Monthly Archives: February 2015

Not so chilly, but very hilly!

The other day CFL and I took a bike ride with a few thousand other cyclists. The Cascade Bicycle Club held its annual Chilly Hilly, a 33-mile ride around Bainbridge Island near Seattle.

Last year we pre-registered for the ride, but woke up that morning to the threat of snow, so we decided not to risk driving 75 miles to the start location, having an miserable day, and then driving home.

So far this year we’ve had unusually warm and dry weather. Our local mountains have received barely any snow, while we’ve watched the east coast get hammered by winter. We started talking a couple of weeks ago about the possibility of doing the Chilly Hilly, but we agreed we’d wait until the morning of the event to make the decision.

By last Friday the forecast was looking so perfect that we decided we’d drive over on Saturday, enjoy the afternoon and evening, have a nice dinner, get a good night’s sleep, and go for a bike ride!

It was indeed chilly (in the high 30s) when we headed out on Sunday morning to join the throngs of riders who were coming over from Seattle on the ferry. But the sky was bright blue and the temperature quickly reached the low 50s.

So the “chilly” part was a non-issue, but there was no avoiding the “hilly” part. The route was a roller coaster! We went up–and then down–our first big hill in the first mile.

We soon reached our first “photo op,” where we joined dozens of people who were stopping to take photos of happy faces and the Seattle skyline.

The Mountain was out (as the locals say about Mt. Rainier)! It’s visible on the far right of this photo.

The route basically circumnavigated the island; we rode right along the waterfront most of the time. Over the entire 33 miles, I only recall one relatively long, flat section. Most of the hills were short, but very steep. I confess I had to get off and walk in two places, but then so did a lot of other people. The official elevation gain is listed as 2,675 feet. Counting the ride uphill back to our motel afterwards, my GPS watch registered 2,726 feet. By the end, we’d had enough hills for one day–but we felt very proud of what we’d accomplished.

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So far this year I’m doing a bit less running and more bike riding than I’d expected. We’re starting to really enjoy riding for 30+ miles, and we’re talking about training to do some much longer rides this summer. We have a big cycling event planned, but I’ll tell you more about that later.

Right now, the trail is calling me and I plan to go out and run about 9 miles!

I’m a Recognized BJCP Judge!

On February 2 I finally got word that I had passed the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) tasting exam that I took back on October 25. I am now a Recognized BJCP judge!

I celebrated my success by immediately volunteering to judge in a few competitions. I’ll need 5 judging points to advance to the next BJCP rank, which is Certified.  I’m already partway there because I’ve judged on two prior occasions. Generally, a day’s worth of judging (morning and afternoon sessions) is worth one point.

Last Saturday CFL and I were up verrrry early to drive to Tacoma to judge (and in CFL’s case to steward) at a competition being held on a military base. The competition organizer met us at the gate to sign us onto the base, then treated us to a tour of a C-17 before we began judging at 9:00.

Drinking beer at 9:00 AM sounds very odd (and not particularly inviting) on the face of it. Especially so because I was judging strong ales–big beers that I would not want to gulp at any time of day. However, I quickly found that I was able to assess and describe the beers I was judging based only on big sniffs and tiny sips. Three of the six beers that I judged were perfectly lovely examples of the category, and thoroughly enjoyable to sniff and sip! The other three weren’t bad, just not quite as good. I held up fine all through the morning and began the afternoon eager to taste more beers.

Then I got assigned to judge American Amber Ales in the afternoon. Frankly, the best Amber out there is “meh” as far as I’m concerned–just sort of middle of the road on malt and hop flavor, well balanced and inherently bland. I and my co-judge had to taste and evaluate 11 of these beers. There were no clear standouts, nor any really awful beers. By the end of the day my taste buds were rather fatigued and I was struggling to come up with fresh adjectives to describe what I was tasting.

Still it was an enjoyable and educational day overall. I’ve now earned 3 judging points. I’ve got my next two competitions lined up and I should be promoted to Certified by April.

After that, I expect to remain at that rank for the foreseeable future. To advance to National rank, I’ll have to re-take the tasting exam and score above 80 (I scored a tantalizingly close 77 on my first exam), and pass a written exam that will make everything I’ve done so far seem easy. I’m in no hurry to do all that!

It is nice, though, to have a genuine credential in the world of beer geekdom. And now you’ll know that the next time you see me drinking a beer, it will be for the purpose research and evaluation.

Mostly. Also for enjoyment.

Cheers!