Archive for November 2009

 
 

November 23rd, 2009

Notes from Nowhere, LA -> Sydney

11/21/09 After our arrival at the Space Needle, tattoos and the end party, we decided the bike trip was officially over.  However, I’ve decided keeping this blog is just too fun to stop writing- so Tracy and I will continue to update you on our adventures as we travel through Australia and New Zealand in the next few months.  We didn’t bring our bikes but we are still hoping to do some riding here and we will definitely be checking out the Australian breweries.  We are also planning to do Bike and Brew West Coast when we get back as well, so don’t be surprised if one day the entries start over at… Day 1?

Right now I’m sitting in Sydney having taken a 14 hour flight on V Australia from Los Angeles.  Caroline and Tracy are on a Qantas flight that should be landing any minute and then we hit the town.  It’s Saturday here in Sydney but Friday over there in the states so maybe with the extra day we can stay a little more current with our updates:)

The past week has been fun.  We finished up our stay in Seattle with cyclocross in Kent (Anders competed in his very first race), spent another night hanging out in Seattle (including a fabulous dinner at Barrio) and then Anders flew back to New York on Sunday.  I miss him but am also a little jealous that he is in New York and has a plan.  It’s a little scary being here with a 4 month stay ahead of us and no itinerary.  The twig will lead us though, I’m sure.

The three of us girls left Seattle on Monday, a quick flight down to LA.   We arrived in the afternoon, rented a car and drove to the beach, not sure where we were staying.  Between the 3 of us we had a few connections but nothing was set.  We just knew we wanted to be by the water and that we were hungry.  First stop was Mexican food, so I texted my friend Craig for a recommendation.  Craig and I met back in February while we were both traveling in Panama and I knew he’d be a fun person to see while I was in town.  He ended up joining us for dinner and offering us his place in Redondo, 45 seconds from the water.  It was perfect.

We spent the next few days checking out the prettier parts of LA: Hermosa Beach, Topanga Canyon and Malibu (where we had lunch with Tracy’s photographer friend Aldo right on the water).  Having a car was nice but we realized that after a $50 parking ticket and a few hours in traffic, not needing one was better.   Caroline visited a few friends scattered around the city and got in a bunch of runs along the beach.  Tracy and I hung out by the water and talked about our plans for the next few months.

Craig was an awesome host.  He took us to two ridiculously cool bars in Rendondo – Naja’s, which had over 70 craft beers on tap including New Belgium La Folie, and Tony’s, a bar up in a glass tower with a 360 degree view and a musician that wrote not one but TWO songs about us right there on the spot.  Craig also played a great acoustic guitar set on our last night in LA at The Shore in Manhattan Beach, opening for a couple other local acts who also rocked the house.   Joining us as we bounced around town was Jack, one of Tracy’s photographer friends along with his wife Alysa and some of their Hermosa Beach friends.  It was awesome to have a posse to hang with in the big city.  It almost felt like we were locals. Then, on the day we left, Tracy finally got to go climbing and I took Alysa’s pilates class before getting on the plane.  We were in Los Angeles for three days, but we really packed it in.

Any minute now, I expect to see the girls come through customs.  I can only imagine what our next adventure will be.

-sara

Anders racing cross

Anders racing cross

November 23rd, 2009

Day 75 – Party! – Seattle, WA

Miles biked – 14

Total biked – 3407

11/13/2009 Waking up in Seattle was exactly how you might picture it.  Relaxing and a little bit drizzly.  Caroline went for a run and swim while Tracy and Sara, with Anders for moral support, went to commemorate the end of the trip with something they’d talked about the whole trip: tattoos!  Sara got the share the road bike (from the many street signs they’d seen along the way) on her forearm and Tracy got the trip motto – be the twig – in picture form on her forearm.  Heidi (the real one) joined us in Freemont to talk us through it and Ashley at Hidden Hand did the artwork.  They didn’t take too long, they turned out beautifully and no one cried so we deemed it a successful mission.

Then it was on to the Elysian on Capital Hill for our much talked about end party.  We got a very informative tour from Waylon, one of their brewers, and were joined by Sara’s friends and family for drinks and dinner.  The Elysian has a number of delicious beers, and we were especially keen to try some of their sours and New Belgium collaborations. Cheers to everyone who came and to the Elysian for the great beer!

