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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bike and Beer.

The whole family was together for the weekend which is pretty rare these days with everyone spread throughout the country. It was really nice spending time with my Mom and Dad, Sister and Brothers. Five of us ran the Run for the Diamonds in Berwick, PA on Thursday. (I'm gonna run it next year I promise) They had a record turnout for their 99th edition of the race. It's a real tradition. I got a couple rides in, drank some beer, ate a ton of food and now I'm glad to be back home to recover from it all.

Yesterday's Ride: I got on the road about 1pm in the afternoon and did a loop I used to ride a lot when I was living back home. It's nice because it's not overly hilly for the area, but still includes about 2100 feet of climbing. A few of them are pretty long which was a welcome change from the short steep climbs I do down here in Maryland. 2hours: 25 minutes and 45 miles in total. Overall a great kick-off for my 2009 Season.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Losing the Turkey.

I was able to sneak out for awhile today and ride with my brother. It felt good to be out on the road after eating pretty much non-stop for the last two days. We did an easy to slightly fast 25 mile loop taking us to the base of Red Rock, down to Benton, over to Huntington Mills before finishing back on Red Hill Road. My brother hung in there really well today and we had a good 8 mile run in the 24-26 average mph range before heading back into the hills.  He's got a motor on the flat sections but still needs some work on the hills.  Tomorrow if the weather holds out I want to do a long easy solo ride into the mountains. I might take his Ridley and write a review.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blog Find: Closet Cooking.

Looking for something interesting to cook tonight? Check out Closet Cooking. His recipes and photography are really nice.

It Never Stops.

Bobby Jindal was campaigning (I mean speaking) in Iowa over the weekend. Election season is always in season it seems. hmmmm. I wonder if they have a pic of him riding a bike yet?


It worked for this guy.


...this guy stopped smoking at least long enough for this photo.


...but it didn't work so well for this guy, even though he's got the coolest bike, in Eddy Orange no less. (Big Chainring!) I guess we'll find out. What kind of bike do you think Bobby should ride?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas is Back!


As I watched TV this evening I noticed something. Christmas is cool again! I'm sure many of you have noticed over the last dozen or so years how Christmas and Santa have taken a beating with the politically correct retailer crowd. Ya sure, easy when people are racking up their credit cards and blowing home equity year'round with big screen tv's, new gadgets and bling bling. Well this year with the economy bad and spending down, look who's back!! Well if I was Santa I'd tell these retailers to umm take this, see picture above.

Don't worry Santa, some of us always found Christmas cool, and the reason has very little to do with retail sales.

101K Has a Nice Sound To It.

It's been awhile since my last ride so today I woke up raring to go. Yesterday my two daughters, wife and I did a little road trip north and east of home and ended up crossing over into York County, Pennsylvania. Mae was getting hungry so I started to look for a place to eat. We spotted this kinda cool looking building in Brogue, PA with a Restaurant Sign on it. About a mile past I thought maybe we should turn around and give it a try. When we got to the front door there was sign saying "Today is Our Last Day." So we went in to find what looked very similar to a Cracker Barrel Restaurant. Turns out the restaurant section had closed last month and they were liquidating everything in the general store area. 50+% off everything. We got some good deals including a few bottles of maple syrup, which I love but it's usually way too expensive for the good stuff. My wife asked when the store was closing. The nice lady at the cash register said 3pm, it was now 2:45pm. Funny how things happen. We just happened to catch the end of a little era there in that store/restaurant.

Back to today's ride: I made some pancakes for breakfast and used some of that roasted walnut maple syrup we picked up yesterday(Yummy!) figuring that would be a good fuel for a longer ride. Above is the route I took, roughly 3-1/2 hours of fairly easy riding. Great roads, nice weather, and plenty of time to think about everything and nothing in particular. Around 63 miles total, but doesn't "over 100K" sound so much better?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Photography 101.

You'd think they would at least ask the cute couple in lycra to move aside before snapping her picture. Sheesh!

Paris Sport Bicycles.

When I was a kid in the late 1970's, under 10 years old, there was this little brick bike shop not too far from home in town that sold these great looking bikes called Paris Sport. One of them was orange (Eddy Rode Orange!) and had that tell-tale Reynolds 531 sticker on the seat tube. I was hooked. Of course I had no idea what I was gazing upon other than it looked incredibly well built and really fast.

