- Nate: less melting pot, more Colombian food Japanese-style
- Nate: it's like, look, we took Chicharron and cooked it in SOY SAUCE!
- Christy: So gross.
- Nate: ish
- Nate: it's the original fusion.
Staring at the summit of the Nevado del Ruiz, touching the sky at almost 17,500ft, brings a sense of serene insignificance. The lofty peaks of the Andes, obscured for much of the day, reveal themselves in the early morning hours - like, as a boy, seeing my mother before she put her makeup on for the day. Unveiled, the crest of Nevado will retreat to its throne in the clouds in little more than sixty minutes, and the unenlightened will remain as such, snoring in blissful ignorance.
Sundays are for tipica, y montar a tranquilo. Mazamorra. Chicharron. Bandeja Paisa.
Cycling is my life. It’s not a bad one. In fact, it’s one I’d never dreamed of. Even scraping by on a daily basis, I feel like one of the most fortunate people on earth to be able to share it with anyone who cares to listen.
Nomming with Nate, edition 214159:
Tonight I had an unexpected host family in Salt Lake. By “family”, I mean my former roommate/best photographer on the planet, the one and only Mr. Kuhns. In light of the situation, I offered up my only half-hearted gift to the general public - cooking. Sadly, the kitchen in my temporary abode is slightly…ill-equipped (Hey dude, do you own a colander?), so it was a little seat-of-my-pants.
As is typical of my culinary creations, I took a recipe I located online and bastardized it until it was my own. In this case, the offering of Deb at Smitten Kitchen.
Boil really salted water in a saucepan suitable for pasta and asparagus. As it comes to a boil, add olive oil to a large hot skillet on high, get it to smoke point. Toss chunked veal in and brown it. Reduce heat to medium, add gin and braise veal for a couple minutes, or until it looks damned good. Let it simmer as you boil the pasta. When the pasta has a couple minutes to go to al dente, add the asparagus. Drain off when the pasta has cooked and the asparagus is still snappy. Throw asparagus/pasta into the veal braise, add goat cheese/butter/lemon zest/juice/dill/s&p. Melt butter and goat cheese, mix, and kill the heat. Serve immediately.
Had it with a bacon “IPA vinaigrette” spinach salad I made - not terrible. I was a little heavy on the lemon, but with a little less the gin/dill would come out and juniper would make itself known. Give it a shot - it’s easy.
My ghetto caprese-turkey grilled cheese brings all the boys to the yard, especially after bike rides. No-thinking post-ride lunch FTW.
Apply all ingredients to bread. Squish in waffle iron pretending to be a panini press. Take bad photo. Gorge. And actually, it was REALLY GOOD.
No longer am I beholden to uncooked Whole Foods gluten balls, FOR I HAVE MASTERED THE PIZZA DOUGH.
Sadly, I cannot say the same for Belgian waffles.
Soon, my sweet…soon. Click to embiggen for stomach-grumbling glee.
Disclaimer: I swear upon Tom Simpson’s memorial on Ventoux that I wrote most of this prior to my boss calling me out on his widely-perused blog, in which he also categorizes the joy and variety of stationary torture machines; which I’ll leave out for the sake of his rather astute coverage of that topic . Really. Carry on.
Surviving Aerobic Base:
The very mention of the phrase “Aerobic Base” sends chills down the spine of many a cyclist in northern climes - visions of frostbite, snow, marathon trainer sessions (with accompanying salty-sweaty patinas on random surfaces), spousal threats of divorce, and the pungent aroma of capsaicin grease (romantically referred to as “embro” around these parts) pollute the mind.
I’ve got bad news - it’s all true. The bitter three-month (typically) pill that plenty of cyclists swallow between November and February so they can fly come March; embodied by long, relatively slow rides, can be a torturous (and necessary) personal hell. Thankfully, using a vast array of insightful research approaches, my team of experts (note: me) has developed a number of useful ideas and techniques for dealing with self-inflicted torment during this magical time of year.
A word of caution: I’ve traced a lot of mental, physical, and social dysfunction directly back to aerobic base. Pondering existential theory, questioning your own sanity, sleeping for 12 hours on a regular basis, and breaking up with girlfriends (or vice-versa) are all normal symptoms of the affliction of wanting to tear the legs off your fellow man come Spring. You’ve been warned.
BEHOLD - the (turbo) Trainer. Only slightly more civilized than the medieval stretch rack.
Whenever the topic of trainers comes up in certain circles, there’s usually an inauspicious level of banal groaning and mentions of a mental time limit, as if pedaling aboard one was a soccer match with a 90-minute stopwatch, or that you lack the stones to ride outside in the winter. These pessimistic attitudes towards the most efficient training method legally available are seemingly born out of what I’d like to characterize as a distinct lack of HTFU (as well as the likelihood that critics have never attempted to race full-time and work full-time with only eight hours of daylight). Yes, trainers are quite miserable - but minimizing the misery of your new malevolent mistress isn’t insurmountable. Knocking out a 4+ hour ride in one place isn’t a totally mammoth task if you’re prepared. So, a few quick notes.
