Monday, September 27, 2010

Return from the Void

As I mentioned last post, I have been in and out of town. While my travels aren't yet over, I have managed to find some time to resume posting.

My most recent trip took me to New Hampshire (via Connecticut) for a friend's wedding. I arrived in town Thursday afternoon and went out to dinner with my brother and his family. On the way we noticed this New England super hero:

It was mid-September and cool.Our collective amazement was summed up when my nephew said something along the lines of, "He's riding naked". His lack of clothing aside, he was also riding on a very busy street. I'm not one to argue that as a cyclist he doesn't have a claim to the road as well, but I know that I wouldn't ride there. Maybe by not putting myself in a situation where I'm surrounded by crazy drivers on their way home from work makes me less of a champion of cyclists' rights, but I'd rather take up that battle with something other than my life.

The following morning after picking another out-of-town guest up at the airport, we headed north to NH. I've been to Vermont a good amount and I always just assumed NH was the same (I went to NH as a young buck and don't remember much about it except smacking my shin against the family mini-van's doorway). In the end my assumption held true for the geography, but not so much the people. Ok, it held true for them as well - dirty hippies. The scenery was beautiful:

Silver Cascades or something cheesy like that.And the businesses were creative:

I wouldn't feel clean after using one of those machines.The wedding was nice, though I had to struggle through it with what I thought was food poisoning. Turns out the constant departures from my bed to the bathroom were caused by some bug that hit my brother's family and coworkers. In my weakened state I must have picked up another bug because I was down for about four days versus the 8-12 hours everyone else was affected.

Upon my return to Kansas, preparations were made for my 'Dirty Thirty' celebration:

It was funfetti cake.I gathered from my in-laws that the 'Dirty Thirty' was supposed to be a night of drunken abandon. Unfortunately, the sickness I endured was still messing with my stomach and as soon as I drank one beer I felt full and bloated. That did not bode well for the Saturday evening beer-tasting at the Carnegie Arts Center we attended. There were some really good beers there, but again each sip filled me up and I was unable to take full advantage of the offerings. To round out the birfday weekend, a few friends took Penny and me to the new IHOP for breakfast. We were deflated to learn that the grand opening was set for this morning; we were a day early.

So to sum it up the last few weeks started with sickness and ended with sadness, but I guess it could have been worse.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Away We Go (Again)

Yesterday's rest day in the Vuelta allowed me to head out on a ride in the early morning. After a healthy breakfast of Frosted Mini-Wheats, I departed the house and headed off into the unknown world of Kansas county roads. Twenty miles later I had no idea where my journey had taken me. I was hungry, tired, and worried that I wouldn't get a chance to head to the recycling plant like Penny asked (easily my biggest worry). Eventually I guessed correctly and was heading back into town and a delicious lunch of more Mini-Wheats.

I'm not a huge fan of TTs. I enjoy riding them because it is a good measure of physical and metal stamina and the drained feeling you get afterwards makes you feel like you've accomplished something. What I don't enjoy about them is watching them. The excitement you get from road stages is nonexistent in TTs. With that said, I had the TT going today while I tended to other matters. In the end HTC-Columbia's Peter Velits won, defeating reigning world champ Fabian Cancellara:

Spartacus third!  What is the world coming to?Velits is obviously the day's biggest winner. The biggest loser? This guy. A-Rod is not competing in the Vuelta though, so I would have to go with another Rodriguez. After finishing over six minutes down on the stage, Rodriguez is now over three minutes down on GC:

Tommy D representing.It appears like Liquigas might wrap up their second Grand Tour this year. I would much rather see Ezequiel Mosquera from Xacobeo-Galicia stand on the top step of the podium. The idea of a Pro Continental Team winning a Grand Tour is pretty cool.

As I mentioned Monday I am heading out of town tomorrow and therefore the chance of a Friday post is slim. I'll be spending the weekend between CT and NH for a friend's wedding. I'll see friends I haven't seen in years, so I'm looking forward to what craziness may transpire. Enjoy the rest of your week and the end of the Vuelta.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back to the Beer

It's been a while since I've posted about beer. I am here today to remedy that situation. A friend brought over a sixer of Annie's Amber Ale from The High Noon Saloon here in town.

Not too shabby.Yes, I am drinking out of a Mason Ball jar. Yes, I am drinking before noon.

As you can see, the ale is a very nice Amber color. It has a clean taste that allows the flavor of the malt to come through. Though not overpowering, each sip ends with a bit of hops. I truly believe that the can has taken away some of the flavor as I've had Annie's Ale from the tap, but for a camping trip or some tailgating, I would much rather have a sixer of this than one from the large breweries.

Not only has it been a while since I've posted about beer, it's been a while since I've posted period. I had to jet out East last minute at the beginning of the month, resulting in a few missed posts. I will be on the road this weekend as well as the first two weekends in October. So for the next three weeks posting will be non-existent at worst and spotty at best. Don’t worry though, anything I do post will contain the same poor quality you have come to expect.

