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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tour de Vine This Weekend

Need something to do this weekend? Have a bike? Like wine? If you've answered "Hell yeah!" or even "yeah... sure. Okay," you should check this out (blurbage taken from the mailing):

A Cycling Tour of the Wineries & Vineyards of the Upper Hudson Valley Saturday, October 17, 2015 - 10:30 AM start

Enjoy a cycling tour of the Upper Hudson Valley wineries and vineyards in Easton, NY.  This casual, 20 mile, fully-supported ride features wine-tastings at 4 Upper Hudson Valley Wine wineries and a catered, gourmet post-tour lunch at scenic Amorici Vineyard.  Post-ride lunch, ride leaders, course markings, mechanical & sag support, and scenic views are all included in your registration!  Vegetarian lunches available

The vineyards on the tour:
Amorici Vineyard (where the tour starts)
637 Colonel Burch Road, Valley Falls NY

Natural Selection Farm Winery
85 Darwin Road, Cambridge NY

Victory View Vineyards
11975 NY-40 Schaghticoke NY

Northern Cross Vineyard
1106 Beadle Hill Road Valley Falls NY

Lots of rolling hills should make for a great scenic ride. They have the route posted on Ride With GPS. I'll be on a bike adventure of my own, so if you do attend, know that I am jealous. M and I have visited Amorici a few times and it's nice to know there are good wineries less than an hour away from us. 

If you can't make the tour; or you would rather drink instead of work for it, I've included the addresses so you head out there and have a glass or two. And of course, be responsible. DD's get free meals in my book.

Spaces are limited to 50, registration can be found here

Monday, October 12, 2015

C & O Canal Trail: Days 1 & 2

Hey everyone!
We're about to head back on trail but I thought I'd write about the last two days. M and I headed down to my mom's house Friday night so we'd have a jump start on the trip. Made it in at about midnight and immediately passed out. Woke up a few hours earlier (why can't I sleep normally?!?) and said our goodbyes before we get on the road. 

The drive down wasn't bad... except that I completely forgot about the traffic down in Baltimore and DC. That set us back about and hour or so, even more so than our stop at Waffle House (waffles and hash browns FTW). We made it to Great Falls State Park in Potomac, MD and proceeded to get our bikes ready for the first part of the ride. I should have expected the park to be busy because it is fall leaves season and a long weekend, but I forgot. The path was crowded, making biking difficult in parts. 
We decided we would start from the very beginning, mile marker 0 down in Georgetown. Only 14.3 miles away, so not really out of the way, plus there is no guarantee we can hit it up when we come back. Better to get it out of the way. Very scenic. Packed dirt and gravel for the most part. The C&O trail meets up with the Crescent City trail, which is paved (yay!). If you want to find mile zero, you take the trail right into DC, and look for 29th street. Drive along with some traffic (but still on bike lanes) and bike over to the Georgetown Boathouse in Tidewater Lock. Go behind the building, cross a little bridge and you'll see it.
By the time we made it back to Great Falls, it was starting to get dark. It was also getting colder and I was all for just sleeping in the car and leaving early. But M wasn't having that so we packed our bikes and headed out. We both have bike lights but I used mine as I was out in front. We planned to camp at the Horsepen campsite, which was about 10 miles away. Let's just say biking at night on a path that has the Potomac River on one side and a canal on the other is not fun. Not to mention what little light my bike light put out gave me just enough light to dodge the plentiful piles of horse manure but not enough to swerve the mud patches. It was cold; it was slightly treacherous; and I kept hearing screaming... enough to make me extremely cranky. I feel bad for anyone who heard me cursing up a storm as we approached the campsite. By the time we set up camp it was after 9:00. I was exhausted and passed out.


I woke up a few times, mostly because of the screaming (I'm guessing there was a haunted hayride nearby). I woke up again at 6:00AM and immediately tried to wake up M so we could get going. It's fall, we have limited day light. He was slow to get going so I just started to get my stuff ready. I got out of the tent and it was still dark. It threw me off for a second; I thought I had slept through the day! But I guess my noise outside got the other campers at the site to start packing up as well. We ended up not leaving until after 7:00, and it was just starting to lighten up.

The ride was nice, lots of Civil War time ruins. Plenty of dams and aqueducts to bike over and take several pictures of. The bike troubles started for M on day one, when the hook of one of his front panniers broke off. On day two, he lost the nut for his front wheel. He ended up using zip ties to keep it on. There were lots of breaks to stretch the legs out, and snack. All along the C & O canal, the campsites have water pumps which have been treated with iodine so bikers and hikers can fill their bottles. I didn't fully trust it wouldn't make me sick, so the water I brought with me was being rationed out until we got into Shepardstown, WV. M brought drinks of his own and rationed it in his own way. It seemed like most of the cyclists doing bike the trail were going in the direction opposite from us... which of course made me nervous. Had I been foolish to want to go to Pittsburgh and not start there and end up in DC? Nah... this is my excuse to spend time in my dream city.

