniors hauler for eventual transport to Dale's all things beer interested lips.
Actually Bobby was quite the interesting and genuine fellow and of course having supplied him with plenty of email info for pacificbrewnews and the hophunter we still hope for some sort of indication about what the NASCAR community, and Dale Jr. in particular, think about Vinnie's wunderkind double IPA.
The next morning Rick, Tracy, Oralia, Terri and I returned to Russian River Brewing and managed to burn up a few midday hours consuming breakfast Pizza's, sour beers and several pints of all things hoppy.
All in all it was a fabulous weekend which was only dampened by the extremely poor air quality from the hundreds of wild fires burning in Northern California that weekend. I would have loved to be able to send a few growlers to those firefighters up on the line fighting those wars.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
It started innocently enough with a bottle of Racer 5 (actually two) and soon escalated as these sessions sometimes have a way of doing. The Racer 5 was Terri's idea so once the second bottle was nearly evaporated I ventured towards the garage to see what else was available. I was surprised to see that beers had actually been added in the time I was gone and there were several that I'd previously never laid eyes upon. Naturally I grabbed the one that said DOUBLE IPA on it. Aptly named Tricerahops it was a exceedingly smooth and drinkable offering from Ninkasi Brewing Company in Eugene Oregon. I was pretty sure that the only way that sucker made it to my fridge was by way of fellow SOBER Group member Rick Sellers. To say I liked the Tricerahops was an understatement. I found it very balanced and not overly sweet for an 8.8% beer. I'd definitely like to see our local beer outlets start stocking it.
The bottle of Hop Stoopid that we consumed was purchased during the ERR and has been documented several times here prior and is well known as a HopHunter favorite. I found 22oz bottles of Hop Stoopid all along the Northern California coastline during our ride, tucked away in the back corners of every little Mom and Pop grocery that I steeped into.
We were on a roll now and my next visit to the fridge I couldn't resist the temptation of Avery's Hog Heaven Barley Wine style ale. I consider it an Imperial IPA but it has also been entered into judging as a red. Suffice to say it is just one of the hoppist and satisfying beers that I know of.
By this time in the evening there was really only one beer in my ice box that was going to measure up to this line-up so I cut straight to the Moylans Hopsickle. A perfect name for a perfect wrap up beer. I resisted the urge to grab one last Sierra Nevada Big Foot just for dessert....that would have to wait for another day. It was good to be home.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I rode to both events which was definitely the preferred mode of transportation to any brew fest, although the 100+ degree temperature at Miller Park the first Saturday were ridiculous and totally in conflict with the 60 miles we were barely able to finish in time.
I suggest reading S.O.B.E.R. Group charter member Jeff Barbers report on the Pacific Brew News site for the full WCBF rundown.
The highlight at Raley Field (even better than Vinnie sending some Pliny the Elder) was our good buddy Brian Ford and Auburn Ale House winning the peoples choice award for his absolutely stellar IPA.
I also have to take my hat off to Rubicon's head brewer Scott Cramlet for plying us with untold back room treats at the after gathering downtown. I surely wish I could even remember more of that episode. Oh my.
Amazingly we had Buzzcutt as our designated driver........an occurance that is as unlikely as the Pistons winning the NBA Championship in 2008.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I will be keeping as much information as possible in my head (so ya, don't count on much) so that I don't ruin my great time with tedious note taking. But I do actually hope to make some Hophunter entries throughout the week and will endeavor to join up with Zack to do one of our combined ride reports that have proved to be somewhat popular in the past.
So Saturday we drive to Brookings and Sunday morning we pedal South in search of fun, adventure and Northern California Coast breweries.
And of course, yes...there's a 60% probability of scattered showers. Perfect.
Would we have it any other way?
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
It was a great day to ride and except for the pathetic fare at the first rest stop the day was a true gem.
Springtime in the foothills is just about as beautiful as it gets...even when you're sweating bullets on some of the 10-15% pitches that punctuate the days 63 miles.
The only real negative aspects were Derek's three flats, the first of which pitched him onto the pavement at the top of one of the early climbs, and the lack of proper food at he aforementioned rest stop. Oddly the final rest stop was a mere 6 miles from the finish (with a decent BBQ'd meal) and sported all manner of nourishing supplements.
Next Saturday it is the self guided "West Coast Brew Fest Double". That's the one where we drive to the fest site in Miller Park approximately 4 hours prior to the start; ride out to Folsom on the American River Trail (60 miles) and try to make it back to the car just prior to the event's noon starting time.
