Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
effective against, sensitive toward, or counteracting more than one toxin, microorganism, or antigen
- "With a high degree of polyvalence, cyclists with prompt legs and looking for performance will find a choice mount with it."
Sunday, December 09, 2007
And so I settled in for a lazy Sunday. Groceries, egg sandwiches, some minor cleaning, catching up on Netflix, catching up on Top Chef, a trip to the post office, and other household projects took center stage. The option of hitting the trainer still loomed, but I opted out. Plus, SVR is pretty deep in the flu locker, so I had to also tend to her needs.
The biggest accomplishment of this rare Sunday off was hanging the three most recent additions to the Gallerie de Walenander. The 780 s.f. (on a humid day) condo has few advantages. One big plus is that there's little room for too many major home projects. A big day working around the house involves hanging a painting or two and vaccuming the baseboards! Needless to say, we took possession of the latest pieces (two more Calders and a Sharir) from FAAG about a month ago and they've been stacked precariously at the back of the couch ever since. If Brian at FAAG knew, he'd have our heads! With minimal bickering and unanimous agreement on placement, the walls in the dining corner and bedroom are now adequately arted out.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Without Nationals on the race schedule, I looked to Reston as my final race this season. I rode there last year to a pretty unimpressive finish, but totally dug the course. And Reston's also the first place I watched a 'cross race, so there's that. Special place.
Arrived to the site with the bearded one in tow. Weather was ripe for 'cross. Nice nip in the air and overcast skies. Was feeling pretty good with my fitness but also knew I wouldn't be in contention for much with the MABRA 'A' crue racing down a category at the MAC event.
Things took a turn for the worse when I noticed I left my lucky charm back at the ranch. The pig has protected during a lot of close calls. Given a crash at a 'cross race generally doesn't yield major mechanical dysfunction or serious bodily injury, I held out hope I might get through the race, sans pig, without any bad luck. I was even running a new chain watcher and tightened down the crank arm that nearly fell off at Taneytown, so I thought I'd at least be immune from dropping or chain or, worse still, an entire crank!
Pre-rode once and liked the changes to the course. Lined up third row. Was, for once, not shivering or nervous at the start. Gun went off and...par for the course, I couldn't find my friggin' pedal. Clearly something to work on for next season. Watched the strong guys ride away. Lost all sorts of position, but felt strong on the power sections. Cutting to the chase...3/4 of the way through the first lap, I flatted out back. Game over. Season over. Story over.
Overall, this 'cross season was a bit of a joke for me. No results, save a 6th at DCCX. I didn't put much effort into training for the sport this year, so I'm not surprised by the disappointments. At this point, I am looking forward to some social winter riding and also keeping fingers crossed re: an upgrade to the 'III' ranks.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Just back from a 4.5 days trip to Boise, ID. That place takes the cake for having the nicest strangers I've met. How nice is this? I entered a 'cross race out there. Strangers were willing to let me race their bikes. I used Hal's, as the rig the promoter arranged to let me use never showed. Long story short, I effed up Hal's bike real good. And banged myself up pretty nicely in the process. The damage count? One sheared derailleur hanger, one broken chain, one rear wheel in dire need of truing, and some badly mangled cable and housing. How did Hal handle the news? He laughed it off like a champ. Unbelievable. Ain't nuthin' but a thang to him. Beyond that, I just got an e-mail from the race promoter telling me he heard my day turned out to be a major bust. He wants to return my money. Really? Man, too nice. I think the $25 should definitely go toward's Hal's next entry fee. No doubt.
In other news...I'm sick as a dog. Or did I already mention that? Ugh.
Off to attend the condo's annual association meeting. More misery.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The Tacchino course is the kinda course that makes me squirm with glee. Only catch, it's bumpy as heck. Kinda like my washboard abs. Or not. In any case, seems the courses suited to my strengths are the ones that also like to shake my chain loose. Again, see this report.
After five dropped chains this past Sunday, I had to excuse myself. Pretty disappointing, but so was having to dismount twice a lap to fix my chain. Beyond that hiccup, the fitness was surprisingly okay. The field was similar to DCCX, the course was slightly less technical, and I saw a top five within the 'crosshairs (pun...intended...absolutely) after another front row start. The 'cross season has been a bit of a bummer, but I also haven't devoted time, energy, and fitness to it. The DCCX result was encouraging and another decent result on a course I really like would've been slightly redeeming. I guess that'll have to wait.
This coming weekend...Race Pace. I won the C race there last year. Must be another course I like. I remember some sweet power sections and some good run-ups I managed to ride. I'm psyched to see how I fare in the B race. But that will have to wait until next year. This weekend will find me scoping the scene in Boise.
