On the road again…

What has only been 2 weeks on the road seems like an eternity. After a month and a half home, away from racing and socializing, we took off for a journey, which would see us go to 3 countries for 3 different reasons.

 

Matt and I set off from Sospel on a 7-hour trip to Friedrichshafen, Germany for Eurobike.

Sunrise CH

We were lucky enough to found a sweet B&B on the Swiss side of Lake Konstanz with a gorgeous view.

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I went roaming the halls in search of new products for 2015. I’ve published my findings on Pinkbike:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

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Eurobike is an interesting place, as you feel like a kid in a candy store with all the upcoming cycling products surrounding you. It is also quite exerting physically and mentally to be around so many people.

 

After those crazy few days we headed to Switzerland, to find the total opposite of what we had experienced in Germany. Lenzerheide, in the Grisons, was quiet and restorative.

wpid-psx_20140831_181711.jpgWhile Matt was busy with a photoshoot, I was able to explore trails, relax and even meet up with a friend I hadn’t seen in 2 years. We even had a little one-day trip to St Moritz, what a gorgeous place. wpid-psx_20140902_125244.jpg

Our third stop was Italy for the fourth and final round of Superenduro. We went from the Plessur Alps (Central Eastern) to the Cottian Alps (South Western).

sunset sauze-2

The terrain was widely different in Sauze d’Oulx, with dusty singletrack winding in the pine trees, Greina plains and sharp shelly rocks on the peaks. wpid-wp-1410195130117.jpeg

As per Italian custom, the course was unveiled over a week prior to the event. Arriving on Wednesday evening meant 2 days of practice for 2 days of racing. We had 3 stages and a half to memorize as we repeated all stages at least twice.

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I had a few really good stages over the weekend but as I was too cautious on the first 2 stages of the weekend and had a mechanical on the second, I ended up in 6th. For the overall series, I finished up in fourth. wpid-wp-1410195175475.jpegIf you like datas and are on garmin connect or strava, here are the link to follow:

- Garmin Connect:

Stages 1&2

Stage 3
Stages 4&5

Stage 6

Stage 7

Supermountain stage

- Strava:

Stages 1&2

Stage 3
Stages 4&5

Stage 6

Stage 7

Supermountain stage

 

We are finally home after 2 weeks of being gypsies. There is 2 more races to go until the end of the season: Enduro Marathon de Gourdon and the EWS in Finale Ligure. Before this, we have to move house though, still in Sospel but a little more lost in the countryside, which should keep us busy for a while.

Muesli bars

I’ve been craving more carbs and less sugar on races lately, so I thought I’d try to make muesli bars.

 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups organic fruit muesli
  • ½ cup almonds meal
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 160C in fan forced mode.
  2. Combine muesli, almond meal, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, olive oil and honey in one large bowl until mixed through.
  3. Spoon into a square baking pan lined with baking paper.
  4. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden.
  5. Cool then cut into 15 pieces.
  6. It can be store in the freezer.

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Superenduro #3 – Madesimo

View of the reservoir above Madesimo

After racing in the French Alps for the past month, we headed to the Italian Alps, less than a couple hours north of Milan, right by the Swiss border. This remote location, nestled in the high italian mountains is where the third round of Superenduro is happening. Welcome to Madesimo, a cute little family resort. There is only one lift for mountain biking here and a few trails in the bike park. There is a wide network of multi-use singletracks all-around town that go either down the valley or higher up in the mountains.

Madesimo mountains

The previous two rounds of Superenduro were on the mediterranean coast in Liguria and Tuscany, so it was a drastic change from the coastal trails. The Alpine courses that Superenduro concocted us was unfortunately disrupted by the weather. When heading to the high mountains, you have to expect the weather to change quickly. We had a nice first day of racing with a couple showers, nothing too dramatic and then the sky opened up from saturday to sunday and it was a proper downpour all-day sunday.

 

Stage 1

We were supposed to have a total of 6 stages over 2 days but with the dramatic weather conditions, the organisation decided to revised the race schedule. We ended up with 3 stages on day 1 and a single stage on day 2. The 3 stages on day 1 were a mix of what the mountain had to offer: first stage was more DH and technical with natural rock gardens, slippery roots, a descent downhill grade and not too much pedalling. This is definitely the type of terrain I like and that suits me. The second stage, on the other side of the valley, was more a natural hiking trail, with a bit more pedaling and a few trial-like sections, it was quite fun. For the last stage on saturday, we went back to the bike park and had a pedally stage to finish the day: a man-made rock garden, some nice burms and a few whoops, nothing really technical to finish sprinting in the center of town.

