The Philosophy of Cycling

I have recently started bicycling to work.   Very recently.  This week in fact.   I feel great and am having fun.   Its been a long time since I did a lot of riding.   Back in college I’d do 15 miles 3 times a week and a longer weekend ride.

Back then I had a quality road bike, steel to be sure as I was a starving college kid, but the components were decent and as steel went it was on the lighter end.    I’d run at about 14 miles per hour average by the middle thru the end of the season.

That was 20 years ago and my main reason for bicycling was “its fun”.   Excercise and such were secondary.    Once again I ride for fun but I have a pricey mountain bike.

Where I am riding now in suburbia, near a college town, there are two, ok three kinds of cyclists.

The first set are like me, they are using a bicycle to go to work, go to class, go for more beer, things like that.   You can tell these cyclists because they dress like normal people, often have a backpack, and seem at peace with the world.   Most of them though ride cheaper bikes than me.

The second set are “serious cyclists”.  These you can spot because the look like a walking catalog from Cycling Magazine.   This crowd firmly believes that to ride you need special hats, special glasses, special electronics, special pedals, special shoes special pants, special food, so on and so forth.   All of the above in order to eek every last ounce of performance out.   Their bike often are the same price range as mine or higher.

The third set is the Jehovas Witnesses.   They usually have decent bikes, ride in dress pants and white shirts with ties, meticulously follow all the traffic laws etc.  Its a free country and everyone needs to do what they think is right, they are sincere and decent people.   The thing about these cyclists that gives me the most pause is riding a mountain bike with leather soled dress shoes.   But as I said to each their own, viva America.

Many people who decide to start riding again in middle age do so “to get in shape”.   They sit at desks all day, are fatter than they want to be etc. and decide they need to get in shape.  A noble goal.    This set is the most prone to looking like the “Serious Cyclist” as they have disposable income and ride for no purpose except excercise.    They have fancy bike racks to take their bike to a good spot to ride it whereas the rest of us just ride our bikes to get somewhere.

The thing that gives me pause in all of this, “Why do you need to be super effecient if your goal is excercise ?”

If you want to excercise, make your body work, a good heavy old steel bike will accomplish that quite well.   Buy a seat for your bike with padding on it, instead of a hard seat that is so much more effecient due to no wasted energy and then turning right around and buying pants with the padding sewn in as if the padding tied to your buttocks is better than padding tied to the seat.  Wear a good nice flappy shirt, and baggy shorts as this will increase your wind resistance and get your more excercise than ever.  Truthfully the drag from clothes is pretty close to nil.   Drafting with another cyclist to block wind will give you a big benefit whereas spandex shorts don’t give you much speed just a chance to show off your nuts.

A man on a heavy old bike will get more excercise going 15 miles than a man on an aluminum expensive lightweight one.  He may even be slower and thus will get more excercise time in during that 15 miles.

Its the slower speed of the man on the heavy bike that bothers most.   We are fixated on speed.  The goal of speed drives the whole cycling industry.   But who starts cycling to get from point a to point b quickly ?

Relax, ride whatever bike you have, ride it mainly to enjoy the day and the outdoors, save your money and do something nice with it, like buy a bum a nice bottle of wine.

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Boutari Kretikos White

Tonight I tried a wonderful light white wine from the Island of Crete.   A 2008 bottle of Boutari Kretikos White.   I have to say its is fantastic.   I will be buying more if I can find it.

Strawberry Wine

Two flats of strawberries have arrived in the home.   One flat for freezer jam and one flat for making strawberry wine.   Here is a picture of the lovely things.

  • 4-5 lbs of fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed, and any spoilage cut off.
  • 2.5 lbs of sugar ( was 2 lbs but these could have been a tad riper )
  • 1tsp acid blend ( or juice from 1 lemon )
  • 1/8 tsp of tannin
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
  • yeast
  • water enough to round out a gallon

The process has begun.  Everything was sanitized.   The berries were washed, stemmed etc.   Put into cheese cloth bags, and mashed to a pulp.   Water was boiled and sugar was added then all was placed in primary fermenter.  It sits for a day, then I add a acid, tanin, yeast nutrient and crushed campden tablet.    Half day after that I add the pectic enzyme.   Twelve hours after that I remove berries and add  a started yeast culture.   Obviously this is not a complete instruction set.   If you want to make wine do not follow these instructions but do your own research first.  Thanks!

Then comes the fun part.   Listening to the living active fermentation in the primary fermenter ( a fancy name for a bucket with a lid and a hole for an airlock.    About a week after that we start racking to a gallon glass jug a time or two.   Why its called “racking” I have no clue but the process simply means siphon from one container to another taking care not to splash it about or add air.   The purpose is to leave behind any settled sediment.

Wine should be ready by mid summer.

Making a Mother

Home made vinegar is something I have wanted to try.     You can jump start this by having a culture called the “mother” or you can take the long way and let your wine catch its own.   I have tried to grow my other mother culture in the past and failed.  I tried to leave some red wine around until it turned into vinegar but to no avail.   I suspect it had to do with the sulfites or something.

Tonight when I racked my batch of blue berry wine from the primary fermenter to the glass gallon jug I use for a secondar fermenter I had a bit left over.   Since I am following the Atkins diet and am still in the first two week period I am forbidden from taking alcohol.   It dawned on me that here I had something without any sulfites etc. and it was guarenteed to turn to vinegar in pretty short order if left to its own devices.

So I have poured it into my vinegar jug and will wait a couple months and see what it turns into.

The Blueberry Wine Is Now Alive

The blueberry wine is now bubbling away.   One of the things I truly love is the sound of actively fermenting wine.   The bucket is “ALIVE”.   Its kinda cool.  

Not sure how this will go but here is the recipie I am using.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 container of Red Grape Concentrate
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsps tartaric acid
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1/2 tsp yeast energizer
  • 1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme powder
  • Campden tablets
  • 1/4 tsp tannin
  • Lalvin wine yeast

For each gallon:

  • Place berries in a cheese cloth sock.  Put into fermentation bucket.
  • Add pectic enzyme
  • Add 1 Campden table
  • Add 1/2 gallon of water
  • Stir and cover
  • Let stand at room temperature for 48 hours stirring every 12 hours.
  • Stir sugar into 1/2 gallon of warm water until dissolved.
  • Add sugar solution, acid, tannin, yeast nutrient and concentrate to fermentation bucket.
  • Prepare yeast per instructions on packet and add to fermentation bucket.
  • Cover fermentation bucket and let stand at room temp for 5 days.
  • After fermentation is done transfer to gallong jugs with airlock, rack every 3 or 4 weeks for a couple months or as needed.  Bottle after a couple months. 
  • Age six months

This is what I plan to accomplish.  I will see if it works and how it comes out.

Why Wine Bottle Caps

Why do wine bottles have that lovely cap on the end covering the cork ? I often wondered since I find a pretty cork in a simple glass bottle without a cap so pretty. My wife recently commented that leaving a bottle in a cellar for several years meant you would probably have to wipe off not only cobwebs and dust but the occasional rat poop.

Suddenly I understood where the tradition of covering the wooden cork with something that didn’t soak up slight amounts of moisture came from and why it was a good idea.

Florida Wine : Strawberry Reisling

In my foray into the world of wine I have started sampling some Florida wine out of Plant City.   Keel & Curley Winery makes a variety of fruit wines.

I found the Strawberry Reisling to be a wonderful summer wine.   Very light and fun.   It had a nice boquet of strawberries and was very low in its acidity so it goes down smooth.

According to their website they only ship within Florida so unless you can find it in your local retailer you will have to travel to Florida to taste it.