September 2010 Archives

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To borrow from the opening of a famous novel, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

And that pretty much sums up this past weekend - a really horrible time (the disappointing triathlon), and a really excellent time (Green County Cheese Days).

My friend Jed and his wife Jamie are both from Monroe, and ever since I returned home to Wisconsin, they've been raving about the cheese curds from the Green County Cheese Days. We've gone on several "quests" to find comparable curds, but as good as some of the curds have been, none have met the high bar as set by the GCCD curds.

Now... the problem with GCCD curds is that they're only available for one weekend - EVERY TWO YEARS. That's right - the GCCD festival is held every-other year, which means curd lovers have to wait a whopping 730 days before they can enjoy the infamous GCCD Optimist Club curds.

I made sure to plan my weekend around the GCCD festival; I woke-up extra early on Saturday and went for a short run. I had the triathlon on Sunday, and yes, I should've rested, but I feel better if I get up and move around a bit. So, I did 3 easy miles of running, took a shower, and then headed down to the Monona Terrace to watch another airing of Michael Feldman's Whadya' Know radio show.

I love the show for a number of reasons, not least of which includes the free donuts they give you before the show:

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There wasn't much of a crowd on this particular weekend; I'd estimate there were maybe 60-70 people watching the show, which meant I was able to grab a decent seat near the front of the theater.

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I only stayed for the first hour of the show - I had several other errands to run before heading down to Monroe, and time was of the essence. I left the show just after hearing the weekly memo, and made my way over to one of the local bike shops where I purchased some Nuun electrolyte tablets and a new water bottle.

From the bike shop, I took off toward Watertown, where some delicious coffee awaited my arrival. I stopped at Berres Brothers to pick-up some of their scrumptious Highlander Grogg and House Blend coffees. If you've never tried their stuff, do yourself a favor and pick some up - it's amazingly smooth coffee. It's so good that I also grabbed a cup "to go."

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From Watertown, I back-tracked to Lake Mills so that I could take a quick bike ride with my friend Dan. We had planned to ride our bikes to Delafield last week, but a surprise back injury prevented Dan from going. He wanted to get out and ride for a bit, as he was feeling better, so I stopped by and we rode for about an hour on the Glacial Drumlin trail. It was a nice, easy-paced ride; the weather was fantastic, and it was great to hit the trail with Dan for some good conversation and relaxation.

With the clock showing 3:00pm, I loaded my bike into the Prius and made my way back to Madison, where I showered, changed, fed the cat, and hit the road once again. I pointed the car south, toward Monroe, and let Jed know that I was "on the way."

Jed responded with an invitation to a friend's house - he and some other folks were enjoying some food, drink, games, and fun in the backyard of a friend's house in downtown Monroe. The house was apparently just a few blocks from the Green County Cheese Day epicenter.

I arrived to Jason's house (Jed's friend) at about 5:00pm, and was immediately welcomed and made to feel "at home." The hospitality was incredible - they had pulled pork sandwiches, brats, cheesy casserole, apple-pie pizza, chips, and a bunch of other really good food. I offered to make a donation for the grub, but they'd have none of it - I was told to dig-in and enjoy. Talk about great folks! Thank you Jason & company!!

After stuffing my gourd, a group of us decided to head down to the festival. As we were leaving, I snapped a quick picture of Jason's backyard - complete with two bagg-o games:

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As we walked closer to the square, the crowds began to grow. Monroe isn't a huge town by any means, but there were people everywhere. I guess the festival attracts tons of people from all around the state; I was getting excited.

We quickly located the "ticket line" so that we could purchase what are referred to as "the golden ticket." The cheese curd tent requires you to exchange tickets for curds; $4 gets you one ticket and one ticket gets you an order of cheese curds. After standing in line for 10 minutes or so, I scored a couple of tickets:

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And with tickets in hand, it was time to... stand in line again. Yep - there were two separate lines, and the line to acquire the actual curds was incredible. The tent had about a dozen serving lanes, and each lane ran at least 100+ people deep. We waited in line for our curds for another 10-15 minutes. The pay-off was worth it:

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Here's a close-up of the curds:

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And here we are, enjoying those succulent curds:

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I feel bad for not being able to recall the name of the lady to my left, but that's Tony in the middle, Jamie, and then Jed. We inhaled those curds, and for good reason: they were spectacular. Easily the very best cheese curds I've ever had.

