Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pedal 2 Pints

So, I haven't really talked much about my training since February. If you follow me here, you have seen a pretty steady bit of riding showing up tin the Strava feed. One rule for me; if it is not on Strava, it didn't happen - so everything I do on the bike is in that little widget, or can be found at http://www.strava.com/athletes/7010. Occasionally, those items also show up in either my Twitter feed or my Facebook page (and sometimes both those places), but not always. A lot of the Strava tracking is just for my own use, so I can track metrics and motivate myself to ride. Anyway, I wanted to let folks know about a ride I did yesterday over in Deerfield, Massachusetts. The ride was billed as "Pedal 2 Pints" and you can find the page for it here. The ride was about 67 miles, and it visited the Northampton Brewery, Valley Malt, Amherst Brewing Company, Element Brewing Company, The People's Pint, Lefty's Brewing Company, Artisan's Beverage Cooperative, Clarkdale Fruit Farm. The start and finish was at Berkshire Brewing Company. For those of you who abhor Facebook, I am sorry; this whole ride was run out of the Pedal 2 Pints Facebook page, so I am using all the links from there. Anyway, it was a picture perfect day. I left the house at 6:00am, followed the directions from the Berkshire Brewing homepage, and found my way on site by 8:30 for a 9:30 start. There was fruit, and bagels, and coffee, and really what more do you need at that time of day? A group that was set to ride 82 miles departed at 9:15am, and the 70's (everything on the distances was a little "ish", but again, we were going to ride bikes and drink beer, so who really cared if the distances were a little squishy?) mostly lined up and started around 9:30am. As I have found to be typical, the folks who were riding the longer routes were not really dawdlers; we moved along, and found ourselves at Northampton Brewery by 10:30. One of the folks riding with our group is apparently affiliated with this establishment; you can see him here, still helmeted, pulling Oatmeal Kooky Stout (because it has Oatmeal, and Stout, it is obviously a breakfast drink).

Next stop, Valley Malt, which several people who rode the Pedal 2 Pints last year said they had never seen (or been able to find) the previous year. We found it, and found a splendid Smoked Maple Lager from Jack's Abbey. The smoking (with the maple) was done at Valley Malt. Great beer, and an interesting stop. Fueled with this fine beer, we headed to Amherst Brewing Company.

This stop started a little odd; apparently we were way ahead of schedule, and no one was expecting us when we arrived, so there was nothing set out to drink but water (horrors!!). However, they soon set things right, and invited us in for a nice tour of their brewing operation. The tour started with a couple of available beers, only one of which I tried, which was dubbed Experimental IPA. Successful experiment - very good beer, which is hard for me to say since I am not much of an IPA fan.

Leaving Amherst, I found myself somewhat alone on the road, and I relaized that some folks I had seen earlier must be ahead of me. These folks were recognizable by their matching Harpoon B2B jerseys (a ride I want to do sometime). I put my head down and went to find them. I caught them and was admonished that "if you can catch us, you are not drinking enough beer". We rode along for a while, a nice group of 6, but we had 2 that were falling off fairly regularly, so when we got passed by a train of 5 riders, I jumped on with them to ride into lunch at Element Brewing. One of the few missed markings of the day (which could easily have been our fault), we shot past the Brewery without realizing it, and had to turn around and go back. Still, we were among the first of the long groups (which were having lunch at Element), so we sampled beers while they got lunch set up. The Extra Special Oak was my favorite of the beers sampled here (which included Giant Red, and Dark Element, both recommended). Lunch was served amongst the tanks (chicken wraps and chips) and was fine. I understand that there were some availability issues with food later in the day, which is a regular issue on group rides, but that's life. I bought some of Element's Anniversary Brews (the same three, but at roughly double strength) to be delivered to the finish, as well as a souvenir pint glass.

I was ready to get back on the road, so I took off with one other rider, headed for The People's Pint. By the time I got there, I had lost the one rider, and picked up 2 others, a couple of guys from down on the Cape. Our riding styles were very complimentary, and we ended up sticking together for the rest of the ride. The People's Pint was only about 5 miles from Element, so I skipped the beer there and had a chocolate chip cookie, then we were back on the road. But not for long! Lefty's Brewing is very close by, so we pulled in there and were faced with a huge variety (biggest of the day) of available beers to sample. I opted for a Maple Ale that was quite tasty. We didn't stay long, but I would like to try some more of their beers; they were very hospitable, and the beer was tasty. We were there such a short time, I failed to take a picture. The next stop was Artisan Beverage Cooperative, which was literally only about 300 yards away. Here I had a ginger kombucha and a taste of mead; both were interesting. It became obvious that all of us were ready to get finished. Little did we know, there was a wealth of climbing to do before we were done...at the top of one climb, we came to Clarkdale Fruit Farm, but we did not stop, yearning for the finish.

We finished at the Berkshire Brewing Company - we were, once again, early, and they were not ready for us, but sometimes that yields perks. This is the tasting room inside the brewery, where we had the opportunity to try any of the (9? 10?) beers on tap. A lot of BBC beers are available in the market, but I had the opportunity to try the Rum Barrel Aged "Shabadoo" Black and Tan. WOW. If you get the chance, try this beer. You will not be disappointed.

My new friends from the Cape wanted to get started for home; they had a three hour drive ahead of them. As they left, I came out of the brewery to wish them a safe trip home. I hung out in the parking lot, at the tables, and watched groups come in, watched the dinner serving tables get set up, ate, got my purchase from Element, and my "swag glass" and headed home around 5. I was home by 7:30 pm. Definitely a day that was worthwhile, and a ride I will do again in the future if possible.

It sounds like it is all fun and games, but on the sidewalk outside of Element, one of my new friends from the Cape mentioned that he was heavier than he wanted to be, and that he is concerned about what his future holds. I was able to share some about my own journey, and we talked briefly about his concerns, and my responses, at each stop from there on. Here's hoping it helped.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Back in the saddle

I don't know where the time went, but I am pretty sure it went out for a walk, looking for my motivation, which seemed to disappear right after the Maine Senior State Games on September 9. It didn't actually disappear, more like it faded away...looking at my Strava rides from 2012, I rode consistently in June and July, shorter in August (probably convincing myself that I was "tapering"). The races were on September 9; a 40k Road Race (Gold Medal in my age group), followed by a 20k Road Race (Silver Medal in my age group), followed by a 10k Time Trial (Gold Medal in my age group). I had wanted to do well, because they were qualifiers for the National Senior Games, that will be held in early August 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. I qualified. Good enough, apparently, because from then until now, I have put in less hours on the bike than I did in July (just the one month, while we are talking about less time being spent in five months by way of comparison). In January 2013, I did something I have not done in over 5 years; I did NOT get on a bike in the entire month. What else happened in that time? I gained some weight, and generally did not feel very good. Oddly enough, my recent Hemoglobin A1c test results do not look like those of a man who suddenly stopped doing the thing he has done for five years to manage his blood glucose. My doctor was, I think, a little put out that she did not have that to hold over my head. Regardless, it is time for a change. I rode today, started putting in some base miles. It was 26 degrees when I left home, but I didn't really feel the cold until I was only about 15 minutes from the end of the ride (even then, it was just my toes, which I forgot to put warmers on). It wasn't a pretty ride, cold and blustery, and it wasn't a fun ride, but it did have a certain satisfaction built into it. I'm glad to be back. Thanks for being with me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Buying Outdoor Gear?

If you are a person who likes to buy outdoor gear (including cycling gear) at a great cost, take a look at The Clymb. Great gear - great prices!