Late January Brewing News

I bottled the Tri-Pale Ale this weekend. The bottling part went smoothly – boil some Dry Malt Extract, add it to the wort, siphon into bottles, and then cap. What I’d forgotten was how much of a pain in the butt cleaning bottles was. Luckily, in addition to those that I’d been squirreling away for the last couple of months, I’d been donated some large Grolsh-style bottles. Put on new washers, and, man, how easy is that? These are meant to be shared…Rye pale ale bottled

Next batch is teed up, too – my wonderful Mother-In-Law gave me a pilsner kit for Christmas; need to get on that while the basement is chilly. So, I took 4 ounces of light dry malt extract last night, boiled them up, cooled them down, and pitched the White Labs Pilsner Yeast that came with the kit. Largely a precautionary step, but, having been a while since I’ve brewed, I forgot to refrigerate the yeast when the kit arrived, so it’s also an opportunity to go get more yeast if it’s not viable. We’ll know in the morning, but signs are hopeful. The tube of yeast smelled great, and was under pretty good positive pressure when I opened it, so if the starter is bubbling happily today, everything is copacetic.Lager Starter


Winter is making me her snitch. Short days, a little dose of Seasonally Affected Disorder, busy at work, and a lack of give a crap make it easy to fall off the wagon.

Can’t let it happen. Just can’t.

So, I jumped on the treadmill again. J., the oldest, had swim; I drove and ran. Broke out the heart rate monitor, set the treadmill for 7 MPH, and hung on at 80% for 35 minutes. I was actually pretty pleased – in the past, the mill has slowed me way down after about 20 minutes to keep my heart rate down; tonite I just kept cruising.

Eating isn’t quite the struggle that it has ben, but I haven’t been hitting the physical hard the last couple of weeks. Need to pick it up – four months until Gran Fondo NYC, not much more until Vermont City.

Busting the Zero

Internet, I’ve been in a funk lately. Partially weather driven, partially work driven, mostly slacker-induced. But I think I’ve turned the corner tonight. First run in a week or so.

Instead of sitting my butt on the couch after 12 hours at the office tonite, and another hour of work pending for the part-time job, I watched Dr. Who (Dum da dum, Dr. Whoo-ooh, dum da dum) while cranking out a couple of miles on the treadmill.

And that, for the hour or so I had the endorphin high, seems to have made all the distance.

Still haven’t biked to work in 2012. Which is a serious case of needing some Rule 5 (and missing out on Rule 9). New self sealing tubes in the commuter last night, which was ironic, ’cause the Cage (car) needed some air in the tires in the 15F this morning.

I’m still spun up about the runner who was killed by a careless driver in my folks’ neighborhood last week. In that vein, it doesn’t help to hear that a cricketer in Australia’s the latest to pick up the “Get off the road, geeks” mantle. The Sydney Morning Herald has a good take on it, though:

The important concept that non-cyclists often ignore is that we are all road users. … I also see a consistent improvement in the consideration they show for cyclists. Every year, there is a noticeable improvement in courtesy, patience and a general awareness of riders as valid road users, and for this I am very grateful.
Cyclists need to be beyond reproach in our use of the road to maintain the respect of motorists. But I would also love for every registered driver in Melbourne to ride a bike to and from work every day for a week.

OK, I’m harshing my mellow – need to accentuate the positive. Life’s good, winter will someday end, I’ve got a frame I love. We’ll end with some gratuitous nakedness:


If you’re lucky, I’ll show some closeups and soft focus on the rear dropouts later.

This Blog is Blacked Out

Google has a good link describing SOPA and PIPA, and why you should care. Lots of other sites have gone black. I would, but am feeling lazy and don’t want to muck about with CSS.

