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.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Anyway...his list just really blew me away and started me to thinking. I really expected to find Wilt Chamberlain in the top five but couldn't find his name at all. Ditto with Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe, Maurice Richard, Cy Young, Secretariat, or Eddy Merckx. Which were just a few I thought of right off the top of my head.
Now I know he listed his criteria for determining his 25 and really I'm not trying to give him a hard time here....I'm just a bit perplexed and like I said........it got me thinking.
Given the time to do a proper job.......who would you choose? And why?
My list starts with Wilt.....and so I shall begin this....a work in progress....with the Big Dipper.
In no particular order......
Wilt Chamberlain - The most dominate basketball player of all time. The Babe Ruth of Basketball. A man who was bigger than life in many ways. He excelled in Track and Field, Volleyball and most any sport or activity that he participated in. Even Bowling were he has been credited with recording a perfect 300 game on several occasions.
Babe Ruth - Do I really need to put anything here? All George Herman Ruth did was usher in the modern baseball era....first as a pitcher that still holds World Series records and of course as the greatest Home Run hitter of all time..That's right...It isn't Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron or Mark McGwire...it's Ruth. Can you imagine what he would have done if he took care of himself?
Pud Galvin - The first major league pitcher to win 300+ games. This 5'8" dynamo started 689 games in a 15 year major league career and completed an astonishing 646 of them. He even had back to back seasons of 46 wins. Did I mention that he pitched 6003 innings in his career? Yep that's right an average of 400 innings a season!
Richard Petty - 200 NASCAR Wins. Some might say that these drivers aren't athletes...that's as wrong as it could be....hey..these things aren't going to turn left by themselves. And yes..it's much more work than steering your mini van around the Wal-Mart parking lot. You truly have no idea.
Mildred 'Babe' Didrikson Zaharias - Voted Woman athlete of the year 6 times....Babe won three metals in track and field at the 1932 Olympics, 17 consecutive golf tournaments (and 82 lifetime) and started out her career as an all-American Basketball player. Legend has it that she also excelled at swimming, billiards and archery as well. She was born in Port Arthur Texas...later on the birth place of Janis Joplin as well. What does that have to do with it? I dunno....just a fun fact.
Reinhold Messner - The first man to climb all 14 of the worlds 8000+ meter peaks, and without supplemental oxygen....which was considered insane at the time. He has also climbed all the seven continents highest mountains. This Tyrolean is a major huge stud that in many ways puts all these stick and ball wanna-be's to major shame. And yes....mountaineers and rock climbers belong on this list...although I could see where some might want them left off...their feats are sometimes beyond impressive.
Edwin Moses - Won 122 consecutive 400m hurdles races including a total domination of the 1976 1984 Olympics. In 1988 he won the Bronze. During that time he set the world record 4 times. In 1983 and 1987 he won gold at the World Championships. I even seen the dude run in person once in 1984 in the LA coliseum. He torched the field handily.
Pele - I know, I know...It's soccer, but hey this Brazilian dude ruled his time, is internationally know (you heard of him right?) and he scored over 1000 goals in his long career. He's also the only person to own 3 World Cup Metals.
Goran Kropp - In 1995 all this guy did was cycle his bike from Sweden to Katmandu and then go and climb Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. He stopped 300m short in his first solo attempt but tried again 3 weeks later and summited. In 1997 he returned with his girlfriend to do some mountain clean-up (they removed 25 empty oxygen canister's) and then they summitted together.
Eddy Merckx - Do I ever spell that right? The Cannibal is a no brainer for this list. Any cycling fan can name off any number of Eddy's impressive achievements including 5 Giro AND 5 Tour de France Wins, the hour record in 1972, the 3 World Championships or 525 career wins. He also sports a dizzying array of Classics Victories. But possibly the most telling tale of his career came in 1973 when the Tour de France organizers reportedly asked him not to compete for fear the fans were losing interest in the race as he had won 4 in a row. He apparently agreed, won the Giro again and then came back to win the TdF in 1974. So no...Lance isn't the greatest cyclist of all time...in fact it isn't really close.