Truly there is no better way to rehydrate after a long ride than Hop Hunting at a local beer fest, Stay tuned for that report next week.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Today, in my quest to be as ready as possible for the June 1st Epic Redwood Ride, I actually completed my first full Century ride. Ya...not another wimpy metric Century but a full fledged 100 frickin mile ride. The Stockton Bicycle Club supported DELTA CENTURY that starts and ends at Jessies Grove Winery on Turner Road in Lodi CA.
Darek and I completed the 101 miles in a time of roughly 6:31:00. But now I'm spent and we just drained a growler of Alpine Brewing Pure Hoppiness to commemorate the event. Terri and I are now on to some Ale Smith IPA and I've been eyeing that bottle of 2003 Sierra Nevada Big Foot that been lying around the garage fridge since.....well for 5 years now. Ya...it feels just like that kind of a day.
It is a rare day in the neighborhood when I can a actually say that I feel like I did all that I could. A hundred miles is just a long damn way my friends........I'm hoping someday to look back on this as just the stepping stone to some truly Epic rolling adventures. Party on Garth!
Next Saturday we're signed up for the Tour of Lincoln.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
This whole death thing hangs kinda heavy on me and I don't really deal with it all that well. It just seems so final and done. I know CP and Ralph have a much different perspective of it all but the reality of it all is ....well...I just don't.
Ever since my Grandfather unexpectedly died in 1965 (he was younger than I am now) the whole death deal has been unfathomable, mysterious and epically painful for me.
So ya.. I guess I gotta get with the reality program and take it like a man and all that BS...but still it's just not coming easy. Face up to it I weakly remind myself.
After all these many years of hardly getting along we're finally kinda on the same page and dammed if he ain't about to cash it all in. But then I know that has also been a motivating factor to our samepageness.
The finality of it all just reeks. Wish I coulda...woulda...things to say....blah blah fuckin blah
Oh well...that's just humans for ya.....Finally once in a while they (me) might miraculously figure something out when it's virtually too late.
Like the Frank Zappa song 'Dumb all Over'
or Canned Heats 'Human Condition'
I guess life is just a song....or just a beast...or as I prefer to think of it as....it is what it is and it's all it ever shall be.
Man.....I hope there's a beer in my fridge strong enough to offset this BS.......
Although obviously at this point all these friggin beers I've already consummed haven't been enough to offset my usual writing, and life......deficiencies.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Terri and I picked up Oralia in San Ramon at about noon:30 Thursday March 27th and arrived in Hesperia at approximately 11pm. Zack, Dan and Kevin had to work and were delayed getting out of town until nearly 5pm. They all were scheduled to open up the San Dimas Stage Race on Friday with a Time Trial that rolled out Cat3's and Cat2's mid-day.
The bike racers were driving hard straight through down Interstate 5 while the three of us were meandeering across California on several highways because of a required stop in Fresno at Sequoia brewing. Due to several of Zack's races in the area recently Oralia is becoming quite a regular in the Tower District wateringhole and I think she may even be thinking of joining the Pint Club! We filled a couple growlers with IPA and their wonderful pale Ale.
We had all our bikes mounted to Darek's deluxe bike rack which was itself securely attached to Terri's cop car Crown Vic 's receiver hitch. We planned to ride during our four day stay in the cultural wasteland.
Our plan was to ride early in the day and get done in time to attend Zack and Kevins CAT2 races as well as Dan's CAT3 heats; most of which were scheduled at roughly 1pm each day.
Friday morning Terri, Oralia and I made it out by 9am and did a nice 15 mile loop that included nearly 600' of climbing. The girls were cussing me at the time on the hills but by the time we were done they really enjoyed the fact that they pulled through it all pretty well. After eating lunch I went out again and rode to Oggies Brewery in Apple Valley. What a nice day.
Saturday we made it out on time again despite the fact that the Oggies Brewing, Sequoia Brewing and Russian River Brewing products were flowing freely in nice accompaniment to my Moms Friday night gringo taco feed.
This time virtual family member and great friend Ralph joined us on his "Too small for his beer proportioned 6'6" body" Raleigh aluminum framed road bike. To be fair Ralph hasn't ridden in some time and so the plan was to take it as easy on him as his ample ego would allow. But despite our well intentioned plans the local winds had other ideas. By 9am the winds out of the South were all wickin along at what seemed to be in the 15-20mph range.
We all managed to clock 10+ miles that included a brutal slog home into a beast of a head wind on an exposed 1% grade for 3 miles. It wouldn't seem like too much to the seasoned racers we had in the house but to Terri, Oralia and especially Ralph it was a daunting task. They all pushed on through it without so much as a single complaint and frankly I was quite proud of them.
