Gravel Metric 2012 – Devil Dancer Hell Furnace

In early March, Brad, Martin, Rick and Shawn decided to ride the 2012 Gravel Metric in DeKalb IL. We decided to take advantage of the long holiday weekend and drive into DeKalb on Saturday, ride Sunday, and drive home on Monday.

The extra time on Saturday proved to be useful. We were able to stop at 3floyds brewery in Munster IN for lunch and meet up with Rich, a friend of Brad’s.

Brad waiting patiently outside of 3floyds

Brad waiting patiently outside of 3floyds

It was immediately clear upon arrival that 3floyds was going to be chaotic. At 12:30 P.M., there was already a ~20 person line at the front door. People were unhappily leaving the exit door of the retail section muttering there was no Zombie Dust left. It was unclear if the line at the front door was for retail purchases or taproom seating.

After the doorman donned some sunglasses, he started to move the line faster. Surprisingly, there were plenty of open tables once we got inside. Luckily, there was draft and cask Zombie Dust on tap.

3floyds taproom

3floyds taproom

Martin generously and smartly offered to be the designated driver for the remainder of the day. With Martin taking the wheel of responsibility, Brad, Rick and Shawn enjoyed a few more selections from the 3floyds taproom.

Rick checked the weather when we got back on the highway to get an idea of what we could expect for Sunday’s ride. His mobile phone’s weather bug app showed a cactus and sun graphic for Sunday with temperatures in the 90’s. Rick had never seen the the cactus graphic before and we decided to interpret it as unusually and extraordinary hot weather. The cactus image also brought to mind the refreshing taste of Daisy Cutter beer from Half Acre Brewery.

It seemed appropriate to visit Half Acre to show support for their sponsorship of the Gravel Metric. Martin pointed the van North and we headed into the heart of Chicago. We got an excellent parking spot in front of Half Acre and walked in to find that the brewery does not have a taproom. We were able to taste several beers and buy some 4 packs to go. Half Acre had a very friendly atmosphere.

Forgot the rack lock key so we had to cable lock at Half Acre

Forgot the rack lock key so we had to cable lock at Half Acre

Not being deterred by the lack of a taproom at Half Acre, we took our 4 packs of Daisy Cutter and Double Daisy Cutter to a park on Damen just south of the Brewery. Relaxing in the park with Daisy Cutter was a nearly perfect preparation routine for the following day.

Half Acre taproom

Half Acre taproom

The drive from Chicago to DeKalb went smoothly. We checked in to our hotel and got ready for the pre-ride party that Tobie posted about on Facebook. We were happy to bring 3 cases of Founders beer to the party.

The pre-race party was hosted by Tobie’s friend Jim. Jim built a wood fire pizza oven in his backyard and was cooking pizzas throughout the night for attendees. We heard later in the weekend that Jim and his son Ben cooked 41 pizzas. We met many people involved with organizing the ride and had a wonderful time. At the party, we put the last few nails in our dehydration coffins with a few Centennial IPAs and Dirty Bastards.

Jim cooking pizza in his custom oven

Jim cooking pizza in his custom oven

Matin and Brad at Jim's house

Matin and Brad at Jim's house

The one hour time difference helped with an early-morning wakeup on Sunday. We hit IHOP for breakfast and then quickly prepared for the race. Our hotel was a short ride from North Central Cyclery. During the ride to the bike shop, a local bank showed 84 degrees at 8:20 A.M. Sign-in and staging was low-key and fun.

Rick, Martin, Brad and Shawn before rollout

Rick, Martin, Brad and Shawn before rollout

Brad donning bandana cue sheet with mustache!

Brad donning bandana cue sheet with mustache!

We rolled out from NCC shortly after 9 A.M. behind a police escort that guided us out of DeKalb. The rollout had an atmosphere of fun compared to the usual tension and competitiveness of a race. The pace picked up when we finally hit the gravel.

Rick and Brad during rollout

Rick and Brad during rollout

Oh the gravel! The gravel in DeKalb is much more coarse and slushy feeling in sections than the dirt and gravel roads we are used to riding in West Michigan. It was fun to experience such a different terrain. We got used to the gravel after the first mile or so.

The route held mostly to gravel but also included some paved road sections and sections that could be described as farm roads or trails.

Rick rolling on a farm path

Rick rolling on a farm road

Beautiful gravel road

Beautiful gravel road

The heat and wind made the ride challenging. We were all short on hydration at rollout and the ~100 degree temperature didn’t help (one rider mentioned his Garmin reporting 109). On average, most of us needed 6 bottles of water to make it through the ride.

