We weren’t the only ones with a plan B trip!

As we all know the plan this week was supposed to be San Francisco and Napa. In fact, today we would’ve picked up a rental car and driven to wine country. Instead, we woke up here at the beach.

Yeah, I am NOT sad about that!  Continue reading “We weren’t the only ones with a plan B trip!”

Seattle Rules to Live By

Folks, I am sure everywhere someone lives has it own particular set of rules. In California, I think there is a requirement to be tan. Texas, somewhere is a bylaw that says you have to own boots and a hat. South of the Mason-Dixon line, Y’all are required to use the word Y’all!

On the Oregon Coast, somewhere in the closet you have a pair of these.

In Seattle, we have many. Some involve only drinking Good wine, good beer and good coffee. ( I am sipping Starbucks as I type this.) But others revolve around the sun coming out….

Continue reading “Seattle Rules to Live By”

Oregon Coast Day 3: Pacific City to Newport

This was one of days I was most concerned about with my buddy Rob. It had 2 decent climbs, one to get into Lincoln City, and then one just before Newport. After day one, he was already a much better climber, but this was going to be a challenge for him. The challenge would have to wait though, until after breakfast! Continue reading “Oregon Coast Day 3: Pacific City to Newport”

What’s a Palate?

There was a time, and I KNOW it will be shocking to many of you, that I was NOT the refined sophisticate that you see (or should I say read) before you today.  Yes, I must confess, I didn’t even know what a palate was, let alone profess to have one back then.  My wife has worked hard to develop my tastes since we met!

 

I just didn’t know what good was, for some things.  For example, when it came to beer, whatever was cheap, or, better yet, whatever someone else was buying, was the perfect beer!  You’ve seen my name, Mountainstroh.  Well we drank Stroh’s (America’s only Fire-Brewed beer, in small copper kettles.) mainly because unlike other beers, it came in 15 packs!  Three, yes three, Extra beers for the same price as a half rack.  This gave rise to the legendary Strohs Bros&Fros  of Washington State University!   In fact, we wallpapered our dining room one year with our leftovers.

 

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Nowadays, when I go for beer its good beer.  I live in the land of microbrews.  The WORST beer I will drink is Redhook.  There are so many others to choose I could kill my liver just trying them all!  My favorites are Mirror Pond  and Rogue Ales.

 

Rogue Ales
Rogue Ales (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I can only tolerate bad beer now in case of snakebite!  And even then I am not sure I would allow it!

 

Now let’s move on to wine!  Anyone remember Cella Lambrusco?  Imagine if you will Kool-aid with an alcoholic content.  Loved that stuff!  There was one camping trip in which I was “sipping” out of the bottle while setting up the tent.  In what seemed to be 15 minutes later it was gone!  I distinctly remember one last rational thought “OH this is gonna be bad!”  The next thing I remember is crawling out of the bushes near camp,  and trying to get as close as possible to the fire because I was COLD!  Not a good night.

 

Since then I have moved up to good wine!  Now I am not in any way a wine expert.  I have 3 categories.  Damn that’s good, Eh its ok, and Spit that crap out!  I can’t taste pepper, meat, chocolate or oak, I taste wine when I sip wine.  I can still tolerate cheap wine, but this weekend we are going wine tasting in Walla Walla and I am SO looking forward to it!

 

Now for some things, my palate is the same as its been since I was a kid.  The best Mac & cheese is Kraft mac and cheese!  And I make it better than anyone!  Hell, sometimes Michelle and I have it for breakfast on weekends.  Peanut butter?  Is Jifor Skippy, NOT chunky! (bleh) and I loves Smuckers Strawberry Jam.  Cheese?  Tillamook cheddar is best!  I could eat a block in a night if I let myself.

 

All of this my wife is ok with, she has helped me widen my experiences with food and drink, and helped me find things we both like!

