Saturday, April 30, 2011

A couple seasonals

Better get yo ass off the couch and out the door to try a couple of damn fine brews before they disappear ('till next year). First up is the spring seasonal from Muskoka Brewing. They previously offered two standout seasonals...the Fall Harvest Ale and the Winter Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout. Their summer offering, the Summer Weissbier, does not disappoint. As is the case with most wheat beers, it's slightly hazy, and a nice golden colour. I could pick up on a slight scent of cloves mixed in with the wheat/malt aroma. The cloves are present in the flavour, which is a nice balance of wheat, malt and hops. The flavour is slightly citrusy, and doesn't have that sour aftertaste present in some wheat beers. It also comes in a nice re-usable 750ml swing top bottle.

Perfect for sippin' on a hot summer day.

Next up is the spring offering from everyone's favourite Ottawa area brewery, Beau's. They serve up an IPA, which they have dubbed the Beaver River I.P.Eh. Traditionally, an IPA has more hops than a typical ale. Way back in the day, additional hops were added as a preservative to the beer of British soldiers, to ensure the beer arrived ready for drinkin' after the long voyage to India. The alcohol content was also jacked up (alcohol acts as a preservative), and to do so, extra malt had to be added, thereby giving the beer more flavour. So how does the I.P.Eh stand up. Let me say that I've tried some very hoppy beers, which  also tend to have a very long, bitter aftertaste. The Beau's is a strong hoppy beer, but does not have a lingering after taste, which makes it that much more enjoyable. The strong flavour needs to be balanced with food of equal strength. The Beau's site suggests spicy Mexican or Indian food, wild game or strong cheeses.

An excellent IPA, true to the original (unlike Keith's....)

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I wasn't sure what to title this post. At first I was thinking of "building character" due to my commute to work on Wednesday morning. While I was battling a STIFF, STIFF wind, with rain and sleet blowing in my face, I thought to myself, more as sarcastic consolation than anthing else, "this is the type of shit that builds character, yeah!!!!" Exposed skin was stinging because of the cold precipitation pelting down, my eyes got watery as the wind whipped past, and I even resorted to riding on the sidewalk because I didn't feel safe on the road. That's why I do this, right???? It toughens me up, just like other "character building" things I've done...24 hour solo races, biking in the cold until I can't feel my extremeties, the list goes on. Some people would call that just plain crazy, but if I call it character building, then I *must* be able to justify it.
I also thought of titling this post "overcoming obstacles", since my back and knee are feeling better, AND I had to battle those aforementioned weather conditions. But, "overcoming obstacles" sounds kind of cheesy, and, well, so does "building character", come to think of it. THEN, I was thinking of titling this post "Is spring ever gonna get here?!?!?!?!?", again because of yesterday's weather, and because of this morning's weather. I got up for a quick ride in the park before work, and no joke, AS SOON as I entered the park from Tache boulevard, I started getting pelted with snow. It was snowing during the whole ride, but I thought to myself that I'd rather have it snow on me instead of rain. Only problem is when the roads become covered in snow, slick tires don't really offer much traction. Even though I was picturing those iconic images of Andy Hampsten in the Giro, I think that biking on my own on snow covered roads would have qualified more as stupidity than character building.

Pink Lake, about three quarters frozen...still.

 Is it really almost May????

The road toward Black's, just past the Waterfall trail parking lot.

Tomorrow's forecast looks promising, sunny, and warmer temps than we've been used to for the last while. Not character building riding conditions, but that's fine with me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Break my body (I'm falling apart)

Break my body...that's what I feel like is happening to me. Although my back is improving, I've suffered another set-back. In an effort to protect my back, I've been doing all lifting and bending with my legs, and so yesterday morning, while I was squatting to put some shoes on Lil' D, very suddenly, I got an excruciating pain behind my right kneecap. I thought that maybe my quad was tight and needed to be stretched out, but that just compounded the pain. It ended up being bad enough that putting weight on my knee in any position (straight or bent) was painful. Walking hurt, and stairs....forget it. Icing has had almost no effect on making the pain better. The pain is still there today, not as intense, but limiting nonetheless.

Two weekends in a row of not riding, pretty damn frustrating.

At least I got out last night to see (IMO), one of the greatest bands of all time, The Pixies. They're "a little" older than in the above video, but they put on a good show nonetheless. If you're familiar with their work, this tour was the "Doolittle Tour", an album which for me, is tied with Trompe le Monde for their best work. I started listening to The Pixies in high school, so last night's show was sort of a trip down memory lane for me. The only difference is that in high school I didn't have a bad back or a bum knee.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gettin' There

This post has two, that's right, count 'em TWO parts. Part one: Yesterday morning, I got out for ride before work, and decided to check out the Gatineau parkway. I didn't get too far, based on a small window before work, but things are starting to look good. There are quite a few sections where the parkway is only partially covered in snow and ice, making riding easy as pie. (Sorry, no phone died on me. You can check out a more detailed report here.) Every year I always look forward to that first ride on the parkway, even if there's still some snow. It's just being able to get out on some hills, with smooth pavement, no traffic and no other sounds. It was also cool to see a few other people out for a ride.

