Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Insert Witty Title


Last week was a bit of an odd one for me, well not so much me as it was for a friend of mine who received some potentially horrible news. It ended up being almost the best case scenario but that was not revealed until way deep into the week. Since there was a lot of unknown for most of the week I had decided to skip the normal weekend activities so that I could be there if it came to that, thankfully it did not. Plans were still kept to hang out on Saturday so instead of the usual ride I stuck closer to home and did a solo gravel ride in the morning before the meetup.


Saturday ended up being kind of a chilly, windy, overcast and dreary day but riding still seemed better than sitting on the couch. Chased these two turkeys along the fence line for about a quarter mile before they figured out to cross the road since they couldn't get through the fence. Chase being a relative term actually since I was just minding my own business and stayed on the road but they thought I was chasing them.




It had been a while since I had ridden up north and I almost forgot how hilly it can get up here, taking the Pugsley on a windy day probably wasn't the best choice for such terrain. As they say what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger and since I didn't die I therefore must be stronger.


It was meant to be a pretty slow roll anyway so I guess bike choice didn't make that much of a difference. Not needing to share the bridge beer was nice, don't get me wrong sharing is caring but sometimes gluttony has it's place also.




Saturday afternoon we whipped up some steak and chicken fajitas and ate ourselves silly, such a great dish and super simple to make.

Did some single track on Sunday and then again on Monday for the first Monday Night Ride of the season. I'm glad to see the rides continuing on Mondays despite the relocation of the the shop that used to put them on, riding with a group is always a bit more motivating than soloing it all the time. Not much for pictures on the single track riding but with the new GoPro there is video and if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be a few million. Work smarter not harder I guess, any who, here are the videos from the weekend. Hope you enjoy them.

Sunday Gravel.

Saturday Single Track.

Monday Single Track.


Monday, March 22, 2021

It's Only Flat On The Bottom



The first day of spring was officially on Saturday but because we can't have nice things in Nebraska, it was also windy as all get out. It wasn't just your garden variety windy day it was a watch out for houses falling on the wicked witch of the west kind of windy, steady 25+ mph with gusts almost up to 40 mph.




Since we aren't very bright we weren't going to let a little thing like gale force winds stop us from riding gravel out in the open, on the wind swept plains. The plan, in fact, was to get in a half a hundy on this blustery day... maybe momma did raise a few fools.




If it hadn't been for the wind it would have been a really great day to be out on the gravel, the roads were running smooth and fast for the most part. The plan was to skirt the edge of Eagle and take that road out to Greenwood. We've done this route a few times before and there always seems to be a strong south wind when we do... this was the first time we decided to take that 12 mile stretch that runs north/south and do it in reverse so that we weren't into the wind for it. Like I said, maybe momma did raise a few fools.




Heading east out of Lincoln the wind wasn't horrible yet and it was mostly a cross wind which helped, although a strong cross wind can almost be worse than a head wind as it can knock the bike right out from under you if a gust hits you just right on a loose section of gravel. One of the nice things about the recent migration away from pea gravel to more of the chunky white rock is that once the white rock gets ridden off, which can happen quickly, it leaves a super smooth almost pavement like surface beneath it as long as it's dry. Pea gravel never seemed to ever clear out altogether so you were always riding on some aggregate on top of the dirt of the roadbed.



Once we turned the corner and started heading north life was good and speeds ticked up considerably with that wind at our backs.


That was right up until Roy got a flat, little did we know this was a foreshadowing of how the day would go.



Most of the group was not aware of the flat and they rode off leaving only the smaller group, which was okay because after all that flat repairing it was time for an I-80 bridge beer. Fewer thirsty riders meant more beer for the rest of us to pour into our Covid cups and wet our whistles.




We did rendezvous with most of the rest of the crew outside of the Uptown Saloon in Greenwood, some decided they had gone far enough north and turned around early so they didn't have to fight the wind as much on the way back. A quick little stop for some refreshments and we were off on the rest of the course.



Shortly after we left Greenwood Roy pulled off with his second flat and was a dozy, it just kept spewing Orange Seal no matter what we tried. Finally we gave up on trying to get the tire to seal and put a boot and tube in so we could roll on homeward again.



Sarah saw how much fun Roy was having with his flats and decided to have one of her own shortly after we got into Lincoln, I don't have any pictures of that one but fear not it is in the video so you won't miss out. Rolled into Cycle Works a bit after that, ending another great Saturday ride. Really hoping for some decent Saturdays coming up to get out and ride without the fear of rain, mud or wind but we will see how that goes.


This week I decided to make some Irish Tacos partially to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, even if a little late, and partially because corned beef was on sale after St. Patrick's Day... it's like a no brainer. Here is the brisket going into the Instant Pot with a full Buffalo Sweat stout and 7 cloves of garlic for additional flavor because flavor is good.



While the brisket was turning itself into corned beef I made a tasty glaze that would be added after coming out of the Instant Pot and before going into the oven, the remainder of the sauce would get drizzled onto the tacos.


Potatoes were mashed and made creamy and delicious.




The corned beef came out of the IP, got the glaze added and then spent 30 minutes in the over to let that glaze do it's thing before it was sliced and made ready for the finished product.


Tortilla, layer of mashed potatoes, corned beef, fresh, raw red cabbage for crunch and then the glaze sauce drizzled on top. These were beyond delicious and they might become a St. Patrick's Day tradition but the next time I think I will cook the corned beef in the IP a little longer so that it can easily be shredded. Once shredded it will get tossed in the glaze and then added to the tortilla, I think shredded will allow for better meat placement and make it easier to eat. Give it a try, it does not disappoint.


