Dates and chocolate bars

Ingredients   

  • 300g Moist Medjool Dates, pitted and chopped
  • 200g Raw Cashew Nuts
  • 150g Almond meal
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • A Pinch Of Sea Salt
  • 40g Unsweetened Shredded Coconuts
  • 2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp Cold Water

Preparation

  1. Line an 8 inch baking pan with  saran wrap, and set aside.
  2. Combine chopped dates, cashews, almonds, cocoa powder, dark chocolate and sea salt in a food processor. blander - dates, cashews, cocoa
  3. Pulse and process all the ingredients together until the texture is coarse.
  4. Add the shredded coconut, a quick pulse, and add the vanilla extract, a little water at a time until it reaches a dry but moist dough consistency.
  5. Scrape the dough mixture into the lined pan, wrap with saran wrap and press evenly with a rubber spatula. cocoa dates freezer
  6. Chill for about an hour before cutting into 2cm by 5cm bars. Store in sealed container for up to a month in the fridge. cocoa bars
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Papayas and cashews bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried papayas
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ¾ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ⅓ cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Line an 8 inch baking pan with  saran wrap, and set aside.
  2. Pulse cashews in food processor until crumbly, place in a separate bowl. cashew powder
  3. Pulse papayas in food processor until finely chopped.
  4. Add all other ingredients to the papayas  and process until well combined.
  5. Add the chopped cashews to the mixture and pulse until combined. cashews papayas mix
  6. Put the mixture into the pan and wrap the saran wrap around it. pre-bars
  7. Firmly press the papayas mixture into the baking pan, using the flat surface of a measuring cup to create a flat even layer. wrapped papayas bar
  8. Place pan in the freezer for one hour, then remove and cut into 8 rectangle bars (or more or less, depending on desired size).  papayas bars
  9. Place in an airtight container and store for up to one month in the fridge.

XMB challenge, WTF is this?

If you only want to ride long travel bikes. If you only shuttle or ride park. If you smoke like a chimney. If pedaling uphill and hike-a-bike do not do it for you. Then do not even bother reading the rest.
But if you’re a fan of trails with views. That a ride with at least 80% of singletracks is what you are looking for. If you dig technical descents. If you secretly dreaming of having Graves calves. If your motto is no pain, no gain. Then XMB is for you.

Trail with a view
Trail with a view

I discovered this new style of racing last fall. I had just moved to Sospel, in southern France, and didn’t know anybody to go ride with. So I bought a local map and began to explore the local trail network. I must admit that coming from the U.S., I’m addicted to Strava. Not only for the pseudo competition but mostly to discover new trails and I use it as a training tool. After uploading a few rides I did in Breil -sur- Roya, in the next valley over. I saw that three of my favorite descents were segments with the name ” XMB – descent”. A quick Google search and I found the XMB challenge website. From February to May, there are 4 events in the Alpes- Maritimes.
To sum it up quickly, each race has at least 1400m of ascent, almost all on singletracks for 35/40km. As Enduro season does not start until the end of April, it seemed like a good plan to get in shape.

Hike-a-bike during the liaison to the start
Hike-a-bike during the liaison to the start

The first round took place this weekend in Aspremont, a few kilometers inland from Nice. The day before the race, I suddenly wonder what I got myself into! I was sick all week and go race XC was perhaps not the best idea. In addition, while preparing my racing bag, I find myself packing my XC kit. Something I have a hard time admitting owning and even more wearing in public. And then, I realize there is 1400m of ascent in 29km, it’s going to hurt! So I decided to use my XC/trail bike: a Blur TrC (120mm rear travel) with a Revelation adjustable from 120mm to 150mm and a lockout system. And I also added a pair of shorts to cover my chamy.
On race day, I found out I wasn’t the only undecided one as to what to wear and what equipment to use. You could see everything from semi-rigid to 150mm and even a few freeride bikes. There was XC riders, all club-clad, with matching kits and a bunch of Enduro racers such as Yoann Barelli, Thomas Lapeyrie and Aurélien Giordanengo coming to test their winter training.

Thomas Lapeyrie on the way to second
Thomas Lapeyrie on the way to second
Hike-a-bike
Hike-a-bike
Maxime Folco, winner of the event
Maxime Folco, winner of the event

The atmosphere was friendly and we all met in the center of the village for the liaison to the start. Just 3km on the road plus a bit of hike-a-bike, not a bad warm up before the race.
The race is pretty brutal and if you go for GC, it is better to have trained all winter and have an XC background. Time is made on the climbs and not descents, even though the latter are awesome in this race format.
It was an interesting experience, although Enduro is definitely more my thing, as I do not have to worry about my time on the climbs. But once I get in better shape to race XC, I will give it a go. And above, just go ride it again as the trails were beautiful.

Riders are getting spreadout after the first climb
Riders are getting spreadout after the first climb
Proof that it is possible to keep smiling during a XMB
Proof that it is possible to keep smiling during a XMB
Descents were worth the sufferfest
Descents were worth the sufferfest
A good rest is needed after the race
A good rest is needed after the race
Top 35 Scratch
Top 35 Scratch

All results here.
And GPX track for those who want to challenge themselves.

All pics 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.

image

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!