Fuel: Peanut Butter, Honey & Bacon

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After some distance this weekend —
80+ km on the bike on Saturday and a 10 mile run on Sunday — I was ready for something calorie-rich.

I normally suffice with the peanut butter and honey but some left over bacon — reheated in the toaster oven — added an extra layer of goodness.

Recovery Meal: Vlaamse Stoverij

vlaamse stoverij carbonnade St. Bernardus

When the autumn weather turns wet and dreary, it is time for some food that will warm you from within. I’ve been feeling in a hole from illness and injury and the pumpkin pie, as nice as it was, wasn’t cutting it. Since it’s the start of cyclocross season (for some, at least, not for me any longer), I went with something that recalls the Belgium heartland: Vlaamse Stoverij. Also known as carbonnade flamande, it is a beef and beer stew with onions, mustard and various spices.

Did I mention it has beer in it?

The beer can really make or break this dish. Since it was my first time making it at home, I wasn’t screwing around and went with St. Bernardus Prior 8, an Abbey-style “Dubbel”.

St. Bernardus Prior 8 vlaamse stoverij carbonnade flamande

I made a good choice.  The smell of the house while this was cooking was incredible. I tried to take a nap while it simmered on the stove but I was too excited to sleep.  I ate mine poured over some mashed potatoes, but that took some of the focus off the great flavors of the stew.  The little bit of leftover Prior 8 provided a nice companion.  I can only guess the number of calories concentrated in this dish.

Here’s the basic recipe.

Payback

tuna steak baby kale aioli

The last week of training has been pretty intense with my family away on vacation and only work and eating to get in the way:

Last Sunday, 4 1/2 hours, 130 km on the bike.

Monday, rollerskiing technique and core strength.

Tuesday, 38 km on the bike with 30 minutes of speed.

Wednesday, rollerskiing specific strength (4 each double pole, no pole, single stick and V2).

Thursday, rollerskiing drills (ride the glide, skate hops, starts).

Friday, core strength circuit.

Saturday AM, 2 hrs 15 rollerski with no-pole skating, speeds and power 10’s.

Saturday PM, 40km on the bike, caught in torrential rain and thunderstorms.

Tonight I paid it all back with a seared tuna steak on baby kale with aioli.  I normally like to make aioli from scratch, but didn’t have the energy, so I pumped up some regular mayonaise with mustard, garlic cloves and lemon juice.

 

Refueling

grilled ribeye steak kale with beer and mustard

I burned a lot of calories today and was craving a steak.  I don’t eat a lot of red meat so it’s a rare indulgence to go for it and today, after 130km on the bike, it felt well deserved.

Dinner:

Ribeye steak, prepared following Anthony Bourdain’s guidance:

“It’s basic cooking. Open flame, piece of meat, etc. I’m not a big fan of dressing up my steaks when grilling — a little salt and pepper after it’s been cooked and sliced will do — and nothing hurts me more than seeing a good steak turned into leather. Rare or medium rare, let it rest for ten minutes to redistribute the juices and finish cooking.”

Roasted banana peppers from the garden.

Dinosaur kale (to make up for the beef) braised with beer, mustard and garlic, garnished with roasted pine nuts.

We Will Strike For Food!

Coban Guatemala 1996

In the fall of 1996 I was racing the Tour of Guatemala.   We had climbed into the cloud forests of the central mountains and sprinted through the narrow streets — a mixture of fractured asphalt, dirt and cobblestones — of Cobán, finishing on a cinder track inside the sports stadium.  It was a finish unlike any I had seen before.  Soldiers lined the roads on the way into town.  There was still a civil war going on at the time.

There was a routine after every finish:  Go to the hotel. Unpack. Shower up.  Head down to dinner.  The riders — there were teams from Guatemala, Central and South America,and Europe — were crowded into the same small hotel. We sat down to dinner that night in the hotel dining room but the food was never coming.  Soon the chatter of several dozen hungry cyclists turned to grumbling.   Continue reading

Eats

pulled pork scrambled eggs good eats

Every now and then I need a calorie bomb.  With the last few weeks of training piling up — and the sinking sense that I’m not getting all the protein I need — it was time to take action:  eggs scrambled with left-over pulled pork and mashed potatoes from Blue Ribbon, topped off with lots of chipotle hot mustard.  There’s a spinach salad on the side to make it a little more healthful.  I won’t calculate how many calories might be in here but it was just what I needed after today’s workout:  2 hours on the bike followed by 30 minutes of core strength.

My Drinking Problems

cytomax sports drink

These days, I use Cytomax as a regular training supplement.  I’ve grown particularly fond of the Fresh Apple flavor, which tastes nothing like apples.  The flavor has improved since the first time I tried some at the Tour de Hull in 1992.  It no longer has the curiously bitter after-taste that only encouraged me to drink more of it.  Despite the flavor improvements, I suspect Fresh Apple is not the most popular flavor since it is hard to come by.  I’ve tried the Cool Citrus, Pomegranate Berry, Go Grape, Tropical Fruit, and some others I think they’ve stopped making.  After a couple of bottles, they all taste the same.

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Rituals: Coffee

coffee guatemala antigua royal gorge french press

Every morning is pretty much the same for me: Get up. Make coffee. Live.

Sometimes when I go to bed a night, I fondly ponder that first cup the following morning. I tell myself I can stop any time. But I don’t. I’ve cut down or increased volume, intensity and frequency at various times. I’ve tried doing workouts before coffee but I never feel quite right the rest of the day. Yet, I’ve been unable to workout right after coffee since I spend more time stopping to piss than exercising.

Back when I was a full-time bike racer there was always the mad rush to find that last minute jolt of coffee before heading to the start line. One teammate used to travel with a bullet thermos full of espresso for just such circumstances. As a result, I became expert in two things: preparing espresso on the road, usually with a bialetti, and taking a last minute leak on the start line. Not literally. Sometimes I was a few rows back.

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Soup’s On

I don’t necessarily like to eat — not all the time at least — but I have to take care to replace what I burn.  When I’m not eating whatever hasn’t been nailed down or locked up, I try to eat healthy foods.  This trough of vegetable soup ( carrots, potatoes, lentils, barley) did the job tonight.  Garnished with lots of pecorino romano, extra virgin olive oil and oyster crackers, it had the right balance of salty, fatty and crunchy.  The soup was preceded by a salad of mixed greens, sprouts, and shredded carrots in a mustard-balsamic vinaigrette.  Because I’m lazy and don’t like having to go back for seconds, I simply poured the soup into the same bowl as the salad.  For reference, that’s a 1.5 liter Pyrex mixing bowl.

The Tank Is Empty

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It was still winter for a little while longer at the Sugarloaf Marathon in Maine on Saturday.  Overnight, temperatures had dipped below freezing, meaning the track had  frozen up nicely and would be fast for at least the first half of the race.

My warm-up wasn’t promising.  I still felt out of sorts from the virus I had been dealing with for the past three weeks. I had barely done any training since Bretton Woods and hadn’t been on snow since then.  My heart rate didn’t look good.  The oatmeal from breakfast brimmed at the base of my esophagus.
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