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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sometimes you gotta eat

And we've had this awesome looking bag of picholine olives sitting around since Christmas...

Loosely based on a Puttanesca sauce

1 medium onion - chopped
1 med carrot - chopped v. fine

4-6 cloves garlic

1 bag of olives - drained, rough chopped (and pitted if need be) (~1 c olives)

~1 tsp red pepper flakes
~1 tsp oregano
~3 tsp basil - fresh... chopped
black pepper - ground

~2 tsp - 1 TSP anchovy paste (some recipes call for simmering this first)
15 oz can diced/ crushed tomatoes
2 x 6 oz tomato paste

1. Saute onions and carrots until onions start turning translucent

2. Saute crush garlic cloves into mix, saute
3. Add olives, saute a little

4. Add herbs and anchovy paste - stir

5. Add tomatoes and tomato paste - stir

6. Add 1/4- 1/2 cup water so its smooth and thick : not too thick, not too thin
7. Let simmer for half hour or more (our simmered an hour+); add more anchovy paste to taste; keep adding a little water so the sauce stays smooth and doesn't stick.
8. Cook up your favorite pasta (we're using Farfalle) and smother with sauce.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Riding point vs wingman

A pair of Harleys entered the canyon in front of me yesterday evening. I figured that would be the last I saw of them as I rode up the canyon. Well, it was the last I saw of the first rider... The second rider, however, was much more tentative on the curves, and therefore riding much more sedately. In the curves, she would start to lean, back off and straighten up, nad run a little wide in her lane... on the short straights she'd speed up to catch up with her riding partner. It was typical noob riding that I myself have exhibited on this road - there are lots curves and the ones at the beginning of the canyon are the tightest - so I hung way back to keep any traffic pressure off her. Curve after curve she was losing ground to her partner...

Her partner kept getting further and further away, never slowing down. Were they really together? Was he oblivious to her issues with the curves? Had they discussed the possibility that they would get separated during the ride?

Watching this play out and having experienced this same phenomena, has me pondering the importance of being the front rider. Often you see the more experienced rider in the front; they usually know the roads and/or how to read the road better than a lesser experienced rider, and sometimes they want & can to go faster. Also, it gives the less experienced rider someone to follow (but don't target fixate!) and guidance on entry speed into curves. If the second rider is much slower and constantly trying to 'keep up' by blasting through the straights (and thus having to brake even harder for curves), then the pace of the pack is too fast. Its good for the newer rider to learn how to lead - learning how to read the curves, to use hand signals as well as to keep an eye on your six.

The key is communication. Acknowledging one's skills and communicating with each other how you want to ride - before you start riding! Sometimes I'll ask my DH to lead and to keep a slower pace to I can watch his cornering technique; other times its a ride your own pace ride - and the nice thing is, he always waits for me at different points through out the ride (sometimes we set the stops up ahead of time when we know the route).

Back to the two Harley riders (and it could have been any type of bike) they were together because I had seen them enter the road together and the one point to the Boulder Falls out-of-order sign as they entered the canyon. And, based on the finger wagging and gestures at the Falls parking area where they stopped ... she was not very happy with him.

Riding together can be a lot of fun and being consciencious of each other's riding style can keep the riding experience fun.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Lots o' twisties - Golden Gate/Coal Creek Canyons, Colorado

Let's go for a short ride between thunderstorms... we'll just go down Golden Gate Canyon and back up Coal Creek Canyon, says our friend the expert motorcyclist.

Sure, that'll be fun! (says the noob)

And thus we started out on our weekend adventure on Sunday afternoon. Saturday had been filled with removing the rear tire of Bob's bike, getting the flat repaired, and reinstalling the wheel (and adjusting the chain tension... about 4 times.) It was fun to turn wrenches again, but ... its not what I really want to do with my spare time.

[pre-ride check]
Sunday looked like a real wash out but finally around 2pm, the weather looked clear enough for a ride. We decided to go south because ... the weather looked better and we'd never ridden those roads before.

So off we go, and its cold. Like mid-50's. I'm cold before we even get 15 miles down the road for the turn off for Golden Gate Park. OK, I'll warm up as we go to lower elevations. I worry that Bob will be cold in his mesh jacket, but he's not complaining so I don't worry about it. Besides, there's some major riding to do.

[the route]

This is a wonderful road. The scenery, what I saw of it, is spectacular. And the glimpses of the plains were amazing. The road is moderately twisty with some real gotchas. [add g-map clip] Our friend Kevin is a wonderful front rider; he's extremely smooth and on his huge Harley, he made the gnarliest turns look like a piece of cake. At the same time, he carefully slowed to good entrance speeds which gave me (us) plenty of time to go even slower - the signs that say 15 mph and show a U-shape turn really mean it. OK, I'll admit that there were a few turns where I'm going at a snail's pace as I'm making a hard right turn AND going downhill (mentally screaming, SLOW - LOOK [sh*t! where the h*LL is this curve going,I keep turning my head further and further ] - NOW PRESS, PRESS, PRESS, thank you for engine braking - PRESS PRESS, ok, you're good). And then, mmm, how would I do that turn better next time?

As we descended towards Golden, I kept wondering when it would warm up. In fact, the cloud bottom kept lowering with us. At once point I could feel
mashed bits of hail ping my helmet and jacket and could see flashes in the distance below us. It turns out that a few funnel clouds were spotted about the same time as our ride on the plains.

Someday I'll figure out how to mount a camera onto the bike. Just imagine being completely surrounded by walls of sandstone and then suddenly you are spit out onto a seemingly perfectly flat surface. Welcome to Golden. It suddenly occurs to me that I have to ride north on RT 93 - the connector route between Golden and Boulder - at some insane speed limit.

I tell our front runner to pull over so I can get more gear on. The clouds are barely above us at 6500 feet, the winds are starting to kick up, spits of rain are pinging us, and I have a mesh jacket on. I offer my rain jacket to Bob, thinking he's only got mesh on too and knowing he gets cold faster than I do. He, very intelligently, had installed his liner. Huh, fine, I pull on my rain gear under my main jacket and immediately feel warmer.

Off we go towards Boulder and Rt 72, Coal Creek Canyon. Did I mention that I've never ridden above 60mph and then only momentarily on the only paved straight-away on our local highway? And the speed limit here is ... 65 (ok, some areas are 45, but do think that's what folks are driving? ha! So... off we go towards Boulder. Its a blast. I feel really solid, no shimmying, no whining of engine, gusts are no problem.

We turn back to the west on RT 72 and can see virga and sheets of rain cloaking the mountains ahead of us. We're just waiting to be soaked and surprisingly most of the trip upward is clear.

Again, lots of smooth curves with a few special twisties thrown in; I can see why this is a favorite with many riders. Near the top we finally hit some weather - slight rain and really strong gusts, enough to slow us down by 5-10mph.

The ride back through Ned is like a triumph; I think we're the last bikes for the day, especially after the storm had come through. To celebrate, about a mile from our house, I stop at an intersection to let a zoomer go by, and tip over.
[Thank you Erica for your help!] sigh. still much to learn about reverse sloped roads. I can't wait to lower the bike a little more. To prove to myself that all is OK, we do another lap and go through the same intersection - all is fine. All in all, yes, this is for me, the most challenging ride yet, and in many ways the most fun. We're looking forward to doing Trail Ridge Road across the Divide through Rocky Mountain National Park - just hoping that the road stays clear of snow and ice. It is mid-June after all!

About Me

Join me in my adventures as I learn to ride a scooter and experience the world through two wheeled transport.