Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
1) On a cold day, the snot is dripping a little thinner. The thicker stuff tends to stick together a little better and you have a better projectile. The thin stuff sprays, or worse yet leaves a trail.
2) The high tech Pearl Izumi micro-sensor ninja mask covers my nose. Therefore, any residual drip will end up on my mask. Also, I have to use my hand to move the mask away from my nose, thus exposing my gloves to spray.
Needless to say, I had a few misfires today and ended up with some snot on my jersey. Timely enough, an article was sent to me today addressing this issue. I guess some other DC area bike commuters were thinking about cold weather riding today.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Sonya passed me at the finish line. My watch said 21:58, but was 22:13 according to the chip. That's due to the fact that we started so far back in the pack. Apparently the 6:00/mile pace sign was for folks that want to walk.
Sonya was happy with her victory, and rubbed it in for the rest of the day...reminiscent of the rare occasion when a Laurion finished ahead of me.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
At $4.99, this 25.4 oz beer is quite the value. Similar name brand brews go for $7 plus. Vintage Ale is definitely in that class of brews, as a high ABV (9%) dark ale comparable to several in the Belgian style. This one was fizzy and dark, pouring much like a cola. Somewhat spicy, an all around balanced taste. Give it a B+.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
On Thanksgiving, I had 2 beers of choice.
1) Blue and Gray's Winter Spice Ale
Picked up a growler of this as well as their Temporary Insanity Imperial Stout on Wednesday. We opened Wednesday night to taste, but drank the bulk of it on Thursday. The initial taste was super cold out of the fridge, so it was hard to gauge the taste on Wednesday. Let it warm up a bit on Thursday to get the full taste. Nice and spicy as the name implies. A very good winter beer.
2) Dogfish Head's Pangaea.
After watching a video on Dogfish's Facebook page saying this was the ultimate Thanksgiving beer, I decided to break this out of my stockpile. Brewed with ingredients from all 7 continents, this is a bit of a novelty beer. As recommended on the side of the bottle, I drank from a wine glass. Then, I was called "gay" for not drinking out of a beer mug...this comment was from a Coors Light drinker, so I had to take the comment with a grain of salt. Tasty, but nothing memorable. Due to the high price, I probably won't buy again.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Took Jack to his first rap show yesterday...Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.
Jack with Skidoo
Monday, November 16, 2009
Last week, we went to Ben's Chili Bowl. This is a much ballyhooed restaurant in DC. Their signature dish is the half-smoke. Bill Cosby, Chris Rock, the Obamas, Bono and Ted Koppel all love this place. It has to be good right? Has Bono ever led anyone astray? Surely Ted Koppel knows a good chilidog when he sees one.
Friday night, I had a Legend Brown Ale (from Richmond). It was smooth and very drinkable....a good session beer. It was a good mellow beer to drink the night before a marathon.
After the race, we went to Richbrau where I had a kickass black and blue burger which was washed down with their IPA and Pilsner. Both high quality beers. As I hobbled off to the bathroom, I noticed they had a cooler full of 22oz beers beers for takeout. I picked up 3 of 'em...the Big Nasty Porter, a Pale Ale, and their Octoberfest.
I've been frequenting Blue and Gray Brewery in Fredericksburg since August. This is a pretty cool business, where you can go to have growlers filled. Got a grolwer of their Belgian Style Ale...tried it Sunday night, and it was the best damn Virginia made Belgian Beer I've ever had, at least an A-. The other growler is their Pale Ale. There are 22s of a Lager, "Fred Red Ale" and a Stout.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Sonya was the fan of the day with her cowbell.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Louis Winthorpe was with me on this trip to Wegman's. He loves bacon and chocolate. My philosophy is that when you mix two of your favorite food items, you either have a synergistic effect of creating a mind-blowing dish, or you get a sort of negative synergy (what's the opposite of synergy?) that creates one of the vilest sustance known to man. I call it the Strawberry Quik effect. Sonya purchased some Apricot Stilton last week, under the premise that she was expecting some sort of magical cheese-fruit synergy. Instead, we got something that tasted like a sugar-covered gym sock. See my review of the Bourbon Ale for more on this idea.
