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.

Posted in Run

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.


    Days made for fenders

    Today’s a day when modern fabrics are worth their weight in dollar bills. Which is pretty much what they cost. It’s also a day when fenders make up for looking dorky on sunny days. I swear that, even when rain is falling, fenders keep the lower half of my body dry.

    Truth be told, I’m happier on the bike, regardless of the weather than I am on the treadmill.

    Actually, this picture’s deceptively dismal looking – this morning’s ride in was in the mid-50’s, and not really raining, just foggy. Road was slick from last night’s deluge, with more deluge coming down while I was at work. It’s supposed to go back to being foggy again for the ride home, but I’m starting to think that the ‘loom’ off of my lights is much more effective in the fog than on a clear night.

    But there’s 14 more days of fall before true winter commuting starts. I’m hoping that I get my first snowflakes on a commute on Friday afternoon.

    *Harden The Flab Up, of course. What did you think it meant?

    EDIT – Pouring all the way home. 30 minutes, and I looked like a drowned cat. Squeezed a pint out of my gloves alone.

    This one goes to 11. But I don’t think I will (anytime soon)

    BikeHugger has a good post up congratulating SRAM for not immediately jumping to 11 speeds on their road gear after Shimano went to 11. I’ve got to say I’m pretty much in agreement:

    Going from 7sp to 8sp was good, but 9sp to 10sp was marginal.

    My first road bike was a department store Huffy with 10 speeds (2×5) with friction shifters on the stem. Man, I thought that was the snot – flew on that one, including a drunken midnight 15 miler over to K. Chad Hauser’s (my boyhood friend and idol) house one weekend while my folks were out of town. But, much like learning to drive on a stick shift car, there was a lot of grinding gears on that one.

    After that, I picked up a mountain bike between my junior and senior years of college – a fully rigid Trek 930 with Shimano Exage? trigger shifters – magic, until I smashed the front shifter with my knee going over a rock wall about 5 years later. Parts everywhere. Limped back to the car in the big ring, learning all sorts of humility. Freaked out at the bike shop – $50 to replace with XT? Heck, no, give me an indestructible thumb lever. 2×7, I think, though I overhauled it with LX the better part of a decade ago. Cheaper to go to 9 speed than to source vintage parts. And with a steel frame, I could stretch the rear triangle without too much trouble. It’s my vacation bike – drag it up to Stowe each summer, and pull the kids or the picnic basket along the bike trail.

    My first ‘real’ road bike was a 10 year old Trek that I picked up while Lance was winning his first Tour de France – 7 speed down tube shifters, indexed. Loved that arrangement – there was no “can’t find it, grind it”, like with my high school 10 speed, but there were definitely gaps in the gearing. Indexing on the big ring was kind of iffy, too – probably I was just inept at tuning the drivetrain. But, man, you really had to avoid even the appearance of crossover.

    After about 3 years on the Trek, I bought what’s still my favorite bike in the stable – a Cannondale R700 with full 9-speed 105. Man, was this the stuff – didn’t have to pull the hands off of the bars to shift, plenty of continuity in gearing, and going from the small ring to the big ring didn’t have to be a huge commitment – I’ve found there’s a pretty consistent two-cog difference between the big and small rings, and if I’m iffy, I can always flick my right wrist, and fix stuff.

    This fall, I picked up a Nashbar ‘cross bike on which to commute, but mostly ’cause it was one of the cheapest ways to get a 10 speed 105 group. And, I’ll admit, I’m pretty much in love with the 5700 incarnation of Shimano 105. The couple of awkward gearings near the big cogs are gone (I’ll caveat here that I’m a wuss, and have been running a 12-27 or 28 rear cluster on my Cannondale since about 2004); having all the cables run under the bar tape is superb, and it’s been the easiest drivetrain to adjust that I’ve ever dealt with. Part of the joy may be in riding on new STI levers – the 9 speed right lever on the Cannondale is getting pretty sloppy. But I think, somewhere around 700 miles in, that I like it. A lot.

