Friday, October 31, 2008


This is a very popular dish from Cuisine Magazine. When making for guests, we make the dough ahead of time, and let everyone form and build their own calzone. Below are the fillings we used this Sunday. Be creative and post your own filling ideas in the comment section below.

The recipe calls for a starter dough. Don't skip this step. It only takes 5 minutes to makes, and the flavor and texture of the dough will suffer if you don't use it.

Calzone Dough

for the Starter:
1/3 cup + 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbs cold water

for the Dough:
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs warm water (85 - 95 F)
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbs olive oil
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt

Egg Wash:
1 egg
2 Tbs milk

Filling Options:

Chicken, Roasted Red Peppers, & Artichoke Hearts Calzone:
1 lb chicken tenderloins, cooked
1 jar cooked artichoke hearts, drained
1 jar, roasted red peppers, drained, and chopped
mozzarella cheese
ricotta cheese

Pizza Filling Calzones
8 oz, Pepperoni, sliced thin
1/4 lb frozen meatballs, thawed
1 medium onion, sliced thin and sauteed
1 medium green pepper, sliced thin and sauteed (with onions)
mozzarella cheese
ricotta cheese

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Pour liquid over flour and stir with a fork.
  2. Stir until all flour is incorporated. Mixture will be a stiff, heavy blob. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature.
  3. After fermenting for 15-24 hours, the starter has grown and is ready for the final dough. It's bubbly and smells yeasty.

  1. Whisk the yeast in warm water (85 - 95F). After foam appears (about 5 minutes), whisk in the oil. In separate bowl, combine flour and salt.
  2. To loosen the sponge, pour the liquid yeast mixture around the edge. Stir it lightly. The sponge will begin to pull away from the bowl.
  3. Add dry ingredients to the sponge mixture and stir until allt he flour is moistened. The dough will be sticky and full of lumps.
  4. It's time to knead. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Lift and fold half of dough towards you. Flour hands and surface as needed.
  5. Press down and away from you with heel of hand. Keep hands floured. Give dough quarter-turns; repeat steps 4 & 5. Kead 8-10 minutes.
  6. Form 1 large ball. Dust with flour. Cover with plastic. Let rest 20 minutes. Cut into quarters. Tuck into 4 balls. Cover and let rise 2 hours.
  7. After dough has rishe 2 hours, flour surface. Flip 1 ball over (keep others covered). Press dough with fingertips to form circle.
  8. With both hands at top of dough, grasp the edge and rotate. This stretches the dough. Enlarges to a circle 7-8" in diameter.
  9. Lay down the dough circle and check for any uneven spots. With your fingers, gently lift and stretch out any thick spots.
  10. Put dough on parchment-lined baking sheet. Place fillings on half of circle leaving 3/4" clean border at edge of dough.
  11. Lift edge of unfilled side and pull slightly towards you. This streches dough so you can cover filling to meet edge on other side.
  12. Press edges to creat seal. Crimping ensures a tight bond between the two edges. Press each indentation twice to really seal it.
  13. Calzones look better with an egg wash. Lightly brush each one with egg mixture.
  14. Bake 10-12 minutes in 500 F oven until calzones are golden. Seve with warm marinara sauce

Breeders Cup Betting Summary

Saturday was the Breeder's Cup World Championship of Thoroughbred Racing. It's a nice day to hang out, drink, and gamble. This year I did no handicapping. I decided to test a betting theory of mine -- Bet every horse ridden by Garrett Gomez. Here is a summary on how I did.

Race ...................Bet............................................. Result....Balance
BC Turf Sprint.....$4 Win #11 Idiot Proof............... :( ........ -$4
BC Dirt Mile.........$4 Win #7 Albertus Maximus.... :) ........+$25.20
BC Mile................No Bet (Website Problems)........ :| ........+$25.20
BC Juvenile..........$4 Win .#11 Midshipman.......... :) ........+$43.60
BC Juvenile Turf...$4 Win #8 Paddy The Pro........... :(........+$39.60
BC Sprint..............$4 Win #4 Midnight Lute........... :) .......+$54.40
BC Turf.................$4 Win #10 Out of Control.......... :( .......+$50.40
BC Classic..............$4 Win #1 Go Between................ :(.......+$46.40

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Peekay Watkinsville Herding Practice Report

Tuesday night Peekay, Lauda and I were back in Watkinsville for herding practice. Fall was in the air, and all of the dogs were loving the cool air.

