Archive | July, 2013

The Scenic Shore 150

30 Jul

Well, it’s over for this year. I completed my ride last weekend, and it was a great one! Saturday proved to be quite windy, but I managed to maintain a pretty good average for the century ride. On Sunday, I met up with some awesome folks who were moving at a pretty good clip, and we averaged almost 20 miles per hour! We got a little splash up from the road on sunday, but otherwise, the only actual rain I felt was on saturday during lunch.

It was quite a difference from last year, weather wise. I remember getting sprayed with a garden hose at the last rest stop last year, and this year we were practically looking for blankets! It was nice weather, but definitely much colder than last year. I also want to say, that the volunteers for this ride are spectacular. Every single person I encountered in both years of this ride has been so positive and helpful, it really makes me want to keep coming back. They carry our bags to the trucks, cheer us on, greet us with huge smiles; it’s really cool to be treated like that for a weekend. Thank you guys so much!

All in all, LLS has almost raised their $1,000,000 goal, and are still hoping to hit it by August 16th, I’ll update if they do, but either way, I am going to be doing the ride again next year and hope to break my $380 mark from this year! And now for some iphone photos (=

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Props to the guy who rode the 150 on this beast!

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It was raining on the way home, so I took advantage of the empty parking lot.

Living out my dream

19 Jul

If you know me outside of the inter webs, you know that my brain doesn’t exactly formulate thoughts in a logical order. Well, it may appear that way to you, usually one thing happens, which causes me to think of seven to thirteen different steps which make me say something that’s so far down the line you have no idea where I was coming from.

For instance, we’re in wal-mart and someone says something about little girls which prompts me to blurt out “Oh, that reminds me, I have to go look at the women’s underwear section” and go running off. Yes, that happened, no it’s not as dirty as it sounds, and no I’m not telling the story.

All this to say that my mind has been extremely overactive today, and now I’m blogging about it. It’s kinda my story actually, and it’s gonna get a little weird and a lot sappy, so if that sounds like too much… LEAVE NOW! But really, please don’t, I think it will be entertaining.

I realized today that probably 95% of my favorite music and most of which formed the real foundation for everything I listen to took place between the years 1997 and 2003. It really doesn’t relate to anything except that it got me listening to The Starting Line again, for the second time in a week after a four or five year drought. These were two completely opposite listening sessions, and it’s the basis for everything I learned today.

One week ago, exactly, I listened to the lyrics “What can I say, that can explain all this time, I’m loving life, there’s not a day, that I can’t say, all this time, I’m living out my dream”, and I despaired.

When I say despaired, I really mean that I felt lost. I felt that I had failed. The mounting bills and student loans, and financial torment weighed so heavily on me that I really felt I could not bear anymore. As a follower of Christ, despair is something I’m not supposed to feel, and you may think that Christians are just fake smilers and full of crap, but we suffer just like anyone else. I have hope in something greater than this world, but I don’t always see it, and last week, I missed the boat.

Now my goal here isn’t to hammer the idea of happiness, or tell you that everything is going to be okay in your life, or even to evangelize about my faith. I talk about Jesus because I really believe in the things He said, but I like to talk about that in person, in depth and without judgement or pretense. My goal is to talk about the value of single moments in time making up a lifetime.

As I pondered those years of music on my way to my seminary class and reached for the TSL cd, I started to think on those lyrics again. Last week when I lamented not being a great and successful photographer or being in a touring band and not being able to even pay my student loans, I was missing the now.

The now. I work at a coffee shop with people I really love. I get to ride bikes almost whenever I want. I have enjoyed sublime central air in these past few days of heat. I have a son who looks like me. I married my dream girl high school sweetheart. I believe in the creator of the universe caring about little old me.

Truth is, I’m living out my dream. Every. Single Day. I wake up and I see my wife and son and puppy all sleeping next to each other, and damn I have it made. Every day I get to spend with that amazing girl who decided to say yes is a day that I get to live out my dream.

That’s the end, my brain stopped coming up with cool stuff to say. I hope you enjoyed this quirky moment of raw honesty. Stay tuned after this weekend (my big fundraising ride) for details and pictures and more beer reviews!

A surefire classic, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

16 Jul

The first time I had this beer was at Old Chicago in Green Bay. I’ll tell you, if there was one restaurant I’d want in Appleton it’d be Old Chicago. Some of the best pizza I’ve ever had, and they have a plethora of spectacular beers, including a great rotating draft selection. When I had Two Hearted for the first time it blew me away, and this time is no different.

I got a six-pack, and the ten bucks feels a bit expensive, but this beer is worth it. I don’t know if I’m a huge fan of the label, but I love that Bell’s puts there time into making great beer and not just packaging it cleverly. It harkens to sitting on a tranquil lake, enjoying the hops, and not really caring whether or not you actually catch any fish (=

It pours a beautiful golden haze with this perfect foamy head. It reminds me of that perfect micro-foam on a well steamed latte. It looks amazing, and it smells just as great. It has the typical IPA aromas, slightly piney, with a hint of that wonderfully tart grapefruit presence as well.