Monday, March 15, 2021

The Mid South Comes A-Callin


Last year the Mid South was the first and last of the big ones to hold an in person event before the world went nutty and we all learned how to cope without being around most of the populous. At that time things were just starting to shut down, it was before words like quarantine, social distancing and Zoom became part of the lexicon. This year, being the first one of the season and knowing now what we know, the Mid South decided that it could not hold a massive in person gathering and created the idea that became the Incredibly Socially Distanced Mid South. Not to be confused with a virtual event, those are so 2020. In all fairness the Mid South did take the virtual idea of 2020 and expanded it considerably through the use of partner shops, it was like Doordash for gravel events... Graveldash? If you couldn't go to Stillwater and the Mid South, the Mid South would come to you. Each partner shop would make a local course for the 100/50 mile cycling events and the 50 K running event and you'd have the weekend of what would have been the official Stillwater version of the Mid South to get 'er done, as Larry would say.


I have never made the odyssey to Stilwater for the Mid South, I really dig the message and vibe they are sending out into the world and that Wintle guy is not without a modicum of charisma but there is also a reason why the moniker The Mud South caught on almost immediately following the name change. I think they have managed only two dry years out of ten and my derailleur is already quivering in the corner as a type this out due to the thought of that orange mud reeking havoc on it's shifty bits. This year though maybe my shifty bits would be safe, I mean it can't rain everywhere can it? I know a few folks that believe that the government is geo-engineering the weather, my bet is on Bobby however because maybe he was able to make it rain everywhere. The week and a half leading up to the Mid South here in Nebraska we had temperatures into the mid 70° range, almost unheard of around these parts and it looked like fantastically dry and abnormally warm weather for the Nebraska version of the Mid South. It was not to be however because as the 13th got nearer the forecast got worse and worse until it was almost certain anyone attempting the Mid South on Saturday or Sunday was going to get wet. Well played, Mr. Wintle, well played indeed.



Since the full Mid South experience was on it's way to Nebraska a few of us decided to get up at a most unholy hour to see if we could stay dry and when I say it was early, it was early, 2 am to be exact. How do you get up at 2 am, well math really. If you need 6 hours of sleep to function you start at 2 am and you start ticking off hours in a counter clockwise motion until you've made it backwards 6 hours and that number represents the time you should be asleep. This does take some fudging because time to bed might not equate to hours of sleep if you take a while to doze off, so plan accordingly.


We took off right around 4:30 am, perhaps even a touch sooner than that, and spent the first 30 miles in the dark. It wasn't horrible since the temperatures were right around 40 but it was harder to keep a decent pace for fear of out riding your lights and meeting something not so forgiving before you realized you were on top of it. 



Rolled into the halfway point in Valparaiso feeling pretty good, average was right around 14 mph but I knew that we still had most of the climbing to do on the back half of the course.


Since this was the only town we went through on course until we were only a few miles from the finish I decided to spend maybe a bit more time than I needed to and get something to eat. This package of Oreo's must have slid right under the inspectors, the middle one didn't have any cookie parts and was only "stuf".





Things out of Valparaiso weren't bad either until just before Agnew when the really big rollers started and they just kept coming one after the other in an endless sea of gravel waves. Miles 75 through about 93 were some of the toughest I've done in recent memory and my poor early season legs were feeling every foot of elevation and as a consequence the average MPH sank like a pirate on his way to Davy Jones' locker. 


Saw these fellers out there wrangling some fish and for a moment I pondered if I really would rather be fishing like the bumper sticker says. Nah, a bad day on the bike is still better than a good day fishing even if you do come home smelling worse than the bait some days.


Once our little group got fragmented I didn't see another soul shortly after Valparaiso until about mile 85 or so when one of the Lincoln Abraham's and friend came riding by... fun fact, none of them are actually named Abe or any derivative of Abe or Lincoln for that matter. Suspicious. 


I'd been munching on Clif Bloks since leaving Valpo and that was doing me just fine until I ate the last of the old package and got really cheap and decided not to open a new one since I was within 15 miles of the end. That was a horrible call on my part and by the time I got to the last little MMR outside of Lincoln I was running on fumes and not the kind you sometimes blow out your chamois. My legs decided they had had enough and with a mere two miles to go I had to pull over and eat something. Thankfully I had a Clif Bar on me because the gooey, sugary blob of a Blok sounded stomach churning. I scarfed down the Clif Bar and it tasted better than any Clif Bar had any right to taste, the normal dry almost cardboard flavor and texture seemed to be replaced by something much more delectable. At that moment on the edge of that MMR two miles from the end, nothing in the world tasted better than that bar... heck for all I know I may have eaten the wrapper since I still haven't found it.


Snuck across the finish in just a tad over 8 hours of moving time, the goal was between 7.5 and 8 so I just missed that but all things considered I was not mad about that at all. I had a bit more non moving time than I wanted but I took the longer break in Valpo and I had to stop twice to fiddle with the GoPro, one time the dang thing stopped reading the card and I had to swap it out for a different one. Technology, so much fun until it's not. On the bright side for being as early in the year as it is I felt pretty good during the race and even the day after wasn't that bad. With the horrible January and February we've had that 100 miles was half of the total mileage so far this year. Best part was that the timing was impeccable, it wasn't long after I finished that the light rains started, another 30 minutes and I'd have been crying in the rain. But it was not to be and the derailleur was safe for at least another race.