Author Archives: John Ferguson

Freshly Painted

Hi all! Still here and still riding. I have multiple submissions to post, I just haven’t gotten around to it quite yet. My profuse apologies.

Looking for a Hudson Valley painter?

Just wanted to put in a plug for the local company that painted my house in New Paltz, New York. They did an awesome, very detailed-oriented job. As you might suspect, I’m picky as hell, and they did a great job. Further, I work at home, so I had to deal with them being here every day this week, and the crew was awesome–very polite and professional. Plus my dogs liked them, which is certainly not true for everyone.

Here is the painted half of my house. Not quite done, I think they still need to address the dormers and a couple downspouts, but they had to leave early because of the rain.

That’s Cabot Barn Red oil-based stain on the siding, and Benjamin Moore Cottage Red soft-gloss on the trim.

Contact Bob at R.J. Ritacco Painting Co here. Or give him a call at (845) 255-0979. They take jobs throughout the Hudson Valley.

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Open Invitation for Submissions

Hi everyone,

I’ve been ignoring the blog recently. Mostly because my rides have been strictly for exercise–no real adventures other than a couple of trips over the ridge (which actually wouldn’t count as an adventure in any other year!) All my time is spent hiking right now, both because of the new dog and because I do not want to aggravate my neck injury.

So…if you have a story you’d like to tell, preferably with lots of pictures and a link to GPS (RideWithGPS preferred), please feel free to submit. Any ride in the Catskills, surrounding area, or Dutchess and Columbia.

All submissions will be posted, although I reserve the right to edit. E-mail me here.

Here’s Shay, my new Ridgeback and the cause of all the hiking:

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…and yes, I was actually taking a picture of my new lamps. Shay moves around so much that it’s difficult to get a good awake picture, so this is the best I have right now. You’ll be the first to see it when I manage to capture one.

John

Lasagna: The 1967 Time-Life Recipe

Hey!

Still riding! Got a new dog, so my exercise time has been tilted more toward hiking and running. She’s very high energy.

This is the magic lasagna recipe from the 1967 edition of “The Cooking of Italy.” I read over and over on cooking sites that this was the best lasagna ever, but as far as I know, this is the first time it is appearing online, as I’ve been unable to find it anywhere else.

So I went to Abe Books and bought the book from ’67, scanned it, text recognized it, and here it is. The book is long out of print, so I hope the lasagna copyright nazis don’t come after me for this.

It is the most amazing thing you will ever eat. I mean come on, chicken liver, smoked ham, ground round, and ground pork?

You’re welcome in advance.

UPDATE:

  1. I suggest going much lighter on the chicken liver; as the recipe is written below, you’ll end up with what basically amounts to liver lasagna. Cut it by half or even to one quarter.
  2. This isn’t enough for a conventional 2017 lasagna pan. Double the recipe if you want to use a regular-sized Pyrex.

Ragu Bolognese
To make about 2 1/2 cups
1/4 pound smoked ham, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
1/4 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound round steak, ground twice
1/4 pound lean pork, ground twice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups beef stock, fresh or canned
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 pound chicken livers
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the chopped ham, onions, carrots and celery on a cutting board, and chop them together into very small pieces. (This mixture is called a battuto, which when cooked becomes a soffritto.)

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over moderate heat in’ a heavy, 10- to 12-inch skillet. When the foam subsides, add the battuto and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until it is lightly browned. With a rubber spatula, transfer the soffritto to a heavy 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same skillet, and in it lightly brown the ground round steak and pork over moderate heat, stirring the meat constantly to break up any lumps. Then pour in the wine, increase the heat, and boil briskly, still stirring constantly, until almost all of the liquid in the skillet has cooked away. Add the meat to the soffritto in the saucepan, and stir in the stock and tomato paste. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, over high heat melt 2 more tablespoons of butter in the original skillet, and when the foam subsides, add the chicken livers. Cook them for 3 or 4 minutes, or until they are firm and lightly browned. Chop the chicken livers into small dice, set them aside, and add them to the sauce 10 minutes before it is done. A few minutes before serving, stir in the cream and let it heat through .Taste the ragu and season it with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve the ragu on pasta or, without the cream, use it in lasagna pasticciate.

Lasagne Pasticciate
To serve 6 to 8

LASAGNE
6 to 8 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 pound lasagne

Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-12-by-3-inch serving casserole or baking dish. In a large soup pot or kettle, bring the water and salt to a bubbling boil over high heat. Add the lasagne, stirring gently for a few moments with a wooden fork to be sure the strips do not stick to one another. Boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the lasagne is tender, but still al dente-the time may vary between 10 and 25 minutes, depending on whether you use homemade or commercial lasagne. Set the pot under cold running water for a few moments to cool the pasta. Then lift out the strips and spread them side by side on paper towels to drain.

