Monday, May 26, 2014

Brewvet Challenge 2014

Discovered this great adventure via a Face Book friend's blog, Randy & Nova's Bicycle Scrapbook.  I like to ride bicycles and I also like to enjoy a cold one every now and then.  So in typical Chevian fashion I rushed right in, followed the rules and completed the assignment on time.



Easy enough.  I could knock this out in one day if the rules allowed.  Mileage not an issue for me.  I am fond of craft beer.  

Ride No. 1
Date--May 17, 2014 7am
Location--Mullets Des Moines, Iowa
Beer--Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Cream Stout, Tallgrass Brewing Co
Thoughts--Fitting that this location would kick off my participation in the #Brewvet Challenge.  Mullets is a bicycle friendly establishment situated on the crossroads of downtown Des Moines, Iowa, and the Central Iowa Trail system.  But you do not need to ride a bicycle to enjoy this place.  It offers great food, a super staff and many events in their backyard such as live music and cyclocross racing.  We stopped in for breakfast at 7 am.  Mullet's just doubled their tap count from 8 to 16.  This was my first time with the the 16.  Usually go for Bell's 2 Heart but since it was breakfast and mile 3 on a 50 miler I decided to go with the BS.  This is the third time I have had this beer, second time as a draft.  The cans gave me a hang over after a previous experience of 3 cans.  True to its name this stout is creamy and smooth.  Delish and I would purchase it again.  Also had a Diet Coke and the breakfast burrito which I could not finish.

Ride No. 2
Date--May 18, 2014 930 pm
Location--Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewing Company
Beer--Pointer Brown Ale
Thoughts--After a long day we stopped at CABCo for their 55 cent buffalo wings and a cold one.  They brew their own beer.  Mary and I have been members of the "Mug Club" for a number of years so we were able to enjoy our brew in  nice large mugs.  I asked for a sampler to show the color of the ale for the photo.  Tasty without the bitter nutty taste of Newcastle.

Ride No. 3
Date--May 19, 2014
Location--Hy Vee grocery store, Johnston, Iowa, drinking local at home 11 miles after purchase
Beer--Shiner White Wing Belgian White
Thoughts--I love a good Belgian and this one caught my eye immediately as I perused the single bottle section of the cooler.  $1.59+tax and deposit.  Over the holidays I enjoyed Shiner's Holiday Cheer so I was not afraid to give this one a go.  Since it was humid and above 70F I placed the bottle between to packages of split chicken breasts and placed a package of Italian sausage on top for good measure before riding home.  Twist top so I wasted time digging out my key ring from my fanny pack.  Wonderful fruity taste of the esters.  Smooth and refreshing.  I wish more brewers would control their hop infatuation and look to that little country nestled north of France and west of Germany.  I recommend this beer.

Ride No. 4
Date--May 20, 2014 10 pm
Location--The LiFT, Des Moines, Iowa
Beer--PB&J (PBR + shot of Jameson)
Thoughts--Every now and then one must return to a real American beer.  Hipster or not, something cool and refreshing after a long day.  Now The LiFT is not a typical PBR bar.  Des Moines original smoke free bar and place where artists hang their paintings for sale.  Hence the background in the photo.  Also a martini bar but I only order beer and perhaps a shot of Fireball when I visit.  They have 11 beers on tap and not a single tap has Budweiser, Miller, Coors or whatever crappy American lager.  Every tap pours either local craft beer (Confluence, Peace Tree, Exile and Madhouse for local brews) or a quality import (Guiness, Peroni, Smithwicks ect).  On Thursdays they sell pints for $3.  Used to be $2.  Noticed they are selling craft beer bottles at $2.  This can be the most dangerous bar in town.  I only enter with no more than $20 and no plastic.  So today during my 5 hours of overtime I read on FaceBook that The Lift is running a $5 PB&J special--Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboy and shot of Jameson.  I met my wife 11 miles north of here and we rode down for 1 round.  Life is good.

Ride No. 5
Date--May, 21, 2014 430 pm
Location--Confluence Brewing Co, Des Moines, Iowa
Beer--ChewBocka, Confluence Brewing Co
Thoughts--Had a hard time choosing a beer on this ride.  Gave the Southside Citra Blonde a spin before settling on this malty dopplebock.  The fact that I paid $10 for the mug that I could keep was a good selling point.  We have 5 now.  Tasty, refreshing, delicious and a wonderful change of pace from hoppy beer.  Confluence has been open for a year and a half now and never ceases to amaze me with their quality and variety.  Located approximately 2 miles from my home and right off the bike trail is wonderful or dangerous.  I stopped here on my way home from work.