Volunteers at three aid stations helped support riders with water, snacks, and icy squirt gun blasts to the chest and face. A family helped support the ride by providing fruit and keeping a hose running at their residence located on the route. Another couple parked a truck on the route and supported riders with water bottles.

Rick, Brad and Martin at aid station one

Rick, Brad and Martin at aid station one

By the end of the ride, we could hear tar bubbles popping under our tires as we rode on the paved sections. Luckily the wind was a tailwind during the final miles of the ride.

We were truly wrecked by the end of the ride. The running hose provided by North Central Cyclery at the end of the ride was a godsend. Many riders hung out at the bike shop post ride to exchange stories and wait for friends.

Truly wrecked at end of ride

Truly wrecked at end of ride

We rode to our hotel for a post-ride Double Trouble and then went to Fatty’s for our complimentary Daisy Cutter during the post-ride raffle. Just about everyone walked away with cool schwag at the post-ride raffle. Fatty’s was very accommodating of all the riders.

Anything goes at Fatty's

Anything goes at Fatty's

We finished off Sunday with a small pool party at the hotel. Lots of the Half Acre crew were there and we tried to hook as many people up with Founders as we could. El Burrito Loco made for a good late night meal that overcame the disappointment that the cable was out and we couldn’t finish watching Joe Dirt.

Waiting for Joe Dirt to come back on

Waiting for Joe Dirt to come back on

We drove back home on Memorial Day after a great breakfast at Flippin Eggs. None of us dared to try the 3lb hamburger but our breakfast food was good and the service was excellent.

The Monster Burger was too much to handle after the GM

The Monster Burger was too much to handle after the GM

Thanks to all Gravel Metric organizers, sponsors and volunteers. We had a wonderful time!

Thanks GM crew!

Thanks GM crew!

Double Daisy Cutter

Thanks to Mike Campbell for delivering this 20oz bottle of IPA goodness to me at Barry-Roubaix! I have tired the regular Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale thanks to Jen and Jeremy and really enjoyed it. Both are very different from most of the Pales or IPA’s I tend to like. Centennial, 2-Hearted, Humma, etc all seem to be more citrusy, piney. Regular Daisy and Double Daisy are definitely grassier, and more foral. The Double pours a orange-gold with a nice frothy head but almost no lacing on the glass. Smell is grassy hops, hemp, lemony and a little malt. Taste is very bitter up front, subdued malt, and a grassy/floral hop aftertaste. It does not have an alcohol bite to it which I tend to prefer in my doubles. Mouthfeel is medium, very drinkable. 8% is dangerous for me since I don’t feel the need to sip it and then get in trouble after 3 or 4 beer 🙂 Can’t wait for the Gravel Metric in Illinois next month. I plan to have a few of these down there and bring a bunch home since it isn’t distributed in Michigan.

ed. Note the kick ass bottle opener collection!

Fixed Gear Beer!

Fixed Gear

Say that 10 times fast! I saw this at the local beer store and had to try it, I am a sucker for anything bike related when it comes to wine and beer bottles.

Described as an American (usually means hoppy and more alcohol) Red Ale at 6.5% with 42 IBU’s from Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee in a 16.6 ounce bottle. I think it was about $5. The IBU’s sound low but they really shine through on this Ale. It pours a orange brown with a one finger head. I split the bottle with Cathy in a nice tulip glasses. Very piney on the tongue and the nose. Almost IPA level, Reds are usually malty and low hops if I’m not mistaken so this was a pleasant surprise for me.  Pick this one up, you won’t be disappointed.

I wonder if Dennis from the Fixed Gear Gallery has a closet full of these?

Rick

Beer Time!

MadAnthonyIPA
Mad Anthony IPA
Out of town for work trip, I am always curious to see the brews that can be found in other locations.  Interestingly, I found Mad Anthony IPA while in southern Indiana.
Why is that interesting?  Perhaps more so to me because this coming weekend is the Mad Anthony cyclocross race in old Fort Detroit.  The race, the beer and Fort Wayne Indiana are all named after “Mad” Anthony Wayne, a Revolutionary War general who mostly led American troops against British forces in the midwest during our war for independence.
The Mad Anthony IPA is brewed in Fort Wayne Indiana at the Mad Anthony Brewing Company (www.madbrew.com). A review of the Mad Anthony website will not show this beer available.  It was one of a rotating group of flavors brewed and bottled.  I found the brew to actually not be what I expected as an IPA (India Pale Ale).  For those who are familiar with Founder’s IPA and even Bell’s Two-Hearted, the flavor of Mad Anthony IPA would be quite different.
In a clear glass, the color is not a deep golden color, but rather, it is a light gold color with a slight hint and tinge of red.  There’s a slight sour, but not unpleasantly so, aroma to the beer.  There’s also a slighty but quick sour taste but this is quickly followed by a more rye flavor.  The Mad Anthony IPA is not the hoppy heavier style of IPA, but presents a bit of a red’s rye tinge of flavor creating a different IPA experience.