BESCIAMELLA FOR LASAGNE
3 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups ragu bolognese
1/2 cup freshly grated imported
Parmesan cheese

In a heavy 2-to-3-quart saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat and stir in the flour. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the milk and cream all at once, beating with a wire whisk until the flour is partially dissolved. Return the pan to high heat and cook, stirring constantly with the whisk. When the sauce comes to a boil and
thickens into a smooth cream, reduce the heat and simmer, still stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with nutmeg and salt. Spread a layer of ragu bolognese about 1/4 inch deep evenly over the bottom of the buttered casserole. Spread over it about 1 cup of besciamella. Lay one third of the lasagne on the besciamella, overlapping the strips slightly. Repeat the layers of ragu, besciamella and lasagne. two more times, then top with the rest of the ragu and a masking of besciamella. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling hot.

English eTapped

It is done.

My friends at Bicycle Depot in New Paltz installed eTap for me. Good decision, they spent a ton of time getting the front to shift right on my very unconventional gearing.

Admission: I have a mountain bike crank and 46/28 ten speed rings from circa 2011–that is to say they are lacking many of the modern conveniences like good shift ramps etc. In any case, they do not get along super well with eTap. Just a note for people who are planning on retrofitting a gravel bike, with gravel gearing, with eTap.

My plan is, ultimately, to get Rotor’s 46/30 “Spiderings” and a Rotor crank to improve shifting. Kind of a bummer to have to get rid of my lovely THM 400-gram crank though. If you want it, you know where to find me.

However, even though the guys at Bicycle Depot were not entirely satisfied with the front shifting, my first words after a ride around the parking lot were “clearly, you guys have higher standards than I do!” It’s still better than mechanical.

Some pictures, I’m going to ride it for real tomorrow, provided my clients give me a minute to get out of the house.

So refreshing to have new bar tape. The old stuff was getting ratty.

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Pretty busy up front with levers, Garmin mount, light mount and blips. But only 2 cables! Looks weird.

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Blips. Mike at Bicycle Depot originally wrapped them under the tape (at my request) and then let me know it looked a little like my handlebars had grown tumors.

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Front derailleur with the aforementioned 10-speed mountain bike rings. Derailleur and old rings do not get along well. I don’t really need 46/28 any more, since…

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…I have an 11-32 cassette.

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PS: If you’re more interested in routes, a complete library can be found here.

John

medicalwriter.net

Over the Ridge and Into the Hills

Well, I guess I’m back in business. I rode 220 miles on an upright bike in 7 days, a good total at any time of the year! Part of it was an accident of weather–I ended up playing hooky last Friday because it was so nice out, so I got two longish rides in within a single 7-day period. I’ll report on the earlier ride separately.

Good news is that I’m a much stronger rider after 13 weeks of killing myself on a recumbent trainer. Plus my neck appears to be fully healed. Unfortunately, on longer rides I still have to stop every 30 minutes or so for a stretch–some of the muscles in my back become extremely sore, presumably from not being actively used for so long, since I was unable to lift anything (or ride a conventional bike) for 5 months.

So…last Friday I rode over the ridge, and down into the best riding country in the area. A friend at a local bike shop refers to this area as his “fortress of solitude,” and that it is. In many years of riding up there I have never seen another cyclist, which is crazy because it is gorgeous country. I’m referring, specifically, to the area north of route 209 but south of the Catskills proper.

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Seriously–if you get a chance, ride up there! If you’re coming from the city, go to the Poughkeepsie stop, ride into New Paltz, and start from there. Here’s the route, with the caveat that there are a few misroutings; if you want a revised route let me know.

Starting from my house south of New Paltz, I headed over to Gardiner, and then up Albany Post to Guilford Road.

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The least pleasant part of this ride is the climb up to 44/55 on Guilford Road. I don’t know why but it kills me every time. I’m totally fine riding all the way up the ridge from there, but there’s something about the way Guilford climbs that is quite painful.

From there, up 44/55. Here’s the traditional hairpin photo.

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And then up to the top of the ridge.

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Here’s an interesting variation: Laurel Hill Road. It says “no trespassing” on one end, but not the other. I also looked it up and it is plowed by the city, so y’know what? If my tax dollars are paying to keep their road clear, it’s mine to ride on. It’s a short, steep, downhill stretch of well-packed dirt.

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I stopped taking pictures for a while. I crossed over in Rosendale on a brief stretch of trail. Wasn’t much fun as the trail was mostly mud last week–not easy on a skinny-tired road bike. Plus my bike got even filthier. Thankfully, I “accidentally” forgot to wash it before taking it to the bike shop and, um, they took care of the dirty bidness for me.

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And that’s it! I made myself some bacon potato soup to recover.

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In other news: I’m converting my English 700C to eTap, or rather my local bike shop, Bicycle Depot, is doing the converting for me. “Wait!” you say, Super Record wasn’t good enough for you? The answer is that an electronic groupset is something that I’ve had a hankerin’ for for many years now. I don’t necessarily need it, but I’m a proponent of dead quiet, perfect shifting at all times, and I’m sick of monkeying with mechanical, particularly because my bicycle maintenance skills are poor. I mean, I can do just about everything needed on a bike–and I even built exactly one wheel–but because I don’t have to work on my bikes often, I don’t have a ton of practice so it takes me FOREVER to get most tasks done. Even something as simple as adjusting a derailleur or maintaining a hub. So hopefully electronic will keep me in perfect adjustment all the time.