Stage 2

With the torrential rain that didn’t stop on sunday, the organization met with the rescue team and the riders and decided to shrink down the race to only one final stage: same as the last one from the day before. Even though we raced on it the day before, it was a totally different terrain due to the amount of rain that got dumped on us.

Staying dry before stage 4

Stage 4

This 3rd round of Superenduro being held between two rounds of EWS (Valloire last week and La Thuile in 10 days), it brought a more competitive field of international racers (Scottish, Swiss, Kiwi), which was really nice. I finished in 5th behind a stacked field of international women and ahead of my usual competition. It’s a small victory after last weekend trip to the hospital (I busted my hip in Valloire and as I couldn’t walk paramedics thought I had a broken pelvis. After waiting for the X-rays results for what seemed forever, it just turned out to be a bruised hip) and a bad crash on stage 3 this past weekend.

Women results

We are back home for a week, so we can chill, ride some home-trails, recharge. And then we are heading to La Thuile, Italy for the fourth round of EWS for some international challenges.

 

Racing pictures by Matt Wragg

Close to the podium in the first race of 2014!

This Sunday (16 Feb), I took fourth at the first round of the Urge 1001 Sentiers Enduro Series at Levens, France.

2013 was a tough year for me, major knee surgery at the start of the year left me recovering for the rest of the year, unable to find the pace I had in 2012. So I was nervous this weekend, as it was the first race I have felt healthy for in a long time, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.

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The trails in Levens are super-rocky and rooty, but really fun. For the first stage we started from Col du Dragon at 1,100m, which was under the snow still after the storms a few weeks ago! I felt good on course, fit and able to keep my pace up over the 20 minutes of timed stages we raced on. As this was my first time racing this series I was not seeded, so started a little way back in the field and had to pass 5 or 6 riders on every stage. I finished fourth, 13 seconds off the podium, which I’m really pleased with, as I haven’t ridden at race pace in so long. I feel like I could have made the podium if I hadn’t had to pass so many people, and with a bit more racing to get back up to speed, I feel really confident for the coming races.

Next weekend there is another local race in Asperemont, but this time it’s XC, so I can find out how fit I really am!

Persimmon muffins

There still is quite some persimmons on a tree along one of my rides, so it’s quite easy to grab a few to carry home in my backpack to eat fresh or cooked. This recipe is quite simple and fast and really yummy.

Ingredients

  • 4 very ripe persimmons
  • 270 grams flour
  • 200 grams sugar
  • 6 grams baking powder
  •  1 soupspoon candied ginger with syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg white
  • 140 grams unsalted butter, melted
  • 200 grams plain yogurt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Line muffin cups with paper liners or grease the cups with vegetable oil if you don’t have paper liners.
  3. Cut the persimmons in half and scoop out the pulp into a food processor; pulse until smooth.
  4. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, ginger,and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  5. Whisk the persimmon puree, the eggs, egg white, melted butter and yogurt in a small bowl.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (it’s fine if the batter is lumpy).
  7. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each three-quarters of the way, and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30 minutes for regular muffins.

IMG_20131128_105927

Persimmon marmalade

The persimmons I had spotted on my ride a couple weeks ago have started to be ripe. So we went to pick some up and I’ve decided to make some jam qith it to be able to keep it as long as possible during the upcoming winter month.

image

Ingredients

  • 1kg persimmons’ flesh (it has to be really ripe, aka mushy, otherwise it has a horrible meal taste)
  • 700grams sugar
  • 75ml freshly pressed orange juice
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

 

Preparation

  1. Cut the persimmons in two and scoop the flesh out, leaving a couple milimeters until the skins. Put in a salad ball
  2. Cover the persimmons’ flesh with the sugar, orange juice and vanilla extract and mix well. Let marinate for 2hours.
  3. image

  4. Put the mixture in a blender to you don’t have big chunks in your jam, then pour in a saucepan and cook for 6 to 7 minutes on medium heat, while stiring often.
  5. Sterilize your containers and caps and pour your marmalade in. Flip them over to expel the air and let cool down.
  6. image

  7. Once it has cool down, store in a dry place.

A.B.Cs energy balls

For the past few weeks as my knee has finally been getting better, I’ve been able to ramp up the mileage and do longer rides. While going on longer rides, it’s also getting colder out here and I need extra calories to fuel my rides. As I don’t digest well processed food and most energy gels/chews/bars – they give me stomach aches – I’ve been bringing homemade marzipan with me on those rides.
Marzipan is ready in a couple minutes: almond meal, sugar, water, mix them up, make a ball of it, wrap in plastic and take with you; but it would be bice to have something with extra taste to bring on the trails.

The acronym came up as I was writung down the recipe: Almond, Banana, Chocolate and Coconut.

