Saturday, June 25, 2011


Fair bit o riding lately. I've found that in an area like Arizona where the heat doesn't subside at any point of the day. It's best to just flip the Sun the bird, and go whenever you can. It doesn't matter. You sweat uncontrollably either way. So you may as well go when the trails are empty, and you're able to go faster without worrying about coming upon another cyclist traveling in the opposite direction. I rode a new trail on the North side of South Mountain. For those in the area the loop consisted of:
1) Starting at Beverly Canyon trailhead.
2) East to to Power line trail to the road.
3) Up the road to Mormon, and right on Ridgeline trail.
4) Staying North on Ridgeline to finish on the very bottom of Javalina descent back to the parking lot.

This was an exciting little loop that took about 50 minutes, it was like 5something miles, and a nice amount of climbing, there were a couple spots where poor pedal positioning caught me off guard, and threw me off line on a short technical climb. Making for a foot dab here and there, but all in all a sweet little loop. It had the technical fun climbs, and the fast ever interesting descent. The route went up about 4-500 feet, and had a couple fun bits. It's definitely a route I'll do again to add diversity to my Desert Classic/ Corona Loma/Helipad loop.

I've made a few subtle changes to the bike, to see what happens. I've got it pretty much where I want it, and can't think of anything I need to change. It's at 26 lbs, and 9 ounces. Pretty damn light for a 6" front and rear trail bike that's still fully capable. It tears up everything I have put in front of it. It's without doubt raising the bar on my ability and confidence. Which is nice, the learning environment is so much better when one is in a comfortable state, and can focus solely on the the task at hand without thinking of the quality or robustness of what your'e using. I changed the Purgatory 2.4 inch tires for some slightly smaller in a Purgatory 2.2(rear) and Eskar 2.3(front) with a lighter weight casing and these roll so much faster than the older tires. The front is a new tread pattern for me, while the rear is a similar tread as what I had-just in a smaller size. The front has proven good thus far, yet a few of my friends have stated that it must be really ridden aggressively to get all the positive attributes out of the tire. Most of the negative review's I've read online have likely been by less aggressive folks who don't yet have the confidence to really slam the front wheel into a corner, and let the side knobs do their job. It should be noted that even though the rear is the same tread pattern, losing the width on the tire is significant in terms of it's performance. It's bite isn't as good as it's bigger brother. On the steep, and loose climbs predominantly found here, the 2.4 seemed to hook-up better in most cases, especially when it was really loose. That said, I'm smitten with the new tire choice. I also am trying some of the ESI Foam grips in the Chunky size. No, it's not a reference to my weight, the grips have differing diameters and "Chunky" is the thicker version of the regular. My hands are huge. It's not that I'm a small guy, it's just that I've noticed I have large mallets. The "Chunky" was the choice for me, yet after an initial ride. I think I could have gone for a "Super Chunky" if the option had presented itself. I am stoked on them for two reasons,
1) They help with the forearm shock from riding such rough trails.
2) I lost 60+ grams by switching to these from the ODI Rogue Lock-ons.
3) They win.
I'll be sure to give a longer term review of the grips as time passes, as with the tires, and I'll likely make note of any changes to the bike.

I took an Exam in my summer class on Friday, I knew every question on the exam. Instantly. I sat down, looked and knew the answer. This happens rarely for me. I was ecstatic to know that my grade would likely remain an A, or go up and get that elusive plus suffix. The issue at hand, was the amount of coffee consumed that morning. I have been brewing about a liter +- a few ounces here or there. I'll use a Nalgene bottle and have it in my back pack on my 2 hour pilgrimage to class. Some is usually ingested in the car, until I spill. Then it's back to the bag, the same process usually happens on the 40 minute shuttle bus. Once on solid ground, where nothing can interfere with my enjoyment of the freshly ground Guatemalan roast. I continue, generally without regard for it's temperature, or the effect I know it will have on my bladder. Last friday was an extreme scenario, I somehow managed to drink the whole liter in about 20 minutes after I arrived at campus and began my last minute quick read through of my notes. Needless to say when I reached the classroom I was shaking, and my mind was on overload. I have never in my life completed an exam that fast. It was literally terrifying. I double and triple checked everything for succinctness(as that's where most of my mistakes lay, in simply assuming that the teacher will know that if I got this answer, why should I have to go through all the steps to prove it.) I made sure to write every little thing down, I drew pictures, I owned that exam.

