July 1, 2014

#531: Some ToAD

Filed under: Bike Racing,Races — Ryan @ 19:25

I just got back from Wisconsin where I visited with my brother and family.  My mom also came down from Michigan.

I ended up racing the Master 35+ 3/4 race at 3 venues:  Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, and Wauwatosa.  My results were nothing stellar, middle of pack results in each.  Generally, things went pretty well with the racing, just couldn’t convert at the end of the race.  Nothing much interesting to say about the racing… missed a few crashes at each, managed to stay upright and didn’t damage anything.

At Oshkosh, my 4 year old niece was taking photos of the race (using my mom’s iPhone).  Her hit rate was low, I pulled out a handful from the 400+ photos she took.  Here are the ones that proved I was in the race…. (I jumped for a prime late in the race and pickup a set of Bontrager tires, my only prize for the series).

June 9, 2014

#530: Some road racing again

Filed under: Races — Ryan @ 18:50

Not that I quit road racing, but it really slowed down the last few years.  This year, I have started to get back into it with a different focus.  Instead of looking for personal results, the last two years has me 10% off my game with respect to surges, etc so I am not really that competitive.

In March, race Crosswinds classic (3) and Hell of the South (3).  In May, ended up racing at MSGP (1/2/3) and in June hit up our team race Rockabilly GP (3) and last weekend was Tour de Louisiane (1/2/3).  I am not exactly where I was a few years ago so when it gets really tough, I am not able to hang.

I had my first bad-road race flat at the Hell of the South (after 3 Rouge Roubaix’es, 2 Hell of the South’s, and 1 Super Flossy).  I also flatted in the road race in Tour de Louisiane with 10 miles to go (after the wheel truck already went up to the break).  I was able to ride the flat back in (and only lose 9 minutes to the field).

It was definitely great to get down to TdL with a full team of 5 in the 1/2/3 race. (raced it 2007-2010, but haven’t been able to make the last few).  It took the edge off of lackluster personal results and gave purpose to the little bit that I did in the road race to bring back an early break.  Which ended up allowing two of ours to get in a new break (unfortunately, Dale flatted out of it, so it was just Ben in it at the end).  The Sunday race was tough for me and I was gone way, way too early and the early break contained all the ones that we didn’t want and it caused slight reshuffling of the final GC.  In the end, Ben was 4th in the G.C. after the lead group put more than a minute into the field.

As always, the race weekends are fun, but I am starting to get a little bit lazy about posting.  I hope to get things going again at some point….


March 3, 2014

#529: post

Filed under: Brewing,Races — Ryan @ 20:27

I am still running long on posts.  Since I put up something the last time, I have been riding, working, and brewing.    The riding is a work in progress, raced last weekend in Little Rock, AR on the road.  Nothing really to write home about.

On the brewing front, I put up 3 beers in the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs Extravaganza competition.   There were an IPA, a Belgian Tripel, and an oaked Imperial Porter.  The IPA and the tripel scored okay, but were not in the top three for their respective categories.  The oaked Imperial Porter ended up winning the BJCP category for Smoked and Wood-Aged Beers.   This beer, which I had named Turbo Porter (after our Belgian Malinois Turbo).

I plan on racing a bunch more this year, mostly on the road.


January 19, 2014

#528: Secondary containment

Filed under: Brewing — Ryan @ 11:44

Well, it didn’t take long to have mishap with the kegging….  It filled the 4th keg yesterday afternoon and was contemplating trying out the Blichman Beer Gun this morning to fill some bottles off a keg (sort of a test run).  I went up to start to plan out how I was going to do it and I looked in the keezer and found the keg of Wit with lots of foam at the liquid out post and a 1/2″ of beer on the bottom of the keezer.


The freezer has a drain plug (visible on the lower right of the photo above).  I was able to drain out down to a pretty low level by hooking a hose up to the drain and letting gravity take it to a small low dish.  As it filled up, I could then dump it into the nearby crate.  After the flow stopped, I dumped buckets of hot/warm water to flush out the remaining beer.  All-in-all, it took a while and I had to dry it out with towels after that (good chance to defrost the freezer).  Any water would freeze in the keezer one it got going.

Like all good spill investigations, I controlled the situation first (depressurized the keg) and moved it out of the freezer.  While the freezer was draining, I took a look and found that I hadn’t really tightened the liquid post enough.  It was loose (not even finger tight).   After getting that sorted and working on the gas post some as well (it was leaking a bit under the gas “dip” tube gasket, probably from over-tightening!).  Anyway, the damage was about 2-2.5 gallons missing from the keg.  I am glad that it wasn’t my favorite beer out of the fermenter. Let’s hope that I won’t miss half that keg.

