Monday, September 14, 2009

Into (and out of) the Mystic...

Van Morrison has a few songs that just seem to capture the... well, the IT of a situation sometimes. "Into the Mystic," really is a love song, and not so much about mysticism and whatnot, but Van does a good job of evoking a lot of imagery in the song, to the point where you can really "smell the sea, and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic..."

On Saturday, we were nowhere near the sea, but we did feel the sky, and, if you ask me, my gypsy soul got rocked like way back in the days of old...

Dawn Patrol

We got the dreaded email from the Master of All Things Epic last week, naming the time and the place (6AM and the Simpsonville Sports Club parking lot) for our next P3C3 training ride. The wifey and I managed to rope Vinnie, charter member of YNHPF into joining us, so we had a nicely sized little group (somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen).

We set out in the dark, like last week, but that's where the similarities ended. We were gonna be riding rollers this week. Lots of rollers. We'd also be seeing some pretty wild patches of fog, which, as the sun rose, gave the ride a truly mystical theme. Hence the title of this post, for those of you scoring at home. We're gonna let the pics do the talking for the first half of the ride. Here we go:
 Dawn set the stage
 We hit more fog banks than we could remember
I. Love. This. Pic.

Random streets become eerie in the early morning fog

The sun starts coming out in my feeble attempt to get artsy

Of Backsides, and good rides...

It's always fun to ride with like minded, similarly skilled people. It's even more fun to ride behind like minded, more highly skilled, similarly sized people. Vinnie, our globetrotting friend who, when not working his tail off in a very successful career doing something that I definitely couldn't begin to understand, is also training for an Ironman. So, he's very strong on the bike. He also, like me, has a large frame for a cyclist. Unlike me however, Vinnie has a pa-donk-a-donk kiester, which makes him the perfect person to pull on the flats to help, um, break the wind in front of me (Thank you, I'll be here all weekend. Be sure to tip your waitress. Now get your mind out of the gutter.)  Case in point:
It's like tail wind (pun intended), that slipstream is so big!
Anyway... Jokes aside,the first 30 miles disappeared quickly, but my tension level was on the rise. My trusty steed, Fred the Tennessee Stud, was not having a good day. The cassette and the rear derailleur were making so much noise by about mile 35, that I was seriously considering putting Fred out of his misery, tossing him into the woods and hopping into the sag wagon. At the halfway point however, Fred and I found salvation at what must be the most immaculate country convenience store on the planet. 
I'm not kidding, it was a family owned place, and you could eat off the floors. I came in and asked the wonderful lady if she had some WD-40 (a MacGyver favorite right up there with duct tape) on the off chance that I could lube Fred into being quiet. She checked every where, to no avail. I thanked her for being so kind and resigned myself to creaking and squeaking my way back the last 40 miles.
To my wondrous surprise, however, she found the lost (and very rusty) canister and came and got me. I crossed my fingers and doused Fred's nether regions, swearing that I'll do better about washing and lubing the chain in the future. About three gallons of WD-40 later, and I decided that was all I could do, but then a funny thing happened...
It worked, and the mental lift I got from that had me riding super strong for the rest of the route! So strong in fact, that I was able to goof around and catch my buddy Perry in a couple of sprints and climbs. Perry, also a fellow P3C3 rider, kicks my butt on a regular basis, and, though I wouldn't say I won any of the little skirmishes that I started out on the road that day, I did make him work a couple of times...
Which brings us to...
The Perry-Flavored Suppository (almost)
At the top of one of the many quick steep climbs, I thought I had gapped Perry and was feeling feisty. So, like the good little moronic newbie bike rider that I am, I kept blasting off the front on this fun, twisty little lane that we were on, doing my own little personal time trial, and pretending like I knew what I was  doing. There was a SHARP left hand bend followed almost immediately by a right turn that we needed to take, which I wasn't expecting. I grabbed the brakes, thinking I might be able to just make the turn, but, unbeknownst to me, Perry had snuck back on my wheel, probably to teach me a little lesson. If not for a quick hand on the brakes and some nifty handling on Perry's part, I might just have had an uncomfortable trip to the doctor. Rookie mistake, I guess. I need to learn to check my six more regularly. Perry was a good sport about it, which I thank him for, because I was pretty mortified.

