Monday, November 28, 2011

Keystone State Park/ Old Highway 51 Loop

It was a cold morning. When I left the house at 9, it couldn't have been much more than 40 degrees. Frost was on the ground and puddles were iced over. I was worried about my toes freezing and decided to try "Little Hotties" toe warmers inside the shoes to see if it would make a difference.

The original plan has been to take Avery Drive and 51 to the turnoff for Old Route 51 out to Keystone State Park. Out and back.

Avery is quite nice this time of year with views of the river on one side and rock formations on the other.  It was here that the toes started to go. I stopped to put the warmers (which weren't very warm at this point) in the socks, which helped for about 10 minutes.

Route 51 is a multi lane highway with wide shoulders. In a distracting effort to keep my toes moving, I missed the turnoff for the old highway. Soon after began a series of moderate climbs with one very long climb before the exit ramp for 151.

The entrance to Keystone State Park was on the left side of the road. Road construction in the park barred the bike from getting too far in. The little I saw didn't interest me enough to want to come back. It seems like your average Okie State Park, built with the RVs and boaters in mind.

A nice overlook, however:

And few cabins sat on the hill overlooking the lake:

I continued northbound on 151 to Old 51. It begins innocently enough, with a smooth descent to the river.

At the bottom of the hill, Old 51 continues to the right, while a service road goes West to the base of the dam. I followed it for a bit until I remembered that all dams pretty much look the same: Ugly.

Old Highway 51 is intriguing: when the Keystone dam was built, this stretch was abandoned for a new route to the south. Part of the original route is now under the lake. What remains East of the dam is largely unused and hugs the river for several miles. Very secluded.

Lots of big pot holes and cracks though. A great place to get a flat. Needless to say, I was riding off of the saddle for most of it.

Took a break at an old boat ramp to massage the feet back to life. Note how the Arkansas actually has water up here.

Eventually I rejoined 51. The temp warmed up a bit and most of my toes slowly thawed out by the time I got home.

Overall a great ride on a crisp and clear winter morning. I just need to figure out the toe situation before it get's any colder.


Friday, November 25, 2011


Another running injury and I have no one to blame but myself. It's a cut and dry case of runners knee from doing too many hill repeats at Turkey. Too cocky after a successful run at Turkey and TATURS. Must have fancied myself another Kilian Jornet or something, tearing it up on the downhills over and over. Haha. The kind of mistake I should have learned from several injuries ago.  Unless this miraculously heals up over the weekend, I can pretty much kiss goodbye my plans to run the Athens Big Fork Marathon, a sweet mountain race in the Ouachitas, until 2013.

It's a bummer, but I can still pedal, which means more cycling adventures in the near future.

Went out today for a quick circuit of the Arkansas. My favorite view of downtown Tulsa:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Beer Review: Caldera Brewing IPA

This brew comes from a mecca of trail running: Ashland, Oregon. I was a bit wary about picking up this beer, for the cans are not dated. I had terrible luck over the summer in Tulsa with reputable IPAs that were probably past their shelf life. If there's anything worse than an adjunct lager its a stale IPA.

The aroma is nothing impressive; citrus hops and malt. The taste, however, is very good. Citrusy hops dominate the palate. There's also a bit of that piney bitterness in there as well. The malt is there, but not as assertive as other IPAs. There's nothing amazing about this beer, but it is a solid example of the style. It's probably one of the better IPAs available in Oklahoma.

I've found that this beer is better on the colder side. Many say that IPAs should be served at cellar temp, and that may be true for some...but I found that this brew was best straight from the fridge in the lower 40s.

This beer definitely gets a thumbs up!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Turkey and Taturs Race Report (25k)

This morning was the annual "Turkey and Taturs" trail race up on Turkey mountain. There is a 50k, 25k and a 10k race, with first two sharing the same 15.5 miles course.

I registered for the 25k last year, but a last minute injury forced me to "DNS". That was probably for the good, for I was living in Wichita at the time and by no means prepared for performing well on the technical and steep terrain.

This year was a different story. You could say that I have been preparing single mindedly for this race since I moved into town in July.

Race day arrived with nearly perfect racing weather, at least in my book. Overcast,but not cold, without any wind. The foliage was beautiful. The race was in September last year; I hope the race organizers stick to this later date for future races.

