about me

Hi! This is [personal profile] antimony/antimony's biking and recipe journal. It's mirrored on LiveJournal, but if linking, please link the Dreamwidth version.

I'm never sure what to say in bios; my current readership is a few friends, and y'all know who I am. But since I just submitted this to the RUSA blog feed, and thus might get some new faces: I'm a 3040-something randonneuse (long-distance cyclist) who loves to cook, although my job as a software engineer leaves me with far less time and energy than I'd like for both riding and cooking. My ride reports and recipes were hard to re-find in the midst of my other posts, plus long-format picture-heavy posts were kind of not fitting into my personal blog. So: separate blog.

My real name is Sarah; with that information and the rides I've described, my full name is easily discoverable but I'll request that it not be posted as searchable text in comments. Thanks!

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Coffeeneuring #4 & 5

Oops, didn't finish this post last weekend. I'm definitely not going to make all 8 rides this time around; there's just not as much joy in it when I'm putting people in danger just to have a coffee I didn't make myself. But I did have more errands to run last weekend that I could make coffee-adjacent:

Coffeeneuring #4: Technicalities Count

Strava link:
1. Where I went: Colleen's, 61 High Street, Medford, MA.
2. When: Saturday, November 7th, at around three.
3. What I drank: Nothing -- I went with the coffee ice cream option (coffee-fudge!) as I had had Too Much caffeine that week and didn't want much more.
4. After acquiring the ice cream, I walked with my bike up a street that I've never walked on, shaded with pretty fall colors, so that I could actually eat it while away from other people. Relaxing, after a very long week of election-tension and work doing long-term planning (so many telecons). No pictures of the pretty leaves as I had my hands full with ice cream and pushing the bike, and didn't want to get my phone sticky.
5. Total distance: 3.9 miles, including the walking bit.

Coffeeneuring #5: Construction Detours

Strava link:
1. Where I went: Donuts with a Difference, 35 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA
2. When: Sunday, November 8, around 11:30am.
3. What I drank: drip coffee (and a cinnamon roll)
4. Hit construction in downtown Medford that hadn't been there the day before, but got waved through and avoided town on the way back. Not sure what was going on; looked like a pipe problem or something, since they were digging a long trench in the road and nothing had been announced ahead of time.

On the way home, I realized I might have managed to sliiiiiightly overload even the cargo bike with heavy groceries; it was a bit wobbly, and I turned the power on mostly because more speed smoothed out the wobbles a bit. Given how heavy the bags were, I probably had close to a hundred pounds of groceries on there, which is lighter than putting a person on the back but was not as centrally balanced.

Also, to be honest, I still don't get the love for this local donut shop. It's way better than the omnipresent chain -- and a similar style, so perhaps it's just that. There wasn't anything wrong with my still-warm cinnamon roll, but it didn't have much flavor. Sweet, airy, warm, yes. Also the only other person in the donut shop besides the clerk when I walked in was a cop. I kid you not, although after a week of political doomscrolling my instant reaction was panic rather than amusement. Sigh.

5. Total distance: 7.3 miles. Outbound on the way to the donut shop and then the grocery, I was riding without the assist, so 3.4 miles if one only wants to count that. [This entry was originally posted at Please comment wherever is most convenient, but please use the DreamWidth version if sharing/linking.]

Grapefruit Campari Pie

Some of the recent sourdough adventures have been more successful than others -- I tried both sweet and savory babkas; the sweet was lovely, the savory did not rise well and then would not bake through, alas.

But this next one was an unquestionable success: Grapefruit Campari pie, which is basically a traditional Key Lime pie recipe with a tweak: citric acid, to make the grapefruit juice as tart as lemon/lime juice. Some recipes claimed it wouldn't set up without that; some happily made grapefruit curds or key-lime-style filling without anything extra. I like tart, and I already had citric acid sitting around, so I figured why not?

Standard graham cracker crust:

1 sleeve graham crackers (approx 1 1/2 cups crushed)
1/4 cup brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
5 Tbsp melted salted butter (or unsalted + ~1/8 tsp)

Grind in food processor, press into 9 inch shallow round pie pan or 8 inch square pan. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

Zest of one grapefruit (~2 Tbsp)
Juice of one grapefrult, approx 3/4 cup
7 grams (1 1/2 tsp) citric acid
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp Campari (optional)
4 egg yolks

Mix well. Pour into prebaked crust (crust can be hot -- pop it out, pour in filling, pop it back in), bake at 350 for ~15 minutes until still a little jiggly but not sloshy.

