Category Archives: General

DIESEL FUEL: Hard Cider Wars Round 2

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Vs.

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Round 2 pits two sweet ciders against each other.

Magner’s

It’s Irish. Those folks know their alcohol. My wife took a sip and described it as tasting like rotten fruit. Although this is a little harsh, isn’t that what cider basically is? This cider is very sweet, relatively low in alcohol, and definitely tastes like strong apple (surely the antithesis of Stella Cidre). It kind of did taste like rotten fruit, but like other strong and polarizing tastes (think coffee, capers, sharp cheddar cheese), I kept going back for more.

Woodchuck Hard Cider (Amber)

Like the state of origin of this cider (Vermont), I can’t say anything bad or great about it. Yup, tastes like cider. I think that is a good thing, and not meant to be a knock. Like a good steel frame with wide tires, it’s solid and a go-to bottle. Unlike Redd’s which tended to be first sweet, then refreshing upon swallowing, this beverage was refreshing when first chugged, with a sweet apple-y aftertaste.

Winner

This is a close call, but anytime a comparison is made to a steel framed bicycle, it’s gotta be a winner. Besides, I got married in Vermont. Woodchuck moves on in the bracket.

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DIESEL FUEL: Hard Cider Wars Round 1

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vs.

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The first round of cider wars features two very different competitors. Fighting out of the blue corner is the blue blooded European Stella Artois Hard Cidre (that’s not a typo). Fighting out of the red corner, is…well, Redd’s Apple Ale from Georgia.

Stella Artois Hard Cidre
Stella’s entry into the hard cider foray doesn’t try to hide it’s uppity roots. From the spelling, to packaging, to selling in packs for 4 instead of 6, this drink is more for Belgian royalty than the pave or mud of a hard core Belgian bike race. The apple taste, well there ain’t much of it. Stella Hard Cidre has notes more similar to a dry wine with merely fruity undertones upon swallowing. My palate could barely detect apple flavor.

Redd’s Apple Ale
Let’s get this out of the way right away. I am not even sure this “ale” is technically a cider. However, if it smells
like a cider, tastes like a cider, and looks like a cider, let’s just call it a cider for my purposes.

I loved apple juice as a kid. Redd’s is essentially apple juice for big kids. It has a strong apple taste, and the carbonation leaves your mouth feeling clean after swallowing. It’s quite a refreshing way to hydrate after a ride or run. It’s also makes a nice dessert to sip when doing bike maintenance when the moon comes out.

The Winner
Based on it’s working man attitude and strong apple flavor, Redd’s advances to the next round.

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DIESEL FUEL: Hard Cider Wars

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The suffocating humidity is lifting, some of the leaves are showing color other than green. Marathoners are thinking about their long runs, mountain bikers are oiling their chains, and cyclocrossers are grabbing their drop barred bikes with knobbies instead of the slicks they have been riding all summer.

Most folks love to sit down with a cold beer after a race or training day. The problem is, I am not really a fan of beer. What is one to do in such a case?

Let’s rewind to earlier this summer. To celebrate my mother winning her age group in the Pocono XTerra Trail Run Series, we decided to hit up some wings and cheesesteaks. There was a little ad thingy for Redd’s Ale on our table. Being thirsty and in a celebratory mood, I thought I would order one up to try it out. I ended up really enjoying it.

Where am I going with this? Well, what better time than fall, with the upcoming apple harvest and a glut of racing and woodsy endurance activities, to have a Hard Cider War?

What is best alternative for endurance racing type of folks who aren’t beer fans to sit back and enjoy a manly adult beverage that celebrates the season? I intend to answer that question through a no holds barred, last cider standing taste testing tournament. Check back soon for the first round!

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DIESEL FUEL RECIPE: Car Brewed Tea

Everyone has likely heard of sun tea, if not sampled the drink. The idea is to put a few tea bags out on a hot sunny day to brew. How many have heard of car tea? Likely none because I think I just invented it today.

Brewing your iced tea in a car can make sense in many circumstances. For example, if one lives in a city and doesn’t have private space, or if one lives in a colder clime and wishes to take advantage of the warming greenhouse effect of car windows.