Random Nathan update

I don't know where to put this, so I'm putting it here. Our friend Nathan joined in again, this time clad in a Slipstream kit with a white jersey, which I guess made him the best young rider in the GC or something like that. Just like last time, our view of him was decidedly one-sided.
I'll see the other side of him one day...
Anyway, the rest of the ride went off without much incident, with the sun getting higher and hotter. We were quite happy done by the time we rolled into the parking lot 85 miles and 4500 feet of climbing later.

Awards and Accolades

The Master of All Things Epic had engineered a little contest themed around the Little House on the Prairie, with the grand prize being an ice cold Fat Tire (a.k.a. God's Recovery Drink). Now I'm sure you're thinking "Wow, that sounds both creative and cool! How come you haven't talked about it until now?" The answer would be, due to my horribly deficient Little House knowledge and subsequent performance in the contest, I lost, and we don't talk about losses here at Yummy NOMs...

That being said, to the victor go the spoils. Congrats to Perry, winner of the first Little House on the Prairie Contest Thingy:
He can hardly believe it...

We even had podium girls
We at Yummy NOMs have a belated award however. Being follicly challenged, yours truly was ineligible for this contest, but were are proud and happy to bestow the first ever Arnold Poindexter Award for Awesome Helmet Hair to...

Whose resemblance to this guy inspired the creation of the award 

Yeah, how many people do you know that can take it from Van Morrison to Revenge of the Nerds in less than 500 words? It takes skillz, friends. Mad skillz...
All in all, it was a great ride, capped off by a lazy afternoon of post ride football and mexican recovery NOMs, which were mystical in their own right. Anyhow, we'll be heading out on our first annual Colorado Training Camp next week, so stay tuned for pics of mountains and tales of tasty western treats. 
'Till next time, stay hungry, friends.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Epic Labor Day Weekend (Part 2): The Giro di Tedd

It all started so innocently...

I got an email last week from my friend and fellow P3C3 rider, Tedd. In it he said that he would be leading an 80 miler with some good climbing from Furman starting at 6AM this Labor Day to supplement our training schedule for the Ride to Austin. Sounded like a good idea. Not only did I need some climbing and a nice long ride, but the early start would have us doing some riding in the dark (with headlights and taillights, for the safety minded of you out there), and I needed to get some miles in that way as well, as my team will likely be pulling a night shift on the way to Austin. All appeared on the up and up. Little did I know that I would be putting myself into the hands of an evil, maniacal genius.

A note on Tedd
Many of Tedd's friends know him to be a good, upstanding, church-going member of society. He is a loving husband and a doting father to these two lovely ladies:

Tedd is also an Ironman. Which should have been the first red flag.

Friends, I can unequivocally inform you that all those good things about Tedd mentioned above are merely a front, or, perhaps, the machinations of somebody trying to make a last ditch effort to get in the good graces of the man upstairs. Tedd is, without doubt, an evil madman, and possibly a genius.

Seriously, look at this guy.  Is that the smile of a benevolent family man?. No, dear reader. We are dealing with somebody who likes pain, digs suffering, seeks out new and horrible means of bodily punishment, and brings others along for the ride.

Fortunately, I have the same kind of tastes, so let the suffering begin!

(Note: I have it from good sources that Tedd wears a helmet not to protect his fragile dome while riding, but in fact to hide the horns that are peeking out of his hairline.)

Early wakeup call

I'm a self-professed morning person, but even I have my limits. If you're riding 80 miles, you gotta fuel up at least two hours beforehand. The ride started at 6AM. I'll let you do the math as to when I had to drag my carcass out of bed. Suffice it to say, we made it in time to Furman, but we were less than happy.

