Breakfast At The Bike Shop?

johnliu_gwApril 7, 2013

Warning to new members: my posts can wander aimlessly for quite a while, so if you want to get straight to the food bit, skip ahead to the bolded word cooking.

It is spring, and bike road racing racing season is well under way.

The first races of the year, in February, are wake-up events in warm climes like Australia (Tour Down Under), the Middle East (Tour of Qatar), and South America.

In March, the circus moves to Europe for the spring classics. Strategically, the European season starts in Southern Europe with races like Paris-Nice, Tirreno Adriatico, and Milan-San Remo. But spring this year in Europe has been awful, wet and cold. The peleton suffered through freezing, blowing rain on the normally sunny roads to Nice and on the Adriatic coast.

The final insult was in Milan-San Remo. The race started, as always, in central Milan, by the cathedral. Milan in March is chilly. I remember many years ago, arriving in Milan from three months in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Bali. Tanned dark from the Asian summer, still in my tropical clothes and sandals, I stood shivering on a street corner with our pile of luggage, holding my 9 month old daughter, waiting for SWMBO to emerge from the American Express bureau. As the Milanese walked to work, elegantly dressed men and women, in gorgeous coats and boots, stopped and and handed me lire notes. I hadn't realized just how ragged I looked, but hey, I wasn't proud - I took the money.

I was thinking of that cold March day 16 years ago, when the racers left Milan this March. They ride south through stubbly gray fields, gradually climbing though the cold foggy hills to the mountain pass at Turchino. There, 140 km into the race, the peleton enters a narrow tunnel. After a short ride in darkness, the riders burst into blue skies. Sun and warmth pour forth, angels sing and trumpets blow, the race has reached the Mediterranean coast, winter is over, and the "Primavera" has truly begun. Milan-San Remo is the most beautiful of races, an opera in three acts, accelerating to a furious sprint finish along the palm-lined Liguran coast of Italy.

This year, Milan was colder than ever, colder than when sympathetic Italians gave 100 lire notes to what looked like a newly arrived refugee and his young child. As the race climbed, the fields became white, and then the roads. The peleton was riding in blowing snow, thin tires slipping on icy roads, racers shaking with cold and their fingers frozen on handlebars.

Imagine riding through a snowstorm at 40 km/hr, wearing Lycra tights and a thin polyester jacket . . . and you have only 8% body fat. Half the peleton abandoned the race, and several of the survivors were sick a week later when the World Tour arrived in Belgium and Holland for the Northern classics.

Winter's grip was still tight, and some of those races were shortened or cancelled outright due to snow and ice. But bike racers are tough, and when the weather lifted just a little, we had a glorious Tour of Flanders - the Ronde Van Vlaanderen - a Greek tragedy for defending champion Tom Boonen who crashed out with broken ribs, and a triumph of age and strength for Fabian Cancellara who powered away on the final climb as upstart Peter Sagan, ten years his junior, bowed his head and slumped his shoulders. On the other side of the world, a man who'd just turned fifty cheered.

Now it is time for the hardest classic of them all, Paris-Roubaix. Milan-San Remo is called "the Primavera" for its beauty, Paris-Roubaix is called "the Hell of the North" for its brutality. The race is long, over 250 km, and a fifth of that is on the worst cobblestone tracks in the region. Not the picturesque cobbled rues of the city, these are disused remnants of old Roman roads, large sharp-edged stones jutting from deep wallows of mud. These roads are not normally used - they are too deteriorated - until early April when the fittest men in the world will push their ten thousand dollar bikes over jarring tracks where farmers don't even drive their trucks. Faces and eyes coated with dirt and clay, hands and legs numb after hours of jack hammering by the pave, the riders will struggle to reach the old velodrome of Roubaix before the dreaded time cutoff, when the gates are mercilessly closed and the last riders, after 250 km of pain, are barred from finishing the race. Grown men will weep outside closed gates tomorrow.

It is brutal and masochistic, and we love it!

Which brings me to the actual point of this post, long after you have despaired of ever seeing such a thing, as by now you probably feel like the suffering riders in Paris-Roubaix - reading this drivel on and on and will there be any mention of cooking before the gates close - well here it is!

