August 2009 Archives

Guess I'm Official, Part II

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So, I guess I'm officially a Wisconsin resident once again. I went to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and got my official Wisconsin driver's license.

$42?????!!!! Holy cats.

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So interestingly enough, it turns out that I simply had to "renew" my driver's license; I guess that if you return to WI in 15 years or less, you don't get a new license - you simply renew your previous license. So, the process was painless... And, I got to keep my old driver's license number, which I know by heart - don't ask me why - I just do...

I went to the DMV office near my apartment and was literally in-and-out in less than 15 minutes. That's amazing!

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It helped that the place was virtually empty; but this particular location had an ingenious system for getting people served quickly... you walk in and tell the receptionist why you're there. The receptionist assigns you a number. You then complete your paperwork at "Station #2," and from there, you wait for them to call your number. They (the DMV) had about 10 stations open, which was nice, and made for extremely fast service.

I got to the window, gave them my info, paid my $42, and was done. No problemo.

Sunday Wrap-Up

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By now you know the drill - it's Sunday night, I've got a bunch of food pictures to share, so let's just get on with it.

Started Friday night by visiting Kavanaugh's Esquire Club.

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Astute followers of my blog will recall that I visited Kavanaugh's not too long ago... well, it's so good that a second visit certainly wasn't going to hurt my feelings. So, the fish fry crew made its way to Sherman Avenue for some Esquire Club fish.

The Esquire is always quite busy, especially so on a Friday night, so we bellied up to the bar and enjoyed a few Spotted Cows while waiting for a table to become available. The bar at the Esquire is your typical "Supper Club" bar - oval-shaped, dark wood with heavy chairs, and tons of people gathered around it.

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After a forty-five minute wait we were shown to our table, where we ordered the house specialty - all you can eat Ocean Perch with fries, and the beer battered Cod with cheesy hashbrowns.

I've got to give credit to the Esquire - despite the fact that the place was packed to the gills (pun intended!) with people, they get the food out at a record pace. Within a few minutes of placing our orders, the fish arrived. Here's the Ocean Perch:

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And here's the cod:

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Both were amazing by their own right. The Ocean Perch has a wonderfully delicate fish flavor, features a corn-bread breading, is served piping hot, yet has no hint of grease. It flakes nicely when cut - it's really great fish.

The Cod was delicious as well. Slightly more mild in flavor; flaky, moist, tender, and wrapped-up in a crispy beer batter. Really, really good - and unfortunately, not eligible for the "all you can eat" promotion. :-(

I downed about 3-pounds of the Ocean Perch. It's so good.

Went for a long (64-mile) bike ride on Saturday morning; the weather was cool - in the low 60's - and windy, so it wasn't a terribly enjoyable ride. I fought a 20mph headwind for about 50-miles worth of riding, and boy, talk about frustrating. It literally sucks the life from you - it's relentless and disheartening, but, it makes for stronger legs, so it's not all bad. Returned from the ride and went for a quick 5-mile run. Calories burned: 3700-ish. Nice.

After all of that riding and running, I was ready to refuel. So, as a fan of sweet corn, it only seemed natural to venture over to Sun Prairie for the Sun Prairie Corn Festival. For $1, you get into the festival, and then for $6, you can get a "tote" that the good people of Sun Prairie will fill with as much corn as the thing can hold. What's not to love?

Apparently, I'm not the only person who really enjoys corn on the cob... While the SPCF people have a heckuva system down for getting folks in and out of the corn serving area, there was still an impressive line:

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Now this is what I like to see:

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With an empty tote in hand, we made our way into the barn, where we were ushered to one of a dozen or so people that were ready to fill our tote with freshly picked-and-steamed corn. Here's the corn as it's coming into the barn (hot out of the steamer - they steam over 70 tons of corn in a single weekend):

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With the tote full of corn (they fit 10 ears in our tote), you make your way over to a "shucking table" where the husks are removed and the corn cleaned and prepped for buttering:

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Once your cobs are shucked and buttered, it's time to make your way out of the barn and to the "salt tree" - certainly not good for the blood pressure, but it sure is an ingenious system:

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And the net result of all of that work:

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YUMMO!!! We left the corn barn and made our way up to the "beer tent," where we purchased a few Miller Lites, found a place to stand, listened to some music and ate some corn.

