Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another day of beauty, another crash!

Today I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to achieve the west bank of the Mississippi. I also felt smelly. Riding is somewhat physical when you do it for miles a day and like to keep a spirited pace all day long. The last couple days the spirited pace has not been there but my jacket continues to bear the results of the previous days efforts, including the post crash clean-up exertion sweat - where I forgot to remove my jacket.

I stink....Bad. I smell like a mixture of ass, pencil shavings (who knows why?), a hampster cage, and since it rained all day I now also smell like a wet dog. All I know is I need a shower very soon. 

Today the objective was low and slow. I would stick to the banks of the Illinois river until crossing the Mississippi at the route 6 crossing in the Quad Cities area.  The Quad cities are Davenport and Bettendorf (in Iowa) and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline (in Illinois). For those of you out there with thumbs that's five cities not four. I guess the area was named before we grew the 5th digit. I do know it's a very cool area worth checking out if you are nearby. I won't elaborate further, please come explore.

Back to travels of the day - I set off around 9 am and did a reasonable series of concentric loops around Morris, IL. It is a very well kept town whose streets are packed with historic colonial houses. I enjoyed my neighborhood exploration for about 30 minutes before choosing to access interstate 6 west. I meandered along that route until I got to Marseilles (Mare sales), IL. At this point I made what turned out to be a tactical error. I turned left onto a road closer to the Illinois river. about 10 miles later a large, slow moving truck appeared in front of me. It was a tree trimming truck looking for a tree to trim. The driver was going 25 in a 55 with his flashers on. This flasher use indicates and intention to continue a slow pace for most folks - I made my move - moments later I find myself receiving more crash therapy, on pavement this time. This crash was due to this nut deciding he would abruptly turn left in front of me without signals causing me to attempt a panic stop. My attempt was nearly successful until the lawn of the Church of Jehovah's Witnesses intervened. Grass surfaces and road tires don't mix when brakes are added into the mix and I was soon sliding along the driveway beyond the grass. 

I was genuinely annoyed by this inconvenience. It would be no surprise if the occupants of the cars following us could hear me screaming as I fell. I'm not sure what I was yelling but I know the word NO was in there. The other day I earned my accident through blatant ignorance, this one was just some inattentive driver making an ass of himself. I hopped up and picked my bike up off the ground in one quick motion. I then assured the drivers of passing cars that I was fine and didn't need assistance from them. Meanwhile the driver of the truck is approaching me. This could be a huge mistake on his part as I outweigh him by at least 80 pounds and am easily as strong as 3 of him. Fortunately for him I am almost stupidly nice, totally neglecting to ask him for insurance info, money, or his name. I am satisfied with calling him stupid in a roundabout way. I then mention to him that 4 ways are not an indication of a turn and that he may want to consider another approach next time. I would normally freak out in this situation but not working has it's psychological benefits I suppose. 

After departing the scene of the accident I hit the Ottowa, IL Suzuki dealer. He has the mirror bracket I need but nothing else. He does allow me use of his electrical outlet to make some calls for more parts I need. Over the next hour I order all the replacement luggage pieces I need, sending them to my future self in Longmont, CO.

Cheers future self. Put those parts on with accuracy and a smile.

Tomorrow I will be at Millstream Brewery in Amana, IA. Following that I will be at The Doodle Brewing Co. In Liberty, MO. I will then make my way to Left Hand Brewery in Longmont, CO. Following that I will try to make it to stone before the end of Sept. I hope I can make it. I intended to keep the brewery visits relatively fast paced and it looks like I will be doing that in the coming days. Wish me luck.

Again if anyone reading this would like me to stop at their brewery please contact me and I will try. It has been a pleasure to meet everyone so far. The more breweries I hit the more successful this trip will be.

Stay Tuned.

I tried to Hit Three Floyds Today

It was a random pop in and I got what I deserved. Nothing. I did get to enjoy the company of some fine beer lovers as I enjoyed a Moloko milk stout. I loved everything about the atmosphere of their brewpub. It had no continuity in design concept. In fact, the most remarkable thing about it was how hidden it was! I am continually amazed by people who succeed in spite of their best attempts to fail. I can't see why an out of the way industrial park, surrounded by nearly nothing, would be a persons choice as a brewpub location.  I am not sure if I lived in the area I would consider it hidden, maybe this is the way the ceaseless and mundane urban sprawl of northern Indiana works. All I can say is that I never would have found this place without a GPS and I almost left before I found it due to skepticism.