At 5 AM tomorrow, and at 5 AM on many more days this spring and summer, a smallish number of us will gather at my local bike shop to watch the bike races. Paris-Roubaix, then the Giro d'Italia or the Tour of California, finally in July the three-week Tour de France and then the Vuelta d'Espana. The bike shop has coffee, but no food, unless you count an energy gel as an acceptable breakfast. So I am in the habit of bringing breakfast for the "crowd" (is ten sleep-deprived sadomasochistic cycling fans a crowd?) a few times each year.

Last year, this was easy enough. The evening before, I'd roast some potatoes and brown some sausage, then get up at 3:30 am, reheat it all, pack it up with some paper plates and ride to the bike shop.

Well, tonight I've made yet another variation on that theme (see below), and have managed to bore even myself. I can't bring the same darn thing to the next race or the next. I need help!

Wanted: suggestions for a make-ahead breakfast, that can be reheated or final prepped in less than 1 hour by a barely-awake person, then plopped into bike panniers and ridden a couple miles to feed between 6 and 12 barely-awake people, who are perhaps not inclined to be too picky - it is a free breakfast, after all - but, this being Portland, won't eat pig slop either. And it has to be at least somewhat interesting, otherwise this starts to be too much like work for me.

Ideas? Note there are no cooking facilities at the bike shop, not even a microwave.

Oh, here's the menu for tomorrow at 5 AM. Potatoes roasted with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and tossed with melted butter and chopped spinach. Pork loin, cubed, salted and marinated in Tiger sauce, oil, and just a little soy sauce, sauteed, and tossed with a cooked mixture of onion, garlic and lots of fine-diced red jalapeno. Coffee. Beer. It is going to taste fine, but I'm bored of this sort of thing and don't want to bring anything like it for the rest of the year.

This post was edited by johnliu on Sun, Apr 7, 13 at 7:05

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Islay_Corbel

For the Tour de France take croissants, good butter and jam and serve with coffee. Or does it have to be so hefty as roasties and sausages?
Go classic European hotel buffet : hard-boiled eggs, sliced ham and cheese, bread rolls, croissants, butter, jams........no heating up to do so you can sleep an extra half hour :-)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 2:46AM
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trailrunnerbiker

WOW! I loved your narrative and the pics. The image of you standing on the street corner holding your daughter as you received "donations" made me laugh. You must have been a sight for sure :)

Why not do wraps in flour tortillas ? My best friend and I had them many mornings before long bike rides and long trail runs. We often used the leftovers from the previous night's dinner to get started. We would camp and take our bikes with us and then plan a couple days of trail running and cycling. Sure do miss those outings but we all have to move on.

Anyway...see you aren't the only one that rambles ! We would often have rice and beans leftover. In the am we would scramble eggs and mix it all together and add some spicy Pinda Sauce ( can't remember the brand name but can look it up ) wrap in tortillas and stow in our bags. Tastes wonderful. If we had potatoes I always made extra and we added onions and then the scrambled eggs and cheese too...hmm...cilantro paste...Swad makes a wonderful one...very zippy and great with beer !

You just have to let your imagination run wild with this. The flour tortillas hold up the best though and they are fantastic at room temp and they pack great so you can wrap and roll and stow and ride and everyone will be duly impressed throughout the season with the variety you find to fill them with.

Hope you will post back with pics of your creations and the response of your friends. c

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 4:00AM
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triciae

John,

My son ran the 400m & 800m with a community track club for 8+ years. He was a Junior Olympian medalist three years in a row (2 gold, 1 silver) for the 800m. We carted him to track meets all around the country. I was team "Mom" for a number of those years and, hence, responsible for food. Feeding the kids was easy but the parents who were exhausted from a long season, cranky because of Denver early spring weather, and the Before the Rooster Crows coach's meetings were not so easy to feed. These Ham-in-Rye Rolls were always a big hit. They are easy, almost fool proof to make (baked in regular muffin tins), something a bit out of the ordinary, and travel exceptionally well. The cognac gives an unexpected zip to the filling. The rolls rise beautifully and end up looking like large popovers. You can make them entirely the day before, toss them in the oven (wrapped in foil) to reheat while you hit the shower and go through your morning beauty routine, and they'll be ready to go when you are. Add a couple easy sides (fresh fruit goes nicely) and you're done.