These things, however, soon passed, and we were on our way in the cool pre-dawn, our headlights showing us the way, and foxes taking the chance to dart out in front of our wheels in case the pot of rocket fuel coffee we drank beforehand didn't quite get us going.

Soon, the sun was rising, and we were in the beautiful part of northern Greenville County, watching as the sun painted the eastern horizon pink and gave us some lovely vistas. I was still trying to wake up, though:

All in all, however, things were going pretty well. Everybody was communicating bumps in the road, working together to keep the pace solid,  chitchatting, and generally having a lovely time.

We even got a bonus potty stop at La Bastide, which the perceptive of you will remember is where our good friend and YNHPF co-founder Josh is the breakfast chef. Things were looking pretty good, if we do say so ourselves.

As a super-duper added bonus, we got some tasty mid-ride NOMs straight out of the kitchen. Bacon and cheese breakfast scone anybody? Yes, please!!!

(Pause for NOMification of breakfast scone)

Things, friends, were just plain hunky-dory.

It was at this point, in hindsight, that I now realized that I had been lulled (by the aforementioned evil genius) into a false sense of security. From here on out, the road began to turn up, and there was much work to be done.

At this juncture, we at Yummy NOMs would like to take the opportunity to thank Nathan, a newer addition to our ride group, for pulling me up the climbs. Nathan is a very cordial gent, a musician and a good climber. I know, because I spent the rest of the day pretty much holding on to his wheel for dear life. As such, this was mostly my view from here on out.

I am told that Nathan is both attractive and smiles a lot. I wouldn't know, as this is all I have ever seen of him. I can attest to his lovely backside, however, especially when complemented with his old school Slipstream kit. Thanks Nathan. I couldn't have done it without you.

Back to the ride
So, up, up, up we went. And up some more over the watershed into North Carolina. I'm sure it was all lovely, but I was too busy sucking on Nathan's wheel (see above). We then settled into some rollers and smaller climbs, punctuated by some fun twisty descents, and were generally having a good time.

Then we turned left on Green River Road (or something like that)...
...and saw this sign:

For those of you wondering at home, that facial expression is the universal sign for: WTF?!!!!
I assured myself that, clearly, this MUST be a mistake. Not only would the brilliant people at the NC Department of Transportation not be so obtuse as to plop a gravel stretch of road in the middle of a perfectly good country lane, but also, surely, my good, benevolent friend Tedd would NOT lead us into such sketchy conditions... Right? Bueller?

As it turns out, it was I who was mistaken. This is what we rode. For the next 4 miles. Uphill. On carbon ROAD BIKES.
(for the non-cycling readers out there, road frames are designed to be as stiff as possible, thereby maximizing their efficiency on paved road. The down side is that you feel every minor bump and crack in your, well, everywhere.)

The immortal Ricky Bobby described our next 4 miles best when he said "Hang on, Baby Jesus, this is gonna get BUMPY!!!!"

Yet, here is where Tedd's evil genius really manifested itself. Taking a road bike on terrain like this is nothing less than pure lunacy. That being said, I loved it. It was my favorite part of the ride! What's wrong with me, you ask? Well, I guess I've gone over to the dark side. Kinda like pulling for the Yankees or Clemson. I didn't want to do it, but once I did, it was sooooo much fun. I jumped out ahead of the group and finished the gravel stretch solo.

On the other side, I replaced my fillings back in my teeth and snapped my ridemates as they exited their own gravel birth canal of pain. Needless to say, not all were thrilled, but I was. I was reminded of all the stories of the old Grand Tours that I had heard about, with Fausto Coppi and the like racing unsupported on gravel roads over alpine passes. This PALES in comparison to that, but it was quite a feeling. The Giro d'Italia still goes over gravel sometimes (even Lance made a point to train on gravel roads in Colorado this spring during his Giro prep)., which is why I decided to name this ride the Giro di Tedd, in honor of its creator. All this was going through my mind as I watched my ride mates come cursing out of the trail, covered in grime. I saw it as a badge of honor... They didn't agree.
(no zealot like a convert, right?) 