I have got everything back in the keezer and cooling back down.  I had the Wit keg under gas pressure while doing the clean-up and the liquid post held firm.   I am glad I went upstairs and opened up the chest freezer this morning…  By tonight, I would have been probably be draining out 5 gallons of Wit.



January 18, 2014

#527: Keezer, finally started kegging

Filed under: Brewing,Races — Ryan @ 15:14

As I write this, I have filled the 4th (of 4) kegs that I have with beer.  As many have said, it is a bit easier to handle and now you have ready access to a set of beers on tap.  Along with my acquistion of the 4 kegs and related hardware, I got a larger chest freezer with plans to build it out with tap handles.  So far, I have two installed though the collar of the freezer.  The collar is needed to avoid having to guess (and probably guess wrong) where the condenser and evaporator coils are located in the shell of the freezer.

IMG_6289 IMG_6300 IMG_6301

This year, I hope to get back to a more active racing season.  My work travel this summer should be intermittent and allow steady training and travel to races around the mid-south.  I haven’t pulled together a full calender yet, but I am considering returning to Rouge Roubaix.  I raced that early season gravel & paved road race 3 times, but the last time was 3 years ago due to work work schedule around that time of the year the previous two years.

January 1, 2014

#526: Long time…

Filed under: Brewing,Cyclocross — Ryan @ 16:17

I have been seriously neglecting this blog.  I have continued to do the usual things, but raced cross less than I have have done in a few years due to a work project taking me out right in the ramp up period.  I ended up doing only 3 races, 1 at Shelby Farms (pre-2 weeks off the bike), the Outdoors race (right after my hiatus), and the Cedar Glades CX race in mid-November.  All went okay.  Not bad, not good.  (My new Ridley performed well, I just didn’t).

I have increased my brewing a bit, and have just started to keg beer in the last few weeks.     The keezer conversion (that is a freezer turned to a draft beer box) photos are coming.  I have a few more parts to get and I will show it off then.  That is all I have for now.




September 14, 2013

#525: Ridley X-Fire, rev2

Filed under: Cyclocross,Equipment — Ryan @ 19:21

Andrea built up the warrenty frame with the same parts (~2009 SRAM Red, et al).  Anyway, here is a photo, not sure how much I will be racing this year (due to a work project, but at least I have a good bike when I do).


That is all.

September 13, 2013

#524: RIMS system

Filed under: Brewing,Equipment — Ryan @ 08:01

Now I haven’t been racing much this year, although I have been keeping in almost race shape for the year.  I obviously have been getting worse at posting about racing or anything for that matter.   This years cyclocross season is going to be messed up by the timing of  a project I have going at work.  I am expecting delivery of my warranty Ridley X-Fire frame (that broke during CX Masters Worlds).  The first frame I got was shipped was a disc brake frame.  Neither I, not Andrea are interested in making the switch given our existing stable of bikes and rim-brake carbon tubulars.  I will put a post on the build when

Anyway, to put up a post I am going to do a quickie to show off my latest brewing project.  I have build a RIMS (recirculating infusion mash system).  Basically, instead of just heating up water and adding grain to the mash tun (drink cooler) and closing it up and leaving it for an hour (and maybe stirring it a few times), I wanted to start to recirculate the mash liquor (using  a pump).  Of course, once you start to recirculate, you naturally will lose some temperature, so there needs to be a way to maintain the temp.  The drink cooler is great for keeping heat, but it is pretty hard to heat it.

What I ended up building is a pretty standard heater with a control box.  The heater itself is pretty cheap ($12 for a hot water heater element) but I ended up making a pretty nice control box with room to add more.  The controls are a two button latching circuit for the pump start/stop.  The heater circuit is controlled by a temperature controller in duty cycle mode.  (Output at 25% would have the heater running on a 30 second cycle for 7.5 seconds, then off for 22.5 seconds, etc.)   I build the heater so it would tend to hold liquid in the case of a hose leak and required the pump circuit to be on to run the heater (sort of a half-cooked interlock).  Anyway, here are a few photos from the build and some from the first brew day using it last weekend.  The control worked really well and it even used to heat up for the mash out (step to increase the temperature at the end of the mash to increase the solubility of the sugars and stop the enzymatic conversion).  The heater is only 1125 W (derated for 120V service) so that heatup of the ~4 gallons of mash liquor took 25 minutes, but it was all automatic.  The efficiency seemed to be about 50% based on some assumptions, but the amount of heat lost through the recirculation loop easily explains the loss.

