Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chili Today, HOT(D) Tomorrow!

Back by popular demand... our Chipotle Chili recipe!

Chili - good. Hair of the Dawg - great.  Hair of the Dawg Chili?  Off the chain! Those who know me well know that my Chili seldom tastes the same twice.  I have a general formula that I follow, but modify according to my mood or whim, so here's my outline.

Hair of the Dawg Chili
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 - 28 oz. cans Muir Glen Fire Roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 - 15 oz. cans Black Beans
  • 2 - 4 oz. cans diced Green Chiles
  • 1 - 32 oz. bottle Hair of the Dawg Chipotle Bloody Mary Mix
  • Chili Powder, to taste
  • Cumin, to taste

Brown ground beef with onion and garlic.  Drain grease.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer 1-2 hours to allow flavors to develop, stirring occasionally.  Serve with Fritos, shredded cheese and sour cream, or other garnishments of your liking.

Some modifications that I've tried:
  • Stewing beef in place of ground beef
  • 1-2 Tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • A bottle of a good Stout or Porter Beer

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels 2011 - the rest of the week!

Oh boy.  I didn't do a very good job of blawging this year.  Although the elevation lowered, the heat index continued to spike, leaving us with too little energy at the end of each day to do anything but shower and collapse.

Day 3 - Carroll to Boone, 70.9 miles, 1787 feet of climb

This day started out blissfully flat, flat, flat!  We were averaging an effortless 18 MPH starting out, so we bypassed the first town to get to The Real McCoy in Lanesboro.  We ran into some good friends there while enjoying a 'Pig in a Blanket on a Stick' with a Bloody Mary... a great stop!  Thank you Dean and staff for serving up 'the real McCoy' of Iowa Bloody Marys - Hair of the Dawg!

We left Lanesboro still feeling great and enjoying the flat roads, but the combination of fatigue from the first two days of climbing and the rising heat index did us in.  We stopped through Churdan & Paton, where our designated Dawghouses had fallen through, so we didn't stay long (if anyone at Churdan Bar & Grill told you they were serving Hair of the Dawg, as we overheard, they were NOT).  The stretches were long, and once again, The Peanut Butter Jam appeared like an oasis just at the right time.  We had planned to go into our Dawghouse in Pilot Mound, Twister's, then turn around and go back through Ogden to my sister Terry's house south and west of Boone.  Instead, we hit the wall and turned towards Ogden, and found an oasis a few miles down the road - Don Williams Golf Course.  We had a cold beer and copious amounts of ice water there while we waited for a sag from her instead.  An early in, a shower and a night with family were just what we needed.  Terry and Mike will go down in RAGBRAI history as the most gracious hosts ever, offering everyone on the Team Draught bus (30+ people) an indoor shower, a grill-your-own steak dinner and indoor sleeping quarters.  Thank you again, Mike & Terry, for being exemplary Iowa hosts!

Day 4 - Boone to Altoona, 56.1 miles, 1147 feet of climb (the day I nicknamed the event "ROGUE-BRAI")

As promised, this day was short, flat and fun!  Mike & Terry's home is located very near the county road to Woodward, so our group chose to go off-route to take in Iowa's new High Trestle Trail and hit the best RAGBRAI party EVER at the Flat Tire Lounge in Madrid.  The Flat Tire had stocked up with 55 cases of Hair of the Dawg, and blew through at least 40 of them...a record!  They were well-staffed, highly organized, and attracted a huge crowd!  Congratulations and thanks again to the Flat Tire for a great party!

It was difficult to leave there, but we eventually did, and checked out the rest of the trail to Slater, back off route to Ankeny (a typo on Team Draught's jersey indicated that we would stop in Ankeny, so we felt obliged to include it and weren't the only ones!) before finishing through Bondurant & Altoona. 

Day 5 - Altoona to Grinnell, 57.5 miles, 3202 feet of climb

The sky threatened rain when we started out, which was actually a welcome relief from the sun.  As we were nearing the first town out, Mitchellville, the rain did start, but not enough to be a deterrent.  Team 36 was the first Dawghouse of the day.  It was pretty quiet when we got there, but turned out to be one of those impromptu parties where more and more people we knew showed up.  Fun!  Great to see a lot of our Iowa City friends there.

I'm sorry I didn't catch their name... but two very talented women were singing covers at Team 36's "Party on the Patio".  At one point they sang our National Anthem, and it was cool to see the whole crowd, hands over hearts, sing right along.  And I was happy to see that I wasn't the only sap there... I turned around to see a friend wiping tears from her eyes, too!  

