Today is November 2, which means the 2013 season began yesterday. Except that yesterday was spent by yours truly on an airplane and then kicking it at the airport, so the season actually started today. Mark your calendars everyone, November 2 is the new November 1.
More to the point, all the fun and travel and adventure and excitement and baked goods and beers and copious wine and overall gluttonous living and burning the candle at both ends in order to maximize all things awesome have come to a close. Which is only slightly ironic that I now find myself in Napa for the better part of November – there are nooooo good restaurants nor wine here, right? Right. Good.
We can all agree that over the past month the internet has experienced a noticeable dearth of anything interesting. The fact that I haven’t written on this website in a month exhibits an starkly obviously correlation. So in order to bring you all back up to speed, please allow me to take you along my travels over the past 45’ish days, where we’ll rehash a bit of September and then tackle October before we all jump into November together.
Mid-September brought me to the rugged and pastoral Green Mountain state of Vermont. Which brings up a point of confusion in regards to me. Not that it really matters nor should you care, but let me clear the air and announce here and henceforth that I’m from New Hampshire, still have residence in New Hampshire, attended college in Vermont, have family in Connecticut, visit Massachusetts frequently when am back in New England, and we have a family island house in Maine of which I am the sixth generation to be lucky enough to summer there. (Yes, summer is a verb when you’re a snotty New Englander lucky enough to have a summer house in Maine.) Got it? Again, good.
Vermont brought great weather and some stunning scenery. That will likely be the theme of these past 7+ weeks since I seem to only go to stunningly beautiful places in the offie.
I participated in my requisite “handful” of cross races, which is anything from one to six depending on my level off off-season vigor. You’d be smart to guess that I’m smoking everyone and winning in this photo at the Green Mountain Cyclocross weekend. Unfortunately, you would be incorrect.
Speaking of, umm… beautiful landscapes, I made my way to Las Vegas for Interbike for the first time in a trio of years. Which was thrilling as usual and well worth the trip, but reminded me that I only need to visit Sin City once every three years to feel perfectly satiated in the department of overwhelming senses. Bright lights, loud noises, caustic smells, and delicious food. I also bought these shorts for myself. They are stunning.
Lining up 5th row, even with my copious UCI points (or maybe UCI point, singular. I don’t remember) did not help my cause at CrossVegas. The field was STACKED. Worse yet, the officials warned us that we would be immediately ejected if we took a beer feed. Which is lame as heck since it was hot as balls. Thankfully after a few embarrassing laps, I pulled myself together as well as pulled $10 worth of dollar hand-ups. That’s ten bucks more than anyone else who finished well out of the money like I did. Suckers.
I graciously have stolen this photo from Danny Munson. The crowd looks riveted.
The best way of celebrating a criterium in your home city is to win it! However, when the field is lined top to bottom with crit racers and when you haven’t raced a crit in a quarter-dozen years (that’s three years if you’re counting along today), then the next best way to celebrate is to sign some dude’s cast at the start line.
Early October had me treking down the eastern seaboard, beginning in NH, down to VA by way of NYC, then back to PA, and onto CT, and back to NH. This is all of course well before that heinous bit#& Hurricane Sandy reared her ugly head so things were still tranquil and beautiful. This photo is from the PA portion with the Bicycling Fall Classic; in particular, this is the ride winning final breakaway (“ride” and not “race”). Those thousand of us smart enough to disregard the weather forecasters call for rain, who were entirely incorrect, had an incredible day in the saddle.
Remember hanging out with my cousins? Well two weeks after kicking it with them in Vermont during my glorious VT50 win, I swung through CT and had a Patriots game, massive dinner, watched a four year old break dance the night away, and went for a bike ride to the center of town the next day. 2.6 miles round trip. Ayuup, all of 2.6 miles. Off season watts!
I may have mentioned gluttonous living and sweetbreads are nearly always categorized in the over the top delicious/over the top surely unhealthy column. Here they are at Fore Street, which I would argue is the best restaurant east of the Mississippi. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.
I went hiking a quartet of times and twice with my good friend Damon. I also attended his wedding this fall, so hats off to him for getting married during the season in which I can actually attend his wedding. As for the hike, it was warm and pleasant down at basecamp 1, then frigid and pleasant at the summit.
