Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Giancarlo and all the good people of L’Eroica should be honored. In the home of Fausto Coppi comes La Mitica. While I have every intention of riding another L’Eroica, I’m eager to ride this and the Retro Ronde. It’s not a slavish interest in the minutiae of vintage bicycles; it’s the culture that surrounds the period when bike racing was not dominated by expensive sponsorships, radio communication with the team, armadas of support vehicles. Don’t get me wrong. I’d jump at the chance to spend some time as a spectator at Grand Tour events. And, I watch plenty of TV coverage of the pro circuit, attend local events and read as much as I can.

But, there is something that inspires me about participating in events like this. You feel somehow more connected to the origins of the sport and to a time and place that seems original. I fight the cynic in me that says these events are produced as a way to build tourism interest, especially among people “of a certain age” who have the means to travel and harbor nostalgia for a period they probably never lived through. No matter.

It can only be a matter of time before an event like L’Eroica or La Mitica is held here in Oregon. For that, I cannot wait.

(Thanks to Rory Mason and his blog, Masini’s Breaking Away blog, for alerting me. Links to that blog, please visit it, on the home page here.)

A vintage ride in the land of Coppi

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The reality of the L’Eroica experience far exceeded the dream. To start there was Lecchi in Chianti, a village that one can only imagine being part of a dream. Hospitable, ideally positioned and filled with friendly residents and visitors alike.

Having my family there was a great treat and I can only hope that the favor was returned. Most nights, we came together for the evening meal and the laughter and boisterous conversation was non-stop.


Then, there was Joao and his troop of former pro cycling colleagues and clients, living their own dreams on the roads of Chianti. An article in Bicycling magazine describes Joao’s approach to hosting cycling enthusiasts as the best ride on earth and it’s easy to see why.

Nothing matched the ride, not even the “favor” I did of delivering the commemorative Brooks B-17 saddle to ride director Giancarlo Brocci.


I plan to write a bit more, both here and for Brooks England for their blog. Stay tuned.

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Mia famiglia greeted me on the ride into C. Beredenga.


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Enjoying the break after 85k, some of it punishing.


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First rest and refuel stop. The climb to Castello Brolio lit by candles.


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If you plan to ride L’Eroica, this is part of the training.


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For a slightly different take on the ride, take a look at Brooks England video from 2009. Among my obsessions, the traditional leather saddle is high on the list. So much so that I initiated a Facebook group page two years ago with content about the iconic leather saddle. Naturally, I ride one and have had a great time exploring the various connections between the saddle and bike culture. It’s a natural that Brooks would be a L’Eroica sponsor.

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If you have spent any time reading about L’Eroica, you know that food and wine are a big part of the ride. In fact, the ride traverses scores of vineyards where the strade bianchi are essential to wine commerce. And, olive oil commerce, too.

I had a Twitter follower ask me if I was ready for the ride and by ready, he meant was I prepared for the riding and the eating along the way. I laughed it off, but I think he might be serious. In fact, how will you find enough daylight to ride 205K and consume all of the excellent food that is provided along the way? I will soon find out.

The menu for Sunday lunch

To help me train for that, my sponsor, KitchenCru is hosting a Sunday lunch, or Il Grande Pranzo della Domenica, that reflects the owner’s memories of his youth when the big family meal was served mid-afternoon on Sunday. Having read the menu below, I think this Sunday should be good for training.

The wines that Michael and Dan at CorksCru have selected are equally interesting and another form of training that is far more enjoyable than grinding up 5% grades on gravel.

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It’s hard to know where to begin with this post. I set today aside for a long training ride to include enough climbing that I knew I would feel it when it was complete. Right now, with the late afternoon sun pouring in the window, heating the office area beyond comfort, my legs and knees are reminding me that today’s training ride was long, and hilly, and steep.

The ride I mapped included several climbs, one of which caught me by surprise and another that was the result of road work on the principal north-south route at the crest of the West Hills.

The Strade Bianchi on Saltzman

I mixed in a bit of gravel and also was greeted with gravel I didn’t expect. Speaking of unexpected, how about a dropped chain along with gravel in the new cleats, in so tight that it took a guard rail to exorcize them. More on that later.

Because this sort of thing is self inflicted, I don’t complain. It was a glorious morning. I took care to have a quiet evening on Friday, rising early to get the whole ride in before the 90 degree temperatures came along. Even so, I didn’t wear the new kit knowing that the weight of the wool and the strong sun would have done me in.

The first third of the ride came easily and I felt like the legs belonged to someone else, someone more fit. A cruise down the old friend, Springville Road, made the day seem effortless. I descended that one because of road work. I worked my way north, then east up Germantown Road, another old friend. The legs responded, keeping the pace with effort, but not pain. I reached Skyline Drive again and turned north.