This is an older, traditional-style bread recipe. If you have a bread machine - just add the ingredients according to your machine's instructions and half the work is done for you. Otherwise, use your Electrolux. I've made these rolls a hundred times with that machine!

HAM-IN-RYE ROLLS

1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
Pinch Brown Sugar
1 Cup Warm Water (110-115 degrees)
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Egg
3/4 Cup Medium-rye Flour (in my area, I have to order this from KA)
2 1/2-3 Cups Unbleached All Purpose or Bread Flour

Ham & Sour Cream Filling:

2 Shallots, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1 Pound Smoked or Honey-Baked Ham, ground in a food processor (3 Cups Ground)
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
2 Tablespoons Cognac or Brandy
1 Teaspoon White Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 Cup Chopped Pecans

1.) In a large bowl or the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sprinkle the yeast and pinch of sugar over the warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes or until bubbly.

2.) Add the sugar, butter, salt, egg, and rye flour. Mix with a whisk or the mixer to blend. Add 1 cup of the unbleached flour. Beat hard until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the remaining unbleached flour 1/2 cup at a time until soft dough is formed and just clears the sides of bowl, switching to a wooden spoon when necessary if mixing by hand.

3.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth, about 1-2 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon of flour at a time as necessary to prevent sticking. The dough should be soft. Place the dough in a greased deep container, turn once to coat the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

4.) Prepare Ham & Sour Cream Filling: In a medium saucepan, sauté the shallots in butter until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook only about 1 minute more. Stir in the ground ham, sour cream, Cognac or brandy, Worcestershire sauce, and pecans. Refrigerate until needed, covered.

5.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into a 12" by 16" rectangle. With a sharp knife, divide the dough into twelve 4" squares. Place about 1/4 cup ham filling in the center of each square. Bring the opposite corners together and pinch to seal.

6.) Grease 12 standard-size muffin cups. Place a square of filled dough in each muffin cup, seam side down. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until the buns are puffy and doubled, about 30-40 minutes. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

7.) Bake in the preheated oven until well browned and springy to the touch, about 20-25 minutes. Let stand in the cups for 5 minutes, then, remove to racks to cool.

To bake the rolls a day or more ahead, refrigerate or freeze them, then reheat at 325 degrees on a baking sheet loosely covered with foil. Wrap warm buns in foil to transport.

Or, the rolls may be shaped and filled the night before, covered loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerated overnight. Let stand at room temperature while preheating the oven for 20 minutes in the morning. Bake as directed.

/tricia

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 6:48AM
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ruthanna_gw

I enjoyed your narrative, John.

My pre-dawn cooking is usually for fishing trips and these muffins are at the top of the request list. I have considered making them the day before and heating them up the next morning but haven't tried it.

Instead, I make the bacon-onion mixture the night before and have the dry ingredients measured out and mixed together, oil and beer on the kitchen counter, and the muffin cups greased. Next day, by the time the oven is heated up, the muffins are mixed and ready to pop into it. As with all muffins, do not overmix.

BEER, ONION AND BACON MUFFINS (makes 12 muffins)

6 slices bacon, chopped
2 cups chopped onions
3 tsp. sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
2 eggs
3/4 cup beer or ale
1/4 cup EV olive oil
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375. Grease 12 standard muffin cups. Line a small plate with paper towels.

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon to prepared plate with slotted spoon. Add onion, 1 tsp. sugar and thyme to skillet; cook 12 to 14 minutes or until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Cool 5 minutes; stir in bacon.

Meanwhile, combine eggs, beer and oil in medium bowl. Combine remaining 2 tsp. sugar, flour, cheese, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add beer mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Do not over mix. Gently stir in onion mixture. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.

Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Another idea you might want to consider is Scotch eggs, sausage-wrapped hard boiled eggs. I don't remember what recipe I used but they'd be a novelty.

