As if making up for the dreary Saturday we had yesterday, Mother Nature bestowed upon us a most spectacular autumn day today. It was one of those days where the light was amazing and everything looked like it should be on a New England postcard. I spent the day at Harold Parker State Forest in Andover for the Wicked Ride of the East, a mountain bike ride organized by NEMBA. There were so many "postcards" all around us. The light was shimmering on the many ponds we passed. The vibrant colors from the trees reflected off the water. There were carpets of bright yellow from the fallen leaves. I was thankful for this, not only because I appreciate the beauty we can see right outside our doors, but because it offered me moments of respite from the CRAPTASTIC ride I was having. It was one of the worst days I've had on a bike in recent memory. Actually, I should be correct in saying that it was one of the worst days "not on a bike" because I was rarely on my bike. I was mostly pushing it over slippery things, and riding a few feet every so often.
I had very little idea what I was getting myself into when we started out on the pink trail (advanced) vs. the white trail (beginner). It was only after riding the first 3 miles (which felt like 23 miles) that I asked, "How long is this route anyway?" The answer: 20 miles. Now, in general terms, this really isn't very long. But when the gazzilion little rocks and roots covering the trail have been rained on the day before, this lovely little scenic trail felt more like an obstacle course covered in ice. The more I slipped on things, the more I lost my confidence, the more I got off my bike, and couldn't get into a rhythm, and I continued to lose confidence leaving me unable to ride things that would normally be easy. I should add that in all this, there were a lot of people sharing this trail with me, meaning as I was trying my best to navigate, a group of faster riding guys would come up behind me, so I'd have to pull over and let them pass. It was frustrating and not very fun. I tried my hardest to focus on the positive (the scenery, and sharing the day with Todd). I was ready to sell my bike by the end of the ride. I've since decided against that, but I'm still very discouraged and thinking about ways to improve my technical skills on a mountain bike, so I can enjoy tough conditions.
We ended the afternoon by hanging out with some friends, and I tried something new for dinner. Nobody got physically hurt, and all is well here in Arlington. These are a good basic recipe, but I feel it needs a little something to give it some zing. I had a salad with lots of goat cheese that was a nice accompaniment, but I'm wondering about adding goat cheese right into the patties. The recipe had it served with a yogurt sauce (plain yogurt, lemon juice and dill) but I don't think that added much to the flavor.
Quinoa Spinach Cakes
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 1/2 tblspns red onion, minced
1 tspn garlic, minced
2/3 carrot, grated
2/3 summer squash, grated
1/2 10 oz bag frozen spinach, defrosted, water squeezed out
zest of one large lemon
4 tblspns unbleached flour
1 tspn baking powder
2 tspns salt
1/2 tspn freshly ground pepper
1. Cook quinoa (rinse quinoa, then add water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until water is absorbed.) Let cool.
2. Preheat oven to 425. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Oil a baking sheet. Divide the mixture into 8 balls and flatten into patties (about 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch thick) onto the baking sheet. Cook for about 20 minutes, flipping after 10 minutes, until light brown and crispy.