I started at the front to avoid the early jamming of runners that happens at some trail races. From the parking area, we were led to the trails by a couple of fast kids, who soon dropped off once the front runners were safely following the pink ribboned trails. I thought that this might be their sole task for the day, but it turns out that they both went on to run the 25k at an impressive time.

Chris, the eventual winner, took on the lead from the start. Steve fell in at second and I followed close behind. Chris disappeared from sight quickly, never to be seen again until the finish line. Steve and I ran together for awhile. No one seemed to be anywhere near us in either direction. Where were all the other fast racers?

At about 4.5 miles in or so I began to experience stomach pains, but nothing that a little H2O at a providentially placed water jug on the blue trail didn't fix. At around 6 miles Steve was interested in gaining some ground on the front runner, while I was getting a bit nervous about spending it all early in the race. We parted ways. I continued to clip along at a decent pace, however. I really hammered the downhills but tended to power walk the steep inclines.

At about mile 7 or 8, on my favorite path on the eastern end of the mountain, the "Ho Chi Min" trail, I hit my first wall. It was like all the energy just zapped out of me. I could barely move beyond a pathetic shuffle. A few gels would have come in handy here... note to self. Eventually I made it down to the main parking lot and took my time refueling at the aid station there. Thank you to whoever made the salted potatoes! What a blessing! It was here that I was passed by the female front runner and another guy. I didn't care, my focus now was to simply finish without any more drama.

I began to feel better on, of all places, the steep climb along Elwood. Some guy was standing at the top blowing an obnoxious horn... just the kind of mental boost I needed. Another aid station at mile 11 and things were looking up. Perhaps I would be able to get back into third after all. But, alas, it was not to be. I hit a few more mini walls in the last three miles that kept me in 5th place for a finish of 2:43

I am happy with my performance despite the blowup. In hindsight, perhaps it would have been wiser to hold back at the beginning...and yet... it was fun to run with Steve for awhile...running up in front with him raised the bar mentally. Steve never caught Chris, but finished with an impressive time for 2nd place.

Anyway, congrats to all the racers who danced on Turkey today, especially those crazy 50kers.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One Crazy Idea

Over the summer I read this Runners World article about a burnt out runner in the heart of Los Angeles. Running a set course in his neigborhood week after week just wasn't cutting it anymore, so he picked up a map of the city, drew a 1 mile radius around his house and set a rule that he couldn't take the same route twice. Thus began a fascinating journey of discovery in the City of Angels.

I think many of us reach a point where something like this becomes necessary. For me, trail running broke the monotony and put adventure into back into the running. But there remain those busy weekdays when heading up to Turkey Mt. just isn't an option. I live in the Brookside area, not far from the river trails, and when we moved to Tulsa I was stoked to be so close to the river.

Today I have to push myself to run the same route down 41st to the Quicktrip plaza, North to the railroad bridge, across the bridge and back. Don't get me wrong. Its a beautiful route, especially in the Fall, but I'm getting tired of the routine. I've been thinking that drawing a 1 mile radius in a town like Tulsa (and a neighborhood like Brookside) could just the sort of thing I need to keep at it.


 What secrets do you hold, Brookside?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Memorable Summer Beers of '11

One thing that I miss from New England is the regularity of the seasons. Summer weather ends in September. The winter cold started to kick in by mid - late November. Every year. Oklahoma is a very different experience. You get the same seasons in the sense that Fall inevitably comes in between Summer and Winter, but all seasons outside of the sweltering summer are less definable, less tangible. You get the pleasant weather most of us associate with summer right into November. So while this post may seem a little late, I feel like summer is only now wrapping it up.

I tasted many a delicious brew this summer, but I will only focus on two that became somewhat regular staples, "go to beers" if you will.

If you think that all pale lagers tatse the same, you need to try Full Sail's Session Lager. The perfect hot weather beer. A bit of malty sweetness, a bit of citrusy hops with a clean finish. No strong flavors, just a pleasant and consistent taste that lasts the whole bottle. The perfect session beer. Check it out.


It was nice to discover a local gem: Marshall's Arrowhead Pale Ale, their summer seasonal. Not sure why this isn't considered an IPA. Grapefruit flavors dominate this one, just the way I like it.  The casked version at McNellies was even better; less bitter but more complex flavors.