Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Fixed Frolic

Yesterday was a great day for the Fall Fixed Frolic....a cool start to the day, a little breezy, but plenty of sun. I didn't manage to get a lot of pics...I saw quite a few people that I haven't seen in a while, so more time was spent chatting instead of trying to get some blog-tastic pictures.This year's route was different than last year's; more dirt roads and less traffic. As a result, I found the route more enjoyable than last year. Thanks to the Tall Tree crew for another great ride.

NOTE: This post is uber-short and not much of a substantial ride report, but that's what happens when your life changes and priorities change. Don't worry though, I will have more posts in the upcoming days, well, maybe weeks, and I've also been keeping myself busy drinking beer, so more of those reviews to come, I swear!!

Lots of fixies taking a rest from frolicking.

A picture of taking a picture of the only costume on the ride.

More fixies taking a break from frolicking.

A frolic break due to Rodd's fenders clogging with mud and clay. I later had the same problem and had to take off my front wheel to knock out all the hardened clay. When I got home, I knocked some more chunks of clay out of my rear fender that had hardened almost like concrete.

Monday, October 19, 2009

80's Chick, the Poacher and a beer review. Part 2

Last post, I started talking about regulars I see on my commute, and I introduced you to "the Poacher". Now, I'm gonna introduce you to "80's Chick". This is someone that I see on quite a regular basis, and I always get a good chuckle when I see her. She comes strutting down Kilborn road, which is a long, straight road, so I can see her coming from pretty far away. She moves a certain way when she walks, swinging her arms out in front of her, and moving with quite an animated swagger. She sports a headband, sunglasses (even with the sun coming up later at this time of year), a baggy sweatshirt and leggings...straight out of the 80's.

 This isn't too far off from what "80's Chick" actually looks like.

80's chick is usually rockin' out to some tunes as she walks along. I'm just not sure if she's caught on to technology and mp3 players, or if she still listens to cassettes on her Sony Walkman. The way she moves when she's walking along, she looks like a woman on mission, so don't get in her way.

To finish up the other relevant part of the title of this post, here's another beer review. Now, probably the best beer I've ever tried is Innis & Gunn, a Scottish beer that's aged in oak casks to give it a pretty amazing flavour. I picked up a limited edition Innis & Gunn that had been aged in Canadian whiskey casks, to make a beer for Canada day 2009. Well, this is probably even better than the original. The box had a good description of the taste and aroma of the beer, but it got tossed out before I got a chance to write this up. Basically, there are hints of whiskey, oak, toffee and other great flavours. Of course, this was a limited edition beer and is no longer available, so there's no chance of tracking it down. But do yourself a favour and pick up a bottle of Innis & Gunn.

One damn fine beer.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

80's Chick, the Poacher and a beer review. Part 1

As a bike commuter, I get to see a lot of the same things over and over again on a daily basis. The same cracks and potholes in the asphalt, the same buildings, the same steady stream of traffic. But one thing that stands out are the other bike commuters and pedestrians I routinely see. After awhile, the same faces appear at around the same place, at around the same time, every day. On my commute, there are two people in particular that stand who I don't see that often, and causes me grief, and the other I see quite regularly, and gives me quite a laugh.

The one that gives me grief, is another bike commuter that I've nicknamed "The Poacher". The first time I ran into him (not literally, mind you), was sometime this past spring. He caught up to me at a red light, commented on my fixie, and rode behind me down Baseline until he turned off at Prince of Wales. I saw him the next day, and the situation was almost the same. He caught up to me, and then rode behind me until his turnoff. Thing is, both of those times, he rode behind me for about 6 or 7 km, right on my wheel.

It was awhile before I saw him again. On one commute in the summer, I thought I heard something behind me, did a quick shoulder check, and lo and behold, there he was. He had crept up silently behind me, and then stuck to my wheel. This time around, I decided to accelerate a little and ride harder than I normally would for my commute, and he was right there with me the whole time. The thing that confirmed that he was indeed a poacher, was one day when I was passed by another bike commuter riding at a pretty good clip, and right on his ass...was the poacher! It's one thing to ride hard and get a workout from your commute, but to sit on on the wheel of other riders while they do the work? COME ON!!!! Another time, the poacher caught up to me, and I knew he was there, so I actually slowed the pace waaaaaaaaay down. And what did he do? He STILL kept riding on my ass!!!! Now THAT pissed me off! I'm not the confrontational type by any means, and I usually keep to myself, and that's what I ended up doing. I kept to myself and pedaled.

