Slacking and fixating on things is a weakness we all have, and I’m not afraid to note having so myself. Work, and other things, have robbed my time of late, and my time for ‘me’ has been limited; cheers to working on that.
Fall (or autumn) in Phoenix is a lot like spring elsewhere, just like our winter is like most peoples’ summer. Weather gets nice (trust me, it’s relative). It’s bearable to be outside. Things grow. Things flourish. It’s fantastic. Phoenix, unlike a lot of places, can host gardens twice a year. I like to plant in fall, as well as around the time of the last freeze. Additionally, fall, like spring, is a time for new additions. In this very case, our addition happens to be … more chickens!
Brahma & Cal
I live on a great property, allowing for such things as chickens, gardens, and – hopefully someday soon – bees. Maricopa County law states no more than 20 hens, zero roosters, and residents nearby must be notified. So where does that put us? 16, if you’re interested to know!
Pumpkin – Barred Plymouth
Six from my second flock, of which two have started laying eggs just this month (green and light peach … almost white).
Six new chickies: 1 Brahma, 1 Welsummer, 2 Cuckoo Maran, 2 Ameraucana. My third flock is much less stressful to deal with, and almost effortless. I’ve amassed enough knowledge and equipment that the new flock is very cheap, little of time consumption, and little-to-no stress.
The new chicks
Additionally, fall is a great time to plant a garden in PHX. The harshest weather is gone. The air is less dry than normal. And the risk of freeze during the winter to come is fairly low. We typically have less than a week of freezing nights; with due-diligence you can keep a garden alive through so few frosts.
Shelter Cocktail Lounge – A hideaway of the 60s
Beach House at the Rialto Theater in Tucson
I’ve been doing quite some traveling of late, so my periodic installments have been delayed here and there. This is a great one though, about homemade Fruit Cup (AKA: Pimm’s).
The idyllic days of summer are characterized by an excess of revitalizing and bracing cocktails; among them mint juleps, mojitos, and Pimm’s cups. Pimm’s, known as a ‘Fruit Cup’, dates back to the early 1800’s, and was originally served as a digestif. Made of gin, herbs, spices, and fruit, the liqueur is prepared in many fashions, traditionally mixed with sparkling lemonade or ginger ale, and garnished with any preferred fruit(s). Throughout its long life, Pimm’s has been available with many differing alcohol bases, most of which have been phased out. Only the gin-based Pimm’s #1 is readily attainable (the vodka-based #6, while still produced, is quite rare), and vintage bottles fetch steep prices. A Pimm’s cup remains the standard cocktail at polo matches in both Britain and America, Wimbledon, the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and the Henley Royal Regatta. While its vast popularity tends to be across the Atlantic, recent popular culture has perked interest in this unique beverage.
The popular trend these days is fresh, interesting twists, and quality. Why limit that to the ingredients in our food and drinks? A homemade Fruit Cup is a simple, fun, and delicious way to spice up your summer endeavors. While I love a standard Pimm’s, a homemade batch has a less synthetic taste, with more spice and citrus floating over your palate. Stick with a gin (#1) base, and you have a spicy, botanical Fruit Cup. Prefer tequila (#7), rye (#5), or another liquor? Go for it. The sky is literally the limit. Absinthe, differing types of whiskeys, and other high proof alcohols have recently been made into Fruit Cup drinks. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to making a delicious, home-brewed cocktail – and feel free to play with the recipe to introduce hints of flavors you love, such as different fruits, or spices. It has been suggested that for the first few decades, James Pimm used whatever fruits were in season and available at his oyster bar.
– Cheesecloth (you can find this at most larger groceries or a restaurant supply)
– Large sealable container or jar (4 liter or 1 gallon size preferred)
– Potato masher or cocktail muddler
– 750ml dry gin
– 750ml sweet vermouth
– 3 oranges, quartered
– 1 lemon, quartered
– 1 key lime, quartered
– 1/3 lb ginger, grated
– 3/4 cucumber, sliced
– Handful of fresh mint
– Handful of fresh basil
– 1 cup fresh berries – raspberry, strawberry, cherry, etc
– 2 small sticks of cinnamon
*Optional additions* — These ingredients will make for a different flavor profile that mixes great with lemonade, ginger ale, and cucumber soda, but won’t work quite as well as a traditional fruit-cup recipe — for champagne based drinks.
