Most Favored

February 11, 2018 § Leave a comment

After reading Seth’s post that included an old favorite ride, it got me to thinking about favorites in my own life. When you are a kid, you are advised to not pick favorites. Don’t pick your mother over your father, this grandparent over any other, etc. Feelings may get hurt. That gets carried on in life to when you have more than one kid. You don’t want to appear to be favoring one over the other. When you have more than 1 brother-in-law, is it fair to have a favorite? As a youth adviser, trying to build leadership skills in the next generation, playing favorites is counter productive.

My favorite breakfast is Rolled Oats oatmeal cooked on the stove with big blue berries. Add dried cranberries, and maple syrup and that is a great way to start the day. Bonus application of sliced fresh figs, or banana, and if I have it, home toasted pecans or walnuts. I took a recipe for a batch, and use 1/4 the amount of sugar called for, and make a batch, about a pound, in a little over an hour. Drip Sumatra coffee from Trader Joe’s rounds out a complete breakfast, and if it is a workday, off to work, and if it is a pre-ride meal, then that it is a good stoking of coal, as base, for hammering out my contributions on the front.

Back in my college daze, my favorite ride in was the first loop I learned about after returning to college after completing a cross country adventure and joining a local cycling club. I walked into one of the bike shops in town, it was on Beaver between Locust and Hiester, and told the shop owner I was interested in local club rides. I had these good legs from the trip, and I didn’t want to lose that fitness. He told me about some rides that left from his shop, and I made sure I showed up.

State College is a terrific base camp for riding in central Pa. I probably already knew that, because I did do some training rides for my summer adventure, but those mostly stuck to the areas North and West of town. The first ride I showed up for headed South out College Ave., a lot less trafficked in those days, than today. There are two basic entry points for this ride: Route 26 to Pine Grove Mills, or cut through town to Waupelani Drive and go out Whitehall where the two points intersect not far from Pine Grove Mills.  This is usually done as a warm-up to get the legs loosened up for what is coming next. The Tussey Mountain ascent. In Pine Grove Mills, Route 26 hangs a left and immediately begins to climb Tussey Mountain. This first section is a straight into the mountain grind through and out of the small town. This is actually the steepest grade of the entire climb, and it is where the first separations in the group begin to occur. I found myself in the front group following wheel when the road bent to the left (North) then right to make a giant sweeping 180 degree turn South where the road then cuts against the grain and angles to the top of the ridge a mile further up the road. It could have been a classic “breaking away” scene if I could have held wheel all the way to the top, but while I was strong, I wasn’t strong and fast, and I settled into nowhere land between the first and second groupings.

We re-formed at the top, enjoyed the scenic view, and turned around and raced back down whence we had come. While I may not go up the fastest, I can descend pretty damn fast, and with a certain “no fear” factor, I held my own. Back in town we hung a left on Route 45 South, and rode a short way until making a right onto Tadpole. This begins the cut-through on back roads that cut across Happy Valley to west side. Fairbrook, Gatesburg, Marengo, Centennial and Stormstown are the small farming communities that inhabit the valley through this area. All the while, every time a surge occurred, I was able to follow and in many cases take turns during rotation. I did feel like I was being tested, hey, they are bike racers, and so far I was doing fine. Something I haven’t experienced much on a bike in NJ, at least the part of NJ I live in, are loose dogs. This section and a farm on Route 550, had loose dogs, that were as much into the game of chasing, as I guess we were into not being caught. We hammered through and avoided the dogs. After re-grouping again, I was told that the next section would include the “faux finish” of their imaginary race course. I hadn’t ever ridden this course before, so I was at a disadvantage, but when the selection was made, I was up in the mix. This finish was somewhere on Meek’s Lane, a narrow, rolling coaster of a road. Where the finish was I knew not, I just knew my legs were good, and at the top of every roll, I was there. Soon I was on the front powering, and then Meek’s bore to the right, but the road looked to me like it went straight ahead, and hence my mistake was made. I barreled right past the turn when I finally heard “TURN RIGHT!”. Braking and pulling a 180 I raced as hard as I could to catch back on, but that was tail I was not going to get back onto. So I rolled across the line just after the front group, but well ahead of the main group, and with that, my favorite loop in State College was born.

Here in Monmouth County, I have favorite sections of roads. Segments where, if conditions are favorable, I just can’t not dig in and push the tempo up. Crawford’s Road from Holmdel Road all the way to the giant transistor. Dutch Lane from the Route 18 overpass all the way to Laird. Coming off Sandy Hook with a tail wind. Continuing south on Route 36 to Sea Bright. Ocean Ave from Belmar to the end. Nutswamp from Normandy to Navasink River Road. Favorite rides? Well, I always loved my Sandy Hook loop, and doing The Hook with Tom, Tony and Mike is a blast. The Tuesday Night Hustle was a pretty decent drop ride, but I don’t think that rolls off any more. Princeton is always a great long ride, and one of those rides is on my top five list of greatest days on the bike.

I haven’t been involved in the Metro Youth movement for many years now, so I think I can say now, that I did have some favorites. Not that any of the youth not listed should take exception to being left off it, but these were youth I enjoyed spending time with, and have enjoyed following them from afar on Facegag. Ema WithOneM, Zach Mazur, Genna Ayres, Katie Daniels, Emma Rose Kates, Tobin Porter Brown, and many more.

To be fair to my other two brothers in law, I simply haven’t spent as much time with you as I have with most favored brother-in-law, Marty (Walt to those who know I know him better as Marty). Marty was at State College when I met him, and we have known each other a damn long time. Except for two weeks, I have known him as long as I have known my wife Susan, his sister. We had a lot in common and still do. Sorry Doug, sorry Dave, but its always been Marty.

You shouldn’t ever have a favorite child. That just isn’t fair to the rest of them, or other one in my case, however, I don’t see anything wrong is awarding most favored status for a short period of time. D1 moved back in with us this past Friday after giving Denver a shot at being home, but being surrounded by the evidence of old oceans is no substitute for a real and current ocean being less than 5 miles away. A short time after our rendezvous in Northern California I mentioned to Alyson that Russian River Brewers lists Denver as a distribution center for their beer products, and I did some research and found a place that had Pliney The Elder on tap. My daughters allow me to track them on my iPhone, and it wasn’t long before I saw Alyson’s dot parked at this place where she was in fact sipping Pliney’s. She did some research of her own, and found a few places that got bottle shipments, but you have to be on your toes, because each day (one day a week) a new delivery comes in, even regulating the sale of no more than two bottles per purchase, the supply runs out before the end of that day.

So, surprised I was when D1 plopped a bag on the counter, a giant smile across her face, and an “I have a present for you” audible sound wave working its way through my inner ear. Well, I knew what it was without opening the bag, but still I was excited to open the bag and behold the simply labeled bottles of Pliney. Russian River says plainly “DO NOT SAVE THIS BEER!”.  “Savor it”. Meaning, don’t put this on a shelf. It was brewed to be consumed, and consumed it should be. This is not a beer that will improve with age, but rather it will lose something. I plan on drinking one of them tonight as I engage in homemade pizza night. Seems like a match made in heaven, if I believed in heaven.

This week though, Alyson, a.k.a. D1 is most favored daughter.

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