Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Night Rider

No, it's not KITT from the old David Hasslehoff days, it's just me out riding way past sunset. I was doing some night riding tonight, an hour and a half after work and I have to say that once I did my main hour loop out in the country and got back in the safety of my neighborhood I was enjoying the ride in the dark. I did the last 30 minutes in the subdivisions all around my house and it's quite fun actually to be out there with no traffic in the neighborhoods tooling around like I used to when I was a kid, except this time I actually had a headlight. When I was a kid we used to take our bikes out on the country roads (I lived in the middle of nowhere) and we only had the moonlight to see our way around. Of course I wasn't training then, only out causing trouble with my friends. Tonight I wasn't really training either I suppose, I was just enjoying the ride and I was plenty bundled up against the 55 degree temps and 15 to 20mph winds, I wasn't cold at all. These kind of rides are what make me really enjoy riding the bike, it's something out of the norm to say the least to be out riding in the dark, but I took it slow and just looked around and enjoyed it. The only bad part was when I was just getting ready to head down my street a dog started barking right next to me and scared the crap out of me. He must've run across his lawn from the house and I never saw him, he was a black lab, so that's the only bad part about riding at night I guess. Well, here is a picture of me heading home, I took it my with camera phone so it's not the best quality but it's pretty representative of what I was seeing, you can see the faint glow of my light at the bottom of the picture. I have a good headlight though and it's quite a bit brighter than the picture shows but it was pitch black otherwise.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Yeah, yeah....

....so I didn't do exactly what I wanted to do this weekend....and I feel bad about it but I can't change it now. I'm really motivated to ride right now considering I haven't ridden most of the year but sometimes other things get in the way. Today that something was the most meaningful game for the Milwaukee Brewers since 1982, I was only 9 then but I clearly remember the '82 team and how much I loved them. I'm 34 now (35 in 3 weeks) but I really like this team as well and I had to watch THE deciding game today to see if they finally got back to the postseason again. They pulled it off and beat the hated Cubs and the Mets choked again this year and lost to the same team as last year on the final day, the Florida Marlins. It was an exciting game and well worth missing a ride, although I did have rider's remorse afterwards (term for when you miss a ride you should have done). I had already decided I'd miss the Packers game and was going to get out early this morning to ride and then be back by the 1:10 Brewers start, but I wasn't feeling all that good this morning, still stuck with this damn cold, and I ended up sleeping in. I got up, did some things around the house and then laid down on the couch to watch the Brewers with the intention of cycling afterwards. Well, after the game I had to watch the celebration, then make calls to a couple people to talk about the game and then I had to eat something. By then it was 5:00ish and too late for a ride and we had no groceries in the house, so I decided to grocery shop instead since my wife was gone for the evening at a family member's b-day dinner. Lot's of excuses but I'm happy for the Brew Crew and wouldn't exchange this afternoon for anything else, it was a very good day for long suffering Brewers' fans.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gettin' In His Grill.......

So is it just me or was Greg LeMond getting up in Lance's business just a little too much at Interbike? What is his vendetta against Lance, get over it Greg, you aren't the greatest American Cyclist any more, stop being jealous. You can't tell me that Greg's era was all that clean either, I mean come on, Fignon, Delgado, Millar, Theunisse, Roche, Marie, Escartin, yeah, they were all clean. Greg said it's suspicious that Lance was able to beat all these guys that were caught doping or assumed to be doping, he had to be superhuman, well, how about asking Greg that question. If he won two Tours de France, either every one was clean and he was just the best or he beat guys that were doping as well, so why can't Lance's circumstances be the same? Greg declares he beat everyone else fair and square whether they were doping or not, that he was clean, well maybe Lance did as well. Until someone says that Lance tests positive without any doubt at all, then I'll believe that Lance is clean. I think Greg is just trying to find some way to knock Lance down so that he can be considered the greatest American cyclist, Greg needs help. He can try this place for starters -

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Little Bit Peculier

This review will be short but sweet, sort of like the beer I drank yesterday, Old Peculier. This beer is made by the Theakston brewery, T&R Theakston Ltd. if you want to be precise, in Masham of North Yorkshire, England. Old Peculier is their best known beer, it's a Classic Ale by their definition, an Old English Ale by mine I guess, but a dark one at that and it's been a favorite of mine for quite a while now. Here is Theakston's description of their beer, and it's pretty spot on, I'll try to add what I can but this says it all -

A dark, strong beer, Old Peculier is justifiably famous for its rich and complete character, its sheer strength – and for being a beer with a long history.