Cascade Optical

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For the past few years, I have contemplated getting prescription sunglasses for riding.  Part of me was being cheap, the other part simply didn’t believe that prescription lenses would make that much of an impact on my riding.  After talking with several other team members, I decided to make the trip down old 28th street to visit Cascade Optical.  They are one of very few optical retailers who carry Rudy Project sunglasses.  It became clear to me after doing a lot of research, Rudy Project puts a lot of R & D into their sport specific glasses.  As I walked into Cascade Optical, it was apparent Rob and Chris where all about the customer’s experience.  They were not your usual pressure salesmen you typically find at most eye glass places.  On top of that, they both knew what cyclist look for and need in prescription sunglasses. Their expertise directed me to the the right frame for my astigmatism.  I ended up ordering the Zion model made by Rudy Project.  Both Rob and Chris told me to test the tint and the lens wrap and come back if anything was off.  After about a month, I can say with confidence it has improved my riding, especially in the trails.  I actually cannot believe I rode for so many years without these.  I’m already looking forward to adding some clear lenses for other riding conditions.  If your in the market for a pair of glasses specifically for cycling on the road or trails, look no farther than Cascade Optical.

Jeremy

Voler endorsement

1111  hops final jersey 2011 founders jersey

Do you remember the song, “If I could walk 5,ooo miles” from the 80’s? It was a fairly dumb song but it makes me think of how wonderful the VOLER BIKE SHORTS are!  I have nearly ridden 5,000 miles this season and the shorts have the same amount of “cush” and stretch as they did on the first day I wore them! None of the Voler products have faded, stretched out, ripped-out at the seams, or snagged…even when ridden through raspberries! After wearing the Voler products, a quick soaking in suds and rinse is all it takes to keep the “stink” out! Have you ever had a jersey that traps that STINK and youcan’t get it out? ME TOO! Onl

y not the Voler products! I am telling you… they dry so quickly there is never any musty “after-stink.”  I can’t wait to order more Voler products next year…I didn’t realize they were going to out-perform any other products that I had or I would have doubled my order this year. Thank you Voler! Your product ROCKS!

Marnie TenCate

Beer Review

Patoka-20110519-00083

Normally during my work trips on which I drive I often take Founders Centennial IPA with me since the locations to which I travel are weak in good beers.

I lucked out a bit this week.  I reached Princeton Indiana and found a local store that had Goose Island IPA on hand which is brewed in Chicago.

What I’ve noticed from many IPAs is that very few of them actually reach the robust hoppy level of the Founder’s IPA or the 7.2% ABV.  (Test cases Piranha Pale Ale in McAllen Texas).

Goose Island fits into those test cases well as a suitable subsitute but not as a full competitor.  It is a 5.9% ABV for starters. I also found it quite a bit lighter than my favorite Founder’s offering. It has a dry start to the flavor but a touch sour as an aftertaste.

Interestingly and coincidentally- one of the ingredients for the Goose Island is Styrian Hops- Styria is a state of Austria which I visited in 2001 (capital is Graz- hometown of AH-nold Schwarzenneger).

http://www.gooseisland.com/pages/india_pale_ale/18.php

Dennis

Rudy Project

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I just purchased some Rudy Project Rydon II riding glasses from Cascade Optical. I needed an RX pair of clear riding glasses and our sponsor just so happens to carry Rudy Project. I currently own RX sunglasses from Oakley and I have to say, the Rudy Projects are so much nicer. Actually I didn’t have a complaint about my Oakleys until now. You see, my eyes water really bad from wind turbulence near the frames, always have no matter whose glasses I have owned. I am so used to squeezing my eye lids closed to dispel the tears every few minutes but I thought it was just my sensitivity. My Oakley lenses need to be cleaned of tear droplets before each ride since I would have the dried on a crusty, salty mess. Guess what, the Rudy Projects remain 90% clean when I am done riding! Now I need another pair of lenses for sunny days since the lens can be easily swapped out. RX riding glasses are not for everyone since the curvature of the lens can distort your vision but if you have a mild prescription these are an excellent way to go! The Oakleys will go on ebay soon.

Rick