    Trouble is, I don’t see the push to go to 11. Frankly, I was skeptical about going to 10 from 9, but whatever. Parts availability is about the only thing that could will get me to move (see putting LX on the 930). But I’m already putting aside cash for the 5700 closeout sales – then I can be one of those annoying NOS guys on eBay.

    How do we balance the need to get good gear with business models that rely on a constant upgrade cycle? I love the integrated brake/shifter concept, but a test ride on MicroShift convinced me that relying on them for 9-speed backfill wouldn’t make me happy, and 9 speed 105 is more expensive than 10 speed 105 at this point. I’m sure that 11 speed whatever rides like a dream – but upgrading’s the better part of a new mid-range bike, plus cassettes for winter wheels, etc.

    So, I’m not excited. Or interested. Much like electronic shifting, I just don’t get it.

    A question that continues to gnaw on me, though – at what point can we go to 1×11, or 1×12?

    Racing Weight – Plugging Away

    Hey, y’all. (Hey, Jank!, I hear you say)

    Plugging away up here. Starting the 4th week of Racing Weight. Haven’t been completely strict on either diet or exercise, but I’m batting about 80% on workouts, and diet appears to be working – I’ve gone from 186 to 182 in a month. Nothing breathtaking, but steady progress beats no progress, right?

    Working swimming back into my routine has been a key. Working out form through the Triathlon classes at the Mystic YMCA a couple of years ago made a giant difference. Swimming’s always been a great way to get exhausted quickly, but it’s nice to be able to knock out a mile of laps in 45 minutes instead of maybe 600 yards for the same level of exhaustion. I’m by no means a good swimmer, but the sensory depravation one gets in the pool is close to zen. 20 good flip turns in a row feels like carving a good line through moguls – something you can’t think too much about but need to be completely conscious of to make it happen.

    Commuting on the bike is awesome, BTW. Need to spend some time documenting my current system. But that’s a post of a different color…

    Racing Weight – Someday.

    Hey, y’all. Still alive; don’t add me to your list of Dead Blogs yet. I’m still plugging away, but work, moonlighting, kids’ sports (Drop me a line if you want to buy a raffle ticket), and Cub Scouts (Ditto if you want some scout popcorn), have kept me from posting. That, and catching up on 30 Rock and Dr. Who.

    Survived Snowmageddon 2012 V1.0, manage to work out pretty frequently, and completed the first week of the Racing Weight Quick Start guide. I’m pretty pleased with the program after a week. It’s a do-able chunk of work tied to a pretty workable diet plan. Nothing earth-shattering on the diet side, but good advice about how to score what you eat by quality. (Full disclosure – my quality for yesterday and today is terrible). I’m pairing it with calorie tracking at MyFitnessPal, mostly because they’ve got a GREAT and free iPhone app.

    I miss posting here. I miss the early days of Web 2.0 – everything’s getting all monetized and crap.


    Plugging Away

    So good to be back on the bike this morning. Lovely day, had breakfast with the guys from church, went home (nix on the saving gas today, as breakfast was as far from home as work, but it was 0530 and I really didn’t feel it…), spent some quality time with the boyos, and then flew into work.

    I’m shocked at how quickly my general cycling fitness seems to be coming up. Hopefully my weight will keep coming down. I’ve been using (specifically the iPhone app) to track calories (net of exercise), and it seems to be working – zap every barcode that goes into my belly, set the preferences for lose 1 lb/week, and do it. Two weeks, two pounds, including last week while on travel. It’s been kind of tough, ’cause there were a lot of just random calories I’d eat during the day without thinking about it, which is why, I think, my weight kept creeping up.

    Still loving DailyMile – nice to get the feedback, and pretty easy to knock out a post.

    My PF seems to be at least not getting worse. I’m not convinced that my left foot will ever be good again, but it’s at least better when I run than when I don’t. So, I suppose, I’ll keep running.

    And, with that, at least I’ve busted the August zero for posting here.