In Colfax, the meeting town, we found our bus and spent a few relaxing hours with the team before heading on to Baxter (worst hill of the day, and maybe all of RAGBRAI was a cruel, steep surprise - Mt. Colfax).  Maybe longer than we should have... the State Patrol was shutting the bars down for their mandatory hour by the time we arrived.  But O'Kelly's Steak & Pub showed all the signs of having thrown a great party there, too!

The last stretch to Grinnell was ridiculously long - 28 miles - so we headed straight for the hotel and a good night's sleep.  

Day 6 - Grinnell to Coralville, 74.9 miles, 2681 feet of climb

We were excited to be heading back into familiar territory, and our own bed and shower were our "carrot" leading us on that day.  It's so easy on RAGBRAI to forget what day it is, that I was surprised to walk into our Dawghouse, the Front St. Tap in Brooklyn, to find so many people there in Hair of the Dawg jerseys (I had declared Friday official HOTD Jersey Day)!  We had our first Bloody Mary of the day there before hitting the next Dawghouse, the American Legion in Victor, where we also had one of the best breakfasts of the week! Great job, Victor Legion!

Next stop was Phool's Gold in Marengo, where a Hair of the Dawg Margarita tasted exceptionally good before moving on to our regular Wednesday night stops, Old Roy's in Oxford and Slim's in Tiffin.  Ahhhh... it was great to be home!

Day 7 - Coralville to Davenport, 65.6 miles, 2363 feet of climb

I woke up at 4 am, thoroughly convinced that I was staying home.  Quads, hamstrings and unmentionables all screaming in favor of that plan, I nevertheless decided I would be full of regret if I didn't finish what I had started.  So we stopped at Blackstone, just a few miles up the road from our house, where they were serving Hair of the Dawg Bloody Marys in complimentary water bottles - cool idea!

Next stop was Herb & Lou's in West Branch.  I couldn't quite decide if our group had just run out of steam, or if we were just lingering to make it last, but it was clear we probably weren't going to be the first ones to the Mississippi dip site!  We spent a few hours in the shade at an unexpected stop near Moscow that one of the guys had arranged, only to find Hair of the Dawg there, too!  It was a great, much-needed rest in the shade.

But with almost 30 miles still between us and the end, we had to keep rolling, with a quick stop at "The Last Dawg to Die" stop in Walcott, the Lampliter Inn.  I always feel bad for the towns on the last day - riders are in a hurry to get home and don't stick around much, but Clint had done a great job with his outdoor beer garden/Margarita bar there.  Thanks, Clint!

15 more miles in the end, our group stuck together and "draughted" in together.  We were so happy to have spent the week getting to know our new friends on Team Draught and spending time with the ones we already knew, it was with mixed feelings that we finally rolled up to the Ol' Miss.  We at least had the bus ride back to Iowa City to rehash the week and share some more laughter.  Thank you, thank you, Team Draught, for having us tag along - you were so accommodating and fun!

Thank you also to all of our Dawghouses (all 33 of them!).  We're sorry we couldn't get to all of you... promises and timelines are sometimes hard to keep on RAGBRAI, but we truly appreciate your support and hope that your day was a great success!  Thanks to Pearl Vodka for sponsoring us with generous amounts of product to go with our mixes - the Cucumber Vodka with the Bloody Mary mix was exceptionally well received!  Thank you to Team Spin, The Regulators, Team Evil Eye, The Cutters, and all of our other biking friends for being great supporters, and to all of you new fans, thank you for trying Hair of the Dawg and shouting out to us all along the way!  It was great to hear from you.

Sigh.  We're happy to have 440 miles of hills, heat, headwinds, aches, pains behind us.  But given the chance, we'd probably do it again next week.  

Mark & Leslie
Hair of the Dawg

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels 2011 - the first 2 days

I can sum the first two days up pretty quickly:  Hill, hill, hill, heat, hill, another hill, headwind, hill, hill another *^%#$@ hill, more hills...  

I heard many seasoned RAGBRAI'ers say that this was one of the most brutal starts of RAGBRAI they've ever experienced.  And it was.  But we survived the first and the worst two days of this year's ride and after a swim, shower, meal and comfortably AC'd room, finally have some time to blawg.  

