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.