Sunday, September 29, 2013

Double Rye Bacon Whiskey Stout

Yup. You read that right.

This batch was slated to be a pretty standard but most likely delicious Rye Stout, kinda like an oatmeal stout but a bit spicier due to the character of the Rye.  Then I got to thinking about how I added Rye whiskey to my last Rye ale to great affect.  Then I got to thinking about how a Thanksgiving or so ago my cousin and I made some bacon infused bourbon.  Then I got to thinking I wouldn't mind having to eat an entire package of bacon just so I could use the grease.  And so was born the Double Rye Bacon Whiskey Stout.

I tweeted my intentions before brew day and Pog made absolutely sure thats what I wanted to do.  No 'yes' men in the Blue Zoo, we call it how it is.  Pog could not overcome my dedication to bacon though so I powered forth.  Can't wait for the first taste to see who was more wise this time around.  I'm a bit concerned...Pog's palette is renowned, but so is my homebrew track record.  Hashtag Thunderdome.

I think this one's going to be real smooth.  On the malty side with only 1oz of mellow Warrior hops to balance things out.  Early fermentation was energetic.  Luckily I got up early today to meet dad for 9-holes and caught things just starting to get into the airlock and clog things up.  Had to quickly make some sanitizer and get a blow-off set up before I left.  Hopefully it wasn't too hasty and I got things cleaned up enough.

Saturday evening I decided I might as well also make the whiskey even though I won't need it for a week or so.  Pretty easy to make, just cook up a full package of bacon to ensure you get a good amount of the grease/fat.  Once its all cooked up, let the grease cool a bit and then add it to the whiskey.  Give it a few hours, periodically swirling it around so that it mixes up otherwise it separates pretty quickly and you don't get as much actual 'infusion'.

Then you put it in the freezer overnight so the grease solidifies/freezes while the whiskey stays liquid.  Then all you need to do is strain the whiskey back into a container.  I usually just use a coffee filter.  Its slow going but works the best I think.

This one will probably be ready mid/late Fall and depending on the timing I may just hold off on it and bottle it for Thanxmas since we'll be in Hawaii for half of November anyway.  Aloha.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

2013 Bradbury 12


What a rip roarin' end to the season I'm having.  It's becoming apparent I'm dipping a bit too deep and its time to take a step back, dial it down, etc. and just enjoy the rest of the Fall riding season and finally get completely joint healthy.  And apparently in order for me to come to these realizations I need two pretty serious sufferfests in a row.

The Bradbury 12 is a great event.  One of my favorite courses, well organized, just a grand ole time all around.  Shaun and I planned on running our Double-Single team back again but life happened and I was without teammate trying to come up with a plan.  I had toyed with eventually trying something like this solo for a bit and figured this was as good a time as any.  I offered the support crew chief position to my dad, which he graciously accepted and we were a go.

I rolled into town Friday afternoon at about 1pm and scored the very last campsite available.  Complete dumb luck.  5mins later and I would probably have missed it.  And go figure the site was right next to the couple Shaun and I camped next to at Carrabassett.  We spent a few minutes trying to figure out who was stalking who then I set up camp and went out for a preride.  Course was actually still pretty wet in spots from a huge storm that apparently blew through earlier in the week.  It was only here and there though, the rest was pretty dry and fast.  I had decided last second to throw the 20t cog on the Spot to help me pace myself early and be easier to turn over late.  It was definitely the right call.  My low effort preride got me a time of about 50mins which was right around where I wanted to be.

Apparently completely unforecasted rain is like a thing in Pownal, ME because for the second year in a row I woke up to rain drops.  Nothing too crazy but enough to slicken everything up and make the wet spots worse.  I set up my stuff in the support area, Dad showed up and got situated and then we lined up for the start.  All us solo singlespeeders got acquainted and at the gun we filtered into our own little group towards the back of the first wave.

