How to eat at the Giro, part II.
After a Chef Willy inspired Grand-Slam breakfast, it’s back to our rooms to brush the teeth, pack suitcases, kit up, load everyone onto the bus, and head to the race. For the 3.8 billionth time, we pin numbers to our jerseys en route (pinned in the proper rear pocket area, rather than the parachute of the mid-back), scope the race manual for fundamental details of the stage, load our pockets with race food, and roll off to the traveling circus that is the start village and sign-in area. We then sip espressos and patiently wait for the pink confetti to fall, pink balloons to float skyward, and start the stage.
21 days of racing tend to blend one to the next like, umm, well like nothing else besides a grand tour. So it’s the little things that put a spring in your step or smile on your face that get you going each day. Listening to my very enthusiastic Spanish teammate Xavi Tondo practice his English is enough to crack up the entire team at every single meal (the man speaks non-stop!). Similarly, and perhaps as lame as it will sounds, the race food is often what gets you excited for a spell.
The photo above is in the bus prior to the start showcasing today’s spread of soigneur-prepared, foil-wrapped goodness. These foods supplement the bars, gels, and drink mixes from ZipVit, which are also quiet tasty. Over the course of 3,400km, variety is the spice of life, so it’s like a (very very) mini Christmas when we unwrap these snacks. These different foil-enrobed “presents” are generally prepared sandwich style where the starch is either mini breads or mini plain waffles. As for the internals, and therefore the crux of the sammy-sammich, they will often include any of the following: banana and Nutella, honey and 2-3 nuts, cream cheese and honey, cream cheese and nuts, jelly (generally apricot for some reason), jelly and cream cheese, ham and cheese, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting. Additionally there are gourmet mini pies and cakes in a few varieties – coconut is a personal favorite – as well as almond, and the custard rice pies are simply heavenly. Sometimes for a real indulgence we get brownies or slices of chocolate cake. No lie. But before you get your intestines in a bind and cry, “Why do you eat so much?!” don’t forget 5-7 hours is a looong time to race and +/-6,000 calories are a lot of calories to replace. A hunger bonk is the last thing you want while racing so it’s eat up or get dropped!
ZipVit makes a variety of bars and gels – chocolate strawberry, apricot peach, and uncoated chocolate are the on bike bars, while yogurt banana and blueberry and chocolate orange are really good and have a lot of protein for post-race recovery.
Continuing on the snack brigade, mid-race there is a feedzone (and if we do an Giro-over-the-top-inspired 250+km stage we get a pair of feedzones). Hopefully it’s not hectic and we casually grab the mussette bags without issue. However, depending on the race situation sometimes we grab bags at 60kph, which is not fun whatsoever. These bags contain a pair of bottles, more of the foil wrapped goodies, so this too is something of a mid-day Christmas. Additionally there are ZipVit bars and gels and often a mini can o’ Coke. There is guaranteed to be about 100 people milling about after the feedzone shouting “Boracha! Boracha!” eagerly seeking bottles and bags like the swag seeking tifosi they are. Again, depending on the race situation, we hope to refill our pockets without issue and toss the bags tenderly at their anticipatory outstretched hands… or we merely have time to grab a single bar before flinging the brimmingly full (and therefore heavy) bags and smacking the tifosi in the face at 60kph. You DON’T want to be on the receiving end of that transaction, ouch.
Okay, another Blackberry thumbed blog typed en route to the race. “Only” 205km on the docket today. Whoa nelly, the sun’s out!