– 6 whole cardamom pods
– 1 star anise
– 6 whole all spice berries
Add your fresh fruit & herbs to a mixing bowl and muddle with a potato masher or cocktail muddler; this helps release some of the fresh fruit juices, oils, and flavors. Transfer the mash to your large container (a food grade 5 gallon bucket with lid works in a pinch). Add your dried spices, your liquor base, and your vermouth. Store in a cool place for 48-72 hours, and shake once daily. Remember: there is no right or wrong method here. If you absolutely love cherries, feel free to experiment (or go overboard!). Filter your Fruit Cup through cheesecloth – make sure to squeeze the cloth to extract the juices, flavors, and goodies. Homemade Fruit Cup keeps for a year at room temperature when all fruit particles have been filtered out.
The Perfect ‘Pimm’s’
- Highball or Collins glass filled with ice
- 2oz Fruit Cup
- 3 slices cucumber
- 1 strawberry
- 4-6oz fresh sparkling lemonade or ginger ale
It’s hard to justify writing about failure. Critics look at facts as excuses. The truth stands, either way, but that criticism can be harsh, hard to bear, and downright unwarranted. After all, what if it isn’t just excuses? We all have days when we’re on, and days when we’re off. Just like LeMond’s “bad peach” at The Tour in ’86, something happened overnight the 21st of August.
Arriving in Missouri, we headed to Springfield to meet up with James Allen, antique cycling aficionado and comic-thriller. James had set up numerous cycles for me to try out, assuring I had plenty to choose from, giving me a shot-in-Hell during the race. I hadn’t ridden an ordinary in years – RAGBRAI 2010 - and I hadn’t been on a high wheel at all (see: Eagle) since April. Ill-preparation is my own blame, but I was training, and felt I was very, very solid competition for the race. Despite being sized up by the front’s larger wheel, like today’s bicycles, each manufacture and model is different. A 52″ Columbia Expert from 1883 will undoubtedly ride different than a 52 Expert from 89. I tried many different bikes, from various eras, creators, and sizes. I went in with ideas to ride a 52″ Edlee extra-light roadster – a new-age reproduction out of New Zealand. Said bike weighs in around the same as my road bike, but rides far sketchier. The spoke count is cut down by 3, on both the front and the rear. Every bit of the bike that could be shaved off, has been. Most steel replaces aluminum. The bike rode like it too. Despite the fact that I could really get it moving, it was just too sketchy to consider racing.
Onward and upward. Trying. Testing. Tabulating. Then to a 54″ G&J. Push, push, push. Up. Down? I failed to mount it, which was a shock. Another try; that had to be a fluke. Another fail. There’s times when the moment at hand is the only thing in your mind, and the fact that my ordinary at home, which I’ve ridden, is a 54″ Columbia. There’s also the additional fact that I’m taller, with a taller inseam than Rick, who would be racing a 56″ Victory. None of these facts registered though. “You failed to mount a 54, you mustn’t be able to ride one” was all that went through my mind. I downsized. The 52″ I rode was solid, but an original, and felt less stiff than the 50″ Spillane that I ended up with.
So mistake #2: an extra small bike. But just like not riding a high wheel in months, technically years, I should be able to overcome.
6:30am, race day: Awoken by great abdominal pains, some trickery was afoot. 10am: I pass on breakfast at Ihop, opting for fresher, healthier alternatives from the organic grocer across the street. A short ride to Brewer’s Alley for the pre-race meeting, I knew no-good was up to itself. Hundreds of smells wafting from the kitchen…something was definitely wrong. Sparing many intimate details, no food was digested that day. No water stayed in my body. I rode back to the hotel before the race for a nap, hoping that would be enough – it wasn’t. Back at the room, I had decided to not even race. I couldn’t fathom the 4 mile ride back to the track, plus a warmup, plus the race. I was shaky, having no nutrients since the prior afternoon, and couldn’t even keep down water.
But I came all the way to Maryland for this race. All the way across the entire country for this. Even if I couldn’t ride my best, I had to at least show up. I could throw the flag after a few laps. Two parade laps, after 10 minutes in the sun doing a high wheel stack, after waiting an extra 10 minutes for Tour de Frederick to show up. I was feeling pretty bad – the sun was a awful instigator. Just talking to the numerous questioneers was a task. Let’s try not to have an accident on one of them. Just stop talking to me, please, just this one time! I’d just ride 15 minutes.