My major objections are two:

  • piracy and copyright violations are already illegal, and RIAA/MPAA have been pretty successful at identifying and prosecuting pirates.
  • the Internet works and promotes innovation by virtue of simply defining itself as a transport mechanism and peering agreements. Changing that to require deeper inspection changes the ‘Information Superhighway’ into a train station, where you can’t get on unless you’ve got a ticket, and can’t get off unless there’s a station.
  • I accept that the Internet as it existed in the 1990s and earlier does need to continue to evolve and change. However, I object strenuously to changes that don’t preserve openness, flexibility, and end-user control of data. These laws remind me of gun control and cell phone laws – it’s already illegal to pirate copyrighted works, shoot people, and drive recklessly; making it more illegal isn’t going to stop the activity.

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    Go pro or go home

    So, a couple of weeks ago, I caught a tweet about VeloInk. Having had a desire to have my name on the toptube ever since Trek started offering the Project One line during Lance Armstrong’s reign.

    Anyway, Matt at Veloink was amazing. Within an hour or so of me placing the order, he’d dropped me an email to confirm that, yes, indeed, I really wanted the Nutmeg state flag, rather than something that’d be clean at the resolution his machine could print. I said “Yep”, figuring that it’d either be funny to those who recognized the flag, or an obvious but inside joke to those that didn’t pick up on it. And mostly, it’d be an attention grabber to pimp this website. And maybe, just maybe, a theft deterrent.

    I went with plain white with black letters – not quite original, but there were plenty of other choices.

    They’ve been sticking solidly to my commuter for 3 months in the cold and rain.

    Eventually, I’ll have my dream of a custom frame with custom paint and lovingly hand-lettered “Jank” on the top tube. However, that’s somewhere about a decade away (Got to get the kids into college before my marriage will survive the request); till then VeloInk rocks. $18 well spent.

    Road User Safety

    I’m going to run on at the mouth for a while.

    I don’t understand why such a vast swath of the country lets careless drivers completely off the hook. Cars and trucks are the deadliest things we touch on a regular basis, especially now that smoking has become completely unacceptable.

    In 2007, the last year for which the CDC has posted mortality data on its website, almost 44,000 Americans were killed in motor vehicle accidents. Lung cancer and emphysema killed almost three times more, but I’ll guarantee you that there are way more than three times more commercials encouraging Americans not to smoke than there are encouraging them to slow down and be careful when driving. In comparison, “Water, air and space, and other and unspecified transport accidents and their sequelae” (Plane crashes and non-automotive crashes, including bikes) – less than 2,000 fatalities. And this includes drunk boaters, stunt pilots, everyone who is petrified of flying ’cause it’s ‘unsafe’ and idiot cyclists.

    My Ma had a woman in her neighborhood hit and killed by driver yesterday. My mom was pretty seriously affected by it – she and Dad were out walking when it happened, and saw the helicopter fly off with the woman’s soon-to-be-lifeless body. She posted about it on Facebook:

    Tuesday, as the sun was setting, Bill & I heard sirens as we were returning from a walk. Then Air Lift landed. A young mother of two was struck by a car as she walked. She died last night. A stark reminder that each day we have is a gift. If you walk or run on the roads Please face traffic and don’t wear ear buds. Be alert!

    What torques me off about this is that almost everyone’s gut reaction is to suggest ways to be safer when using the road as a runner or cyclist, rather than to point out ways to be a safer driver. The KGNB article said:

    Troopers say the driver of the car will not face any criminal charges since the incident has been ruled an accident. But DPS officials strongly urge joggers or walkers to stay on sidewalks as much as possible, and if you’re going to walk or jog in the street, to do so going AGAINST the flow of traffic.

    When I protested that the driver bore much of the blame for the woman’s killing, my sister-in-law said:

    Appreciate your point Billy, but I also think that we have to be smart and reduce as many risks as possible and be responsible for our own actions. I almost hit our neighbor’s dog who was crossing the street because the sun was in my eyes when I came around the corner.

    To me, the knee-jerk reaction to suggest things that the runner could have done differently is akin to saying “Well, she was asking for it” when a woman gets raped.