I'm turning over a new leaf on many fronts, so I hope to update here much more regularly.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
It started with a Buick(?) commercial several years ago. I was in the kitchen and washing dishes. The boob tube was on in the other room and suddenly I heard the opening riffs to 'Gravity Rides Everything' (Modest Mouse). Hunh? I thought the TV had shut down and the stereo had suddenly sprung to life. Hands still wet, I scooted into the living room and couldn't quite believe my eyes and ears. A big-wig ad exec probably overheard some 'indie' tunes spilling from his teenage son's bedroom and figured it'd make a good soundtrack for his next project. And so there I was, watching a soccer mom load up her Buick mini-van to Isaac Brock's wistful guitar composition.
Next up was Dickie Buckman (politely known as Richard Buckner). Same situation as above. TV was on, I was in another room, and I heard a tune that hit home. And this time it was 'Ariel Ramirez' as background for a VW commercial. With that one, I even got the background story, as I chatted up Richard at the next Iota show he played. Of course, I can't remember how it all went down. Needless to say, I don't know the exposure launched Mr. Buckner to any sorta super-stardom. I have to say, though, he hasn't been as publicly available at the last coupla Iota shows.
And now VW's back at it. They've jumped on the Jeff Tweedy express. That's right. Wilco is prominently featured in VW's current ad campaign. I've seen two commercials and, on first listen, recognize them from 'Sky Blue Sky.' That album isn't yet permanently ingrained in my brain like all the others, so I can't cite the specific songs played. Never mind one ad seems to promote driving for no constructive reason. In it, some dude wakes up at 5AM to drive around with no specific errand to run and crawls back in bed one hour and twenty-seven minutes later. Good message to send with gas at $3+ a gallon. Anyhow, I guess it all leads to one conclusion...
My musical tastes are a little more conventional than they used to be.
Next thing you know, I'll hear Built to Spill's 'Reasons' as the backing track for a Target commercial. When that happens, I think I'll have to official retire any aspirations of being 'music forward.'
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
And so here is a photo of the style I call the tri-hawk. Though the faux-hawk still seems a bit radical in the U.S., I think this look steps it up a whole level...maybe two. Check it:
That one's for you, Grandma.
Monday, August 06, 2007
This past weekend, I lined up for the first running of the Pleasant Valley Road Race. Great course. Decent rollers, but nothing out of control. The finish was cool...a pretty steep pitch with about 200 meters to go.
The heat was the toughest part of the race. I heard several reports at the start line of temps hitting around 108 degrees. Hot!
The race was largely uneventful and I didn't feel too taxed...despite the heat. Maybe it has something to do with 15 years of athletic competition in Miami, Florida, but I tend to do okay in the extreme heat.
For me, the highlight of my race was my ill-timed move to the front. As I've mentioned, my worst enemy for a finishing sprint is, not surprisingly, position in the last km. I tried to work things out so I would move to the front for the last 3km or so. Well, my cyclometer must've been playing tricks on me. I worked my way forward thinking there were about 1.5 miles to go. Dave Crouse was up there and I got the sense he also thought we were closer to home than we were.
We jockeyed up front for about 3 more miles before we hit the final two pitches. Coming into what was the feed zone, I was sitting about third wheel. Never one to want to piss off the bunch, I held off crossing the yellow line in the closing stretch. I kinda thought we were free to move over at the base of the feed zone climb, but then I heard someone claim the road was open at 200 meters to go. Of course, I never saw a 200 meter sign. And so I never made a jump that might've won the sprint. Instead, I gave a push up the final short hill and passed a Route1 rider about 1 yard from the finish line. I try not to give up coming to the line and this time it paid off with a fifth place finish.
It was a wonderful day to be out racing bikes and it was all the better with my closest crew cheering from the sidelines. Thanks to hEllicott, the Commish, and SVR for being there at the finish and then trucking up to Ellicott City for post-race sustenance and libations. Mmmm.
The circuit race was fun. I heard there was little chance at breaks sticking, but I didn't let that stop me from bridging to the only break of the day. Turned out to be a bust, but at least I opened up the legs a bit with that one.
The finish was in town and quite technical. I wasn't forward enough coming into the first turn into town. There were requisite crashes and I held on for a not-so-impressive 23rd. No points.
The 4s did a short race. We went up and down one hill and came ripping into 'Toona. I crested the climb with a lead group of about 15. The descent was incredible! Looking at the cyclometer, and I assume my max speed for the stage wasn't during the sprint, we maxed out at 54 mph. That was made possible by the very cool rolling enclosure. Those speeds are only do-able when you can take the whole road for turns.
Coming into town, I heeded Evan's excellent advice and kept my eyes open for the 1 km sign. I guess our lead group turned into about 27 guys by that point. I tend to have a problem getting good positioning coming into a sprint, so this time I made a decision that coulda bit me in the tush. At about 750 meters, I clawed my way to the front, right side of the group. I hung out in the wind for a good 500 meters. It was my only chance to stay up front. At about 250 meters, I saw the 200 meter sign and figured my best chance was to go from that distance. I ramped up and laid down as much sprint as my 131 pound body could muster. Turned out to be enough. Good times. 25 points.