Day 1 - 59.5 miles, 4298 feet of climb
By the time we got a ride into the overnight town from Council Bluffs and located the host house for our team bus (Team Draught), we got a bit of a late start and rolled out of Glenwood around 9:30.  We left feeling pretty strong, but the nine miles to Silver City soon proved that we maybe hadn't done enough hill training.  We rolled into Silver City just in time to have a Hair of the Dawg Bloody Mary before the long arm of the law started pushing riders out of town.  The only complaint we heard was that our Dawghouse, Austin's on the Trail, was too busy to get inside to order a Bloody!  Many thanks to Austin, Ronny and "Mister" for being our first Dawghouse and promoting it so enthusiastically!

(Sidenote:  Somebody (me) forgot to pack the camera cord and is therefore unable to upload pics to the Blawg, but I promise to provide a pictorial when I get home or can get my hands on the right cord!)

The second leg of the day was a long 20 into Carson that didn't get any easier.  More and more flipped-up bikes appeared on the side of the road (for you non-RAGBRAI'ers this is a signal for the Sag Wagon to pick up those bikes and bikers).  We caught up with Team Draught and after a bite to eat and a few beverages in the "waiting room" at a brand new saloon in town, we felt ready to tackle the 15 miles to our next Dawghouse, Dusty's Place in Griswold.  

But there was just no mercy.  The heat index continued to climb and the headwinds picked up.  At one point, I saw a woman sitting under a tree at the side of the road, crying.  I thought to myself, "Yeah, it's miserable out here... but there's no crying on RAGBRAI!"  About five miles later, we stopped at The Peanut Butter Jam for a break.  I pulled over, looked for a place to toss my bike, and deciding that might not be very wise, instead pitched my helmet about 20 yards, then found a shady spot of my own to sit down and cry.

One PBJ and water (most of it dumped on my head) later, I felt recovered enough to get into Griswold (passed a guy on the way into town who is running RAGBRAI in a pair of "Jesus sandals!").  Dusty's Place was full of riders, cooling off with our Margaritas and Mojitos.  Thanks, Ryan, for your hospitality! (Dusty's Place also hosted our team bus on the way out Saturday.)

15 more miles to gut out to Atlantic, only to find once we got into town that Atlantic rivals San Francisco for hills (maybe a slight exaggeration but after a day like this it sure seemed so)!  It took a little doing to find our team and our ride to our B&B in Walnut, but we got to Clark's Country Inn just in time for a shower and bed.  Thank you to our gracious hosts, Mary Lou and Ron Clark!

Day 2 - 65.4 miles, 4719 feet of climb
We got a little earlier start today, and rolled out of Atlantic with Team Draught.  The 14.7 miles to Elk Horn started out with enough cloud cover and a slight tailwind to make it a little more bearable, but the hills were still never ending.  RAGBRAI's most notorious DJ, Dave Gallagher of Jam Time DJ Productions, was singing the Dawg's praises as we rolled into town and telling all riders to look for Hair of the Dawg all along the route.  (God bless ya', Dave - you're the best!)  Our Dawghouse, Larsen's Pub was pouring so many of them that they ran out of Vodka and switched to "Bloody Marias" with tequila... equally tasty!  My burning quads were screaming for protein, so we split one of Larsen's amazing pork tenderloins for breakfast (perfectly acceptable on RAGBRAI).  WOW - they put the tender in tenderloin.  Great job, Neil & Brenda - thanks!

Just three miles up the road was our second Dawghouse, Arnold's Tavern in Kimballton.  We met several friends there, enjoying their Hair of the Dawg, but didn't linger long.  We decided to take advantage the cloud cover and get the next 20-mile stretch out of the way  before the heat of the day.  Hills ad nauseum, but Pastafari's mile markers helped me along to their stop just a few miles before Manning.  (If you've never experienced Pastafari, fresh, gourmet pasta with Rosemary-grilled Salmon in the middle of nowhere is a beautiful thing!)

Four short legs left to go, we opted to hightail it to our hotel.  Apologies to our Carroll Dawghouses, Kerp's Tavern and B&S's 529 that you were trumped by a swim, a shower and a cool room!