I was leading things into the woods and we all stayed pretty close for the first mile or so.  I let it run a bit in the tight stuff and David H. stayed with me, by the time we got to the first fire road climb I snuck a peak back and it was just the two of us the rest were out of view.  Towards the end of the first lap I all of a sudden starting hearing some really weird clunky sounds coming from the rear of the bike after a fast rough section.  It was bad enough that I stopped to take a closer look and its a good thing I did because my skewer had worked its way loose and when I picked the back end of the bike up to look the wheel fell right out.  Must have spaced locking it down real tight after changing my gearing.

For some reason it was being a real bitch to get back in, David H rode away and I was caught by Kaj and Jesse while I was trying to fix it.  I was able to get back going and catch back on to Jesse and Kaj and lapped through with them.  Got going on my second lap and almost ran right into an enormous porcupine.  Yes, thats right.  Rounded a corner and there it was right in the middle of the trail.  If I hadn't been paying attention I would have gotten to see if Stan's sealant can handle 50 quill punctures.  It eventually lumbered off the trail and I was back on my way.

Second lap was good. Traffic had worked itself out and I was trying to keep the pace reasonable.  Stopped for a feed at the end of 2 and I think Kaj snuck by me so I was into 3rd with David H still holding the gap he got while I was fixing my wheel.  3rd and 4th laps were ok but the course was starting to wear on me more than I had hoped it would.  I don't remember it being that bad the year prior but the breaks in between must have been just enough to recover from the beating.

I was concerned I was wasting a lot of energy (and time) in the rough stuff and I believe on lap 5 I was caught by Kevin M. early on and he just rode away through the bumpy stuff and I just couldn't quite stay with him.  This led to me making the (in hindsight poor/incorrect) decision of switching to the Party Bike early to try and make up some time and conserve energy through all the rooty sections.  I was getting antsy about loosing a minute here and there at not even the halfway point of a 12hr race.  Rookie mistake.  My lap times were still in the mid 50's or so and if I had continued on the Spot and switched much later like planned I think I could have ridden to 3rd or even 2nd but no point going too far down the what-if road.

Called for the bike change lapping through from 5 to 6.  Dad helped with the quick pit change and I got out on course looking to party.  And for awhile things were going well.  It was definitely faster in the rough stuff and I felt like it was easier to keep momentum.   I was trying to open it up in the tight stuff and take full advantage of the sections of the course that suited me.  Course conditions had been deteriorating all day, getting more and more greasy as mud got tracked around onto bridges and roots.  My poor decision making and risk taking came to a head about 2/3 into the all happened pretty fast so I won't be able to paint the best picture but its a pretty standard mix of high speed wash-out and getting jammed up going through some off camber roots and before I knew it I was flying off the bike to my left.

(guitar wailing)

As luck would have it I instinctively put my hands out to break my fall, which worked (I am excellent at crashing) but my bum left wrist took a doozy of a hit.  Surprisingly, right after things seemed ok and after I got sorted I continued on my way albeit a bit more cautiously.  As I finished up lap 6 I was starting to feel pressure on the tape around my left comes the swelling!  I wasn't feeling awesome at this point but I was still on pace for 12 laps even with all my issues so I got my bearings and went out for 7.  The shallow false flat early in the lap went well enough but as soon as I got to some shorter little power sections I realized that my left hand didn't really have the strength to hold/pull up on the bars.  The more I tried to just deal with it (SHUT UP WRIST) the worse it got.

I was forced to eventually walk a bunch of sections which was pretty demoralizing with a good 5-6hrs to go.  I finally finished up 7 with a time of about 1hr6mins for the lap, which to be honest really isn't all that bad but I have been getting more and more concerned about the levels of stupidity I have been dumping into my wrist the last few months.  So I made another lame/wise decision to pull the plug.

I still had a pretty decent amount of fun and it was cool having my dad there giving me all kinds of race intel each lap.  Not sure if I would ever do this format solo again.  These races seem much more tailor made and fun for a team.  So for now I'm gonna recover then throw a real small gear on the Party Bike and do Fall at 3/4 speed.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Landmine Classic 2013


I have no idea how Wompatuck's reputation did not precede it but I totally missed the memo on this one.  Although I suppose it does exist in that weird middle zone between buff and full on technical that many people have a hard time explaining accurately.  But I'm gonna give it my best shot for those of us that ride without suspension.