Bang! The gun goes off, and we start out. If I’m going to quit early, I just as well get the party started. Starting in the back, through the first two turns, Rick and I weave toward the front, at a good, but calm pace. Then that thought hits me: give them a show if you have to give up. A sprint. Sprinting through the lumbering wheels, toward the front. Through the home-stretch of the first race lap. Wham: energy crash. I was at the front, but it was all I had, literally. No reserves, no energy, no carbs, no sugar, no water. That was literally all I had besides a steady pace of 10 miles an hour. I’d crawl into a slow pace, and do the next 14 minutes, and then throw in the towel. But 15 minutes goes by, and while I’m feeling no better, I begin to pick up the pace. I’m thirsty, but is that a mistake? I’ve kept no water down, all day. I reach in my jersey for my bottle. Fire races down my throat. This isn’t water at all…! It’s 100 degree vodka lemonade. Where I thought Rick had done me a kindness and filled up my bottle, I never made the connection to check it before the race! I’ll do another 15. Then at 30, it’s only a half hour of riding to go! Still sluggish, I agree I should finish, even if I was already ashamed of my energyless spin. 15 minutes: I can’t go any longer. I’ll quit at the end of this lap, sit in the shade, watch the show.
But 15 minutes is only a bike ride to work. I can do one of those. So I get back into an average stride. Then finally, one minute to go. Let’s give them something to talk about. I kick into a sprint for the last lap or two. Through the home stretch. Screams and cheers burst louder and louder as I pedal harder and harder, wheel tipping from side to side. Turn one. “On your left!!!”, but connection is made from pedal to spoke, and we tumble downward.
No one likes excuses. I’m the first in line. But this day, while Rick had an excellent, I had an awful. Bouting a food poisoning worse than any I’ve ever experienced, on limited reserves, on a wheel smaller than useful, and incurring a crash, I had as bad a race day as you can have. I missed everything, all the excitement, the celebration, and even the competition. I guess it comes with the territory.
I still get all wishy-washy when I watch this
Certain events change our life. It tends to be things you don’t expect. When I moved home from Texas, and finished the continuation of my plans to ride a bicycle from Phoenix, AZ to the state of Maine, traversing north of the Great Lakes, I had no idea how much the trip (or rather, the plans for that trip) would change my life.
Unbeknownst to me, I wouldn’t take that trip. I would plan that trip until just fourteen days before leaving – then everything would get turned upside-down. I found a flyer online that day, by chance, on a site I hadn’t visited in years. Why not send in an application? They’re only asking for a page explaining why me and not them.
So I write it. And then I’m accepted. I’m sponsored by 42 Below (Bacardi) to ride my bicycle across the United States.
And it’s not the trip, the time away, the everything you EXPECT to change you, that changed me. It was the everything. I fostered some great friendships on this trip. I saw more than I could imagine. I covered more distance in two months on a bicycle than many people will do in their entire life. 58 days. 5,000 total miles. 44 eclectic personalities. NYC – Atlanta – OKC – San Antonio – San Diego – LA. There’s not enough time before work to find all the pictures that express my words. The video should fill in the gaps. Just picking a few quick pics to recap on good times; they pale in comparison to the trip, the relationships, the times.
My good friend, Rick Stumpff of Galena, MO, won the Frederick MD Clustered Spires High Wheel race. He had it going on – he rode in the zone. The conditions were right, and he took that advantage, lapping the field twice, and cruising to the finish. My race was plagued from the start, but more on that at another time. Celebration for Ricky Man!
I met an unfortunate fate with another rider toward the finish of the ride.
Informed to ride fast left, slower right, the race was going seamlessly. Riders were more or less aware of their surroundings, and incident-free the race appeared it would end. Not to say everything went as perfect as one may hope (more on that later too), but it was solid. As the crowd of thousands cheered on the last final laps, speeds increased, minds grew weary, and legs ached of close to 2,000 rotations, varying from 150 to nearly 200 gear inches per stroke. The course, strangely rolling, allowed for strange riding. The home-stretch, flat. Turn one, uphill. Turn two, a slight downhill. The final leg, fairly downhill, into the final turn, allowing a decent speed through the home stretch, where the majority of encouraging onlookers plopped their feet for an hour.
But that first turn is where things went sour, near the end of the race. Calling ahead, as most had been doing the entire race, two riders ahead in the first curve challenged a wreck-free inaugural race. One rider backs off and to the right, hearing the calls…the yells, “On your left!”. One rider doesn’t, or doesn’t adjust quite as much. A sharp turn, at a good speed, but not enough room. A curb-to-curb left turn nearly impossible at speed, atop a wheel greater than four feet tall. Both of us riding the center line, essentially – one just left, one just right. Pedals meet spokes. I soar over the other, landing roughly 8 feet from where I was riding, nearly ending up in peoples’ laps, bike tumbling behind. The other racer sliding into the curb, faring quite worse, was in the hospital a few days; I’m glad to hear of recovery. I suffered a minor fracture in my pinky and wrist, and a little bruised and bloody, but nothing too major.
Races (of all kinds, bike or not) go hand-in-hand with wrecks. It’s just a shame it had to happen the way it did.
Greg LeMond signed high wheel
Aerospoke penny farthing