USGP Planet Bike Cup

Cyclocross season is underway.

Preparations are good and bad. Luck is bad.

The good: I'm fit as a fiddle, training is focused and recovery is quick, file tread tires.

The bad: Forgetting to preregister for elites, race cat 2/3 and starting at the back of a 90 man field, fluke mechanicals.

So here we go.

Saturday. The course was awesome; slightly wet from the previous day's rain with lots of off camber sections and tight, low speed corners. Not a lot of flat out drag sections. I settled on 34mm Fangos with 29psi front and 34psi rear. They hooked up wonderfully. My legs felt great during the warm up, and then somehow, I managed to shear off the b-screw from my derailleur, sending it into the rear wheel, bending some spokes, mangling the derailleur and hanger. So, a costly repair later, I ended up with a DNS.

Sunday. I ran Grifo XS's in the low 30's psi, started from the back of the field, passed a ton of dudes, followed Tim Pacholski around until the remount after the run-up when my chain wouldn't engage. It felt like I stripped out the freehub body, so I ran a half lap back to the pits and changed rear wheels. The same thing happened again, and I realized the chain was riding up on the chain guard, and not the chainring, so it wasn't the freehub at all. I exited the pits in last position by a long while, and used the rest of the race as good training.

At least I didn't have it as bad as Jonathan Page.

A rolled tubular on Saturday while leading the race, and two rolled tubs on Sunday while in the lead group.

The course was perfect. Everyone was raving about its authenticity and pureness. No gimiky flyovers or singletrack, just good traditional off-cambers, mostly grass with a little pavement. Nice job JPE and Renee.


The Blog Post to End All Blog Posts

You might want to have some basic provisions handy. This one's going to take a while.
Some potable water, canned food, personal hygiene products. Maybe get up and walk around, stretch a little.

It's summer in Madison. The weather is good, the bike racing is good, everything is good. Enough about that now. Here's the fun stuff:

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit a few world-class, local, artisan food producers. First up was Mike Gingrich of Uplands Cheese in beautiful Dodgeville WI, makers of Pleasant Ridge Reserve. If you know cheese, you know this story already. If you don't know cheese, Pleasant Ridge is probably the finest cheese made in the U.S. It's won numerous awards including Best of Show at the American Cheese Society conference twice (the only cheese to do so) and U.S. Champion at the U.S. Championship cheese contest. It's the only cheese that has won both national contests. Recently Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud selected Pleasant Ridge to compete in the Bocuse d'Or (if you don't know of those dudes, or the competition, google that shit.)
Anyway, the cows graze on lush prairie grasses and clover in rotating pastures through out the year, drying up in late fall and bulking up for calving in the spring when they start producing milk again, which is obviously more natural then grain-fed, confined, industrialized dairy cows. If, for whatever reason, the cows' diets are supplemented with grain, the cheesemaking stops and doesn't resume again until 3 days after the cows return to the pasture.

The cheese is made from the morning milking, and previous night's milking. The milk is raw, obviously, to take advantage of the subtle, delicate flavors of the milk. Mike said one vat makes about 70 wheels of cheese. Enzymes and rennet are added and the the curd is pressed and ladled into molds. The wheels of cheese are moved into one of three caves for aging where they are rubbed with salt for three days and allowed to age for 6-18 months on cedar boards, receiving regular washings of a bacteria/brine solution.

fresh wheels in the salting phase

Mike pointing to where he stands in the slow food community

wheels ready to be sent out to Neal's Yard in London
Mike is a good friend of ours at Whole Foods. Our store was the first place to start selling his cheese, and he comes in every few weeks to drop off wheels and sample out his cheese. Here are two videos about Pleasant Ridge Reserve: video 1; video 2.
Next up was Caleb and T.J. of Kickapoo Coffee in Viroqua, WI. Kickapoo is a microroaster that roasts organic and fair trade coffees. They take the social responsibility aspect of coffee as serious as other roasters, but unlike others, they take the art of roasting the best coffee possible pretty seriously too, as evidenced by being a finalist in Roast Magazine's Roaster of the Year competition, and these reviews.

The roasting works is located in an old train station, and houses a sweet Nazi German-era Probat roaster, and an innovative climate-controlled room that houses the green coffee beans.