    Yes, there are things that runners, pedestrians, and cyclists can do to reduce their exposure to traffic, but the right to use public roadways should not come with a government individual mandate that every citizen purchase an automobile and petroleum or forefit their right to use the roads. Furthermore, the moral responsibility for protecting life should rightly rest with the person with the most ability to do harm – the person operating the two-ton motor vehicle.

    In this case, the runner was in a very low-population density neighborhood, on a straight road with pretty big shoulders and good sight-lines. My rewrite of the incident would be more like this:

    A young mother of two was killed last night by a careless driver, driving faster than was considered prudent given the limited visibility due to the setting sun. A stark reminder that each day is a gift. If you drive, make sure you do not take that gift from anyone else.

    If the driver had blown 0.08% on a breathalyzer, the driver would be in jail right now, regardless of the sun conditions. Sadly, for a sober driver, the setting sun seems to be implicitly endorsed by the Texas Department of Public Safety as a good reason to commit vehicular manslaughter.

    (The Driver) was “impaired by the sun” and did not see the bicyclists, officials said. Both riders were wearing helmets, the DPS said. (“Because the cyclists would be completely at fault for being run over from behind if they weren’t wearing helmets”, the DPS implied)

    The roads are a public good. That the dead woman was jogging for health or recreation is immaterial – she would be just as dead if she were walking to pick up her kids from a playdate, or riding her bike home from work – using the roads for transport. There should not be an implicit unfunded individual mandate that the only way to use the road is to purchase gasoline and an automobile.

    I didn’t know the woman who was killed by the careless driver in Spring Branch yesterday, but this is personal to me. I’d like to think that I’m just as protected from careless drivers by the law when I ride my bike to work as I am when I drive to work, but all the evidence suggests that a driver who plows into me from behind will get off scott free if I’m on my bike, and only be held accountable if they total my VW while killing me.

    Transport for America has a great interactive website that goes through fatalities by state, but I’m not convinced that just spending money on ‘infrastructure’ will save lives. People need to be held accountable, even if it’s ‘an accident’, when they kill a pedestrian or cyclist. Do it often enough, and the bloodshed will stop.

    Vacation miles

    Should have ridden this morning, ‘Cause it’s going to be down in the single digits tomorrow morning.

    The run has been exceptional over the last week. Mild temperatures and good legs have kept me happy and on the road. The bike, not so much, but ‘salrite, ’cause everyone needs a break now and again.

    Best run of the holiday week was Friday with my lovely bride. We’d headed up to Manchester, Vermont without kids. Original thought was to get in some cross-country skiing, which is tough with the boyos, especially after they’ve seen downhill. But, Mother Nature’s been gentle this winter after blasting us with Irene and the October Snowmageddon.

    Stayed at the lovely Inn at Manchester, ate Thai food downtown, and walked arm-in-arm through a shopping mecca realizing that there wasn’t really anything we needed. I bought socks, though – made in America and 100% wool. And we both dug the Northshire Bookstore, though I was crestfallen that I couldn’t score the lifesize Nancy Drew cutout for bosmon after her brilliant series reading and reviewing ALL of the original ND mysteries.

    Nancy Drew

    We set out about 8, no particlar route in mind, and not sure how the legs would feel after a week of eating and drinking. But as the snow flakes tumbled down, and the joys of running the false flats of the Battenkill valley sunk in, we decided to to the loop around town, which ended up being not quite 7 miles. There was a moment of tension about mile 5 when we hadn’t quite made it back to town, and Missy threatened to strap me to the rocket sculpture in one of the town parks, but I managed to bluff for another half mile and we were back on a stretch of road she recognized. No speed records were set.

    Finished up with the half mile of marble sidewalk in front of the Orvis store, confirming a suspicion I’ve held for about a decade that they’ve stopped being a sporting goods store and are now merely a means for separating moneyed fools from their dollars. Marble and snow make a great lubricant, as well as looking spectacular.

    Best part about staying at a bed and breakfast is the breakfast – cottage cakes, which are kind of panckaes, ‘cept light on the flour and heavy on the cottage cheese and egg, and sausage. Missy didn’t want sausage, so *score* – more for me.