Saras Share the Road bike

Sara's Share the Road bike

Tracys twig

Tracy's twig

Elysian End Party

Elysian End Party

November 21st, 2009

Brooklyn to Seattle in 74 Days!!

Brooklyn - Day 1

Brooklyn - Day 1

Day 74 - The Space Needle, Seattle

Day 74 - The Space Needle, Seattle

November 21st, 2009

Day 74 – Mission Accomplished! – Kent to Seattle

Miles biked – 26

Total biked – 3393

Days to Party: 1

11/12/2009   The great thing about leaving place like the Kent East Hill is that its all downhill.  We flew down into the valley and right onto the Interurban Trail that took us half way to Seattle without having to ride on the street.  We were fully charged up with oatmeal and fresh juice made lovingly by Sara’s mom (who was completely jealous that she wasn’t riding with us) and excited for our arrival to the emerald city.  On the route we hopped on and off a few other trails, hoping we could avoid the road the whole way and in no particular rush to get to our destination.  We soaked in every minute of our last official day.  We stopped for coffee at a coffee hut for the full northwest experience, but also to book-end our first day when we all had to have one last New York coffee before we officially started pedaling.

We approached Seattle from the south, though Pioneer square where we passed a few brew pubs, the malty aroma wafting through the air.  Then up the waterfront to Ivar’s for some of that famous chowder and fish and chips.  Finally seeing the space needle was an emotional moment, even for Sara who’d seen in a thousand times.  It was the end of our awesome adventure.  We’d made it.

Thanks to a bit of end of trip funds from Sara’s dad, we took the elevator up to the top and had a champagne toast to commemorate the occasion as we checked out the view.  It was a beautiful clear day and we could see the entire city, the Olympic mountains, the Cascades, Lake Union, Lake Washington and of course the Puget Sound.  As the sun hit the water it was like the whole place was glowing.  A picture perfect ending -

-at least to the bike part of the trip.  We still had a brewery tour to go to!  Pyramid, one of Seattle’s most well known breweries, had invited us to have a drink at there downtown location and we couldn’t think of a better way to wrap up the day.  We were greeted at the door and treated to dinner and a sampler of their many fine brews and then they gave us our very first brewery bike jerseys.  Getting those at the end of the ride could mean only one thing – we have to do another bike and brew tour soon!

After the brewery we pedaled to Sara’s good friend Slavka’s place on Beacon Hill.  The “hill” part of Beacon Hill is not a joke.  It really was a hill and we had to ride straight up it- at about 11% grade.  It wasn’t long, but it was VERY steep and a great reminder of how nice it would be to ride our bikes in the future without 50lbs of weight on the back.  Once we caught our breathes, we hit the town for karaoke, including some of the trip favorites: Queen – Bicycle Race, Skee Lo – I Wish and Journey – Don’t Stop Believing, preformed en masse on stage.

The Space Needle!

The Space Needle!

Bike and Brew sporting new Pyramid Jerseys

Bike and Brew sporting new Pyramid Jerseys

November 21st, 2009

Day 73 – Kent

Total biked – 3371

Days to Party: 2

Day 73 Kent Day Off

11/11/2009 Since we’d taken a ride to Kent, we had an extra day before we needed to ride into Seattle for our end party.  A perfect day to catch up on sleep, do a little non-bike exercise, catch up on blogging and post cards, and plan for our next adventures – Anders back to New York and Tracy, Caroline and Sara flying to Los Angeles and then Sydney.   We had to do the exchanging of the stuff: collecting the things we’d shipped to the area for our next trips and sending off the stuff we’d accumulated from this one.  A little reminder that even on a big adventure there are still not-so-exciting logistical things to figure out.  It felt a little like we were done but we hadn’t gotten to the end of the picture on our logo, the Space Needle, so we really weren’t done yet.

