Weekend Ride

I rode through parts of Columbia, Savage, Laurel, and Jessup this morning, for a round trip of almost 40 miles. I usually plot my routes on gmap-pedometer.com ahead of time to get a rough estimate of distance, but I did not do that for this ride. I had guesstimated it at roughly 30-35 miles, which I guess was too low. Nice to get out for a longer ride, though. It was a fairly flat route, so I took my single speed bike. I was out for right around 3 hours, and found 4 geocaches along the way. The weather was nice: it started out in the upper 60s with a dewpoint in the low 60s, which felt great compared to the past 3 days. A line of strong storms passed through the area yesterday evening just ahead of the cold front. Most of the action must have been to our south, as there was a lot of storm debris in the roads, particularly around Savage.

Based on the weather forecast, it looks like I might be able to ride my mountain bike to work on Wednesday, for the first time in forever. Looking forward to that if it happens.

Smoothie Recipe #2

I decided to try a different smoothie recipe yesterday:

  • Around 10 ounces almond milk (a little more than the recipe calls for, but I wanted to use up the carton)
  • 2 red apples of some sort (probably Fuji or Gala), cored and quartered
  • A bunch of spinach (recipe calls for 3 cups, but I didn’t measure)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • Some honey (recipe calls for 2 tsp; again, I didn’t measure)
  • 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Several ice cubes

This recipe makes 2 smoothies, and I had to use the full-size Ninja blender to fit all of the ingredients. Prep time was longer than my usual go-to recipe, because the apples needed to be cored, avocado peeled/pitted, ginger peeled/chopped, and lemon squeezed.

I did not like this at all initially. It was way too lemony, and lacked any hint of sweetness. However, I liked it a lot better when I drank the second half the next day, I think partially because I wasn’t expecting it to taste sweet, and the lemony sourness had mellowed out somewhat. If I make this again, I’ll cut back on the lemon, and maybe add some cayenne pepper to give it a little kick. The recipe does lack a good source of protein, so I may try substituting Greek yogurt for some of the Almond milk, and/or adding protein powder.

I found another recipe that is very similar to this one, but adds a banana and omits the lemon juice. It might be worth trying that as well.

Hot Day Hybrid

Day 3 of the heat wave: after skipping Thursday’s run in favor of the pool, I wanted to run today, even if it was only a short one. I hit the road at 8:15am, when it was still below 80°, and although it was plenty humid, it did feel slightly less oppressive out than it did yesterday or Thursday. It might just be that I’m getting acclimated to it. Whatever the case, I ran 4 miles at 10:00/mile, and felt pretty good. When I was finished, I put on my swim gear and ran for 30 more minutes in the pool. It was the first time I have done regular running and pool running in the same session, and I think it worked out well. Four miles is long enough that I felt like I got a decent run in, but short enough that I didn’t overheat and lose a ton of fluids, and the pool was a great way to cool off afterwards. Ideally, I’d like to get out about an hour earlier, but I didn’t wake up until close to 7 today. I must have needed the sleep.

My experiences with running in the heat and humidity this summer have convinced me that I’d like to pick up a running-specific hydration vest, but there is a mind-numbing variety of them to choose from, so I’m going to have to do a little bit of research. I’ll probably hold off on buying anything until REI has their next sale and 20% off coupon (maybe around Labor Day).

Here’s something that has never happened to me in 22 years of pool ownership: I walked outside earlier and saw that the Polaris tail sweep hose had come disconnected from the main unit. I retrieved both of them, and nothing looked broken. I was able to easily push the tail back onto the ferrule, but it was kind of obvious that whatever secured it there was missing. I found a parts diagram and saw that there’s a plastic clamp that’s supposed to go there, but it was nowhere to be found. I’m guessing it just broke. A new one costs about $3.50, but I jury-rigged it with a zip tie for now, which seems to be working. I don’t expect it to last too long, but who knows.. maybe it will surprise me.

Update (9/13/23): The zip tie fix lasted until today, or just over 6 weeks. I just put a new one on, and will add the $3.50 clamp to my list of items to buy for next season (it might be cheaper over time to just keep sacrificing zip ties, but it would be much more annoying 😀).


Today is day two of our predicted 3-day heat wave. In lieu of pool running, I headed to Movement for my usual Friday morning climbing. I climbed 7 routes, all on TR, with grades ranging from 5.10b to 5.11a. It was a reasonably good climbing session with some challenging routes, particularly the 5.11a, which was very crimpy at the top. I’ll probably swim in the late afternoon again.

I had a $20 bonus card from REI that was only good for a week, so I ordered another pair of REI Swiftland running short tights. I bought my first pair back in May. I like the fit as well as the pockets, and they also seem to be pretty resistant to odors, at least in typical late-spring and early-summer running conditions. I’m thinking about also trying them for climbing, as I’ve had some chafing issues recently with looser athletic shorts.

