Thursday, August 30, 2012

Whiskey Rye Ale

Man its been a long time since I used the 'Home Brew' tag!  Basically since last Fall/Winter give or take when I made the Black IPA / IBA. It's been a busy summer with great weather and home brewing has fallen by the wayside as a result.  It is what it is, this endeavor was always more of my crappy weather fallback and something I did when I couldn't be doing other stuff or I was injured.  Can't be shredding snow or dirt? Might as well make some beer.

Plus how can I in good conscious host Squamtoberfest without some home brew on offer?  Doesn't seem right.  But fear not!  I'm cutting it a bit close but I finally got the home brew gears turning again.  Going with a simple yet (hopefully) interesting recipe.  Base is just a Rye Ale using 6lbs of Rye malt and some Liberty hops with a late addition of some Sterling hops as well.  But I'm adding a little Crotchville Brewing twist, which would of course be adding some Rye Whiskey and some medium toast Oak cubes to the mix as well.

Unfortunately our local liquor store actually only really had one option for Rye, which seemed kind of odd but I guess it is nowhere near as popular as scotch and bourbon.  But I think Beam will work just fine even though its on the cheaper side it is usually pretty smooth and I think it will actually work pretty well for this application.

The plan is to soak the oak cubes in the whiskey (probably going to go with 16oz) for a day or two.  Then I'll add the cubes and the whiskey to secondary fermentation and let that all hang out for a week or two.  Should be all bottled up and conditioned just barely in time for Squamtoberfest.  I'm hoping the end product is a nice smooth/spicy Rye with a bit of smoky awesomeness.  Very much looking forward to enjoying one in front of a huge bonfire wearing overalls.

We're in secondary fermentation now, whiskey soaked oak cubes floating.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

URT Full Suspension Single Speed cont.

It's time to get back to the roots of this blog.  Mike has called me out a few times for Manarea going the way of just being a bike racing blog.  It's true, I have strayed a bit from my shed project days and I haven't homebrewed once this entire year.  But as we barrel into Fall I'm gonna try and revive the Manarea a bit.  I've got a Whiskey Rye Ale on deck and Project bikes to work on!  And oh what a project this one has been/will be.

My full suspension single speed has been an ongoing project for awhile now.  Actually got my proof of concept almost a year ago.  I rode it at the Turkey Burner to great effect...turned lots of heads rolling around the parking lot.  I even raced the damn thing.  That race however showed definitively that if I wanted to continue riding it I was gonna have to show it some TLC.

But why stop with just some TLC when you can get completely franken-ridiculous with the thing?  THAT'S the Manarea way...creating cycling abominations since 2007.  And this project is getting downright evil genius.  You're going to have to listen to this on loop while you read the rest of this post:

This had been laying dormant for quite some time until one fateful day when Jomo texted me to tell me he was mailing my old Bomber fork back from CO.  I had let him have/use/borrow it sometime back after I had bought my Redline.  Initially I had no idea what I was going to do with it but but then it became so obvious.  Whats better than a full suspension single speed from the 90's?  That's correct! A 69er full suspension single speed from the 90's! What could go wrong?!

old shock

new shock!

It looks surprisingly normal/badass right?  It's still a big question mark at this point.  I had enough parts laying around to get it to this point but there is still some work to do.  The geometry got pretty screwy but the Thompson layback actually helped quite a bit and I feel normal-ish on the bike.  It is obviously going to climb like crap but I bet it will descend like butter and hopefully ride ok enough on the flats to be workable.  I think it would work a bit better with riser bars but I'm fresh out at the moment, I think my last pair of Hellbents got sold with my first Monocog.

Also needs a BB5/7 on the front.  I thought I had one but I forgot that they were the short pull road versions I used on the monster cross when I had the dirt drops and road brake levers on it.  And last and most importantly it really needs a new rear shock.  But I might have a line on one...(Help me Obi-phil Manseau you're my only hope)

If this all comes together and the ride quality is not complete crap this will probably be the most ridiculous thing I've pulled off to date.  Stay tuned...