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While the corn was outstanding, we managed to wolf down another one of my favorites, beer-battered cheese curds. These were from "Wittenberg's Blue Barn" and they were outstanding.

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Oh so good. Aside from being a bit windy, the weather was nice - it got into the low, low 70's... just crazy for August weather. I always remember July and August in Wisconsin as being hot, humid, and semi-miserable. This summer has been anything but - it's been cool, and downright cold on some days. I think the high on Friday was 65F!

With our bellies full of corn, it was time to trek on down to Oregon to meet the newest member of Jed's house - Rocco. Rocco is a baby Boxer, and he may be one of the cutest little guys on the planet!!!

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So cute, and maybe a tad-bit naughty. But in his defense, he's only 11 or 12 weeks old, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. It's obvious that he loves being around people - here he is waiting and watching as Jed cooks some shrimp:

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Jed and his wife Jamie made some awesome Shrimp Tacos with an out-of-this-world avocado salsa; while our bellies were still a little full from the corn fest, it was hard to say no to this incredible feast. (That pile of red sauce is homemade salsa with habanero - yummmmmm!)

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And, we washed it down with a delightful pineapple upside down cake. I'd never before had pineapple upside down cake, and I must admit - I'm a fan. I'm sure it's not very good for you, but it's so good that it's well worth the calories (and guilt).

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We chatted for a while, watched a few episodes of Man V. Food (what a fun show), enjoyed playing with Rocco, and then called it an evening. Rocco was obviously pooped - here he is, wishing us farewell (look at those cute but oh-so-heavy eyes):

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Woke up this morning to 50F temperatures (again, it's ridiculous!!), waited a bit for the weather to warm-up, and then went for a shorter ride (35 miles) and a shorter run (3 miles). Spent the rest of the day running errands and hanging around the apartment, and am now waiting for Entourage to start.

I've got a 5k race next Saturday, so that'll be fun.

Pop-quiz

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Pop-quiz for you driving experts...

Q: In the picture below, assuming that the road as illustrated is a controlled access interstate highway, which vehicle should yield right of way (slow down, speed up, etc)?

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Options:


  1. Vehicle "A" should yield by slowing down or speeding up to "make room" for Vehicle "B"

  2. Vehicle "B" should yield by slowing down and waiting for an appropriate and safe opportunity to enter mainstream traffic.

Take a second to think about this....

The answer is: Vehicle "B" should yield. Why? Vehicle B is attempting to access a controlled-access highway, and must therefore yield to existing traffic. The same holds true of any traffic that would normally interrupt or impede the normal flow of any mainstream traffic.

However, if you're from Wisconsin, apparently the person on the ramp should automatically have the right-of-way, and all other traffic should yield to the ramp traffic. Silly me, I should've known better - I was shocked to discover this "unwritten rule" while driving to the Packers game on Saturday...

The highway was packed with traffic, and I was "coached" by my passengers that it was my responsibility to make room for any traffic that was trying to merge its way onto our crowded highway. Hmm. I guess you learn something new every day.

500 miles later.

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I purchased some new shoes earlier this year (January) from Endurance House in Middleton, and I really enjoyed them. The shoes were Saucony Hurricane X shoes and were my first "real" running shoe. I'm a bit of a "over-pronater," which means my foot wants to roll side-to-side as I run, and it means that I should use a shoe that's designed to provide additional stability to help keep my foot from rolling side-to-side.

I logged 500 miles on the shoes, according to my Garmin GPS watch. I believe that number is low, as I can think of at least 6-7 runs where I didn't use my watch, so I'm guessing it's probably closer to 600 miles. Shoes have a lifespan of about 350-450 miles.

Here are my well-worn Saucony shoes:

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So I stopped by Endurance House today to replace my Sauconys. I walked in fully expecting to buy another pair of the Saucony Hurricanes, but in talking with one of the folks there, we decided to take another look at my stride. Turns out my pronation is improving - my mileage is up considerably from January, and I've been focusing on trying to run more "smooth."

They suggested I try a shoe from Finland, from a company called Karhu. I laced them up, hit the treadmill and gave them a shot. Pretty comfy. More padding than the Sauconys, and they felt lighter and a bit more "reactive." Doing a side-by-side comparison with a Saucony on one foot and a Karhu on the other, the difference was obvious - the Karhu "rolls" through the footstrike; the Saucony sort of "flops."