Needless to say, bacon-chocolate tasted awful..sort of smoky, too damn salty, and a bit chocolatey. When bacon fell into the cholocate at the Vasges plant, it was not the same magic that happened at Reese's when chocolate fell into the peanut butter.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
The race kicked off at 9am....there was a lot of dew on the ground, so sections quickly got sloppy. In fact, about 100 yards into the race, before the group started to string out, there was a big pileup. Over the course of the first lap, I saw a lot of guys go down, and had a few people cross wheels with me, and go down off my back wheel. I managed to stay upright most of the race..I did slip on one of the tight corners right in front of the announcer and most of the spectators. Jack managed to see it...awesome.
I did get a lot of cowbell out there. My cheering section was the most vocal of all in the Cat 4 race.
Jack kicked some major but in the 4 and under little Belgian race. Here he is tackling one of the barriers like a pro...the kid behind him is requiring assistance. Jack led from the beginning and never looked back.
Carter had a fast race as well...one of the first finishers in the 5-6 year old group.
Another great event on a beautiful Sunday. They served up Ommegang Abbey and Hennepin Ale, along with some brats and fries, and even had a funk band playing. I'm pretty impressed so far with the events in the area. The promoters go all out and make these fun events for everyone, and do it in some very nice venues. I discovered a new mountain bike trail in this park...apprently 10 miles of winding singletrack.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I got a good spot in Brooklyn to watch the early parts of the race. Here are the lead women at mile 8 with Paula Radcliffe in the lead. They were moving. I tried to get a second close-up shot, but they were gone.
I did some more walking and subwaying, then saw Sonya again in Manhattan at mile 16. I was slow on the camera, so no shots of her...I then moved to Central Park at mile 25. Tracking her on the iPhone, I knew almost exactly when she'd cross my spot but again I suck with the camera. She crossed the line at a fast 3:50...I guess that confessing and blessing did some good. Pressure is on me in Richmond next week.
A couple weeks ago, I entered my first cyclocross race. It was loads of fun...aside from 24 Hours of Hell, the best bike race I've raced in. With no race prep, or real 'cross riding, I had no expectation to do well. I knew they were giving out free beer and pomme frites after the race, so that was my sole motivation. Ended up 56th in a field of 125 Cat 4s. It was a fun day, at a nice venue....we hung out and watch some of the elite races, drank some beer...good time. Tomorrow is my second race, for which I have done no preparation. Promises to be another good time...nice weather, good park and sausage, beer & pomme frites for sale.
The kids fared much better in the Lil Belgians race.
Jack easily took first in a field of older kids on training wheels. He was the smallest rider out there. He went off the front at the beginning and never looked back. He even did a second lap for good measure. Look at that intensity.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Earlier this month, I attended Capital City Brewing's Octoberfest. For $25, got to sample 10x 4oz. beers. They had a decent selection. The weakest I tried was Holy Brew...purely a gimmick beer with their "liquid confession" marketing campaign and pseudo-biblical fonts. They were also giving out free stickers and tattoos. Their line was the longest, so we fell victim to clever marketing. The beer was very bland, watered down, and their server said we have a "lighter and darker" beer. He couldn't tell me if they were selling ales or lagers...it was definitely a lager, somewhere along the lines of Natural Light.
The best beer was Avery's Kaiser Imperial Octoberfest....strong stuff, one of the best Octoberfest's I've drank.
The Milk Stout was another notably awful beer...brewed with lactose. Yum! I'll have to throw a gallon of milk in my next batch of homebrew and see if I can concoct something this shitty.
After drinking all our beer, we saw this merkin roll down the street like a tumbleweed and land at our feet.