So...after stage two, I was sitting pretty in third on the GC. The guy in fourth was one point back. The goals for Sunday were to finish the crit and try to keep rider 603 in my crosshairs so I could finish near him. I thought I had it wrapped up. With five laps to go, I stopped seeing his number in the 20 or so guys who were ahead of me on course. Seemed like good news. Like Friday, I never took the risk enough to get into the top ten for the finish sprint. I rolled in for 21st, but was content to finish a crit that clocked in faster than the cat. 3s. Not seeing 603 ahead of me, I thought I was gonna hold on to my GC spot. No such luck. During the podium presentation, mister 603 was standing tall on the top step. Doh!
In the end, my weakness in the crit bumped me three spots to 6th on the GC. Not the best. Not the worst.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I hate to rush to judgment, but...this is just sickening. I can only imagine the first excuse will be from a doctor. He'll say, "Vino suffered some massive blood loss during his crashes. A transfusion was the only option to keep him going." It sure kept him going, eh?
Friday, July 06, 2007
1 point for each rider in the top ten.
Additional 2 points for a correct placing in the top 4-10.
3 points for white jersey.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Been trying to find a moment to settle in for a substantial update covering euro-style trend setting (I stumbled on a new hair style I'll call the 'tri-hawk'), trials and tribulations out on Skyline Drive (I pulled a Pete Custer and snapped a cable right at the start of things), and speed and fury at Reston (I finished the dang thing despite wasting sh*t tons of energy wondering if I should actually saddle up after watching a fellow in the 3/4 race break his arm nearly in two). Sounds like a potentially meaty post, eh?
Maybe I'll be in good shape to jot a robust post after tonight's beer tasting dinner at Colorado Kitchen with MattyD. and Katie. Should be fun!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
I've not succeeded much with the crit thing and wasn't expecting much more this time around. At least the day was pleasant, with sunshine galore, and I didn't need to rise at 5AM to get to the race start. As much as I prefer early mornings for getting a jump on the day, I don't tend to excel at the early morning racing.
Arriving early at the race allowed for some solid pre-race socializing. Pete Custer (racing with the 4s for some mind-boggling reason) was manning the DJ booth and keeping the tunes fresh. Had a pleasant chat with Steven Grant and got caught up on his whirlwind European tour. Drooled over Dave Crouse's carbon hoops (which, unfortunately, didn't serve him so well down the road). And laughed a bit at how mellow Linus, Eric Welp's greyhound, keeps it. Apparently, he used all his energy out on the race track (Linus, not Eric). Also touched base with William Stiles, the fellow whose badly injured finger at Poolesville left me looking like a real warrior. See the long overdue bloodbath shots.
It was nice to warm it up out on the course and, believe it or not, the few loops seemed adequate and a nice change from time wearing down the rubber on the trainer.
We started with 100 guys and I actually landed a second row starting position. In the past, good starting positions usually yielded messy pedal entry and lost momentum and position for me. For once, the start went fluidly and I wasn't out the back before the first turn. TnT was pretty well represented and I had some mid-race communication with David Kemp. We tried a few tandem moves, but I think the tactics still need some brushing up. In due time.
The long and short of it is...I didn't get dropped, lapped, or catapulted towards the pavement. Heck, I think (as it all runs together after going round and round and round and round) I even covered two attacks and vaguely initiated two. One time, I even tried to bridge to Kemp and thought we might power along together. No luck there. Another time, I was glad to see Pete Custer bridge up. If the past was any indicator, I thought we might gun it and actually stay away. No dice there either.
Needless to say, this crit was another chance for some hot heads to scream and shout and curse and more or less get violent in the closing few laps. As others noted, there were even some fists flying on the last lap or two. I just don't get that. Seems like, once the crashes start, the tempers flare even hotter.
Speaking of crashes, I came really, really, really close to getting taken down. The first crash of the race happen two wheels ahead of me. There were the typical jumps and jives to avoid the fallen men. I ended up leaning heavily on rider 490 (dunno know his name...just his number). He/we did, in my opinion, an excellent job of counter-balancing and righting ourselves. Freaky shit, but we made it through.
For me, the finish was fair to middling. I came into the last turn far enough up in the field to avoid the requisite crash that effed up a bunch of guys farther back in the pack. I didn't, however, come in far enough forward to really contest the sprint. And the course was really well suited to my finishing ability...a punchy little uphill for the last 150m. Much like at Carl Dolan, I was far enough back to survey the front twenty guys losing all sorts of steam. Of course, I felt like my cylinders were ready to fire it up. Alas, I just didn't have the killer instinct to wind it up to fight for that top five or ten. I get pretty nervous that the fellers fading up front aren't gonna hold a steady course as they approach the line. Picking, bobbing, and weaving through the ten guys ahead of me just struck me as too risky. And so I settled for 17th.