We should be well-rested (and laundered!) to kick tomorrow's 71 miles in the butt. We'll be stopping at the Real McCoy in Lanesboro for our Bloody Mary stop and Twister's in Pilot Mound for a Margarita.  But I won't guarantee a post tomorrow evening... we're camping at sister's in Boone, which I'm sure will entail many beverages and stories around a campfire, and little time for blawging.  So we'll be back in a few days!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels - Day 7

Day 7 - Coralville to Davenport, 65.6 miles, 2363 feet of climb

389 miles down, only 65 to go.  Damn.  Even just writing this blawg, the week has gone too fast.  Those who have never done it will never understand it, but I'm getting goosebumps thinking about the week that lies ahead.  Here's what we have lined up for the final day:

Blackstone, 503 Westbury Drive in Iowa City
I know I covered Blackstone in Day 6's blawg, but inadvertently.  I'm sure many riders will make their way to or overnight in Iowa City, but it's technically a Day 7 stop.  And I have learned some new things about Blackstone's promotion since yesterday's writing.  So, starting 6AM on Saturday, Blackstone will have Hair of the Dawg Bloody Marys in complimentary water bottles (nice!), Bacon Egg & Cheese Biscuits, Breakfast Burritos, free bottled water and a New Belgium Fat Tire Bike giveaway (I saw the bike today and it is a SWEET ride).  Additionally, Blackstone is hosting a RAGBRAI party on Friday, July 29.  Any table with a RAGBRAI wristband will receive one free appetizer or flatbread.

Herb & Lou's, 105 N. Downey in West Branch
Known for their amazing pizza, Herb & Lou's will be serving Breakfast Pizza, a Breakfast Buffet and Fruit.  But I think it's worth the stop just for their cookies.  Hands down the best chocolate chip (chunk) cookies I've ever had, and I'm not a huge chocolate chip fan.  The cookie itself tastes like good, buttery toffee, and is filled with huge chunks of dark chocolate.  I picked some up today when I was there delivering banners.  But I digress.  This is your second-to-last chance to have a tasty Hair of the Dawg Bloody Mary before packing it home.  

Dew Drop Inn, 602 5th St. in Durant
Almost 30 miles to the next Dawghouse, the Dew Drop Inn.  They will have their grill fired up for lunch specials, and Hair of the Dawg Bloody Mary, Margaritas and Mojitos on hand (last chance for our revolutionary Mojito).

The Lampliter Inn, 143 S. Grove in Walcott
The Last Dawg to Die... this "Best Bar in Scott County" is our last stop.  It's a little off the beaten path, but look for their HUGE banners for directions when you get to town.  Try their famous Homemade Pizza or their incredible Deep Fried Pork Choooooooooooop Sandwich.  Cool down with a Hair of the Dawg Margarita on their covered deck or under their outside water mister.  Heck... you might have so much fun in their beer garden or playing volleyball you might not want to go on to Davenport.  And rumor is that support vehicles will have pretty easy access to riders that prefer to be picked up in Walcott.  But the best reason of all to stop...drum roll... enter your name in a drawing for a Hair of the Dawg Bike Jersey!  Winner will be notified by e-mail the week following RAGBRAI.

So that's it.  Just 14 miles to go.  Slow down, take it all in, and savor it.  We'll be blawging along the way next week, so be sure to check in if you get the chance along the road, or read it to relive the week after you trudge back into the real world.  It's a great cure for the RAGBRAI hangover, along with a little Hair of the Dawg, of course!  ;o)


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels - Day 6

Day 6 - Grinnell to Coralville - 74.9 miles, 2681 feet of climb

It's the week's longest ride, but we're excited about it, because the route goes right through Hair of the Dawg's home territory!  So we have many Dawghouses lined up, with all varieties of our mixes available, starting with Bloody Marys at the Front Street Tap in Brooklyn.

Front Street Tap, 115 W. Front St. in Brooklyn
Brooklyn is known as the "Community of Flags" and boasts a 20' x 38' US flag, surrounded by each of our 50 states' flags, and other special interest flags.  The Front St. Tap will host the ubiquitous Gallagher in their garden, and you can compete in a game of bags while you enjoy your first Hair of the Dawg Bloodies of the day.

The American Legion in Victor
It's hard to go wrong with a Legion breakfast, and the Victor Legionnaires will be serving up Pancakes, Sausage and Eggs with our Bloodies.  If that's not enough reason to stop, consider this:  the American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans service organization, committed to mentoring and sponsorship of youth programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting a strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans.  Go USA!!

Phool's Gold, 1185 Court Ave. in Marengo
Although not shown on our map, Phool's Gold joined our Dawghouse list post-printing.  Stop in for a $2.50 ice cold domestic beer or a Hair of the Dawg Margarita!

