Le Tour de Carbs
This week I’ve been cooking for a group of 30 athletes cycling 3 cols of the Pyrenees.
It was like discovering a secret bizarre club and then finding out that half the people I knew were members.
“I’m off to cook for a group doing some crazy Tour de France style cycle over the Pyrenees”
“Oooh how interesting, yes we did that last month”
“ Wonderful! Nothing more fun than a 5 hour bike ride up some hills”
“Ah yes, Milly and I often take our bikes on a challenging weeks ride across Scotland. Jolly good fun”!
Everyone I talked to seemed to be into cycling thing, in a serious way. Even the girl at the checkout when I was buying obscene amounts of jaffa cakes and jelly babies ( for the cyclists not me..ok I had a few) to take with me had just come back from a weekend of cycling with her friends.
I really cannot think of many ways I would less like to spend my time.
I have tried it (sort of) and just didn’t derive the pleasure of reaching the top of the hills or particularly the kamikaze nature of coming down them. Give me a horse as alternative transport any day of the week. What really did interest and excite me about this cycling extravaganza however was researching and creating a menu for the weekend.
There was to be a party on the Friday night to get everyone in the mood, a carb happy lunch and dinner on the Saturday to help fuel them for their gruelling ride, take away breakfast and cycle snacks to be distributed between three support vehicles following them up the mountains to go on the Sunday then a grand feast Sunday night to welcome home the champions.
The Friday and Saturday carb happy meals were easy to come up with ideas for and there was plenty of advice on the Internet about the best slow release energy foods and protein dishes to help with muscle performance.
I should warn you however if you ever find yourself doing your own research do not to type in “ what to eat before and during a cycle” as you will be bombarded with menstrual related information.
It was the ‘what would people want to eat during the cycle’ that was the most challenging and conflicting in results. Everyone I asked seemed to have different opinions. Some swore that a cheese sandwich and a few jelly babies in your back pocket were all you needed, some liked to delve into gels, mineral drinks and other lab concoctions of alarming colours that are available in the sporty fanatic world and then I even heard stories of members of this group last year happy to stop for a 2 course lunch and glass or two of wine to help fuel them through the day. The only consistent item of food was bananas.
The food for the ride had to be split between three support vehicles (also carrying spare tyres, pumps, water, extra Lycra ect..). It had to be appealing to those on the ride but also transportable and survive a day of being lugged up and down mountains. It helped that we bought half of Frances supply of Tupperware to aid us in this challenge.
Their take away breakfast and extreme picnic menu in the end read as follows.
Bircher muesli, strawberry and blueberry pots
Roast mushroom rolls.
Fresh fruit smoothie with honey
Coffee / tea
Cut up oranges
Home made Sausage Rolls
Home made Flapjacks
Banana and maple syrup cake
So come Sunday morning, after a very jolly Friday night (I was not sure at this point how seriously they were taking this) a slightly more subdued Saturday night , the 30 Lycra clad cyclists piled onto the bus and headed to the Pyrenees. It was like watching the start of a stage of the tour de France (though with less egos, doping and politics clouding the enjoyment).
They were equipped with supplies that I hoped would satisfy any cravings that may appear and a few large boxes of iced cold beer ready for the end of the day.
Meanwhile back at base the team regrouped after an early start to prepare for the evenings feast.
When the victors returned it was fun hearing as they all tumbled back in how their day went and how they got on with the supplies…
“oooh your sausage rolls, the thought of them at the next stop helped me up that last 20 km”
“Gosh it really is all about power balls isn’t it ?”
or my favourite feedback
“ I basically rewarded myself with a jelly baby every km” (that’s 110)
I confess having seen the pictures of the ride, hearing the stories of team work and camaraderie, observing the joy of triumph and achievement… I still have zero desire to ever do it myself.
For this weeks postcard I will give you a carb happy recipe for potato salad.
Pasta eaten: 7.2 kilo
Potatoes eaten: 8.1 kilos
Cocktails drunk: xxx
Admiration levels: 100 %
Inclination to do it myself: 0 %
Every home should have: 30 bicycle pumps
Problems caused by corroded spoke nipples: 1
1 kilo waxy potatoes
2 egg yolks
squeeze of lemon
150 ml sunflower oil
150 ml olive oil
1 dsp Dijon mustard
30 gherkins roughly chopped
6 spring onions finely chopped
3 tbs roughly chopped parsley
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water, drain and cool.
To make the mayonnaise
Whizz the eggs yolks in a blender with lemon juice until thick and pale.
Slowly pour in the two oils, then add the mustard and season with salt and pepper.
Mix the mayo through the cold potatoes along with the gherkins, spring onions and parsley. Serve room temperature at least a day before a big cycle as potatoes are a slow release carbohydrate.
Next stop… Greece
Some photos from this postcard recipe have been given and used with kind permission of the group