What made them so good? Everything. The cheese is incredibly fresh - the curds were made that morning. The batter is unbelievable - if it were applied to a piece of cod, it would rate as the best fish fry ever. That batter is then perfectly fried; the curds aren't over-cooked, nor are they under-cooked. There wasn't a hint of grease anywhere, and the curds finished with a slightly salty taste - oh so superb.

Here's a sneak peek behind the curd-assembly line; look at the bowls of curds, sitting in batter, awaiting their turn to bathe in that hot oil:

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As excellent as the curds were, I sort of wish I had never tried them, because now I have to live with the curse of having to wait for another two years before I can enjoy them again. Words and pictures don't do those curds justice - they're so unbelievably good.

With our bellies full of curds, it was time for us to... walk around and sample some more curds. :-) Monroe is not only a beautiful town, it's also the Mecca for cheese manufacturing - some of the state's (and country's) best cheese comes from this area. Cheesemakers abound, and they all convene on the gorgeous downtown square to sell their goods.

We entered into a massive tent, where there were approximately 10-12 cheesemakers set-up, all with free samples available for the hungry masses to taste:

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After sampling several dozen varieties of cheese, I settled on three purchases:

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These cheeses were all reasonably priced; I think the most expensive "chunk" that I purchased was $5, which is quite a bargain given the high quality. That's not to say that all of the cheese there was cheap... Take this $1800 wheel of cheese for example - I'm not sure who would buy such a beast, although I sure would like to be their friend:

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With my supply of cheese firmly in hand, we continued to make our way around the festival grounds. There were beer tents, bands, a carnival, crafts, authentic swiss yodeling groups, and all sorts of other interesting activities taking place. You'd be surprised to learn that Cheese Days is quite a fun event - it's easy to see why so many people flock to the area for the festival.

Jed was quick to point out a local bar that's famous for its Limburger/onion/rye sandwich. I didn't have the heart (or stomach) to try it, but I did wander in to check it out. While there, I snapped a quick photo:

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On my way out of the bar, I spied a Saint Bernard, complete with the iconic "keg" around his neck. He appeared to be on a mission of sorts (perhaps he detected a stray curd), so the photo isn't that great:

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The sun was starting to set, the temperature was beginning to drop, and it was getting late. I had thoroughly enjoyed my time at the GCCD festival and I really enjoyed hanging out with Jed, Jamie, and their friends. The entire event was really awesome - everyone was friendly, accommodating, and just plain "great." So, despite not wanting to leave, I forced myself to call it an evening. I bid the crew farewell and made my way back to the car, but not before doing two things: getting one final order of curds, and snapping a picture of the town hall:

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Thanks again to Jed, Jamie, Jason, Tony, Matt, and everyone else for the wonderful time, and thanks to Green County and the city of Monroe for hosting such an excellent event. I've already started to count the number of days until Cheese Days 2012!

Worst. Triathlon. Ever.

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...and I'm friggin' freezin', Mr. Bigglesworth. (That's a quote from Austin Powers)

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Devil's Lake State Park, Sunday, September 19, 2010: Steve has his worst triathlon effort ever. End of story.

Still there? Sorry if you are... you're about to hear a tale of disgust and failure, complete with yarns about the world's worst swimmer, a pitiful biking effort, and a geriatric running event, all with a bout of mild hypothermia mixed-in for good measure.

The morning started off innocently enough - the skies were overcast, there was a mild (sub 10mph) breeze, a rain had just rolled through town, the temperatures were climbing to the mid-to-high-40s, and a light foggy mist hovered over an otherwise serene Devil's Lake. The forecast called for the mercury to rise into the high 50s by 10am, with only a "slight" chance for rain.