On Sunday it was a whole new ball game. The winds continued to grow in intensity with gusts that the news reported as being in the 40mph range. Terri and Oralia were not interested in riding in those severe wind conditions and frankly I didn't blame them. Ralph and I on the other hand are just a couple old fools dumb enough to give her a go. Especially since Oggies Brewing in Apple Valley is located almost purely downhill and downwind from our starting spot. Mercy.
The very first challenge Ralph and I faced was a 20+% downhill that I went 40+mph on at the start of my solo Friday afternoon ride. I figured there would be a big cross wind about half way down so I kept my speed in check and all the paramedics in Hesperia were glad I did. A gust nearly cleaned me off the bike completely and blew me four feet across the road. Ralph took quick note of it and slowed his speed as well. After that sphincter testing jolt we more carefully picked our way across the old potato lands of the mesa and decided to cross the Mojave river on Rock Springs Road. The generous looking riding shoulder turned out to a hellishly grooved tire shredding mess so we were forced to ride the edge of the well traveled road instead. Just about that time we noticed that the wind was picking up the grit off of the river bed and sandblasting everything that passed that way. Ralph had it in his ears and I swear I was still noticing granules 2 days later sifting around the inside of my helmet. Yes indeed...this was the life...livin the dream. Ultimately of course we made into the Jess Ranch area where we met Terri, loaded the bikes onto the car rack and might have slipped into Oggies for a pitcher or three of Green Flash Imperial.
So ya...it's one of my old favorite sayings but it's so spot on. The wind doesn't blow....it sucks!
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
The brewery is housed in a really cool old building that used to have ridiculously high ceilings that have wisely been turned into space for fermentors and a beer garden/patio. As you walk in the front door you are warmly greeted by the copper and stainless steel brewing equipment that immediately lets you know you are in the right place.
It was early in the afternoon when we arrived so the bar was uncrowded and we found a nice spot at the bar nearest the bronze tap handles. Having already visited their website I knew they didn't have their IPA on..... but the Pale Ale was a fresh batch and I really wanted to try their Sequoia Red which they refer to as their flagship beer.
The Pale Ale was quite drinkable and so we ordered a pitcher. Very clean, reasonably hoppy and just a fine session beer. The Red on the other hand was quite annoying...since they ran out of it an hour before we arrived. Yep..that's right....I missed it by an hour.
Steve the bartender felt my pain and fed me a couple of samples of their Schwarzbier to try to keep me from crying. The Black German Lager was solid but I really yearned for the subtle hoppiness and roasted malt backbone that I figured their Red likely possessed. A couple of the regulars wandered through while we were eating our Reuben and French dip lunch and they all groaned at the loss of their favorite local libation.
The rest of their beer menu was filled with Apple, Apple Raspberry and a Honey Wheat. I guess I should have sampled them but just didn't. Not really typical Hop Hunter fare although considering the top quality of their Pale Ale and Schwartz it wouldn't surprise me if they were highly drinkable for those that enjoy those sort of .......a......light summer beers.
We took a growler of the Pale Ale home.
Glad we stopped...
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Yesterday was another one of those days though. The wind was blowing in the 20mph range out of the South and after slogging South about five miles or so I finally hit my Southern turn around point and was pegging along at +30mph with a cross/tailwind. I was in a particularly trafficy area on a sweeping turn trapped between a stream of 50mph cars and a grass covered 4 foot deep drainage ditch.
You like how I'm avoiding the details so far?
And so don't ya know right then was the perfect time to get a quick leaking flat rear tire. My rear rim was immediately on the asphalt and the back of the bike was starting to swap out towards the traffic side of the 12" wide bike lane. I really didn't want to jam on the brakes, especially the rear brake...so I applied some pressure to the front brake and tried to keep the bike from following it's natural momentum (and the wind) into the expressway. Once I got some of the speed scruffed off I decided I'd rather end up in the ditch that under a car so I forced my body right and rode the sucker into the ditch. Fortunately it was a fairly friendly ditch..as far as ditches go..pretty soft wetish material covered with a thick layer of spring grass. I stayed upright the whole time and going down the 4 foot bank seemed to slow me considerably. The cars seemed unfazed. All except one motorist that is..... she stopped her car at the earliest safe spot ahead, which had to be almost a quarter mile down the road or so, and started back to see if I was OK.
I checked things out and saw that all I really had to do was change the tube and I think I could just carry on with my ride. Despite the rude treatment my almost new tire seemed to be OK. (Later on I would find that actually it was cut in a couple places)
I indicated to her that I was OK but she walked the entire distance just to make sure. Something that impressed me no end. Glad to see people like this still exist I thought.