 

HOWEVER, (and this is how this post got started) one thing she hasn’t been able to instill in me is the love of good coffee.  Today in the lunch room I was pouring myself the basic office coffee.  “How can you drink that swill??! she asked?

 

I love bad coffee.  Here I am in the land that spawned Starbucks, Tully’s and bikini barista stands, and I go for office swill.  We use to have this old silver urn in the lunchroom.  I am convinced it was never cleaned.  The coffee had a metalic tang…. DAMN it was good!.  I like to get a drip coffee at Starbucks, but I am just as happy hitting AM/PM for a huge cup of over burnt, brewed all day coffee!  Too thick to drink, but too thin to plow, strong enough to float a horseshoe, and requiring a bit a chewing before swallowing.  Just a little pinch of it between the cheek and gums sure tastes good!

 

I have stopped drinking beer or wine to get drunk, but I still drink coffee for the caffeine buzz!  Nothing wakes you up better on a late night drive than day old, stuck to the bottom of the pot sludge!  Mmmmmmmmmmmm!!  Couple it with a Diet Mountain Dew later, and you can drive forever!!

 

So, as I have stated before, it takes a village to raise a Tony.  But even the village isn’t perfect.  Who’s up for a late night run to 7-11 with me???

 

Alone or With a Group?

Anyone out there remember that great George Thorogood song “I Drink Alone!”  Google it if you haven’t heard it!  I love it.

Now I do not make a habit of going to bars and drinking alone (though do NOT get me wrong, in my younger days….).  I’ve already said on the trip along the OR coast I stopped for a beer (or two) and a burger at Rogue Ales.  However, I DO ride alone. (da dadada da, all by myself, da dadada da….  sorry told you it was a great song!)

This, like most other things with biking, is up to each person’s personal preference.  Solo rider vs. Group rider.  Neither way is better or worse, it’s up to you.

So why do i ride alone?

Well first off, my friends think I am nuts.  They see me posting about 100+ mile rides, or riding in 30 degree weather, riding to the top of a mountain pass, or getting snowed on in the Chilly Hilly, and they see no sane reason anyone would think about, let alone actually DO these things.  My buddy Dave has offered to tag along on his motorcycle,  but other than that….

I am also not wanting to be the cause of ruining someone’s ride or having mine ruined by someone else.  If I crash and burn, get a flat, or had too much Squirrel Tooth Alice (one of my favorite Dusted Valley wines) the night before, it only messes with my ride.   I would either have to leave a group (and there is always that nice person who says, “Oh I will hang with you, no biggie.” )  Or make everyone wait for me to change the tire.

conversely, if I am on a ride I have been looking forward to, or its the big ride of the year I don’t want anyone else’s bike issues to mess up my ride.  Selfish?  Maybe, but it’s how I feel.  Now to redeem myself a bit, I am the first person to ask anyone on the side of the road if they need anything, I have helped change flats for beginners, and helped moms when their kids have gotten the pants caught in the chain.  We riders help each other out.

Also I can stop and start any darn time I want to!  I remember my first STP.  I was coming up to the Vader food stop.  I was low on water and REALLY wanted a cookie (well 5).  So I stopped.  As I got there, I could hear a large group behind me.  “Food Stop! Anyone want to stop”  “I will if you want to”  “Well only if you want to” “We could go on to the next one” ….  and this went on and on….  I became a devoted solo biker at that point!

Let’s not forget picture-taking!  I like to stop at a moments notice to snap a few, one person takes up a WHOLE lot less space on a shoulder.  PLus, this could become annoying after a while.  SERIOUSLY, how many pictures of eagles do you need??? (Well lots, actually 🙂 )

Finally there is speed and endurance differences.  I know my pace, I know that I can average 13+ MPH for hours!  I get there when I get there.  I am GREAT on hills and let gravity take me like the wind on the other side! Not everyone is like that.  On the other hand, people pass me like the wind on the flats.  I would slow them down.  I could probably find someone who rides like I do, but that just seems like a WHOLE lotta work.