Now on to the bikes. With all the travel, I've watched much less of the Vuelta than I've wanted. Add to that the fact that I don't have NBC Universal Sports and the internet was being dumb Saturday, I've seen four stages over the last week and a half. Never fear though, if you are in the same boat as me I'm here to get you filled in and up to speed.

Mark Cavendish won stage 13, solidifying his hold on the green jersey. To show his excitement at once again riding away from the field, Cav bunny-hopped the finishing line:

See, BMX skills easily translate to road racing skills.Watching the last few kilometers on YouTube makes it easier to see. After the stage, Cav accused Tyler Farrar and Wouter Weylandt of working together to prevent him from earning points during an intermediate sprint. If that was a driving force behind his celebratory hop, I think an endo would have been a bigger slap in the face (as well as having historical significance).

In stage 14, race leader Igor Antón crashed and had to abandon, leaving Liquigas rider Vincenzo Nibali in the lead. I unfortunately did not see any of the race changing carnage as the website I usually watch races on decided to show snooker.

Stage 15 provided the riders with a perfect day for racing:


What made it even more beautiful was that I was watching the broadcast of the Spanish channel tdp, so every time the commentators got excited all I could think of was this:

Is that wrong of me? Maybe, but it's true.

In addition to the colorful and melodic commentators, the stage provided excitement as Carlos Barredo escaped from the break to claim the stage victory:

You'd never know from this happy picture the darkness that sleeps within.To celebrate his win he smashed a front wheel into the face of second place finisher Nico Sijmens. Barredo ‘brushed himself off’ four times while crossing the finish line. He may be feeling like a pimp, but I’m not sure he’s doing it correctly. Must be something lost in translation.

This morning (or afternoon if you want to get technical and talk about the time zone the race occurred in), Rodriguez recaptured the leader's jersey as Nibali struggled up the final climb. Fränk Schleck was probably the biggest winner on the day though, riding himself into fourth on the GC, a mere 2:16 back. Mikel Nieve from Euskatel-Euskadi gave the orange a big boost after the loss of Antón by winning stage 16:

Good on him.I hope you enjoy the inset of Mikel's smiling face. I figured to offset the beer at the beginning of the post I'd do something a little artsy at the end. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Goodbyes, See-yas, and Cav-whos?

We have a lot to get to today, so let's just dive right in.

Two-time TdF winner Laurent Fignon recently passed away. Fignon won the 1983 and 1984 editions of the TdF and lost the 1989 edition to Greg Lemond by 8 seconds. One of the best cycling quotes of all time came from Fignon when he was recognized on the street. The gentleman said, "Ah, I remember you: you're the guy who lost the Tour by eight seconds." to which Fignon replied, "No monsieur, I'm the guy who won it twice." I never saw him race, but the combination of his wild hair and wire-rimmed glasses most likely made for an incredible viewing experience.

In news of the current grand tour (if the TdF is THE grand tour, then the Giro is its evil little brother and the Vuelta is the kid who used to be the Tour's stepson), Belgian sensation Phillippe Gilbert (pronounced Fill-eep Jill-bare) won the race's third stage to claim the camiseta roja:

Very reminiscent of a classic.During his post win interview, Gilbert was asked how the race went, to which he answered, "It was hot, but at the end I just picked the pace up and everyone else just fell off. Pretty standard really."

Cancellara isn't the only one whose part machine.Like just about every other stage, a break formed during stage four. It contained four riders, including Team Milram's Dominik Roels. At just over six feet tall and 165 pounds, Roels is one of the 'heftier' members of the pro peloton. While he may be fun at Oktoberfest and probably always gets tabbed to play Santa at team Christmas parties, his extra weight was not to his advantage when the road titled upwards:

Guys, wait up!Those professional cyclists, always leaving the fat kids behind. Speaking of being left behind, the end of the stage presented the riders with gradients as steep as 27%:

Yeah, it only says 23, but even that is still damn steep.In the end, Igor Antón from Euskaltel-Euskadi took the stage win, but in bigger news that seemed to be overlooked by all the major news media was the mechanical Andy Schleck had that allowed Antón victory:

Come on guys, wait up!Clearly AS is struggling to get his bike repaired so that he can chase back and limit his losses. Where has all the sportsmanship that used to prevail in the peloton gone?

Today's stage was long, hot, and perfect for a sprint finish. With Bernhard Eisel out for HTC-Columbia, Cavendish was without his lead-out man and punched it about 100 meters too far away and was passed by America. And by America I mean Garmin-Transitions rider Tyler Farrar:

All you shavers lick my goatee.Asked afterwards if defeating Cavendish (who by the way has now suffered two defeats at the hands of other sprinters in this year's Vuelta) will provide motivation, Farrar responded that winning is all the motivation he needs. That and the fact that next year he'll have former Tour and Vuelta points competition winner Thor Hushovd on his team. I'm sure as a sprinter, getting word that your boss just hired another prominent and proven sprinter, you'd do what you could to prove your worth as well.

Stevil over at AHTBM posted today that the AHTBM kits are shipped off. Since I read that I have been camped out on the front porch awaiting the delivery man.

Enjoy the week's midsection.