I found this gem at Wegmans earlier in the week. Normally I check the price of standalone large beers and stay away...usually not a good value. This label sang to me...I didn't look at the price, so there will be no PQ for the Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale. It's an A+++ brew, the best I've had...maybe ever. Maybe I'm a sucker for their marketing, but this beer tasted...well, fresh. Just the right amount of hops, a bit piney and citrusy. Very good stuff. I haven't seen it anywhere else, but I need to buy this one again...may have to make the 30 minute drive to Wegmans for some more.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Last weekend, we ran the North Face Endurance Challenge in Algonkian Park. They offered several races...50 miles, 50K, 21K, and 10K. We opted for the 21K (half marathon). My only other trail half marathon was a brutal, hilly event at Kualoa Ranch. This one promised to be much flatter. The weather was better too, with temps in the low 60s. I was eager to redeem myself after the lackluster performance at the off-road duathlon the previous week. Since I didn't have to ride a mountain bike, the chances were good that I'd do a little better. I didn't get off to a great start, as I had to make a last minute pre-race bathroom run. That set us up at the rear of the group. There were a few chokepoints early on in the race, so since we were at the back, we had to walk a few times in the first mile. After the course opened up a bit, I settled into a decent pace. A heavily tattooed dude past me. For some reason, I decided to follow the guy and ended up running with him through the next few miles of singletrack. At about mile 4, there was a huge hill. Everyone was walking, except for tattoo. I followed him up the hill and we passed dozens of walkers. He paced me for awhile. By the turnaround, tattoo ended up somewhere behind me, as it was difficult at times to pass runners on the single track. Most of the run was uneventful, except for stepping in a ditch, soaking both feet 6 miles into the race. After the turnaround, I saw Sonya close by. She said something about the lack of waterstations...come to find out, she ended up with a group that went off course missing both of them. I made it back to the hill again at mile 9. Like the first time hitting the hill, there were a lot of walkers. I continued to run. About halfway up the hill, I heard someone behind me. It was tattoo. We made it over the hill, and continued on...had some trouble finding the trail, but we thought we were on course until we looked around and saw no one ahead of us and heard no one behind us. We kept a good pace, until we finally came out of the singletrack and started seeing other runners. The 10K was finishing up, and the lead runners from the 50K (which started a couple hours earlier) were all merging onto the same course. We hauled ass for awhile...at the end, tattoo had a stronger kick and passed me at the finish at around 1:57. I was 40th out of 272 by the gun, and somewhere like 38th in chip time. Looking at the times, if I had started near the front, I could've finished ahead quite a few other guys. Since Male 30-39 is the strongest age group, ended up 20th in the age group. Sonya finished close behind me, good enough for 5th in her age group, and 11th out of 91 women. Had she not gone off course, probably would've finished higher.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
On the ride in this morning, I passed a mustached man wearing a short sleeve button-down shirt, with shorts pulled up pretty high. He was sporting a bow-tie and riding a hybrid....the quintessential DC nerd. Even though I was riding in easy today, I thought for sure I'd blow by the guy and never see him again. When I passed him, he immediately sped up and latched onto my wheel. Dude was singing Journey songs the entire way down the Mt. Vernon Trail, until he passed me North of National Airport.
Monday, September 14, 2009
1) I suck at mountain biking
2) My mountain bike sucks
3) I did well in the run portion
4) No matter how well you run, the results are all about the bike
5) In order to win, you must drink beer, eat pizza and smoke post-race
When I showed up at the race, I had pretty good expectations. I knew I could put in a decent run, and although this was going to be only my 3rd mountain bike ride of the year, I could probably crank out the 9 miles in a respectable time, then bust my ass on the last run and make up any lost time...I couldn't have been more wrong.
First run went well. I could see the leaders as I was finishing up, and there were quite a few bikes left on the rack. I took off on the bike and passed a few riders early on...that's before the singletrack started. We had ran on part of the bike course, so I knew a little of what to expect. As soon as I hit the singletrack, I began to have shifting problems, couldn't get in a low enough gear and ended up falling over on the first climb because I couldn't clip out of the pedals...that happened again, moments later. I fell twice on the first climb, and eventually ran up the hill with my bike. In the first mile, I was passed by quite a few mountain bikers as I struggled with some of the log jumps. I end up behind a guy for a short while who's having a few more problems than me. We come up on a tricky section...a tunnel under I-95 that is not lit. Before the tunnel, you have to ride up on a platform. Next to the platform is a ditch of stinkwater about 3 feet below. The platform was wet, so the guy slipped, bounced off the concrete platform and fell into the stinkwater. I thought for sure the guy was injured, but he bounced back. I pulled his bike out of the stinkwater, and was thankful that at least I didn't smell like him. Then we rode under I-95, a spooky experience as you could see nothing but a small light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel has about 2 inches of stinkwater running through it, so it was a very pleasant experience.