Old Roy's, 2135 Augusta in Oxford
A favorite stop on our regular Wednesday night ride, Old Roy's was an obvious choice, even though there's a bar right up the street officially named "The Dawg House."  Old Roy's will be serving up Tenderloins, Burgers and Chicken Sandwiches in their HUGE parking lot, as Gallagher (again??) spins tunes for happy-footed riders.

Slim's, 301 Main in Tiffin
A few miles off route, but another of our regular Wednesday night stops.  Instead of turning south onto Ivy Road into Coralville, continue east 1/2 mile, then 1 mile south into Tiffin.  Slim's boasts some of the area's best sand volleyball courts, and riders can play bags or dance to Gallagher's (really?? Has this guy been cloned?) tunes while enjoying some of the best burgers in SE Iowa and Hair of the Dawg Margaritas.

Hair of the Dawg is proud to call Iowa City/Coralville home, so we couldn't single out just one Dawghouse.  You can fetch a little Hair of the Dawg at the following locations:

Vesta, 849 Quarry Road in Coralville
If you happen to be "camping" at the Marriott or one of the other hotels nearby, you owe it to yourself to clean up and take a break from typical RAGBRAI fare.  Woodfire pizzas, and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine is the standard fare at Vesta.  They will be running dinner and breakfast specials.

Old Chicago, 75 2nd St. in Coralville
You can't do it in one night, but you could get a start on a World Beer Tour as you fill up on Old Chicago's pizza, pasta or sandwiches. 

American Legion, 901 2nd St. in Coralville
Added after printing, the Legion did not make our map. But be sure to stop to fill up on breakfast specials and Bloody Marys before you head out Saturday morning.  No need to rush... it's the last day, so savor it!

The Hideaway, 310 E Prentiss St. in Iowa City
A good friend and great supporter, Amber at the Hideaway gets creative with Hair of the Dawg.  Stop down and order a Beergarita, aka Swamp Dawg.

Orchard Green, 521 S Gilbert St. in Iowa City
Affectionately known as our "Happy Place," Bryan & Shelly really know what they're doing.  Amazing food, soothing atmosphere, this is one of Iowa City's best restaurants!

Blackstone, 503 Westbury Drive in Iowa City
As riders roll out of Iowa City Saturday morning, they will want to be sure to stop for Blackstone's Breakfast Burritos, Biscuit Sandwiches, free bottled water and Bloody Marys in complimentary water bottles! 

We'll be happy to spend this last night in our own beds, where we can rest well to savor the last (sniff!) day.  Back tomorrow with one last preview Blawg!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels - Day 5

Day 5 - Altoona to Grinnell - 57.5 miles, 3202 feet of climb

Another short day - yay!  I have the box of tissues ready... still feeling sad about wrapping up the week.  The first leg of the day is to Mitchellville, home of the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women.  As the signs warn... DO NOT pick up hitchhikers!  

Team 36, 117 Center Ave N in Mitchellville
Instead, go straight to Team 36 to start your day.  Enjoy a Pig-in-a-Blanket-on-a-Stick or a Cinnamon Roll with your Hair of the Dawg Bloody Mary or Shogun Energy Drinks.  Relax in the Beer Garden or get up and shake it to the band, SPAM.

Thirsty Turtle, 5 N. Walnut St. in Colfax
Just 7 miles away, you can meet "Dr. Dirty" at the Thirsty Turtle in Colfax (maybe not a surprising nickname, with the Lion's Den Adult Shop just up the road ).  The Turtle was undecided about their specials at the time of this writing, but rest assured you will find the Dawg there, and live music to boot.

O'Kelly's Steak & Pub, 106 N. Main St. in Baxter
Hey... is Gallagher following us?  Or are we following him?  We'll find him here in Baxter in front of O'Kelly's from 11-4, followed by Celebrations from 4-8.  Burgers, Brat Patties, BBQ and Pot Roast Sandwiches are the fare of the day, and Hair of the Dawg Margaritas will cool you down before the 21-mile jaunt to Rock Creek State Park, then the last 7 to Grinnell.

Lonnski's, Main St. in Grinnell
Lonnski's is in the heart of the action of Grinnell, with the stage right outside their door.  You can unwind there with a Hair of the Dawg Bloody Mary, Margarita or Daiquiri at $5 a pint, Premium Domestic beers at $4 or $3 Domestic beers.  On the menu at Lonnski's:  Burgeres & Sandwiches during the day and Burgers & Wraps at night.  

We'd like to give a shout out to our friend and Grinnell local, Ben Latimer.  His band Whiplash will be playing the Happy Hour gig downtown at 5:00.  