The entire time Peekay was on the property, she was lit. She never is the the best dog waiting her turn, but tonight she was extra impatient. I typically tie her to the fence while I walk Lauda. I could here her mild protests the entire time I was walking the big guy.

Whatever I commanded Peekay to perform she typically did it faster than usual. Outruns where she typically trots, tonight she was running. Flanks where she would run, tonight she would do it at a sprinter speed. I had to work very hard to slow her down.

For the majority of our practice time, we continued our work on the cross drive. Peekay wasn't having too much trouble shooting the gap between the fence and the sheep. The new problem was once she shot the gap, she wouldn't stop. She was running so fast, she would shoot the gap and her momentum would carry her around the sheep. After 3 attempts with the same outcome, I had her take the sheep to the center of the field where we practiced flanking the sheep in both the "come by" and "away to me" directions. After each flank I would stop her at the 6 and 12 0'clock positions.

At the beginning of both practice runs , we did a simulated outrun. Both times they were flawless. Each time we drove them down the center of the field, made the turn at the #1 cone and drove the flock through both the Y and Z chutes. My only criticism was that she was very pushy, moving quicker than she needed. Peekay has a lot of natural "power". When she's jacked up, the sheep get jumpy and are more likely to try a jail break down the field.

I did leave practice feeling good. Training for sheep herding takes patience. Last night we made some small progress. Last week she wouldn't flank along the fence. We seemed to have corrected that problem. Next Tuesday we'll be back on the field, working on the cross drive.

Until then, Speed is good! stopping on a flank along the fence is better!

Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup

Here's another recipe from Giada's new cookbook. I made this on Sunday instead of salad. Publix was out of cannellini beans, so I substitued Great Northern Beans with no ill effect. I also substitued 1/4 tsp. of dried, ground sage for the sage leaves.


2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 Tbs olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 sage leaves, stems removed
2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

  1. Place a medium, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil, and shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally until the shallots are softened, about 3 minutes
  2. Add the sage leaves, cannellini beans, and garlic and stir to combine. Add the chicken broth to the pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook gently until the garlic is soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Pour half of the soup into a large bowl. Carefully ladle a third to half of the soup from the bowl into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Pour the blended soup back into the pot and repeat with the remaining soup from the bowl.
  4. Once all of the soup is returned to the soup pot, stir in the cream, salt, and pepper. Cover and keep warm over very low heat.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Eggplant Timbale

Here's a recipe I made for dinner on Saturday. It's from Giada De Laurentis' new cookbook. Any women who make this must do so in a low cut top! Seriously, this was a fun recipe. Can't say I made anything quite like it. I liked using the springform baking pan. For added flavor, use smoked mozzarella cheese in place of the regular. I think it would pair nicely with the grilled smokey taste of the eggplant.

3 medium eggplants, sliced lengthwise, 1/4" thick
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb Italian Pork sausage
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)
2 cups marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

  1. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant on both sides until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.
  2. While the eggplant cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite. stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta.
  3. Meanwhile, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute' until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and sausage to the pan and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-size pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Pour off an excess fat.
  4. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the mozzarella 3/4 cup of the Romano cheese, the basil, and the cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with the grilled eggplant, making sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan; reserve a few slices. Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the filling is evenly distributed. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and top with the reserved slices to enclose the timbale completely. Bake the timbale until the filling is warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let the timbale cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Invert the timbale onto a onto a serving plate and remove the pan. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of grated Romano cheese, slice, and serve.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Peekay Watkinsville Herding Practice Report

Thursday night, Peekay was back under the lights on her home field in Watkinsville, GA for sheep herding practice. It was a cool and breezy night. Rain was forecast for later that evening. The unsettled atmospheric conditions had the livestock and dogs amped up.

Metro-Atlanta commuters were on the road in full force Thursday night. Congestion at the bridge crossing the Chattahoochee river and at all the traffic lights in Lawrenceville slowed us down. We did not arrive until just after 8 PM. The sun had completely set, and the arena lights were on.