It has also been three years since I attended the Dempsey Challenge last. It’s up in the middle of nearly nowhere Maine and it’s truly amazing the number of people who come from far and wide to catch a glimpse of Patrick Dempsey. Thankfully, I’m called up as a VIP rider so I get to hang out with him and end up as the buffer amid a gaggle of frenzied soccer moms. It’s very entertaining. Plus there’s Gritty’s for ample late night entertainment.
The 38 degrees of rain on ride day were enough to make me want to keep trucking the entire day and not really stop and warm up (because warm up is followed promptly by cool down). But the day before was another smaller ride and I got to know Matt Updike who is a really great guy and something of a stud both on and off his bike; the paralympic gold medal in London this year is a testament to that. This photo shows Matt teaching Patrick how to use his ridiculously low to the ground bike with Freddie Rodriguez giving pointers to the side. Or else Fred is just trying to hold Patrick’s hand.
Six words, folks: Krempels King of the Road Challenge. My BFF, teammate to the stars for two years, and TBI survivor himself, Timmy Duggan made the week-long trip to the east coast to kick it with vigor, eat seafood like a champ, crush wine, and speak about TBIs to the Krempels Center. Plus he saddled up and rode the KKotRC with me, Jesse Anthony, Pat McCarty, and 200+ of our best friends and family.
I spy with my little eye…
Here we are slaying the dirt, also with vigor. Actually the dirt has just abruptly ended. Which is probably safer.
Our ride also featured an off season smorgasbord of riding delicacies. Peanut Butter & Co., Simply Stroops, and of course New England’s favorite Marshmallow Fluff were only part of what powered us through the ride.
Sheesh, where are we. Still two weeks of off season to go!
The day after the ride I went with a triplet of friends plus extended family to a New England Patriots game. I’m a Pats fan with the best of ’em, but I only go to about one game per year. Or every other year. These guys know how to rock out a good game, and it all starts with the pre-game tailgating party. This array of scallops is only a taste of what we had on the tailgate that day. And yes, those are very nice bottles of vino.
The man, the myth, the legend George Hincapie retired this year. He’s a stalwart member of the pro peloton and as an American, something of a pillar to look up to over the years. His accomplishments of 418 grand tours and however-many national championship wins is enviable. I was flattered to be a distinguished guest among friends, family, and my ilk of pro cyclists at his Gran Fondo. I give him a hard time because I tell George that I was coming to settle our on-going battle of best tennis player in the pro peloton (me) and he really clinched my arrival when I learned chef Michael Chiarello would be cooking. I’m in!
This blurry and terrible picture is of Chiarello on the far left, his right hand man from Uruguay who is awesome in the middle, chef Lucas Euser in the middle, and my good friend Tebbetts stoked to be poaching the photo on the right. Hi Matt!
George’s Gran Fondo was ridiculously hard. I’m 100% certain that the folks who designed this course did so in mid-season fitness. They didn’t realize that late October would be zilch in the fitness department. Ouch.
This photo is a pure thing of beauty. I’m, umm, smiling and saying hello, the peloton is shattered, Scotty to my right is actually smiling despite the 18% grade, and Brian is looking less than content behind Scotty. Good work team breakaway!
Meanwhile in Charleston, SC there are more good friends needing a visit. Moreover, it’s a corner of the world that I don’t know much about, so I took a 48 hour reprieve there. Actually it was slightly longer because even though we had pristine weather, Sandy was wreaking havoc on the northeastern United States so my flight was delayed a whole bunch of… hours. And thankfully just hours and not days, because not even 36 hours of being home, I unpacked, repacked, and hit the road onto Napa where I find myself today.
So from Greenville, SC it was on to Charleston. In Charleston is Husk. And in Husk is an amazing restaurant. Their 2011 Best New Restaurant in America claim was worth investigating. Everything we ordered was delicious and the pig ear tacos were a highlight for sure. Turn on your adventure and taste buds, cause Husk is awesome.
It wasn’t just gourmandism ruing the day in Charleston. I also went for a pair of runs and took in some history. This here is a photo of Fort Sumter on the central island in the distance. 42 arbitrary Ted King history points if you can tell me exactly why this place sits prominently in the history books.
And that, my friends, is a chronological smattering of my off season adventures. I assure you that this is only on fraction of the fun had, but I figure this is enough to give you a taste of what I’ve been up to of late, which explains my lack of blogging.
Bring on monk-like living and the ruckus of 2013!