Primer on “Angry Philadelphia”

Next week, if all things go according to plan, I’m planning on finally riding from New York to Philadelphia.1 It’s one of those rides that all New York City bicyclists talk about doing, such as riding to Montauk, but I’ve never headed that far south on a bike. I am really looking forward to doing that.

Despite now living in New York City for almost thirteen years, I’ve only been to Philadelphia four times.2

  1. The first time was for a baseball game at Veteran’s Stadium. It was Labor Day 2003, the game was between the Red Sox and the Phillies, and it was Mike Schmidt Bobblehead Day. The nine-inning game lasted about four hours, the score went back and forth, and the game was decided by Trot Nixon hitting a grand-slam off maligned Phillies reliever Turk Wendell. My friends and I drove home after the game.
  2. The second time was for another baseball game, between the Dodgers and Phillies at the new Citizens Bank Park in 2005. Although the two ballparks were located close to each other, you can experience the difference between a 1970s cookie-cutter, multiuse stadium and a 2000s retro inner-city ballpark. You really can feel the forty year time-warp. Again, we drove back the same day.
  3. The third time did not involve a baseball game. It was for a talk at the University of Pennsylvania. While I didn’t drive this time, I did take the “ghetto train,” using SEPTA and NJ Transit, with a connection in Trenton, back to New York City.
  4. Last April, Sarah and I needed to burn a free night at the Omni Hotel, and we booked a one-night stay around it. It was the first time that I got to explore the city a bit, and I really liked it. I immediately regretted that we didn’t book a second night.

But next week, after cycling through New Jersey and crossing the Delaware, George Washington–style, I am going to stay not just one, but two, two, two nights. Sarah is taking the train, and my friends from Washington, D.C. are also coming up to spend Bastille Day weekend in one of our nation’s earliest capital cities. To bone up on the city and its people, I listened to an episode of the podcast, Like I’m an Idiot, where a guest explains a topic to the host, Josh Cagan, like he’s an idiot. In this episode, native Philadelphian Mike Monteiro explains why Philadelphians are angry.

The episode reveals that the anger stems from various nationally known incidents, such as fans throwing batteries at sporting events and Frank Rizzo, the mayor of Philadelphia, ordering the police to bomb a part of his own city in 1985. We also learn that Philadelphians now wear that anger as a badge of distinction. Good for them!

Towards the end of the episode, Cagan reveals that despite living in New York City for many years and on the East Coast his entire life, he only went to Philadelphia three times.

You see? I’m not the only New Yorker who doesn’t go to Philly!


  1. I’ll technically start pedaling either in Jersey City or Newark to shave off some miles and riding through some automotive wasteland, specially US-1/US-9 between Jersey City and Newark. 
  2. I did pass through Philadelphia as part of a vacation/mileage run to Portland, via Houston and Seattle, back in April 2011, but I’m not going to count it. 

Pour Over Iced Coffee

Although I much prefer cold brew for hot summer days, there are days that I cannot wait fifteen hours to brew coffee. I need coffee right now, and I’ll settle for iced coffee. If you’re unsure about the differences between cold brew and iced coffee, let’s distinguish between the two as follows:

cold brew
coffee brewed with cold or room-temperature water for an extended period of time, between twelve and fifteen hours, and then diluted with ice water.
iced coffee
coffee brewed hot at a higher concentration and then served over ice cubes.

I prefer the sweet and complex flavors you get with cold brew. It’s much easier for me to identify the coffee’s “notes,” such as vanilla, caramel, chocolate, etc. It also lacks the bitterness of hot brewing, but you do you have to wait about half a day to extract those flavors. However, when you’re out of cold brew, and the mercury is hovering around 90°, as it is today, pouring hot coffee over ice cubes will do just fine. Also, there’s been backlash against the cold brew craze, which exploded on the coffee scene about four years ago, and some are returning to pouring hot coffee over ice cubes.

The folks at North Carolina’s Counter Culture coffee produced a video for making iced coffee.

Their recipe, posted on their website, uses 30 g of coffee, 335 ml of hot water, and 165 g of ice. I adapted their recipe to brew two small iced coffees, using a Chemex with the following measurements:

  • 40 g of coffee: Bella Vista (Antigua, Guatemala) by Tonx
  • 450 ml of 195° filtered New York City tap water
  • 220 g of ice

While I was glad that I had chilled coffee without resorting to buying it from the local coffee shop, for at least three dollars a pop, I’m glad there will be cold brew tomorrow.

Off the Back in the Gunks

A year ago, when I first rode in the B STS, we had the option of riding a graduation ride in the Shawangunk Ridge, west of New Paltz, New York. I passed on riding with the group because I was already signed up for the Ride to Montauk, and both rides were happening on the same day. But ever since then, I have been tempted to ride up there, even if it was on my own, just to see how challenging it could be.

Forward to this year, 2014, and I still hadn’t ridden up there.

