Friday, 29 April 2011

R and r and redox

Well it's taken me 4 months of riding my bike full time to embrace NOT riding it all the time. Last week my body decided to throw down the gauntlet, all the jetlag and training kms hit me at once and my intestine, where my ruptured appendix scarred it ( Thanks again privatized healthcare for leaving said appendix unmolested) decided to wrap itself into a little ball. That hurt.

It also necessitated a change in diet and 8 days off the bike. I'm on my last rest day now and I feel so much better, more energetic and less fatigued. You don't want to know the treatment details but I will say that I turned up at a Spanish hospital got an d X-ray and a blood Chemistry and got the resume all within 2 hours, for free. Damn I hate socialism.

I have been wondering what I changed, it's tue that I travelled but I travel a lot and training was hard but its always hard. The major thing I removed was the asea redox water I had been taking. I'm not normally one to believe in such stuff but I took a good look at my regime and I really do think this might have been a factor.

Now I'm not a nutritionist or a scientist but I am pretty open minded and willing to try stuff, Scott at asea was kind enough to get me on the product and, as I say I feel I can attribute some positive effect to it. I get no money from them but the product was free, I'm not going to say it'll change your world but it is one of many things You might want to try. Anyone who can enlighten me on the science, feel free!

Anyway, of far more import is the upcoming royal wedding " gasp " what WILL she wear? I think my village at home is having a street party! As much as I'm not a royalist will is a nice guy ( I met him once, he was struggling mightily with a surfboard, I think it ha republican sympathies) and I wish him all the luck in the world, I'm just not going to bow to him!

-yep typed it with my thumbs: they're what makes us better than apes

Location:A cafe in tarragona

Thursday, 21 April 2011

homage to catalonia

first one to source the title gets a chocolate (or a virtual chocolat, unless you fly here to get it in which case i'll give you a real one).

my ride today took a turn for the more interesting around kilometer 75 when i pulled up to the the cafe-bar in Mont.Rall at the top of the climb. For a start, three massive white dogs which, at first appeared to me to be polar bears started heading pretty rapidly (and rabidly) in my direction, prompting a sven nys-esque remount as i headed for the door of said cafe-bar. Then, on my entry i perused the avaliable pastries (the selection was slim, it was 11am and they were all but sold out) and decided to order a small bocadillo (sandwich).

In an effort to branch out from my ususal tortilla and bread combo (thats tortilla espanol people) i went with llom, now in spanish lomo ahumado is a cured pork product but it turns out that our Catlan friends forgoe the curing in favour of merely frying a large pork chop, thus i was presented, not with a few slivers of salty goodness on a crusty roll but with an intimadating hunk of pig. Sadly the assembled old men of the village already clearly doubted my manliness and i wasnt about to sissy out of the challenge so, like the trooper i aspire to be, i bolted an espresso and about 1/2lb of pork and set off up another mountain, i knew they could see me from the bar, but i dont think they could see my expression of distinct suffering as i endeavoured to produce an acceptable wattage.

I really love the cafes and bars here, the pride they take in local produce. Every sandwich is served on pa amb tomaquet - crusty baguette toasted with tomato, olive oil and garlic. far more delicious than mayo or butter. Lunch is always a 3 course menu del dia and every bar serves this (as do all restaurants, it is a legal obligation and about the best thing Franco ever did apart from dying). seemingly always staffed by elderly ladies who take great pleasure in explainign local dishes and feeding underweight young brits i have already had some fantastic food and consumed roughly 17 gallons of olive oil and 24 kilos of garlic.

local pastries have also been making frequent breakfast appearances especially as we approac st jordi and easter, both of which come with associated baked goods. Pa de sant jordi is definitley worth your googling time, if not your baking time as it uses 3 dough flavours in one bread. The combo breakfast offers which allow me to eat a pastry and drink a small, strong coffee for less than 2 euros have facilitated the sampling of many such delights.

I really like the spanish approach to food, small amounts, no restraint on fat or sugar but a pleasure in eating well and taking the time to enjoy food. you cant get a coffee to go here, and i dont think anyoen would understand why you would want one. you take a coffee in a small glass and take 5 minutes ofyour day to appreciate it. i think the US and th Uk could learn a lot from this approach, mindless eating and drinking is rarely if ever a healthy approach.

molt be, i'm off for a paseo and a tapa in celebration of the completion of a 3 day block and a much needed rest day. Oh and apparently the local monks are quite excited about another skinny hairy dude with holes in his hands.....

Monday, 18 April 2011

Volta a tarragona

Well I've made it, made it back to the cafe after a rousing circuit of every government office in tarragona trying to find the right one to file for my registration card: one if you're foreign but a different one if you're from inside the eu, the Catalan police cant help but the Spanish police can. Imagine my Delight on discovering that, on finding the correct office, they gave me a number to call and make an appointment! Still I'm embracing the chilled out attitude and enjoying lunch before investigating the old town and moving into my new place at 8 tonight. Then it's bike building time! Still it could be worse.....