This post was edited by ruthanna on Sun, Apr 7, 13 at 10:16

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:15AM
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jessyf

John, love your stories. I'm contributing a Paris-Brest pastry DH and I made (three hours in the kitchen....) a few years ago. I will assume you know what it is, but for those who don't - it is a pastry made in the shape of a bicycle tire in honor of the Paris to Brest 1891 bicycle race . It is from Cook's Illustrated, so you all know the drill with THOSE recipes...

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 11:20AM
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mar53

Hi John,

Great pictures & narrative.

The link is to a "muffin" recipe from our local paper that I've been meaning to try, but have not gotten around to yet. It uses wheat bread slices as crusts, then fills the crust with as sausage/egg mixture.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sausage and Egg Muffins

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 11:26AM
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johnliu_gw

Thanks, everyone!

The different muffins would work well, and be fun to try out. Being individual portions will make handling a lot easier.

I wonder if wraps can made the evening before and re-heated the next morning, or would the tortillas dry out? I will try it. Actually, the wrap idea is also making me think of tamales,

Islay, croissants and jam/butter would certainly be easy, and appropriate. I'll do that one morning.

A Paris-Brest is actually on my list of things to make someday. I didn't manage it last year, maybe I will this year.

Hey, trailrunner, your post reminded me that I've been meaning to ask about running. I wasn't sure if there were any runners on CF, but now that I'm reminded that there are, please look for a post in Conversations.

This post was edited by johnliu on Sun, Apr 7, 13 at 23:38

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 6:14PM
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trailrunnerbiker

On my way over to convo...but first...

I would have the filling ready to " stirfry" in a skillet to reheat it just have to scramble eggs..have to have eggs in it :) ...and then place in the tortillas that you put over the open flame for a few seconds and then fill and roll. I think they would be best that way..doesn't take but a minute and worth it ...they are SO yum ! Oh sauce is Padang Peanut Sauce..so good on anything.

ok off to convo...c

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:30PM
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annie1992

I agree, the breakfast-type burrito was a favorite camping breakfast, they're sturdy and you can put whatever you like in them. My girls liked eggs, ham, onions, mushrooms, green peppers and salsa. They said cheese got "icky" if it got cold, but they are easy to wrap in aluminum foil and transport and if you wrapped them in newspaper or towels, they'd stay warm enough to eat when you got there.

We also had "homemade hot pockets", which were good for lunch so they'd be good for breakfast. Bread dough of your choice, we usually went with plain white or honey wheat. Filling of your choice, we had everything from leftover chicken ala king to broccoli and cheese to pizza sauce and cheese to scrambled eggs with various additions.

Scotch eggs are good at room temperature or even cold from the refrigerator and can be sliced to make a sandwich and they're also good on/with savory muffins.

Have fun and don't forget the coffee.

Annie

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:57PM
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ann_t

John, I love your stories too.

What about a Spanish Tortilla. I make this often for breakfast, but it can also be served at room temperature.

And you could make it and slice into wedges or squares, or


make individual Tortillas in muffin cups.

Spanish Tortilla

Although a tortilla can be served for breakfast, it is quite often served as a Spanish Tapa or small appetizer with a glass of wine. It is equally good served hot or at room temperature.
Most recipes that I have seen for Tortillas call for cooking the omelette on top of the stove. I find that it turns out better if you bake it in a cake pan or a cast iron pan in the oven.

(This recipe makes two Tortillas)

At least 4 large baking potatoes or 5 or 6 smaller ones
1 small onion
12 eggs
olive oil
salt
pepper

Heat oven to 350°

Peel and cut potatoes into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices.

Heat one or two frying pans and saute the potato slices in olive slowly, until almost tender. Add salt and pepper.

Cut onion in half and slice thinly. Add onion to the potato mixture and continue to saute until the onions and the potatoes are tender. I like the onions and potatoes to start to turn a bit golden.

Add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil or butter to two cake pans. Place in oven to heat.

Beat up eggs and season with salt and pepper.

Gently toss the potato mixture into eggs. Pour mixture into the two heated cake pans.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until eggs are set and the omelette is golden and puffy.

For breakfast cut into wedges and serve Can be served with a salsa as well.