That pic of Tedd above was taken right at the exit of the gravel section. I submit to you that anybody that can laugh like that after that type of a challenge is truly a maniac. Since I was laughing too, I guess that means it takes one to know one. 

Oh, and did I mention that we were barely halfway through our ride? 

Hats off to Firemen Everywhere

Shortly thereafter, thank goodness, Tedd's wife and kids met us at a local fire station, where we refilled water bottles, shook out the kinks, and, thanks to these guys, managed to wash our bikes off. Quite possibly, the best sag stop ever. Thanks to the anonymous volunteer fire fighters for helping us out!

After, that, it was a leisurely jaunt up the back side of Caesar's Head  (surprisingly easy. No, really) with the big pay off of the long descent to the bottom.  With Tedd's wife and kids providing SAG, we leisurely knocked off the rolling route back to Furman with minimal fuss. When I clicked out, the trip distance on the bike computer said around 74 miles, which makes Tedd not only an evil genius, but a liar (he said it'd be 80). However, we all agreed that the gravel stretch should count as double, so that got us to 78, which was close enough for government work. PHEW!!!

On "Epic"

"Epic" is a term that is bandied about entirely too often in cycling circles, to the point that it has seemed to lose some of its meaning. An Epic ride is one that should leave you gutted, panting, thankful to be done, thrilled you did it, and excited for the next one all at the same time. Now, that term gets used so liberally that it's been diluted to the point where when a buddy says they went on an Epic ride, they may have been talking about Tuesday nights at Donaldson, for all you know.

That being said, I'll leave it to Tedd to justify the Epic-ness of this ride. On his Facebook page, he posted the following:

"EPIC - very imposing or impressive; surpassing the ordinary (especially in size or scale) - AS IN TODAY'S RIDE - 78 miles/ 6228 ft of climbing/4 miles of gravel/ 6ix brave souls....All in all - EPIC" 

I couldn't agree more, Tedd. Any road ride in the summer sun  that leaves my legs so filthy that I look like I just went slogging through the mud on my mountain bike has to be an Epic.

Hats off to Tedd (and Happy Birthday!), the newly anointed Master of All Things Epic here at Yummy NOMs. 

Fausto Coppi would be proud. I had a blast, and I can't wait for the next installment of the Giro di Tedd!!!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Epic Labor Day Weekend (Part 1)

Wow. Just. Wow. I'm exhausted. I'm sitting here pecking out this as I miss my beloved Tuesday night Donaldson Ride. I just don't have the strength. I'm gassed. 

Why, you ask? Well, I just topped off about the busiest long weekend that I can remember. Ever hear the phrase, "I need a vacation from my vacation"? Well, there's a picture of me right now in the dictionary next to that one. We're gonna cover Saturday and Sunday here right now. Monday, however deserves some special attention, which I hope you will understand tomorrow when it comes out. Anyway on to our Epic Labor Day Weekend:

Saturday: Erin and Kevin's Wedding

We here at Yummy NOMs consider ourselves incredibly blessed to have met some truly interesting people in our lifetime. Even more so, we are proud to call many of those people friends. The down side? Life moves so fast that we lose touch, and people that we once saw every day as a matter of course become "once a year" friends. Such is my friend Erin, whom I have known since I was 5. I'm pretty lucky that my old high school crew still manages to get together and keep in touch on a fairly regular basis, and I was even luckier to be able to attend her wedding to her boyfriend (now husband) Kevin this past Saturday in Charleston. Saying it was good time would be putting it lightly,
A note on Kevin: he's a cook, and he promised me that the food would be good at the reception (a major priority here at Yummy NOMs) He didn't disappoint. Repeat: HE. DID. NOT. DISAPPOINT.
The service was held in the Circular Congregational Church in Charleston (bit of history:  not only is it actually circular, it's the oldest church in Chucktown, and also one of the original meeting places for the original city citizens, hence the name of the street it's on: Meeting Street). Beautiful church, and a lovely ceremony, followed by a marathon walk (across the street )to the Gibbs museum for the party. Good times. Really good times. And GREAT NOMs. Here they come: 