I took them for a quick 1/2-mile run around the block, and liked them. I had a bit of an odd feeling on the top of my foot, but a change of the laces fixed it. So, I bought the Karhus. I'm excited to try them tomorrow - I'm averaging around 7.8-miles on my morning runs, so I'll have a good opportunity to test them out tomorrow.

Here they are - not the prettiest things, but when it comes to shoes, I'll take function over form any day. :-)

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Here's to another fun-filled 500+ miles! (For comparison, I've logged just over 1900 miles on my bike this year)

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I can't believe it's Sunday night already - almost time to return back to work... the weekends definitely go by too fast. This weekend was a pretty good one - lots of things happened, so let's get started.

I've decided to enter another triathlon, which means I have to start swimming again. Argh. Biking and running - no problem. I'm regularly biking 70-ish miles at a time, averaging just around 23 mph, and my runs are doing great as well - I just finished a 13-mile run today, at an average of 7.5mph. So, those are fine. But swimming? I hate it!

So, I started taking swimming lessons. I found a great swim instructor who lives in Portage, so I snuck out of work early on Thursday and drove up to see if she could help my horrific swim stroke. We hopped in the lake and she took a look. The initial verdict? She claims I'm not that bad, but I'd disagree. We worked together for about an hour and I learned some great drills, tips, tricks, and exercises from her. It was well worth the drive - she was super knowledgeable and helpful, and I think I'll be making a few more trips before the race.

Friday brought about another fish fry, this time compliments of The Mid-Town Pub. It's located just a few blocks from the apartment, and it got decent reviews from people, so it was worth a try.

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They have an odd menu/system - there's all you can eat fish offered from 3:00pm - 7:00pm; otherwise it's a "one plate" dinner. Got there at about 6:00pm and ordered some cheese curds; they weren't anything special - typical "drop n fry" frozen curds that probably come from Sysco. Sad, but I'm becoming a curd snob...

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Look familiar? Yeah. They're pretty much the same exact curds as one can find at: The Avenue Bar, The Oakcrest, and Paul's Neighborhood Bar. Decent curds, for sure, but once you've had great curds it's hard to get excited by run-of-the-mill curds.

The fish came out after a lengthy wait, and it was decent. Beer-battered cod with fries. No other side options. Very mild flavor, decent batter. Better than some, but not as good as The Avenue Bar or Jordan's.

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Unfortunately the service was so slow that there wasn't much chance to take advantage of the "all you can eat" offer, as it took nearly an hour for the first batch of fish to arrive and another 25+ minutes for the second batch. By then the window for all you could eat fish was closed, and I was bored and aggravated, so it was time to leave.

Saturday morning saw a welcomed change: I got rid of Charter and got AT&T U-Verse. U-Verse is "TV by IP" - everything comes to your home via a fiber optic internet connection. So, my television comes via fiber optic to my phone line, and then into a mini computer/gateway. The gateway then transmits the TV signal to the television. It also broadcasts a wireless internet signal for my laptop (so I get my internet connection via fiber optic - fast!!!), and if I had telephone, it would go through the same device.

The signal quality so far is fantastic, and the services appear to be much better than Charter's. Charter was a disaster from the start, so I was glad to make the switch. It's slightly less expensive as well, so that's a bonus.

With U-Verse installed, I went for a quick bike ride and run, and then hit the road for the Packers vs. Browns pre-season football game. Mark, my friend from work, has season tickets and wasn't able to use these tickets, so it was the perfect opportunity to see a game.

Did some tailgating before the game with Dan and Tara:

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Scored a decent parking spot near the stadium for just $20, and traffic was light, so we had time to enjoy some snacks and beverages prior to the game. Our modest tailgate was nothing when compared to some of the other set-ups at Lambeau field... this one was particularly "interesting" -

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Once inside the stadium, Dan's alter ego came out:

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They had handed out pom-poms but Dan, not having spent time as a cheerleader, obviously didn't know how to properly use the pom-pom. That's ok - I think his interpretation was just fine!

The seats were awesome. We were in the south end zone, in row 60, but, our seats were on the aisle and, they were the very last row in our section, so we had a built-in seatback, thanks to a concrete wall. We also enjoyed a wonderful breeze; the weather was in the low 80's, sunny, and humid, so the breeze was definitely welcomed!