    I’m starting 2012 in a good place – not where i want to be weight-wise, but happy where I am fitness- and injury-wise. It’s great to be able to bang out 5+ without thinking, and I’ve got a solid group of folks with whom to run or bike when I want company. Life is good.

    Tri-Pale Ale

    Not meaning (completely) to turn this into a homebrew blog, but I’ve misplaced my brewer’s book, and need to jot down some notes on today’s brew.

    Inspired by the INSANELY good rye pale ale that Magic Hat (I think, though it could have been Otter Creek/Long Trail) that ended up in my fridge this summer, and the donation of a nearly complete set of homebrew equipment (complete for extract/partial mash, but once upon a time I was an all-grain brewer, so until I’ve mashed in my shiny new ten gallon Gott cooler, I’m not fully back to brewing), I decided that my return to brewing would be a rye pale ale. To tie it back to Runmystic, let’s call it a Tri-pale ale (Get it – Rye/Tri? Whatever.)

    Having not brewed since being a dad, I looked for a rye pale ale recipe from which to crib. Mostly, I was looking for how much rye malt I could get away with. Ended up finding Menu-In-Progress’ ‘Piggish RPA’ recipe, and simplifying from there. Plus, life intervened.

    I sourced most of my ingredients from Craft Brews Supplies in Wyoming, Rhode Island (actually a town). Run by a dude and his wife in a house right by the stoplight. I really hope they stay in business, since they’re on my way to Newport, and it looks like they’re trying to source at least some local ingredients – the recipe is all Cascade hops, contrary to Menu-in-Progress’ (MIP from here on out, ’cause it takes me back to school and living in fear of getting a MIP – Minor in Posession) bill. But, the hops are all from Ocean State Hops, and the water is all out of the tap.

    My bill of ingredients:

    • 1 lb Rye malt
    • 4 lbs 2 row Barley malt
    • 1/2 lb Wheat malt
    • 4.5 lbs Breiss Golden Light Dry Malt Extract (DME)
    • 1 oz Cascade hops (1 hr)
    • 1.2 oz Cascade hops (1 hr)
    • 2.3 oz Cascade hops (2 min)
    • 2 oz Cascade hops (secondary fermentation)
    • Yeast – Mismash of Munton’s Dry Ale Yeast, cultured yeast from Long Trail unfiltered IPA, and Ommegang Three Philosophers 2009

    OK, so homebrewers, look away – I broke pretty much every rule in the book on this one.

    As per MIP’s recipe, I crushed the grains in my handy Corona mill, stuffed them into a sock (muslin bag), and struck them with 8.25 quarts of water heated to 165 degrees. Mash temperature was dead-on at 150 degrees. The mash was in my 12 quart stainless steel kettle nested inside my 7 gal enameled boil kettle, acting kind of like an unevaluated thermos bottle. Worked like a champ.

    Here’s where I start drifting off the reservation.

    The initial mash went as planned – an hour at 150-153 degrees. Then, I pulled the sock out of the mash, and poured the wort through the mash into my 7 gallon bucket, since I had to get J. to swimming lessons. The ‘off the reservation’ was that I didn’t have time to let the sock drain after sparging with 5 quarts of 180 degree water. So I ended up with about 2.5 gallons of hot liquor instead of 3 gallons. Not the end of the world, IMO, but after this, in no way does my brew resemble MIP’s. Put the cover on the brew bucket.

    After sparging, J. and I went to the Y, came home, and had supper. So, the liquor was pretty cold when I came back to it. I added about 3.5 gallons of water, ’cause I’m a huge fan of doing a full boil, and added all of the Briess DME. Took about 25 minutes with the jet boiler in the garage to bring it to a boil.

    Threw in the hops as indicated above. Put the kids to bed. At the last hop add, I dropped in the newly-passivated wort chiller, made sure everything boiled for two minutes to kill the beasties on the copper, and then started chilling the wort.

