Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bikes, Bruises, Booze, and Binging - A Thanksgiving to Remember

Ah, Thanksgiving. A time to be with your family, eat until you're sick, and drink for 12 hours straight. This year did not disappoint.

It started at Bill and Kathy's. Josh and I had spent the morning at the skate park and making appetizers (pigs in a blanket) which also became a pseudo-lunch (healthy, I know). The drinking started in earnest at about 2:30. I had brought a 20 oz bottle of my apple mead and proceeded to drink almost the entire thing before dinner. Needless to say, the huge meal helped me out. It was great seeing Bart and Kate, gabbing with Jacque and Kathy, and just chilling out.

Around 6:30, we arrived at my parents house and I promptly started arguing with Tad. Aren't the holidays such a great time to catch up with family members? The night turned into drinking beer and bickering around the kitchen table until Josh got a phone call from the AG household. My parents were all about partying, so we all arrived at the AG's in time for MacDaddy to pour us a shot. Everyone loved the family, and it was a great time. Although Connie and Craig both dropped the ball on my new bike....ugh.

(Speaking of my new bike....I got a new bike!! Josh found a killer deal on an Ironhorse 7Point5 that we just couldn't pass up. We picked it up a few Saturdays back and promptly took it up to Bountiful. I had such a great day and I am so excited about it!)

So the rest of the weekend consisted of bouts of studying in between bike rides and more partying. Friday night was Ricky and Molly's shower at the Hidden Valley BerMansion, complete with a full sushi spread and martini bar. Drunk again. But turkey burning was on the agenda for Saturday and we met up with a huge crew to ride the LCC covert White Pine trail. Extremely difficult, but after the second lap I started to feel more comfortable. I ended up doing the pipe ride and subsequent pipe drop, and I have to admit I felt like a rockstar.

Sunday = more turkey burning. Due to Craig and Rob's pure frustration, yet another huge crew decided to head up to Alta. It ended up being a beautiful day, and the manmade snow wasn't too bad. Connie and I hacked it up on tele gear, and there was a veritable feast of turkey, stuffing, crack cookies, and beer at the top of Collins. The hard core crew had brought their bikes up to Alta and completed the Thanksgiving LCC duathlon with style on the White Pine trail. I wasn't part of the hard core crew, as I sadly had to go home to put some study time in.

So the result of an awesome four day weekend? About 2 pounds of extra junk in the trunk, sleep-deprivation from three post-1:00AM nights, gnarly bruises in mysterious places on my legs, complete depletion of the Petersen PBR stores, a couple of school assignments in the bag, and a huge mutha-fuggin smile on my face.

(3rd ski day, 1840 vertical feet, 3 miles)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sgt. Tracie's Lonely Hearts Club Brown

After much debate and pangs of guilt, I decided to opt out of another spectacular weekend in Moab. I made my decision based on: 1) pure exhastion and 2) being a total slacker last week with my school group work. I wanted to make the most out of my lonely husbandless weekend, so what did I do? I brewed beer, of course!! (There will be no comment on the Moab trip that I missed. I'm not bitter. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not...)

Scott had given me this recipe over a year ago and it had been sitting in the beer recipe pile gathering dust. I just couldn't bring myself to brew another brown ale, since my first was less than spectacular (drinkable, but a little blah). However, I finally got to taste the renowned brown at Scott's house a few weeks back, and I was counting the days until I could brew a batch of that bad boy. The beer is an amazing blend of Porter chocolatey goodness, a nice mellow hoppiness background, and a very smooth, non-Porter finish. Granted, I was drinking from an all-grain computer-controlled batch served out of a temperature-controlled keg, but I was sold.

I went to the Beer Nut on Saturday to get all my supplies in preparation to brew on Saturday. I had to make some substitutions (see the recipe notes below). On Sunday morning, I hauled all the gear upstairs, cleaned the kitchen up, and I was ready to BREW, baby!

Um, I forgot about water. Off to the grocery store. OK, now I'm ready to BREW! Shit. I go back to the Beer Nut for hop and grain bags.