Dinner with Saras dad

Dinner with Sara's dad

November 21st, 2009

Day 72 – Welcome to Washington! – Portland, OR to Longview, WA to Kent,WA

Miles biked – 52

Total miles biked – 3371

Days to Party: 3
11/10/2009 We left Portland like a herd of turtles.  It was a late night out for everyone, so an early morning alarm was not enough motivation to get out of bed at sunrise.  This was the first sunny day since Eugene, and our hope was to get 95 miles in for the day and stop in Centralia.  However, there was an 80% chance of rain and a high of 41 degrees for the next day – so we weren’t confident we’d be able to ride out of Centralia even if we made it.

When we finally got packed up and out the door at 9:45am, we had a feeling Centralia was a long-shot. The sun was setting around 4:15 PM, giving us roughly six and a half hours for 95 miles – and we usually estimate our speed at about 10 miles per hour including stops. Plus, we couldn’t leave Portland without going to a bike shop.  Caroline had ridden her back tire down to the threads and we had a feeling she wouldn’t make it to Seattle without a major blowout.

It was an amusing visit to the shop.  The guy who opened the doors at 10am was not excited to see us and didn’t pay us any attention after Caroline purchased her tire. Then, just as she had the bike all back together and the tube pumped, she pulled the nozzle off and the valve for the tube came with it.  The tire was immediately flat.  How annoying.  After a little “you’re kidding me” moment Caroline pulled it together and changed the tube again- in record time. It was possible that this could be our last day of riding, so nothing was going to dampen our mood now!

By the time Caroline changed her tire (twice) and we had our morning coffees, it was nearly time for second breakfast. (No one wants a hungry biker on the road)  So we took one last stop at a cute little café just on the edge of the city and had some fruit and granola, yogurt, pancakes and a donut top muffin.  Sustainable organic of course?

Back on the road AGAIN we made great time.  It was slight rolling hills all the way to the Washington border, where we planned to cross into Longview and activate our evacuation plan  (Sara’s mom picking us up) before the rain began.  Forty-eight miles in and with about half an hour of daylight left we rolled up to the large bridge over the Columbia River that we had been dreading all day.  It was long, steep and not very bike friendly.  Oh, and right as we starting pedaling up, it started HAILING.  We had a sort of maniacal laughter moment while we cursed the timing of the hail/downpour. After being beautiful and sunny all day it just HAD to storm exactly when we were crossing an already scary and heavily trafficked bridge. The shoulder was covered with logging flotsam and jetsam, and with puddles up to our pedals it was hard to tell what we were riding over.  But we strove on and made it across the bridge while the water ran like a small river down both sides. What a welcome to Washington!

We felt pretty bad ass (in that New York City drenched rat sort of way) walking into the Triangle Bowl in Longview and explaining that we need to bring our wet bikes and gear into the bowling alley while we played a game to wait out the rain.  Turns out none of us are as good as we thought we were, but a great time was still had by all.  They had Fat Tire on tap and chili dogs and of course nachos, so we were wanting for nothing.  Sara’s mom arrived right as league bowling took over and we took our ride to Kent feeling satisfied that if this was the weather we were up against for the next day, we had made the right decision.

Carolines tire - worn through

Caroline's tire - worn through

Just before the hail, scary bridge to Washington in the background

Just before the hail, scary bridge to Washington in the background

Sara and Anders letting loose on skee ball post-ride

Sara and Anders letting loose on skee ball post-ride

November 20th, 2009

Day 71 – HUB, Cascade Brewing, Amnesia, and Deschutes in Portland, OR

Total biked – 3319

Days to Party: 4

11/9/2009 With a full itinerary, we woke on the early side and got our day started. Anders and Sara went to experience the joys of brunch at Gravy that they had missed the day before, while Caroline and Tracy went on a 4 mile run to the rock climbing gym, with plans to meet at Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) at noon.  HUB is a very bike-centric brewery thanks to the combined passions of Christian, owner and brewmaster.  The very modern and aesthetically awesome brewpub is filled with bicycle parts and memorabilia. Christian was even sporting some badass cuts and scrapes from his recent cyclo-cross race as he went over the descriptions of the very tasty and extensive sampler tray.