After Kickapoo we drove the short drive to Hidden Springs Creamery where Brenda and Dean Jenson showed us around their sheep dairy. The Jensons live in the middle of Amish country, and appreciate and respect the Amish way. Their Amish neighbors built their home, and help with the twice daily milkings.The Jensons have a whole bunch of sheep - Lacunes and East Friesians - that graze on some beautiful pastures. The sheep have donkey body guards the protect them from coyotes. The milk is saved up for three days until there is enough to make a batch of cheese.
Brenda makes a fresh cheese called Drifltess, an aged, washed cheese called Ocooch Mountain, a gap filler between Driftless and Ocooch called Bad Axe, and a brand new blue cheese called Bohemia Blue. Here's a nice article and video about Hidden Springs.

Dean with the Percheron draft horses that escorted us around the farm. Usually the horses are on plow duty.


Those are some weird looking sheep

Brenda's cheesemaking room is much smaller then Mike's. The Lunar Lander looking thing is a pasteurizer, as the fresh Driftless cheese, by law, needs to be pasteurized. All the other cheeses are raw.

Wheels of Ocooch in the cave

Brenda's sweet wood oven. The Jensons are in the process of building a bed and breakfast on their farm, a la Fountain Prairie.
Dare I say the World's best Belgian Wit comes from Japan?
This post has taken so long to compose that I have progress shots from my garden. Here it is from June 8th, the day I started writing this.

And here it is June 18th.

Various lettuces, kale, peas, beans, tomatoes, chard, and herbs.
Andy and I were talking about barbecue the other day. I make a mean pulled pork.

Get yourself some bone-in pork shoulder roasts, aka Boston Butt. These are actually boneless roasts, and they worked fine, but with all the time, money and emotions invested in this, get the real deal. Dry rub them.

Set your grill up like this. Do a bunch of other shit involving wood chips and mop sauces, and lots of coffee and/or beer and several hours later you end up with this.

Lose interest in chronicling the endeavour, take the roasts off the grill, pull the pork, mix with sauce, eat.
Like Brian the week prior in the Wisconsin State Championship road race, I was second by a wheel length in the WI State Criterium Championships.
I'm not a hard liquor guy, but there's something about bourbon on a warm summer evening.
I have a pair of these compression tights. They're about the best thing ever.



So the Red River is flooding again, this time putting the hurt on Fargo. Is anyone surprised? I'm not. The vast majority of the state lives along that river, and how many times in the last 50 years has the state's residents had to scramble to put up makeshift sandbag dikes to keep the river at bay?
It's inevitable. Every dozen years or so this happens.
So lets see...the state has a huge budget surplus. 2.46 billion dollars. Billion - with a B -billion.
How about spend some of that money on education? No. ok.
Health care? nope.
Wind energy? nope.
How about public infrastructure projects like a frickin flood control system?! No. They'll just sit on it for a "rainy day."
Nothing like government for the people, by the people.



Sorry. I'm blogging again. Maybe.

There's some musings foaming up in my noggin that I'll probably share, and the racing season is right around the corner, so the ever exciting race reports will follow.

I might start to twitter. Foodie-wise, I play with some cool ass shit at work that I might as well share with the world via blurry cell phone pictures.

That's about it. Real post tomorrow. Get excited.


Obligatory Post

Andy keeps asking me to update the blog with pictures of my commuter bike, so here she is.

Nitto CT-80 stem, Velo Orange Milan handlebar, Nitto Crystal Fellow seatpost, and Brooks Swift saddle highlight the build.


Livin' It

So I'm sitting here watching Le Tour with a baguette, a bottle of Bordeaux, and a local cheese made within earshot of the Trek factory.

That's all.



I got some tracks installed on the roof of the Scion so I could attach a rack that wasn't a pain in the ass to put on and take off. It turned out pretty slick. I had a local body shop do the dirty work since I couldn't muster up the courage to drill holes in the roof of my car. Here's a blog where some dude put them on a Prius.

I also raced a local crit this weekend. Pretty uneventful. I wasn't positioned very good, maybe 10th wheel in the final turn, and like clockwork, some douche had to crash. I had to slow down to get around him, and lost a bunch of places. So I missed out on the ever valuable upgrade points, but the sensations in the legs were good, and I'm optomistic for the season.

My very own Graham Watson captured the crash -thanks Mary! Zoom in on that bad boy. How does that happen?