Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bricks Are Heavy - Phoenix Sun

And if you can call out the origin of this blog title, you are grunge master-savant, and I buy you a beer next ride.

Anyway; in the interest of keeping this blog ride-beer oriented...a few weeks ago Stacie and I are about stark raving mad at the weather; extended zero sun/ vitamin d drains the soul; time to book a sunny weekend getaway in Phoenix. The Hilton Tapatio Cliffs is nestled adjacent to the North Mountain Preserve; an urban paradise of trails criss-crossing major thoroughfares, easily accessed from multiple trailheads at various locations.

But before the riding, I had an important McGyver-esque discovery...we buy stellar (unavailable in KC) beers (Kona, Dogfish), and quickly realize "no bottle opener". Oh. Stacie breaks a bottle on the hotel cabinet handle; honest mistake; when I realize I brought gear to ride, including my own eggbeater MTB pedals. Guess what...

So now we're in business with some of the finest brews in the world. If you haven't sampled Dogfish Head Brewing this is the very definition of American extreme brewing; perhaps an overused descriptive term but it can't be emphasized enough that American brewing is bar none, the most creative, diverse, and high quality in the world and this is something we should be proud of. Dogfish is an example of doing a lot of very unique things as a matter of course. Our own locals such as Boulevard and Free State have been doing great things for a long time.

Now to the ride. I rent a pig alum hardtail from a nearby shop. Right price, but a real pig-sled for the 2 hour grunt I'm about to tackle.

Shaw Butte is a 1.2 mile 1,000 foot climb...I'm checking out the 11 - 20% grades on my GPS as hikers are yelling at me about climbing this grunt on a bike...yeah I'm spinning the granny and this about as steep as it gets staying ridable; worst I've done since Puke Hill going up to the Wasatch years ago, but in far better condition on a much worse bike so I feel pretty good about cleaning it with little repercussion sans screaming hammies. The view from the top is worth the pain.

The next phase of the ride on Trail 100 features typical desert loose rock over hardpack with some technical grunts and smoother flatter sections for an overall good hard ride over 2 hours. After that I don the running skids and reel off a couple miles of trail to test the Du sticks. Things feel good but I'm getting into some dehydration and fatigue so I call it quits knowing a pool, more sun, and cold beers await in an afternoon of blissful leisure. I could write an entire blog about Phoenix dining, but...lets stay focused.

Stacie and I hike 5 miles the next day on Trail 100 and its every bit as good as riding with some steep offshoots and a different viewpoint.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

White is the Fastest Color

The last couple years I've purchased a new bike around this time; this year's austerity program dictated new shoes only, however the dream of white shoes was (finally) realized, along with some new MTB skids. I cracked the carbon sole on my old pair, cause yeah I generate soooo much force the shoe couldn't take it (you can quit laughing now). As a bike racer, you're thinking "duh, white is the fastest color", however you may not know that other recreational type "cyclists" and laymen don't know this. Nitin Pai would argue that yellow shoes are actually faster b/c they're so ugly your feet are trying to pedal away from/ out of them. Intuitively I would agree, but would like to see the KU Physics and Mechanical Engineering departments test this theory.

Another cool feature of the TriVents is the heat shield. I'll need this cause I generate so much wattage, power, and heat that the road needs protection from my feet. The shield looks pretty NASA-esque so I'm convinced it works.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rye on Rye

This one is special.

I also recently attended a New Belgian beer tasting at Barley's Midland with The Schultzez, Richard Hu, and Nitin Pai. The opening monologue by the N.B. rep was okay, but as a serious beer geek I thought it a little elementary...let's get to the tasting. Out of five beers I'd say the Ranger IPA was good; seriously nuanced hops but not much of a body to it. The Dark Heather Saison was really special, a different take on Saison. Didn't really like the sour beer, wow it was sour.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Boss Tom's

Exciting news at yet another Boulevard Beauty forthcoming.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Skool is in Session

Hearing the term Session Beer kicked around a lot recently in the Beer-Geek-O-Sphere, I decided to check it out and its kinda what I thought. A beer that you personally would/ could throw down given a block of time without getting too hammered. Harkening back to Phase 1 of personal beer metamorphosis, Munich Lagers come to mind, particularly Augustiner; smooth full bodied sweet maltiness with no hop bite. Good luck finding it anywhere around here. Paulaner Lager is a decent substitution and but finding it fresh and ready can be challenging. I suspect most of the Bavarian Lagers either get stale on the way over, or are watered down for American tastes. I've been generally unimpressed relative to what I remember drinking in Deutschland in the early 90s.