I’ve gotten fairly predictable with my morning brews lately, as I’m working on using up some of the beans I’ve had for a couple of months. I brewed this recipe again this morning, with the only change being that I ground the beans ever so slightly finer (2.5 turns – 3 clicks). To be totally honest, I didn’t notice much difference. It was a good cup — not the best I’ve ever had — but I do like that this recipe seems to produce fairly predictable results. Yesterday’s (exact same beans and recipe) was maybe a tiny bit more acidic than I have been used to, but not overly so. Next week I’m hoping to try pour-over for the first time, as I have a Hario V60 dripper on order. The first one arrived broken, so I’m just waiting on the replacement.

Pool Running

With our first real heat wave of the summer upon us (fortunately only forecast to last 3 days), I took my first pool run of the season this morning. I was considering trying to get out early for a “regular” run, but quickly decided against it when I stepped outside. I find pool running to be excruciatingly boring, so I usually only do it on extremely hot days when I don’t feel like doing anything else outdoors. Last summer, I only recall running in the pool once or twice.

In contrast to swimming, which I typically do in the late afternoon, I like to get my pool running in by 9:00am, when the water is coolest, and before the sun starts hitting the water surface. I don’t go underwater, so instead of goggles and earplugs, I wear a flotation belt, hat, SweatHawg headband, and (occasionally) sunglasses. I also usually put my airpods in to have something to listen to, which helps with the boredom.

Today, I hit the water at right around 8:00, and ran for 30 minutes. The pool water was a comfortable 83°F, but I still worked up a good sweat. It was my first time running in the pool with my Apple Watch (which I bought late last summer) so I was able to get a sense of how much I was exerting. It was about what I expected: my heart rate mainly ranged between 100 and 110 beats per minute, which is faster than I average during a brisk walk or a swim, but slower than a conventional run. The biomechanics of pool running are similar to regular running in many ways, but different in others. The water adds a lot of resistance to leg movement, which works different muscle groups; and there’s no impact to the lower body, which is why it’s a popular activity for people recovering from injuries. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to do it once a week or so during the summer as a cross-training activity, but I’d need to invest in a better flotation belt, as the one I have is not the most comfortable.

Anyhow, based on the weather forecast, I suspect I may be doing this again on Saturday.

Run/Brew Notes

I got out this morning and ran into Patapsco Valley State Park via River Rd., out to the swinging bridge, and back via the Grist Mill Trail. Although I bike through PVSP all the time, I had not run there in probably 15 years. It’s a route I had been wanting to try for a while, but it is 8.5 miles round trip, requires cutting through a school, and starts and ends along a road which is both hilly (downhill outbound and uphill inbound) and not pedestrian-friendly. On the plus side, 95% of the route is shaded, and over half of it is in the park. It’s not a bad route for summer, when school is out and there’s less traffic on the roads. Today, I cut it short at 8 miles, and walked the remaining 0.5 mile home. The uphill finish was not all that fun, but other than that, it was a pretty nice run. Once school starts, there’s always the option of taking the car, parking along Levering Ave., and just running the park portion, but that would only be 4 to 5 miles (unless I do it twice, which is an option).

I brewed the same coffee beans and recipe this morning as I did four days ago, and as I was hoping, the cup tasted about the same. I’m looking for a recipe that gives me consistent results with a wide variety of beans, and this bodes well. I am wondering if I can scale the recipe for a slightly larger cup (say, 200 to 210 grams) without having to resort to using a bypass. A 210-gram cup would call for roughly 15 grams of coffee for a 1:14 ratio, and 35 grams of water for the bloom. I guess I can try it and see if there’s enough room for all of that in the inverted AeroPress.

Brew Notes

  • Beans: Local Coffee Roasting Co. Breakfast Blend (light roast)
  • Grind: Medium-coarse – 2.5 turns on the JX
  • 100°C water (full boil)
  • 13 grams coffee / 180 grams water (about 1:14)
  • One new paper filter (dry)
  • Recipe: 13g that makes you happy (inverted: add 30g water, stir 5x, top up to 180g at 0:35, stir 10x, flip at 1:35 and press very slowly, finishing at 2:35)

Another in my continuing efforts to see if I can use this recipe as my “daily driver”. Two modifications for these beans: boiling water (vs 90°C), and 5 seconds longer initial “bloom”. This produced a pleasant, nicely-balanced cup which I would definitely brew again. It was slightly cleaner and milder than the cup I brewed with the French press a few days ago, with more flavor than my earlier attempts with the AeroPress. While it’s just fine as-is, I might try a finer grind some time just to see how, if at all, it affects the flavor.