Ride No. 6
Date--May 23, 2014 4 pm
Location--University Tap, Clive Iowa
Beer--Dirty Bastard, Founders Brewing Co
Thoughts--Met my buddy Craig on the bike trail.  We have shared a beer or two in the past.  Been almost 2 full weeks without seeing each other.  Been a crappy week at work and a long week taking care of my mother.  Now it's Friday and time to relax.  University Tap is located off of the bike trail although one needs to get off the trail and pedal half a block on the street to get to the front door.  A small but nice selection of craft beer on tap.  Wearing my sunglasses I can only read "Founders" on the tap and order it anyway instead of quizzing the barkeep.  Craig has a PBR tallboy.  Another malty treasure!  Will order this again.  I sipped mine as I needed to pace myself.  Craig lapped me and we left after his second.

Ride No. 7
Date--May 24, 2014 11am
Location--Imes Bridge, St Charles, Iowa
Beer--Blue Moon
Thoughts--When I thought of this location I planned to consume a Busch Light in honor of my bicycle friends who generally carry Busch Light on their bikes.  Just outside of town we saw a sign for the Madison County Winery and Twisted Brewery 4 miles.  We continued but arrived 1/2 before they opened so we turned back after doing a shot of Fireball.  Since we rode bikes that lack the ability to carry beer we stopped at the Casey's General Store across the street to make the purchase.  The closest they had to craft beer was a Sam Adams lager.  Rather have a Blue Moon.  This covered bridge has been an obsession for me.  As cyclists we tend to drink beer on bridges and below bridges and near bridges.  But a covered bridge, only once before on our way out to Ragbrai last year.  As for the Blue Moon, tasty Belgian white.  Never fails to please me.  Keep the orange slice, they worked hard to make this.  Imes Bridge Link

Ride No.8
Date--May 25, 2014
Location--Locust Tap, Des Moines, Iowa
Beer--Grain Belt Premium
Thoughts--Really wanted to head the opposite direction and share a beer with my buddy Sam.  He brews up to 3 pony kegs at a time.  I help.  It is a lot of work but very rewarding.  His Hefeweizen is to kill for.  His Munich wheat is also good.  He once had a black beer that was darker than old motor oil.  We'd mix it with a lite and call it a "arf & arf."  Had everything arranged to make that ride.  It's an ugly ride, total urban wilderness to get there.  Not that far but the best route involves sidewalks, traffic and narrow streets.  The southside of Des Moines really needs a trail from the river to County Line Rd.  Sure, I could take the "safe street" but that is out of the way, adds hills and really is not an improvement on a Friday evening and night for the consumption of alcohol.  In the end I did not have the strength to make it.  Saturday was a big mileage day as Ride. 7 states, ended up with 100.  Sunday was a washout with the rain and Sam did not answer the phone.  But I got a text to join friends in more bike friendly locations.

So grabbed the Beast, a pair of sunglasses, mobile and wallet.  Ended up at the Locust Tap.  3 of us just beat the rain as a dark ominous black cloud wafted over like the aliens on Independence Day.  The barkeep was kind and suggested that we bring the bicycles inside.  We placed them by the pool table.

The cooler has a vast selection of beer and I searched for something "krafty" like Flying Dog Ale's In Heat Wheat, a hefe, which probably is history.  But I said fook it and ordered a Grain Belt.  When my father was a beer drinker he drank that swill and Buckhorn.  Since the return of GB I have ordered a few, usually tallboys or "Big Friendlies" as labeled on the can.  Fortunately, they had 12oz cans so I matched Craig's Hamms and Chad's PBR.  Basic American lager a little bit on the sweet side.

At The Lift after leaving the Locust Tap, Exile's Hannah a Bavarian wheat.  Forgot that I already used this location.
Runner Up for my Confluence visit.  South Side Citra Blonde.  Chewbocka trumps all.

4 extra miles each way to get here 1/2 hour before they open.  Fortunately, I purchased a mini Fireball shot at the gas station 13 miles earlier.  Another ride to this place in the near future.

Total mileage--224

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Indianola to Johnston:Up & Down on the Mustang Road

At the junkyard.  2 Mustang IIs, an early 60s Comet and an late 70s early 80s Z-28.
My planned pre-dawn start of a century failed.  Too tired and it was a bit chilly.  We, Mary and I, had to be in Johnston at 1 pm to help my mother.  Hate it when people schedule things during prime time biking hours but we had to do the right thing.  I was ready to give it all up but then decided at 6 am that we could have breakfast and then ride to Indianola and back.  Usual route to Carlisle and the Summerset Trail.

Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Cream Stout.  Also available at the bar in Mingo and in tallboys.

What I was not expecting were all the stops to take photos.  At Mullets for breakfast I photographed my beer for the  Brewvet Challenge, 8 rides of a total of at least 40 miles, review of the beer which should preferably be a craft beer, 8 different locations and bike beers count.  Easy!

The Geocouching photos.  Coffee mug, plunger and Trivial Pursuit game there as well.  Dumped off the road, down a ditch and next to a cornfield. 

Then when busting out of town at the flat before the climb I spotted a recliner that could be used for the Geocouching game.  More info on this at Geocouching Series  I lead Iowa on this.  In fact, I placed Iowa on the map for this!

Almost to the top of that hill I looked at the junkyard where a few years back some classic broken tooth man asked us if we were "doin' the Hy Vee?"  Which after talking to him meant "are you participating in the Hy Vee Triathalon?"  I'm fat, mister, and I only ride bikes for amusement and commuting and not to make up for some inadequacy.  Anyway, no one was there but instead a wonderful rotting Mustang II Cobra was begging for me to take its photo for the Abandoned and Neglected Vehicles FB Group.  I saved this photo session for later.  Normally, on our return we take SE 57th back instead of riding down thie hill on SE 45th to avoid the hills on E Brooks Dr.  But since we are training for a major bicycle tour, RASDAK, riding up hills is good.  Mary agreed.

Cobra II

At this point we were still on the outskirts of Des Moines.  Nothing to stop for the rest of the way except for Casey's in Carlisle for a potty break.  We were pleased to discover that the railroad crossings on E Brooks Dr and in Avon Lake were redone to make them smoother for cars and bicycles.

At Casey's General Store in Carlisle.  Obligatory bike photo.  Usually our tandem here.

Purchased a poppy for Vets.

The poppy photo of my bike was a sun bleached fail so through the magic of editing we have this strange photo!
The Summerset Trail looked busy with the trailhead full of cars but the trail itself was not crowded.  I will say this, this has to be the friendliest trail in central Iowa.  Nobody was training for a race and everyone turned their head and smiled whenever I said, "hello, two bikes passing on your left."  Even the vicious red wing blackbirds seemed friendly.
Wanted an action shot of my view.  Not the best.

This was the first action shot photo.  Took the second one because 18 mph is better than 15 mph.
We took the trail all the way into Indianola and stopped at the trailhead with the restrooms and sheltered tables.  A person there asked if we saw his wife running.  There were many women running as we approached town.  He described her and it did not ring a bell.  "Purple shoes," he said.  Sorry.  If I look at a runner's shoes it's usually the soles I see.  Eventually she arrived.

Mary in Indianola.  Coke vending machine is gone.
We also spotted a Team Ska sticker that someone left when he rode with us two Septembers ago.  Tried to photograph it but even without the flash it did not show up well.  Hence, no photo of it here.

Guess I had one Team Ska photo left on the phone.
The trip back was a bit windy.  It was also full of Mustangs.  There were a few on the way down but now there were many.  New ones and old ones.  Highlights were a green 69 fastback and a candy apple red 67 convertible.  SHARP!!  Even a few convertibles of the 1994-2004 vintage as well as the post 2005 models.  But probably the best or at least the most coincidental was the 1979 Pace Car that slowed down and looked when we were leaving the Mustang II graveyard.  The successor of those dead ponies appeared after we honored them.  Weird!


We stopped at home first.  Talked to the neighbors son since she, 89 years old, had some surgery done last week.  2 weeks of rehab.  They saved her feet.  She's walking again.  We need to change out of our biking regalia and into normal clothing for the 11 mile ride then 5 hour sit in Johnston then 11 miles back home.  Nothing worse than sitting in bike shorts for hours and hours after a ride.  Nothing significant about taking the Trestle to Trestle trail.  Weaving through the post Farmers Market crowd took skill and attention and for once I was glad to have a helmet on.  This was on the Principal River Walk.  I was able to show Mary a hidden trail in Johnston to get to my mother's apartment.

The ride back was the most difficult.  Legs were in repair mode and stiff.  Energy levels on low.  Managed to make it.  Spotted the third Camaro of the day.  A new one parked at the ball park.  The second was on SE 22nd, an 80's style black with aftermarket yellow trim as some sort of gaudy Hawkeyes Camaro gone crap but if it makes the owner feel happy...

The first Camaro of the day.