Having registered and paid for the non-refundable event way back in June, I figured that even if it was chillier than I'd prefer, it wasn't a good enough excuse to stay in bed this morning, so I woke-up promptly at 5:00am, loaded the car, grabbed some water, fed the cat, and hit the road for Devil's Lake Park.

I arrived at about 6:30am and promptly set-up my transition area. I had gotten there early enough that I was able to find a comfy/roomy spot - things were looking good:

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With my space set-up, I made my way to the registration center so that I could claim my number, grab a t-shirt, and receive my body marking (they use black markers on your arms and legs to identify your race number and starting wave/group). It was about 7:00am - I still had an hour or so before the race would start, so I snapped a quick picture with my number and went back to my transition area:

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The place started to fill-up quickly; I believe they predicted 1200 entrants. The weather probably scared a few folks away, but as you can see here, the transition area was becoming a bit more crowded. I believe this picture was taken at about 7:15.

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The weather still felt chilly; people were donning their wetsuits and taking warm-up swims, to which I paid close attention - the Devil's Lake website showed water temperatures were in the high 60s; last year they were in the mid 60s and the water felt really warm. I'm not a fan of the wetsuit - it's so hard for me to get in and out of (I'm afraid of tearing it) that it slows my transitions beyond any benefit the suit would provide.

So, I asked folks how the water felt, and the responses ran the gamut... "Cold," "Great," "Comfortable," "Not bad," "Freezing," "Warm," "About average." Great - that's a lot of help... I dipped my foot in near the shore and it felt really cold, but I reasoned the shallow water would likely be colder than the deeper body of water. I'd made up my mind: no wetsuit today.

Besides, I had been swimming a lot - I'm up to 1500m in the pool, and I've been going 6 days a week, without fail, since late June. I still lack speed with my swimming, but I've been able to crank out the yards without a ton of effort (in practice).

The race started promptly at 8:00am. I was in group 6, which meant my start time was around 8:30. While I was waiting for my group to start, I snapped a picture of one of the waves as they hit the water:

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After taking the photo, I went back to my transition area, took off my warm-up gear, double-checked my things, and made my way to the beach. The temperature was still freezing - I was shivering uncontrollably as I waited another 15 minutes for our group to be called to the water. I overheard more than one person give thanks for their wetsuit simply because it was keeping them warm while waiting. Good call.

The siren went off, and we hit the water, and that's when I promptly lost my breath. The water was freezing - try as I might, I couldn't get any air - the cold sapped all of my air and my muscles instantly started to "scream." Great, only 500 yards to go, I thought.

My swimming is AWFUL. I'm the absolute worst, and it's so frustrating. I practiced every day, focused on technique, hired a coach to help (I had eight lessons), and I still stink. I promptly fell to the back of the pack and struggled for the entire 500 yards. Rather than swim with an easy, measured crawl like I'd practiced, I found myself doing a side-stroke and breast-stroke in an attempt to keep my head above water so I could breathe. I even got passed by the next wave of swimmers... talk about embarrassing.

I came out of the water and was greeted by - rain. Yep, it had started raining, and the rain wasn't any light rain. No sir, it was a real downpour, and it was freezing cold. I didn't pack any rain gear (nice planning, Steve), so I rifled through my transition bag to find an extra longsleeve shirt before hitting the road for my 15-odd miles of super hilly riding.

The climbs went really well - the course has a few nice long hills that the majority of folks walk their bikes up. And just like last year, I encountered several people on the hills that were panting, crying and vomiting. Hee, hee. I motored on by.

But, that's where the fun ended... as I made my way through the course, the rain, wind, and temperature were relentless. I quickly found myself shivering uncontrollably once again - almost convulsing. My bike wobbled from the shivering; my legs were trembling; my hands were cramping. Any time I hit 20+mph, the wind and rain would cut through me like a knife. I thought seriously about quitting - I was afraid I was going to crash because I could barely move my hands to hit the brakes or to shift gears.