    No worries so far – 20 minutes with the wort chiller in Connecticut January, clear sky, and the wort was down to about 75 degrees. Stopped the chiller, poured the pot through a strainer into the fermenter ( big plastic bucket, need to buy a 6.5 gallon glass primary fermenter), and pitched the yeast. Well, first I dropped in the dregs from the bottle of Three Philosophers I’d enjoyed while brewing, and then I threw in the half-gallon starter I’d made over the last 10 days.

    Another place where MIP is off the hook for how this beer turns out. I’m a big fan of culturing yeast from beers I like, and Long Trail had an unfiltered IPA this fall. Great, right? So, I started a culture with two quarts of water boiled with two cups of Briess golden DME. The wife and I drank four bottles of Long Trail IPA, and pitched the sludge into the starter. Sit back and let nature take its course.

    ‘Cept it didn’t. 36 hours later, the fermentation hadn’t really taken off, so I threw in a sachet of Munton’s dry ale yeast, which is an old standby. About 2 hours later, the airlock was blasting away, so I’m pretty sure it’ll be OK.

    Anyhoo, the beer’s sitting in the corner of my lair as I type. The airlock’s not going crazy yet, but it’s pressing in the right way – hasn’t been sucking air in, looks to be pressing air out.

    I did run over the break. Good stuff – the strength work I’ve been doing seems to be working like a champ. Ride to work tomorrow?

    First World Problems

    Oooh, ShinySo, I was the lucky day 6 winner in Nashbar’s Holiday giveaway, and I’m now the proud owner of a pair of Vuelta Nine 29″ wheels. They’re dandy. I would have taken pictures last night, but was deeply engaged in preparations for our Festivus open house (tonight at my place; drop me a line if you want to crash).

    Anyhoo, my troubles are simple: I don’t have a 29″ mountain bike.

    My options are similarly simple:

  • Sell the things on eBay/Craigslist/wherever. This isn’t my preferred option, ’cause I’ll not get anywhere near what they’re worth. But, cash is cash.
  • Let them take up space in my basement
  • Keep them and build a bike. I haven’t ridden singletrack in almost a year (My hardtail keeps looking at me from the wall of the garage), so I probably wouldn’t build up a 29er MTB, but the thought of a drop bar disc brake commuter bike is really, really tempting to me. Anyone have frame suggestions? The downside on this option is that it might end my marriage.
  • Man, all this stress during Christmas…

    Road Hazard

    Road Hazard

    Georgeous day to ride in this morning, despite temps starting at about 30 F (-1 C). My only regret was not putting on a wind-proof layer on my torso – any speed over 15 mph was painful regardless of the amount of work I was putting into it. No sweat at all, though.

    December is shaping up to be a great month – four days commuting on the bike last week, two days this week (with Friday as a rotating day off on which I’ll get bonus ride), and a week of vacation at the end of the month.

    I think I’ve licked the cold weather thing. The toughest part of the challenge is in preventing sweating – nothing worse than putting on wet clothes for the ride home and not warming up at all. But wind-proof gloves and a balaclava seem to do well enough on keeping frostbite off the ears and fingertips. My feet, I think, will just be cold. For half an hour it’s survivable in coastal Connecticut.

    The rack is worth its weight in gold – so nice not to have to have weight on my back. Nicer is not having an excuse to drive just in case I need to stop by the store to pick up milk (or wine!) on my way home.

    Lights for my use aren’t a problem – I’ve got two NiteRider Minewt USB sets, one on the handlebars / stem, and one on my helmet.

    Visibility to drivers is still my main concern. I’ve got reflectors and a couple of LED blinky lights on my bike, but still feel relatively invisible. I’m adding a reflective vest, but would love suggestions. Vittoria Randonneur tires with the reflective stripes leap out at me, but I’m less than 500 miles into wearing out the tires that came on the bike, and am trying (really) to be cheap about the commuter bike. The good folks at Mystic Cycle Center sent me off to the hardware store for reflective tape to wrap around the frame. But it’s good to be thinking ahead.

    Snow hasn’t fallen yet – we’ll see how that changes my attitude.