Use 9 inch shallow round pie pan or 8 inch square pan -- it's not a tall pie so don't push the crust too far up the sides unless you're going to pile meringue on top (which is a valid choice especially since you'll have leftover egg whites).

This is high on the tart/bitter/fruit flavors -- I've upped the zest and juice amounts from a lot of traditional key lime recipes to begin with, and then grapefruit adds all that lovely bitterness.

(The lovely blush color is 100% the food coloring in the Campari, for the record; I used white grapefruit because that was what I impulse-bought at the grocery.)

A peachy-colored pie in a square glass pan [This entry was originally posted at Please comment wherever is most convenient, but please use the DreamWidth version if sharing/linking.]

Coffeeneuring #3: Grocery Run

I am not sure whether I'll get through all 8 coffeeneuring rides this season, because I feel like going out just for coffee is a bit selfish, but if I can combine it with another reason I need to go out into the world, then I don't feel so bad. So I did my normal grocery + coffee run this morning early enough to beat the rush (mostly; I didn't have to wait outside to get into the coffee line, but it was out the door when I came out with my cup.)

Strava link:
Where I went: Quebrada Baking Company, 208 Mass Ave.
When I went: Saturday, October 24, at around 7:30 am.
What I drank: An iced regular coffee (pastry: mushroom croissant)
Ride Recap: Cargo bike is still awesome. Swallows up my two giant reusable grocery bags and hauls it home without bothering with the e-assist. (The two reusable grocery bags are, since I DNFed PBP, my PBP souvenir -- we went to the grocery for ride snacks and had to buy bags.) It does still need a coffee-cup holder, which I may get later today; D needs something from JoAnn Fabrics, which is right next to Cycle Loft, and I will tag along and pick up one. (D does not drink coffee and does not understand the necessity of this on the bike. Alas. I don't need it as much right now because I can't sip coffee on the go with a mask on, but this way I can bring coffee from the sidewalk outside the shop to somewhere nicer to drink it in future.)
How far: About 8.4 miles -- Strava thinks it's more, but that includes the GPS bouncing around while I was in the grocery store.

The Arlington Water Tower, looking somewhat baleful under clouds, and which reminds me I should ride more hills:
A photo of a city road with a hill with a water tower in the background [This entry was originally posted at Please comment wherever is most convenient, but please use the DreamWidth version if sharing/linking.]

quarantine rides and more sourdough shenanigans

More rides, both in Zwift and out on the streets; got a tiny bit of sunburn on my legs yesterday when I went out for a 50k/31mile ride because I forgot that that was a thing that happens. [personal profile] dphilli1's allergies were acting up, while I wanted to get some more miles & hills in. Plus knock off a 50k for George Swain's virtual brevet series, although I doubt I'll finish the challenge as I'm not sure I really want to spend an entire day doing loops from home to rack up 150k or 200k, and I started too late to manage 8 50ks before the end of May. But 50k is generally a nice ride length, and needs no water refills, so I'm sure I'll do a few more of those.

I headed out to Walden again, the hilly way (Belmont Hill/Concord/Trapelo), and then made the way back a little less flat this time. Legs feel good; set a few PRs and silvers on Strava, which means that I'm probably ahead of where I was last year, hill-wise, even if by this time last year I'd ridden most of a SR series. I do think the climbing and intervals indoors are helping -- I dragged myself up the Zwift replica of the Alpe d'Huez in just under two hours, which I was proud of (although if I'd gone just over I'd have a better carrot to strike for next time, oh well):

A screenshot of the virtual cycling app Zwift, showing completion of the Alpe climb in 117 minutes

Mostly, it was just gorgeous out, with New England being its lovely spring self:
A bicycle resting against a war memorial topped with an eagle, in front of a brick building
A white church against a blue sky, with a tree and a road in front of it

Today, instead, I rode indoors with friends and then cooked and baked -- made some enchiladas (no photos) for dinner for the week, and since I ran out of the lovely hipster english muffins I had been eating (Stone & Skillet), I made my own. These came out phenomenally well, to be honest; I wanted something edible and these far surpassed that. I did singe the first few I grilled but not too badly. And my sourdough starter is definitely not active enough; great flavor, no lift, so you'll see notes in here on how to either salvage this recipe halfway through, or how to just give it some yeast to begin with and just use sourdough for flavor.