The benefit of this I hope is an increase in grain to gravity efficiency, more consistency (better mixing in the mash tun), and more clarity of the resulting wort.  It was much easier to go to the brew kettle because all I had to do was stop the pump and move the hose to the boil kettle and restart the pump (cut the valve back to slow it somewhat).  The beer being brewed this time is a pretty simple IPA using Mosaic hops and a little Columbus up front.  Looking forward to putting this in the bottles

The next evolution of this system will be upgrade the drink cooler mash tun (with a mesh false bottom) to a kettle with a false bottom.  This will save a step of heating the water in the boil kettle and transferring the water to the cooler.  The current setup also requires manually sparging (rinsing the grain) using a large measuring cup and pouring over the grain.  I have a cooler and a sparge arm, but don’t have a structure to put it on out on the patio (previousley, I did the 3-tier in the house using the refrigerator, the counter, and a chair).


June 16, 2013

#523: Racing when I can

Filed under: Races — Ryan @ 14:40

Things are coming back together after my little over the bars launch nearly two months ago.  Things continue to be busy, but I train when I can, commute to work if my schedule allows and have raced a few times.

A couple of weeks ago our team co-hosted the Rockabilly Gran Prix up in Jackson, TN.  The weather looked a bit foul as I drove up the morning of the race.  The weather did not disappoint.  In fact, the local authorities (sheriff?) decided to shut down the late morning racing to take away the possibility of racing into a tornado.  In the end, the worry ended up being for naught, but it was hard to see that (the weather pretty much broke up and parted around Jackson somehow).   In the cat 3 race, our race was shorted to 3 – 11-mile laps with a about 4-5 mile warning.  What followed was a sheer display of horsepower by for the most part my team (although I was in no position to help, unfortunately) that culminated in a M&B victory w/ Brett taking out the sprint win.

The time trail a bit later proceeded in the normal way, however, probably a combination of suddenly shutting down after the race, having my PowerTap 404 battery die, and just generally not feeling good, I turned a unremarkable TT.  I think I was the slowest on a TT bike (yes, you can make a Speed Concept go slow if your legs are junk).

I opted out of the crit, partly because of my bad show on Saturday and partly due to the fact that my collarbone was not 100%.  Maybe I would have found redemption, but most likely not.  I rode that morning with Matt and it wasn’t good at all.

And yesterday, was the first installment of the renamed Memphis Invitational… the Liz LaVelle Memorial race series.  The name was different, but the course was the same.  The 5 mile Long Rd course that if motivated can provide for some pretty high speeds.  Since this was a 1/2/3 format, the Marx-Bensdorf team fielded a bunch.  We had 17 out of 30 of the starters.  We all knew the danger man and Andrew Hammond / Herring Gas, did not disappoint.  He was pretty much in every break (maybe not every) and was in the final, winning break which he won out of.  In the end, it was a fast race that didn’t play out exactly as we wanted, and we ended up with 2nd, 3rd, 5th out of the deal.  My own finish on mostly whipped legs was 13th place.

So there is a post, I need to start posting more often.  Coming up, I plan to race at Cookeville (TN state RR), Liz LaValle Mem / Crit, and maybe MOAB/state crit and Oak Ridge.

May 5, 2013

#522: Temporary setback

Filed under: Training — Ryan @ 06:39

This spring has been a mix of work travel and training whenever (and where-ever) I could fit it in.  Early last week, I was gone all day and came back home and was going to go out for a short ride with Andrea on the WRT (Wolf River Trails).  The weather lately has been wet, so we were going to stick to the sandy yellow trail which actually rides better in the wet season.

Anyway, we were moving along, nothing too fast, but not poking along.   Most of the way through the trial on a downhill sweeper, I caught a pedal on a root ball or something I didn’t see.  When you strike a pedal on something like that, the bike will stop and you don’t.  I ended up flying and landing hard on my right shoulder.

I got up right away and it I knew it hurt badly, but it was hard to sort out what sort of injury it was.  I sucked it up and rode back the 5-6 miles to the house (mix of trail and mostly road).  I couldn’t get into the doctor until the day after the next.  What I found out is that I had a slight fracture in the outside (distal) end of the collarbone.  It location and the nature of it meant that I did not need to be in a sling or other brace, but it did put some restrictions on my movement (pain regulates that pretty well when I move past where I should).

At this point, a week on, I am much better, but I am still limited in my ability to extend and use my right arm.  I can do limited things within a certain range which is increasing all the time.  It also means that I have been riding the bike trainer at the house for the last week or so.  At this point, I can get in the correct position to ride and mostly it is a question of risk.  In the coming week, I will probably try to get outside, but stick to solo rides, etc.

I may be back into for our team’s race the first weekend of June.  I got back for evaluation at the end of the month to see how things are going.

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