Alex met us there and got to take part in the tour, and then was nice enough to drive us to our next destination, Cascade Brewing (located at the Raccoon Lodge). Cascade Brewing is the utopia of American sour beers. Barrel after barrel is lined up aging to perfection, and while our uber talented and gloriously entertaining host, Ron, whet our palettes with Cascade’s more traditional (and delicious!) beers, we were all excited to get to the brewery’s specialty. Sour beers have become a team favorite, and we had one of our best brewery experiences here! Ron was liberally uncorking barrels and we had chances to layer different beers, making each sip and taste experimental and exciting. We all had a great time, and after over three hours of tasting, we were especially thankful to have Alex to drive us!

Anders and Sara had left their bikes at Hopworks, so they were dropped back off to retrieve them, while Tracy and Caroline headed back to the apartment. From this point on, the bike and brew crew decided to divide and conquer—Sara and Anders headed to Amnesia Brewing Co. and Tracy and Caroline had plans to meet up with some Portland beer lovers and brewers at Deschutes Brewery.  The girls were picked up by Dave Constant, a friend of Zach Turner, whom we met at Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, CO. He had gone to school in Portland, and passed on Dave’s contact info for when we’d be in town.  Dave is an accomplished brewer himself, and not only did he generously give us a ride, he also offered us sips of his freshly made grappa! We had a great time hanging out at Deschutes where we were joined by some awesome people—Rick from WEND magazine, Katie Brown of Beer Northwest, Chris Hodge from Columbia Distributing, Dave’s friend Ben, and our housemate for the weekend, Shawn. Stories were told, laughs were shared, and it was a great ending to a jam-packed day in the life of a bike and brewer.

Hopworks Urban Brewery

Hopworks Urban Brewery

Cascade Soures, yum

Cascade Soures, yum

Ron pouring us sours from the barrel

Ron pouring us sours from the barrel

Biking and brewing lovers unite!

Biking and brewing lovers unite!

November 19th, 2009

Day 70 – Portland – Taking a day off

Days to party: 5

11/8/2009 On our first full day in Portland, home of 44 breweries, more per capita than any other city in the world, we didn’t visit any.  We also skipped out on riding our bikes.  Instead, we all decided to do our own thing today—Caroline went for a 7 mile run down to and around the gorgeous Esplanade path, Anders and Sara headed to brunch, and Tracy geeked out for a bit on the computer and got in touch with her friend Hallison, who is in law school at Lewis & Clark. Hallison then met up with Caroline and Tracy for a late brunch at a restaurant called Gravy, which had an awesomely delicious menu! Earlier in the day, Anders and Sara had tried to go there but ended up at the place next store because they couldn’t handle the wait, if only they’d known how good it would be!  Instead, they used the extra time to go back to the house and Sara gave Anders a much needed haircut :)   After that, it was a great tour in Hallison’s car around the city, where we got to see Washington Park and the rose garden, Powell’s bookstore, the stately mansions in the hills, and more.

In the evening, Tracy, Sara, and Anders went for dinner and live bluegrass at Laurelthirst, while Caroline met up with her friends Alan and Julia for dinner. (Incidentally, Julia was just in town visiting from Washington, D.C. and is responsible for hooking us up with our great hosts in La Crosse, WI where she had gone to school!) Then the two groups reconvened at the bar, Saraveza, which had an AMAZING selection of brews, including tour-favorite La Folie from New Belgium and a hard to come by Cascade sour – The Vine. At Saraveza, we met our new friend, Alex (of the podcast HikeYeah), and he offered to be a chauffeur/companion for our brewery adventures the next day.

Portland, thus far, could be easily summed up as “great people, great beer.” We went to bed early that night (as opposed to other nights! Ha!)…we had four brewery stops planned for the next day!

Bikers Beware

Bikers Beware

Drinks at Saraveza in Portland, OR

Drinks at Saraveza in Portland, OR

Saraveza

Saraveza

November 19th, 2009

Day 69 – Eugene to Portland, OR (Pour-tland?)

Miles Biked: 6

Total biked – 3319

Days to Party: 6

We woke up to Shane’s homemade maple and pecan scones fresh from the oven, did quick fixes to the slow leaks on Sara and Anders’ tires, and rushed off to the train station to escape the impending torrential downpour. The storm we had heard about for days was well on its way. The Cascade train was great, bike racks and all, and we enjoyed a scenic trip into Portland with nary a drop of rain…right up until we pulled into Portland’s Union Station.

