Monday, February 7, 2011

Cherry blossoms and beer

The weather has turned sub-tropical with record-setting temperatures in the high 70's to mid- 80's (25-30C) in some places. We are in for a cool down this week but it is supposed to stay dry at least until the weekend. Then some storms are forecast, but every time the forecast gets updated, the storms are downgraded. Right now we expect showers Sunday and Monday.

The weather has produced some very high winds and rather spectacular sunsets. Here is the view from my balcony (a plain iPhone shot with no edits).

Sunset over SF Bay
Spring is definitely in the air. Cherry blossoms are everywhere and many plants are in bloom already. With temperatures like these it feels like mid-May.

Cherry blossoms
Yesterday I went on a 56 mile ride into Danville during the Superbowl. No better time to ride than when all are glued to their TV sets. The one thing that struck me was how different things look on the other side of the hills. There are more deciduous trees there (oaks and maples) and the bare branches impart a distinct wintery look that is in shocking contrast to the flowers around the bay. Bay area microclimates are for real.

Meanwhile my compatriot Stefaan Engels completed his 365 back to back marathons. He had set out on January 1 of 2010 to run a marathon every day of that year but was forced to abandon his effort early on due to a foot problem. He then restarted and now he finished in Barcelona. His best time was 2hrs 56 minutes. Now that is endurance racing at its best.

Sven Nys won his tenth Superprestige and Tommeke scored his first victory of the year in Qatar, where there are as few spectators as in California -but no cows. The big news out of Qatar is that the pro-pack there has decided not to revolt against the no radio rules. Unlike what happened in Mallorca, they decided to keep things quiet. I found this quote from Wilfried Peeters manager of Quickstep who said,  "out of respect for the Sheiks who pump so much money in this race, we're not going to paralyze the thing here." Qatar has plenty of cash-cows apparently.

On Friday, Flanders Classics presented its second edition in Gent in front of former champions Museeuw, Leman and Van Petegem. Flanders Classics has six races, starting with the season opener, Het Nieuwsblad (formerly Het Volk) on February 26 and finishing with the Brabantse Pijl on April 13. The most famous race is the Ronde van Vlaanderen, this year on March 4. Every race in the series has a very popular tourist version the day before. "That way we bring racing closer to the public," the organizers said. The tourist version of the Ronde now attracts more participants than there are amateur racers in the US.

I also wanted to present to you Moinette from the Brasserie Dupont, a fabulous blonde that scored very high in the beeradvocate ranking. Dupont calls it their showpiece. It gets my full support. The Brune (brown) version did not score nearly as high on beeradvocate, but as I mentioned many times before, blondes are my thing. For other Dupont beers, look here.

Moinette blonde

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