See: Deep dark ruby

Smell: Fruity, mellow, warming

Taste: Rich, full-bodied, malty

When you pop the cap on the bottle you know right away that you are getting a good beer just from the smell, and then the pour justifies your initial reaction. The smell is a bit earthy, with hints of caramel, and a nice aroma of roasted malt. Upon pouring, the dark brown beer, not amber, not a stout - somewhere in between, leaves a nice head, maybe 2 or 3 fingers (horizontal, not vertical) and because of the carbonation it disappears fairly quickly but not before I got in a good sip. As you'd expect upon first tasting the beer, the same smells that I mentioned above are dominant in the taste - roasted malts, caramel and molasses, a bit of hops, and maybe some oak taste as well. I enjoyed the beer for a bit, taking care not to drink it too fast so that I could really take in the taste of the beer, it's not often that I get Old Peculier and I'm not sure why, but it might be a while before I have one again so I took my time. Wait, I know why I don't drink it all the time - because there are soooooo many beers out there to try, I have my favorites, but I have to keep trying new stuff as well. ABV % on this one is 5.7 so it's definitely a beer that could put you to sleep after 3 or 4, or 5 or 6 in my case, but you'd definitely fall asleep happy. If you get the chance, go search out a bottle, or 6 or 12 of Old Peculier, it's a 4.5 mug beer in my ratings and I know you'll like it as well.

Darkness Falls

I think that was the name of a movie a couple of years ago, sounds familiar, but anyways, in my world it means that sunset is coming to darn quick now-a-days. I had to use the full-on light kit last night, the super bright, LED, red blinking light on the back and the battery powered front halogen, at least I think it's halogen, on the front. There was no way anyone could miss me on the side of the road the way I was lit up, but I'm sure someone talking on the phone or putting on makeup, or maybe even eating their McDonald's drive-thru dinner could find a way. I did make it home safely last night though so thanks to all the drivers for avoiding me for one more day at least. I'm glad I rode last night at all because I was feeling quite a bit under the weather for the last few days, and wasn't sure that I'd even get in a ride after not feeling the best throughout the day at work. I toughed it out though and made sure I didn't push myself too hard so that my body wasn't being taxed too much to recover from this cold/flu combo that I have. I felt really good and did 90 minutes, sunset is the only thing that put an end to my ride, I could've gone all night as it was a beautiful 75 degrees when I departed from the driveway. Today is supposed to hit 80 degrees as well and if it's not raining after work then I'm heading out again for another 90 minutes or until I can't see anything, although my light kit is all ready to go again so my own limiter is how safe I feel on the roads after dark I guess. Like I said a couple of posts previous I'm not really pushing these rides at all, just taking it easy, 17 to 17.5 mph averages, and no intervals or sprints. I'm pushing easy gears on the hills and I'll do this for about another 6 weeks or so just to get the legs back and build my aerobic base again. The weather looks good this weekend so hopefully I'll build on that quite a bit with a ride out to Burlington as I didn't get to do that this past Sunday since I wasn't feeling good. I did get in 3 hours on Saturday and that was more than enough when the body is fighting whatever I have going on in there.
I'll also be taking the camera with for the next few weeks as the leaves start to change color and hopefully I'll get some good progressive pictures to show the change. Last night I should have had it with as I could've posted some pics today of about 30 deer that were in Whitnall Park last night, it was just a crazy amount, I can't believe people don't hit them there more often, I guess if you drive through there enough you know to expect them.
Well, that's it for now, I'll be posting another beer review tonight as well, an Old Peculier (no, it's not spelled wrong) was on the menu last night, and I'll tell you all about it tonight. Hint - it was a dang good beer and an old, no pun intended, favorite of mine.