What does this have to do with endurance sports? I propose iced tea is a wonderful drink to take with you on a ride or run for the following unscientific reasons:

  • it’s mostly water and will hydrate you
  • add honey for simple carbs and quick energy
  • the caffeine can give you energy (and is known to decrease perceived exertion)
  • antioxidants in many teas can help reduce free radicals from training and sun exposure
  • it doesn’t leave that crappy taste in your mouth like some sports drinks (especially if you add something extra refreshing like mint
  • much cheaper than sports drinks
  • So what do you need to make some car tea?

  • glass container that seals (try TJ Max where I got mine for
    $5)
  • water
  • a few tea bags (I prefer green tea)
  • raw local honey, or other sweetener
  • Simply add the tea bags to the water jug and sit in your car for a few hours. You can adjust the temperature by placement of the jug, or rolling down windows. After it’s sufficiently brewed, remove tea bags, stir in honey, and serve over ice cubes in your water bottle.

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    DIESEL FUEL RECIPE: Baked Oatmeal

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    Lance, if you are reading this, you can stop now. Baked oatmeal is not some code word used to describe a pharmaceutical concoction that is injected intravenously. Rather, it is a delicious recipe that can be used as a pre-workout meal, post-workout meal, or delicious snack or dessert. Like shrimp and grits, the baked oatmeal is greater than the sum of it’s parts, and also has a surprising and unique texture. Ground zero for baked oatmeal is the Lancaster, PA area as it’s a popular Pennsylvania Dutch recipe.

    Nutritionally, baked oatmeal offers a good mix of complex carbs, simple carbs, and some protein. By adding fruits and nuts to the mix, you can add additional vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fats, etc. For the base recipe, you can also substitute apple sauce for butter, cut down on the brown sugar, or substitute xylitol or splenda. Below is the basic recipe followed by some ideas for variations.

    Recipe

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    3 cups instant oats
    1/2 cup melted butter
    1 cup milk
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 cup brown sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon salt
    1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
    Splash of vanilla extract

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    Combine all dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine all other ingredients (don’t forget to take the eggs out of their shell!). After wet and dry ingredients are combined separately, combine all the ingredients together. Place in a greased vessel, approximately 9×9 in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until it looks done. Your guess is as good as mine.

    Once baked, serve warm in a bowl, with some milk poured over (see picture below). Once eating is commenced, the cake-like structure will fall apart like a Schleck brothers’ season and will become a delicious porridge. The leftovers can be eaten for days, just remember to warm up the cake, before you pour on the milk.

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    Variations

      Cherry Garcia Baked Oatmeal: add cherries and dark chocolate chips. If you just ran a half marathon or greater, you have earned a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
      Mother-in-Law Baked Oatmeal: add chopped walnuts and sliced almonds for some excellent Omega 6 fatty acids and a truly nutty experience
      Orchard Baked Oatmeal: Add diced apples, pears, and peaches and you will almost be able to smell the Spring blossoms and pesticides on the trees
      Obama Baked Oatmeal: add nothing because you can’t afford it with higher taxes. In fact, with this variation, you must give half of the recipe output to the guy who was too lazy to make his own.

    Lance, I was just kidding. Call me, we will go for a ride.

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    Excerpt from “peloton”

    “The moment of clarity through the ice cold, crystal clear feel of pain reveals something I’ve been thinking about a lot this year. I’m addicted to riding my bike. I’m a junkie. I need the pain in my legs, the feeling of exhaustion that slowly wells up from your muscles proper and seeps into your bone marrow, and eventually, it floods, and your legs and your body cry, but it’s not a cry of sorrow, it’s the happy release of struggle and hard work and knowing that you’re making your body do things it doesn’t want to do, things it probably shouldn’t do, but exactly what you want it to do.”

    ~Jered Gruber, March 2013 peloton

    peloton is an awesome magazine. The photography and writing is way more Rapha than Nashbar. It’s sister magazine, Switchback, covers the mountain bike side of the sport and is also highly recommended.

    “peloton” magazine

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    Ode to my Thule Roof Rack

    Ode to my Thule Roof Rack

    Hail thee, Thule roof rack on my car.
    You carry my frame, wheels, and drivetrain far.
    I don’t know how to pronounce your name
    Because from Sweden, you proudly came.
    I take off my front wheel, and lift my bike onto thee.
    You gallantly protect my steed from thievery.
    O! Bike roof rack, you do your job so brave!
    About you, I eternally rave.