Thank God I didn't.

After trying desperately to relate to the first person I see I find out he "only builds boxes" and is probably unconcerned with my petty attempt to garner material to write as a distraction from painful self-awareness and the pressures of reality. Oh well.....off to the bar, age old creator of legends.

As I enter the bar I notice it is surprisingly full. I feel like this should help me gain access to the brewery. Someone at the bar has to be a brewer sitting down for a shift beer, right? I remove my helmet and gloves before striking up conversation with the first waitress I see. In an attempt to be concise I fear that I terrify her by speaking too quickly. To add to the level of intensity I have forgotten to remove my earplugs. This means that I am not only speaking too fast, but I am screaming my story at her as well. In spite of all this we get on the topic of her being a Mainer (I was born in Portland) after I tell her where I am riding from. She says she never meets New Englanders out here and she will be glad to try to help me. I wait at the bar as she goes to relay my story. Sadly she returns moments later to say that everyone who can help has left for the day.

I end up finding out there is one more person who might help me find a way to do a days labor for Three Floyds and I approach a guy named "Doc" to see if I can make any headway. Doc tells me he can't really help me, and that he is really a "gardener", whatever the fuck that means. I didn't see a garden. I am pretty sure I was annoying Doc. I definitely made an attempt to thank him after he tried to help me and he sort of did the "TV is wonderful and you're not" 1000 yard stare as I was awkwardly attempting further conversation. No matter, I am a poor conversationalist too Doc. You did your best.

Easily the best part of my entire visit was the quality of the beer I chose, the friendly staff, and above all else the 4 people sitting next to me. One man in his early 40's had just bought a bar with some friends. I think he is going to try to fashion some type of beer bar out if it. There were three other people next to him. They had met about 90 miles south of the brewery, at a stoplight, on their motorcycles. They decided they would ride together to the brewery, and in a roundabout fashion this earned me a free slice of pizza to go with my beer. I owe you guys pizza credits. Cheers.

We talked about riding. We also came to realize that the couple who met the tagalong stranger were at the motoGp in Indy. This was an incredible conversation booster and I'm glad we got to meet each other. It was
a real pleasure. I'm sorry I didn't get any names.

After left Three Floyds I headed further west to a supposed campground in the Illinois wetland/wildlife preserve. Much to my dismay it has been closed for some time. Oh well............

I am typing now from a town park in Morris Illinois. I am staying here for free.
I am winning.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Hurricane scares me away from my planned route

I wasn't about to brave Irene. I gave up and headed where I desperately wanted to be, it's where you wanted to be too you just didn't know it. I'm talking about the Indianapolis round of  MotoGP. The greatest motorcycles in the world ridden by the greatest riders in the world! Where were you when the absolute pinnacle of what man can achieve was on display? What were you thinking?

I made it here, against all odds, unplanned and shaken up.  There were no brewery visits between State College and Indy. I did stop at Rock Bottom and RAM in Indianapolis. The beers were ok to solid respectively. The story lies not in the beer but in the crash in Ohio. No beer was involved in my crash, only complacency and a lack of focus and commitment lead me and my bike to this all time low.

I departed central PA and headed for WV to enjoy what the eastern section of route 50 has to offer.
It was great and I made it through safe.I decided to camp at North Bend State Park in WV. I practiced some "light painting" with my camera to pass the time.

I turned in early with the intent of being well rested for the following morning.This should have helped me be a safer rider......

The following morning, after some strong french press coffee, I was on the road by 7AM and had a nice apple from a farmstand for breakfast. Back on the road in SE Ohio I was determined not to use route 50 once it got flat and boring. I branched off towards route 56 near Athens Ohio. 

Luckily for me the morning coffee kept me blazing until 3 in the afternoon.

I stopped only three other times on the ride to Indy. The second time, unfortunately, was in spectacular fashion. Look to the right of the bike. Down low. That's where I landed after overshooting the corner pictured below.

I landed down in that "ditch", my bike landed next to me a lifetime (1.2sec or less) later. I actually had time to think about why I overshot that corner the way I did and just how much all those parts would cost me. My second concern was missing the races I was riding to see. Normally........Normally I DON'T CRASH! The last time I crashed it was so painful that I can barely remember it. This was nowhere near as painful but it will haunt me. The shocking thing was how unremarkable it really was. It was very quick and very loud, that's what I remember most.