The Packers more or less dominated the Browns (go figure); we saw a touchdown early in the first quarter - it happened in "our" end zone, so that was cool - here's the touchdown (not that you can see much, but it gives you an idea of where the seats were).

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We were also seated next to some younger folks; I think they said they were from Utah, but I could be wrong - maybe only one of them was from Utah... They were cool guys, and it was fun to hang out with them during the game. Here's a shot of the rowdy bunch:

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With the game well in control of the Packers, we were desperate for some additional entertainment, so when the opportunity to Polka struck, Dan and Tara jumped at the chance:

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And after the game ended, they fired-up some "YMCA" by The Village People, so here's Tara and I doing our interpretation of that timeless classic:

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The Packers won, 17-0, and rather than sit and fight traffic, we decided to hang out and tailgate for a few hours to allow for the roads to clear. Since it was a night game, that meant we didn't get back to Madison until well near 3:00am... a late night indeed, and as a result, today was quite lazy, aside from going for a 30-minute swim and the 13-mile run (as mentioned earlier).

That's it for now. If you're able to take advantage of it, check out AT&T UVerse - so far, so good. Great picture, great internet signal, a small DVR, flexibility, and decent pricing.

Well food fans, it's been another full week, so let's just jump right in and update you on the weekend's eating results.

Friday night: Hit Jordan's Big Ten Pub to check out their fish fry. There had been numerous write-ups about this place; some great, some good, some mediocre, so there was a bit of hesitation about trying it. Happy to report that the experience was fantastic! A very solid fish fry, complimented by two surprises: the cheese curds and the old fashioneds.

Background info first; they don't accept reservations, and there isn't a host or hostess to be found anywhere. It's strictly first come, first served, and normally that wouldn't be an issue. However, this past weekend Madison played host to The Great Taste of the Midwest, and as part of the festivities, Jordan's was one of the sites that was hosting a few of the microbreweries that were invited to attend the Great Taste event. So, that made for a rather packed establishment - finding a table proved challenging, but we were seated in a booth after about an hour or so.

We ordered the cheese curds, and I'm happy to report that these curds were excellent. Definitely top notch curds - obviously handmade; squeaky yet chewy, and perfectly battered. All of today's photos are from the iPhone, so apologies for the poor quality!

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Jordan's has an impressive selection of Friday night fish entrees - there were three kinds of baked fish available, fried cod, fried perch, shrimp, and about a half-dozen sandwich options. I decided to be "good" and ordered the Cajun-grilled Walleye. It came with a salad, which was delish; I chose onion rings for my side. Check out this monster slab of Walleye:

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The fish was great. Once again, it wasn't all you could eat, but it was tasty! The onion rings were excellent as well. Thankfully, my dining partners weren't afraid to order the good stuff - the fried cod was every bit as tasty and excellent as the walleye:

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And, as mentioned - there were a few Old Fashioneds consumed, including this Old Fashioned Sour:

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We learned something new on Friday night - the key to a good Old Fashioned Sour is two-fold... a good sour has seven shakes of bitters, and the fabricator must "muddle" the cherries and sugar prior to adding any liquids. Oh, and you use Squirt as the sour. So, I guess that's a "three-fold" key. Regardless, I'm not a fan of the Old Fashioned, but Jordan's Big Ten Old Fashioned were pretty amazing. I wouldn't hesitate to order one in the future.

Saturday featured bad weather in the morning - heavy rains - that ruined my iPod Shuffle... I tried to sneak out for a run during a brief sunny spot, only to get caught in a massive downpour 15-20 minutes later. Try as I might to protect my iPod, it fell victim to Mother Nature and died. ARGH.

And, as luck would have it, just after my iPod was wrecked by the weather, the sun came out and the weather was gorgeous. 90F and not a cloud in the sky. Go figure. Someone really hates me.

So it was over to the new Thai place to try some of their grub. Egg rolls, steamed dumplings, and chicken Pad Thai. All were excellent! No grease, good flavor, great service, and good value - win, win, win.

Here are the photos (egg rolls, dumplings, Pad Thai):

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After downing some Thai food, it was time to hit the highway - picked-up some cheese and some coffee from Beres Brothers (their Highlander Grogg is unreal). Ran a few more errands and then headed over to Paul's Neighborhood Bar to watch the Brewers game. Paul's is near the apartment and is a pretty friendly place with good food, good service, and great prices. They also serve breakfast, which seemed odd - a bar that opens at 6:00am to serve breakfast? Wow. But, who am I to argue or question things...

