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Archive for October, 2007

Three thousand miles

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

During my ride in Fort Wayne on Saturday, I hit 3,000 miles of cycling so far this year. As of right now, I’ve ridden 3012.29 miles this year, broken down as follows:

Road: 2096.33 miles
Mountain: 356.45 miles
593.98 miles
Errands:  9.18 miles

That’s over 193 hours of riding (Sarah can attest to this).

As you can see, I really need to run more errands by bicycle, and I am hoping to work on improving that. The vast majority of the miles I’ve ridden have been on recreational/training rides, and while I commute by bicycle most of the time, I really want to use my bike for more of my everyday transportation needs.

That said, I’m very pleased that I’ve ridden so much.  I am really enjoying all this riding … and I’m looking forward to the next 3,000 miles.

Riding in Fort Wayne

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Sarah and I went to Fort Wayne this weekend. Naturally, I took my bike, and I had read about a club ride with the Three Rivers Velo Sport club. So on Saturday, I dropped Sarah off at her mom’s house and headed to Homestead High School to meet up with the group. Unfortunately I arrived a few minutes late and I felt really bad about that, but they were cool about it and waited for me to get ready.

Aside from my road ride on my mountain bike in Franklin, North Carolina, I realized I haven’t done any major road rides anywhere other than the Bloomington area. I knew this would be very different, since northern Indiana is very flat, whereas we have a lot of hills in my area. I was looking forward to riding somewhere new, and I figured a club ride would be a great way to see some of the area without having to worry too much about the fact that I didn’t know my way around at all.

We started riding and there were a few hills intially, but they were easy. I struck up a conversation with Steve, who was wearing a Hilly Hundred jersey. We talked about the Hilly a bit, and then I drifted toward the back of the group to take some photos.

Flat farm country

Following the group through the countryside
Farm with a pond — notice the flag is blown straight out
While things flattened out and there were very few hills after this initial section, the wind was strong gusting from probably 15 to 25 mph — and we had headwinds or crosswinds for the first 30 miles or so. I’m not used to riding in wind and I was hanging back for a while to take photos anyway (I have to slow down a bit to do so and sometimes swerve a little bit … not acceptable unless you’re at the back of the group) so I enjoyed drafting for a while.

We passed a lot of farms, many with cool old run-down barns. It was a perfect day — sunny, clear, cool. The leaves are finally changing so the golden red and brown leaves against the deep blue sky were quite beautiful. On this flat land you can see for miles and I really enjoyed the scenery. Topographically, it’s different from what I’m used to, but the corn and farms and barns are very familiar. I was reminded for the thousandth time how much better it is to see a place by bicycle. I’ve driven through this area before and it wasn’t nearly as appealing from that vantage point.

We rode by some large farm machinery that was being used to harvest(?) corn and we were pelted with shredded bits of cornstalks as we rode by. I saw some corn cobs laying on the road. We also passed a few horse-drawn carriages at times, but I didn’t manage to get a photo of those.

Corn harvesting machine … notice the particles flying through the air.

A great barn and silo

Huge old tree

I decided that I had drafted long enough and worked my way forward to take a turn pulling. I am not too used to riding in groups, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. In fact, this was a double paceline and I was pretty unsure of myself. Another rider gave me some pointers that were really helpful — basically, ride by the center line if the wind is coming from the left, or at the right edge of the road if the wind is coming from the right. Someone took the lead in the other line and pulled for a minute but then announced he had just “blown his wad” and fell back to let someone else pull. Another rider pulled forward and neither of us was too sure of what we were doing, but we got in the swing of things. I pulled for a good five miles solid before falling back and felt good about that. Someone later complimented me about it. Next time, I’ll feel a bit more confident.

Lots of hay bales in a field

We passed through or near Columbia City and South Whitley, both pretty small towns. I enjoyed passing through Columbia City, as it has a quaint square downtown typical of small towns in this area.

Columbia City

Downtown Columbia City

A few of us stopped for a break in Columbia City (or South Whitley … my memory is a little hazy), while a few others rode on. I learned that to follow the 62-mile route I should have turned off quite a while back and that I was on the 48-mile route instead. This was fine with me.

Shortly after passing through there, we got on County Road 800 and finally had a tailwind. At this point, we were treated to about 10 miles of flat, straight road with the wind at our backs. We sustained speeds of 25-30 mph during that whole time. This was so utterly different from the riding I’m used to; with the hills and curvy roads, there is no place you can sustain this kind of speed in the Bloomington area. I’m also not used to such sustained, constant power output. It was great endurance exercise and was more tiring than I would have thought. It’s interesting riding this way because it feels completely different from twistier roads … it becomes more repetitive and I really lost myself in the spinning of my crank. My pedals fell and rose almost automatically and I felt like a passenger on my own bicycle, my mind wandering for a few moments before returning to the task at hand. It was a little too easy to hunker down and pedal without even paying attention to the landscape — I am sure that I missed some scenery in this manner.