Part two: Time to talk about my back. Off the bike, on a daily basis, my back feels fine. No pain. I'm stretching every day and working in more and more core exercises. On the bike, I need to build my back's tolerance for saddle time. It was a little stiff on the bike yesterday, but some more LSD riding should build up my stamina. In hindsight, a lack of activity over the winter (including a lack of core exercises), probably contributed to my back going out on me.
In an effort to keep my back pain free, I'm staying home tomorrow and not riding the Paris-Roubaix. Of course I'm disappointed not to be riding..I've ridden this event for the past 4 years, and it's one of the things I look forward to every spring. I thought about just "riding", as opposed to treating it like a race, but I just KNOW that I would try and hammer from the start, and as soon as I would inevitably be dropped, I'd be struggling. Not fun. So hopefully I can get out for a couple rides this weekend and get back into shape.

Friday, April 8, 2011

And this sucks even more

I've been struggling since Tuesday morning with a bad back; it went out on me when I was picking Lil'D up from her stroller. I've been pretty gimpy since, with things slowly improving, but it means no racing this weekend, and probably not next weekend, either. Needless to say, this sucks.

This is pretty much how I feel, injured and out of shape.

I'm not sure if it's because of all the riding I did last weekend, but I sort of joked that maybe I need a more compliant cross bike, you know, steel, carbon, or titanium. I could argue that it's medically necessary, to take harshness out of the road and prevent future pain. I'm sure my wife would go for that, heh heh!

Monday, April 4, 2011

That kinda sucked

Some time ago, I booked today off work for one sole reason: to put in a nice long ride. However, when I was looking at the forecast last night, the most I was hoping for was a 3 hour ride based on the little cloud icons with rain drops. Then, when I got up this morning and it was snowing out, I remained optimistic and was still thinking 3 hour ride. Temps didn't increase by much, and my riding buddy for the day wimped out on account of the shite weather. So I suited up...merino socks and base layer, gore-tex socks, booties, wind panel tights and jersey, waterproof gloves...the whole nine yards, and headed out.

So yeah, it was pretty miserable out. Damp, windy and cold. As soon as I got going I didn't feel too bad at all. I headed across to Hull and north towards Old Chelsea. About 40-45 minutes in, it started raining harder and felt like the temps were dropping. This is when I started thinking "this isn't all that fun". Then water started seeping past the outer layers and onto my skin. First it was my arms, then hands,and then my lower legs.  Cold and wet...not what I had in mind for a ride. At the 1 hour mark, and turned around and traced my route back home. My hands were getting colder and more waterproof gloves that I was raving about a few weeks back were letting me down. There was a seam at the base of the palm that seemed to be letting water in. On top of that, the sleeves from my jacket were funneling water into my gloves (next time, arm cuff will go OVER my glove cuff).

I got home after 2 hours, with cold, numb hands (followed by the burn of regaining sensation, OUCH!!). I didn't really feel like I got much out of my ride today, BUT it was 2 hours more than I would normally do in these types of conditions, so I have to at least take that away from today.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

4 down, 1 to go... in 4 days in row of riding, with 1 more to go.

I started things off last Thursday morning...I start work at 11:00 on Thursdays, so I squeezed in a 90 minute ride before work, heading up towards the park and tackling some climbing on Notch road. Good way to start the day.

Friday, I took the afternoon off work and put in 3 hours. It was a brutal ride because the wind was relentless. I planned my ride to start off heading into the wind, but that meant about 1.5 hours of riding into a stiff North-West Big Ring would say "Fugg me!!!" I was SO looking forward to the part of my loop where I would make a right hand turn towards the East and have the wind at my back. Even with a tailwind, I didn't manage any kind of remarkable cruising speed because of the hurt the wind has put on me. Right towards the end of my ride, my rear wheel flatted, one of those quick "pfffffft!!!!" followed by a loud "whoosh!!!!" and then flat in about 2 seconds. My tire had a nice gash in the sidewall, but luckily I had some trusty Park tire boot with me (never leave home without it!). It was a bittersweeet demise for my was a brand new tire, a Bontrager R2 25c, but inflated, it only measures 23c. So it sucked that it was a new tire, but it wasn't a big loss since it wasn't what I really wanted in the first place.

This motley crew of wild turkeys was outside a house just off Carling Ave. I rode by here to check out the bike path, which is still covered with patchy snow.

Saturday, Jamie hooked me up with a ride out to Rockland to re-con the course for next weekend's Rockland-Clarence Classic. We picked up Matt and met up with 8 other riders at the ubiquitous Rockland landmark...Wal-Mart. I did this race last year on my road bike (with a 28c up front and a 25c in the rear), so I decided to ride my cross bike with 28's and see how I'd fare. I didn't feel beat up at the end of the ride like I did last year, probably due to a more upright position on my cross bike and a lower average speed. However, the hurt was put on due to the previous day's ride, and once again, the wind. On quite a few occasions I'd lose touch with the lead group, and then suddenly be confronted with an insurmountable gap, pedaling as hard as I could and going nowhere fast, only to be scooped up by the trailing group. It also made me realize what a winter of inactivity does to one's fitness. I have to accept that next weekend's "race" will be more of a "ride". However, it's also early in the season with plenty more riding to be had.

Today was an easy 90 minute recovery spin. Before heading out, I really didn't feel like riding at all...I was tired and sore, but once out on the bike, I felt fine, and enjoyed the sun and brisk temps.

 Yup, that's a hockey net in the pic. Winter just seems to be holding on with everything it's got.

Tomorrow I have the day off, so I'm gonna put in one more ride and then be done with this little "training block". The only downside is the forecast....cold, wind and rain. I was hoping to put in 4 hours, but that might get shortened depending on what the weather ends up doing.