Gone Fishin'

HEY!

I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!

8.22.2011

Hobbyist Identity Crises and other First-World Problems

A few weeks ago, I was ready to list all my homebrewing stuff on Craigslist.

The summer has been a hot and humid one, and with a young baby in the house who can crawl faster than I am often willing to run, my energy level has been low. Coupled with a commitment to exercise and weight loss, I found myself with empty kegs, unmade beer kits, and a kitchen that was rarely clean enough to justify dirtying it further with the detritus of brewing.

Anyway, I soldiered on. I wanted to have some beer ready for a late August birthday party, so I brewed. The first batch felt like I was wading through the malt syrup for miles, rather than boiling it with spring water and sprinkling in hops. Everything seemed to take more effort. Up the stairs from the basement with the supplies. On the stove. Down the stairs because I forgot the thermometer. Might was well use the extra sanitizer I just mixed to prep a keg. Back down the stairs. The pot meanwhile nearly boiled over. Repeat again two nights later, then clean, clean, clean and listen for the telltale glugging sound as fermentation takes off. Then forget about the brew for a few weeks until it's time to keg.  At the end of both brew sessions, I was sweaty, sticky, exhausted, and not looking forward to the 5am wakeup that Austen was sure to grace us with in the morning.

Still.

This weekend I kegged the two beers.  I didn't even check the gravity of the Cream Ale. It smelled good, like beer. Good enough. The Belgian Wit got a gravity test. I put a little of it in the test jar and floated the hydrometer. 1.011. Nice. I let it settle a bit, then tasted. Amber malt, hop-bitter and a little hop-aromatic. Fresh. Bitter orange and even the coriander came through at the end. Warm, foggy, flat- and delicious. I made this. 10 gallons of beer I made in gleaming kegs, chilling and carbonating.

I mentally deleted my Craigslist posting.

My priorities have changed. I don't drink nearly enough beer to be brewing it gallons at a time. Given the choice of an hour session on the rollers or an hour session doing brewing chores, I'm going to ride most of the time. Between nighttime meetings for work, early wakeups, and weekends that are more draining than restorative- seriously, Kate and I have decided that there should be a "new baby workout."  Lie down on the floor. Get up. Run to the next room. Sit down. bend over and pick something up that weighs 20 pounds. Get up. Over and over again. All Day Every Day. Repeat for the rest of your life.  -something has had to give and it has been homebrewing. But the joy and excitement is still there, and the wonderful thing is that much of what you need in brewing is time to let things brew, to let sediments settle out and to let the yeast do their thing and clean up after the big party they tend to throw in the presence of several pounds of quality malt. I have that kind of time.


8.17.2011

To the Driver of the Gray VW Golf with Vermont Vanity Plate "RICA"

Umm, Hi. I'm the cyclist you didn't see and could have hit this morning, as you exited Maple Tree Place while making a left turn against the a red arrow to head south on 2A.

You blew the light.  I know, because I had a green going straight across and it doesn't go green until the left arrow on the opposite side is firmly and solidly red. You were talking on your cell, not hands-free. I also know that you know the light was about to turn because you were way back from the intersection when it did and you gunned it to get through.  Good thing I was taking my time getting going, or you would have taken me out.

Finally, if you've gone out of your way to get an easily-memorable vanity plate, don't you think you might drive a little more carefully?


8.15.2011

Stuff re-turn Likes: Lower Notch Berry Farm


Just south of Bristol Village, on the Lower Notch Road, there is a blueberry and raspberry farm run by Al and Linda Lunna with a booming pick-your-own operation. Since Kate and I routinely miss every picking season every summer and thought we had done it again this summer, I was pleased to find Lower Notch on Facebook and hear that they had another 2-3 weeks of blueberry picking ahead of them, even in the middle of August.  We headed down late on Saturday morning.

Austen got his own pail, but we didn't trust him with berries.
I'll admit, before we headed down, I was already biased in favor of this place, since I had both Lunnas as teachers in Junior High and Al was my track and cross-country coach as well. They have since "retired" and now run the berry farm, selling at several local farmer's markets.

We got right down to picking. The first couple of rows had berries deep in the bushes, but the picking was kind of slow going and I wasn't sure if Austen was going to make it long enough in the backpack for us to garner any real sort of haul. Then we turned a corner.
Like Wine Grapes

The row of bushes we happened on were so loaded with berries it looked like bunches of wine grapes on the vine. We filled two pails in about 40 minutes, with me taking frequent breaks to march Austen up and down the rows and into the shade when he got bored or hot.
Patience

Our two pails of berries came to over ten pounds and we paid about 27 dollars for those berries.  They keep bees to pollinate the bushes as well, so we bought some blueberry honey.

As we were cashing out, Al came over to say hi and we spent some time catching up and reminiscing about the good old days of running at Mount Abe. Sadly, he said, the cross-country and track programs today are a shadow of what they once were as football and lacrosse have soaked up potential runners at my small alma mater. That's really too bad. Many of my best friends, people I still keep in touch with, are people I ran with back in the day.I attribute my affinity for suffering-based sports (mostly cycling, these days) to Al's workout regimes ("dump hills" for cross-country and interminable 400 meter repeats for track). Perhaps it's time to rally the old gang and start a booster's organization.

Al also pointed out the state-record elm tree, right by the driveway. It's worth checking out all by itself, with a trunk almost 8 feet in diameter. I didn't take a good picture of it.

We had a really nice time and it was good picking. Al told me he put in 17 different varieties of blueberries to ensure a long season, and I can attest that his strategy has worked. I can't imagine these bushes getting picked bare in the next two weeks, so if you haven't gotten out berry picking yet this summer, there's still time and the berries are delicious and abundant.
A Full Pail

Getting there:
1947 Lower Notch Road
Head west out of Bristol on Route 17 and turn left on to Lover's Lane- about 3/4 of a mile later you'll go through the intersection with Hewitt Road and cross the New Haven River. Take a right on to Lower notch Road and follow the signs about 2 miles to the farm, which will be on the right.

Google Maps:
<http://maps.google.com/maps/place?ftid=0x4cb566024d4bc17f:0xc2f830281f02309b&q=1947+lower+notch+road+bristol+vermont&hl=en&sll=44.099857,-73.0755&sspn=0.006295,0.006295&ie=UTF8&ll=44.104336,-73.082407&spn=0,0&t=h&z=16>

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lower-Notch-Berry-Farm/234208049940234





8.06.2011

I Don't Have the Ball

But Austen wants to climb up my legs anyway:
Taken by Ben Nugent, my brother-in-law, who is a real photographer when he isn't messing around with Hipstamtic on his iPhone.

8.04.2011

Minivelo on Vacation

Further evidence that there are practical reasons to get a non-folding bike with 20 inch wheels. That's the Mercier Nano in the back of a Jeep Cherokee along with a folded Burley single-wide trailer. Austen and I can drive somewhere, park, pop out the trailer and the bike and go for a ride, all without needing a bike rack. Nice. 
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