Goddammit, it's time to BREW! Good lord...I accidently brought up the bottling bucket, which is now full of iodine in the tub. Back downstairs for the right bucket.

Is it time to brew yet? Shoot me in the friggin head...I need a new thermometer - back to the Beer Nut.

Finally, the planets aligned and I got my water boiling. Thank goodness the brewing went much more smoothly than the preparation. Two hours later, I had five gallons of goodness ready to ferment. It started bubbling this morning!

Scott's Dark Brown Ale

2 lbs Maris Otter Malt, crushed
1 lb British Chocolate Malt, crushed
4 lbs Light DME
1 lb Dark Malt Extract
5 oz Fuggles hop pellets (4.5% alpha)

Note: The original recipe called for 6 lbs Maris Otter Malt Extract, which the Beer Nut did not have. I substituted the 2 lbs of malt combined with 4 lbs DME.

Bring approximately 2 gallons of water to 155C and add grains (Maris Otter and Chocolate). Add more water if necessary to cover the grain bag. Steep for 15 minutes and remove grain bag. Squeeze to extract additional liquid, and discard.

Add additional water to brewpot (approximately 3 gallons total) and turn off heat. Slowly add the Light DME and Dark DME until dissolved. Turn heat back on and bring to boiling. Start timer when wort starts boiling.

15 minutes into the boil add 2.5oz Fuggles hops (bittering)

55 minutes into the boil add 2.5oz Fuggles hops (flavoring)

Turn off heat at 60 minutes. Add additional water to brewpot if desired (4 gallons total) and use wort chiller to cool the wort to 80 degrees or less. Once wort is cooled, pour it into the sanitized fermenter, being sure to agitate it for additional oxidation. Add additional water to bring total volume to 5 gallons.

Pitch yeast and allow to ferment ~ 1 week (active fermentation complete). Rack to secondary for at least a week. Bottle with leftover DME.

I wish I would have had a camera to document the process, but alas, Josh took both cameras to Moab.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fruita and GJ - The Land of Schweet Singletrack and CO Douchebags

With the lack of snow in the Wasatch, and temps averaging in the mid-60's in Moab and Fruita, we decided to get out of town last weekend. James and Traci were up for it, as always, and Fruita was on the agenda since everyone seemed to be in a downhilling rut (not that there's anything wrong with that) and we needed some pedaling.

Josh and I left town on Friday afternoon (since Josh came down with a mysterious vision problem that morning - he just couldn't see himself going to work). We loaded the Element to the gills with bike and Maddie crap, and rolled into Fruita around 6:00.

Since we had no beer in the car we stopped at the City Market to pick up some firewood and a 12'er of PBR. As we're checking out, the lady asks Josh for ID since he was paying. He obliges and she turns to me and asks for ID. Since I stupidly lost my ID the night of the Aussie Pink Floyd show (don't ask), I didn't have anything to show her. So, instead of accepting defeat, I went into instant defensive psycho-bitch mode.

"Why do I need to show ID? I'm not buying the beer."
"There is a good chance that you will be drinking it, so I need ID."
"WTF? What if I was his 12-yr-old kid? Would you not sell the beer to him because he's with a minor? And how do you assume I would drink this?"
"I'm sorry, that's our policy."
"This is a bunch of crap. That can't be the law. WTF. We're going to the liquor store and I'm staying in the car."

Granted, the lady felt really bad and kept apologizing to us. On the way out of the store, we kind of got the idea that there was some police sting action going on and the checkers were under surveillance. So, it wasn't really her fault, but it still felt good being a bitch.

So, after a stop at the liquor store for some 2 Below and 90 Shilling, we're off to 18 Road. We got one of the last camps (CO people were arriving in droves), yanked the bikes off the car, and busted up the road with Maddie for a quick Kessel Run before dark. Perfect timing...we rolled back into camp with about 20 minutes to spare. Maddie was a Kessel superstar, staying right on my wheel the whole way. Needless to say, she crashed pretty hard that night.

How sweet is that?