So I continued on my ride and three miles later an old couple in the Del Webb senior community decided to fake me out by aiming left before turning right into their driveway and I had to grab a piece of sidewalk and part of their driveway to avoid their bumper. Whew.....I wonder if they had a heart attack.
A couple miles later I witnessed a 7 year old Evil Knievel wannabe do a face plant on a bike trail. I stopped and checked him out while his panicked parents caught up to the scene and frantically made sure he was OK.
Knievel's Mother told me as I started to leave "Thanks for stopping, good to know some decent people still exist". The rest of my ride I hardly noticed the gale force winds at all.
Monday, March 24, 2008
This past weekend Terri and I did our second annual Healdsburg Dry Creek loop bicycle ride on Easter day. We actually headed out of Roseville Saturday afternoon and spent the evening at Russian River Brewing. We had 10 growlers to fill for our expedition South this coming weekend so we decided to get a room within walking distance (good heads up Rick) and get those puppies re energized with Blind Pig IPA and Pliny the Elder. It was a typical Russian River experience, which is to say exceptional...it's just a place we enjoy being at. The next day we headed North to Healdsburg and parked in the free public lot directly behind Bear Republic Brewing. Typically we would do the 22 mile loop and then crash the brewery for some good eats, Racer 5, Hop Rod Rye and hopefully some tasty Racer X.
The sign on the door was somewhat unbelievable and really disappointing. Closed on Easter Sunday. So we went on our ride and decided that since BRB was closed it was time to make the trek out to Stumptown Brewery & Smokehouse on River Road in Guerneville.
We got a call from Tracy, who was out on a day tour enjoying the spring wildflowers, during our ride and she agreed to meet us at Stumps for a beer. I really liked the look and feel of the Stumptown tavern as we walked through the front double doors...I call it a tavern because that's the term that popped into my head as I strolled below the low heavy beamed wooden ceiling and made my way to the bar stools in the back. The bar was also accessible from the large rear patio that over looked Russian River and the forest surrounding it. What a great spot, the smell of the smokehouse was in the air and Terri was already eyeing a platter of ribs that was being carried out the back door to some lucky patron on the patio.
There were three house beers on the menu, a surprisingly good raspberry Red, a very light American style wheat and their flag ship the 'Rat Bastard' Pale Ale. I tasted all three and eventually requested a pint of the Bastard. They advertise it as a 'session pale' and I guess I could see that, although it was a bit grassy for my tastes upon my initial tasting. I opted for the Russian River IPA for my next beer and kicked myself for not starting with a pint of Beamish that I failed to notice before ordering the Pale Ale. Somehow Beamish Stout and myself have not been in the same location all year long and I was definitely in the mood for one.
We eventually made our way to the patio once Tracy arrived and enjoyed some sun and a Stumptown burger with Cheddar and bleu cheese. It was quite tasty and I would recommend it...although if you don't prefer your burgers on the rare side I'd remind them to cook it medium or more.
I was glad we finally made to Stumptown for a visit, if you're ever off the beaten path you should stop. The food, beer and service was excellent.
So where did we go from there on a Sunday afternoon?......we'll back to Vinnie's Russian River Brewing of course....that fresh Pliny and Blind Pig wasn't gonna drink itself. And oh ya...the Compunction...which I believe is a sour Belgian style golden ale.....didn't suck either. Tracy bought a growler of it.....lucky Rick.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I called up my good buddy Darek who lives in Auburn and we devised a plan to meet half way and then climb Baxter together. As soon as I started North out of my garage on the boulevard I realized that I had seriously underestimated the winds on this 60 degree late March day. The ride to Lincoln would be a total slog for 12 or so miles against a 12-15mph (estimated) headwind.
The previous day the winds were from the South and would have made for a much better warm up before reaching the foothills. Fewer matches burned anyway. This section of the ride took me nearly an hour instead of the usual 40-45 minutes.
Meanwhile Darek was flying off the mountain and nearly got hit by a clueless hillbilly pick-up truck driver whilst riding DOWN Baxter Grade. Darek's near miss, and my lateness in arriving at our designated meeting point apparently discombobulated him a bit and he just kept traveling West on Wise Road until he was five miles past the rendezvous spot. Moments after I turned that corner my cell phone rang. "Where are you" He says. "I'm already crossed over HWY 65 and still I don't see you". "Uhhhh....I'm five miles behind you my friend". Or ahead..which is how Darek now had to view the situation.
He turned around and just hammered it to the tune of 150 Average HR/20+mph and finally caught me two thirds of the way up Baxter. He had a long way to come but considering I was able to set a new low speed record on some of the 15% pitches I was easy prey for someone who rides as well as he does. Somehow I managed to stay upright despite a one time reading 2.8mph and several 2.9's. During the climb I even got a call from long time friend CP who has this amazing knack for calling me at the most perplexing and compromised moments.
