Tag Archive: Shimano


Have beer, will ride

 

At times, a fortuitous confluence of events will lead you to crack some hare-brained scheme that seems like a good idea at the time, when in the fact…

 

Since picking up a road bike in the late winter, I’ve been plotting different ways get more saddle time, either through frequency or distance.  Or both.  Right around the same time, I became friends with a neighbor down the street who’d been into home-brewing his beer, which alerted to me to the fact that these days, in the New York City area, there are more craft beer breweries than ever.

Now I, for one, have long held a particular disdain for this whole microbrew or craft beer movement.  Mostly because it seemed in the ‘90s that every other shitty microbrewery was bottling any manner of brown effervescent swill that seemed to taste like anything but beer.  You had beers that tasted like peaches, bubble gum, chocolate, you name it.  Fuck you, that’s not beer.  Beer shouldn’t taste like cherries.  Or bacon.  Or whatever the fuck they were putting in these beers and selling them to shitheads around the country who had an appetite for candy in a bottle that could also get them fucked up.

Fuck you, beer should taste like beer.  End of argument.

What’s turned it around recently for me is how these craft beer breweries seem to have abandoned the stupid fruity flavors, and have gone back to making beers that taste like fucking beer.

So, one day, I hatched a plan in which I’d ride my bicycle up 15 miles to Elmsford, NY to visit the Captain Lawrence Brewery to taste their wares, then shoot 10 miles eastward to the Craftsman Ale House – where they not only carry over hundred types of killer beers but they also brew their own – followed by a 10 mile ride home with a slight detour to the famous Walter’s Hot Dogs joint in Mamaroneck, NY.

I also knew the inherent risks of trying to do a 35-mile bike ride with two pitstops for beers.  I needed wingmen, so I recruited two buddies with equal senses of depravity to do this ride with me.

We chose a Saturday, and set off at 11am.  I figured it would take us about an hour to ride the 15 miles to the Captain Lawrence Brewery.  We kept a decent pace, around 15mph for the first 12 miles of the ride.  As we got towards Elmsford, the massive criss-crossing array of highways and winding country roads caused me to veer off the planned route, and we were suddenly – and painfully – faced with a hot and slogging climb up a mile-long hill.  It looked like an asphalt wall.  20mph speeds ground down to about 8mph.  Gears shifted to the smallest ratios, legs churned so slowly, and halfway up, all three of us were ready to puke.  And we hadn’t even had a drop of beer yet.

When I fuck up, we all suffer.

Hillside Avenue

When we reached the peak, we welcomed the downhill rush down to the brewery, which was set in some industrial park.  It didn’t look like a brewery in the traditional sense at all.  More like a warehouse with a picnic tables in the back next to a bocce ball run.

“Hey, are you guys here for the beer?” a portly fella greeted us behind a table at the entrance.  Was this the stupidest question ever asked?  Possibly.  We told him we intended to have a quick pint or two before setting off again.

“Sorry, today’s a pig roast event, and it’s $40 to get in.  You can’t get beer today without paying for the pig roast.”

Are you fucking kidding me.  If it wasn’t for that ludicrous hill we just climbed, I might’ve had enough energy in me to dish out a cockpunch or two.  We still had 20 miles to ride, the last thing I need is to stuff my fat face with pig and beer – we weren’t even halfway through our ride, for fuck’s sake.

After a lot of negotiations, they let us in to “discuss the matter with the manager.”  We walked into the tasting room, and were made to stand around for about 15 minutes before the manager graced us with his presence.  The whole while, pints are being poured liberally for pig roast patrons in front of us.  Not one drop came our way.  Not even a sympathy pour.  Fuckers.

After 15 minutes, some bespectacled hipster with a metal bar through his septum came to speak with us.  “Sorry, we’re only doing the pig roast event today.  Each of you have got to pay the $40 if you want any of the beer.  It’s all you can drink.”  Which would’ve been a stellar deal if we were going to park our asses at the bar and didn’t have another 20 miles to ride, fucker.  After going back and forth with the beer overlord, he relents – “Your only choices are to pay the $40.  Or if you want, we can sell you bottles to go.”

WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T YOU SAY THAT IN FIRST PLACE, DICK?!?!!  Why the fuck are you guys making it so hard for us to buy your fucking beer?!!

3 Captain Lawrence beers

After I calmed the fuck down, we grabbed three large bottles, some cups, and settled into one of the picnic tables outside to quench our thirst.  It didn’t take long for one of their staff to come harass us about sitting at the picnic table without paying for the pig roast.  What the motherfuck.  After a brief negotiation, they left us alone to finish our beers, then off we went to the next beer stop.

While this leg of the ride was along considerably flatter terrain, it wasn’t an easy ride by any means.  The humid, midday sun was beating down hard.  The three large bottles of hoppy nectar – on empty stomachs! – weighed us down.  We coasted slowly through the next 10 miles.

At the end of the 10 miles, I promised the lads a second oasis of craft beers.  Craftsman Ale House in Harrison, NY boasted their own collection of brews in addition to hundred of other primo beers.  When we got there around 2:30pm, the place was empty, and we were more famished than buzzed.

As a stark contrast to the Captain Lawrence joint, this manager couldn’t possibly be more welcoming.  We pushed our collection of carbon fiber and titanium rides into the bar, and pulled up to three adjacent stools.