What I wanted to do, and should have done, is asked him (sarcastically) if he wouldn't mind doing some of the work himself. I haven't seen him for awhile now, but I've always got my eyes and ears open for him.
One thing that does crack my up about the poacher, is that no matter the weather, a nice spring morning or a hot start to a summer day, he is always dressed the same. Sweatpants and what looks like a hoodie, with the hood under his helmet, and a safety vest. Classic.

My next post I'll tell you about the other regular I see, "80's Chick". In the meantime, a long overdue beer review. I picked up a can of Fuller's ESB Champion Ale. A heavyweight, with 5.9% alcohol, it's "a full-flavoured, deep amber brew with full-bodied maltiness".* For a full description of the tasting notes, check the description here, which uses big phrases like "wonderful rich mahogany appearance" and "a smooth, mellow bitterness lingers on the palate". I was impressed with this beer, lots of flavour, and just downright tasty. Definitely gets my seal of approval!
*Description "borrowed" from LCBO Food and Drink magazine.

Mmmmmmmm, beer.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Turkey Riding

Blustery morning at Westboro beach

Woohoo! I got in TWO (count 'em, TWO) rides this past weekend. Saturday's ride was a quick ride on the country roads not far from my place (same roads used for the Rideau Lakes classic route), but the real highlight was Sunday's ride. This was a bit more of a "mission" than a ride. The mission? Get out for a loop of the park before it got too crowded with leaf-viewing riff-raff. I left the house at 9:15am, a little later than I would have liked, but hey, when you've got a newborn, you've gotta get your sleep when you can. The weather network said it was 2 degrees, with a 7km/hr wind from the west. Whoa! Gotta put on the the windproof riding gear. Crossing Champlain bridge, the winds felt waaaaaay stronger than 7km/ was a chilly morning for sure. 

Near the intersection of Champlain and Gatineau.

When I set out from Gamelin on the parkway, I played a little game to occupy my mind....count how many cars pass me, and count the number of cyclists who pass in the opposite direction. Why the number of cyclists in the opposite direction? I figured they were the smart ones who got out early enough to finish their loop before the riff-raff. By the time I got to the top of Pink lake, I'd been passed by 41 cars. I continued on to P8, and by then I had been passed by 61 cars. And cyclists in the opposite direction? 23. That puts the smart cyclists to riff-raff ratio at roughly 1:3. Not scientific by any means, but a good indication of how stupid busy it gets in the park during leaf viewing season.

 Beaver Dam.

Near P8.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

2 hours, 20 minutes

That's how much biking I got in this past week (not including 2 commutes). Actually, that's the tally for for the past TWO weeks (and a total of 4 comuutes). 2 rides, and 1 session on the rollers (does the latter really count, though?). So, how do I top off these 2 weeks of inactivity? By racing the madison cross race today! No point in easing into things. Might as well jump in headfirst and hope for the best. The nice thing about today's race is that it was real close to home...about a 7 minute bike ride. It also allowed Sonia and Dalia to come and hang out. I figured I've gotta immerse Dalia in as much cycling culture and atmosphere as possible. However, throughout the race she was in such a deep sleep that not even the cowbells could make her stir.

I was paired up with my buddy Rick, and it was decided that I would deal with the chaos of riding the first lap.  I'm not sure how many riders were lined up for the start, but it was A LOT! The first lap was a bit shorter than a full lap, but that didn't still hurt! When I went out for my second lap, I went hard right off the bat, which turned out to be a mistake because I couldn't hold the intensity, felt like I was gonna puke, and I didn't make up any real ground. Third lap I started a bit easier and then ramped things up towards the end. Fourth and final lap I just went hard. I felt good on this lap and I think I even got faster as the lap went on.

At this time, I'm not sure how we did in the final results (keep checking here). But, really, the final result doesn't matter, as the cross races are a good time combined with a KILLER workout. I'm hoping to get out for a couple more races, we'll just have to see how much sleep Dalia lets us have in the next two months!

 Rick rolling through the finish. Check out the grimace on his face. He's feeling GREAT!

 Mike. We were almost neck and neck on each lap. I kept looking back to make sure he wouldn't catch me!

 Matt, looking waaaaay too fresh at the end, decided to "Vogue".

Rick, no longer grimacing.

Jamie and Matt. Represent.

Rick and I.

Requisite shot of Dalia, practicing her single finger braking technique.