I took a couple good falls after the stink-tunnel, slipped on a root and really busted my ass...my arm was tingling for the rest of the ride. I really wanted the ride to be over, then I took a flat. Thought about riding it on to the transition area, but had no idea where that was....eventually decided to fix the flat. Watch quite a few people pass me. Once I'm back on the bike, I'm convinced I'm in last place. I bust my ass to catch all those that got in front of me...manage to pass most of them. Got to the transition area, and was being cheered on by those who had already finished the race...not good. Head off on the run, cruising at a pretty decent pace, passing a couple others on the course, but did most of it alone. As I head in for the finish, got a few more "good jobs" from other finishers.
Despite the bad riding and bad luck, it was a lot of fun. Post-race pizza and beer was great. Saw a guy at the keg smoking...come to find out he won the race. WTF?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
1.) Throw down the hammer, pass the guy and don't let him catch me.
2.) Back off a little and give the guy some space...he did pass me, and since I don't know him, sitting on his wheel is rude.
3.) Sit on his wheel...if someone passes me, he should do it with authority, or at least ride at a pace I'm not willing to ride.
Since it was a windy day, and I had no intent of hammering all the way to work today, nor did I want to delay my ride by backing off the passer, I sat on his wheel. After a couple of miles, he waved me on and I pulled for the next 2 miles before we exchanged pleasantries and he left the trail. This was probably the ideal situation today, as I got to relax for a bit of the ride, but I could see my choice to quietly sit on the wheel pissing someone off. I'm sure "asking the guy" would be part of proper etiquette, but that's not my style. I'd much rather quietly choose option 1 or 3.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
According to the Kipplinger Bike Commuting Calculator, I'm saving $21.30/day by not driving...this is partially due to the $9.50 daily parking fee. Since I haven't bought a 2nd car yet, I could probably calculate in some additional savings. Of course, I've negated some of these cost savings by eating an extra lunch every day...so knock off $10 there...take out the parking and it's basically a wash. When you throw in all the recent purchases to support the commute, I've negated all the saving. So far it's been lights, jackets, tights, and most recently this bike:
After much deliberations and shopping, I bought a Kona Jake the Snake...an entry-level Cyclocross racer. I'd been eyeing some higher end CX bikes, nearly bought a Cannondale, but after realizing that I'm a Cat 4 racer that only plans on 2-3 Cross races per year, I couldn't justify a Cat 3's bike. This will double as a commuter bike, and I'll feel better about leaving this on the rack in the parking garage than the Cannondale.
The biggest benefit to riding every day is my sanity. When I drove on the beltway everyday, I felt like punching every grandma that cut me off or jumped in the "fast lane" and slowed down to 35mph while she tried to operate her cell phone. It's a lot easier to ride in the grass off the bike path while passing the ipod wearing girl weaving on her aero bars as she learns to ride a bike on the trail (so far the biggest annoyance on the bike path).
It's all exciting so far...we'll see what December brings. I've got all the gear, but have no idea if I can survive the cold.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I've been overdoing it on the beer tasting...can't keep up. This week I tried 5 beers.
Starr Hill's Dark Star Stout--Starr Hill is my favorite Virginia-brewed beer (I've only tried 3). This is the 6th brew from their lineup that I've tasted, and it's another winner. It's a smooth stout, solid A, good enough for a PQ=36
Hofbrau's Oktoberfest--I drank a lot of Hofbrau Hefeweizen while I was deployed, thought it was a decent enough beer. Saw this in Costco for $21.99/case...thought it a steal, then noticed that the bottles are 330ml as opposed to 12ozs...they're cheating me out of .8 ounces! Nevertheless, this was a pretty decent seasonal beer. A-, PQ=45...despite being cheated out of .8 ozs/bottle, this still is a good deal.
Sierra Nevada's Summer Lager...picked this up as a single, since I couldn't find a full six-pack. Not really impressed. I prefer Sam Adams' Summer Ale. Grade=B, PQ=18
Trader Joe's Dunkelweizen--Unfiltered, fruity, good flavor, Grade=A, PQ=48
Dogfish Head 90 miute IPA--This is some high-octane stuff. A little pricy at $9.99 a 4-pack, but it weighs in at 9% ABV. Unlike a lot of high alcohol beers, you can't taste it. Really a high quality beer...I love a good IPA. Grade=A, PQ=19.