This practice session we concentrated on the section of the American Kennel Club A-course known as "the cross drive". The AKC herding rule book defines the cross drive as "Turn toward the near side at marker #4 and the stock moves straight across the arena through center panels to marker #5". Translation : Move the stock along the fence until you reach the sign that says "4". At that point peel the livestock off the fence and make a 90 degree turn. Drive the stock straight across the arena through a pair of gates that are free standing in the center of the arena. Once through the gates, continue straight to you reach the "5" sign mounted on the fence on the opposite side of the arena. How hard could it be ?

The cross drive is arguably the most difficult part of the course. Your dog must move the stock along the fence in a controlled manner. The dog does this by trailing the sheep at the "7 o'clock position. At some point before the "4" sign, the dog must circle behind the sheep to the 5 o'clock position, shoot the gap between the stock and the fence, quickly reach the 1 o'clock position and stop. If your dog shoots the gap and over flanks, the sheep make a 180 degree turn and move back from where they came. Fail to shoot the gap, and your dog is at the dreaded 6 0'clock position running down the course, pushing the sheep into the fence at the end of the arena.

In our two qualify herding intermediate runs, we lost most of our points on the cross drive. Both time I played it conservatively and just took the deduction and let Peekay push them across the arena offline. Tonight in practice we continued to diagnose the problems, and began to work on solutions.

Peekay is very good at driving sheep along the fence. When she reads the stock trying to run away from her, she'll fade out more, trapping them along the fence. Where she has problems is moving from the 7 to the 5 o'clock position. When I give her the "away" command, she hesitates and continues to drive the sheep along the fence.

We took a step back and worked with Peekay on shooting the gap between the flock and the fence. Once she understood what I wanted, she seemed to get the hang of it, and was having fun doing it. We'll work on it again this Tuesday.

Until then, Speed is good, driving and fetching are better.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The 3 Gap 50 - Wolf Pen Gap

Below is the video of our descent of Wolf Pen Gap from the 3 Gap 50. If you are reading this from your email application,most likely there is no embedded video viewer. Click here to view.

The descent was fast and twisty. I followed Jim's lead on this descent and used the entire lane. There were a couple fast left/right switchbacks, and decreasing radius turns. Leaving an extra margin for error was well advised. For most of the descent we were both traveling at speeds at or above the posted speed limit.

The Climb up Wolf Pen Gap was steep and slow. It took us 32 minutes to cover the 2.8 miles to the summit. Jethro Bodine from "The Beverley Hillbillies" would take his 3rd grade education and cypher this information to compute a mere 5.25 mph average. Over this distance we climbed 1050 feet for an average elevation grade of a staggering 7.1%.

For the segment of the descent covered in this video, we road 2.2 miles in only 6 minutes (22 mph avg). The descent was 590 feet, which computes to an average descent grade of 5.1%.

Before clicking the video, don't forget safety first. Strap on your helmet and enjoy the ride! Speed is good!

Monday, October 20, 2008

TJ's Banana Bread


2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbs. butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)
1 tbs. vanilla extract
1/3 cup walnuts (coarsely chopped)
1/4 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9" by 5" metal loaf pan. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar, butter, and eggs just until blended. Increase speed to high; beat about 5 minutes until light and creamy.
  2. Reduce speed to low. Add mashed bananas, vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup water; beat until well mixed.
  3. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended, occasionally scrapping bowl with rubber spatula. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Spoon batter into loaf pan.
  4. Bake loaf 50 to 55 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Beef Stew with Basil Tomato Paste

Fall, means football and stew in the Przewoznik/Minor household. Sunday night I made "Beef Stew with Basil Tomato Paste" served with "Homemade Whole Wheat Honey Bread". The recipes for each follow. Bon Appetite!

Beef Stew with Basil Tomato Paste

1 tbs. olive oil
Nonstick cooking spray
1 lb stew meat or bloneless lean chuck steak, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 can (1 lb) low-sodium tomatoes, pureed with their juices
2 medium-size stalks of celery, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 3-inch strips orange peel
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. dried basil, crumbled
1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
1 bay leaf
2 medium-size yellow onions, quartered
2 medium-size turnips, peeled and quartered
2 medium-size potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 medium-size carrots, peeled and sliced 1 inch thick
3 tbs. minced fresh basil or 2 tbs. minced parsley plus 1 tsp. dried basil, crumbled
2 tbs. low-sodium tomato paste
6 oz fresh or thawed frozen snow peas