Straight, flat land with a tailwind
During this stretch, the group became more fractured until it was just Steve and myself riding on this road. We talked some more about the Hilly and about the different terrain in northern/southern Indiana.

Power lines across a field

Steve complimented me on riding well and then proceeded to show me a thing or two, speeding up and leaving me in the dust. He really ate up this long flat section of road while I was praying for a hill to allow me to change my cadence and mayb even coast for a minute, but it was not to be. By the time I did reach a hill, I was tired from 10 miles of constant pedaling and slowed significantly. I managed to keep Steve in sight, but just barely.

When we got back to the high school a few others were there. I think a few had finished faster and a few had taken a shorter route. I hung out with Steve, “Kmart” Dave and a couple other whose names I can’t remember (sorry guys!) and talked about the ride, the Hilly Hundred and other rides we’d done lately. It was great to meet the guys from this cycling club and they invited me back any time I’m in Fort Wayne. I’ll certainly take them up on their offer.


Friday, October 19th, 2007

Sarah and I went to Big Red Liquors’ 15th Annual Beerfest last night, which features over 200 different beers. It was held at the Bloomington Convention Center from 6-9 pm. We met up with a couple of her classmates from IU’s School of Library And Information Science. We had a great evening of drinking beer and talking about libraries. I felt a little out of place being a Web developer amongst library science students, but it was fun and I know enough through Sarah (knowledge tends to rub off, you know) that I could keep up most of the time. We got pretty drunk and walked around in the rain debating where to eat, eventually settling on the Irish Lion where we drank some more (I had some really tasty Mead) and ate Celtic Stew and cheese.

Beer-wise, we found some really fantastic brews. Of the local beers, I just loved Upland’s new beer, a black lager whose name I can’t remember right now. It’s not available yet, but I’ll definitely be buying some of that when it comes out (Upland is our favorite local brewery). We tried some beers from the Oaken Barrel Brewing Company in Indianapolis that were good but not great. I had heard good things about Bloomington Brewing Company’s Java Porter, which I finally tried and really liked. The coffee flavor was a lot stronger than I expected.

We all really enjoyed the Schlafly Pumpkin Ale — it had just the right amount of pumpkin and some good spice. I also spent a good 10 minutes at the Breckenridge Brewing Company’s table sampling everything they had to offer. Sarah and I had had their Vanilla Porter before, which we call “The Milkshake of Beers,” but that’s the only thing we’ve been able to find. Their Oatmeal Stout was fantastic and I really enjoyed their Amber as well. The guy at that booth also recommended a couple of places to buy Breckenridge locally, so hopefully we’ll actually be able to buy some of this stuff.

I also noticed after trying Upland’s new Black Lager that Sam Adams has a Black Lager too. I tried theirs and it was good, but Upland was better. One thing that surprised me is how much I enjoyed stouts. I have never been too into stouts but I found some great ones last night. The Breckenridge one was great, as was Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout. I also enjoyed Saint Peter’s Stout and I think a couple of others, but my memory is a bit hazy for some reason.

One more thing I’d like to mention is Leinenkugel’s Apple Spice Beer was really good. Sarah brought over what I thought was a hard cider and I took a sip and was very impressed. I was a little surprised when she told me what it was. Good stuff.

Now, a full list of everything I drank, whittled down from the full list of beers (to the best of my recollection):

  • Allagash Double
  • Chimay Reserve
  • Piraat
  • Abita Purple Haze
  • Anchor Steam
  • Flying Dog Gonzo Porter
  • Avery Salvation
  • McEwan’s Scotch Ale
  • Leinenkugel Apple Spice
  • Peroni
  • Sam Adams Black Lager
  • Sam Adams Brown Ale
  • Schlafly Pale Ale
  • Schlafly Hefeweizen
  • Schlafly Oatmeal Stout
  • Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
  • Oaken Barrel Brewing Indiana Amber
  • Oaken Barrel Brewing Razz Wheat
  • Oaken Barrel Brewing Gnaw Bone Pale Ale
  • Bell’s Amber
  • Bell’s Lager of the Lakes
  • Bell’s Best Brown Ale
  • Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout
  • Wychwood Hobgoblin
  • St. Peters Stout
  • Franziskaner Hefeweiss
  • Moosehead Lager
  • Woodchuck Granny Smith
  • Woodchuck Pear
  • Goose Island 312
  • Goose Island Matilda
  • Goose Island Pere Jacques
  • Guinness Draught (keg)
  • Stella Artois
  • Hoegaarden
  • Sierra Nevada Wheat
  • Upland Wheat
  • Upland Oktoberfest
  • Upland Bad Elmers Porter
  • Upland Amber Ale
  • Upland Black Ale
  • Bloomington Brewing Company Java Porter
  • Sea Dog Blue Paw Blueberry
  • Jewbelation Eleven
  • Breckenridge Brewery Avalanche Amber Ale
  • Breckenridge Brewery Vanilla Porter
  • Breckenridge Brewery Oatmeal Stout
  • Breckenridge Brewery 471 Small Batch Series ESB
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