Considering my past weak showings at crits, I'm relatively satisfied with how things panned out at The Quicksilver.
There are actually a few road races on the calendar in the not too distant future. Hopefully JB can help me train up for some good results at the discipline that better suits my abilities.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
And then shit like this happens. It's a tragic, terrible thing. I can't, however, help but dwell on the final sentence of the article...
'The accident "illustrates the problem we have with speed and what can happen in an instant," High said.'
This isn't to say any of the resulting damage wouldn't have happened at slower speeds, but I think lots of folks don't register how bad it all can get at 85+ mph.
I say, "Slow down!" It's true on the highway and it's true on side streets.
Friday, May 25, 2007
I don't have time to go on endlessly about the sh*t going down in the pro ranks right now. Needless to say, it's a meaningful change from the years and years of secrets and lies and crime.
On the one hand, it's hard to watch my most favorite sport's most elite players cop to such disgraceful behavior. I'm not one to see the courage of fessing up. Plenty of commentators expressed pride in Millar when he came out with it. Don't forget, he came out with it all after they found the goods. It has also been said of others. I don't buy the courage bit. I am, though, a bit proud that cycling is owning up to its mistakes while so many other sports (bigger budget, bigger return American sports) continue to keep the wool pulled tightly over Americans' star-struck eyes. You gotta figure there's a seriously dark underbelly to pro football and baseball and basketball. I don't expect stars of those sports to magically and suddenly see the light. Too much cay-shhh to lose. Point being, I think there's something slightly redeeming to cycling being the whipping boy...the sport to take the hard knocks while the others continue living the lies. Just like cyclists, eh? It a painful process...these confessions and admissions. But have you ever known a cyclist to shy away from pain?
And on to my personal pain.
I've been training very, very sporadically. I'm not impressed and am eager to get back on it. This week was a marked improvement, but still nothing to write home about. Still eagerly awaiting my chance at training with powah. I'm hoping to secure the PT within the month.
On the racing front, I think I've only managed Poolesville between Ephrata and now. What a disappointing race. I surprised myself last year and hung on for a decent finish. I expected, and was gunning for, better this year.
The race seemed slow. The gravel was more fun. And then I crashed. I was better off than most. I simply rode up and on to a pile of downed cyclists. Untangling bike and body took long enough for a gap to form to the leaders. I chased like a dog and never re-gained contact. My cheering section (thanks Drew and Sonja and Evan) encouraged me to finish the last lap. I'm glad I did. I'd post photos of my blood-splattered shoes and legs, but the home computer is broken. So I finished, but all by my lonesome. Better luck next year, eh?
The personal pain also includes the aforementioned computer problems. The screen on the laptop is shot, so I can't post to the blog, can't download the Max Blob's photos, and can't update my training log. And so life comes to a grinding halt, right?
Long weekend on tap. Looking forward to having mom and Dale in town. Can't wait to show 'em the new digs, take in an Orioles game, gorge myself at Komi, walk the trail near our place, and maybe even fit in a training ride or two. No Kelly Cup for me. And no CSC for us amateurs. I think I've got a few crits lined up in the next month. It'd be great to actually race one of those with some confidence and certainty.
There's more to tell, but there's also work to do, right?
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Road Race: Spent the morning watching the ambulances come and go. Lined up for the Cat. 4 race in good position in the staging area. Waiting for the medics to clean up the mayhem from the women's race, I decided to take one last potty break. Of course, the officials opened the staging area flood gates while I was takin' a wicked pissah. I exited the john to find my ever-so-loyal (for how much longer after my brilliant bathroom break move?) teammate, Dave Kemp, still holding my bike upright and waiting for me. We ended up at the back of the group at the official start/finish line. I felt terrible for Dave. That's about as exciting as things got.
Never really worked my way up to the front on the narrow roads. Avoided three crashes out on the course. Hung back for the sprint and watched plenty of guys shoulder each other off the road and generally make a mess of things. Rolled in for an impressive 40th!
TT: Windy. I did worse this year than I did last. Naaahce. Ahh liihke. I did not make any sort of sexy time. Got to the top of the climb in 27:47...good enough for 27th.
Crit: One word for you: shelled. I was not too happy with myself. Still can't claim to be much of a crit rider. Evan reported, however, that, once off the back of the peleton, I appeared to be traveling at about the same speed (read: pretty fast). One thing that kept me in it...the guys hanging out just around corner two and, every time I dragged my tired ass up the short incline there, totally cheering for me 'cause they misunderstood my grimace for a sh*t-eating grin. I guess I was rockin' it Horner style and they loved it. Sometimes it's the little things, eh?
Two other good things that came out of the crit:
1. I got plenty of practice cornering at speed...alone.
2. The crit turned out to be, more or less, a LT test for me.
Overall, I can't say I was happy with any results. Maybe three days off the bike last week wasn't such a good idea.