Maurice Richard - "The Rocket" was the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in 50 games. He was also the first man to score 500 lifetime goals. He played for the Montreal Canadians who won 8 Stanley Cups during his 18 year career. His record of 6 overtime playoff goals still stands. He led the league in goals five times. There was a riot in Montreal in 1955 when he was suspended for the rest of the season for knocking out an official, his second such infraction that season. Damage around that neighborhood was estimated at half a million dollars. In the regular seasons final game a teammate scored a point that put him one point ahead of Richard for the season......The fans booed him.
Red Rock - The Tiger striped Brahma-Hereford mix bull from Sisters Oregon finished his pro-Rodeo career unridden in 309 tries. The 1987 PRCA World Champion was inducted in the Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1990. Red Rock was finally ridden by Lane Frost in the 1988 Challenge of the Champions after his pro career had ended the year prior. Red Rock had previously prevented Frost from winning the 1986 by bucking him off in the finals. Red Rock was unusual in that he seemed to do a 'victory lap' after every win and rarely if ever went after the rider that he had just beaten.
Jim Thorpe - Another individual that simply cannot be left off the list...1912 Olympic Decathlon and Pentathlon gold medalist. Same year he led the Carlisle Indian School to the College Football Championship. He also won three Pro football titles with the Canton Bulldogs between 1916-1919. After which he played 6 seasons of Major League baseball with Giants, Reds and Braves.
Scott Parker - "Scotty's" 94 career US National Class C Flat Track wins are more than double the total of runner-up Jay Springsteen who has 41. His 9 US National Championships, including five in a row from 1994 to 1998 and four in a row from 1988 to 1991 are the most ever. Parker, who won the rookie of the year honors in 1979 won nearly 25% of the races he finished in his career. In the 1989 and 1995 racing seasons he won an amazing 10 races. From 1985 to 1998 he never finished worse than 3rd place in the Championship points.
Jim Brown - Perhaps the greatest running back the NFL has ever seen. He won the rushing title all but one season in his 9 year career. His 5.2 rushing average is still the best ever. He is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame AND the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. As a High School basketball forward he averaged 38 points a game. He played in 118 NFL games, never missing one and rushed for over 100 yards in 58 of them. He also kicked his teams extra points in College Football at Syracuse. As a senior he was an All American in Football and Lacrosse, where he won the national scoring title by scoring 43 goals in 10 games. And on and on and on.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
And by new I refer to individuals, mostly female in fact, with very little beer background in general who in a short period of time have come to truly enjoy the attributes of a proper Imperial IPA. Or is that San Diego style IPA or West Coast IPA? Whatever you wish to call them. Personally I don't care what the hell you call them as long as you call me up when you have some to share.
Anyway..... lets start with my own Mother. Since that's where I started it seemed the natural place to begin. In her entire life (prior to the past 18 months or so) I think it would be a stretch to say that she has consumed a total of maybe a couple cases worth of beer. In fact she never really drank much at all, preferring to leave that activity to most everyone else in the family.
In the past year and a half she has discovered Pliny the Elder and to everyones amazement she just loves the stuff. Now on every visit up here to Nor-Cal she looks forward to sharing some with us. Or if I travel South for a visit she expects me to bring some along.
When I originally met my newest daughter in law Oralia she told me she never ever got drunk....and considering her choices of beverages it was easy to see why. Bottled mix drinks, fruit flavored wanna be ciders and even some odd blue concoctions. In less than a year she has become a certified hop head and recently called The Bistro's Double IPA fest possibly her favorite ever drinking experience. Her favorite beers (among others)........Pliny the Elder, Sierra Nevada Celebration, Moylan's Hopsickle and even Pliny the Younger. WTF?
It took me years of sampling and wandering the western states to come to the level of hop appreciation that I have achieved. These women, young and old, have donned the moniker of hop aficionado in mere months.
Then there is my sister in law Nona...a Coors Light drinker from wayyyy back. Her last two visits to our gatherings she has joined into the IPA pourings and is the first to thrust her glass forward when another growler is tapped. She lives in San Diego and naturally now calls Alpine's Pure Hoppiness her friendly home town brew.