-Come prepped to ride. There are few bigger motivation-sucks than getting on the trainer tired, hungry, or needing to take an epic poop.
-Entertain yourself in your own bizarre fashion. The weapon of choice in my world? Video games. Not any video games, mind you, but video games that require only fleeting focus and a click at your leisure. I’ve been known to stray to books, movies (specifically LifeCycles), general web surfing (even work email/IMs), but the games remain my top banana for distraction. They’re of the flavor that are so mentally unstimulating you wouldn’t feel pressed to play them off the bike (think turn-based strategy and “management” genres). Anything requiring significant action in real-time (racing, shooting, real-time strategy) is pretty difficult to swing if you’re riding at a solid endurance pace and actually getting a workout in. My two favorites, Civilization V, and Pro Cycling Manager, strike a happy balance between just enough going on to keep you interested, but not enough that you can’t hold 250w for half a decade. PCM also has a user community that turns out some interesting tweaks for the game, like databases that allow you to race with real (and historical) teams/riders/races/bikes, all the way down to a Continental level. Not only that, but it teaches a semblance of bike racing tactics (note: SEMBLANCE, my vaunted attacks on the Galibier with Cancellara leading out a Schleck seems decidedly unlikely) to a rube like myself. Besides, DSing the team I’ll be racing with next season on courses I’ve raced on? RAD.
-Get a methodical, comfortable setup rolling. Mine is pretty basic (read: cheap and functional) in the grand scheme of things, but it works well. A big LCD monitor hooked up to my laptop (I recommend a glossy screen to better showcase your progressively ripped legs/waifishness through the winter), a set of some cheap speakers (for your presumed thumping of the greatest trainer song ever), and a wireless keyboard/mouse on a rolling hospital bedside table keep everything electronic functional. The ceiling fan keeps all things perspiration to a minimum, and being able to open the huge bay window next to the bike is key (also to successfully ensnare the 60-something neighbor lady who often stares at me from her kitchen). The window shelf makes a most excellent spot to stash hydration/food/sweat towels/copies of Peloton/Rouleur/diaries about how sad you are.
-Eat and drink liberally. Remember that you’re being quite a bit more efficient on the trainer with output than on the road (doing more work in a shorter amount of time), so adjust your food accordingly. Added bonus: The trainer lets you eat some really…interesting stuff since you don’t have to carry it with you. I’ve been known to make big plates of freakish food combinations for long trainer days. Tell me, have you ever had Lucky Charms, spongecake, pumpkin pudding, and ribs on the bike - from a casserole dish? That’s what I thought.
Yes, sometimes even with this myriad of truly staggering distractions and amenities of the First World, the trainer sucks. Sometimes all it takes is a heavy dose of HTFU. Imagine - you could be outside getting frostbite. Or mining for diamonds in Sierra Leone. Or getting slow whining on the internet about guys riding their trainers in November. Ah, the little things.
Forecast: Low 40s, snow, and 25mph winds. 5 hours penned into the schedule. Might as well eat well beforehand. Potato hash with ham is that much better in a balsamic reduction with a dash of sharp (Gorgonzola or Parmesan are both excellent choices) cheese tossed in.
Homebrew (aka, “I’d rather spend the PowerClifGuHammerBar money on new tires”) nutrition working its magic on one of the most miserable stretches of Utah cycling byways around.
Approximately 500 kcal of:
-Amaretto honey bar made of stuff I had lying around my kitchen (250 kcal - I’ll post a recipe someday…maybe).
-Honey (~100kcal)/water mix in an EFS flask spiked with a dash of orange electrolyte replacement powder.
-Gummy bears coated in sea salt (150 kcal - a hint of water gets it to stick)
So, bar replacement, gel replacement, and chew replacement for a fraction of the retail cost of prepackaged food. The honey/bears I’d probably forgo for “real” nutritionals in a race, but the bars are ROCKING! My ultra-endurance runner housemate finds them scrumptious enough for his own consumption.
i put this up on the twitter feed a week ago when i first saw it, but i feel like it’s worthy of a repost, especially after reading comments from some more surly members of the cycling community that the behavior of the crowd in Little Cottonwood on the final day of the Tour of Utah was “disrespectful” to the sport.
really guys? nothing gets me more excited than rowdy spectators at a race - ESPECIALLY at a relatively minor North American Continental race. one of my most visceral and adrenaline-pumping moments in a race this year was descending into the finish in tiny Silverton, CO (tailing Ned Overend by a couple minutes) during the Iron Horse Classic. there were probably around a thousand spectators lining the only paved street in town, screaming their guts out, spraying beer, and generally having a damn good time. i’ve never had that many people cheering me on with that much enthusiasm, especially tailgunning in fifth place. needless to say, i finished the race with one of the biggest shit-eating grins on my face, engulfed in what can only be described as tidal waves of positive stoke.
with that said, keep the beer, steak, pickle, pizza, and milkshake handups coming. i’ll be happy to snag one someday.