  1. Heat the olive oil over moderate heat for 1 minute in a heavy 10-inch skillet that has been coated with the cooking spray. Season the stew meat cubes with the pepper, add to the skillet, and brown for 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a 4-quart Dutch oven.
  2. Add the wine to the skillet and boil, uncovered for 2 minutes, scrapping up any browned bits. Add the beef broth, tomatoes, celery, 3 cloves of the garlic, the orange peel, fennel seeds, basil, thyme, and bay leaf, and bring to a simmer, stirring. Pour all into the Dutch oven, cover, and simmer 1 1/4 hours.
  3. Discard the bay leaf and orange peel, then add the onions, turnips, and carrots; cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender -- about 45 minutes.
  4. Using a fork, mash the remaining garlic with the fresh basil, blend in the tomato paste and set aside. Cook the snow peas for 1 minute in boiling water, drain, and set aside.
  5. Just before serving, stir the basil - tomato paste mixture into the stew along with the snow peas. Heat for 1 minute. Serves 4.

Homemade Whole Wheat Honey Bread

1 1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup honey
3 tbs. butter
2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2-3 tsp. dry yeast.

Place all ingredients in order into baking pan of bread machine. Set machine to 1 1/2 lb loaf, and wheat bread setting. Press start.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peekay Dawsonville Herding Practice Report

This morning Peekay, Lauda, and I were at Hubert Bailey's farm in Dawsonville, GA for a sheep herding clinic. It was a beautiful morning to be in the North Georgia countryside. Yesterday's rain gave way to a crisp and sunny morning.

When we pulled in most of the participants had already arrived. The first runs of the day had just started. The place was packed. There were people and border collies all over.

Hubert breaks people into 3 groups in accordance with their skill levels: beginners go to the round pen in the back. Peekay and I are in the intermediate group and we would work sheep in his 1+ acre front yard. Advanced runners head to his mammoth field across the street.

Peekay was the only German Shepherd in either the intermediate or advanced groups. As we were standing on the sidelines waited our turn for our first run, a lady approached us and asked if we were going to work the sheep. Yes, I replied. She was glad we were because she had never seen a German Shepherd work stock before.

Peekay did not disappoint her new fan. We had 3 runs, all were very good. The stock at Hubert's today was uncharacteristically workable. Typically the sheep are very light. The previous time we practiced at Hubert's back in the spring, when I initially sent Peekay, the sheep ran flat out across the front yard into the woods. We carefully fished them out and brought them back. On attempt number two one sheep did exactly the same thing. This time I gave Peekay the green light to run it down. The sheep ran to the woods and disappeared with Peekay in hot pursuit. I sprinted down the field wondering what I would find at the other end. When I reached the treeline, looking for away in to my amazement what pops out but the renegade sheep with Peekay on it's tail. Cool!

Today we did 3 runs. Each run we alternating doing counter-clockwise (come by) and clockwise (aaaaaaaway) outruns followed by driving the sheep along the front fence. Intermixed we worked on inside flanks. Below is a video I shot of one of Peekay's longest outrun of the day. I'm especially proud of the lack of involvement I had. I sent her off, told her to slow down a couple times, and that was about it. She did the rest on her own. It took her a real long time to reach the stock. When she got there, she didn't go in for the kill. She did what I taught her to do. She peeled them off the back fence and brought them to me nice and orderly.

I hope you enjoyed the video. Until next time!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Peekay Herding Practice Report

I've been dreading doing this blog entry. The last time Peekay and I have done any herding was over two weeks ago on Thursday, October 2nd. Last week we were rained out. This week, Doyle is at the Border Collie Nationals. It's been so long ago since we've been herding I'm having trouble remembering specifics from our last practice. So I am doing the only thing I can think of to help my recollection -- drinking! I sit at my pub table in my kitchen. Three of my four dogs (Lucky, Peekay, and Lauda) are nearby sleeping off the effects of their protein laced dinner of chicken backs. Friday practice from this weekend's Formula 1 GP from Shanghi, China is playing in the background from my TIVO.

Tonight's drink of choice is Chianti. Specifically it's a bottle of 2005 Placido. Very yummy. A nice bold, full flavor, with lots of body. I can taste the suttle flavors of vanilla, hickory, and melba toast.... NOT.