 I really should have taken a photo of the bike when it was laying on it's side but my adrenaline and love for my bike combined and forced me to pick it up. After a 20 minute period of reflection and damage assessment I headed into Athens and began the task of replacing those handlebars and finding a way to re-attach my luggage. This set me back about 3 hours. After I got back on the bike I returned to the site of the accident and rode that section in each direction 5 times to reaffirm my riding abilities to myself.

Now I am safe and sound in one of the nicest Hotel rooms I can imagine in downtown Indianapolis, it is one day after my first MotoGp viewing experience, and I'm writing about crashing. I have never won the lottery before. It feels pretty nice.

Where to go next?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stop 3 Ottos Brewery and Restaurant in State College, PA

Otto's Pub and Brewery, lead by Brewer/ Co-Owner Charlie Schnable, has been a State College, PA institution since October 2002. Producing 850Bbl in their first year was a sign that they arrived at the right place and time for the beer lovers in their town. By 2004 they were already starting to outgrow their location. At first adding a storage cooler and more fermentation vessels solved some of  their beer supply needs but the parking lot was an issue that could not be solved so easily. By November 2010 it was time to find a new location. Luckily for them there was a large restaurant building with extra space available 250 yards down the road! Now, at about 3200Bbl 8 years after starting their business, Otto's (named after a cat like most  things should be) is packaging 400 cases of beer a week for off premise sales, and is about to expand their bottling another time.

Nik Gets Ill
I arrived at 11 am to see Nik (right) shoveling the mash out from the first brew of the day. The plan was to bottle Otto's Spring Creek pale Ale for the remainder of the day.
Charlie was one of the two people who helped me become a brewer and I consider him and his staff good friends. This, combined with the fact that I love bottling beer and the brewery is outrageously busy, stopped me from asking as many questions as I should have. Instead I was quickly pulled in to the less talk more action vibe of the bottling process and I tried to help where needed. As I tried to quickly assimilate to the alien packaging equipment I quickly forgot the last two days of note taking and the feeling of being in the way.

The bottles come in on Palettes and need to be de-palettezed by hand.


They go onto a circular table that feeds a labeler before being filled..
Having worked on a fully automated bottling line, seeing what is required to bottle beer 100% manually  was a real eye opener. These guys work long hours on their feet with no breaks to to ensure each bottle is the best it can be. After 187 cases of 12oz there is a switchover to 22oz to finish off the day. Having used this 6 head Maheen filler at my previous job I am expecting the worst. It was a bitch to use then but Charlie rebuilt the entire thing and it breezes along as smooth as can be......until some dickhead (me) mentions how nicely it is working today, and what a pleasure it is to see someones hard work pay off. Immediately after that a co2 valve (or something) causes a filling fault and Charlie is on the phone with tech support trying to figure out the next step. At this point I am utterly useless and I excuse myself to the bar where I can do what comes naturally....drink a pint and eat something.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Craft Beer, Crafted for The Common Man at Elk Creek Ale Works

This is what Brewer Tim Yarrington of Elk Creek Cafe and Ale works is trying to produce every day in his hand built (built by Tim) brewhouse. Located in Millheim, PA on scenic route 45 Elk Creek is the brainchild of Tim Bowser. He wanted to have a craft beer and food destination in a rural setting. With a group of investors he acquired an historic hotel in Millheim center. The site began as a coffee shop but finally achieved it's intended purpose as a brewpub in late 2007.

Tim got his start in brewing by earning an education at UC Davis after a stint in the construction industry. This construction experience served him well at his first brewing job in Long Valley NJ where he was the brewer for 11 years after helping build the brewery. After that Tim found an opportunity, and a thrill, in designing and brewing at the short lived (not due to product quality!) Times Square Brewpub and Restaurant. After 5 years of working as a brewpub design consultant Tim saw another exciting and challenging opportunity. This time, rather than the thrill of the city, it was the challenge of bringing craft beer to a rural area. Tim, a diehard craft beer champion, believed that this succeeding at this task would mean craft beer had "made it." After the brewery build was complete Tim was so in love with his ultra small footprint system that, rather than help hire a suitable brewer to run the brewery (as he had in his past builds), he moved his family to the area and took the reigns himself.