As an appetizer, cut into small squares and serve with a nice Spanish Red Rioja.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:58PM
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Teresa_MN

John - I loved your cycling commentary. I'm glad you didn't just go straight to the food part. There are many paths to a destination. You can go on a 6 lane freeway or you can take the scenic path.
This forum is about so much more than recipes and food techniques. This thread is one really good example!

Teresa

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 11:09PM
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johnliu_gw

Thanks!

I should tell you how the bike race went. Fabian Cancellara, the gracious Swiss powerhouse, was the overwhelming favorite and as such he found every man against him. All the teams built their strategies around marking him out of the win. They all sent breakaway riders up the road and forced Cancellara's team to do all the work of driving the chasing peloton. When Cancellara attacked on a long cobbled stretch, he left most of the peloton behind but also all of his exhausted teammates. Isolated in the lead group, he found everyone either sitting in his draft or trying to ride away on the front. When that group fragmented, he found himself trapped in a group of riders all refusing to share the work and letting their teammates in the first group stretch their lead. Riding alone, Cancellara bridged over to the first group, recovered his strength, then attacked again and this time only three men could stay with him. As the four hammered over the cobbles, two riders crashed into spectators and lost contact. The last rider still with Cancellara was the young Belgian, Sep Vanmarcke. Neither could shake the other as they alternated taking the lead. Vanmarcke took his turns pulling, but when he was behind, his face was contorted in pain and his pedaling had just a hint of labor. Cancellara looked smoother, but as the final cobbled sections came and went, he had repeatedly tried and failed to accelerate away from Vanmarcke. They came into the old Roubaix velodrome together and began a classic track duel. Slowing to walking speed, they weaved around each other, until Cancellara maneuvered his younger rival into the first position. Out-foxed, Vanmarcke was forced to lead out the sprint. Normally the faster sprinter, but now blunted by 6 hours of pain, he was cramping and struggling as Cancellara swung out of his slipstream and surged past, winning by a foot after 250 km of racing. Cancellara collapsed off his bike, laid spent on the grass, and had to be lifted and half-carried by two men to the podium's first step. Vanmarcke wept on the second step, and in the post race interviews. The speed, the suffering, the tears. It was glorious.

The breakfast was okay too. But I think individually portioned, pastry-like stuff would go over better. Next time.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 11:32PM
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Islay_Corbel

Did any get locked out?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:59AM
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gwlolo

Ah! the story was just so gripping.

Here is my suggestion. When we do long hikes when we start early in the day, I found a bit spice and protein always goes over well.

Desi(Indian) Spicy Egg Scramble recipe. I usually make the evening before, reheat in the microwave in the morning and carry in a casserole type dish that keeps it hot. Serve with soft tortillas that are warmed in the microwave or with regular store bread.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 3:17AM
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johnliu_gw

Islay, I don't know. On letour.fr I saw the list of riders who didn't finish, it was about 1/3 of the starting field, but it didn't say who made it to the velodrome after the cut off.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:29PM
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annie1992

Darn, I was wondering too and couldn't find it via google.

GWlolo, that link takes me to a page that says the link can't be found but there is an index there. Would that be the masala scramble?

Annie

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:05PM
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ruthanna_gw

I forgot an old version of "pig in a blanket". Get some good quality finger-sized raw breakfast sausages and potatoes of a length about an inch shorter than the sausages. (I prefer redskin but any variety of the correct size will work.). Scrub gently and dry but do not remove the potato skins.

Using an apple corer or any other tool that will accomplish the task, make a lengthwise tunnel through the center of the potato and insert the sausage with the ends protruding equally out the sides. It should be a tight fit since the meat will shrink. Rub or brush potato skins with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper and any herbs or spices you desire.

Put in shallow pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes to one hour, turning potatoes 1/4 turn every 15 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through and skin is crispy. Remove from oven and immediately wrap individually in foil to keep warm.

We make a sauce of sour cream flavored with Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chives and horseradish for dipping.

Optional: after roasting for about 40 minutes, remove potatoes from oven, rebrush with fat and roll in fine dry bread crumbs. Return to a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes to make a crunchy crust. Don't wrap in foil or crust will steam and get soggy.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 11:30PM
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gwlolo

Annie1992- yes it is the masala egg scramble. There is a video blog entry showing this too. This is very much street vendor food in India and a favorite for late nights/ early mornings.