Monday, August 20, 2012

NH100 2012

Official Results

Ah yes another year of trying to recap a race that has you just about clinically brain dead via lactic acid about halfway through.  These are always my favorite.  Trying to remember things in order is IMPOSSIBLE.  This year was pretty good for blog fodder.  No lack of adversity and somewhat hilarious incidents, lots of suspense and intrigue and a whole lot of chaffing.  So without further delay I give you a recap of events in no particular order:

I'll start on saturday with some race prep because some of my decisions on that day played a big role the next.  I had some time after doing some stuff around the house saturday to give a good once over to all my gear and make some last second tweaks to the ride.  I went over everything...grease, lube, topped of the Stan's, adjusted the brakes, put my little top tube mounted food carrier on there. GOOD TO GO.  I did not however check or tighten my cleats. *insert Price is Right Fail song* nevermind I'll actually do it, this is the 90's after all.

So after getting all that squared away I hit the road for Greenfield around 5pm or so to camp out down there to save myself some time in the morning.  The plan was to sleep in the Fit.  I had heard from a teammate (Dan Ward) that is was possible and that he had done it in his Fit to great effect.

I have to agree it worked fairly well

I got my race plate and swag (Red Logo on the pint glass this year) and cruised the scene a bit, putting out the 'vibe' and the what not.  Bumped into a few familiar faces and a whole lot of not familiar ones.  Most crowded I had ever seen the campground at this race and tons of RV's of folks who traveled pretty damn far to race.

this doesnt do it justice but there wasn't a good way to capture the whole thing with one pic

The setup and organization was crazy.  I was a little worried that the folks putting this on would struggle a bit with the added attention, etc. that comes with being a race in a pretty big national series.  They proved me wrong 110%.  Stuff was DIALED.  To a fairly ridiculous degree, I was very impressed. Congrats to all the players who made this happen, amazing job.

inflata-banner?! BIG TIME

OK enough of saturday...TO THE RACE!  Lots of hustle and bustle Sunday morning with 400+ racers getting ready for some serious suffering.  I was able to get some pics of the Men's 100mi Open start because they decided to start the 100K SSer's back in wave 5 with the Novices and Clydes again (Guys if by chance you are reading this, Please, Please, Please don't do that again.  We always start with the Experts in XC why not here?? I'd love to hear the reasoning behind the wave 5 choice...)

 Mens Open lineup (w/ Carl in the foreground)

Mens Start with none of the big boys up front...they must know something none of these guys do

Our wave went off maybe 5-10mins later.  They sent us a little bit farther around the track this year and our SS group (that was at least allowed to start on the front of the wave) was already catching the stragglers from the Sport wave before we even took the turn off the track.  The turn was lightly marked and lots of people took it upon themselves to turn well before the tape and I promptly lost track of just about our entire field.  Schweet!

There were Sports everywhere, I was basically just scanning the crowd looking for high cadence.  I found a few and got myself into a small group but I was sure based on attendance that it was not the 'front' group but probably the second and I was ok with that, not much I could do about it anyway at that point.  Things stayed pretty civil early.  The best part of the early miles was having a SSer from Georgia somewhat complaining about how flat the course was at about mile 6.  In a really thick Georgian accent he was yelling about how he was from the mountains of Georgia and that there had better be some climbing or else he wasn't going to do very well.  You could tell he was the type of guy who had fun on his bike no matter what and NEVER shuts up.  Kinda funny for a bit but unfortunately for him he spent the rest of the day disappearing and I don't think he had even finished when I left to go home.

The first climb up Crotched Mtn went just fine except for all the Sport riders I had to weave through.  Don't get me wrong they were all great, very civil and accommodating but in those scenarios you kind of have to take the windows when you get them and the climbing gets real punchy as a result and I was digging a bit deeper than I wanted to at that point.  They added some new singletrack for our decent down Crotched because the last two years someone has nearly killed themselves coming straight down the ski hill that they used to send us down.  I never thought it was that bad, sure there are water bars but its not like they are hidden...whatever, the singletrack was way fun except I was still working my way through the Sport field and I could not believe how bad some of these guys were in semi-technical terrain.  Huge hold up unfortunately.

Middle section of the race was pretty uneventful for the most part.  Hedgehog and the Powerlines hurt like hell but luckily the temps were great this year.  The first feed station that I stopped at (feed #3) was the most organized I have ever seen it.  The volunteers were amazing.  They had us write our racer numbers on the bag and they had them all organized in rows and when you rode up someone would see your number go get your bag tell you to just throw your shit on the ground and they would hand you the new stuff.  Straight up pit crew and it was awesome.  I was in and out of feed 3 in probably less than a minute.

