Saturday, September 15, 2007

Racing the Kruger Kermesse

Of course this post will push my previous post written just an hour prior off the page but do read it, it's interesting... really

But, here's this:
Brotha Corndog [me - how I got that nickname with my cycling team is for another day] finds fellow cyclisme riders Greg & Jeff. They're doing master B's, I'm racing the single speed class. With 15 minutes before the master B gun, I nip over to registration and give them $5 and join my peeps for the race. Two races is twice the fun right?

The Kruger Kermesse is a 4-5 minute loop of dirt that's raced for 45 minutes + 1 lap. It's relatively flat at the bucolic Kruger farm on Sauvie island near Portland.

At the start the peloton rolls in a dusty sprint. The course has room to pass along its entire length and my warm up consisted of pushing Ben around the kiddie course a few hours prior so I floated to somewhere mid pack. I could see the checkered energy ahead. I used the first lap as a warm up, staying out of the wind. After the first corner the dust has a similar effect to ultra dense fog. We're all bombing through some dusty fluffy bumpy crap and all you can do is keep the body loose and accept the brutality of the section. My strategy for the race was efficiency, staying out of the wind and jumping from group to group, picking off riders. There was also a particular rise right before a flat and then a downhill where I could gain many spots by doing a ten second out of the saddle sprint. If felt good to be hanging near some guys and then explode with power and just be gone. Some of these guys would find me on the long sustained climb but it was a good tactical move. I repeated this every lap. The downhill made for a great recovery.

Somewhere mid-race I gained on GoBrian as he was drafting a small group that was losing ground to a larger chase. I told Greg to jump on my wheel and I domestique'd his ass up to that group. I thought it was pretty cool to be able to execute some tactics on dirt. I kept my strategy of moving from group to group getting somewhere near the lead group but never in the hunt for a prize. Unknown to him, I drafted Gerwing for a few meters but faded relative to his velocity and while he was in sight for much of the time, I never passed him. All told, I think I was probably top quarter. I had fun.

I gave myself the fifteen minutes between races to decide whether I was going to roll the single speed race after such an effort. I bought a water and, with seven minutes to the start, I was mentally ready for another bit of suffering, ten minutes longer than the first race... fifty five minutes. Puke. My strategy was survival. I'm not some badass rider that should be racing two, just one that had the time and just enough insanity to give it a go. With no internal pressure to deliver, I rolled out without pre-race butterflies and just settled in and felt kinda strong. I wasn't leading but I wasn't spat out the back either. All of this changed as I read the timer at the start/finish. It read 40 remaining. It all fell apart then. I dropped the pace slightly in hopes that I wouldn't limp home fully cracked. Standing to sprint for the descent told me I was on the verge of cramping. My pace slowly degraded from that point. I've passed super slow riders wondering what they're doing in a B race or SS race and now I'm that rider. I get blasted by A's and other Single Speeders. At least the women would pass me at a civilized pace but they did pass me no doubt.

While I decidedly cratered for the second race, I'm really glad I did it. Given my work week and unrelenting family responsibilities, it was awesome to just completely drain the legs of all fuel. It turned a dark dark mood into a happy one. I have a small dream that doing the double will somehow make up for my lean training schedule.


The Community Cafe (aka my kitchen & espresso setup) is now roasting beans. Yes i suck at it but even my worst beans are passable in a cappuccino. I go through something like 60 lbs of coffee a year which equates to $900/year and that's just beans, not cafe drinks. This is based upon the Blue Gardenia's latest prices. While their beans are truly epic, somehow $15 didn't sit right and I cracked... twice [ultra geeky insider roasting joke]. I've threatened (in my own head) to really roast full time for my own consumption but I'm now all in. Buying green beans and roasting those is 1/3 the cost so even if I didn't enjoy the process, there would be motivation with that stat.

Just because I'm a slave to fashion, I even bought a burlap bag to store the bigger 20 lb bags. I like the smell. My strategery [sic] is to get a volume of beans from a particular region and then play with the roast until I have something pretty good. I then move on to another region until I've been around the world in beans. I dig it. I'm actually starting in Brazil... I hate Brazilian coffee. OK hate is a strong word. I prefer other places more like recent crops from Oaxaca have been magical. And, like a good Cabernet, Sumatra always delivers. So why Brazil? I overheard, like when one overhears a good stock pick or racehorse to bet on, that the basis for most espresso blends start with Brazil so there you go.

I will resist the urge to do any blending and do all single origin beans with the hope that I will someday not only be able to roast but be able to articulate the differences between various beans using these things called words. One should dream big.

I will post pictures of the roasting setup. In the meantime, I'm using a steel hand cranked stove top popcorn popper and a very accurate digital thermometer. That and a pen & paper to detail notes. It is rumoured that this setup makes it possible to emulate a drum roaster. All beans that I love: Blue Gardenia, Stumptown, Ristretto and others all roast with a drum machine. Drum is the bid'ness. word. Oh, and there's little cheaper than my setup save just throwing beans into a pan or wok. People do that... really.

So at the moment, I wouldn't dare serve my customers a straight up espresso but milk drinks, even a tight macchiato are not bad.