Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

A little holiday cheer with my most favourite Christmas song of all time. Enjoy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Paved Bike Mag

I like magazines. I don't read books that often...actually very rarely, but magazines...there's something about the glossy, colourful pages and bright pictures that manages to hold my short attention span "just" long enough. So in a (not so) recent magazine purchasing binge, I discovered a new bike magazine.

Paved bike mag, which states on the cover "A brand new skinny tire magazine from the editors of Bike."  As you can guess, the focus is entirely on road biking.

Flipping through the mag, there are lots of pics, some quite amazing pictures, actually. The kind that you look at and appreciate in an arty kind of way, but also make you wanna run out the door and head out for a ride. (Then you realize you're biking through the flat farms around Ottawa instead of the Italian Dolomites).

Col du Glandon, France

After a long ride...

Italian Dolomites.

As well as having lots of pretty pictures to look at, there are also some good articles. For the most part, they are well written and captivating enough to keep me engaged until the end of the article. Topics covered include the Italian Dolomites, The Tour of Flanders, doping (enough already!!) and interviews with Steve Hed and Chris Carmichael among others. There are reviews of some sweet commuter bikes, but the P&A (parts and accessories) reviews were a little lacking, and that's usually my favourite section of any bike magazine...the eye candy that I want to spend my hard earned cash on.

Young Belgian entrepreneurs...that ain't no lemonade that they're selling.

Overall, I'd say that it was a good magazine, with decent mix of incredible pics and interesting articles. On a sidenote, I've never flipped through Rouleur or Embrocation magazines, but I imagine that Paved is going for a similar feel. Issue #2 should be out soon, and I'm curious to see what it has in store.

Another new magazine that I've yet to come across at my local magazine stands (which actually only consists of Chapter's and a tiny magazine shop next to my work) is Peloton magazine. Not much to say here, other than I hope that the magazine is better than their website, which is absolutely horrible...everything is very small, hard to navigate through and feels like it was thrown together with no real thought a lot of Ottawa bike lanes.

I'll have more magazine reviews in the future...I'm currently making my way through Wend (more of a travel magazine) and Mountain Flyer, a mountain bike mag from the western U.S. of A.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

'Tis the season

Wow! It's been 2 weeks since I last showed my face here. This is a brief post, just urging you to head to the LCBO and check the selection of seasonal beers and gift packs. The following is a sampling of some beers that I picked up, but haven't tried yet, so get out there and give them a go for yourself.

 Winter ales. Typically darker, stronger and a touch sweeter than conventional ales. I tried the St. Peter's winter ale last year, and found it went really well with, believe it or not, shortbread. The Great Lakes Brewery winter ale features hints of cinnamon, honey, ginger and orange peel, while the Samuel Smith winter welcome ale remains rather mysterious, as there isn't a lot of info on the web about it other than reviews on beer advocate.

 Innis and Gunn....'Nuff said. But in case you're wondering, there's a gift pack featuring the regular brew, plus a bottle of rum cask, winter ale and an Innis & Gunn glass. In the green box is the Highland Cask, aged in casks used for a 21 year old single malt scotch.

Southern Tier Imperial Choklat Stout; this heavy weight comes in with 9.5% alc.....proceed with caution! Harviestoun Ola Dubh special 12 reserve; similar to Innis & Gunn, it's matured in single malt scotch casks. There's also a special reserve 16 and a special reserve 30, which costs close to $20 for a 330ml bottle! Cannery Brewing Blackberry Porter (self-explanatory), coming out of Pentiction, BC.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I remember the first cross race I ever did...I think it was in 2000 or '01. It was at Britannia park,  I rode my mountain bike (a hardtail Devinci), and it was damn hot out for the end of September. I didn't fare very well, but what I remember the most was leading up to the race, asking my buddy Al (MacEachen) if he wanted to join me, and he said, I kid you not, "I'd rather get kicked in the nuts with a pair of frozen mukluks!" I find that cross creates pain in just about the whole body EXCEPT for the nuts (unless you mess up a remount), and I don't think getting kicked in the nuts would actually be more tolerable, but a funny story nonetheless. I just wanted to share that doesn't have much to do with the post or provide a segueway into anything, but it's funny as hell.

As the title of this post would imply, no more cross for me this year. I kind of already knew last week that I was done for the year. I skipped out this weekend because I need to study...I have a practical exam coming up in a week for the Canadian Pedorthic Association (to get my certification as a pedorthist), so that takes priority over getting muddy on my bike. Next week is out due to a family commitment, so there ya go, no more cross...and to be honest, I'm quite happy with that. I've had a bit of a love-hate relationship with cross this year. The courses are fun, technical and demanding, and it's a hell of a workout. However, because it is a race, a bit of my competitive nature comes out, and then I get frustrated with myself in terms of results. There is a long list of reasons why I haven't met my expectations this cross season (which I won't bore you with), but this was really my first "cross season". Before this year, I had done a total of 6 cross races (including that one from almost a decade ago). I did just as many this year alone, so I have learnt quite a bit and know what I need to do to ride better next year. The only goal that I have set for myself for next year, with regards to any biking, is to "do better at cross races". I haven't decided yet what that involves, exactly, but I have a lot of time to think about it. For now, other thoughts of what I want to accomplish next year are on hold while I practice doing plaster casts of Sonia's feet.