72.4 miles.  Lots of things accomplished.  A great day to be on a bicycle with Mary..

Friday, May 16, 2014

Final Countdown to RASDAK

Three weekends to go.  Feel like I am so out of sync with the rest of the world.  Everyone wants to ride to be social.  It's Bike Month but most of the events are scheduled during prime biking hours.  Finally we have decent weather.  Seems like only yesterday that it was -5F on my commute to work.  Spring has barely begun and I am on the final training rides of the season before the first week long tour.

I am ready.  Just want to do some long rides to really break myself in.  A century tomorrow and hopefully a 40+ ride the next day.  That is what is missing on the training, multiple back to back long mile days.   Easy to bust out 120 miler then do nothing the next day.  Weekends have been so hit and miss.  The my usual 12.5 to work and 15 home.  Memorial Day weekend will be the final test.  I plan to do 60+ miles each morning.  Three in a row.  That is as close to real touring as one can get and still keep a day job.  Sure, I could bust those miles out after work.  But work is tiring and that type of mileage will only serve to wear me out.

Hills.  Got to be hills now.  Trails do not cut it for my needs.  Trails are good for initial saddle time to break your ass in but for touring they are mere training wheels.  I'll be found in Warren County.  That county offers the best hills and roads for training.

Then the weather.  I have a feeling it may still be cold.  It has been the longest Winter ever in Spring.  Packing is another issue that will wait.  Frost this morning.  Frost warnings again.....

And when I return from South Dakota it will be time to relax and focus on bagging out.  So if I appear like a lunatic for starting a ride in the middle of the night or from blowing off social events you know why.  Just a desire to be in the best possible shape for a 7 day 500 mile ride across a neighboring state.

Hurt here so you won't hurt there--Sam Hildreth

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cyclo de 10th O

3rd Geocouch score for the day.  1st with Mary in the photo.

Took a break from my Saturday Centuries this week.  I admit I was a bit disappointed deep inside, ruined a trend, pattern.  But I did this for a good cause and had a great time doing it.  Once again Mary and I controlled Check Point 4 for Cyclo de Mayo.

Craig with Last Place trophy.

Cyclo de Mayo is Des Moines original bicycle poker run.  It raises money for the memory of Joan Gill who was taken away from this world much too young by cancer.  IIRC $2500 was raised for the Joan Gill Memorial Scholarship.  Graham Johnston organizes and runs this event.  Originally a gazebo was planned but greedheads and landrapers prevent that project from being built in the location that would best honor Joan's memory.  Instead a few bicycle fixstations were erected in her honor.

That was Craig's goal, last finisher.  He also had a winning poker hand.

But the fun I had was on the way to and fro the event.  I had to meet Graham Johnston at Saints Pub + Patio in Beaverdale, the start of the ride and the HQ of the event, for last minute equipment.  On my way there i scored to photos for Geocouching and several photos for the may Challenge in Bicycle Ride&Seek on FaceBook.  Honestly, I was having trouble getting to Check Point 4.  The third Geocouch was literally half way between my house and the checkpoint.  But I waited patiently for the opportunity to take the photo.
1st Geocouch score of the day.  Originally spotted on Thursday but had to wait to take photo and submit.

After all the riders passed through our station and after Mary and I enlisted the help of a kid on a BMX bike to take our photo on the abandoned couch, we rode to the finish of Cyclo de Mayo to see the results and return the equipment.  Most importantly, get some food as my 4 egg omelet did not last long and the caffeine in my system had me a bit out of control.  I felt like I was 3 moments ahead of everything--my mobile phone, my computer, traffic and every human I interacted with.  A bacon cheeseburger would rebalance me.
This couch had been sitting behind the Hy Vee grocery store on MLK for quite some time according to the helpful smile who snapped the shot.

About a dozen of us left Saints afterwards to ride downtown.  We had to seek shelter underneath the InterUrban Trail bridge due to rain.  The rain lasted for an eternity, maybe an hour but some were discussing who we would eat.  My calves are not edible and if they were the strong muscles would be touch and too chewy.  An organic vegan would be the best choice in terms of safe meat.  I am neither.  Soon the sun returned and there was no need for cannibalism.

My job is  the Official Photographer for Craig Lein's FaceBook page  This is underneath the pedestrian bridge while taking a break from the rain..
The resumption of the ride took us to Blazing Saddles bar in the East Village and a stop at Jimmy Johns for sandwiches to eat at home.  It was dark now.  We had been out for quite some time.  I was able to get the photo of a neon sign for the May Challenge of Bicycle Ride&Seek.  What a great day!