Yesterday, two guys from this year’s STS group and I drove to New Paltz and rode through the Gunks. We followed the 68-mile Medio Fondo route of the Grand Fondo Gunks. (There is also a 110-mile Grand Fondo course, but we weren’t interest in such madness.)

A Medio Fondo in the Gunks

The ride including two long climbs. One is a three-mile climb on NY-52 between the Walker Valley and Ellenville, known as Cragsmoor for the road and small village at the summit of the hill. The second climb is about five-miles long along US-44/NY-55 to the top of Minnewaska State Park. Both were much more gentle than I had anticipated, and I was able to pace myself and still remain in my second and third smallest gears for most of the time on those climbs. You can see the two climbs on this elevation profile.

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Another reason why the ride didn’t seem as hard as I had feared was because I occasionally stopped to take a few photos of the sweeping views.

Nevele from NY-52

And of course, what better way to capture a panoramic vista than with a panoramic photograph.

Road riding on Minnewaska

Seeing the Sights

There were many points of interest along the route.

First, we spotted a BBQ smoking pit in Verkeerderkill Park, a public park in the town of Pine Bush. It’s not something city folk like ourselves expect to see on a casual Sunday morning.

BBQ Pit

Sadly, it was not in action.

Second, heading up to Minnewaska on US-44/NY-55, there lies a shuttered building that housed Oscar, a now-closed casual dining restaurant.

Coming Soon… Rough Cut Brewing Company

According to the sign, a brewery, Rough Cut Brewing, is coming to that location. However, in the half minute I spent searching for “Rough Cut Brewing,” I found no references to a New York-state brewery, only an IPA brewed in Oregon. Also, that sign looks more weathered than the signage for the closed restaurant.

Perhaps the strangest sight of the day was the Redwood Driftwood sculpture garden on Clove Valley Road.

Redwood Driftwood Sculptures, Minnewaska

An artist named Pamela Phelps sells prints of these redwood driftwoods. According to her description of the work, these driftwoods are the product of both industrial forces and natural causes:

This is one of many Redwood Driftwood pieces, remnants of the 1860-1930 logging era, shaped by natural forces. In early years the trees were uprooted as they were logged from millennia old virgin forests. When it was realized that new trees sprouted from left in the ground roots, the practice was discontinued.

The driftwoods were carefully arranged along a field on Clove Valley Road in Minnewaska. It is hard to miss these pieces even as we were racing down this road at about 20 MPH.

We Ride to Swim

We finished riding just before 6:00 PM and arrived at the Ulster Country Pool Complex in New Paltz.

Post-Ride Swim

The facility was great because it served as a free parking spot, allowed us to take badly needed showers, and, yes, it is a pool so we took a short swim before they closed at 7:00 PM.

Had we staged a foot race to the car from the pool, this would have been my first triathlon.

Apple Shutters Development of Aperture

Since I became more serious about photography in 2010, I have been using Aperture to edit and manage my photo library. While most every other DSLR photographer I’ve ever met prefers Adobe’s Lightroom or Capture One, a small niche of photographers have stuck with Aperture. I preferred it to Lightroom partly because I bought it for about $60, thanks to a substantial academic discount, and because I have had some problems with Adobe software in the past that I would like to avoid in the future.

Earlier today, the small niche of Aperture users learned that Apple will stop development of Aperture and migrate us to their new Photos app, due in 2015.

With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture,” said Apple in a statement provided to The Loop. “When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS.

That explains why Apple hasn’t updated Aperture since November 2013 and why it still bears the antiquated Aqua look on its buttons and dialog boxes. Adobe has already began courting Aperture users promising that will double-down on its development of Lightroom. And Capture One’s pricing doesn’t look half bad should the new Photos app not do it for me.

New Amtrak Baggage Cars to Hold Bicycles

Amtrak will be getting new baggage cars on their long-distance trains. Those trains include the Lake Shore Limited, a twenty-hour train between New York and Chicago, and the Cardinal, another train that travels between Chicago and New York but takes twenty-six hours. The most exciting part of the baggage cars is that they will enable passengers to bring their bicycles on the train without boxing up the bikes.

The new baggage cars will be used on all 15 long-distance routes, which means the benefits of improved reliability and an enhanced climate-control environment for baggage will be available to our long distance customers by the end of 2014 . Also, the new cars will be equipped with built-in luggage racks that will be able to secure unboxed bicycles…

Yes, it’s exciting to see one nineteenth-century form of transportation (the train) supplement another nineteenth-century form of transportation (the safety bicycle). It also makes taking a train a viable and affordable option for traveling to distant bicycle events, such as October’s Hilly Hundred in Indiana. Last year, I had to box up my bike, take it to Newark, and then ship it to and from Indianapolis.

I Took the Plane, My Bike Took the Train

As great a step forward this is, it’s still not the same as allowing bicyclists to walk their bikes onto the train, as is the case on certain trains in California and the Midwest. It’s also nice to have that option aboard our the Metro North and Long Island Railroad commuter lines.