Plus it would be RUDE to wear ear buds and ignore your group.

I also ride in large support rides.  10000 of my best friends and I did the STP last year.  In these rides you are always with people.  Quick conversations or thumbs up, a “GO COUGS!” when I wear my favorite jersey.  Its fun!

But to be fair, I know there are advantages to riding with people.

  • Misery loves company, so it could make hard rides easier
  • Sharing gear and repair tools, meaning you carry less
  • Being challenged by the other person, you both improve
  • Someone to take your picture
  • Someone to stop the bleeding in case of a crash
  • Someone to point and laugh at the crash (oh wait this may not be a good thing!)

So bottom line, pick what works best for you!  Or do both, depending on the ride or the day.  I love my solo adventures.  When I succeed, I did it on my own, and I have the additional perk of a gorgeous wife who is either at the finish line on big rides, or at home on training rides, with whatever I need to recover from the day.

The key, as always, is just get your butt in the saddle and get out there!

Rewarding Yourself for Riding

I’ve already discussed why I think riding is a better exercise option than Jogging, going to the gym or even Zumba! The best reason, for riding though, is that its supposed to be fun. If this is the right thing for you, then instead of feeling like “I HAVE to ride” you will think “Cool I GET to ride today!”

How do you get to this point, make the ride rewarding, or reward yourself for the ride. These are two different things to me.

REWARD YOURSELF FOR THE RIDE:

This means that at the during the ride, at the end of the ride or both you reward yourself with something you might not normally do. When I was riding the Oregon Coast there were a few things that stand out as far as rewards go. One was a mushroom Swiss Burger and 2 pints of Brutal Bitter at Rogue Ales in Newport (I will say it was a bit harder to pedal after. Good thing there was only 20 miles to go)

Newport OR
Newport OR

Then there was stopping at Bears Cookie Den at Seal Rock for a half-dozen chocolate chip cookies.

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Or walking into Abby’s Pizza in Coos Bay to order a large pizza and a pitcher of beer. I asked for one glass and the lady just looked at me weird, but it was a 70 mile, VERY hilly day. I earned it!

It can be small things as well. I love spice drops and cheap jelly beans. I can pound a bag in a day all by myself! On a long ride, I can chow all I want on them! If there is a particularly tough hill, I promise myself a rest and snack on top. You are working hard, you deserve the reward.

My favorite reward is one I have mentioned before. Riding to my favorite winery Dusted Valley.

360_bfm_smlabel

It is a 25 mile round trip from my front door to the tasting room in Woodinville. Or, if I add 2 miles to my 40 mile training route, I can swing by as well. I can show up, refill the water bottles, taste the wine on the bar for free (since I am a member of the Stained Tooth Society, the DV wine club) and then bring home a bottle or 2 for dinner! This is the label of one of my favorite Reds! (ask me offline and I will tell you what BFM means, this is a family blog) Nothing wraps up a great riding day like good wine, and the have the BEST!

MAKE THE RIDE REWARDING:

This is a ride that is more than an exercise or training ride. This is a ride you are taking to see what there is to see. The OR coast was perfect for this, but here in Seattle, Vashon, Bainbridge, Whidbey, Port Townsend, Mt Rainier, and SO many others are just beautiful rides. On a bike you can pull over ANYWHERE to take a picture. You can see birds or other wild animals and not scare them off like a car (I saw a HUGE red fox in Point Defiance once, Elk and deer, Sea lions and gray whales! More on this in another post)

Take your camera and share the pics with others to see what you have seen. Share your stories of sunrises and sunsets and rainbows. I will add a page soon of places I have seen but here are some to give you an idea of what I mean. If you seen anything like these from the back of a bike, that is its own reward!

Mt St Helens
Mt St Helens
Skykomish River
Skykomish River
Yaquina Head Light House, Newport
Yaquina Head Light House, Newport