A dozen english muffins on a pan, plus one on a plate split and buttered

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the strangest season

It's my first season as RBA (Regional Brevet Administrator), theoretically running brevets.

Well, that's obviously not happened. Someday, I'll ride with other randonneurs outside of Zwift. Hopefully.

But at least Zwift somehow got the secret handshake to talk to my somewhat-ancient CycleOps exercise bike; I didn't pony up for the smart one but I did get the one with real power, so I can race people virtually. Still so few women that, amusingly, in the race I did yesterday, I was 4/7 (4/11 for most of it but I guess the last 4 didn't finish) in group D. If I'd ridden in group C I would have been 2/2, no one at all raced B, and I would have *won* group A as 1/2. Long-term paying for both Peleton and Zwift and often going for months using neither is probably not actually the right plan but for now it's fun.

However, this is mostly a baking, not a biking, quarantine post: for once I made myself birthday cake, since buying a treat wasn't happening, and I have all this time that I'm not commuting.

It's mostly faithful to the recipe in my retro-reprint Betty Crocker, but I made a few tweaks and thus feel free to rename it, as the original one is a little "ooh we added some spice and made it ~exotic~ (even though it has less spice than the applesauce spice cake a page before that is not given a vaguely ethnic name". Except I haven't thought of one yet. (If you want to google the original and other variants, it was listed as "Araby spice cake", and this repost of it is accurate to my cookbook.)

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I contemplated various flavorings for the frosting, but I love the classic plain White Mountain. Could try doing the mocha thing like the filling with it too, or go for contrast with orange blossom water or something, but I'm also just as happy I didn't, since we only just finished eating the rosewater-and-pistachio vegan aquafaba meringues I made recently.

Oh, right, recipe for those, too:

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Evidently you can do cooked frostings with aquafaba, too, but that's an experiment for another day...

Pictures later when I figure out where I'm posting them now that my Flickr is out of space, including the one of a half-eaten meringue that everyone on Facebook thought looked like I was eating a minature dinosaur skull, evidently...

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the internet is full of things

the internet is a lovely place full of recipes! you can find just about anything there.

but when you're looking for something fairly common, you can end up with the worst case of analysis paralysis ever, and suddenly you're reading heartwarming family anecdotes about a completely different spice blend and not, you know, just picking one.

also, note to self, this time write down what you pick so that if you like it, you don't do this AGAIN. granted, this isn't the one you forgot to write down last time (that was garam masala), this is a new one (shawarma). perhaps even edit this post.

Shawarma blend, based partly on the internet and partly on how much I had around
1 part ground coriander
1 part ground cumin
1 part smoked paprika (not hot) or aleppo pepper or gochugaru
1 part dried oregano
1/2 part cinnamon
1/2 part black pepper
1/2 part cardamom
1/4 part allspice
1/4 part ginger
1/4 part nutmeg
1/4 part clove

Does not contain: garlic powder, because I'd usually rather add fresh garlic, salt (because different recipes need different salt to spice ratios). Smells nice, haven't used it yet.

Edit: tasted good too! And we have a bunch left over.

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PBP: lessons for next time

There will be a next time, although only after I've done a domestic (cheaper) 1200k and at least one hilly, ride-straight-through 600k, I think. (Yes, these are common wisdom. But PBP only comes around once every 4 years, and I didn't want to wait for the next one to make the attempt.

1. Definitely do the cutting back on coffee ahead of time, because caffeine withdrawl migraines suck, and I got those all taken care of in late July.

2. Don't have caffeine on the ride, except maybe ONE small cup at breakfast to make it "morning" (it does not have to be morning), and only if I've actually slept.

3. Carry powdered something sweeter-than-Skratch; I desperately wanted my usual redflavor gatorade as it heated up in the day. (Enough Skratch to brew it double-strength would also probably work.) That was a big reason I was drinking things other than the packets I had with me.

