BLOGGING UNDER the INFLUENCE

This is a Blog. Posts are subject to personal influences including, but not limited to:
Home-brewed and Craft beer. Being a Stay at home Dad. Motorcycling. Fitness, in the relm of triathlon, cycling and mountain biking. Basically, anything that I deem blogworthy, or just decide to post.
Cheers!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beer!!! BIKES!!! Beer!!!

First, Beer.
I have been busy brewing a lot of beer for late summer and early fall functions. I had three different beers on tap for my friends annual Pie Fest, and they went over really well. Something for everyone on a hot day. Munich Helles (light German ale) and American Wheat (sorta like Boulevard Wheat) seemed to be the favorites. The people that like a little more hops in their beer really loved the "Obscene Tangerine" Pale Ale. No fruit was harmed in the making of it, as the hops are the sole source for the tangerine flavor. It's mighty good!!

On top of brewing those, I entered Lazlo's Beer Quest. Lazlo's is a local brewery/brew pub. I brewed a Black Currant Saison for that, and came in second for the public judging, and FIRST for the BJCP judging. Pretty sweet action!!! It ended up being a really interesting beer, that was borderline sour in a very good way. I'm actually thinking about brewing it again, and tweaking the recipe. It has potential!!!


Now then, bikes.
At the beginning of the year, I somewhat reluctantly traded my Ducati Monster in on a new KTM 1190 Adventure R. This turned out to be a VERY good thing. Don't get me wrong, the Monster was a bike I had always wanted, and still love. It's just not a good fit for me, the riding I like to do, and with only two bikes in the garage, it had to go. The really neat thing was that I met the new owner of it last week at European Bike Night. She (yep) just got it the day before, and was bummed that a couple items were not on it from the pictures she had seen online that I posted. I have those items, and will be giving them to her. I talked with her and her husband (he's got a sweet older Ducati 996!), and they are good people!!

Back to the new bike...



It's being touted as the current end-all be-all Adventure bike. Well, I can't argue. I think the BMW GS Adventure would win in a real long distance shootout, but anything short of a week long trip, OR when you leave the pavement, the KTM wins. The power is insane. The traction control and ABS are seamless and flat out amazing. Riding position is perfect. The only small gripes are the wind management (never perfect on any bike) and the heat from the engine. The seat gets a touch warm, and in slow moving traffic on a hot day, your thighs will be very hot. The price you pay for a very narrow bike with 1195cc v-twin with 148hp!!!! I'll take it!

I was fortunate enough to get out for a week long trip through Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah and Colorado. 2600mi in 7 days with two good friends. Camping, Riding and seeing some of the best parts of this nation, in my humble opinion. I could type for a full day talking about the trip, but I'm pretty sure we all have better things to do, so here are some pictures from the trip. Enjoy!















Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Good stuff Maynard!

Growing up, both sets of my Grandparents were farmers. Well, one was a rancher, but I won't get into all that now.

They lived a few hours away, both in different parts of the state. One was in the North Central part of Nebraska. The sandhills region is a profoundly beautiful place that far too many people think of as "flyover country". Lately, it has gotten publicity from the Keystone XL pipeline, and the ranchers in that area doing their best to stop it. Rightfully so, I might add. Trust me, you don't want an oil spill contaminating the Ogallala Aquifer!!!

The other set of Grandparents lived in the South Western part of Nebraska. Very different than the rolling grass stabilized sand dunes of the North, the South is field after field of crops. Corn mostly, with Soy Beans, Wheat, Milo and a few others grown all throughout the area. My Grandfather had farmed from when he was a little boy. He had to take charge of the farm at a young age, when his father took ill. He did so with his brothers and sisters, through The Great Depression and WWII. He was of German decent, and was asked to wear an armband to show this during the war. From what I have heard, this was not cool with him. I wish I had him tell me more stories of his life, but sadly, I was uninterested in all of that when I was young. I have gotten a few out of my Dad, and one I thought was interesting, was "Green Tomatoes".