Right after the powerlines I had a run in with idiocy that was nearly catastrophic.  There has always been a really steep/fast descent right after the powerlines with really nasty rocky washed out sections.  I know because I've ridden it 3 times prior and I know that the line is on the left.  Turns out I should say knew because for some reason I was FLYING down the right side of the trail.  I realize a bit too late I am barreling right at a completely blown out section of trail full of rocks and tree roots that are still connected to trees.  Lucky for me my idiocy had me going fast enough to do the only option I had which was to air the entire thing.  Somehow barely made it and I spent the next few minutes wondering how the hell that had all just happened and trying to remind myself I still had a lot of racing to do and its not gonna matter how fast I'm going if I break myself in a ditch.

Somewhere after feed three I caught up to Brad B.  I was pretty excited about this because I figured he would probably be towards the front of our field.  He mentioned he thought there were about 3-4 in front of us making us 5-6...not bad.  We spent most of the rest of the day together in one way, shape, or form.  We would ride together for a bit and then one or the other of us would get a gap in terrain that suited us better and then we'd slowly crawl back on and ride together for a bit.  This really started to hurt after a while because we both seemed to want that 'Top 5' as opposed to 6th.  I thought for sure I had put in enough of a dig to have gotten away a few times only to have him quietly roll up behind me.  I also thought he had ditched me for good a few times only for me to eventually see him up ahead.  Thats the nature of racing at that distance you go from feeling good to absolutely horrible back and forth most of the day...surge, die, surge, die.

It was horribly painful business as usual until somewhere between feeds 4 and 5(?) I think...about mile 47 or so.  I was running/walking up a craggy little climb and at the top I go to hop and and my left shoe is feeling really slippery.  Every time I go to clip in it just slips off the pedal and my foot goes flying.  I get really confused for a second (cause my brain is barely working) and then I realize whats happened.  I check both sides of the pedal...nothing, check my shoe...nothing.  Cleat = gone.  I look around for maybe 30 secs and then got really broken mentally.  I was well on pace for sub 7hr at that point and probably closer to 6h30m.  Brad came up shortly after that and got by and I was sure that battle was over and I would never see him again and I would just slowly be bleeding time for the rest of the day getting swept up by the rest of my class and missing out on my goals for the day.

I kept moving in my somewhat bumbling manner but after maybe 3-4 miles I realized that not only was no one catching me, not only just no SSers but no geared riders either, but I was actually still coming up on riders and passing them.  I got a giant mental surge of "F this! if there is anyone that can pull off something as ridiculous as this scenario its going to be me. Use your god damned brain, figure this out and get moving!"  Jake and Mike shred on flats all the time so I should be able to figure out shredding on worse than flats right?  I was actually able to figure out a semi efficient way of climbing by getting my toe spikes jammed in the pedal.  Wasn't ideal but it was working maybe 60% of the time.  Descending I was sliding my foot up and getting the heel lugs jammed up against the pedal and then leaning my foot way back and pushing forward and up.  Again, sketchy as hell but seemed to be working about 60% of the time.

Luckily I did a great job of managing fluids and food this year and never really had to worry about that stuff. I didn't feel awesome a few times during the race but that always went away and any feelings of cramps came and went as well.  And I never ended up really having to pee which is a good thing because my threat to pee myself in order to save time if I had to to make my 7hr goal probably wouldn't have happened.  Not sure I could make myself do that.

I was starting to get 'comfortable' with my left foot free style and I was most assuredly going way too fast on descents again.  One particularly awesome event happened as I was screaming down a dirt road descent.  I know the course fairly well now but some of the little details especially later in the course escape me sometimes.  Like how there was a hairpin right turn into singletrack at the bottom of this road.  As I see the signs I realize I don't really have time to scrub that much speed and I'm going to have to just rail it.  Usually that would be fine but its a right hand turn which means my left foot has to be the platform I rail against and its not connected to anything.  No other choice at this point but to lay it over, start carving and pray.  Unfortunately the ground was not smooth and the first rock/bump I hit dislodged my foot, I lost my platform to push against and I laid it down and flew into the woods going probably 20mph.

Amazingly all I picked up were some superficial scrapes on my arm and hip...clean run through the trees.  A few dudes got a great show and I hopped back on and got back to it.  Shortly after that I roll up on Brad B. fixing a flat.  I'm back in 5th!  He didn't need any tools or tubes so I kept at it.  At this point I got another mental surge.  I was back in top 5, Brad was probably going to take at least another few minutes fixing that flat so if I stay on it I might stay clear, I think there were only 6-8mi or so left at that point.  Checking the clock I also thought there was an off chance I could still get in under 7hrs as well.  It was full blown game on at this point.  I was ready to suffer to a hilarious extent, no cleat and all.