The only time I felt somewhat comfortable was when climbing hills - my speed would dip to about 12-15mph and I felt a little "warm," but it still was anything but enjoyable. I checked my heart rate and was shocked to see that it was struggling to hit 120 bpm. Normally it would be around 145-150 bpm. My average speed was low as well, primarily because I was purposely trying to keep my speed low when descending hills.

I arrived back to the park after an hour, for an average speed of an embarrassingly slow 14.8mph. Last year I averaged just under 20mph. I was ready to drop-out; I was shivering so hard that my teeth hurt and I couldn't undo my helmet or shoes. I figured I'd grab my jacket for warmth but was punched in the gut by mother nature - the rain had soaked everything in my bag. It soaked my shoes, my socks, my pants, everything. Nice.

Two guys next to me dropped out - they were in the same boat as I was. Too cold, shivering, and bordering on having hypothermia. I decided to wring-out my socks, pour the water from my shoes and trudge through the 5k of running.

The run went a little better; at about the 2-mile mark, I started to generate a little heat and I felt better, although I was still running in a semi-fetal position, trying to keep warm. I saw the ambulance haul somebody away at one point on the course.

I managed to pass about 40-45 people on the run, and finished the race with an overall time of 2:15:00 (that's from the start of the first wave)... my time was probably around 1:45 or so, which is so incredibly bad that I should be banned from ever racing ever again. I didn't stick around to see the official results - I'd rather forget this race ever took place.

After crossing the finish line, I turned-in my timing chip, grabbed a water and packed my things back into the car. I normally do a race bib/gear shot, but since this was such an upside down race, I figured this picture would be most appropriate for summing-up this disgraceful day:

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I drove up to the Dells, had some really awful pizza for lunch, and then drove home with the heater set to 85F while drinking the hottest coffee I've ever had (and enjoyed). As I sit here now, I feel like I might get sick... in hindsight, I should've stayed home today, rode the trainer, swam at the pool, and ran with some proper rain gear. UGH.

After taking some time away from the fish fry reviews, I finally caved-in to the cravings and set about finding a location by which to partake in some deep-fried fishy goodness. Out came the list of recommended locations and after about 45 minutes worth of scouring, I settled on The Monk's Retreat in Cross Plains.

I fired-up the Prius, made the short drive to Cross Plains, found a place to park, and made my way into the establishment, my belly rumbling with anticipation.

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I've driven past Monk's countless times and have always wanted to stop-in to sample their goods. The all brick building looks inviting; the name intriguing; the location convenient; but for reasons unknown, I never made the stop. So, I was pretty excited to give this place a try tonight. My excitement was further bolstered when I saw how crowded the location was - I entered the joint at around 6:30 on Friday night and it was literally a "standing room only" affair.

Now, make no mistake - the place is tiny, so that played a big role in the crowded feel. The bar might seat 10-12 people and the two dining rooms might seat 20 people each, if you're lucky (and don't mind sitting on top of people). Monk's appears to have been a house at one time but has since been converted to a bar and restaurant. There's plenty of charm and character, no doubt.

After walking in, I managed to locate a hostess/waitress, and put in my name for a table. She invited me to grab a drink and settle-in; the wait would be about 30-45 minutes. No problem - the night was young, the crowd seemed friendly, and with fish just around the corner, I was happy to wait as long as necessary. Just as I had finished giving the hostess my name, a single seat opened at the bar, so I quickly grabbed it.

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The tap selection was dismal - there were a handful of brews available: Lite, Essers Best, Sam Adams, and Island Wheat. Judging from the small selection of other liquor bottles, the mixed drink selections didn't look much more diverse. Monk's appears to maintain a simple drink list, which is fine, especially if the clientele doesn't mind (and it didn't appear as though anyone did).