The residents of Millheim and the surrounding area were ready to support the shared vision of Tim and the owners of Elk Creek. In the first year of business the customers consumed 400Bbl of beer. Probably due in large part to Tim's love of daily interaction with his customers. This year Elk Creek will brew nearly 800Bbl with their 8Bbl brewery. This is made possible because of excellent beer and 2 new 500 gallon fermenters in the brewery which allow for limited off premise sales.

Tim has a   very solid brewing background and a solid brewing philosophy to match. His goal in making beer is not to push the boundaries of beer, or be a style extremist, rather, he wants to try to embody all the reasons beer appeals to the palette and achieve perfect balance in all of his beers. This love of balance shouldn't dissuade hopheads from stopping in for a pint, when Elk Creek makes an aggressive beer they ensure it is aggressively balanced with each ingredient working in harmony with its counterparts. This philosophy was most clearly realized in the Little Village MFA. The MFA slapped me in the tongue with a hop flavor reminiscent of juniper and was immediately answered with the perfect malt backbone. The finish was dry and clean leaving my palette cleansed and not worn out in the least. Very impressive! These excellent beers are paired with an adventurous, rotating American Bistro menu where fresh, local food is served. There is also a regular 6 item menu available year round.

Elk Creek is dedicated to having live music in house as often as possible (currently 3 nights a week). The music varies from Jazz to Americana to Hard Rock with original acts taking the stage over cover bands in nearly every case. 

                                                                                 Tim turned each challenge he faced in this brewing adventure into a positive. When asked about the small space he works in he mentions that there is no running from one end of a large brewery to another to open and close valves. He also mentions how happy he was to be presented with used equipment because it gave him a chance to exercise his brain and his fabrication skills. He turned the even turned the lack of cooling on the bottom of a fermenter into an opportunity to gain a steam jacketed hot water tank for his brewery. Need to sell kegs off site? Tim saw a chance to have some fun fabricating a keg cleaning rig. Tim will adapt to anything and he thrives on a challenge. With his can do attitude he will be an inspiration and a valuable resource to many future brewers.

Above is the spray ball on the home made keg cleaning system (right). Below is the calandria, a recirculation device used to make wort boiling more efficient, in Tim's kettle.

For more pictures of Elk Creek please visit
Stop 2 Elk Creek

Keep Brewing

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A work in progress

The primary focus of this trip is to meet brewers and pub owners who are striving to make craft and local beer a household name. I think Jarrod York and Ashley Rodgers are making serious progress toward doing just that in Mansfield, PA.

 Yorkholo (pronounced york hollow) Brewing co. is named after a family owned farm that had to shorten it's name due to restrictions on the amount of letters that were allowed in a name in 1861. Laws are awesome!

I met Jarrod at 11am in the cellar of his Brewery and we started off getting to know a little about each other. He was an Environmental Bio Major at Mansfield U. Jarrod was also an avid home brewer with a desire to take it to the next level and he worked long and hard on his voluminous business plan for his brewery.

His hard work payed off and in late 2010 he began to brew on his 3BBl brew system purchased from premier stainless. Jarrod has 5 3Bbl fermentation vessels to work with which gives him the flexibility necessary to follow his plan of no real "flagship" beer. He basically brews what his current supply of ingredients allow for with the one exception being his recurring Bungy (Bun ghee) Blonde, which is named after the valley he grew up in. The estimated output of Yorkholo is about 300Bbl this year with a goal of selling beer off premise in a 50 mile radius in the future.

Some Challenges -

There are challenges to operation of a brew pub in an area that Jarrod somewhat blithely refers to as a "Craft beer dead zone." Encouraging customers who aren't even able to purchase Sierra Nevada locally to take the leap and try a local pub seems like it would be an uphill climb. The last thing you need to complicate an already challenging process is trouble with the authorities, Yorkholo didn't luck out in this area. Receiving a brewery licenses can be a slow processs in PA. Jarrod applied early for his to avoid a late opening. Much to his surprise the Licensing board called him the NEXT day and said they would be stopping by to check out his planned operation. This was before funding was secured and the layout of the brewery was still somewhat in question. Another problem arose when the federal license to sell beer failed to show until 3 days after opening and Yorkholo was forced to pour free samples to its eager future customers. In spite of these challenges Yorkholo is a growing business on the way to success because of their awesome beers and the enthusiasm of the employees.  In fact, Yorkholo actually sold out of beer for two days after their first weekend of legal beer sales! Lucky for them PA brew pubs can sell locally made wine as well as house made beer.

the current beer list.
The top of the fermenter during CIP

The Brewing of beer and cleaning of vessels -       This is already a challenging aspect of the profession without the added pressure of a 6'3" ceiling to contend with! I was hard pressed to move in this space and the fermenter lids have to be removed in order to CIP the fermentation vessels. 
The Hot Liquor tank Jarrod is using is a 120 gallon hot water heater designed for use in a barn application. It is 120 gallons and suits his 93 gallon batch size perfectly for now.  