This beer tastes amazing. It’s everything a great IPA should be, powerfully hoppy with great malty balance and a hanging bitterness  that leaves the taste buds desiring more. The mouthfeel is strong, smooth and resiny. It’s not one to be drank quickly, that’s for sure; one sip fills the mouth for a good amount of time.

Two Hearted is something of a masterpiece. Of the classic IPAs I’ve tried this one is right up there, and despite the price is one that I will continue to buy, and possibly may even taste at a brewery tour yet this summer! It’s midsummer and it’s hot, you should go buy a pack of this!

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Samuel Adams: Whitewater IPA

11 Jul

   It’s been too long since I’ve posted a review, but I’ve been lazy )= Getting done with doing a long ride at night, I often feel like just crashing and not putting one of these up. I’m getting there though, and I really want to tackle more with this blog. I’m even thinking of doing some local interviews, research stuff, who knows. 

In any case, today I am reviewing Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA. I really do like Sam Adams, but sometimes I think they make too many beers. It seems like they always have something new, and they are usually pretty decent, but I wonder if they made less variety if they could really make them great. 

There’s not a whole lot to speak of with the label on this one, it’s nice and subtle, sticking to the Sam Adams way. The rapids are a nice touch though.

It pours a golden amber with a pretty decent head and ample carbonation. The head isn’t incredibly resilient, but did stick around for a bit. It’s a pleasant looking beer. 

The aroma is quite sweet, fruity, hints of orange and a bit of spiciness with a nice hoppiness present. The taste follows suit, pleasant balanced hoppiness and the spice and apricots advertised do come through. It’s an interesting melding of two flavors, a Belgian White Ale and an American IPA. The wheat gives it a lighter character that brings a solid vibrant mouthfeel. While drinking I could really taste dried fruit, almost even felt the crisp texture. The mouthfeel isn’t too thick, but has a nice malty strength to it.

Overall it’s a pretty good beer. It doesn’t fall into the amazing category or anything, but does bring a little uniqueness to the IPA variety if not anything groundbreaking. I don’t know if I’d buy it in a six pack, but it sure works in a mix six!

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Got my rider packet… Little bit Excited

10 Jul

So, I got my rider packet for the scenic shore 150 yesterday! I’m feeling excited, not that I’ve raised the funds. I was way off the $1000 mark but I did make more than last year so who knows, maybe I’ll get there one of these years! I’ll try to snap some awesome pics on my iphone on the ride, last year it was absolutely beautiful!

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My first century

9 Jul

Well, since I finally got a bike with some gears it was about time to ride a century! Since I’ve been welcomed in by all the wonderful group riders here in Appleton, it’s been an interesting ride, pun intended (=

I’ve been given plenty of advice, as well as beers, rides and am getting a really great deal on a wonderful bike (who I have since named Gallafrey by the way). I heard about the ride on one of our weekly rides out to High Cliff State Park and decided it was time. We met at a park and ride at 5:30am, got the bikes packed up and headed up to Menominee for the Menominee River Century.

We had I think about 26 riders on what turned out to be a gorgeous day. We started out at a pretty easy pace as usual, and I even saved us from certain doom! Well, at least from a few miles out of the way. A couple of the signs weren’t exactly clear and we were so happy to be riding that we turned at the loop meant for the finish. Thankfully I was paying attention, and got everyone turned around. It was nice to be able to contribute. The first 60ish miles were pretty much a breeze, I felt beyond great. One of the rest stops had burgers, which was awesome; they also had some wonderful fresh peaches and cookies and everything. Miles 60-80 brought some new loops and scenery, and by around mile 80 I was feeling it. Susan asked me how I was doing and I responded “Well, I feel pretty much like I just biked 80 miles”. The last 15 miles or so are a slightly down hill stretch with a gorgeous tailwind so we picked the speed up to about 23-24 miles per hour.  I even managed to hang with a couple faster guys at about 85 miles in, pulling about 25-27 for a while. My legs blew up, of course, and I fell back to the pack, but it was an encouraging burst!

Even the weather cooperated perfectly, with high 70’s low humidity and perfect sunlight. I managed to build upon the crazy tan lines I’m crafting. Such is the life of a cyclist. Anyway, I felt pretty great overall. I was definitely feeling sore at the end, especially the backside, but it felt awesome to complete my first 100 miles. Around 84 miles I felt like Sam in Lord of the Rings when he tells Frodo, “this is the farthest from home I’ve ever been” (the most miles I had previously ridden in a day).

I’ve got a few longer rides coming up, including the Scenic Shore 150, Race the Lake and the Door County Century, and we’ll see what else pops up over the summer. In the meantime, keep riding and thanks for checking out the blog!