Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey Burner

Finally got myself to attend a Turkey Burner down at FOMBA this year. This ride is a landmark in the New England MTB community, this years edition was the 14th annual. Doing anything for 14 years straight is pretty impressive even more so in the world of mountain biking where land issues almost always interfere at some point as people buy and sell and develop.

The Burner draws pretty huge crowds as far as fun rides go. I think they set a record a few years ago with a couple hundred participants. This year probably wasn't quite that high, maybe between 100-150 I would guess. But that was due more to weather than anything else.

Speaking of the weather, it was pretty horrible. 100% of sane people were inside relaxing with family most likely while we were layering up the spandex and waterproof materials and saddling up to ride into the wind. Temps were in the high 20's low 30's in the morning with a nice steady mix of rain and wet snow falling. Unfortunately due to the rain I didn't bring my camera along...I bought it for this specific purpose but seeing as its new I want to try and keep it working for a bit longer before I subject it to the 'full monty'.

Ride started off with a 6 mile haul on snowmobile roads from Front Park to where all of the FOMBA singletrack is located. You then have the option of riding as many of the singletrack loops as you want, and then you take another 6 mile haul back to the park to call it a day. I ended up hooking up with Jesse Taylor who I know through NEMBA as well as EFTA races. We are very similarly matched both speed wise and technical ability so the riding was fast, smooth and basically uninterrupted. Which was nice because you really needed to keep moving to keep your body temps up so your hands and feet wouldn't freeze. We decided to go for the full 'hero' loop, which is riding all the singletrack that FOMBA has to over before heading back to the park.

At first I was a bit reluctant because the cold was starting to wear on me a bit, but the riding was really fun and we just went for it. I'm glad we did, some of the trails I may have ended up skipping were in great shape still and a blast to ride. Plus seeing as this could be one of my last trail rides this season it was nice to really max it out. We ended up putting in about 27 miles today and my hands were just starting to go real numb by the end.

Nothing a little left over Thanksgiving dinner can't fix...look for me at this ride next year as well. (hopefully the weather will be a tad better though)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's Cold...Go Figure

I had originally been planning on riding Franklin Falls today but I woke up to 17 degree temps with a wind chill that brought things down to single digits. I will probably ride in temps like that at some point this winter. But I couldn't find the mental motivation to put my fingers and toes through that right now.

So the indoor trainer season kicked off with a bang instead! And man did I realize fast that I have lost some cardio fitness over the past month and a half or so. My riding has been dialed way back due to loss of daylight, stupid battery issues with the lights I bought, temps and general mental cycling fatigue after a long season.

torture device for the next 3-4 months

mmmm sexy.
or as Gina would say, 'so lame' for spending the time to make this picture exist and then posting it haha.

I prefer only the finest of late 80's early 90's television while I toil away

I looked back over my long term goals from my training log from last year and I am happy to report that I met about 90% of them. Some accomplishments include:

A top 3 finish in the overall Single Speed EFTA rankings
I finally established myself as a solid SS rider finishing with (and once beating) some strong SS riders
Finished on the podium at at least one race
Joined NEMBA and got more involved in trail maintenance
Commuted to work more (60+ days 800+ miles)
Completed an 'epic' event (Harpoon B2B 147 miles)
Completed a century (B2B)

The only ones I missed were attending every EFTA race, which was more a factor of scheduling and gas prices than anything else. I also wanted to whoop the Gonzo pass ride that ruined me last year but I never got around to it. I am still in the process of writing up my goals for next year but they will shift a bit, with less XC racing and more endurance events and possibly some adventure racing. '09 should be interesting with lots of new I just need to make it through this winter without hurting myself like last year.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Squamy Commie Red

True, this batch is actually modeled after an IRISH Red but Communists are red too and Squamy Commie rhymes. Plus my beer is for the people, free of charge to be spread evenly amongst the working class (usually).

It's back to basics with this batch. No more weird additions of hard liquor or strange European styles. Just a standard run of the mill Communist (*irish*) Red, ready to drink in 6 weeks. Winter is approaching and with it many Zoo family members visiting every weekend looking to shred the white stuff and relax apres with a nice fire (blitz it) and some home brewed beer. Because of this I am looking to fire off a few quick batches to bump up my inventory.

Brewing went well, this batch will live upstairs in the closet for the slightly higher temps. Not sure if I will go to secondary with this batch. It will probably depend on my schedule.

I finally purchased my new 'beater' digital camera this morning. Picture quality is moderate, nothing special...but it was cheap and its a good size with a big LCD screen so I think it will work for my purposes pretty well. Plus it adds a nice golden twinge to pics when you turn the flash off...Ponyboy would be proud.