Local Products and Special Beers -              
Yorkholo is trying to use as many local foods and products as possible. From their local grass fed beef to their herbs from a farmstand down the road, even locally sourced hydroponically grown lettuce, they are trying to put their money to work in the community where they live wherever possible. Yorkholo recently made a beer called Pennsylvania Wilds Ale with dandelion stems and local spruce tips. There is a plan to have a Wet Hop beer with hops from Jarrod's back yard in the coming weeks. It will be available for the annual 1890's fest held in Mansfield which commemorates the first football game ever held at night.

After most likely slowing the progress of Jarrod's work day and generally being in the way I decided to retire to the bar upstairs to have a meal and a beer. I decided on a pint of Summer Love, an ale brewed with coriander and lemongrass added late in the kettle, to satisfy my undying thirst. The local grassfed beef burger done medium well at the insistence of the bartender was the perfect pairing with my beer. The generous amount of garlic, with a combination of provolone and swiss cheese brought this burger to an almost heroic status in the burger world. If you are a beer lover in the area you will be more than pleased with the beers on tap and the great menu at Yorkholo Brewing Co.

If you ride......

avoid 15 by using 414, 660, 284, or the myriad of insanely good roads in the area. Watch for the White tailed deer! This area is lousy with them. They are very pretty and docile but that does not make them fun to hit. Hit the PA grand canyon while you are nearby. Also make sure to stop now and then to enjoy the mountains.

Until tomorrow.....

elderberries and apples taken from Jarrod's yard in an attempt to cultivate a good wild yeast strain.
Keep Brewing,

I assure you that this burger was everything it should have been.

My Bike

I think my bike deserves more than a little credit. It has been heavily relied upon since April of 2007 when I purchased it new. We have been through a fair amount together. I have used it as my primary mode of transport through an entire year, "harsh" New England winter included, just to see if riding in the winter is a viable option (and because I don't own a car)

The Bike is a 2007 Suzuki V-Strom (DL650). Over 4.5 years of use it has accumulated 63000 miles. Half of these miles are commuting miles. The other half are from trips it has carried me (and sometimes a second person) through over the years. Did I add that it was cheap! The year I got this bike it was just a hair over $6000 of the showroom floor. Not bad for an ultra reliable bike. 

While the smaller 650cc motor may not be considered to be the ultimate touring weapon by some, the truth is it gets 45-55mpg whether fully loaded carrying 2 passengers or just out for a high speed burn around the local twisties. The V-twin motor makes only 65 horsepower but creates loads of torque so you are tricked into believing you have a more powerful bike. This low horsepower makes for a manageable bike that is not overly maintenance dependent and is relatively easy on rear tires($$$). The only shortcomings of this bike as a high mileage tourer is that it tends to feel busy during extended highway travel. But highways are bullshit and you should avoid them while riding if at all possible. Unless you want to miss everything?

In short, this is the perfect bike for someone who needs to cover a large amount of miles with minimal maintenance input and very high fun output.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A BIG Salad leads to a new discovery

I was determined to keep today ultra chill after my AM logistics phone calls. I didn't care that I had no GPS because I am a GPS when it comes to Central PA. I know almost every paved and unpaved road in the area and can remember where most of them will take me. This knowledge is a result of driving endlessly in search of something or other while I grew up here. Usually we were looking for a suitable hiding spot to crush beers or shoot guns. Enough with that......

Today I took a route that looked like this.

Not the longest ride by any means but a very twisty and scenic ride of about 150 miles give or take.
While in Slate Run at the Hotel Manor to eat lunch I met a server named J. When she heard about my trip she offered up a large amount of local brewery knowledge. She suggested I go to Straub Brewery in St. Mary's PA. She also suggested I go to a place I have never heard of called Yorkholo brewing Co. in Mansfield, PA. I decided that it would be a worthwhile trip and made that my next stop. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived there. The brewers Jared and Scott along with the servers and Ashley, one of the co owners, were very pleasant and seemed genuinely interested in this project. They are now going to be the first of my visits tomorrow at 11AM.