Wompy is FAST.  But it is not buff.  AT ALL.  It is washboard roots and small rocks, not enough to really slow you down but just enough to require constant attention and rattle you into oblivion.  Its like that literally everywhere, it is relentless.  This course had maybe a handful of places you could 'relax' everything else was ridiculous high speed beat down.  You know how sometimes when things get really chattery you can have a bottle pop out after taking a solid shot?  I saw a bottle on the trail STILL IN THE CAGE.  This course rattled someones entire bottle cage off. By mile 10 just about all the food in my bento box was gone.  Either pulverized or sent flying into the woods.  I have been racing with that for years and never had that issue once.

For a short period I was having fun, maybe about 1/2 to 2/3 through the first lap.  I was getting beat up pretty bad but the pace was high and the trails are really great just so punishing at race pace.  I think I was sitting about 5th or so, which was in the money for this race so I was feeling pretty good because I usually finish stronger than most at these distances.  But around this time I was assuming the course was going to let up at some point.  This did not happen.  In fact it got worse.  I was laughing at times I was getting so brutally battered.

I was having a harder time putting power down because I was spending little time actually entirely in contact with the ground.  I was getting thrown around like a rag doll.  My wrist and shoulder were starting to feel weak and sore and I was starting to get a hot spot on my palm.  Never had issues with that before but I think it might have been caused by my attempt to let the bars float a bit in the rough stuff which created more rub in a weird spot.  It got pretty bad pretty fast and my prospects at finishing strong were dwindling quickly.

yeah blister pics! second one this season

Somehow I was still managing my nutrition ok.  No cramps, legs and lungs felt pretty good when the course actually let me use them.  No one had caught me for a while so I figured that meant everyone else was suffering as bad as me.  I could tell I was starting to fade though and I was having more and more issues riding things cleanly.  I wasn't dabbing or crashing but I was wasting A LOT of energy.  I came through the lap point in a little over 2hrs which I'm happy with.  My average was well over 10mph despite the brutality but I was still on the fence for continuing.

My hand had gotten pretty bad and I wasn't sure I had enough calories on me to make it.  I rarely quit though so I grabbed my bottles, figured there were some aid stations I could stop at for food in a pinch and I thought maybe a person or two would crack (like I was) and maybe I could sweep them up late.  I got back at it but things went south quick.  There was a short fast, somewhat smoother section at the beginning of the lap but after that you hit the biggest climb of the day and then right into the high speed rough stuff.  I forget exactly where it was. probably coming down off the lines were getting sloppier and my upper body was worked and tired.  My arms were locking out here and there cause I was getting lazy and at some point I took a less than ideal line and took a solid shot that went straight through my wrist directly up to my shoulder and shocked me pretty bad.

I almost yelped it was that good.  This changed my entire mindset.  I knew I was in for much more of the same if not worse.  My hand was starting to hurt pretty bad and I was sure I'd be paying the price for days to come after that jolt.  I started getting real tentative in the rough stuff which only made it worse.  I was the one getting swept up.  I got passed by two SSers in the span of a mile or two.  I was shutting down mentally and physically.  I was starting to think of sections that were still coming up and how much worse they were than what I was currently on and getting destroyed by.  I started thinking about recovery time and how much more fun the Bradbury course is for a rigid rider and I made the rare call to pack it in.

I just really wasn't enjoying myself at all anymore and I'd like to be healthy and fresh for Bradbury so I pulled off the trail onto the access road when the opportunity presented itself and I soft pedaled back to the venue.  Wasn't overly pumped about it but I think I probably made the right call.

This was a great race though.  Great organization of the venue, staff had things dialed, course was laid out intelligently.  HUGE turnout, probably biggest I've ever seen personally.  Bigger than Willowdale for sure, which is tough.  I might do it again.  But you can be damn sure I'll be on the Party Bike.