Started the evening with some cheese curds and deep-fried mushrooms:

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And wrapped it up with a cheese burger (add lettuce, tomato and onion) and cajun fries:

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So good. There's nothing like good, greasy bar food. Unfortunately, that little event counted for an ungodly amount of calories, so on Sunday morning I hit the road on my new bike frame - yes, the local shop came through and warrantied my beloved Cervelo (although there was a fee for assembly).

I did just over 70 miles (burning 4500 calories), and then finished with a 5-mile run (burning 580 calories). So, by 11:00am on Sunday, I was back to "calorie neutral."

The new bike frame is wonderful - I was quick to love on the Seven, but the Cervelo is really an awesome bike. It's so fast - it accelerates and climbs like a friggin' race car - it really does. And, I believe Cervelo tweaked the ride quality a bit with the '09 version (my replacement frame is a 2009 model, rather than a 2008) - the ride was a bit more smooth than I remembered it, and that was a welcomed surprise. It wasn't nearly as velvety as the Seven, but it wasn't as bone-jarring as the '08 ride.

Upon closer examination of the new frame, it appears as though Cervelo changed the seatpost geometry and diameter, which may explain the smoother ride. Here's the newly reconditioned steed, in all of its glory:

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And a close-up of the revised seat post structure - it tapers to a narrower diameter at the top (27.2mm vs 31.7mm) to improve ride quality and (I'm guessing here) improve aerodynamics slightly. The seat stays are still pencil thin - it's ridiculous that they can hold-up while being so thin.

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While out on the bike, I stumbled across a farm that was selling fresh sweet corn - they had a picnic table set-up in the front yard, along with a bucket that you put your money into. A dozen ears of corn were $3.50... so, I picked-up a few ears, dropped a few bucks in the bucket and enjoyed some delicious sweet corn. To say that "in season" sweet corn is addictive is an understatement - this stuff is so sweet, so tender, and oh so good. I could very easily eat it every single night - add a very light sweep of butter, a pinch of Kosher salt, and a shake of pepper, and you've got an unbeatable treat.

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So there you have it. Jordan's = Win. Ha Long Bay = Win. Paul's = Win. New bike frame = Win. Corn on the cob = Win. The only downside was losing the iPod to the rain... but, I guess you can't win them all. Catch you next week!

Oh life... you're so cruel.

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So as I mentioned in an earlier entry, my beloved bike has suffered a fatal injury - the bottom bracket cracked, and the bottom bracket is an integral part of the frame. Any problems with the bottom bracket, and it's a "no ride" situation. And, since my bike is carbon fiber, it cannot be repaired - it has to be replaced. There's a chance my frame will be covered under warranty, and I hope it is, because I simply cannot afford to replace the frame - there's no possible way I could beg, borrow, or steal enough money to cover the replacement cost. :-(

Here's what a cracked bottom bracket looks like:

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Carbon fiber - so light, but so fragile. It's got me absolutely sick.

The shop that's looking at the frame and working with the manufacturer to get it covered under warranty was kind enough (or should I say evil enough) to lend me a bike to use while mine is out of commission. Normally, I'd be grateful and ecstatic to receive such a generous offer, but the shop lent me a bike that is so awesome, and so much farther out of my league that I'm now genuinely even more upset that I ever had the opportunity to ride such an incredible machine.

The bike is a custom-made Seven Cycles bicycle. These beauties are handmade by true craftsmen; the attention to detail is unbelievable, the ride is indescribable, and the look is absolutely drop-dead sexy. As the bike sits here in the living room, I can't stop looking at it - it's so gorgeous, but the beauty is more than skin deep - there are some serious brains behind this fabulous figure.

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Look at that beauty. So elegant - a combination of titanium and carbon fiber - it's truly marvelous. The roads around here, as you're well aware, are barely passable. They literally beat you into submission - the expansion joints feel like canyons, and potholes abound. Stop paying attention for a second and you'll likely be slammed back into reality when your bike pounds into a crater-sized road imperfection. Whenever I'm on my "regular bike," I dread the roads - I can't wait to get out and into the country, where the roads are smooth(er) so that I can focus on riding without worrying that I'll be bounced off my bike or jarred into a crash.