Monday, September 22, 2008

First Two Beers

So I thought it would be great to start with my favorite beer of all, well, I shouldn't say that because it actually isn't my favorite, but it is my favorite "drink anywhere, go with anything, comfort beer" and that would be Guinness, in the Draught form, although I'm quite fond of the Extra Stout as well. Unfortunately, believe it or not, I didn't have any Guinness on hand this weekend so I made do with the remainder of the Lakefront Brewery Variety Pack that I had left over from last week. I had 3 beers left and I had two of them this weekend, the first was the Cherry Lager and the second was the Klisch Pilsner (also a Lager for those that don't know). The Cherry Lager was from Lakefront's seasonal line of beers and their Klisch Pilsner is from their regular line of Lagers. The 3rd and only remaining beer of the variety pack was the Fuel Cafe Coffee Flavored Stout but given that the weather was fairly warm and humid this weekend, that just didn't seem as appealing as the two Lager beers. Neither bottle had a brewery description so I can't compare my opinion to what they set out upon making, but I'm guessing I'd be close to what they would have described on their bottle.
I started with the Cherry Lager, and upon pouring it was rosy in color and had a pinkish hue to the thin head, a good start to what I was hoping would be a refreshing beer on a fairly warm and humid September day. The smell was reminiscent of a Door Peninsula Winery's Peninsula Red wine, with a slight cherry aroma, but definitely not overpowering. The first sip was definitely refreshing with a hint of cherry and a bit of a malty finish, and unfortunately a little bit of a cherry throat lozenge taste as well but that wore off within a few seconds of each sip. I downed it fairly quickly and that was probably due more to the fact that I had just ridden 3 hours on a warm Saturday afternoon than due to it's irresistible taste, my insatiable thirst was more to blame for that. All in all it was a good beer, more or less a beer for someone who likes wine or fruity drinks than someone who likes a good biting beer with a strong finish and character. It was a 2 mug (out of 5) beer for me and I'm being generous because it's not typical of the beers I like, but would appeal to the general populous I think, so it gets a full 2 mugs.
The second beer I had was the Klisch Pilsner, a very refreshing golden lager that was perfect for quenching my thirst and unlike the Cherry Lager, didn't have me looking for some water after finishing the glass. The Klisch had a good looking hazy, golden color and a nice head upon pouring, getting me excited enough to stop halfway through my pour to take a sip. It was a good decision on my part to be hasty in my pour as it had a very smooth malt finish, as it should, and a slightly hoppy but very pleasant bitterness to it, and there was no doubt that this was the better of the two beers. Some people, especially those used to the typical Budweiser or Miller products would consider this a hoppy beer, but my taste buds tell me that this is a slightly hoppy beer in my book, and my book is full of very bitter beers teaming with hops just the way I like it. So, for the general populous this may be just right of middle in terms of how hoppy they would like a beer, but for me it was just right of the beginning end of the spectrum. A great beer on a warm, humid day, it deserves 3 mugs for it's smooth finish and pleasant hop flavor. As a last bit of advice, serve both of these beers quite cold to enjoy them to their fullest. Check out the Lakefront Brewery line of beers here. Also, thanks to my friend Dave I now have a great variety pack to share with you in the coming weeks as well, a veritable cornucopia of world beers that I'm looking forward to drinking very soon. Thanks Dave!

Reviews are Coming

Tonight I will post a review of two Lakefront Brewery beers, the Cherry Lager and the Kilsch Pilsner, two beers that were perfect for drinking this weekend even though I was a little under the weather. I can't let a little illness get in the way of my beer, I think the alcohol helps kill the germs from the inside. So, check back again tonight for the review, this darn place that actually helps me pay the bills is keeping me busy today, go figure.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Just Ridin'

I took a little hiatus, got some things in order, and have been back on the bike for a few weeks now, well, maybe only 3 weeks, but that's a few I guess. I've been doing little rides here and there of about an hour and a half, with my long being about two and a half hours. This weekend I'm going to enjoy the weather and do a ride out to Burlington and back to visit the parents, which will obviously be my longest ride since about the last weekend of April, possibly even before that. Right now I'm just enjoying being on the bike, I'm not doing anything resembling a "training" ride and probably won't anytime soon, at least not until I decide my offseason training begins and then when I can't spend a lot of hours riding outside I'll "train" on the trainer/rollers. It's nice just being able to ride and not worry about average speed, HR, etc., I actually enjoy riding that way for now, eventually I'll want to go fast cause as Ricky Bobby said, "if you ain't first, you're last", so I don't want to be last which means that I need to eventually get the speed back. Yes, that means I'll race again next year, but nothing like I did last year or the year before, it will probably be more like this year except without having to quit because of work and all that shite. I won't be riding for a team next year either, I'll just be chillin' by myself, and doing whatever I can, I guess I didn't want to make any team look bad when I'm off the back again like this year. That's not really the reason but it's a good one for now, so that's what I'm telling whomever asks. It'll be a pretty stress free year of riding and racing in '09, exactly how I need it, just a few races like I said and I'm sure I'll pick one big race to concentrate on, the State RR perhaps? If the venue hasn't been lost for '09 it sure would be nice to win on my home stomping grounds, I used to be able to do 12-15 repeats up the Johnson Rd. climb in my big ring with my eyes closed and no-hands, sure would be nice to get back to that point. Anyways, like I said, who knows if I'll want to ride enough to get back to that point, it's freakin' September of '08 yet....and I'm fat and out of shape compared to what I was earlier this year. Lots of work to do and plenty of riding ahead.
As part of my new blog I'll also be sharing my other big interest with you as well, not every day, but at least once a week, maybe twice a week, heck, maybe even more. I'm a beer snob, a big-time beer snob. For those that don't know me, beer is one of my vices, I love it, a lot! It doesn't help in the training but as my blog title says, it's a reward for a good ride and life is not just about training and racing, it's about enjoying everything else around you, and usually I'm around some good beer. I'll share my thoughts with you on what I'm drinking each week, I'm guessing you'll enjoy that part of my blog more than the stories about riding, but that's fine by me.