Upon arrive in Portland the sky immediately opened up. Our “Portland Ambassador,” Dat, was there to greet us, and we hung around the station waiting for the rain to let up. Two hours later, the streets were flooded and it was still pouring down buckets. During these two hours, though, Anders and Dat braved the weather and cycled over to a bike shop to have Sara’s front tire fixed. By the time they came back soaked to the bone, Sara’s friend, Heidi, had arrived from Seattle with her friend Jess to hang out for the remainder of the day.

We all decided we could not stall any longer and made our way in the rain over to Upright Brewing Co. a mere half mile away. Upright is a new brewery in Portland, having opened just this past spring. They have a cool little space and brewer Alex Ganum gave us a great run through of their process.  They brew with open fermentation, and it was the first brewery on this trip at which we were able to actually see this process with our own eyes.  They had also just tapped a crazy new sour beer, the Fatali Four, made with local chilies when we arrived, and it became an immediate favorite! We are still trying to figure out how Alex created a tasty and drinkable sour beer with hot chilies – not your typical flavor combo.

From there we made our way over to our Portland home. Oakshire Brewery’s owner Jeff had most generously opened up his Portland apartment to us. It was ideal for our visit, and we quickly set up shop and got to know his amazing housemates. After drying off we headed over to New Old Lompoc’s 5th Quadrant for drinks and snacks with Heidi and Jess. Over brews we discussed our best options for getting ourselves out to the suburbs to attend a beer tasting dinner we’d been invited to by Ninkasi. The dinner was 13 miles outside the city and not particularly accessible by public transport- but we had never been to a beer pairing dinner and we were excited for the opportunity. We debated a 13 mile bike ride in the rain, in the dark, and over the huge west hills of Portland vs. a 2 hour journey on public transport… but ultimately decided to pile 6 people into Heidi’s VW Bug and have her drop us off at the restaurant.

In retrospect, perhaps the twig was trying to tell us something (did this seem too difficult?) but we made our way out to the suburbs of Portland and arrived right on time for the Ninkasi beer-pairing dinner at Bethany’s Table. The event proved to be a masterful encounter of extraordinary food and outstanding beer, albeit perhaps too elegant for four humble cyclists.  Jamie, owner and brewmaster of Ninkasi, was inspiring and taught us more than a few new things about beer and pairing. Did you know that hops lift the oils from spicy foods off the tongue? Thus a hoppy brew like the Tricerahops makes an amazing combination with spicy sweet potato, chili, and cocoa soup.

Day 1 of 3 in Portland had been eventful, and we were all anxious to see what more was in store for us!

Isadora, Missy and Shane in Eugene

Isadora, Missy and Shane in Eugene

Arrival in Pour-tland

Arrival in Pour-tland

Upright Brewing Co

Upright Brewing Co

Open Fermentation - no sneezing!

Open Fermentation - no sneezing!

Ninkasi/Bethany’s Table Beer-Pairing Dinner Menu:

1st Course
Beer:  Autumn Wheat (New)
Food: Pear Salad

2nd Course
Beer: Tricerahops
Food: Sweet Potato, Chili & Cocoa Soup

3rd Course
Beer: Believer Double Red
Food: Caramelized Pork Belly, Italian Corona Beans & Mustard Greens

4th Course
Beer: Sleigh’r Dark Double Alt
Food:  Angus Rib Eye with Bacon Molasses Butter & Roasted Root Vegetables

5th Course
Beer: Oatis Oatmeal Stout
Food:  Oatis Ice Cream with Dark Cherries and Chocolate

November 18th, 2009

Day 68 – Over the Rainbow to Where the Sidewalk Ends – Eugene, OR

Miles biked – zero (Caroline 10)

Approx total – 3313

Days to Party- 7

11/6/2009 It was a stormy night in Eugene, which made us all especially happy that we had a roof over our heads and were not getting up early in the morning to ride.  Instead, we’d decided to take a day to explore Eugene and then hop on the Amtrak to Portland the following day.  The weather report said rain for the next 4 days and we had a schedule to  (at least sort of) stick to if we wanted to get to Seattle in time.