For more information on Geocouching check out this...Geocouching

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Valley of Slaughter

"In the Valley of  Ben-hinnom they have built the high place of Topheth to immolate in fire their sons and their daughters, such a thing I never commanded or had in mind.  Therefore the days will come when Topheth and the Valley of Ben-hinnom will no longer be called such, but rather the Valley of Slaughter.  For lack of space, Topheth will be a burial place.  The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the sky and for the beasts of the field, which no one will drive away. I will silence the cry of joy, the cry of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land will be turned to rubble."

Some deep scary passage to look up.  But when I saw this on my ride a few weeks ago this was what I thought.  Childrens bicycles burned.  Some look kinda new.  Stolen perhaps.  Piled up and torched.  And others placed for the next fire.  Sacrifice for Moloch.  I supposed they danced around the fire after it was lit.  Or stood there drinking beer and shooting meth.  The ugly reality of our consumer worshipping culture.

Sure, these are cheap bicycles.  But they probably put a smile on a kids' faces when they were given to them.  Stolen or discarded.  there are better ways to rid oneself of unneeded bicycles.

Ritual child sacrifice

Thursday, May 1, 2014

30 Days of April Riding

Enjoying coffee with the Beast

Don't know who started it but there was a challenge to ride every day in the month of April.  All 30 days. Much to my amazement I managed to do this despite some short weekend rides.  During cold periods I mainly limit myself to riding Monday through Friday to work.  My commute takes me from south of Mullets to the trail all the way to Wal Mart and then Buffalo Rd and Westown Pkwy until I cross the freeway, I-35/80.  On the trip home I extend it by taking the Clive Greenbelt Trail to Wal Mart and the Walnut Creek/Bill Riley/Meredith Trail and the 1/2 mile of streets from Mullets to my home.

8 different bikes were ridden in April:
The Beast fat bike
Dolomite fat bike
Trek FX 7.5 commuter
Bianchi Boardwalk commuter
Fisher Gemini touring tandem
Trek 520 as commuter
Raleigh Ltd 3
LeMond Versailles road bike

FX at Hy Vee.  Probably the rack I use the most.

The first weekend broke the low mileage pattern by attending and riding in the Fool's Ride.  I choose to ride my Mongoose Beast singlespeed fat bike for the 24 miles or so.  Mary rode its geared stablemate, the Dolomite.  Wonderful Saturday spent on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail with friends, Dave, Mikey and Colin.  5 Team Mystery Machiners on the same ride!  The next day saw only a mere .6 mile ridden on the Dolomite to fetch charcoal for grilling.  At least I rode on Sunday and used that ride for shopping instead of taking an automobile.

Mongoose Dolomite after the exploration of the Des Moines River Easter weekend.

The following week was a very good week.  After work on Tuesday I met Colin and we rode to Cumming for tacos at the tap.  On Friday I headed south after work and took the Jordan Creek Trail home.  Later Mary and I met Colin and we rode to Cumming for karaoke at the Tap.  Mary and I busted out the touring tandem and rode 42 miles on Saturday.  I Sunday I rode 1 mile to Church and to a homebound individual to deliver Holy Communion.  Noble purpose for the bike.  It was a rainy Palm Sunday and I also delivered to Rose a basket of goodies prepared by the Church for those homebound and in nursing homes.

Team Mystery Machine on Fool's Ride.

The following week had some rides of note other than my 125+ miles of work commute.  I swapped the commuter for the Dolomite and met Craig at Confluence.  After Mary joined us we rode to Mullets for dinner with Dora.  Saturday was another Dolomite fat bike day.  I explored the north bank of a the Des Moines River and scored a photo for Geocouching and took photos of abandoned SUVs before riding to my barber for a haircut.  Later I threw the bike in back of the truck, grabbed the family and dog and drove to my in law's farm.  I used the fat bike to check out my deer hunting grounds and found another Geocouching opportunity.  We returned home on Sunday and I rode just 1 mile so as not to miss a day.  My Sunday's are poor.

The Versailles computer showing the distance of the first ride of the year.

The last full week was mainly commuting with two 30 mile days.  On Saturday I rode my rode bike for the first time this year.  It was a 115 mile ride.  I did this to prepare myself for riding across South Dakota in June.  I encountered hills, headwind and serious saddle time.  I am ready.  It rained on Sunday but I did the obligatory 1 mile to Church and Rose's house after Church.

Mary and the Fisher tandem in Johnston, Iowa.

The last three days of the month were spent riding to work, mostly in rain it seems.  Despite that I rode 874 miles for the month.