We had lunch in Brunswick, MD; the town I had considered being our first night stop of the tour. Smallish town up on a hill. We ate at Potomac Street Grill. We sat outside so we could keep an eye on our fully loaded bikes. We split an order of vegetable spring rolls, M had a vegetable quesadilla, and ordered a cup of Maryland crab soup and the chicken shawarma. The soup was decent, the shawarma while it smelled fantastic tasted so-so. The chicken was dry. I ended up eating only 75% of it. The spring rolls tasted to the frozen variety, and M said the ones he had were still frozen in the middle. The few I tried were slightly lukewarm.

Other than the typical "Hey" and "Good Morning/Afternoon" I say to passing riders, I didn't get that friendly chat between cyclists that I've heard and read about. Not until we made it to Shepardstown. A family we saw at the restaurant back in Brunswick were stopped by Lock 38 in Shepardstown. We were trying to figure out how to get up to the overpass to get into town. Both their notes and M's Google maps said to go up the steep hill.

Hills. More freaking hills.

After the walk up the road, we biked into town where we were welcomed with a narrow shoulder and hey... another hill! At the top of the hill we said our goodbyes with our fellow cyclists and made our way to our hotel. One night of camping was enough for me. Creature comforts is what I need. Running water and heat and toilets that flush. The hotel was next to a shopping plaza and several food options. We ended up ordering "NY style" pizza that hardly was. It was okay... or so I thought.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

My 2016 Bike List

I am current out on my last big ride of 2015, but while I was away I figured I would post my biking "wish list" for the coming year. This may be somewhat premature - I may come back from this ride and decide that cycling really wasn't my thing after all.

TD Five Boro Bike Tour - May 1, 2016

Ah... to be able to bike around New York City and not worry about taxi cabs, pedestrians, car doors? Well, I don't worry about that on bike trails, but on the streets it's a dream that becomes reality in limited times like this event. Forty miles to explore the streets... the bridges... the city.

Discover Hudson Valley Ride - June 26, 2016

Bike New York, the same group that organizes the Five Boro Bike Tour also hosts this ride. But unlike the Five Boro, the routes follow along roads open to traffic. So if you're new to road biking, be careful. I'm still wary of it, but it's not too bad when you know there are others out there with you. There are five mileage options to choose from (15, 33, 55, 75, 100) and a festival waiting for you at the end.

Cycle the Erie Canal Bike Tour July 10-17, 2016

I've heard from several people this is a "can't miss" ride. Buffalo to Albany along the Erie Canalway for the most part on trail. Now I've gone as far out as Rotterdam Junction on the trail, and the sections in Cohoes and Albany. But ultimately I want to complete the whole trail. And if New York was smart, they would finish the trail and make it one continuous road free route. Hear that Cuomo? Finish the trail!

Berkshires to Boston Tour September 14-18, 2016

Yeah... I'm pretty sure I want to do this again. Only this time with a better bike. I know now what to expect and there will be familiar face. So yeah. Definitely have to go back.

And there will be smaller rides. Day longs. S24O. Whatever I can fit.

What about you? Any rides planned for next year? Anyone interested in biking as a group?

Thursday, October 08, 2015

From Scratch Club Food Swap This Weekend

Thought I would spread the word about an event going on this weekend. Sadly, I will be out of town and unable to attend. But if you've never been, it's a lot of fun. Make something you're proud of, and share with strangers. And... you can score some pretty awesome stuff!

But before the food swap, there will be a food writing class with Alana Chernila, author of The Homemade Kitchen. Her book will be available at the event.

Here's a quick blurb from the FSC site:

From the Plate to the Page: Eating, thinking, and writing with Alana Chernila 
 Class Description: Food is never just food. It's memory, family, love, loss, and everything in between. Come early to this weekend's food swap and join Alana for an inspirational workshop on translating tastes into words. Open to beginners and seasoned writers alike. Come hungry and ready to write. Bring a notebook.

And the details -

Food writing class starts at 1:00
$30 (cash or credit)
$50 class + book

Food swap 3:00
$2 donation to help cover costs

Register here.

Oakwood Community Center
313 Tenth Avenue
Troy, NY


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Brioche and Gluten Free Breads

One of my colleagues asked me at work, "so what are you bringing me next?"

Well, brioche. The larger of the two loaves I baked up this evening. Forgot to do the egg wash, but it really isn't necessary. I could help myself and cut into the smaller loaf. Nice and buttery. Reminds me of a croissant, but not flaky. Considering how much butter is in the recipe, eating this with butter is not needed. Would be fabulous for French toast. Will have to tinker with it to make mini ensaymadas.

The other bread is a gluten free and I made this specifically for one person at work. Like the brioche I made two - this somewhat shaped loaf and a misshapened mess that should never see the light of day. It's okay, but nothing something I'd eat unless I'd absolutely have to. It's made with sorghum and brown rice flour, and a heavy amount of tapioca starch. It may be in my head but I swear I can taste a fine grit. Weighs a ton. 

Will have to remember to bring jam or apple butter in for the bread.