Hoping for better this Saturday at Poolesville.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Carl Dolan was lots of fun. After my lackluster showing at one of the Tradezone races, I wondered how well I'd do on a shorter, faster, circuit race. I'm content with how things went. Also, I think it's a good sign I can isolate what might've accounted for my middling results.
The race seemed fast enough to me. As others posted, I agree there was way too much unnecessary slowing at completely random spots on the road, but we did cover our 25.2 miles in exactly 59 minutes.
Had quite a few teammates at this race. They seemed to do well latching onto each others' wheels. I have to say, I favored the right side of the road for most of the race and wasn't very quick to jump in line with our guys on the left side of the road. No matter. The meat of my story really comes from the lone aggressive move I pulled all day and the final kilometer of the race.
My aggressive move was pretty laughable. Lap 3 was a prime lap. I didn't win it. I did, however, launch a hilarious and pointless attack after two guys already tore away from the field for the prime. Here are two shots (shot 1 and shot 2) of me blazing up the right side of the finishing climb. As I rode by nearly all the field, I heard some amusing "What the?"s and "Oh my god!"s and "Woah!"s. I don't suspect anyone was impressed or worried. Mostly, I suspect they were amused and confused. Why the eff did I bother? Well, I kinda just wanted to see how fast I could get up that hill. Further, it did get and keep me at the front of the field (where I wanted to be for the last lap or two) after they swallowed me up.
The kicker about that move, though, is what could've come of it. As I crested the hill and crossed the line, I saw two guys about 50 meters up the road. They looked like they were kinda taking it easy. First thought: I think we're lapping these guys. Second though: naw, that can't be. Third thought: I could ask, but that might be pretty insulting if they're not being lapped. Current thought: maybe they were being lapped and maybe I actually won the prime.
When I caught those guys, no one (including yours truly) made a move to organize and try to stay away from the field. I looked over my shoulder and we easily had 200 meters on the field. Thinking back, I should've continued to drill it and tried to stay away all by my lonesome. Who knows? Maybe it would've stuck.
Anyhow...getting to the finish. Strategy on this one was pretty simple. I had to make sure I was within the top 25 coming out of the turn with 1km to go. I was. Good news. Further, I wanted to use the right lane (which only opened up with about 250m(?) to go) for my sprint. I talked to Dave Kemp about this and he was eager to help me out. I'm just getting used to the team thing, but it's nice to have those sorts of talks with 'mates. I think my strategy was a smart idea, but there was one hiccup in the way. The enitre lead out train and strung out peleton headed to the left side of the road after the turn. Worried that I might get caught way far from the lane I wanted to take for the sprint, I opted to sit out on my own in the wind for the final 500 meters. I chose my plan over protection from the wind. Dumb move. Sitting in the wind let the front 20 ride away from me. Sticking right did keep me out of the final crash, but limited me to 9th in the Cat. 4 group. I also suffered from an All-American guy's move right across my line with about 150 to go. I was spinning the right gear, but had to slam on the brakes to avoid this dude. That slowed the momentum and I was subsequently over geared when I tried to start up again. And so it goes.
Post-race, Kemp did tell me he had all intentions of being there for the lead-out. Once again, very cool to know. He made me laugh when he described how the plan fell a bit flat. He said he was on my wheel coming into the turn. He hoped to come around me so I could latch on. In the end, though, he said I came flying out of that turn at high speed and accelerated away. Oops! It would've been fun to see how well we could've worked together. Next time, eh?
Other lessons from the race...position on the new bike is not yet dialed. I suffered terribly numb feet (left side was worst) and some really odd muscle pain in my extreme upper hammy on the right side. Hopefully this will all work itself out with continued tweaking. Final lesson acknowledged (but I'll probably never truly 'learn' it)...wear friggin' sunblock!!
Friday, April 13, 2007
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
I seem to remember coming across more, but that's all I can find for now.
Despite my hacking and phlegm, the hope is to pick back up after two days of full-on rest. If this rain stops, I'll be back out there for about two hours this afternoon.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Yesterday, I had a blast at the Tour of Walkersville.
Before I go there, let's travel back in time to last Sunday. I did Jeff. Cup. That was also a blast. Great roads and beautiful country. It was warm, I cramped up with about four miles to go, and that was about all she wrote. No breaks stuck. We came down to a field sprint finish and I just wasn't positioned right. Oh well. Finished with the pack. The race, though, was a big psychological success. I hadn't raced on the road since I crashed at Coppi last season. I had to overcome some mental blocks to get back out there at speed with the group.
Walkersville turned out much better than Jeff. Cup. With some advice from my ever-wise teammate, Josh, I started the race knowing where I needed to be on the last lap if I expected to even be a contendah.