Green Tomatoes,
My father had heard of people eating "fried green tomatoes", and started to wonder why he had never had them. Growing up on a mostly self sufficient farm, they always had a garden full of vegetables. Of coarse there were tomatoes, but they were always left on the vine until big, juicy, red and ripe. Then they would eat them with a touch of sugar, or salt, or as a topping on hamburgers. They would also can them for soups and stews in the fall and winter. So, thinking it would be nice to maybe try some fried, and green, he asked my Grandmother "Can we have some fried green tomatoes?" The reply was a stern "NO. And don't ever ask again!" This was a bit puzzling at the time, and I'm sure he just accepted her answer, and forgot about it. Now, when I heard this, he explained why she would act so negatively toward a very simple request. The Great Depression and Dust Bowl. During those times, especially in the Great Plains region, food was scarce. It was so dry, and hot, that crops were failing and livestock was in short supply. Tomatoes had to be eaten before you would normally go after them. So, they were eating green tomatoes as a part of nearly every meal.

Tough times for sure. I'm proud to say I came from such hardy stock! My Grandfather farmed until he was in his 80's, and Grandma forced him to stop, for fear that he would hurt either himself or someone else. I witnessed that nearly happen one day. He accidentally let the clutch out on the tractor, while in gear, and a farm hand was leaning up against the front of the rear tire. Luckily, it only lurched forward a couple feet, and the farm hand was pushed up on the tire fast enough that it basically threw him out of the way. That may have been the last time I saw him in the drivers seat of any farm equipment.

My Uncle would have taken over the farm, but he was hurt in a farming accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. As a young kid, I loved to help them both on my trips to the farm. I would get up at the crack of dawn, and ride in the tractor with my Grandpa to feed the cattle. Then my uncle would take me to check the fields. They used large diameter pipe that laid on the ground to irrigate the corn, and you had to adjust the gates on every row, to have it provide just the right amount of water. Now, my uncle must have been a lot like me, because he wouldn't just take a pickup to go do this chore. How boring would that be!! He had a Yamaha XT 500. There is a picture somewhere of me on it, at about age 4. Riding on the back with him, holding on as tight as my little hands would grip, was probably the foundation for my love of motorcycles. Whenever he had a good day, or a good meal, or even just a good laugh, he would say "Good Stuff Maynard!"

Cheers,
Kurt

P.S. - I saw a perfect example of my uncle's XT 500 at the last bike night. I will own one of those as soon as I can, and keep it forever. Great memories that I feel I must tell my kids, and somehow give them a similar experience. Hey, it's only about a 4hr drive out to that farm. Some day, I may just have an XT, a trailer, and a truck with a kid or two headed West to ride a few miles of dirt road. SHHH! Don't tell MOM! ;)

Monday, January 27, 2014

If the shoe doesn't fit....

A year ago, I bought one of my dream bikes. A Ducati Monster. Ever since I saw one for the first time in a motorcycle magazine, when I was in High School, I always wanted one. "Naked bikes" don't get any better looking that the Monster! Since those days, I have spent ten's of thousands of miles on an Adventure Touring bike, the Suzuki V-strom 650. That bike really fit me well, ergonomically, as well as my motorcycling personality.

It didn't take long for me to both fall in love with the Monster, as well as have some buyer's remorse. As a guy that is 6ft tall, and well over 200lbs, the Monster is a small bike for me. Great for around town, and the short 30min run to our monthly breakfast meet-up. The problems start at about 45min in the saddle, and/or on a long straight road. The combination of sporty ergo's and total lack of wind protection, made me miss my trusty old Strom, even though the sound, looks and power of the Duc were quite visceral.

I started looking at the newest crop of ADV bikes, and had several that I thought I would thoroughly enjoy for years to come. The short list was:
2010+ Triumph Tiger 800xc
2014 Suzuki Vstrom 1000
2008+ BMW GS/GSA
2014 KTM Adventure/Adventure R

Talked it over with my most trusted motorcycling advisors. I also had to clear this new possible motorcycle switch with the boss. After much debate, I ended up trading in the Monster on a 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure R. I have only ridden it twice, but so far, it is overwhelmingly great!! Street, gravel, dirt and on the open highway, it's good. Nearly perfect! I can see wanting a tad more wind protection on long trips, but that isn't anything that a larger windscreen won't fix.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Helluva Christmas!

Can I even say that? Sorta sacrilegious isn't it.

Well, we here at BUI had a wonderful holiday. Kids got tons of gifts. Wife like most of her stuff. She was not too thrilled with the cool vintage looking handbag I got her from Lux de Ville. It's rad, but not really her style. I told her it's just for fun, and going to Reverend Horton Heat shows, and stuff. I'm hoping we can find her a dress to go with it for Rock and Roll Prom in Kansas City this spring. Yeah, you heard me!