Here is a link that might be useful: Egg Bhurji

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 12:36AM
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johnliu_gw

Here is a story by a Roubaix rider who didn't make the gates. (at the link)

The riders who can't make it to the velodrome are swept up by the voiture balai or broom wagon. It is a bus with a trailer for bikes. The broom wagon drives at the despairing end of the race, after the leaders, the peloton, the race officials and police motorcycles, the camera motorcycles and helicopters, the team cars with water and mechanics, are all gone. He pulls alongside a laboring rider. "You're 30 minutes behind the peloton". The rider has a choice. Abandon the race, climb into the broom wagon, end the suffering. Or let the broom wagon go by and ride alone for another 30 or 40 miles to locked gates.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gates Closed

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 12:16AM
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ruthanna_gw

After posting here about the pigs in a blanket last week, I was compelled to make them for brunch today. I think they look more like armadillos than pigs. After an olive oil rub, I sprinkled them with Montreal Steak Seasoning and didn't bother with the crumbs.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:37AM
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Teresa_MN

They look delicious Ruthanna - and I think that's all that matters!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:59AM
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annie1992

I agree, Ruthanna, that looks delicious. I love potatoes, so I'd like that even better than the sausages wrapped in dough.

Annie

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 7:58PM
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johnliu_gw

That looks awesome!

I'd even finish them off in the deep fryer . . .

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:06PM
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suzyqtexas

A local coffee shop sells "prairie eggs" They are hard boiled eggs wrapped in a sausage biscuit dough (kind of like sausage balls) then baked. Delicious.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 5:25PM
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johnliu_gw

By the way, the last few km and the final velodrome sprint are here, complete with a surchauffe commentary by the Belgian announcers.

Many bike races are not broadcast in the US, so cycling fans huddle over keyboards, watching grainy videofeeds like this one from a European broadcaster.

Since you may not speak French, or at least not surexcited, half-screamed Belgian French, I will narrate. Starting at 2:40 -

Cancellara and Vanmarche enter the velodrome together for the final 1 1/2 laps. They pedal slowly, calculating.

Vanmarche, the young rider with no contract for next year, has delivered the ride of his life and is seconds from an incredible, career-making victory. A win at P-R will assure his employment for years. And he knows he is the better sprinter.

Cancellara, the veteran and nine years' senior, has overcome almost the entire peleton today but desperately wanted to shake the young rider and arrive in the velodrome alone. He's lost P-R in sprint finishes before.

They slow to a walk, climb high on the banking, each trying to maneuver the other into the lead. Vanmarche takes it. Confidence, or inexperience? They proceed around the velodrome, Vanmarche checking over his shoulder, listening for Cancellara to jump, Cancellara waiting for Vanmarche to jump and poised to follow. They move high on the banking, then Vanmarche dives down the steep slope, sprinting as hard as 250 km of racing in his legs will allow. Just 100 meters, oh Dieu, just 80 meters more! I don't know what language Cancellara prays in - being Swiss, he is polyglot - but something gives him wings. Cancellara matches the younger man's acceleration, gets tight in Vanmarche's slipstream, builds momentum, and swings out.

Vanmarche is the faster sprinter, but he went too early, gave Cancellara too much time, now his legs are cramping, muscles unable to obey his screams, through his tears he sees Cancellara rise up in victory. Cancellara steers his bike to the infield and falls off, chest heaving, immobile but weightless. All the pressure is gone. With every team attacking him for six hours, bruised from two crashes in the prior week, his own teammates long gone, he hurt himself like never before and won his third P-R.

(Don't feel too badly for Sep Vanmarche. I'm quite sure he will have a tidy contract with a solid team for 2014.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Finish of Paris Roubaix 2013

This post was edited by johnliu on Mon, Apr 15, 13 at 20:41

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 7:48PM
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annie1992

Thank you for that, John. I was rooting for the "old guy", so I'm glad he prevailed. There are always more years for the young to abuse themselves (and win those contracts).

Annie

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:53PM
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