The owner of the shop was super thin and really grumpy with old pictures and newspaper clippings of himself winning some road races. They hung on the wall next to the cash register. As I snooped around this fascinating place all alone I remember hearing an old lady, probably his mom, yelling from upstairs, "We Have Customers!" He would come stomping downstairs and ask with disdain in his voice what I was looking for. I went back a few times and those same bikes never left the walls, never sold. In fact, if you wanted to buy them the guy wouldn't sell. I tried to buy the orange one when I was older but he wasn't interested. I don't think he ever sold much of anything. He had a lot of stuff stocked in a back room though because once I did manage to snag a new tire for that Honda QA-50 of mine. Nobody in town had those! Much later, when I was probably close to 20, I noticed the shop had burned down and there were a bunch of melted/rusty brown frames laying in the alley next to the burned out shop. That was a sad day.

Here's a couple links to the history of this fine brand of bikes. Some of them were actually made in New Jersey. Who knew?!

Sheldon Brown - On Paris Sport. What a crazy and interesting story!
Dave Moulton - A Framebuilder for Paris Sport at one time.
Paris Sport - A little history lesson

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gent Six Day: Left Nut of the Week!

This week my left nut is going to the Gent Six Day in Belgium. I can almost imagine the sights and sounds and maybe some Belgian beer to go right along with it. Some day I'm gonna witness this in person.

Time for Something New.

As you may or may not have noticed, I've been playing around with my blogger template. I have a couple random image generators running for the banner and for those bicycling posters over there on the right. The cool part is that all I have to do to change banners now is add new ones or delete old ones from a directory on my server. It'll automatically update the page, randomly cycling through each image stored in that directory. PHP scripts are pretty cool. I've got about 10 different banners that will rotate through, (Click on it and a new one will reload) and about 150 different bicycle posters. That should keep me interested in coming back to my blog once in awhile. New blog look, new cycling season around the corner. Now it's time to start planning for it all and enjoy the holiday season ahead. Things are definitely looking up. Now if I can just get my hands on some of that bailout money Washington is spreading around,...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hoegaarden at the Beergarden.

InBev may be taking over the beer world in large chunks at a time, but one good part is that we get to go down to our local beergarden and have Hoegaarden on tap. I gotta say as a guy who rides his bike every now and then, it's kinda cool having a beer from Flanders. Drink enough of them and it's almost like I'm there doing this.



As far as the Hoegaarden beer goes, let's just say I could easily drink the stuff all night and that's exactly what I did Friday at the Tavern down the street. A white beer from the Flanders region of Belgium and the town of Hoegaarden. It has a really refreshing taste with hints of citris and spice. The color is a very pale yellow, a bit cloudy even and a very bright white head. I'll have it again for sure, especially when the spring classics make their way through this region.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Choice of Roger De Vlaeminck.

It may not be easy but if you look hard enough you can find the chewing gum that powered Roger De Vlaeminck and the Brooklyn Cycling Team to victories throughout Europe in the 1970's. Keep looking as anything worth having is worth working for.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bite Me.

There are many theories and much heated debate (ok, maybe not) over the ever-present medal biting phenomenon, but some of my favorites are these.
  • The custom is a Freudian reversion to oral stimulation after the stress of competition.
  • Romantic observers believe a kiss is not enough to show affection for the medal and a love bite is better.
  • I finally won! Now I can eat whatever I want without worrying about my weight all the time.
  • This thing feels way too chintzy to be real gold.
Hmm, I'm tending to believe the Freudian theory now that I think about it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bikes.

Yeah I know, nobody's buying cars or motorcycles these days, yadda yadda yadda. That includes Harley, as they are having slow sales now too after a gazillion straight years of continuous record growth. Even though I'm more of a Sporty or Middlefingertotheman Barhopping Chopper guy, I had to share a pic of the new V-Rod Muscle and Marisa Miller, Harley's new models. Can't help it, I love bikes and gals in leather.

Three in a Row.

First off I wanna say Happy Veterans Day to all those who have served and those who continue to serve in uniform for this great country of ours. Thanks. Now, on to my ride today. I know November was going to be an easy month for me riding wise, but since I had the day off work and the weather is beautiful I went out again. Same route as yesterday taking me on Marriottsville Road up RT99 then RT32 to Eldersburg and back home on Liberty past the Reservoir. This is one of my favorite rides because it's relatively flat and only takes about 1.5hours to do if I don't have much time. There's one stretch on 32 that is a slight downhill for several miles and I can average well over 30mph. It almost feels like motorpacing. That makes three days in a row and over 6 hours of riding. I'll take it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Clearing out the Pipes.