I blew right through the last feed head down and hammering.  The singletrack at the end was interesting one footed.  Had a few close calls but no issues.  I was even still catching a few people here and there so I liked my chances and the clock looked good for me getting in under 7.  I was running/cramping on the hills but staying on it, basically racing at full XC pace and hurting like mad.  I was catching a guy just popping out of the singletrack onto the road at the campground and I took a deep breath...I was in the clear, I had time to make 7hrs and it was an easy haul to the finish...if the arrows had been pointing left like they usually are.  But they weren't.  Now this is probably my fault for being on cruise control heading into the race.  Its my forth year I don't need to go to racers meetings right?

Turns out they needed to add a bit of distance to the 100K course in order to make sure the 100mi version was the full 100mi because they couldn't get that little bit within the reroute they were using.  Turns out the course this year was more like 64mi not 62 and I did not know this.  I had a moment of complete freak out, after thinking I had pulled off the impossible I suddenly realized I could be massively screwed.  I started pushing cross-eyed hard, there was no way I was getting robbed at this point.  Those last two miles are a complete blur.  No idea what was happening, just pain and that clock ticking away on my Garmin.

I finally popped out of the woods onto the road again at about 6h57m.  I still had a chance but it was going to be close and it was going to hurt like hell.  I started spinning my legs up to the clown pace of 120-130rpms, which got pretty funny basically one footed.  I could barely breath but I figured it was ok if I passed out as long as I was over the line.  Looking at the clock I was worried that the parade lap was going to take too long and that I would just miss it.  I was spinning madly coming up to the road crossing, I would love to be privy to what those folks must have been thinking looking at me freaking out like that.  I crossed the road and look up to realize this year we don't have to do a parade lap all we have to do is take a right and ride less than 1/4 of the track to the finish.  It was only 6h58m at that point and I only had about 100yds to go.  That moment right there felt pretty damn good.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Forecast Schmorecast

Sometimes you just have to tell the weatherman to sod off (sorry British/Olympic fever).

We had had this trip to KT on the books for months but coming into the home stretch the forecast wasn't looking all that hot.  The trip unraveled a bit with some having to bail and others not willing to risk the weather.  I was a bit worried that we would indeed get washed out but I rolled the dice and went for it with Adam and Jake confirmed to ride out the storm with me.

Turns out the weatherfolks didn't have this one all that figured out at least for the Burke, VT area.  It did end up raining pretty hard Friday afternoon for about 10mins but other than that we were treated to a pretty decent weekend.  The rain stopped Friday by around 2 or so and we were able to get out riding by 3pm or so.  I actually really like riding in light rain or just after a rain.  It does a number on your gear but the added challenge of slick roots/rocks and corners makes riding real interesting and fun.

We ended up getting almost 13mi in before we called it that evening, ripping around the Darling Hill side getting loose in corners and having a blast.  I even took some video on Troll Stroll, a new one at KT and already one of my favorites.  I tried the helmet mount for the first time.  Don't really like it at all.  Makes my helmet bounce around quite a bit and the angle doesn't show much detail and really flattens trails out (even worse than usual) but it is easy to setup for quick shoots here and there.

I also tried to get some pics in order to make a photo sequence shot on Old Webbs.  But the shots I got didn't quite turn out how I wanted them to.  I underestimated the view I would get with the fisheye and I don't think the end result would have been worth the Photoshop work.  I'll probably try it again at some point though because its easy to attempt and maybe one of these times I'll get something I like.

Saturday was gorgeous.  Forecast was fairly wrong on that one.  We got a morning run on the Burke Mtn side and checked out Lower J-Bar.  Fun stuff but probably more fun on not my bike.  We snagged lunch back at the campsite and then did another afternoon ride over on the Darling Hill side getting some things we missed on Friday.  We decided to call it a bit early Saturday so we could head over and check out the Trout River brewery.  I highly recommend it, cool local operation; the beer is great and even the pizza is pretty good.

Mike showed up and we followed up beer and food with more beer and food back at the camp.  Good times were had.  Sunday we all decided that Lake Willoughby was the best way to spend our time so we shot up there to take a dip and admire those epic views.  We salvaged a pretty damn awesome trip from a less than promising forecast and it was pretty good prep for the NH100 to boot.  That's 3 straight weekends in VT with a serious amount of awesome.  Hashtag YOLO.