-yep typed it with my thumbs: they're what makes us better than apes

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Fancy a brew?

4.30am alarm, table seat, off peak day return to London Paddington and a buffet car mug of tea - the only sense in which I am living the dream is that I'm awake when I should be dreaming away. I'm off to Grovesnor square where the US embassy mandates that any British type requiring a visa has to get up bloody early to do so. 8 am appointments mean us provincials have to get up before the sun does, even in the springtime. That said I do like a good train journey, they're always reminiscent of adventures to London as a child and trips home from uni as a "yoof".

What's really comforting me now isn't so much the train as my mug of tea, hot, milky and sweet. Hot beverages play an inordinate role in my life, and the bewildering array of varieties is, I feel, a much underdiscussed topic. I've been asked more times than I care to recall "how do you like that colnago/dura ace/helmet/drink mix" - in all of the above cases I'm going to tell you the same thing "its very nice thanks" - you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and no more do you run down the people who are kind enough to give you bicycle bits n' bobs. But ask me what kind of beverage is appropriate for a given situation, that’s when I'll really start spouting (ok I start spouting quite a lot).

Amongst the quiver of options available the most frequently plucked is coffee, every cyclist loves coffee, it's what we do instead of eating. I tend to avoid the bewildering array of "espresso drinks" available at your local 'bucks (I don’t trust mermaids, much less ones who DON'T HAVE NIPPLES), reasoning that most of them are pretty pants for you. A good doppio espresso provides just the kick I need before a ride, or after a ride when I'm lacking the energy to do anything. I'm a massive fan of bird rock coffee roasters so they're my shot of choice. I'll occasionally indulge in a cappuccino if I'm breakfasting lightly on pastry goods but please don't put down a milky, sweet coffee AND a big ol' plate of pancakes, eggs and bacon. You don't need that kind of gut ballast people.

While we're talking about coffee rules here a re a few more: in the middle of a ride you want an espresso, maybe a hammerhead or an Americano maybe a cappuccino. Not a latte or a venti mocha frap, it's not lycra appropriate, save it for later - recovery drink style. A cappuccino, latte, macchiato and a flat white are not the same thing, if you're going to attempt to make it as a barista, you should take the bar exam first. An espresso served in anything other than a demi-tasse isn't an espresso - it's a travesty. And what on earth is going on with all the paper cups in the USA, if I'm gong to stay in your café give me a mug, a warmed one and save yourself the money. Did someone at starbucks get molested by and ent and now they taking it out on the rainforest?

displaced 'muricans have been known to lament the lack of their familiar bucket sized mugs in the land of pointy shoes and public transport but I would submit that us Euro types have an alternative for these situations. The humble mug of tea occupies a special place in the British psyche; any problem is met with the response "I'll put the kettle on". Not just a beige beverage, tea is a social lubricant. A good cup of tea also provides the dedicated sipper with a brew which will last more than 5 minutes of slurping. I've read a theory suggesting that the British predilection for the Asian leaf helped workers in the 19th century to avoid cholera (they boiled water) and helped to kickstart urbanisation and industry. There you go: tea - the building block of empire. But please, none of this fruit malarkey, those names promise so much and deliver so little. I mean come on, if you were blindfolded would you ever be able to tell that the slightly sweet grassy flavoured brew was "lychee and Asian passion fruit with a hint of ripe mango"?

Now over on the continent, teas aren't so common. But there's a variety of hot chocolates which makes your "coffee" drinks look like wheatgrass juice. The French favour the enormous milky bowl of chocolat chaud, served at breakfast and (at least in the case of undiscerning rosbifs) the recipient of many a dunked croissant au beurre. I think every trip to France when I was younger saw me clearing out the hotel breakfast buffet of those little sachets. That stuff is like crack. On the other end of the spectrum you've got the "suisse" chocolate favoured by the Spaniards. This, in my opinion is the peak of the candified beverage art. Thick enough to stand a churro in, darker than Fabian's opinion of Jonothan "no riding" Vaughters and about as bitter, enough to require additional sweetening in the form of a dunked melindra or churro . There's a place in Barcelona which makes the best rendition of this delicacy. I'd tell you where it is but I'd be worried you'd catch me in a private moment communing with my drinkable dessert.

And no, the platforms here are not denominated in bloody fractions and harry potter is JUST A STORY, capiche? And the bloke next to me: snappy suit, pink shirt, proper London attire complete with rolls of neck fat above the collar, well he's listening to ka$ha on his ipod - busted.

And so, a list
Coconut hot chocolate (coconut milk = yummo)
Bird rock coffee roasters (daily specials or the yirgacheffe from Ethiopia if you're buying)
Yorkshire tea (since PG tips ditched the chimps)
Lideman's Geuze (because miller genuine draft is NOT the champagne of beers)

-yep typed it with my thumbs: they're what makes us better than apes