Given the extra distance that the detour required, I considered backing off my original plan, which put the ride at almost 120K. I felt justified. I made a real L’Eroica like stop to pick blackberries, part of my day’s nutrition I figured. Then, I remembered Rule 5 and pressed on toward the end of the pavement on Skyline. But, Skyline wasn’t done with me.

Blackberries along the way.

At Cornelius Pass, I dropped my chain as I shifted for the next climb. I managed to return it safely and make my way across the busy road. I felt a bit smug, figuring it couldn’t be that far to either Logie Trail or Rocky Point Road. As I made my way up what I remembered was a steep pitch, I couldn’t get my cleats to settle into the pedals. A careful look showed gravel embedded in the cleat. If it were metal, it would have seemed like it was welded into place. Tire tools were no use. I had to use the tail end of the guard rail to finally free the stones and get on my way. That interruption killed my tempo. What was relatively straight forward ascending just a few K back was now a stand-on-the-pedals effort in the lowest gear just to get to what I hoped was the top. It wasn’t.

I soon realized that there was a good bit more climbing yet to do and much of it long and unrelenting. Not too far from the exit to Logie Trail, my bail out point, I spoke to a fellow cyclist repairing his tire. He assured me that Rocky Point Drive was just 3 miles away (5K). That buoyed me. Of course, it ended up being more like 8K away with enough climbing to make me wonder just how long that return to Portland might be.

The turnoff for Rocky Point came into view, as did the sign saying “Fresh Gravel.” That’s not to uncommon since Skyline and Dixie Mountain continue on as unpaved roads. Looking forward to a zippy descent to Route 30, I quickly learned what the sign was all about. The road was fresh with tar-and-chip repaving. Now, it was my arms and hands that felt the day’s effort because I was braking, madly, on steep terrain, some of which must have just been treated last week. I figured this was good training for L’Eroica because it became apparent that descending on the strade bianchi will be far more difficult than the climbing.

A Natian Session ale to toast a good day in the saddle

Fortunately for me and my hourly average, the road turned to asphalt about half way to the bottom and I cruised along, enjoying the breeze. It wasn’t long before Route 30 came into view, a vision of wide lanes, big shoulders and miserable traffic. There was no other alternative that made sense and a northerly wind provided the mo

tivation as I put the hammer down, averaging 30+K/hour on the return.

It was poetic that the bike meter tripped the 100K mark as I crossed over the middle of the St. John’s Bridge. I headed back on the old route by the Columbia Slough, finally getting to the Fifteenth Avenue Hophouse

in time for a couple of tasty beers.

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The roads and scenery around Trout Lake, Washington bring you within a few kilometers of  two significant Cascade volcanoes, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens.

Mt. Adams by the USGS

With my son-in-law as ride-mate, we took on a loop ride from the Lower Falls Campground in Gifford Pinchot National Forest through Trout Lake and over the western flank of Mt. Adams. The ride includes some very quiet roads, breath taking scenery, steep ascents and equally enjoyable descents. For a map of the ride, go here: Lewis River-Trout Lake Loop.

On family camping trips, the Moseman tandem is usually the machine of choice. This time, my wife decided she didn’t want the punishment. I don’t blame her. She and I have ridden this loop before, albeit without the extra 33K of road between the loop and the camping. My original mapping of the ride had the distance pegged incorrectly and my son-in-law pointed this out before we set off. I wish he hadn’t said anything.

The weather on Saturday, August 6 was beautiful: sunny skies, temperatures in the low 70’s with a light breeze at our back when we started. We thought about that as we knew that the return would be into that same wind.

The first significant climbing occurs after you make the turn toward Trout Lake. The road is perfect, though, with just a few patches of gravel. The gradient is easily managed, even with the relatively high gearing that I cannot escape. We took just about two hours to get to the Trout Lake Ranger Station where we refueled with water and sandwiches and some excellent homemade cookies. Prior to that stop, though, I choked down my first experience with “Gu.” All I can say is that I hoped it helped me in some small way because the experience otherwise is not pleasant.

It’s not long after Trout Lake that you begin the climb of Mt. Adams. Here, the angle is more significant, with steep pitches that are followed by milder climbs and even some descents. The sun was on us, too, so we doffed the helmets and rode like hard men. Phillip was kind to me, letting me catch him as we made our way up the 20K or more of climbing.

Views to Mt. Adams are wonderful here and we had been teased with peeks at the western slopes as we made our way down to Trout Lake. After finally topping out, we rode the relatively flat, then steeply descending road to its junction with our return.

On average, the return is downhill, though there are some rollers that remind you that what looks easy on paper rarely is. Add to this the wind dimension, which at times was blowing quite hard in our faces. That meant crouching over the handlebars and creating the sore necks that we nursed with beers late in the day.

By the end, we had logged 116K of fantastic riding, averaging 23K/hour. As I made my final turn into the campground, I felt proud. Proud, that is, until I realized that to approximate L’Eroica’s long ride, I’d have to make the circuit all over again.

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