Tomorrow the Dawg will be heading back to home territory (Iowa City/Coralville)!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels - Day 4

Day 4 - Boone to Altoona - 56.1 miles, 1147 feet of climb
This is the day we are looking forward to the most - short, flat and FUN!!  We will be camping at my sister’s place south and west of Boone the night before, and the county road she lives on just happens to lead straight down to Woodward and the trailhead of Iowa’s newest biking attraction, the High Trestle Trail.  Rumor has it that up to 6,000 riders are expected to go off route that day... and I say if you can’t beat ‘em...join ‘em!  
From the trailhead in Woodward, it’s a mere 3 miles to the bridge that crosses the Des Moines River.  If you haven’t seen it yet, have your camera ready.  It will take your breath away.  After your photo ops, it’s just another 3 miles to the Flat Tire Lounge, just steps off the trail.

Flat Tire Lounge, on the High Trestle Trail in Madrid
I read about Flat Tire the week of its opening and made it my mission to get Hair of the Dawg in there.  It just looked like our kind of place.  So we paid a visit and hit it off with Scott, Mandy and all the other owners.  This bar, a converted quonset hut, is bicyclists’ heaven.  Look up when you go in... up on a balcony there are two mannequins sporting team jerseys that change each day (or more often when an organized ride is going by).  If you’ve sent one of yours to them (there’s still time!) and it happens to be on one of the mannequins when you stop in, you’ll get a discount on your beer!

The Radish of Des Moines will be catering Breakfast Burritos and Biscuits & Gravy in the morning, and for lunch - pork chops on a stick, cold sandwiches and wraps and pasta bar.  Though you can get almost any of our mixes there, Flat Tire will have a $4 Bloody Mary special, and $3 Screwdrivers.  A DJ will be spinning tunes all day to pump up the Flat Tire!
The Crossroads Tavern, Kelley Corner (between Luther and Slater)
Once you get to Slater, it’s worth backtracking on the official route five miles north to the Crossroads Tavern on the Kelley Corner.  What the heck... it's a short day!  The Crossroads, a former gas station/convenience store, sits on a huge corner lot with plenty of room for bikes, sand volleyball and dancing to some DJ tunes.  You can fill up there on a breakfast burrito and a Hair of the Dawg Bloody Mary.
Elkhart Pub, 127 E. Main St. in Elkhart
In the growing town of Elkhart, you’ll want to go “where everybody knows your name.”  That’s just the kind of feel the Elkhart Pub has.  In fact, we had a little trouble getting out of there when we were scouting the route, we were having such great conversations with the other patrons.  We’ll see Gallagher there again, and you can get a $3 beer, $1 soda or a Hair of the Dawg Margarita in their beer garden.
Cory’s Irish Pub, 110 1st St. SE in Bondurant
This bedroom community to the Des Moines metro area has doubled its population in the last ten years.  One of its newer additions is Cory’s Irish Pub.  The pub features Cory’s Irish Cream - their own secret recipe.  Cory’s will be offering steak sandwiches and grinders, Hair of the Dawg Margaritas and Mojitos, and live music.

Every year I start feeling sad about Day 4, because a week of nothin' but Bicycles, Bloodies and Beer is too quickly coming to an end.  So I'm off to find a box of tissues, and will be back tomorrow with Day 5's lineup!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Lesson from a Friend

On July 17, 2009, we lost one of our best friends and fans.  We pay tribute to him here and will every year on this date.

Live well. Laugh often. Love much. A phrase so often used on wall hangings, embroidered on pillows or forwarded in pass-along e-mails it’s become a bit hackneyed...but one never better exemplified than by the subject of our first Dawg Blawg.

We met our friend Doug and his wife when we were running a restaurant in Okoboji, a lake resort town in Northwest Iowa, where they had a vacation home. As often as we were able, we spent time with Doug and Barb...bicycling, hot-air ballooning, engaging in water combat with our restaurant staff, or just enjoying each other’s company over a cold beer or two...and ALWAYS laughing.

At the end of that year, we moved to the opposite corner of the state, and grew inexcusably out of touch with our friends. A few years later, we were invited back to Okoboji for a wedding, so we called Doug and Barb to let them know. They immediately cancelled their own plans to attend a wedding and welcomed us to their lake home. When we pulled in, they met us in the driveway, Doug in his trademark Hawaiian shirt and easy, wide grin and Barb with her infectious laughter and huge hugs. Time had stood still, and over a martini we picked up our conversation...and laughter, right where we had left off. They crashed the wedding with us.