This, that, & the other

I brewed 13g that makes you happy this morning with my “Angel Albino Corzo-Chiapa” medium roast beans that I picked up on the way home from Bethany, after getting great results with the recipe with different beans yesterday and the day before. Everything was the same, except I slightly overshot and ended up with about 190g of water (the recipe calls for 180g). It wasn’t a bad cup flavor-wise, just ever so slightly on the weak side. I’ll try this again and try to avoid over-pouring (update — 180g tasted about the same — maybe try tweaking water temperature and/or grind size). I seem to get better-extracted coffee from this recipe than I have been getting recently with the James Hoffmann recipe. My last few cups with the latter recipe have tasted kind of sour and weak. Granted, this is only the third time I’ve brewed today’s recipe, but I have yet to get a sour-tasting cup. I’ve gotten great cups of coffee with the Hoffmann recipe, too, but not consistently, and I’m still not sure exactly why that is. My goal is to find an idiot-proof recipe that produces consistently good coffee with a wide variety of beans (with maybe a small tweak to grind size and/or temperature here and there), and I am hoping that today’s recipe will turn out to be it. Time will tell.

Yesterday morning, I ran just over 10K at 10:45/mile, which is my first time averaging under 11:00/mile in probably a few weeks. I suspect it was mainly due to the weather, as the dewpoint was in the low 60s… still on the muggy side, but less so than my past several runs, and everything is relative this time of year. It will be interesting to see what my pace is like once we get into the cool, crisp days of fall. Later this week, we are supposed to have our first real heat wave of the summer, so I may end up running in the pool a couple of times. I hope I can find my flotation belt…

I got out for a “short” bike ride of about 25 miles this morning, looping through Ellicott City and parts of Columbia. Along the way, I rode the Grist Mill Trail from the swinging bridge west to Ilchester Rd. Parts of that section of trail could use some work. There is one area where some of the asphalt has washed away, and several other areas with remnants of flood debris on the path. I guess that part of the trail wasn’t in the scope of last year’s bridge work. Perhaps they’ll work on it later this year. I don’t go into the park often on weekends, so just for future reference, it was still nice and quiet at 7:30am. I didn’t see any other people (other than a park employee) before I crossed the swinging bridge. I’m not sure exactly what time they open the gates, but it was clear they hadn’t yet when I was there.

Quick Brew Notes

I brewed the exact same recipe as yesterday morning, except I used my Lost Dog “La Esparanza” medium/medium dark blend. The result was another pleasant, well-balanced cup. I’ve gotten mixed results with these beans using a couple of other recipes, with some success, but most of my more recent attempts have tasted kind of sour and under-extracted. That was not the case today. Whether it was the absolute best cup I’ve ever gotten from the beans is up for debate, but either way, this one gets the thumbs-up. I think I’ll try this recipe with another medium roast tomorrow.

On a totally unrelated note, we’ve had a bunch of red grapes sitting on the counter for a few days, and today, I tried tossing a few into one of my smoothies. I didn’t think it would be very good, but it actually wasn’t bad. I noticed a little bit of extra sweetness from the grapes, but not much of a grape flavor, I guess because the other ingredients kind of overpower it. That said, I didn’t add too many grapes, so I wonder how it would be with more of them in there.

Brew Notes (again)

  • Beans: Lost Dog “Mocha Sidamo” (dark roast)
  • 20 grams coffee, 260 grams water (1:13 ratio)
  • French press
  • Gooseneck kettle
  1. Preheat French press
  2. Heat brew water to 85°C
  3. Coarse grind (JX setting: 3 rotations + 4 clicks or 94 total clicks)
  4. Start timer and pour at the same time
  5. 60 second bloom (including pour time)
  6. Stir a few seconds until grounds settle
  7. Steep 6 minutes

I never thought I’d get to a point where I drink more than one cup of coffee a day, but lately I’ve been drinking two (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) mainly because I’m experimenting with so many different beans and recipes to find out what I like. I have had these beans for a couple of months, and I think I tried them in the French press soon after I bought the bag, but I didn’t take any notes here about how it turned out. This is my “standard” French press recipe, with the temperature knocked down to 85 for dark roast.

Two observations: #1, this was not nearly as strong-tasting a cup as the light roast that I brewed in the French press yesterday with the same parameters. It was good, but I bet it would be better at 1:11 or even 1:10. Next time, I’ll try using less water for a smaller but stronger cup. #2: With the lower initial water temperature and the long steep time, it wasn’t a very hot cup. It will lose even more heat if I brew with less water. I read somewhere where there’s less to extract out of dark roasted beans, so it may be that 6 minutes is longer than it needs to steep. I may try cutting back to 5 or even 4 minutes, to see if it has any noticeable effect on the finished product. I could also try a slightly higher initial water temperature (say 90°).

I think I am running up against one of the drawbacks to the French press — it’s not ideally suited to brewing single cups, because the long steep time leads to a lot of heat loss. This is not a huge deal if you start with boiling water, but starts to become an issue with lower initial brewing temperatures. So, I might want to stick with light to medium roasts with the French press. All the same, I think I’m going to eventually try these beans with 200 to 220 grams of 90° water and 4 to 5 minutes steep time, just to see how it turns out.