Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Brew Fest reports

Although I did indeed attend the West Coast Brew Fest AND the Raley Field Beer Fest on consecutive weekends I have failed to report it properly here on the hop hunter sight. noticed...ya me too. All I can do is blame the ERR and my Bianchi for distracting me.
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 occurance that is as unlikely as the Pistons winning the NBA Championship in 2008.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Epic Redwood Ride commences June 1st

It has been nine months in planning, preparation, scheming, scheduling and countless BS emails (thanks Jimbo) but the great Epic Redwood Ride from Brooking's to San Francisco is finally within sight.
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

The Bike/The Heat/The Beer

The annual West Coast Brew Fest was scheduled to kick off at 1pm at Miller Park on Saturday May 17th so naturally it seemed like a good time to schedule the classic ole 'Bike Ride to a Brewery destination'.

The past three years I have shown up at the Miller Park site, which is along the river just South of Old Town Sacramento, parked my car near the entrance and then ridden my bike on the American River Bike Trail out and back towards Folsom with the intent to ride 50-60 miles and arrive back at my car just in time to enter the festival.

This year I finally talked Darek into doing the pre-beer-fest ride with me. Having all but destroyed another of his Scott frames (don't ask) he had just taken possession of a shiny new Giant all carbon frame Shimano Ulterga SL the day before and it very much needed an extended experimental ride to test the set up and overall feel.

It all seemed to be just another great day of cycling and beer drinking and I looked forward to it all week long. There was just one little glitch...that actually wasn't so 11pm the temperature had seemingly already soared to over 100 degrees.

Rick Sellers joined us for the first 12 or so miles out but then wisely turned around and headed back to the fest. Only just recently picking back up on biking he was doing excellent to go that far, especially since I was ignorantly setting a pace that was a bit on the rapid side. Sorry Rick.

Darek and I managed to make it to the 30 mile turnaround point alright but the return trip, which also sported a nice little headwind, eventually took it's toll on us.

We actually seemed to doing alright until we finally arrived back at the car just after the event had started. Once off the bike we realized that the heat had really done a job on us.

No amount of water, Gatorade, fresh clothes and eventually beer and food seemed to be able to snap us out of it.

Once in the fest we soon discovered that the opressively heat was indeed a huge conversation piece for everyone in attendance, complaints that frankly we had little sympathy for. Rick did everything he could to make things go easier for us including getting us checked into the event without having to wait in the ridiculously long line and even fetching us beers from inside the pouring tents.

And there were some really good beers to be had including the Blue Frog Hefeweizen, The Trumer Pilsner and a couple surprise kegs of Celebration Ale that Sierra Nevada Brewing was kind enough to include in their lineup.

It was the kind of a day when the hop hunter was looking for hops in all the light places. Pilsners, Pale Ales and only the occasional IPA's. In fact the best IPA's of the day were to be found at The Auburn Ale House pouring station and at Sequoia Brewing who brought four beers including Brewer master Kevin Cox's excellent 'General Sherman IPA'. Kevin was even on hand pouring his beers himself and showing off all the medals his beer won in this years competition.

Somehow Hoppy Brewing won the Gold Medal in the IPA category but for the life of me I will never understand how or why that happened. Vague rumours of judging snafus or perhaps sample mis-identification and/or beer mis-handling circulated among the knowingly curious.

So ya..overall it was a good day off the couch and out doing something worthy. Bringing to mind that old over used adage of "What doesn't kill ya, makes you stronger". So now my cycling, sweating and beer skills are somehow a little better? Well maybe....I'm just hopping that the Raley Field event next weekend is not quite so hot. Because...ya..I'll be biking there.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Tour de Lincoln

Yep...another post about another pretty cool bike ride. This time it was the Tour de Lincoln. 100k and 3700' of climbing in the foothills between Auburn and Lincoln.
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

It was a century day

OK...ya I've been badly lagging on my duties here on the blog but perhaps today entry will shed some rays on how I've been spending my time of late.
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. 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.