Well, believe it or not, but the loaner bike handles every single road imperfection with absolute aplomb. I put 80-some miles on the bike this weekend, and it made every road feel like a brand new stretch of perfect pavement. I was shocked - I couldn't believe that our crummy roads could feel so nice.

I was able to maintain speed without worrying that I'd hear a "snap" or a "pop" or some other unsettling sound. Seven's engineers are pure geniuses, and I don't pretend to know the first thing about road bike geometry or tuning, but I'm confident that if Bentley built bicycles, they wouldn't be able to hold a candle to Seven's stuff.

It's crazy to think that I'm so excited over a loaner bike that doesn't fit me properly and that is completely out of my price range, but it really has been a "ride changing" experience. If I had a Seven ID8, I wouldn't have to spend hours trying to map "smooth rides" - I could just go out and pile on the miles. It would be glorious.

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Look at the attention to detail - not only is their logo perfectly machined into the rear stay, those welds (on titanium no less) are impeccable. I took 100+ photos of the bike - a bike that's not even mine! I won't bore you with them, but wow - this thing is amazing in every respect.

Part of the secret to the ID8's awesome ride is its ingenious integration of carbon fiber in some key areas - namely the seat tube and seat stays. From what I understand, these aren't high stress areas, but they carry a tremendous benefit when it comes to damping and cushioning. Combine the carbon fiber in those areas with a slightly longer chainstay, and it makes for a truly magical ride. I did 70-miles on Sunday alone and for the first time ever, I didn't feel "beat up" after the ride. Yes, my legs were a little tired, as I averaged 20.7 mph on the ride, but the rest of my body was feeling fresh.

Here's a shot of the carbon seat stays:

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That's some seriously cool-looking carbon. Here's a shot of it on the seat tube:

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It's so slick! The sum of the little details all add-up to one seriously awesome bike. Awesome to the power of incredible. I'm not normally at a loss for words, but this bike has really impressed me - I wish I'd never ridden it, because now I know what a "real" performance bike should feel like.

The ID8 does have one minor kink in its otherwise perfect body - this particular frame doesn't seem to climb or accelerate as well as my current bike does. What does that mean? Well, on my bike, when I really crank on it to accelerate or climb a serious hill, it goes. There's no "softness" or "cush" - it just goes. With the ID8, I found myself struggling a bit with acceleration and climbing steep hills. Part of it could be the gearing (this ID8 demo bike had a terrible gearing configuration), but part of it I suspect is a result of the emphasis on the super smooth ride. It's a minor, minor complaint - barely worth noting - but I couldn't continue to gush. :-)

I'm guessing that if I were to ever be able to obtain a Seven, and it were indeed custom made for me, I'd be able to have them build-in a little better acceleration and climbing responsiveness. Sigh, and that's why life is so cruel. I'll only be able to dream and wonder what it might be like.

Here are some final pictures of this wonderful machine - I'm dreading the minute when the shop calls to either give me bad news (that I have to return the bike) or really bad news (that my frame can't be warrantied). Sigh...

Look at that beefy bottom bracket - no shot it'll ever crack!

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And the frontend - so strong, yet so forgiving. The fork absorbs road imperfections without sacrificing handling and agility. The head tube? Forget about it - bulletproof.

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Look at those welds - pure magic.

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I've never wished more in my life that Santa really did exist! So amazing, and I'm truly envious of anyone that's lucky enough to own one of these magnificent machines. Until you've had a chance to ride one, it's understandable as to why you might not be able to fathom why I'm so giddy about the Seven ID8. It's truly a masterpiece, and my hat is off to everyone at Seven. Keep on doing what you're doing!

Well friends, it's Sunday night, so you know what that means. Yes, Entourage is on, but aside from that, it means that we've put another Friday night fish fry behind us, and I know you're all itching to hear about the latest adventure.

My lifelong friend, Dan, lives in Lake Mills, so after work on Friday night, we hopped into the car and made the short jaunt down the incredibly bumpy, uneven, and terribly uncomfortable I-94 to meet up with him in L-town. We tossed around potential candidates for our fish fry adventures - J & J's Bar & Grill is conveniently located across from Dan's shop, but he was concerned that it would be too smokey. The Sand Bar was another option, but the portions had left Dan unimpressed. Carp's was a new place in Lake Mills, but Dan thought it too might be too smokey. Why the heck can't all of Wisconsin go smoke free? I swear that more people smoke in this state than any other state... it's so gross.