I considered an Old Fashioned, but after watching the bartender make a few (no muddling, no cherries, no Squirt), I decided to try an Essers Best. It was a local brew (made in Cross Plains), and while it wasn't terrible, it wasn't anything spectacular. The Essers tap cost $3.25, which was fair; I sipped away on the malty beverage and listened to the various conversations that were taking place.

My table was ready within 15 minutes, so I made my way to be "back" dining area and was seated at a quaint four-top that featured some unique chairs. A large staircase dominates the back dining area; the walls are covered in various monk-themed murals.

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I browsed the menu, primarily searching for an appetizer option, as I knew what the main course would consist of. The waitress stopped by to take my order: hush puppies to start with, deep fried fish with fries, a salad, and a Diet Pepsi, please.

I inquired about the "deep fried fish" - there wasn't any description as to what type of fish it was. I asked if it was cod, halibut, walleye, perch, or something else, and she wasn't sure. She said it was "deep fried." Um, ok. I tried to clarify my question but all I got was a blank stare and a, "we sell a lot of it and it's really good." So, that was that...

My soda came out a few minutes later and this is where things started to go bad. I took a drink of the soda and it was obvious that I had received regular Pepsi. I could feel the sugar/syrup coating my teeth, and the ridiculously sweet flavor indicated that this wasn't diet by any means.

I flagged-down the waitress and asked her for a Diet Pepsi; they had given me a regular. She took the glass and returned about a minute later. I took another drink: regular again. Hmm. She didn't return until the hush puppies were ready - I apologized for the hassle as I told her it looked like I had received regular Pepsi again. She took the glass, spun quickly and left. She plopped down another soda on the table and left.

I took a final drink - guess what? Regular. No kidding. I'm not sure if the lines were crossed or if I had crossed her (or the bartender), but it was obvious I wasn't going to be getting a Diet Pepsi tonight. So, I suffered through it - I'm not a fan of regular soda at all. I'm not sure what it is, but I absolutely cannot drink the stuff - it makes me ill - I can feel my heart skyrocket, my teeth hurt, I get a headache, and I just feel miserable from it.

The hush puppies looked good, if not a bit plain:

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While I'm almost quite certain they came from a catalog of sorts, they were fried really well and had a nice onion flavor. The cornmeal texture was obvious as well, so the hush puppies were a win. They could've used some type of dipping sauce on the side, but they were pretty darn scrumptious on their own. Definitely worth the $3.

A salad and dinner roll arrived shortly after the hush puppies; nothing too out of the ordinary - an iceberg lettuce salad with a single slice of cucumber and a lone cherry tomato, and an "out of the box" dinner roll that had been thoughtfully warmed.

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By now, I had finished about half of my Pepsi and was really starting to feel it. My stomach was churning, my heart was starting to race, and my head felt like a big, red hot balloon. Oh boy - not good.

The fish plate made its way to the table just as I was finishing my salad, and it looked awesome. Four nicely sized pieces of blistering hot fish and a nice mound of crinkle-cut fries. I was asked if I needed tartar sauce, and I responded with a "no thanks, I'm good."

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I grabbed one of the fish fillets and immediately recoiled - these babies were h-o-t HOT. Talk about a good sign! I carefully repositioned the fish on my plate and sampled a few of the fries while reorganizing things - the fries were excellent. I grabbed a few more...

My fork went to cut the first fish fillet and disappointment settled in once again - a huge pool of grease oozed from the fish. How could that be? The fish was literally "fire hot," which usually means you won't find any grease.

I dabbed away the grease and took a bite. A wave of confusion hit me. I took a look at the plate to confirm that I had ordered fish; all I could taste was something unusual - was it charcoal? Smoke? Steak? I carefully chewed the scalding piece of fish and sampled another piece. Same thing - smoke or grille flavor - definitely not mild fish flavor.

It was the most bizarre thing I've ever experienced. I sampled all four pieces of fish; the batter was light and crispy, the fish had a nice texture, but for some reason, it didn't really taste like fish. I can't accurately describe what was going on; I swear that my tastebuds told me "hamburger" or "steak" as I gnashed away on the fish. I wondered if they added some smoke flavor to their batter, or if the fish had sat near a grille, or if the fish had been smoked at some point - but it wasn't what I had been expecting.

