Sunday, March 16, 2014

Winter 14: who needs therapy?

Now that the boys are a year older; we have had our first winter where both Ali and I have been able to get out of the house. Even if it has been the coldest MN winter in 35 years.

Yes, those are lips.....fresh off of the face of a 3 year old
Plenty of outside fun!
Frost Beards abounded.
XC skis were had, and many a weekend afternoon was spent with the Johnsons.

Nothing more pro than taking the holeshot and blowing it in the first corner.
I refrained from any winter riding once we got into the depths of the winter chill. Sometimes its just fun to yell disparaging things at people.

"Why did you bring me to this forsaken place?"
One evening we did pictures of each of the family.

"guess whats in my diaper?"

"You there, yes, you, fetch me that floppy eared dog"


"the child is biting the dog, but I am going going to smile anyway"
We drove to TX in Feb to see Mina and Tanner. with the children and the dog. nonstop. 19 hours. No meltdowns. My progeny are road warriors.
Got to ride a whole bunch of the Buffalo Bayou. Refrained from any serious crime.
Love being able to get produce year round. The Hispanic influence in south Texas means that there are some pretty terrific vittles to be had

I got to defile Mina's granite countertops
We also took the grommets to the Houston "chillins" museum that had the Dr. Seuss display.

Grinchin' ain't easy
 
When Ali's mom was in town we got out on a ski date (it was about -5F)
 But alas, winter is quickly fading, and the snow drifts are receding.

I never know what I will find in snow drifts around here.
 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dirtbag ice cream

Ok kids, its recipe time. I have been sitting on this one for some time, so I figured that it was time to show you how to make dirtbag ice cream....or at least make ice cream without an ice cream maker and the mess it entails.

Buttermilk Ice Cream 
by Ed Lee (he has a simply incredible cookbook entitled "Smoke and Pickles")
Ingredients:
1 pint Cream
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup sugar 
Seriously, its that simple (even John Waller could do this). Pour your cream into a heavy bottomed sauce pan (even dirtbags should own 1 good sauce pan) and heat over medium low until it takes the chill off of the cream. Begin to stir in the cup of sugar very slowly to dissolve it. You only want to heat the sweetened cream mixture enough to dissolve the sugar, not cook it.  Once all your sugar is dissolved, you can add in your buttermilk. 
The next step is to pour your mixture into a 1 Gallon Freezer bag, seal it, and lay it flat in your freezer (or if you live in the tundra like us, just put it outside) to solidify.
 
Once your solution has solidified, break it up, and put it in either a blender or a food processor until it is smooth and creamy. It will melt and soften while your kitchen device is beating it into submission. This is the really important step, if you do not blend or process the mixture, it will be granular and crunchy. You cannot blend it too much.
Then pour your ice cream mix into a container and refreeze it. Once it firms back up, its ready to consume.
I really like this ice cream by itself, but the truest method of consumption of this ambrosia would be the Affogato (Italian for drowned). 
This after dinner drink is a a scoop of buttermilk ice cream that is dolloped into a expresso.......my dirtbag version is to use 3oz of boiling water to one envelope of starbucks  "via" coffee, and then add in the buttermilk ice cream. You will be exalted by your compatriots. Wealthy petroleum engineers will try to recruit you as their personal chef. They will also try to snatch your children, but thats a story for another day.

Filthy 50 and holiday musing (yes its 5 months late)

So this past fall a couple of us went down to do the Filthy 50.  It was the shortest gravel race I have ever done, and was hands down the fastest. The first 40 miles had about a dozen of us in the first chase group just gnawing stem the whole time. I popped about 5 miles from the finish and cramped so badly I actually had to get off the bike for like 5 minutes. Drew won the Mens race, and Monika rode a flat for the last 2 miles to win the womens race. It was a good time.
Monika, Ben Oney, Scott Spoo and I rode down in the new minivan. tires were getting swapped going down the road! Long live the minivan!

Drew time trialed away to the win.
"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of triathletes suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened." Joshua Stamper
Not gonna lie, I like that van.
This dude crushed some souls. Chugging a big ol' gear.
I made a cajun stuffing with andouille sausage, oysters, and okra to go with the yard bird that I brined. Justin Wilson would have been proud.

Monday, October 7, 2013

MammothGravel Classic 2013

Last year I did the 70 mile version of the Mammoth Gravel classic, and it did not disappoint. I was really taken with the stark, barren nature of the river valley that is north of St Croix Falls. Its just so desolate. The Wooly crew always refers to that area as "the sand barrens", and I find this so appropriate. We were initially supposed to have the event in the spring, but the worst winter ever pushed the date back into the fall. The brothers Fisk, Dallas, Ben, The Velaski's, and the Crew from Cyclova XC plotted and connived to put together a incredible course that took us through the sand barrens up to Grantsburg, WI. Then we crossed the river (and dodged a roadkill porcupine) and started back south along Minnesota's Wild River State Park.
I suck at documenting things so I will let the images that Dallas put together tell the story if you get sick of my words.
We started out rolling north from SCF and after about 15 miles we started to hit the sand roads that blew the group up last year. Having the widest tires and being the smallest I found that I was floating over the loose sand a little better than everyone else so I just went.  After a few miles, I stopped to air down my tires, and two of the gents from Hudson made contact with me.  We exchanged pleasantries, but after a few minutes they had dropped back, and I was focusing my thoughts on staying smooth and floating over the sand double track sections.
The double track sections. Oh. the double track sections. 
I love me a some great double track, and The Woolly crew sniffed out some of the most remote winding fire lanes. It was divine.
(bumps record player) Then I almost ran over a black bear. I told you it was remote out there!
By the time I made it all the way to Grantsburg the gents from Hudson had just about caught back up with me, but they decided to keep motoring while I set my sights on slaying some gas station pizza!