So now I will continue with the educate Jomo series so he can get Sherpa brew up to speed:

For sweet grain steepage tie the muslin bag up to the handle of the kettle. This will keep the bag from touching the bottom of the kettle (which might burn the grains) and it will allow you to spin the bag periodically to ensure more of the grains are steeped.

Also be sure to soak any malt syrup you are using in a sink of hot water. This will warm the syrup up and make it flow faster when you are adding it to the boil.

*UPDATE*: Bottled this batch this evening straight from primary. This is the first batch that I haven't transfered to secondary for a long time. From now on I think I will probably definitely stick to a stint in a secondary fermenter, even for quick batches. It really helps with the clarity of the beer and bottling goes faster when you don't have to clean all the krausen out of the fermenter at the end.

I had a fairly hilarious mishap when my hose disconnected from the spigot of my bottling bucket and beer dumped all over the kitchen floor. BIG MESS.

This batch had the characteristic red tint I was going for and the taste was decent. I think I have made better, but following what has probably been my best batch to date is no easy task.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Winter Cycling / Projects

Ah mid November. That lovely time of year when its just warm enough to rain...but not by much. Probably the worst weather on Earth. I have still been able to eek out some time on the trails and my plan right now is to ride as much as I can until the Turkey Burner on the 28th and then 'officially' swap over to the ski season / riding the trainer indoors.

My mind has already started to look ahead to possible upgrades and projects that I can do to some of my bikes and other ways that I can keep with cycling through the winter months. I want to try and keep with my resolution from last year, to ride trails at least once every month of the year. And this winter I have even bigger plans.

I have hatched a plan to ride a bike to some new trails that probably haven't been ridden much to date. How do I know this? Because they are on islands in the middle of Squam Lake.

Riding on water? You can forget epic, this winter is going to be BIBLICAL.

I also have some big plans for my commuter bike. Idea is to swap out the traditional drop bars for a more contemporary MTB inspired flared drop bar. A' la the On One Midge Bar:
and to upgrade to some cheap disc brakes. The ultimate goal being a bike that I can still roll to work in comfort on but also be able to shred some trails with confidence and a bit more off road stability. One reason this came to mind was a goal to ride my bike from home down to Franklin, NH...ride some loops at the Falls and then ride back home. Probably about a 40-50 mile adventure or so. Plus I think upgrading to disc brakes may open up the option of changing the bike to a 29er at some point in the future but that will be a more advanced project and require more parts to be bought and measurements to be taken, so that might be pushed out depending on funds, time, etc.

Probably also upgrade some parts on the SS, but thats all just maintenance stuff.

Also be on the lookout for an expansion in content this winter. I will be buying a new cheap digital camera here at some point and I want to try and start bringing it to the mountain this winter to document some of my time spent doing the other sport I love.

Fingers crossed for another season like this...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Skidmore 6 hour

nope not a race...a 2 hour ride that went a little 'long'.

I cruised out to Saratoga Springs, NY this past weekend to enjoy a weekend of riding and relaxing courtesy of the DeLuke family. Dustin has been trying to get us out to ride the trails in and around the Skidmore campus for a long time and it finally all came together. Myself, Dustin and Jomo got the local's tour thanks to Dustin's brother-in-law Mike and a few other local SMBA members.

Our trusty steeds

Friday afternoon we took a quick 2.5hr or so jaunt through a nice trail system with some pretty technical terrain. Definitely required your full attention just about the entire time you were on the bike. Didn't bring the camera that day and its just as well because the ride didn't offer many opportunities to snap pics anyway. We had been planning on getting lots more riding in the following day and Mike promised us an 'epic', riding trails that only a handful of people know about heading way into the Adirondack foothills on old carriage roads and eventually ending back up on the trails we had ridden Friday.

He did not disappoint. The riding was...'interesting'. An adventure ride of sorts, no terrain was off limits. Bushwhacking at times, avoiding large mud pits, we even came across some old quartz mines that were very cool.

Pictures didn't do this area justice but it was basically a large cliff with large caverns blown into the bottom that are now full of water.

Lots of logging debris in spots made picking lines treacherous and there were some crashes here and there but it was fun to be so removed and just riding around exploring new terrain. Unfortunately our 2-3hr ride quickly went over time and Jomo found himself riding for hours past what he is used to on terrain that didn't leave much room for rest. Towards the end of the ride even I was starting to feel hungry, needing to get some calories not only for energy but also for the dropping temps. We pulled back into Mike's driveway just as the sun was setting. Cold, wet and hungry. But in reality I think that is the best way to end a really long adventure epic. Just barely on the edge of comfort, really wanting to be done...that way you know you squeezed out the full potential for the day. Although I think Jomo would argue he was way past the edge of comfort haha.

Our last rest before the final push home