Long story short...I stayed up front coming out of the final turn. There was some definite slowing approaching the final 500 meters. Coming up on about 350 to go, there was a lot of unnecessary shouting from some of the guys who wanted the front of the race to move faster. The speed ramped up and just off to my right, poor Pete Custer got tied up in a pretty bad crash. I heard it and saw it and then saw a huge Ridley, without its rider attached, flying through the air...about six feet off the ground. I watched the bike fall to the earth and knew I needed to swerve a bit left to avoid running into it. Thankfully, there was room to my left and I avoided certain disaster.
With that unfortunate crash came some wide open space on the righthand side of the road. I looked ahead and saw about five guys up the road, each with a few feet between 'em. There were probably about 100 meters to go at that point and I was picking up speed. I was pretty surprised that I was able to pick 'em off...one by one. This move, however, was none so subtle. After feeling Pete's crash, I didn't want to see or be part of another. For that reason, I announced my entire sprint to any and all who were ahead of me. As I motored down the right side, I shouted the whole way, "Coming on your right. On your right. Watch your right." Not exactly stealth tactics.
In the end, Joel (Route 1) came up on my left and almost caught me at the line. I threw the bike and I think that made the difference. At first, I assumed he was one of the guys I passed as I was closing in on the line. I assumed one of those guys was able to latch on as I came past and then follow me to the line. Joel later explained he was latched onto my wheel the whole time I moved up the right side. Go figure. I had no idea he was there. Thankfully, though, I had what it took to fend him off this time.
As much as I'd like to see what I could put together for two days in a row, I think my health will probably benefit from skipping out on Tyson's. I can't say I'm thrilled with my decision, but I think it's the right one. On top of it all, SVR leaves for Paris again tonight and I'd like to spend some good time with her before her trip.
I'd be remiss not to mention last night's meal. Citronelle was not as good as the first time I went. It was, however, decadent and a special meal. I know Drew had a great time. It's hard to believe I've been such close friends with him for twelve years! Amazing.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I was out on the roads this morning and had at least six close calls. Why does it have to be this hard...this stressful?
Thursday, March 01, 2007
We were there last night and saw a 'Change of Operations' notice posted in the front window. It mentioned expansion to a second level. I talked to our waitress and found out some details.
The owners bought space upstairs. The plan is to shift the first floor bar to the new upstairs space. The downstairs bar space will become expanded seating. Upstairs, there'll be a new bar and additional seating. Our waitress noted the upstairs should be more mellow and quiet and spacious. Most importantly, in my mind, the upstairs is slated to be adults only!! No shrieking children allowed. For some of us, that's a relief. The approximate seating gain is 30...from 90 seats to 120 seats. They expect to open the space in three months, but our waitress said construction hasn't started and the timeline seems too ambitious. I tend to agree with that assessment.
Anyhow...maybe it'll be a little easier to get a table after they expand.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
JFW-Braised Beef Shortribs, "Sauerbraten" (With glazed root vegetables, quince, and chestnuts)
SVR had the famed gnocchi. I have to say, they fell a little short. The gnocchi were a little too, er, pasty. That's what my notes say, but I can't quite remember more of how to describe the texture and or effect. The Bolognese was chunky and not a ragu. Dunno if that's Ruta's twist on the sauce or if chunky is the authentic approach. In any case, the meat was on a small dice and was okay. The tomato flavor was prominent and pronounced and fresh and deep. The dish was fine, but I don't think it stood up to all the rave reviews I've read elsewhere.
I had high expectations of my second course. The 'sauer' was very, very sour. Again, I think this was the chef showing off his in-house meat curing mastery. Unlike Central's perfect, boneless short rib execution, Palena left the bone in and, not surprisingly, I felt cheated of meat. The bone was just too prominent and so the meat came across tiny. The root vegetables were a welcomed winter touch and the quince paste was cloyingly sweet, but the right flavor to temper some of the 'sauer.' The chestnuts were mashed and added a nice feel and texture to the arrangement.
JFW-Juniper Scented Chicken Consomme (With poached quail egg, truffled trofiette pasta, veal tongue, and slivers of foie gras. With some tender vegetables as garnish.)
The rabbit rocked. I hate dry, white rabbit. I guess the saddle is a darker cut and it was tender and adequately fatty and rich. All condiments were nice pairings, though the beets (I believe) were a bit too sweet. The other flavors couldn't quite stand up to the sugar. The mustard was perfectly pungent. Overall...a well-executed and decadent starter.