That weekend, Barb and Doug introduced us to ‘The ‘Hood,’ a group of neighbors and friends who share the same spirit and philosophy of life...and laughter...and love, who soon became our friends, too. We had so much fun with the ‘Hood we began making trips to the Lake almost quarterly, for Winter Games, an annual bike ride, weddings and wedding showers, or whenever we just needed a dose of the ‘Hood.

One weekend I made my Bloody Mary mix and the ‘Hood loved it. Mark threw down the gauntlet and challenged my mix to a taste-off against his. As difficult as it was to admit, his won. Hands down. Doug, always my champion, told me mine was just as good, but I suspect he was just trying to make me feel better. After that, Mark was not allowed to come to the ‘Hood without his mix. Thus was born our test market. The ‘Hood encouraged Mark to pursue his dream to sell his mix (Doug the loudest cheerleader of them all), so he began to look into it.

Last year we made our annual trip up for Winter Games, but missed Doug, who had stayed home because of back pain that had been nagging him for months. A few weeks later, when the pain had still not subsided, he had an MRI and we all prayed that he wouldn’t have to have back surgery. If only. On Friday the 13th, Barb called with the diagnosis...metastatic bone cancer, primary site unknown. Doug fought it like the true Marine he was, never willing to give up and never letting it crush his spirit or his faith. When Doug lost his battle barely 5 months after the diagnosis and a few weeks after his 61stbirthday, it was then that I realized what a mighty disease cancer is, to take the life out of someone like Doug.

When Doug came to the realization that the disease was tougher than he, he admonished us all to live for him. Maybe what he (and we) didn’t realize was that all along he had been teaching us to live like him...always game for mischief and fun, with a childlike joy and open mind, a kind word and a ready smile, laughter every day, and heart and arms wide open. So threadbare as the phrase may be, we pledge to live well, laugh often (though sometimes through our tears) and love much...for Doug, for Barb, for the ‘Hood, and for ourselves. We hope you will too.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels 2011 - Day 3

Day 3 - Carroll to Boone - 70.9 miles, 1787 feet of climb

Whew!  Finally a break from the hills...even quite a bit of descent out of Carroll!  So riders shouldn't have any problem making it 19 miles to the first Dawghouse in Lanesboro.

The Real McCoy, 206 E. Main St. in Lanesboro
On June 28 last year, firefighters were dispatched to The Real McCoy to find it engulfed in flames, and declared it a total loss.  But lucky for us, owner Dean McCoy resurrected the bar, reopening on Valentine's Day this year.  Riders might think they've found the State Fair when they take a gander at the menu.  I mean, where else would you find Pancake n' Sausage on a Stick??  The Real McCoy will also be serving up Breakfast Burritos, Vodka-Lemonades and, of course, Hair of the Dawg Bloody Marys.

Twister's, 109 Pilot St. in Pilot Mound
Well, it seems to be Movie Trivia Day on RAGBRAI!  The ominous "Twister Hill" just East of town is where Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton were filmed chasing a tornado up a hill in the 1996 movie, Twister.  Locals gave the long, steep hill its nickname after the movie was made, and owner of the local tavern, Twister's, named his establishment after it as well.  You'll find some movie and Hollywood memorabilia on the walls there as you quench your thirst with a Hair of the Dawg Margarita.

The Gigglin' Goat, 628 Story St. in Boone
The Gigglin' Goat will be rocking Boone with a parking garage party featuring two bands, The $nack$ (7 to 10) or Bound2B (10 to 1) as you quench your thirst with a Hair of the Dawg Margarita.  The folks from New Belgium Brewing will be there as well, hosting their 6th anniversary party with specials on Fat Tire Beer.

Wilson's Tap and Recreation, 1008 Story St. in Boone
There's something about the name of this bar that I just love.  And riders will love the live music at Wilson's, provided by The River Bottom Boys.  Stop in at night for a Polish Sausage or Beef Burger special, or before riding out on Wednesday for Biscuits and Gravy and a Bloody Mary.

If you're so inclined to hit all of the bands in Boone that night and live it up a little, the next day's ride promises to be short, flat and FUN!!  Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels 2011 - Day 2

Day 2 - Atlantic to Carroll - 65.4 miles, 4719 feet of climb

50 of Day 2's miles are straight north, which we hope means some great tailwinds out of the south to push us up all of those hills!  Not quite 15 miles into the day, we will roll into lovely Elk Horn, one of the two Danish villages we will pass through that day.