Writing about wine reminds me of last year's trip we took with our friends Traci & Rod to the Napa Valley. If I am ever short on blog topics perhaps I'll write about that trip. Winery marketers are masters at weaving a tapestry of bullshit to describing their wines.

So even after glass #3 of this fine Chianti details are still sketchy. I do recall how pumped I felt leaving the field after each run. No big wrecks, excellent out runs, and great control. I really feel lucky that Peekay is my dog.

So I'll speak from the heart instead. Peekay is my "Big Dog". She's the one. She is my third German Shepherd, and most likely my last. I think she's ruined me from ever getting another GSD. I can't imagine finding another as talented as she. She truly WANTs to work with me. She lives to work with me -- be it obedience training, sheep herding, agility, or simply playing fetch in the back yard. Herding is what she was breed to do, and she is one of a select few GSDs that has the opportunity to fulfill her destiny. She's a pro, and she knows it. Peekay makes me want to be a better trainer. I will always have a special place in my heart for Unser and Lauda, but for the first time I have a dog who first and foremost wants to work WITH me. We are really a team.

My best friend Jim was in Atlanta for business last week. He spent the weekend at the house, where we did a little cycling (Our Silver Comet ride is a planned blog topic), a little Tiger Woods 2009 golf playing on the Xbox (my career golfer is a planned topic too), and a little dog walking. After a walk in the park he gave Peekay the nickname of "The Terminator". "You can't stop her". "You can't reason with her". "She's always coming". He even asked if she was made out of liquid metal!

By no means is Peekay the perfect pet. On a leach she's like a Formula 1 race car. She's not going to give you a comfortable ride. If you divert any concentration away from her, she'll burn you. But in her environment, in the right hands she is a thing of beauty. Every hair on her body was made for just one purpose -- working. I've had fellow herding competitors at trials come up to me and tell me how they enjoy watching her work.

Tomorrow morning we're going herding! We'll be at Hubert Bailey's farm in Dawsonville, GA for his herding seminar. Our AKC herding trial is at the end of December and we need to start sharping our skills. We'll most likely be in Hubert's large front yard with the other intermediate dogs. Not surprising we'll probably be the only GSD in a group of border collies. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The 3 Gap 50 - Neel's Gap

I may change my mind on which of the three climbs of the 3 Gap 50 is the toughest. In my last post, I said Climb #2 up Wolf Pen Gap was the toughest. I went back and looked at the GPS data from the ride. The climb up Neel's Gap is very looonnngggg -- 7.42 miles & 1546 ft of elevation. It took us 55 minutes to make it from the base to the summit averaging a measly 8.12 mph.

The ride down was simply exhilarating. We covered the 3.04 miles of the descent in less than 7 minutes, averaging 26.27 mph. All miles are certainly not created equal. Over those 3 miles I probably rotated the peddles 6 times. Going up the mountain, probably 60,000.

Neel's Gap is also known as Blood Mountain. I just assumed the name dated back to the Civil War. I was certain there was a story about a battle which ended with the typical phrase "and at the end of the day the ground ran red with blood...". But if I was to say this, I would be WRONG! Blood Mountain was once considered sacred Cherokee ground. Wikepedia says no one knows how Blood Mountain got it's name, but most likely it was because of a bloody battle fought nearby between the Cherokee and Creek Indians. It also may have got it's name from the color of some native vegetation that grows on the mountain. Because, I only saw green stuff growing on the mountain, I'll vote for the cooler Indian war name origin.

The photo above is the scenic view from Neel's Gap. Click on the picture to see the full size image.

Finally, strap on your bike helmet and click on the Youtube video below to ride along with me and Jim down Blood Mountain. Be thankful that you get to ride down for free -- We had to climb up!

Speed is Good!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The 3 Gap 50

It was unlike any pre-ride preparation I have done prior or since. The date was Saturday September 29, 2007. It was the evening before the annual 3 Gap 50 bike ride in Dahlonega, GA; a grueling 50 mile ride featuring 3 mountain climbs. Twelve hours before the start I sit in the waiting room at a local "Doc in a Box" thumbing through a magazine. My best friend and cycling partner Jim is with the doctor being diagnosed with bronchitis. He has traveled from his home in Virginia to cycle more miles in 3 days then we have ever attempted. The day prior we had ridden 126 miles from Atlanta to Alabama and back. During the ride Jim complained on and off about not feeling well. I didn't feel like dancing either, but we buckled down and grinded through the ride that day. Saturday he woke up feeling worse. We canceled our plans for a 20 mile ride around Alpharetta. With Jim feeling no better by sundown, we went to the doctor. There would be no 3 Gap 50 for Jim the next day. I road it without him while he hydrated, rested, snacked on antibiotics, and watched football with Julie at our home.

