Riding across Europe in nice weather takes calories. Alot of calories. Riding across Europe in bad weather takes more calories. Alot more calories.
If I could run, ride and ski with a food truck driving next to me feeding me sandwiches, smoothies, pizza, coffee and brownies all day I would, no questions asked. I’m naturally thin and can feel cold in summer, so when I undertake this type of thing I pack food and drink into pockets, up sleeves, under my shorts, in bottles and hide food in support cars, vans, backpacks and in the back of ski-doos.
So my breakfast routine during endurance events look like this;
1. Wake up and make green tea and coffee
2. Pack bags and put on base layers
3. First breakfast: Oats, Omelette, Coffee, Baguette with Banana
4. Go up to room, finish getting dressed, bring bags down and check bike
5. Second breakfast: Ham and Cheese croissants/sandwiches, sausage and whatever else takes my fancy
6. Make sandwiches for the road. You never know what will happen out on the road; you may be lost, the support team may be lost, you may have a flat with no help, a crash… anything at all can and does happen. And if you don’t need it someone else will.
– I can’t count the number of times I have handed out food to exhausted teammates, frozen competitors and even injured cyclists on the side of the road.
The second days ride was taking us to Nancy via canal towpaths, forest and open countryside. We were getting used to the rain and cold and all sorts of dishwashing gloves, bin bags (my favourite) and such were showing up. The previous days cold and fatigue was already starting to show in painful knees and chapped thighs, which is a bad sign so early in.
Rain generally equals flat tyres, and as the rain falls and scatters glass, sand and rocks onto roads and pathways, inner-tubes and tyres become a form of prison currency. We had been provided spares by a sponsor who had also tuned and serviced the bikes but had obviously handed the job of creating a spares kit to a summer student because every valve on the tubes was a good 1 – 2 centimetres too short for the rims… and we were flatting non-stop. Time for a stow-away sandwich.
The ride towards Metz along the canals was impressive, and coming from the South of France it is easy to forget that alot of the planet still relies on coal and fossil fuels for warmth and energy. It is an industrial landscape, reminiscent of post-war industry and the economic strength of fossil-fuel industry.
Our support team proved their legend status again by finding an empty covered market to set up a hot lunch for the riders. Some more flat tyres to fix and we were on our way.
We ambled into Nancy with music blaring from Angies’ 4×4 in the early evening after another solid 10 hours on the road. Showers, dinner, dry out the kit and go again.