    Un Jour Avec, Un Jour Sans

    For my non-Francaise speaking peeps, the title of this post translates to “A Day With, A Day Without”. Euro cyclistes use the phrase “Un jour sans” as a short way to say they didn’t have the legs to pedal well, or to basically describe a bad day on the bike.

    However, I had the best day in my recent memory! My legs felt like pistons in a Cummings diesel engine. As can be seen in the Strava screenshot below, I rode a challenging route (what can’t be seen from Strava is that a large chunk of the milage was off highway including logging and rocky coal mining roads). Like the Duke cousins, I flattened the hills and straightened the curves.

    How was it also un jour sans? As soon as I finished the descent off of my mountain, I realized I forgot my air pump! I remembered my tubes, patches, multi tool, chain tool, and even a leatherman. Somehow I forgot my air pump even though I knew I would be taking my crossed in places the bony boulders have even flatted mountain bike tires. I thought of turning around, but I actually dreaded the cold morning descent more than the ascent.

    This is when I came up with my motto for the rest of the year, and will hopefully get me through Iron
    Cross X. Just Ride. That’s right, just ride. Forgot my air pump? Don’t worry about the long hike out of the woods, just ride. Pouring rain and a tornado watch on a Tuesday night? Just ride. Bike a little heavy and you don’t have the latest disc brake system? Just ride. Just slogged up the “run up” on the power lines and your quads, calves and lungs are screaming? Just ride!

    Don’t worry about things that can go wrong, the physical challenges facing you on your route, don’t make an excuse why you shouldn’t ride one day….. just ride!

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    5 Must Do Racing Events in Northeastern/Central PA

    Northeast PA has a rich schedule of endurance racing events. Here is a list of 5 of the best. Some of these I have done, some I have not.

    5. A Trail Run
    Running on the road is one thing, running on a trail is another. No smooth black top roads here! Need to find your “rhythm” when you run? Care about your splits? Think that hill you run through your neighborhood is steep? The trail will laugh at you!

    Trail running is a different beast than road running, including a different vibe in the participation circle. Definitely more relaxed folks seem to take up off road running. My own observations show you are 5.6 times more likely to see a bearded runner at a trail race than a road race (I should apply for a government grant to actually study this phenomenon).

    Honestly, trail running is a great ying to road runnings yang. It’s way more mentally challenging as you must pick your lines wisely for optimum efficiency. It’s also a great workout to build core strength and gain hill climbing proficiency. Where better to trail run than our beautiful ridge and valley Appalachians?

    Check out the Humdinger or the Pocono XTerra Series. The Pocono XTerra Series features some shorter distances if you are a newbie.

    4. Cyclocross
    Like trail running, Cyclocross is more laid back and relaxed when compared to its asphalt brethren. You are 200 times more likely to fall in the mud in a ‘cross race than a road race.

    Don’t be afraid to run what ya brung at a ‘cross race! The course is pretty dry? Ride your regular roadie. Only have a full suser? Bring it on and just have fun. These events will make you feel like a kid again!

    Check out any of the races in the Central PA Cyclocross Series. I would tell you to surely check out the Fire and Ice race, but my legal counsel advised me against it considering it’s at night in the dead of winter (complete insanity).

    3. Giant’s Dispair
    1.1 miles long, 650 ft of elevation gain, and up to 22% grades, you can choose between your running sneakers or bike to take on the challenge.

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    Some interesting trivia: Course is also used for an auto race. With names such as Chevrolet, Penske, and Shelby, the course is oozing with history.

    2. Steamtown Marathon
    The Steamtown Marathon is consistently mentioned in national publications as a great event. It’s good for beginners and relatively fast.

    1. Run for the Diamonds
    Although the Run for the Diamonds is overshadowed by the Steamtown Marathon in national prominence, nothing can top the history, tradition, and crowds at the Run for the Diamonds. It has been run 102 times (always Thanksgiving morning), and is the 4th oldest race in America. Made famous for Summerhill at mile 2, the cool thing about this race is it can be sunny and 70 degrees, or 10 degrees and spitting sleet. As mentioned above, the crowds are amazing. No better way to earn that extra helping of pumpkin pie than this 9 mile race. If you win, yes, you actually get a diamond.

    As you can see, there is no limit to the type of event available to compete in NEPA/CPA. From a nationally recognized marathon to a ‘cross race at night, there is no excuse not to get out and train for one of these events.

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