We've got good beef tenderloin cooked just right (extremely rare), pork tenderloin cooked just right (see previous) and stuffed w/ spinach and bleu cheese, and four cheese mac & cheese topped off with fresh sea scallops:
Let me tell you all something. I never before thought about having scallops with my incredibly good mac & cheese (when done right, mac & cheese, southern style, is art), but I will consider it on every future mac & cheese outing. This stuff was freaking good!!!!

But, were were at a wedding, and I'm sure you're thinking "Bo aren't you forgetting the most important part about the wedding? Like, say, the reason the whole thing is happening in the first place?" By that, I'm assuming you of course mean the cake.

And what a cake it was... There it is.

Oh, you mean the couple? Well, yes they were quite lovely., as you can also see here. Let me take a moment and say that I'm really happy for these kids. I love weddings. And not just for the food (though it was most definitely a plus in the case.) It's always uplifting to see two people who love each other starting their lives off.

Anyway, back to more important things...
Like the fact that the cake was RED VELVET CAKE!

Did I mention that I love red velvet cake?
Case in point: 

Yeah, that cake didn't stand a snowball's chance.

All in all, it was a great night. I'm sure Erin and Kevin are someplace warm and sandy right now reading this with baited breath, so we here at Yummy NOMs want to wish them good luck, and they can feel free to have another party with tasty NOMs and invite us any time!
Congratulations, Erin and Kevin!  NOM!
(editor's note to the reader: if you ever have friends that cook for a living invite you to any kind of gathering, go. Just go. Don't ask questions. Just go. You won't regret it)
Sunday: The Mad Dash from Charleston to Greenville and the first Yummy NOMs Homemade Pizza Fest (YNHPF)

We literally dragged our backsides out of bed to drive back home the next day in time to clean the house and get ready to rustle up some tasty goodness with our friends Josh, Jessica, and Vinnie.

Backstory: all the pics that Nikki and I have been posting over the summer have brought some people out of the ether to see what going on. Josh is the breakfast chef at La Bastide. He has cooked for Tiger Woods. He is obsessed with pizza and cycling. Needless to say, we get along swimmingly.  Jessica is his wife, and Vinnie is a buddy who rolls into town periodically that we like to have over to chow down (he's training for an Iron Man, so he's never met a calorie he didn't like.)

Josh and Jess showed up late afternoon with what can only be described as an incredible amount of homemade pizza dough (Jess had another description, but we like to keep in PG here, so use your imagination. It was A LOT OF DOUGH). The labors began (I gladly took a foreman's role in the process, by which I mean that I sat there, drank a beer and generally tried to keep the conversation lively. Hey, you do what you're good at!)
The results, were, ummm, NOM-tastic.

Pie #1:Hawaiian style w/ real (i.e. really expensive and tasty) prosciutto, pineapple, and cilantro
Pie #2: Buffalo chicken (Cholula was the base sauce)

Neither stood a chance, but here they are, presented artfully and with primo product placement from the hopefully-soon-to-be-sponsor of Yummy NOMs, Sierra Nevada.
Man, that was good.

For dessert, what else, but strawberry, blueberry, and rhubarb dessert calzone!
After that, we were completely wiped out, and made every body leave, as we had an early wakeup call the next day. How early, you ask?   


Thanks to Josh, Jess, and Vinnie for participating in the first ever YNHPF! It will surely happen again many more times in the future!

Coming tomorrow, we take it to another level with An Epic Labor Day Weekend (Part 2):


Stay hungry, friends. NOM!