4. The snacks I carried the first night were good choices. Though more salty ones that weren't nuts might be a good plan -- the cheetos I had in the drop bag should probably have been in my pocket.

5. Plan out food stops even more: there is jackall in France for vegetarians open that time of year in most places. Also, if those automatic pizza vending machines are still around in 2023, get a map of them; there was one just by the bakery in Villaines and I would totally have murdered an entire pizza then. The veggie burger place in Fougeres was perfect, though. This may also include having a support car at more stops. And getting dinner food ahead of time that can be reconstituted with hot water or something.

6. A less aggressive plan, or intentionally DON'T make one, because falling behind the plan was making me really upset, and that wasn't helping me fall back to plan B, when I did have almost three hours built up at that point, I just wasn't going to have enough at Loudeac for three hours of sleep AND leaving with a cushion; write up the no-cushion bare-bones plan and then I can be delighted to be AHEAD of it if I am.

7. Faster uphill -- lift and do hill work over the winter. Do more hilly rides in season. (I am intentionally not putting "lose weight" on this item.)

8. Get more sleep ahead of time, and really, really sleep in on departure morning. Not sure whether to look at an earlier start time (i.e. less trying to sleep in departure morning) or later (puts potential sleep stops closer to when I'd want to sleep), or similar. I'm never likely to be an 84-hour starter.

9. Learn from experience on other long rides as to whether taking a nap at Fougeres would have been a ride-salvager. I wasn't sleepy then -- it hit me ten miles later, but if that had been the plan perhaps I could have slept. Or if I'd planned sleep at Tintineac, I probably could have pushed harder to get there.

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PBP: the high points

I DNFed at Tintineac with a little time on the clock but sleep deprivation making me unable to make good choices; possibly this was too hasty but after my experience on LOL where I pushed through misery to the point where I literally could go no further, it felt right.

But I'll dive into what-went-wrong in detail later; right now I want to capture some memories.

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PBP 2019: to Paris and getting ready


I'm writing this from the Mercure hotel in Saint Quentin en Yvelines, where I'm chilling and waiting nervously for PBP to start. We got in on Tuesday morning, after a fairly uneventful flight -- the bike had a TSA note, but unlike many friends' bike cases, they seem to have left everything alone in there after taking a peek. My main suitcase was a little more shaken up; they didn't like the mochi and kẹo mè xửng huế (Vietnamese soft sesame candy) lurking in the bottom.

Amusingly, the Carrefour near the hotel had both mochi (although green tea flavor, not red bean) and the candy in their international aisle, but I didn't want to count on it. (We'd gone over to the international section mostly to see what the "tex-mex" section contained for giggles.) But that's later in this travellogue...

Saw my first fellow randos at the car rental -- one guy in a Randonneurs Brazil jersey, and a group of four guys with bike boxes, but I was exhausted and didn't go say hi. We got a small five-door car just big enough for the bike box, and went to the hotel for quick naps. My bike was the first into the bike area in the garage! After napping I reassembled the bike, while chatting with a tandem team from Florida who'd arrived an hour or so after we had. (We ended up eating dinner with them as well, when we all had headed out to find what was open before 7pm in SQY and had discovered the same two options.)

Then we did two days sightseeing in Paris; on the second one I spotted at least two, maybe three fellow riders -- a pair of guys, one in a SF Randonneurs jersey, locking up at a cafe, and a guy on a very West Coast Rando Bike (boxy front bag, looong fenders and flaps, etc) in a jersey the color of Seattle Randonneurs (but I couldn't read it) aptly navigating the traffic-circle-of-hell around the Arc de Triomphe. Now we're hanging out in the hotel with a day to kill; we'd sort of planned to go into Paris today too, but neither of us want to walk around a lot, and Versailles tickets were sold out.

We bought snacks and beer at the Carrefour; right now our Paris souvenirs are a sweatshirt (D was cold in Paris yesterday) and two reusable shopping bags. :) Bike check tomorrow; am probably going for a short shakedown ride this afternoon. Possibly we may drive down to the start and check it out even though we'll be there tomorrow, too.

I am vacillating between nervous and excited to get rolling.

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