First post in many months. Not really a case of writer’s block but as time passed, just seemed a little daunting to cover all of the things that continued to happen in my world of cycling and food. I can say without any reservations that 2021 is a year of bikes and muffins. Why is that? Well, I’ve added three bikes to the stable without retiring any existing one. First bike purchased was a new, primary road bike – a Cannondale Hi-Mod SuperSix E-TAP (SRAM Red 12-speed) Disc. Quite the challenge to find kits, helmet and shoes to match the lavender but I managed. Second bike took up permanent residence in our Florida vacation home so I’m no longer forced to drive with my bike if I want to ride while spending some time in the sunshine state. There weren’t any Cannondale’s available so now I have a Wilier Cento 10 SL (red/black) with Ultegra Di2, ENVE Foundation 65 wheels, and Quarq power meter. The color scheme was much easier to accommodate. Finally, I’ve wanted to dip my toes in the gravel world but had my sites only on the Cannondale Topstone. Finding one was a long-time coming. First, Cannondale shuffled their line-up and the 2020 model (Topstone Carbon with SRAM Force E-TAP) wasn’t available in 2021. The only E-TAP model in 2021 was the Lefty. Eventually found a Topstone Carbon 5 in California (thought I had one from North Carolina but that fell through) and had it shipped to me. Had the local bike shop swap out the Shimano Ultegra GRX mechanical drivetrain for SRAM Force AXS E-TAP (12-speed). It’s a rather fetching shade of dark purple. Photos are posted on the Bikes I Ride page.
Needless to say, I’ve had ample opportunity to ride all three bikes this year. While CV-19 has once again eliminated most racing opportunities (I refuse to enter Criteriums), nearly every organized ride on my wish list was held. Some events had rather anemic rest stop offerings but I usually carry my favorite stuff. The plan was to add new states to the list of places I’ve cycled and even a new country – Canada. My list of planned events through August are listed below:
Gran Fondo FL
long weekend in Asheville, NC
Redbud Ride – London, KY
Ocean to Bay Century – Fenwick Island, DE
Six Pillars Century – Cambridge, MD
Agony in the Alleghenies – Covington, VA
Tour de Madison – Syria, VA
Storming of Thunder Ridge – Lynchburg, VA
Horsey Hundred – Georgetown, KY
Triple Peak Gran Fondo – Winchester, VA
Phoenix Challenge Skyline Double Century – Front Royal, VA
Loudoun 1725 Gravel Grinder – Middleburg, VA
Absolutely Beautiful Country Ride – Copley, OH
Gran Fondo National Championship – Asheville, NC
Bike to Beach (Autism Awareness) – DC to Dewey Beach, DE
Teeuwen Memorial/VA Age-Graded TT Championship – Chesapeake, VA
Reston Bike Club Century – Reston, VA
The year started with a couple of stays at our FL vacation house. The first trip was with the Missus while the second trip I hosted another rider from the same local bike club. The second trip lead to my first Gran Fondo experience. Who even knew there was a San Antonio, FL? If you’ve never participated in one, the format is a little different from a USA Cycling sanctioned race and an organized full or metric century ride. There are multiple distances offered with various names and distances but the Gran Fondo is always the longest distance. Regardless of the distance, the event has time sections. Overall and age-group placings are determined by the cumulative time completing the timed sections. The overall time required to cover the entire distance is not a factor. As a result of the format, placing well is significantly influenced by the strength of the group of riders around you. A strong group enables a fast time over the timed segment while saving energy due to the benefits of drafting. Granted, hilly or climbing timed sections greatly reduce the drafting affect. Unless the entire timed section is a climb, a strong group still offers energy saving opportunities because you can hide from the wind and practice wheel sucking skills. On the other hand, you could be one of the stronger riders in the group and do a majority of the pace setting or pulling while the group follows in your slipstream. Certainly not the optimal scenario. Surprisingly the FL Gran Fondo route had over 3500 feet of climbing in just under 96 miles. The elevation was predominantly rollers but still more than expected. Probably more surprising was doing well enough in my age category to qualify for the National Championship category at the Asheville Gran Fondo in July.
Most of the organized rides were new ones for me but there were also a few repeat rides. Did add a new state to the list. Actually spent two different weekends in Kentucky riding the full century one day and the metric version the following day. Too much time has passed to summarize each event but I enjoyed most of them. The only ride on the list that was canceled was the Solstice Ride. It’s a 3-day event from Westport, CT to Montreal in Quebec, Canada. It covers 400 miles and 22,000 feet of climbing. Another victim of Covid as the Canadian border was still closed in mid-June. It’s on my list for 2022. Had a blast in Asheville and riding Mount Mitchell and stopping at George Hincapie’s hotel. Thunder Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway was cool but the climbs in the Triple Peak Gran Fondo and Skyline Double Century were brutal. Even managed a trip to visit my parents while also completing a new century. Unfortunately, it rained for most of the ride. The only sanctioned race was the Teeuwen Memorial TT. It was the first time back on the TT bike outside and first TT event since the unfortunate incident with a guardrail back in 2019. Finished first in my 5-year age group (3rd in the standard 10-year age group). Won’t dwell on the fact I thought the distance was 20K, not nearly 21 miles. Reading is fundamental and I epically failed on that one. Summary totals for the events include 1,961 miles and 126,346 feet of climbing.
The next cycling adventure is on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail along the eastern part of Lake Erie and much of Lake Ontario. My sister is providing SAG support and my parents volunteered to come along as well. The plan is to provide daily reports of that trip so stay tuned and come back in September.
Now for the year in muffins.
Muffin baking took on a life of its own this year. What started as a fun hobby turned into just a bit of an obsession. Searching the web for new recipes consumed just a bit of time during the evening hours. Even encouraged the participation from the Missus and children by picking new flavors. Amazingly, didn’t make a bad batch – except for the time I left the melted butter in the microwave. The key is finding a good recipe but made several adjustments along the way: adding matching flavored yogurt makes a difference; most recipes don’t include enough fruit; substitute half oil ingredient with apple sauce; cream cheese filling can be included in many flavors; if milk called for, can use skim, whole, buttermilk or even half-n-half and heavy whipping cream. Interestingly, can’t always find canned pumpkin and fresh rhubarb has a very small availability window. Now have quite the collection of muffin tins: large, standard, mini, and square but the preferred size is the large tins. Even included a couple of gluten free flavors. Below is a list of flavors made:
Banana – with either walnuts, chocolate chip, or peanut butter chip
Bran – with raisins
Cheesecake-stuffed French toast
Chocolate – with chocolate chips and or peanut butter chips
Cinnamon crumb cake
Cranberry orange with glaze
Gluten free cinnamon raisin
Gluten free blueberry
Gluten free chocolate chip
Gluten free Nutella
Ham and cheese
Hearty ham and cheddar cornbread
Lemon poppy seed
Nutella-stuffed cinnamon sugar
Pumpkin and cream cheese with pecan streusel
Pear and walnut*
Sour cream and chives
Whole wheat, oatmeal, and raisin
* haven’t made yet but on the list
Also had a minor family celebration as we all sat down together for dinner in early May for the first time in over a year. To commemorate the occasion, we had suckling pig with homemade apple and raisin stuffing with roasted parsnips, fondant potatoes, and creamed spinach. Desert was a gin and tonic loaf.
The summer is winding down with Labor Day nearly upon us but I have one last cycling adventure just around the corner. I’ll be able to add another state to the places I’ve cycled and scratch the itch of my inner pharologist. Stay tuned if interested…