Numero Uno:

Death Valley Pale Ale. First impressions aren't usually my strong suit, however in this case I was dead on(get it?). It was on sale at Whole foods marked considerably down. Mistake number 1, I should know better. It's a nice beer, yet oddly malty for a pale ale. It's got a darker color than one would expect, and a taste to match. I'd like it more in the winter or a cooler time of year, yet it's not bad, just most definitely not what one would think from a Pale ale. C+.

Blue Moon Belgian White. Don't knock the big guys, this beer is actually a very good Belgian. Simple, not ridiculously delicious, but certainly tasty. It's a smooth drink that's easy to enjoy. It's still got that signature belgian taste, yet somehow eludes all the harshness you can have ina beer like this. A-.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


New XTR trail brakes(M985) which in total dropped 9 ounces from the Super Enduro. I went from a set of Avid Juicy 7's where I was relegated to the solid rotor to reduce the inexorable squeal and wail of the rear brake. I was so happy to move to the new Ashima Airrotors, on the front rotor alone I dropped 100 grams. Perhaps I've become too much of a weight weenie when it comes to the bike. But to each their own, it's my passion, and dammit. Lighter is lighter, faster is faster. And I like both of those. I've been blessed to live with a lady who lets me appreciate the things I do outside. It's nice to be able to go for a ride when I please, she has no qualms about me taking off for a spin when I feel the sudden urge to sweat. All she cares is that I bring my phone and enough water for the ride. That's love. Living next to South Mountain has it's perks, and they are in the form of intermingling trails that run all throughout the area. It's difficult to stop as one is able take a new turn here, or there and end up in a familiar place with a different bearing. Endless loops lay on the terrain like a Pollock painting, without sense, or logic, but interesting nonetheless...

It's been a big week, or a big spell rather. I've lost track of exactly the test date for each of the following, except for the fact that they were photo-documented. It should be noted that I'm not an alcoholic and these weren't tested in one night. It was a span of a week or two.

The first of the recent batch was this nice little white-hef from Montana. A small brewery called Harvest Moon situated in Belt Montana. I've no idea where Belt is, but I like the beer. It's a nice light hef, It's got light floral tones, and a soft wheat taste. It's not harsh by any means, nor rough to the palate. It's a soft and mellow casual drink perfect slightly colder than the brewer recommends. Perhaps that's a defect of living in AZ, where without a coozie, the beer is cask temperature in 3 minutes... A-.

The second beer as of late to be dissected is the Nordeast from the Grain Belt Brewery in St. Paul Minnesota. I was born in the cities, so I've got a natural affinity to the beer from the region. I first had this beer on tap in Minneapolis, and had wondrous impressions. Unfortunately that was lost upon bottling. The beer was purchased in Minnesota, stored in a cooler until it's new home of the beer fridge here in phx. It seems to have gotten somewhat vinegary over that period, and upon first sip it's a nice interestingly soft mix of hops and smooth barley. But the aftertaste is one to forget. All I can think of is Apple-Cider Vinegar. Not one of Minnesota's finest exports... B-.

The life of a student. I though not the average student, am still a student. With that comes studying, I find that my studies improve whilst enjoying a beer, until of course the beer is gone. For obvious reasons. The beer in the glass is an Amber from Bayern Brewery in Missoula MT. One of my old go-to's. It's as pleasant as always, and one of the finest examples of an Amber I've yet to find. It's got all the notes you want, a nice crisp bite from hops, and a good solid barley taste that doesn't overwhelm the drinker. It's amazing paired with a red-meat meal as it's lightness brings up the meal, but stand-alone it doesn't disappoint. A.
The last beer to enter this test period is the Rogue Breweries American Amber Ale. As seen in the picture it's got the color of a brown almost, and a similar taste. It's certainly not the average amber you've tasted before. It's got a nice rounded off taste that goes well with bolder foods, and a strong drinker would like this alone. It's certainly bold, but as the picture on the label suggests so is America. A.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Post Two:

