Tour de Beer

I haven’t been on my bike in over a week. This makes me sad. However, part of the reason is because I went back to my hometown this weekend so the boyfriend could meet the family, and we could snuggle with my new baby niece, who is an adorable 5 pounds and 3 weeks old! She’s in that stage where she just curls up in your arms like “Ok, I’m here, along for the ride. Where are we going? Oh, here’s your arm. I’m going to suck on it because I like food.” TOTALLY ADORABLE.

We also got to spend time doing things in town, like visiting one of the best art museums in the country that’s not in New York or LA. We also got to see, while at that museum, my absolute favorite painting, Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi, a female painter of the Italian Renaissance.  Gentileschi is one of the many “caravagisti”of the Renaissance, painters who were influenced by Caravaggio’s use of light and dark (chiaroscuro) in paintings to create depth, mood, and drama. Because of the dramatic lighting, and relative size of the painting, it’s hard to tell just how awesome it is unless you’re standing in front of it. I don’t get to see it very often, since my hometown is 1500 miles away, but when I do get there, I spend a bit of time with Judith.

When we weren’t strolling through the museum, we got some culture in the city another way: local beer. It’s no secret that a lot of cyclists like a good beer. Mostly, they start out liking beer, and then realize that cycling helps you burn off the calories that can be packed on from a double IPA. We headed out to a restaurant in town called the Woodbridge Pub, which boasted a reasonably impressive beer list, and an excellent dinner menu. We arrived about 5 minutes after the local Critical Mass group rolled out, so the place was clear, there was a table on the patio available, and a few of my friends joined us for an evening of beer drinking, story telling, and people watching. I ended up having a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale which was pretty much a perfect IPA. (I’ll admit it, I had 3 of them.)We ate food, and stayed out till almost midnight before heading up the coast to our hotel, which was an hour away from the city, but close to family.

On Saturday, we spent the afternoon grilling food and drinking beer on my sister’s patio, and splashed around in her pool. Summertime in Michigan isn’t just hot, it’s humid, and water is pretty much a way of life there, or else you boil over. We lounged about, talked about various things, and ate bbq, grilled watermelon, corn, and drank Short’s Pandemonium Pale Ale. Where Bell’s was a round and smooth ale, Short’s was aggressively malty on the front, with some hops on the back end, an experience not unlike having a cat bite your hand while kicking at you with her back feet (claws!) Of course, not to be deterred by the sun setting, we headed to dinner at the “fancy” restaurant in town, Vintage Tavern. There, I settled back in with an old favorite, a Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA, and followed that with another Two Hearted. We sat on the rooftop deck, and watched the lights sparkle in Canada, right across the river, as the sun set over the city.

We flew back home on Sunday, and my bike is still in the shop till tomorrow. This would be a “rest week” in typical sport terms, but it’s not like I’m riding to train for competition yet. I’ll get there though. When the shop calls me to tell me my bike is ready, I’m going to pick up, get a slightly more forward stance on the fit, and then Wednesday morning, I’m going to attempt the Deer Creek Road ascent. I will fail, the first time. I will probably fail the second time. I am going to keep going back to this hill, though, and learn how to climb all the way up to the top of this ride on High Grade Road. It’s over 3000 feet to the top, and most of it is just up, up, up. Then, of course, on the way back, it’s down. Fast.

That is the part that has me worried. I am hoping that the more forward/aggressive fit (or whatever the guys at the shop end up doing to tweak my current position) will give me a bit more stability on fast descents. And I’m going to keep trying to do those ascents and descents. And when I’m done…I’m going to go hang out with my friends, since it will be the 4th of July. We’ll party in their pool, play some Rock Band on a stage in their back yard, and drink Colorado beer. And then, I will get up and try to do the ride again, over, and over again.



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