My consomme was surprisingly good. As expected, the liquid was a pale and transparent yellow. Thin in viscosity, the flavor and density was still extraordinarily rich. It's incredible how a liquid can pack such depth of flavor. All add-ins were also of distinct flavor and texture. The trofiette was almost like spaetzle. The slivers of foie gras were amazing. In most of my foie gras experience, it's seared. Good as that can be, with a nice crust on the outside yielding a near molten center, this duck liver was more lively and complex. It seemed to be less of meat and more of earth. The texture was beautifully silken and it seemed like it had gone through a poaching process in the consomme. There were some sweet overtones and I could've easily downed a few more 'slivers.' The veal tongue was also very special. Taking after the Jews in my family who love(d) schmaltz and marrow and liver and beef tongue, I was by no means afraid of the chunks of pink baby cow tongue floating around in my soup. Believe it or not, the tongue was light. It was spongey, but airy. It was fluffy, but still rich. It was kinda like the best piece of pastrami you can imagine. It was obviously house-cured. It was tangy and also, like the broth and the liver, adequately rich. The vegetables were all nice enough and a nice counterpoint to the rich meats. The quail egg was also a nice touch...as breaking the yolk added further depth to the broth.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Yesterday, I hit Skyline for an early season climbing expedition. Went out there with some new partners...Dave Crouse and Kyle Murphy. Rode a bunch with Kyle this 'cross season, but had never hit the roads with him. I was in good company yesterday and we made a pretty mellow day of it. Ride time was 4:15 and we put in about 64 miles. That rate of speed is, obviously, nothing to write home about, but I think the climbing didn't hurt my fitness, no matter how long it took.
Moving on...had two quality meals on the homefront last week. Tuesday, I did up some trout. Was hoping for more success on the grill pan, but the trout didn't hold up so well to the technique. Still came out tasty, paired with mashed butternut squash, some jasmine rice, and an awesome salad of fresh horseradish, radishes, spinach, cider vinegar, and olive oil. Check it...
The highlight meal of the past few weeks, however, was mos' def' the Palena blowout. It went down a few weeks ago at this point, so let's see if I can still muster some impressions and details.
On the numbers front, SVR opted for the four course option and I went with five. In the end, SVR left a little of each of her courses, so I probably came home with seven courses in my belly!
Turns out, I'm gonna divide this report into several parts. Check back for the installments.
Meantime, I can't tell you why the hell I have such a hard time formatting these posts to include photos.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
I should mention I once splurged and, whilst seated in the cafe, went full bore and ordered a fixed price meal...like, the real deal for which Ruta is held in such high regard. Still, though, I've never made the reservation for the main dining room. I've never shown up anticipating the proper menu. Friday, though, I will. I hope to offer a useful report.
Saturday's meal might not register as high on the *bling*-o-meter, but I've always had wonderful food at Montmartre. It's on tap Saturday night.
I'm looking at nearly six hours on the bike for the weekend, so I should be able to order duck and pork belly and creme brulee and other fatty stuff without too many cares in the world.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Anyhow, I'm excited for two days out of doors.
I want to improve, I want to go fast, and I'd like to win. Rookie as it was, the win at Race Pace was really memorable. I'd like to ride off the front again and I'd like to hold out for the W. Maybe...just maybe.
My first installment is devoted to The Readers. You've probably seen 'em before at the gym. These are the people that work out and read. I don't think there's just one thing that drives The Readers to exercise and read simultaneously. I think different Readers take the risk for different reasons.
I imagine some fancy themselves way too important to devote a half hour+ to one non-intellectual activity. Too smart, too important, and too overloaded to focus on the exercise, they've gotta multi-task and fit in some catch-up reading during their time on the treadmill or stationary bike. There's simply NO EXTRA TIME in their day to devote to something silly like exercising the body separate from the mind. How could they? They're just THAT important.
I imagine others are simply too bored with their time on these mind-numbing exercise machines to NOT distract themselves with a little reading. They've got other options like iPods, TVs, or other folks in the gym to grab their attention, but I guess it's like they say, "You can take the worm out of the book, but you can't take the book out of the worm!" Wait, do they say that? Anyhow, I kinda can't blame these folks for requiring some distraction, as the machines at the gym, and particularly the way these folks use them, are about as thrilling as watching paint dry.
So you've got the type-A multi-taskers and the gym zombies...each reading for their own reasons.
Here's what gets me. How the f*ck are you getting much of a workout in if you're focused on a book or a magazine or the newspaper? I've noticed these readers are the same people who can spend an hour in the gym and walk away as dry as they were when they came in from the 30 degree winter weather. This is hard for me to stomach. My heart rate hovers in the 160+ range for upwards of thirty minutes for every hour I spend on the trainer and I probably sweat about 4 litres of liquid each time I visit the gym. I'm always dumbfounded by these people who can finish a few chapters of the latest Tom Clancy novel whilst "working out" and don't sweat a drop after 45 minutes on the stationary bike.
Anyhow....this rant is barely coming together. Point being, what the hell are you doing reading in the gym? Either commit to getting a workout in or stay at home in your bed or on your couch curled up with your novel or whatever.