So, we decided to head north to Milford, where the Milford Hills Hunt Club awaited us. We pulled into the parking lot and were immediately impressed with the surroundings. The Hunt Club is nestled in the middle of nowhere - fields, trees, and rolling hills are all that you can see for miles. It's quite a gorgeous setting for a restaurant / hunting club.

Hunting appears to be the main focus of this place, as evidenced by the sign out front that encourages folks to clean their boots prior to entering the clubhouse:

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We made our way inside - Mark was obviously on a mission for some fish...

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Once inside, the hunting theme continues - there are game animals (ick) all over the place; apparently they came from a private collection by way of a gentleman who passed away and his wife then donated all of the "trophies." I don't quite agree with trophy hunting, but that's a discussion best saved for another time and place.

Here's the main dining room:

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Our table wouldn't be ready for a good 45 minutes, so we had some time to investigate the place. We stumbled across a cooler that was full of wild fare, including Pheasant Chilli - sounded interesting:

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Here's a view from the large back deck - looks like they were preparing for a wedding or some type of ceremony this weekend.

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After strolling around the grounds for a while, we settled at the bar, where I noticed these nifty little coaster holders:

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So, you get the idea - hunting is definitely the theme at the Milford Hills Hunt Club. We were seated after a solid 45-minute wait, and we anxiously placed our orders - Lake Perch and Cod all around. The fish wasn't "all you can eat," and it didn't offer any options as far as side dishes went. Each plate came with: 2 potato pancakes, fries, and condiments (tartar sauce, coleslaw, and apple sauce).

The fish arrived after a bit - here it is:

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The potato pancakes were tiny and largely flavorless. They looked as though they should've been bursting with flavor - I could spy hints of green onion, carrots, and onion, but talk about disappointing. They were incredibly plain and lifeless - nothing to get excited or even interested in.

The fish? Again, nothing exciting. Bland, a tad greasy, and terribly "ordinary." A blind taste test between this fish and something from the freezer section (like Vande Kemps) would be a toss up...

The fries were decent - but they weren't great enough to carry the entire meal.

And then came the bill.... the Hunt Club sure is proud of its fish - our dinner was nearly $100 with a modest tip. That's ridiculous. The Hunt Club = FAIL. But, I'm glad we went - it was a good experience, and it's always great to hang out with Dan.


So with a bad fish fry under the belt, it was critical that the weekend see some culinary redemption. Come Saturday evening, the tummy was a rumblin' for something satisfying - perhaps a burger?

Headed down the road to the Oakcrest Tavern, where the burgers are legendary, the steaks a best kept secret, and the beers ice cold and reasonably priced. The place is rather smallish - it seats perhaps 50-60 people at the most. First up on the menu - cheese curds, of course:

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The curds were exactly like the ones that are served at The Avenue Bar, which is a good thing. The Avenue's curds were a solid example of a good cheese curd; the Oakcrest apparently knows good curds, too.

Within a few minutes, the waitress brought out the main dish - a deliciously fresh, perfectly grilled, bursting with flavor cheeseburger. Not a hint of grease - expertly seared and cooked to a wonderful medium - the cheese perfectly melted, the bun light and toasted. This, my friends, is a real meal: an Oakcrest burger.

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The fries were equally wonderful - super crispy, light, airy, and full of potatoey flavor. Ahh, what a great meal - way better than the previous night's fish fry, and a fraction of the cost. A burger at the Oakcrest is $4.75. Not bad. Oh, did I mention they make the burgers by hand from steak trimmings that they get from the butcher shop that's located directly across the street? Yeah, that's probably part of the reason why the burgers are so delicious.

Speaking of steaks, I noticed my fair share of people dining on some incredible-looking steaks. The tenderloin appeared to be unreal - thick, juicy, and once again perfectly cooked. The prime rib looked equally excellent - cooked to a perfect medium rare. There'll definitely be more trips to the Oakcrest, if not for a burger, then a steak or six.

So there you have it... the weekend in food. Until next Friday, this is your friendly neighborhood fish fry hunter signing off.