Preface: Blackberry thumbed blog yet again. This one is being completed from the massage table, fittingly about 30 minutes from dinner.
Completing stages as Giro-difficult* as anything the Giro decides to throw at us is reason enough to celebrate. And what’s the most common accoutrement to any awesome celebration, besides the obvious one-two combination of streamers and balloons? That’s right, FOOD.
The first thing we do upon stepping onto the bus after any stage is vigorously imbibe on a recovery drink courtesy of ZipVit. The team is split about 50:50 between ZipVit’s offering of the Recovery Rapide drink and the Whey Protein drink mix, which our trusty soigneurs shake vigorously for optimal mixture and subsequent absorption… or whatever. Available in a variety of expected flavors – chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry – these delicious combination of protein, carbohydrates, and necessary vitamins and minerals are instrumental to immediate post-race recovery.
A quick shower on the bus and then during the drive to the hotel, there is generally a handful of other comestibles ranging from freshly cut fruit salad, yogurt, sandwiches of the ham and cheese or tuna fish or mozarella, egg, and tomato variety, Chef Willy prepared rice with diced ham, cheese, corn, and tomatoes topped with olive oil and salt (heavenly), oatmeal with raisins and nuts, and muslei. Mysteriously, there have recently been a handful of dark chocolate bars (richly dark in the 70-85% range) floating around the post race food box – no complaints from riders, as these bars are rich in antioxidants. And flavor.
Back at the hotel, in between getting horizontal or receiving massage while waiting for dinner, we often mingle into the room of whichever soigneur is overseeing the food box. Similar snacks are offered here – yogurt, cereals, rice crackers, amazing European sugar waffles, a massive container of nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, and plenty of water. ZipVit products make their way into this box as well, mostly the protein mix and bars are consumed during this time.
Willy is in his element at dinner and his energy level borders between Full-Gas and Holy-Smokes-Willy-How-Do-You-Have-So-Much-Uuumph?! Mind you, Willy is about 70 years old and often acts like he’s a third that age. He’s something special.
So dinner generally begins with a buffet salad consisting of greens, beets (I love beets. In fact, my love for beets borders on a strange obsession. One of my favorite things about Europe is the abundance of beets at meals), carrots, cucumber, and not much else. Next is pasta or rice. It’s a crime to not eat Italian pasta here in Italy since throughout the season, we’re often served just horrendous pasta, especially in France. But gluten intolerance of avoidance among more and more cyclists results in lots of folks opting for rice. Thankfully Willy makes a tasty rice which is accentuated nicely by potent and wicked yum Italian olive oil.
Now that you’re pretty much full and it’s probably 10pm or later, proper dinner is ready to begin. Some riders request the same thing for all three weeks (chicken), but I find that unimaginatively tedious so I just eat what Willy serves de jour. This can be anything from aforementioned chicken, as well as steak, fish, chicken, steak, or perhaps fish. Or chicken. Roasted veggies accompany the protein and often yet another round of starch in the form of roasted potatoes, risotto, or mashed ‘tatos will compete for room on the plate. Interestingly, Italian breads are generally bad, but a basket of bread will always be on the table and will be picked at no matter how bad it is.
Portions are generous and there are always seconds available.
As plates are cleared and there’s talk of dessert, without fail we (umm, I) will ask Willy for tiramisu. And without fail Willy will giggle enthusiastically and say no. Plain or fruit yogurts will arrive on the table, sometimes with fresh fruit, decaf coffees are sometimes ordered, and now that it’s pushing 11pm, it’s off to bed.
* Confused what Giro-difficult means? See here: http://bit.ly/9W219L