Time to pack these up.


Of course, between studying, I have time for "breaks", which means more beer reviews. First up is a seasonal offering from Mill Street, Schleimhammer Roggenbier (don't EVEN ask what that means). A bit of mystery shrouds this beer, as it's not featured on their website. After a bit of research, I found out that it's brewed in the style of a traditional German rye beer, using a mix of rye, wheat and barley malt. The aroma of this beer is really nice...a sweet rye smell combined with toasted malts and a hint of fruitiness. The complex aroma leads you to believe that this will be a full flavoured beer, and unfortunately, it disappoints. The flavour and the finish are faint, and left me wanting more. Probably wouldn't buy this one again.


Another seasonal Ontario offering is the Smoked Oatmeal Stout from Trafalgar Ales and Meads. This beer has all the hallmarks of a stout; hints of caramel, toffee, chocolate, and coffee in the aroma. The initial flavour when it hits the tongue is quite nice, but is quickly taken over by a bitter aftertaste. This beer also has a very light body...almost watery; very uncharacteristic for a stout. Unfortunately, another disappointing beer. This one makes this post 0 for 2, and only 1 for 3 with respect to Trafalgar brewing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hammer and Anvil Day 2 in Pictures

Some random pics from the Ride with Rendall cross race on Sunday. If you're on facebook, I've got a bunch of pics up there. Caption free 'cause I'm feeling lazy. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Been a long time

Saturday afternoon, I did something that I haven't done in awhile...go mountain biking. On top of that, I went mountain biking with Sonia. It was the first time in two years that we've gone mountain biking together, and Sonia's first ride at Kanata Lakes in the same amount of time. Despite mentioning in my last post that I have a sore wrist and a lack movtivation to ride, 5 inches of travel definitely makes riding easier, and I've been wanting to go mountain biking for awhile, so the motivation was there. The riding was much needed...good for the soul...that type of thing. Much thanks has to go out to the in-laws who babysat while Sonia and I got out for the afternoon.

Sonia on rockhopper.

Barrelling down outback.

A pause for the cause.

Towards the end of the ride, no joke, about 1 minute from the trailhead, I took a massive spill. Near the trailhead it was wet and muddy, and I was riding through the middle of puddles rather than go around like countless others have (and have contributed in a negative way). I was thinking to myself, "Big Ring would be proud" and then all of a sudden my front wheel dipped dooooown into a puddle, hit a rock, and I ended up in one fine muddy mess. All I could do was laugh, 'cause in the end, it was a great day of riding...exactly what I needed.

Is time up on the season? (Yeah, I know, that was cheesy.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


This is a weekend of cyclo cross in Ottawa. Ride with Rendall is hosting two days of racing with their Hammer and Anvil race, and the OBC is chugging along with their series despite the City of Ottawa cancelling their park permits. Three cross races this weekend, and I'm not doing a single one. What?!?!?!?! Blasphemy!!!! Well, I've got my excuses lined up, so take that.

1. Pain. This has nothing to do with the "god I'm suffering" that cross is all about, no. This is more of a "god I'm getting old and falling apart" type of pain. After each cross race, my right wrist is sore, and it hurts to move it. The crunchy noises that it produces with movement aren't very reassuring, either. I ice for a few days, it gets better, then I undo all good by racing again. So that's it. A break this weekend so that I don't speed up arthritis in my wrist.

2. Motivation. A lack of it. I can't get excited about racing, or even just riding. Case in point: I had last Thursday morning off work for Remembrance day. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and I thought for about 2 seconds about going for a ride, and instead, I just ended up slumming around the house in my pajamas.

3. Alcohol. I was in a, shall we say, dehydrated state this morning. NOT conducive to racing. 'Nuff said.

Now, I'm gonna rewind to Friday night, which relates to the "movin' 'n groovin" at the top of my blog (as well as my dehydrated state). I checked out some friends who were in town to play a gig at the Mercury Lounge. Their act is called Bonjay, and basically consists of a DJ/producer (Pho) and a vocalist (Alanna). The vibe is very much on the dancehall reggae tip, but is influenced by other genres, from hip hop to jazzy broken beats. Check out some tracks on their Myspace page.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Muskoka Harvest Ale

Muskoka brewery in one Ontario brewery who's beers have not disappointed me. Awhile back I got a chance to sample all of their beers when I picked up their mixer pack. There's a good variety of different beers, from ales, to lager and wheat beer (although the pilsner light and the premium lager are pretty similar), but you're sure to find a favorite amongst the bunch.