After Christmas, myself and my son caught some nasty stomach bug. He was only sick overnight, thank God! On the other hand, I was sick all night, and all the next day. Finally feeling a little better before bed, and pretty good the next day. Tough stuff, this getting old is. On top of that, I had a head cold, and have seemed to pass it on to my wife and daughter. She slept horribly last night. If only you could see the bags under my eyes.

This is all really boring though, isn't it!

PLANNING A BREW DAY WITH ZOID

My good buddy, and fellow homebrewer Dan (aka: zoid) are going to brew up an Oatmeal Stout, and split the batch. I'm sure we will use different yeasts, and I may do some fun stuff with mine. Oak? Bourbon? Cherries? Vanilla beans? Not sure yet. We are still in the base recipe stage, but I think we're close. Just need to find the time to brew it. Hopefully within the next three weeks!

THE IPA

A few weeks back, I brewed the recipe that won the National Homebrew Competition Gold Medal. It's now in the keg, and it's really good. I've really got to be in the mood for that hop monster!! I think I would change the recipe a tad, for my taste. It's more of a double IPA, without enough malt backbone. Maybe my fault, but I brewed it per the recipe, so I'm not sure about that.

Here's the Recipe:

NHC GOLD! IPA - Greg Ulans V2.0

American IPA (14 B)



Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Size: 8.24 gal
Boil Time: 120 min
End of Boil Vol: 6.24 gal
Final Bottling Vol: 5.05 gal
Fermentation: Basement During Winter


Date: 26 Sep 2013
Brewer: Kurt - Recipe from Gregory Ulans
Asst Brewer:
Equipment: Blichmann
Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 79.4 %

11 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 82.1 %
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM) Grain 2 7.1 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 3 3.6 %
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - Mash 60.0 min Hop 4 3.4 IBUs
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - First Wort 120.0 min Hop 5 20.7 IBUs
1 lbs Sugar, Table (Sucrose) (1.0 SRM) Sugar 6 7.1 %
2.00 oz Magnum [14.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 87.7 IBUs
0.50 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 45.0 min Hop 8 18.7 IBUs
0.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 9 6.6 IBUs
1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining 10 -
2.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min Hop 12 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) [50.28 ml] Yeast 13 -
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Primary 7.0 days) Other 14 -
2.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 15 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 16 0.0 IBUs



Cheers!
Kurt

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dennis "Anti Hero" Matson

The man. The myth. The legend.


Never heard of him? That doesn't surprise me.
Here is the story in a nutshell:
A guy about 40 has had a tough go of it for the last couple years. Health problems, and what not. Then his girlfriend calls it quits on him. What's a guy to do? Well. This particular guy, Dennis, went out and bought the motorcycle that he has always wanted. A brand spankin' new Ducati 1199 Panigale. He then throws on a backpack with some essentials, and starts riding. California to the East coast, and then back. In 6 months, his put on almost 16,000mi, and saw 38 states. ON A SPORTBIKE....an ITALIAN sportbike!

After writing about his trip, with an ongoing 'Ride Report' posted on ADVrider.com, people were taking notice. Ton's of regular Joe's, and some important people too. Like the folks at Ducati. His name was "sent upstairs" at Ducati, and he got an invitation to go to the 1199R launch in Austin, TX.

Video:



After all that, and a nice break for the better part of a year, he is back to it. Riding, and writing. This time, though he is on the same bike, he is in the Pacific North West. The experience so far has been even better, at least from my end of just following along, than the first time. He truly is one of the better writers out there. The way he writes is a modern version of Robert Persig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The best parts of that book, to me, are the riding and people along the way. Persig goes pretty deep into the philosophical realm, and looses my attention quite often. Matson keeps me entertained in the digital age, with stunning pictures, and personal experiences from current situations, and his past. He is a philosophical sorta guy, but much less clinical about it.


Links to the FIRST RIDE REPORT, and the CURRENT RIDE REPORT.


If you can find the time, try looking through his ride reports. It can be a little confusing, with all of the other posts from fellow readers, but it is worth it.

I just pray that he publishes a novel based on these travels!!!

He does have a book of mostly photography, that I have not bought yet.... HERE.

Ride safe Dennis!
-Kurt