An awesome turkey burger and potato salad dinner, a pack of firewood, and 3-4 beers later, James and Traci showed up. A little planning for the next day, and we called it a night.

We rallied a Kessel Run with Maddie before breakfast to wear her out for the day. Josh "Rachel Ray" Petersen cooked up a mean breakfast of pancakes and eggs, and the morning warmed up nicely into the 50's by 10 o'clock. As we passed other camps on the way out, there seemed to be a large ratio of spandex, weeny bikes, and Colorado plates. Hmmm....

All of us were psyched to check out some of the Grand Junction rides since none of us had been over there before. From the descriptions and reviews we'd heard about the Ribbon, we were very intrigued. We spent an hour looking at maps and trail descriptions trying the figure out how the hell we were supposed the ride the damn thing. Eventually, we decided that even if the book didn't mention it, we could shuttle it. Perhaps the lack of shuttle info could be related to our morning observation of the Colorado spandex phenomenon?

We rolled into the lower Tabeguache parking area and piled into the Suby to drive up to the upper Ribbon parking lot. As we're gaining thousands of feet of elevation, I'm looking at the map thinking "why the heck does the trail description say to go UP the Ribbon and DOWN the paved road we're on now? Are we missing something?" James and Josh strapped on their armor, and we hoped we made the right decision. Well, it ends up the author of the guide book must have been a local CO masochistic douche, because shuttling was DEFINITELY the way to go.

The huge slickrock slab. The views didn't suck.

Instantly we were whooping and yee-hawing as the trail opened up onto a huge slab of featureless slickrock. It was incredible! One slab ended, and we traversed an exposed ridge of singletrack. Then it opened up again onto another slab! The upper section continued like this for a couple of miles, with some gnarly drops (portages) and singletrack in between. Eventually it spit us out into a dry creekbed. And who knew a dry creekbed could be so fun to ride? The remainder of the trail was a combination of loose and not-so-loose singletrack, some technical rocky sections, a huge portage, and some exposure. Very, very fun day.

Josh on the singletrack

On the last big singletrack decent, we ran into a guy coming up the trail. Full tighty-whitey race gear and a wimpy bike - surprise, surprise. He asked whether we were enjoying the trail and how we liked the climb up. Uh...we didn't do the climb. He shot us a look of pure shock and proceeded to tell us that the only way to truly experience the Ribbon is to climb it. Uh, OK. He'd never heard of anyone shuttling it before. What kind of weird, retarded world of mountain biking had we been warped into here??

Finally, back to the trailhead, and we're surrounded by spandex, moose knuckles, carbon frames (whaa??) and too many people with a body fat % less than a gallon of skim milk. The jaw-drop looks we got as we rolled in with armor and bikes with more than 3" of travel was priceless. Again, after telling people what we had done, we mostly got deer-in-headlights looks. Wow. Can't wait to bring more of the Utard crew to rip the shit out of that ride - as a shuttle.

But the day was not done yet. Back to camp for an awesome dinner and a few beers around the campfire.

Maddie wanted a better view of the fire

Around 8:00, it was time to bust out the lights for a little night-riding action. I'd never done it before, so I was extremely excited. We decided that Joe's Ridge would be a good choice, since there were a few spicy descents, some exposure, and we could finish it off with the bottom half of Kessel.

Night riding on Joe's

I was hooked! My light died at the bottom of Joe's, but Josh decided against another lap and gave me his. Traci, James, and I did one more lap on Kessel before calling it a night. Damn, I wish those lights weren't so expensive!

Kokopelli is a great spot to hit on the way out of town. James and Josh were dying to try Moore Fun, a highly technical loop that meets up with Mary's. Traci and I weren't into it so we rode Horsethief Bench. Traci told me it was her favorite Kokopelli ride and it did not disappoint! The singletrack was buff and beautiful with just enough technical rocky sections. The views of the river were beautiful too.

We finished up on Mary's Loop and met up with James and Josh. Apparently Moore Fun was an ass-kicker, but they had a good time (see Josh's blog - I'm sure he'll have his trip report up soon).

Love, love, love Fruita.