It was now 1 year later and Jim was back. This time he was healthy, fit and with me on the starting line for the 2008 3 Gap 50. It was a beautiful day in the former gold rush town of North Georgia. I had done this ride twice before. Jim was a rookie. He was about to embark on the most difficult ride of his life. He was going to climb more in the saddle the next 6 hours then he has done in all of his riding thus far this year. The little hills in his home of Asburn, VA will never be as daunting again.

The 3 Gap 50 is listed as a 58 mile ride with 6,385 feet of elevation. The route begins and ends at Lumpkin County High School just north of downtown Dahlonega. The route twists and turns through the country side for nearly 20 miles before you reach the signature portion of the ride -- the rhythmic succession of 3 mountain climbs and descents.

The first is Neels Gap where you climb 1,600 feet up Blood Mountain for 10 miles. At the summit you cross the Appalachian Trail. The descent is 3 miles long and fast. I reached a top speed of nearly 40 mph without trying. Cross winds on the descent have fooled me in the past to question if my rear wheel was mounted securely to the frame.

At the bottom of Neels, you make a hard left turn onto Rt. 180 and immediately begin the climb up to Wolf Pen Gap. The most difficult of the three, you climb over 1,000 feet but only over 3 miles. Portions of the climb have an incline over 5 percent. On this segment I thanked the Gods my bike was equipped with a triple crank and a low first gear. When you reach the top, you are at the highest elevation of the ride. The sign at the summit lists the elevation at 3,260 feet. my GPS pegged it at 3,340 feet. The descent is steeper, shorter, and more twisty than the descent from Neels Gap. If you lose concentration, one of the guardrails on the many turns will reach out and bite you.

Of the 1,000 feet you earned climbing Wolf Pen, you only get back 500 in your 3 mile descent to Lake Winfield Scott. For the next few miles you traverse up and down over rolling hills until you reach the town of Suches. Here you make a hard left turn at the corner of Rt. 60 and Woody Lake and begin your climb up to Woody Gap. The easiest of the 3 climbs, you climb 400 feet on the shoulder of Rt. 60 for 2 miles. At the summit you cross the Appalachian Trail for the second time.

It is at this point where the real fun begins. It's now time for the mountains to pay you back for all the hard work you have put in for the past 5 hours. It's hard to imagine where you'll have more fun on a bike. The descent is long, fast, and fun. Sit in the saddle and enjoy the best 7 miles of asphalt ribbon the state of Georgia has to offer. Like the descent from Wolf Pen, this is not for the faint of heart. A demon awaits you on each corner

The remainder of the ride takes you mostly downhill back through the country side to Lumpkin County High School.

As in the New York City Century, I had my little video camera mounted to my handle bars. The video was terrific, and in some instances breath taking. I plan on having separate blog entries spotlighting each of the three videos that capture the mountain descents. I first need to do some post-production in order to meet the 100 mb and 10 minute limits mandated by YouTube.

I know, I know, I said I wouldn't make promises about future blogs. But I really PROMISE to get these videos posted over the next couple weeks. Until next time, remember speed is good, and never shift in the middle of a hairpin turn. See you on the bike trail.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Kaiser Permenante 5K Corporate Run/Walk

I feel like I've blinked and fallen hopelessly behind with my blogging. Now I sit in seat 5D on Delta 4983 bound for Syracuse, NY. Quarters in the CRJ 700 are cramped; so much so I can't even put the laptop on the folding tray table. I have it propped on my lap with my elbows in tight feverishly pecking at the keyboard. A middle aged Jewish woman in the seat to my left eats her package of "Lance Rich'n Creamy Peanut Butter Tasty Toasty Crackers" and works on her crossword puzzle. Eleven Down is "Fasting Period". The answer is "Lent". She seems VERY GOOD at crosswords. I predict she'll soon be done with this one and moving on to crossword #4 in her book.