Our bonus day in Eugene was definitely the right decision.  We absolutely loved that city!  In the morning, we had coffee at Shane and Missy’s and then went out to explore.  Caroline went on a spectacular run on Pre’s Trail while Anders, Sara and Tracy went to a local coffee shop to geek out.   After sufficient emailing, blogging and postcard writing was done they walked all over town looking for the perfect lunch spot, eventually settling on an all natural burrito place recommended by a passerby.  Then the 4 of us met back up at Ninkasi for a tour of there bustling brew operation.

We were given the royal treatment by Ninkasi’s newest employee Zoe, who had just been hired to run their new tap room in the new building they were moving into THAT DAY.  It was a hubbub of activity and we got to be in the center for a brief moment.  We tried some of their latest beers and got a view from the roof of their neighborhood, locally referred to as “The Whit”.  Zoe was bursting with excitement about the place and her energy was contagious.  How could it not be with Ninkasi being only a 3 year old company that had doubled their production every year since they opened?  We could have walked away after the tour perfectly content having seen the place and tried the beer and learned about their name sake (the Sumatran goddess of fermentation) but then they really went above and beyond and hooked us up with t-shirts and a case of their Radiant Summer Ale.  Thanks so much to everyone at Ninkasi for a great visit!  Walking out we watched as a double rainbow formed over the brewery feeling like we had just left somewhere that was truly special.

However, rainbows are the result of one thing you don’t really want when you are on foot about to walk 2 miles to another brewery with a case of beer and two laptops in hand – rain.  Caroline had smartly biked to the brewery after her run, so she was lucky enough to not be on foot but the rest of us had a long walk ahead of us.  We all stood for a moment trying to figure out what to do, we even called a car service, to no avail, before deciding to just hoof it.  Caroline rode back to the house, feeling a little burned out after her long day and still a little worried about her bent bike wheel while the rest of us took turns carrying the beer and the computers as we made our way to our next stop on our Eugene brewery tour: OakShire Brewing.

OakShire is a smaller Eugene brewery, originally called Willamette Brewing, that had actually contacted us when they found out we were biking through the area.  Their head brewer Matt knew the guys at Beermapping.com, who we’d used to plan our trip, and through them found out about our trip.  It was a huge compliment to be contacted by the brewery and we were excited to check out the place.  They did not disappoint.  We tried all the beers available in there tap room and loved them all, especially the Espresso Stout and the Ill-Tempered Gnome.  We even got to sample of a small batch of Really Ill-Tempered Gnome they had still in the tank.  Good stuff.  While there, Matt gave us a tour while their assistant brewer, Dana was hard at work.  Dana is the only female brewer we met on the trip and it was exciting to chat about her experiences in the industry so far.  Sounds like if Sara or Tracy want to make the leap there are many places that would love to have a woman on board.

At the end of the tour, it was time to get home, now with TWO cases of beer as Matt also hooked us up with some tasty OakShire brews to take with us up to Portland.  We were about 3 miles from home but as it turns out, right on Matt’s route home!  He told us to just hang out for a few minutes while he wrapped up and he’d be happy to drop us off.  Brewers are the nicest people.  While we were just hanging out, we met Jeff, the owner of OakShire and their former head brewer.  After getting to talking, he asked if we had a place to stay in Portland.  We told him we had a possible floor to sleep on but nothing definite, to which he responded “you should just stay in the apartment my wife and I keep up there for when we have to work.”  The twig knew what it was doing when it sent us to OakShire.  Thank you so much Jeff, the place worked out perfectly.

Back at Shane and Missy’s we were invited to movie night.  We grabbed a bite to eat and then watched a movie on their home projector while munching on ice cream bars.  Then it was a quick dip in the hot tub and we were off to bed.

Ninkasi Brewing

Ninkasi Brewing

Happy to accept a case of Ninkasi Radiant

Happy to accept a case of Ninkasi Radiant

Matt at OakShire pouring some brews

Matt at OakShire pouring some brews

Save the planet sign at OakShire

Save the planet sign at OakShire