I tried to finish a few pieces, but ultimately I ate what amounted to one or one-and-a-half pieces of fish. I ate a few more fries, but the bigger problem was that darned Pepsi - it was quickly doing me in. I paid my tab ($12.75), walked to the car and raced home, where I spent the rest of the night writhing in pain and agony. I went for a walk to try and shake-off the Pepsi, but to no avail. I was done.

The Monk's Retreat = FAIL

Service = 1 stars (not really too helpful; wrong drink 3-times; nothing to write home about)
Food = 1.5 star (the fish was so confusing; fries and hush puppies were excellent)
Value = 4 stars (fair price - $8.50 for a fish dinner)
MISC = 4 stars (quaint and cool atmosphere)

Summary: I'm not sure what was going on with the fish - everything else was good, and I'd go back to try a burger, but I don't think I'll be giving the fish a try again. From the lack of an identifier to the odd smokey flavor, I wasn't sure what was happening. It may have been Pollock fish? I'm still not sure... the smoke flavor threw me for a massive loop. I know some folks have raved about this fish fry, but it just didn't work for me tonight. Sorry, Monks.

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Can someone help me understand the fear and/or fascination that Wisconsin seems to have with hydration?

I've noticed that while watching the nightly news, the newscasters and weather folks really make it a point to let everyone know, "it's going to be 70+ degrees out today, so make sure you hydrate before you partake in any outdoor activities!" They repeat this about a dozen times throughout their newscast...

Seriously?

I understand the importance of hydration, especially in hot, arid climates (like Austin, TX or Palm Springs, CA or Phoenix, AZ), but I'm baffled by the fear/constant reminders here in the cool and humid land of cheese.

I also noticed that while biking this past weekend, nearly every other bicyclist wore a Camelbak hydration unit (basically a huge water bladder in a backpack with a long, flexible straw so you can "drink from the backpack") and at least one or two water bottles in their cages. And most of these folks looked like what I refer internally to as "sausage-stuffed blood clots": overweight, middle-aged folks that are all decked-out in one-or-two-sizes-too-small UW-Wisconsin team color riding apparel.

Ok... come on. Really? You need a gallon of water for your 30-minute bike ride in 60-degree, overcast weather? Wow - I must be a camel, because all summer long, I never took more than two water bottles with me, even on my 70+ mile rides.

I also noticed while running on one of the local trails this weekend that there were no fewer than five (5) water stations set-up...

I just don't get it... not that there's anything wrong with hydrating (it is important), but if I didn't know better, I'd truly believe that most folks think Madison must be a desert climate or something like that.

(just ranting a bit)

No Great Taste / ...and in other news

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Folks, I'm somewhat upset to report that I did not attend this year's annual Great Taste of Madison.

I thought about attending, almost to the point of fantasizing myself silly over it, but ultimately decided against it for a couple of reasons: there would likely be a ton of people that would eventually get on my nerves; the food is always sub-par (mix "tent" cooking + cranking out a ton of food and what would you expect?); the cost to attend would be a bit outrageous when weighed against the net experience; and, the weather was a bit chilly.

The news stations and newspapers covered the event in great detail and really made it sound like "the place to be," but at $5 for parking (minimum), plus $5/drink, plus an average of around $4/food item (most of which is deep-fried), it just didn't make sense. So, I stayed home for all of my meals this weekend, which is actually a good thing - I've been sticking to the diet really well and I've had zero cravings for anything bad. I credit the focus on low-glycemic load foods for my stability. :-)

I had to make a new batch of black beans today, and man, I can't get over how much I love these things. They don't look real good while cooking, though:

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But they taste absolutely amazing. Plus, they're easy to make and are really, really good for you. Here's the recipe:

16oz bag of Goya Black Beans
1 green pepper, cut into quarters
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp black pepper
4 Tbsp minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
A few pinches of kosher salt

1. Wash the beans carefully - I like to use a salad spinner; I put the beans in the basket, rinse them with a ton of water, and then spin them to shake out any particles.