Since my last blog I've run a 5K road race, participated in the 3 Gap 50 bike ride in the mountains north of Dahlonega GA, practiced herding with Peekay, and kicked 20 of my L-3 colleagues buts go-cart racing at Andretti Speed Lab.

Writing this blog entry on an airplane isn't going to be easy. I'm constantly distracted by my surroundings. There is a young mom in front of me with two small children. The young boy has been on the verge of losing it since boarding. He is wearing a blue t-shirt that says "1972". He is currently playing hide-and-seek with the nice Jewish lady. Mom is oblivious to what is going on. I notice Mom, like me, is also wearing anti-baby screaming protection too -- An MP3 player. Totally NOT fair. I just know that this fragile peace the Jewish lady is brokering can't last.

My goal for this flight is to have a draft finished before my battery runs out. Here in coach there are no AC outlets at the seats like there are in cushy trans-Atlantic business class. Still it shouldn't be too difficult. There really isn't much to tell. The road race was the annual Kaiser Permenante 5K Corporate Run/Walk. The race started and finished at Turner Field in downtown Atlanta. The course heads north toward downtown, made a loop around the state capital, and returned to the ball field. We finished under the 1996 Olympic rings that cross the road.

The drink cart has just snuck up from behind and stopped across from me. No decision to make. I have to pass on a beverage. There is no place to put it, and I can't risk spilling it on my keyboard. The Jewish lady next door has finished puzzle #3 as predicted, but has skipped puzzle #4 and moved to puzzle #5. She appears to be drinking H2O.

The premise of the Kaiser Permenante 5K race is to encourage physical fitness. Many of Atlanta's businesses participate. I'm running with my fellow workers from L-3. We have about 20 people participating. Half will be running, and half will be walking. Only my boss Jim Parker and I have a "fast guy ticket" which allows us to start at the front of the pack. Event organizers estimate that 15,000 people participated in this event.

My time was a very respectable 21 minutes, 10 seconds. This translated to a 6 minute, 52 second mile average. I finished 174th overall, and 113th in my age bracket. This is officially my second best 5K time ever, and unofficially my best. The only time I have run faster was in a 5K hosted by the PTA at Julie's school last December. The course serpented through my usual run path in Webb Bridge Park, and I think the distance was really less than 5 kilometers.

The start of this race went surprisingly well. I expected to be left for dead by a bunch of fast guys. That never happened. Sure, I got passed by some people, but for the most part I was able to hold my own.

My good time was certainly helped by the weather and terrain. Both were very favorable for fast times. It was a nice cool evening with virtually no wind. The first mile of the course was downhill, and the rest of the course had no steep climbs. I knew I had the potential for a personal best time when I heard the guy with the stopwatch at mile #1 call out 6 minutes 58 seconds. Both my legs and lungs felt great. I still could see Jim Parker (the unofficial L-3 #1 ranked runner). Jim is a good 6 inches taller than me, lean, and fast. Last year he competed in the Boston Marathon.

My college roommate Zatch has a theory about young kids and flying. His theory is simple -- "They don't like it". The boy in front of me is in full scream. I can hear him clearly even with Sheryl Crow singing "Are You Strong Enough To Be My Man?" at volume 10.

After mile one I pushed harder. The split time at mile 2 was still good even though most of it was on a slight uphill grade. It was under 14 minutes. I was breathing hard, but not hyperventilating. I pressed on. With 1/4 mile to go, I didn't want to leave anything on the table. I ran as hard as I could. I misjudged my final kick with about 100 yards from the end. I was just about out of gas. When I crossed the finished line, I saw Jim Parker off on the side breathing hard. He had only finished 10 seconds ahead of me.

We headed back to the L-3 tent, picking up our event t-shirt, a bottle of water, and a free snack along the way. Overall it was a well organized event held on a beautiful evening in downtown Atlanta. Too bad the Braves were out of town. A night cap at the ball park would have been nice.

Looks like I finished the draft with battery to spare. I even have enough battery power to do some proof reading. The kids in front of me are restless, but under control. Mom looks like she wants to sleep, but who is she kidding? Lady next to me has finished puzzle #5 and is now drawing a landscape on a Delta cocktail napkin with a cheap bic pen. We should be landing shortly. Until next time.