Visiting The Big Island in 08 I naturally gravitated to Kona Brewing discovering LongBoard Lager; a traditional malty sweet low hopped Lager perfect for warm beach "sessions". Outstanding. I'm also happy to report that Metcalf Discount Liquor now stocks the great Wisconsin brewery Sprecher, which features Special Amber, another great American Lager in the Bavarian tradition.

What's your session?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Double Rock & Rye

So this Saturday I turn 41 and go non-stop for the weekend. Friday night Stacie and I hit Lucky Strikes in the P&L for some bowling and good times w/ the Centurians. Naturally I spend a lot of time hanging out with Walt from 360 Racing, b/c, uh, well we both like to race bikes and talk about how awesome we are! Really swank with nice couches to lounge in the alley pits. My skillz are not quite up to Jesus Quintana, but hey, I bowl twice a year. A fresh later of snow greets us afterward; my visions of a monster Sat am MTB ride are crashing down, but hope springs eternal.

Dutcher calls Sat am and luckily he's got the mojo so WE ARE ON! SMP has a nice 1 inch or so of powder and we're the first on so conditions are pretty decent for a very solid near two hour ride. Dutcher just built up a classic 2006 Epic frameset, returning to our/ his glory days of riding one of the greatest bikes ever made. We encounter Studnicki on the trail and shoot the breeze on our last lap. The Polar Plunge people are out there in shorts jumping in the semi-frozen lake...and I thought I was hard core.

Colin takes me to the College Hoops experience at the Sprint Center which is super cool...again, I have zero skillz left on the hardwood. Colin smokes me in some one-on-one on six foot goals. I took my revenge in pop-a-shot. Good time.

Saturday evening TLux from BLVD produces some fine Smokestacks for the big game, including the Collaboration Imperial Pilsner from Jean Rock. I sample my first Templeton Rye; impressed and getting dialed.

"A double rock 'n' rye, and... seven Carlings. Otis! My man! You girls come here often?"

Luckily the Hawks pull it out in overtime as I nearly suffer the season's first heart attack.

Sunday is the GroundHog Run; no trouble peeling outta bed but a little ragged to crank it up having done zero running speed work. Surprise BT is there with Becky. The Biz Journal crew Dre and Terry, my Teammates Susie and (non-running lazy) Rob Schultz, and coworker Ann so its a great time hanging out in a cave on a Sunday morning. I manage to rip a PR shaving nearly a minute off last year. 41 ain't so bad.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Belgian Toothpaste

Weather iffy for today, but any chance to roll outside would be taken. A rude winter recalibrates your concept of pretty "nice" conditions: 50, wet, windy as hell, sand and salt -- a wonderful spring day compared to recent weeks.

Many reasons to roll aside from simple opportunity, Langland and my January Birthdays and getting the Phreds together after a long hiatus. Throw in a post ride KU hoops game with libations with the boys and this is a stellar afternoon.

Sliding outta the parking lot on up Renner to the park is always a gut punch to start a ride, esp w/ ridiculous south winds in your face but damn it feels good to spin it up. Dutcher shows up and we are wearing the exact, and I mean exact, kit details, only our respective team colors. I shouldn't be surprised.

Unpleasant drafting with a stream of back wheel slop hitting your face, or maybe grin and bear it. This must be like a Belgian Spring Classic, faces caked in mud, sand, and salt; streams that line your bike on up your back side, and caking your shoes. These are the hard man rides that lay the foundation for those blissful warm summer nights.

Feeling good, putting in miles, stretching out the sticks, and taking a couple digs. Seems like an eternity.