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Allowing bicycles onto Amtrak trains that run north of New York City would immediately open up new destinations in upstate New York, such as Rhinebeck and Hudson, and parts of Vermont for some great foliage rides.

And if you want to read about today’s passenger rail travel in the United States, Kevin Baker takes a long-distance trip on the “Twenty-First Century Limited” in this month’s Harper’s.

Does Amazon Have a Cycling Team?

Consider this my first fashion post.

Searching for short-sleeve wool jerseys on eBay, I found a lot for sale consisting of an assortment of wool jerseys at a pretty decent price. I was intrigued by the orange color, and upon further shopping, it appears that these jerseys bear the Amazon logo with a cycling gear inset.

 

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Sadly, they're out of my size, but if you keep them free of moth balls, I have a feeling that one of these jerseys could easily outlast Amazon as a company.

 

Multiple Exposures on Canon EOS 6D

One of the many great features of the Canon EOS 6D, aside from its full-frame sensor, GPS, WiFi, and its price, is its support for multiple exposures. Canon released a video earlier this week showing how to use the feature.

The first time I used this feature was almost by accident during the Center for Holographic Arts closing party in April. I was trying to capture both the backlit plate on the overhead projector and the two men standing in faint light.

IMG_2757

Ultimately, I settled on using HDR to make the photo because the lighting for those two subjects was too different to use multiple exposures. But I’ll play around with this feature now that I better understand its purpose.

Better Than Perfect

Last night, while I was watching my friend premiere his first feature film at the Lower East Side Film Festival (yes, there is such a thing), Clayton Kershaw pitched what LAist’s Carman Tse called “the most dominant no-hitter ever.”

It’s easy to get carried away rooting for the home team, but Tse is basically right. Using Game Score, the Bill James–designed formula that every novice sabremetrician likes to use for comparing a pitching performances, Kershaw pitched the second best nine-inning game of the last 100 years. Only Kerry Wood, who as a rookie struck out twenty Houston Astros and inspired a generation of Cubs fans to proudly don t-shirts bearing the phrase We Got Wood, did better with a Game Score of 105.

Pitcher Date Pitches Hits Strikeouts Walks Game Score
Wood May 6, 1998 122 1 20 0 105
Kershaw June 18, 2014 107 0 15 0 102

Kershaw’s no-hitter is also one point better than Matt Cain’s perfect game from 2012, where he tied Sandy Koufax for the most dominant perfect game ever. Cain and Koufax each earned Game Scores of 101 in retiring twenty-seven consecutive batters.

Pitcher Date Pitches Hits Strikeouts Walks Game Score
Cain June 13, 2012 125 0 14 0 101
Koufax September 9, 1965 0 14 0 101

But by notching one more strikeout than Cain or Koufax, Kershaw bested them by one point. However, reading the description of each game, Kershaw seemed to dominate in more ways than Game Score can measure. Let’s see, here. Kershaw faced 28 batters, and one reached due to a Hanley Ramirez error.[1] Kershaw punched-out fifteen of the remaining twenty-seven batters, which leaves twelve batters. Eight of those put the ball in play but failed to get the ball out of the infield. That leaves four batters who, according to the accounts I read, made soft contact, managing to only lift some lazy fly balls to the outfield. Let that sink in: there were only four lazy fly balls hit to the outfield! By comparison, in Matt Cain’s perfect game from 2012, there were seven balls hit to the outfield, and that seemed freakishly low at the time. In either case, it shows how dominating Cain and Kershaw were in these historic games, turning big league hitters into beer league players.

One was perfect, but one was better than perfect.


  1. Hanley Ramirez seriously owes Kershaw a nice gift for blowing that play, like a sports car or a year of college tuition.  ↩

Light Beers that aren’t “Light” Beers

One of the beers of the summer has been JÅN Olympic White Lagrrr! by the Astoria, Queens–brewery Singlecut. As you can tell from the name, it’s a white lager, something you don’t see very often.

When we went to Peekskill on Sunday, I had another white lager at the Peekskill Brewery that was made with the same hops that “power” their sour beers, most notably their Simple Sour and The Aristocrats.

As you can tell, it’s white! Or at least it’s pretty light. The Styriana was a pretty solid beer, which scores really high with Beer Advocate reviewers.

This reminded me of a beer I had on the other side of the country at the Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles. It was the White Nite stout. Again, as the name implies, it’s a white stout.

Most white beers, or witbiers are made with wheat, which makes for a light yet tart flavor found in a lot of summer beers. But the Angel City stout does not taste like a wheat beer, it tastes like a stout. Beer drinkers more knowledgeable than I note flavors ordinarily found in stouts: coffee, chocolate, and earth.

Casual beer drinkers will certainly note flavor first and associate color with that flavor. How many times have you heard someone ask a bartender for a “light beer?” What’s different about these beers is that despite their light color, their flavor is quite strong.

Unless this goes to the logical extreme of brewers producing clear beer, I’m all for watching these independent breweries producing some novel brews.