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 25 grams dark chocolate (I use Nestlé Dessert)
  • 300 grams almond meal
  • 210 grams sugar
  • 2.5 cl water
  • coconut flakes

Preparation

  1. In a ball, mash the banana and grate the chocolate with a cheese grater over it. Mix well and set aside. banana+choco banana+choco 2
  2. In a bigger ball, stir the almond meal and sugar. Add the water, mix with your hands and it form a ball with the dough. marzipan
  3. Add the banana/chocolate mix to the dough and keep mixing with your hands, so it forms an homogeneous dough. Form 2 centimeters of diameter balls and place on a chopping board. making balls
  4. Pour the coconut flakes in a plate and roll the newly formed energy balls in them so they are fully covered of them. getting there
  5. A.B.Cs energy balls can be eaten right away or frozen to take along on your next rides.

done

Arbutus jam

This morning we went on a little hike to play gatherer: I love this part of France where I now live as we can just walk out the door and go pick up fruits and herbs in the wilderness. The most common one are herbs of course that you can find year-round: thyme, rosemary, savory, lavender.Blackberries have been filling our stomach for the past 2 month, I can’t wait for the Persimmons to be ripped in the next week or so, olives are starting to turn black and will be ready by early December.

What we found on our gathering hike today can only be picked once a year and is the berry of the Arbutus Unedo. What the hell is that? It’s also known as the Strawberry tree or Cane apple. It’s a small tree found in the Mediterranean region and oddly enough Ireland. It’s a small red skinned berry with orange insides. It’s best in jam or cooked as too much of its raw version is toxic. The roots, leaves and branches can be used on their own as medicines as they are anti-inflammatory and diuretic apprently. Anyway, you have wikipedia to help you out ont his part and to know more about the plant in general.

Arbutus Eonus

As we picked up 2 kilos  of berries, I decided to make some jam with it.

Ingredients

  • 2kg Arbutus
  • 1kg sugar
  • 200gr honey
  • 2 lemons

Preparation

  1. Clean the arbutus. arbouse
  2. In a mixing ball, top off the arbutus with sugar, honey and lemon juice. Stir gently so all the berries get covered in sugar/honey/lemon and let marinate for 24 hours. pret à maçérer maçération terminée
  3. Transfer in a stew pan and cook for 45 minutes on medium heat. Stir regularly and keep an eye on it as it can turn into candy really fast. cooking
  4. Sterilized your containers for the jam by pouring boiling water in them and on the cap.
  5. Once the jam have finished to cook, pour into the containers, close them and flip them over (so as much air as possible will be out) and wait until cold to store normally.

Confiture en pot

Onion marmalade

This is Matt’s recipe that I just cooked and I’ve transcribed it as thoroughly as possible as it is an eye-bowling-measurements type of recipe he gave me but I wanted proper measurements.

It’s delicious with cheese or cured ham or simply by itself on warm bread.

Ingredients

  • 10 red onions
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 50 grams butter
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Preparation

  1. Cut the onions in 2 and slice them thinly (3mm each)
  2. In a stew pan, melt the butter on high and add the oil. Pour in the onions. Whisk together so the onions get greasy.
  3. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the cumin and chili pepper flakes. Stir well. image
  4. Stir often, until onions are thoroughly cooked. It should take two hours or so: the onions shouldn’t be crunchy anymore and reduced to 1/5 of the uncooked ones.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add wine and vinegar. Keep on stirring regularly for another hour or until onions are caramelized. image
  6. Sterilized your countener for the marmalade by pouring boiling water in them and on the cap.
  7. Once the onions have finish to caramelized, pour into the containers, close them and flip them over (so as much air as possible will be out) and wait until cold to store normally.

image

Tiramisu

This is by far my favorite dessert, it’s definitely not gluten-free or dairy-free, far from it, but I’ll endure the stomach-ache for just a couple of spoon of it. It is my guilty pleasure.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 250 grams sugar
  • 500 grams mascarpone
  • Lady fingers
  • Dark chocolate
  • 1 cup coffee

Preparation

    1. Separate the eggwhites from the yolks.
    2. With an electric mixer, whip up the eggwhites (add a pinch of salt) until they form peaks.

image

    1. In another bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar until you optain a really light yellow. Add the mascarpone and keep on mixing.
    2. With a wooden spoon, gently add the whipped eggwhites to the mascarpone mix and whisk softly.

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    1. Organize the ladyfingers as a single layer at the bottom of a serving dish (8″ by 8″ will do). Add a  1/2 tablespoon on every ladyfingers.

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    1. Cover with half the mascarpone mix. Grate dark chocolate on top of the 2 previous layer. Do those 3 layers one more time.
      Put in the fridge for at least 12hours before serving.

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