Last photo with Super Record.

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That’s all from me this freezing cold Saturday afternoon. Hoping for some great weather next week for more riding!

John

medicalwriter.net

My Special Snowflake

Back to bikes!

I’ve been training hard using TrainerRoad; more about that later. But long story short, it’s awesome; I’m closing out week 7 of 5 rides/week (around 8 hours total each week) with some very significant FTP gains. Highly recommended.

Also just want to brag: Only 1 missed workout, and that was because my knee was a little achy.

I have a build list together for my Fujin SL II, if anyone sees something that could potentially be optimized, let me know!


Headset: Chris King 1″ NTS
Crankset/BB: Lightning carbon, 165mm, no logo, 110bcd spider
Front der.: Shimano XTR Di2 M9070
Rear der.: Shimano XTR Di2 M9050
Display: XTR Di2
Wiring for Di2: Battery, charger, junction, wires
Shifters: Shimano XTR Di2
Cassette: KCNC titanium 11spd 11-42
Chain: KMC X11SL, gold x 3
Front rim: Velocity A23, 20″ (406), black
Fork: Monoblade, CF
Front hub: tbd
Front spokes: tbd
Front tire: Schwalbe Pro One 406×28
Tubeless: Tape, aluminium valve, sealant
Rear rim: NoTubes ZTR Crest Mk3, 26″ (559), 28h
Rear spokes: Pillar Megalite SS rainbow x 28
Rear nipples: Sapim aluminium
Rear tire: Compass Elk Pass 26″x1.25″
Rear tube: 26″ ultralight butyl
Rear hub: Tune Kong, 10×135, 28h
Rear skewer: something light
Chainrings: Powertap C2, 50/36
Chainring bolts: Titanium
Brakes: Trickstuff Picolo, pink, plus rotors
Grips: Extralite Hyper Grips
Light: Exposure Strada 1200
Light bracket: Custom, tbd tbc
Misc: Titanium upgrade for all fasteners as appropriate

Some Hard Truths: Profit, Pharma, and Your Healthcare

I promise that after this, no more semi-political posts.

I read today that our president-elect plans to “negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to get the best price.” Not a bad idea, although I’m not sure how exactly that is going to work in practice.

Here’s a fact, though: Only about 10% of the national healthcare dollar went to prescription drugs. In contrast, 33% went toward hospital care (in 2013, the latest data I could find offhand). With all the hype about drug prices, I bet you didn’t know that.

So if we want to reduce healthcare spending, the way to do it is to keep people out of the goddamn hospital in the first place. In other words, if DJT really wanted to cut costs, he’d launch a massive preventative healthcare initiative. Not negotiate the 9% spent on prescription drugs to 7% or whatever.

Anyway, I know everyone beats up on pharmaceutical companies for drug prices–and there are certainly a few egregious examples of some pretty shady practices. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about right now.

With that out of the way: Let’s face a few facts: The pharma industry, like any other industry, is driven by profit. But wait, you say, healthcare shouldn’t be driven by profit!

In an ideal world, that would be true. But without the profit motive, do you think you are going to get new, lifesaving treatments? If you think scientists at academic centers are spending their time developing new cancer treatments, you are (by and large) wrong. Basic science in the academic setting is exactly that: basic, fundamental work that in many cases has no application to human health, and in other cases won’t have an application for decades to come. It is absolutely necessary to lay foundations, but it rarely produces immediate benefits.

Let’s look at what happened in a specific therapeutic area when the profit motive disappeared. Hypertension. You know, high blood pressure. Almost everyone will have some degree of hypertension as they get older, and most of these people will require medications.

People tend to think of antihypertensives as relatively benign drugs, because a huge proportion of people, especially older people, are taking them. But here’s a sad fact: most of them have fairly significant side effects, and none are particularly effective. In fact, many (if not most) people ultimately require a stew of different medications to get blood pressure fully under control.

Up until about 2010, there was massive research and development into new antihypertensive medications. What happened around then, plus or minus 5 years? A bunch of widely used antihypertensives went off patent. Now they’re available for pennies per pill, instead of substantially more.

Okay, you say, that’s great! Cheap medications! But you know what else happened? The pace of development of new antihypertensives came to close to a standstill, at least relative to the pace before the profit motive mostly disappeared.

The end result? You’re going to be taking the same crappy, ineffective antihypertensives your parents or grandparents are taking right now. Maybe there will be a few new, better drugs. But if you were running a pharmaceutical company, would you spend hundreds of millions to develop a new antihypertensive, put it through clinical trials, and then release it into a market that has hundreds of drugs available for pennies a pill? Probably not.

Hope you enjoy your chlorthalidone and hydrochlorothiazide!

Now, back to my post on Trainer Road, which I’m sure is far more interesting on a bicycle blog!

John