2. In a large sealable plastic container (I have a 4-qt Lexan container), add all of the ingredients, and then fill with water until the water is about 1" above the height of the beans.

3. Place the beans in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Check them periodically and add water to keep the level at least 1" above the height of the beans. I usually have to top-off the water 2 times.

4. Transfer the entire contents of the plastic container to a large stainless steel pot or dutch oven.

5. Bring the beans to a boil and allow to boil for five (5) minutes, then reduce heat to a very slow simmer. Allow beans to simmer for about 2-hours. Keep water level just at "bean level" - I usually have to top-off with warm water once.

6. At the 2-hour mark, check on the beans - you don't want them to get mushy... they should be just ever-so-slightly firm. Remove them from the heat and strain them when they have an "al-dente" consistency. Pick out the bay leaves and any really large pieces of peppers and/or onions.

7. Enjoy. I usually eat .5c of cooked beans at dinner - I hit them with a little pepper for just a bit more "kick," but it's up to you as to whether or not you add any additional seasoning.


Aside from making beans and eating at home, I managed to take advantage of the weather by riding 200-miles this weekend and running a bunch.

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Not bad for a 3-day weekend's worth of riding, eh? :-) True, it was chilly - especially in the early morning hours, but I know that fall/winter are coming so I'm trying to sneak in as much outdoor riding as possible.

I rode about 75 miles on Saturday - left at 7:00am (temperature = 49F, with a strong westerly wind) and got back in at about 10:45am. I rode 75 miles on Sunday - same deal (7:00am - 10:30am) but the temperature was nicer and there was less wind. And I finished things off with a gentle "cool-down" 50-mile ride today - left at about 9:30am and got back in at 12:45 or so.

Why a "cool-down" 50-miler? I ran a 10K race in Randolph today - the same race I ran last year on Labor Day - although my race absolutely stunk. I did too much riding and running on Sunday, so my legs weren't as rested or fresh as I would've liked for them to be. I think my finishing time was 52:13 - about an 8:30 mile pace... not great by any means.

As evidence of my tired legs, consider that my time for this race last year was just over 45-minutes... so, I was 7 minutes slower this year - ugh!!! I think I got 4th or 5th place, but there weren't as many participants this year, probably because it was raining cats-and-dogs (complete with countless lightning bolt strikes). I didn't get any photos from the event because of the rain (and I forgot my phone... that'll happen when you leave the house at 5:15am), but here's the customary race bib follow-up photo:

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They changed the race course this year - it was run nearly entirely in-town - Randolph is so small that we had to run two laps to hit the 6.2 mile mark... That's ok, though, as the race benefits the local humane society, and I'm always happy to help a group that supports animal welfare.

Let's see... what else took place this weekend? I saw the movie, The American with George Clooney. A lot of folks complained about the movie being "slow" and "boring" but I found it rather enjoyable. It had a definite "foreign" feel to it, and there were a lot of subtleties to it. If you're looking for an action-packed "shoot-em up" film, look elsewhere.

I saw the movie at the phenomenal Sundance 608 theater in Madison; man, I love that theater. All of the theaters are big, comfortable, feature excellent sound and picture, have reserved seating, and allow you to bring in food/drink (including beer if you so desire).

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And lastly, the cats (Mack and Shiloh) have been especially rambunctious lately - they chase each other around all of the time, ambush one another, and have taken to biting each others' necks (nothing major - one of them will get a little too wild and the other will let out a yowl before they retreat to their respective corners for a breather). Here they are just a few minutes ago in one of their infamous neck-fights... and they're sitting about 10" from my head.

fight.jpg

It's back to work tomorrow - hope everyone out there had an enjoyable (and more exciting than mine) Labor Day Weekend.

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