The why:
I decided to write a blog about the happenings in my life, as I think my story has some interesting notes. I have been places, seen my fair share, and have a good plan. I grew up in Missoula Montana as stated in the previous post, Missoula is a wonderland for the outdoor enthusiast. It's got the most potential to do anything you can think of doing outside. Thusly my main hobbies were cycling, skiing, and anything outdoors. I was a canoe slalom athlete for the USA development team for a few years, had an international ranking of 57th at one point, and gave that all up after a difficult fall dealing with injuries, and reconnecting with the love of my life. Of whom I currently reside with in Phoenix Arizona. A vast departure from Missoula.
The overall plan for my life is to finish undergraduate and apply to medical school in Minnesota. I've always had an interest in writing, and kept a blog before when I was traveling and training. However, I wanted to approach this blog with more diversity, and sometimes update in regards to beer, and other times with respect to bicycles, or coffee. I've been able to really enjoy the nuances that Phoenix has to offer lately, taking a summer class forces me to to my activities at night, or later in the afternoon. Which conveniently is the only reasonable time to get outside, and do something productive.
Today was a spectacular quick ride from the house to the south side of South Mountain, and a small loop taking about 40 minutes to make a couple of quick climbs, and get the heart rate up. It's funny to think that simply riding in 105 degrees is enough to do that, but exercising and trying to train for an endurance race is at times, just a poor idea.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Post One:

The title.

We've had our Ups and Downs, our experimental phase where I was into Chai Latte's with a shot of espresso, and left real coffee for dead. Or where I used copious amounts of sugar to dilute the bitter taste of being a man. We even had a sabbatical that lasted a few months of lonely stares due to my inability to put the coffee pot away, with shared quiet time, furthering the distance between the bean and I. But in the end, I've come full circle again to the truth in drink, the harsh taste of manhood. Black Coffee. I can't seem to think of anything else I'd rather start my day with, save for a Bloody Mary from one specific location-not within 1,000 miles...

I grew up on a bicycle, my childhood nickname was "Iker the Biker" the meaning of I've done a host of sports throughout my life. However, not one has been with me or kept my interest the way cycling has. It's the one thing I can do and forget everything else, it's the way I relieve stress, my meditation. My escape. I have done most disciplines during my childhood and adolescence, and enjoy some of them now. However, living next to a mountain, with some rolling singletrack in the Phoenix area is hard to beat. I've become sort of my own puritan of the sport, enjoying the work for the descent, and reveling in the difficulty of a hard climb. It's been great to have quality trails 3 minutes away by bike, so that by the time I get to dirt I'm warmed up and ready to go. I commute to school in the morning on a fixie, and take a break from my studies in the afternoon on a completely different full suspension all-mountain animal. It's hands down the neatest mode of travel. My love of cycling has translated into anew found hobby for my Fiancee Emily, with whom I will also ride with. It's a godsend that she appreciates time on the bike as well, and it's great to be able to share my love for cycling with her. We live in an area of phoenix with wide accommodating shoulder's and for the most part generous drivers who are aware of their inherent danger to the cyclist next to them.

Growing up in Montana, I was spoiled with great local beer. The area is littered with breweries as renowned as the Big Sky Brewery-Producer of the infamous Moose Drool Brown Ale. To KettleHouse, a smaller Brewery known locally for their Coldsmoke Scotch Ale, and the Eddy out IPA, and the Double Haul double IPA. To my favorite Bayern Brewery, owned and operated by a true German brewmaster Jurgen. He open the Brewery the year I was born, and has been providing great beer and pretzels to Missoulians ever since. This has done nothing for my wallet, but it has pushed me into finding a more interesting brew, not settling for a regular. I first enjoyed the German tastes of the Bayern(Bavaria) Brewery in Missoula, and thoroughly enjoyed the deep malty taste of his winter Ale's. A Marzen, a true Octoberfest style beer with a darker hue, and thicker taste, basically a festival based Lager. Their next seasonal arrived, and my interest grew like a wild fire. A Doppelbock, my curiosity piqued. From there it's been a journey through the different varieties, from the easy amber ales, to the hardy Doppel, and Winter Ales, the Hefeweizens, the IPAs, the Double IPA's, Scotch Ale's, and onto the Stouts, The Draughts(Irish Dry Stouts), and I'm currently residing in the world of Belgium Tripples such as Delirium Tremens, and Gulden Draak.

I'm an undergraduate student deep in my studies at Arizona State University. Pursuing a Biochemistry degree with a minor in Biological Life Sciences. I'm elated to be marrying the love of my life in July in our home state of Minnesota. Of our goals in life, the biggest is to get back to Minnesota. Our homeland. The pilgrimage will begin upon the completion of my undergraduate studies, and acceptance into Medical School at UMinnesota. Hopefully from there, we will be in Minnesota for the rest of our lives. It's been a joy to go about my life with a partner, a friend, and someone who always has my back. She has really helped me re-align my old transient lifestyle and get on track with my long-term goals, she's also helped me grow exponentially and mature as a person.