Last week, I saw some dummy waltz in on a Tuesday with the entire Sunday Post. I watched her navigate onto the elliptical (otherwise known as the epilyptical) machine with the every section of the paper...including the plastic-wrapped coupons and comics section. I couldn't believe my eyes. Was this idiot really gonna try to make it through the Sunday paper all the while grinding out the miles on the epilyptical? I watched her nearly bite it three or four times. She was never discouraged and never appeared to think twice about her arrangement. I ran through the exchange she might have with the EMTs. "I dunno what happened. There I was, reading the engagements and weddings in the Style section when, BLAM, I rolled a cankle!" If only.
In closing, pick an activity and stick with it you morons!!
Next time...coke head freaks.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Food front...I could start with Restaurant Week highlights, but it's almost like meals at home have trumped eating out at this point. I owe some of the recent home cooked magic to a grill pan we got from one of SVR's friends this holiday season. Shit's da bomb! It has yielded great poultry...a seared duck breast (my first go at duck) that hit the spot, chicken breast for a simple sandwich with Alex's famous easy aioli and some thick tomato slices, and another chicken breast marinated in a southwestern mix (rich with brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, etc.) from The New Best Recipe cookbook. Also a present from friends, that book is an awesome go to reference for technique and prep methods. Can't say the recipes are all that cutting edge or adventurous, but the searing, steaming, braising, baking, etc. methodologies pretty much always yield near perfect results. Screw going out for scallops or shrimp anymore. Cook 'em per The New Best Recipe and it'll seem silly to pay top dollar for those goods out on the town.
I shouldn't ignore our one RW meal this week. Nage was full-on solid. For the RW price, $30.07, I was very happy. I noticed that their standard prices hover around $26 for mains. At that price point, I think I'd opt for something else.
Had a mushroom and cheese tart sorta thing to start. The bulky part of the dish (the tart) was a little puny. Good flavors, but simply not enough quantity. It sat in a truffle infused sauce/soup. Servers were good to bring spoons for that dish, as the sauce was very rich with truffle essence/oil. I would've hated not being able to scoop all the liquid. What an incredible flavor. Haven't had satisfying truffle flavor since minibar, when I barely ate truffle. The trick they pull there is spraying the oil on a napkin and expecting you to smell the napkin as you eat some beef (tenderloin?). Sense of smell and taste collided for some very cool sensations and flavors. I know it sounds schticky, but it really worked. Anyhow, tasting the truffle at Nage took me back!
My main was braised shortrib. This item is so popular right now and I've had the entire range of great to pretty crappy. This version fell smack in the middle. I find that an order of shortribs often yields a lot of bone and little meat. I think kitchens suffer from their preparations that leave the meat falling off the bone. Half the time, I think the shortrib meat must end up in the bottom of a stock pot or third pan and I end up with the inedible bone. Nage didn't serve a plate of bones, but their version was not as fatty or juicy as I've had before. Shortrib is a decadent dish (and a cheap cut of meat for those restaurants!!) and I expect a certain richness that Nage's lacked. The bed of polenta with cherries was creamy and just the right amount of tart and sweet. Nice work.
Dessert was a good enough fruit crumble sorta thing. The twist was in the ice cream. They served a blue cheese ice cream that I thought was a nice complement. I think the non-ice cream flavor flavor thing is a fad that's falling out of favor, but sometimes the flavors can work. I'd rate this creation a solid 7.
I think the group collaborated well to choose wines. A bottle of red and a bottle of white meant everyone could pair as they needed. Gals had fish and the white was probably right for them. Anyhow, I'd certainly recommend Nage, but for a non-RW night, the tab might be too high for my liking.
Tonight we're off to 21P with James and Ruth. Menu looks complete, but the only RW review I read was not complimentary. We'll hope for better.
On the cycling front, it's winter. I took plenty of time away from the bike after Nats. I don't think I was invested in my rest, as I was always kinda beating myself up for not riding after getting back from San Francisco. Anyhow...I've done a few trainer sessions lately and am trying to get out each weekend day.
Today I hit the road with Eric for some early, wet miles. Ninny that I am, I wasn't willing to ride the bike with all the moving parts. It's probably most idiotic to ride the fixie in wet conditions, but that's how I do it. Wet roads mean the geared bikes stay under cover. Anyhow, we were out for about 2:15 and it felt just right. I probably spent a little too much time at LT instead of at tempo, but what can you do, right? TBT, I found it quite easy to peg an HR range and stick to it on the fixie. I'm pretty steady on that thing and less inclined (or able???) to react to terrain changes. When the road turns upward (slightly), I pretty much slow down and slow cadence and hold the HR steady. I don't attack the way I might on the geared machines. Anyhow...I was glad to get out with Eric. We chatted the whole time and caught up on the past few months. The roads were wet the whole time. Now the sun is more or less out and the roads look dry as a bone. No matter.
That's all I've got for now. I've neglected a few important topics (Nationals, the trip out west, and NYE), but I can only manage so much this sitting.