Here is a ling to my photobucket account for this trip. If it doesn't work I will switch to smugmug.

Photobucket RTF

Mon Aug 22

After a morning of phone calls and coffee I am set for the early PA leg of the trip. I called Garmin and was assisted by a woman named Renee. She is second day mailing me a new mount for only the price of freight. It is nice to see some people stand by their product. I also called two area breweries I have been in contact with.

On Wed I will help brew at Elk Creek Cafe and Ale Works in Millheim, PA. I feel like I might be in the way there as they are a small operation. Cheers to Tim for allowing me to stop by. The location is a Huge bonus as it is surrounded by great roads! It is sure to become a destination for motorcyclists in the coming years.  If there are riders reading check the area maps and you will see what I mean. drinking and riding don't mix. be responsible. 

On Thursday I will be bottling beer with the guys at Otto's Pub and Brewery in State College, PA.  This is where I got most of my early beer knowledge and really started to develop a taste for great craft beer. Charlie  is an awesome Brewer and makes what might be the best Double IPA I have ever tasted. When you stop by try some Double D IPA. It is almost too good to believe.

Now I am going to go enjoy the roads of this beautiful area and if I find another brewery to visit that would be terrific. Until Wednesday evening. Cheers.

Sunday AUG 21


Now that I am pretty sure I have everything I need or want it's time to ride. The last thing to take care of before I leave is Breakfast with my girlfriend and our upstairs neighbors. Breakfast meats should dull my anxiety.

All fed and caffeinated we return home and Katie and I say our goodbyes. This is also where I pretend that the cats want a goodbye. Katie has been my biggest supporter since this idea arose. Imagine your other half stating plainly "I have been fired by a complete buffoon today. I am not that upset about it overall. What I am going to do is take a 6 week tour of the US by motorcycle and geek out on breweries." Most people would probably think twice about whether they are with the right person. I am sure that was rattling around in there somewhere. Still, whenever I tried to talk myself out of this trip she reassured me. Now I am heading out.

I had to leave the house twice today. My first exit had me hitting the local automotive store straight away. I wanted to get a 2 amp fuse for my gps cradle. Upon installing that I found out that the problem lies somewhere other than the cradle. Bummer. This will complicate things. The gps is essential to avoiding the wrong types of roads while traveling. It is also, for me, essential to find my way to each brewery. I will order one later when I get to my Moms house.

The only benefit of the gps mount not functioning turns out to be a major one. I come to realize that I have forgotten my camera charger, usb cable, and my ipod charger at home. I have to return home to get these things and try to figure out what to do about the mount.

After determining there is nothing to be done with the mount and collecting my forgotten items it is nearly noon and my early start has been avoided. That's fine I like riding at dusk on PA rte80. It's like a surreal live action frogger of sorts. So I have that to look forward to.

The trip here was mostly highway and uneventful. The only exceptions were periods of rain and a few deer crossing the road. no photos were taken today. I am in Central PA at my Mothers 12 foot 12 person dining room table typing on a laptop that I can't get used to waiting for my new netbook to arrive. I am also going to try to find a mount for my gps today and ride the roads of central PA. I am waiting to hear back from two local brewers on final scheduling

Now we are up to date and will stay that way.

...a note...
I have decided to keep pictures limited here and focus more on writing. This will allow my ride report on advrider to be more about the riding and photos. From here on out I am going to focus on getting brewery and travel stories posted here.


If you are interested in having me stop at your brewery please contact me and we will discuss how we can make that happen.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sat Aug20th. Ready to travel?

I got up early on Saturday and was determined to devote the day to miniature panthers and Packing.
Motorcycles and Kittens in the house! Respect. 

I am going to miss the hell out of my cats. They always get weirded out when the motorcycle luggage comes out and it was an entertaining morning of cat photography. 

In order to get ready for a motorcycle trip you must start with the idea that you don't need, and will never use, all that stuff. Seriously. While weight and space is not at the premium it would be for backpacking or cycling it helps to pack light if you want a complication free trip.

Here is what I will take with me. 
 Basically in order from left to right. 