I got out of work a bit early today so I hopped on the bike for a quick 1.5hr/30 mile ride. I went really hard but felt pretty good out there. The best part was getting home and having a bowl of piping hot soup and a cup of tea. I have a day off work tomorrow so I just might go for another one.

Ridin with the Bro.

My brother drove down yesterday with his new Ridley Excaliber so we could go for a ride. That is one really impressively designed bike, especially in the steerer/head tube area and the rear triangle. It's got very agressive S shaped seat stays and chain stays which I am sure give the bike a nice level of vertical compliance. In fact, the rear triangle looks almost identical to those on the newest Pinarello Prince. I didn't get to ride it this time, but look for a review here soon after I get a chance to put it through the wringer in the mountains of Northeastern PA. Anyway, on to the ride.

It was a perfect autumn day here in Maryland with bright sun and wind with temps in the low 50's and after a lazy morning breakfast and of ogling bikes we finally got out of the house around 11:00am. Our plan was to go somewhere over 40 miles hitting some of my favorite riding roads including a few steep hills. My brother is always in great shape being a runner, but doesn't have many miles of riding in his legs. He's pretty tough though so I wasn't worried about him keeping up. Besides that, I have cut down a lot on my riding with November being pretty much a vacation away from the bike. Up St. Thomas and across the Hunt Valley we headed. There were a lot of other riders out there on the roads as usual. I think everyone who rides in this area knows exactly where the best roads for training are. We passed a few Kelly Benefits Strategies teammates of mine heading in the other direction at high speed. After going up over the steep, but short Piney Grove hill, both decided that at it's steepest point it's steeper than Red Hill, but quite a bit shorter. Red Hill was the hill we'd always end our rides on as a kids back home. Later we stopped in Butler at the little general store/liquor/post office for a hot coffee and coke. Some guy was posting signs for a yellow lab he found and was looking for it's rightful owner, beautiful looking dog. He had it in his jeep.

From there we headed down Falls Road, then over towards Caves, back to St. Thomas and home. I think we ended up going about 42 miles at a pretty relaxed pace. My brother's back was killing him and his legs cramped up pretty badly, but other than that was in good shape. That Ridley looks pretty laid out in a Tom Boonen way so the sore back was understandable. He took a nap on the couch after so I guess he was pretty tired from the ride. He's gonna be a really strong rider if he keeps at it since his build is perfect for it. Now he's got the bike to make sure he gives it a real chance. I'm hoping he'll even do a few races next year.

Overall, it was a great ride and I can't wait til we get a chance to do it again sometime.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

So What is it Really Like?

They say your home is where your heart is. I just finished reading A Dog in a Hat, by Joe Parkin and it seems to me that Joe's heart and home belong in some nondescript town in Belgium racing a kermis in wind, rain and cold at over 50km/hr. This book is about Parkin's quest to become a professional bike racer in Europe and how he went about doing exactly that. Reading it, I could feel a sense of melancholy in his words, probably brought on by the weather. There is much happiness to be found here too and I get the feeling Joe is, and should be, very proud of what he accomplished in some amazingly difficult situations. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone by going into details, but it's a page turner.

I only have two words for riders out there looking for something to read. READ IT!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In the Voting Booth.

Something hit me like a sack of potatoes while I was standing there alone in the voting booth earlier today. When I saw all the choices there on the computer screen in front of me I thought back to all the past elections I voted in and who I voted for. My first election was in 1988 and haven't missed any since. I picked a few winners and a few losers since then with a pretty good batting average going in. In previous elections I found myself voting for the lesser of two evils in pretty much every case. This one was much different though. This time I voted for the two people I knew with absolute conviction were the best for the job. Anyway, that was something new for me.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's Time, Finally.

It's seems like it's been going on forever, but it's finally about time. All the promises have been made and there's only one thing left to do. Go Vote Everyone! Whoever wins, I wish Barack and John the absolute best of luck, let's hope for a nice uneventful next couple days before the next election season starts.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Ride in the Country.

Today I had an interesting observation when leaving suburbia and riding out into the countryside of Maryland. Graffiti is now thriving not just in cities, but out in the land of beautiful horse farms and perfectly manicured lawns as well. Funny thing though, it's limited to spray painting on top of John McCain posters so far. I guess we won't have to worry about that after Tuesday.

Today's Ride: 30 miles, easy. I ran into Howard out there. Hardly recognized him in his spiffy new Castelli Euroduds.