 One of every Muskoka beer is included in the mixer pack.

A seasonal that they have out now, and I wanted to try it and tell you about it before it runs out in stores, is their harvest ale. The description on the (750ml!) bottle reads "this is a well hopped pale ale made with a handpicked selection of locally grown ingredients...(it) is dry hopped to contribute a fresh aroma and a subtle grassy character to the ale, reminiscent of the harvest." Not being the harvesting type, this beer didn't bring back any memories of such, but grassy is one way to describe the flavour and aroma. I would even go so far to say there were hints of pine in there too. The grassy/pine characteristic definitely comes from the hops, and this is one hoppy beer. Of course, that leads to a bitter finish, but I don't mind bitterness when a beer has a real hoppy character. I tried this beer with a nice pot roast, which cut through the lingering bitterness. All that being said, if you want to try a hoppy ale, get this one before it's all gone.

Look at that! I managed to get more use out of our rotting Jack O'Lantern.

No cool props here, except for the Kona beer glass.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Almonte Cross take pictures

As most of you know by now, the City of Ottawa has decided to revoke the park permits for the remainder of the cross season, meaning that yesterday's race was moved to the Almonte venue...which is not a bad thing. The course did not dissappoint....tight, technical, twisty, hilly, painful, slick, greasy, cold and wet. All the things that make for good cross riding. Yesterday's race was a family affair, with Sonia and Lil' D coming out to watch the potential carnage. That meant getting out the door a little on the late side, and only about a half lap for warm up...oh well. I'm not gonna talk about how the race went down for me, since it would sound pretty much like all other previous posts. So instead, I'm just gonna throw up some pics that Sonia took and make some feeble attempts to write witty captions. Enjoy!

 Photographer and cheerleaders for the day.

Everone lookin pretty clean.

Bushtukah tech #1, Adrian. This corner was tricky, and I had a hard time nailing the perfect line here.

Bushtukah tech #2, Phil. Check the snot dripping from his nose. Taking a cue from the Original Big Ring, it's funny cause it's snot dripping from his nose.

Sonia likes this pic in an arty photo kind of way. Oh, and that's Rob flying up the long run-up from hell.

Not sure how I managed NOT to wipe out here.

According to Sonia, Matt ALMOST wiped out here.

Bushtukah tech #3, Geoff. Another one of Sonia's fave pics.

Darren and I were back and forth for most of the race. He got away from me on on the straights, and then I would catch up on the downhills, get ahead, and then get caught. On and on it went, until I wiped out on the last lap and couldn't make up the lost ground....damn bugger!

I'm pretty sure this is moments before Pascal started DRY HEAVING! That's right, DRY HEAVING!!!! Friggin' hardcore, man.

Rodd, displaying fine form.

This is what it's all about...

 ....and this too.

Tomorrow, a beer post!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Cross

The front lawn Sunday morning.

So, this post might not seem that relevant anymore, since Halloween has come and gone, but I still need to inform the masses (the small mass that it is) about my back of mid pack cross results. Waking up Sunday morning to a blanket of snow and cold temps, I already knew that I'd be doing the cross race that morning, but I couldn't figure out for the life of me what I was going to wear..decisions, decisions. The problem with having bike clothes of different materials, weights etc is trying to figure out the best combo for the weather. In the end, I just packed a ton of stuff, and knowing that my ass was gonna get wet...lubed up.

Lathered up good with this stuff so my ass would, um, feel good while racing?

It was pretty friggin' cold for the start of the race, but I felt ready, clothing-wise. Got the heads up from Glen that the start of the course had some monster puddles and trying to keep the feet dry would be essential. So I threw on my Gore Tex socks, hoping they would do the trick. Off the start, the puddles were DEEP, but my feet stayed dry, and stayed that way for the rest of the race. The problem though, were my fingers. It didn't take long until it felt like I had blocks of ice instead of fingers on the end of my hands. It got so bad that I had to look at my shifter to make sure I was hitting the right lever. As the race went on, I started to get some feeling back, but after the race, my finger tips were BURNING as sensation started to creep back. This was by far the wettest, muddiest and greasiest cross race of the year so far, but for me, one of the most fun.

Don't mind the blank expression...I was focused on thawing out my fingers.

A rinse with the garden hose, some soaking and two washes got my jersey and gear clean.

Brakspear Triple, strong ale.

