Monday, November 3, 2008
Take one part mountain bike ride, one part home-brew tasting, throw in some fine grub, sprinkle with sunshine and you get the 2008 Bootlegger's Bliss. The Blue-Eyed Devil really did a great job of putting on this little pseudo-underground event. '08 marks the third installment of the Bliss and was my first time in attendance, I don't plan to make it my last.
Patapsco Valley State park was the backdrop for the days events and Jon "Baler" worked with Steve on a great route that took us on an amazing sampling of the trails. I was told we were planning on 12 or so miles, personally I didn't care. It was a spectacular day, I had great company and a beer in my bottle cage. About the only thing that would have made it better would have been a backup beverage for when the bottle went dry. Not concerned with hammering through the woods, I elected to hang back, help out and take some pictures when I could. Aside from a couple mechanicals and a few wet feet the group make it through the woods in one piece. I can't say the same for dcTony's chain. It broke twice during the ride and was eventually pieced together from several sources. The second repair seemed to take and the group made it back to the pavilion for the second half of the days events, the potlatch beer tasting and feast.
As Steve noted in his final email "The Bliss is a DIY-themed potlatch", no commercial beer or food was to enter the pavilion. At the conclusion of the ride, everyone set forth to present their offerings to the group. Both the food and beer was of the highest caliber and quantity. The beer selection was one of the most amazing I've ever witnessed. There were brews from many different styles that reflected both traditional and not so traditional recipes. Dark Irish Stouts, hopped up India Brown Ales, a Pumpkin Saison, Breakfast Stouts and so on. One of my personal favorites was Butch's Obama Chocolate Stout. The label alone made the beer highly sought after and I'd love to have one of his spoke cards. The same degree of care was put into everyone's food. Dave made some great pork BBQ and home-made rolls. There was a delicious Southwestern pasta salad, BBQ ribs, several chilies and Mike brought and shucked oysters on the half shell to name just a few. I decided some fresh cut fries and wings ala Scud would help to fill any wanting bellies. They seemed to be a hit as a group of hungry bikers always hovered close by.
While I was frying up wings and things a few people were having a go at a unicycle near the picnic table. Ricky borrowed the uni from JoeP and it was a big hit. I commented to someone that I use to ride one years ago (20+) and they suggested I give it a shot. Once a batch of wings got dropped I knew I'd have some time and gave it a whirl. I was rusty, to be sure, but like the old saying goes "it's just like riding a bike". After a few initial wobbles, I got my balance back and was able to stay upright for brief periods of time. After a few more beers my confidence grew and I foolishly rode the uni in the asphalt derby. I was probably more of a liability out there, but boy, it sure was fun.....and HARD! I sweat more during the derby than I did during the entire ride. Derby concluded we adjourn to the picnic tables for the obligatory trials session. Dave Blum schooled all comers with his skills and made track stands look easy. My hat is off to you sir.
Shortly before sunset a ranger's truck comes the wrong way up a one way road, Baler takes note and correctly called that we would be asked to vacate the premises. Fortunately the fading light had already made that decision for us and we were well on our way with packing our belongings. The oil from my fryer was still a little warm and I hoped DKEG would not get burned by it on our way home. Last few items were placed in the truck when I realized I didn't have my souvenir pint glass to commemorate the day. I ask our host if he had any more and he produced what I believe to be the last one....and one from last year. Thanks Steve, I owe you a beer. Hell, after all the work you did and the amount of fun I had that day, I owe you a keg of beer.
I'll be back in 2009.
Additional photos from Icon O'Classt