But I made it and I was pretty happy about it...knowing that Darek's wife Carrie was at their house with Terri cooking spaghetti and sipping on one of their 3 growlers full of AAH's fine IPA.
My overall stats were.......... another day of preparation for June 1st and especially June 4th when the Redwood Ride goes over Leggett Pass.
144 ave HR
168 max HR
Sitting in the spa afterwards didn't suck either......a special thanks to the Borba's for a fine evening in Auburn.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
And it was a happy one indeed...after leaving Manderas we made a quick stop at the Bev-mo in Citrus Heights and bought some Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA, Green Flash West Coast IPA and Alaskan Brewing Smoked Porter. Rick also grabbed a few items and called them "Things that were cold and I haven't tried". Fair enough...and we jumped back into the car in time to make dinner at Cody and Breann's house.
The Corned beef and fixings were just excellent. A great evening was had by all ...including Foxy the cat who can chase a beam of red light like no other.
Thanks one and all for the great evening...and like Terri said...."I'm hoping for 35 more!!!"
Saturday, March 15, 2008
So there I was pushing the wind along at about 16 mph and noticed there was a person sitting in the parked truck just ahead of me, instinctively I veered slightly towards the center of the street in case he opened his truck door and boom...sure enough the door flung open and the dude jumped out without even looking around. I was still on a line that would take me rather close to him but I held my line as he slammed the door and rather purposefully made his way towards the rear of his truck. As I passed him I realized "Oh, I know this guy"..It was my good Buddy Jeff Scammon....creator of Wild West Radio and former owner of the Owl Club in old town Roseville out working his Real Estate gig. So I said "Hey there" as I rolled past him. No response. I hit the brakes a bit and circled back to say hi. As I approached Jeff was already into his Salesman BS mode with the bespectacled woman standing in the front doorway of a house he was apparently involved with. This time I slowed in front of the house and half yelled "Hey Jeff". Still no response although the woman of the house was now looking at me. Once again I did a 180 degree turn and this time rolled slowely past the house on the sidewalk and called his name again. The woman kinda half-waved at me and looked at Jeff who was apparently just INTO some seriously heavy spiel. Obviously, despite all that, he never knew I was there. After that last attempt I just got back on the hoods and continued trudging in a Southerly direction.
After making my way around and past the decommissioned McClellan Air Force Base I got a call from Zack about whether or not he should run the disk wheel in the 10+mph winds during his time Trial in Exetor. Soon after hanging up I turned West on Elkhorn road and noticed that there were a few local bicyclists clogging the bike lane ahead of me. I managed to get around a couple of the rude bastards but was now gaining on one that was towing a trailer. The funky ill-designed trailer was bobbing and weaving up and down as well as side to side. I looked behind me to check on traffic because I knew I was gonna need to go out into the traffic lane to get around him. Unfortunately there were a dozen or so cars rapidly approaching on the four lane boulevard. Even more unfortunately as I turned back around I watched in amazement as the guys trailer came loose from his bike and was now rolling diagonally across the road into the path of the oncoming vehicles.
I immediately slowed and turned back to the traffic and started quickly waving my arm to help alert them to the hazard in their path. Luckily the two cars leading the way were on top of it and were already slowing down. As I rolled up to the now panicked man that was frantically trying to remove his garbage from the middle of the highway I asked "Do you need any help".....which prompted him to scream at me "Fuck You...leave me alone Asshole". So once again I put my hands back on the hoods and went back to my pedaling. I must report that one of the cars did roll past me kinda slow and the driver gave me thumbs up sign...apparently appreciating my efforts to warn my fellow travelers about the moron at work zone.
The next 18 or so miles of my 37 mile jaunt were thankfully uneventful and I started thinking of lunch which was now less than a half hour away. As I approached within a mile of my home I passed the final traffic light of the day and noticed a rather large human walking in the middle of the bike lane directly towards me. As we drew closer to each other I noticed that the traffic off my left shoulder was very heavy and there was no room to move over.
By now we were 20 feet apart and I could see that he was completely drunk/stoned and intently talking on a cell phone. Just as I thought we were about to collide I yelled at him and he suddenly lunged to the side just enough for me to slide past him as a truck was flying past by what seemed inches to my left. As I regained a line to the right side of the bike lane I heard him yell back at me that sounded like "You Moron biker WTF?".
And that my friends is what I call The Saturday Tri-fecta.........if true weirdness, oddities and mishaps come in threes....well I'm just glad those are over.