In keeping with my tradition of a cross and beer post, this week's offering is a strong ale from Brakspear brewing, Brakspear triple.  It is a triple fermented beer, with two fermentations in the Brakspear "Double Drop" system (which remains a mystery), and the final fermentation in the bottle. With a higher alcohol content (7.2%), I was expecting a sweeter tasting beer, and that's exactly what I got. There was a hint of fruit in the taste and aroma, and the sweetness was not over-powering. This was balanced by a long finish that wasn't too bitter. This went down nicely after dinner, coupled with some dark chocolate.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Choice is Yours

First, an old school throw-back, which will make sense later on in the post.

So I didn't get out to race cross this weekend on account of:
1) a nagging right hip flexor which was most likely aggravated by cross (something to do with wildly swinging my leg over the saddle to re-mount) and would have been made worse by more cross.
2) there was plenty of stuff to do around the house, resulting in some swearing, and a few trips to home depot.
It's too bad, though, 'cause from what I've heard, the Perth course was one of the best in a long time.

I did manage to get out a road ride on Saturday (the hip flexor doesn't hurt when riding, so don't say "well, what about your hip?). I'm not gonna go into much detail, about the ride, since I headed up to the park and have ridden those roads countless times, but what I will say though, is that it was a friggin' workout! But then again, I've ridden an average of 3 hours a week for about the past 2 months, so what was I expecting?!?!?!?

So lastly, that leaves another beer review. This week it's not an Ontario beer, but a British ale, Black Sheep Ale  (now you can see why I picked the "Black Sheep" video....get it? Yeah I know, a little cheesy, but aren't you glad I put up that video....A CLASSIC!!) The beer itself is a nice brilliant amber-copper colour, with a mellow aroma. The label describes this as "crisp, dry and bittersweet" and the flavour strikes a nice balance of sweetness and bitterness. The finish is on the bitter side of things, and in the words of the brewery, consists of "Black Sheep's uncompromising long, dry and bitter finish." They got that right! I think this beer would be best enjoyed with some food to offset the bitter finish (I didn't really have a chance to try it with some food since I just guzzled it down to replace carbs from my road ride). To me, this beer tastes like a lot of English Ales that I've tried. It's not a bad beer, I'd drink it again, but there's nothing really making it stand out amongst the sea of ales.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Almonte Cross and Trafalgar Ales and Meads

Where to start? Talk about biking, or beer. Going by the expression "save the best for last", I'm gonna start with the biking, and finish with the beer.
This past weekend was the much anticipated Almonte cross race. I was looking forward to this one for 2 reasons:
1) the last time I rode an Almonte cross course was 2 years ago, and it was a fun course. Everyone talks about the Almonte courses being among their faves, and I'm sure this year would be no exception
2) I got a new bike!!!!

Looking pretty spiffy. An Opus Spark.

So yes, an Opus Spark. Aluminum frame with a carbon fork, decked out in full 105 components (except for the FSA Omega crank) and Mavic Aksium wheels. (Thanks to Dave at OGC for the hookup).

The Almonte course was, of course, fun, twisty, technical with lots of ups and downs. To start the race, I tried not to pedal my ass off too hard and blow up. Since we started doing laps around a gravel running track, it was easy to keep others in sight and take advantage of the draft. But as soon as the race hit the grass, my legs decided not to show up, and my pedaling generally lumbered for the rest of the race. On the second last and last laps, I managed to pcik up "a bit" of steam, and found myself out of the saddle trying to mash on the gears for small spurts at a time, but it was too little too late. So how did the bike ride? I found it a little twitchy at first, probably because the fit is a little on the small side of things. The shifting and braking were dependable, but I wonder how many muddy races it will take before the shifting starts to deteriorate. Did the bike make me any faster? No. I need to work on that one!

"A little" dirtier in the space of an hour.

So now on to the beer. Trafalgar Ales and Meads is an Ontario craft brewery out of Oakville. I recently tried two of their beers (they have an extensive selection); the Elora Grand Lager and Elora Irish Ale.

 Trafalger Elora Grand Lager

The Trafalgar website describes their Grand Lager as "a light colored but full flavored lager, brewed in the Plisner style, at full strength". This beer definitely has a nice initial flavour, but then it has a bitter aftertaste that sort of creeps up on you. Because of this, I wasn't a big fan of this beer.
Trafalgar Elora Irish Ale.

On the other hand, the Elora Irish Ale was a winner. What's an Irish Ale? I'm not exactly sure, but a bit of googling reveals that it's usually a red ale due to roasted barley. The Trafalgar site simply describes it as a "brown ale reminiscent of the old style of ale brewing. Brewed as an “anytime ale” this beer is smooth and refreshing". Smooth and refreshing...damn straight!!!! Overall, in terms of the aroma, flavour and finish, this beer had a nice balance between sweet and bitter, leaning towards the sweet side of things. This was full bodied as you would expect from a dark beer, but didn't leave me feeling full...instead I wanted more. One down side was very little carbonation...not sure if this was an intentional part of the brewing process or not. The other bonus with this beer...a 650ml bottle!

Nice and dark.