I hardly know what to make of it, as wonderful as it is it just leaves me scratching my head. I finally decided it must be the inherent sweetness of these big beers that attracts and satisfies them. At least initially, but then it must be the hops that keeps em coming back for more.
I guess I'm just going to have to continue to produce beers for them to try and study their reactions....ya ....that's the ticket...it's all in the name of research. And I better hide that growler of Pliny the Younger I have stashed away as well, one of them might be coming to town soon.....
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Zack has raced the Merco classic the past couple years and has even won a criterium on those streets when he was a Cat3 so he knows the course pretty well. He sat fourth wheel with 2 laps to go but the swarm and riding with new teammates ultimately ended his chances at a victory he could well have taken. For a better more detailed discription of how it went down I highly recommend checking out his race reports on his blog A Sobering View.
After Zack's race I watched the start of the Pro/Cat1 (a field that included Chris Horner, Freddie Rodriquez, Ben Jacques-Mayne and dozens of other great American racers) and then worked my way to Big Bubba's Bad BBQ which sits on the final corner of the course. Ribs were not my motivation for the visit but Rascal Creek Brewing certainly was. Previously the building was the home of Firehouse Brewing.
If you were out looking for a brewery in Merced (which without my yearly visits to enjoy watching Zack races I never would have) you would have no reason to even check out Big Bubba's establishment save for one little sign on the parking lot side of the building that says "House brewed beers" or something along those lines. Even inside there is only one sign stencilled across the back of the tap handle riser that indicates the presence of a brewery. Well....that and the fact that once you sit at the bar you can see the fermentors inside a glassed in enclosure.
Rascal Creek offers half a dozen house beers including "Bull Rider Light", "Golden BobCat Wheat", Rascal Creek Red", "Yosemite Beer IPA" and Rascal Creek Irish Stout". Since I didn't have a lot of time I naturally opted to try the IPA and after about a 8 minute wait I finally got one. Even after re-pouring it wasn't very lively but the aroma and taste made it worthy of consuming. Not remarkable by any means but a nice drinkability with decent citrus IPA attributes. To my surprise they also offered growlers which I naturally purchased one of filled with IPA for our ever growing collection.
After watching the end of the race in which Horner and 2 others amazingly lapped the field I joined Zack, his teammate Aaron and Zack's extended in-law family for some Pizza and beer at a nearby eatery who's best beer was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It was good to hang out with all them, not so great to observe the poor beer selection of the pizzeria. It shall remain unnamed....especially since I've already forgotten it.
After visiting Zack's brother-in-law Senobio's impressive 2-story mansion in Atwater I took my leave and headed North on Highway 99 for the two hour return trip to Roseville. After 70 miles or so I hit the outskirts of Stockton and realized that there was just no way I was passing up a quick visit to Valley Brewing when there was a chance that they might have the "UberHoppiness" double IPA on tap. We'd sampled it just three weeks before at the Bistro's Double IPA fest in Hayward and found it to be fairly impressive. After finding my way to the area of town where I knew the brewery was I finally asked directions from a pedestrian and made the three block u-turn to find the brewery abuzz with happy Saturday night partiers.
I got lucky to find a seat at the bar and quickly ordered a pint. The sweetness of this aptly named hop monster is a bit off the hook but the overall drinkability and taste were worth the effort. To my surprise they had no problem filling my growler with this seasonal nectar and only charged me $9.50 to do so. I was glad I made the effort to stop even though the lateness of the hour and the miles I still had to travel forced me outta there after only the one pint. They had a 4 piece jazz band stuffed into a corner that was actually quite interesting and I would have liked to stick around for another few pints and tunes.
Terri should be home Monday from her visit to Hesperia with Oralia to visit her parents and specifically her Dad who was recently released from the hospital. She stopped at Sequoia Brewing on the way down but I'm sure that beer has already been consumed. However, I understand that she filled some growlers at the new Oggies Brewing in Apple Valley. That Torrey Pines IPA and Hop Juice will be a nice treat next weekend.