Hipster Ale

Polite banter, perusal of the massive beer list, three even more massive cheeseburgers (including one unceremoniously and viciously halved), and quick brew samples ensued.  Here’s when our next installment of downers took place: turns out that while the Craftsman Ale House brew their own beers, they do not sell their brew.  What the fuck.  So we were left with their confounding list of beers brewed by other folks… and this fucking thing on the right.

Time flies when you’re having fun and before you knew it, all three of us were getting buzzed on our phones.  Text messages galore, each with similar queries from our old ladies – “where the hell are you guys?”

Over an hour after we settled into that bar, we grabbed our bikes and started the final leg of our ride – the 10-mile slog home.  10 miles is nothing.  Correction: ordinarily, 10 miles is nothing.  It’s a ride that most cyclists can do on autopilot and barely break a sweat.  But 10 miles on belly full of hearty craft beers, cheeseburger and fries – that’s a different story.

Fuck, was that a sloooow slog home.  In our opening leg to the first brewery, we averaged just under 15mph.  On the final leg home, we average 8mph.  That is some pathetic decline in pace.

So, 6 hours later, we all finally returned back to the spot from where we started our ride.  6 hours later, we had made 2 lengthy stops for beer.  6 hours later, we had no interest in that final detour for hot dogs.  6 hours later, nothing had worked out as planned.  6 hours later, we were 3 hours late because I’m such a fuck up.  6 hours later, each one of us was in the fucking doghouse.

6 hours later, we decided we’re gonna do it again.

 

 

Tour de Frak

Another Fourth of July weekend, another start to the Tour de France.  But c’mon, who really gives a shit anymore.

Maybe if you’re a Yank who doesn’t know any better, it became meaningless once Lance Armstrong dropped out, then became marginally interesting again when he got back in (un-retiring is for assholes), then returned to being completely pointless once Lance fucked off again.  It’s a bit like a comment I read recently about the late Clarence Clemons – people who cite Clarence Clemons as the greatest sax player of all time (to which Kenny G goes, WTF!) often can’t name another sax player.  I’m pretty sure it’s the same with Lance.  With all the stupid Lance worship, most folks couldn’t name another rider out other in the peloton.  So what’s the fucking point, really.

Thing is, the Tour has been utterly pointless for years now.  Before Operación Puerto, anyone who followed the Tour de France tended to have a bit of a nudge-nudge-wink-wink approach to the event.  We all knew what the fuck the riders and teams were up to, and somehow we were all OK with it.  The occasional rider got caught, got banned, but the show went on.  Underneath it all, we all believed that every single rider was hopped on something.  Everyone.  You’ve got to be a complete and blithering idiot to think that any human can ride 200 miles a day for six consecutive days a week – at speed! – for four weeks, and not be hopped up on something.  The only person on earth who can do that is Andy Dick after a week-long coke binge.  And he’d do it in a dress.

Anyway, no one gives a shit about the Tour de France now because there are no longer any interesting characters in the sport.

When Lance was racing with U.S. Postal, it wasn’t just about him.  Yeah, he beat cancer, he has one nut, whatever.  Yet, Lance couldn’t be Lance without the likes of Jan Ullrich, for example.  Without Seinfeld, Newman would just be an dull, fat postal worker.  Luke Skywalker would just be another whiny little bitch if it weren’t for his dad.  And as such, the Tour de France used to be interesting because you had heroes and villains.  Lance was the all-American comeback kid, Ulrich was the cold, methodical Teutonic machine.  Classic Rocky parallels here.  Rocky with one nut… and Drago with a bit of a coke habit.  And Lance beat Ullrich.  Then there was Alexander Vinokourov, the next Ullrich, the cold, calculating Ukrainian machine.  Once again, he fucked up and got busted.  Then Ivan Basso rose up as the heir apparent to Lance.  Like fuck, ’cause he got caught, too.  Basso was non-starter, done before he could properly get going.  No one gives a shit about Basso now.

But in 2009, it got marginally interesting – Alberto Contador forged to the front with a good and proper “fuck you” attitude towards Lance.  He was an enormously cocky douchebag.  He didn’t give a shit, he was racing for himself and no one else.  He wasn’t prepared to be Lance’s bitch.  And because he was the foil to Lance, I didn’t mind him too much – the enemy of my enemy is my friend sort of thing.

But now Lance is gone.  Again.  Lance, who so quickly went from golden child of the sport to the biggest self-righteous asshole on the planet.  Lance, who is probably as clean as Lindsay Lohan, and basically shakes his single nut at the authorities because he know he’s outwitted the cops so far.  The fact I have no doubt in my head that he’s a sanctimonious douchebag who has been up to no good his entire career irritates me to no end.  He’s a dick and he’s gone now.

And since the Operación Puerto shake up, so has every other good/bad guy in the sport.  With no one to love or hate, it’s a struggle to give a flying shit about the Tour de France.  It was never just about Lance.  It was about the Ullrichs, the Bassos, the Contadors of the peloton.  Who the fuck’s going to step up to make you give a shit?  The three assholes who sprint for the green jersey?  I’ll bet not one of them is in a position to win the Tour.  The king of the mountain rider?  I, for one, fucking love climbing hills on my bike, and yet each year I couldn’t give a shit about who wins that polka dot jersey.

There is no one to root for, no one to give a shit about, no one to hate, no hero, no villain, no conflict, and that’s why in July, not a single fuck will be given by me for the stupid Tour de France.