  • Sleeping bag 
  • A crash pad. 
  • A solar/hand crank radio with built in light.
  • A lighter.
  • A lantern, a headlamp, and a waterproof flashlight that makes it's own power when shaken.
  • A tire puncture kit (top center)
  • A GPS 
  • A set of good raingear and waterproof riding gloves. 
  • A tent. Small enough to fit in the side case - large enough to house all my gear and myself.
  • A hatchet. 
  • A coffee press. What would you do without coffee silly?
  • Gas for the little stove I have (that's tucked in the pot's and pan set)
  • Camp cookware.
  • Heated jacket with controller (below). 
  • Side cases (below).


In addition to these items I will have just enough clothing to fit into my topcase. 6boxers, 4 t-shirts, 2 pair of jeans, and 7 pair of socks. I could have packed less with the idea being I will wear my motorcycle gear all day on any day I am travelling from point to point. I can never seem to allow myself to do that. I guess I really like clean shirts.

After a nice get together with some close friends in Brighton, MA this afternoon I realized my GPS mount is ruined. I think it is a fuse and will look deeper into that tomorrow.....

Tomorrow I am leaving for 6 weeks. There will be many rooftop beers consumed this night! 

More Distractions. Aug 19th.

After getting my bike back I headed to Acton, MA to Motomarket. I was in need of new boots and a coffee. I also needed to get some waterproofing treatment for my Jacket. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and GPS for this little shakedown ride. This would prove to be a problem. If I had my GPS I would have noticed my Garmin GPS mount (my second one this year) was not working! I also would have been more likely to take an alternate route and avoided the performance reward I received from the friendly local police officer. Poop.

$100 lighter and with no photo to amuse the masses I pulled away and finally made it to my destination and settled on a pair of boots that should keep my feet safe and dry in the event of rain. We'll see about the dry part.

There is not much beer stuff coming up until Tuesday so please bear with me.

Bike Prep and Pre-trip nervousness. Thursday Aug 18th.

It defies all logic to go on a trip like this with no income and no prospects for a job on my horizon. This thought is the only constant in my mind right now. Other thoughts come and go and I am having a hard time organizing the trip or even planning a route.

Luckily I know how to get a bike prepped for a trip and this is a welcome distraction from my "should I do this or not?" mantra.

My bike is in need of a rear tire, brakes, and an thorough rogering.        

The service comes courtesy of Greater Boston Motorsports in  Arlington, MA. If you live nearby or are just in the area stop by and check them out.

After dropping off my bike I rode a bus for the first time since high school. It was pretty inoffensive as modes of transport go, and it goes almost right to Redbones in Davis Square.

 After a pint or two an order of catfingers, and some hushpuppies

I was ready to head for home and wait for news about my bike. I really can't wait to get going so I can calm down. Riding is great therapy. Not having a job is not.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Last Day at Work

For the past 7 years I have been a brewer at a New England production brewery producing nearly 150,000 barrels a year. Tuesday the 9th of August my employment ended. I am both a motorcycle and brewing fanatic. I have been considering doing this for about a year but due to a demanding schedule at a production brewery this was little more than a pipe dream. Now I am unencumbered by silly things like employment and a steady paycheck and able to take some time for myself......

The plan is a 4-6 week tour of the US by motorcycle. During this trip I will stop and visit a preselected group of small brew pubs and micro breweries. The primary focus of the trip will be stopping at as many places as I can fit into each week and doing a day of labor with the Brewers. This can include anything from shadowing a Brewer or filtration and packaging crew to cleaning drains. I will even be willing to move spent grain or clean the parking lot! I will then write a small journal entry on each brewery and my experience there along with any other information the owner/brewer would like to convey to potential customers. This could be info on the best beer they feel they produce or a rant about a brewing trend that they feel should be altered.

The secondary focus of the journey is for me to meet interesting people and travel the roads of the US and write a bit about that as well. I am not an experienced writer and I am also not sure whether this entire thing will go beyond the first post you see before you. If it works it is cheap press for anyone kind enough to help out, if not it is an easy way to get a working interview for myself. 

The trip will start this Sat August 20th and go until I lose all my money or ability to ride and write.

This is a lot to ask of both the brewing community and my abilities as a writer and organizer. Any contacts or experiences I gain from the trip will, at minimum, serve to help me find a new job. Plus, It will be a hell of a lot more fun than sitting in Cambridge, MA collecting unemployment and scrambling for a new source of income.

Thanks in advance to anyone who allows me to visit and takes some time for this project.