I took a long break at the Holiday, and was stoked when Dallas, Mark, and Ben rolled in.
Once we got rolling again, we all took turns at the front to get us off the paved road as quickly and safely as possible.  Once we hit the gravel again the group split up so that everyone could do their own thing as the drizzle really set in. After an hour, we ran into the roaming aid station.
I had forgotten to air up my tires after deflating them for the sand section. I rode about another 40 miles with 20 psi. Thankfully there was Hamms while Frank Lundeen got me some air. Photocred: Kristen Velaski
Hamms. Sweet. Hamms.
We just kept rolling south until we hit the MMR hills that bordered Wild River State Park.  Then it was a screaming descent into Taylors Falls on MN-95. This was simply a incredible route with a type of riding that you are just not going to get in MN. Love it! the 100 is fairly flat and the most challenging sections are early.  Hopefully next spring will have better conditions, as holding a even this late in the year is a challenge with all the Cyclocross events going on.
I was also super stoked to learn that I won a sweet new pair of Almanzo tires from Challenge for being the youngest 100 mile finisher.
My delight was amplified this morning, when I found out that I got into the Filthy 50 this next weekend so will get to put these tires through the paces.
Many thanks to the Woolly Bike Club and Cyclova XC for putting on a great event!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Racing without training

After destroying my knee last fall, I decided to get serious about training this spring.  I bought the CTS Time Crunched Cyclist book, and pretty much did the whole plan on a trainer since we had the worst winter ever. As soon as things thawed and I started getting to some early season races, I was shocked at what I was capable of.  I could close gaps at will. nobody got away. and I could pretty much hang with anybody for about 90 minutes.

Photocred: Todd Bauer
On the Tuesday night races at Whitetail Ridge I consistently won by putting all the other fast guys on the rivet, then punching it to create a 5 second gap. Its a mental battle in mountain biking.  If you get a 5 second gap, you might as well have a 30 second gap, because once you get out of sight of your chaser, psychologically, you have won.
I trained my dad on a proper hand-up.
However CC is pretty adamant that you cannot maintain this high intensity level of training indefinitely. You just become too fatiuged.  So I used a training block that went through June, and then just rode whenever I felt like it.  That level of fitness tapered off noticeably in 2 weeks. I was still mid pack in the elite races in MN, but I struggled so much more trying to recover from efforts. 

Grumpy Stumpy. Photocred:Todd Bauer
The last few weeks have really been frustrating as I struggle to deal with the increased pressure from work, impacting my time and ability to get out and ride.

My parents were back from China over the 4th of July so my dad finally got to see me do a MTB race. He was shocked at how fast the WORS guys were.

It really is amazing how much different you feel when you have that high level of fitness that allows you to do whatever you want in a race.  I totally get why training blocks work, now if I can just get the time to train.
Deer Fly Chase: unable to get into the lead group, and then fell off the back of the chase to finish 10th.
Deer Fly Chase Photocred; Noah Michelson

Friday, July 19, 2013

North Shore with the Reeds

We busted up on the north shore this week with the Reeds. 
Bullwinkle?
   B-Rad and I took some time to do some route finding (read: trespassing) for the Gravel Conspiracy. We got skunked on the first day, but managed to feed some of the locals
Avoiding the traffic

If a  tree falls on a goat peeing in the woods, does it make a sound?
 
Eastcoast Bad Goat approved
 
Hey there lil buddy
The ambulatory grommets

Bringing the ruckus
 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

WORS Red Flint Fire Cracker

 So after missing the Wooley Race ealier this spring I thought I should get in a little XC racing while the Family was in town.  Eau Claire is now as far west as the WORS series gets in WI.......Maybe they should just call it EWORS.
I finally renewed my USAC license, just so I could ask nicely if I could do the open elite race even though I am still a Cat 2.  Not sure how that happened.  Once I got a geared bike, I just started racing in the elite class, and no one ever told me no, so I never actually got any upgrade points.
Long Story, short. Last row start. Everyone was super fast. I fell into the trap of going way too hard too early. My garmin was squaking at me constantly that my HR was too high (it was over 170 for the first lap).
I really wanted me some orange drank!
 I ended up giving up a bunch of spots as I was in damage control mode for the 2nd and 3rd laps.  On the last lap, Me and a Dude from Fond Du Lac made contact with a group of about 5. I noticed that Reece Oleson was doing all the work at the front, so I came around and told Reece to sit on, since the train of people was undoubtedly going to try to jump him once they hit the single track. Once we made it throught the totally gratuitous "bog of despair" I looked back and saw that the group had gotten a little strung out, and by the time we had hit the rock garden, I had a 5 second gap.  I tried to really make some hay then, and got a good 15 seconds at one point.  However, with less than 2 miles to go I could tell that there was some pretty serious divergence between my HR and power output.  My gap disappeared, I clipped a pedal and gave up 3 spots (I really wanted to finish 36th instead of 39th).  I even tried to sprint to the finish, and once we in the chute my leg cramped so bad I fell off the bike.
It is eye opening going to do the WI races. I was pleased with the effort but I know that I need to start getting some longer, high intensity efforts if I am going to keep playing with the big kids.

Then we got some family bike cleaning time.