Larsen's Pub, 4206 Main St. in Elk Horn
After you've visited the historic windmill, be sure to stop at Larsen's Pub for one of their famous tenderloins - voted the best by the Iowa Pork Producers in 2007.  Thick and juicy, trimmed of nearly all its fat, it's sure to live up to riders' high expectations for good, Iowa pork.  Larsen's will also be serving frozen drinks, cold beer and, of course, Iowa's own Bloody Mary (yours truly).  We'll see Gallagher at this stop again...and don't miss the beer garden out back!

Arnold's Tavern, 201 N. Main St. in Kimballton
You can never stop too often on the hilly days.  Only 3 miles up the road from Elk Horn lies the second of the Danish villages.  Kimballton boasts an exact replica of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark.  And if the lines were too long at Larsen's Pub, you can slake your thirst with the cold beer and Bloody Mary specials here at Arnold's!

Templeton Rye Distillery, 209 E. 3rd St. in Templeton
Although you'll see the distillery on our Dawghouse map, we're afraid you won't find Hair of the Dawg here.  There are always some hoops to jump through for RAGBRAI promotions, and this one just didn't work out in the end.  But it's more than a worthwhile stop to see where "The Good Stuff" is from, and sample a little.  And we wanted to give a shout out to our friends at Templeton (esp. Scott and Drew) to thank them for their support and trying to find a way to fit us in!

After the stop in Templeton, we will begin to see the light at the end of the hilly tunnel, with Carroll just 20 miles up the road, and a mere 1700 feet of climb on Day 3.  Before heading to the main stage for the evening's entertainment, you can rest your quads at either one of our two Carroll Dawghouses:

Kerp's Tavern, 223 E. 5th St. in Carroll
Kerp's is the first stop of the day with all of our mixes.  So if you're Bloody Mary'ed out, ask for a Margarita (Regular or Strawberry) to replenish your sodium levels or a Mojito to refresh your palette.  

B&S's 529, 529 N. Main St. in Carroll
Also boasting four varieties of Hair of the Dawg, B&S's 529 is another great stop to take a load off, or shake your booty to more Jam Time Entertainment.

And be sure to drink plenty of water before you go to bed - we have SIX Dawghouses lined up for you on Day 3!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dawgs on Wheels 2011!

Our butts have healed sufficiently, and we earned so many loyal followers on RAGBRAI last year that the Dawgs on Wheels are back for RAGBRAI 2011!  This year we have even more "Dawghouses" along the route, and more of our tasty mixes available!  We've tailored the morning stops to whet your whistle with Bloody Marys and afternoon stops with Margaritas and Mojitos to cool you down (designated on the map with red or green icons, respectively).  

So here's a little preview of the Dawghouses along the way, which we will present on the Dawg Blawg one day at a time.  And if you see us in our Hair of the Dawg jerseys out on the route, ask us for a handy pocket Dawghouse map, and we'll be happy to oblige!

Day 1 - Glenwood to Atlantic - 59.5 miles, 4298 feet of climb

Austin's on the Trail, 405 Main St. in Silver City
A mere 9 miles into the route, but this will be a great stop!  Dave Gallagher of Jam Time DJ Productions will provide tunes to dance to, and Austin's will be serving Breakfast Burritos, Fresh Fruit, Strawberry Yogurt-Captain Morgan Smoothies, and of course, Hair of the Dawg Bloody Marys!  Also of note... Austin's is famous for their wings (14 varieties!). While they won't be available in Silver City that day, they will be serving select flavors at Rupe's Place in Glenwood on Saturday night.

Dusty's Place, 402 Main St. in Griswold (hometown of Evil Eyers Jenny & Andrea!)
35 miles and MANY hills from Silver City (after the meeting town of Carson), riders will be happy to see Griswold and cool down with a Hair of the Dawg Margarita or Mojito at Dusty's Place.  You may want to skip lunch (or eat light) in Carson to save room for one of Dusty's Club Sandwiches - absolutely the best Club Sammy we have ever tried!  They will be featuring the Club, as well as Prime Rib Sandwiches and their homemade Onion Rings (also amazing)!  They have an awesome outdoor beer garden, and Team Hair of the Dawg, Team Draught, and the Regulators will bypass Marne to make Dusty's their Saturday stop on the way out.  Please join us!!

That's it for the first day.  Stay tuned over the next week as we outline each day for you!